Does Purpose Stop You From Creating?

There is a lesson to be learned in this post, so read carefully and use as directed! ¬†ūüôā

The Heather Ross Sewing and Craft Weekend Workshop in Palm Springs was a blast. ¬†We had phenomenal teachers as always. ¬†Gretchen Hirsch, Annabel Wrigley and of course the amazing Heather Ross. ¬†These teachers are inspiring, not only because of what they have already accomplished, but because they continue to create….. and think of new and different ways to keep people like myself engaged and wanting more. ¬†We come back to these workshops just to be around their creative aura. ¬†I just want to suck “it” all in, hoard it, take it with me and remember every single inspirational and creative moment.


My Sewing Sisters!  Robin, Margaret and Me!

I feel giddy with sewing sister love. ¬† Silly right? ¬†I saw some remarkable things this weekend. ¬†My new friend Raven worked all weekend on a lovely tank (I am unsure of the exact pattern) made from Heather Ross’s Water Ski Beauties print and an Anna Maria Horner Field Study print in Tomato. ¬†It was so very cute and whimsical. ¬†Raven had my other friend Robin, (known as Robin Bobbin on Flickr) try on that tank and it fit Robin so well that sweet Raven told Robin to keep it! ¬† Now if that isn’t an example of sister love, I don’t know what is! ¬†Kudos to you Raven- you really are quite ¬†an amazing young woman. ¬†So glad I was able to spend time with you!

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View from my hotel room, look at that thick blanket of fog rolling in!

Not only did we sew this weekend, we got crafty too!  Annabel Wrigley had the most amazing color palette of tissue, crepe and construction papers.  She also had all the other goodies that you would expect to see to construct some pretty amazing paper flowers. All available in any color you could possibly dream up.

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Stunning Chandeliers made by Annabel Wrigley

These flowers were used to create some fairy tale like “chandeliers”. ¬†Now I am kind-of a sewer/crafter with a purpose. ¬†One of my first questions I ask myself when I am readying myself to construct something is- “Am I going to wear/use it?” ¬†Followed by “What would I be wearing/using it for?¬†(This type of questioning comes from a portion of my brain that has to rationalize everything). ¬†It does weed out some pretty unnecessary sewing of garments that I would probably never wear and it also helps with fabric choices BUT It does also however, stop me from just having a little fun.

Girls just wanna have fun right?!

I thought to myself, “Why do I want a chandelier that isn’t even going to serve as a source of light?”


Since most of the ladies making these chandeliers had little girls at home to create these for, I felt like, why? ¬†“Why would I make one of these for my kid”? ¬†I am sure Kenny and Will would have thought I flipped my lid if I brought home a pretty frilly pink floaty thing for them to display in their rooms! ¬†I wonder if I was the only one who went through this thought process?

So… It was PURPOSE that was stopping me from having some fun! ¬†How sad is that? ¬†Isn’t the act of having fun purpose enough? ¬†Think about it for a minute…..

Does purpose dictate your crafting?

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Heather Ross explaining the ins and outs of Inkodye

Well, by the second evening of the workshop, watching from afar all the lovely blooms ¬†being produced- I finally caved. ¬†I wanted to sit around the most colorful table at the workshop, chat and indulge in some colorful creating. ¬†With a little direction I was on my way searching for wires and floral tape- I assembled my first paper flower, and then my second and my third….. you get the idea. ¬†My takeaway? ¬†It is very theraputic, quite addictive…




I don’t have a photo to show you of my completed chandelier, because sadly I didn’t complete it and the travel home left it a little shabby- BUT I gained so much more by just the experience of assembling all those papers into something 3 dimensional.

So… Have you learned anything?

Maybe sometimes it’s okay to not have a plan when crafting and just be spontaneous along the way? The worst thing that could happen is you might create something beautiful and have a hell of a lot of fun!

go ahead, try it-

I dare you!

Have a great weekend and do some reckless creating while you’re at it!

The Ellen DeGeneres Quilt‚Ķ…

It’s time to shake things up. ¬†I have been keeping a secret from you. ¬†Well, some of you know, but not many. ¬†ūüôā ¬†I have made a quilt for Ellen DeGeneres! ¬†No, she didn’t ask me to. ¬†I just went ahead and did it without any prompting from anybody. ¬†I know, crazy right? ¬†I have been known to be a little cray, cray. ¬†Let me tell you how this all came about.


