Building a Quilt- It’s A Journey!

I think I have mentioned in earlier posts that we draw names for Christmas present exchange on my husband’s side of the family.  He has 4 siblings, and they all have significant others, and it just makes life much easier.

This year I had my sister-in-law Debbie’s name.  She is married to Jim’s brother Lou.  In fact, our son Kenny was just 5 weeks old when they got married.  I remember this because Jim and I took Kenny with us to their wedding in Napa, and he slept through the nuptials and reception, and ultimately was up the entire night there after.  Ugh- I use to really dread those kind of nights.  Now I would give my left arm to have just one of those precious nights back!

So that was about 20 years ago!  Anyhow- my deal for the name drawing for Christmas has been, (at least for the last 3 years) to make a quilt for that person.  Part of the fun of this is to really think about what this person means to me, and how this quilt should reflect their personality.

Debbie and I live less than a mile away from each other, but we don’t spend a ton of time together.  Not because we don’t want to, but because we both have kids in different schools, our interests pull us in different directions and well, I just don’t do a lot with anybody.  I guess this is mostly my fault, I like to be home.

Her personality is interesting, you could say she is opposite of me, but I think that would be wrong.  The places I lack confidence and experience- she does not.  She has been in the corporate world, helped build huge businesses, been a boss several times to many people, unafraid of an unfamiliar experiences and has traveled to many foreign places.  Me?  Not so much, unless you want to count- being a night-time manager for Crate and Barrel and traveling to Canada and Mexico as “The Corporate World” and “Foreign Travel” -but hey, it’s all Greek to me!     Nope!  – I don’t think so, but I wouldn’t want that either, I’m a homebody- remember?  You would think the earlier mentioned attributes of Debbie would make her a “stuffed shirt”, but she doesn’t fit that mold either!

She is wicked smart, athletic, likes to run (ugh, I hate it, the only thing I love about running is when I am able to stop!)  She appreciates her children… I do that too- and she seems, to someone looking in from the outside, that maybe she is very stoic and tough- and she IS a strong woman, but she is also a very sensitive and gentle woman-touched by small things that others do, those little things mean a lot and those small moments when she sits back and takes it all in she is full of emotion… happiness and gratefulness for the healthy family she has- and for the close relationships she has with us… I know this about Debbie… I do!

Maybe, in these years going forward I will be fortunate enough to be able to spend more time with Debbie… Maybe.  Next fall her oldest will be off to college, and I know she is going to need support with that. It is a very tough, life changing situation to get used to.  Most of it not fun!!!

So- for Debbie’s quilt I chose Anna Maria Horner fabrics. In fact- I purchased a kit.  I don’t usually do kits- but I wanted to make it easy on myself since I didn’t start this quilt until December 6th!

The Folk Dance Quilt

I downloaded the pattern from Make It Coats.

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I first made templates out of some bookboard.  There were 2 different sized triangles.  So I thought using the bookboard was going to be the best option.

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It worked out wonderfully.  I just pasted the paper templates to the bookboard.  It was awesome.  My rotary cutter didn’t slip once!

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Each row was sewn together in the photo above, but all the rows were not yet sewn together.

Once I had the rows all sewn together, I realized it was smaller than I thought it would be.  So I had some of Anna’s Innocent Crush hanging around my sewing room and I sewed a generous border around the entire quilt.

IMG_9041 IMG_9040This photo was taken on Christmas day before I packed it away into a box for its new home.  I hate giving up my quilts!

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When Debbie found out I had her name. Her response was so touching.  She knew, as everyone does, that if I have your name, you are going to get a quilt… She started to cry because, she said she couldn’t believe that someone would want to make something so nice for her, or spend so much time doing something so nice for her!!!  She hadn’t even pulled the quilt out of the box yet!

When she saw it she melted.  She wrote such a lovely thank you note to me also.  She is pretty convinced that her new quilt has improved her sleeping… Her husband snores like mine does- I wonder if she uses her quilt to put over his face to muffle the sound- that would improve your sleep, right?!

  You’re worth it Debbie.  I enjoyed every minute, It’s conception all the way through to its completion.   I love thinking about that particular person, while I am working and customizing their gift to their personality. It is so much fun.  Building a quilt is a journey.  It is so much more than “just a quilt”!

IT’S A JOURNEY!!!

Where have I been?

Where have I been??  I have been making many things, learning many things, and drawing, lots of drawing!!!   I though I would show you the many things I have made recently (over the last year) to explain my very apparent absence.

