Tuesday, April 25, 2017


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).

I love the Botanical Gardens.

I LOVE Dragoncon!

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:
IMG_0282      IMG_0298

(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. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

2017 FAL Q2 Goals and Linky Party Reminder

L-R 1. WasteSwap tote 2. Sujata Shah workshop blocks 3. Mini 4. King Clam 5. Nephew quilt 6. BeeSewcial 2016 Stretch 7. BeeSewcial Eyes 2017. 8. Fan dance. 

A few New and a few Oldies

I decided to stay motivated, I'd include a nice mix of roll overs and newer WIPs.  Various stages from just needing binding to requiring more blocks before they can even become a top let along a finished quilt.  Here are the details of my Great Eight:
1.  I'm participating in a direct swap on IG with host Jenelle TrashN2Tees .  You can read about the details here on her blog.   Browsing my partners feed I spotted some cute cat fabric and immediately thought to pull out these thrift store treasures that I have been keeping for a special project.  I think she will appreciate the up-cycle of handwork.  The tote is started and will need to ship very shortly so although progress isn't all that far, it's a sure bet I'll finish this one. 

2.  Aren't these blocks from last Sunday's Sujata Shah workshop with my local guild pretty?  I had to laugh at myself for thinking the fabric pull was so boring because once I started sewing I was wishing I'd reeled in the crazy!  There will be some editing the remaining fabrics and definitely time spend playing with placement during the layout but I've got to make more parts first.  This one might be a bit ambitious as a totally finished quilt but I was very excited and enjoyed the class and process so much it kind of skipped ahead on my to do list. She's a wonderful teacher.

  3.  This little mini was created while I was on a retreat and is made with Art Gallery Pure Elements Solids.  So yummy soft.  I'm not sure what I will do about quilting or binding but love how the top turned out.

4. King Clam.  guess who's rolling over yet again? That's right.   It's been at this stage since shortly after the 12 hour marathon workshop/sew day in 2014.  Now that I have a friend who let's me quilt on her long arm I really have no more excuses.  It will be for our bed. (See mosaic for picture)

5.  From the One-Corner Log Cabin workshop with Pam Rocco, this one is for my nephew.  It's the final of a series of quilts that have been gifted for 21st Birthdays although it's totally tardy and he's turning 24 soon.  I did a bit of crowd sourcing on IG for input on binding choices and it was a pretty even split between blues and neutrals with a few suggestions of mixing both.  I've decided to go with blue and have most of the strips cut.

6. BeeSewcial 2016 "Stretch".  The blocks need to be puzzled together and I have an idea of using a gold thread to mimic the stitching in jeans but we will see if that high contrast will be a good thing once I get there.

7.  BeeSewcial 2017 "Eyes".  Absolutely in love with the blocks that my mates sent me and am SO anxious to get to this one.

8.  Fan Dance.  Another rollover from Q1 (and previous).  Good news is that I'm all the way to the binding stage so it's a no brainer.  Plus, I've got in mind who I will gift it to so that's motivation right there.

Well there you have it.  I'm ready to linkup my FAL Q2 Goals, are you? Find the details on the official FAL tab and the linky button on this post.  It will be closing tomorrow April 8th and you can view the countdown clock at the bottom of that page.  If the "ADD YOUR LINK" blue button is still showing that means you're not too late!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

BeeSewcial March: Waves, Depth, Flow

The prompt for March BeeSewcial was Waves, Depth, Flow for Felicity, blogged here.   She requested teals with copper accent and even mentioned that she enjoyed the puzzling part of putting the blocks together so there was freedom is the size.

 sizes: 8.5x22',  9x9 and 5x7" 
 I knew that I was going to have time at the end of the month while attending a 4 day retreat at Happy Valley to focus on the blocks so I wasn't too stressed out about the deadline.   The Paintbrush Studio color card and an assortment of Painters Palettes Solids was my jumping off point.

Turquoise, Cyan, Aqua and Gold
It isn't typical for my vision to very clear in advance of starting my block but this one was.  The version in my head was complex bubbles with busy kelp action adrift.  What I've gotten better at - with much conscious effort - is to listen to the direction the design wants to go rather than force an idea into reality.

In the end, wide range of color wasn't needed
Felicity's quilt is bound to be epic.  Check out the #beesewcial and #inspiredbybeesewcial on IG to see the interpretation of her theme.

Playing around with the linking of parts in the various blocks was fun.  I'm certain they won't actually end up this way but the opportunity to mess around like also sparks ideas for other quilts I might make.

Stretch - Puzzling

2016 February BeeSewcial Blocks "Stretch"
Now that I've accomplished the finish of my 2015 BeeSewcial quilt "Reflections" blogged here, I am working on the "Stretch" theme from 2016.  I've shared some and they were on my FAL Q1 goals but here's a better photo of them together on the design wall.

More block parts
These parts may or may not make it into the final quilt.  I thought it would be helpful to just start making things that could be used once I get to layout.  After sewing for a bit, I changed my mind after realizing that it would be more productive to approach the composition by identifying what's needed and filling in the gaps (like I did on the last one)   The bottom one was suppose to be stitching on jeans but it resembles a belt in loops instead.

Major progress was made on the quilt for my nephew before the weekend was done.  So much blue - including the sky.  

Do you see the Heart shape?
A tradition that I've been trying to keep up with is to bring a quilt to put  on the bed when I'm at a local retreat.  "Bend, don't Break" was my choice this time and I placed it sideways to have the pop of orange visible. 

Happy Stitching, Karen

Saturday, April 1, 2017

FAL Q1 Last Call and Tutorial Round Up

Status of my 2017 FAL Q1 Goals
For me, two done and progress on another ain't so bad.   Cheering one another on and seeing what participants make is a lot of fun.  Thank you to everyone for taking the time to leave comments, they mean a lot.

It's great to see so many finishes linking up.  The time has come and the clock is ticking away - linky party closes soon so check out the last post and add yours NOW!  Scroll to the bottom and if it says "collection closes in _ minutes" with a blue ADD YOUR LINK button that means you're not too late.

At this rate I'll be there will be 500+ completed goals, what do you think?

No pressure if you didn't make your all (or any) of your goals because the linky party for setting new ones Q2 starts tomorrow.

Tutorials - Helpful Techniques and Cuteness too

Here's a quick recap of the helpful and sometimes super adorable (Jude's bunny bag!!) tutorials courtesy of several fellow hosts.  Fortunately they are not a limited time offer so be sure to visit them at your leisure.

Happy Stitching,