Category Archives: Journey

Community {Part II – Group Activity}

Part II of my community posts is about how you can foster your community with your own group activity, in this case a traveling quilt.  This past year, I had the amazing pleasure to work with Melanie, Valerie, Melissa, Jen, and Sarah in a traveling quilt group. I knew all these wonderful people before we formed this group and knew that we had similarities and an interest in modern quilting. I think its important to work with a group of people you know and and have common things like style, fabric choice and techniques.

Traveling Quilt Concept

How the traveling quilt group worked….well,  we each created a starter kit that described a theme and what we wanted to receive. This kit included:

  • A journal that described the theme, color palette, styles or techniques you wanted. Each person was to add their thoughts around what they created to the journal as it travelled.
  • A “starter” which could be a block or a row in the theme and colors that you chose, so that the person can have an example to work with.
  • Some additional fabric to work with, though folks could add their own as they created their work.
  • Some included a small gift but it was not mandatory.

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Each person (as there were six of us) had two months to add to the quilt. We knew life would get in the way so timings were flexible. Note though, communication was important and if you were late you needed to let folks know where you were up to and how late were you going to be.

Let me take you through a year in our traveling quilt experience (also check out #travelingstitches2018 for more progress shops by others in the group)

My Theme

So before we talk about my theme and project let me give you a little bit of an introduction to me, which I seldom share.

Many of you know I grew up in New Zealand, but I really have not shared my experiences of growing up. My parents were very young when I was born (Mum 18, Dad about to turn 21). They were just starting out, and their first house was in South Auckland, Papatoetoe. I loved growing up in Papatoetoe, and appreciated the education I got, the friends that I made and the opportunities extended to me (Schools: Papatoetoe South Primary, Kedgley Intermediate and Aorere College). What I didn’t realize, until I moved away from New Zealand, is what an amazing multi-cultural experience I was exposed too growing up here. To me this was just the community I belonged to and was welcomed into, it was Whānau. Exposure to the arts of each of the cultures – Maori, Samoan, Raratongan, Tongan, and Fijian has definitely influenced my design and quilting styles.

So what was my theme for my traveling project – was on Maori design. My goal choosing this theme was to share a little bit of my home with everyone and introduce them to a new language, culture and design aesthetic. Aspects that needed to be incorporated in their designs: geometry, black+white+splash of red, no improvisation.

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My starter blocks were of a triangular design 60″ long representing a Tukutuku panel from a wharenui (Meeting house) and a design inspired by a Moko (tattoo).

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After a year, you get back all your blocks. I was so impressed, everyone did an amazing job. I laid out all the blocks and worked on the final design for the top. This process was extremely emotional but helped me work through a lot of feelings around the Christchurch terrorist attack, that had occurred 3 days previously.
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Melissa

Melissa’s theme “Ode to the Rhombus”, was inspired by Josef Albers Ode to the Square and his interaction of color. She chose an amazing color palette mostly greens with some dark blues. It was such a fun project, I immediately had a plan and inspiredly our bathroom fan.

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With the blocks, I explored the impact on how colors interact with each other and enjoyed the discoveries along the way.

Melanie

Melanie’s concept was about interpretation. She provided everyone with the same instructions, but how you interpreted them was really up to you. At the time of reading the instructions, I was feeling like exploring maximalism within minimalism. Yes, my blocks are the ones where the white strips appear very wide (chunky). By using just black and white you could really see how interpretation played such a large role. At this point, Melanie, Melissa and I had contributed blocks.

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Jen

Jen’s project was one of the most challenging for me. She wanted us to investigate who we are and design blocks thinking about your soul and expression…..and using a yellow only palette!! As I thought about this over a course of a couple of weeks, two ideas emerged. One, that I wear my heart on my sleeve (I could never play poker). This idea was represented by having the seams visible (middle bottom block).

