Thursday, June 15, 2017

Meet the Host FAL 2017: Marci!


Hello!  My name is Marci Debetaz and I blog over at Marci Girl Designs and this month it is my turn to share all about myself as one of the 2017 Global Finish-A-Long hosts.  So here it goes...


Here I am, 4' 11.5" tall, so yeah I'm short and this photo was taken a little over a year ago but I mostly look the same, or at least I like to think so.  I am currently 36 years old in case any of you were wondering because I know I have somewhat of a baby face.  I was born in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, USA but have lived most of my life now in Louisiana.  My family moved a lot when I was growing up, back and forth between Florida and Louisiana to finally settle in Louisiana much to my disliking, because honestly who wants to leave the beach for swampland?  Not me.  Anyways I went to Middle and High School in New Iberia, Louisiana and then attended College in Lafayette, Louisiana (about a 40 minute drive.)  I met my husband in my second year of College, we both were majoring in Industrial Design and we fell in love.  (Oh so sweet!)  So we dated a few years, got engaged and then married all before we finished College.  We graduated College together a semester after the wedding, both with degrees in Industrial Design.  We found jobs, worked, you know, regular married life and then a few years later we bought our first house.


Here is our MAJOR fixer upper 13 years ago when we bought it (though this photo was taken after some serious cleaning up of the yard.)


 Here is our home today, and what you can't see on the back corner of this house is the major addition we are adding and have been working on since February of this year, doing ALL of the work ourselves.  We are hoping to be finished by Christmas, but who knows,  fingers crossed.  I had to mention our house because it has been a major focus of all my free time this year, which stinks because I miss sewing and quilting but will totally be worth it when we are done.

Ok, I got off track.  So after we bought our house we had three kids, two boys, 9 and 5 and our little girl who just turned 2.  I don't post about them directly on social media for their privacy but I promise they are super cute.  It was after my first child was born that I really picked up the sewing/quilting bug again.  I say "again" because I grew up sewing and quilting.  My mom did both and taught me.  I started by making Barbie doll clothing, then that turned into small quilts and sewing my own clothes through High School.  Then when I was in College (and falling in love) I didn't have much time for those hobbies and they fell by the wayside.  After my first was born I became a stay at home mom and discovered I had lots of free time during naps.  Thus my hobbies began anew!


I started up my hobby again making handbags and pouches which I quickly realized I had way too many handbags and pouches, so I opened up an Etsy shop.  I had my shop open for a few years until I closed it at the end of 2011 right before my second son was born.  I always had intentions of opening again after his birth but alas it never happened.  I do hope to one day open up my shop but for now I am enjoying sewing for my family and friends.

  
It wasn't long after I started sewing again that I discovered the world of blogs and designer fabric.  Let's just say that was a total game changer for me and the true obsession began.  I decided to start my own blog in February of 2010 and have been doing so on and off ever since.  I use my blog as a form of diary or portfolio of things I have made through the years and though I find the writing difficult I am glad that I push myself to do so because it is so nice to go back and read about my own projects, many of which I have already forgotten about.


 I love participating in Quilt and Sew Alongs and the occasional competition (for fun, I don't want to stress about it.)  The above quilt was created for the Emerald Pantone Quilt Challenge (I can't remember the year.)  It currently hangs in my bedroom.  This quilt is my original design and entitled, "Emerald Cut."


I will still occasionally make handbags and pouches, I design my own patterns plus make them from independent pattern designers.  The pouch above is one of my designs.


I make way more quilt tops than finished quilts, sadly I have a huge WIP pile.  The photos above and below are examples of two of these quilt tops awaiting quilting.  The top is a One Block Wonder quilt created from just one large scaled print fabric. The quilt below is another Pantone Quilt Challenge, the color that year was Radiant Orchid, this quilt is also my own design.  It is one of my personal favorites.


In 2014 I was chosen to be a contestant in an online sewing challenge called "Sewvivor."  The bag below was my entry for the very first round, which was nautically themed.  Though I didn't make it past the first round, I made a great new set of online sewing friends and had a ton of fun in the process.


Within the first year or so of blogging I also found Flickr and through Flickr I found out about online Quilting Bee's.  I quickly joined several and have never looked back.  I made friends in those first groups, that I still have today and we are still sewing bee blocks for each other.  Though Flickr isn't as predominant these days, things have shifted over to Instagram and the fun continues.  A few years ago most of my quilting bees were coming to a finish and two of my fellow bee mates decided to create a new hand picked group that they named Bee Sewcial.  The concept of the group is that we stay connected and in touch, use only solids and work in improv.  This is our third year together and honestly one of my favorite things to do every month.  The creativity involved and the friendship is just so fantastic.  At the end of our first year together we opened up the sewing prompts to everyone interested and anyone can now sew along with us using the hashtag #inspiredbybeesewcial.


