QuiltCon Wrap-up (Part one, pictures)

It’s been almost a month since QuiltCon and my life has finally settled down enough to write about it. Getting back into the whole adult-with-kids-who-need-fed thing was pretty hard. Who knew that four days of ”Okay girls, where should we eat?” would spoil me so much and undo so many years of conditioning? I swear, it was nearly bedtime before I thought about dinner for almost a week.

But my kids didn’t miss me at all. The had a grandmother with them. She took them shopping and to McDonald’s. (Seriously though, I can’t thank my mother-in-law enough for coming up to stay with the kids while I was gone. I wouldn’t have been able to go without her help.)

So, yeah, I had fun!

Me at the Stitch Lab booth

…And so did my mom.


I really wish I had taken more pictures of people! I went with my mother and we stayed with a wonderful group of women that I have known for nearly two years, from a swap group. I have some crappy cell phone pictures of them, but we never even took a group shot. And I met so many friends at the show and only have a few pictures. I did load up my camera with quilts, though.

We’ll start with the best, of course.


“i Quilt” by Kathy York was the Best in Show. I do remember seeing this online somewhere and loving it, but thinking, Oh, I could’ve done that! But up close this quilt was something else. It was just perfect. The straight line quilting was phenomenal. No distortion whatsoever. The back was pieced.

Back of the Best in Show

And look closely at the top. THE SLEEVE IS PIECED. The hanging sleeve matches the freakin back. I couldn’t believe it. I was blown away by such attention to detail.

Best in Show

I had so many favorites! I tried to take a picture of all of the placards that went with the quilts, but at times I was in such a hurry to see everything that I didn’t get close enough. I’ll try to label them all correctly.

Improv Double Wedding Ring by Natalie of Greenleafgoods


I’ve seen this one online, and I always thought it was appliqued, but it’s not, which is awesome. Check out Natalie’s blog post to see the quilting up close.

I’m uncertain of the title for this one, but it’s Victoria Findlay-Wolfe.

Victoria Findlay Wolfe

I can’t even find the right words for how much I love this one. The improv! The quilting! The colors! The binding! *happy sigh*

”Funky Junk” by Renee Tallman



I really love the story behind this one. (Follow the link)

“Ceiling Tiles” by Amy Garro


“Indie” by Phoebe Harrell

Indie by Phoebe Harrell

This is retro as hell.

“City Center” by Angie Henderson


“Blocks From the Crayon Box” by Carolyn Griffith


“Tidy Towns: Irish Houses” by Andrew Steinbrecher


“Diamond Dust” by Doris Brunette


The quilting on this is phenomenal.

Oh my goodness, there are so many pictures! I’m going to wrap this up for now and post more later.



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Belts and Buckles, my new pattern!

Just a quick heads up to let  you know, my first pattern, Belts and Buckles, is being released tomorrow by Rebel Craft Media!



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Make a Dalek, Make a Friend

There are some swaps you just can’t resist.

Instagram mini swaps have really taken off this year. I’ve seen the Disney Swap, the Unicorn Swap, a hundred general swaps, a rainbow swap (that was tempting) and I think I remember a kitty swap.

I try to not overburden my sewing list, but I had to join the Doctor Who swap.

Rae from Rae’s Making It organized it and I think it had something like 77 swappers. If you’re on Instagram (which you should be, it’s not all selfies and food porn) look up the hashtag #makeadalekmakeafriend to check out all of the awesome results.

I pretty much knew what I wanted to do right away, I was just hoping my partner’s interests matched it. I bought an LED light kit from Cheryl Sleboda at Muppin.com a loooong time ago and never got around to using it because I was too scared. My idea was to make a quilted sonic screwdriver that actually lit up. Luckily, my partner’s favorite Doctor was Ten, and my light was blue. (My favorite Doctor is Ten as well.)

I’ll spare you the progress pictures. They’re not that fascinating.  Here’s the finished product.

