Wednesday, 15 February 2017

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

Each month we are going to be introducing the hosts of this years Finish-A-Long so you can get to know a bit more about us! This time it's wonderful Jess...

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, 12 February 2017

garden snail goes to town

My snail is loving life, it has its glad rags on and is heading into town for a night out! With flecks of metallic in its shell and a dusting of glitter on its body, this snail is ready to boogie!

This block is from the Garden Snails Quilt Pattern by Pen + Paper Patterns and I'm joining Angie, Gnome Angel and friends for #snailday Sunday as part of the Snail Paced Slow-Along Sew-Along!

The pattern includes this bonus foundation paper pieced block and I couldn't resist that swirly shell. I enjoyed a root through my scrap bag and ended up picking out some bright greens and fuchsias mixed with black and a little bit of coral. I absolutely had to use that Brownstones, Gramercy by Leah Duncan print for the background and it pairs so beautifully with the Essex Yarn Dyed Metallic I used for the body.

This is such a fun pattern and there are lots of fabulous snails popping up each Sunday on Instagram, check out #gardensnailsquilt for more inspiration! You can join in with the slow paced sew-along any time, all the details can be found here at Gnome Angel.

Purchase the Garden Snails Quilt Pattern and create your own unique snails, there are lot of cool possibilities for quilting with this one too. What fabrics would you chose? 

Friday, 10 February 2017

Sewing Quarter ~ projects and Tilda quilt

Exciting, mildly terrifying and busy is how I would describe my life recently! I am thrilled to share the news (for those of you that aren't following me on social media) that I am one of the designers on Sewing Quarter - a new shopping channel dedicated to sewing and quilting.

You can watch Sewing Quarter online or on Freeview channel 78, it is also live streamed on  YouTube and you can catch up on previous shows there. Sewing Quarter is live from 8am - 12pm every day, there are loads of tips and projects from all the designers - from dressmaking and quilting to soft toys and home furnishings. There are also some cute and useful projects and guides on the website too!

Here are a few of the projects I have made so far:

Appliqué Apron and Plant Pot Holders

I also designed and made this 'Hearts and Kisses' baby quilt using the Sweetheart Fat Quarter Bundle by Tilda and Sweetheart Ribbons:

It was fun doing a machine blanket stitch on the hearts and the ribbon worked so beautifully, simply top stitched on to the squares:

The finishing touch was a coordinating quilt label that I hand stitched on the back:

I am currently designing more quilts and projects to share on the show. If there are any techniques you would like to see me demonstrate please do let me know in the comments below and I will do my best!

Of course this TV business is all new to me, I am learning a lot and working hard to create interesting projects for both beginners and intermediate sewers. Those of you following my blog know that last year saw a big change for me, I had a lot of anxiety about my youngest starting at school. Now she's settled so well and I am adjusting to not having kids at home all day, it feels good to be able to focus more on work. I am grateful to have this opportunity, to be working with such a great team and to be able to inspire people to make and sew. A couple of people have shared their finished projects on the Sewing Quarter Facebook Page and that is so awesome!
I will be sharing more finishes soon! Wishing you all a wonderful weekend :)

linking up to finish it up friday at crazymomquilts