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.


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.


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


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!






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”!


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!

Does Purpose Stop You From Creating?

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

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 “Summit” a meeting of the “Very Crafty”

The Sewing Summit took place a couple of weekends ago, and it was good.  This annual gathering of the very crafty has always been a wonderful place to share and socialize.  Just like many other things in life, the sparkle has waned a little (in my opinion) with the Sewing Summit.  More about this later.

There are many things that bring me back to the Sewing Summit and the people are what certainly brings me back again and again.  Last year I met Leigh and Jessie at the Summit and they are why I returned!  I was lucky enough to call them both roommates and friends this year.  Here’s a photo of them,  Leigh from and Jessie from  Thanks to Leigh for the fabulous photo!

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They put up with my crazy sleep screaming. Both were warned about my sleep “disorder” before the Summit, I even gave them huge boxes of earplugs!  They thought I was kidding!   Yes, it’s true, if you are to spend the night with me (like I do most nights with Mr. Swellsewing) you are very likely to witness my extremely strange sleep disorder.  This nearly nightly “routine” may consist of anything from me swearing like a truck driver to ear-piercing screaming.  Any of which is not a very pleasant way to be awoken.  All of my previous roommates, cousin Carol, Patty and now my sewing summit roomies have been exposed to this awful experience.  Sorry roomies…….. 😦

Another integral part for me, is to challenge myself and create a mini wardrobe of handsewn garments for the Summit.   I wore all of these items, except for the Grainline pajamas.  Other garments that I sewed were Colette Clover Trousers, Grainline Pocket T, Marlo Bloom reversible handbag, Anna Maria Horner Socialite Dress and The Staple Dress.

sewinsummitmotagesewingsummitmontage2The classes offered by the Sewing Summit this year were top-notch.   I think that the third year for the SS has brought the best teachers and speakers ever! Our guest speaker for the last evening was Heather Bailey, a woman of many talents, but best known for her fabric designs and her charming patterns.ss137

When I found out that she was going to be our guest speaker, I was floored- she is a sewing celebrity that I have always wanted to meet.  I must confess, that I quickly got shy when I found myself around her- there were so many things I wanted to ask her and tell her.  I just couldn’t.  I did I snag a very quick selfie of her when she was checking out of the hotel.  I knew at that moment that it was now or never. Sorry Heather……


Heather looks great, me, not so much!   🙂 I didn’t care how bad I looked, it was all about her….

Here is the list of classes and brief descriptions of their contents.

I had  “fabric design” with Pat Bravo, she is such a delight and also the owner of Art Gallery Fabrics.  Personal branding with Olivia Omega where she told us on our blogs we should “attract and repel” folks,  a two part “sewing with leather” class taught by Lindsay Rhodes of lrstitches and an HTML class with the very cute Jenib from “In Color Order” both Lindsay and jenib are crazy knowledgable and talented!  There was also a sloper skirt class I took, I begged cute mom Jodi to hold baby Vinny so that she could draft her skirt.  A much better option for me, since it has been ages since I have held and rocked a little one to sleep.  That was truly awesome!

Here’s a picture of me holding baby Vinny.  I am so lucky!


The last 2 classes I took were the “embroidered hoop with pocket” class and “appliqueing a tea towel” class.   The embroidered hoop class was taught by the very cute, Amanda from A Crafty Fox and the etsy shop Westwood Acres.  Here is the UFO from this class.

embroirderedpockethoop I did finish the appliqued tea towel the equally as cute, Amy from vintage fern taught.  Both of these teachers were really great. Sometimes an hour and a half just isn’t long enough.

So now for the other part of the Sewing Summit that I felt like lacked a little luster.   I don’t like to be negative, really I don’t but the creativity just wasn’t there with the Summit this year, as it has been in previous years.

