My Creative Resolution – Watercolor, Illustration, Print Pattern Design


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A Swimming Quilt – Guest Post by Susan Finlay

Intro. by Eileen McKenna – “I enjoy designing fabric prints but I don’t sew! So, I’m always so interested to see what people make when they purchase one of my fabric designs on Spoonflower. I was so thrilled when Susan Finlay (Wee Susie Stitches) tagged me on Instagram when she posted her swimming quilt. Susan used my Rainbow Goggles and Swimming Laps fabric designs in her quilt. And I was even more excited when she agreed to write a guest post about designing and making her ‘Eat, Sleep, Sew, Repeat’ quilt.”

Eat, Sleep, Sew, Repeat by Wee Susie Stitches

Firstly I would like to say a massive thank you to Eileen for asking me to write this piece about the quilt I made using some of her fabrics.

My daughters’ swim club are always looking for ideas to raise funds. The club wanted to raffle something that the kids would want to win rather than the usual hamper or bottle of whiskey that they have no interest in. I was asked to make a quilt.

I spent time (too much) online looking for suitable fabrics, first I looked for waterproof/resistant that the kids could take poolside, but nothing was suitable. So, I started thinking about the design rather than the fabric first. I saw a quilt that Lucy from charmed by you had made. Seeing Lucy’s quilt inspired me – the mantra of lots of swimmers that they wear on their t-shirts & hoodies is EAT, SLEEP, SWIM, REPEAT. That was going to be the main body of the quilt and designed using club colours of Royal Blue and Yellow. I would add a border of squares to represent the tiles of a swimming pool – the swimmers look at these for hours every week!!

"Eat, Sleep, Sew, Repeat" swimming quilt by Wee Susie Stitches #swimming #quilt

For the border I didn’t want plain fabric, boring, I wanted something special that would appeal to the kids. Back to searching online and I couldn’t find any fabric shops in my area that inspired me but then I found spoonflower and fabric from Eileen and Julia Diane Studios that I thought, yes, I could use them, they were perfect! So, I clicked order and a few weeks later the most beautifully tissue wrapped amazing fabric arrived.

Excited? Yeah. Husband and daughters too were excited! The girls asking the question what are you making for me Mum?? Sorry girls, as usual, this is for someone else!

"Eat, Sleep, Sew, Repeat" swimming quilt by Wee Susie Stitches #swimming #quilt
I started cutting perfect 6 ½ inch squares to create the pool tile effect from this beautiful fabric.

Then began the process of precisely cutting the letters A, E, I, L, M, P, R, S, T, W, or in full ‘EAT, SLEEP, SWIM, REPEAT’ to applique onto the background fabric.

"Eat, Sleep, Sew, Repeat" swimming quilt by Wee Susie Stitches #swimming #quilt
I used my Elna 680 sewing machine to blanket stitch around each letter.

I joined the squares to make border round the main letter panel. Next, I machine quilted the fleece backing with a nice simple straight line to continue the pool tile and lane rope effect. I finished the quilt off with binding.

The MASC quilt was complete.

My girls were excited by with the end result! The Swim Club were excited by the end result. The quilt is now being raffled to raise funds for Musselburgh Amateur Swimming Club. Hopefully it will make one swimmer happy and keep them cosy after a hard training set and ready to Eat, Sleep, Swim, Repeat.
"Eat, Sleep, Sew, Repeat" swimming quilt by Wee Susie Stitches #swimming #quilt

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Waiting to Swim

Swimmers waiting to race in my sketchbook
Yesterday was the first swim meet of the summer season so it was no surprise that I was sketching swimmers waiting for their race this morning.
Swim Meet
Have you seen my Swimming Laps fabric print?


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A swimming pattern…perhaps

Swimmers in my sketchbook. An idea for a pattern design.

My goal this year is to design a pattern a month. So as the month starts to wind down, I’m thinking about swimmers.

Last month I created an ice cream truck pattern from illustrations in my sketchbook. It’s available for purchase on Spoonflower here.

Ice cream truck print pattern / fabric

Ice Cream truck treats fabric print on a pillow

In January I designed a penguin polar bear pattern. Available here.

polar bear penguin Christmas pattern with Christmas trees, wreaths, and mistletoe

See all my designs in my Spoonflower shop.

Want to learn how to create a repeating pattern in Photoshop? Read:

How to create a repeating pattern in Photoshop. For fabric prints, gift wrap, wallpaper and more.

 


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Ideas from my sketchbook

swimmer
I have really fall in love with my sketchbook. For me, it isn’t so much a place to practice, but a place to come up with ideas and explore them. It is the epitome of no pressure, just playing. Often a new idea from my sketchbook becomes the inspiration for a painting or a pattern design. I’m trying to get back to a more regular sketching schedule. It leads to more paintings.

If you are wondering where I’ve been lately, my business has really been picking up. It’s really exciting to grow and nurture something and see results. You can see my latest graphic design projects on my Facebook page or visit my website www.eileenmckenna.com.

 


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The town pool opens today!

purplecapswimmer
I’m looking forward to our local pool opening and swim team practice starting. Practice is early morning before the pool is open to the public. It’s pretty quiet while the kids are practicing. I usually sit and read. I’m a little shy about painting in front of others, but it would be the perfect time to sit and paint, with inspiration all around! So, you may be seeing less flowers and more blue in the coming weeks!

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Watercolor Swimming Pool

swimminglanesfinal
It feels really good to finish something that I have wanted to do for a long time – paint a pool. I have loved pools since I was a little kid, especially outdoor pools. I grew up in a beach town (I know poor me) and our local pool was an indoor pool. I was a swimmer and occasionally during the Summer we would go to a swim meet at an outdoor pool. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

My kids are lucky enough, during the Summer, to have practice and all their swim meets at outdoor pools. Our pool even has a high dive. Spoiled kids! During the Summer, while I watch my kids practice I always think about painting the pool and the swimmers. I’ve taken pictures, started, sketched, but I always struggle early on and never finish.

Last Saturday we were at a Championship swim meet at an indoor pool and I was sitting high up in the bleachers. I took this photo. I thought it was so cool how the pool was crowded with swimmers warming up. I posted it on Instagram and wrote “I’d love to paint this!”
poolphoto

Yesterday I gave it a try. I realized that if I did the bodies first and painted the blue over parts of the body, that part would look like it was underneath the water.
swimbodies  bodies2

In this first version I didn’t like that you couldn’t see one of the lane lines (the kids are sitting on it in the photo). The lanes were also uneven. And once I added the ink, I didn’t like it at all.
version1

I decided to try again. I see my willingness to “try again” as growth as an artist. I used to sit down and expect to get it right the first time. Can you imagine if a photographer only took one photo! I now know that I need to warm up, try things out, not get discourage, and keep working and trying.

I purposely kept things simple without a lot of detail. Both my sons liked my first attempt better! But I like the second one. I’m hoping to do more of these, now that I finally got started!
lanelinespool-2