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

Thursday, 17 November 2016

IPS Gallery at the Knitting and Stitching Show 2016

So the Christmas demos in the local fabric shop went well (post here) and since all that crazy busy-ness right up to last Saturday, I took my foot off the brake this week and got on with celebrating my birthday and getting the boring housework done! As such, the WIP's are still at the same stage, so I thought I'd share with you, photos from the Knitting and Stitching show in Dublin last month. I had the honour of curating the Modern Gallery of the Irish Patchwork Society's display. My booth was 3 walls of 3 to 3.5m wide so I had to seek 5-6 quilts to fill the space.

Not all the quilts submitted to me for consideration, were what I would call modern in the sense of the MQG definition, but they had modern elements.  In the end, it was choosing quilts big enough for the space and what would hang well together.  It was hard saying no but really lovely saying yes and I have to give a big thanks to Paula Rafferty for the hanging which made the booth look so well!

The modern gallery was 1 of 6 in the display with other categories being Young Quilters (18 and less), Traditional, Art, Bags, and a Christmas display by the South Eastern branch.  I was delighted to see a Rainbow Rose in the submissions and this lovely version is by Imelda O'Grady from Limerick!

Aine Lecky made this lovely modern quilt and had it long arm quilted by the Quilt Shop Tuam. 

The centre piece of the booth was The Aviatrix Medallion made by Erin Case.  The pattern is by Elizabeth Hartman and it is just a beautiful celebration of colour! 

A passerby to the booth commented that you would need sunglasses for our section and his companion said "yes, isn't it wonderful".  Not sure that was what he meant, but it put a big smile on my face!  This gorgeous scrappy colour quilt was made by Sharon Hughes.

Next to Sharon's was Tomomi McElwee's colour play, with Red and White the colours of the Japanese flag, and my quilt idol (see earlier blog post here!)  Ethelda Ellis' gorgeous sunset. 

As always I am in awe of Tomomi's quilting! 

This was the young quilters gallery...

and the bags...

and an early Christmas!

I don't have too many photos of the traditional quilts but I was delighted to see Paula Rafferty's Share Jane.  Over 100 quilters made blocks for this and 2 other colour versions for the Dear Jane anniversary exhibitions this year.  I made 2 of the white blocks in this version based on the colours of the Irish Flag.

One of my favourite pieces was Valerie Mulally's quilt from a block of the month.

I think my favourite block in this quilt is the rabbit - can you spot him?

Of all the quilts in the show though, this was the one that made me smile!  A Zebra made by Elizabeth Brennan for the Art Quilts section.  I would have had this in modern in a heartbeat!

That's the lovely thing about quilting - lots of genres, crossover of styles and opportunities to play!  It was brilliant to be a part of the exhibition and thank you to all the quilt makers who contributed and made our jobs curating such a success.
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