A Finish, A Cake & Some Doodling

Happy Friday! We made it!!

This week I finished up the dreidel quilt that will be the second of two mini quilts in a new pattern for Hanukkah.

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This dreidel mini quilt along with the menorah mini quilt will be offered as a pattern in a few weeks. I just have to type it and send it off for pattern testing. I don’t have a name for the pattern yet…any suggestions? I’d love to hear from you!

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Last Friday was a huge day around here for us. After 5 very long years, Amanda finally got her braces off!! She’s been hoping and praying that they would be off in time for prom and her France trip and every effort and I mean every effort, was made to make that a reality for her. After numerous appointments and 4 tooth implants, we’re finally making progress. She’s not done by any stretch but the biggest factor for her was getting the braces off. All 3 girls and I have Oligodontia which is multiple congenitally missing teeth caused by a gene mutation. So even though it will be a long road of dental issues all around, we had to celebrate this big, momentous occasion with a cake!! Yay Amanda!!

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I had some really fun mail this week from podcast listener and blog reader, Lori!! She sent me a bunch of fun fabrics to be used in making the comic show toiletry bags. I love them all and can’t wait to have a bag sewing session! Many thanks, Lori. It made my day for sure!!

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I can hardly believe Easter is next week….where does the time go? I really need to go clean my house…

Have a fabulous weekend everyone! Oh…almost forgot…here’s a great article from the Wall Street Journal on doodling. A study was done that showed doodling aids in constructing new, creative ideas. So doodling one image led to even more creative ideas and images. It was also shown that people who doodled while listening to a long list of names could recall 29% more of those names than those who didn’t. I know I could use some help with recall so I better get doodling which coincidentally is not something I normally do. Check out the article and let me know what you think. Click here for the article.

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Monday Progress & Screen Time

Last night and this morning I made some progress on my hour glass quilt that will be the raffle quilt for the music school in June. I got all the rows sewn together. In the next few weeks I’ll be basting, quilting and binding this one.

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I didn’t enjoy making this as much as I thought I would because the wonky bias edges drove me to insanity. I used a precut layer cake and as I pieced this together, it seemed as though everything was lining up right but then it didn’t. This quilt won’t win any awards for perfect points for sure. My next precut quilt is going to be the Love Notes quilt and I know there are some bias edge issues with it as I have been forewarned by Torie (Twilter) who has already made this quilt. I’ll have to be extra careful with it and use sizing on the patches. Do you all find precuts difficult to work with sometimes?

I came across a great article about cutting back on screen time. It was written by Stephanie Nickel for Christian Editing Services. It’s called Why I Want To Go Screen Free…At Least Now and Then. Click here to read the article.

I could definitely identify with Stephanie’s feelings of thinking she’s missing out on something if she isn’t checking her email, text messages, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts! Checking those items is like having the mailman come to your house a hundred times a day! There are definitely so many things to look at and look up and learn about. I really love those aspects of today’s technology. I can’t tell you how many times I have to look up things my kids have inquired about…it’s a real life saver some days! What I don’t love about instant technology is the feeling that cyberspace has more to offer than the physical people and items in our lives (like paper books). As Stephanie points out, it’s a feeling that if someone is constantly texting and surfing in your presence, maybe you aren’t interesting enough to pay attention to. No one wants to feel that way or inflict that upon someone else. Of course there are those moments when my head is overloaded from dealing with people that I just want to relax and surf the internet reading blogs and catching up with my cyber friends on Twitter or Facebook. I guess it’s a delicate balance and certainly one to think about!

Sandi

Looking for a fun and quick Easter wall hanging? Check out this one in Little Quilts For Big Occasions.

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Leaving The Orchard

I’ve left the orchard. The Apple iPhone orchard that is! I took the leap over to a new Galaxy…the Samsung Galaxy Note 4! And it’s quite different in many ways. The phone itself is really a phablet which is the larger style that is in between a cell phone size and a table size. I think I’m in love but having to look up how to accomplish the simplest of tasks like resizing photos for my blog is taking up a lot of time!! As did typing in 3 kids worth of appointments and school activities into the new calendar.  I’m almost there with setting the phone up they way I like and now I’m on to fun stuff such as figuring out the camera and where the settings are hiding out.  The camera is 16 megapixels and the main reason I made the jump. I’m hoping to only bring one camera on vacation this year and keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be really adept at using the Note 4′s camera by the time summer rolls around.

