Friday, August 19, 2016

Updates and Where I've Been!

Hi all! I've been a little bit quiet over here this summer. Okay, it's seriously been like THIS.

Sorry about that.

The truth is that I have actually been moving. The move got really real when this happened.

I stitched on those babies right up to the last day before moving. It's been two weeks and unfortunately they are still in the boxes. I am fighting a flare and I also am still working on figuring out where they will go! So many things to decide! Plus with painting, unpacking, and still packing at the old house... well, this summer hasn't left us any time for fun.

The good news is that I have several products to share with you in the next few weeks. Look for more posts, videos and some Facebook Live activities - so be sure to follow me on Facebook!


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Spring Clean Your Studio Blog Hop, Part 2

Cleaning your studio takes a really long time! 

Everything takes longer with Autoimmune disease. This was me as I was cleaning.

I am allergic to dust and my dry lungs don't like cleaning! The good news is my room is all dusted and nice now. Wanna see?

Much more inviting, methinks.

One of my biggest issues was organizing multiple projects that I am working on at the same time. Apparently, I was not the only one. I got this question asked on my Facebook page by Laurie:

"Tracy, I think what you are doing is great! This question might be best asked of the quilt teachers and book writers that I imagine have very busy lives.......HOW do you save time? Do you draw up your design first and then "kit it up?" Do you have an assistant? If so, what do you have them do for you in the way of making a quilt? Also, how do they make the best use of their time? You know, those small amounts of time that are broken up by days of not quilting."

So I asked my friends. I do know for a fact that they make kits - that's the bread and butter of the teachers I know.  I don't know any of the national teachers that have an assistant, other than a hubby, kids or simply friends that help. 

Ebony Love of LoveBug Studios does have help and here is what she had to say:

"I look at the stuff on my list for things that only I can do, and things that others could do if I let them. I keep a running list of things that I need done and when my assistant comes to the house she works on the list. Sometimes she cuts kits, sometimes she irons fabric for new projects... she also preps my class packets, cuts up boxes to go into recycling... anything that needs doing, if I don't "have to" do it myself, it goes on her list. There's nothing worse than having someone come over who's there to help you and you can't think of a thing for them to do until after they leave. smile emoticon

All of my quilts are kitted & cut before they go into a project bin with a sketch of the quilt & print outs of the blocks. That way when I'm ready to work on something, it's ready to go and it makes it easy to grab things in those short snatches of time. I die cut about 95% of my projects. It's like a little assembly line, there are always projects in various stages of completion.

I also have stunt piecers, so the kitting comes in handy if I need to send them off to be pieced - it just depends on whether it's personally important for me to piece it myself or whether it just needs to get done. For example, if I have a quilt in 3 colorways, I don't personally need to make the same quilt 3 times. I pick my favorite and send the others out."

As for project storage and organization,  the answers varied. I don't have photos from everyone, but sharing what everyone said. :)

Jamie Fingal uses a bakery rack with baking sheets to sort projects.

Linda Pearl said "In my space, they(projects) multiply like rabbits. I have them organized in clear plastic bags (the kind that you get with new sheets or curtains) and all at eye level when I open my closet door. I've tried keeping the bags in a rolling cart before - and the old addage 'out of sight, out of mind' comes into play." 

Beth Ferrier said "I am well and truly addicted to Art Bins. I have dozens of them. I have dedicated ones for each of the workshops I teach. Each project I start gets its own bin, starting with inspirational bits to gathering fabric to sewn parts. They hold my thread, embroidery floss, needles, knitting, spinning and art supplies. I love them." 

Celeste Akre agreed and said "I use art bins and use a label maker to label and DATE the start of a project. That way I know how long I have been working on something. Tutto makes a great bag that holds 3 skinny art bins or 1 thick one and 1 skinny. Great way to bring projects to retreat."

