My new pattern Look Book!

Surtex is just around the corner — it’s only 16 days away, which is the blink of an eye when there’s much to be done. Last year, for my debut at Surtex, I did an online Look Book that got such an amazing response from people, that I simply had to do it again. It may seem as though I’ve gone look book crazy (I recently did one for my Grey Abbey fabric line with Cloud9) but hey, they just make sense! So, without further ado… my Surtex 2014 Look Book! Fake it till you make it, right?


Surtex first-timer tips!

So Surtex is just about 2 weeks away. I have butterflies just writing this — so exciting, so scary! I think back to last year when I was exhibiting for the first time and have to say that I’m a million times more chilled out about everything this year… once you have the experience, you know what to expect and it’s a lot less scary. So, I thought I would share a few last minute tips for new exhibitors! Things that would have comforted me last year had I known, things that could come in handy, and a little reassurance. For the record, I am by no means a pro at this, like the fabulous Surtex guru Tara Reed, who is responsible for holding my hand last year via her super-informative Surtex e-books — but I think the first time is the hardest time, and seeing that it still feels quite fresh, I thought this might help someone out there.

Print your forms!
Okay, this is important — make sure you bring documentation of everything related to the show (or if you have access to it on a mobile device, that’s fine too). Everything is probably going to go smoothly, but you just never know when something pops in and tries to mess with your flow, and you just want to make sure you’re prepared. The show is run by GLM/Surtex, but the facilities are outsourced to the Javits — so there is a little room for error. Example: last year, I ordered a tall table (vs. the shorter table) for my booth, but when I arrived there was a short table at my booth. I thought, no problem — I’ll just go find someone to replace it. But the Javits staff, while friendly, said their instructions showed I should have a short table. They said that they would swap it out for me, but that if I didn’t have a record showing I’d booked the tall table, I would be charged a labour fee which was something crazy, like $300 or something. A bunch of people ran into this situation and LUCKILY, I had printed the confirmation and hopefully everyone else had too. Basically what I’m saying is, it never hurts to cover your arse. If you ordered shelves or special furniture — bring the confirmation, and the placement form for where you’d asked for things to be installed. Your registration badge confirmation — bring it. Basically any confirmations you received — bring it with you!

3M is your friend
So many Surtex exhibitors *swear* by 3M command strips, and I am one of them. They are incredible. I used 5 small command strips per banner and they weren’t going anywhere. Plus, they’re easy to pull off at the end and leave no markings — something to keep in mind, because you are responsible for leaving the booth walls in the same condition as when you started.

Bring cleaning supplies!
You’ve probably already thought about this, but it’s a must! Last year I ordered shelves for my booth and they were in fine condition, but they were *filthy*. But they cleaned up just fine with some of those cleaning wipe thingies.

Last year I read that you couldn’t stand on the chairs to hang banners, as a safety concern. And a legit one at that. But coming from Canada on a plane, I was wondering how the heck I was going to manage bringing a stool or ladder with me — I am short, so a small foot stool wasn’t going to cut it for me. In the end, I left it at home and it all worked out just fine. Those chairs are sturdy… but please don’t quote me on this.

Streamlined snacks!
This was another great tip from Tara Reed. If you’re at your booth and starving, you don’t want to be pulling out a big dish of spaghetti from under your booth to sneak a bite when nobody is looking. I had a few friends helping me last year, letting me go for lunch breaks and things, which was extremely helpful so I didn’t really have to eat food at my booth. But sometimes after 5 hours of standing there, you’re going to need to shove something in your mouth. I had some easy-to-eat snacks under my table, like nuts, dried fruit, crackers, grapes, small easy-to-eat things. It’s like on Top Chef when they have to cater a gala and are told to prepare an amuse-bouche. If you must eat at your booth, you don’t want to be caught eating awkward food.

Be prepared with your terms
Try to go into the show with your terms figured out — do you sell artwork or only license? Are you willing to do flat-rate licensing agreements or are you strictly about royalties? What are you willing to budge on for the right client? Last year, I had a ton of people ask if I sold my artwork outright and I was so new to the game that I wanted to make everyone happy and just didn’t want to say ‘no’ to anyone. I still don’t, and I will always try and make it work if it’s someone that I want to work with — but if it’s not a good fit, it’s not a good fit. If you aren’t particularly interested in the product category or don’t see that working with a company will bring value to your business, don’t back down and sell artwork. You’ve gotta look out for yourself. Don’t compromise if you’re not going to be happy with the deal. Try and go in with a clear vision of what you’d like to do and do you best to stick to it. It’s good to think about this before the show so you’re not caught off guard!

