Saturday, January 28, 2017

Keeping It Real...

Greetings friends...I can't believe it has been almost a month since my last post...and that is really unlike me. I have had things to share and pictures to post - but the words just weren't coming...

Do you ever have those days/weeks when you question life and what it's all about? I seem to be lost in thought lately - completely "in my head"...which is great for my creativity and getting things done - but not so good when it comes to expressing myself. I've been working on me - mentally and physically...and it's ALL good. Many of you know that I am a complete control freak...and sometimes it takes situations being totally out of my control to help me find clarity and remember what is really important. I'm finding out that sometimes those circumstances/relationships that I thought were most important are weighing me down or not as they appear. I am learning some of life's great lessons...for better or worse...and growing in the process. Speed bumps are inevitable and I have determined it is how you deal with them that truly shows your character...I am proud of how I handle adversity and change...and how when my faith, trust, and hope are tested, I can react calmly and logically (that hasn't always been the case). So, I am moving forward, one step at a time, and learning more about myself daily....hanging out in my head, which seems to be a place of refuge at the moment...knowing there is a plan for me and that things will work out (maybe not how I want, but) for the best. That sure doesn't mean that things are quiet here - I have been designing, creating, finishing, and making plans for the future...yep, I have no less than four lists going at once on my desk - things to do, things to simplify, things to organize, and things to let go...all in an effort to find that elusive "balance."

This prize package from Husqvarna Viking that I recently received for my #sewworthit
video entry has been helping me create - thank you to everyone who voted for my video!

Needlework has always been the heart and soul of Blue Ribbon Designs and I am trying to decide how to move forward in an industry that has drastically changed over the past three years. After just a few more hours of stitching time, I will have another needlework design model completed...that will make a pile of sixteen finished models...and I have sketchbooks that are full of ideas and drawings. I may release these designs on my website and in my Etsy shop...or I may release some to shops and distributors...or some I may use some as class pieces for teaching...and there are several other options I haven't even explored yet. They may be printed or they may be digital or both. I know my loyal fans have been patiently waiting for new releases and I keep creating them - I am just trying to figure out the best and most economical way to get them in your hands in an ever-changing business climate. Regardless of what many may think, It is not easy being a small business owner and many times tough decisions have to be made to keep afloat - there are countless times I have to set aside what I want to design, create, and accomplish to do jobs that pay the bills - it is a very fine balancing act that can leave me feeling unfulfilled and/or wondering if doing what I love is really more beneficial than financial security. If you would like to share your constructive/positive ideas and insights with me - I am listening - feel free to send me an e-mail or private message.

BRD-026 Valentine Wishes

BRD-064 Small Tokens of Affection

BRD-045 Sealed With A Kiss

I have been working on new sewing and quilting ideas, as well...and again, I have a file folder of over 40 project designs I have created/photographed to be put into pattern form for sale or distribution....and sketchbooks and EQ7 files of hundreds (yes, hundreds) of design ideas/patterns. I find it really hard to turn off my creative mind - everything seems to be a source of inspiration and when those ideas hit, I grab a sketchbook or post-it or scrap of paper (whatever is handy) and draw/write. So, while I haven't necessarily been expressing myself verbally, I have been expressing myself creatively. 

I have been working on custom orders, freelance jobs, and needlework finishing for customers - any work that comes my trying to sew at least one item for my Etsy shop every single day. I may not have financial security, but I do have a passion for each and every project that finds a way into my studio. Perhaps the perfect job is out there in the world for me, where I can have a steady paycheck and be creative on a daily basis...and if you know what that opportunity is, please do share with me! 

Winter months make me yearn for organization and is still January, yet I find myself wanting to spring clean and simplify. I have been making piles and organizing...and getting ready to list a bunch of needlework stash that I will never get to in my lifetime. I have piles of kits, charts, books, limited edition pieces, etc. that need new homes where they will be loved and put to good use. I've been going through closets/cabinets/drawers/boxes and letting go of things that I/we don't need or use frequently....all in hopes to find that "balance" I am searching's a process...and like most things, it is moving way too slow for me (a few more hours in each day would be nice...).

I guess what I am trying to say is - I'm still around and I'm keeping busy. My creative side is hard at work...and as my path becomes more clear and I can articulate things better, I will be here - keeping it real - doing my best to share my joy of all things positive, creative and artistic...until then, please be patient with me, we all need a little personal reflection once in awhile...

