Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Swoon - Long arm quilted!

Back from holidays. Feels like I've been away for a month! I thought I'd finally post an update on the finished Swoon quilt I hand delivered to my cousin for her wedding!

Just before I left for the States, we had our September meeting of the Irish Patchwork Society and I got to share the quilted Swoon with our branch. As it was for a special occasion, I asked Paula Rafferty to quilt it for me on her longarm. I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to making a quilt and like to see the whole thing through to the end, even the binding, though every now and again, I wish I had a team of little yellow minions who would do the basting for me!

This is only the second time I have not quilted myself.  Paula also quilted my Storybook quilt last year for me as it was my first time getting a pattern accepted for publication by Make Modern Magazine.  If you are looking for a long arm quilter in the Limerick region for that extra special touch, Paula is brilliant and I love the finished quilt that resulted!

It was fun flipping through all over patterns trying to pick something that would work well with the Swoon blocks and we settled on the musical Treble Clef with some notes. I thought the swirls would compliment the blocks and as the Groom is from Brazil and I always think of Samba music and sunshine when I think of Brazil, it seemed to fit quite well. I am delighted with how it turned out!

I had fun practicing it on paper too as I think this would be a great motif to free motion quilt sometime using the musical notes to travel around the quilt a bit.  I'm saving that one for a future project!

As an all over pattern too I think it gives really nice texture.

For the back I used some Zen chic fabric I had on hand from the Limerick Quilt Store's sale last January.  I really love this fabric and had to piece a navy strip on the bottom to make the back big enough to fit on the longarm.

Sorry I have no photos of the whole quilt on location.  It was raining in Chicago so instead of taking quilty photos we spent our time waiting for the sun to come out by visiting museums and climbing skyscrapers!

Not a bad way to spend a holiday!  Thanks M & A for the excuse to come and visit!

Friday, 18 September 2015

Swoon top finally finished!

Ta-dah!  2 years in the making and we finally have a finished quilt top!
You might have seen this on Instagram.  I am handing this over to my cousin today so its safe to show the completed quilt top here on the blog! 
I started with these two blocks back in 2013 when everyone was making Swoon blocks.  I must admit I skipped reading a few blog posts as it seemed to be Swoon after Swoon but then seeing as Sarah (founding member of our Modern Quilters Ireland group) was having a Swoon-A-Long I thought why not see what all the fuss was about.  I really liked the blocks that resulted and do think this is a really pretty block.  
One of the things that happened as a result of waiting too long to finish the top is the Kona Navy I had originally bought got used up on lots of things!  I ended up buying 2 more batches in between starting and finishing and yes there is colour variation.  I had known this in the back of my head but paid it no heed.  Lorna @ Sew Fresh Quilts found with her Kona Coal quilt too.  I guess darker fabrics show it more.  Luckily though I was able to keep the colours only in the sashing and it almost looks like a deliberate design choice - lucky escape!

As this is a wedding present I sent it for long arm quilting just to make it extra special.  Once my cousin has seen the finished quilt I'll share some photos as I love the pattern used by Paula to quilt it and am trying to learn it as a free motion pattern for another project!  For now so happy to share the finished quilt top.  It's my longest quilt top to finish so far to date.  I do get there eventually, in the end!

Linking up to the Friday finishes!

Monday, 14 September 2015

When you are on a roll… Finished Sewing Machine Cover

Having had so much fun quilting paw prints this past week, I decided to take a leaf out of Jasmine’s book and  keep going to finish up a project or two. Dog Gone Cute is done but I'm saving the finished item for my turn on the blog hop next month.

Remember this sewing machine cover that I made way back in March? It’s based on the Ornaments quilt from Angela Pingel’s book called A Quilters Mixology: Shaking up curved piecing. I can’t believe its been sitting covering my machine, pin basted and unfinished all this time!

So feeling the quilting groove this week, I decided to have a good look at it and come up with something not a stipple or a wiggle.

When I first saw this pattern using the Drunkards path block, it reminded be of Tales from the Arabian nights and Aladdin’s lamp. So I wanted something swirly in the lanterns a bit like smoke.

For the background I had no idea and I guess the pattern being called ornaments made me thing of strings of pearls so I went with straight lines and circles.

My favourite thread is Aurifil 2410, a very light pink – it just seems to go with everything from piecing to quilting so I used that on top and tried hard to stitch in the ditch – disaster – but everything else went ok!

I marked the straight lines with some chalk and free motioned them adding in some circles every now and again trying to stagger them a little. 

I thought about adding ties to the sides but in the ended didn't bother as my machine stays put here most of the time and I'd only be tying and untying for no reason.  For the past months I've just been laying the cover over the machine when not in use and that's worked grand to keep the dust off as is.

I decided to bind it in the lemony yellow I used for the smallest lantern as its a happy colour compared to the purple.

And here's the finished cover, done & dusted.  I could get used to finishing projects one after the other.  Linking up to the Friday finishes!

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

WIP Wednesday - the quilting one!

