Friday, 5 February 2016

Wandering Camera - the snapshot edition

I'm calling this one the snapshot edition, as I had fully intended on making an effort and showing some nice photos to link up with Soma's Wandering Camera linky party @Whims and Fancies but January kind of got away from me.  So here's a little look at my past week or so!

Washed my Lost in London quilt and remembered how much I love that scruchy texture you get from the first wash! 

Took a trip to Ikea to pick up a desk and chair for a friend on the way home from Dublin Airport and discovered I really like black in a kitchen. Plus check out that wood log roller blind!

I would love to change our counter tops to wooden ones.  Really love that look!

And this yellow made me smile though I think my mum would never visit if I did this!

Still loving that turquoise blue in the kitchen - am definitely going to incorporate more of this colour into our house this year - and a hot pink blind - perfect!

Am thinking of recovering the sofa with this darker fabric (5Euro a meter!) Easier to keep clean with Wilbur and Charly maybe? And it would be handy to have a second set so this doesn't happen again!

Still can't notice the lumpy bits on the bottom of the sofa seat where I stuffed it back in - this earned Wilbur the nickname of the Horrible Animal.  We call him that affectionately now all the time!

I love the shape of this chair and could see it re-vamped patchwork style!  Wouldn't that be a fun project though I suspect it would be a lot harder than I think to do!

Very little outdoor snapshots - pretty miserable weather all around!

On the bright side I did buy a new camera and have a photo tip for you.  When a new camera model is announced, quite often the camera manufacturers drop the price on the original model quite dramatically to move stock.  If you don't mind not having the newest, shiniest model this is a great way to buy good gear at reasonable prices.  So with the new X-Pro 2 mirrorless camera on the way the price dropped on the X-Pro 1 and somehow magically it found its way into my amazon basket!

This was my first shot!  Yup accidentally pushed the button when Charly surprised me - made me laugh!
So that's my photo Friday tip and wandering camera snapshot of January!  Linking up to Soma's @

Camera And Photography Linky Party

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Handy organistaional software for quilters - Microsoft OneNote

My design and possible fabric choice for Triangle-A-Long - Denyse Schmidt bundle
Cheryl @ Meadow Mist Designs is hosting a series on her blog about pattern writing and one of the topics explored is Quilt design software.  I get asked quite often about the software I use and have written some tutorials on using Word, Touchdraw and Inkscape for the Modern Quilters Ireland blog (links to tutorials here).

Screenshots from one of my designs uploaded to PlayCrafts Palette Builder to find Kona fabrics to buy.
One of the programs I use every day and haven't written about before is Microsoft One Note.  Though not specifically for quilt design it is integral to my design process.  One Note is a free program that runs on all platforms, Windows & Mac, apple ios & Android.   I sync my personal notebook to the cloud and can access it from my phone, desktop, and iPad.  It is very handy when I am in a quilt shop and need to check my design or dimensions for colours or yardage to buy.

Clipping from web will add the original web address.
It gives me a place where I can store quilt design tips, cheat sheets, how to's and sketches.  You can draw directly in OneNote, insert a picture or file or clip screenshots directly to it.

When clipping from the web it can record the website so you can go back to it again.  Here I have a free download from Crafting Fingers that I thought would be handy and have saved it and the PDF in OneNote for easy access.  I can type directly on top of the screenshot too if I want to.

As well as a place to store screen clippings, it is very handy for organising and planning the month ahead.  You can insert calendars and give yourself a blog post schedule or to do list!

I love my Quilter's planner and use this for my weekly notes and things I'm thinking of and then take it to the computer and plan out the month.  I prefer having the month online as I can make changes easily especially when planning blog posts and projects I want to get done for deadlines! Plus I can have WIP lists & wish lists all to hand on my phone when I am out and about!
This month's calendar in progress!
Items To Do can be assigned check boxes and reminders or sync with outlook.  Tables and formulas are available and if you have excel you can save workbooks too directly in One Note.
Knitting projects keeping track of with Pat Sloan's UFO process
Patterns I have purchased or inspiration images I have collected can also be easily stored.  Within a notebook you can have tabs for each section go across the top and new pages are stored down the side.  You can nest pages into groups too so it is really handy to keep all sorts of things!
Embroidery patterns I have purchased from Urban Threads, images in one place so I can pick and choose easily what I want to make!
And it comes in handy for design ideas too.  Playing with my pattern for the medallion quilt I designed last year for the Modern Irish Quilters QAL, I could add notes to my design, brainstorm border options and decide on the types of stars I wanted to use in my design.

Last month, at one of our guild meetings I demonstrated how to use the Hex N More ruler by Jaybird quilts and used OneNote to help make a cutting chart and crib sheet for the demo. 
It really is a very handy program and its free!

It might just be something you could use when brainstorming your next quilt project or keeping track of your projects in progress!  What do you think?  Do you have favourite software or programs that help you in your quiltmaking?  I'd love to hear about them!

Monday, 1 February 2016

Pay it Forward!

Do you remember the movie Pay it Forward with Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment? It was based on a book of the same name about a kid who comes up with a social experiment to make the world a kinder place. He decides on the Pay if Forward principle - I had heard of this before the movie, paying the toll for the next person coming along behind, buying someone a cup of coffee unexpectedly. Giving without the expectation of receiving in return, only asking the next person to do the same at some future date, when they have an opportunity to make someone's day easier!

Charly and Wilbur paying it forward or multiplying uncontrollably?
The book/movie concept maximised this effort by having each person pay it forward to 3 people and have a ripple effect flow through the community, spreading kindness. Isn't that a really lovely concept? Kind of like a pyramid scheme in reverse but with nicer consequences! I must admit I cried at the movie as it was quite sad but noble at the same time. According to Wikipedia, pay it forward has been traced back to a Greek play in 315BC. In blog land I managed to find it as far back as 2006 so still have no idea who started it but it is still going!

