Monday, June 30, 2014

Stitch Starter Ruler & Sleeves

Hello friends! It has been another busy week....and today will be filled with adding new handmade items to my freshly updated website. Over the last few days, I managed to turn these piles:

Into these finished piles of Stitch Starter Ruler Sleeves:

These pocket sleeves measure 3.5" x 3.5" and hold my BRD 3" Stitch Starter Ruler perfectly - they are fully lined with no raw seams...and they use fusible fleece to give them a bit of padding and stability. I will be listing all 36 new Stitch Starter Ruler Sleeves (four each of nine different fabrics) in the Exclusives/One-of-a-Kind Handmade section on my website...and each ruler pocket sleeve purchase includes a Stitch Starter Ruler.

For those of you unfamiliar with my BRD Stitch Starter Ruler:
  • It is 2 mil acrylic plastic, making it durable.
  • It has marking lines for 1", 2", and 3" seam allowances, so you only need one tool.
  • It is clear, making it easy to see your fabric placement.
  • It has 1/4" and 1/2" markings on three sides.
  • It has complete 3" ruler markings down the left side - these can be used for: finishing work measurements, measuring between stitched designs, and counting threads to figure fabric count.
  • Visit this PDF link for more information: Directions for using the Stitch Starter Ruler
A Stitch Starter Ruler is also included in the following Blue Ribbon Designs with charting and instructions to make your own cross stitch sleeves: BRD-100 "Holiday Helpings" and BRD-097 "Blessed Beyond Measure" - these two design charts can be purchased on my website or at your favorite needlework shop.

I am off to take photos of each Stitch Starter Ruler Sleeve (it's terribly gloomy and raining, so I am going to have to work on the lighting)...then I will start posting them on the website (along with a few other new items)'s going to be a busy day!

Monday, June 23, 2014

You Never Stop Growing...

Several months ago, my Blue Ribbon Designs website celebrated ten years in existence...seriously, ten years...and in the needlework industry, that is really saying something. Things sure have changed during the past ten years - it has been a decade filled with rewards, stitching friendships, personal accomplishments, and new creative endeavors...along with challenges, hiccups, and downfalls. Recently, we have all watched the economy and copyright infringements truly damage the needlework community...and although needlework has been my livelihood and full time job for over ten years, in the last twelve months, I have found it almost impossible to make ends meet - I have even been seriously contemplating going back to the corporate world. I have revamped my business plan a million times - tried different avenues - looked at more cost-effective solutions - and have even studied new ways to deliver my products. I'm just not ready to say goodbye to a business that has brought me so much joy and fulfillment...and allowed me to be creative on a daily basis for over ten years. So, with changing and challenging times, it's time to make some adjustments. The first is a newly updated website at with improved features and a shopping cart....yep, you will be able to order my designs, along with my handmade items directly from my website.

First, you must know: I have always and will always support needlework shops...and although consumers will now be able to purchase Blue Ribbon Designs charts/patterns from me directly, they will still need to purchase all the needed supplies and materials from the needlework shop/supplier of their choice. I will still be doing business with needlework shops and distributors - and your favorite shops will still carry and be able to order Blue Ribbon Designs. With well over 100 designs in the BRD catalog, it is impossible for shops and distributors to have stock of each and every design - this new shopping option just gives needleworkers a chance to purchase those designs that their local shop doesn't stock or want to order. It will also help my international fans obtain my designs with less hassle.

Another perk of the updated website - all my handmade items that have been found in my Etsy shop will now be listed along with my charts - so you can do all your Blue Ribbon Designs shopping in one place. I will also be adding some original sewing and quilting patterns too...

This updated website has definitely been a learning experience - with my limited budget, I was unable to pay someone thousands of dollars to build the site, so I have been building it on my own for several months. It has been a very time consuming project...and I have spent hours upon hours adding products and doing testing. I now have an SSL certificate in place, insuring your orders and purchasing information are safe and secure (you will see "https" and a lock in your browser address line). There have been a few glitches along with way - mostly cosmetic and making the website have my personality...and I am sure now that the site is live, other small errors will be found (it is just not feasible for me to test every device and every browser in every scenario).

The site is now also "mobile" - so those of you wanting to use your smartphone will be able to place secure orders through the mobile site. I will tell you, if you choose the option "view full desktop site" from your mobile device, it will not be as pretty, but it will still be functional. The entire site is best viewed from a desktop, laptop, or tablet with the most current browsers and operating systems. Another note - if you have visited my website recently, you may have to F5 refresh to see the new website.

Payment can be made with all major credit cards and PayPal...and there is a "Contact Us" page for those that need to request other arrangements - I will do my very best to accommodate you. I ship internationally...and you have options for shipping (USPS First Class, USPS Parcel, USPS Priority Mail, or UPS)...and as many of you know, I ship promptly.

I hope you find the newly updated website easy to maneuver...and I hope you like the updated features. If you notice anything strange, any misspellings, or something just doesn't look right or add up properly, please feel free to send me a (kind) message...I would love to hear your feedback and would appreciate constructive criticism or corrections (written in a nice manner). I should also mention - I am working on coding to have several of the header and footer menu items open in a new window (items such as News, Blog, and Facebook) - this will be more convenient and keep you from having to hit your "back", rest assured, I am still working on a few adjustments/improvements to make viewing even better! It's a work in progress...

