Looking back, moving forward.

Hi, friends.

Deep breath…

I’ve been staring at this screen for about fifteen minutes and despite thinking about all of this basically nonstop for the last three weeks, I still don’t know where to start. I have so much to say and so much I don’t wan’t to say — a lot that people may want to hear and probably more that most don’t.

I’m still looking for a word to describe 2020. Surreal keeps coming to mind. Bizarre, unbelievable, difficult, eye opening. I guess there are many. I thought the last three months were crazy, but the last four weeks have been insane – both in my little piece of the world and everywhere else. A couple days before the horrific murder of George Floyd, we were hit with a devastating hail storm that destroyed a lot of work we’ve done on our property. The year had already been challenging with the pandemic and the hail storm kind of put me over the edge. I was in a deep funk that I was trying hard to break while we were also working extra hard to clean up and start over with many things, all while racing against the clock and preparing for my husband to leave. Then the news of Floyd’s murder came out and the world exploded, and here’s where I’m going to get brutally honest with all of you. I appreciate opinions, healthy debates, and CONVERSATIONS, and am completely open to all those things, but I ask two things – for everyone to be kind and respectful, and for anyone who wants to agree or disagree with anything I’m going to say, to read ALL OF IT before jumping to judgements.

It feels very strange for me to have to publicly say that I stand against racism or else people will be wondering if I actually do. I KNOW that racism exists, but why should anyone be assuming someone is a racist or that they agree with police brutality simply because they are not posting a black square, or the like, on social media? I believe the best we can do in a virtual world of friendships is to judge people on their actions and not their lack of them. I’ve been silent, letting other voices be heard, and also watching the fighting, bullying, threats and shaming that have been occurring on social media. Many disagree with those descriptors, but I feel they are completely accurate. I have seen some of the most disgusting behavior I have witnessed in a long time from people I respected, all in the name of equality. It sure doesn’t feel like equality. To try and destroy and publicly shame a person or a small business for not posting about Black Lives Matter or not publicly saying that they stand against racism is just bananas to me, for SO MANY reasons.

Despite someone using social media as a platform for their business, a person can still be very private or uncomfortable sharing their personal lives and opinions. Everyone is very sensitive, especially in our current climate, and some people prefer to keep this aspect of their lives separate from their business for fear of taking the wrong step and never recovering or simply because they don’t want to. Sometimes they have very important reasons to remain silent, like perhaps their partner or a family member is in a a job or industry where they have to, maybe even themselves. We are seeing people losing jobs for things their spouse has said, and that is just one indication of what a crazy time we are living in. These things may seem foreign or minute, but why are we judging and making assumptions? We all know how that saying about assumptions goes…

But, MORE IMPORTANTLY, horrible injustices happen EVERY SINGLE DAY in this world and the majority of people, especially in our amazing community, all believe they are horrible injustices. I want to scream “OF COURSE I stand against racism”, but you know what else I stand against that I haven’t had to scream about? The rape of children, the beating and murder of domestic partners, the torture of animals – the list goes on and on. I am not going to argue with anyone about what injustice or crime in this world is more horrible than another. Does anyone sit around wondering how I feel about children who are kidnapped every day and put into sex trafficking because I’m not talking about it? I am certain that someone will have an argument as to why one injustice is more worthy of setting the world on fire than another, but it’s not going to change my mind about trying to rank them. We can argue stats and facts and numbers until we’re blue in the face, but not many seem to care.

I have no problem saying that I stand against racial injustice and that black lives matter, and I have no problem saying that Blue lives matter and that ALL LIVES MATTER even though these have become taboo, but if I choose to not publicly denounce ALL THE THINGS I stand against every day and instead to just run a business — or even simply share a passion — why should I be punished for this? And yes, telling people to not support a business or saying horrible things about them across social media is punishment and it is bullying. If you NEED to know where a business stands on this in order to support them, why did you not care before? Why do you not care about any other issue in this world? If you are uncomfortable with a lack of a stance, you are as free to spend your money elsewhere as that business is to not share their stance. Neither behavior justifies moral outrage and belittlement.

Does anyone feel like free speech is very situational for a lot of people these days? Like… you are free to say whatever you want – unless you don’t agree with me. We are currently lab rats in a huge experiment on what social media will do to a society, and I don’t think it’s going to be good in the long run. We live in a world where speech is violence and silence is violence and communication is performative, when what we really need is conversation. While a lot of people think they are starting and encouraging conversations, they are simply starting dialogs and commentaries where there is no room for the other side without shaming and labels. Much of what I say may be disqualified because of my skin color, but there are many people of all colors who say the same things and it shouldn’t matter where they come from. A person’s skin color or life experience simply CANNOT matter for this discussion. Whoever has the most moral wokeness cannot matter. We have to break the spell that the politics of identity has cast over this world. I’m not arguing that the sum of one’s life experiences doesn’t affect who they are and how they see the world, I’m simply saying we need to stop saying that it matters in what you’re “allowed” to say or believe.

Since many people will argue that my skin color and my life experiences DO matter for what I have to say, I will share all that with you. I am white. I have blue eyes and light hair. My skin practically glows in the dark sometimes. I do not believe that ANY white privilege has gotten me to where I am. This doesn’t mean that white privilege exists or doesn’t exist and I’m not going to discuss that today, but I am going to argue that it is not universal, and that racism isn’t just white on black, and that blacks and other minorities can even have MORE privilege than whites. We need to stop classifying entire races or groups of people under one umbrella and let EACH INDIVIDUAL’S experiences and privileges, or lack there of, lead the narrative.

