Thursday, September 05, 2013

Creative Abundance and Blessings of Joy


I am the teller of tales, the record keeper of memories, and the keeper of many secrets.

It is an honor, and a blessing, that gives great meaning and depth to a richly lived life. A life that seems so very filled to the brim with creative abundance, as well as with a variety of learning-filled challenges!

We had a  beautiful and meaningful celebration with family and friends over the weekend. I am so grateful for my own family who helped us create an almost completely home crafted wedding for my youngest daughter and her fiance' of almost a year. And thankful for our new extended families that have now been added in to our own vision of what today's family can mean. And we are also grateful for the dear friends and family, who came from both near and far, to join in our joy filled celebration.

All of this entire year, when I was so frantically busy helping my brother and sister-in-law, and designing and quilting my 22 small format art quilts donated this year to AAQI and racing against the clock to meet my goal of a total 75 donated quilts....I was also helping to plan, organize, craft, sew, and create an abundance of joy for my youngest daughter's wedding to a dear young man...that we already love as one of our own.

9 1/2 yards of one way designed burnout cream silk on satin, 9 1/2 yards of cream satin..creating a tea length wedding dress with a ruched crossover bodice and double layered handkerchief hems.; 32 yards of natural jute burlap fabric went into 14 table runners,  6 large 'hopsack' carry bags, and a dozen outdoor plant covers that perched on hand-hewn and cradled out log rounds. Add to that 6 extra large batches of home crafted papers filled with the lovely goodness of fresh flowers, leaves, vines, and bits of pine needles and bark. Pulp into wildcrafted and window screened paper, into homemade invitations...batch after lovely batch.

80 fringed osnaburg cloth napkins, our own homegrown flowers that became a lovely display of both 'yin' calm and 'yang' vibrant floral arrangements (by my talented green 'earthscaping' oldest daughter), decorated vases and lanterns (by both of my creative daughters), a display table of photos from the bride and groom's almost full decade of fun and adventures together, a beautiful outdoors forest and field ceremony with my son as the handsome officiant, and a beautiful candlelit reception in a vintage barn converted to a green building gathering hall. It was both magical and transcendent,catalyzing a unifying evening of giving, sharing, and love.

It was such a whirlwind of pulling all of the bits and pieces of so many months of work into one big finale' of decorating. Thank you to my brother and his wife, who were our house guests from Alaska this past week, who helped us set up tables and chairs along with all of us in our own little family.

They all helped us to hang our beautiful big paper light globes, and set out my husband's wonderful carved out logs filled with flowers or topped off with planters, at the entry...many burlap wrapped at the very last minute by me. Then, I raced to finish the table decorating and outside plant watering....

(as hiking and walking passerbys asked me a million and one questions about the barn, our decorating, the costs of a wedding...oh my! really?..... Don't you see my bun falling down and my glazed eyes ;)

My long hair flying as I was barely dressed in time to greet the band as they arrived to set up on the lovely wooden deck in the back. It all overlooked a little creek and we had it all decorated with log rounds and beautiful arrangements, as well.




With the turn of a key, and the push of a button, the back wooden barn doors slid open to reveal the reception glow within for the cello, guitar, banjo, and drums. Such fun seeing the band's faces when they discovered the beauty of their surroundings.

Who knew that such diversity could evoke the divine?  A wedding processional to Pachelbel's "Canon in D Minor" and a recessional to "Jesu, Joy of Many's Desiring" transforming into the band's own mellow and folksy original songs, and clear and beautiful vocals throughout the reception. Music and joy filled our hearts as celebrated, dined, and played our outside double competition corn throw games, bocce balls,  and vintage croquet in the fields. And a wonderful, wonderful time was had by all!

And the turn of a key and the pull of a magical rope, and the huge sliding barn doors out front opened as well! One more switch and even the hay loft opened! Pure Magic!

Thank you to everyone who came and shared our special day with our family and for all of your joy added in to ours! And thank you so, so much to the wonderful young friends who stayed so late and helped us when we were ready to drop from such a long day! You gave to all of us above and beyond. And your remind each and everyone of us, why you are all such dear, dear and valued friends!