Doctor Who Mini Quilt

It says ”Allons-y” for those of you who can’t read Gallifreyan. And ”allons-y” means ”Let’s go” for those of you who don’t speak French. It’s the Tenth Doctor’s catchphrase.

photo 1 (2)

photo 2 (1)

The hand quilting was done with metallic thread, which was a real pain in the ass, especially since I doubled it. The sonic was traced from the vinyl cut out I have on my machine (from this shop) and fused onto the background. Oh, and there’s a piece missing from it, but I bet  you didn’t notice.

The LED light was actually way easier to install than what I had imagined. Cheryl provides clear instructions when you purchase her kit.

I had a lot of fun with this, and if I ever come up with a weird idea for a project that needs to be lit up, I won’t wait a year between purchasing the light and actually getting around to it.

And if you’re wondering what I got, here’s my new Dalek friend, from my Instagram feed.

photo 2 (2)

I just love the idea of a Dalek wanting to be someone’s friend. It’s just so hilarious. His name is Dalek Bubbles. (I just now came up with that, btw, but it fits so well.)

The amazing Cath from Wombat Quilts made him.

Molto Bene!


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My Journey with Depression

This is a post that I’ve been wanting to write for a few weeks now, ever since an acquaintance’s teenage son killed himself. Now Robin William’s suicide has kicked me into gear. I do realise that this isn’t what anyone is looking for when they visit a sewing blog, but the topic is something that no one should ignore.


First, I’d like to tell you about my own history with depression. For most people who know me, this will be the first I’ve talked about it. Depression is thought of as a shameful thing. It’s something people tell you that you can just get over. Cheer up. Smile. It’ll get better.

I have dealt with depression for my entire adult life. I can’t remember when I first started crying in my room for no reason, or wanting to scream and throw things just to feel better. I was probably 14. I can remember staring out of my second floor bedroom window, wondering if a jump would kill me or just make things worse. I remember sawing at my wrists with a dull pocket knife, not wanting to actually kill myself, but wishing I could leave a mark bad enough to get noticed. I never had an actual cry for help attempt. I was too ashamed to even admit my pain in that way.
Even so, my parents knew something was wrong. My mom would tell me that suicide was “a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” But the thing is, depression was the problem. It wasn’t a boy, or school, or my friends. It was an actual illness. Something about my brain that just didn’t work right. I wanted to see a doctor. But I never did. My parents tried to get me to talk to a church elder, but I felt insulted by that suggestion. I felt that they didn’t care enough to send me to a professional. I remember one day, when they arranged to have someone from church  come over, I locked myself in the bathroom and refused to come out til he left.

Time passed, and I found myself married, with two kids. That’s when I finally got help. I don’t know if it was post partum depression, the depression I had always struggled with, or a combination of the two. But I could not function anymore. I was a stay-at-home mom, unable to stop crying to feed my kids. My daughter would find me on the kitchen, bawling because I was unable to keep up with the demands my children placed on me.  I don’t know whose idea it was, mine, my husband’s, or my wonderful community of internet moms, but I finally made the call and saw my doctor. I knew I wouldn’t be able to speak, once the questions started, so I wrote down all of my symptoms. My doctor assured me that my problem was common, and nothing to be ashamed of. We discussed my options and I was started on Zoloft, with some Xanax for good measure. I started the meds that day, worried that somehow people would know by my behaviour that I was on drugs for a mental illness. I thought I’d act loopy or uncharacteristically happy.

I didn’t turn into a candy coated laugh machine, of course. But I got better. My bad days were fewer, and further apart. I still had them, of course, and I had my medicine upped a few times, and switched once (THAT was a fiasco). I’m lucky that I found a simple treatment. I still have my bad days, but everyone does. There’s usually a reason now.


My story is so common. So many people that you think have great lives and no reason to be sad share my story. But you never hear them say anything. There is still such a stigma around mental illness. I still have days where I hate taking my medicine because I feel like I’m hiding a part of me. But I realize that that part could have killed me. I wish I hadn’t waited so long.


If you are suffering, please, please, get help. Ask a friend to help you make an appointment with your doctor. Be accountable to someone. I had to tell people to make me call, then make sure I went to the appointment. Write down how you’re feeling for your doctor or therapist. Talk to someone. If you don’t think you have anyone, talk to me. I’ll help you.

