Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Finish-A-Long 2017: Meet Jess (Elven Garden Quilts)



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







Sunday, January 15, 2017

Finish-A-Long 2017: Meet Nicky (Mrs. Sew & Sow...)

I'm super excited to be one of the hosts for the Finish-A-Long this year.  Since there is a group of us, we'll be posting a Meet the Host on all of our blogs regularly so you can meet all of us.  Up first is Nicky!



Hi !  My name is Nicky Eglinton and I'm one of the global 2017 Finish-A-Along hosts.  This is my second year as co-host so I should know what I'm doing.  


I live in the South of England but was born in bonnie Scotland and after a few years studying in Aberdeen and Glasgow, I came to London to get my first job!   I loved the theatres, cinema, restaurants, walking across Waterloo Bridge and looking one way at the Houses of Parliament and the other way at St Paul's.  Life was good!

Houses of Parliament to the left, 

the dome of St. Paul's to the right



Since then I have moved even further south and out of the hubbub of the City to the quiet more rural life of Sussex to raise a family with hubby.   It has suited us well and we have three lovely children and a cat and a dog!   Here are the pets in portrait and 'helping' me quilt!

Saffy and Maddie


In my childhood I learnt to stitch from my mother - first toys, and cross stitch, then clothes in my teens and twenties (back then it was actually cheaper to do that). 
 

Meet Dandelion - I still have him!




She also taught me knitting and crochet.  She loved passing on her skills though we struggled at times as she was right handed and I was left handed.  Every thing I did looked wrong to her as I was doing it in what seemed an awkward way....and there were very few lefthanded tools to help!  So I now prefer right handed scissors - in fact I cannot use lefthanded ones!!
Jumping forward a bit, to maintain my sanity after kid no 1, I went to an evening class about patchwork and quilting.  My chance to talk with grown ups!   I was completely in love with applique!   It was all I did!  And then I ended up on a course at  The Quilt Room to make this quilt in 2005!  

 

Friendship's Garden Quilt

by Alma Allen & Cherie Ralston



The applique was easy for me but would you believe I was terrified of the HST border round each block and the quilt remained in pieces, and on several FAL lists.
Carolyn Forster taught me piecing and introduced me to blogging!   Wow has she got a lot to answer for!   I started blogging as I wanted to record my stitching and gardening - hence my blog name Mrs Sew and Sow!

The sewing has taken over somewhat but this year I will be back in my garden and bringing lots of flowers into the house!  Wonder if a flower bed can count as a WIP or UFO??   What do you think?
Well back to that quilt I started in 2005 I kept moving it from one FAL list to the next!  I have joined up with the FAL since the beginning - though I may have missed a few quarters - and it has helped enormously - mainly from all the encouragement I received from commenters who have become friends.  
Suddenly it became the time to finish that quilt!  I even had to learn FMQ in order to do it !   



And here it is!  So all of you who have longterm WIPs/UFOs do not despair!




Finishing that longstanding UFO was like a release - it had been a block hanging over me!   I started actually finishing more stuff.   
Since 2012 I have been keen to meet up with people, and join in the quilting  community.  I went to the Fat Quarterly Retreats in London and learnt about the Siblings Together charity.  I have been making quilts for the charity since then - one or two to begin with, then I joined a bee to make more, helped others finish quilts and finally last year Maria and I were leading the campaign to make 100 quilts for the charity.  

The charity helps children in the UK social care system retain bonds with their siblings at holiday camps.  They are given a quilt to remind them of the fun times together.  

We will be aiming to make another 100 quilts in 2017 with help from a generous community of quilters !   Would you like to join us?  You can find more information here and here!



I love scraps and have been running a monthly link up, #Scraptastictuesday, on the second Tuesday of every month, with my co host Leanne (who also hosts FAL).  We like to celebrate the origins of patchwork, though Leanne uses scraps in more of an improv way than I do but you will find all sorts of inspiration there! 

I am a scrappy quilter for ecological and economical reasons!  I like to hang onto those pounds and pence and keep my scraps out of the landfill sites!    And I just love cramming as many different fabrics as possible into one quilt.  

