Friday, 24 October 2014

Finish it Friday - a pretty simple cushion!

Before Halloween next week and the Christmas sewing starts I thought I'd better get a few to do's off my list that have been hanging around a while.  So I have a small simple finish to share with you today.  

My friend Sarah wanted cushions to spruce up her new living room and earlier this year we made the Tula Pink Camper Van.  To go with this Sarah picked a dog applique pattern by Lynnette Anderson which reminded her of her old Labrador Holly.  I finally got around to finishing it off as a cushion for her last night!

I have a tutorial written to post next Monday on the Modern Irish Quilters blog for how to make an envelope backed cushion if you want to see how I made this one.

For quilting, I straight line quilted the white outer border all the way around and stitched in the ditch around the dog as Sarah didn't want too much fuss around Holly.  A tip I learned on Craftsy's Creative Quilting with your walking foot, is to mark a little distance away with some masking tape to give yourself a straight line to follow.  I found myself a little off from time to time and corrected it on the next line moving the masking tape up an inch or two as I went along.  This meant I didn't have to risk any markings still showing on the white fabric and was easy to see.

Sarah liked Holly as is without any embroidery but I couldn't resist adding a little wooden button.  I hope she likes it.  When the Modern Irish Quilters met in Galway last month I bought a selection of wooden buttons from Christina's shop Wrap it and couldn't resist adding the heart to this project.

So a simple finish but I really like it.  I hope she does too!

Don't forget I'm giving away a Craftsy class to celebrate over 200 posts on the blog.  Please see below to enter if you would like a chance to win either Designing Modern Quilts by Weeks Ringle or Amy Gibson's Twisted Irish Chain.

Linking up to Finish it Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts and

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Post number 225 and a Crafty Class giveaway!

My 200th blog post came and went and I didn't even notice!  This is in fact my 225th.  I've published 212 posts on my blog and guest posted 13!  A lot of advice given to new bloggers is to be featured or write a guest post for another blog.  Partly because it pushes you to create your best content and partly to talk to new readers who might not know you.
Modern Quilt Guild of Ireland
I've been writing for the Modern Quilters Ireland (formerly Modern Quilt Guild of Ireland) for about 7 months now and I've enjoyed it a lot.  It's been a really fun exercise to think of topics I wouldn't normally write about on my own blog, maybe for fear they wouldn't be read or of sounding like I know a lot more than I really do about quilting!  I'm still learning lots myself and like to share this aspect of learning by doing on my blog. 

Trying to think of topics that would appeal to people who have been quilting for a while and attract beginners too, in addition to people like myself, who like to play with colour and design has been quite different.  I've been thinking of them as explorations rather than articles to be written and in the exploring I have learned quite a bit.

I've learned that there are more than 10 ways to make Half Square Triangles and had great fun playing with layouts with just 16 of them!  I learned the Dutch Rose/Swoon block is over 100 years old and that the Log cabin block is probably the most versatile block there is!

So to celebrate 225 posts, 22 months blogging, just under 3 years quilting and the fact that I'm still 40 not 41 for another 3 weeks, (no I'm not having an age crisis - went through that when I was 25!)  I'm having a giveaway!  In keeping with the love of learning and exploration theme, I am gifting a Craftsy class of your choice from Designing Modern Quilts by Weeks Ringle or Amy Gibson's Twisted Irish Chain.

I've chosen these two as Weeks Ringle's class encourages explorations in colour & composition and I really loved the lesson titled Beyond the Block.  Plus my cousins in Chicago live near week's Studio and gifted me some of her fabric and Week's husband Bill wrapped it up in a fabric bag with a hand written note! 

I was gobsmacked when she gave the bundle to me and so was she when I pulled two of their books from my bookshelf!  Perfect present.  So I am paying it forward by selecting Week's class as an option for the giveaway!

I love Amy Gibson - I learned much of what I know about quilting through her Craftsy Block of the Month class in 2012.  She has a block of the Month club too called Sugar Block Club that I subscribe to and has a lovely friendly website in

So to win either of these two, please leave me a message telling me which class you would love to receive.  No need to follow my blog but if you do that's great!  The giveaway will stay open until midnight Irish time next Wednesday and then random number generator will pick the winner.  Good luck and thanks for entering!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Wild Atlantic Way

Just back from a weeks holiday driving around the Irish coast following the Wild Atlantic Way with cousins from Chicago! Last weeks posts were scheduled so I have some catching up to do replying to comments and following up on the blog posts that I have missed.

