Monthly Archives: July 2014

Meet Amanda the Patchsmith

July 18th 2014

Remember the Mug Rugs from the last post? Did I mention once I started I couldn’t stop? Yep, six in a day and more since I got her newest pattern, the watermelon!!  So as promised, let’s meet the pattern designer extraordinaire behind these little goodies.

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Goofed on the seeds because I was too excited to look at the pattern.

1. For those that don’t know you, tell us who you are and where you are from. (name, rank and serial number 🙂 I am Amanda and I live in a little village in the Hampshire countryside in England. 

 2. When did you start sewing? I have always sewn – from a very early age.   I remember being taught how to sew in school when I was 9 y.o.  I stitched a little shift dress with bias binding around the neck and armholes. 

3. Did you ever think your designs would be so well received? No – it was a total shock.  I designed a mug rug for my sister – Tea and Cake – and she liked it so much she suggested that I sell the pattern.  I didn’t know anything about on-line PDF downloads but I did have a few skills with MS Word.  So I created a pattern and put it on a new site that had not around for long – the site was called Craftsy.  That was at the very end of August 2012. At that time Craftsy sent out a monthly newsletter and in September 2012 my Tea and Cake pattern was featured.   That was the start of a long and happy relationship with Craftsy that continues to this day. Tea and Cake First Mug Rug Pattern

4. How/when/why did you start blogging?  I started blogging for the Zakka Sew Along (the original).  I had been very ill for a long time and by chance I came across the Zakka sew-along.  They were on week 2 so I decided I would join in.  Oh what fun we had.  I use to stitch the weekly item on a Monday morning (which became known as Zakka Monday) and then I blogged about it on-line in the afternoon.  Some of the projects worked really well – other ones not-so-much – but every one was a learning curve.  I also made some very dear friends from around the world through that sew-along.

5. Who or what inspires you?    I get my inspiration from all over the place – from the countryside around me, architectural shapes, flags and bric-a-brac.  I have so many ideas – too many for me to make so I have a difficult time choosing which design to create next. 

6. How did you & Quilting Galleries come to how “swaps?” Quilting Gallery use a lot of different designers for their swaps but I got involved when Michele asked if she could use a couple of my mug rugs in a swap at the beginning of 2013.  She chose the Two Owls and Winter Birdhouse patterns.  It was such great fun seeing all the different versions of my little patterns.  The swap was such a success that Michele asked me to design two patterns for January 2014 based around the theme of the Sochi Winter Olympics.  Russian Doll Mug Rug

7. What do you love/hate the most about the internet world?   I love the connection with people across the globe.  I don’t like that it is open 24 hours a day.  Wouldn’t it be nice if the internet shut on Sundays – like most of the shops do here in England?

8. Tell about your business values and/or mission. The Patchsmith’s values are 1. provide value for money, 2. create never replicate   3. I also try not to compete – the business ethos is competitive but within the quilting community the ethos is more on co-operation and sharing of knowledge.  I love that about quilters – they are so helpful, friendly and supportive.  So I try hard not to compete – if somebody produces a lovely mug rug pattern then I will comment and say so and will recommend that pattern to a customer/follower.  My mission is very simple – it is to create easy-to-follow, fun patterns for everybody to enjoy.  In return I have received friendship and fun in abundance – which is very lovely.

9.  Which is your favorite Mug Rug? The latest one is always my favourite so at the moment it is the Summer Watermelon mug rug. Watermelons

10. Let’s talk fabric!

  • Planned or spontaneous purchases?     Planned – there are no quilt shops near to me.  I have to plan my fabric shopping as I have to drive a distance to purchase fabric.
  • Collections or scrappy?    Mainly scrappy but I often buy charm packs – they are perfect for building my appliqué stash.  I also like layer cakes for background fabric and there is always some left over for my scrap stash.
  • Pre-cuts or yardage?  I rarely buy yardage – it is so very, very dear here in England (cheapest is $20 a yard) so I tend to stick to fat quarters and charm squares. 
  • Brick and mortar store or online shops?   Online shops due to the shortage of fabric shops in my area.
  • Favorite designer/s?  I have never come across a designer that doesn’t have something I like.  I particularly like Buggy Barn, Whimsicals for Red Rooster, Whistler Studios and Nancy Halvorsen and Bonny & Camille.  I also like Debbie Mumm’s small prints but they are very hard to find here in England.
  • Favorite sewing/craft book?  It would have to be The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer which I return to time-and-time again.
  • “Can’t live without” sewing tool? My seam-ripper and my bobbin donut.
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Even the backs look pretty!