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, which was and is a very diverse place. I spent my childhood in a small, low to middle class eastern suburb bordering some less than ideal areas of Cleveland proper. The racial makeup of the city was close to evenly divided between blacks and whites and the city had a significantly higher crime rate than others in the state and only continued to grow as I got older. After three break ins and the house next door getting shot up in drug related drive by, it was finally time to go. I grew up with no siblings and two very hard working parents. My parents got married after my mother became pregnant and there’s no way to say if they would have had it not been for me, but they made the choice to do so for the benefit and betterment of my life. I spent a lot of time alone while they worked and I grew up quickly because I had to. I learned how to cook and clean and take care of myself and the house. I started working at age 14 and haven’t stopped since. My parents didn’t earn their jobs because they were white, they competed with, lost jobs to, and worked with people of all colors their entire life, as did I. My mother worked in a predominantly black area for most of my childhood. I had no advantage in school. Many could argue I had a disadvantage simply because of where I lived. I worked hard to earn good grades and my family and I worked hard to pay for my college. I worked hard to start my own business and make it successful in a virtual world where people can’t even see the color of my skin. I married a hard working, responsible man and we made smart decisions through our life. He did not earn his job because of his skin color, he joined the military where everyone is welcome. I’m sure some will argue that, but of all the bases we’ve been across this country I’ve yet to see one that isn’t color balanced.

Race and ethnicity was not a thing when I was growing up. I knew nothing but diversity. My parents had black friends and I went to school with about as many black kids as whites. I had friends of all colors, I had black and white teachers and it’s just what I thought the world was. As I got older, I saw disparities, some good and some bad. I experienced white on black racism AND black on white racism. As I became an adult I saw even more divides – black on black, white on white, jew on gentile, gentile on jew, Italian on Polish, the list goes on. It was everywhere, and in a place like Cleveland, it was evenly divided.

My point to all of that is not to try and prove that I’m not racist or that racism doesn’t exist in many places, it’s to say that I am where I am not because of my skin color or any privilege associated with it, but because of the choices my parents made and the choices I made and the hard work we put in. I saw blacks and whites who had a disadvantage starting out because of their family dynamics, not because of their skin color. I saw blacks and whites make all the wrong choices and I saw all the consequences of those play out. I also saw blacks ands whites make all the right decisions and I can point to their amazing successes still today. I made some bad choices along the way, too, and my life could have easily gone in a very different direction. I did a lot of drugs, I spent a lot of time with a lot of the wrong people. But those things were outweighed by the work ethic and responsibilities engrained in me by my parents, and shown to me through their example, for my entire life.

So back to the matter at hand – do I believe change needs to be made to end racism and police brutality? Yes. I believe that very few people disagree with that. What we do disagree on is what the path forward looks like and how we go about making this change happen.

Is a BIPOC business more deserving of your support or promotion than mine? Did they have to work harder to get where they are? Perhaps, but perhaps not. Should I lose business because supporting them alone will change the world? Some may say yes, but I disagree. However, it’s still a CHOICE. You can choose to spend your money wherever you like and demanding that someone make the same choice as you, or shunning them because they don’t, helps no one.

Will giving millions of dollars to Black Lives Matter change the world? Some will say yes, but I disagree. Will defunding the police and paying reparations make any changes to racism or crime in the world? I don’t think so. I believe it will actually make things worse. There is a difference between slogans and reality and there is a difference between the branding of a movement and their actual aim. You can believe that black lives matter without believing in Black Lives Matter.

Will donating to charities that actually uplift and empower black Americans through mentorship programs, food banks, public-health facilities, violence-prevention programs, educational initiatives and job training change the world? To that I say definitely.

Will pouring more money into failing schools help better educate children or will school choice help to better advance those in low income neighborhoods? We could debate these things all day, and they are important debates, but they should be not fights and we can’t continue to let them be. They need to be conversations. We need to see that the VAST majority of us are fighting for and wanting the same things, and we don’t want those things any less because we need to continue with our lives and our businesses. We shouldn’t have to make disclaimers about returning to business as usual and we shouldn’t fear public shaming for doing so. We shouldn’t judge each others wokeness by what we are or are NOT posting on instagram or how much we talk about the work we’re doing everyday. Let’s focus less on shaming and judging others or seeking out their virtues and more on actual work and progress.

If you’ve made it this far, I want to thank you for caring enough to stick with me whether you agree or disagree. I invite you to share your thoughts or opinions if you choose, publicly in the comments or privately via email, text, etc. There is SO much more to say – about racism, about police (another day), about social media. All I hope for now is that you respect my thoughts no matter how you feel and continue to follow my creative passions if you appreciate them, because that’s why I am here.

On a final note, I want to share a little collaboration and a donation opportunity. Through August, I will be donating the profits from my Love Story Pattern sales to the Woodson Center whose goal is to transform lives, schools, and troubled neighborhoods from the inside out. You can find the pattern here. I’ve also teamed up with Stash Fabrics to help promote their Stash Gives Back initiative. Above you can see my Love Story pattern mocked up in their Imagine Equality fabric bundle. The bundle includes a free copy of my pattern and all proceeds from the bundle sale go to the Equal Justice Initiative. You can find the bundle here.

Stay well, friends.

Say Hello to Jett!

Say hello to Jett! She’s the long lost sister of Lita, Siouxsie, & Viv, the Moth Charm Blocks. Everyone knows a Jett – always last to show up and last to leave, but no party is complete without her!

Whenever I design a new pattern, or especially a set of patterns, I have a lot of ideas that don’t always come to fruition. I originally decided to stick with three moth charm blocks since I had three butterfly charm blocks, but I stumbled upon Jett last week and realized she was just too cute not to share.

Though she’s technically a moth, she can also be a butterfly. There are tons of ways to customize this pattern and I’ll have more samples – along with the specifics on how I modified the pattern – soon. Below are a few examples I’ve been playing with. Can you recognize what real life counterpart their mimicking?

