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!

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Pets on Quilts!

I'm sorry if you are tired of dog posts - last one for a while I promise!  This is our entry for Pets on Quilts hosted by Lilypad Quilting.  This is all about the furballs so feel free to skip the text for the photos!
Last years successful portrait of the 2!
Every year to celebrate Pets on Quilts we bring out a big bag of treats and do a photo shoot in the garden.  Last summer was  a bit challenging but we got there in the end.  This summer has been downright awful.  The sunny spells seem to come when we are at work and the opportunities to get into the garden and not get covered in mud or rain have been few and far between.  But we tried!

Wilbur Ticker Tape Quilt and Dog Gone Cute blocks from Sew Fresh Quilts

This year, I had the brilliant idea of having the two dogs pose on quilts of themselves. I thought this would be the best idea ever!  Well it had to be as mum refused to lend me back my Lost in London quilt or Red/Black colour block quilt for the photo shoot.  When I told her what I had in mind i.e. pets on quilts, she gave me that look and said you're out of your mind if you think I'm letting those dogs on my clean quilts!

So plan B it was and full of enthusiasm, in between showers, we ventured out and attempt number 1 didn't quite go to plan.  Realising the grass needed cutting for half decent photos, session 1 turned into lets play while G pretends the lawnmower is nowhere to be found!  They had a ball, literally.
Why does Charly have a ball and i don't?
Throw it! Throw it! Throw it!
Look at me!
Its alright Wilbs you'll get the ball next time!
Session number 2 didn't quite go to plan either.  Wilbur normally steals the show so we thought we'd start with him.  Unfortunately he was in one of those mental moods where over excitement seems to be the state of being for the day!  Trying to get him onto to his quilt and look up at the camera was just not going to happen.  Eventually we got this.
 He really is on the quilt - well his tail is - that counts right?
Then he had enough and it was belly rub time,
then eat G's nose
or maybe his hand
or wait chase Charly time!
Wilbur you are such a ham!
I had to laugh when reading Yvonne's post about the names they have for their cat Puppy.  Wilbur has lots of names.  G calls him buddy, I call him Snuffleuffagus, G calls him Heffalump as even if the sofa is half emtpy he has to jump up on you, right at your head to get onto the sofa and across you to the empty bit - bassets are not known for their grace!  I admitted to Yvonne, I also call him the Horrible Animal on occasion (if you're wondering why check our this post!)

Now Charly on the other hand is my little pal.  G calls her the Rat, I call her Charly Bear! We both call her the Good dog!

She always comes when called and really wants to please you so you can be her slave and throw the ball for her all day long! Still that ball comes in handy as it can be a great bribe to get her to pose.

This is best I could do on the day!  So this has to be our entry for Pets on quilts - dog on a quilt!
And then back to play - don't they look so much happier on the grass?
 He did eventually get that ball though he looks quite worried about it!
And it didn't last long!

This is the 3rd year we've entered and even though the weather did not co-operate this year we did our very best and linked up at the last minute!  Voting starts soon, please keep Wilbur's Tail/Charly  in mind for a vote and there are lots of prizes to be had over on Lilypad quilting where you can check out the other entries too!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015


Have you ever invigilated a quilt display where your own work is hanging and earwigged what people were saying? I try not to but I am only human.

Our branch of the Irish Patchwork Society had a quilt display at the Limerick Agricultural Show this past weekend and I got to spend a few hours on Saturday minding the quilts, trying to recruit new members, chatting to other members and making a small purchase from Sew Crafty Fabrics pop up shop, which was right next door.

I had entered my 2 quilts from the Happiness exhibition in Dublin and they were hung opposite each other in a bright modern part of the exhibit. There was quite a variety of quilts, traditional log cabins, applique flowers, Star wars and Samplers so bound to be something in there for everyone!

Originally our local landscapes quilts were going to be used for the exhibit but we got an invitation to an Irish Festival in the States and our quilts went across the Atlantic, very exciting! So the call went out to the branch members and quilts came flooding in (seems we all had 1 or 2 squirrelled away that needed an airing!) They were hung last Friday with no time for labels so I can’t tell you who made what! Still we had lots of fun guessing and Mary said she knew mine straightaway! Funny how we all have a style even if we aren’t conscious of it!

My scrappy bee quilt received comments like interesting, why so much grey, shouldn’t they all connect and the quilting is quite fussy! Serves me right for listening in!

The best comments were from my friends brother, who made the effort to visit from his stand selling beautiful woodwork items. He is gifted! I was explaining my triangle quilt and the sunny centre and he pointed out that my sun was off centre and wanted to know why. I didn’t have an answer for him, it was just the way I wanted it! He suggested adding another row on the left to balance it out. Laughing I told him no chance, my quilt is for me on the sofa watching movies, its done and dusted and not for changing!

It was a very enjoyable morning apart from the torrential rain when we were heading home. Had to buy a brolly (15Euro!), captive audience, market prices all spring to mind! It is a very nice umbrella though so can’t complain too much!  I do like a daisy.

And I can’t show you the fabric I bought as I left in Louise’s car. Will be seeing that on the second Friday in September when our branch meetings start back up for the winter. It’s like going back to school – summer is well and truly over!

Monday, 24 August 2015

Design Wall Monday–still playing!

 So I’m still playing with pups and making Dog Gone Cute blocks!

It’s funny how so many of us saw Lorna’s pattern and wanted to capture our own dogs in quilt form or make a memory quilt of sorts of past pooches. I love how Gayle @ Pedal Sew Lightly is making a portrait dog bed of her Jack Russell Cooper with the large block in the pattern. I immediately thought of my pal Charly when I saw the pattern and our previous JRT’s Toby and Patch.

Having made Wilbur it was time to immortalise Charly & Co. in quilt form. Meet the trio! These are made with the smaller block and sashed with 2.5” strips. This will become a large floor cushion about 24” x 24” when I can figure out how I want to quilt it. Any suggestions?

The doggy designs are still ongoing. I did have to take a break and make bee blocks and I have quilts to baste and finish but these are just so much fun, I can't seem to stop playing with them!

Anne @ Playcrafts, proud owner of a St.Bernard, told me to think big, really big and S shaped when doing the ears. Ears are hard – so far they have been the trickiest bit to nail down. I’ve modified my St Bernard block – I think I’m getting closer. What do you think – does it look right, or at least more right than before?

Chatting to Carla @ Granny Maud’s girl about her gorgeous furball, I came up with this – kind of a Bichon Frise I think.

Lastly I managed a retriever type dog – not sure if this works for a Labrador or just generic water dog!

Of, course it’s not all play! I do have to start writing the instructions up at some point. When I asked Lorna which of the long floppy earred designs she liked best she said both! So, I put my thinking cap on and in keeping with Lorna’s pattern tried to get a design that had a basic shape but could be coloured or customised a number of ways.

I settled on this spaniel/hound version, that depending on the ears and how much jowl you want in your dog could give a different look.

As I’ve changed the angles a bit and made the ears wider all my testing on Wilbur's block has gone out the window bar the nose! But having worked through Wilbur I have a good idea of what I’m doing now. And I have yet to make Ben!

Hoping to have a 9” x 9” and an 18” x 18” block written up for the blog hop!

And I’m making the 60” x 60” Dog Gone Cute Quilt for myself!

After all, I think we can all agree I am a big child when it comes to dogs. Fabric is picked out and cutting has started. Really looking forward to this QAL and blog hop!  Are you tempted yet?
Sew Fresh Quilts
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