Thursday, March 23, 2017

Meadow Mystery QAL Finish

Wow - it's been a full month since my last finish!  This means I haven't spent a whole lot of time in the sewing room in the last month and that's not good.  I did work on a house quilts for #quiltsforqc, but other than that, my poor Juki hasn't seen a lot of action.

Then last weekend, I decided I was going to stay off the work computer, ignore the email messages piling up in my inbox and spend time finishing my Meadow Mystery quilt.  This QAL, organized by Cheryl over at Meadow Mist Designs, started in July 2016 and the parade of finished quilts is scheduled for April 5 to 7.

I chose Curiosities by Jeni Baker for my focus fabrics and the background is Kona Snow and Kona Ash.  I'm really pleased with my choices of focus fabrics, but my background colours don't have nearly enough contrast.

Also, as much as I love Cheryl's designs (I have used her patterns many, many times in the past) and this one is no exception, I learned that I don't love mystery QALs.  I'm just not very good at selecting fabrics when I can't visualize what they'll look like in a finished quilt.  The good news is Cheryl always has a "no mystery" version of her QALs so next time, I think that's what I'll do.

For the quilting, I used my walking foot to quilt wavy horizontal lines that cross randomly. I really like the look of those lines and the texture is so nice.

This lap size quilt is going to be making its way to Louisville, Kentucky in a couple of weeks. My friend and work colleage Patti is an amazing crocheter and she agreed to swap a crochet blanket for a lap quilt.  I really hope she likes it!

Quilt Stats:
  • Pattern:  Meadow Mystery by Cheryl Brickey of Meadow Mist Designs
  • Size: 60" x 60”
  • Fabrics: Curiosities by Jeni Baker, Kona Snow and Kona Ash
  • Thread: pieced and quilted with Aurifil #2021 50 wt
  • Recipient:  Patti

I will be celebrated this long awaited finish by linking up at Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday and at The Carpenter's Daughter Who Quilts for TGIFF.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Meet the FAL 2017 Hosts: Abigail from Cut & Alter

We are back with another introduction post by one of the FAL hosts in 2017.  This month, we learn more about Abigail who blogs at cut & alter.  Enjoy!

Back in November I was surprised and delighted to open an email from Rhonda inviting me to become one of the global hosts 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 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 be won (and I should know because I have won twice before!!) I look forward to seeing all the finished projects this quarter. x

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Stash Report - February

February was a really, really busy month at work so I didn't get a whole lot of sewing done.  So this stash report isn't going to take very long.

I have two finished projects for February, both of which were made with scraps.  You can read more about each one by clicking the picture.

Bed Runner for Mom
Mug Rugs for Project Quilting

The bed runner put a really nice dent in my black and white scrap bin but most of the other bins are pretty full still.  Will have to plan more scrappy projects!  

As for my stash, I used 3.5 yards for the backing and binding of my mom's bed runner, but I also made some fabric purchases this month:

1 yard each of  Robotics by Birch Fabrics

1/2 yard of Kona Pink Flamingo

1 fat quarter of Kona Berry, Capri and Highlight

Stash Report YTD
  • 6 scrappy projects
  • 3 1/4 yards purchased and 7 yards used: - 3.75 yards net

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Bed Runner for Mom

A couple of years ago, my mom sold her house in the suburbs and moved into a condo in the city. Her new condo is super modern and when I went for my first visit, she mentioned that she would love a black and white bed runner made by me for her new bedroom.

During the Christmas holidays a couple of months ago, I started playing with my black and white scraps and decided it was time.  So I made 12.5" slab blocks in black, white and grey and threw one piece of red in there for a pop of colour.  I had made a few blocks when I put this project on my Q1 list for the 2017 FAL.  So this is my first finish on that list!!

I quilted it with a meander with Aurifil 2600 in 50 wt.

The binding is Kona Red and I used my precious Cotton and Steel from a couple of years ago for the backing.

I put it on my bed to see how it would look on a Queen Size bed and it's perfect!

And it did get Bronx' seal of approval... more than once!

Quilt Stats:
  • Pattern:  Improv slab blocks based on the "Missing the U" blocks by Cheryl Arkison (from the book Sunday Morning Quilts)
  • Size: 36” x 96”
  • Fabrics: scraps, Kona Red (binding), C+S (backing)
  • Thread: pieced and quilted with Aurifil #2600 50 wt
  • Recipient:  Mom  :-)
Linking up at Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday and at Anja Quilts for TGIFF.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Project Quilting 8: The Brighter the Better

We are already at challenge number 4 in Season 8 of Project Quilting and so far, I've been having a great time with these.  Nothing like a super tight deadline to get the creative juices flowing (and increase your stress level just a bit!).

This week, the theme is "The Brighter the Better" - we were encouraged to use bright colours for our quilted project.

I thought about it for a little bit, but then it dawned on me that I wanted to make more mug rugs (they are seriously so fun) to have on hand for quick presents or raffle prizes at Montreal MQG meetings. What could be more fun than a rainbow of mug rugs?  Nothing!  :-)

I made small slabs in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and purple.  Each one measures 7 inches wide by 6 inches high and I quilted them with organic wavy lines with the walking foot.

Every one of them made with nothing but scraps - even the binding and the backing.

That means I have now completed 13 scrappy projects so far this year.  Yay me!  And here's my pink mug rug from a couple of weeks ago hanging out with the new mug rugs.  Nice set don't you think?

I will be linking up at Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday and at A Quarter Inch from the Edge for TGIFF this week.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Meet the FAL 2017 Hosts: Jess of Elven Garden

During the whole FAL year, we will introduce you to the different hosts - it's always fun to read the story behind the blog or the IG username. This month, we are getting better acquainted with Jess of 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

Monday, February 6, 2017

Stash Report - January

Back in December, when I wrote that my goals for this year would be to sew my stash and use up my scraps, I also said I would report on these goals at least monthly.  So here is my January report.

I had a very successful month... First, let's talk scraps.

I made five blocks for the #52weekswiththequiltersplanner sew along and used nothing but scraps in these blocks.

I completed three small projects for Project Quilting - again, all made with scraps and fat quarters I had in my stash.

You can read about each finish by clicking it's name below:

I created a banner for my word of the year using all scraps, including the background, the binding and the backing.  (Note: The decluttering is going very well. Kitchen is all done and I've gotten rid of a bunch of stuff.)

So that is four finished projects made from scraps.

As for my stash, I didn't buy any fabric this month and used up 3.5 yards from my stash.

Not a bad start right?  :-)