In the meantime, you can download Jett and her sisters here, and find all my free patterns here. I hope you enjoy! Please remember to tag me on social media @lillyellastitchery and use the hashtags on the patterns so I can see all of your creations. I love getting emails, too!

Happy Stitching!
~ nicole

The Best & the Worst of Quarantine Life

A few days ago, I asked my Instagram friends for the best and the worst parts of quarantine life. I decided to spend a somewhat crazy amount of time typing up some of your answers here for a couple reasons… first, they’re awesome. They’re real and they’re heartfelt and they’re funny and they’re sad, but they’re REAL, and we don’t get that enough from social. Second, to let you know YOU’RE NOT ALONE. No matter what you’re feeling or doing or not doing, many other people are feeling and doing and not doing the exact same thing. Be proud of what you can accomplish now, even if that is managing to brush your teeth twice a day, and do not beat yourself up over one single thing you aren’t accomplishing.

Can you guess what people miss most right now? HUGS! It’s surprising, but also not surprising. Perhaps one of those things I take for granted. The physical connection and feeling that you get from it that you don’t even realize the importance of in day to day life.

You know what else was common across the board – EVERYONE is tired of cooking and also confused on how there can possibly be SO. MANY. DISHES. ALL. DAY. LONG. Where are they coming from? And how does cooking one more full meal per day (lunch) create SO much more work?

Many people are feeling alone while many people are missing their usual alone time. Some people have more freedom to do things they love and some people have less. Some people HAVE to work and wish they didn’t while others can’t work and wish they could. Most people are one loud breath away from strangling their significant other or putting their children up for adoption while others are so thankful to have all their kids back home. Many people are thrilled to go braless and without makeup for the longest stretch ever and some people miss the routine of getting clean and dressed everyday.

Something else I found interesting was how many people are feeling an insanely relieving lack of pressure – not having to attend social engagements, not having to feel like you must go out to have fun, not having to feel guilty staying home and sewing. Many are also enjoying the slower pace. I truly hope that we remember all the “lessons” that are coming out of this and perhaps change our perspective on how we live and spend our time, but that’s a post for another day 🙂

Now I’m going to share some of your specific answers, starting with the worst parts and ending on a high note with the best. There were a lot of the same answers like the things mentioned above, so this isn’t all, but a handful! I hope you enjoy, and feel less alone.

The Worst parts of Quarantine Life

No money coming in

I miss restaurants and date night

Anxiety over it all

Staying home with my kid all day

Can’t find toilet paper!

My son not being able to see his friends

It feels unsafe, I take boiling showers and I don’t feel clean enough

I’m not quarantined, I still have to work. I want to say home and SEW

What to eat?!

Having to really stop and think before I walk out the door to run to the grocery store

Trying not to strangle my husband

Being scared to go to the store and having to wash everything

I can’t stop eating

Being in a different state than my 20 year old kids

Virtual hugs. They suck. I miss real ones.

A lot less alone time.

Knowing that everything is closed. Kind of a national mood of fear and sadness

Trying to get groceries safely

Too many people in my house

Homeschooling (insert crazy face emoji)

Cant hug my friends

Having all my kids home, including college aged

Being scared for my Dad

Cant see and hug my grandkids

The uncertainty

I miss my nieces and nephews!

Not being able to spend time with friends.

Not getting to hug my mom.

Im busier than ever

Being stuck at home with the kiddos 24/7

Nowhere to cry alone

Being alone

Not getting to eat out, missing local restaurants

Being an essential worker and not getting time to sew like my friends

Being alone 24/7

Not being able to hug family and friends

Fear of how the virus will affect us all

Not being able to buy the sh*t I want, like toilet paper

Impending dread of we are so not at the worst of this

extra dishes to wash

Not seeing family and friends

Grocery shopping

Unable to visit family

cant shop for fabric in persdon

My husband still has to go to work

Not hugging my adult children

Having to cook every night


Having to feed everyone three meals a day. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

No hugs from friends

Being afraid to go anywhere


I wish my kids would be quiet and entertain themselves

Not going to the gym

too much husband

hmm, depends on the day

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Lots of sewing time!

Staying home with my kid all day

Zero pressure to attend social engagements

Spending everyday in the garden

Not feeling guilty for staying home and sewing

Seeing people come together

No appointments to drive to

Family is together and healthy

Being with my family

Relaxing. doing art, sleeping enough. Never thought I’d ever have a “break” again

My husband did walk with my yesterday!

Getting to spend family time at home without the pressure of feeling you should go out

Sewing, sewing, and more sewing!

Getting things done that I’ve put off for too long

Actually not strangling my husband!

Doing whatever I want

The kids and husband are home to help me garden

The slow pace of the day

More quilting time

All the awesome things people are doing online to entertain us

Sleeping in

Having someone to binge watch late night Netflix with when I can sleep since hours are flexible

Doing quiet things just for fun: family time, embroidery, reading, baking

I can go for says without washing my hair!

Nesting, cooking, sewing, painting!

no commute!

cooking more and enjoying it

Having all my kids home

Connecting to family

My house is SO CLEAN!

Getting stuff done

Being stuck at home with the kids

Working from home and spending all day with my dog

More sewing time!

No traffic

That I have enough and am OK and my friends and family are too

No need to make excuses for being reclusive

Already getting a tan

Still working

No bra for weeks on end!

Making the most of my time off work with my children

Sitting on the deck for hours

Chillin at the lake every weekend with my kids

Having my traveling husband home

no makeup!

More crafting time

Realizing how very insane my 4 kids are and seeing how very much they love each other

Having almost everything I need to stay put

Getting all the things done

I have an excuse to get groceries WITHOUT three kids!

