Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Signature Blocks

I'm just back from a trip with work, and not having any new sewing done for over a week I thought I might share a project in progress with you and get back to quilting hopefully this evening!   Our Thursday night sewing group decided we would work on a group project.  It's fun to be making something with other people and seeing their fabric choices and choosing fabrics that might tie the whole thing together.  To start with we chose some free block patterns from Moda with fabric choices to suit a Spring feeling. 

Moda released instructions for over 30 9" blocks under the Signatures quilt-a-long and Friendship quilt-a-long and they are still available to download.  Slyvia's stitches has a neat listing where you can access the block instructions with links to the Moda designers who chose the blocks.  Not all of the links to the designers are still live and if you are making any of these, read the instructions through first, especially the cutting instructions! I don't think there were any of us who didn't make a mistake or end up with a block too small at some stage!

My first block was the Courthouse Steps designed for Deb Strain using her Seascapes range.  The centre of all the blocks uses a 3.5" square in a light coloured material and the idea is for the block maker to place a signature there.  Imagine a whole quilt of 9" blocks with signatures in the centre; a nice record of a group project.  We're choosing pretty fabrics instead but a fussy cut motif would be cool too.  I'm using some layer cake squares of Kate Spain's Sunnyside range with some leftovers of Coquette by Chez Moi.  Some of the other blocks have vibrant pink and green in them and I'm hoping these will work with the other blocks. 

As I was making the second block I thought wouldn't these be really cool as quilt labels for the back of a project, pieced in somewhere?  I just love this label on the back of a mini-quilt I received as a swap item by Christina DiMarco and every time I look at it, I think, I must make a better effort at labelling my quilts!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Q2 FAL Goals

So quarter 1 of this year flew by like the gale force winds we had after Christmas.  I'm in complete denial about it, that and the fact that I didn't finish any of the projects I picked in January to work on through to the end of March! Zero, nada, nought!  How so? Because? Well I got sidetracked playing.  Playing with designs, playing with squares, making a baby Medallion quilt, learning about colour in fabric selection and generally just choosing to work on anything but my Q1 goals!

So this quarter I'm going to be a bit kinder to myself.  I've got 2 carryovers and the rest are current projects that I am already well into so surely there's a finish in here somewhere!


To be honest this is a wintery quilt which I may not want to work on in the spring but it is so beautiful I do want to have it done for Christmas this year so it's first on the list to give it the best chance!
  • Bachelors Walk 
So close to a finish, just needs a teeny bit more quilting and binding!  Is that cheating putting it on the list?

New Projects
  • Wilbur!

 This is a Ticker tape project with a  basset outline handstitched with perle cotton and filling in the spaces with scraps!  I started stitching down Wilbur's head and am now thinking of taking out the straight stiching and zig-zagging as I think I prefer that overall look for this one.
  • Mexico Quilt
Top is pieced (pattern from Creative Quilting Magazine by Sally Ablett), backing fabric just bought and washed.

I'm not a prewasher but I got this gorgeous owl fabric from a bargain shop in town so not taking any chances it got a turn in the washing machine.  Just need to give it a press and I'm good to go with this one!
I really love this quilt top.  These are not my usual colours but I just find this whole quilt top so pretty and soft, it just works so well for the living room where I hope to use it.  It's made with Noteworthy, Essex linen natural and a charm pack of Moda Bella Solid Neutrals.  No backing yet so will have to shop for this one!

  • Medallion QAL with Modern Irish Quilters 
This project has been tons of fun and we have a deadline in April so I'm aiming to at least get another border on by then if not the next 2
  • Modern Irish Bee Quilt
I was Queen Bee for January and have 20 beautiful blocks to assemble.  I love these and am hoping to add 5 more for a 5x5 layout.  Thanks to all my hivemates for these gorgeous blocks.
Using Patchwork Prism by Anna Maria Horner as inspiration this quilt top is a rainbow of fabrics from Minimalista and Florence.  I love how it is turning out so far!

  •  Colour Wheel

Finally my last on the list is only just in the planning stage.  I have all these beautiful hand dyed fabrics from the Irish Patchwork Society workshop taught by Paula Rafferty and I've bought the colour wheel pattern by Rachel at Stitched in Color.  I'm hoping to place these fabulous colours on different neutral backgrounds as a colour exploration.