I haven’t done much quilting this week but I’ve though about it, does that count? I did attend my quilt guild meeting on Monday night and the speaker was the lovely and talented Judy Coates Perez. You can see her gorgeous art quilts HERE.  Judy paints on fabric with textile paints and inks and then quilts them. She’s won numerous awards and she had us all laughing. I think this was maybe the best quilt speaker we’ve had for one reason…we all learned a lot about her process and why she uses the products she does. Our guild speakers teach workshops on the Saturday and Sunday and then present a lecture on Monday night at the meeting. Often times the speakers don’t really “give up” their process in the lectures. We see a lot of photos of things that inspire them but we don’t often walk away like we learned a process and can go home and try it unless we were one of the lucky ones who got a spot in the workshops. It was a really good presentation and I’m glad I made the trip to see it.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been slowly working on two Hanukkah mini quilts. The first one is finished. I need to start the second one and then draft the pattern. Here is the first one….

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It’s hard to see in the photo but that blue Star of David background fabric shimmers with a silver metallic look. I love the way it sparkles. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I finish and then the pattern will be available for holiday crafting in a few months…can you believe I just said that?

Today these cuties took a trip to the vet for some beak trimming. Barney is the blue parakeet, Kiwi is the green. The appointment was actually for Barney’s beak but Kiwi went along for moral support.

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The woman who checked us in at the vet asked if we’d like another bird for free. I hesitantly asked her what she had in mind. She said a woman had come in to hang a flyer for a free Sun Conure. She wanted the bird to have a good home and could no longer care for it. I read the flyer but it said the bird wasn’t good with kids (I have 3) and that the bird demanded a lot of attention and got really loud until it got the attention it desired. Ummmmmmm, no thank you. If it were another parakeet….maybe and that’s a big maybe. Barney and Kiwi have some chemistry together and I don’t think they’d care for another roommate. LOL!

The rest of the week and the days to come are a blur of dentist appointments, activities and errands/phone calls to get Amanda ready for prom and her Paris trip. The days are full and flying by. It’s easy to feel defeated that I haven’t been able to give ample time to Quilt Cabana but this is turning out to be a busy season in our lives. One must go with the flow!

Keep working on those mug rugs and potholders!

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The Value Question

The following article was posted by Morna McEver on her blog. Morna is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals. I follow her blog and occasionally dial in to some of her free conference calls on running a craft business. I think she’s highly insightful and I would love someday to attend her Creative Arts Business Summit.

The article is included in its entirety below. It focuses on how creative types value their work and maybe underestimate their customers. Take a minute to read the article and I’ll chime in at the end of it.

Whose Wallet Is It?

In the past couple of weeks I have had several different conversations that seemed to have a recurring theme — pricing and value.

One conversation was with someone creating a new online teaching program, and she was struggling with what to charge people. I thought her price was really low, and I asked why. She told me that she just knew not all her customers could afford to take the class and she really wanted everyone to have that opportunity. I asked how she knew that they could not afford the class, and she wasn’t able to answer that question. It was just her gut instinct. When we went further with the question, it was really that she would not have paid that amount. I asked her what she was doing living in someone else’s wallet and deciding how someone else spent her money. We talked about what her value was, and she went on to charge a higher price. And yes, her classes have filled with people who absolutely love what she has to offer.

There is something to be said, too, about people expecting value at a certain price. Would you expect the same value in an online class that cost $50 vs. an online class that cost $350? Would you put the same effort into the class?

If you are the instructor, what value do you place on yourself at each price point? And, it is not really all about delivering value on your end, it is about valuing what you do deliver.

Another conversation I had was with a neighbor who is struggling with when to leave her high-paying corporate job to fully commit to her creative arts business. She is a wonderful pet photographer. She keeps telling me that it is impossible for her to make what she is making in her day job. Maybe she won’t make her nice six-figure salary, at least right away, but I say it is an excuse that just holds her back. She is afraid to make that leap, and she is afraid that people won’t pay her. Yes, she is living in their wallets, too, feeling sorry for them, deciding how they will spend. And, she is stopping herself from the joy of making her own decisions about her business and her life.

And, then there’s Jan, who makes incredible mixed-media art quilts. Last month a couple was interested in one of her pieces, only they told Jan that they couldn’t afford to purchase it and asked her if she would negotiate on the price. Jan started questioning whether her work was overpriced and whether she should lower her price. Jan really wanted to make this sale. Again, Jan was living in someone else’s wallet not her own. While it’s fine to be empathetic to someone’s plight, I think Jan was being sympathetic and living in her potential customer’s wallet. Jan had a couple of options: saying no because she knew her value and waiting for the right buyer, or offering to work out a payment plan with the couple.

