Sunday, 28 May 2017

Manchester Quilting Bee ~ quilt drive

In the amazing way that quilters respond when people need love and comfort, there is now a quilt drive Manchester Quilting Bee calling for hexagons to make into quilts for those affected by the recent attack in Manchester.

To see all the details please click here. My friend Michelle is collecting them and you can find the address to send them to on the post pinned at the top of the facebook page ❤ If you are in the US then you could contact @madebychrissied via instagram as she has offered to collect hexies.

You can download the hexie template here - it's a 5" hexie measuring across from the flat edges, point to point is 5 3/4" and each side measures 2 7/8".  They need a 1/4" seam so the finished hexie is 4 1/2". You can send plain hexies or pieced/embroidered if you wish.

It is a wonderful way to show our love for those affected and do something positive. Thank you for your support!

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Manchester ❤🐝

preface - It's not an easy thing for me to write, we are so thankful that our family is safe and I realise how fortunate I am. I know there are atrocities all around the world, I realise people live with worse daily. This is just my experience, this is what I am going through and this is my space to write about my life, which usually consists of sewing but right now I need to release. 

I am writing this post with such a heavy heart. On Monday 22nd May there was a horrendous terrorist attack in my home city of Manchester. The details have been all over the news, there's no need for me to reiterate, in fact it is time for me to stop obsessively reading it.

When I found out what had happened I woke my husband up, I cried and we witnessed the aftermath and reaction together. We were heartbroken.

photo credit: Dick Vincent

My thoughts have been with the families that lost their loved ones, the many people still in critical care and all of those that attended the concert. In the days since I have felt so many emotions, as I'm sure others have. 

The next day the police investigation began and it has been very close to home. Literally my home town, the places I go with my family, the schools, the streets, the areas. I heard the first controlled explosion and initially thought it was another attack. The sirens became a constant background noise, the helicopters circling overhead (some of which are media no doubt). All the emergency services doing their very best, working around the clock to keep us safe. I am so grateful, truly, but it's filled me with anxiety. 

Telling the kids was hard. We were honest, explained what had happened, my husband stressed the importance of looking at the helpers. They were sad and I'm still not sure how it's affected them. My youngest had a bad nightmare and maybe that's her processing it.

It wasn't easy to leave them at school, would they be safe with what was going on? With the police around I felt like they were but what a strange and scary scenario. And there was still panic in my head.

I have been numb. It's been a week where I literally haven't done anything beyond what was needed for the children. I have picked up my sewing each day and sewn for a few minutes in silence but I haven't felt like doing it. I have cried quite a lot. I donated money to the justgiving campaign for the families of those killed and injured, if you would like to donate please click here. We attended a vigil at a local church. I have thanked those I personally know who are working hard in the hospitals. I have spoken to my wonderful friends and lovely neighbours.

This is the worst atrocity in Manchester in my lifetime. I was there when the 1996 bomb happened, working in a sports shop. I was 16, it was my Saturday job. I was evacuated, saw the explosion and had mild PTSD. Thankfully there were no fatalities that day. All I know is how much that affected me and I can't begin to imagine how everyone that was there on Monday must be feeling. The repercussions will be felt for a long time.

No one I knew died or was injured, all the people I know of that attended came home safely. I feel like I don't have the right to feel so sad or so lost.

There is a feeling of hopelessness, a sense of longing to be able to help somehow. Anger about what has happened. Such sadness. Fear. Questions about how this can happen. 

So much of what I want to say is political but that's not what this is for. I will just say that radicalised ways of thinking are not representative of Muslims or the Islamic faith and I hope this tragedy doesn't tear communities apart. We should stand together. As we did in the vigil held in the city centre, or the incredible acts of kindness and responses from neighbouring cities and around the world.

I have lived each day waiting for my family to be together. Thankful and grateful we are.

Today I want to try to crawl out of my own darkness. I will never forget this and I need to carry on.

Friday, 12 May 2017

polaroid pouch ~ animal wisdom

You may have seen these polaroid blocks if you're following me on instagram, well I made a couple more and turned them into a zip pouch! What follows is a mini tutorial of how to stamp text on fabric and also a little explanation of those words.

The fabric used for fussy cutting is Menagerie, Indian Summer by Sarah Watson. One of my favourite prints. I picked out a few animals to fussy cut and the sketched design of the print works really well for the polaroids. I used Paint Dot, Paper Bandana by Alexia Abegg for the background. Such pretty dots and the colours are just perfect.

I have 'written' on polaroid blocks before (I don't like that empty space) - embroidered text - but I just didn't have time for that. I needed something quick and so turned to stamping. The same method I used to stamp my initials on the bottom of my Everything In It's Place Bag.

It requires a rubber stamp alphabet, the kind you can get from stationery or craft shops. Each letter is an individual stamp - clear stamps with an acrylic block are definitely the easiest to use because you can really see where you are placing the letters. 

To use them you simple peel the letters you need from the plastic backing and 'stick' them to the acrylic block to spell the word you want to stamp. I used a Memento Dew Drop Ink Pad, a really nice sized ink pad for the small letters.

Then to make the letters waterproof and also more even I went over them with a fine Pigma Micron pen. The 02 was the perfect line width for my letters. Finally it's important to heat set the ink with a dry iron.