The second idea started with the fact I am a true introvert, most people just don’t realize it. The window block on the right, has the window frame (white) disappearing into the background….and that is so me in a group setting, especially with people I don’t know or a large group. More importantly, while making this block, I realized that I do like being in the background.

Valerie

Strips in navy, white and pops of yellow was Valerie’s theme. I played with a log cabin them and deconstructed it in a few different ways to come up with these blocks.

Choosing the navy as the negative space, I thought was important to the overall balance of the blocks that had come before me (Valerie, Jen, Melanie, and Melissa).  Here is what all the blocks looked like when I passed it off to Sarah – the lucky last to add to Valerie’s quilt.

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Sarah

Lastly, I got to add to Sarah’s quilt. Her theme was outdoor open spaces in the west and she talked about how inspired she was by Utah, Arizona etc. As I had just spent a week at the National Parks in Utah, I did not have problems coming up with inspiration.

The cairns block on the left is appliquéd and inspired by Leon Polk Smith’s work. The mountain block (right), I really wanted to added layers to the foreground to represent the soil or the modified vegetation. I thought this tied in Sarah’s job as an archeologist.

Fostering community with Group projects

This was such a fun activity and I can highly recommend it, but choose your participants carefully. Other ideas for group projects:

  • Choose a theme, and color palette, and just have folks send blocks to you instead of making it a traveling quilt or round robin like activity.
  • Organize a group to explore concepts with each other fostering feedback etc.; Quilt Design a Day for example (more on this later)
  • Charity quilts – making charity quilts for a common cause always pull people together.
  • Sew-ins or quilting bees or retreats with friends or guild members (more to come on this as well)
  • Instagram events like quilt alongs, or daily practice activities (#100days)

Also, don’t forget fostering your community does not always have to be sewing related. Try setting up just social events with your quilting community:

  • A potluck lunch or dinner.
  • Picnic at a local park with family included.
  • Visit an exhibit together at a museum, quilt show or state fair.
  • Movie night, this maybe at a local outdoor event, or rent “How to make an American Quilt” (still with a quilt theme).
  • Met at a local bar, restaurant or cafe.
  • Try other art activities together like pottery or art+wine.

These are just some ideas I have tried. What have you all tried to do as a group to foster your quilty community?

Community Posts:
Community Introduction – Part I

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Community {Part I}

Sorry for the leave of absence. No excuses here, just life getting busy. I come back with a conversation dear to my heart, that I want to explore more with you all. Community.

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Quilting has provided me with an amazing community which I did not have before. I am extremely lucky to have a great group of women around me who I call friends. They are there to listen, offer support and laugh or cry. These women are not just local to me but are also people I met virtually online.

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Isn’t it funny how some things have changed but others have not. Quilting not only has bought me my community but think of the quilting bees/circles of women who have come before us who also found community. You can easily find photos of women, in the past, sitting on front porches hand stitching and making quilts. It has been such an iconic past-time that a movie was made about it “How to make an American Quilt” (based on a book by Whitney Otto), then more recently, finding community via quilting has been the center of Frances O’Roark Dowell’s audio book (Quilt Fiction podcast) “Friendship Album 1933”.

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Looking back has made me ask questions about my experiences such as;

How did I become part of community and how did it start?
What have I contributed to the community? What can I do to give back?
What makes community strong and keep them going?

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I don’t have all the answers yet (and likely never will) but over the next few posts I would love to explore and share my own community experiences with you all. Also, I would love to hear from you all about your own experiences. Let’s explore similarities, how did you find your community, share things that worked for your group, things that didn’t work out (without it being at someone’s expense – always be nice) or are you still looking for your people?

Correlation {a finish}

I am not very good at following through on activities that require something every day, whether its following a diet and tracking, or doing a 30 day or 100 day challenge. However, I was given an opportunity to participate in a 100 day showcase, and decided to take it. I had this idea that had been percolating for a while.

