It’s time to sneak a peek inside a modern maker’s sewing bag in the latest What’s in Your Sewing Bag series! Grab a hot cup of coffee and settle in as you head to Italy to see what’s inside Ally Ryde’s sewing bag!
Since I’ve never been to Italy and I don’t believe Ally has been to Montreal, you might be wondering how we came to meet. Unlike so many of the guests in this series, we didn’t meet on Instagram – ha! We met when we both joined the Surface Pattern Design Immersion course with Bonnie Christine back in 2021. I instantly fell in love with Ally’s bold geometrical designs. Her work tends to be less colourful than mine, but that’s one of the reasons why I love it so much. I’m a huge black-and-white lover and Ally adds her own flair to the classic pairing.
Just take her sewing bag – it’s an accurate representation of her style, at least what I’ve come to know and love her by 😉
If you love a maker who follows their own creative path and does so with pizzazz, then you’re in for a treat in today’s What’s in Your Sewing Bag.
Let’s jump in!
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Introduction – tell us a little about yourself! How did you get started on your quilting journey?
I’m Ally Ryde – a designer, a maker and an entrepreneur.
I am a mechanical engineer and spent my early career working offshore in the oil and gas industry. Then I took a turn back towards creativity and went back to study architecture and design.
Quilting was the natural outcome of a slow progression toward (re)discovering my creative side.
Like many people who start quilting, I decided to make a quilt for my firstborn daughter. Cue a hormonal pregnant woman trying to work out how to sew a quilt… Let’s just say, my mum put the binding on for me after I wrangled that thing for a grumpy few months.
Then I didn’t do any more quilting until I was pregnant with my second daughter, and I made quilts for… five OTHER people’s babies… haha!
I have always been a maker, and I come from a line of makers (grandmother and grandfather, mother, and father). I went on a creative hiatus for about 15 years. But now I’m back and have made creativity the focus of my professional life.
I have really honed my design process along the way and love using sketching, mixed media, and digital techniques to design and express my creativity
BUSINESS & CREATIVITY
Alongside quilting, I have been growing my own creative business, really making creativity the centre of my life.
I run online courses teaching quilters about quilt design and quilt pattern writing so that they can start feeling confident in sharing their own creativity with the world.
I also coach creatives taking their first steps towards growing a creative business, offering support, accountability, and action steps towards realising those big dreams of starting your own creative enterprise.
Oh, I love hearing about all the creative facets other makers are interested in and exploring! How fun to have your journey start with a very technical focus and have it evolve to focus more on the creative with a foundation on entrepreneurship! It sounds like you have a great balance between the left and right sides of your brain 😉 Also, I found binding to be super challenging for my first quilt too!
What kind of sewing bag do you have? (e.g. did you make it? Buy it?)
My sewing bag is a handmade one I knocked up using a free pattern from Noodlehead. Originally, I made a smaller version but soon needed to upgrade as my supplies grew and I started doing more handwork.
This happened when I was in the middle of a quilting marathon in September last year – scrambling to hand quilt an entire queen-size quilt in less than 30 days for the QuiltCon deadline (spoiler: I made the deadline!)
I started using DMC embroidery cotton in a big ball, and it kept rolling all over the place, so I had to make a bigger pouch to keep it in one place (and to keep it clean!)
I love the wide-open mouth – no poking around in hidden corners here! And the ridiculously bright fluoro yellow interior means it is super easy to see everything inside – even those needles that get stuck in the bottom…
Lol – I love when you make something that not only is super pretty but also very practical! I just think it’s the best feeling to be able to make something to solve your own problem. And this bright lil’ cutie is no exception!
What are your all-star essentials? Your tried-and-true must-haves that you can never run out of?
Good sharp needles and Anchor embroidery floss colour 279.
I have tried a few types of needles – I love my big sashiko needles with the gold eye, but I think I have blunted them with so much hand sewing I need to update them.
I also love my easy thread needles from Merchant and Mills that I was given by a friend – they come in the most beautiful little wooden container, and they are the best for burying threads.
Instead of threading them like a regular needle, where you have to feed those scrappy ends through the eye, with these you just pop the threads through the slot on the top of the needle and ta-da – you can go ahead and bury those threads. Talk about a time saver!