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Stay safe and healthy, don’t forget to brush your teeth and change your clothes … occasionally!

An Apology From Fox Chapel Publishing

You can read my original post about the Fox Chapel situation here and the previous update here.

I spoke with Fox Chapel President and COO, David Miller, at his request this morning. The company has issued a public statement and apology which you can read here (I’ll also include it at the end of this post).

I want to thank you all so incredibly much for reaching out, sharing this story, letting it spread far and wide. I can’t even begin to tell you how overwhelmed and flooded with messages I have been, and Fox Chapel has been. Your collective voices were heard and it made a difference!

I was thankful that David reached out when I thought that this was over. I do believe that they understand the severity of the mistake that was made, and more importantly, the errors in how it was handled, and I truly believe that it will not happen again. I know it was a hard call for David to make and I could hear it in his voice. As I said before, everyone makes mistakes and we all fall short. It’s never too late to realize the error of your ways, to apologize, and to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes again. It’s how we learn and how we grow.

I’m disappointed that it all played out as it did and I hated having to be the one to cause such anguish for many people associated with this company, but it was extremely important that everyone know and understand this situation. I cannot stress enough how the passion and power of our community is what made all the difference here. It is so important for us to continue to support each other, to pay attention, to SLOW down on social media and see what’s going on, to read some blog posts, to share  stories, to educate and empower each other. We may feel small on our own at times, but together, we can do anything. Holy cow, am I cheesy or what? Am I writing motivational posters now? It’s true though, right? Or is it just my period hormones?

Regardless, I’m not forgetting this and I’m not done helping others and trying to prevent it from happening again, but I am ready to redirect my energy into new and positive creative pursuits! Thank you again, friends, from the bottom of my crafty little heart.

~ Nicole

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On behalf of Fox Chapel Publishing, I felt it important to address an issue with 101 Quilting Tips & Tricks Pocket Guide. We read your comments on social media over the past few days. We hear you and we apologize to Nicole Young, Penny Haren, and the crafting community.We completely honor that we made a mistake and did not fix it quick enough. We will do better next time. We are always looking to be a better company and be better people.

I’d like to offer an explanation of what happened and assure the community that we are working toward a solution.

Fox Chapel made an error by placing an image on the cover of 101 Quilting Tips & Tricks Pocket Guide that was not approved by the artist of the image. The image was used internally very early in the concept stage for internal mock-up purposes, and it was never meant to be published on the printed pieces and it irresponsibly slipped by us.

No question, this was an unacceptable and embarrassing mistake by Fox. My continued apologies to Nicole Young for this error and the author Penny Haren. I’d also like to apologize that our initial resolution to Ms. Young was not ideal. We respect her and are working toward a better solution.

We feel it’s very important to understand that the author, Penny Haren, had no awareness that the image did not have the appropriate approvals. As the publisher, it is our responsibility to obtain all permissions for use of images not supplied by the author. We failed to do so in this case. Our sincerest apologies to Penny, as well as many other authors who have received negative messages from people on social media as a result of this mistake.

Moving forward, we will ensure this does not happen again. From mock-ups to line editing, to design and production, our team will make certain that the photographs used in our books are fairly acquired and credited. We are working, step by step, to do the right thing in this situation and have learned a lot through the process.

At Fox Chapel Publishing, we have a great passion for what we do and truly admire and respect our authors, artists, and customers. We are working hard to regain your trust, and I want to thank you for voicing your concerns and helping us do better.

With utmost respect,
David Miller, President, COO

The Resolution

Here’s a final update to my situation with Fox Chapel Publishing. You can read the full story first here.

The Fox Chapel COO wrote me this morning stating they will be reprinting 101 Quilting Tips and Tricks with a new cover. The end. No further apology, no new compensation offer, no old compensation offer, nothing about all the books already sold and currently distributed around the world – not that I was expecting any of those things. They will let the author solely pay for the mistake and they will move on to try and continue profiting from the work (read about my conversation with the author, Penny, here).

This part is important – this means they will scrap all the existing stock they have left and print a new book. I will say with a high amount of certainty that this will cost them far more than what they offered me.

And instead of stepping up, making amends, making me a new offer that would still cost them less than the route they chose, they will pay more and waste a great deal of material and resources to make a point of not letting us win in all of this.

This is what they decided was the best way to handle this situation and it speaks volumes. I personally just can’t agree that they care about the artists they claim to respect or about the customers who purchase their books.

I also want to point out that this is not them honoring the fact that I do not want my image on the cover of this book, because they are not offering to recall the stock currently distributed around the world. This is not righting their wrong in any way or this message would have come with another apology at the very least, or a different compensation offer for the stock already distributed.

I want to share one more thing before I go. If you missed it on social media, I discovered some very intentional photoshop work a couple days ago that I missed initially. Remember, Fox Chapel stated that my image was pulled for an internal initial mockup and never changed out before printing, an accident. It’s very clear that the background of the image was edited to look like a window, which I can almost explain away to a mockup, however, someone took the time to edit out only the cotton + steel logo on one fabric selvedge. I know it’s a bit blurry in that top photo, but click to enlarge and you’ll see. What would be the purpose of doing this solely for a mockup?

I appreciate the many offers to crowd source funds to continue pursuing this. I know this type of behavior has to stop, but I can’t fight it. I simply don’t have the time, energy or resources and frankly I prefer to pour my heart into creating new and awesome things and I would much rather we all spend our hard earned pennies on copyrights to protect out work.

But, rest assured, I am not done with this, and I hope you aren’t either. I will continue to share my story in articles, podcasts, and any way I can. If you do the same and we don’t let these things be forgotten, it will make a difference. I think we’ve all seen the power of our community.  I will also do another blog post soon with more specifics on how these things happen and how we can continue to protect ourselves.