Be right back
This might be obvious, but just in case you didn’t think of it (there are a million other things to think about). If you have to leave your booth to run to the washroom, and you don’t have anyone there helping you, at least leave a sign saying you’ll be back in 5 minutes. You don’t want to lose out on that dream client who stopped by at an inopportune time. I swear, last year, every time I left my booth some awesome client would stop by and I’d curse the timing of it all… so it can happen.

Happy hour!
I haven’t heard much about this but I think they do it every year — last year they had a happy hour thing after the show on Monday. Free drinks and the chance to chat with some other exhibitors. Also, there are usually some social events for Surtex exhibitors so keep your ears open in case there are. Last year I missed it but Monica Lee had hosted an event and lots of exhibitors went. A nice way to actually be able to chat with people — not so easy during show hours.

You made it! You really made it!  
It was such a surreal experience walking into the Javits centre with all my booth supplies last year, trying to find the booth that I would call home for 3 days and had the opportunity to be a game-changer. Be proud of yourself for taking on the challenge, for getting there, for all of your super hard work. And enjoy it, savour every second. Greet every person that walks by with a welcoming smile. And remember to keep your chin up — there will be some slow periods, and your work won’t be the best fit for every client that walks by, but keep your eye on the prize and focus on the good connections you’ve made. And the new friends you’ve made. And the fact that you made it to NYC and competed in an international marketplace for something that you’re passionate about!

And then breathe…
I relied on adrenaline to keep me going through the show and keeping my energy levels up. Last year, I felt very much alive and excited about everything until 5pm on the last day, when the show officially closed, and I literally just dropped behind my booth and burst into tears. This might sound crazy, but it was just the whole experience coming to a close — a mix of joy and exhaustion. I was so happy, but I also felt my body breaking down and giving in. Give yourself a nice relaxing evening, a low key and healthy dinner, a good dose of vitamin C, and a good night’s rest. And hopefully you have some time to enjoy the city before you ship out.

Best of luck at the show everyone! Looking forward to meeting you all, so soon!!
(I’m at booth 741!)

*****I got a few emails with other questions today so I thought I’d add them to the mix! *****

I didn’t get electrical for my booth. I used an iPad to present my portfolio, and as long as I charged up the batteries before I left for the show in the morning, mine lasted all day long with no issue. Tara Reed mentioned that if you run out, you can use the exhibitor centre upstairs to grab some power if needed. But again, I didn’t need it! But on the same topic… Last year I needed to iron some things, and had posted on the Surtex Linkedin group to see if there would be outlets. I was assured there would be some for us to use, but when I got there, the power source mentioned wasn’t there. I went on a wild goose chase trying to find power and was told by the Javits staff that we weren’t supposed to use it. We ended up sneaking around to make it happen, but this year, just to be safe, I’m just going to iron everything at the hotel!

Flame proofing
Ahhhh, the eternal issue of flameproofing! I don’t think anyone is clear on this! But this is what I was told last year when I asked, and it’s the same explanation this year. Basically, if you have fabric in your booth and it has your artwork on it — then you’re all set. No need to flameproof. BUT if you have linens in your booth that don’t have artwork on them, those should be flameproofed. Honestly, the rationale doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me — fire doesn’t exactly discriminate — but I suppose it would be tricky for people to only show products that were flameproofed so they’ve made concessions. If in doubt, there are apparently special flame-proofing ‘dips’ you can use to dip your fabrics in and it flameproofs them but I didn’t have luck tracking them down. But if the fabric has your artwork on it, you’re good to go.

Grey Abbey Look Book!

Hey guys! I’ve been having a ton of fun with my new fabrics with Cloud9 — so much that I thought we should put together a little look book to show you, and hopefully inspire you to get sewing yourselves half as much as it inspired me.