We didn't buy much, the obligatory distillers reserve Whiskey at Bushmills for Gordon (no photos allowed there!)  And I've been wanting a tea cosy for our stainless steel teapot for a while (since I saw Yvonne @ Quilting Jet Girl make her own).  I couldn't resist this fox by The Ulster Weaver's as it reminded us of how Charly our Jack Russell curls up to sleep!  Oh there was a stop at Ikea where I bought a whole bolt of fabric but that's for another day!  Google maps says you can do our route in 16 hours - we took a good few days to wander around and enjoy the scenery. 
We were blessed with good weather!  Above Cliffs of Moher with O'Briens tower.  There is a lovely walk along the top of the cliffs and we are planning on going back to do more!
Poulnabrone Dolmen (megalithic burial site - older than Newgrange, Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids!)

Croagh Patrick in Wesport, where we made our base to explore Achill Island and down into Connemara.
No chance of an indulgence from the Pope for climbing it in October!
(Gordon says he is keeping the beard for Christmas - fingers crossed it's gone by January!)
Great Famine memorial.  An amazing piece of work showing the ships that carried a mass emigration from the west in the 1840's to the UK, USA and across the world.  In school we called these coffin ships.

Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, Galway.  Originally a castle built by Mitchell Henry, then a boarding school and now an Abbey with an open house and gardens.  Even in October, flowers blooming and some creative pieces along the walks - gotta love these sheep!
Gothic church built by Mitchell Henry in memory of his wife Margaret.  Instead of the scary Gothic gargoyles this church is a labour of love decorated with flowers and angels using local Connemara marble inside. 

Our last destination on the trip was the Giant's Causeway in Co. Antrim right at the top of Northern Ireland. This was amazing!

My version of a selfie, shadow on those hexagon rocks!  Legend has it that the Giant living in the causeway challenged a Giant across the way in Scotland and the causeway was built so they could meet and fight.  The Scottish giant was huge so the Irish giant pretended to be a baby in a cradle.  The Scottish giant figured if that is the size of the baby he didn't want to see the father and broke up the causeway on his way home to separate the two again.  Volcanic activity  and crystalline cooling is the actuality but I like the story better! 
One of the iconic images of Northern Ireland is the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.  Now I don't have a photo of the bridge except for this because I was holding on with both hands crossing it!  Some people stopped to take Selfies, not me!  I got across by looking at one spot and keeping going - totally ignoring the drop to the Atlantic, the gusting wind and the swinging bridge - thankfully it is a short enough bridge and much easier to do on the way back! 

So that was the Wild Atlantic Way heading North from Limerick.  Normal quilty updates will resume later this week.  For now I'll leave you with this scenic shot while I test out Mr. Fox's ability to keep my tea warm and cozy!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

WIP Wednesday: Quilting Triangles!

Last Christmas, I bought myself a present.  I joined a weekly sewing group and wanted a smaller machine that I could carry.  My normal machine is a Husqvarna Viking and it weighs a ton.  I had a disk problem in my back a few years back and I am very wary of carrying heavy sewing machines!  So I settled on this little Pfaff Passport 2.0.

I love this for piecing and when I used it during a free motion quilting class at the Limerick Quilt Centre,  Mary Palmer was impressed with the tension on it.  My Husqvarna always requires a tension adjustment for FMQ and piecing but it does have a huge harp space (between needle and body of machine).  Little Pfaff not so much, but I thought I'd use it for my triangle quilt.

I discovered that when piecing triangles you lose a lot of width when the seam allowance is sewn in.  Not so much on height but it meant my triangle quilt was a bit smaller than I thought it would be.  Suits me being 5ft zero but probably not most people!

Small quilt, small machine, I decided to try and give it a go.  Plus the Pfaff has a built in walking foot (Pfaff call it IDT).  I love this feature.  You just pull down a black plastic arm at the back and even feeding of the fabric from top to bottom happens automatically!

When I first looked at quilting this, I thought straight line quilting beside the seams was a bit too obvious and then as it's been hanging along so long, I thought obvious is a perfectly fine strategy to pursue, so straight line it was.  I broke my 1/4" piecing foot accidentally (had moved the needle for a zipper foot and forgot to move it back!) so I used the standard foot instead and it gives a line about 3/8" away from the seam.