In the meantime, you can continue to share your feelings and opinions with Fox Chapel and decide if they are a company you want to support. Thank you so much, friends!

An update regarding the book author

Hey, friends! I have a quick update to share with you all about my image theft sitatuon that you can read about here.

First, I have not heard from Fox Chapel and do not expect to, but your messages to them and posts about the situation are SO immensely helpful so please keep that up!

Second, I just had a great conversation on the phone with the book author, Penny Haren. She was sincere in her apology and about her disgust with the situation and I felt very good about our discussion. I do believe everything she told me about not knowing the source of the cover image or even paying attention to it. That being said, was this irresponsible on her part? Yes, and she admits this. She reached out to Fox Chapel months ago for them to take care of the situation and assumed they did. Should she have contacted me anyway? Yes. Should she have followed up to make sure it was resolved? Yes. But, as my daily #spiritualAF message said a few days ago, “Thou shalt not judge, because thou has f*$%ed up before, too”.

We all make mistakes, we all let things slide, we all fall short, and we all need a little grace at times. The important thing is that Penny was able apologize and do what she can to make it right and is offering to transfer all her book royalties to me. We both agree that this changes nothing about the way Fox Chapel is handling this and wish we could do more (she is no longer with them, BTW). Also, if Fox Chapel lets this happen instead of owning it themselves, how much deeper can they dog their hole?!

Penny sounds like a hard working woman who has done a lot of great things for the industry. I feel that this unfortunately sourced new relationship is one that may be a good thing moving forward. All along I have felt that something else was going to come of this, because of this, and I think that something else will be many, many things. New friends, new relationships, lessons learned, helping others prevent this, perhaps saving myself from a bigger theft later, new doors opening.

The best think we can ALWAYS do is find the beauty in the broken. More soon, I really need a shower :)!

Bad business, a cautionary tale or a sad reality? You decide.

Today I have an unfortunate story to share with you. It’s one that happens too often and many times without fair resolve. And frankly, it’s bullshit. I’m sharing this story now because I was not able to come to a fair agreement with the party involved and have exhausted the options I’m willing to pursue. My hope in sharing this is that you can be a more educated consumer and also to help prevent this same thing from happening to you or someone you know.

Here are the facts and nothing but the facts. I’ll let you make up your own mind on what’s “right”, “wrong” or “fair”, but I’d love to hear your thoughts here and on social media.

A couple months back, a friend sent me a link to the book above, 101 Quilting Tips and Tricks by Penny Haren published by Laundauer/Fox Chapel Publishing. Yes, that’s MY photo of MY Undercover Maker Mat pattern on the COVER, and no, they did not ask for my permission to use it.

I tried to contact the author via several platforms with no response and also promptly called the publisher, Laundauer, who is now under Fox Chapel Publishing. No one could help me aside from giving me an email address, so I wrote and waited, and waited. I finally received a response from the COO of Fox Chapel. He explained that my image was pulled from Pinterest to use on an internal mockup and was never changed out. He offered to replace the image on a potential second printing in approximately one year and offered me an insulting amount of money, $200. At the time of writing this, I have not heard from the author, though I do know she is aware of the situation. Perhaps she was advised not to contact me, but I will say if this was my book, I would be sending a hefty apology regardless of what actually happened internally.

Now, I have to interject a few things before we continue. First, I have worked as a graphic designer for over 20 years. I have worked on extremely large projects with large clients (The Cleveland Indians, for example), I have worked on books, I have been IN books, I know how every step of the process works. I cannot say that the scenario Fox Chapel explained isn’t true, but it’s just hard for me to believe (and really, what “nationally know speaker, columnist, consultant and author” uses someone else’s image on the cover of their book without even know where it came from?). Second, I have been paid more to use my image with full credit inside of a book, so you can see how ridiculous the offer from Fox Chapel was.

I’m updating this post here by adding in that word ridiculous is simply MY OPINION and the opinion of those I consulted with. Everyone’s idea of FAIR compensation is different, and we’re all entitled to our opinions. If Fox Chapel believes that what they are offering is fair, then that is their opinion and we are all free to decide how we feel about it I clearly disagree and am sharing the facts here for you to decide if you agree.

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Honestly, I felt like I was being treated like some naive girl with a sewing machine and and a smart phone rather than a mature woman and artist who was worked her ass off to build a business for herself.

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Not only was the book being sold numerous places online and distributed through major distributors to shops across the world, but the book cover was (and still is at the time of writing this) being used as a marketing tool for the company on two Facebook banners, on their catalog, etc – despite requests to remove it. I guess I should take this as flattery?

I consulted with an invaluable colleague in the industry and worked out a VERY fair contract I know there is not much money in publishing)  to which Fox Chapel declined and offered me slightly more than the first offer (a little more than double), continually pointing out that they admitted their mistake, that sales for the book were slow and limited (I really don’t call all those sales venues shown above LIMITED, and that’s not all of them), and that they’ve made internal changes to prevent this. All fine and dandy, but also irrelevant to the situation at hand.

This is not simply an issue of an image being used without permission. I want to explain the many ways a situation like this can negatively and financially affect a small business owner and artist like myself, and maybe like you. Having this book in the marketplace hinders my ability to contract this image for other uses or even use it on a cover of MY OWN BOOK someday. It has the potential to cause confusion in the marketplace in many ways. People could come to associate the image with the author rather than myself. The book cover or image could begin to link to the book rather than myself on social media sites such as Pinterest, directly taking traffic and pattern sales away from me. Fox Chapel disagreed that either of these points were possible or relevant which BLOWS MY MIND. There are many other factors also, such as people who buy the book assuming the cover pattern is included, only to be disappointed that it’s not. I could go on and on.