So that's it, that's the list.  Wish me luck.  If the last quarter is anything to go by I'm going to need it!

Linking up to 
Finish Along 2014

Monday, 7 April 2014

More Quilting!

So I made a start!  I can't say everything was foolproof and I had a few hiccups along the way but I spent a good bit of Saturday evening  and most of yesterday quilting.

I started by stitching in the ditch, thinking if I broke this up into sections, it would be easier.

My new mini Pfaff came with a quilters kit and one of the feet in it was a stitch in the ditch foot.  Sadly my Pfaff and Viking feet are not interchangeable so I tried the ditching with the smaller machine.

I was sceptical when I saw this attachment and thought with a bit of practice why would I need it? I have to say that it did make it a bit easier to stay in the ditch though not not foolproof.  Human error still creeps in from time to time!

For the free motion loopy l's I had planned I switched to the bigger machine.  Last year, as a birthday present to myself I bought an extension table.  My Husqvarna Viking is designed as a home dec. machine with an embroidery attachment but no extension table.

A bit of googling universal extension tables gave me sewingmates.com and this big 24" table.  I figured if I was going to pay for postage across the pond might as well get the bigger one!

Normally I have fabric under it, and rotary cutter , scissors etc. but I cleared the space to make room for smooshing the quilt around.  This is as tidy as the kitchen table gets!  It's fully adjustable so I hope I'll never need another one!

I started with the loopy l's in the borders crossing the squares and everything was going grand until the last row.  I broke a needle.  I did notice the quilt being a little tight to move just before the needle broke so did the usual, cleaned out the bobbin case, re-threaded and started again and broke another needle.  It was then that I realised my hopping foot was broken!  It had slid backward and the needle instead of going through it was hitting it and snapping. 

With one row to go and kind of getting into it, I didn't want to have to stop, so I thought I'd try the embroidery foot that came with the bag of embroidery accessories for the machine.  This one is solid metal but with no springs.  To be fair when the machine is in embroidering mode this thing whizzes about the hoop so I thought why not give it a go?

Well it was perfect, far better than the springed one - why have I not being using this all along?  I finished off the loops and did a bit of stippling in the centre squares.

Then it was all straight line with the baby blue aurifil thread to finish off the centre with diamonds.

I didn't quite get it finished so no link up with The Littlest Thistle for first quarter finishes.  She's nearly there though. Just the outer border to go.

All the advice from last week's post (thanks you so much!) really helped the confidence and just to try it.  One of the things mentioned was to break up the space into sections, so I did some straight line quilting (3 lines) in the outer border to give me two spaces to work with.  I'm thinking of a loopy stipple in navy thread to blend into the background.  If the brave streak continues I might try spirals!  I found this really cool blog when taking Tomomi's advice and googled free motion quilt design.  The In Box Jaunt has really lovely flower designs I'd like to do next!

I did get some puckering in the straight lines as well as one or two spots on the quilt (very annoying!) I found the longer the line of quilting the more chance of it happening even using the walking foot.  I did spray baste this quilt and worked hard to keep it smooth but with all the wrangling through the throat space, maybe next time, I'd add safety pins to the outer border too as well as the spray glue. The other thing that kept happening was the wadding kept fuzzying up the quilt top.  I gave up using the lint brush and will just have to wait until it is trimmed and bound to de fuzz it!

Still, the nerves are gone, I was very tense doing the the loopy l's but relaxed a bit on the stippling!  I''ll be away with work for most of the week so this will be waiting for me and now that I'm almost finished I don't want to do anything else!  First time that's happened in a while!

Linking up to Design wall Monday and
stitch by stitch

Thursday, 3 April 2014


I'm a little bit stuck.  I'm having a confidence crisis with this quilt.  I love how it is looking so clean and crisp but I'm afraid to quilt it!  Normally I would just straight line or do a wiggly stipple if I have no clue what I want the quilting to look like.  Thing is I'm afraid I'm going to mess this one up!  I'd like to keep it looking boxy but not be boring!  I could be over thinking this one, just a tad!

To try and break myself out of this and as I am only learning free motion quilting, I made some practice sandwiches last Sunday morning and have been playing with designs and trying to figure what to do.  For some reason I found it easier to get into a rhythm of loopy l's when doing big l, little l rather than big l the whole way across.  I really like the scroll too though it is a bit harder.

