Finding What Feels Right

It’s so cold here in MA! It’s the face stinging kind of cold that makes you feel like hunkering down indefinitely. On Saturday our town won the ‘snow derby’ by accumulating the most amount of snow in the state for this storm. We had a whopping 19.5″ and this is what my backyard looked like. We always guess the amount of snow based on how high it’s piled on the patio table!

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On Sunday, the roads were clear but I didn’t have to be anywhere so I put Judi Madsen’s dvd in the player and watched her quilt for two mesmerizing hours. Quilting Makes A Difference is the name of the dvd and it is part of the AQS Iquilt series.

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This video was amazing to me because it made me realize it is ok to mark your quilt, it’s ok to take a long time preparing the quilt to go on the long arm, and it’s ok to take all the time you can to make sure the quilt looks good. In a hurry-hurry world, this gave me permission to take it slow. Thank you, Judi Madsen! I love the way she marks her quilt with a ruler and disappearing ink. She is meticulous and it just tickles me to see it.

Coincidentally on Saturday, I put a practice cloth on the long arm and pulled out the two rulers I own. Nothing I did felt particularly good but it was practice. I did a few clam shells and other things but now I can’t wait to mark up a cloth and try it Judi’s way. Here are a few pictures of my practice session.

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I ordered Judi’s book and it will be here on Wednesday and I’m practically giddy about it! I also tried ordering her ruler but it’s out of stock at the moment. I’ll keep trying back though.

 

So let’s talk about that hexagon calendar…I bought the perpetual hexagon calendar and felt I could handle one hexagon a week instead of one a day. Well…I did all the work for the first one as I talked about in the last blog post. This is the one I was prepping for…

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On Saturday when I was hunkered down, I began stitching the teensy tinesy pieces together and guess what? I didn’t enjoy one minute of it. Not one. I got this far…

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And now I’ve quit. I just didn’t find it satisfying in any way. I do enjoy regular hexagons that I’ve gotten so used to, it’s mindless work. I guess at the end of the day, mindless is what I want and need. I felt terrible guilt over it for a few minutes then I thought to myself that it was silly to continue to say yes to this project when it didn’t make me happy. Saying yes to this would mean saying no to things I do really like to do at night or in the car or on a plane. So the calendar will remain just that, a calendar. I like to flip the pages each day and see beautiful work and I can smile to myself that I don’t have to replicate that work.

How about you? Have you ever given up on a project and then felt guilty about it? How did you handle the feeling?

Sandi

***this post contains an Amazon affiliate link

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Projects Galore for 2017!

Happy New Year!!! Are you all ready for 2017? I feel refreshed and ready to go this week. Last week I shared with you that my word for the year is ‘focus’ and I’ve also declared this a ‘year of yes’. For me that means focusing on the parts of my business that I love and want to develop and also being open and saying ‘yes’ to new ideas and opportunities.

The first project I’m working on is for a publication and it’s due in February and will be in the autumn issue. I can’t expand too much on it because as always with magazines, designers can’t show the project before it’s published. I can show you the fabrics I’m working with though and I love the vibrant colors!

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I’m also working on other projects at night that are more for pleasure. One project is the perpetual hexagon calendar where the idea is to create a hexagon block a day. Well, being into the first day and realizing how time consuming it really is, I’ve decided to shoot for one a week. There will be weeks I can’t pull it off but that’s the goal. January 1st has a beautiful blue and purple block. It has many small fiddly bit type of pieces and those are not usually what I consider fun but….I’m really trying to enjoy the process of things instead of the end result. So, over the weekend, I busted out my new lightbox which was a Christmas gift from my mom. I love it, it’s very bright. I traced all the templates I needed for the hexagon. This is the light box and though I believe my mom paid $99 through Nancy’s Notions, I found it on Amazon today for $78.53. I thought about the more expensive wafer thin one but it’s a lot of money and it’s not something I’d use every single day so I opted for this one and I’m very pleased with it. I love the large size – 12″x18″. Here is a picture of my lightbox and then a link below if you’re interested…

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Last night I had a few hours free and I glue basted the fabric to the templates. Normally I’d thread baste but the instructions advise glue basting to save time. I got all the pieces basted and now in my next batch of free time, I’ll start whipstitching them together.

