Improv – Cross it off the list!

ModernBlockImprov_CrossesSherri Lynn Wood wrote a fantastic book called The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters.  I originally received this book when I had stepped down from my full time position.  The ideals in the book, about letting go and using what you have really spoke to me in a quite scary, changing time of my life.  I really wanted to try improv and see how it felt. But of course I had a major convention to build product for and then catching up on orders and the book sat lovingly on my shelf. Then the Central Florida MQG was very welcoming in extending seats for a class they had with Sherri Lynn Wood on Modern Improv, to our Tampa MQG.  I jumped at the chance!

I had read in her book that she began classes with a centering exercise and silence. I have a very difficult time sitting still and doing absolutely nothing. This was quite difficult. Especially since my mom was aacross form me and if we opened our eyes knew we would start laughing. But it lead me time to consider which fabric I was going to use. Since with the class being improv,  I had no idea what we were making! Or what I should bring.  So I brought three stacks of fabric collections.  During the centering exercise I had decided upon my bright green and blue leftovers from a previous jaybird quilt.

For this specific class, we were doing her Modern Block Improv score. You take a known quilt block and alter, change it with each creation. You do not use rulers! This was difficult, I will admit I used rulers when I got home.  But I did keep it crooked! I just wanted that hard edge.  For her example, Sherri Lynn demonstrated with a flying geese block and how to change it up. Most of the class chose the flying geese. I do not like to be like most people! I chose the Quilty Cross.

I started with two perfect crosses.  Then I changed it up with fabric selections, thickness of the cross, angle of the cross, and then size of the block.  During the day I made 40 block units of crosses.  Now the class was split really well in terms of the morning session you are making the block units. In the afternoon session you are composing the quilt top. I had so much fun making blocks, I just kept making them in the afternoon instead of composing.

When I returned home, I just had to keep going with the project.  I used my design wall to start composing the quilt.  At class I was afraid of the quilt becoming a crazy quilt, not an improv quilt.  Improv is about making choices, limiting your work, not about being random. Sherri Lynn suggested making relationships between the blocks based on color. Color of the cross and then color of the block.  This way I could create paths from the crosses into the next block. Or have the print bleed into the next block when placed next together.  That suggestion really helped me. I really enjoyed composing and finding ways for the blocks to extend into the next. I even know how I want to quilt it, which is rare. And who knows when that will actually happen.

I really enjoyed this process but actually felt the cross hindering me.  I was afraid to lose the ‘cross shape’. A good extension would be to do a few blocks with a single cut, not cross. But I was not ready for that on this quilt. Hopefully the next I will be. For the next improv quilt I will try her Score #1, the floating squares. I really enjoyed improv, and want to continue it. But alas, the same problem from the summer. I must prepare for my next convention!  But I cannot wait to quilt again!

Hand Me Down Christmas Quilt

Hand Me Down Christmas

Yay for finishing a UFO! For those that do not know, a UFO is an Unfinished Fabric Object.  I have had this project for about two or so years, sitting under my sewing desk.  It comes from before I really got into Modern Quilting.  When I started to quilt, I needed to learn techniques like everyone else. The pineapple block is a classic design, that when I started looked really difficult. I took a class with my mom on how to create the pineapple block, and we had the Creative Grids Pineapple Ruler to make it easier. Now I understand its construction and do not fear it.  My mom made a Hawaiian Quilt with tropical colors. I had tons of leftover Christmas fabric my mom had given me when I first started quilting. And we are talking old, early 2000’s Christmas fabric. The touch of some of those was just awful! I liked the prints, but never knew what to do with them from their old texture. I knew this type of quilt would be perfect, since it breaks the fabric into strips. And this is where I got the idea for the name, the Hand Me Down Christmas quilt.HMD Pineapple Block


My favorite was this half of a fat quarter print I had of tiny little Santa’s, with a glittering Mrs. Claus hidden inside. I decided to use that for the centers. Then I planned to alternate each block with the order of the red and green strips. It’s a very traditional design, that the pattern actually called for another row. Based on the strips and scraps, I knew I wouldn’t have enough to make that. And I really like square quilts better anyways.HMD Back

I am very happy with the back of the quilt! It shows a modern flair for where I am now.  A traditional start on the front of the quilt, and a modern style for the back. And it shows off the really cool pineapple quilt design my mom created. I have never done a ‘block’ quilt design before. That was neat to learn how to use the long arm for that. This will be a great quilt to hang over the stairs at Christmas! And one more UFO off the list. Only 7 left on the list, and four months left to do it. (I know 7 won’t happen, but might get a couple more!)