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The idea and initial limits were:

  • Use a variety colored angled blocks together in one quilt
  • Use of two colors and white per block
  • Angles for each color were cut without planning (improvisation).
  • Use my Denyse Schmidt Free Spirit solids box that I had been saving in a draw for years.

The process of creating blocks was very interesting and a few additional design decisions were made along the way:

  • By day 20, I already felt overwhelmed by the angles and color and thought it needed more balance. So, single white blocks were incorporated into the design to provide much needed negative space. I think this is a great example of how to use negative space and how it can interact and be part of the overall design.
  • I added two additional block modifications. I included 3 blocks with one color and white, more as accent pieces. I also included 3 blocks with just two colors and no white.
  • I alternated the direction of the blocks to create some great negative space designs.
  • I also started positioning them on a diagonal gradient like a scatter plot / correlation (hence the name and relates to my day job).

I loved how it turned out. I love the color, the balance and the fact there’s always something to find in the blocks. Check out #100daysofcoloredangles for progress shots.

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For the quilting, I knew I was going to use straight line quilting. I also though about the quilt as a single block, so the quilting was done at angles like one of the original single block designs. I taped out the angles I was going to use, and leveraged the 1″ think tape as border lines for the 1/2″ quilting lines. In each area the lines follow various angles. IMG_5156

The binding was matched to one of the accent pieces, which I am super pleased with how that turned out.

I have multiple ideas now for additional quilts of this nature and will probably make one or two more. It was fun and very happy to add the easier negative space blocks to the quilt. It made the 100 days much easier to complete.

Details

Name : Correlation
Design:
Design by myself
Fabric: Kona White; Denyse Schmidt, Modern Solids, Free Spirit
Binding: Kona Aruba
Dimensions:  55 x 60″
Quilted: Straight Line 1/2′ quilting with Aurifil 2021.

 

Book Journey {an update}

Back in December, I started letting you all know about the my goals and timelines for my book. Well, let me tell you I am really impressed by those that can get a book together in 6-12 months. Let me say with full-time job commitments, family life, other quilt project deadlines and teaching events, giving the book the priority it needs has not been easy.

As I am writing this, I am telling myself constantly that it is ok. As my lovely editor says “Your book will be ready in August”. August when, who knows. Obviously not 2018. I hope it is definitely 2019.

The biggest discoveries I made:

  1. That to have a book the projects really need to be finished, before you can finalize content.
  2. Support from your circle is important. In June, I was able to share more of my ideas and direction with my inner circle helping on the book. It was good to get feedback and reinforce the direction is going the right way…..no matter how slowly.
  3. This touch point was fantastic, and I feel it helped clear my mind somewhat and refocus.
  4. Capturing good notes now as I develop each quilt, has been extremely important in telling the story for each project.

Where am I at, you might ask….

The Introduction – Notes and Outline are complete, photography concepts included.

Tools chapter – Notes and Outline are complete, photography concepts included.

Project 1 – Manicured Gardens quilt is complete, I’ll post about it shortly. Graphic Design/layout rough draft reviewed.

Project 2 – Group quilt binding is underway. This will be for a side bar; group activity segment.

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Project 3 – Rotating Spokes Quilt is being quilted.

Project 4 – Art Deco Medallion quilt is being pieced. Friends are helping out with some of the hand work based blocks.

Project 5 – Broken Trellis Quilt is being pieced. Friends are helping out with some of the  block piecing.

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Project 6 – Coliseum quilt top is complete.

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Project 7 – Cairns quilt design is complete. This was a major break through this past weekend and inspiration from Leon Polk Smith’s work helped this go in the right direction.

Project 8 – 12 are still percolating and evolving.

