“The Goal is NOT perfection…” Amy Fackrell

The start of every New Year brings about a lot of self-examination and reflection. Often we look for things we could have or should have done better last year and vow to do better this year. We get so caught up in what we did wrong that very few people really take stock of the things that went right and vow to do those things again.

My older sister is my best friend and she is very wise although she is hardly older than I myself am. While struggling with the things I wanted to do better, she simply told me “The goal is not perfection, it is to go longer and longer between mistakes.” This simple thought hit me very hard. It shook something loose in me and I have decided to take it as my personal motto for this year.

My older sister Amy and two fo the reasons I'm too busy to quilt!

My older sister Amy and two of the reasons I’m too busy to quilt!

Going to school and trying to be creative has been a challenge for me over the past few years. Trying to find time to sit down and quilt or sew is hard when you are taking 15 credit hours each semester. I also have a family that seem to think they need to do things like eat, have some attention, and wear clean clothes. I mean really? Do they really need to do all those things? This is how I was thinking prior to talking to my sister. Focusing on all the things that were taking up my time. After talking to her I realized that maybe right now my focus needs to be on things other than my quilting. There are many other creative things I can do now, like embroidery, and hand sewing/ quilting. There is also designing. So instead of focusing on all the things I don’t have time to do I’m going to focus on the creative things I can do! This year I want to do more embroidery, and would love to have a go at hand sewing a quilt. I’m going to try to accomplish a weekly challenge to help me with this goal.  I hope that you’ll come along for the journey and help encourage me “to go longer and longer between mistakes!”

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Branching Out

How do you keep your creative juices flowing? For me I have to constantly be learning something new, figuring out ways of incorporating new hobbies with old hobbies. I’ve always loved the look of blackwork and redwork quilts. I’ve tried my hand at counted cross stitch and was not very successful and assumed I’d have the same results with embroidery.

After spending some much-needed fabric therapy time in Joann’s I was waiting to get my fabric cut. While walking around I ended up down the embroidery isle. I love looking at the kits and books. One book caught my eye, Modern primitive Embroidery by Jennie Baer. This book is full of simple projects and are great for beginners. I’m currently working on a set of dish towels that depict a tree in each season; Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. So far the Spring towel is finished and I’m making progress on the Autumn towel.

This is the Spring dish towel.

This project is so easy and has inspired many more ideas. Embroidery is very portable and this makes it easy to work on in between classes or when I’m out and about running errands. It is a very therapeutic process as well. There is something soothing about the repetitive motion and something very satisfying about seeing the picture take shape.

Let me know what you think about my progress.Once I get good enough I’ll be making some redwork and blackwork quilts. So stay tuned!

The Signature Quilt

One of my many interests besides quilting is geneology. I love it when I find ways to combine the two interests together. In an earlier post I had commented about a signature quilt that I was working on for a family reunion. It was finished and raffled off.

The finished quilt was appr. 48″ x 48″

The reunion is held in Evanston, Wyoming and people come from all over the area to attend. Everyone really enjoyed helping create this quilt, knowing they were a part of something that would be passed down for generations to come.

At the end of the day the quilt was raffled off and the lucky winner was able to take it home with them

 

Making this special signature quilt was a two-year process. The first year I pieced the quilt blocks and sent them to the reunion to be signed. After the reunion my Mom sent the blocks back to me to be sewn together into the quilt.

I enjoyed making the quilt this way. It was a great teaser to let them see the quilt blocks and have no reference as to what the quilt would look like when finished. As part of the quilt we included a photo block of the common ancestor we all hail from. It was then quilted on my domestic sewing machine. It took 20 sewing hours to complete the quilt. I can’t wait to get started on my next signature quilt, maybe it’ll be yours!

Motivation and the Beast of Lazy

Motivation is one of those mystical words: What is it? Where do you find it? And more importantly, how do you keep it once you have it?

The motivation for this quilt came from the fact it was a Christmas present and my sister wanted to learn to piece a top together.

This seems to happen to me every time I decide on a chosen path to my goals. I LOVE the planning process. I can spend hours, days, even weeks, making plans. This can sometimes drive my husband crazy, I’m sure, especially since he’s more of a go with the flow kind of guy. I’m not a control freak when it comes to plans, and quite frequently my plans change, which is another reason I’m sure my insistence that we plan ahead drives people nuts!

One draw back to making plans and putting so much energy into them is that when it finally comes time to execute the plan, you’ve used up all your energy and motivation. For this reason, we planners can come across as being unambitious, flighty, and just plain lazy.

This is the point I find myself today. I’m asking myself: What do I do next? How do I find my motivation? How do I keep it going? For this, I think I’m going to take a page out of the proverbial writer’s handbook and try to sew something even if it’s small like a coaster or a hot pad. Just one thing a week. Just 20 min a week! I’ll post my progress here each week starting next week! Let’s see what I can come up with!

How do you measure success?

The Ripson Bridge festival was on Sunday. I was one among 70 vendors there. Crafts galore, so many it was hard to decide where to look and browse first. Thanks to a connection with my friend who sells Pure Scentations candles, I had a prime spot. There were a lot of “looky-lous” and a few people even took business cards. A few festival goers even stopped long enough for us to have a conversation before they moved on to the next booth.