If you think someone you know is suffering offer help. Ask them what they need. Don’t tell them to cheer up, it’ll get better, you have so much to be thankful for. They’ve already told themselves. Don’t tell them God has a plan. Help them.

If you have kids, please talk to them before you need to. The depression talk should be as prevalent as the sex and drugs talks. Talk to them and let them know you are there for them and you will help them without judgement. This is what I want you to take away from this post the most. Talk to your kids about depression. Let them know it’s not their fault and you will help them, no matter what.

The stigma needs to end. I’d like to encourage you to share  your stories as well.


My name is Melissa, and I have chronic depression.



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Sew is a Verb

If there is one thing that makes my eyes twitch, it’s blatant misuse of the English language. And if there’s one thing that quilters apparently love, it’s replacing the word ‘so’ with the word ‘sew,’ especially when it comes to quilt stores.


(Yes, I’m Rarity. She’s fabulous and she sews. #spiritpony)

I’m willing to bet you’ve run across these stores:

Sew Many Friends (I don’t think my friends would like that)

Sew Unique (No. No you’re not)

Sew Amazing. Sew Special. SEW FREAKING AWESOME! (I made that one up, I’ve never seen it)

Sew Much More gets a pass because you can actually sew much more.

I mean, if you’ve got great fabric, I’m going to go there and shop. But every time I have to say the name of your store I’m likely to make a face like this:


I just noticed how much Kristen’s boob is hanging out in this gif. Oh well. It’s there, I’m leaving it.

I’ve also run across people online who think that just because a conversation is about sewing they must replace ‘so’ with ‘sew.’

“Oh, that is sew cute!” “You did sew good!”

Major eye twitch right there. Two, actually.

I mean, I know there are worse things, like replacing the C in Country with a K so you can name your restaurant Kountry Kitchen. Or not knowing the difference between their, there, and they’re. Txting lik dis. Uniquely spelled baby names. Using good instead of well. Moths.

But this is a sewing blog. Maybe we’ll get to those later.

I guess I don’t really have much more to say about this. My point is just this: Sew is a verb. You can sew. You can’t so. So is an adverb. It’s used to describe verbs. You sew so well.


So there.








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I’m a part of the Handmade Birthday Club going on on Instagram. My birthday is in December though, so I can’t share anything awesome that I’ve received… but I can share something awesome that I’ve made.

Kelly Bowser of Kelby Sews just randomly mentioned on a picture that she doesn’t like cats, but she wouldn’t mind a UniKitty mini quilt. (UniKitty is from the Lego Movie. I haven’t seen it.) Her birthday is in March and so I knew what my mission was.

I went over to the block design tool at Threadbias.com and made up a template. I knew I’d have to paper piece, since some of the pieces would have to be tiny. What I ended up doing was printing out my template four times and cutting out the pieces I needed.


Yeah, so picture! I only have the one I stole from Kelly’s Instagram, since I can’t find my camera…


UniKitty Mini made by Melissa of Tension Issues for Kelbysews

UniKitty Mini made by Melissa of Tension Issues for Kelbysews


I used felt and embroidery thread for her face. She’s about 9x 12, but I can’t remember.

Anyway! Kelly and I both had a ton of people asking for the pattern. I was going to offer it on craftsy for free, but I cannot for the life of me figure out my illustrator program. So you’ll have to be low tech like me. Here’s the template…



You should be able to just grab that picture from here and make it whatever size you want.

And here’s where I cut.


One sheet for the ears, (cut a quarter inch away from the lines) one for the horn (in blue), one for the middle of the horn (in pink) and one more for the bottom of the horn (in yellow). For the face and outline I didn’t paper piece I just measured out what I needed. I wish I had templates for the face pieces, but I was late for Kelly’s birthday and I didn’t make copies. Sorry. But they’re mostly circles and if I can do it, so can you!


I hope this helps all those people who wanted to make a UniKitty! Tag me on instagram @tensionissues if you make one.


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Echino Giveaway!

I’ve been wanting to do a giveaway for a long time, but I have a problem. I don’t have an extra fat quarter bundle of a brand new, not yet released line laying around. I don’t have a sponsor to give me one. I’m pretty broke, so I’m not buying you one. (sorry) So I’ve been trying to figure out what I could give away from my stash.