Dream Goals Update – Sooner Than Expected!

This summer has been turning our fantastic. Taking the leap from stepping down at work I was incredibly nervous.  But this summer is showing that these goals are possible! You can see in this previous post that the two conventions this summer were a hit. But the big news are right on track!

I have two quilts accepted to the AQS Des Moines show this fall! My Simply Swooning quilt and my Jack the Same Ripper quilt! Every other national show I have been in, have been group categories. The first was a call for modern quilts and was accepted. That was a great feeling.  The second was for the Bad Ass Quilters Society, filling up as many quilts as possible in Chattanooga. Equally as awesome, but those two were special exhibit categories.  The special exhibits I was never up for anything in terms of awards.


These two quilts for this year are accepted to the full quilt show!  I have two quilts competing  in a group of 161 quilts. I honestly don’t see Jack the Seam Ripper winning anything.  It’s tons of fun, but in terms of the ‘Quilt Police’ I know where there are errors. It’s awesome and fun, but not an award winner.  Maybe People’s Choice? Who knows. Now my Simply Swooning on the other hand, I have high hopes for! I am so incredibly proud of this quilt and in my eyes do not see any errors! This is the quilt I have my fingers crossed for.  The Quilt Show is in the beginning of October. I am actually off from work, on our fall break during the show.  But it’s Iowa. It seems silly to fly to Iowa just for a chance to see my quilt win. Granted I have never seen any of my quilts actually hanging in a national show before, but with stepping down recently this is out of my reach. I’ll just be cheering from Tampa if anything happens!

swoon full

And in other awesome news I am in print! My one goal is to be published in a magazine. This isn’t what I actually meant.  I originally meant I want a pattern/tutorial of my own to be published in a magazine. I knew Jose would be in print eventually; I received his confirmation last December. But it was a surprise when the magazine showed up unexpected and he was in it! Happy to see him in print, which also means he will soon be flying back home to me. This is my second piece to have luckily been published in STUFFED. I haven’t heard yet of Rainbow Donkey’s fate yet. Hoping he will show up in a future issue as well.

Jose Tiki Bird


August is going to fly by and I have a ton of order to fill.  I will ride this crazy Freddy wave as long as I can! Now to work on crossing some other items off my list!

Summer Convention ReCap

fanboy expo summer 2015

First we will recap the two conventions from the summer. Staying local to Tampa, we vended at Fanboy Expo and Tampa Bay Comic Con.  We knew Fanboy would the risky show. We were there two years ago and had a very poor showing. We skipped a year and decided to come back this year with hopes the show improved. Now this is nothing against the people doing the show.  They were all very nice and compatible. The booth space was a little smaller than normal, an 8′ x 10′.  We believe this blocked sales a little bit from people feeling willing to come into the booth and look at out work. But the biggest thing that we noticed, and this was that all the vendors noticed, the price to get in was a little high for the size of the show. And the autograph prices were very steep. By the time people bought their way in, bought their autographs, there was no money left to spend. All of the vendors were disappointed in sales from the show. People came to the show, the Saturday was more crowded than we expected. But little to any sales. For a three day show, the weekend was a complete waste. We made our booth fee back, but barely anything on top of it.  We will only return next year if we get an artist space. And if their timing is farther away from Tampa Bay Comic Con.  The fact that TBCC was the following weekend made us suspect people would wait for that mega show.

Summer 2015

Now for Tampa Bay Comic Con, this was a great success! We actually made near to the exact same amount we made at MegaCon in the spring. The fact that we had an artist space instead of a booth, made this profit even better. And of course n Orlando you have the hotel cost to deal with too. Not here at home! And apparently were doing much better than our neighbors and friends. Of course you never really know what is a ”good” show for others, but we could tell by the attitudes.  On the Friday of the show we sold more than the entire weekend at Fanboy.  The Saturday of the show was our biggest single day sale ever! We were exhausted.  Their was literally an hour where I could not sit down. We sold out of the Five Nights at Freddy plushies. I brought 25 to MegaCon and sold all of them.  I brought 42 to TBCC and sold out! We are so grateful for everyone that purchased from us.  The Sunday was pretty weak, which honestly I expected since we sold out of the Freddy’s on Saturday. We took a few online orders, but most people at a convention have the ‘want it now’ feeling. Which I totally get!