11. Fast Track

  • Coffee, tea or soda ?(duh!)    Tea
  • Night owl or early bird ?  Both – I am at my most creative for designing in the morning and better at sewing in the evenings.  I wake early and stay up late.
  • Neat freak or “creative” order?  Creative Order
  • Sketchbook or napkin? Sketchbook – I have three sketchbooks full of mug rug patterns – most have never been made.  I index them so that I can find the patterns – does that make me a ‘neat freak’?
  • Pattern or inventive? Inventive although, when I am tired a pattern is easy.  I do follow my own patterns as I design and write a pattern before working directly from the pattern (testing) to make at least two copies.
  • Pen or pencil? Pencil.  I sketch all my designs in my sketchbook.  They are very rough sketches and are seldom to size.  I then scan them onto the computer and create a digital copy using MS Word.
  • Summer or winter?   Summer – I like to cycle so the summer is my favourite.  Although we don’t have any quilt shops in the area there are lots and lots of tea rooms and there is nothing nice than to park my bike and enjoy afternoon tea, sat outside in the sunshine.
  • Book or magazine?  Book – love books.
  • Car or plane? Car – but bicycle is my favourite mode of travel – it transports me at a leisurely pace.
  • Music or quiet when sewing?   Quiet

I love talking to people and getting to know more about them and their process and it’s no different with Amanda. I am ready to hop on a plane and share a bike ride and some tea afterwards. Maybe even swap some ideas and get a little sewing done! Thanks so much Amanda for humoring me by answering my questions and letting me introduce her to those of you didn’t know her already.  She has a plethora of wonderful patterns that are witty, whimsical and loads of fun to do. She even has compiled books of Mug Rug patterns for those of you who can’t decide which or want them all.

You’ll be addicted to them too and they are perfect for the tiniest of beloved scraps.  Check out her loot over at her Craftsy shop.

Mug Rug Madness!!

July 14th 2014

It’s an addiction. There is no other word that accurately describes this process of making Mug Rugs. You can’t stop after just one! And they’re fun, REALLY FUN to make.

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One of my favorite patterns, obviously, is this little beach hut one so I made a set of triplets.

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As it turned out, they make great vacation projects for me and souvenirs for my sisters, niece, mom and friends.

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I personalized this one by using printable cotton and adding my big sis’s favorite titles, ( I hope I got them right.)

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I enjoy free motion quilting so I did that instead of embroidering the details, call me lazy.

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I also used beads for the eyes.

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While I was busy constructing these little works of art, I decided that I wanted to know more about The Patchsmith and her process.

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I hope you’ll back and when I interview her and get the inside scoop!

About cutting mats…

July 6th 2014

It was my birthday in 2009 when I went out and spent $67.00 in quilting supplies at Joann Fabrics. I bought a mat, rulers, pins, and a rotary cutter and a “mini” iron for pressing seams (I haven’t used that yet). Of course, it never occurred to me that I could hate quilting.

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This year , however, it became apparent that I had put my mat to “very good use” because it started showing unusual and ugly “wear and tear.”

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It was especially obvious after trimming some batting, the lint from the batting was stuck in the crevices and wouldn’t come off!!! Not even with my usual tricks of erasers and a very sticky lint roller.

Well, I forgot my mat when I went on vacation so I took advantage of a sale and splurged to buy an “Olfa” mat, even though it was only 12 x 18 inches, I was excited to add this “name brand” mat to my quilting tools collection.

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Except right after the first cut, the same damage was happening to my brand new mat!!!

The problem was the blade and NOT the mat!! I hadn’t changed out the blade in my rotary cutter for quite a while. I should have known.

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So what have I learned from this experience?

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Don’t be afraid to change out your dull blades they are cheaper than having to buy a new mat.

But I also learned something about mats…

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My first mat is a FISKARS. And although it feels more “plastic” I love the dots along the mat that help with measuring and aligning when cutting midway across the mat.

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The OLFA mat is “SUPER” comfy in that it has a more “rubbery” feel that I prefer, but the only measuring lines are on the perimeter of the mat. I’ll have to investigate if the larger mats have more lines.

powder puff wreath

Now look at something pretty and rest your eyes.  Which cutting mat do you have?

I’m baaaaaack!

July 5th 2014

After this vacation, I may have to add an umbrella…. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Wow! I have to say that it’s been a while since I have just relaxed and enjoyed this beach vacation, it was much needed this year. Funny enough, the vacation was preceded by this comment from my son “But you’re the Summercrafter!” when he heard me say I was leaving Audrey (my sewing machine) behind. Of course, on the eve of the vacation, I tossed and turned with the idea and the next morning quickly threw everything together: sewing machine, fabric, notions, tools, and brought her along after all.

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When we got there, my family was memsmerized by the TV of all things! Meanwhile, my feet couldn’t walk down the path fast enough

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until the sea said “hello!”

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The waves welcomed and conversed with me, one after another, for whole time we were there.

The other phrase that sort of defined the trip were my own words “Vacation is for doing what you don’t normally do.”

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This sentiment opened the door for me to read (found the perfect book set in Nantucket!), sketch patterns, watch movies and embroider.

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“B is for Beach.”  Yes. I DO craft on the beach, I didn’t make that up you know…

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Unfortunately however, I was not able to use Audrey much this trip, there was no way for me to press seams. (And my shoulder thanked me for the break)  So what do you do if you can’t sew? Go buy more fabric of course!!

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The local shop is called Country Quilts and Bears if you happen to be near Clearwater stop by. I always find something in there I HAVE to have and they are always so helpful!

Everyone did their own thing. Either reading, watching cable channels we don’t have or frolicking in the pool with new friends. I just wanted to sit out and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the beach, which I don’t do enough of.

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And my honey joined me for a little while everyday.

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We walked on the beach every evening although the sunsets were clouded.

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Even with sunscrreen, hats and umbrellas, the effects of the sun were inescapable.

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And of course I took my handy, dandy vacation tote!

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Here is a sneak peak at My beach

(Hope the video works!) Enjoy!