Sunday, July 23, 2017

Captivating Cross Stitch Completions

As promised, I am back today to share some more needlework finishing. It's been a productive couple weeks...I have been very focused in my studio working on all sorts of customer projects. This week, I completed all the Blue Ribbon Finishing orders that have been sent my way (just in time for more to be shipped to me!). Most of these are flat-finish ornaments, but there is one bowl filler and one floss tag ring. It was enjoyable selecting all the backing fabrics and trims...plus making all the twisted cord. I managed to snap photos of some of the projects, so I thought I would share an assortment of the beautiful needlework pieces one of my customers trusted me to finish...again, not my stitching and only one is my design, just my finishing work...fronts and backs...





While I wait for the next finishing orders to arrive, I am busy quilting a detailed appliqué wall hanging for a very patient customer (my own design) and a pile of custom project bags...I'll be back to share more creative finishes with you real soon...

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Finishing Frenzy

It's been a finishing frenzy in the Blue Ribbon Designs studio the last few weeks. I have been super focused and working round the clock to finish up the projects on my to-do tables, so I can start on some new original creative endeavors...I am ready to work on some of my own designs and ideas (I have a sketchbook full of ideas that I *need to* make reality!). I am down to one last project or at least I was until a moment ago (an expected box of fabric for a custom order arrived while typing this post). I have been working on a variety of creative activities, including: lots of needlework finishing, custom sewing, custom quilting, and freelance designing. Here is a picture album of some needlework finishing I completed earlier in the week (not my designs or stitching, just my finishing)...these were all for the same customer...

La-D-Da - "My Friend"

La-D-Da - "And Rudolph"

Sisters & Best Friends - "Boo!"

Cricket Collection - "Autumn Blooms"

Abby Rose Designs - "Tea for Two"

Prairie Schooler - "Christmas Tree"

After a brutal 6-mile run/walk with weights in 105 degree extreme heat yesterday, my body is recovering...so I will be taking it a bit easy today. For now, I'm off to complete some light chores...then I will be working on a quilted wall hanging later today and a birthday gift...and maybe have time for some cross stitching tonight (I'm working on a new design model and a small gift). I'll be back tomorrow with more customer needlework finishes to share with you! I hope you find a little time to be creative today...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

In The Zone

It is another late night post for me...I had the most productive day!  Those finishing orders I was telling you about yesterday are well underway...and oh my goodness, there are some GORGEOUS photos coming in the next few days! I have some very talented clientele and I am honored that they trust me to finish their work. I started with a couple of the most challenging pieces this morning and it took me some time to decide my plan of attack, but once I got started, I was on a roll and the day flew by...and now, it is almost midnight here...

As I mentioned in my previous post, I managed to accomplish quite a bit in my sewing studio over the last few weeks...lots of custom sewing, model stitching, gifts, and new Etsy items...and quite a bit of design work. Here are just a few of my recent sewing/quilting finishes...and I have more creative things in store to show you soon (there are six large projects I can't show you just yet)...








So, there is just a touch of what has been happening in the studio...I'll have a bunch of additional creative inspiration for you soon!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Creative Catch-up

It has been a hot and humid, sunshine-filled summer in Iowa...and in an effort to get back on the blogging track, I thought I would end my day with a quick visit. I have been up early every day, getting in some very hot and sweaty training sessions - I have been lifting weights, then walking/running 5-6 miles daily with a training partner, using a set of 5-pound dumbbells. With all my traveling done for a while, I follow-up my morning workouts by focusing on business - finishing up some HUGE deadlines earlier in the week and now targeting several piles of needlework finishing for customers...I've also had the chance to get quite a few sewing/quilting projects done and a plethora of new items for my Etsy shop. Yep, the creative wheels keep on turning and I am feeling more inspired than ever!

