SURTEX, before and after…

It’s all I had been talking about.  “I’m getting ready for SURTEX”, “I’ll do that after SURTEX”, “When I go to SURTEX, this could happen”.  SURTEX, SURTEX, SURTEX!  MARCIA, MARCIA, MARCIA! This 6 letter word had consumed my life, by dictating sewing projects, both at home and at out of town workshops, and by creating a stress that until now I had avoided most of my life.  Yep that’s right, I am an AVOIDER!  If you ignore it, it will go away, right?  NOPE!  Don’t even try.

So as this blog’s title states, this is about before and after SURTEX, so let’s talk about before, shall we?  Many, many errands and projects (not sewing or design related) were put on hold until after this event.  You know, like house cleaning, laundry, folding and putting laundry away- let’s just say that my house was in desperate need of some TLC and so was my entire family.  Almost every waking moment was spent on preparation for this event.  Luckily SURTEX had some great webinars. These were key for us first timers that opted for the “telephone booth sized” booth.

They talked about banners, lighting, trash cans, backdrops (heights and widths), podium sizes (which was impossible to actually get the correct measurements) and last, and my favorite, PRESS KITS! These weren’t really my favorite, especially since we came home with over 100 press kits that nobody wanted.  I say my “favorite” because Jim, Will and I put 200 of those little devils together, which we were told to do in one of those informative webinars. I even asked if we were new to the industry and haven’t any clients yet, will we also will need 200 press kits? Yes- we were told.

Well, I am here to tell you now- DON’T DO IT!! 75 would have been a very nice number. WE were told to make and bring way too many.  WE spent countless hours assembling these kits, not too mention, Aaack I hate to even think of it, but the money that was spent on these- I haven’t done the math- and I don’t think I am going to.

This was how the kits were assembled

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200 Kraft paper folders were purchased.   Dum Dum lollipops were used as a closure for each folder. I think this is a genius idea, clever, and if you would like to borrow this idea I would be flattered.  All folders needed to be punched twice (through both front and back of the folder) for the lollipop insertion.

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I created a special coloring booklet just for SURTEX 

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I printed 300 Coloring Booklets and each was packaged in a vellum envelope with a box of 12 colored pencils, (not 8 as it stated in the photo above this photo).  The extra 100 booklets and pencils were to give out at my booth.

It’s The Little Things That Make a Difference

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In the photos above you see a bunch of embroidery hoops and a custom stamp I had made in my logo from Tailormadestamps on etsy.  I highly recommend them, the quality is awesome and they are quick! I used the stamp to put my logo on the embroidery hoop backside and the backside of the swatches.

On to the “Phone Booth Sized” booth.  The Floor space, was a mere 5 feet x 5 feet.  I couldn’t get exact measurements of the shelving that was offered through GES at the Javits Center, so I opted for these shelves…. Actually- they are shoe racks, but they were light weight and they fit the space nicely!

IMG_9575These were purchased from The Container Store, they were cheap, they came flat in a box and they didn’t need any special tools to set up! This photo was taken in the container store- this was not them set up in my booth.

The Booth

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This is my by booth before!  I know! RIGHT?!  It is SO roomy and spaceous!  I wish I would have opted for the next size up- It would have cost more, but this space was so small that I couldn’t even change my mind in it!!! Also, there was no privacy, those on either side of you could get in on your conversations, and dare I say it??? I’m going to- steal your potential client!  Yep- it happens, and did!

That tiny space to the left of my booth is where I put those stackable shoe shelves. They fit perfectly!! You can see them in the photo below.

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Here is the booth during set-up.  My banners were AWESOME.  They were done by Production Resources of Boston.  I put mostly characters on my banners and with the black background they popped!  People came around the corner and saw my pig on a vespa and couldn’t help but laugh!  That made my day!

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A shot of my amazing and handsome husband (my BUMBLE) Jim, hanging my banners with care, he also helped many others hang theirs!

