FAL 2017: Meet the Host – Sew Me


By Judith on September 15, 2017
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“So, tell us a bit about yourself.”

Aren’t those fearsome words?  I get all a bit tongue tied, don’t know where to start and wonder how on earth to make myself sound even mildly interesting.  Sweat beads form, my voice wobbles a little and 20 seconds later I’ve usually run out of things to add!  But, one of things I love about meeting people in a sewing context is that already we have something in common.  I find it’s great ice breaker and conversation flows much more naturally.  So, here goes for my 2017 FAL ‘Meet The Host’ post.

Hi everyone!

I’m Sarah

 

 

and this is my family.

The handsome one and the mischief maker!

 

I’m wife to my hubby (first love and childhood sweetheart) and mum to our two children – a teenage boy, who has long since passed me in height, intelligence and wisdom too it seems (what do mothers know?) and my Cutesy Tootsie daughter who is now two years old.  Yes, big age gap, long story and no, I am not the older, wiser and more mellow mother people kindly assured me I would be during my second pregnancy.  Well, older yes, but not the other two.

We live our hectic daily routines out here in a tiny little crossroads of a place called Annahilt in Northern Ireland, where it rains a lot I’ll admit, but oh my, is it beautifully green when we are lucky enough to have sunshine to appreciate it!

I prefer tea to coffee, chocolate or cake before crisps, suburbs rather than city, white wine not beer, Buble rather than Bieber, (don’t judge).  I cannot dance but I make a great chocolate cake!  I don’t seem to choose favourites easily which makes me feel a bit odd when I can’t answer what my favourite book or movie or colour is.  Colour might be red, but a good pink is in contention too.

 

I work to feed my fabric habit!

Sadly, there is a day job – how else could I afford to keep those fabric orders coming?  I work in finance and administration from home for the company my hubby and his business partner own.  There’s a knack to working and living with your spouse. Since we haven’t strangled each other yet we must be getting the hang of it reasonably well.  Of course, I’d love to “retire” and sew all day but really, it might get dull if my WIPs actually made it from beginning to end with no 10 month lulls and 3 more projects started in the meantime, right?

Oh yes, I dream of stitching more, much more, because I love it.  Knitting needles, crochet hooks, binca and floss, cross-stitch – they have all been part of my journey with stitching and getting creative.  I look back very fondly, though with cringing embarrassment, at having tortured my Aunt every Christmas first to teach me and then to help me with my knitting.  I remember getting excited in the senior primary school classes when Friday afternoon needlework came around and, as I got older there always seemed to be some kind of needlecraft project on the go at our house.  It fell by the wayside a little when I started working and had my son, but it wasn’t too long before I was looking for some crafty outlet in my life.  I tried a few things that I thought might work for me.  Soap making, and card making were fun for a while but they weren’t quite the long-term fit I was after.  I enjoyed them but they weren’t quite “me”.

In the summer of 2010 I pulled out some fabric I’d bought 9 years earlier (!) and started making a hexagon EPP quilt (pic above).  As I stitched and stitched that summer I knew I’d found my creative, soul-feeding hobby and if that wasn’t enough of a sign, just before I went on my summer hols armed with pre-cut hexies and papers, an email dropped into my inbox telling me that my lovely friend, Judith was just about to start teaching classes.  Patchwork on a sewing machine?  Was I up for it?  Well, I’d try it and if it was a disaster I could always stick with EPP .  Fair to say, I’ve not looked back since that first night at quillow class.  My creative spark was fully alight and soon my cup and house began to overflow with fabric and spools and ribbons and I even learned a few designers names and could tell you what that fabric line was!

 

 

Discovering blogs was a MASSIVE game changer of course, because there was so much out there to learn, and generous and talented people were willing to share.  Blogging myself was another epic  moment in my stitchy life.  I joined the online community at just the right time (2010) I think, to catch a wave of flickr groups, online bees, swaps and general bloggy interaction with other people who share my passion.  It has been amazing!  And, of course the FAL is all part of that.  Sharing the journey of project finishes and having virtual cheerleaders is definitely better than sitting at home talking to a pile of UFOs alone!

Most of all, I love to make quilts.  Simple quilts, tricky quilts.  Big quilts, small quilts, mini quilts.  Machine piecing, hand-piecing, embroidery, EPP.  All have their place in singing to my heart. I enjoy bag making and crocheting and making small items too, though I need to draw myself away from the quilts to do them.  I think I have quite a broad range of tastes and likes when it comes to designs and fabrics but will admit to a particular penchant for Bonnie & Camille fabrics and colours (which I’m sure is no surprise to regular readers).