A list of photo shoot places is underway (though some maybe wishful thinking ;-)):

  • Downtown Apex at the white brick wall
  • Biltmore Estate Gardens (visiting in May next year)
  • Yates Mill Historic Park
  • Rome (Coliseum) / back up location would be the ruins in Beaufort, SC
  • NC Old Barns both wood and corrugated iron backgrounds
  • Lisbon, Portugal (just b/c its my favorite place)

To keep this project moving forward I need to set a couple of goals for the rest of the year. So, I want to do the following and have these goals done by the end of the Christmas break:

  1. Finish first draft for introduction chapter
  2. Finish first draft tools chapter
  3. Touch base with my editor and graphic designer.
  4. Complete Project 2 (1 3/4 sides of binding to go).
  5. Complete Project 3 (Quilting and binding)
  6. Complete current border for  Project 4.
  7. Complete Project 6 (basting, quilting and binding)
  8. Project 7, trying out the design concepts on a test project.

 

Why take a break from Social Media??

This year, I have felt like I’m in some kind of funk.  I have been lacking motivation and ideas. I get in front of my sewing machine, sew a couple of lines and then take a break. As the year progressed, I noticed the time spent on social media (especially Instagram) increased and by the beginning of June it was at least 2 hours a day. The constant visual stimuli of Instagram, and watching what others were producing (which felt like over productivity) was feeding the inadequacy I was feeling. I was feeling anxiety about not making progress around my own work.

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With my birthday being around the corner, I decided to take a break from social media for the month of June. My hopes were to take time to find me again. My goals for this month were:

  • Take some me time
  • Take an Instagram break
  • Work on my book for 1 hour each day
  • Spend a minimum of 1 hour sewing every day

Everyone was so supportive about taking a break. I lost only 2 followers on Instagram after the announcement. Those that might be wondering about how it all turned out, I got some mixed results. The biggest lesson I learnt was I need to expand it to all electronic use, unless I need to use it to accomplish the tasks I sent forth. Why? Well, you might all of a sudden binge watch all episodes of House and Dawsons Creek. 😉

Some of the positives, I was more present and more focused. I found I was more open to some design inspiration and did collect more of my book thoughts. I got some quilt this done but not as much as I would have liked (due to the binge watching).

Being Present

I did manage to add a new cubby to my solid fabric storage and its all stored based on color card order.

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I was more present in my life. I visited Saxapahaw, NC for my birthday …

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…and my little one graduated elementary school. So proud of him, as he was awarded the technology award for his track and grade.
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Quilt Design

I did find that my mind is more open, so designs came fast and hang around in my head until I got them down on paper. I found my expressing some of my feelings in some of these. Captions are provided to explain some of the inspiration.

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Crack of Light – inspired by hope of light that shines through when times are dark.

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Pressure – pressure on an object causes it to give, become divided or split.

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Road markings inspired by temporary lines that were drawn due to road closures.

Grate

Inspired by a image of a vintage tractor grate.

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Playing with lines, inspired by volume sound bars.

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What my minimalist Log Cabin design would look like.

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Improvisation lines and frames inspired by ladders steps

Quilts

 

I did make some progress on a few quilts. I have multiple projects in different stages.

I worked on some binding projects. Two of which are book quilt finishes.
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…finished a couple of quilt tops.

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Coliseum Quilt – A book project

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Correlation Matrix – work on my 100 days of colored angles.

… worked on some straight line quilting for my rotating spokes book project.

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…and finished of one quilt that was shipped off to a magazine. It should be published in November, when I will have a big reveal.

So, all in all pretty productive. I will definitely be considering another one this year. I am thinking that it should be something I do at least once every six months.

Have you tried a social media break? What worked and what didn’t work?

Submitting to a Magazine

I have now been submitting patterns to quilting magazines/publications going on 3 years, with at least 4-6 publications a year. I have been very lucky and have had great experiences with those I have worked with. Have you every thought about submitting to a magazine but not sure how to do it? Here are some pointers based on my experiences.

