Inside Out Star Quilt - the Scrappy One and my summer burnout

The Inside Out Star Quilt Pattern was the first one I released in February 2017. I remember how excited and terrified I was to release a pattern. What if I did all the math wrong? What if no one likes it? What if I have issues with people being able to download the pattern? It was intoxicating though - I think I sold maybe 20 during the release? I was just beyond excited to have sold any! People bought it and it covered my cost of materials so I was pumped! It was my first time putting myself out there in that capacity, creating something that someone else can reproduce exactly. It definitely gave me the bug to keep producing patterns.

Well 2.5 years later and I have designed and released 25 patterns. My business has grown and grown and evolved in ways I never imagined possible. It still is surreal to wrap my head around all that has changed in these 2.5 years. My son wasn't talking much, hadn't ever been to a preschool, was sleeping in a crib and still in diapers. Now, in 2 weeks he will be in Kindergarten and our lives are so different and infinitely better.

2.5 years ago we were drowning in $40,000+ of commercial debt, living paycheck to paycheck, not knowing if me working while our son was at home made sense. I was so stressed, I cried A LOT, I had no idea if this new business was worth this time and energy. I had no idea what I was doing. I was working during nights and weekends, we didn't have much family time at all. I felt like a bad mom all the time for sewing and working instead of actively playing with my child every second of the day (which no one does or should feel they have to do BTW). But what I have come to learn is that I was becoming the woman and mom I wanted to be through this work. The struggles of finding new boundaries to give myself the freedom to work or not work has been life changing. 

We are now debt free because all of my TCJ money went to paying it off. We are working on saving up a big emergency savings stash. We have cash flowed my appendectomy surgery and other medical expenses. We have taken vacations paid for in cash. And we have big plans for the future of our house and my business - renovations to build a nice TCJ studio in the next year or two. And I don't say any of this to brag but to say that in my case, my hard work has paid off. The struggle has fortified us. And the sacrifices have been outweighed by the benefits. 

I now make myself, my work and my passions a priority. It is not only about being a mom, a wife and friend. I am taking care of me. I am feeding myself first so that I can feed others. By allowing myself the time and the grace to grow and evolve, my priorities are clear. I want to be the best version of myself so I can be the best wife, the best mother, and the best friend to those in my life. And I feel like my best self when I am creating and sharing my love of what I do with others. This career has given me purpose, given me confidence and given me the strength to continue moving forward. Taking the days as they come - good and bad.

During these 2.5 years, I have had some of the hardest personal struggles I've dealt with in my life. I have lost my grandma, my aunt and my dog. The grief has been with me daily but it fuels my fire to keep my focuses clear and simple. This life is meant to be lived, meant to be loved and meant to be shared with others. And when my clarity gets cloudy, it is okay. It is okay to fall down, to get lost and to re-evaluate my intentions. I am only human. 

And I feel like this late spring I got lost. I was so overworked but I couldn't recognize it. I hired Alysson, my assistant, in March and she was the answer to prayer. She helped me keep my head above water. She helped me get organized. She helped me feel like I COULD take on the world. What I didn't realize at the time was that I didn't HAVE to take on the world. Just because I had her help didn't mean I had to make more work for myself - But I sure did. It was amazing to see how much work could be accomplished with her coming 8-12 hours a week. And it was exciting to get all these new ideas in my head and see them come to life so much quicker with her help. Between April - June we were averaging like 1-2 quilts a WEEK, outside of anything else with running the business. And holy smokes, looking back, that was INSANE and is the root cause for my burn out I had this summer.

Once summer hit and Alysson had to reduce her hours because her kids were home from school and planned vacations, I kinda felt like a deer in the headlights. The idea of taking on a new project without her felt way too overwhelming. And it was the biggest blessing in disguise. I inadvertently took most of the summer off work and actively creating. I did not sew for 47 days. The idea of sewing felt awful and it scared me. I hadn't ever experience this kind of burn out before. I tried to force myself to start a project here and there for those first few weeks and nothing worked. I finally decided that actively creating was not in the cards right now. I gave myself permission to not create and took July and most of August off. I still emailed, fulfilled orders and kept up with some behind the scenes business stuff but did not proactively work on anything. This time off was eye opening.

