Monday, May 22, 2017

2017 FAL: Meet the Host Judith

Today I have another guest host post for you as part of the Finish-A-Long international team.  I'm sure you are enjoying the year long series as much as I am.  Karen

Hi everyone, my name is Judith of Just Jude Designs and it's my turn this month to tell you a little about myself as one of the 2017 Finish-A-Long hosts.



I was born in Northern Ireland, and apart from 7 years living in England, I have lived here all my life. I currently live 5 minutes away from where the famous RMS Titanic was built in Belfast 1911.

 

I started sewing when I inherited my Nanny Maud's singer treadle sewing machine at the age of 11. I had already been crocheting clothes for my dolls from the age of 9, but now I could sew them blankets too!




When I started high school (11) I took Needlework. On my first day, I walked into the Needlework room and saw it was filled with electric sewing machines, but tucked away in the corner was a Singer Treadle machine! I pleaded with the teacher to let me use it, and then spent the next 3 years making garments on it! The start of my happy place!  


I continued sewing on my Singer Treadle, teaching myself naive patchwork from recycled clothes, curtains and scraps. (I still love working with recycled textiles today!) I made my first little quilt, a pram quilt, when I was pregnant with my first daughter (1995).

 

2 days before my 3rd daughter was born, I turned 30, and my family bought me my first electric sewing machine. I'd been sewing for 20 years and had never used an electric machine! I fell in love with my Brother machine, and then upgraded to a Pfaff Quilt Expression a few years later, which I still use today.

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When my youngest daughter started school, I went 'back to school' myself, studying City & Guilds Textile and Design. I thought it was time I learned how to sew and quilt properly! My motivation for taking this 2 year course was therapeutic, a kind of 'play therapy', recommended by my counsellor to overcome depression. It worked!

 

I finished and passed my course and was invited to teach patchwork to a group of women with mental health issues at a local community centre. I didn't even know how to teach patchwork, but I overcame my nerves and quickly started on a new passion for teaching and inspiring others to love patchwork too.

     

For 2 years I taught women suffering from a wide range of mental health problems and saw first hand the therapeutic benefits they experienced after only a few short weeks of sewing. One lady in particular, old before her time, stooped with low self worth and heavily reliant on a walking stick, made her first patchwork cushion and within 6 weeks was coming to class without her stick and walking tall!! Like many others, learning a new skill within a caring community, and having something to show and be proud of, elevated her self-esteem and ignited hope and positivity in many areas of her life.


Over the past 10 years I have continued teaching in different venues, running my own programme of classes and also teaching for others. I also design quilts, cushions and bags for a number of UK based quilting magazines, and sell my patterns via my website, Etsy and Craftsy.


   

As a sole trader it is important for me to connect with other creatives, both professionally and personally. Being part of the quilting blogging community for the past 6 and a half years has been a hugely positive and affirming experience for me, and it has been my privilege to be a part of many bees, swaps and charity groups.

 
Brit Bee 2012  

If you have made it this far, thank you! Thank you for taking the time to read this and being part of Finish-A-Long 2017.

 

a Dozen Done for 21


One day I will write a post and share all 12 quilts that I've made for my nieces, nephews and own kids that were gifted for their 21st Birthdays but that would require actually having decent photos of them all and knowing where to locate those pictures!  Until then, I'm celebrating a big landmark.  The final (tardy) finish of the last one for the guys.

Each person was allowed to give input on color and general taste although my own two boys had a bit  more hands contribution choosing fabric.


This scrappy One-Corner Log Cabin in Blues and Tans shown above will be gifted this weekend in person - which is so much nicer than mailing a package off and crossing your fingers it is delivered.  The pattern is by Pam Rocco and was started in a local guild workshop.  I love the way the center dark blues give a sturdy vibe to the design.

The flying geese border was a modification to a pattern that my oldest son chose from a magazine as I recall.  

This was a fun make using the strip ruler.  I think I spent as much time on layout as piecing and then ended up going fairly predictable (for me).

The first time I was tardy on delivery.  The herringbone isn't hard but gave me such pause for concern along the way.  I'm really pleased in the end. 


My youngest was so patient as I chugged along sewing his Delectable Mountain.  Friends nicknamed it my Retreat quilt because I worked on it at SO many!

This WIP was one that I decided might be a little to modern in design so I'm waiting for the right match to gift it to.