Lovely weather, lovely and meaningful ceremony. I can't believe we accomplished all of the crafty, and artsy goodness on top of real lives, and my own quilting, care giving, and crafting!

And yes, that is enough silk and satin to equal a king sized quilt! One way designed fabric (art deco burnout silk) Burnout means that the flower designs (satin) were embossed with heat onto the silk. Due to the one way design, I couldn't create a traditional handkerchief hem, which is two squares layered catty-wampus over one another which easily creates the points. Oh no, not for me!

We had selected a one way design or 'nap' as it is called, out of all of the silks and satins, and organza's that we might have chosen. And this one, with its beautiful embossed but oh so complicating one way design required twice as much fabric and a hundredfold times the work ;)And thrifty to the core, we double deckered our 35% off fabric cuts for each fabric and then once more again, when we needed all of the lengths once again.

It took me three months and a lot of geometry and algebraic assistance to create multiple layered and ruched crossover bodice, and a 16 gored, two layered (one silk, one satin) gathered skirt...each created with an 8 gored skirt layered over the other 8 gored skirt for this lovely, but simple tea length dress.

No patterns were used in the creation of this dress, or its little ruffled edged jacket for the 'getaway'. At this point in my life I can neither find the right pattern, nor follow them, nor understand them with so little nightly sleep. I create my own with measuring and drawing and cutting on news scrap and then with muslin for fitting the shells or patterns for garments. I had drawings by the bride, and a photo of a vintage dress that was similar to our vision, and a lot of sleepless nights filled with ideas that finally came to fruition.



We basked in the glow flowing forth from the reception barns doors as daylight turned to twilight and the beauty of the serene forest surrounded us. It was a vision, a dream, and a promise everlasting of beauty, grace, and joy.; And oh, such great, great fun!




And to bring abundance and blessings back full circle to sewing, quilting, and giving to others..with my hands and from my heart...Check out my small format art quilt, as well as my others for sale through AAQI (with all profits going to Alzheimer's research)






Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska. Sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt and Quilt Block Patterns and encouraging others to join in the Liberated Quilting Challenge and make or donate small art quilts to the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) Help us change the world, one little quilt at a time!

26 comments:

  1. How lovely this all sounds! I have a nephew who got married over the last weekend (I heard through the grapevine) but the elder members of the family weren't invited. Not only were we not invited, there has been no announcement. I have been seeing the photos of the wedding on FB, but I am not saying a peep until an announcement. I don't know WHAT is going on, so I'll just bite my tongue. Wish I could have been at this wedding of yours.

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    1. Oh, dear Paula! We went to great lengths to do our best to include, and not exclude. It's not always easy in families! Would have loved the gift of your presence! Hope your are feeling much, much better! Big, big hug and lots of anti-allergens!

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  2. What an exuberant and festive celebration of love and family... every descriptive word makes me feel as though I, too, witnessed and experienced every minute of this beautiful event. Best wishes to one and all; especially to you, dear Michele, for a job well done! Hugs~

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    1. Thanks, Mrs. G! It was such a day and I truly wanted to share it in a way that friends could read the rush of business and creativity, as well as the joy. I'm delighted that came through my words. Bless you, right back!

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  3. So glad you shared such a wonderful celebration with your loved ones. Everything was beautiful and your descriptions show the love you have for family. The choices were fantastic with all the handmade touches everyone involved knew how loved they were and how much their presence at this celebration meant to all.

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    1. Thank you, Penny! You get it exactly right! That is just what we wanted to share. It was a labor of love in all ways.

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  4. What a wonderful day you all had! The photos tell it all, from the very special dress to the reception. Congratulations to all. Now you can breathe, Michele :).

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    1. Dear Kathleen, it was so wonderful and the dress was so hard to figure out...keeping in mind my decades and decades of dress making but no sleep..haha. Such a sweet, tiny, simple little thing but lots of love poured into the dress and everything else! Thank you and I am breathing the best that I can..as long as I can remember that, I am good and can keep the flow going!

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  5. it all looks lovely. can you post a close-up pix of the dress -- as a former dressmaker, I really want to see that fabric a little closer.