It all started while I was watching the Ellen Show one afternoon in May of 2013. ¬†I had spent ¬†the earlier part of my day with my good friend Patty, walking and talking. ¬†Patty had been through some rough things, grieving for her dad just to mention one thing, and I just wanted to make her smile and laugh. ¬†Well, the Ellen Show, I thought would be a perfect way to get Patty to smile and laugh,‚Ķ “she should be watching this” I thought to myself‚Ķ.. and then I thought, NO, it would be even better if we could be there in person! ¬†Right?! ¬†I texted Patty and told her that I was going to get tickets to the show‚Ķ. Maybe 3 or 4 tickets, so I could also include my cousin Carol and one other also. This would be a great outing for us, Patty and Carol thought so too! ¬†That was before I actually tried though! ¬†ūüė¶


A teaser peek!

If you have ever been on the Ellentv website to get tickets, everything is “fully booked”! ¬†I kept checking back, but it was always the same result. ¬†So I did some investigating on the internet to see what I could do‚Ķ‚Ķ One posting from someone stated that “if you send something to Ellen, you might get her attention”. ¬†What could I send that would get Ellen’s attention? ¬†I AM GONNA SEW A QUILT! ¬†Not just any quilt, I am going to make the Tacha Bruecher American Flag Quilt from the book Hexa-Go-Go.

Why the American Flag Quilt? ¬†For many reasons, first of all I like it, secondly, because I can sew it on the go while traveling and thirdly, because in my opinion Ellen is the ultimate American. ¬†She believes in marriage equality, she ends each show with saying, “Be kind to one another”, she supports tons of charities, gives back to so many, she makes me laugh and she dances! ¬†She dances a lot!!! What’s not to like?!


My Ellen Quilt Project started in late May. ¬†It’s no surprise that this quilt is made up of hundreds of hexagons. ¬†I never counted them, I should have. ¬†As you can see, just this blue portion of the flag has many, many hexies in it. ¬†This was the first portion I worked on. ¬†I would paperpiece these hexies, while watching tv with the kids and during long car trips. ¬†Pretty much any moment I was sitting, I was piecing.


It all started taking shape after the blue portion was completed.  I could actually see, that yes indeed, this was going to be a flag!


When I started to assemble and piece the stripes of the flags, I realized that this flag didn’t seem personal enough for Ellen. ¬†It needed something more! ¬†I had my Aha moment. ¬†I am going to design Ellen DeGeneres fabric and have it printed through Spoonflower!!! This would be my first design/printing experience with Spoonflower and I was pretty anxious about it. ¬†I worked on the design for days. ¬†I realized that not all fonts would translate to the Spoonflower design process. ¬†The Spoonflower website changes some fonts to different fonts. ¬†I was unable to find any information out there regarding acceptable fonts, but I am sure there is something that refers to fonts? ¬†I don’t know, maybe somebody out there knows? ¬†Anyway, designing this Ellen Fabric was finally a way for me to dip my toes into the fabric and surface design. ¬†It forced me to use my tablet and illustrator and made me become more familiar with uploading items to Spoonflower. ¬†Ellen was helping me even though she didn’t know it.


This fabric is mostly a text design, and isn’t anything too impressive, but it made for great hexagons that the “white” stripes are composed of. ¬†I took bits and pieces from her EllenTV website and cut and pasted Ellen’s biography, names of recurring guest stars and special charities that she supports (just to name a few things)! ¬†This fat quarter piece of fabric arrived from Spoonflower while Carol and I were in Sedona, Arizona vacationing! Mr. Swellsewing texted me a photo of it and I was so excited! ¬†I was also, paper piecing blue hexies during that vacation.

So this process continued, Through many vacations.  Sedona with Carol, Asilomar with Patty and a Michigan trip to visit my folks with the husband and kids.


This picture was taken while in Cape Cod, later in the process of The Ellen Quilt. ¬†I have shown this quilt to probably 25 people in total, letting them know that I am making this for Ellen. ¬†Peoples’ response was always why? ¬†Why would you do this? ¬†I would tell them, “because I really, really like her, I think she is an amazing American (if only everyone would be kind to one another), she does so much for others AND I want to get her attention, so I can maybe get tickets to her show!? Mostly though, It’s time for Ellen to get a gift! ¬†Like I said earlier in this post, she does so much for others, gives so much to so many people that she should be given something that shows how much normal folks like me, really appreciate her. ¬†I do!!! I do appreciate her!



Thanks to all my Instagram friends for commenting and liking so nicely!