We would love you to join us with your scrappy projects (they don't need to be finished), plans, and storage systems.

I try to make a scrappy sampler quilt each year with tutorials showing you how to make your own!  2015 is finished and 2016 is basted ready for a finish this quarter I hope!

Liberty Sampler 2015 & Karen Lewis Sampler 2016


And now I'm setting up a local group of stitchers in Sussex with my friends and co-founders Kelly and Jane and we are actually going to meet up and stitch together in a room!   And eat cake!   With no children !  It is starting this month !



I seem to have made lots of quilts.  I find the creative process both stimulating and therapeutic.  I do tend to make up my own patterns though on occasion if I love something I will try to make my own version of it.

Here are some of my favourite quilt finishes


Top Left : Nordik Quilt; Top Right & Clockwise:  Double Sided Welsh Blanket Quilt in Karen Lewis Textiles, pattern by Mary Emmens;  Hand stitched and quilted scrappy clamshell quilt;  Vintage Squares quilt; Stingy Bee Row Quilt  (both this and Nordik were made with help from members of Bee a Brit Stingy )



And here is one I hope to finish this coming quarter!  It is my take on the traditional Double Wedding Ring (my own variation) - a lot of it stitched by hand!  I used acryllic templates made by Marti Michell to help with the cutting and designing of these blocks.

Hoopla! Quilt


 My FAL list is always a long one (yes I am a member of Archie the Wonder Dog's #ridiculouslylongFAList ) as when I used to choose a few items for my list I always wanted to work on something else!  Much easier to keep everything out in the open I found!

I hope you will join us on our journey to complete those listed projects and I look forward to seeing your finishes!  Remember to cheer on the rest of the community - it really does make a difference!

Monday, January 9, 2017

FAL, My List, Quarter 1, 2017




Those of you who already follow me know I'm the EXTREME list maker....like HUGE lists.
And I invariably get distracted by the shiny and end up making a bunch of stuff that wasn't even on my list.  (Squirrel!)

It's class play season, so I expect that to be the norm again.  I haven't designed the costumes yet, so I have no idea what I'll be sewing/knitting for the show in February.  Oh, for those of you who are new, I write, direct, produce, yada yada, a class play for about 30 kids a year.  I have about a month to pull it all together.  Then I collapse in a heap and eat bon bons.  (I wish.)

For the new folk, here's a quick low down on me:

I'm a teacher in Atlanta.  I live with a lovely husband, a slightly moth eaten looking tuxedo cat, and a super lovey now deaf cocker spaniel.

I'm more than a tad obsessive compulsive/ADHD.

I make quilts.  I pretend I don't sew garments, but I am still trying to learn. I have two patterns I tend to make A LOT.

I sew quilts for Hospice, on my own and with the Serenity Circle from do.good.stitches.  It's my way of honoring the legacy of my grandmother, who used to knit and sew for charity.

I tend to be addicted to quilt alongs.  Maybe some day I'll run one myself.

I'm a geek.  I love Doctor Who, Orphan Black, Dirk Gently, Star Trek (in all forms, old and new), and Star Wars (with a few of the new trilogy that I still refuse to make eye contact with).

Cotton and Steel is my spirit animal.  (You are bound to see a bunch of it in my quilts.)

Without further ado, the list of crazy.  A bunch of these are BOMs.  I know I can't likely finish them this quarter, but I want to keep them on my radar.  (The sad thing is this isn't my entire WIP list.)