I love that when I sew I can switch off from the world for a while and just focus on what I’m doing.  I love that I can choose, depending on my mood, to sew intricate and brain-fuddling foundation pieced blocks or just simple squares and the results of each will be equally pleasing to me.  I take pleasure  that in my sewing, the creative and the intellectual come together (quilt maths, anyone?) and I adore that I have a hobby that the internet has allowed me to share and make friends through.  This is much more “me” than soaps and cards, it’s “Sew Me”.  See?

Anyway, my lovely readers and FAL friends, I hope you feel you know me a little bit better now after all that. And remember, tea or white wine when we meet, ok?

Now, I’ve kept you back from your stitching for long enough, so off you go and keep making progress towards those finishes!! I’ll be cheering you on from here.

Sarah Elwood

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FAL 2017 Meet the Host: Just Jude Designs


By Judith on May 15, 2017
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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.

 

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FAL 2017 Meet The Host: Sew of Course


By Judith on May 8, 2017
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This month in FAL we get to hear from 2 hosts.  The first is from Sandra of Sew of Course.

“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
I hope you can call back on the 15th when ‘yours truly’ will be the featured host.

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FAL 2017 Meet the Host: Throw A Wench In The Works


By Judith on April 15, 2017
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We are now into the 2nd quarter of the 2017 Finish-a-long.  I hope you are getting some time to sew and tick off those Q2 finishes.

 

As you know we introduce a FAL host every month, and this month it’s the turn of Ella from Throw A Wench in the Works.

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 4×6 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.
 

 

 


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Easter Bunny Bags Tutorial


By Judith on March 29, 2017
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Hello and welcome to Just Jude Designs, especially if you are here as one of the 2017 Finish-a-long participants.

 

As one of the new hosts this year, it’s is my privilege to share with you a tutorial to keep you inspired during our first Tutorial Week!

 

With Easter not too far away, I thought you might like a quick make that oozes cuteness and gives you nifty way to gift to your ‘chocolate loving’ friends and family!

 

 

Finishing at 4″ wide by 7″ tall (incl. ears!), they are the perfect size for filling with small chocolates and eggs!

 

Here’s how to make them:

You will need:

Outer Fabric: 2 x (6″ wide by 8″ tall)
Lining Fabric: 2 x (6″ wide by 8″ tall)
Ears front: 2 x (2.5″ wide by 4.5″ tall)
Ears back: 2 x (2.5″ wide by 4.5″ tall)
Lightweight iron-on vilene: 1 x (2.5″ x 9″)
0.5″ wide ribbon: 2 x 17″
small safety pin

 

Assume 1/4″ seams

Download ‘Ear’ template here.

 

1. Iron the vilene onto the wrong sides of 2 matching ear fabrics. Cut the 2 pieces apart. Using the ears template, draw an ‘ear’ onto the wrong sides of the other ear fabrics.

 

2. Place (different) ear fabrics right sides together and sew on pencil line (use a reverse stitch to start and finish). Trim away excess fabric, leaving 1/8″ seam allowance.

 

3. Turn the ears right sides out, press and turn under the open ends. Sew across the ends as close to the edges as you can.  Put to one side.

 

4. Place the outer fabrics right sides together.  Mark 2″ down from both top corners.

 

5. Sew around sides and bottom from marker to marker.  Repeat for the 2 lining pieces, but leave a 2″ gap in the bottom edge.

 

6. Pull the corners apart and place the side seam on top of the bottom seam. Measure 1″ along the seam from the point (this will give you 2″ vertically).  Mark the vertical line and sew along this line. Repeat for both corners on outer bag and lining.

 

7. Place the top ‘flaps’ right sides together, outer fabric with lining. Pin at the point where the side seams meet.

 

8. Sew around both ‘flaps’ between pins at both sides. Use a reverse stitch to start and finish, and take care not to sew into the existing seam.

 

9. Turn bag right side out through the gap in the lining. Hand or machine stitch the gap closed and press well.

 

10. Press the flaps under by approx. 0.5″ or until they reach the side seams. Pin and sew one flap down (as close to the edge as possible).  Use a reverse stitch to start and finish.

 

11. Pin the ears onto the remaining (turned under) flap leaving approx. 1″ between the ears at the bottom. Sew along the edge of the flap and along the bottom of the ears. Use a reverse stitch to start and finish.

 

12. Attach the safety pin to one end of the ribbon and pass through both channels until it comes out the same side where you started.

