Thursday, October 23, 2014

Heartfelt Thanks and Honest Answers

Photo taken on an early morning
training walk with Miss Schatzi...on the trail at
Raccoon River Park...
I can't believe it - it just two short weeks, I will be leaving for Dallas, TX to walk in the Komen 3-Day! I feel prepared for my 60-mile journey this year and I'm going to do my best to pamper my feet, so I don't get the ridiculous blisters I got last year (different socks and shoes, plus good preparation). My mom happens to be getting married the weekend after the event and I would definitely hate to attend the wedding in flip flops, so my feet will be getting all the attention they deserve. The next couple weeks will be spent making sure I have everything I need, packing (praying I can fit the necessary supplies and camping gear in my suitcase - yes, I pack like a girl), doing my final training walks, and taking care of all those little things that need to be done before taking several days away from home/business. I would truly like to thank all my supporters and supporters of Team Twinkle Toes - every single one of you make this incredible journey possible and I am so very grateful for your love and support. I  feel extremely blessed to have so much encouragement and support from my friends, family, and the stitching community - I am overwhelmed by your kindness. I know that in this day and age, there are so many worthy causes and people in need, and it is impossible to donate to everyone - that fact is not lost on me - I am extremely thankful to everyone who has made an effort to support me and/or my AMAZING team - every little bit adds up to A LOT - and to be honest, it makes me very emotional - my heart is full. 

I will be working right up to the event, as I currently have about a million "irons in the fire"...yep, as always, I am keeping busy! Recently, I have received a few "nastygrams" about my blog and my creative endeavors - therefore, I feel it is necessary to address a few things...

I know it has been a while since brand new Blue Ribbon Designs cross stitch charts have been marketed - and I am looking at options to release new needlework designs in the near future - the problem isn't having new designs/ideas, I actually have a HUGE pile of new designs created and ready to print - the problem isn't that I have forgotten my cross stitch fans - the problem stems from a financial end. The fact of the matter is, that in the current economy, the needlework community isn't doing a lot of purchasing. The last couple years have been slow, slow, slow...and it has been a gigantic challenge to keep Blue Ribbon Designs alive - it has been an emotional roller coaster, and I am doing my best to "stay afloat" and keep my designing dream a reality. I adore the needlework industry and I would put out a new design every single day if I could - but the fact is, I can't afford to print them and have them sit in my warehouse. I have researched endless options to keep Blue Ribbon Designs in business and I do have plans for the future in both needlework and sewing/quilting; however, right now, I am focused on supplementing my income just to stay afloat (bay bills, buy groceries, keep the lights on) - hence the new website, quilting/sewing designs, Etsy shop items, book sale, magazine pieces, needlework finishing, the "Learn to Counted Cross Stitch" video, etc. I am doing everything in my power to continue to pursue my passion and work in this creative field - Blue Ribbon Designs is my life - period. So, in the future, you WILL continue to see me designing, in both needlework and quilting fields (maybe full-time, maybe part-time) - you WILL see Blue Ribbon Designs in magazines and publications - and as always, I WILL be expanding my creative passions and working on projects that make me happy. Bottom line - I haven't given up on Blue Ribbon Designs and I hope you haven't either.

That should clear up the nastiness floating around - so let's get back to the heart of my blog and talk about my projects this week. Last Friday, my dear friend Mary gave me a small pile of twelve orphan quilt blocks, thinking I might be able to use them for something fun - I just love the fact that my friends pass along their fabric stashes, quilt blocks, creative supplies to me - I'm a very blessed girl! I took one look at the quilt blocks and decided to make them into pincushions - I just knew they would make cute little 6" x 6" pillows...and now, I have all twelve of them complete with the exception of whip stitching a few of them closed. I also have three more stitching wallets completed and several owl pincushions in the making - I am hoping to start listing these in my Etsy shop tomorrow or Saturday. I am also going through my finished items cabinet and may be listing a few pillows, table runners, and/or quilts...