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Over Christmas break, Amanda taught me how to loom knit and I’m hooked! Leah also has the loom knitting bug. I’m making a cream colored scarf and I’m about to start my second skein. Leah is making a pink scarf and Amanda is working on a blanket. This picture was taken the night Amanda taught me how to do it. We sat in our jammies and knitted all night!

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If you’re wondering if Lindsey is annoyed with me for working more on this scarf than her mermaid tail blanket, the answer is an emphatic YES! I was hoping some Christmas miracle would take place and I’d wake up to find that mermaid tail completely finished by elves, but that didn’t happen. I’ll be back at that next week.

That’s it for me today! Enjoy the start of a new year!
Sandi

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Crossing The Finish Line, Finding A New Word

So do we all feel like we’re running a race about right now? The shopping, wrapping, baking, Christmas carding, and goody delivering are in full swing! I feel like I’m headed for the finish line  and in a few short days, the big day will be upon us. Hallelujah! I could use some focusing on that beautiful baby in the manger. The timing between Thanksgiving and Christmas seems super short this year, I haven’t gotten loads done in the way of quilting but I did finish this gorgeous quilt for my mother on the long arm. I used a pantograph called Pipeline which I like very much. By the time I finished it, I almost couldn’t believe that I had done that work! It was hugely satisfying and now I am hungering for more time on the machine.

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It didn’t come out perfect but I learned a lot doing the quilting. I have several pantographs here and I’ll be adding to them after the first of the year when I can really take my time looking at what’s available and what will work best on my long arm.

It’s almost time to choose a new word for the year! My 2016 word was ‘wisdom’ as in listen to it and seek it. It wasn’t an easy word choice but it made a difference in my year. My 2017 word for the year is ‘focus’. I’ve chosen this word in years passed but this coming year it will guide me through learning the long arm business and expanding my teaching and designing schedule. I’ve been home with my kids for many years and I’ve always set aside most of my time for doing the mom things and kind of waiting around to see what everyone needs me to do. This year, I have an opportunity to really expand my business and do more with it. I’m excited about that but also really have to retrain my brain to focus on the business and to give myself permission to focus on the business more. I need to recondition my thoughts so I don’t always feel guilty about it. That’s the big thing. That’s the hold up for me. That is what I need to focus on for 2017.

The second part of my word choice is to focus on health. I’ve had crazy migraines the last month and as usual, I don’t really know why. I’ll think I know what’s triggering and then I eliminate but they come back. The worst of the headaches last year were between Thanksgiving and Christmas and here it goes again. So of course stress but also not enough exercise and too much sugar rules the day. I’ll be focusing on eating less sugar and exercising more in the coming year.

Have you thought about your word for 2017? Please share what your word choice is, I’d love to hear!

I’ll close with a picture or two of my favorite girls! We are thrilled to have Amanda home from college! She is happy to be reunited with her bunnies! Here’s Amanda and Leah with Nala and Daisy who are doing just fine in their new garage location! They are in for a visit in this photo.

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And here’s Lindsey in the holiday spirit awaiting her friends to arrive for their annual Christmas party!

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One more thing! I just ordered this daily hexagon calendar for myself for next year. I’m thinking it will expand my English Paper Piecing skills with some pretty new patterns. Check it out on Amazon! There’s still time to get one before Christmas!

Have a wonderful day everyone!

*this post contains an Amazon affiliate link

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Day At The Craft Fair & Updates

Happy Tuesday!

Here we are at the start of December and amidst the busy season of shopping and wrapping, I find myself just wanting to retreat into the sewing room to create. I spent much of November preparing for our town’s annual Christmas On The Common celebration where I was a vendor on Saturday. This is my third year vending and I found it to be just as fun and inspiring as it was the first time around.

The day itself is a snapshot of small town life. The Kiwanis club organizes this day for our community complete with a parade, craft fair, Christmas tree sale, food, and performances by local dance studios and musicians all day long. Oh yes and Santa is there as well! It’s a fantastic day.

This was my first year representing both my quilt design company and Creative Memories. I recently had a new banner made up to incorporate both companies. Greg helped me get set up in the early morning and then I was open for business!