I have received many messages from friends, colleagues and  shop owners across the country who have seen or stock the book, recognizing my image and seeing I was not credited. Regardless, what I was asking for in compensation was very fair for the image use on a book cover, the points mentioned above, and my time in dealing with the matter, but their second offer was the best they could do. I declined this compensation and am instead sharing this story with you.

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As a friend so perfectly put it, it feels like they’re leaving the money on the nightstand as they walk out.

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Now, I don’t know how large Fox Chapel is. I’m all for capitalism, I don’t despise big business or corporations, and I don’t believe that the size of a company always relates to their actions, so I’m not going to say that this is what you get from big business or anything like that. This situation is simply a reflection of the morals and ethics of those in charge at Fox Chapel and they’re clearly not in line with what I believe. As an author, I would be embarrassed to be associated with this company. As a consumer, I would not choose to give them my money. Does sharing this story and the book image ultimately give them exposure and marketing? Perhaps. I considered blurring out the title, but I think that seeing it all is more helpful in sharing this story. If someone sees this and decides they want the book, that’s on them.

So the big question… how can we, as artists, prevent this?

One simple, yet not foolproof, way to help prevent image theft is to watermark all of your images. Will I do that moving forward? Probably not. I don’t like the way it looks or the time it takes. I don’t think that should mean I’m left vulnerable to this happening again, but sadly it does. Also, a watermark is not a guarantee with how easy it can be to photoshopped out sometimes.

The only legal way to protect your work is to register it with the US Copyright Office which is expensive ($55 per work) and time consuming. Many of you may be thinking “but don’t we automatically have ownership of all our images?”, short answer, yes, but not what it comes to fighting a situation like this in a legal manner.

I consulted with an intellectual property lawyer who was very helpful. Technically you COULD get a lawyer involved in a situation like this without having a registered copyright, but the costs to do so would far outweigh any monetary reward, and sadly, I am not independently wealthy. In the US, all parties pay their own court costs UNLESS it is a statutory situation, such as an official copyright, that has a different legal standing in court, comes with a minimum reward amount and requires the offending party to pay your court costs. I have already started the copyright process with my most popular images and all of my pattern content to help protect myself moving forward. It’s unrealistic to be able to do this for every photo I post on Instagram or share on Pinterest, but I’ll just have to pick and choose as I move forward.

I wish I could continue to fight this, even at a loss to myself, simply out of principal, but I believe Fox Chapel is well aware of all this and taking advantage of that situation. Perhaps that’s the saddest part of this story. It shows me they simply do not care despite all the claims by the COO of respecting me as a talented artist.

In closing, I think we see that this story is all the things I questioned in the title – bad business, a cautionary tale and a sad reality. While this situation is so incredibly frustrating and angering, I do have some satisfaction in sharing with you. I know I can’t RUIN Fox Chapel, but I hope they feel some impact from all of this. Even if it is simply fielding a hundred emails about their poor business practices and maybe losing some book sales.

I would really love to hear what you think in the comments below and especially on social media. I want Fox Chapel to know how their customer base and distributors feel about this type of behavior. You can find me on Instagram here and on Facebook here, and you can find Fox Chapel on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and via email here.

You can find an update after hearing from the author here, and the “resolution” to this case here.

Thanks, friends!
~ nicole

Hair Scrunchie How-To

Im *SO* glad that scrunchies are back in style, because I’ve never stopped wearing them since the mid 80s and there was a point in time when I was a little embarrassed about it. And even though “kids these days” would likely still make fun of me for actually using them in my hair and not just wearing them on my wrist, I’m way beyond caring :P!

Scrunchies are fun, easy and quick to make! They’re perfect for gifts this time of year and are a great scrap busting project. There are one hundred and one tutorials out there already, but I wanted to share the measurements and techniques that worked for me after some trial and error. All you need is some fabric (of any kind!), 3/8″ elastic (you can also use 1/4″, but more about this later), a safety pin, some thread and a sewing machine. Heck, you could even sew them by hand if you wanted to.

I mentioned that this project is great for scraps and I’ll get into specific measurements in a minute, but Fat quarters are also a great size, as well as Jelly Roll strips. But one thing that worked perfect from me was this… have you ever ordered from Stash Fabrics? They wrap your order in fabric remnant strips, which are totally adorable, but also PERFECT for making scrunchies!

Shown above is my latest order, as well as some wraps I had saved in my scrap bin from previous orders. Aside from these I pulled some random bits I had, as well as the Alison Glass Mariner Cloth I had from my last Undercover Maker Mat. I thought it would be just right for some FANCY scrunchies and they are my favorite of the bunch!

Ok, let’s get on to the How-To…

You will need one strip of fabric for each scrunchie. You will see a wide variety of measurements out there, but I found that a width between 2.5″ and 4″ (3″ is my ideal size) and a length of 20″ – 23″ works great for the look and feel that I want. Most of my fabric is from fat quarters or WOF cut in half, so the majority of mine average about 22″. A thinner strip (2.5″) will yield a less “poofy” scrunchie, while a wider strip will make it bulkier. You can go thinner or wider with your strip and can do some experimenting to find your own preference.

Begin by pressing one short end of your strip about 1/2″ wrong sides together.

Next, fold your strip in half along the longest dimension, right sides together, and sew the open edge with an approximate 1/4″ seam. Back stitch at the beginning and end to hold your seam while turning.

Your tube will now look like this. The next step is to turn your tube right side out. There are many tools and methods for doing this. I prefer to use a safety pin which I will detail below.

Secure the pin through one layer of fabric on either end. Turn the pin and end of your tube to the inside and begin working it down.

Continue pushing the pin through, scrunching and pulling the fabric as you go, until your tube is right side out. Remove the pin.