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

All Bundled Up Fabric Baskets

Greetings creative friends - I have a special treat for you this afternoon! We are all aware of just how crazy the month of December can be - I know, I was a little (actually A LOT)  overwhelmed trying to get everything accomplished...but in that craziness, I did manage to get another AccuQuilt friendly tutorial created and ready several weeks ago...and I know you were all expecting to see it on their blog in December (thank you for your messages asking me about it) - there was a little confusion on their end, but it is finally posted (YAY!) and I am excited to share it with you "All Bundled Up Fabric Basket."

Be sure to head over to the AccuQuilt Blog for this new will find a supply list and complete instructions for these fun fabric baskets, including all the details...and I must warn you, these are very addicting - be prepared to make up a couple (or ten)...they sew up rather quickly, use minimal supplies, and are perfect for gift giving or organizing all sorts of things!

Again this month, I used the GO! Qube Mix Match 9” Block and GO! Qube 9" Companion Set-Classics....but feel free to use your favorite block dimensions - just remember it will change the finished size of your fabric basket. I will walk you through each step and you will find this quilted 3D project is quick and easy to create…in fact, you should be able to whip up several in an afternoon!

I chose winter fabrics, but this tutorial would work well with batiks, prints, or solids...or mix and match to fit your personal style and decor. I see several holiday print baskets in my future...wouldn't one be C.U.T.E. filled with Valentine's Day or St. Patrick's Day treats?!

...and one more note - for this project, I used the GO! Qube 9" Companion Set Classics-72 Block Patterns Booklet – this FREE downloadable pattern booklet will give you detailed instructions for piecing the quilt block featured in project (along with 71 other choices) sure to choose your favorite quilt block(s)!

Make your way over to the AccuQuilt Blog for a materials list and step by step tutorial, with images:

I was super excited to gift several of these baskets to stitchy friends for Christmas - I created coordinating pincushions to fit inside and added several stitching tools/accessories...they are also great for coffees and teas, make-up or a manicure supplies, stationery, or sewing supplies...the possibilities are endless!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Holiday Wrap-Up

While I tend to spend my time looking forward and adjusting to new challenges, I always find the start of a new year is the perfect time to reflect on accomplishments and dream for the future. The year 2016 was a bit of a rollercoaster ride for me - starting off slow...lots of ups and downs...and calmly coming to a stop. I definitely learned some life lessons this past year...I also reached some personal goals and did some big planning/dreaming for the future. With the arrival of the new year, I feel refreshed, hopeful, and ready to tackle what life has in store for me!

The last couple weeks leading up to the holiday were a bit of a whirlwind, filled with all the traditional year-end tasks, including: keeping up with all my various work projects...while trying to make all my Christmas gifts and send cards and packages...and decorate, clean house, bake, shop, wrap, and prepare a large Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. I will be the first to tell you - my holiday spirit wasn't really in full-swing this year - I got everything done and did enjoy the preparations, but truth be told, this year I was a bit "bah humbug" - that is until my mom decided to lift my spirits. Knowing I was a bit down, she arranged for a gift to arrive each of the six days before Christmas - and the first surprise was a beautiful fresh floral delivery...a gorgeous bouquet featuring carnations (my favorite), chrysanthemums, holly and pine - and it smells so good (I say "smells" because after 2-weeks, it is still thriving). The following days, multiple gifts arrived to pamper me (and boy, oh boy, did I feel pampered)...on one particular day, I even received a box full of retro candy, which was quite the treat! We talked on the phone each day, sharing our holiday joys...and she gave me her list of favorite holiday movies, which I promptly recorded.

In the end, I finished making all my gifts and they were wrapped and shipped (ON TIME)...the cards were sent (some a little late, but BEFORE Christmas), the house was clean, and the Christmas dinner went off without a hitch....yes, I am truly blessed. It was fun to receive cards and packages from faraway friends - some were a complete surprise. The holiday movies reminded me of the true meaning and reason for Christmas...and a big holiday meal with family was one more blessing to add to the list. My heart is full....

So in love with these little cross stitch sled ornaments…
my dear friend Robin makes me one each year... 2014 was the squirrel, 2015 was the quilt,
and this year she stitched the monogram... 💗

Some of my wrapping...

From Instagram - my "best nine in 2016" (photos with most likes)...

Binding a floral table runner for a gift...

One of my fabric baskets with a matching pin cushion and a few stitching treasures
to tuck inside...a gift I sent to a dear friend...

My Accuquilt blog post tutorial for December features these
fun fabric baskets - there was some confusion at AccuQuilt, but I have been
assured it will be posted soon - if not, I'll post it here on my blog
this week - thank you for your patience!

An Americana wall hanging I made for a very special friend...
my own design...