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Don’t Let Your Dreams be Dreams. Just do it!

An opportunity knocked:

In the middle of June, the corporate office of the college I teach at offered a buyout to select faculty across the nation. I was offered this and let’s just say that all the emotions from Pixar’s Inside Out played through my head during the short time I had to consider. But the more my husband and I talked it over, we decided this could be my chance. For one, corporate was giving me the opportunity to stay with the school but to lessen my work load. I could take this new time to push my business to the next level. We even felt in a way I would be safer from not being RIF’d from the college if I was an adjunct. Our specific campus has actually been doing really great, but on a corporate level over the last few years faculty have been decreased across the nation including my campus. I love teaching, I love my students. But I have dreamed for a long time of my hobby being my job. I know it’s a life changing event and a big risk, but here was an opportunity to try it out. What helped make this decision as well, in the time I had to consider I received 16 orders of Five Night’s at Freddy plushies. I have no idea how long this successful FNAF plush run is going to last me but it’s been an incredible help so far.

I answered the door: I am no longer full time faculty. I am now adjunct.

I’m nervous and excited. Teaching only two classes after eight years of being full time is utterly bizarre. I have so much time! I have been using it as productively as possible. If anything, I feel busier than ever because I want to reach my goals. No minute left wasted. I added an additional convention this summer. It will be my first time doing two conventions in back to back weekends. I am looking at adding two to three more in the fall, depending on how well the summer goes.

I also have been contracted to teach online at another college, starting in September.  I needed just a bit more sense of security for my liking.

I have a lot of goals and I feel I now have the time to do them. I want to get patterns/projects accepted into quilting magazines. I have two ideas that I will be working on in August. I have a quilt pattern I want to publish. I have a plush book proposal I want to write.  I have a few possible projects lined up with a friend where we will be able to promote both our brands. I want to get quilts accepted to quilt shows. I want to start a newsletter. I want to start custom 8 bit/pixel quilts. I also want to get off ETSY, get my own true professional page and e-Commerce site. I have some UFO’s that I have stared at for ages that I want to finish! I have a baby quilt, a wedding quilt, and three challenge quilts I need to complete within the next year!

It’s a lot. But leap, and a Quilt will appear. Wish me luck.

Simply Swooning

swoon fullMany people have probably seen this pattern going around on Instagram. The Swoon by Thimble Blossoms.  That’s where I saw it for the first time and fell in love with it. I have never made a quilt this big before! At first I was daunted when I saw the size of the pattern. But in reality, the pattern is actually incredibly simple with such a big impact. It’s half square triangles and flying geese! That made me love this pattern even more.

swoon detailThis was purely coincidental that I got creative on the fabric choices.  I knew it used fat quarters. This past year I had bought a stack of V& Co’s Simply Color fat quarter bundle. And it was one of those great big bundles, you know? Beautiful, fell in love with the colors. And I knew would be perfect on this quilt. But I forgot that I had already started cutting into those fat quarters for a maple leaf quilt that yet remains to be a UFO. So while I was picking colors for the Swoon I quickly realized I wouldn’t have enough. Once I looked at the construction I realized I could create the pattern with three colors in each block. Now I had enough fabric! On some blocks I even used the ombre fabrics and just turned out perfect. This is the second quilt I did free motion on, ever. And my first quilting to use rulers. I did all of the quilting on my mom’s long arm. I am so incredibly proud of this quilt! I have entered it into a few quilt shows and am crossing my fingers that it is accepted.

swoon bedI recently upgraded my bed to a king. We needed a new headboard, but hanging the Swoon decide that is headboard enough!  I do need to make a king size quilt now though. Hmm, a plan has formed.


Super Online Sewing Match – Application

I seem to always find these awesome competitions at the last minute! The deadline is tomorrow!  So here is a compilation of dresses I have made mostly for Zoe, myself, and a bag to show I know bags too. I do love making clothes for Zoe and myself, and have quite a stack of dress patterns for myself. I hope to get to them this summer. Now in no particular order:


One of the more recent dresses I have made my daughter.  This is from Little Girls, Big Style. I wanted to create a twirly summer dress for her in the Alison Glass sunprint. She picked the yellow, her favorite color.tinkerbelltoy storyvanellopeeFor Halloween last year she decided to be Tinkerbell!  I plan to make every Halloween costume for Zoe, just like my mom did for me.  The year before our whole family dressed up as Jesse and Woody.  Her costume is from the same book and I got a lot of compliments on hers. A super cute Jesse outfit that didn’t scream the Disney dress up version.  I made my western shirt, my wig, my chops, and the vest for my husband. For her birthday party last year we had a Wreck it Ralph theme.  So I created her own little Vanellope costume for that!

washi dress I too fell in love with the Washi dress. I made this for wearing to conventions with the Alison Glass mercury print. I call it my Doctor who dress. Zoe took this picture of me, I will be sure to take pictures for the competition that include my head and show the dress better!