I turned on the new season of Scott & Bailey to watch (UK detective series) and straight lined away.  I know some people enjoy this bit and zone out.  I have to confess I find it a little bit boring though I really like the look.

Even straight line quilting I found it easier to move the quilt with quilting gloves.  I use Machingers size small.  They give you a guide on the back of the packet to place your hand to see what size you are.  My friend Louise was advised to go a size smaller again as they stretch after a while using them and I can attest to that.  I kept having to pull them up, so on the list to buy at the Knitting & Stitching show are XS gloves!

Things were going great across the long diagonals mirroring the triangles and I was tempted to stop there after two lines crossing over.  This would have left me 9" at the widest space between the quilt lines and my batting is good for up to 10" apart.  As this is probably going to be washed a lot, I went for the last line echoing the horizontal lines across the quilt.  At this point I got a few puckers - maybe three lines crossing over was a bit too many to chance my luck?

It only happened in the yellow fabrics which are from the Minimalista range.  They feel smoother to the touch than the other fabrics and I didn't pre-wash as these triangles were from fat eights that I had starched.  The Florence fabrics I used, despite not having perfect points everywhere, glided over smoothly.  I'm happy enough with the result and figure in the wash they might disappear!

I originally thought I'd use black for my binding but when I placed it next to the quilt it looked too harsh.  I'm thinking a darkish grey would work better.  This grey seems a little too blue so it looks like I need to make a trip to the quilt shop and see what I can get to finally finish this little quilt. 

You may have noticed I didn't do a round up of Quarter 3 FAL goals.  Well, that's because I didn't finish any!  I did come close with 2 projects but fell shy of the finish line.  So this post is in Work In progress Wednesday rather than Finish it Friday!  Oh well, there's always this quarter!

Linking up to

Sew Fresh QuiltsWIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
My Quilt Infatuation

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Global Scrap Bee - my very first Bee!

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I might have mentioned I found myself in 3 Bee's this year.  Global Scrap Bee has just come to a close and though I am relieved to be down to a more manageable 2 Bee's, I feel a bit sad about the end at the same time.  This was my first Bee and I loved it.
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As an online virtual quilting Bee, we came together through the Plum & June New Bloggers hop from 2013.  There was a bee for US residents and one for those living outside the US who didn't mind paying the postage.  13 of us came together from Canada, Ireland, Germany and Italy on Flickr and signed up for 1 block per month.  In order to keep postage to a minimum, we decided to go with a scrappy theme and use fabric from our own stash and whatever scraps we had on hand.  Quite a few of these blocks were made purely from my scrap basket.
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We were led by our Hive Mama Adrienne from Chezetcook's Modern Quilts.  On the first of every month the Queen Bee got to pick a block and either send a link to a free tutorial or write one for us to follow (we all picked free tutorials!)  Maximum block size was 14" and the requirement was to send 1 block or if you had the time you could make more!
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I think you can see from the variety here we had a great selection of blocks over the course of the year!  From modern rail fence blocks to scrappy stars to paper pieced kaleidoscope blocks.
I had trouble with one block when I got my new sewing machine and discovered my 1/4" foot on my Pfaff was not 1/4"and had to remake this scrappy star  as all of my points would be lost when pieced to the next one (brilliant scrap busting block!)

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The Colorado Beauty block was the one that got the most comments!  The choice of colours for most blocks was left up to the maker but in the case where a rainbow was wanted the Queen Bee for the month listed the colours requested on a discussion page in the Flickr group. We then put our names against the colour we wanted to make.  It was an easy way to not get all blue blocks!

This was my choice for May.  I chose this scrappy star from Clover & Violet with low volume scraps for the background.

When sending blocks, we put up a picture in Flickr and a note on the discussion page for that month to let our Queen Bee know they were on the way.

When they were received, our Queen posted a thank you note.  The ladies in this Bee were fantastic and we had only one drop out across the whole year so our Bee became 12 instead of 13.

It was great fun looking at the finished quilts and spotting your own block in the mix!  
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If any of these blocks catch your eye to make, I have updated my useful links page with links to how I made mine and the original tutorials, except for this last blue block called Urban Chickens which I neglected to put in a blog post.  The tutorial can be found at Wombat quilts here.

All in all this was brilliant Bee to be a part of - thank you ladies!
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