Happy to cross another off the lists.




Monday, May 15, 2017

2017 FAL: Meet the Host Sandra

Isn't it great to get learn more about the FAL team?  I love the photos and stories our next "host" has to share and am sure you will too - read on! Karen

The 2017 Finishalong has a global team of hosts, and one by one they are introducing themselves in the "Meet the Host" posts throughout the year. Now I am NOT a Finishalong host, but I have the honour (!) of being the person behind the Finishalong Instagram and Facebook accounts (Social Media Director). And in that role I have been asked to introduce myself, too.


If you are meeting me today for the first time, you are very welcome to my blog Studio Sew of Course, where I share my quilts and other stitching, as well as glimpses of my garden and the area where I live.

Who am I?

My name is Sandra, and I was born and raised in The Netherlands. And before you think, "tulips, clogs, and windmills" that is not quite how it is living there. I never lived in a windmill, for one, though I lived in many places!

However, I did cycle every day to school at the other end of town - yes, everyone does cycle in The Netherlands! And in my student days I even went on a cycling/camping holiday to England with friends.


And I did not wear clogs... until I started doing a lot of gardening at our first proper "adult" house in Kent (UK). They do take some getting used to, but are perfectly warm and dry, and so easy to slip in and out of!


I also LOVE cheese, any cheese! And nowhere can you find such a wide selection of cheese as in The Netherlands, I think.

I studied at the Agricultural University in Wageningen (NL), and thoroughly enjoyed living in this small university town. Cycling all over of course! I spent a half year doing my internship in New Zealand, and eventually ended up with a MSc degree, and a future husband just months before he finished his studies and left to do a PhD abroad.

And so started my international life... Following my heart, and his work opportunities, we lived in many countries for relatively short periods of time. From three months to five years in one place, we lived in many different countries, in between coming back in The Netherlands for a while as well. And now we have ended up in Ireland, and have lived in this house longer than anywhere I have ever lived...

my first quilt, completely hand stitched
Growing up, I was often crafting, learning crochet and dress making from my mother, knitting from a neighbour, and many other crafts from magazines and books.
In England I came across my first patchwork quilt, and from then on I needed to learn how to make them. Beginner's classes started me of with drafting blocks, making templates and hand sewing (no rulers and rotary cutters at first!), followed by more classes, workshops, books and magazines, always wanting to learn more. A visit to a quilt exhibition has me peering closely at the way certain effects have been achieved, even now, so many years later. I just LOVE to learn new things!


Moving so often, quilt making also gave me an opportunity to find new people and make friends wherever I went. In some places it took a while to find out about them, but always I did find some group or other of friendly and welcoming quilters. And soon enough I was teaching quilt making, too.


Then in 2012, I started a City & Guilds Level 3 Certificate course, and as part of that we set up a (private) blog to share notes and work between us students. Which led me to start reading blogs, and starting my own blog soon after. Since I have a compulsion to stitch and sew (I sew, of course!), and fill the blog with my creative works, its inspiration and anything that takes my fancy, I named it Studio Sew of Course, and followed by being "sewofcourse" for all social media. I am very active especially on Instagram, but can be found elsewhere as well if you are so inclined.

Of course, I learned so much again in the course! The range of techniques covered in City & Guilds is enormous, and the design process poses challenges of its own. The course includes many, many samples and small projects, as well as five main items to be made, see my City & Guilds page for some of it.
Since the course my way of quilt making has changed, too. I have always been easily tempted to try something new, but now I'd try anything. And of course I made the most wonderful friends!!



In all those years I mainly hand quilted my quilts, not having a lot of confidence to use my domestic machine for quilting. This has led to a rather large number of half-quilted quilts, and unquilted quilt tops! Then I discovered the Finishalong a couple of years ago, and joining in has helped me to reduce the number of WIPs to a more acceptable amount. I also got a lot of practice in machine quilting as part of the City & Guilds course, so my confidence has grown somewhat. Now I have to just put it into practice some more... and remember to quilt with a less stops and starts - I hate tying in a million threads! Machine quilting may help finish some of my projects a bit quicker.



What's next?

My current Finishalong list contains some rather varied projects, and is not in danger of being finished any time soon. Besides, there are more projects in the house that haven't even made it on the list (yet). I can see my list grow longer before it will get any smaller! I do like the idea that I am working to finish those quilts, but I won't be beating myself up over it. And only projects I still like are making it onto the list in the first place.

