Saturday, February 18, 2017

MQG mini swap

MQG mini swap 

I've been in several secret swaps both virtual via Flickr, IG and Facebook group based and also with my local MQG.  They are one of my favorite things to do because despite the nerve-wracking-ness of wondering if they will like it or if they will flake and drop out just when you've tailored it specifically to their interest,  the mystery and suspense if pretty darn fun. 

Thanks to Ginny who mailed me some scraps left from a project, I had just the right background to use.  I wasn't sure if I should reveal it in fear of giving away the fact that my partner was a Star Wars fan.  But it was really hard to share progress on IG without doing so (another aspect that I find entertaining).

I figured that there are a ton of fans out there and it would hopefully only narrow the field.   More choices to be made - the quilting on such an eye full.  The aurifil 40wt in a variety of colors seemed like a good choice to carry the color out a bit into the neutral.  

Combining intentional echoing with periodic bits of shapes and freeform wavy lines is the direction I ended up with using just four of the spools, purple orange, green and blue.  I also made sure that in some areas the thread was high contrast and in other areas it blended and served as texture.

Experimenting with a heavily pieced top layer to see if I could pull it off.  Up until now I'd been avoiding that due to bulk but now that I know it can bee done it opens a whole new freedom for designing.
The orange fabric for the backing I picked up while at a weekend sew-in with friends during our field trip to the store.  Sewing in the sleeve means one less whip stitch by hand and I think it looks nice too.  Yes, there are WAY more wonder clips than necessary.  I get easily carried away.
Because I've been so spoiled with the use of my friend Pat's longarm lately, quilting on my domestic felt kind of foreign at first.  Since there was so much going on visually within the quilt itself I wanted the binding to play a supporting role.  I did audition rainbow stripe and colorful prints but didn't care for it.
There was a piece of left over Ink & Arrow Fabrics Pixie Square Dot binding from my Dare to Fly quilt so I positioned it to match up with one curves and wrapped it around the upper corner.  I'm really pleased with the end result and will find out a week from today at the meet up if my partner agrees.  If it's a little too unique, let's hope they have a decent poker face so I won't be crushed. 

We've had a ridiculous amount of rain.  There was a break in the storm and I headed to my usual Depot Hill spot overlooking Capitola Village.  A mini is a breeze to shoot solo.  Sunset however created lighting challenges as you can see from my first attempt pictured above.
The really harsh lighting in the picture above shows an unflattering cast of shadows - let's just say that if the quilt was a person, they'd be squinting.  The one below has a nice setting and I did a slight dodge/burn to try and even out the exposure.

I walked around to the side street to capture the shot at the top of the post and then hung out long enough to snap this one below just for fun.

Considering we are half way through Q1 FAL and this is my first of six goals you'd think I'd be bummed.  Nope.  Pleased as can be to be checking one off the list.  I'm also using the same goals like for our local guild WIPitgood challenge.  

I've also made progress on the other To Do list of 7 items on my radar described in this post .  Only two are outstanding, which is outstanding!

1) My January beesewcial Resolution block was mailed and received.  
2) QuiltCon quilts hang sleeve, labels, shipping done with confirmation the package arrival.
3) Not only prepped for but attended the Open Wide workshop, finished and gifted the pouch - boom! 4) "Get a Grip" for our local show is finished and delivered to the person who will be dropping it off - (sadly the same weekend as QC)
5) Handmade to wear to QC - not so far but there's still a few hours left before I depart.
6) bi-monthly BOM isn't due until March, so plenty of hope for that.
7) Cinderella dress and mermaid doll fully mended. 

Happy Stitching.
I won't be posting on the blog until after I return from my trip but if you're on Instagram, follow me there as I intend to share a lot.  A LOT.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

2017 FAL Meet the Host - Jess

I'm excited to be included as one of the 2017 FAL hosts and am happy to continue with the second in a series as part of the year long event:  It's called: Meet the Host.  Today's guest blogger is Jess and I'm sure you'll enjoy learning more about her as much as I did: 

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

Pictured L-R/top-bottom: Sarah, Leanne, Felicity, Karen (me), Izzy, Ella, Judith, Jess, Nicky, Abigail, Lucy, Rhonda, Marci  

Be sure to check back monthly as we share more about the other hosts.    

In my next post, I'll also be sharing the the MQGswap mini as my first finish for Q1.   I will be taking to QuiltCon for gifting in person at the meet up.  How's your list coming along?

Happy Stitching, Karen aka Capitola Quilter 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Bee Sewcial February: EYE(S), Hindsight/Foresight

As queen bee, I tossed around many ideas.  Deciding is hard but in the end, the EYES have it. 