It took me forever to understand how the self-threading needles worked – lol. The one thing I do remember not loving was when the thread popped out on its own. Do you have any solutions on how to prevent that from happening? I’m totally with you about loving having different types of needles on hand for the different types of sewing I do. Using the right needle for the right job really does make a difference!
What is your favourite item in your kit? Why?
My beautiful scissors. I bought them years ago on one of the first trips I took with my (at the time future) husband to his hometown of Verona, Italy.
We went to this cool little knife shop run by a little old man in spectacles. The shop is filled with all kinds of (mostly sharp) gadgets – meat slicers, special carving knives, incredible corkscrews, razors, and of course scissors.
I saw this glistening pair of delicately pointed scissors in a dusty cabinet behind the counter and well, you know that Verona is the city of romance… It is the city of Romeo and Juliet after all… So, of course, I fell in love… with the scissors… and the city. And we have been living here for the last 7 years.
MOST USEFUL NOTION
My most USEFUL items though are my collection of thimbles… I am still refining my thimble choice, but so far, I love the grippy silicon fingertips to help pull the thread through, and a hard surface on the pad of my middle finger to push. If you haven’t forayed into the wonderful world of thimbles, I highly recommend you do!
I love a notion with a travel story, Ally! What a fun memory to think of every time you use those scissors! The fact that they’re still going strong 7 years later also shows the importance of investing in quality tools. 😊 I’ve been on a thimble exploration too! There’s something very personal about the fit and style that you gravitate towards. I used to hate thimbles when all I knew were the metal ones. They never seemed to fit my finger and left me super sweaty! Since then, I’ve discovered leather thimbles, and what a game-changer those have been. I often find myself walking around the house with it still on (it’s so comfy I don’t notice it)!
What’s one thing we’d be surprised to find in your bag?
A cricket ball. Haha!
I am from Australia originally and grew up watching and playing cricket. This cricket ball was a gift from a very dear family friend nicknamed Foss who gave it to me when I was an aspiring spin bowler in my teens.
It has travelled to a few places around the world with me, and now it has been retired as a cricket ball, it serves its purpose as my darning mushroom!
I also have a giant slab of beeswax we bought at a country market on a recent trip to England. It smells beautiful and helps wax my threads when I need to.
That’s a first, my friend! What a clever use for a retired cricket ball! And yet another notion that reminds you of your hometown and dear family friend – love it!
QUILT KITS WILL TRAVEL
When do you find yourself using your kit the most? (Travelling, on the sofa, attending sew-ins?)
My sewing pouch has been on a few holidays with us, but mostly I use it at home, either on the sofa in my studio (where I sewed 8 hours a day for 30 days to get that QuiltCon submission finished!) or downstairs in the living room where I can sit in my favourite chair near the window and sew with good daylight and the kids playing nearby.
I bet you have so many lovely memories of sitting in your favourite chair, stitching away while listening to your kids play!
What’s your favourite travel memory with your sewing bag?
The pouch also came with us to Umbria, where we took a family holiday in the hills outside Gubbio. I didn’t get much sewing done as it was 40°C (105°F !!) and sitting with a quilt was just not going to happen. But it did come poolside with us and sit there looking longingly at me while we cooled off in the pool on top of an Umbrian hill gazing over hazy golden fields.
I’d melt – ha! Those temperatures are indeed not ideal for quilting; you made the right call 😉
WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU?
Tell people where we can find you?
If you’d like some more information about how I go about my quilt design process, and the 5 steps I take when designing my quilts, I have a free guide on my website – just head to www.allyryde.com/sfdesigns.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I also have a small thread catcher in my kit – a little pouch you can make from scraps. I use it to put all the thread ends when I am sewing. This is so handy, and it means you don’t end up with threads all over you, your couch and your house!
Thank you so much for participating in the WISYB series, Ally! It’s been so fun to learn more about your creative journey, see the notions that have special meaning to you and sneak a peek in your adorable sewing bag! Keep up your creative exploration!
For more What’s in Your Sewing Bag fun, check out these guests:
- Kathleen from Cowden Quilt School
- Elizabeth from Quilter’s Candy
- Megan from Megan Nielsen Patterns
- Brittany from Lo & Behold Stitchery
- Sharon from Sharon Holland Designs
PS don’t forget to sign up for the weekly newsletter so you don’t miss out on any future WIYSB guests!
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