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!

 

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!

Handmade3D_MegaCon_booth

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!

Final_PinataDonkey_EllenAult

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

DestinoQuilt
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.

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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.

destino_sketch

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.

destino_woman

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.

 

 

Jack the Seam Ripper

monumentOver a year ago I took a class at a local quilt shop taught by my friend Katie. The Lone Star has been on my bucket list as soon as I learned how to quilt. This is a Quiltsmart lone star, so it made it even easier! Before I took the class I saw someone post a great halloween quilt online which is where I was inspired from.  Halloween is so much fun and I didn’t have a quilt for that holiday yet! I went to another local quilt shop, my personal favorite Crafty Threads and bought all the fabric I could need for it.  The back which you don’t see is actually lime green of this silly little sewing witch.creppyhousedraped

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Monkey Wrench

finaldesign

This past April during my mom and I’s big trip to Paducah, there was a little show on the side by their Rotary Club.  It had some nice traditional quilts and interesting quilts from the turn of the century. But there was one booth that caught my eye the most, Cherrywood Fabrics.  And on their table they had bundles of green fabric for a Wicked challenge. At this point I was very busy with quilts to make for classes and saw the deadline right before the Tampa Bay Comic Con. I thought I wouldn’t have enough time so walked away. But yep, walked the floor once and went straight back to the challenge bundle. I figured even if I didn’t have enough time, better to have the challenge then regret not getting it. It’s still fabric right?  And they were all hand dyed fabric, really great quality.

colors

So fast forward to the deadline, I am sewing up a storm for Tampa Bay Comic Con and running out of steam. This happens a lot during my ‘production sewing’ mode. I needed a break from plush making and thought that little mini quilt would be perfect.  The size had to be 20″ square but whatever you wanted.  The colors were not really speaking to me, so I decided to do something completely different than normal.  I wanted to create a minimal style quilt, focusing on the steam punk gears. Then I found this awesome embroidery from Urban ThreadsContinue reading →

Monster’s Inc Quilt

Zoedoors

I made this quilt in November 2013 and it was all inspired from the fabric! Riley Blake had just come out with neon fabric. It was brilliant, bright, and amazing! I bought a yard of five different colors, plus some extras to go along with it.  When the fabric arrived I instantly thought of the opening sequence to Monsters Inc.  It’s a great 2D animation of the doors coming open and monsters hiding behind them.  These neon fabrics reminded me of the bright colored doors.  Once I re-watched the film to get more design ideas I realized there were lots of doors actually darker than what I remembered!  But I was still going for it.

0hlIbgX

With the Tampa Modern Quilt Guild we recently had had a meeting about improv quilt design.  I thought this quilt would be a great attempt at it.  Now I wasn’t (and am still not) completely comfortable with improv design so I first created a simple color layout in Photoshop.  I don’t like to leave things to chance, especially when expensive fabric is at stake! MonstersLayout monstersbreakdown

Going off my design, I mixed the neon fabrics with black yardage I also ordered.  I tried to stick to the layout but still use improv to build the shapes.  I started with the larger door pieces and then figured out how much black to add around to create the quilt.  I knew I wanted it to be on the smaller size. It would be a quick throw quilt for my daughter or a fun wall hanging.

Doors_Doors_Doors_s

I also learned how to sew my first partial seams, which was much easier than I thought!  I decided to use simple black line quilting around the doors, echoing all of the frames. I used a simple zigzag to outline difference door elements and door knobs, similar to those on the original Monsters Inc opening.  I also learned how difficult it was to photograph a black quilt in daylight, to show off the quilting! I tried three different times of day, two cameras, lots of post work and finally found some acceptable images. My darling helper helped with the final overall shot. You can see her little fingers holding up her new quilt.  She titled it “Doors!” Her excitement was all I needed. This quilt doesn’t need to travel, it has a lap to cover.

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

OswaldtheLuckyRabbit

I thought I would share how I created my Oswald the Lucky Rabbit quilt!

First his back story: I am part of a group at my local quilt shop, we call ourselves the Smokin’ Needle Quilters. Fo the summer we gave each other a challenge to create a Black and White Quilt with 10% of another color.  This was my first quilt for it.  I adore how it turned out, but didn’t think it really fit the challenge. I wanted a color that would pop! So I made another quilt.

I found this image of Oswald on society6 by Ed Burczyk.  I teach animation and know this character well.  I thought the artist’s interpretation of it looked like patchwork triangles. So I brought the image into Photoshop and divided it into even more triangles! I then printed it out to create my own paper piecing pattern.

EdBurczykIMG_4621

I have done paper piecing before but am no expert.  I decided to work on the ears first, they were quite easy. I did the feet next, still rather simple.  The hands were a bit of a challenge with all the fingers but not too difficult.

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The head and body were the real challenge! Everything else had been strips, now I had a mass! I broke the head and body into even more sections, trying to find areas to sew together with Y-seams.  Once all the pieces were together I needle turned appliqued him down onto the backing fabric. I did meandering free motion quilting on my Pfaff. He finished 30″ square.

I am so happy with how this turned out! I felt the color didn’t work for my group’s challenge but still love it!  I learned a lot about creating paper piece patterns and breaking it into sections. I want to make more characters like this! Steamboat Willie anyone? I am considering doing that if I get into Sewvivor. It would be my ‘nautical’ quilt I think! As well as six other designs I have in my head. :)

Happy quilting!