I grew up sewing… My mum always used to sew clothes for us when my sister and I were kids and they always felt so special. She had tons of old sewing patterns that she’d kept from the 60s and 70s — I’ve always loved things from those years. Patterns for groovy baby doll dresses and bellbottoms, butterfly-collared tennis dresses, fun little mini skirts… I mean, I would wear all of those clothes even now. And so when I was about 12, I started sewing myself, and was sewing well into my 20s. I even had my own sewing business in my University dorm. My “clients” ranged from 19-year old guys who didn’t know how to sew a button on, to girls who spent their loan money on expensive jeans and needed them hemmed, to my favourite client who was a raver guy and wanted to make a statement in the club scene. I sewed him a pair of gigantic orange fun fur pants, and another pair of silver vinyl pants with yellow racing stripes. I have no idea how he could dance in them, fun fur and vinyl aren’t exactly breathable fabrics, but hey, that was none of my business. As life got busier and jobs took over my spare time, sewing took a back seat. But I’ve always known I’d go back to it. And what better motivator than to be able to sew with my own fabrics?

So, I’m happy to share with you my Grey Abbey Look Book. I had so much fun sewing! I’d like to give a shout out to the other awesome people that helped me put this together! First, Cloud9 Fabrics, who designed the super sweet tech cover, and the amazing quilt!! Next, a lovely sewist named Anne-Rose, who is an 80-year old Austrian lady that my mum introduced me to, who sewed all of the ladies dresses that I’m wearing (can’t wait to show them off at Surtex!). And a big thank you to my amazing and talented friend Nicole Winer, who sewed up some darling dresses for her adorable daughter Frankie. Nicole is one of the most talented people that I know. She is a knitwear designer and all around crafty lady, and she never ceases to amaze me. So, a big giant thank you to them!

Take a look at the full look book, and I also included the pictures below it in case you wanted to Pin them to your sewing boards! Thanks for reading!


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GA_LookBook_Clutch GA_LookBook_Frankie1 GA_LookBook_Frankie2 GA_LookBook_iPad GA_LookBook_quilt GA_LookBook_RobeBelladone GA_LookBook_RobeReglisse GA_LookBook_RobeSureau GA_LookBook_Tote GA_LookBook_Trivet


The Surtex countdown is on!

Oh my goodness, things really start to feel real and you understand just how close Surtex is when it’s less than a month away. In less than 4 weeks, one of my very best friends and incredible sidekick Sam and I will be getting on a plane for NYC! So excited, but can’t help but wish I could press the ‘rewind’ button so I could whip up the millions of patterns I have ideas for, but there will never be enough time so at some point, you have to make the call and get on that plane and put up your work for everyone to see. I’m super excited!!

I’ve moved booths this year but will be in the same aisle — booth 741. If you’re going, please stop by and say hello! Here’s a little sampling of what I’ll be showing (plus a link to my promo video if you haven’t seen it)! Hope you all have a great week.


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The Elizabeth Olwen Spring Giveaway!


Spring hasn’t quite sprung in my neck of the woods, but there are always flowers blooming in my little world! Enter to win a little slice of early spring with this Spring prize pack!

Winner will receive all that is shown in the image above: a fat quarter bundle of my newly released collection of organic cotton fabrics, Grey Abbey from Cloud9 Fabrics, and an assortment of new pretty-patterned products with Madison Park Greetings, including and iPhone 5/5s cover, Mixed Bag Mini Set, a box of Thank You cards, Washi Tape (set of 3) and iPops magnets!

A bit about Cloud9 Fabrics and Grey Abbey:
Cloud 9 was at the top of my fabric dream list and I’m so thrilled that I’ve been able to work with them, and what a wonderful experience it is. Their fabrics are gorgeous, with collections from incredible artists like Lisa Congdon, Rae Hoekstra, Eloise Renouf, Skinny Laminx, Leslie Shewring, Sarah Watson, Monica Solorio-Snow… the list goes on. But to summarize — dream team! The fabrics are 100% certified organic cotton, with some heavy weight They also do some voiles which I’m not-so-secretly hoping I’ll get to see my prints on. Grey Abbey is my first collection with them and there is another collection due out in the fall! See my full post on the collection here.