Loops and stars I'm getting better at bit could do with more practice on flowers and clovers.  Still after filling up 3 practice sandwiches I'm still clueless.  Paula in our Thursday night sewing class suggested interlocking circles in red, which would be really cool but I'm not that brave, not yet!

So I went back to the drawing board and started playing with layers on Photoshop elements and came up with this.

A bit of l's and some straight lines.  Outer navy edges maybe straight lines or a stipple in matching thread.  What do you think?  Does this work?

On a plus side while all this indecision was going on I started cutting my triangles for the Triangle Quilt-A-Long at Sassy Quilter.  I've heard this being called Crafternation (crafters procrastination!)

As I'm going for a rainbow effect I'm cutting a few, selecting the next colour, cutting some more and building it up.  It's starting to come together nicely.  Can't believe how big these triangles are!

Loving this project and no hesitation or indecision with this one yet!

Linking up to
Needle and Thread Thursday
The Sassy Quilter

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

WIP Wednesday

The Triangle -A-Long at the Sassy Quilter  has started and since I've not done anything with equilateral triangles before and I've heard they can be fussy to work with, I've decided I might as well join in and learn a thing or two!

I don't have many rulers and I try not to buy speciality ones but I did buy this triangular ruler along with a wedge ruler for Dresden plates last year.  I did use the Dresden one but have done nothing with this one.  It doesn't have the creative grids stick to your fabric like glue backing so I've attached a film of Invisigrip by Omnigrid.  It's supposed to aid in griping to your fabric using static cling.  I'll let you know how well it works!

It was also suggested to starch your fabric a lot to help with bias.  I'm rubbish at keeping bias edges straight so not having Best Press in our shops here in Ireland I'm going with the old fashioned stuff. 

I'm using a Florence fat quarter bundle and may have to add more yellows to it as I'm hoping for a rainbow effect from the centre for this quilt.  The idea is based on Anna Maria Horner's design from 2012 called Patchwork Prism.  It is a totally gorgeous design that was offered free and it uses different sized templates.

Paula provided us a blank template to colour in and with the triangles for this project all going to be the same size and I'm hoping it will come out something like this: 
 Well that's the plan anyway! 

To see what everyone else is working on this week I'm linking up to

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
Sew Fresh Quilts

Monday, 31 March 2014

Modern Irish Bee: Broken Spider Web String Block


The deadline for my last Bee block for March was fast approaching so on Saturday I spend some time finishing these broken spider web blocks for Sarah.  Sarah gave us some pointers on the Modern Quilt Guild of Ireland blog page and linked to this Tutorial by House Of A La Mode

Sarah's colour choice was bright and happy with a low volume text print or grey centre. To make the centre star more prominent we were asked to use strips 1.5" to 2.5" of the same colour family but different prints for each of the centre pieces.  That meant we needed 8 prints.  This wasn't too easy and involved a fair bit of rummaging in the scrap basket and I thought I would need to cut into a fat quarter or two, but amazingly I found strips in pink and green that would work.

For this block you need a 12.5" square of grey cut into 4 quarters along the diagonal.  There are specific instructions on the tutorial to draw a line on the triangle to place the first strip. This is the only strip sewn to the grey triangle.

All the remaining strips are sewn to each other and the template is used to trim the pieces up at the end.

Once the excess from the strips is trimmed away, the extra background fabric can then be trimmed.

Then it's playing with the layout to make sure the centre colours work well together and sewing them in quadrants to make 2 halves and then finally together.

Sarah asked us to watch out for the centre strips and try to match points here as best we could. 

To get this block to come out at 12" you would need to use a scant 1/4"(sew just inside the 1/4" mark) as when sewn with a true 1/4" this comes out just about a 1/4" short.

Sarah advised the block would be a little short of the tutorial and to send as is which was great!  Big relief not to have to unpick these guys!

I had made broken spider web blocks using this method for the Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month.  If you haven't seen these videos by Amy Gibson they are brilliant.  Amy is very clear in her instructions and makes it all look so easy!

I have to say I much prefer Sarah's colour choice for these blocks.  The grey and bright combination is just gorgeous!

Linking up to Design wall Monday and
stitch by stitch
Sew Fresh Quilts
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