Sarah Fielke said "Each project I start gets a project bag. All the fabric, sketches, threads and sometimes a block book goes in the bag. I would love to say there is then some sophisticated trick for keeping the bags organized but no can do. 😉 I do usually only have two or three quilts in production at the one time, and one is usually on the design wall." 

Jen Kingwell said "I use the IKEA kallax shelves. Each project gets its own cubby hole. I just pull out the container when I'm ready to work on it. Works well if I keep myself in check ( not my strong point)" 

Rose Hughes said "I love Jamie's idea, but not having that space I have used archival poly bags purchased from Light Impressions -- they are large 20 x 22 and I made a rolling caddy that keeps things together. It works like a filing system. The bags can hold materials while project in progress, and I use the bags to store the quilt cartoon drawings once completed." 

Mandy Leins said "I recycle my free bags from all the shows to hold my projects, and have a hangtag on the outside reminding me what project is in each, and on the back of that tag is a list of the days I worked on it and what stage it's in. I cant stand to throw away those bags, and they hold a good-size amount of stuff, including a file folder and/or notebook. These are either hung from a hanger on a shelf or shoved under my longarm (the latter if it is something I'm feeling meh about). Also, if it's in a stage where it actually has some kind of photo, I'll put a Polaroid with the tag"

Lynn Harris responded to Mandy's comment, "I have a collection of quilting show project bags under my longarm too. I think this leads to my too much fabric problem. I don't want to "borrow" from a bag until the project is finished. Then the fabric can be filed back with the other fabrics. In the meantime I don't think of that fabric as mine because I can't use it in other projects yet."

John Kubinec said "Plastic containers from the container store hold all the fabric and instructions. I label the container on all four sides so no matter which way it is turned I know what is in it. They fit easily on shelves and also stack easily." 

And Jenny Doan said "I use a flat white pizza style box. And write in the outside. They are thin and stack well." 

Carl Hensch and Maddy Kertay use Iris Scrapbook boxes. Since I already had a few of those, that is what I chose. Here is how they look in my studio. 

I found 6 quilt tops that just need to be quilted in with my fabric. I also had nine projects in some stage of process. That's a lot! 

Another thing I found were drawers from Target that work with my metal shelves! 

I decided to use it for my precuts. 
Because  I get so much fabric from the fabric companies for use in the magazine, I can't store my fabric by color. I like to keep it together as a collection until I use it. So my fabrics are not sorted all pretty. 

I got large bins to sort random things like T-shirts for a t-shirt quilt and random clothing for DIY projects. 

I marked them with labels and then decided that I did not need to look at them. So I put them in another room for storage. 

Next I decided I would put my daughters machine near mine so we can work at the same time if we like. 

I still have a bit of organization left to do, but I thought I would share my progress before I head to Spring Quilt Market in Salt Lake City Utah. When I come back, I will have lots of products to share with you! See you soon! 




Friday, April 22, 2016

Spring Clean Your Studio Blog Tour

When quilter and fiber artist Cheryl Sleboda asked if I wanted to join her annual #SpringCleanYourStudio Blog Hop, I thought WHY NOT! 

  1. I wanted and needed to clean and organize my studio. 
  2. I need a better organization system for handling multiple projects at once.
  3. I got a question on my FB page about organization.   

And then I walked in my studio. 

Clearly the universe was trying to tell me something. 

It has been over a month of finishing projects for GenQ, going to Festival, and my son graduating from college. The boxes on the floor as you walk in as well as the items on the couch are all from my son's dorm room. 

The rest of the mess is mine. 

I had been doing pretty well at keeping the room somewhat orderly until about a month ago. Then I just started stacking things to get it out of the way. Even the floor needed a thorough cleaning.  

So, these are the before shots.  Stay tuned for two more posts of my progress.

On Monday, I will share progress pictures as well as some of the tips that my fellow quilters shared as suggestions for organizing multiple projects. And then the following week, I will share the storage solutions I decided on to keep my projects on target. 

In the meantime, please go visit my fellow bloghoppers!