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    1. Brenda, the top fabric...the silk is so sheer to photograph well, but the embossed satin designwork is intricate art deco i.e. stylized, flowers..think of that entire art deco period. Natural but captured in time in a way that swirls can be art deco. More like wallpaper in a way...we loved it the moment we saw it. Luckily with my bargain hunting, our coupons, and both of us shopping we were able to get something very different to work with..good as well as challenging!

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  6. So Magical, So gorgeous, Michele---Absolutely ALL of it :D

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    1. And how we love that, don't we Angie? It was magical from beginning to end! The ceremony was so unique the guests didn't want it to end. I told the bride that they looked like a little tableau under the beautiful oak tree...perfectly beautiful and unique and dear.

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  7. Oh, Michele! Everything sounds so beautiful. You described it so well that I could almost see and hear all of it. It sounds like a very magical night. I am so happy for you and your daughter. I wish I could have been there. Please share more pictures.(Closeups would be wonderful.)

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    1. Thank you so much, Joyce! I am so glad you could see it and hear it!!! I chose collage formating so it would less likely to be downloaded and reused or place on pinterest. I already have thousands and thousands of photos there without one person ever asking permission and often not linking back. Modern times call for modern reasons and excuses ;)

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  8. hurray for the happy ending of all the hours of love and labor spent to enjoy this most wonderful and special of days! I am sure your daughter and her new husband will never forget this magical day as they step into the next stage of their lives together. Now I hope you will take some time to breathe and relax! thank you so much for all the wonderful photos and your storytelling skills brought it so vividly, I feel like I was there too. congrats to you too...hugs

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    1. You would have loved it, Cher! So magical and so lovely and we all worked so hard together to make it happen. Together was the best part! Once our house guests were back on the planes, it was just us the cat and the chickens taking it easy and enjoying the celebratory thunderstorms that lit the skies all of this past week...as you know...here in Oregon! DH had to head to work, of course, and I had major mop up in aisle 2013 but it all got done ;)

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  9. Sounds wonderful. Congratulations to the happy couple!

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    1. Thank you so very much, dear Lynne! We'll do just about anything to make our children's lives better, won't we? Big hug to you and yours down under. I think our winter may have started this week up here. Over an inch of rain and 300 thunder and lightning strikes in a few hours of Oregon rain!

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  10. Just lovely. How do you manage to make everything you do seem so easy? And so beautiful? Wow.

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    1. Oh, Bee..not easy at all! But the joy that comes with helping, and giving and learning about myself makes it so filled up as I go along. I think I can't possibly fit one single thing more in...and I fit in tons. And my joy with that is amazing to feel and know about just how much energy I can channel for good!

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  11. The day sounds absolutely wonderful and everything that a wedding should be. How special for your daughter that so many loving hands participated in bringing all of the lovely details together for a fine finish. I have to say that the dress was worth every sleepless night. It is gorgeous and I'm sure that in person it was even more beautiful. Congratulations to your daughter!

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    1. Thank you SO much, Karen!!!

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  12. Oh my goodness Michelle that sounds absolutely fantastic.

    That dress looks amazing, I would have had nightmares making it, maybe even a breakdown, sounds so complex. Here I am worrying about making a first holy communion dress!

    What a treasure you are.

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    1. big,big hug to you, the beautiful cats, and the sewing of the precious holy communion dress1

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  13. Anonymous3:06 PM

    Michelle. It was wonderful to be able to "share" your family's big day. You are astounding - your energy is wondrous. I know your daughter will treasure the memories you helped make for her big day. And the dress is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your pictures. It all looked amazing!

    My mother used to sew like you - I think maybe it is called "tailoring." She never used a pattern. She'd have us lie down on newspaper and she would draw around us. She made all of our school clothes like that when we were young. That requires a lot of talent - and you are one talented woman. Thanks again for sharing. Karolynn Cechowski

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  14. Wow, Michele - what a magical day. The sort everlasting memories are made of. Catty wampus made me smile ! and your daughter looks like a princess - a truly beautiful occasion .

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.