Monday, 30 January 2017

Design Wall Monday - the mini made large!

So the design wall looks like this!

I know, I was making great progress catching up on outstanding projects, ticking things done, crossing them off the to do list and feeling productive.  I was on a roll and with a a deadline on the 10th February, for a mini quilt swap - what do I do?  Yup, start another quilt!

In my defense this is the design I want to make in mini form for the swap.  Normally, the advice to test out a design is to make a mini - this time around I'm doing it the other way around!

You might remember this design I created from a tutorial I wrote on using  Touchdraw, for the Modern Quilters Ireland group?

That was nearly 2 years ago. About time I got around to making it really, right?  Some of the nicest things I've ever made have been for swaps and I've always been happy to send them on their way.  The drawback, is that when it comes to show and tell of your own work, you have nothing to show for it.  So I decided to make a big quilt for myself and a mini for the swap (swap is max 24").

For the bigger version, I had it in mind to make with low volume background fabrics and then use some of the same coloured fabrics for the mini version against a plain white background!


I had bought 2 boxes of Cotton and Steel fabric from Craftsy last year in their sale and it was sitting there just waiting to be used and I couldn't get the low volume version out of my head and really, really wanted to test it out so, I started pulling from the box and cutting up fabric and the next thing you know I motoring my way through 6" hourglass, snowball and flying geese chevron blocks!


I had joined Westwood Acre's Inside Voices fabric club two years ago and split the bundles with a friend.  We got 10 fat quarters each month and we'd take turns every other month keeping a bundle.  I thought I had lots and lots of low volume and now after this and my Lost in London quilt, I have made a huge dent, definitely don't have the makings of another quilt left!


I did sneak in some cotton and steel fun fabrics too, cats and coyotes, spiderwebs and flowers to just give it that special touch and this one is going to be for me and the dogs when we sit on the sofa in the evenings, watching TV (yes Charly does watch the telly - the Bassett's?  Not so much - it interferes with their snoring!)

And while I was rummaging amongst Cotton and Steel fabrics, I made a fabric pull for a guild quilt exhibition, due the end of February.  The theme is Aurora (goddess of the dawn) and I plan on making a wall hanging, using overlaying dresden plates in the colours of the Aurora Borealis.  Hoping it will look a bit like a sunrise just in mad colours!


I've resized templates from Aneela Hoey's Bloom Quilt pattern which gave me the inspiration for it in the first place!  Thinking this one should really be a big quilt too!   Aneela is on the crafty planners podcast today - go have a listen!

So that's me pro-crafter-nating on the to do list and indulging myself in fabric before the deadlines get a little bit closer!  Hope you enjoyed your weekend as much as I did!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Catching up - last of the round robin bee quilts!

Last year, we decided to try out a medallion round robin for Modern Irish Bee 2016. Seven of us came together for the challenge and slowly working through the quilts, I found myself on the last one. This is Mary's quilt and my turn was to add the final border to it!


I didn't quite get to it over the Christmas but it had been up on the wall looking down at me for the past month.  Time to get on with it and get her done!


I wanted to pull the black from the earlier rounds framing the sections out as a colour to use but didn't want to deaden the gorgeous grey and white frame Cynthia had added.  I pondered, I procrastinated, I avoided and eventually I thought, Triangles!


So I mocked it up on the computer to see how big the triangles would need to be, how many I would need and how many colours I could get from the quilt into the last border.  I came up with black corners to frame it and to get them to look like this I needed an odd number of triangles on each side.  The quilt measured 64" when I got it and I knew I'd need to make it a little bit bigger so the triangles would sit evenly across the length.  


Geometry on triangles is a little bit time consuming.  For equilateral triangles making them by cutting them from strips, you have to add 3/4" to your desired finished height.  The height of an equilateral triangle is equal to the root of 3 divided by 2 and multiplied by the length of the side of the triangle.  It can be head wrecking playing with the calculator trying out different sizes and calculating the finished width.  Thankfully Yvonne's spreadsheet available on her blog Quilting Jet Girl or to download makes trying different sizes so much easier!  So kind of Yvonne to put this together and share freely!