I believe that your ideal client is out there, the person who will pay you what you think your classes or your art is worth. Yes, you do have to be clear on who they are and where they hang out. And, you have to be super clear on your value. So find your value and stop living in someone else’s wallet.
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—I’ve read this article over many times because everything in it strikes a chord with me. My own immediate feeling when determining the price of one of my handmade products is that no one will pay over a certain amount for something handmade. I can see that I de-value my own work based on an assumption I’m making rather than reality. I’ve made a blanket statement about my customers and now I think I’ve been looking at this wrong. Why have I been making this assumption? Is it because I think that customers don’t have the money to spend or is it because I’m in a hurry to sell the item and I don’t want to wait around for the right customer who does? I’m not really sure. Or maybe I assume people don’t have any idea how expensive fabric is or how long it took me to make the item. It always takes longer to make these items than anyone would think it does. By charging less money than what the item is worth, am I effectively saying that the product isn’t worth the bigger (more accurately valued) price tag? Or that my time isn’t worth more than minimum wage? So often the prices on handmade items do not reflect the labor costs.

I have a friend who sells beautifully decorated and delicious cookies. She smartly charges what she believes the cookies are worth. She does a great business and she knows who her customers are and she knows that if they want a beautiful and delicious cookie, they will pay the asking price. Long ago when I was selling handmade purses, I kept the price low figuring I would gain sales. She asked me why I didn’t charge more for the bags even if I didn’t have as many sales. The higher price would make up for the lower sales volume. As time went on I got bored and burnt out making bags at the lower price. I think her perspective was right. If I priced them higher and took a better look at who my customers were and where they might hang out, I might still be in the bag business!

How do you figure out the value of your products? Do you think there is market for everything? Do you undervalue your items because they are handmade? I do truly believe that most people have no idea about the cost of raw materials in the craft industry. Fabric is expensive. Thread is also expensive never mind zippers, batting and purse handles and the like. Another cost the general public might not realize is the cost to do business such as the cost of web hosting services and shopping cart fees. It all adds up rather quickly.

I think the take away here is that we need to know our costs, find our true customers and stop assuming that our items are worth less than they are. As Morna says, “Whose Wallet Is It?”

*****Morna McEver is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at http://www.creativeartsprofessional.com.

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And She’s Done! A Finish.

The Lindsey Project was started last year after I read about Susan Carlson’s method of painting a quilt not with paint but with fabric. It seemed like a fun way to explore a new technique and a great way to capture one of my favorite Lindsey moments when she was young and we were in Disney World. The technique was based on taking a photo, transferring the basic outlines to muslin and then using tiny pieces of fabric glued in place to make the project come alive. After the gluing came the thread sketching and then…ta da here she is!

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You might remember it started like this…

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I finished sewing the hanging sleeve on this morning and I placed it in the hallway for a little photo shoot.

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I had concerns about the face not looking exactly like Lindsey’s face but after working with some thread and paint, I got it close enough to be happy with it. Working on a very small face is difficult especially if you are not trained in art.

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As you can see in some of the detail photos, a layer of cranberry tulle was placed over the entire piece before the quilting to keep the tiny fabric pieces from falling off. They were glued but this project was done over a number of months and some pieces had just a very small amount of glue on them. The tulle made it much easier to glide around under the free motion foot without snagging the needle on unruly pieces.

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This piece will be entered in my guild’s annual show at the end of May. I think the Amanda quilt will also be entered.

So would I do this method again? Absolutely with one caveat. I would try it with a photo or drawing of a nonhuman. In Susan’s book she uses drawings of fish and of the sun and moon. I think it’s a fun and creative method of making an art quilt. The quilt has a water color like quality and it’s very pleasing to the eye.

I do have another technique I’d like to try with a human photo and that is the one that Twilter, Carol Woole, used on her art quilt of her dad. This is a technique shown on Sewing With Nancy by Tammy Bowser. It will require a software install that you can download for free for one week. After the week, you need to purchase it for around $100. I’ll think on which photo I’d like to use and then I’ll do the free download and give it a try.

Do you have a finish to share this week with us? We’d love to hear about it.

Are you looking for a quick St. Patty’s Day project? Try the Lucky mini quilt

Lucky

Here it is shown with matching place-mats. Pattern is for mini quilt only, place-mats can be made with your favorite pattern or tutorial.

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Counting Hexies

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Yesterday I spent two hours in the waiting room of the dentist while Amanda had her appointment. I brought along my Earlene Fowler book and my little box of hexagon English paper piecing. The waiting room was very quiet, a bit too warm, a bit dim and quietly playing on the TV was Caribbean House Hunters…in other words, I couldn’t keep my eyes open!!!! I was dying in there. I would shift around and wonder how Amanda was doing. I’d chat once in awhile with the receptionist but I had a hard time staying focused and motivated in that place. LOL! Then of course, I felt like a failure. Here I was with 120 minutes worth of ‘free time’ and all I wanted to do was see which St. Marten home the couple chose! Sometime after the first 45 minutes, I pulled my book out and read a chapter or two. If you’ve read Earlene’s books, you know what I mean when I say they can be a bit sleepy…and since I was sleepy already, I didn’t stick with it long. I succumbed to the guilt and MADE myself open the hexie box. I stitched up a few and then before I knew it, Amanda and the dentist appeared and it was time to go!