Sewing

1.  Violet Craft's Lion quilt (it's pin basted, awaiting hand quilting)
Violet Craft lion

2.  Tula sampler block quilt, version 1 (top almost done)
Tula sampler


3.  Round robin Improv  (top pieced)
IMG_7467


4.  Milky Way Sampler, hosted by Blossom Heart Quilts
Milky Way quilt


5. Chocolatier BOM, hosted by Gen X quilters
Chocolatier

6.  Slow Snail QAL, hosted by Gnome Angel
snail quilt

7.  Tula Sampler, V.2 Cotton and Steel
Tula block 1

8.  The Honey Pot Bee, hosted by Molli Sparkles
Honeypot bee quilt

9.  Do.Good.Quilt, Serenity Circle, slab quilt  (It's the Jan quilt for my circle.)
slab quilt6

10.  Timber Quilt (it's actually already a top)
Timber quilt


11.  Lloyd and Lola quilt
llama quilt

12.  Test Tank for Katie (cut)
test tank for Katie


13.  Hospice 1
Hospice 1

14.  Small World
Small World

15.  Maker's Tote (I got as far as cutting parts out and then fizzled on bag making)
maker's tote

16.  Pool Tote 1 (I cut it out intending it to be a Christmas present and then fizzled)
pool tote 1
17.  Pool Tote 2  (ditto)
pool tote 2

18.  Trail tote 1 (ditto)
trail tote

19.  Trail Tote 2 (ditto)
trail tote 2

20.  Smorgasboard quilt (awaiting hand quilting)
Smorgasboard quilt

21.  Framed quilt
framed quilt (from Stitched in Color)Framed block

22.  Project 48 quilt  (It's actually already a top.)
Project 48 quilt

23.  Sushi Washi  (Cut..I have to learn how to rethread my serger because I ran out of thread)
sushi washi

24.  Octopus top
octopus top

25.  Cross Quilt improv
cross quilt start

26.  Patchwork City quilt
Patchwork city

27.  Sprout mini quilt  (Patchwork from Scrap class)
scraps

28.  churn dash for hospice
churn dash for hospice

29.  cat head for dad
cathead start

30.  fairy/butterfly for MIL (it's been sandwiched, waiting to do reverse applique)
jersey quilt

31.  triangle skirt  (cut...awaiting the aforementioned serger rethread)
triangle skirt

32.  Purple improv
purple improv

33.  HST play
HSTs

34. Tangential quilt
tangential


35.  Single Girl quilt
freewheeling single girl

36.  Meadow quilt
Meadow start

37.  Meadow mini quilt
frog block

38.  Project Linus quilt
economy blocks

39.  Galaxy dress/washi (see serger rethreading..I cut a bunch of these last time and ran out of thread)
galaxy dress


40.  Arrow skirt  (see serger note)
skirt

41.  Itty Bitty Broken star quilt
broken lonestar

42.  Tear Drop quilt
IMG_9613

43.  Dr who shoes (need to resew one and elastic both)
dr who shoes

44.  Hospice 3
hospice 2

45.  Infinity Scarf Project
Infinity Scarf project

46.  Love scrap quilt
Love scrap quiltLove block

47.  Tula Pink Skull quilt (it's already a top as well)
sugar skull top


48.  Tula The Hood quilt (This one is my #quilttheweightoff quilt project)
house quilt


49.  Grocery bags (3) for Ginny
grocery bags

50.  AMQGQAL
2017AMQGQAL








Knitting

1.  manticore socks
Manticore socks


2.  Peacock mittens  (still on mitten #1)
Peacock mittens


3.  Scrap blanket
scrap blanket

4.  slip stitch socks
slipped stitch sock

5.  Pussy hats
Pussyhat project
pussy hat


6.  Katniss Socks
Katniss socks




Bucket List for 2017  (NOT INTENDED FOR THIS QUARTER'S FAL LIST)

1.  Tula Tumbler quilt
Tula tumbler quilt

2.  Tula Butterfly Quilt
Tula Butterfly

3.  Sujata Shah's Organized Chaos
Organized Chaos

4.  Forest Fancy quilt
fancy forest

5.  Sloth quilt
Sloth quilt

6.  Epic Halloween quilt
Halloween quilt

7.  Urbanologie BOM, hosted by The Intrepid Thread
Urbanologie BOM

8.  Tula Future Garden quilt
Tula Future Flower garden

9.  Aviatrix
Aviatrix

10.  Steampunk (I have one block cut)
Steampunk!

11.  Tree quilt
tree quilt

12.  Triforce Throw
triforce

13.  Fish quilt
fish quilt

14. Iris quilt
Iris quilt