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I met many wonderful people Saturday. Since I was promoting both quilting and scrappbooking, I had twice the fun and twice the amount of inspirational conversations with new and experienced crafters from both hobbies. I am pleased to say that quilting and scrapbooking are both very much alive and well in our community! Several of you were looking for quilting lessons and several more were interested in attending a day long scrap retreat. I’d like to also have a day long sewing retreat and I’ll be looking into places to hold those types of events in the near future.

If you are reading this blog for the first time, I welcome you! I hope you’ll find it an inspirational place to hang out. I also collected a lot of new names for both of my newsletters and you’ll be receiving one soon!

This week I’m catching up with paperwork but also preparing to vend at my daughter’s dance studio on Saturday. I sold out of every ballerina item I had at the craft fair so I’m scrambling to make up more tissue covers and zippered pouches. I am also about to begin the quilting on my mother’s quilt with this pretty pantograph called Pipeline.

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I was having a small issue with the bar on the long arm machine but Greg was able to fix it for me and now I can’t wait to get going on this one!

Most of you know over the last two years we have acquired the most adorable Lionhead bunnies, Nala and Daisy.

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They are really the loves of all of our lives and our daughters just adore them. They have always lived in our house and had plenty of freedom to roam around our first floor. Well, last week we found out that poor Greg has developed asthma and is allergic to the buns. We decided to relocate the bunnies to the garage and I found the most adorable log cabin hutches for them! Greg put them together over the weekend and moving day was today!

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You all know I want to hang little Christmas wreaths over their doors! I moved the bunnies into their new homes this morning and they seem quite pleased with having a ramp to play on and an area under the hutch in which to run around. I’m glad they like their new space and I’m looking forward to seeing Greg feel better.

That’s it for today. I’ll hopefully be posting more frequently now that the craft fair is over. Enjoy your day, quilters!!!
Sandi

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Blog Tour Winner & Stuff

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We have a blog tour winner from last week’s QuiltMaker 100 Blocks Blog Tour! And the winner is Becki! I have contacted her through email and she will soon have a copy of 100 Blocks Vol. 14 in her mailbox!

I was blown away by the comments left on the blog tour post.  Every one of you had such nice thoughts about quilting and what it means to you. I mean you also had nice thoughts on my block, Afloat, which is awesome as well! The personal stories and the amount of sharing made my heart so joyous! What a community we have among us! I feel blessed and I hope that you do as well.

I was also impressed with the amount of other crafting everyone is doing…from knit to crochet, to scrapbooking and card making… it was so fun to read through and see how creative we all are!

I’ll be back next week with more quilty fun and in the meanwhile if you mentioned that you are a scrapbooker or you’d like to explore that as a craft, please visit my Creative Memories Facebook page. I’d love to hear from you over there and have you sign up for that newsletter!

https://www.facebook.com/cmAdvisorSandiColwell/

Happy Thanksgiving! May your bellies be full and your hearts even fuller!

Warmly,

Sandi

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Welcome To My Blog!

Hi Everyone! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog for the 100 Blocks Blog Tour!!!

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I am so pleased you’re here and I can’t wait to share the block I created with all of you. You can find my block under the ‘Applique’ section of Volume 14.

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The title of my block is “Afloat”. I’d love to tell you that I came up with the idea one beautiful summer day when the sun was reflecting off the water like diamonds….but that isn’t what happened. I was actually pretty stumped for an idea this time around. I’ve been trying to stay away from floral blocks done with applique because I think the editors get several of those for each issue. I decided on a nautical theme but wanted something more than an anchor or crab. I felt like the block needed to feel serene. I wanted to feel like I was right there on the water even though I wasn’t.
I also knew the block would feature fun and easy fusible applique…A technique I really love and can get right into!

If you’ve never done fusible applique, I’ll show you the steps for how I made Afloat and these steps are the same for any fusible applique project that I have designed through my pattern company, Quilt Cabana Patterns.

I sketched the block out with pencil and paper and then used cardstock to make the templates for the boat and dock.

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Then I traced the templates onto paper backed fusible web. I needed three boats, so I traced the boat template three times.