You just enter your numbers in the blue and it calculates it all for you!  I played with odd numbers of triangles and messed about with the heights to see what I could get that was reasonable to work with and bigger than 64".  I eventually settled on 6.75" strips giving a 6" finished height per side and using 21 triangles gave a pieced width of 69.28" from point to point which I rounded down to 69 1/4".


The white fabric border grew the quilt to the right size for the triangles and brought the quilt up from 64" to over 80"including the triangles.


The corners where 5 triangles come together at the white border was problematic.  I thought about mitred corners but decided too many points coming together so, I made a template and tried that with an inset seam and it wasn't great.  There was some trial and error with black fabric and in the end the remaining 3 seams were made by fudging it really!

I don't have photos to show as I was concentrating hard at this point and totally engaged in the task.  What I did was add an oversized black piece to the last triangle on the right hand side of each border piece.

I marked 1/4" in from the corner of the white inner border and sewed the triangles on right up to that marked point (middle image below). I added the second border piece on by sewing the triangles to the white inside border again just to the 1/4" mark on the upper corner.

Pressing the seam and flipping the border over allowed the yellow triangle to lay nicely on the oversized black fabric.  I was then able to turn the edge under a 1/4", press and glue in place with Roxanne's basting glue.  Flipping the border back again so it lay right sides together on top of the black I sewed along the crease of the glued triangle right down to the 1/4" mark on the white border and closed up the corner completely. It sounds fiddly but I got better results this way and 1 very good corner and 2 not too bad ones!  Final step was to square up and trim off.  Don't tell the quilt police - I am fairly sure this is not the way to do it but it worked!


Done and dusted!  Sorry for the odd photo angle.  At 80" this is quite big now and hard to photograph indoors (raining outside at the minute!)  It took all weekend to get this pieced and I am so glad its now finished and can be handed over to Mary this week!  I hope she likes it!

Linking up to the Friday finishes.



Thursday, 19 January 2017

Pay it Forward Finishes - Block books


The thing about a year is it can seem a really long time, when its waiting for the annual holidays or Guradian's of the Galaxy II to come out, but it seems so very short when self imposed deadlines are nearly upon you!


Last February, I received a Pay it Forward gift from Deborah@Sunshine through the Rain and randomly selected 3 people to pay it forward to within 12 months.  I chose to make Block books using Sarah Fielke's bonus video shared with those doing her 2016 Block of the Month.  You wouldn't think it would take a year to make them would you?  Just got them done in the nick of time!  So very happy to wrapping these up to post this week!


Abigail wanted blue and red so I used the few O-Ho circles made during a workshop with Brigitte Heitland of Zen Chic that never made it into a quilt.  This could be my favourite though I really like the light grey in the next one!


An orphan block of slashed strips - no idea why I made this - must have been for a bee block.  The red star is a block made for me from Global Scrap Bee (my first bee in 2013!)


I showed you this one before - my very first pieced blocks from Craftsy 2012 BOM.  These were the colours chosen by Sobana, so this ones for her.  I will make myself another as I signed up for Sarah Fielke's 2017 BOM called Down The Rabbit Hole - I'm hoping to add a bit of Alice in wonderland to my blocks - I love that book!



Even though it doesn't look like it one has a few more pages than the others.  I used cardboard as the stiffener in the purple/pink one and it seems to fold flatter and not feel quite as substantial as the others, but you can actually get more blocks in.


For the other 2 I used Foam board and it cuts really easily - 1 A1 sheet is needed per book as the cover is 15" so a bit of wastage but not that much.  It gives a lovely finish to the book and makes it feel more durable.


So that's me paying it forward to Abigail, Phyllis and Sobana - over to you!

Charly & Wilbur paying it forward!

Thursday, 12 January 2017

2017: Be open to whatever comes next!