In school I loved art class but was never a fan of portraits, except for drawing the eyes. So Much Fun. Browsing through my recent designs for quilts I see that I am still attracted to the same elements. I've included a mosaic of a few. For those makers who would like to channel a deeper meaning while they create and keeping with the theme of how things are viewed or seen, the subtitle is Hindsight/Foresight, another perspective, person, place or time.
Workshop Block

This piece above that I made in 2015 during a workshop with Maria Shell definitely resembles an eye.  Other traditional blocks like Dresdens and New York Beauty might be a jumping off point for inspiration with an added twist.
UFO Workshop blocks
2012 Quilt Along

I would like you to make pieced blocks (rectangle or square, one or two depending on size) that remind you of an eye, two eyes or a bunch. Improv, abstract, literal - I'm leaving your interpretation wide open but am also happy to elaborate if you need more direction. Feel free to expand to include eye lashes, depict closed eyelids, bags under your eyes, bloodshot eyes - whatever you are most inspired by.

All shades of blue and green with an emphasis of clear and bright colors. Accents of black and white if you like.

There are countless expressions for example "seeing eye to eye" "more than meets the eye" "eye of the beholder" "look me in the eye" so if you have one you'd like to share when you post your block(s) that might be fun too (totally optional). 

Everyone is invited to play along with the February 2017 BeeSewcial challenge on Instagram and use #inspiredbybeesewcial Can’t wait to SEE what you do!  Be sure to check out my bee mates #beesewcial @marci_girl @spontaneousthreads @playcrafts @felicityquilts @shecanquilt @quiltmatters @entropyalwayswins @aquilterstable @astrangerview

School Picture
Ironically,  I was somewhat self couscous about my "bug eyes" growing up and hated this school picture of myself because of the bags when I smile.  You guessed it, now looking back I think it's adorable.   When I take my granddaughter strolling, strangers passing will often compliment her eyes.  The one on the right was taken last week with a juice mustache :)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Bee Sewcial January: RESOLUTION

What better way to begin the New Year than with a #BeeSewcial theme of Resolution by Stephanie, Spontaneous Threads.    Using the color palette and inspiration from the pastel landscape of icebergs and Ted Talk by artist Zaria Forman,  she asked us to create a panoramic block reflecting our personal resolution for 2017.   How appropriate it is that I'm finishing down to the wire in the final days of the month given that I've chosen: "Avoid Binge and Burnout".

"Avoid Binge and Burnout"
Not the eating disorder but the same unhealthy principals I suppose.  My resolution is to be mindful of impulses.  Creative enthusiasm that leads to (thankfully momentary) Flat Line.  It's hard to explain or pin point because some of the most enjoyable, successful and satisfying makes of 2016 fall under this category.
finished block 11"x32"
I don't know why I thought the breeze and harsh sunlight would be any easier to photograph.  But a scenic block deserved a shot at a shoot.  
Stash Pull
The end result was less scrappy than I had originally planned.  The movement with shapes seemed to illustrate the theme and combining in a wide variety of colors felt like a distraction.  
Too Subtle?
There are however slight changes in the aqua lines that are hard to capture. 
Merging Sections
Underside and Aftermath 

Sound familiar?  Drop everything and sign up for, be part of, buy this, attend that resulting in deadline panic, self doubt, broken connections, missing sewejo etc.

Recognizing that when I return from a retreat or workshop and my sewing supplies sit unpacked might be a sign.  Acknowledging that the pretty new bundle of "I can't live without" fabric line sitting on the shelf manifests guilt.  The bursts of IG posting, commenting, blog reading and writing followed by silence and the desire to literally do nothing.

Resolutions are to me a time consider a better way to be.  This early layout layout felt too controlled and direct for the message I wanted to convey.
Auditioning Layout Designs

I'm not saying that the price of pulling an all-nighter when so inspired then needing a nap for the next few days or laying awake with insomnia because the how-to and what-ifs about bringing a design to reality are running through your head isn't sometimes worth it.

Writing about this, reminds me of the love/hate relationship I have with the convenience of things like Netflix's watch next episode, Automatic Bill Pay, Amazon One-Click Checkout and my phone alerting me of - well just about everything.   Seems smart to park myself somewhere shy of blinds eye.  Let's call it "Pick and Choose".
Oversized auditioning Trim Options

The straight thin lines can also represent being on even keel while the broken jagged ones suggest the state of being overwhelmed and pulled in many directions.  A sense of disconnect in an attempt to connect,  a byproduct of social media.

The process was very reminiscent to when I created the Transition block, but less colorful.  Quite often themes will carry over from one challenge to another.   Rarely do the ideas work themselves out in just one project.
Anne's Transition block Sept 2016

This has been a really good exercise.   Other than the usual vow to use stash, organize my sewing space and finish up WIPS, I don't typically make Resolutions.  After all that requires insight and assessment while my expertise is more along the lines of procrastination and denial.