My first impression, and before even arriving in Utah (I was not alone in feeling this), was that information for the Sewing Summit seemed to be spread all over the place.  Before attending the Summit, attendees sometimes need to purchase and bring some supplies for specific classes.  Some teachers e-mailed us, and others from what I gathered, listed supplies on a supply list on the Sewing Summit webpage.   Common sense tells me, that if I am getting e-mails from some teachers introducing themselves and telling me what I need for class, then I should be getting e-mails from all of my teachers with what to bring.  It should be one or the other.

The other thing about the supply list is that I didn’t realize it existed until the Summit was over.  I even Instagrammed one teacher asking “what should I bring?”  never getting a response, I came  to class unprepared.

A lot of information was posted on the Sewing Summit Facebook Page.  This is good, but I joined it late, not knowing that I would be missing out on private swaps because I had to join the page. If only an official e-mail would have went out informing us to JOIN the facebook page to recieve all the up to date information reagarding the summit.   I thought that just visiting the page was enough to get the information I needed.  I missed out on fabric and bag swaps, which is always a fun way to meet all the other sewing gals. Honestly though, after joining the facebook page there were so many “facebook e-mails” coming into my e-mail that it became even more confussing.   For me, being a forty-something, it just isn’t the way I communicate. I guess I am just old school.

Another part of the Sewing Summit is registering and getting your name badge.  This has in the past always been fun!  This was my third year, so I was very excited to see the familiar faces of the Summit staff for check-in.  unfortunately the welcome counter was very disappointing,the desk was slightly decorated with bunting but there was barely any eye contact or even a cheerful “welcome back”.  The staff this year seemed disjointed and unwlecoming with a low morale.  There didn’t seem to be any celebrating happening, I can’t put my finger on it, but something has changed.


As you can see, in the first year of the Sewing Summit, someone took the time to handcraft lanyards!  They did an amazing job, whoever these people were, it made a great impression.  Also it made for a hard act to follow.  Right?

Year two followed with a lovely Coats and Clark lanyard, which we were pleased to don during the festivities at the Summit!  Finally year 3, a sad little lanyard, you had a choice between 4 or 5 colors but no mention of the Sewing Summit anywhere to be found on the lanyard or on our name tags.  We were given washi tape and markers during the opening mixer on Thursday night  to decorate our name tags and write our blog names.  It really felt like someone dropped the ball on this part.  On a positive note though, with all three years, my first and last name has been spelled correctly, which for even some of my friends and acquaintances proves to be difficult, as they spell my first name T-R-A-C-Y.

There was a definite feeling of stress throughout the entire event.

The large rooms from last year that housed our dinner events became much smaller(1/2 the size) and very cozy.  Maybe this was purposely done to help the Summit attendees to socialize more? The room  felt cramped and waiters were constantly bumping into our chairs and struggling to get around us.  There was a lot of construction happening at the hotel, so maybe they needed to squeeze us in to accomodate us?

The Summit staff had many technical and supply problems.  Some hands on classes went without important notions because those items weren’t delivered on time to the Summit.  Technical  problems took over many of the lecture classes that used a screen/computer connection to assist the teachers.   Sometimes those technical problems would delay the class starting 20 minutes or so and other times, there wasn’t anyway to get the screen/computer to actually connect and work.

If it were your first time at the Summit, you probably left happy as a clam.  Many made new friends, (I did too) and had a whole new crafty rejuvenation!  This is why we want to go to something such as the Sewing Summit. to get and give great ideas and friends, that speak your “language”.

Referring to what Olivia Omega said in her Branding class, you want to “attract and repel” folks to or from your blog.  You should always be true to who you are.  I don’t want to be phony, and I didn’t want to sugar coat this, but I also don’t want to be mean.  My intent is not to be mean.  This was a very hard post for me to write, I must have saved this draft 50 times, and rewritten most of it 20 times.  So please know that I didn’t approach this lightly.

I just don’t want the Sewing Summit to lose that quality it began with.

Thanks for reading and stopping by.

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Somebody Stop Me! Please?!