Submission process

  1. First step pick up a couple of issues of the magazines that you want to submit to. Check out layout, content, aesthetic. Make sure your project falls into their aesthetic.
  2. Start by checking the submission guidelines for the magazine you want to submit to. If you can’t find them, reach out via email requesting them.
  3. Depending on the submission guidelines, you may be required to submit a finished quilt or just design/ideas. I like submitting a couple of designs and offer to change size and color to make it easier to fit with an upcoming issue.
  4. It is important to submit the designs/or quilts to only one magazine/publication at a time. Don’t submit the same design to multiple magazines.
  5. The submission response varies for each magazine. I have had everything from 1-4 weeks. Communication maybe across multiple emails deciding on dates, and aspects of the pattern.
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Quilt used for Best in Show, QuiltCon Magazine 2017

Contract process

  1. Once they say yes, they should send you a contract. Don’t agree to doing anything without a contract (I learned this lesson the hard way).
  2. If you can afford it, have a lawyer read through the contract and explain it to you.
  3. If you can’t afford a lawyer some of the key things you need to read are;
    • When do your rights get returned to you? It is common that this is 6-12 months for most magazines/publications.
    • What gets returned to you? Do you have the rights to re-publish? I like to get me rights back to then publish as my own pattern to sell. Rarely, but sometimes magazines will give you the rights to the images as well.
  4. Most magazines do not allow you to share on social media until the magazine//publication is on sale. When they are about to release, several publications will provide you with images to use. If they don’t ask if they can. You can ask if you can have the rights to those photos for your future use as well.
  5. Validate payments language and stipulations
    • Check when you receive the money, and the process of payment. Many will require you to submit invoice or purchase order. Others will need to receive the delivery before they pay. The other option I have seen is that payment will be made once the issue starts to ship.
    • How much are you being paid? This is typically negotiable, but if its your first publication you may want to balance experience and worth.
  6. Do they have terms in there for re-use? If yes, how much will they pay for re-use across other media and forms. Ask yourself if this is something you want. You may want to negotiate this.
  7. Terms and conditions are typically included on what happens if they choose not to use your project.
  8. Contracts may include and should include expectations on deliverables, timing and possibly shipping details.
  9. Shipping costs to the magazine, most will pay for the returning of the quilt, others may repay your shipping costs, you may need to pay it yourself. You will need to submit receipts for repayment.
  10. Some magazines have partnerships with fabric manufacturers and may be able to provide you fabric. I typically will use my own fabric for a submission but if this is something you are interested in, there is no harm in asking.
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Image Provided by Love Patchwork & Quilting

Delivery Process

  1. Make sure you understand what you need to deliver and when. It is important that you are on time with your deliverables. Life happens though, just communicate as early as you can and let them know the situation and most will work with you on any issues/delays etc. Communication is key.
  2. Most magazines will convey how they want the content delivered. They may provide you with templates and specific instructions. Make sure you follow the instructions.
  3. Mostly, I have written most of the patterns as part of the submission (see expectations for print) which is one of the deliverables. Some magazines may prefer to write it themselves. Check what your responsibilities are.
  4. I have seen that typically word is the preferred file format for the actual pattern  – if there is no template check out previous releases to get an understanding of what they are expecting.  You may want to include:
    • An introduction, quick blurb about your project.
    • Materials
    • Cutting instructions
    • Step-by-step pattern directions
    • Notes, Tips and acronym dictionary (if you used any, like WOF, RST etc. )
  5. For the instructional aspects, you may be asked for photos to illustrate your instructions. Make sure you check with the publishing body what backgrounds are OK, size of the file and make sure they are sharp and well lit.
  6. If you are asked to provide diagrams it maybe best to use illustrator and save the .ai files. Most magazines will have designers who are savvy in illustrator. They may require specific size work areas, file types and/or layers within illustrator.
  7. I will store all my soft copy deliverables in a google drive and share that link with the contact person to pick up. Keep an eye on your email in case something is incorrect or wrong with the delivery of the files.
  8. For the quilt, if you have agreed on techniques, color and size; if you decide to change any aspect you agreed upon communicate with your contact point and get mutual agreement on the change before moving forward with it.
  9. Make sure you know who is responsible for the photography of your quilt. Know when you have to ship it to get it there on time.  Understand how the quilt will be returned and ask for a tracking number so you know your quilt arrives on time.
  10. Ship your quilts following their instructions (if any are provided). Pack it in a plastic bag, include the invoice for the project, so they know which project it is for.
  11. You will likely need to also provide a headshot photo, and additional information about you like Instagram name, and blog.
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Image Provided by Love Patchwork & Quilting