This is a few years ago but still one of my favorite dresses I ever made for Zoe. I will be sure to keep this one! It’s from the sameLittle Girl, Big Style book but had so much fun playing up the fabrics. I appliqued the Pigeon onto the apron.
travel purseAnd lastly, I do know how to make bags, just don’t get too that often.  The bag pattern is from Big City Bags. I wanted to make it look like a vintage travel bag with the faux swede.  I used the three licenses plates from the 2014 row by row I collected.  I printed some other badges on to fabric to make it look like luggage stamps. It’s really durable, I use it as my main purse now.

Thanks for considering me for the competition!


MegaCon 2015 Recap – aka The Five Nights at Freddy Booth

It’s been a little over a month since MegaCon in Orlando this year, and  I am finally at a point where I can take a breath. MegaCon this year was very odd. A good experience, but odd nonetheless. Let’s see why!


We have done very well in the past years attending this show. This was our fourth year.  Each year we had done incredibly better than the previous year.  This year we made nearly the exact same amount of the previous year.  And I did a lot of prep for this year’s MegaCon.  I made 10 of nearly ever plush I sell. So I was utterly exhausted and burnt out by the time MegaCon came around.  I was expecting the same type of sales as we normally did. But this year was different. Don’t get me wrong, we did good. Just not what we were expecting.

For one, there is this game out called Five Nights at Freddy’s.  I had received a commission for Foxy earlier in the year. From that single Fox many f my students told me to sell them at MegaCon.  I thought it was a little goofy, but always looking to add new items I figured I would give it a shot. Well the shot worked and exploded.  I made 25 plushies, 5 each of Foxy, Freddy, Chica, and Bonnie.  I was able to get them on the ‘exclusive’ page for the MegaCon website. i had no idea how popular this game was.  We sold  6 of them in the first twenty minutes when we opened on Friday.  One guy literally ran up saying “I found you!” By Saturday afternoon we were known as the Five Nights at Freddy booth. People were telling their friends to come find us. We had one Freddy left and four Chicas.  Sunday morning we had one Chica, and he was gone within the first hour.  I had all intentions of keeping this an ‘exclusive’ to MegaCon.  Really, I did. They are a lot of work compared to the normal plush I make. But we couldn’t believe how many people came up asking about them. And wanting them after a specific character was sold out. (Foxy was the first to go by the way!) But people just kept coming! So Sunday I started taking orders and received a few.

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Rainbow Donkey a.k.a. Pinata Donkey

SewMamaSew’s blog is having an aweome few weeks, so awesome that the posts are nearly all about softies. They are calling it the 6 Weeks of Softies and it has been wonderful to see other great plush artists! And what’s better, a friend of mine let me know that not only are they showing all these great softies, they are having a Spectacular Softies Contest to make them as well. This is right up my alley!  And it’s just icing on the cake that the Grand Prize wins a new Pfaff sewing machine. I use Pfaff and those that know me or follow me, know my main machine Creative Vision has caught a ghost (a.k.a. needs a new mother board) and I desperately need a new machine. So on to my entry!


I don’t know why I thought of this, but for whatever reason I thought it would be fun to make a pinata donkey. I could see the whole plush in my head! Lots of colors, lots of texture, and lots of cuteness! I looked at a whole bunch of different horse/pony/dinosaur patterns to get the idea of how to do the legs. I know the basic construction of a quadruped and adding the interior pieces of the legs, but I wanted to make sure I had nice round legs. The normal plush I sell at my ETSY shop are all very flat. That’s mainly due to speed and cost for a good selling point at conventions. I wanted this plush to have some great dimension! So after I decided upon my shape and a great size ( I knew it would be awesome and texture – so I wanted him to be pretty big!) I drew up my pieces on muslin. Then using those as templates I cut them all out on black fleece. I wanted him to have little hooves and some black show up on the nose and ears, and not to be too distracting.  For the main pinata texture I cut 1″ strips of five colors of fleece. I had to look at some references to remember if pinata colors were in stripes or all over. Once I saw stripes I came up with a color pattern and started sewing!