Yes, this is a cry for help.  I am a MAD woman!  I cannot stop making things for the Sewing Summit!  I imagine I am like a person on crack, but instead my vice is fabric, and I can’t stop manipulating it into different shapes and sizes.  Ugh!   What the heck!  Last year, I wore two dresses, and received an incredible response and it was really fun.  I wore Gretchen Hirschs’ Bombshell Dress that I sewed with the help of her tutorial on Craftsy and I also wore the Burdastyle Heidi Dress, that I downloaded off of the fabulous Burdastyle Website.  So this year, I wanted to do the same, but bigger.  Well, I am well on my way, but the family, house and pets are all being a little neglected because, I can’t stop myself.  I need more, more, more.  What will I wear for the trip to Utah, on the plane?   Hmm- still trying to figure this out.  Then Thursday morning shop hop needs something handmade and of course and there must be a change of clothes for our evening cocktail party.  Friday classes will need a different outfit and Friday dinner will need a costume change, Saturday!  Wow- OMG I am so crazy on this end!

So far I have created The Amy Butler Weekender Bag,

The Amy Butler Cosmo Bag

The Amy Butler Business Card Keeper.

The Deb Stoeller One Skein Scarf from Creativebug.

The Anna Maria Horner Schoolhouse Tunic.

The Anna Maria Horner Proper Attire Skirt.

My Quilted Computer Cozy.

A Name Tag- still in the process of finishing:

A pouch to trade in the Zipper Pouch Trade.

Needle keepers that I am going to give as gifts to my wonderful Sewing Summit teachers.


a new business card that I designed using Illustrator, Thank you very much!

Still not sure if I LOVE it, but I did learn a lot when I was working on it!

As I bid adieu to all of you, I am eagerly awaiting the Sewing Summits arrival.  I wait in my hotel room for the first of the festivities to begin tomorrow!   Many of us sewists  are heading out early for the “shop hop” and it should be a fun shopping experience.  I have already met some really great people- and am so GLAD that I came!!   Yipee- Stay tuned for some great pictures.  And if you would like to follow along, many of us Summit attendees,will be posting pictures to twitter and Instagram under the #hash tag #Sewingsummit.  You will probably feel like you are almost here!

Have a lovely weekend!

Wacky Wednesday!

I find myself here on a Wednesday feeling a little “chubby tired”.  This is what our family refers to when we’re feeling chubby, and tired from being chubby.  It’s NOT a good feeling.  Anyway….. I had my wonderful husband of 20 years, take some photos of me in the Socialite Dress, an Anna Maria Horner Pattern.  

This is the second time I have sewn this dress, and this particular dress in the light blue has been part of my UFO pile for quite sometime!  Last night I decided to tackle it.  All it needed was a hem, some pressing and a belt.  Done!

Silly shot of me soaking up the sun, perhaps?

Spring forward, Fall back?

  Here is the back.

Last one, I promise!  Isn’t this a funny shot?

 It looks like I am either cleaning Peek-A-Boo’s behind or I am watering her so she will grow more!

I am thinking that the next time I sew this dress, I might do a little color blocking with it.   It would be a fun dress to make in a bright fuchsia with tangerine orange accents.   Try this pattern, it’s an easy sew that can be dressed up or down. It’s going to make a great bathing suit cover-up in Cape Cod this summer!

Enjoy your day whatever you end up sewing!

Something I just FELT like….

Since I am traveling and visiting with my folks in Michigan and I am not sewing like I should be I thought I would post about something that I sewed last summer.  I made a felt garland that Anna Maria Horner posted a free pattern for on her website.  This  Felt Garland Is adorned with a blanket stitch around the edges of two circles that are stacked together.  I bought wool felt from Feltgirl on etsy.   She has a very large variety of lovely colors and I chose to go with water and beach colors.

I gotta say that if you are stuck in a car for any length of time (not driving) it is the perfect project to work on.  Time will just fly!!!

Here is a close-up!

This was just a fun whimsical project.  Anyway, have a lovely day!!!