I started thinking last night that I might have enough hexies to actually make the 4th of July candle mat for my kitchen island. I took them all out this morning and I do have enough!

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The red center flowers are stitched together so now I can work on adding the surrounding blue hexies to it. I like to stick to small projects for the EPP because I get totally bored with the fabric and color schemes. I do admire people like Bonnie Hunter who can just make a zillion of these and piece them into a gigantic quilt. That’s not for me. I’m a get ‘er done kind of girl.

Tuesday, Amanda will be back in the dentist chair for round 2 and I’ll have 120 more minutes to tackle this project!! By the way, the couple chose house #2.

FYI-swap partners have been assigned for the mug rugs and pot holders so please check your Twitter direct messages or your email for the name of your partner. Let me know that you have received the information. Thanks! Projects are due to your partner at the end of April!!!! This will be so fun, I can’t wait!

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Over Dye Trial

Last week I saw information on over dyeing commercial black and white fabrics in a few places. I thought it was really neat that you could take some black and white fabric and turn it into something completely brand new with some time and some dyes. Yesterday I set out to give it a try. I pulled out some smaller pieces of fabrics I had laying around from Joann’s and I put them in low water dye baths. I did one with Bahama Blue dye and the other with Raspberry.

Here are the fabrics before…

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And here are the fabric after…

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I think that’s pretty cool! I would definitely do it again because I don’t often quilt with black and white fabrics and this is a way to use up the few pieces I have by turning them into something colorful.

Have a great Tuesday!

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A Wee Bit Of Progress

I made some progress on my art quilt that I call The Lindsey Project. I finished up the gluing of the little pieces and got the whole thing off the design wall and basted. So it went from this…

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to basically this…

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Once I finished gluing the background, I took it off the wall and trimmed it up. I tried gluing small pieces for the eyes and other facial features but it didn’t look good. The face is too small to do anything other than paint the features. Amanda told me it was looking demonic! LOL. Instead, I used my Intense Blocks with a very small round brush and ‘dotted’ on the features. I’m not totally happy with it though because I don’t feel like it looks enough like Lindsey’s true face. I tried thinking back to the quilt I did of Amanda and how much it looked like her but then I realized, she was wearing sunglasses!

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It’s much, much easier to make sunglasses and also that quilt is larger.

The easiest way to get the quilt to look like the photo is to use a photo transfer such as this quilt of Leah when she was younger. There was no piecing just thread sketching.

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The Lindsey Project quilt is basted and ready for stitching now. I placed a piece of cranberry tulle over the whole thing to help keep the pieces in place while I stitch. I have some reservations about how easy it will be to stitch through all the layers and the glue. This was Susan Carlson’s method and she doesn’t seem to have a problem, fingers crossed that I won’t either!

Happy Monday!

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Finally Friday

Yay, we finally made it to Friday! This week I worked on some items for the Transformer comic type show that I do some sewing for every once in awhile. This week it was Transformer pillow cases.

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As a birthday gift, I picked out this Daylight floor lamp which I have put next to the ironing board to use at night and it is so helpful especially when dealing with black fabric such as the pillow case bands. I am LOVING this floor lamp plus I can move it around to wherever I feel like I need more lighting. I got on Amazon for around $60.

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This weekend the local quilt shop is having their 4th birthday celebration. I took a drive there today to see what was on sale, try for a door prize and have some of the cake! Well, I did find some quilty treasures, I didn’t pull the correct color poker chip out of the door prize bag and sadly, I wasn’t offered any cake. Boo hoo. I cheered myself up with just a few fat quarters, a new pin cushion and some yardage of cute number and word prints.

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I really didn’t need any cake seeing as I was eating this beauty all week that the girls made for me on Sunday…

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You can figure out how old I am if you read the candles left to right 4-4!

Aren’t my kids clever? LOL!!!

There’s one more day to let me know if you’re joining the mug rug/potholder swap…CLICK HERE for the post regarding the details and sign up.

This weekend I’ll be attempting to work on the Lindsey Project which still currently looks like this…

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I’d like to finish up gluing the pieces and then move on to the next step..I’m not sure what that is. I think it’s probably tucking the edges in and gluing a bit more. You’ll have to stay tuned for more on this hot mess.

Have a fab Friday everyone!

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