STUFFED again!

STUFFEDWI2016

I am super excited to announce that Rainbowa the Party Pinata is now published!  The winter issue coming out in February of 2016 is full of plush goodness. And marks my third plush published by them! See the original ‘making of’ post here

Certification Continued – Free Motion Designs

IMG_8836This next assignment for my long arm certification course with APQS was right up my alley. Here you had three baby quilts you needed to create and choose three separate free motion all over designs to quilt with.  This is the type of quilting I like to do!  The blue quilt I used swirls on, which comes from the Hook shape we practiced quilting previously.  The back of the blue quilt has this fun vine pattern, which I thought the swirls and hooks would work great on. I made the Half Square Triangles from remnants of a charm pack and had the blue from an earlier project.  All stash fabric!

IMG_8835  The pink quilt I used loops, which is variations of the circles we used.  The goal is for the quilting density and quilt shapes to remain consistent.  There are a few loops probably a bit bigger than needed, but overall really liked doing this one.  The polka dot prints were all scraps from a quilt I made my niece for Christmas. I did have to go buy the light pink backing.  It is more pink than cream, but lighting shows it a bit different.  I did have the backing, a fun pink girl print. Almost all stash fabric! And of course bought more pink than needed, so adding that to my solids stash.

IMG_8834 The final quilt I did a big meander on, working from the S shapes in the practice quilting projects.  Here was a set of fabrics from left over fat quarters my mother had.  She made similar quilts like these for her charity group. So technically all her fabric, which she graciously donated!

Becoming Certified

Part of my big risk taking of last year was stepping down from full time to adjunct, was the idea of becoming a long arm quilter.  As in quilting for others.  I love long arming, and although only doing it for a short while I feel capable of quilting for others.  To assist I found a course through Craft Online University that I thought would help push me further.  The official certification is presented through APQS, American Professional Quilting Services.  What’s great is the certification is not based on the machine, as many other certifications are, but on the quilting technique itself.

The curriculum has been great and the projects stretching my skills.  Albeit the course system had some major errors at the beginning but have since been fixed. So far I am quite happy with the course.

My first few assignments were all about thread and batting types, understanding your machine and thread tension.  The fun stuff and hard stuff, was then testing out specific types of quilting shapes. These shapes are common shapes you will use when doing free motion, varying the sizes and combining them. The extra challenge was not only learning the shape, but stitching it in eight different directions. My biggest worry here were the circles.  I like doing circles in pebble quilting, but finding a consistent, large, perfect shape was quite difficult.

Ault_Teardrops_photo3 Ault_Circles_photo4 Ault_Hook_photo4 Ault_S_Curve_photo2 Ault_StraightLines_photo1

The next big assignment was completely new to me.  A pantograph, by hand.  For those unaware of these terms, its a design that is printed on paper on a long roll, and you have to follow the design with a laser. You quilt on the back of the machine, looking at the paper design never your quilt.  This assignment was the hardest for me.   I had never done a pantograph before and can promise I will never again!  Being on the ‘wrong’ side of the machine, looking at paper and not the quilt, not knowing when the bobbin runs out, difficulty of rolling the quilt, etc.  Definitely not for me.  Get me back on the other side of the machine!  I was happy with the quilt, it is being donated to Project Linus.  But I knew not my best work and it was my first ‘B’ grade.  (the other assignments I received A’s, much better showing of my skills) 

PanographQuiltLooking forward to the next assignments!

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.

monument

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:

zoe_sunprint

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!
pigeon

 

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!