My autumn walks have been inspiring and a good time to think - just take a look at some of the photos I have taken the last few days...







The rain has ended for the day and the sun is now shining - Travis and I will be taking Schatzi to Blue Heron Lake shortly for an evening walk...then I plan to be in my stitching nest for the rest of the evening - I *need* to pick up a needle...thanks for visiting!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fabulous Flying Geese

GO! Flying Geese-3½” x 6½”
 (3” x 6” Finished) (55456)
Today I thought I would share a few of my recent projects for AccuQuilt. Back in July, I started working with AccuQuilt on five original designs using the new GO! Flying Geese-3 1/2" x 6 1/2" (3" x 6" Finished) die for a project booklet. As most of you know I absolutely love the design process (whether working on needlework or quilting patterns), so I thoroughly enjoyed writing patterns for five Flying Geese projects. The patterns I created included a set of placemats, a table runner, a bed quilt, a pillow, and a wall hanging...and after writing the patterns, I had the pleasure of creating the samples of each that AccuQuilt would use for their photography and marketing. It is always fun to see what fabrics they choose and to put together the models, as we all know how much I adore spending time at my sewing machine....and this time it was even more fulfilling, as I had designed the patterns!

Here are the GO! Flying Diamonds Placemats - this set of placemats totally inspired me to make a set of my own in fabrics that match my decor. This geometric placemat pattern uses only one die for piecing: the GO! Flying Geese-3 1/2" x 6 1/2" (3" x 6" Finished) and is perfect for a beginner! To speed up the process even more, you can cut the binding with the GO! Strip Cutter-2½” (2” Finished) (55014). You can easily make one placemat in an afternoon and have a full set in no time...

GO! Flying Diamonds Placemats Pattern 

Next, here is the GO! Celebration Table Runner. This patriotic table runner is perfect to show off your sewing skills at a family gathering! It is another project that a beginner can tackle, using only three dies for the quilted top and a strip cutter for the binding:


GO! Celebration Table Runner Pattern

Creating this chevron style GO! Fly Away Pillow was quite fun...and although it looks intricate and possibly complicated, it is pieced completely with the GO! Flying Geese-3 1/2” x 6 1/2” (3” x 6” Finished) (55456) die...yep, you only need one die to make this bright and cheerful pillow!

GO! Fly Away Pillow Pattern

Looking for a new bed quilt pattern that can be made in a weekend? The GO! Take Flight Bed Quilt Pattern is the perfect solution! I had so much fun making this colorful quilt - again, pieced completely with the GO! Flying Geese-3 1/2” x 6 1/2” (3” x 6” Finished) (55456) die and using the GO! Strip Cutter-2½” (2” Finished) (55014) for the binding. You can use your favorite fabrics to make this project your own...and it is easy to change the size by adding or removing rows/columns of Flying Geese blocks! Chain piecing your flying geese makes this project come together rather quickly...and a design wall helps line up all your blocks to perfection. It was extremely hard to ship this finished quilt off to AccuQuilt - I wanted to keep it for my own!

GO! Take Flight Bed Quilt Pattern

And finally, here was my favorite project to design and create - the GO! Wallflowers Wall Hanging. We all know how much I like to combine appliqué with traditional piecing, so this wall hanging was right up my alley. This floral wall hanging uses several dies, but of course, features the GO! Flying Geese:
So, how was that for some Saturday sewing inspiration??...are you ready to start creating?? You can find all five of these patterns on the AccuQuilt website available for purchase/download, simply click on the title of the pattern in the photo caption(s). If you are purchasing or plan to purchase the brand new GO! Big Electric Fabric Cutter (oh how I wish I could afford one of these beauties - all I can say is WOW - yep, I am drooling - a girl can dream!), the GO! Big Electric Fabric Cutter Starter Set includes the the GO! Flying Geese Die (55456), and a 20–page pattern booklet which includes all five of the Flying Geese patterns shown above.