Purple mini & swap items gratefully received brightening up my wall!

Serena @Sew Giving (isn't that a brilliant name for a blog!) and I have been very lucky to be the recipient of Pay it Forward gifts from Deborah @ Sunshine Through the Rain (another great blog name!) I received a quilt as you go mini in purples to decorate my sewing space and have it hanging over my computer desk where I work on my designs and blog posts! Thank you Deborah for your thoughtful gifts!

So now it's our turn to Pay it Forward! Both Serena and I are posting on our blogs today to offer to make for you if you would like, something handmade during 2016. We are changing it up a little bit and instead of 3 blog recipients we are going offline too and reaching as far as we can including our guilds/sewing groups as well as our blogs and instagram too.

One of the things the movie concept tried was to do something for a person they wouldn't be able to do themselves. I've been thinking about that and decided on my first gift for someone in my guild. A block book. Sarah Fielke gave as a free gift in her 2016 Block of the Month a video showing how to make a block book. The idea being that you have a book where you can store your blocks made every month until you are ready to assemble them into a quilt. This is very handy for Bee blocks too and much nicer than the plastic tub I have been using to hold my blocks.
Not everyone will have paid for Sarah's BOM and have access to her tutorial and I think every quilter could use one of these so I thought I'd make a few to pay forward to others the gift I received from Deborah. 
So this weekend I pulled out some orphan blocks (I made my very first pieced blocks by following the Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month with Amy Gibson. I chose fabric I was not in love with and hence the blocks didn't scream finish me into a quilt and I left them to one side for over 4 yrs!)

The first book I made holds 12 1/2" blocks.  I ended up using purple to go with the strong pinks ( it was the only thing i could find in my stash that worked!) 
Pages of cotton wadding/batting hold the blocks in place and the design is really clever to allow the book to expand so when you add your blocks it's not bulging open all the time. 
I likes this so much I made a second smaller one for a friend who is working on small hand pieced blocks.  I think these would be really good for holding applique pieces on blocks in progress too!
So there you have it two block books!
If you would like a block book custom made for you in your colours of preference (not everyone likes purple - right Serena?)  or  a small handmade gift,  and are willing to make something for someone else within a year,  please leave a comment below.  If there is more than one willing to play along Random number generator will do its thing next Monday!  If there are no takers I will make up a block book and gift it forward to spread the acts of kindness as far as I can!

Don't forget to head over to Serena's blog where she is offering to make a gift today too!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

WIP Wednesday : Meadow Mystery update

I think I need a bigger design wall! This is how its looking at the moment.  Some of the blocks wrap around the wall but I think you get the idea!  All the block pieces are done and dusted now that the mystery has been revealed and it's onto assembly.  As I made my quilt from fat quarters, it is a bit scrappy in places!

This was my fabric pull for Cheryl's Meadow Mystery Quilt-A-Long and I had originally thought of my fabrics (blue and coral with Kona Snow and Charcoal) in this order with the blue and orange together.  Happily I changed my mind right before the cutting step as I really like how the blocks look with an orange centre star and the blue surround.
I don't think it would have been as successful if I had a white centre and the two print fabric colours side by side.  That's the thing with mystery quilts, you have no idea what the end design is like and can only go with what feels right at each step!
One thing that is really good about making from someone else's design is the different construction methods people use.  For the star points, the method is to use a white square and add triangles to the corners to have a square on point or square in a square.  I probably would have made these as flying geese and sewn them together.

It is nice not to have a seam line and it looks clean and crisp once squared up!  Using a scant 1/4" seam meant quite a bit of trimming and I found I had some blocks spot on and 1 or two that I was in danger of having to trim too much off and lose my 1/4" at the points - and I thought I was being consistent with my piecing!

Most of the blocks have come together reasonable well despite the scrappy nature

Except this one!
The tones in the blues are too much separated light and dark that it looks right wonky!  Not sure if I want to un pick it - after all it will remind me that this was a mystery quilt and that's how things go sometimes.  Maybe though, I might have a go at the little light square in the top corner and sort that bit out at the very least!  What do you think?

Monday, 25 January 2016

Stash manifesto!

Things have gotten a little bit out of control!
Mini Muu by Koko Sei - not 1 but 2 bundles
There might have been a little bit of Massdrop madness just before Christmas.
Modern Solids by Denyse Schmidt

And a little bit from Fat Quarter shop!
Moda Bella Spring Solids Collection

And the quilt shop Tuam..
Didn't need these but warms greys make a change!

And Patchwork Plus!
Traditional bundle not like me at all and Gardenvale by Jen Kingwell

Seems I am on a bit of rainbow binge at the moment.  I have a quilt design I have been playing with in rainbow colours that I have not gotten around to using and it seems to be in my head every time I look at fabric bundles.
Loominous by Anna Maria Horner

Two solutions to this problem - make the quilt and get it out of my head or stop looking at fabric bundles!  Maybe even do both!

I dream of a fabric stash like this:
Selection on Display at Pine Needles Quilt Shop
But have a full Ikea trolley with no room for rainbows:

Love volume fabric from Westwood Acres: Inside Voices monthly bundles
Storage boxes are kind of full too!
So I guess I'm just going to have to make a few quilts and use this fabric I've been obsessively buying!  So that's going to be my Stash manifesto for the moment - make these 2 quilts:
Rowing boats design inspired by Jen Kingwells Glitter Quilt
A Christmas star design, exercise in Alternate Grid
Now the next question, solids or prints? 'Cause as you can see I have plenty of both!

Linking up with Jen:
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