Another Christmas!

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It is hard to believe that another Christmas has come and gone and it is even harder to believe that 2016 is coming to an end!  Our boys are becoming young men and the hubs and I are noticing our own signs of aging.  It sneaks up on you.  It really does.  Those things that you thought that “SOMEDAY” you would be or do…. those things that haven’t  happened yet?  Well, the time is now.

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I am realizing that “someday” is now and there is no sense in waiting for the future.  At the risk of sounding morbid, none of us knows what tomorrow holds.  So whatever it is that you want or feel as though you have wanted to do… DO IT NOW!  I’m not waiting anymore, if any of us have any doubts about this, look at the string of celebrity deaths that have occurred lately!  It’s shocking!  Some of these people in their 50’s, which, when you are in your 20’s seems old, I know, but it isn’t in all reality!

So you have a special dress you are waiting to wear?  I say get it out and wear it now, create an event!  Celebrate Monday, if nothing else comes to mind to celebrate. For me, I am pushing full steam ahead with my designs.  Any rejection is just going to make me push harder.  So all those textile companies out there, better watch for me, because I am coming.. whether you are ready or not!!!

The end of the year has been very busy for me.  It has been full of awesome surprises as well as some very big disappointments.  I am choosing to focus on the great things that have happened, and allow those icky disappointments to encourage me to try harder, create more and to also remind me that “nothing worthwhile comes easy.”

I participated in an Instagram Challenge in December.  It was an advent calendar instagram challenge.  The challenge was created by Four Corners Art Collective.  This group of talented designers created prompts for December 1st- December 21st.  It was loads of fun, and I am so grateful to all of them!

You can see all my renderings by clicking on my photo below, it will take you to my portfolio website.

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Doing this challenge was a great exercise!  You have to put your work out quickly and it needs to go out every day for 3 weeks.

On to another topic.  I made a quilt for my sister-in-law Sheri.  The last of the sister-in-laws to get the gift of a quilt for Christmas.  She’s been waiting.  Finally, her day came!

I went WAY off script with this one.  I let all the fabric do the work for me.  I chose bright solids and all the Cotton and Steel prints I had in my sewing room.  I used them all!

I used my Accuquilt Go Cutter to cut lots and lots of triangles! It really does make cutting go faster.

In the picture below, I was trying to figure out how to put these half square triangles together.  You can really see how the fabric is doing the work for me.

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In this picture below you can see the quilt assembled and nearly ready for quilting.

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I didn’t even start to think about what I was going to do for Sheri’s quilt until after Thanksgiving.  When I finally had some kind of idea, I was overtaken by a dark cloud of depression.  It usually comes on this time of year, when our days are shorter and there are a million things that need to be done before the holidays hit.   I pushed through though.  I would sew a little bit each day and luckily I finished up the binding on Christmas morning.  Just in time!

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Sheri’s finished quilt was created with many half square triangles and some solid 6.5″ x 6.5″ squares  as well.

Sheri has had a hard year, in 2016.  She had a huge family loss herself.  I hope she knows that this quilt, as with all quilts I have made are more than just a quilt,  it’s a hug as well!

Happy New Year to you all!

xxoo

A Quilt Finish

I had a stack of fabric in my large pile of fabrics, that has been slated for a particular quilt.  The quilt, you ask?  The Bright Heart Quilt, by Amy Butler for Free Spirit Fabrics.  I love the color green, so this quilt kit, as it came, was a no brainer for me.  The deep hues of emerald, along with a lime green and a bright pink, which is hard to see from the photo, called to me.  I had to make it and so I did.

The quilt pattern is available for free on the Free Spirit website, and it’s easy.  Any of you out there with “half square triangular” experience will certainly find this to be an easy and quick quilt to construct.

img_0367  The fabrics that come with the quilt kit are all voile.  I have to say, I have never, never made a quilt with voile before.  It’s texture is more slippery than quilting cotton, which for me at times was a little frustrating, but I managed.  Above is the quilt top only.

img_0377I quilted and bound this baby in less than a day.  I did a straight stitch on either side of the “ditch” instead of in the ditch. I chose this particular stitch because I like the way the stitches look when they cross over each other. The photo above is an outside shot and below you will see an inside photo of the finished quilt.

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Making a quilt completely out of voile, (even the quilt back is voile) really makes for a lightweight quilt.  It has such a different feel that all the other quilts I have ever made.

Well, I hope you all have a great weekend.

Stay Crafty!

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!!!

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!!

Thoughts on Blogging and a Finished Baby Quilt

I don’t like to feel pressured to blog.  Anybody else?  Blogging to me, is supposed to be fun.   I know that as bloggers, it is fashionable to blog at LEAST once a week.  While attending classes on building a blog it is suggested that you should blog, at the very least, once a week. I don’t want to feel like I NEED or SHOULD blog.  Really?  If I don’t have anything to share, why would I want to bore you?