GO! Big Electric Fabric Cutter Starter Set

I am now back to my Saturday sewing session...I am working on a pile of new items for my Etsy shop, including more stitching wallets (they are selling faster than I can create them!)...I plan to hideaway in my sewing studio all afternoon!

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Rainy Day Update...

It's been almost two weeks since my last post...but I have a good excuse...it is only a few weeks from the Komen 3-Day 60-mile walk in Dallas, and I have been busy training...and when I am not training, I am working hard on all sorts of projects, trying to keep Blue Ribbon Designs in business. Schatzi and I have been getting in some great morning walks around the lake...and I have been getting in extra mileage walking alone, logging in several 12+ mile walks in the last two weeks. My studio has been bustling with needlwork finishing, magazine projects (cross stitch and quilting), Etsy sewing, and custom orders - anything that will help supplement my income while the needlework industry is on the decline. Here is my last couple weeks in photos...

Some needlework finishing for a customer...

Fabulous squirrel fabric - a gift from my dear friend Mary - it will be made
into a tote bag when I can make time...

New fabric stash, thanks to a dear friend...

Simba keeping my stitching nest warm...

Geese at the lake...

Geese at the lake...



A special machine applique project in the works...

A gloomy morning at the lake, but it was still beautiful!



My training partner Schatzi, after a trip around the lake...

A custom Etsy order in progress..

Another stitching wallet complete and off to a good home...
It is a very rainy, gloomy day today and my walk was cut short this morning, so I will be sewing shortly...I have a pile of stitching wallets in progress and more finishing work to do! Then, after a birthday celebration for my husband this evening, I will be in my stitching nest working on a project for Just CrossStitch magazine...it is another day filled with creativity....
Thanks for stopping by...and we will visit again soon...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Quilted Cats and Bats

Hi creative friends! It has been quite busy in the Blue Ribbon Designs studio and I have been focusing on a wide variety of projects - I have been stitching, sewing, quilting, and even doing some machine embroidery...that's right, I'm working on new designs, magazine pieces, commissioned needlework finishing, Etsy shop items (the shop is freshly stocked), and several large quilting projects...needles are in motion here!

Recently, AccuQuilt contacted me about my "Quilted Cats and Bats"  Halloween wall hanging I designed and made several years ago, as I had uploaded a photo of it to their Quilter's Spotlight (if you haven't visited the Quilter's Spotlight before, take a look - you are sure to be inspired - it's an AccuQuilt community where users share their quilted projects - you can see the AccuQuilt projects I have uploaded by clicking here). They liked my Halloween design, and not only did they want to do a Quilter's Spotlight interview with me about it for their blog, they wanted me to write the pattern for them, as well (how cool is that?!). The Quilter's Spotlight interview was posted on the AccuQuilt blog today, and to be honest, I always find it awkward to read articles/interviews that are written about me - it's a bit strange reading how someone else hears or interprets my answers and what they choose is important to share - writers have a tough (but I'm sure very interesting) job. This was a fun interview and you may learn a little something new about me...

Click here to visit the AccuQuilt blog and read my Quilter's Spotlight interview

To coincide with the Quilter's Spotlight blog post, my "Quilted Cats and Bats" pattern is free for a limited time...AND during the month of October, appliqué dies, including the ones I used in this project are on SALE!


For those of you visiting my blog for the first time - thanks for stopping by, I hope you will relax and take a look around! I love to create using AccuQuilt products...and here is a small selection of my recent projects - you can click on the the caption below each image for additional details...

