Well hello there and welcome to my first blog post here. I suppose as a first I should get the formal introductions over so ….. I’m Amanda (or Mandy to my friends and family), I’m originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland but live in Williamsburg, Virginia, brought here by my husband (not screaming and kicking I might add). Williamsburg is a part of the historic triangle of Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown and as such has lots of familiar sounding names, Surrey, Gloucester, Norfolk and Plymouth for example. So, whilst they were forward thinking pioneers in starting the colonies here, they were a bit lacking in originality of place names. We live in a really rural area surrounded by woods and wildlife that I’d only ever expected to see in David Attenborough shows or on the pages of a National Geographic magazine! We’ve got deer, raccoons, opossums, skunks, squirrels, rabbits, box turtles, and of course copperhead snakes, black widow spiders and praying mantis …. now I’m wondering what the plural of mantis is lol!?

Not your average Ninja.  Baby Box Turtle.

Anyhooooo, I started sewing at the age of about five and I’m now well on the wrong side of fifty, so I’ve been sewing for more than half a century. I’ve dabbled with most types of sewing from garments, to crafts, curtains to pillows, and of course English Paper Piecing and now machine quilting. I’d always been interested in pieced quilts but sadly when a lot of fabric shops closed in the UK, and with no WWW available just then I kind of lost my way. In that terrible fabric free desert I tried some other creative pursuits such as cross stitch, tapestry, scrapbooking, card making, silk painting, mosaics, and silver clay jewellery. When I moved to the USA some 8 years ago of course I found the fabric stores first and found my way back to the fabric fold.  I tend to gravitate to bright and modern so I just love me some Tula Pink or Kaffe Fassett and of course I’ve never met a batik I didn’t like!

My career in the UK was mainly within the management development and coaching field for one of the big child protection charities, but, when I got here to the US I decided to not climb back on that treadmill and looked for a more creatively fulfilling job. I worked in an embroidery factory for a few years as I fell in love with machine embroidery and wanted to learn as much as I could in as short as time as possible. After a few years I felt I’d done all I wanted to there and looked for other opportunities. Currently I work for one of the biggest Brother dealerships in the US as an educator/instructor. I give machine instruction to new owners and teach quilting, embroidery and sewing. I also was lucky enough to get a Gammill longarm machine last year and so I’m running my fledgling longarm quilting business too.

My top tip for all new and perhaps some of you seasoned quilters is, I feel, the best advice I give to any of my class students and it’s a really simple one …………Slow down, it’s not a race! I used to kind of speed sew, and whilst I was a good seamstress/sewer/quilter (now there’s a debate for another day), I was often not absolutely satisfied with my work. A few years back I decided to make a concerted effort to slow down and sew a little slower. Guess what? Yeah, my accuracy improved immensely and I was so much happier with the end result! So, if you find your seams and not too straight or your top stitching or ditch stitching isn’t great, maybe you, like me, need to slow down a bit. With experience you will be able to speed up somewhat again, but, enjoy the process, maybe it’s a marathon, not a sprint! Till next time, hugs n stitches. Mandy

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