Personally sometimes it drives me a little crazy when others do blog each week with their makes.  They could have several makes a week, and it makes me feel inadequate.  I know, that the intent is to inspire, but sometimes- it just makes me antsy.

So…. this blog is dedicated to all of you- those like me, that procastinate, and think about the many things they want to make.  Those that make multiple lists of Things to Sew and Make that don’t get completed.  Those that have closets full of UFO’s.

That’s me.

HELLO MY NAME IS TRACEY AND I AM A DREAMER!

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So what have I been doing the last few weeks?  Well, there was that visit to Michigan to see my folks.  Kenny and Will couldn’t believe all the snow!

Then there was the recovery from that trip…… Now, I am getting ready for another trip- to North Carolina, for SEW SOUTH.  I am pretty excited about this… and anxious.  I am going alone to Charlotte, North Carolina.  I will know a few people there that I have met before.  This whole traveling thing is totally pushing myselft wayyyyy outside of my comfort zone.  My nice safe familiar square box.  I know it’s very good for me though- so I am gonna just go for it!

Between trips, I finally finished Kenny’s youth pastors’ daughter’s baby quilt.  It is a first baby for the pastor and his wife and when I heard they were having a girl, I just knew that it had to be Heather Ross’ Briar Rose print all the way!  It is so sweet and feminine.

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Before binding and quilting.

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Paper piece hexagons, the back of the baby quilt.

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Finished with binding and quilting.

HANNAHQUILTBeautiful vibrant colors, thanks to Heather Ross!

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All wrapped up and ready to be received!  Welcome to the world Baby Hannah, (4 weeks late)!  My gift arrived late, not her!

The Ellen Show… Am I Dreaming?

Wow!  I am not even sure where to start.  Really.  From the moment I landed in Burbank- I have felt like I was dreaming.  But there we were, my cousin Carol and I sitting in our Ellen VIP seats, on Thursday afternoon, watching the whole thing unfold.  The same protocol was followed, just as we have seen many times before from our livingroom sofas.  The Ellen Show music starts, The camera shows Ellen behind stage tossing her mint into the air and if she is having a good day, she catches it, right in the kisser (let’s face it, it’s a good day whether she catches it or not).  A good day it was, she caught it!

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Let’s back up just a little shall we?  I have been asked repeatedly, “How did you get VIP tickets to The Ellen Show?”   Carol and I were 2 VIP’s among about 30 people maybe more?…. VIP for The Ellen Show means, prime seating and no waiting in the cattle call area.   These very special tickets were acquired by doing a couple of things.

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I made this quilt for Ellen, it took about 6 months to finish.

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AND

Because of The Ellen Quilt, my blog post made it to a friend, that sent it to another friend, that happened to be related to someone who worked for Warner Brothers, in a pretty high up position.

NOW I AM JUST GOING TO BARRAGE YOU WITH A BUNCH OF PICTURES I TOOK BEFORE WE WERE TOLD TO PUT OUR PHONES AWAY……

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At first I was a little bummed out, because I felt like I could have acquired these tickets if I would have just talked to the right people.  After further reflection though, I realized that it was because of THE ELLEN QUILT that I got tickets to the show.  I really do believe this.  If I wouldn’t have created this quilt, the talk would not have started among all these people, and my blog post would not have been forwarded to the right person.

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Now, let’s go forward- okay?  Attending the Ellen Show really was a dream come true.  I didn’t expect it to be such a workout.  Standing, sitting, clapping, yelling and dancing, lots of dancing.  It was a whirlwind of excitement.  We were prompted when to dance, when to stand and Ellen told us when to sit.  (In a nice way of course!)

Carol and I were placed right in the 2nd row, where Ellen dances across during each show. It is a wider row which allows her to really cut some rug as she passes by.   I detected a slight hint of CK One when she grooved passed us.   She is so darn cute and tiny as can be.  Tiny in stature, but not in personality as you all know.  She is lightning quick with her humor, you can see for yourselves by watching her opening Good News performance.

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Kim Kardashian and Dermot Mulroney were her guests.  They were both entertaining in their own ways.  Ellen was the show though, she was who we all came to see- these tickets are hard to come by and this was confirmed by many of the locals that Carol so giddily told.  Everywhere we went, when asked why we were visiting the Los Angeles area, Carol would quickly answer, “We’re going to the Ellen Show!” The responses were filled with excitement and envy.  Could you blame them?

We left Ellen, with swollen, numb hands and hoarse voices AND completely drained of all energy.  Everybody did.  It was a workout.  This was my Super Bowl- and it was over…like the “day after Christmas” is how Carol described it, and that is exactly what it felt like.

All the planning, cutting and designing of this quilt- brought me to that very moment, that small slice of time that I was present for The Ellen Show.  Now it’s over, all over.

As aways, upon returning home it has taken me a couple days to get my bearings.  This time, it was even harder.  The shear, mental and physical exhaustion from the Ellen Event.