I have Instagramed pictures of this quilt, but didn’t divulge who the recipient was to be. ¬†I guess I was worried that maybe someone would steal my idea and get their quilt done quicker, or maybe because there was a huge possibility that I wouldn’t finish at all?

This is the only photo of me and Ellen’s Quilt! ¬†It’s a selfie, and it’s not very good, but here it is.


Wait‚Ķ.. there is one other, that Mr. Swellsewing took of me. ¬†I was working on Ellen’s quilt while watching the Ellen Show!! I didn’t know he took this picture until later! ¬†ūüôā


So… hexie, by hexie, stitch by stitch, seam by seam…. this quilt came together.  I sewed this baby wherever I went.  West Coast to East Coast and back again.

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Both Ruby (in the earlier pug photo) and Peek-A-Boo (in the photo below) had their turns at a SIT or a STAND on Ellen’s quilt. ¬†What can I say, it’s animal friendly.


This went on for a few months‚Ķ‚Ķwhen finally I had another idea! ¬† A REALLY GOOD ONE!! ¬†I am going to add 11 stars, and Ellen’s name to the blue portion of the flag. ¬†The 11 stars will represent Ellen’s 11 seasons of the Ellen Show! ¬†I also embroidered around them.


I tried to use an Alabama Chanin approach to the paint stenciling and embroidery, knotting the stitching on the outside of the quilt.


The longer I held onto this quilt, the more I wanted to add to it. That’s how I ended up embroidering “THE ELLEN SHOW” around the quilt over and over again! ¬†I was worried that if I held onto this quilt any longer, I would have to add another star for her 12th season, or WORSE yet, keep it for myself!

Once I was done adding some bells and whistles, it was time for the big reveal…..

flag5 Ta Da…… here is the finished quilt!


my over 6′ tall husband is holding this quilt while balancing on a 3 foot tall wall, to give you an idea of how big it is.

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The outer portion border of this quilt was free-motion quilted and the stripes and blue portion were line quilted.

Here are some photos of the back of the quilt.  I kept it pretty and unELLENesque for Portia.



My self-made SWELLSEWING tag.

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Here are some images of it folded.  It was hard to let this quilt go.

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I just love the way it looks folded!

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I had to let it go though. ¬†I put Ellen’s quilt in a box wrapped in a huge swatch of the “specially made Ellen Fabric”, some pictures of my friends and a nice letter to Ellen. ¬†It was all tied together with a big piece of red ric rac. ¬†Do you think Ellen likes ric rac?

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This was my last view of the Ellen Quilt‚Ķ. I sure hope it made it to its intended destination and into Ellen’s arms‚Ķ.

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Since I sent this box, on October 21st I have been on needles and pins, (pardon me for the unintended pun)! ¬† Mr. Swellsewing and I have tracked the package and it did make it to Burbank. ¬†It went certified mail, returned receipt but the receipt was never returned to us. ¬† The postman said, that sometimes that happens, the slip gets lost. ¬†UGH. ¬†( Hopefully just the slip gets lost and not the package)! ¬†So you can imagine how anxious we are!…

I will keep you all posted on the outcome.  In the meantime, to quote Ellen,

“Be kind to one another” and have a Swell Weekend! ¬†Thanks for reading!

Little things can be SO BIG!!!

Sometimes, when you go to gift shop for someone, you realize that there is nothing they want for or need. ¬†In many cases, ¬†my parents are those people‚Ķ My dad doesn’t like “new fangled things”, “doesn’t need anything” and then wonders why everybody buys him books. ¬†My mom on the other hand, doesn’t need anything either, but she is always fun for me to spoil, so I always buy her a pair of Uggs in the latest coolest color (she loves those boots).

Well, a few years back, I had an idea. ¬†I was feeling “sentimental”, which on this very blog I have quite recently accused myself of. ¬†It seems this feeling comes over me often. ¬† Christmas was quickly on its way, and if you are living about 2300 miles and 3 time zones away from a gift recipient… forethought is a must. ¬†You need to get those packages in the mail at least 10 business days before the actual holiday. ¬†I was short on time and shopping ideas, so I did something that to this day I am pretty proud of. ¬†I put a pen to paper and took a walk down memory lane and wrote down some of my best childhood memories.


I took cardstock and stamped the outside of each little note. ¬†These were then placed into a glass jug. ¬†I don’t have a picture of the jug, but it was a something that my dad had been searching stores for with no luck.