When Angela Walters would say, “Quilting is the funnest part!”, that would grate on my ears. No offence to Angela, I’ve signed up for 2 of her Craftsy classes and learned a lot – she is a great teacher. But that phrase would always get inside my head and my inner voice would say nope its not!

It’s not because funnest doesn’t sound quite right and most fun pops into my head every time I’d hear that phrase, I think its because when you are learning free motion quilting, its kind of tricky, a little bit difficult! Not so much fun.

Concentrating hard,  stitching out of the ditch instead of in, messing with tension, learning to co-ordinate hand movement to foot speed and ripping out quilting (I wonder why I bury threads when its so hard to rip out teeny tiny quilting stitches!) -  takes a bit of practice, a small dollop of hope, a large dollop of fearlessness and a ‘what’s the worse that could happen?’ attitude. It’s definitely not fun at the beginning, at least not for me.

This week though I think I might just be getting at the spirit of what Angela means!

I’ve seen the question asked are you a quilter or a piecer and I would instinctively be on the piecing side, though I do prefer when possible to quilt my own projects. I have 2 quilt tops sitting, waiting for me to get brave enough to take the plunge and quite a few that needs finishing.

This week intending to finish the binding on my Swoon quilt for my cousins wedding, I found myself wanting to quilt not piece, for the first time ever!

Maybe its the Dog Gone Cute cushion I’ve been making using Lorna's pattern or the quilt writing I attempted in last weeks tote bag or maybe its just my new Janome or the fact that I hate binding but my hands have wanted to quilt all week and here’s the thing, it was fun!

I really enjoyed the whole process this time around and didn’t feel the pressure to not mess up my piece like I usually do! I still did some practice sketches and 1 practice piece to get the dog paws in my head and then just went for it!

Normally when drawing I try not to allow words in my head and just think about moving a little bit this way, a bit more that way but when quilting the dog paws I found it really useful to talk to myself and say wiggle a little bit, mushroom, button, button, button, button and wiggle a bit again. For some reason this helped me keep the shape in my head. Anyone else do that - talk to yourself while quilting?

Some are quite good, some not so good but all are ok and no ripping required! Apart from the quilt writing.  I think I did ok with Patch and Charly but the T in Toby looks more like Yoby! For some reason that makes me smile!  We used to call him Tobes, Tubsy, Tobster - I should probably change the Y but I am tempted to leave it!

The Dog Gone Cute Quilt-A-Long has started and Lorna has the instructions up on her blog for making dog number 1 & 2.  It will be my turn on the blog hop where I get to show you my finished  cushion of our Jack Russell Terriers and I hope to make the 60" x 60" quilt for myself! Fingers crossed I'll get that done in time!

If you want to see more the hop participants are here and posting progress over the month of September following the QAL:

Tuesday, October 6
Karen of Run Sew Fun
Kris of Kris Loves Fabric
Anja of Anja Quilts
Kelly of Quilting it Out
Tish of Tish’s Adventures in Wonderland

Thursday, October 8
Carol of Just Let Me Quilt
Nina of Inchworming
Doris of The Quilting Queen Online
Brandy of Pampered Pettit
Leena of Creative Instincts

Tuesday, October 13
Ruth of Charly and Ben’s Crafty Corner
Tanya of Tanya Quilts in Colorado
Laurel of Quilts by Laurel
Kathy of Kathy’s Quilting Blog
Deb of New Creative State

Thursday, October 15
Anita of Daydreams of Quilts
Gina of Quilts and Cakes
Beth of Words & Stitches
Rachel of Quiltineering
Julie of Mack and Mable

Tuesday, October 20
Cathy of A Quilting Chick
Selina of Selina Quilts
Shauna of Shauna’s World
Gayle of Pedal Sew Lightly
Kathy of Kayak Quilting

Thursday, October 22
Sandy of Upstairs Hobby Room
Heide of Heide’s Quilty Hugs
Britt-Inger of Hill Valley Quilter
Judy of How ART You?
Louisa of Sewmotion

Tuesday, October 27
Teje of Nero’s Patch and Post
Stephanie of Jak and Will
Valerie of Val’s Quilting Studio
Ellen of Georgia Florida Studio
Cristina of Pretty Little Quilts

Thursday, October 29
Abigail of Cut & Alter
Magdalena of iloveneutrals
Jenn of A Quarter Inch from the Edge
Anne of Batiks by the Bay
Susie of Susie's Sunroom
Tracy of Tracy’s Bits N Pieces
Sew Fresh Quilts

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Summer Swap Tote Bag - A Finish

This year the Modern Quilters Ireland group had a summer swap. We've been making tote bags for each other, big enough to hold a magazine and room for a crafty project or two!  This is due to be delivered to my swap partner today so I thought I'd share some photos!

My swap partner loves bright happy fabrics and didn't have too many dislikes so I had a lot of free reign in coming up with something that she would like and would be in the spirit of modern quilting.  I knew I wanted to have a nice front to the bag and thought about paper pieced stars.  My original idea was to have 4 snall stars on one side and 1 big one on the back and then I had a rethink.  I thought I might be over complicating things.