April 20th- Toni Smith - 
April 21st - Sam Hunter - 
April 22nd -ME!
April 23rd - Pepper Cory - 
April 25th - Andrea Davis - 
April 26th - Misty Cole - 
April 27th - Amalia Morusiewicz - 
April 28th - Jenelle Montilone - 
April 29th - Cheryl Sleboda -

Friday, March 25, 2016

Busy Life + Lots of Quilting + Sjogrens = The Autoimmune Life

I have a lot going on in the next few weeks, so you know what that means? A lot of rest in-between unfortunately. I can feel it bubbling right under the surface. The Flare.

So what do I do? I rest. I eat healthy foods. I listen to my body when it says it can't go on. I take warm baths to ease my aching joints.


It's frustrating. It seems like everything I do takes twice as long to accomplish now and that digs in to my sewing time.

I have fabric waiting to be made into something new.

A box from Island Batik
I have a quilt to make with my daughter for the summer issue of Generation Q - and we are behind!

So, I promise myself it will come this weekend! I will be sewing.

I am determined to prep a few projects for easy sewing. I may document what I do. I am looking for ways to make working on multiple projects at once easier on my brain fogged mind. 

In the meantime, I wanted to share what I have been doing this week. I have a few exciting things to post.

First off, I was interviewed for Quilt Market eInsider. Read the Q & A to learn a bit more about me.

Interview in Quilts eInsider

Also, I have a new post up on The Quilt Show. The blog is titled What Attracts the Young Sewers of Today? and it is a tour of C2E2 with an interview with quilter and fiber artist Cheryl Sleboda of

Cheryl Sleboda with professional cosplay artist Yaya Han at C2E2

Please follow me on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with me every day and feel free to post there to let me know what you are doing and need help with in your sewing.

Happy quilting!


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What do you need to keep sewing?

It is interesting how being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder changes everything. 

You never know how much energy you will have on any given day. You suddenly have to look at your time over the course of, say, a month and decide how much you can handle. You have to listen to your body and NOT push yourself like you normally would or you might end up not getting out of bed the next day. 

Worst of all, you have to relearn how to do the things you love most. 

That's why I started this blog. I have already given up so much. I REFUSE TO GIVE UP SEWING.

So, as I venture forth into uncharted waters, what do you need?

What do you want me to find for you? 

What do you need help with most? 

I have lots of ideas and I have lots of contacts with people who make great products. I just need to know how to prioritize and what I need to find when I go to Quilt Market in May. 

So please leave me a comment either here or on my Facebook page and let me know what you struggle with the most. I promise to find what you need most. 

And hey, do you have a product that you think might work for my audience? Shoot me an email and send me your stuff! 

Happy Quilting,


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Organization For People Struggling With Brain Fog

Quilting has become much more than a hobby for me. I write for Generation Q Magazine and I design projects for kids to sew in the feature We Sew 2. I also teach kids sewing classes. On any given day, I am going between writing, editing and sewing.

In other words I keep several balls in the air as I juggle numerous projects each day. Add in an autoimmune disease like Sjogren's Syndrome and it is amazing I get as much done as I do. The struggle is real.

Brain fog is real people. 

It's a lot. I drop balls all the time. Some days I can't write because I am in pain. Other days I can't cut fabric unless I use my Sizzix for fear of ruining fabric. Most days I have just enough brain fog going that I have to retrace my steps on a project to remember where I left off. It's hard.

This doesn't even go into my personal projects that sit neglected. Here is fabric that sits waiting for me to turn into a quilt using Victoria Findlay Wolfe's Tulip and Melon dies.

Here is the world's oldest UFO. I have started and stopped this poor quilt so many times, stitched it using so many different techniques and probably used four different sewing machines and hand sewing to stitch the blocks - so you know it is really accurate! (insert eye roll here)

At this point I want this UFO off my plate just so I can stitch the fabric-in-waiting quilt.  (In all honesty, I probably would have given up a long time ago, but my hubby picked out the fabric and his heart is set on it.)