Now that I am also a parent, I can see how the little things that both my mom and dad did when I was growing up has made a big impact on me as an adult. ¬†We all do it one day when you are driving and the kids are in the backseat arguing, you look in your rearview mirror and say sternly “do I have to stop this car?” It’s then that you realize that you are in fact turning into your mother. ¬† Not only those kinds of things we emulate from our parents, but things like- how I fold my sheets and towels, just like my momma and how I remember ¬†to tighten a screw in the correct direction- something I learned from my dad “lefty loosey, righty tighty”. ¬†It always works‚Ķ

I share this idea with you because, I think this is worth you trying, if you have good memories, that you want to remind your parents/family or friends of, and you need a very personal, creative gift this is something to try.   It really is priceless.


I was always sick with an upset stomach when I was a kid and I put my mom through hell.

As a kid I never made it to the bathroom when I threw up- so that is what this note is about.  My poor mom!  I did get the same treatment back from my son Kenny- he once threw up from the top bunk of his bunk bed over the side, and it went EVERYWHERE!!

Once I started writing I realized, wow- I have some pretty awesome memories.  Some memories made me laugh, like the one above.  I also felt empathy for my mom, now that I know how gross it is to deal with vomit.


Some made me wonder, will my kids have childhood memories that they will carry on into adulthood. ¬†My dad, a handy one he is built a stage in our barn where my sister and I would perform shows for family members (our poor family). ¬†Tammy had all the talent, I just went along for the ride. ¬†He also built an “ice skating rink” with visqueen and 2×4’s (it was really like a very large frozen puddle, but I loved it). ¬†It was big enough for me to do my skating twirls, small enough that I couldn’t catch too much speed.


My dad made what we called a “dune buggy” our of an old VW Volkswagen. ¬†It was topless and went really fast through the back 20 acres of my mom and dads farmland.

The rule when I went swimming was that I could not go any deeper than the height of my belly button.  I have also used this as a measure for my boys when they go swimming.

I must have had 30- 40 of these little handwritten notes.  As I was writing them, vivid memories of my childhood came rushing back.  It was quite the trip.

What really surprised me was that my mom and dad sent back a container with their memories of my childhood. ¬†Things that I hadn’t even thought of, and things they remembered quite differently than me.


My poor parents, sitting through what must have been very excruciating concerts.  The many hours of me practicing my coronet, playing  the same song over, and over and over again.  UGH!  Sorry about that mom and pops!


Yes, my mom was like a cab driver driving to and fro. ¬†We didn’t live close to the school either. ¬†My mom sat through countless tennis matches (I played tennis), and many football and basketball games that both my sister and I cheered for. ¬†She never looked bored and she never complained.


Now this one about chickens? ¬†I don’t remember it this way. ¬†I didn’t know my grandmother brought chickens to us. ¬†I remember having chickens, and getting eggs. ¬†I also remember my mom and dad trying to raise the chickens for the actual chicken. ¬†I don’t know if this was the same bunch of chickens, I am thinking probably not. ¬†At any rate the chicken we raised for poultry turned out to be a nightmare and it was something my mom and dad decided to “never do again!”


I did love it so when my Grandma Carscadden would come and stay with us. ¬†When my uncles and aunts were younger they would come along with her. ¬†I was quite young when they were that young. ¬†I seem to remember watching some old 8mm home movies in black and white of Hughy, Jimmy, Candy and Carolyn playing softball at our home when I was in my mom’s arms at about 6 months old. ¬†The four of them would get into some shenanigans, causing trouble as kids. ¬†My Aunt Candy was always the favorite, because she told the best scary stories about the Johnstown flood and she made the prettiest doll clothes for our Dawn Dolls.

There were so many other stories told in each one of their notes. ¬†Given that my dad is such a horrible communicator when it comes to how he feels about me, these little scraps of paper I think, were his way of telling me that he loves me and he has been “present” in ¬†my life. ¬†It made me realize that even though they were parents with young kids and in the thick of it, (like we are now), they still paid attention to things that happened. Weather they were big things or small things. ¬†Do you ever think about what our kids will remember when they are older? ¬†What will be a good memory for them. ¬†Things that make you say hmmmmmm.

Anyhow folks, have a good rest of the week, make some good memories for the kidlets. ¬†Our youngest, Will is having a walkathon at his school tomorrow. ¬†Parents are invited to tag along, so Jim and I will be joining Will in San Francisco, gosh, I hope we don’t have to walk any outrageously steep hills. ¬†I’ll DIE!!