Friday, November 18, 2016

Sew Pro Stars Blog Hop!

Congratulations, you've made it to the fifth and final day of the Sew Pro Stars Blog Hop! No medals will be awarded, but there are TWO giveaways—the first is a bungle comprised of a charm pack of One Room Schoolhouse, a Sew Sweetness pattern and a FQ bundle from my LQS, The Quilt Patch, in southeastern Michigan); and the second is for one of several grand prizes! Requirements for entry can be found at the end of this post.

Writing has never come naturally to me—my mind is better geared for math—but I'll do my very best to convey just how special and valuable my time at Sew Pro was. Between the people I met and the I learned, it was one of the most rewarding events of my professional career.

In the year prior to attending Sew Pro, I continued working part-time from home for my LQS as a online specialist and thought frequently about designing my own quilt patterns. Though I can count on one hand the number of quilts I've made directly from patterns, I knew patterns were a natural fit for my strengths. My natural instinct is to start each project by recalculating the yardage, checking the fabric requirements and analyzing how much yardage could be saved by using specialty tools or other sewing methods. It was this oddity that instilled the idea of starting a pattern company.

Now, I've always had faith in my ability to find the answers I need using my beloved Internet—where would I be without you, Google?—but I also know that reading an article or watching a YouTube video isn't an ideal way to learn. For me, nothing can replace good ol' fashioned lectures and note-taking. That's where Sew Pro comes in. It took a little convincing to get my husband to see the value in this relatively pricey venture, but he quickly flipped when he recognized my persistence and passion for making space in the quilting industry for myself.

Before my flight from Detroit Metro Airport to O'Hare, I was mess of excited nerves, most of which stemmed from my inability to easily make friends. (Since I juggle working from home with caring for my two tiny humans, I crave genuine interactions with fellow adults.) My inner Spock made an excellent point about having built-in conversation topics, but my inner Negative Nancy told him everything would suck and I'd spend all of my downtime watching Netflix in my room. Luckily, Spock told Negative Nancy to shove it.

After meeting a lovely fellow nerd by the name of Lisa Peterson (whom you met on Monday!) in the hotel lobby, it was all uphill from there. Just writing that gives me a pleasant dose of the sweet relief I felt when I realized most everyone was in the same anxious/excited state. The cherry on top of a successful day of networking on Sew Pro Eve was instantly clicking with my roommate, Renee Newstrum, a professional sewist whose advice and expertise was on par with that of the teachers.

(Note: After entering the giveaways further down the post, jump over to Erin Van Handel's blog, Sie Macht, for an excellent write-up about her takeaways from Sew Pro; Renee's wisdom is the anchor of the first point.)

Speaking of lessons learned, the words and phrases that pop into my head on the days when I struggle to focus and can't make headway on a project belong to Tula Pink, a magnetic and whip-smart designer with a penchant for tough love:
  1. "You can do more."
  2. "Do the work."
  3. "Don't alienate anyone."
  4. "All good ideas come from bad ideas."
  5. "Your filter makes you you."

Next week I'll expand on each piece of advice and share how I've applied them to my ever-evolving work/design processes. For now, I will tell you that Tula's words of wisdom (and Sew Pro in general) propelled me forward in more ways than one. In addition to proofing several patterns, I've learned how to use new software (Adobe Illustrator), filed a DBA, started designing quilts regularly and, as you may have guessed, started blogging. ;)

Despite time management and discipline continuing to be hurdles for me, I'd like to share a few of my first Illustrator mock-ups for a pattern that'll likely be tested in a month or two. 

The design on the far left "appeared" first. I loved the opacity illusion, but thought the vertical dashes were a bit too harsh. For the next iteration, I lengthened the aforementioned dashes to soften 'em up a bit. The second attempt has the benefit of being less choppy and having more movement. 

After a few more meh layouts, I tried a busier design with the same block to make the transparency illusion pop out a bit more. Alas, I've yet to decide on the final design (mainly because I can't get a handle on whether the last iteration will make people dizzy), but I'm loving getting to learn the ins and outs of Illustrator.

OT: If you want to learn Illustrator or other software, I highly suggest It's been a huge help to me and, lucky for you, they're giving newbies like you and me three months of premium access for 99¢! Click here to take advantage of the offer.

Visit all of the bloggers for more giveaways, tutorials and insight into Sew Pro!

Sew Pro Stars Blog Hop Schedule

Monday, November 14

Lisa Peterson // Lisa and Lorelai
Sherri Noel // Rebecca Mae Designs
Andi Stanfield // True Blue Quilts

Tuesday, November 15

Joanne Kerton // Canuck Quilter Designs
Lisa Nielsen // Lisa Lisa and the Quilt Jam
Sherry Shish // Powered by Quilting
Pam Cobb + Lynn Rinehart // The Stitch
Vanessa Behymer // Vintage Barngirl

Wednesday, November 16

Jessica Caldwell // Desert Bloom Quilting
Anne Beier // Hudson Valley Quilts
Pamela Morgan // My Sweet Little Stitches
Carmen Ross // See Carmen Sew

Thursday, November 17

Cathy Smith // A Quilting Chick
Paula Mamuscia // Creations by Paula
Maryanna Powell // Marvelous Auntie M
Lissa LaGreca // Lovingly Lissa

Friday, November 18

Teri Seal // Day Moon Quilts
Holly Stockley // Lighthouse Lane Designs
Trinia Braughton // Penguin Feats
Becca Fenstermaker // Pretty Piney
Deanna Wall // Stitches Quilting

G I V E A W A Y  # 1
Subscribe to my monthly newsletter below for a chance to win my first-ever giveaway! The first two products were designed by Sew Pro's organizers, Brenda Ratliff and Sara Lawson, and the third prize is fabric designed by the crazy-smart, down-to-earth Sew Pro-teacher Alison Glass.

               — A 23-piece promotional charm pack of One Room Schoolhouse by Brenda Ratliff

               — A physical copy of the Fantasia Embroidery pattern by Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness

               — A mystery 4-piece fat quarter bundle of Alison Glass fabric

G I V E A W A Y  # 2
Don't you love blog hops with tons of stuff to win?! Enter below for the chance to score one of three fabric bundles:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winners will be drawn on Saturday, November 19, 2016 and announced this weekend.

(Disclaimer: My blog may occasionally contain affiliate links which could result in a small commission. I only recommend products/services that I use and love.)