A bit about Madison Park Greetings:
Madison Park Greetings is a Seattle-based stationery and gift company who works with many nationally recognized artists, like Katie Daisy, Susan Black and Jen Renninger and Helen Dardik, and they’ve won tons of awards for their greeting cards, gift wraps, stationery and invitations, and are constantly adding new gift items to their offerings (stay tuned for some of more of my new products with them, coming soon). Check out my blog post on our items so far!

Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below — as instructed, you can LIKE on Facebook, TWEET about the contest, or follow us on Instagram. Fulfill as many options as you like via the Rafflecopter widget for bonus entries! Winners will be picked randomly. Contest closes on April 16th at 12.01am. Good luck!

***The contest is now over — CONGRATULATIONS to Jen Mishmash! A big giant THANK YOU to all of you that entered! ***

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Product goodies from Madison Park!

A little while ago I did a post announcing some of my new products with Madison Park Greetings, showcasing a few of their beautiful photos. But that was before I’d seen anything in person, and when I got my product samples, it was like Christmas! Licensing is a funny world… you work so hard on products for so long, and then… you wait. And wait. Because production takes a long time, it’s just the way it works. After a while, it feels so abstract. You wait for months and months and by the time you start to wonder if it was all just a dream, a big box of goodies arrives on your doorstep and you want to jump for joy!

Working with Madison Park Greetings was another one of the big highlights of my 2013, and continues to be in 2014, with more yummy products in development. They’re lovely, lovely people and I feel lucky to get to collaborate with so many people that just let me do my thing, support me through it and offer me only the best of feedback (which is extra helpful when you work in a bubble by yourself all day). And — they let me use GOLD FOILS!!! DREAM! I hope you can see how natural it was  to work with them when you see these products. I’m so proud of these little numbers and I hope you like ‘em too. There are tons of greeting cards, boxed note sets, an adorable keepsake box, washi tapes, iPhone covers, paperweights and magnets from iPops, invitations, mix bag sets, stickers, gift wrap, and a 2015 calendar that I’ll share closer to next year.

Interested in picking some of these up?
You can buy them in indendant gift shops, or you can buy online here!

Follow me on Instagram!
Instagram is my JAM! I’m always posting new pics of new work and products, so follow me if you’re interested!

EOlwen_Paperweight EOlwen_MixedBag EOlwen_Magnets EOlwen_Keepsake EOlwen_Iphone EOlwen_CardYay EOlwen_CardVday EOlwen_CardGold2 EOlwen_CardGold1 EOlwen_CardBabies EOlwen_BoxedNotesEOlwen_Vday


Grey Abbey is here!

Hi everyone, and happy St Patricks Day! It’s been a while since I’ve posted but really, this is the most appropriate follow-up to my last post, which was about being rejected by a fabric company because my fabric line, Grey Abbey, with Cloud9 Fabrics has arrived! Which coincidentally, is named after a village in Ireland. More on that below.

The concept of having fabrics with my prints, even after working on the collection for what felt like ages, seemed so abstract. So when that big box full of fabric bolts arrived, it was surreal. I opened up the box and unwrapped the first bolt, and I just started crying these tears of pure joy — what can I say, I’m a sap. I just sat there with the first bolt for a little while trying to savour that feeling. Then I proceeded to open up the next  (tears) and the next (more tears) until I’d gone through all 12 beautiful bolts and could see the full collection as a whole, and man, did it feel good. The collection has been hanging out in my studio across from my desk so I can admire them and I had to force myself to start cutting them up for projects this weekend, it was hard to let go of those perfect bolts, but they are preserved in these photos below, and will be turned into many beautiful things, which is the whole point, after all.

The collection is printed on organic cotton and it feels sooooo good. The collection is named after a village in Ireland called Grey Abbey. My mum is Irish and I’ve been to Ireland many times, and I’ve always felt very connected to it. Trips to my grandmother’s house always felt quite magical — she collects antiques and the last time I was there I took a ton of pictures which inspired this collection. I‘ve shared some pictures of the fabrics below. You can also see the gorgeous Ribbon Box quilt that Cloud9 made. Overall, just so thrilled to share this! (And can’t wait to share the next collection, which ships in the fall!)