Don't you just love the unexpected little touches in fabric design.  I found this on the selvage of some fabric I bought intending to make a bag but ended up using for a one hour basket instead.  I snapped the photo as I thought I need to keep this!  The fabric name 'Be open to whatever comes next' has really resonated with me and has stayed in my mind these past few months.

All quilt tops that need quilting!
I wrote about being brave and putting yourself out there as a blogger last year, coming up to the New Bloggers Blog Hop and at that time I was just getting ready to host my first QAL, for the Rainbow Rose.  I also had my first teaching opportunity around that time too and developed a class on Traditional blocks made modern.  That involved being brave and open to the challenge and asking for help.  I had very generous proof readers and am very grateful to them for catching errors and testing my blocks.  Thank you to all who helped make the class a success!

Both of those did take up quite a bit of time but I loved the preparatory work as much as actually doing the class and making with the QAL.  I really enjoyed the writing, illustrations, particularly the design work and that sense of pride in a finished blog post, a completed pattern and bound class booklet, and it was just as nice as in a finished quilt!  Just as well, as there were not that many finished quilts last year!



To be fair, I can't be too hard on myself.  As well as being on committee for our local branch I represented the Mid-West branch at the executive committee of the Irish Patchwork Society (IPS).  There were monthly meetings in Dublin, the AGM weekend and I curated my first gallery of modern quilts in the Knitting & Stitching Show.  I also attended 5 workshops, was in 2 Bee's (Stash and Round Robin), 5 swaps, a blog hop, 3 QAL's, 1 Exhibition and looked after the Modern Quilters Ireland blog group as well as my own and that's with a full time job.  Oh and we got a puppy!  I need to take a breath as that was a lot for one year!



It's not surprising my average blog posts went from 2 a week to just about 1 a week in 2016.  So I am forgiving myself for that.  My online time spent commenting on blogs dropped too though and that has me feeling down but I think it was inevitable really with less time to spend online overall.  

My year on IG from Makelight - that neon green?  Definitely Glow in the Dark Vader! and the muted browns?  Definitely the dogs!

So how is 2017 shaping up?  Well as of last Saturday, I was elected chair of the IPS (eeks!  Being brave and being open to the opportunity!), have booked 2 teaching sessions in the Spring in Cork and Dublin, have signed up to 2 workshops in February (yes I am a glutton for punishment),  1 swap also due in February and have a quilt design in the works for the Modern Ireland Quilters Group for the summer and our second exhibition in Dublin called Fun!   Oh and I'm giving a talk at our branch this Friday and still trying to toilet train Maggie, the puppy (yes still!)

Projects half started as opposed to PHD - Projects half done!

So, I'll be blogging when I can on my sewing progress but it probably won't be every week this quarter!  And my quarter a long finish goals - well there are lots to choose from.  All of these I have carried over from 2016.  No wonder I wasn't getting that job well done, finished feeling at the end of last year.  There's 25 projects from fabric to idea, to quilt top, to partially quilted that I haven't given up on yet.  I really wish I could be a one quilt at a time person but I guess that's never going to happen! Still I think this many is a bit nuts!  How about you?  One at a time or all in one go?

So for this quarter, it being quite mental I am going to look at getting 2 quilts longarmed and keep up with swaps and bees, spend more time commenting on blogs and IG and lastly choose the Modern Irish Bee Houses quilt as a me project and try and get that done for our Fun exhibition in May.  Anything else that gets done is a bonus!  That's the plan anyway...

Linking up with

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Happy New Year and Back to the Drawing Board!


Happy New Year everybody! Hope everyone enjoyed the break over the holidays.  I had a wonderful time with family and friends and the only bit of sewing done was demonstrating how to use my first sewing machine to a friends daughter, (I gave her my Lidl Lervia machine that I made my first 4 quilts on!)  And I got a thank you present in return - hopefully she'll have great fun with it - she is certainly off to a great start!