I’ve been saving up Echino for a while to make a QAYG Sophia bag. I’ve bought a few fat quarters, and I have some large pieces left over from a quilt I’m making my daughter. I don’t need big pieces for the bag, so I decided to give away some charms and a pouch I made! Everyone loves a good pouch, right?

(Edit – I’ve been told that that sounded a bit like I’m just offering my leftovers. I’m sorry. I’m not. I can think of plenty of uses for the fabric I’m not going to use for the bag. I just know that I have something that quilters love and wanted to share. I also I’m not trying to drum up sympathy for myself. I hope to have sponsors in the future, and I’d love to be one of the lucky few bloggers who get sneak peaks at everything, and I know that that takes a lot of work. I’m working at it. If I could go back to school to be a quilter I would, but there is no school, there’s just doing it. I’m trying to do it, and this is my thank you to those of you who are supporting me.)

Echino Giveaway IMG_3647

Alrighty! All you need to do is leave a comment here telling me what your favorite Thanksgiving food is. Mine’s stuffing.

For another entry, like me on Facebook.

Leave another comment telling me you did.

And if you really want to, follow my blog and I’ll just really like you for it.

Captain Random Generator, DDS will draw a winner at noon on Monday.

Open to US entries only, sorry!



Winner winner, turkey dinner!


Dinah Barnes, you’ve got it! I’ll send you an email to get your address. Congratulations and thanks to everyone who entered!


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WIP Wednesday – Baby Quilt and a pillow

I have three baby girl quilts that need made. One is going to a friend who is having her second daughter in February, the other two will be for a friend who is pregnant with twins. (!) I want to say she’s due in April.

I got the top for the singleton done this weekend (as my instagram followers know) and I’ve been contemplating how to quilt it ever since. I don’t think I want to do an all-over design. Rather, I think I may do something in each diamond. I was doodling over a picture of it last night. Speaking of pictures, here’s the top!


Hopefully that shows up. I’m writing this on my cell phone.

I was doodling around, toying with an idea I had about chevrons when it occurred to me to do a string quilt. I used instructions from Elizabeth Hartman’s “Practical Guide to Patchwork” but made the blocks smaller.
If you don’t have that book, Film in the Fridge has a good tutorial. I’m going to have a really hard time letting this quilt go. I’m probably going to have to make a queen sized replica.

For the other two quilts I think I’m going to do something simple, like the strip quilt from Tula Pink’s latest market booth.

I also started a pillow yesterday, made with flying geese scraps.


I started quilting it, and got the lighter part done, but when I switched threads for the dark part my machine started skipping stitches, majorly. (my phone says majorly isn’t a word. Psh, whatever.) So, I’ve got to rip those out and either try again or go get another color of thread. I’ll probably give it another go first. Sometimes letting my machine rest over night helps. I understand its need.

Here’s the pillow before I started on the dark quilting.


I hope I can get it worked out today and up in the shop soon.

(Btw, I opened an Etsy shop. Check it out. Link over there —> )


Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced


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“Diamonds and Bowties”

I love Joel Dewberry.

This year for Christmas I got an Amazon.com gift card from my in-laws. I was thrilled when I found a fat quarter pack of Joel Dewberry’s Notting Hill on Amazon for sixty bucks. Of course, I bought it. But it sat unused (un-opened, even!) for months while I looked for the perfect pattern. I didn’t want to cut it up too small, since there were so many awesome big prints. I finally saw a pattern that I knew I could replicate, but by the time I got around to sketching it out I got it all wrong and came up with this:

"Diamonds and Bowties" by Melissa of Tension Issues

I can’t wait to quilt it. I plan on incorporating the diamonds and bowties thing into the negative space and trying out some fun stuff on the prints.

"Diamonds and Bowties" by Melissa of Tension Issues

I’ve also got quite a bit leftover, so I’m thinking I’ll need to make a matching pillow or mini.

What do you think? Have you ever risked a line you loved on your own pattern?


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September 9, 2013 · 10:58 am