Well worth it, you should all do it.  If Ellen isn’t your thing, then have another goal in mind, and shoot for those stars.  You might just surprise yourself with what you can accomplish, when you get folks talking and pulling for you!

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That’s all for now!

Stay well-

and as Ellen always says…

“Be kind to one another!”

Hip To Be Square…

I hope that everyone out there had a wonderful, relaxing and healthy Christmas.  We sure did in our house.

We draw names every year in our family.  Mr. Swellsewing has 3 brothers and a sister, and then they have their significant others, so buying for each could be quite costly and complicated.  As it is, none of us really need or want for anything, so thinking of gift ideas is always very daunting.

My hope, was that whoever’s name I got, I would be able to handcraft part of their gift.  Luckily, we draw names in November, and it gave me plenty of time to create something that would be a show stopper.

Well, I got my sister-in-laws name Heather (Mr. Swellsewing’s sister).  One of my favorite people, she does so much for everyone else.  She is responsible for assisting my wonderful mother-in-law with all the holiday shopping for many people.  My mother-in-law still has us (the adults) and our children (grandchildren) make these extensive Christmas lists that Heather spends many hours fulfilling.  Then, Heather spends more hours on top of that, wrapping and wrapping and wrapping.  Usually when all those gifts are set under the tree, the tree pales in comparison!

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I knew with Heather, a quilt would be a sure bet.  Making the decision to craft a quilt was easy, deciding on a particular pattern design and color palette was way overwhelming.  I scanned the many quilting magazines and books I had on hand to see if there was something that caught my eye.  Nothing I had on hand seemed quite right.  I then reached out to the internet. Ahhh, the internet it holds all the answers that my brain hasn’t any capacity for.  And surely enough, it held the answer to my quilt conundrum!  I came along a tutorial by Melissa Cory, she is the mastermind behind a blog called Happy Quilting.  I found this star surround quilt-a-long on her blog.

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Above is a picture from the Quilt-Along.

This pattern was interesting and very complicated.  Complicated for me anyway. I am a total  newbie when it comes to piecing and quilting.

I have less than 6 quilts under my belt, so experience would have been helpful when tackling this quilt.

I chose Pat Bravo’s Carnaby Street Collection for my fabric choices.  It is so bright, warm, colorful, mysterious and captivating.  I thought this to be the perfect choice for Heather’s star surround quilt, I ordered about 9 different colors and patterns from that collection.

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I was pretty thrilled when I was able to assemble the first 2 stars of the nine required.  They actually looked like stars.. so I was on to a good start.

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Then there were 4, and before I knew it- I had 9!

Next up, the star surround.  Not all the points lined up, but I didn’t let that stop me.

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I had to motor on.  There was a deadline to meet CHRISTMAS!

I have been told many times, that quilting is easier than garment sewing.  I am here to say that this just isn’t true.  People have said, ” quilting is so much more forgiving than garment sewing.”  Well, you don’t have to fit the quilt to a certain body type or size, BUT and this is a big one….. YOU NEED TO BE PRECISE WHEN CUTTING YOUR SQUARES!!!!!

Not only that, but ORGANIZATION is also very key.  These are two things that I am just not that good at.  I am a creative person, and I find that most of us creative types are super messy.

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I tend to average things out…. this is such a no, no in quilting.  Eyeballing is just not done.  I love eyeballing things.  🙂

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The quilt top pictured above.

This is the quilt top all sewn up- even with some of my piecing points not meeting in some places, I made it work.

I finished this quilt, on Christmas Eve Night.  Can you believe it.  I started this on Thanksgiving vacation, cutting the many yards of Kona Snow White- 108 squares of various sizes….. finished attaching the binding right before bed on Christmas Eve.

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I washed Heather’s Quilt with 5 color catchers, (just in case) and threw it in the dryer, where it dried by about 1% smaller, creating all those crinkles that I love so much.

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The quilting stitches consisted of what I would call scribbles or irregular circles.   I am unable at this point to craft the perfect circle– (perfection is so overrated) so scribbles will do just fine.  For the stars and surrounds I used a walking foot and did some straight line quilting.  Nothing fancy here- I just tried to sew a straight line, which can be incredibly hard, when you’re tired and in my case over 40 and blind!  Aging sucks, but it beats the alternative!  🙂

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This quilt is 91″ x 91″  and is square.  It is by far the largest quilt I have ever made.

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So yes, it is square.  What is it that Huey Lewis says?!

IT’S HIP TO BE SQUARE!

And

YES!  I would say it is.

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Because this quilt is so HIP and so SQUARE!

 One thing about giving a quilt to someone special, you know that one size really does fit all. You also know if you make the gift recipient cry that you totally…

Hit The Mark.

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Yep, I hit my mark!

I hope you were able to make some crafty memories for someone special in your life too!

xxxooo