Sunday, March 26, 2017

Time to Link Up 2017 Q1 Finishes!

It might be hard to believe but we have made it to the end of the first quarter of the 2017 FAL and it's time to link up your Q1 finishes! In addition to completing all those UFOs on your lists, we hope you have taken the first 3 months of 2017 to get to know all of our new hosts! The 2017 FAL has a community of bloggers across the world jointly hosting the FAL. Our hosts are:
  • Sarah - Sew me - Northern Ireland
Social Media Director
  Before you link up, let's give a huge thank you to our fantastic sponsors:  

For the 2017 FAL, we continue tutorial week. Here is the schedule so you can visit them all:
The 2017 Q1 link for your finishes is now open below on my blog and on each of the hosting blogs - you only need to link on one blog for your finish to appear on each blog. Link-up "rules":
  • Add one link for each finish. If you want to link a round up post of all your finishes, use that link to enter one of your finishes and then link the rest of your finishes separately. Please, only one link per finish, as your link is an entry into the randomly drawn prize draws.
  • Please ensure that the photo or blog post you link up contains a link or reference back to your original list so that we can verify your entry (make sure it is from the appropriate quarter).
  • Please become part of the FAL community. Please check out the links of others and comment. We all need encouragement so let's applaud each other. The 2017 FAL Facebook page is here and follow us on Instagram @finishlong and tag your photos #2017FALQ1yourname (substitute your name), this makes it easier for us to match your finishes with your lists.
  • Our hosts will also link their finishes to share in the community, but they are not eligible for any of the prizes.
The Q1 Finishes link will stay open from now through April 1, 2017 - link up your finishes early and if you have a last minute one, add that one later so you don't miss out. The prizes will be awarded as soon as we can verify all the entries and do the drawings. We will post the winners on each hosts' blog.

And don't forget to start making your Q2 lists as the Q2 list link opens on April 2nd.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Gee's Bend Mini

Improv Mini

This mini quilt was begun in a workshop with the quilters of Gee's Bend at QuiltCon 2015. The supply list said to bring old clothes as material for the workshop so I took myself to the thrift shop and got some jeans and a plaid shirt. I also collected up some amazing red corduroy fabric my Mother-in-Law passed along to me. Plus leopard print because, well, the fact is that I have more than my fair share of Edith Prickley in me when it comes to the quantity of animal print I have in my wardrobe.

Improv Mini binding 

It took me so long to move it past the stage I got to in the workshop, because I planned to add to it and make it bigger, yet I never seemed to get around to it. Thus it sat for a long time.

Finally, I decided that I wanted it finished more than I wanted it bigger so I went ahead and got it quilted. By hand, of course, because the piece really is an homage to those amazing quilters.

I did exactly zero marking before diving in and simply stitching where it seemed there needed to be stitches. I quite like the wonky nature of my stitching.

Improv Mini stitching

It finished up to be not-square and rather than add to it to square it up, I just went with the shape.

I also tried a wide binding first introduced to me by Latifah Saafir in her Glam Clam workshop for VMQG. I *love* how it looks, and I'll definitely be using that size binding again.

Improv Mini binding and stitches

This mini was on my 2016 Q4 goals list in the Finish A Long. Have you heard about FAL? Click on the link up top to find out how to join in. There are prizes! There are cheerleaders! Come and join the fun!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Meet the Host: Abigail of cut and alter

It's time to meet another Finish A Long host in her own words:

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

Thank you, Abigail! It is great to learn more about you!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Canadian Sampler at Sew Sisters

Last year, the wonderful women at Sew Sisters contacted me to inquire about my contributing a block to a very special sampler they were putting together to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday.

I said yes, of course - I'm thrilled to be in the wonderful company of many amazing Canadian quilters and designers. Icing on the cake was the fact that Sew Sisters compensated me and all of the designers for our contributions. Too often, creative people are expected to give of their time and talents without being offered fair compensation (and no, 'exposure' doesn't count). Thanks, Sew Sisters!