In other news, it's not been a complete avoidance of sewing related activities.  I am on the committee for our branch of the IPS (Irish Patchwork Society) so one of the things I'm charged with doing is providing articles for our society newsletter (published 4 times a year).  Every quarter, I write up the branch news and one other article that might be of interest to our society which is a mixture of quilting styles and experience.  This month I have been working on writing about the Drunkards Path block.


I think it has been on my mind as I am slowly getting to complete bee quilts from blocks received in past years and before Christmas made this little baby quilt and I am still thinking of the last 5 blocks as tall flowers!

For the article I have been exploring the shape of the basic unit of the Drunkard's Path.  It is basically a quarter circle pieced into a square shape.  The traditional ratios are 2/3 or 3/4 circle to background square.  A modern approach to the block is to use a full circle to background square as a finished unit in the block.


So I've been playing around with it a bit and love how 1970's the flower or vintage bloom block looks just by changing the ratio of circle to square. And adding a bit of colour gives a fun repeating pattern!



I am considering this as a block for Modern Irish Bee this year.  It's not my turn until later on in the year but we are going big this year with a maximum 18" block and this bloom block is a 4x4 patch construction and easy to size up to 16".

 
The wandering path home is a little bit lost in the first design but I think this one with a half drop repeat keeps the feeling of the traditional block design (supposedly named for the weaving way a person with too much of the merry stuff on him takes on the way home!)

And if they go by A&E on the way (kidding!) this exploded block with the 2/3 ratio gives a nice fractured approach!


Am I being a bit too cruel in asking a bee group to make a curved block?


To get that modern full curve look, it is easiest to make bigger and then trim back the excess on the outer piece to only the seam allowance after you have made your unit.  Allowing a good bit extra above and to the right of the blue lines helps handle the piece easier when adding on the convex curved piece so be generous with your templates!  Trim the excess away as the last step leaving only the seam allowance on both sides.


I learned this the hard way when, after resizing this design to a much smaller dimension than in Angela Pingels book : A quilters Mixology, I had a devil of a time getting the pieces curved and flat.  I ended up hand sewing this little guy in the end!


There is a cheat to making the Drunkard's Path units using applique.  Sew a circle onto a background square (reverse applique or mono-filament thread will hide the stitches) and then cut into quarters giving 4 units.  Trim afterwards to whatever ratio you want!  Maybe this could be a way to make the blocks Bee friendly?


Of course, having started to play with shape and colour and having more than enough for my article, I should have stopped but just couldn't resist a few more designs.


I'm quite liking this rope effect - can't see myself making that many curved pieces though the blocks are quite big 30" in this one below.  A bed quilt, Granny square style, in an ombre effect anyone?


The article for the magazine is now written and I need to get on with finishing those UFO's from last year, so this will have to sit for a while.  I really enjoyed this process though and this is what I had been missing towards the end of last year.  Just having fun and playing with shape and colour!  2017 is off to a good start!

Linking up with Let's Bee Social, Needle and Thread Thursday and Design Wall Monday!

Thursday, 22 December 2016

So long 2016 and Hello Holidays!

I'm not one for seeing the negative in a year that's nearly done.  A year is a year and like the weather even in rainy Ireland there are more sunny days than rainy ones.  I must admit though that 2016 has been a challenging year in lots of ways.  I for one am glad to see it come to a close and am thoroughly enjoying the holiday spirit in this run up to Christmas!

New decorations this year and I love the Labrador card!

Apart from all the craziness in the world, I found this year to be challenging and frustrating as I struggled to get all the things I wanted to do completed and the creative sense of achievement in getting things done seemed to elude me for a good part of the year!

the last of the Bee Blocks for Stash Bee Hive #4

We had a very late holiday in October and at the end of it I picked up a head cold that lead to a chest infection that lead to bad reaction to antibiotics and meant I was out of action for the last month from anything but work and staying indoors.  I haven't quite gone into hibernation but I have been nesting!