 

13. Knot the ribbon ends together and repeat for the other piece of ribbon from the opposite side.

 

And you’re finished!
Fill up the bag with chocolate goodies and pull the drawstrings to close!
(I guarantee you it won’t stay closed for long!!)
And for more fantastic tutorials this week, check out this list:

 

Don’t forget to link up your Q1 finishes here, before 1st April.

 

Happy (Easter) sewing!

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Finish-A-Long ’17: Quarter 1 Open!


By Judith on March 26, 2017
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It might be hard to believe but we have made it to the end of the first quarter of the 2017 FAL and it’s time to link up your Q1 finishes! In addition to completing all those UFOs on your lists, we hope you have taken the first 3 months of 2017 to get to know all of our new hosts!

 

The 2017 FAL has a community of bloggers across the world jointly hosting the FAL. Our hosts are:

 

  • Sarah – Sew me – Northern Ireland

Social Media Director

 

Before you link up, let’s give a huge thank you to our fantastic sponsors:

 


For the 2017 FAL, we continue tutorial week. Here is the schedule so you can visit them all:

 

The 2017 Q1 link for your finishes is now open below on my blog and on each of the hosting blogs – you only need to link on one blog for your finish to appear on each blog. Link-up “rules”:

 

  • Add one link for each finish. If you want to link a round up post of all your finishes, use that link to enter one of your finishes and then link the rest of your finishes separately. Please, only one link per finish, as your link is an entry into the randomly drawn prize draws.
  • Please ensure that the photo or blog post you link up contains a link or reference back to your original list so that we can verify your entry (make sure it is from the appropriate quarter).
  • Please become part of the FAL community. Please check out the links of others and comment. We all need encouragement so let’s applaud each other. The 2017 FAL Facebook page is here and follow us on Instagram @finishlong and tag your photos #2017FALQ1yourname (substitute your name), this makes it easier for us to match your finishes with your lists.
  • Our hosts will also link their finishes to share in the community, but they are not eligible for any of the prizes.

 

  • The Q1 Finishes link will stay open from now thru April 1, 2017 – link up your finishes early and if you have a last minute one, add that one later so you don’t miss out. The prizes will be awarded as soon as we can verify all the entries and do the drawings. We will post the winners on each hosts’ blog.
And don’t forget to start making your Q2 lists as the Q2 list link opens on April 2nd.

 


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FAL Meet the Host: Cut and Alter


By Judith on March 15, 2017
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Can you believe the first quarter of the Finish-A-Long 2017 is almost up! I’m seeing lots of great progress on Instagram! Keep up the good work.

 

The latest in our Meet The Host series is the very talented Abigail, from Cut and Alter. I enjoyed reading about Abigail’s global adventures and influences.  I know you will too!

 

