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

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

catch up - Cardiff, mini hoops and stitchings

I took part in the Very Berry mini-hoop swap organised by the wonderful Ali of Very Berry Handmade. I haven't done a swap for a really long time and was lured by seeing all the lovely hoops people have made in the previous swaps. 
It was such a delight to open up my package and see the incredible hoop that Danielle @rubysewoh made for me:

Such pretty stitches and in the most gorgeous colours! She was inspired by the amazing Western Australia Sunsets and I am going to be getting a chain so I can wear this piece of art!

My secret partner was Teresa @shirleyrainbow_tb, a very creative lady who does fabulous crochet. I decided to try to create a fragment of a granny blanket with my stitches, and used fabrics and colours I thought she would like:

I really enjoyed making it and was pleased with how the stitches had such a nice texture, which I think captures the idea of crochet at least.

If you love swaps I definitely recommend following Ali @veryberryhandmade and joining in next time! Thanks for hosting such a great swap Ali!

The kids are on their Easter holidays so we spent the best part of last week in Cardiff, visiting my sister and her family. We had SO much fun. Of course I noticed quilty inspiration everywhere...

I have to start printing these kind of pictures out and actually create some patterns!!

It was absolutely glorious weather while we were there, we went to lots of parks and playgrounds:

The main reason for our visit was for my kids to meet their new cousin, my niece baby Ada. This was literally the first time they saw her:

She is such a cutie! Also hard to believe how big all of my kids are now. My eldest girl has managed to lose 3 of her front baby teeth at once 😂

Mark took the older two to watch football with my brother in law while my sister and I took the littles out for a shopping trip. It was a real treat!
Followed by more treats the next day as we went to my brother in laws family's house. His brother's family had come to stay so there was an epic easter egg hunt and lots of laughter, good food and chat.

It was such a lovely break. Of course I did take sewing with me, some was for work (that you will be seeing soon!) and I made more progress on my Mischief Quilt blocks:

In other news I got some new glasses. I'm loving them! They are from Ace & Tate - a recommendation from the lovely Hannah at work. They arrived quickly and are so comfortable. Not quite as big as my last pair of glasses but still nice and big. The colour is amazing too.

Finally I am super excited to be going to The Stitch Gathering organised by myBearpaw, in Edinburgh this October!! I can't wait to meet up with lovely friends and spend the day sewing. If you want a ticket, hurry because places are limited, to book click here.

What have you been up to lately?

Monday, 3 April 2017


I decided today that I am joining in with Elle Luna and Lindsay Jean Thompson for #the100dayproject. If you haven't heard of it you can find more info here but basically you chose do to something for 100 days and document it on instagram with a unique hashtag.

It felt quite difficult to chose an action, at first I thought there wasn't really anything and then I realised I really could do anything because obviously it doesn't have to be something I am good at! I had lots of thoughts, possibly drawings, designs, colours, fabric scraps? Then I thought about what I want to do, what I would do if I had made time. Of course it would be sewing. That doesn't seem enough because I usually do that every day anyway. So what don't I do? Sew for myself... finish projects... play/improv. But then I don't think I would be motivated to do those things for 100 days.

What else could I do if not sewing? Reading, dancing, walking. Yet what do I want to achieve?

I need some self care. I need time to reflect. I need to focus. I would like to do something for 100 days that will help me do those things.

Then I realised. Sewing is my time for relaxing but I rarely do it without doing something else at the same time. I am writing a pattern or making a project and taking notes as I go, or watching tv, or listening to a podcast, or talking, or I'm on a train. And that's all great. It's not always feeding my creativity though, it's not breathing space or mindfulness. 

My action is 100 days of silent sewing - be it 10 mins or an hour of silent stitching, a chance to work on some unfinished projects or just to stitch whatever I feel like. Maybe I will just do a running stitch through a scrap of fabric because that's all I can muster. I'm not sure how it will go! I would prefer it to be hand sewing but I am not going to set rules for myself. And it's ok if I'm out and about (not alone in a quiet room) because that might be the best chance I get. I am going to turn off and sew silently.

You can follow along #100daysofsilentsewing and see where it takes me.

Has anyone done this challenge (or similar) before? Can you share any tips with me, particularly about how to keep going?

Sunday, 2 April 2017

2017 Finish-A-Long • Quarter 2

It's time to link up your list of unfinished projects that you propose to finish in Q2 of the FAL. I truly hope you are facing a new quarter with a brand new list - because you finished so many UFOs in Q1!

The FAL is hosted by a community of bloggers across the world. Our hosts are:
  • Sarah - Sew me - Northern Ireland
Social Media Director

For those of you who are new to the FAL, it is a place to find motivation and encouragement to complete those unfinished projects that are hanging about becoming UFOs. Every quarter you post a list of projects you hope to finish in the next three months, and then at the end of the quarter, you post a link from your blog, Flickr or Instagram of each successful finish from your original list. Each finish is an entry for wonderful prizes from our sponsors. There is no penalty for not finishing a listed project, so feel free to make your list long or short, as you wish. The 2017 Schedule and Rules for the FAL are on my permanent FAL page, let me know if you have any questions. Here are the fantastic and generous sponsors for Q2 of the FAL - you can see each of their prizes listed under their logo (think about visiting them and saying thank you):

As you may recall from last year, there was a return of tutorial week at the end of each quarter, between the opening of the link for finishes and the day that link closes. Are you enjoying this? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below! This will take place each quarter. Each host works hard to put these together so I hope you are visiting their blogs to encourage them. If you have a tutorial that you would like to share, please let me or another host know. It's time to round up those projects you want to finish over the next three months, take a photo of each one and make your list. Please ensure that you have at least started your projects - pulled fabric with a pattern is now considered a UFO, and remember it is only finished projects that will get you an entry toward the above listed prizes. So while we love to see your bee blocks, the "finish" is when they are a completed, usable project. It is very helpful if you tag your list as #2017FALQ2yourname when posting on social media: Flickr, Facebook & Instagram. Using the same hashtag over the quarter when sharing progress or finishes before the link, helps the hosts find your original list quickly - especially when this is done over a 3 month period. IMPORTANT: Don't forget to link your finishes up when the quarter closes.

The 2017 Q2 link for your list of proposed finishes is now open below on my blog and on each of the hosting blogs. You need only link your list once, on one blog - and that link will show up on all of the blogs.
If you are using Facebook, Flickr or Instagram, link a mosaic and put your list in the description. Katy of The Littlest Thistle has a great tutorial on how to link-up if you need it. We also ask that you become part of the FAL community. Please check out the links of others - visit and comment on their lists. We all need encouragement to get those finishes done, so please share some of your own too. When creating your list there is one thing to remember....No deductions for not completing something so ..... Aim High! Nothing to lose!!! Well Now..... Get those lists together and get linked up. The Q2 proposed finish linky party will stay open until 11 pm EST, April 8, 2017- as we are global, you might want to check your time zone to determine your last possible time to link. Remember: you only need to link up on ONE hosting blog and it will automatically show up on all hosting blogs.