I quilted and finished these quilts that we started at Sew South for Valerie from Betweenquilt.blogspot.com.  Valerie collects handmade quilts and then sends them off to children in Guatemala City.  Please go here for a better explanation.

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I sewed a Caravan Bag pattern by Noodlehead for my Secret Post Sew South Sister.  It turned out pretty good, and I used Cotton and Steel fabric. Who doesn’t love that fabric.  I also used some Art Gallery fabric to quickly stitch up an “Everyday Skirt” Skirt, by Liesl Gibson.

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I participated in a Creativelive Class, taught by the very (at the time) pregnant Bonnie Christine.  The class?  Design, Print and Build Your Portfolio with Bonnie Christine.  This was such a great class to be in the studio for.  Bonnie is super nice!

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This is the portfolio I then constructed when I got home, with all that knowledge I acquired from The Creativelive Class!

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My youngest son, Will, graduated from 8th Grade.  His older brother Kenny was home for the summer-yay- and was able to attend also.

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I sewed up a very fun caravan pouch.  I use this everyday and I mean everyday! I love it!

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I sewed up many of these cute wallets over the summer.  This is just 2 of about 6 I made. This is a pattern by the very cute maker…LR Stitched.  I don’t know if she is ever going to have this pattern up for sale, but in the meantime you can check out her website.

IMG_8465 2 I gave this pink and black wallet to my friend Shirley and the one above to my mom. They are so fun to make and put the fabrics together.
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I sewed up this wallet for myself and I use it all the time.  I may need to stitch up a new one for winter.

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So I also had a project published in Modern Patchwork over the summer.  The “Knotty and Nice”  wristlet.  Totally exciting!  So fun, I have another project coming out in the Winter edition of Modern Patchwork, the “Sinchy Sack” backpack.  Look for it this month!

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I have taken some on-line courses to polish up on my surface design skills “The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design” with Rachael  Taylor.  This was a good class, I felt like I was over looked a lot.    I found it frustrating as to who Rachael would highlight…- but then again, there were many of us that were not highlighted.

Below is some of my work I created from the class.

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Then I took another class, this time with Lilla Rogers. She represents a few selective talented artists, but she is also an artist and teacher.  I took her Make Art That Sells part A class.

I found it very challenging and I not only loved it, I hated it too!! Mostly because it was so challenging!!  Some of my artwork below…

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Great class,  and I am signed up for 4 more of her classes.

Plus I will be at Surtex in May with my own booth- I have lots of work to do!

I worked on a quilt over the summer made up of wonky stars.

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This is for our friend Denise.  I gave it to her at the end of Summer. I told her when I can’t be there to give her a hug (she is battling cancer), she should wrap herself in this quilt- and know that it is her West Coast family giving her a HUGE hug!

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I embroidered it with words that I thought of when I thought of Denise.  Beauty, Hope, Inspiration, Friend, Heart, Laughter, Strength and “Giddy Up”- which is something she has always said.

Well, Denise battled with Multiple Myeloma for the last 9 years.  You wouldn’t know it though.  Her smile would light up a room and she was always up for a celebration.  In fact, everyday to Denise, she lived as if it were her last and she lived it to the fullest.

She passed away on Thanksgiving.

Everyone who was ever lucky enough to have known her was a better person for it. She gave me more than I could ever have given her.  I love her and I miss her.  Her family and friends grieve for her.  Jim and I are headed to Boston on Thursday to attend her funeral.

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Stay well and hug all your loved ones a little tighter.

Come back on December 10th for a special blog post.  I am participating in Ellison Lane’s Handmade Holidays.  I am a guest blogger along with many others, so come back and make sure to enter for the giveaway hosted by Ellison Lane!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crate and Barrel Hack!

I was browsing through the mall the other day and as I strolled by Crate and Barrel, the window display caught my eye.  There was a very cute throw pillow that was just calling my name.  photo-7

It would have been silly to buy it, right?  Given all the fabric I have piled up at home, I could very well go home and whip one up.  So that’s just what I did!

I changed it up a little, choosing a few different colors of felt, for waves.  photo 1-98

I quilted it too!  I used a teal thread mimicking a wavy stitch on both the front and backside of the pillow.

photo 2-100AND- I included a zipper, so I can use the pillow insert for something different when the season changes! We will have to see what Crate and Barrel has in their windows when Fall comes around! (wink, wink)

You can do this too!

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It’s a pretty cute addition to the foyer of our home!

Have a great day!