I still teach a weekly quilt group in our local library, and we hold a yearly exhibition of our work there, too. They have a great exhibition space!
I am also working on another pattern or two (my few available patterns can be found on the Patterns page), I have plans to improve and extend the blog/website, and ideas for several new quilts are being turned over in my head... I have also been editing quilt patterns for several people over the past few years, too, and hope to do some more of that. I just love to puzzle on the quilt maths, and improving pattern instructions.

Besides that, I have a part-time job, we have three boys (13, 18, and 22), and a large (and rather unconventional) garden:


And I love going on walks and taking photographs (these are from last weekend):




One thing is for sure: I won't be bored for a long time yet!!

Sandra

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

#TheWastedSwap


To celebrate Earth Day, Janelle of TrashN2Tees launched a #TheWastedSwap and of course I just had to sign up.   As soon as I browsed my partners IG feed and spotted some cute kitty fabric she had posted, I knew the thrift store treasures I'd been hoarding had found a purpose.  



Both of these items were bought with repurposing in mind.  I don't really do embroidery or needlepoint so when I spot handwork at the thrift store I feel kind of bad for the person who spent all that time and I'm sure had high hopes for their project. The '70's NeedlePoint as you can see below turned out "wonky".   The little kitties were from a gauze type blouse and the velvet trim band on the pocket from an old pair of pants. 


The cat itself I absolutely adored with the patchwork rainbow coloring, such scrappy goodness.  The saying "Man's Best Friend" on the other hand was nearly cause to take it out of my cart.  Having lost both of our beloved dogs recently, maybe I'm just sensitive. 

To help with cutting out around the cat, I used some brown packing paper I'd saved.  I pulled out the pfaff with integrated walking foot to go through all the weird and thick materials.  
Wish I'd taken a photo of the purse before cutting it apart. The tan strap that I unpicked wrapped around with a huge buckle closure shown below.  You can also get a glimpse at the cool texture of the  black and white.

 

Keeping things improv, I just used the natural curve of the lining (it was originally folded in half) and cut the table cloth to expand the size needed for the interior.  

The bottom of the bag and straps are made of leather from an old coat.  It was really easy to stitch thankfully.  At first I tried my usually photo shoot in the front yard by hanging it on the branches.  The sun was really harsh and they turned out lousy except for capturing the lady bug, a sign of good luck.

My friend Sue and I had plans to visit the thrift store and then grad a bite.  We ended up parking in a lot that we don't frequent and were surprised to see this great tile wall had been installed - the perfect photo shoot back drop.


I'm excited to have the bag that was made for me arrive because it looks really great on IG.  My partner Meghan posted an adorable picture of her daughter and the bag - I'm so glad she liked it.  Check out the feed HERE and you'll be impressed not only with what's been created.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

2017 FAL: Meet the Host Ella

It's time to meet Ella, Throw a Wench in The Works.   She and I met IRL at Sewing Summit in SLC Utah way back in 2012.  I managed to dig up a picture and included it at the end of this post!  We both have been regulars linking up our goals for FAL although her lists and completed projects are WAY more than I ever pull off.   - Karen



Hi, I'm Ella, here at throwawenchintheworks. *waves hello* Welcome to a Meet the Maker Finish-A-Long installment, featuring me!

If you're new to the my blog, let me tell you a bit about me. I'm a teacher in Atlanta. (Still trying to wrap my head around the recent bridge collapse on I-85.) I've moved around a lot in my life, but I think Atlanta is home now. (I do miss the fall in Upstate NY, but I don't miss the winters.) I love Atlanta. It's extremely diverse. I love the blend of big city and neighborhoods. I love The Center for Puppetry Arts (and its huge Henson collection).
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I love the Botanical Gardens.
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I LOVE Dragoncon!
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I live here with my husband (commonly referred to by me as The Pirate...because Pirates are awesome), a smooshy senior cocker spaniel (who has ruined me for all other dogs and who I need to clone into an army of lovey dogs), and a slightly evil tuxedo kitty (think Brain from "Pinky and the Brain").

Obligatory animal pictures:
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(Sorry, the tongue is a bit disturbing, but I still find her forcible grooming, usually limited to his floofy hair, HILARIOUS.)