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Setting up in progress! I am holding a spring-loaded curtain rod- this was put on the backside of my podium and was where I would hide my handbag and other things that I didn’t want to be seen.

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I had these items I sewed with my fabric printed from Spoonflower represented in my shelving unit. You can see them in the photo above in the shoe rack    shelving unit.

The Sewn Items

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This wallet, pattern is by LR Stitched-THE PERFECT WALLET, fabric by me, Granny’s Rock Garden Collection.  It is the perfect wallet! I love this wallet, and I have made scads of them!

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This little clutch made from Noodleheads Rainbow Clutch-(pattern from her book), The fabric is from my Lily Pond Collection.IMG_9784

This skirt I also sewed from my Lily Pond Collection, the pattern is from Colette Patterns The Ginger Skirt.  It is super easy to sew, but I feel like it never feels right when it is on- like it rides up or something- I wore it to SURTEX anyway.

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This is also a pattern from Noodlehead.  The divided basket, sewn from my Lily Pond Collection

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The blouse above is the Biscayne Pattern from Hey June Patterns – the fabric is from  my Splendor In The Grass Collection and the large pouch and small change purse  were sewing projects from Sew South. The fabric is from my Granny’s Rock Garden Collection.

You all know that I really want a fabric gig, so I really put that medium to the test to show what my collections can do for a plethera of patterns!  I really think they work well with clothing and bags- and quilts of course.

Since my characters were mostly represented on my banners, I put my design repeats into a portfolio I had printed through Shutterfly.  It measures 11″ x 14″.

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Over 100 of my design repeats were represented in this lovely tidy book.  It made for a great display on my podium.  I purchased a book holder to keep it upright to catch peoples eyes.

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Here I am on my second day.  Wow, look at that, I am having a good hair day!

What I learned and what I would/would not do again

  1. If it is your first time doing SURTEX- don’t do the smaller booth. This was only a one time deal for new exhibitors to get their foot in the door, at a lower price which was great, but you give up privacy, space, room for others to help you and I think status.  Attendees just weren’t educated enough on what the Designer District was all about. If you can afford to spend more for your first time- do it.
  2. Advertise in some of the special directories.  There is a SURTEX directory and there are a couple others, and apparently the cost is minimal.
  3. Make sure you have some holiday designs.  People came to my booth asking for Christmas designs.  This was a big “I dropped the ball moment” for me.  I should have had a whole portfolio book dedicated to Holidays! All holidays should be represented.
  4. 75 Press Kits- Tops.  Make them a special representation of you, but downsize and economize.
  5. Listen to the SURTEX webinars but don’t be afraid to reach out to some of your exhibitor friends before the convention.  If you are inexperienced at exhibiting (like me), don’t be shy about asking those who have been before advice on certain things you may be questioning.
  6. Be friendly and chat with everyone you can, you never know where it may lead. DON’T be glued to your phone.  It doesn’t look professional and you are missing so much!
  7. Have FUN

I may do SURTEX again.  Now that I got that all out of my system, I feel like I am ready to start planning for next year.  I did make many contacts, I learned from others and I got some really great feedback from folks.  I am also working on a contract with a company, and this happened because of SURTEX.  Things are moving ahead- I’m pushing forward and it feels great.

Thanks for reading and visiting.

Stay Well and Stay Crafty

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!

Inspiration

Wowee, the last few months have flown by, but they also seemed to drag on.  I know, this doesn’t make sense, but this is how time has felt for me lately.  Time drags, when you are uninterested in anything, feel depressed and just not motivated.  Am I speaking anybody’s language here?  Time flies by when you head into a department store all decked out in holiday decorations in the middle of September. I forget what season I am in sometimes- (California weather can do that to a person) especially when retail messes with your head and you have to question if you slept months away in a Rip Van Winkle kind of way.   Today I was in a bookstore and they were playing holiday music it was disguised in a jazzy elevator tune, but it was definitely Christmas music!  Ugh!  Can we please do Halloween first?