Hellos and Goodbyes

No, I am not shutting down my blog.  Even though I find myself not blogging as much as I would like, I am not saying goodbye.

The hellos and goodbyes I am referring to our those from, Quiltcon, My oldest son and insecurities.

The last couple of months have been a real whirlwind of emotions full of adventures along the way.  Both good and bad.  I am going to start in chronological order.  Makes sense, right?

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A picture of the room where the creativelive class was filmed.

In early February, I had an opportunity to not only sit in on the filming of a creativelive class, but to also participate in the quilting activities of the class, taught by the one and only Cheryl Arkison.  She’s pretty amazing!  The classes  she taught were; “Quilting With Low Volume Fabrics”, “Improv Quilting Basics”, “Translating Inspiration in Quilting” and “Playing With Pinwheels in Quilting” 

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I am not a quilting expert, so when I look back at these classes, I was really trying to just keep up with both Cheryl and the other 3 students ….. It is shot live, (obviously) what I mean is that it is all unedited, every word spoken is picked up by the mics we are wearing.  So I really had to watch my potty mouth!  Creativelive sent us the classes for free for participating.  I watched some of it, but to be honest, I can barely watch myself (half the time my head is cocked to one side like my neck is broken) , and hearing my voice, with my severe Michigan accent is like fingernails on a chalkboard!  I find it humorous, really!! It was an experience!

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Here’s my tweet. Shooting the 4 classes took 2 days.

I got to hang out with some very, very cool younger people… that made me look and feel very old and uncool!!  They probably don’t even use the word cool! They fed us well, and the whole place is just so hip!

photo 4-65Moving on… This poor pup almost died, during the same week that the Creativelive Classes were filmed.  At first we thought that Peek-A-Boo had pneumonia, but when she wasn’t getting any better we took her back to the veterinarian and found out she had a lung lobe torsion!  Basically this means that one of her lobes (apparently dogs have like 6-8 lobes) was twisted and was dying off.  It caused poison in her system, started to make her sick and eventually she would die.  We had that lobe surgically removed, which was super scary because we were told she might not even make it through the surgery.  Luckily she did well, recovered nicely and is getting into her normal mischief.  Thank God!!

I mentioned earlier in January that I was getting my portfolio together to showcase my fabric and surface designs.  I did in fact complete this task.  It was an ongoing process until the day before I left for Quiltcon.  Whew!  Blood, sweat and tears went into crafting that book.  It is the first of many to come.

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You know you have fantasized about riding a giant sewing machine! Thank you Stitch Lab!

Quiltcon was AH-MAZING!  All those that volunteered!  Thank you!  I was able to steam some quilts, and it was great fun!  If you haven’t been… GO!  Now that it is going to take place every year, on different sides of the U.S. there isn’t any excuse to not go!

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This is my portfolio cover. I used bookboard and an original design for 9″ x 12″ cover.

I took my portfolio everywhere I went.  I was like Linus with his blanket! I showed it to as many people as I could and I found it to get easier each time I did.   I took all advice and insight from those who were willing to offer.

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I sent 3 Thank You notes out to some folks that took the time to browse my portfolio.

At this time, I have made some pretty nice connections with some top people at top fabric manufacturers.  I am not going to name any names, but they are some very good ones!  I am always working on new designs, some I’m very excited about, and these will go into my next portfolio!

Here are some designs that were included in my first portfolio. ThIs collection is inspired by my upbringing in Michigan.

This collection is called Rural Respite and is in the colorway Rapture.porfolio for quiltcon-29-02

This main design is called “In The Weeds”.

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These next designs from left to right are: “Posies”,  “Barbed Wire”, “Boxelder Bugs” and “BarK”

Now for colorway “Earth”

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“In The Weeds”

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From left to right” “Posies”, “Barbed Wire”, “Boxelder Bugs” and “Bark”

Unfortunately for me, it became more about my portfolio at Quiltcon, and not about the classes.  I did take some great ones, two were with Anna Maria Horner.  She is a delight and super knowledgeable. I took the Mod Corsage class she taught.

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The “Mod Corsage” class which is similar to needle turned applique w/ Anna Maria Horner.

 It was very fun, and I saw some of my Sew South sisters in that class. I also shared a room with my very good friend Margaret.  I met her at the very first workshop I did with Heather Ross!

Margaret and I at the Moda Party!

Margaret and I at the Moda Party!

Thanks to Heather, I made a really great friend that lives only about 2 hours away from me!