******************

Back in November I was surprised and delighted to open an email from Rhonda inviting me to become one of the global host of the 2017 Finish-A-Long. There are 13 of us in all and over the course of the year we’ll be introducing ourselves. Nicky from Mrs Sew and Sow started off in January followed by Jess from Elven Garden Quilts in February and now in March it’s my turn.
Hello, my name is Abigail and I blog here at cut&alter. I found the FAL late on in 2015 and couldn’t believe how it motivated me to get things finished. I have always been a list maker and the FAL is no exception. My lists are somewhat larger then most people’s, although I have certainly seen longer as well! I know that I will never get everything ticked off within the current Quarter but it does give me 1) accountability 2) a reason to tidy up and reorganise my studio each quarter to find those projects which have been languishing on shelves and at the bottom of boxes 3) it brings projects to the front of my mind and a lot of work goes on in my mind even before I get in the studio 4) if a project has been rolled over just one too many times I can then see that it’s probably never going to get finished and I can pass it on (does that count as a finish?!!). Last quarter I had a particularly low completion rate and this one is shaping up to be the same but I have a few finishes and some projects are considerably further on!
A current quarter finish
I live in Stratford upon Avon with my husband, who is from New Zealand, our two daughters and a black and white cat. We have been back in the UK for just over 4 years and prior to that we lived in Otaki, New Zealand. We have been called gypsies before now due to our constant moving, and usually not within the same area. This is the longest time I have ever lived anywhere! (Can you keep a secret? Maybe, just maybe, my feet are itching again!) Some of the other places I have lived are: Nottingham, Leamington Spa, Sydney, Wellington, London, Waihi Beach, Cambridge, Tauranga, Rowington, Shirley, Waitarere Beach and Feilding. The whole idea of living here (the UK) or there (NZ) was the inspiration for this quilt. I was delighted when Should I Stay or Should I Go? was awarded Best Piecing in Show last November in Bristol!
Up until January this year I home educated the girls, which was brilliant. I always felt honoured to have as much time with them as I did and whilst it certainly was tiring and had its moments we had a lot of fun along the way. They have now started school, primary and secondary, and have settled in really well. We have a new rhythm in our lives which, for me, is taking some getting used to. I thought I would have all the time in the world, that I would have time to sew, quilt, go to the gym, make lovely healthy food …… oh silly, silly me!! You don’t actually get much done in the six hours between 9am and 3pm do you?!! One thing I have done is learn to do improv curves – I love them!!!!
I have been sewing since a child but, like a lot of women, I came back to sewing when my first child was born, although I had been making curtains for our houses every time we moved! Little children’s clothes are such a pleasure to make – fitting is not important, they don’t use much material and they are quick (although when sleep deprived they sometimes didn’t seem to be that quick). I had made a puff patchwork quilt for my eldest soon after she was born and then made a simple square quilt from vintage Laura Ashley soft furnishing fabric from our various childhood houses. These two quilts are well loved and well worn!
It wasn’t until 2010 that I ‘learnt’ to quilt. I took a 6 week night class in NZ and a passion was born. I joined my local quilt club and I listened to the other ladies of my group talking about all their WIPs. I was horrified! I vowed that I would never have projects sitting on my shelf – I would start and finish one before embarking on another. Oh how naive I was! Needless to say I have lots of projects on the go all of differing ages. Last year I finished my most long standing project – ANZAC Hearts, it was on my FAL2016 Quarter 2 list! This was a Bee quilt and I love it – luckily as much now as when I started it in 2010!
Back in 2015 I made the decision to purchase a longarm quilting machine and I totally love it!!! I bought a Handi Quilter Avante and it brings me a lot of joy. With the girls at home I did not have the time I would have liked for learning and practising but I am getting there. I have done a few customer quilts and hope to do more this coming year. Before then I have a backlog of my own tops that are waiting to be done. This was the first quilt I quilted on my machine ….
Wow – this has become a longer post than I thought. When I first sat down to write this I did wonder what I would write! So, here’s a quick 10 9 other things about me to finish (I got stuck on No 10!):
1. I make quilts for Project Linus
2. I am a member of the Oxfordshire Modern Quilt Guild
3. I am left handed
4. At 25 I spent a week in Coober Pedy, having read about it as child of 12 – it was awesome!
5. I love salads
6. I have only ever spent one night in hospital and that was with my daughter when she was 3 and had to have her tonsils out
7. Both my children were born at home – one in NZ and one in UK
8. I will go to QuiltCon ….. one day!
9. I would love to go to Alaska
There you have it! Remember there’s just a couple of weeks left for you to get your Quarter 1 list project finished. The link up opens on 26 March and will remain open until 01 April. Be sure to link up because there are amazing prizes to won (and I should know because I have won twice before!!) I look forward to seeing all the finished projects this quarter. Abigail x

 

What a great read!  I hope this spurs you on to get a few more finishes ticked off the list in time for our Q1 finishes.

 

Keeeeep sewing!

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FAL 2017: Meet The Host – Elven Garden Quilts


By Judith on February 15, 2017
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We are well into our first quarter of the 2017 Finish-a-long.  I hope you are progressing well with your proposed finishes for Q1.

 

It’s time to meet another one of the talented international hosts of FAL17.  Here is Jess of The Elven Garden to tell you more!

 

 

Hi, I’m Jess, otherwise known as Elven Garden Quilts. This is my second year as a FAL host, and although I’m not great at actually participating in the FAL (I have a pretty bad history of not finishing anything on my list!), it’s great to be back to cheer you all along for a second year. I thought this was going to be a really hard post to write – but once I got started it was surprisingly easy. So I’ve inserted photos of some of my favorite quilts in amongst the text – feel free to skim the words if you’d rather just look at quilts ;o).

 

I’m a 36 year old mum of three not-so-small people – my eldest son (12 year old) started high school this year (grade 7), and I have a 9 year old son and a 6 year old daughter. Needless to say, moments of sewing have been few and far between over the last few months while they’ve had their summer holidays – but they went back to school last week, so there is some semblance of normality in our household again :o). I have an incredible partner too, who encourages me in all my quilty endeavours and listens patiently when I ramble on about my current projects. We also have two fur babies – Shadow and Pepper, our little quilt-cats, who spend at least 90% of their time asleep on various quilts and cushions around the house! I’ll often go back to hand stitch binding and find my quilt has been invaded by cats ;o).