So, I gotta find a way to have it ready to go any time.

I am sure I am not alone in needing help to keep projects organized. Pat Sloan was just talking about this in her blog about this in a blog about sewing de-motivation.

So what are some techniques that can help me continue to make progress on multiple projects? Here are a few things I found around the web that may help those of us who need a little help in the organizing department.

Author and quilter extraordinaire Lynn Harris sets up her featherweight near her kitchen with a single project, tiny scraps for her Twinkling Stars quilt.

Bonnie Hunter has a ton of tips on her website Quiltville. My favorite is this ingenious use of a cutlery tray for strips. This would work great for a log cabin quilt, wouldn't it?

Amanda Jean Nyberg designed a WIP (work in progress) bag to keep her projects straight. She sells the patterns here. I love this idea. These are so very pretty! A similar solution would be ziploc bags, but certainly not as pretty.

Amanda also has a great tutorial for making Storage Cubes. In her book Sunday Morning Quilts with Cheryl Arkison, they created color coded bins to sort scraps as you cut fabric. Pretty cool!

Pat Sloan has some great tips for using clear bins to cut up scraps into usable sizes. I have used this same technique for projects and it works great.

Reader Therese Kay adds: "My house is so full of UFO's, it could be a space station. I don't sew or quilt - my Mom did that - but I inherited her creative gene and then got chronic Lyme. Add brain fog, fatigue, and achiness to a person who already had ADHD and a propensity for far too many ideas and too little time and you can understand the space station! In addition to zippy bags and baskets, I also use clipboards for papers associated to a project. One clipboard per project and I leave a note somewhere where I left off and what the next step is... When I remember to! I love the fabric scrap tip - cutting to usable sizes! That can be applied to all kinds of supplies!"

Do you have an organization solution that works for you? Tell me about it and I will update the post.

Happy quilting,


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Scissors I Love!

--> You may know heirloom quality Famore scissors from quilting and sewing trade shows. But did you know that company president Brint Fanizza has focused on helping sewists affected by arthritis? When I was working on my article about sewing with health challenges,  BadAss Quilter extraordinaire and Spool quilt shop owner Maddie Kertay chose the Famore 8 Inch serrated scissors as one of her favorites for accurate cutting when your hands don't wanna.   
8-inch Serrated Shears
So I called up Brint to get photos of the highly acclaimed scissors. Well, we ended up talking for about a half hour because he was so interested in the topic. He said that he had arthritis and autoimmune sufferers coming up to him at sewing and quilting conventions telling him that they needed a better solution in scissors. We can understand why, right? Our fingers swell, get stiff, ache. It's hard to maintain control when your fingers hurt and the handles often don't accommodate swollen digits. And don't get me started on lefties! Sewing is not the easiest when you have arthritis or an autoimmune disease or any weakness in your hands.  He listened, and what he created is a scissor that blew my mind. 
To keep people sewing as long as possible, he designed the Comfort Handle Scissors. This new scissor features a razor sharp edge and an ambidextrous comfort grip handle. That's right, it's for righties and lefties. When he showed the final product to me at Market, he folded up a piece of muslin what had to be 20 times - it was nearly an inch thick. I took one look at him and said "There is no way I can cut that!"  Sure enough, I cut it in two. There is virtually no pain or discomfort in my hands when I use these. Somehow it wasn't difficult to squeeze them even through all those layers of fabric.  The handles are pliable. I don't know the words to describe them properly - roomy, comfortable, and flexible. So if my fingers are swollen, I not only have plenty of room for them in the handle, I still have control where I am cutting.  These scissors retail for $18 and I snatched them up without hesitation. The next time you are at Festival or another show where Brint has a Famore Booth, check out these amazing scissors. He will let you hold them and he may even fold up some fabric for you to cut. Just tell him Tracy sent you!    Happy Quilting!  Tracy