My first attempt at a booth setup.

I had been warned, “don’t be disappointed if you don’t sell a thing.” That was sage advice, especially coming from seasoned craft fair vendors. Of course, AFTER the fact it’s easy to tell just how wise those words were. I had heeded them, in the  recesses of my mind, but was still overly optimistic that I’d make it rich on my first craft fair. It’s easy to take the compliments that friends and family give you and build a pedestal for the products that you’re trying to sell. After all, they wouldn’t lie to you about something so important, would they?

Even though I only sold fourteen dollars worth of product (the space rent was 40), I’m still considering this a success. I did after all sell something! People took my business cards, and I’ve got my foot in the door! I didn’t have the items that others were looking for, but have also learned how not to market my items at this particular craft fair. Plans are in the making for improving my offerings and their marketing for next year’s festival. I’ll be giving my new ideas test runs at a show or two before then. Next spring should give me sufficient time to perfect my ideas and build up product! I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted as to where and when my next show will be. Until then you can always browse what I’ve got for sale at www.facebook.com/HSHquilts.

“It’s your foot in the door.”

My oldest son Colten enjoying the festival last October

When I decided a few months ago that I would sign up to participate in my first ever craft fair it seemed like a good idea. As the date gets closer, I’m not so sure! We’ve all been there, hearing about something that gets you excited and gets your blood pumping. You start looking for more information, find it and decide, “yep let’s do this!” So you fill out the required information and start to dream about just how wonderful it will be.

This is where my dreams usually depart from others! I’m a big dreamer, and tend to “over” dream. In my dream I have the most wonderful booth set up. Filled to over flowing with product. All tastefully displayed in a way that everyone is drawn into my booth and can’t help buying something. All of my quilts and wall hangings are done at the top-level my skills would allow. I sell out of everything and am rolling in the dough!

Reality often falls VERY short of these dreams. Now I find myself in the panic stages of event planning. Am I going to be able to pull this off? Will I be able to make enough product to even remotely fill a 10×10 booth? Will these items be what draws customers in? These things are bouncing around in my head. Sometimes they get so loud I have to take a break from sewing and find an outlet. During these times my house gets very, very clean! My family loves it, as often times I beat them to doing their chores just to get rid of the jitters.

I still have a week and a half until the Ripson Bridge Festival arrives, and I plan on working until I drop to make this as much of a success as I can. My loving husband, I think, said it best. “If you don’t do this sweetheart then you’ll never know. You won’t fail, but if you don’t do as well as you hoped, you’ll be better prepared for next year. It’s your foot in the door.” I have the best husband in the whole world! His words of encouragement will carry me through this and help me to succeed.

If you’re interested in seeing first hand if I’ve succeeded, please stop by my booth at the Ripson Bridge Festival, located near Sorento, IL in Bond County. I’ll be at the end of the tear drop shape next to a wonderful friend who sells candles!

Where to go?

For anyone starting out this can be a hard question to answer. Where is the best place to go for materials? Who is the best person to get your information from? Is there a good place to go for classes and instruction? There is enough of a debate about the best places to go for materials so I’ll leave that for another day. Today I want to let you all in on a little secret that I’ve discovered.

This spring I dragged Betty, my other mother-in-law, to a quilt show. It was at a local church hosted by the historical society and the local quilt guild.  The Creative Stitcher’s

This quilt was my "ticket" into the guild

guild was auctioning a queen size quilt. Since the show was free to attend, I decided to buy $5 worth of tickets. We looked around at all the lovely quilts and left. I was shocked when I found out I had won the quilt a few days later! One of the members of the guild brought the quilt to me at my son’s soccer game. While talking to her she invited me to attend the guild meeting later that same night. Wow! My first guild invitation! It would have been spectacular except for the fact that I wouldn’t be able to make it for a few more months.

I have since attended two guild meetings. My husband makes fun of me since the guild is run through the senior citizens’ center in nearby Greenville, IL. I am one of the youngest by at least 20 years, and there’s another reason he gives me such a ribbing. You see, I’m older than my husband by 2.5 years, so the old jokes fly regularly around my house!

I joined the guild as a card-carrying member on Sept. 1, 2011. I decided after attending the first meeting I couldn’t pass up this great opportunity for networking and camaraderie. These ladies have all been quilting for years longer than I have, some even longer than I’ve been alive. They have massive amounts of information and the time to teach it to someone who wants to know what they do. I’ve already been privy to the guild’s lessons. They have contributors come in to each guild meeting and present a lesson in quilting techniques, information or just plain fun. They also have a show and tell session where guild members and guests can bring in their projects and show them off. During the first meeting I attended, I was privileged to be shown a quilt that was made back in the 1850’s or 1890’s! This last meeting, I met a lady who routinely does t-shirt quilts. You can bet I’ll be getting in contact with her to pick her brain for information!

These are just a few reasons that your local guild’s and senior centers are a great source of information. I encourage anyone who is starting out in a new hobby to check out both of these places to see what you can learn! I know I’ll be keeping you posted!