Making a family tree in the hall, new knobs for the dresser and finally a tidy wardrobe (need one more hanger!)

I re-read the Marie Kondo book on tidying and though I haven't quite gone all Zen and thanked my possessions for their service or quizzed them as to the level of joy they bring me, (ok there may have been the green cargo pants I've had for 10 years that finally ripped beyond repair and I might have thanked that one!), I did take 2 things to heart from the book.  1. try to keep like items in one place only and not all over the house and 2. the frustration I am feeling is not down to others to pick up after themselves but for me to get my bit in order and others will follow.

What's going on here then, changing my garden?                     Tea-break?                Ta-dah! A path to my outside house!

I'm not sure that is exactly the case, as my side of the bedroom is looking ok, but Gordon's is like a tornado passed through but at least there has been some progress!  The dogs had run a path through the grass so I thought stepping stones would be a good idea so we wouldn't get all muddy when we have to clean up outside.  They magically got put into position with me only asking once!

Maggie is way bigger than Charly now, so Charly gains height by using the sofa!  Their play always looks so rough!

Spending a lot of time inside has had me casting my eye over the entire house and making small changes and planning bigger ones to nearly every room!  I moved in the dresser from my sewing area and it fits better in the living room and means I get more places to put Christmas stuff including the wreath I made for our branch demos in November!

Those two are mad little monsters!                                                     Who us?

Wilbs has had more seizures, 4 in 24hrs.  We were supposed to celebrate my friends birthday by all going out to dinner but Gordon kindly stayed home after seizure #2 in case there would be a third.  There was.  20mins after I came home from a very nice meal!  Poor Gordon missed out but we weren't leaving the old dog behind alone.  He has gotten massively clingy and talks to us all day long now in whines and chirps.  We have a seizure diary for him up on the fridge and as long as we are consistent with his meds, we seem to be able to get it to 1 cluster a month.

I have to agree with Wilbur, Maggie - 1 Christmas cushion -0  Still I rescued the tree from it so not all bad! 

Like the weather, more sunshine than you think, I did get quite a bit done in the end.  Got my Christmas one hour basket finished (another branch demo) and made progress on the Modern Irish Bee Round Robins.  2 done, 1 more to go!  I'm hoping to get there by the end of the year on the last one!


The last swap of the year was a covered notebook swap with the Modern Irish Quilters.

In September I had signed up for a paper piecing miniatures class with Gwen Cottis though our branch of the Irish Patchwork Society.  I had some cute 2 1/2" squares completed and decided they needed to be a Spring (February's valentine heart), Summer (Irish one with lots of rain in July), Autumn and Winter notebook cover. I used ribbon from a bundle of fabric bought from the Fat Quarter Shop, a Daler Rowney sketchbook and some letter fabric I bought on Instagram from Betsy Grey Crafts last year.  The tutorial we all used for the swap was Cindy's really easy to follow step by step on her blog Fluffy Sheep Quilting here.

Just yesterday I received a really lovely spring themed flower notebook and shabby chic calendar from Kristina - thank you so much!
Modern Quilters Ireland Christmas swap!

So frustrations aside, it's been a lovely finish to 2016.  Sunny side out.  Always!  So for 2017, I guess to get that feeling of a job well done I need to bust those UFO's and get back to what I enjoy most.  For me, that's exploring colour and shape in my own design ideas, testing them out in a quilt and hopefully writing more patterns - I'd like to get back to more of that next year.  It would be nice to get another magazine publication under my belt and finally make that quilt for our own bed!  Small goals but very achievable.  I have 2 teaching opportunities in March and April and am very excited about them.   And save for a proper summer holiday next year - that would be nice!

Crib set mum bought for me in the Vatican shop on a trip to Rome, Nativity scene from Dresden Christmas market (my favourite decoration in the whole house!


So that's it from me for 2016.  Happy Christmas everybody and here's to a productive, happy and fun filled 2017.
2017 Planning Party
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