I have been working on my fabric designs, and they are actually coming along.  It is exciting for me to be doing this, I wish I could share with you, but for now I need to keep these under wraps.  I can share with you however,  a class I discovered on Creativelive.  Taught by Bonnie Christine, a successful fabric designer.  The class is called Design Surface Patterns From Scratch.  It was/is so helpful.  I bought the class, and now I own it…So I can review it at anytime.  I highly recommend both Creativelive and this course.  Creativelive offers many other courses for artists…of all kinds.  Check it out!

The other course I am taking is The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design, which I found on the website Do What You Love for Life.

So this is where I have been.  Working on designs, sketching a lot and taking some on-line courses. I have been battling my depression along the way and trying to stay inspired even when I have pretty much given up on myself.  It’s hard to look at the future, when you aren’t feeling like you want one.  So..

A few weeks ago I went to the Catskills for a weekend workshop with my friend Heather Ross.  Also in attendance was the very talented Denyse Schmidt.  The dynamic duo welcomed 11 of us to a 1850’s Victorian Farmhouse, situated on 20 acres!

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Most of us brought projects to work on, I was to work on my design work with Heather.  She has been sort of mentoring me along the way.  I have to say though, there were two highlights to this weekend.  First was having the opportunity to spend more time with Anne Sullivan from Play-Crafts… I have met her before, but never really got to know her.

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Heather Ross and Anne Sullivan talk fabric design

Now I can say she is my friend.  We flew together both ways.. It made the whole traveling process for me so much easier!  The second highlight of the weekend, was searching for a dead animal in the basement with both Anne and Denyse Schmidt.

When I say basement, what I really mean is dungeon it was dark, smelly and scary.  There was a dead animal stench emanating from the bowels of the house.

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photo 1-58 Some of the gals that were sewing in the dining room could get whiffs of it every now and then.  So Denyse, Anne and I decided to take the matter into our own hands, and take care of the little bugger.  We found nothing.

I am sure there aren’t too many people who can say they went dead vermin hunting with Denyse Schmidt. 🙂 I can now take that off my bucket list!

Now to give you some inspiration for those of you that still have little ones and would like to do something special for them.  I painted two toy boxes that my mother in-law gifted the boys for their 1 year old birthdays.

Here is Kenny’s toy box.

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Included on Kenny’s toy box were our pets at the time, Chloe, our yellow lab and Wooley and Poly-ester our cats.  Now, sadly they are all gone.  They did get boxes of their own, with ashes in them.  Sad face.

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Now here is William’s… His has more detail, since I thing I was a little more confident about painting on a toy box at this point.

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That’s all for now folks.  Have a lovely inspirational weekend!

Letting Go-It’s So Hard To Do…

I have been absent from blogging for about 2 months now.  Seems to be an epidemic with me lately.  I have been distracted from many things lately.  Mostly life.  I might be there in body, but the soul?  Well…. it’s thinking about other things, and wondering where all the time went.

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Kenny after his bath 1996

You see, my oldest of 2 children is headed off to college.  This is truly something to be celebrated, as there were other paths he could have taken and this by far was the one that all parents hope for.  Not only is Kenny going to college, but he is headed to the college that both Jim and I graduated from.  A really nice nod for a kid to give his parents.  It does make you proud.  The one thing that is hard to swallow is that he is 2300 miles away from home.  Far away from Marin County, really really far away.  Three time zones and a whole other climate away.  It’s good though, it’s all good (I say this over and over again while rocking back and forth).  Only kidding, I’m not that bad…… yet.  I have been known to spontaneously burst out into tears, though.  I know there are other moms out there just like me, feeling the same way I do.  Right?!

