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!