Another fun thing to share...
In a package from my fabulous friend Terri, I received a lovely engagement calendar, that I am already putting to good use. I use a calendar in my iPhone for daily appointments and deadlines, but I am using this beauty to keep a list of everything I create in 2017 - I already have notes on several dates. This will be tracking all my creative activity and to-do lists...
Inside this spiral bound calendar, the year is conveniently broken down by week...with seven days per page...along with color photos of prizewinning quilts...perfect to have open on my desk!

As we start a new year, I would like to thank you for supporting Blue Ribbon Designs and my artistic journey. You continue to inspire me with your creativity, kindness, and generous spirits - BRD would not be possible without you and your patience as I explore new creative avenues and ideas. In preparation for 2017, take a moment to reflect on the past year and the many blessings bestowed upon you...and be sure to take a look at all the beautiful stitching, sewing, quilting, and crafting projects you have accomplished. I wish you a happy, healthy 2017, filled with joy, laughter, and creativity! 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Colorful Companion Sampler

Yesterday, I mentioned I would return to share a new sampler quilt with of my latest pattern designs for AccuQuilt - the GO! Qube 9" Companion Sampler Quilt. This bright and cheerful sampler quilt features twelve pieced blocks created with the GO! Qube Mix & Match 9" Block and the GO! Qube 9" Companion Set-Classics....along the with GO! Strip Cutter-2 1/2" (2" Finished) for the binding. I used lovely Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton Solids for this colorful project...but this pattern would work equally well with prints or batiks. It uses all of the GO! Qube and GO! Qube Companion shapes, except the GO! Parallelogram...and while I designed and created it with the 9" block sets, you could easily use your favorite GO! Qube block size. Using 9" blocks, this quilt measures 35" x 46"....but if you choose to make it with 12" blocks, it would measure 44" x 58" - a nice throw size quilt...and it would make a fun mini quilt using 6" blocks!

The pattern has instructions for the twelve blocks I used for the sample, but you could easily replace any block(s) with your favorite(s). ...and the good news? - right now, the pattern is FREE for download on the AccuQuilt website:

Even better, if you need a little kickstart for this modern project, check out this AccuQuilt video that features the GO! Qube 9" Companion Sampler Quilt - it shows more details and gives you some tips and tricks! For those who can't view the video on my blog, please visit this You Tube link:

I hope you are inspired to start your own sampler quilt...and if you do, I hope you will keep me updated on your progress - it's a great way to practice and showcase your skills! Try doing a block each day (or each week or each month) to make it more manageable and before you know it, you will have a full quilt....

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

On the Cutting Edge...

If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you know there is always a special project going on in my studio...and earlier this year I had my design hat on, creating a plethora of quilt blocks and projects for the new AccuQuilt GO! Qube Companion Sets. Now, I know these have been available for a few months, so you might already have seen all of this...but I have quite a few AccuQuilt enthusiasts that follow my blog....and so, better a little late than never. Plus I wanted to share what I designed/created for these versatile new die sets...

I'm sure you all remember my excitement when the GO! Qubes were released (if not, you can read my blog post here: you can probably guess that I was "over the moon" when AccuQuilt decided to release a GO! Qube Companion Set to coordinate with each size of GO! Qube - seriously, how cool is that?! The GO! Qube Companion Set-Classics is available in each of the four GO! Qube sizes: 6",  8", 9", and 12"....and is designed to expand the possibilities of what you can create with the existing GO! Qube Mix & Match Blocks. Each Companion Set includes four classic shapes labeled 9-12 (a continuation of the 1-8 die numbering system from the GO! Qube Mix & Match Blocks), a cutting mat, an instructional DVD, and a 20-page pattern booklet. Yep, it's pretty awesome! The four GO! Dies included in the GO! Qube Companion Set-Classics are:
  • GO! Chisels (Shape 9)
  • GO! Signature Block (Shape 10)
  • GO! Drunkard’s Path-Arc Shape (Shape 11)
  • GO! Drunkard’s Path-Quarter Circle (Shape 12)

The fun thing for me...I designed/wrote all the patterns for the GO! Qube Companion Set Classics-72 Block Pattern Booklets (for each of the four sizes)...and that includes the new Mix & Match block patterns included in each box! Plus I designed/wrote the pattern for the GO! Cutting Edge Throw Quilt (for each size) that is included in the Pattern Book in each set. I was pretty ecstatic to see the finished product when the sets were released! Right now, you can download both the GO! Qube Companion Set Classics-72 Block Pattern Booklets and the GO! Cutting Edge Throw Quilt patterns on the AccuQuilt website for free (yes, FREE!). Here are links and photos for each size...