My block is called Maple Leaf 4 Ever (geddit? there are 4 smaller Maple Leaf blocks that comprise the full block).

The block uses a lot of HSTs, my relationship with which is long and can best be described as love/hate. Love the look and design possibilities, hate the trimming.

I've discovered some tools over the past little while that have helped me with my HSTs. First up is the BlocLoc ruler. If you make your HSTs using a method that creates HST units slightly larger than necessary to allow trimming for accuracy, then you're aware of the drudgery of trimming. The BlocLoc ruler has a channel along the diagonal that "locks" onto the diagonal seam of the HST and makes trimming a dream. They're not cheap but to me, the time saving and improved accuracy is worth it. Bonus tool is a rotating cutting mat, but it's not necessary to get the benefit of the ruler.

My other HST tool is Thangles. Thangles allow you to piece HSTs using a combination of strips and foundation paper piecing. I tend to use them if I'm making many HSTs from the same two fabrics. The HSTs that get made are quite accurate and don't need trimming after they're made.

All righty then, I look forward to seeing your Maple Leaf 4 Ever blocks - please tag me (@felicityquilts) in your photos on Instagram so I can see your beautiful work.

NOTE: I received no compensation from BlocLoc or Thangles, and I don't benefit in any way if you purchase them. I just wanted to share these tools with you because I use them and find them to be really helpful.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Bee Sewcial March Prompt

Hello Bee Sewcial friends and #inspiredbybeesewcial friends! My inspiration for this month's theme originates in the packaging for some coffee we bought last year. The colours of the bag really spoke to me and I kept that bag perched beside my laptop for months knowing I'd use it for Bee Sewcial.

For March's blocks, please let yourselves be inspired by the following words:

  • waves
  • depths
  • flow (I think my yoga classes are affecting me ha ha)

For the block's composition, I'm okay with anything except embellishments. Curves, straight lines, appliqué, whatever strikes your fancy.

Orientation is up to you as is size as long as your block/s is/are the equivalent of two 12½" blocks. I absolutely love the process of puzzling together blocks into a top, so don't worry about odd dimensions.

As for the colourway, I'd like you to again be inspired by the packaging's colours. For proportions, please focus on the darker hues (teals), using a lighter touch for the lighter colours (greens) and the copper colour as an accent.

Bee Sewcial March prompt

For your reference, I've included my older Kona colour card in the photo (ignore the circled colours). The darker colour in the packaging seems to match Kona Glacier pretty well - you can see that in the photo background. But anything in that family of darker blue-greens/teals would be great. The greens appear to be in the Palm/Laurel/Leaf range. As for the copper colour, my card suggests Brick, Cocoa or Spice. Again, all of these colours are guidelines only to help with choosing colour families. They don't have to be Kona solids or those specific colours.

I so look forward to seeing how you interpret the vision!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Round Robin top is complete!

With the motivation of my Q1 Finish A Long Goals list, I have been a busy quilter, especially now that my MQG Swap minis are done and have been received by their recipients.

I finally (FINALLY!) finished the quilt top from the 2015 Round Robin activity I did with my guild, the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild.

It looked more or less like this when I got it back at the end of the round (I had to perform a bit of surgery on it to take out a couple of rows that just didn't work for me):

2015 Round Robin quilt top

I got out my yarn-dyed scraps along with my other scrap bins and set to work. First up, I added some larger-scale flying geese.

Round Robin progress - flying geese border

Then came a row with improv quarter-circles:

Improv quarter circles in progress

Round Robin quarter circle border

The top still needed something to widen it. Arrows to the rescue!

Arrows border

And finally a scrappy monochromatic slab for the top and we are all set.

2015 Round Robin top complete

I had wanted to get it quilted right away, but I'm setting the top aside to tend to some more pressing projects.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Meet the Host: Jess Frost of Elven Garden Quilts

It's time for another instroduction of a 2017 Finish A Long host!

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


Thank you, Jess!