Another hello and goodbye was to our oldest son Kenny.  He came home from Michigan State University for Spring Break.  I am SO grateful he decided to come home and spend time with us, instead of gallivanting off to some crazy unchaperoned teenage bender.  So Kenny came home spent some quality time and then off he went again- back to school.

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That’s me, with Kenny and Will!  Saying goodbye at the airport.  Again!

And now for my last goodbye.. to you!

Have a great week!

I got my Fabric Designs, Now What?

Wow!  I have finally made it to that moment when I feel like I actually have finished a few of my fabric design collections.  Finished! Done!  I think you come to a point when you feel like you just can’t play with them any longer.  You could still finesse this or change the color of that, you could manipulate everything until…

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At some point though, you just need to stop.  As you have probably heard from writers, they feel like their book is never done.  I feel a little like this as well, but I also don’t want to become victim to an “overworked collection”.

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So my next step is putting these “lovelies” into some kind of a portfolio.  I have uploaded my designs to an online portfolio website called Carbonmade.  All of which at this point only I can see.  It is a nice place to put those designs, to peruse them and get an idea of how they “play” together.  It’s pretty cool to see them uploaded, looking all professional, but it lacks personality, my personality.

So now I am in the throes of figuring out what I want to do for a paper portfolio.  The Creativelive class with Bonnie Christine “Design surface patterns from Scratch” not only takes you through the whole process of surface pattern design, but Bonnie also takes you through her process of how she put her portfolio together.  This really is so helpful.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 8.25.52 AM  My intention is to take a portfolio with me to Quiltcon.  I am trying to line up a few very casual appointments with art directors from various Fabric Manufacturer/suppliers.  I have one such appointment set up.  Yay!  I have been making some cold calls.  Oh, those chilly calls! Not an easy thing to do, and I haven’t gotten very far with them either, but I am not giving up!

So this now brings me to the Binding of my portfolio.  How?  My brain is a jumbled up keeper of all things binding.  Bonnie Christine did her portfolio in a drum binding.  She took a class dedicated to just that, drum binding.  No time for this.  So I am going to do a spiral binding.  I know it’s not terribly impressive, but I only have 19 days until Quiltcon (YAY), and I need to get this process going.

I have purchased book board,  special matte epson paper,

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a new color printer, The Epson 1430 wide format printer (when this animal arrived, I realized that he is probably going to need his own room)

and

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The Cinch, for the spiral book binding.

I have a lot of tools to learn to use, and this makes me very anxious.  Mr. Swellsewing tells me to not worry about the packaging- but to be more focused on my designs.  I don’t want to be worried or focused about any of it. I am though,  I am worried about it all- and that’s not going to stop!!

Oh, HEY!! Look at that!

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 The “Cows Came Home!”

This is a picture of me and my sister on the farm in Michigan where we grew-up!

 Have A Great Weekend!  You all know what I will be doing!

The one….

Do you remember what it was like when you knew you found that special one?  Were you drawn to the handsome good looks, the ruggedness or was it perhaps the size and shape of the object of your desire?  Well for me, it was the tree in the front yard…..

 No!  I am not talking about a man, but about the home that my man and I chose to buy and live in (from 1995 until present time).

We chose a house at the end of a street, after browsing many others and even placing a bid on one (that I secretly didn’t want so I convinced my husband to bid way too low).  The house we ultimately chose was in the neighborhood we already lived in, and had beautiful mature trees.  It felt like a real neighborhood, unlike those subdivisions that somehow seem to be erected overnight with absolutely no trees in sight.

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This is the day we brought our new baby (Kenny) home from the hospital. That is our big beautiful tree.

This is a very old picture, so please excuse the quality.

Maybe I have become a true “Marin Tree Hugger”, but I don’t care. A tree is always a true friend.  It’s a  sturdy friend to lean on when you need one.  It can protect you from harsh elements and it can guide friends to your house, by being a marker- “We are the house at the end of the street with that huge tree in the front yard”.

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                                        Our beautiful tree with Kenny (2).

As time went on, it was time for a remodel.  Our family was growing and so must our house.  Our tree was the perfect shade tree.  It protected us from the harsh California afternoon sun.  It kept our house cooler and created privacy.

photo 2-78Time wasn’t our tree’s friend, though.  The years wreaked havoc on him and he started to show wear, losing his bark.  Summers didn’t seem to be his best time of year as it had been in the past.  The foliage was less and what leaves did come about seemed to be dry and unhealthy.

We tried cutting him back, hoping that we could salvage half of our dear friend, but it was no use.

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                 This is a photo from the inside of our 2nd floor bathroom.