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Next was the super fun part of auditioning fabrics. I opted for bright colors against a deep blue background…

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I used the iron to fuse my paperbacked fusible pieces onto the wrong side of the fabric. Once it cooled, I cut out the pieces and arranged then on the background…

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The last step was to stitch around the raw edges using the blanket stitch. This could also be done with a zig zag stitch. And here is the finished block!

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Easy right? If you’d like to try more projects like this one, please visit my Craftsy store where you can find 18 fun patterns – everything from mug rugs to wall hangings and table decor! Check out these holiday projects because there’s plenty of time to whip one up as a gift or for your own decor!

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And now for the give-away! If you would like a chance to win a copy of 100 Blocks Volume 14 just leave me a comment and tell me a little about yourself and what type of projects you like to work on.

Don’t forget to visit my blog frequently as there’s always something fun going on!

Sandi

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Happy Thursday!

Happy Thursday Everybody!

I missed my post last week and this one will be quick as I’m also preparing my post for next Thursday (November 17th) when I will be on the QuiltMakers 100 Blocks Blog Tour for Volume 14! Say that ten times fast! This time around I created a nautical block and my post will take you through the steps as well as offer a chance to win a copy of volume 14! Yay!!!!

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The tour runs the whole week long and is always a lot of fun!

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I finished up the Star Wars quilt and Lindsey gave it to her teacher who was quite pleased with it! Here it is hot off the long arm…

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I had some issues with quilting around the orange peel shapes. I wanted to echo stitch around them and underestimated how difficult that is on a long arm. The machine glides effortlessly which is good but bad when you are really trying to concentrate on stitching straight. It came out ok but it’s not as neat as I would like….practice, practice, practice!

I vend at a Christmas Fair in December and usually in November I try to go great guns getting some sewing done. I offer my patterns and book along with a few notions and items like pillow cases, zippered pouches, etc. This week, I opened up a beautiful fat quarter bundle of blueberry and cranberry fabrics. I made zippered pouches and travel tissue covers with the fabric. The travel tissue covers were easy and fast and I made a whole bunch!

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Next week, I’ll make more zippered pouches and pillowcases. I have several items for kids already made as well.

What I’m most looking forward to is finding some time after these items are made to get back to designing. I haven’t forgotten about the Seaglass quilt…it’s ready for the long arm and then it will be pattern tested and ready for the Craftsy store.

That’s about it for today! Join me for the 100 Blocks Blog Tour next week!!!

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Silk Fusion

In an effort to lose some weight I’ve been hitting the treadmill for an hour a day at least 5 days a week. In order to stay interested and entertained while I’m walking, I’ve been watching episodes of The Quilt Show. Each episode is around 54 to 56 minutes and it’s been GREAT! I hit my step goal and I learn something at the same time. The only drawback is that I want to try every technique I see! That can be draining on the quilt budget…but I did spring for the starter kit to learn how to do silk fusion.

Tamara Leberer was a recent guest on the show and she was essentially making fabric out of dyed silk. From that fabric she made beautiful mosaics on black fabric. The dyed silk is so vibrant against a dark background. I loved the blue and orange colors she was using on the show but the starter kit only included a green and a maroon color. You can see Tamara’s work here:

http://www.tamaraleberer.com/silk-fusion-artwork.html

I sat down to work on the silk fusion piece last week. I haven’t made anything with the piece yet because I’m waiting for inspiration to strike on a design. I’m open to suggestions!

This is the kit which included the silk roving, a paint brush, a mesh screen and textile medium.

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The silk roving is unbelievably soft and vibrant.

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The process goes like this – you put one piece of mesh screen on top of a piece of plastic or something to protect your table. Next you carefully pull out thick strands of silk and lay them on top of the screen horizontally. You can mix and match and even add Angelina Fibers to it if you wish.

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Then you layer strands vertically across the horizontal ones.

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When you are happy with that and have the silk thick enough so you can’t see through it anywhere, you place the second screen on top and then paint over it with warm water and liquid dish detergent. The silk fibers have to be very wet in order to accept the textile medium that will come next.

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Once the first side is good and wet, flip the whole sandwich over and paint the other side. Next the textile medium is applied in the same manner.