It is always rewarding to share some of the projects I have had the pleasure of working just took me a little time to get around to these. I hope you enjoy exploring the links and downloading the free patterns/booklets...and if you have a GO! Qube Companion Set, I would LOVE to see what you have been creating...

Tomorrow, I will be back to share another new pattern design that uses the GO! Qube Mix & Match 9" Block and the GO! Qube 9" Companion Set-Classics...a colorful sampler quilt!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Piece of My Heart

With the cold winter weather, I thought I would share a new project with you that warms my heart - it is my latest pattern design for AccuQuilt called the "GO! Piece of My Heart Wall Hanging." I had so much fun designing and creating this project that uses the GO! Strip Cutter-5 1/2" (5" Finished)...and the GO! Strip Cutter-2 1/2" (2" Finished) for the binding - that's it - only two cutting dies! Once I had the pattern written, it went together super easy and I was thrilled with how it turned much so, that I had a really hard time boxing up the sample and sending it to AccuQuilt - I wanted to keep it for my very own! I worked up the sample in beautiful Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton Solids...but this pattern would work well with prints or batiks...and it could even be done with one basic color in a variety of prints. For the quilting, I used simple wavy lines on my domestic machine (yep, I'm still dreaming of the day I will own a longarm!).

You can find this new pattern on the AccuQuilt website...and it is currently free of charge (yes, I said FREE) to download:

My tip to you (if you want to make one of your very own) - keep your pieces organized - I pinned my pieces for each vertical strip set together until sewing....and then I placed each strip set in order on my design wall. The finished wall hanging measures 55" x 55" and would also work quite well for a lap quilt.

This colorful project is sure to brighten up a winter day....and with Valentine's Day in less than two months, it is the perfect time to get started! So, go check out the AccuQuilt website, download the free pattern, and gather your supplies - you'll be finished in no time...
Happy quilting!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Warm Winter Wishes

Countdown to Christmas (BRD-077)
Ready to turn the piece for today...
Greetings friends! It is a chilly day here in Iowa - perfect for spending a little time at the sewing machine or curled up with a cross stitch project. It has been a whirlwind of creativity in my studio the last month - finishing up freelance jobs, custom finishing, and special holiday orders...and trying to fit my own handmade gifts in the mix. I am happy to say I finished up all my big deadlines last week and finished up my holiday gifts over the weekend...and I am now down to just a few projects that were not included in the holiday rush (those who are waiting, thank you for your patience)...whew! The last few packages are shipping today...and I am ready to get the house cleaned up and ready for Christmas...and get the last few items checked off my Christmas list. I managed to hang all my framed Christmas cross stitch pieces and place a few decorative bowls with holiday ornaments and smalls throughout the house...yes, I know, I have been saying it for too many years to count - I *need* to get a tree to display my cross stitch ornament collection which has surpassed well-over 100 stitched ornaments (one day, I a tree will be in the budget, but until then, I will find creative ways to display the ornaments throughout the house).

I want to thank everyone who voted for my video in the Husqvarna Viking #sewworthit contest to win a Designer Epic (my dream sewing and embroidery machine). I placed third in votes (VERY close to second place when the contest abruptly ended)...and while they encouraged everyone to make creative videos, the contest was based on the most votes - so, I will be receiving the runner-up prize - a $500 prize package of sewing notions and supplies, which we all know I can definitely a HUGE thank you for voting and supporting my entry - I truly appreciate it! While my dream didn't come true, my heart is full from all the love and support I received...thank you SO MUCH - I may not be blessed with the sewing machine of my dreams, but I am truly blessed to have great people in my life that support my creative passions! I'll be sure to post a photo of my prize package when it arrives.

Here are a few photos of things I can share (including some recent shots of some of my Christmas cross stitch models)...more details on a couple of these will be posted in the near future...

Peppermint Twist (BRD-076)

Just Add Tinsel (BRD-089)

A machine applique Americana design in progress...

Poinsettias and Pines (BRD-059) 

A custom order Stitch Starter Ruler Sleeve with my BRD Stitch Starter Ruler...

A new pattern I created for AccuQuilt - the GO! Piece of My Heart Strip Quilt
I will post more details very soon....

My "All Bundled Up" Fabric Baskets
Details coming soon along with a full tutorial on the
AccuQuilt Blog later this month...stay tuned....
I'm off to work on some custom orders and a few new items for my Etsy shop...then some household chores...and tonight I will be in my cozy stitching nest working on a new design model. I hope you are enjoying the holiday season and (if you are in the COLD zone) keeping warm!