It took a few weeks to get into a new rhythm and not feel SO guilty for not working. But eventually, I really soaked up this time. I read probably 6-7 books, cooked a lot, watched TV and spent time with my friends and family. Stepping away from work was so refreshing. And it clarified some things for me.

I realized that a big reason I was so burned out was because my motivations were so wrong during the spring. I wasn't using Alysson's help to just figure out a better balance and lighten my load. I was using it as a way to produce more and more and more so I could make more content to post and share and in turn hopefully more money. My reasons for creating were for outward validations. For the likes on social media, the comments, the sales, the love but at the end of the day, it was feeling hollow. No wonder I couldn't sew or start a new project, it felt so shallow and unfulfilling. 

But finally after 47 days, I woke up feeling excited to make again. I wanted to play with fabric, cut it up and sew it back together again. I craved that satisfaction I felt the first time I ever made a quilt - something only for me. And I decided the best place to start was back at the beginning, my Inside Out Star Quilt.

So finally, if you've made it this far in this long blogpost, we are at the quilt! I was so excited to make this quilt that I never even got a photo of the fabrics I was using. haha! I wanted a fun summer vibes star quilt. I pulled everything from my stash and because of that, I didn't follow my material requirements exactly as written in the pattern. But for anyone wanting to make a version like this where each star has a different background you'll need:

  • (12) F8s (9" x 21")
  • 1.5 yards of white for stars
  • 1 yard fabric for sashing

You will follow all the same construction and cuts in the pattern itself.

I started with the yellows and the second I had these four stars made, I knew I was going to LOVE LOVE LOVE this quilt. Yellow brings so much life and joy to any quilt. It was exactly what I needed to be using.

Sewing the stars together was therapeutic because I was chain piecing and truly enjoying the process. And nothing is more satisfying than a simple bright star block.

I kept the same color gradient idea as the original pattern. The gradient is more in a diagonal set up than just going left to right from top to bottom in the rows. I played around a little with the layout but ended up being sure the top left was the lightest color in yellow and the bottom right was the darkest of the reds.

When it came time to figure out the sashing, I could not decide between full scrappy, a different print all over or white like the stars. I finally settled on the grid print by Kim Kight and it is the perfect compliment to this quilt without being overwhelming.

Sewing the blocks up was a breeze and since it was so easy, I thought sewing the rows together would be easy too. So I didn't worry about pinning the rows together and boy let me tell you... I had to rip stitches like 4 times because my star blocks weren't lining up. Then I sewed my rows together upside so the gradient was wrong. haha This quilt humbled me again, don't be so cocky Meghan!

Once this top was done, I knew I wanted to get it quilted pretty fast. I sent it to Kaitlyn of Knot & Thread Designs. And I thought it would be fun to do a Cloud design to play with the stars too and we did a 1" scale so the quilting is dense and I love it. Before we had our photoshoot last week, Alysson and I went and photographed this on a bright yellow wall. And that wall happened to belong to IKEA and is only 5 minutes from my house, WIN!

It took me a bit to figure out what to bind the quilt in. I didn't want the quilt to lean too girly or have the binding blend too much. So I went the opposite direction and did black! I am loving black binding so much. This is a new Add It Up print in black with copper metallic + all over it. It is perfect.

I love shooting photos in this studio, The Portland Studio. I love the tall ceiling and big windows.

Everett didn't come to this photoshoot so this time he sent his new friend Stretch with me. He is very into Where's Waldo right now so we took a couple cute photos, you see Stretch?

This photoshoot was mainly to capture photos of my next pattern, Radiate (out September 5th!) so we got some group shots of all my latest work and I love them.

Thank you to everyone who is constantly showing up here. I am grateful for you every single day. I can't wait to keep creating, sharing, growing and celebrating all that life has to offer - good and bad with you.