I guess you could say I am somewhat in mourning.  I call it “mourning” because it is a type of  loss.  Please, stay with me here and let me explain.  I do tend to over-exaggerate.  I think anytime your child hits a benchmark, you are both proud and sad.  Think of the first day your child goes to Kindergarten, you are so proud, but you are crying, right?  Life is changing, he is on his way to his grade school years…. your family dynamic is changing.  Right?!  It’s exciting- but that little baby that needed you for everything doesn’t need you as much.

Well, with Kenny leaving for this new chapter of his life, our family that was once a family of 4 is now 3.  I know Kenny is still our child, but the next time he comes home (Christmas Vacation) he will be his own person (he will think he can do whatever he wants under our roof, which is not how it will work), and it will be very different for us to parent him.

photo 4-41On our way to the airport to take Kenny to MSU 

Fast forward to a few weeks later.  Kenny was dropped off to Michigan State University.  We (Jim, Will and I) took him there on Sunday the 24th of August.  We spent the day moving him into his 12′ x 12′ room, unloading all of his belongings and searching for a futon at any shop nearby that happened to have one left, for any price.  The difference between boys and girls, is more pronounced and evident with this experience.  In my opinion anyway….. The girls decorate their rooms and make their beds, adding throw pillows that in the end are pretty and inspiring, while the boys (especially my son) throw their beds together and call it a day.  I went to great lengths, to make sure that his bedding and hamper matched the huge brown carpet that I spent hours searching for on the internet.  Choosing just the right one, that wasn’t feminine at all.

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Kenny “making” his bed with his roommate Matt

I spent weeks, crafting a quilt, a one of a kind quilt, that in the end was tossed up on his bunk like a bunch of dirty laundry. And, although these things came together, and made me feel sad, the hardest moment was that last hug….. the last embrace.  My son, now a young man doesn’t need me in the way he used to and was ready to let me go.  We spent the last 17 years preparing for this very moment.  It’s not like we didn’t see it coming or even that it wasn’t something we fully supported. That’s what good parenting is, I guess.  If your kid is able to leave the nest and feel confident, safe and equipped to handle what life throws his way…. then you have done pretty well. He has his “tools” now it’s time for him to “build” something.

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I free motioned part of the MSU fight song around the border.  

Here is Kenny’s one of a kind quilt.  The quilt pattern  (referred to as the water waves quilt) was a pattern that I got from Must Love Quilts.  It’s a fast and easy quilt.  And for Kenny, it was more on the masculine side.   Green and white fabrics were a great choice for Kenny since these are MSU colors.  photo 5-28

 Here, Kenny is telling me to “hurry up and take the picture”.

I did a stippling free-motion for the quilting on this quilt. Super fun to do!

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There is  camo binding around the entire quilt.  

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My favorite part.  The back with a Spartan, surrounded by MSU fabrics.

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These are wonky cut 1/2 square triangles.  I was going to do the whole quilt out of these, so glad that I didn’t.  I had a very hard time finding the licensed MSU fabric on-line.  I stocked up when I visited Michigan!  I am all set for the next Michigan State University project.

So, as for now it has been a week since Kenny started his new adventure, and us, ours.   Today has been hard, but like so many mother’s before me, I will get through it and it will all be okay.  Perhaps a cupcake would make me feel better.   It couldn’t hurt, right?

Thanks for stopping by.  Until next time, keep creating!

Sewing and Such…

I have been absent from writing for two months.  I have been creating.  Sometimes I find blogging about it, and also doing it (creating) is too much for me to do.  I also have two boys to somewhat parent, A husband that needs a wife, two pugs to keep alive and then there are those plants that come to my house to die.  That last one is the easy one.