Expectations for Print

  1. The publishing company will edit your pattern, both from a formatting perspective and actual content. They need to fit it within their allocated space for the design, don’t be shocked if they have made major changes to the document you sent them. It is likely that you will not have a chance to review it.
  2. The publishing company will also use a graphic designer/ illustrator to modify your diagrams etc to ensure it matches their formatting and may combine or separate them into one or more diagrams. They may add to your diagrams.
  3. Until the quilt is scheduled to be released you may not hear again from the publishing body. You may not know if your quilt lands up on the cover until they send you a social media package….its all a very exciting.
  4. To promote your quilt ask for the photos you want, if you would like additional pictures…sometimes they don’t send all of them to you. I always ask for the staged quilt photo and the full front view of the quilt.
  5. The company will typically ship back your quilt once issue if released and most will provide you with a copy of the issue.

If this is something you want to do, don’t be afraid. The worse case is they say no. Now this shouldn’t be taken poorly, your quilt just might not be right for that magazine/publication. Try it with another magazine that may fit better. Best case you will have a quilt in an upcoming publication.

Please note, that these tips are based my experiences, and others may have had different experiences. Feel free to leave a comment if you have experienced something different so others can learn, or if you have other questions and I will do my best to answer it.

March {Plan}

Wow, it is March already. Where did February go?? Let’s get down to business, and plan out the rest of the month….lots to do on this end. I am happy with the progress I have made over the last two months….though not necessarily in all aspects (ie. the book is still moving but slowly). Some of the highlights include:

  • Business: Complete Teaching Plan and submitted to LQS + Classes are scheduled for Q1 + Q2, Supply lists sent
  • Book: Finished Project Plan
  • Book: Finished Border 2 for Art Deco Medallion
  • Deadline: Send finish quilt and pattern for magazine
  • Deadline: Wrote and sent article for MQG
  • Deadline: Sent quilt to Quiltcon
  • Deadline: Finish #mqgswap item
  • Attended QuiltCon

So, the latter 1/2 of this month I would like to focus on my book. Here are some of the key activities I would like or must accomplish.

Category Project/Activity Target Date (day/month) Action
Business Quickbooks  3/6  Purchase + add financials
Business Submit Taxes + Annual report 3/11 Pay someone to do this
Business Phased Circles Pattern for Class in April 3/16 Send to Graphic Designer for layout
Business Teach Improvisation Class 3/17 Preparation Complete
Deadline Interview|Article 3/5 Complete
Book Group Quilt  3/5 Sent for quilting – Complete
Book Manicured Garden Quilt 3/18 Send for quilting
Book Chapter: “Art Deco
Medallion”
3/31 Finalize Content for Chapter
Book Art Deco Medallion
Quilt
 3/31 Finish Border 3+4
Book Chapter: “Manicured Gardens” 3/31 Finalize Content for book
Fun Monthly “Favorite
Things” Giveaway
 3/5 Complete
Fun Traveling Stitches Blocks  3/5 Complete
Blog Month Plan  3/5 Complete
Blog Book Update  3/8 Planning your book
Blog Blog hop post 3/12 Complete
Blog MQGMiniSwap 3/17 Complete
Blog How to Submit to a Magazine 3/24 Write Post
Blog Traveling Stitches 2018 3/31 Write Post
Balance Health 3/31 Loose between 10 pounds. Increase vegetables; 8 glasses of water and exercise 3x a week by March end.

I am interested in those that are running a business or growing your quilting hobby, what do you plan out or do to keep track of everything?