If you’re interested in getting your hands on the fabrics, look for / ask for them in your local modern quilting shops — and if they don’t have them, you can find them pretty easily online. A great online shop called Gooba Designs is stocking them, as is Hawthorne Threads, and a bunch of others too. The collection has already been featured in a few magazines, like Pretty Patches and Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine, both of which are beautiful publications based out of the UK. As for me, I’ve re-acquired the sewing bug and can’t wait to sew up some goodies with these.

Thanks for sharing this journey with me, you guys! Nice to share this with the people that have been cheering me on from the sidelines. xo


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GreyAbbey_Selvedge GreyAbbey_RibbonBoxQuilt


Try, try again

I recently came across a letter I’d received from a fabric company about a year ago. I’d been reaching out to some companies that I thought my work might be a good fit for. And while I had my top picks for dream companies, I was also aware that dreams don’t happen overnight, so I was hoping to just get fabrics *somewhere* and that maybe it would get my foot in the door. One of the options was a company that required I send a package in the mail, and a few months later received, if I might say, I rather snarky rejection letter. Essentially the letter said (and I’m paraphrasing, but not by much) that my work brought nothing new to the table, and that I’d essentially wasted their time. While I appreciated the personal reply, part of me almost wished that I’d never received it… it was so negative and unfriendly, and for some, could have been a dream killer. It wasn’t my dream company, so I decided I better not let it crush my dreams. So the other day when I came across this letter, while working on my second collection for Cloud9 Fabrics (which, by the way, *was* at the top of my dream list), a whole bunch of emotions came up for me. It made me realize how much has happened in the past year. And how happy I am about it all. And how glad I am that I didn’t listen to that letter or let it alter my path.

I just wanted to write this post because sometimes it’s hard to keep your chin up when things don’t seem to be going anywhere. You submit, submit, submit… and feel lucky if you even get a reply. Sometimes it all just seems pointless, when you’re investing soooo much of your time and your heart into something, and hoping your dreams come true, and nothing is happening. You start to think your work isn’t good enough. I just wanted to share this story as a reminder to always try and keep your chin up. To persevere and keep at it and use that rejection as fuel to do better. And if at first you fail, then try, try again. And then when you reach one of your goals, you can feel a little extra proud of how far you’ve come.


New products with Madison Park Greetings

One of the highlights of my 2013 was working with Madison Park Greetings, a really artist-focused Seattle-based company whose products I always noticed in nice gift and card shops. I was so excited when I worked on my first greeting card for them, and then that turned into a few more, then more, and then into all sorts of fun gift products, most of which have just launched on January 1st. I’m so excited to show you the first instalment of my new products with them, which includes gift wrap (dream come true!!), washi tapes (ahhh!) and the cutest little gift bag-and-sticker set. I mean, what a dream!

I’ll leave you with a few photos of these new products (click to see larger), and there are many more to come! I’ll share as they become available. Wishing you all a joy-filled, inspiring and fulfilling 2014!

*If you’re a retailer looking to stock this product, you can request the ‘MPG 2014′ catalogue by calling 1.800.638.9622 or request it online.*


Quite literally on Cloud9

It’s been a long time coming, and I’m so happy to finally announce my fabric line with Cloud9 Fabrics!! Do you know how hard it’s been to hold these cards close to my chest and keep it on the down low? VERY. But the collection debuted at Quilt Market this past weekend, and so I can make it official. Big yay!

I’ve been dreaming of having a fabric line, and have admired Cloud9 Fabrics for a long time. I had my heart set on working with them, they sat at the top of my list of ‘dream clients’ and so when we signed on to work together I was over the moon! Like my face hurt from smiling so much. Their fabrics feature artists like Lisa Congdon, Eloise Renouf, Heather Moore of Skinny Laminx, Rae Hoestra, the very talented Creative Director of Cloud9 herself, Michelle Engel Bencsko… and so many more! So I’m totally stoked to be included in such an incredible group of artists.

For now, here’s the little emblem for the collection which is called Grey Abbey, and is named after a small town in Ireland, close to where my mum grew up. Ireland holds a very special place in my heart, and many of my patterns are based on the antiques that my grandmother has in her beautiful home there. So I thought the title quite fitting. The collection features a really nice mix of tossed and structured florals with some vintage flare, in two colour ways, and I can’t wait to show you… soon! The collection will be hitting the market in early 2014 — stay tuned for more updates!

As always, thank you all for the support, it’s so very appreciated!

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