2018 has been an insane year for my business. I put in a ton of hard work the second half of 2017 and it seems like everything really started coming to fruition this year and just keeps rolling. It has been wild, exhilarating, overwhelming, and humbling journey to witness this success happen in my life. My weeks are all blending together and filled with work. I love the work, I am still passionate about it but I recently have been having a hard time balancing any kind of time off/family life with working from home.
Because this business is now truly helping support my family financially, I feel even more driven to keep creating. But, I also have felt myself checking in with my intentions. Am I creating new patterns because I have something to share that I am excited about or is it so I can see more money come into my life? And luckily, I don't think one out weighs the other. I am equally excited about what I am creating and what it means financially to my family. My biggest struggle I have realized is letting all the business things dictate my day to day life.
If you guys have followed me on my Instagram stories in the last month, you know that I have a big printer company issue. For those not knowing - I had used a certain company to print my paper patterns and they had such a massive delay in production, it was making it a big issue for my distributors, wholesale accounts and individuals waiting for orders. It was kind of my first big "crap owning a small business sucks" moment. I had to spend thousands of dollars to switch to a new printing company and get my patterns through production and shipping at warp speed. Finally, things are all back to running smooth but it wore me out.
Being creative daily can be just as rejuvenating as it can be exhausting for me. Especially since I rarely am creating just to create anymore. Typically everything I am working on is for a business project. So, after the printing issue was resolved, I had family come into town and I took almost a week off from sewing. I still did some work - computer things and emails but overall my schedule was SUPER light and I did not touch my machine for 6 days. I don't know the last time I took that long of time off - maybe Hawaii back in September. It was amazing. It felt so good to not sew or think about actively creating. I forget how needed time off is to my creative process. I keep thinking "the work keeps coming, capitalize on this moment and just keep hustling". But when I never have time to decompress, revisit other important aspects of my life more fully, my well runs dry.
And finally, this is the point in the story where this scrappy geese quilt comes into play.
I needed to create purely for the need to create. I didn't want to use a pattern, I didn't want to even use a tutorial. All I wanted to do was try something I have never done before and just make. I have no intention of ever turning this into a pattern so it was even more freeing. I decided on the flying geese block because I have never made one and I have always admired the scrappy versions I have seen.
A week before my break I went into Modern Domestic here in Portland, OR and picked up a handful of FQs for no reason. I had no idea what I would do with them but I liked the prints and colors and so I bought them. The top row of this photo below are the new fabrics and everything else is from my stash.
I enjoy sewing scrappy but only if I have a plan. Which seems a bit backwards haha. I am not an improv/scrappy sewer at heart. I was a little overwhelmed thinking of 'what if I make all these geese and then I can't figure out a layout I like'? That would be a waste of time and fabric. So I texted my friend, Evie (@evquilts) and said, you have made flying geese before, any suggestions? And she suggested I do some tonal geese and some complimentary color geese and then see what happens. So I thought, okay, I can do that. I will pair my newest fabrics with solids I have from my stash and go from there. I lined up my printed FQs in a gradient and then paired solids to go with them. This is what my stack of geese looked like when I only showed the solids side:
And I thought, dang, that's gorgeous. I should just make a quilt with these solids haha. But it made me more excited that at least my solid colors would go well together. I was still a little hesitant with the layout and how my blocks would flow or not flow together overall.
I ended up adding about 4 more prints (around 40 more geese in total) to this selection near the end because I wanted to make the quilt bigger. I played around with the layout a little bit but it seemed to organically come together as I made my way through my gradient of geese.
As I was working on this quilt, I couldn't quite figure out how I was feeling. I felt a little anxious, super excited, emotional - like holding back tears, and so intensely focused. I had originally thought I'd give this quilt away to someone but I have decided to keep it and make this person a less bright quilt. But - why was I on the verge of tears all day yesterday? I couldn't pin it down. Then as I was sewing my rows together, it hit me.
I am creating something that I love so much and am so passionate about that I am inspired by my own work. That may sound cheeseball or vain but it's true. This quilt is something I would have seen 2-3 years ago and think "I could never do that", "I want to make something like this one day but I have no idea where to start". It is happy, it is cheerful, it has movement, there is whimsy and it has depth. It is basically me in a quilt. And I could not wait to share it with the world.
So I sewed for 3 hours straight yesterday afternoon during naptime (praise the Lord for a long nap) and finished this top.
As I was sewing the last rows together I knew I wanted to take this quilt outside and get photos. I have lived in Portland for around 8 years now and still had never been down to Tom McCall Waterfront Park when the Cherry Blossoms are blooming. I have seen photos and have been obsessed with the idea for years. And I knew yesterday would be the day. If I could get good photos of this quilt in front of those trees, my entire creative vision for this quilt would be complete.
I texted my husband and said "can I pick you up from work and will you go hold this quilt for me at the trees and then I will treat us to dinner?" And he goes "ok". hahaha I was SO excited. Now to pray the rain would pause for a minute. When I left our house which is about 15 minutes east of downtown, it was raining but as I got into downtown, it was NOT raining. Praise the weather gods!
This park is right next to a main street at the waterfront which doesn't have street parking. Typically you have to drive a couple blocks away from the waterfront to find parking. And I lucked out and found a 15 minute parking spot on the first block in. My husband was like "we are doing this in less than 15 minutes?!" And I said "yep! I just have a good feeling and I think I can get the shot fast." It took us 8 minutes total, including walking to the park and back.
When we walked to this little area in the trees, there were 2 other people inside taking photos so i just told my husband to stand in front of these people to block them with the quilt. Everyone was shooting photos in the same direction as me, so we weren't in anyones shots. But after a minute, it was like everyone cleared out completely. Meant. To. Be.
I can't adequately say how much this quilt and photo and moment mean to me. It probably sounds crazy but it is proof that I have found something I love. If you have known me for years, you have seen me go from thing to thing. Trying to find something I was passionate about. I would be intense about working out for a few months, then about eating healthy, then about decorating the house, then about baking. I was never a steady person who had found herself. I was always searching.
Probably a few times a month, different friends will text me and say "You seem so busy and doing so well. Are you actually enjoying it?" It is almost like they KNOW me. They are surprised I have stuck with it for so long and so am I. I am not mad at these questions but it just proves to me that I can confidently respond that yes I still love it and yes it is going great.
As much as this journey is a growing and learning experience in business, it has been more of a discovering myself story. And I love that I get to share with you. Creating and sharing gives me more joy than I can explain.
The wind changed and little man was no longer hiding behind the quilt haha. He also had a blast running back and forth in the trees. He kept saying "mama, I exercize and get big muscles!!!"
Thank you for all your love on this quilt on Instagram yesterday. I am grateful. I am proud. I feel so so happy. And I am definitely keeping this quilt.
- measures 60" x 60" square
- 200 3" x 6" geese
- 10 columns of 20 geese
- used around 20 prints and 14 solids
- used the no waste geese method - random block tutorial online