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After the textile medium step is complete, the piece has to dry overnight. The next day, you peel away the screens and are left with a beautiful piece of silk fabric that is your own creation! Peeling away the screens is tough work…that textile medium is like glue and it takes a little elbow work to get it separated.

The back and front look different and I haven’t decided which side I like best yet. This photo doesn’t quite show how pretty the colors are in the piece due to the lighting in my kitchen. The poor lighting makes it look like bacon! This is the front…

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This is the back…

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I’m still contemplating how I will cut this up and use it. For sure it will be on a black background but whether it will be mosaic or some other design is yet to be decided! I’ll keep you posted! Have you ever tried silk fusion or a similar process?

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Projects Galore!

So I missed last week’s blog post and I remember thinking I didn’t have much last week that was new. This week, there has been progress on just about every front and I’m super excited and feeling challenged by it all. Let’s dive right in!

I am working on my first long arm pantograph! This pretty quilt was pieced by my mother and I was given free reign on the design. I was eager to try pantographs and so I chose this flowery one called Lilac. The fabrics in this quilt are darling and I am enjoying every minute at the machine.

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Last week Lindsey asked me to make her teacher a Star Wars baby quilt. This beloved teacher is married to another of Lindsey’s teachers and they are big Star Wars fans. I’ve been waiting to try out the Accuquilt Orange Peel die and so I began this last Friday night.

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My students are also making progress as Gail is about ready to apply binding to her log cabin and Nancy is working on sashing  and more starts for this beauty!

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The mermaid tail crochet project moved forward with the suggestion of Nancy that I use a stitch I like throughout the project instead of learning a new row each time! Genius! I decided to go with the shell stitch throughout and now I have about 5 rows done instead of 2!

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My back basted applique table topper has been started in earnest. I have the sails of two of the four boats appliqued onto the background.

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Recently I was watching The Quilt Show episode featuring Jill Finley and I loved seeing her method of applique which is a freezer paper method. Her quilts are gorgeous and I might try her method next.

Lastly, I ordered silk roving and the supplies to try Silk Fusion. I am going to blog in detail about this next time but here is a picture of the soft and luxurious feeling silk roving!

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Tomorrow we continue our college tours with Lindsey and we’ll be checking out Bentley University which is Greg’s alma mater! So far her first choice seems to be University of Vermont followed closely by UNH (how great it would be to have 2 kids there!) and now we’ll see what she thinks of Bentley.

Have a great weekend everybody!
Sandi

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Applique & Crochet

Hey, my post title rhymes and that doesn’t happen very often! LOL! We are experiencing fabulous fall weather this week. The kind where you need a sweater in the morning and then short sleeves by afternoon. The windows are open, there’s not a need for air conditioning or heat. In short, I love it. I was made for fall! Ahhhh. It makes me want to tackle projects and cleaning.

As far as my Mermaid Tale crochet project is concerned…that happy feeling dissipates slightly. I am a serious crochet fail. This is how far I’ve gotten on the mermaid blanket which eventually will look like this…

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But right now, looks like this…

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Don’t laugh. I can hear you! I have crocheted these couple of rows numerous times and then had to rip them out. Technically, I should be half done by now. Ugh. It’s either the wrong count of stitches or the wrong stitch! Last night, I ripped out a row of shell stitches because when I read V stitch, my mind insisted I should shell. Lindsey is hot on my tail to get this thing done. Maybe this week I’ll progress to maybe row 5!

My mom made great progress with her Yellow Brick Road quilt for Leah. I have it here and once my pink thread arrives, I’ll be putting this on the long arm and quilting a flowery pantograph. It will be my first official pantographed quilt. Isn’t this gorgeous?

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I chose  an applique pattern for a table topper so I can practice the back basting applique method further. I am going to make this for my mom.

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I needed to trace the sailboat onto the backside of the background fabric but I couldn’t see it well enough with my light box so I traced the pattern onto freezer paper, ironed the freezer paper onto the background, and traced around that. Now I’m ready to baste the applique pieces onto the background. Hopefully some night this week I’ll get busy on that again.

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Here all four boats are traced…

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Tomorrow night I’ve got a small scrapbooking crop here at the house so I’m off to prep for that! Have a good one, everybody.

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