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..

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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!

The Ellen DeGeneres Quilt……

It’s time to shake things up.  I have been keeping a secret from you.  Well, some of you know, but not many.  🙂  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.

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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,… “she should be watching this” I thought to myself….. 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…. 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!  😦

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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…… 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?!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Wait….. 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!  🙂

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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.

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This went on for a few months……when 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.

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

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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!

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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.

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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…. I sure hope it made it to its intended destination and into Ellen’s arms….

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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!

The Cotton State

Did you know that Alabama is the “cotton state”?  Well, I didn’t.   How fitting that just a few weeks back I was fortunate enough to meet another one of my “sewing celebrities”, Natalie Chanin from the lovely state of Alabama.  Not only is she from Alabama, but she makes her living by selling goods made from organic cotton, some grown, right there in Alabama!

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Natalie Chanin is the owner and creator of Alabama Chanin.  She is amazing.  Let’s face it though, every single “sewing celebrity” that I have met, is AMAZING!  I know you have heard it from me time and time again- but it is so true.  Miss Natalie grew her business, by using a cottage industry style of production in which she employs members from her community that she refers to as “stitchers”.

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My “kit” for the Bloomers Swing Skirt was all ready for me to get started.

I am always so amazed at how accessible these artisans are to people such as myself.  Miss Natalie, held a one day workshop in Berkelely, California at the Edible Schoolyard.  Natalie is a lovely silver-haired lady and a little on the shy side (she even told us this).  She is witty, sharp and has the most hilarious stories to tell regarding a certain unnamed friend of hers (sworn to secrecy).  I was able to take a few pictures of her, but she asked us so nicely to not post any of them because she says, she always “looks awful in them”.

This is a picture that I did not take.

This is a picture that I did not take. Click on the photo to see its source. This is a great photo of Natalie!

Before any of us at this particular workshop even started stitching, Natalie told us the importance of thread.  I never really sat back and thought about thread, I mean, I know that it holds our garments and quilts together, but beyond that I have always found it a nuisance.  My dogs enjoy eating it, it tangles and it attaches itself to me to be found at a later more embarrassing moment.  I track it all over the house from my sewing room.  My whole family from time to time is even covered in it!

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The tables were set with sweet peas and sewing supplies! Yes it was heaven!

Natalie’s perspective on thread, is a whole lot different and nicer than mine!  She told us that we need to only take an arm’s length of the thread, thread the needle and gently stroke the thread, smoothing it out and talking nicely to it.  YES!  I did say talk to your thread.  NICELY.  This hopefully will counteract any kind of unwanted knotting during your sewing process.  You do want to double knot the end of your thread though, for this particular kind of “Natalie Chanin” sewing.  All sewing is done by hand.

Here you can see the decorative stitching with button thread and the centers of the stencils snipped away.

Here you can see the decorative stitching with button thread and the centers of the stencils snipped away.

Here is what I have so far.  This particular “swing skirt” has 4 panels.  The kit comes with all 4 panels of the softest organic cotton jersey already cut out and stenciled.  The assembly, decorative stitching and stencil trimmed centers are for you to do!

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  This is one of the “styles” she uses on some of her garments.  When you get to the end of one of your skirt panels, it looks like hair has developed all over it!  In a nifty way though!

I have 2 panels nearly completed.

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As you can see there is so much texture and depth added to these garments.  Once all 4 panels are completed, I will hand sew them all together and add an elastic waist band.  Yes, it is ALL hand sewn.  I really love the fact that it is all hand sewn.  When I am finished this skirt will be priceless to me.  If you were to purchase a completed skirt such as this one or some other garment from Alabama Chanin, you could expect to pay anywhere from 300 dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on the extent of embroidery and beading.   Amazing isn’t it?

Signing off for now, the boys and I are headed to the Maker Faire over the weekend!

Have a great weekend!