I'm new to hosting the Finish-a-Long, but I've been a long time participant (and long time overachieving list maker). I started blogging back in 2011. A bit of trivia about my blog name. I'm also a bellydancer (although my knee issue has me a bit sidelined right now), hence the wench part. I tend to throw myself into things whole-heartedly, but I'm also a klutz...so, um, the wench in the works. I didn't think about how often folks would read it as "wrench" and have trouble finding my blog. Ah well.

Ironically, I used to teach photography and now most of my pictures tend to be taken in my poorly lit living room at odd hours of the night. I *can* take better pictures; I *should* take better pictures; I'm just mostly working on things in the night-time. I apologize for that.


I started blogging the summer I decided to officially learn how to quilt. I've been sewing and knitting since I was little. (My mom taught me how to sew, by hand and by machine. My aunt taught me to knit when I was in third grade.) I made a quilt for my dorm room in college, but I don't count it as a quilt that was completely mine because my mom hand tied it. It didn't survive many washings.


I don't actually have most of my first quilts any more from back in 2011.
When I started sewing again back in 2011, after many years of hiatus, I was initially obsessed with disappearing nine patches. I gave most of them away. The one below went to a friend going through chemo.
batik quilt



In my first foray into non disappearing 9 patch quilts, I made a HORRIBLE quilt. I used crappy fabric that did NOT stand up to being washed, which was probably also a product of my seams being totally inconsistent. Ahem, I was in a horrible Hawaiian shirt theme for the quilts.


Rockin Robin completed top!


It was part of a Row Robin that was launched online. I loved the community that I found there. Folks were supportive and kind. That led to swaps and lots of groups on Flickr. (Remember when Flickr was awesome? *Sigh.*) I did a ton of block swaps, even ran the 4x6 for a while. I admit, I have not been blogging as much as I did in the past. Now, I tend to spend time over on Instagram, but the online community is still HUGELY important to me.


I felt like, as I had with the bellydance community, I found a "tribe" to which I belonged.  I had space to learn, people were so generous with their knowledge, and I could let my geek flag fly.  I got to meet folks in real life from my first do.good.stitches group visiting Atlanta, Sewing Summit in Salt Lake City, Sewtopia here in Atlanta, Sisters in Oregon, and many years of The Stash Bash.  I'm kind of a spazz and feel incredibly awkward in big social groups.  Going to new places feels like a big deal.  (If you ever meet me, this won't necessarily feel true.  I TALK A LOT.  I TALK MORE when I'm nervous.)  I feel lucky to have met so many awesome, amazing women who remain important to me.  


Charity is still a fundamental part of my sewing.  I run the Serenity Circle as part of do.good.stitches.  My circle makes quilts for hospice.  I do this to honor my grandmother.  She was a maker her whole life, making dresses for mission work, mittens in the winter, newborn items for hospitals.  When she died, I saw how much the crochet blanket a stranger made impacted my mother.  I'd love to do that for someone I will never meet with my quilts, to give some comfort in a really difficult time.  I try to make as many as I can each year.  


I've started doing a kindness project this year.  I was feeling overwhelmed by how mean the world was seeming.  I was constantly stressed.  Sewing helped me deal with that.  So far, I made over 40 infinity scarves to give to women I know to let them know they are amazing and loved and seen.  My next project is pincushions.  This lets me do at least something small to impact others, to spread a bit of love.


I've grown a lot as a quilter in the last 7 years.  I still have a long way to go.  (I still mostly straight-line.  FMQ is still my nemesis.)  I'm still addicted to QALs.  I seem to have to have AT LEAST a dozen things spinning at a time.  I can't seem to walk away from a challenge.  I have only put 2 quilts in shows (the poppy below and the hexy garden).  I'm trying to get braver about that.  Quilting is still my least favorite part.  I want to learn how to use a long arm this year.  Goals!


Here are some of my favorite finishes:



batik challengeBubbles

quilt show!Zelda quilt

Death Star


I have another mahoosive finish-a-long list for Quarter 2 (I'm a card carrying member of Archie the Wonder Dog's #ridiculouslylongFAList)!  

Here are a couple of WIPs that I will hopefully complete this quarter:

sugar skull topViolet Craft lion


I'm looking forward to cheerleading this year. Y'all are amazing!  Thank you to the phenomenal women of the Finish-A-Long for letting me join in the fun.

* As promised - here we are posing with Nydia in the lobby during one of the very memorable impromtu chats around the fire.  More pictures on this old post.