Friday, 17 March 2017

Happy St Patrick's Day!

This month in Modern Irish Bee, Erin asked us to make a tri-colour Washington star in the colours of the Irish Flag.  This is as far as I've gotten today!

I have to leave this for now and come back to it later as we spend the day with mum, watching the Limerick parade, quick visit to the pub and then home to mum's for dinner.   I thought it would make a nice photo to wish everyone a happy St. Patrick's.  Hope you enjoy the day!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

WIP Wednesday - the colourful ones!

In between getting ready for our Modern Irish Quilters Sewing Day this past weekend, I have been preparing samples for a Quilt-As-You-Go class showing the ticker tape process and using scraps to make a wall hanging like Wilbur and QAYG panels like this version of a pattern by Stitched in Color called Bottled Rainbows

Rachel's pattern uses 16 rectangles to make up the quilt.  I'm using 9 bigger square blocks measuring 20" square.  I don't have as much variety in my scraps to get panels of both orange and tangerine so I've tried to come up with 9 colours I think work well together and pick scraps that live in that colour family that go well together.

Not having that many yellow scraps I've included some gold and browns.

I'm hoping this will be a handy quilt to use for teaching the colour wheel for the Rainbow Rose quilt in April too and I like it's bright and happy feel.   Hard to resist a rainbow!

The other project I'm working on is for Aurora, a co-exhibition between the Irish Patchwork Society and the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild.  Inspired by these photos by Mike Taylor which shows how digital cameras are capturing intense colours when photographing the Aurora Borealis, I tried to pull fabrics from my stash that matched that intensity.

To give it a bit more impact I've made Dresden blades by resizing templates from Aneela Hooeys Bloom pattern. 

 I'm really liking this colour combo against the dark blue background fabric.

And while I've been so busy Maggie has been in chewing mode so I've had to keep the dogs far from my end of the kitchen where I sew.  She has quite a few toys but still manages to eat what she shouldn't.

I normally have Charly beside me while I work and Wilbur finds the comfiest spot to snooze on but if Charly is with me Maggie wants to be too and gets bored, poor pup. So in fairness I have them all barred from the sewing space and Charly is not one bit impressed. 

Can't blame her, Maggie destroyed her bed while I was out at our Modern Quilters Sewing Day and its G's fault as he had a nice lie in and left them to their own devices!  Just as well the daylight is getting longer as we need to walk the legs off the pup and do more training with her to get rid of some of that excess energy.  Busy, busy weeks ahead.

I was thinking of making Charly her own dog bed but I might just wait a while yet!

Friday, 24 February 2017

Friday Finishes - Modern Quilt Guild Swap!

The Modern Quilt Guild hosted its first swap and even though I have so many things to do and get finished I had to sign up,  I didn't want to miss the first swap and thought they are only little, mini quilts, of course I can spare the time.  And am I glad I did!

This gorgeous mini arrived in the post to me this week!  Thanks you Shelly for such a perfectly happy, totally me mini!  I have the perfect spot for it near my sewing machine! 

This is the finished mini I made and it has safely arrived with its new owner.  Thanks Cecilia for the photo - I couldn't resist bringing it to our guild meeting just before popping it in the post!

Each of those little hourglasses are 2" square so it was a little bit fiddly but great fun to work with.

The quilting pattern was straight lines using Christa's fractured line design I saw on her class (The Quilters Path) on Craftsy and the label was made using the embroidery function on my Husqvarna from a pattern on Urban Threads.

For the first time ever I decided to make a biggie for myself as well as a mini to give away.  I thought I was going great guns yesterday evening finished the flimsy until I realised I'd made 2 piecing mistakes - that's what happen when you sew when tired, cranky and sporting a neck injury! 

Oh well, I can take my time rippity rip ripping this evening!  I really like the low volume background fabrics and was thinking about leaving it be but then decided no, get it right.  I might just write this up as a pattern and it needs to be perfect for that!

So that's my plan for the weekend sewing.  I do hope to follow along a bit with the not going to Quiltcon on Instagram too.  It will cheer me up while I rip and redo! 
Happy weekend everybody!

Thursday, 23 February 2017


 Say hi to the new basset puppy that will be decorating my sewing space!  No we didn't get another real puppy (1 is enough - she is at the chewing stage eating shoes, laptop chargers, wires of any kind and poor Wilbur's ears!)