*I managed to spill water on 'strength' (hence the smudging) while ironing the piecing before using the micron pen so do that sooner rather than later!

So why did I stamp those words?
I like surrounding myself with things that make me smile, positive images and words. I have a book Animal Wisdom by Jessica Dawn Palmer, which is all about the myths, folk stories and traditions that surround the animals. I looked up the bear, owl, fox and racoon, then chose the words that most appealed to me. The ones I feel are important, mean something and I want to always be part of me. It will just give me a reminder and boost when I see those words.

I would like to be a more adaptable person, I struggle with change a lot and it has led to anxiety.
Physical strength is important to me but also inner strength and mama bear strength.

Honesty and instinct come fairly naturally but I sometimes silence my instincts and that leads me to not be honest with myself. Doing my #100daysofsilentsewing project is really helping me to focus more on my instinct and the silence is so calming.

I chose a lining fabric I love, a Suzuko Koseki print:

And I picked a two tone zip, it's hard to capture the colour of the zip but the coral / yellow is so fun! It ties in well with the whole vibe I was going for.

I quilted round the polaroid blocks with navy 28wt Aurifil, simple straight lines that work as a frame.

Now I have to go and find something else to stamp!

linking up to finish it up friday at crazy mom quilts

Monday, 8 May 2017

2017 Finish-A-Long ~ Meet the Global Host Team ~ Sandra

Time to learn a little more about another team member, the lovely Sandra...

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 meeting me today for the first time, you are very welcome to my blog Studio Sew of Course, where I share my quilts and other stitching, as well as glimpses of my garden and the area where I live.

Who am I?

My name is Sandra, and 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! And in my student days 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 at 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 (NL), and thoroughly enjoyed living in this small university town. Cycling all over of course! 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! Machine quilting may help finish 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 any time 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 do like the idea that I am working to finish those quilts, but I won't be beating myself up over it. And only projects I still like are making it onto the list in the first place.

I still teach a weekly quilt group in our local library, and we hold a yearly exhibition of our work there, too. They have a great exhibition space!
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 new quilts are being turned over in my head... I have also been editing quilt patterns for several people over the past few years, too, and hope to do some more of that. I just love to puzzle on the quilt maths, and improving pattern instructions.

Besides that, I have a part-time job, we have three boys (13, 18, and 22), and a large (and rather unconventional) garden:

And I love going on walks and taking photographs (these are from last weekend):

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


Friday, 28 April 2017

pinwheels ~ Make Baby Quilts

This week I finished a sweet baby quilt for Sewing Quarter using the Winterberry fat quarter bundle:

The pattern is Dapper Canon by Camille Roskelley from the book Make Baby Quilts

I quilted it with wavy lines, it was so fun to do and is definitely one of my favourite, quick quilting patterns.

To watch my demonstration, with tips on keeping the points of flying geese, click here.

Thank you to Bex for taking great pictures in the studio!

linking up to finish it up friday at crazy mom quilts

Saturday, 15 April 2017

2017 Finish-A-Long ~ Meet the Global Host Team ~ 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).


I love the Botanical Gardens.


I LOVE Dragoncon!


I live here with my husband (commonly referred to by me as The Pirate...because Pirates are awesome), a smooshy senior cocker spaniel (who has ruined me for all other dogs and who I need to clone into an army of lovey dogs), and a slightly evil tuxedo kitty (think Brain from "Pinky and the Brain").

Obligatory animal pictures:

IMG_0282      IMG_0298

(Sorry, the tongue is a bit disturbing, but I still find her forcible grooming, usually limited to his floofy hair, HILARIOUS.)

I'm new to hosting the Finish-a-Long, but I've been a long time participant (and long time overachieving list maker). I started blogging back in 2011. A bit of trivia about my blog name. I'm also a bellydancer (although my knee issue has me a bit sidelined right now), hence the wench part. I tend to throw myself into things whole-heartedly, but I'm also a, 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.

Friday, 14 April 2017

make music wherever you go ~ guitar baby quilt

When I saw the Fat Quarter Baby book I knew I was going to make the 'Kevin' quilt for my sister and brother in law (who loves playing guitar). At that point she wasn't even pregnant but I could have given it to them for the cat. Earlier this year, however, my sister gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and so I had a reason to finish the quilt, which I gifted last week. Prepare to be bombarded with baby cuteness...

Starshine in Nightfall, Rhoda Ruth by Elizabeth Hartman; Lined Grids in Yarrow, Dow by Carolyn Friedlander; Southwest Key in Nature, Rhoda Ruth by Elizabeth Hartman; Crosshatch in Chestnut, Architextures by Carolyn Friedlander; Ant March in Citron, Picnic by Melody Miller and Coming Home in Clay, Bound by April Rhodes
Background: Subdivided in Grey, Doe by Carolyn Friedlander
Backing: Butter Churn in Navy, Feed Company by Sweetwater

Pattern: Kevin quilt from Fat Quarter Baby

Quilted with Aurifil 40wt #2600 and 12wt #4241 for the guitar strings.

She is so precious!
Happily her parents love the quilt and it's currently in her cot :) 

linking up to crazy mom quilts