I hope you'll take the time to visit Stephanie's thoughtful blog post describing the challenge.  Much of what my bee mates have written about their blocks resonate closely.  Here are a few: Marci's,  Felicity's , Anne's , Debbie's, M-R's , Silvia's and Hilary's.

As always, everyone is encouraged to sew along with the theme using the hashtag #inpsiredbybeesewcial on Instagram.

Check back soon because I will be revealing the February challenge as queen bee.

Friday, January 20, 2017

To Do - Part Two

Technically there isn't a To Do - Part One.   If you know me or have followed my blog for a time, you're probably not too surprised.  Posting a rhyming title is worth the confusion later (priorities, right?)  After all a title like "unofficial things I want to remember to do but forgot to include on my list" isn't all that catchy.

Before we get to that, I'd like to announce the Fabric Giveaway winner from this Sweet Rebellion post.  Congratulations Kathy E, I'll email you for info on where to mail your goodies. 

In all of the excitement of being a 2017 FAL Host and making my own Q1 list, I neglected to include on that post the unofficial other things to track and get done.  I like having them all in one place for reference but a supplemental post works too.

Design Challenge Mini
Most of my list hasn't even been blogged about.   I'm still getting back into a routine of posting here and hope to elaborate soon but until then, you can peak on my Instagram feed and catch a glimpse of most.

Comma Block by Pam Rocco 
  1. January "Resolution" BeeSewcial block for Stephanie - by end of month  Here is a link to Stephanie's post
  2. Hang sleeves, label and mail QDAD "Bend, Don't Break", "Break" and Quilt of the Month "Note to Self"- asap  My first time to have quilts at QuiltCon so I want to be sure they actually make it there!!!   
  3. Prep for the Open Wide workshop Feb 5
  4. "Get a Grip" Face bind, hang sleeve and label SBAMQG design challenge quilt for local show- bring to Feb 7th meeting
  5. Handmade to wear at QuiltCon - considering a Grainline Tee, Renfrew or Linden sweatshirt
  6. SBAMQG bi-monthly block Comma - bring to March 7th meeting
  7. Mend the Cinderella dress and mermaid doll- asap, because who can say no to little M. 

Non-Quilty Adventures 

tiny tea cup set - thrift store find
Despite the looming deadlines and goals, I've been in kind of a sewing slump.  Thanks to the boost of my friend Sue who I can always count on to keep me creative and express beyond fabric, I haven't been completely void of creativity. 

We spent last Friday and again last night painting our projects at Petroglyph Ceramic Lounge.  It's our old stomping ground and the gap since we last played there is much too great.  I'm finishing up two unfired bowls that I "misplaced" and then discovered as well as starting a new plate. 
The colors above give you a hint about what that might look like and it is going to be based on something quilty but I want to surprise you (after I see if my vision translates).

The bottom of the footed bowl includes the date I painted this bowl for hubby.  Way too long ago.   At the time I was having fun with typography something that sneaks its way into my artwork when I'm not looking.   Even when my attempts are epic fails like the 95010 zip code tile that reads as 25% instead, I am still proud of it and the greater concept.
2008/2009 Seawall Community Project Tile
There is a quilt design lurking where lettering is featured - maybe I need to officially add that to the list to make it happen but I'll wait because it's already feeling a tad bit overwhelming.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

2017 FAL Meet the Host - Nicky

(if you are looking for my Sweet Rebellion Fabric Giveaway, it is here)

I'm excited to be included as one of the 2017 FAL hosts and am happy to introduce the first in a series as part of the year long event:  It's called: Meet the Host.  Today's guest blogger is Nicky and I'm sure you'll enjoy learning more about her as much as I did: 

Hi !  My name is Nicky Eglinton and I'm one of the global 2017 Finish-A-Along hosts.  This is my second year as co-host so I should know what I'm doing.  

I live in the South of England but was born in bonnie Scotland and after a few years studying in Aberdeen and Glasgow, I came to London to get my first job!   I loved the theatres, cinema, restaurants, walking across Waterloo Bridge and looking one way at the Houses of Parliament and the other way at St Paul's.  Life was good!

Houses of Parliament to the left, 

the dome of St. Paul's to the right

Since then I have moved even further south and out of the hubbub of the City to the quiet more rural life of Sussex to raise a family with hubby.   It has suited us well and we have three lovely children and a cat and a dog!   Here are the pets in portrait and 'helping' me quilt!

Saffy and Maddie

In my childhood I learnt to stitch from my mother - first toys, and cross stitch, then clothes in my teens and twenties (back then it was actually cheaper to do that). 

Meet Dandelion - I still have him!