Thumbing through some old editions of Quilt Now I spotted Laura Hartrich's Goodnight, Love you bed quilt. I love this quilt and think the clever way of using drunkards path for the heart and letters is really visually interesting.  I chose Noodlehead's Super tote as the basis for the bag as it offered a really lovley big pocket on the front of the bag.  Looking at the maths to make this fit would mean really small drunkards path blocks so I made them all triangles instead!

I pulled from scraps and have fabrics in here from my Lost in London and most recent swoon quilt.  this was so much fun I decided to make a second pocket for the back and appliqued the O and E to make this a bit easier and faster to make.

The super tote pattern has a pocket on one side only but it was really easy to just make 2!  I loved this pattern - it is really well written and once all the interfacing is ironed on it sews together quickly.

I had the idea of quilting in some text to have this say Love...summer holidays, friendship, family, sunshine...  I think I may need to practice quilt writing a little bit more as it was not quite as smooth as I had envisioned!

I wanted the bag to be slouchy and not too stiff so the heart got some gentle wiggling , enough to keep the layers in place!

So here you have it!  My take on a summer tote bag!  There are rumours of an Indian summer so my swap partner may get to use it yet!

Linking up to the Friday Finishes!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

A little something extra - a finish & a Giveaway

Did I tell you I broke my machine?  My Husqvarna Viking H600e is a sewing machine with an embroidery module.  Its essentially the same as the Singer Futura XL550 sewing machine that has slightly fancier plastic but with Husqvarna software for the embroidery motifs.  To say that this is a finicky machine is an understatement!

My machine is unnamed; I generally don't name electric items.  At one point I was tempted to call her Heidi the Husky but Hideous Heidi kept popping into my head so often it was better she stay the unnamed one!

Don't let the pretty plastic fool you (she really is a good looking machine though, isn't she?) She can straight stitch with the best of them but ask her to do the fancy work she looks like she is up for, trouble brews. I have cursed more and muttered more and walked away from the machine in a temper more than any other piece of equipment I have ever owned - thanks Unnamed One for that!

The trouble is she really wants to be an embroidery machine and I kept wanting her to be the all purpose sewing /quilting/embroidery machine I thought I had bought.  I have since learned one size  does not fit all. 

Coats on left and Aurifil on right - same 50 weight
Image from Wonder thread Guide
She hates working at full speed (3/4 suits best).

She only likes expensive thread.  Gutermann for embroidery and Aurifil for quilting.

She doesn't like thread fed on the horizontal spool even when using the net so I use a doohickey called a Wonder Thread Guide.

This sits on top of where your spool goes and guides the thread through like a cone stand.  It's designed to eliminate thread breakage when stitching out an embroidery motif.  I leave it on the machine permanently.  It helps but I still get thread breakage, even with the expensive thread and new needles.  Happens mostly when the machine is travelling from one area in the hoop to another.

You get the best value in shipping by buying 2 so I have a spare one if anyone is having issues with thread and wants to try it.  Leave me a comment to enter the giveaway and if there is more than one person who wants this I'll do a random number generator to pick a winner.

Don't get me wrong there is a lot to like about this machine.  It has an automatic bobbin winder, push the lever and she winds herself!  She warns you when you are about to run out of bobbin thread - so handy!  She has a beautiful wide bed and a lovely wide harp space so moving  a quilt around is really easy.  The automatic needle threader is easy to use and works about 80% of the time but the little handle on the side of the machine keeps falling off so useless really! 

The real issue with this machine though, in my humble opinion, after 3 years working with it is this. 

The bobbin tension is a nightmare!  The manual says do not adjust the bobbin and of course I did!  In my defence I had to to get the tension right for free motion quilting (previous post here).  It was working like a dream for about 10 hours and then I guess the bobbin slowly came apart as it got worse and worse.  I did get my quilt finished but ended up with a broken bobbin case at the end.

28 Euro's later - a new bobbin case, some new Gutermann thread and voila!  A perfectly pretty Tula Pink owl all stitched out!

Was this a pain free experience with The Unanamed One?

Nope!  7 thread breaks, a bit of pulling in despite stabiliser and screwing the hoop as tight as I could, 1 curse after first attempt had a massive bobbin jam (jam proof drop in bobbin me a**e) - this came after round 10 of 16 and had to be discarded due to enormous hole ripped when trying to remove said jam proof bobbin, 2 cups of tea to calm down, 3 biscuits as I thought I deserved them after that, and 5 hours later - 1 owl!

It became a needle book (slightly largeish as the owl is about 5" x 8") as an extra to our Summer Tote bag Swap with the Modern Quilters Ireland.  I'm looking forward to sharing my bag with you this Friday as it should be delivered to my swap partner then!

The owl is available from Urban Threads along with the Acacia raccoon and can be bought in a machine or hand embroidery option.

I think it was worth the aggravation but I might just take a break and  do some quilting on my new Janome before sitting back down to The Unnamed One again for a bit just yet!
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