 So, it was time to say good-bye.

As you can see, the men are working to remove our tree.  It was always such a nice view to peer out this window and feel like you were in a tree house.

As you can see, the men are working to remove our tree. It was always such a nice view to peer out this window and feel like you were in a tree house.

I don’t handle good-byes well.  I just like to pull that band-aid off fast.  Losing him wasn’t a fast process though….I must admit, I did shed a few tears over our tree, (I cried when our old washer and dryer left too).  I am very sentimental to say the least.

When we realized that we had to cut our tree down, we initially thought about selling our house and moving somewhere new, with a big healthy tree.  Sanity sunk in though and we realized it would be silly to” throw the baby out with the bath water”, so a day did arrive when we finally decided to put in a new tree.  There will never be a replacement for our original friend- but we felt as though our house wasn’t going to be a home again until there was a tree, a substantial tree, in the front yard.

On a cold morning our new tree arrived.   She was all snuggled up under a blanket.

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Before being planted an enormously deep hole was dug for the tree’s roots. This hole took many hours to dig!

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finally she was placed into her new home.

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The landscaping was replaced, so she had a few friends to hang with.

 

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Here she is world!

Welcome to your new home little one!

No pressure, but Grow, Grow Big and  Grow Wide!

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You have big shoes a big hole to fill.

I wonder, what do you get sentimental about?

My Real Journey For 2015

My intention for todays post is to give you a peek into some of my designs.  These are my earlier ones.  I have since then taken advice given to me by both Heather Ross and Anne Sullivan on tweaking these so that I use more of my drawing skills.

I certainly don’t think that any of you would ever copy my designs, (I don’t even want to assume that they are copy worthy) but I still have to ask you-

Please do not replicate or copy any of my original designs…

Thank you-

Now that I got that out of the way, let me show you what I have here.  :)

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I did these designs before doing the Creativelive online class “Design Surface Patterns From Scratch” with Bonnie Christine.  One thing that Bonnie teaches is to create a collection from a story.

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There isn’t a story here.  I was just messing around with color and designs I felt went together to create a collection.

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Are these cohesive?  At the time I felt as though these designs did work together.  Do they bring the best out in each other?  I am not sure.  That’s why this is a process.

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Now, after taking some time away from these designs, and also learning some new techniques, from both Bonnie Christine and Rachael Taylor (The Art and Business of Surface and Pattern Design) I can totally see areas for improvements.

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I did hop on over to Spoonflower and print these designs so I could construct something out of them.

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I wanted to see if my designs would play well together.  I could see some issues, but I was relatively happy for my very first try.

I created a mini-quilt using the economy patch block.  The quilt measures 36″ x 36″ in size.  Not enough for any normal sized human to cuddle under, but big enough for a pug!

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I highly recommend this, because it really does give you an idea of what your collection will look like in real life.  I used Kona Snow White to break-up the color.

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Thanks for taking a look at what I have been up to.  It is really hard for me to put myself out there.  I am determined to make my dream a reality.  What is it that you are dreaming about that you would like to be a reality?  Need a little push?

Ya feel that?  That’s me pushing you!!

First Finish of The New Year

My first finish of the new year! Yay!   To top it off it is also a UFO (unfinished object).  This UFO has been hanging around my sewing room since May of 2013!!! Wow, I didn’t realize that it had been THAT LONG! I did a Natalie Chanin Workshop, where I purchased a swing skirt kit.  I can now say I am the owner of a pretty unique skirt-a completed skirt, that can actually be worn.  No longer is that UFO taking up space in my sewing room, staring at me from its plastic bag- mocking me, making me feel as though I haven’t any follow-through.  POW!  I  suddenly feel like a super hero.  I am the “FINISHER”… YEAH, YEAH….That’s it!  THE FINISHER!

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I do finish projects.   Most of the projects that I finish are those that are for other people.  What does that say about me?  Do I not value myself enough?  I wonder how many of us out there do the exact same thing?  Are most of the UFO’s you have in your sewing room projects that are to be finished for yourself?  Or are these projects for others?

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Something for me to ponder anyway.  Maybe you should ponder this as well?

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So as you look through these pictures of my new skirt with its  many stitches and threads, maybe you too can think about what you could finish for yourself.

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This is the year I intend to start tackle some of these personal projects.

I think this is a pretty good start.

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Take care of yourselves.

Take some time for yourselves..

And

Think about what you could do if you weren’t afraid of failing!  I am.  I am diving in head first and I may fail, but I will never know what could be if I don’t!