I prefer to use 3/8″ elastic in my scrunchies vs 1/4″ because I find it has more stretch, but also holds tighter. This is definitely a personal preference that will be dependent on your hair thickness and how you like to wear your scrunchies, so you can experiment. I have fairly thick hair and wrap my scrunchies twice around a pony tail or knot. I cut my elastic 7.5″ long. This holds tight and secure, but not to the point of discomfort.

Next you will feed the elastic through your fabric tube. You will once again use your safety pin.

Be sure to hold one end as you feed it through so that you can see the elastic on both open ends of your tube.

Overlap the ends of your elastic approximately 1″ and pin to hold in place.

Secure the elastic by sewing several times back and forth in the middle of your overlap. I keep my pin in place to help prevent shifting when placing under my presser foot, but remove before sewing.

You can also knot your elastic, but I prefer the smoother finish of sewing. If you choose to knot your elastic, you will need to cut your piece longer to account for this.

To finish your scrunchie, tuck the raw edge into the folded edge and sew a single seam close to the folded edge, backstitching at the beginning and end. You will sew through the elastic inside and it will be a little thicker in this spot, so just make sure your tension looks good.

If you prefer, you can sew this opening closed by hand with a slip stitch around also, but I find using the machine is quick, secure, and you can’t see it in the ruffles of the scrunchie anyway.

Voila, you’re done! Now you can have a scrunchie for every day of the week, to match every outfit, and to give to anyone you come across with hair, because once you start making them, trust me you won’t want to stop!

I found that an assembly line method worked really well for making these. I cut all my strips, pressed the ends, sewed the tubes, then while binging some Mrs. Maisel on the couch one night, I turned all the tubes, cut the elastic, fed it through and pinned it, then finished the sewing all at once the next day.

Here are the ones I made using the Mariner Cloth. Aren’t they amazing? So soft, too!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial. Rock on, scrunchies!

Maker Mat SAL: Optional Thread Catcher

DSC_0490 edi

Hello, Hello! If you are just joining the sew-a-long, please scroll down a few posts to find the kickoff and all the tips shared in previous posts or scroll to the bottom of this post for direct links.

Some of you are just joining in and some are already finished with their projects. Today is my last post about the steps of the pattern, but there is still plenty of time to sew! I will officially be wrapping up the SAL at the end of this month and choosing winners for the awesome prizes up for grabs, but you don’t have to finish your mat to be eligible to win. You just have to post your progress photos with the hashtags #undercovermakermatSAL2019 and #undercovermakermat on Instagram or Facebook. Every post is an entry. If you’re joining in and don’t have any social media accounts, feel free to email me some pics (nicole at lillyella dot com)!

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Onto today’s business. You’re either a thread catcher kind of person, or you’re a throw-it-on-the-floor-and-sweep-it-up-later kind of person! So, this step is optional. The thread catcher is designed to hang from a button on the far right pocket, but it will also stand on it’s own and can sit on your work table. If you choose to have it stand alone, you may want to shorten the height of it a bit to make it easier to use.

As with all the elements of this pattern, there are endless ways to customize the thread catcher. You can use a single fabric embellished with trim and selvedges or you can create any sort of patchwork design you like. Piece in a single accent strip, make the bottom half a contrasting fabric or use another paper pieced block. Here are a few examples:



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Outside of this project, the thread catcher alone is handy for a variety of other uses! I often hang one somewhere on my machine while I’m sewing and I’m also working on a set that will hang from hooks on the wall behind my sewing machine to hold tools and notions. You could hang some in a bedroom or bathroom for jewelry, toiletries, hair accessories, etc! You can easily adjust the size by adding or subtracting equal amounts to all pieces.

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Remember to keep sharing your photos with the hashtags #undercovermakermatSAL2019 and #undercovermakermat!


Undercover Maker Mat Sew-a-long: All the details

PART ONE: Kickoff! Sizing your mat and tutorials for beginners

Sponsors and Prizes!

PART TWO: Adding a machine handle opening

PART THREE: Pocket Panel Tips & Tutorials

Maker Mat SAL: Pocket Panel Tips & Tutorials

Hello, Hello! If you are just joining the sew-a-long, please scroll down a few posts to find the kickoff and all the tips shared in previous posts or scroll to the bottom of this post for direct links.

So far we’ve worked on the main body of the mat and how to add a machine handle opening, and today I’m going to talk about the pocket panels. If you’re just getting started on your mat, don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time!

Before you begin your pocket panels remember that if you changed the size of your main body, you will need to also adjust the size of the pocket panels! You can do this by changing the size of one pocket or adjusting all the pockets equally. Don’t forget to think about seam allowances when calculating cutting sizes.

One thing to note about the pocket panels is that there are SO many ways you can customize this entire project, but especially this part. You can adjust the sizes, add more or less pockets, you can piece them all with any block you love or you can eve use one solid cut of fabric to make it really quick and easy. Be sure to check out the #undercovermakermat hashtag on social media to see tons of creative inspiration!


Above you can see just a few variations from mats that I’ve made in the past. The top left follows the pattern as written, which the bottom left follows the same sizing and layout, but uses full cuts of fabric (rather than piecing) with cute fussy cuts! On the right, there is a little mix of both. I substituted my Love Story pattern block for the butterfly and then used solid fabric cuts for the other pockets with some added lace trim details.

First I’m going to share some tutorials and tips on creating the accent pocket panels which are the paper pieced butterfly and the selvedge pockets, then I’ll cover a bit more details on piecing the panels and trim options.

All the information you need to create the accent pocket pieces is included in the pattern (including a link to a tutorial on making the butterfly for beginner paper piecers), but I will go into a bit more detail here and include some additional tips and photos, as well as design variation ideas.

