Monday, 22 May 2017

FAL 2017: Meet the Host #6


The next 2017 FAL host you will meet is my real life friend Judith of Just Jude Designs.  It has been my privilege to learn much from her and to be encouraged and enthused by her skill and passion for all things stitchy and fabric. And yes, it is her fault that there are many boxes of fabric and sewing supplies under my bed and on top of my wardrobes!! ;-)

Over to Judith ...


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.



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.

 

Monday, 8 May 2017

FAL 2017: Meet the Host #5

It's time again to let you in on a few more secrets about those of us who host and run the 2017 Finishalong.  Sandra is our very busy Social Media Director, keeping all of you up to date with the latest news about the FAL and sharing some of the finishes that are being added to the IG and FB groups throughout the quarters.  She's doing a grand job!  Please read her lovely post below to find out a wee bit more about her (and to see some amazing quilts).

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 here for the first time, you are very welcome!

Who am I?

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! As a student 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 in 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, and thoroughly enjoyed living in this small university town. 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! I may be finishing 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 very 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 still teach a weekly quilt group in our local library, and we hold a yearly exhibition of our work there, too.
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 quilts are being turned over in my head...

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


And I love going on walks and taking photographs:





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

Sandra

Saturday, 15 April 2017

FAL 2017: Meet the Host #4

I hope you are enjoying meeting the FAL hosts each month.  I know I am!  This month we hear from Ella.




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:
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.







Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Quilt Tag Label Tutorial


On the Wonky Stars Baby quilt that I finished recently I decided to add a tag label in the binding edge instead of my usual flat label stitched to the quilt backing.  I thought I might share how I did it in a wee quick tutorial just in case you are interested (and so that I have a reference for the measurements in future).

All seams are scant 0.25".


You will need to cut:
1 piece 4.75" x 1.5" of fabric for the written section of your tag label.
2 pieces 4.75" x 0.75" of contrasting fabric for top and bottom borders of the label.


Fold the fabric for your written label centre in half so that you know where the front and back will separate.  You can just about see the crease in my photo above.  Lay the fabric on a lined page and write the label with a suitable fabric pen.  (The lined page is simply providing you with a guide for writing, so you may choose not to use it.)  Remember to leave seam allowances clear of any writing.  Set your pen according to the manufacturer's instructions.  (My pen is set by pressing with a hot iron.) Also take care that you know which half of your label will be the front and which the back of your finished label and write your message and details accordingly.  As you can see below, I made this rookie error and ended up with my open side of the label in the wrong place the first time I tried.



Oops!  


Stitch the contrasting fabric strips to your label centre, one to the top and one to the bottom.  Press the seams open to help distribute the fabric bulk more evenly in the next stages).



Now fold your label in half, right sides together, and stitch across the top and bottom (where I have pinned).


Carefully snip away the corners on the folded side of your label (not the open side).  This reduces the fabric bulk when turning. Turn the label though, gently pressing out the corners (I use a crochet hook) and flatten the seams into position. Press.

Now you have a label with a folded edge and an open edge (see my Oops! picture a little way above).


After you have stitched the binding to the front of your quilt, line the open edge of your label along the back edge of your quilt where you want to position the tag label.  Stitch the label in place along the same seam line as binding (or just inside it).


Then, as you are stitching your binding down to finish on the back of your quilt, you can catch the label in and voila! one beautifully tag labelled quilt.

It worked for me and I hope to use it on some future quilts too, though maybe not all.  If you prefer a flat label stitched to the quilt backing, I have a tutorial for one here.





Monday, 3 April 2017

FAL 2017 - My Quarter 2 List



Another quarter, another list.  Or, maybe the same list with a few variations ;-)
Here goes!



Pot Luck Baby Quilt
This one should be my most likely finish in Quarter 2.  It's only a little quilt (about 45" square) and some piecing is already done.  I need to focus on this one as there's a July arrival expected for another of my cousins.



'Happy Days' BOM - Sarah Fielke 2016
Rolling over from Quarter 1 and probably not a mission that this quilt can be finished this quarter.  But, I'll keep it on here and hope that maybe it will at least progress, if not complete.  I think it will depend on how I decide to quilt it after the borders go on, but right now it does seem to be wanting to be hand quilted so that might mean it takes a few more quarters to finish.  We'll see.



Moda Modern Building Blocks Quilt
Currently out for quilting but a finish could well be on the cards since all I will have to do is trim, bind and label when it comes back. Really looking forward to seeing it post -Trudification.




Quilt Now BOM
Still much hand quilting to do here, but I would love a finish for this one SOOOOO much.  Wonder how I can achieve that?




Cosy Christmas Quilt
I would dearly love not to carry this over into a third quarter, so let's see if I can find time to get it cracked!



Miss Winkle Scarf
I had added one more loop to this scarf in quarter 1 but am seriously considering frogging it and switching to a Hitchhiker Shawl (by the same knit designer).  The loops aren't hard but they do interrupt the flow when I really want to just keep knitting.  Hmmm, what to do?


Well, it's only a list of 6 projects with healthy dollops of deja-vu but I want to see finishes on all of them sooner rather than later, so the plan will be to keep plugging away at them when time allows and see how I get on.  



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