 

 

We live in Tasmania, Australia – that little island that sits off the southern coast of mainland Australia. It’s a beautiful place to live – we don’t have a huge population and we are surrounded by some of the most gorgeous wilderness in the world (in my humble opinion!). I grew up in a pretty arty/crafty family – my Dad studied ceramics at Art School and is an art teacher at a college, and my mum has always been involved with some sort of textile art. She made most of our clothes as kids, and is now obsessed with spinning and knitting all kinds of gorgeous yarn. So it’s kinda unsurprising that I’ve grown up to be a maker.

 

 

Although I have a science degree (and work as a lab technician part time), I’ve always enjoyed making stuff. I started cross stitching when I was quite young, and continued that hobby right through to my university years. It wasn’t until I had my youngest child that I decided to get a sewing machine – with the intention of making clothes and toys for my kids. I had fun doing this for a while, but then on a whim I bought a beginner’s quilting magazine and that was the beginning of a true obsession. For me, quilting is the perfect marriage of maths and art – I love numbers and I love working with colour, so it’s not surprising it has overtaken all of my spare time!

 

 

I started quilting around 5 or 6 years ago – and back when I started, my tiny sewing room overlooked the garden – so Elven Garden Quilts was born! After a few years, I outgrew that little room, so my ‘studio’ is now our garage – not the prettiest location, but I can be as messy as I want (and believe me, the term creative chaos fits me perfectly!) and close the door on it so no one else has to be subjected to it ;o).

 

I first started blogging for a few reasons. Mainly because I didn’t actually know anyone who quilted and I didn’t want to bore my family and friends to tears constantly talking about my quilts, and blogging was the perfect way to share what I was making. But it quickly became a way to connect with people all over the world who shared my passion. I’m ever in awe of how supportive and wonderful the online quilting community is, and my life would be very different if I hadn’t started blogging. I am a self-taught quilter, thanks to the enormous generosity of so many people in sharing tutorials and ideas, and a love of trying to figure out how to make things work!

 

 

I loosely call myself a modern quilter – although I’ve made plenty of quilts that are far more traditional than modern! I think I’m probably best known for my love of free motion quilting – everything I piece is quilted to death on my domestic Bernina. About three years ago, I was actually invited to become a Bernina Ambassador here in Australia, which is an incredible honour :o). I have several free motion quilting tutorials available on my YouTube channel – and I plan on doing a lot more of these this year! I’ve been teaching patchwork and quilting classes on a weekly basis for the last three years (although I’m currently having a break, after burning out from a pretty hefty teaching load last year), which is something I absolutely love.

 

 

Last year was a big year for me as a quilter, both on a professional and personal level. I won several awards for my quilts at some of our national quilt shows (the Australian Modern Quilt Show and the Australian Machine Quilting Festival), and I taught a lot of classes – both patchwork and free motion quitling. On the personal side of things, I feel like I really grew as a quilter. Although I’ve always loved making quilts and been happy with the finished product, I’ve struggled to find my style. But in the last half of last year I feel like I started to find my voice, and started making quilts that are more ‘me’ than ever before. Although I’ve always used and loved my design wall, I now rely on it constantly as a tool to design my quilts. Aviatrix is one of the last quilts I made using someone else’s pattern – and I think it will be the last for a fairly long time. I’m enjoying doing my own thing so much right now!

 

 

The last few quilts I’ve made (and my current work in progress) all started as a vague idea and a giant pile of fabric, and relied on my design wall to figure out what they would become. You can read all about the process I went through when making Scattered (shown below) herehere, here and here. And if you’re attending QuiltCon this year, please go say hi to her – she was juried into the show which is enormously exciting!

 

 

I recently wrote about the process of making one of my recent finishes, Flow. Again this quilt started as a pile of fabric and a very vague idea (as in, I knew I wanted to use improv curves), but the design came together through trial and error.

 

 

Although I’m much better at starting and finishing projects than I used to be (which isn’t to say I don’t have any WIPs – there are lots of those!), I work best when don’t feel like I *have* to work on a particular project. Which is probably why I make FAL lists and then largely ignore them… Having said that, I have several projects that have been ignored for far too long that I do want to finish this year, so next quarter you can expect me to fully participate and knock over some very long term WIPs!

 

Thanks for letting me introduce myself (and my quilts!), and I look forward to cheering you all on this year as you work through your FAL lists!

xx Jess

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