 process flat pieces

I was very happy with how the stripes were turning out but was concerned on the amount of thickness I would be sewing through. And I was right as you can see my next image. There were a few seams that were extra bulky and my machine and I  had some fun. I sewed this entire donkey on my back up machine, my Pfaff Expression. It’s a great machine but oh do I miss my Creative Vision! You never realize how good your machine is until you have to start really sewing on another one. Man do I miss the automatic presser lift and the cut feature!  Anyways, the process was going great. After thinking about the order of construction and making sure seams lined up, I turned him inside out. Even without stuffing I knew something special was happening.

Sewing Difficulties Turned

Time to stuff and I had a little helper!  I used a different stuffing than normal. I usually use polyfill but a friend gaveme a bag of her stuffing that is more wool based and has a thicker texture. Since I knew I wanted him to stand on his own I thought this was the perfect project to try to it on! And my little Zoe is in love with the donkey. She named it Rainbow Donkey and wants to keep it. She will, but he just might be taking a little trip before that.

Zoe Helping Zoe Happy

When it was stuffed I could see how successful I was in matching the colors and seams. If you look at the front of the donkey there is the left side piece, a chest piece, and the right side piece. And just look at how those pieces and stripes line up! (Had to pat myself on the back here – incredibly happy with the details).  After the stuffing and sewing it closed it’s time for texture! I knew I wanted to wait to do the fringe until after he was stuffed. I didn’t want to have all those loose pieces while sewing parts together. I took my nice big scissors and clipped, clipped, and clipped some more to make the final piece! I am very happy with him. I originally had an idea to add a pocket to actually put candy in, but I figured it wasn’t necessary. I also though of making him a hook so he could hang like a Pinata but I wasn’t sure of the weight and structure it would need. It would take away from the softness, so I left that out. He’s a cute little Pinata that gets to sit on the ground. His final dimensions not counting his ears are about 16″ tall, 12″ wide, 10″ deep. He is a bundle of love and I hope he wins this contest!

Head Close Up Chest feet close up

Destino – a Dali Quilt

In September of last year, the Tampa Modern Quilt Guild took a field trip to the Dali Museum, in St. Petersburg, FL.This was the new location, as the museum had recently moved. Many members, including myself, had not visited the museum yet.

And there was a special exhibit at the time called Marvels of Illusion.  The main piece was a special effect that took your picture and added it to a mosaic.  The special exhibit was inspired from “Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea Which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko)” created in 1976.  We quilters saw a quilt in this! Everyone was very inspired from the visiti to the museum.  We decided to create a mini quilt/pillow challenge based on what we saw at the Dali.

IMG_5391 IMG_5382

Having gone to art school, I knew about Dali’s work and some of the pieces that were not included in the museum.  There wasa piece I found pretty significant, that wasn’t on display. Which I didn’t believe it would be, it being a digital piece.  In the 1940’s Walt Disney contacted Salvador Dali to create an animated short.  It was originally planned to be in a sequal to Fantasia, as a short on its own to music.  However, at the time Fantasia did not do well in the box office and the squeal along with many beautiful shorts was cancelled. Below is a sketch from the original storyboards.


But what I believe is one of the most wonderful things about Disney is their archives. They keep absolutely everything.  And recently, they stumbled upon the concept and sketches.  And this time, the animation was created.  It wasn’t part of the second Fantasia which came out in 2000 (Fantasia 2000).  But it was created beautifully to stand on its own.  Below is a still.  You can view the animation here.


This is what I wanted to create my mini quilt from.  The movement and dance of the woman, the morphing of her into flying and the bell shape really stuck with me.  I wanted to recreate her and the environment.  Every quilt I do I try to challenge myself with something. Since this was a mini, I did a few challenges. I challenged myself to use low volume prints for the background and an improv manner.  I call it semi-improv since I used a whole bunch of patchwork to create the landscape, but need to secure the bell tower and shadow.  and then I used my Brother Scan N Cut for the first time to create the woman. It took a few tries to get the tension right, but when it did the machine cut her perfectly. I then did free motion quilting on my home machine.  I tried different ways to add texture and keep with the perspective of the shot. I did a simple outline of the dancer so she would ‘pop’ off the quilt! I am very happy with how this mini turned out.  And lucky me, my guild chose mine as the favorite from the challenge although there were many wonderful quilts displayed.