She also taught me knitting and crochet.  She loved passing on her skills though we struggled at times as she was right handed and I was left handed.  Every thing I did looked wrong to her as I was doing it in what seemed an awkward way....and there were very few lefthanded tools to help!  So I now prefer right handed scissors - in fact I cannot use lefthanded ones!!

Jumping forward a bit, to maintain my sanity after kid no 1, I went to an evening class about patchwork and quilting.  My chance to talk with grown ups!   I was completely in love with applique!   It was all I did!  And then I ended up on a course at  The Quilt Room to make this quilt in 2005!  


Friendship's Garden Quilt

by Alma Allen & Cherie Ralston

The applique was easy for me but would you believe I was terrified of the HST border round each block and the quilt remained in pieces, and on several FAL lists.
Carolyn Forster taught me piecing and introduced me to blogging!   Wow has she got a lot to answer for!   I started blogging as I wanted to record my stitching and gardening - hence my blog name Mrs Sew and Sow!

The sewing has taken over somewhat but this year I will be back in my garden and bringing lots of flowers into the house!  Wonder if a flower bed can count as a WIP or UFO??   What do you think?
Well back to that quilt I started in 2005 I kept moving it from one FAL list to the next!  I have joined up with the FAL since the beginning - though I may have missed a few quarters - and it has helped enormously - mainly from all the encouragement I received from commenters who have become friends.  
Suddenly it became the time to finish that quilt!  I even had to learn FMQ in order to do it !   

And here it is!  So all of you who have longterm WIPs/UFOs do not despair!

Finishing that longstanding UFO was like a release - it had been a block hanging over me!   I started actually finishing more stuff.   

Since 2012 I have been keen to meet up with people, and join in the quilting  community.  I went to the Fat Quarterly Retreats in London and learnt about the Siblings Together charity.  I have been making quilts for the charity since then - one or two to begin with, then I joined a bee to make more, helped others finish quilts and finally last year Maria and I were leading the campaign to make 100 quilts for the charity.  

The charity helps children in the UK social care system retain bonds with their siblings at holiday camps.  They are given a quilt to remind them of the fun times together.  

We will be aiming to make another 100 quilts in 2017 with help from a generous community of quilters !   Would you like to join us?  You can find more information here and here!

I love scraps and have been running a monthly link up, #Scraptastictuesday, on the second Tuesday of every month, with my co host Leanne (who also hosts FAL).  We like to celebrate the origins of patchwork, though Leanne uses scraps in more of an improv way than I do but you will find all sorts of inspiration there! 

I am a scrappy quilter for ecological and economical reasons!  I like to hang onto those pounds and pence and keep my scraps out of the landfill sites!    And I just love cramming as many different fabrics as possible into one quilt.  

We would love you to join us with your scrappy projects (they don't need to be finished), plans, and storage systems.

I try to make a scrappy sampler quilt each year with tutorials showing you how to make your own!  2015 is finished and 2016 is basted ready for a finish this quarter I hope!

Liberty Sampler 2015 & Karen Lewis Sampler 2016

And now I'm setting up a local group of stitchers in Sussex with my friends and co-founders Kelly and Jane and we are actually going to meet up and stitch together in a room!   And eat cake!   With no children !  It is starting this month !

I seem to have made lots of quilts.  I find the creative process both stimulating and therapeutic.  I do tend to make up my own patterns though on occasion if I love something I will try to make my own version of it.

Here are some of my favourite quilt finishes

Top Left : Nordik Quilt; Top Right & Clockwise:  Double Sided Welsh Blanket Quilt in Karen Lewis Textiles, pattern by Mary Emmens;  Hand stitched and quilted scrappy clamshell quilt;  Vintage Squares quilt; Stingy Bee Row Quilt  (both this and Nordik were made with help from members of Bee a Brit Stingy )

And here is one I hope to finish this coming quarter!  It is my take on the traditional Double Wedding Ring (my own variation) - a lot of it stitched by hand!  I used acryllic templates made by Marti Michell to help with the cutting and designing of these blocks.

Hoopla! Quilt

 My FAL list is always a long one (yes I am a member of Archie the Wonder Dog's #ridiculouslylongFAList ) as when I used to choose a few items for my list I always wanted to work on something else!  Much easier to keep everything out in the open I found!

I hope you will join us on our journey to complete those listed projects and I look forward to seeing your finishes!  Remember to cheer on the rest of the community - it really does make a difference!

Thanks Nicky for kicking off the Meet the Host series. Be sure to check back monthly as we share more about the other hosts.    

Pictured L-R/top-bottom: Sarah, Leanne, Felicity, Karen (me), Izzy, Ella, Judith, Jess, Nicky, Abigail, Lucy, Rhonda, Marci  

Happy Stitching, Karen aka Capitola Quilter