Flowering Snowball With A Twist

Scrap Basket Bouquet

Artful Appliqué

Pillow Pizzazz

Triangular Tuffets

Sewing Stars

Tumbling Table Topper

Cross My Heart

Thanks for stopping by...I hope you found something that inspired you! I'll be back to share more soon, but until then, make a little time to be creative!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"By The Numbers"

I have something extremely fun to share with you today. Many of you know Elegant Stitch releases an exclusive, limited edition needlework kit benefiting breast cancer awareness, prevention, and education each year (and some of you may remember the "With All Your Heart" project I gifted to Lois for one of her special kits back in 2007). This year the exclusive kit is quite spectacular and I was lucky enough to collaborate with Lois on this modern (and in her words "kicky and edgy") project. It is appropriately called "By The Numbers" and is a bright and cheerful all-inclusive kit...that's right - the kit includes everything for the complete set shown in the photos. Last fall, Lois showed me the two bolts of fabric she purchased for her 2014 limited edition kit and told me about the fabric tray she wanted to center the project around...she gave me a cut of the linen, a couple snippets of the fabrics, and we pulled a pile of Weeks Dye Works floss to match...I took them home and designed the ruler fob, needlebook, and ditty bag - I stitched and partially assembled them - then sent the pieces and designs back to California, where Lois finished the easel needlebook and embellished the ruler fob and ditty bag. It was quite fun to watch this project grow and evolve into what you are seeing! This gorgeous limited kit includes the fabric tray, the adorable little spool pincushion, the ruler AND embellished laying tool - plus all the materials, charting, and finishing instructions for the needlebook, ditty bag, and ruler sleeve and fob - it is truly an all-inclusive kit - an amazing bargain at $45 + shipping...and, of course, all proceeds go towards breast cancer awareness, education, and prevention. These are very limited and going fast (at the time of this post there are only about 30 kits left), so if you are interested, you will want to get your name on the list right away...you can find all the details here: http://www.elegantstitch.com/bythenumbers/ - Lois is putting the the finishing touches on these unique needlework kits and they will be shipping soon...


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Something Extra Special

Today I received a lovely, heartfelt message from Lisa Y. - she sent me a photo of her "Red Rosies and Pink Posies" framed finish that won her a first place ribbon at the Juniata County Fair in Pennsylvania - isn't it gorgeous?! - I absolutely LOVE it matted and framed. What makes this prize winning piece even more special - she stitched this BRD design while going through chemotherapy last year for breast cancer. Lisa has shared with me that she struggled to stitch when she was going through chemo, but her framed finish reminds her where she has been and gives her strength (GREAT NEWS - she is now doing good). I was so very touched that Lisa shared some of her story and a photo of her blue ribbon winning entry with me (and allowed me to share it with you!) - it truly makes my heart smile I hope this post will encourage and inspire you, as it did me! Lisa - you are just one of the MANY reasons I walk - you will be in my heart as I make the the 60-mile journey again this fall...

Most of you know I walk in Susan G. Komen 3-Day events and I designed this exclusive "pink" piece as a fundraiser in 2013 with ALL proceeds benefiting the Komen 3-Day. This November, I am walking the 3-days 60-miles in Dallas and I have created another exclusive design for fundraising - I hope you will consider making a donation to help me reach my goal - every little bit helps - and I have quite a bit of work to do to meet my hefty goal this year!

To see my fundraising page and read a little bit about my journey, visit: http://www.the3day.org/goto/Belinda

To read about my fundraising design for 2014 ("Five Houses of Hope") and find out how you can obtain a copy of this exclusive design, visit: http://www.blueribbondesigns.blogspot.com/2014/08/five-houses-of-hope-my-2014-komen-3-day.html

Five Houses of Hope - 2014 Komen 3-Day Fundraising Design

If you are interested in my exclusive 2013 fundraising design, the same rules apply - follow the instructions for the 2014 design, just put "Red Rosies and Pink Posies" in the subject line of your e-mail. For more information on "Red Rosies and Pink Posies", visit: http://blueribbondesigns.blogspot.com/2013/07/red-rosies-and-pink-posies.html

Red Rosies and Pink Posies - 2013 Komen 3-Day Fundraising Design

Thanks to everyone who has been following me on my 3-Day journey of training and fundraising - your support, donations, and encouraging messages/comments mean the world to me!