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You can find the pattern for my Butterfly Charm Blocks here. All three butterfly designs are the same size and any can be used. The foundation paper piecing tutorial link included in the pattern is from Cassandra Madge and you can find it here. It was so sweet of her to use my pattern as the example for her tutorial!

Our methods of paper piecing are very similar, with just a few differences. I like to use the Add-A-Quarter Ruler, rather than a standard quilting ruler. It does the same job, but is just one of those tools that takes away some room for error. Another paper piecing tutorial I often direct people to is this video from Connecting Threads. You can see the Add-A-Quarter ruler being used.

paper piecing tips | lillyella stitchery

When I paper piece, especially small blocks, I like to use Foundation Paper. You can buy one from Carol Doaks or you can use any thin newsprint. Someone recently mentioned they found this pack from Dick Blick, and you can’t beat the price! I also apologize that I don’t remember who tagged me on that, please let me know if it was you! It is essentially just a thinner paper that creates less bulk and allows for easier removal. You can use any paper for paper piecing, but the thinner you can find, the easier it will make the process.

Another thing I ALWAYS do is to trace the pattern onto the back of the sheet. It does not have to be perfect because you will only be using it for reference, but it helps in a multitude of ways. I use a lightbox, but you can also use a window. Since this is the side where you will place your fabric, you can use these lines as a guide for cutting your fabric pieces. You can still use the printed side, but you have to work with your fabric upside down at that point, and I like to see the prints and placement.

After tracing and selecting fabrics, I also note my fabric selections or color accordingly on this side. Then I always know I’m placing the correct piece. These lines also help you as you sew to make sure a fabric cut will cover a segment. Place the fabric where you would for your next seam, but before sewing, hold the fabric approximately where your seam will be and fold the fabric over as you would when pressing it after sewing. You can then see if your piece is large enough to cover everything it needs to. You can then sew your seam with confidence, because unpicking a paper pieced seam is NO FUN!

Lastly, I find having these lines helps prevent you from missing a segment, which is something I see a lot in paper piecing. When you have the pattern lines on the side where you are placing fabric, you will notice if you’ve missed a piece. You still have to pay attention, but it’s definitely better than flying blind!

paper piecing tips | lillyella stitchery

In Cassandra’s tutorial, you will see her talking about adding some basting stitches to you sections to help when piecing them together. This is important and something I always do as well, however, I put my stitches in the seam allowance as you can see above in the left photo.

Another tip is that when trimming sections to the seam allowance after piecing, do not trim any sides that are on an outer edge (above right). This way you can trim your final block to size after it is completely pieced. It is not uncommon to lose a little bit in each seam, so this ensures you can have the correct sized block in the end, and also lets you trim the block to a slighty larger size, if desired.

After piecing sections, I always remove the paper from the seam allowance only before sewing sections together. This just helps with bulk and allows you to press a flatter seam before adding the next section. You can also see this in the above right photo.

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For those who are new to sewing or do not know what a selvedge is, it is the finished edge on a bolt of fabric. There are finished edges on both sides along the width of the fabric, but only one will contain printing and this is the side I use on this project. I cut my selvedges off with about one half inch to one inch or so of the fabric print included, just to make sure I always have enough extra to work with them. The directions on how to work with the selvedges to create the pockets are included in the pattern.


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Below are more variations from makes on Instagram to help inspire you!


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This pattern uses trims or ribbons for securing the secondary pockets and hiding the raw edges, and also for creating the side ties when using it as a machine cover. Below are some trims from my collection that I’ve found at Joanns, Hobby Lobby and even Walmart. Anything between 1/4″ to 3/8″ width is best. If it is too small then you will have trouble enclosing the raw edge of the pocket, any thicker and you cut into your pocket space. Trims that are more solid are best to hide the raw edges, but some lacier style trims can work ok, too.


If you don’t have any trims on hand, you can also use a thin bias binding strip instead. Start with a 1″ or 1.25″ cut strip, fold the raw edges into the center, then fold in half and press and use this as you would a piece of ribbon. You can also you another selvedge with the cut side pressed under. Lots of possibilities!


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Undercover Maker Mat | lillyella stitchery


I like the look of the binding on the pocket because I think it balances the piece nicely, but if you prefer, you can eliminate this step and instead attach the lining to the pocket panel just as you did on the small secondary pockets. Just lay your lining piece, RST, on top of your finished main pocket panel and sew across the top with a 1/4″ seam. Flip the lining to the back, press, and top stitch along the top edge. You can include the fusible fleece when you do this, add it after tucked up to the seam, or skip it all together and use some lightweight interfacing on one or both pieces instead.


Above are a couple examples I saw on the #undercovermakermat hashtag on instagram that demonstrate this variation. If you have any questions about doing this instead of the binding, just let me know and I’m happy to help!

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Once your full pocket panel is complete, you will baste it to your mat body and bind the entire piece as covered in the pattern. BE SURE TO ADD YOUR SIDE TIES BEFORE BINDING! If you do not plan to use your mat as a cover, you can leave them off. I did forget to add them once and just had to unpick a little bit of my binding and tuck them in, which was not hard to do, so it’s not the end of the world if you forget, or even decide to add them later!

tie double

Just as with trim used to secure the secondary pockets, you can instead use a binding strip for your side ties, or even additional selvedges. If using a binding strip, simply top stitch along the folded edge to close it up. You can tie knots on the ends or stitch them closed.



Stay tuned next week for one more post talking about the thread catcher before we wrap things up on October 28!


Undercover Maker Mat Sew-a-long: All the details

PART ONE: Kickoff! Sizing your mat and tutorials for beginners

Sponsors and Prizes!

PART TWO: Adding a machine handle opening