I am extremely passionate about the needlework industry and I would love to continue to bring you the original designs you have come to know and with all that being said, it is back to work (finally) on some new designs and handmade items - I am ready to get back into the swing of things. Thank you all for your love, support, and patience while I took on this HUGE project.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

My Video Class DVD...and a Giveaway!

UPDATE: Congratulations to Georgia H. - she is the recipient of the DVD giveaway - I have already e-mailed Georgia with the details. Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment and enter...and thank you to the Rafflecopter widget for organizing the entries and randomly choosing a winner. If you didn't win this time, please don't be discouraged - there will be more giveaway opportunities in the future...

In mid-May, I announced my new online video class "Learn Counted Cross Stitch" was live and ready for viewing...well, today I have more exciting news the DVD is now available. That's right, my special video project with Annie's is now available both as an online video class and on DVD....and today I have a copy of the DVD to give away (keep reading for details)!!

This is definitely not your average "shot in a basement" video - this class was professionally filmed in Annie's studio with top notch production, high quality cameras, and a full set. There are 13 segments in the video and I start with the very basics; we start out discussing materials, supplies, and tools - then we talk about how to read a Cross Stitch chart, how to prepare your supplies, and how to take your first stitches. We cover how to work Cross Stitches (two different methods), Back Stitches, Partial Cross Stitches, and French Knots....and each technique segment has an exclusive Blue Ribbon Designs I talk about finishing touches and finishing ideas. This video class is perfect for a beginner, as well as a seasoned needleworker that wants to brush up on their skills and knowledge. The video length is one hour and 53 minutes and the DVD video class (just like the online class) includes five exclusive printable class projects, instructions, materials lists, and diagrams (DVDs are compatible with North American DVD players, and PC and Macintosh computer systems).

Photo collage featuring the five exclusive projects....

You can see a Class Overview and the Introduction video for free by visiting: and clicking on the links in the "Lesson Description" box (lower right corner).

You can find the online video class here:

...and the DVD can be found at specialty needlework shops and here:

Now the FUN begins! I have one video class DVD to giveaway to a lucky are the important details:
Followers (current and new) are eligible - after you tell me how you follow, you will have three more entry opportunities (entries will be verified). One winner will be chosen randomly and will receive a copy of the DVD "Learn Counted Cross Stitch". International entries are welcome. You must use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter - no e-mail entries will be accepted. The giveaway is open until 11:59 PM CST Sunday, June 22, 2014 and the recipient will be announced on Monday, June 23, 2014. No prize substitutions. Good luck...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Catching My Breath...

Yes, I am still alive and breathing...and yes, I am okay. I apologize for taking so long between posts, but it has been a little hectic here to say the least. Thank you to everyone who sent me a message to check on me - I know it has been longer than usual since my last just got in the way...but we'll catch-up quickly in this post, and then things should start to get back to normal.

Where to start...well, my husband was just out of town for a week plus on a fishing trip with his buddies in Canada, so that left me trying to balance the household, dogs, yard work, and my business, all on my own...I pretty much was on auto-pilot for the entire time he was gone - trying to cram everything I needed to do into each day. Here some photos taken on his trip to Gold Arrow Camp in Perrault Falls, Ontario, Canada...

Several of you have asked about my walking - yep, I have been walking/training daily. Schatzi and I walk/run 4-5 miles every morning, rain or shine...Simba gets two walks a day...and Schatzi gets a couple trips to the park during the day and usually a good walk in the yes, I manage to get in an average of eight plus miles a day. Schatzi is a good training partner...and I must mention she got her first title last night - she tested for her AKC CGC (Canine Good Citizen) and passed with flying colors!

Schatzi getting her AKC paperwork after she passed her CGC test...

Next up - the updated Blue Ribbon Designs website...yes, I have it all built...and yes, my SSL Certificate is now in place...and yes, it will be live VERY soon. I am doing some last minute testing and I am hoping to have that done today. A little hint (and reason why it has taken so long) - the updated site has a shopping cart and you will be able to shop BRD charts and BRD Etsy items all in one place....but a little note: I still support needlework shops 100% - my shop will only sell  my charts and handmade items - you will still need to visit your favorite needlework retailer to buy your supplies....more on all of this in the very near future...and the delayed BRD newsletter will be sent as soon as the new website is up and running.

...and yes, I am still sewing and quilting...I just finished up four large projects for AccuQuilt (sorry can't share them just yet)...and I am in the midst of putting together a pile of stitching wallets (12) and stitch starter ruler sleeves (36)...

Let's finish up on a happy note! In March, I entered the National Craft Month giveaway on the Therm O Web blog (a favorite blog of mine - they always have creative ideas and tutorials!)...they were giving away an Oliso TG-1100 Iron. We all know I love my Oliso irons and I am on my second one...well, to my complete surprise I won the giveaway (with over 1,000 entries)! However, as of last week, I had not received my prize...and after two months, I had completely given up hope. Well, thanks to Thermo O Web and Oliso, my new iron arrived this week - and to add to my excitement, it was a TG1600, just like the one I already own and LOVE. I am so excited - I now have a wonderful iron at my cutting table ironing board and an iron at my sewing machine ironing board - so convenient - no more shuffling my one iron back and forth from room to room!

Well, that's all the news for now...I must get Simba to the groomer - he's due there in less than an hour...I will be stitching on my 2014 Komen design model while I wait for him to get a bath and haircut. I'll be back soon with details on my new updated website...