 I guess that about sums of my life.  Stay at home mom to three, in between running the kids to school and nap times I sew and quilt.  I have tried crochet, knitting, tatting, beading and about every other craft you can think of but in the end I always return to sewing and quilting.  I love improv but I also love traditional quilt blocks.  I love to sew clothes, handbags and pouches.  Don't ask me to alter your clothes or to iron like normal people.  It isn't going to happen.  I have a huge pile of WIP's and have been participating in the Finish-A-Long since its inception.  I was thrilled to be asked to host this year and I have been slowly working through that pile.  I do so hope you join us this year!

I'll end my post reminding everyone that in 10 days the second quarter finishes link up opens, you still have time to finish those projects so get to work!

Thank you for joining me today, Marci

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Finish-A-Long 2017: Meet Judith!


Hi everyone, my name is Judith of Just Jude Designs and it's my turn this month to tell you a little about myself as one of the 2017 Finish-A-Long hosts.



I was born in Northern Ireland, and apart from 7 years living in England, I have lived here all my life. I currently live 5 minutes away from where the famous RMS Titanic was built in Belfast 1911.

 

I started sewing when I inherited my Nanny Maud's singer treadle sewing machine at the age of 11. I had already been crocheting clothes for my dolls from the age of 9, but now I could sew them blankets too!




When I started high school (11) I took Needlework. On my first day, I walked into the Needlework room and saw it was filled with electric sewing machines, but tucked away in the corner was a Singer Treadle machine! I pleaded with the teacher to let me use it, and then spent the next 3 years making garments on it! The start of my happy place!  


I continued sewing on my Singer Treadle, teaching myself naive patchwork from recycled clothes, curtains and scraps. (I still love working with recycled textiles today!) I made my first little quilt, a pram quilt, when I was pregnant with my first daughter (1995).

 

2 days before my 3rd daughter was born, I turned 30, and my family bought me my first electric sewing machine. I'd been sewing for 20 years and had never used an electric machine! I fell in love with my Brother machine, and then upgraded to a Pfaff Quilt Expression a few years later, which I still use today.

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When my youngest daughter started school, I went 'back to school' myself, studying City & Guilds Textile and Design. I thought it was time I learned how to sew and quilt properly! My motivation for taking this 2 year course was therapeutic, a kind of 'play therapy', recommended by my counsellor to overcome depression. It worked!

 

I finished and passed my course and was invited to teach patchwork to a group of women with mental health issues at a local community centre. I didn't even know how to teach patchwork, but I overcame my nerves and quickly started on a new passion for teaching and inspiring others to love patchwork too.

     

For 2 years I taught women suffering from a wide range of mental health problems and saw first hand the therapeutic benefits they experienced after only a few short weeks of sewing. One lady in particular, old before her time, stooped with low self worth and heavily reliant on a walking stick, made her first patchwork cushion and within 6 weeks was coming to class without her stick and walking tall!! Like many others, learning a new skill within a caring community, and having something to show and be proud of, elevated her self-esteem and ignited hope and positivity in many areas of her life.


Over the past 10 years I have continued teaching in different venues, running my own programme of classes and also teaching for others. I also design quilts, cushions and bags for a number of UK based quilting magazines, and sell my patterns via my website, Etsy and Craftsy.


   

As a sole trader it is important for me to connect with other creatives, both professionally and personally. Being part of the quilting blogging community for the past 6 and a half years has been a hugely positive and affirming experience for me, and it has been my privilege to be a part of many bees, swaps and charity groups.

 
Brit Bee 2012  

If you have made it this far, thank you! Thank you for taking the time to read this and being part of Finish-A-Long 2017.

  ​

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Finish-a-Long: Meet the Host, 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 here for the first time, you are very welcome!

Who am I?

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! As a student 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 in 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, and thoroughly enjoyed living in this small university town. 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! I may be finishing 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 very 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 still teach a weekly quilt group in our local library, and we hold a yearly exhibition of our work there, too.
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 quilts are being turned over in my head...

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


And I love going on walks and taking photographs:





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

Sandra

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Finish-A-Long 2017 Meet the Maker: Ella at Throwawenchintheworks



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).
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I love the Botanical Gardens.
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I LOVE Dragoncon!
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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:
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(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 klutz...so, 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.