I didn’t get a chance to blog about Sew South- which is totally the “Bee’s Knees”, by the way.  The fact of the matter is, is that many others that attended Sew South did such a fabulous job describing the whole event, that I felt like I would be reinventing the wheel.  Here are a couple blogs you should check out:  The Sewing Chick– she is a pretty cool chicky at that!  I love her!  You could also check out Trina Peterson from Sew Many Possibilities.  Trina is an amazing, wonderful young lady full of all kinds of talent.  I love her too.  In fact I have to say, that everyone I came into contact with was quite wonderful and welcoming.  If you are going to head to a weekend sewing retreat on your own this is the one to travel for.  Everyone made it so easy.  Last but not least is, Jennifer Mathis from Ellison Lane and also the creator of Sew South.  I cannot say enough about her.  She loves to give, give, give- it makes her SO happy.

Here are a few things I have been up to:


LUGGAGE TAGS

I made 50 luggage tags and then gifted them to all my new Sew South friends after Sew South.  I used the pattern by Studio Cherie.

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These are just a portion of the 50 I made after Sew South and sent off to their new homes.


NEW YORK

I flew to New York for a Heather Ross Workshop day which was a lot of fun. I have to say though for me the highlight of New York was the 911 Museum.  It really is something you must see!

photo 4-39The outdoor fountain is breathtaking.  It was so thoughtfully created.

photo 3-42This is part of the indoor museum where many people are laid to rest behind this wall.  I cannot even express how somber this museum is.  It really is something you have to see and experience.


THE STITCH

I purchased a Speak Your Silence Kit to sew #Thestitch onto my gray sneakers.

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My mom was sexually abused by her step-father for many years, that is why I wear The Stitch.

photo 2-44This is a great charity that offers free counseling to adults that have been sexually abused as children.  You should really check them out.


THE  SEW TOGETHER BAG

I sewed up a Sew Together Bag, designed by the not crazy Sew Demented. I would love to see how her brain works!  This bag goes together in a way that I could not even have imagined.  It is ingenious!

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photo 2-46This was gifted to my post Sew South Secret Sister!


PILLOW COVERS

I sewed up 5 pillow covers for my good friend Susie:

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I was pretty happy with the results, each pillow had a zipper and piping.  We found the sailboat fabric on etsy for I think 3.95 a yard, compared to the Calico Corners fabric, which was somewhere around 115.00 a yard!  Crazy huh?


ESTATE SALE 

I found this Doris Day door hanger at an estate sale.

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I wasn’t even going to attend, but “something” made me take a left turn instead of a right and I found this for a dollar!  Thank you “something” for making me take that turn!


GRADUATION FESTIVITIES

I made a Michigan State logo for the back of Kenny’s graduation robe.  The kids decorate the back of their robes with the colleges or universities they are attending in the fall.  I don’t think this is a tradition at all the high schools it seems pretty unique.

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It makes for a fun project.  Kenny and his friend Katie, did their caps themselves.

Kenny also graduated, what kind of mom would I be if I didn’t include a graduation picture?

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I made 8 of these “Survival Kit” jars for Kenny and 7 of his friends.

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Included in the kit?  Chocolate, Candy, altoids, sunscreen, and of course a sewing kit.  You can’t leave home without a sewing kit!


 CAPE COD

We finally made it to the East Coast!

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Yep!  The sign really does change each year!


 ANTIQUING

I found this lovely vintage quilt at an antique store for $100.00!

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There are a few spots, that I didn’t discover until I got home, but it is all hand quilted and hand pieced!

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Pretty AH-Mazing, huh?!  It measures about 7.5 feet x 8.5 feet!  It is huge!  I am going to get it professionally cleaned eventually.


 TUTORIAL

And lastly… Which actually took place first and took almost as long as the luggage tags, I created a tutorial for this bag.

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The link will be on my website on Friday the 27th.  Ellison Lane is doing a patchwork series and this bag is part of that series.  You can check back to Swellsewing.com on Friday or you can check with Ellisonlane.com on Friday for the actual tutorial on how to make this fun versatile bag.  Making this tutorial was quite the learning experience for me.  I hope to do more of these tutorials in the future.  We’ll have to wait and see how well this one does.

So until Friday…. Stay Crafty!