Today, I thought I would share some needlework finishing I recently completed. I have been doing limited custom needlework finishing for clients when my schedule allows...and I am blessed to have wonderful customers (you know who you are!) that send me projects that allow me to be creative and choose the materials and finishing touches with minimal direction (thank you!) - those projects are my favorites! I do all hand and sewing machine finishing and stay away from projects that require glue - even attaching twisted cord (that I make myself) with a needle and thread. Today's projects were all stitched by the same customer and I chose all the materials and embellishments for finishing...I was told the type of finish (these are all flat-finish ornaments), but other than that, I was able to take creative license - this is the type of work I truly enjoy the most! Here are images of the fronts and backs of some beautifully stitched ornaments (not my designs or stitching, just my finishing work):







I will definitely be focused on needlework finishing for the rest of the week, along with completing a long-overdue detailed quilting appliqué project - I have some VERY patient customers that kindly wait until I can fit their pieces into my daily lineup (again, you know who you are - thank you so much for understanding my bizarre schedule)...so I will have some more exquisite cross stitch finishes and a lovely wall hanging to show you very soon! I will also stop back (hopefully tomorrow) to share some of the sewing/quilting projects that have been keeping me busy the last couple months...

Monday, May 15, 2017

Magical Masterpiece - Desert View Watchtower

Today I (finally) have more photos to share from my recent trip to Arizona/Utah...I don't want to be that annoying person that shares a million photos from a trip that no one has much interest in; therefore, it has taken me some time to decide how much I want to share and the context. I took in an unbelievable amount of artistic beauty...and this location definitely deserves an entire post of it's own - the Desert View Watchtower, located on the South Rim near the eastern edge of Grand Canyon. These are, in my opinion, extremely inspiring images...and while I tried to capture the incredible details and artistry with my camera lens, these photos don't even begin to give this stunning stone tower justice.

First a little about the architect, artists, and history of this grand landmark...

The Desert View Watchtower was designed by Mary Colter (if you don't know who she is, Google her!), a prolific American interior designer and architect...and if you've been to the Grand Canyon, chances are, you have seen her breathtaking designs (Hopi House, Hermit's Rest, the Bright Angel Lodge complex, Phantom Ranch buildings, and Lookout Studio, to name a few...and yes, she decorated the famous El Tovar Hotel). To me, her style was admirable - blending her buildings into their surroundings mixing multiple styles, elements, and materials...she beautifully combined Native American art, Spanish Colonial Style, Mission Revival Style, and Southwestern elements. The more I research her history and her work, the more I am inspired...she has given me a new found love of Native American craftsmanship and motifs.


The historic Watchtower is a four-story, 70-foot stone building completed in 1932. The carefully arranged texture mixture of stones, rock, mortar, and concrete somewhat resembles an over-sized Ancestral Puebloan tower...and it overlooks the south rim of the Grand Canyon with spectacular views of the Colorado River and the Painted Desert. The tower interior is decorated with bold and beautiful murals painted by Hopi artist Fred Kabotie and detailed petroglyph-style motifs by Fred Greer. I could go on and on (and on and on) about this marvelous structure and the picture perfect details inside and out (like the vast array of irregular window sizes - bringing in the optimum amount of light and providing amazing views...and the fireplace that left me speechless) but there is plenty of written information, if you wish to study it further. For now, I will share a selection of my favorite photos...and just maybe, you will find them as magical as I do...





















Just a note...
Long time readers of my blog may remember a post I did back on August 31, 2014 when my husband I visited the Grand Canyon and the Desert View Watchtower...back then, the tower housed a large retail shop and it was like a tourist market inside (very crowded and uncomfortable and you couldn't see any of the brilliant wall murals). In 2015, the National Park Service took over the tower and has worked hard to restore the structure to Mary Colter's vision, removing the commercial marketplace. On this visit, we arrived shortly after 8:00 AM when the entrance opens and before the crowds arrived, giving me the prime opportunity take photos and admire the magnificence.

Finally, for those who have 10 minutes and would like to learn more about Mary Colter and the Desert View Watchtower, here is an excellent video from the National Park Service...
If you can't see the video here, visit this link: https://www.nps.gov/media/video/view.htm?id=6AF7C29B-155D-451F-67ED6E0546596E5B