At the weekend, Karen at the Limerick Quilt Centre, had a needle felting workshop and I went along armed with an inspiration picture I found as a free colouring page. download here on

Dean the Basset Dog became a puppy and I had a brilliant day filling in the background with soft Merino wool and adding mad colour.  I think he is a very happy puppy and will look brilliant in a box frame on the wall.

We were given a kit, complete with coloured wool, needle and handle, big foam square and a wool background.  It was so lovely to rock up to a sewing workshop having to bring only myself and no machine, mat, cutter, extension lead, iron and board, scissors, thread, fabric and pins. You know how it goes!

Still it has to be done from time to time.  Our branch of the Irish Patchwork Society had Ailbhe O'Callaghan up from the Cork branch to teach us her technique on sewing really skinny lines.  We're talking less than 1/4" for most of them. 

Ailbhe gave us fabric to practice on and it took the whole morning to piece in these 3 lines!  We were all concentrating really hard to get them perfect!  Ailbhe is going to use all our practice pieces for a quilt which I thought was a great idea!

In the afternoon, we had a go at designing our own bigger project using lines of different colours.  I went for a grid as an underlay and they added some triangles on top.

To be honest I spent the rest of the class fiddling as I couldn't make my mind up which way to go. 

A giant A or maybe something that looks like a Star Trek communicator?

I was also distracted  by everyone else's progress and couldn't resist wandering around the room.  I just loved Claire's bright neon look.

Even her scraps were gorgeous!

That's as far as I got, 1 finished and 1 designed, kind of!  I'm happy with that, every little helps, right?

Monday, 30 January 2017

Design Wall Monday - the mini made large!

So the design wall looks like this!

I know, I was making great progress catching up on outstanding projects, ticking things done, crossing them off the to do list and feeling productive.  I was on a roll and with a a deadline on the 10th February, for a mini quilt swap - what do I do?  Yup, start another quilt!

In my defense this is the design I want to make in mini form for the swap.  Normally, the advice to test out a design is to make a mini - this time around I'm doing it the other way around!

You might remember this design I created from a tutorial I wrote on using  Touchdraw, for the Modern Quilters Ireland group?

That was nearly 2 years ago. About time I got around to making it really, right?  Some of the nicest things I've ever made have been for swaps and I've always been happy to send them on their way.  The drawback, is that when it comes to show and tell of your own work, you have nothing to show for it.  So I decided to make a big quilt for myself and a mini for the swap (swap is max 24").

For the bigger version, I had it in mind to make with low volume background fabrics and then use some of the same coloured fabrics for the mini version against a plain white background!

I had bought 2 boxes of Cotton and Steel fabric from Craftsy last year in their sale and it was sitting there just waiting to be used and I couldn't get the low volume version out of my head and really, really wanted to test it out so, I started pulling from the box and cutting up fabric and the next thing you know I motoring my way through 6" hourglass, snowball and flying geese chevron blocks!

I had joined Westwood Acre's Inside Voices fabric club two years ago and split the bundles with a friend.  We got 10 fat quarters each month and we'd take turns every other month keeping a bundle.  I thought I had lots and lots of low volume and now after this and my Lost in London quilt, I have made a huge dent, definitely don't have the makings of another quilt left!

I did sneak in some cotton and steel fun fabrics too, cats and coyotes, spiderwebs and flowers to just give it that special touch and this one is going to be for me and the dogs when we sit on the sofa in the evenings, watching TV (yes Charly does watch the telly - the Bassett's?  Not so much - it interferes with their snoring!)

And while I was rummaging amongst Cotton and Steel fabrics, I made a fabric pull for a guild quilt exhibition, due the end of February.  The theme is Aurora (goddess of the dawn) and I plan on making a wall hanging, using overlaying dresden plates in the colours of the Aurora Borealis.  Hoping it will look a bit like a sunrise just in mad colours!

I've resized templates from Aneela Hoey's Bloom Quilt pattern which gave me the inspiration for it in the first place!  Thinking this one should really be a big quilt too!   Aneela is on the crafty planners podcast today - go have a listen!

So that's me pro-crafter-nating on the to do list and indulging myself in fabric before the deadlines get a little bit closer!  Hope you enjoyed your weekend as much as I did!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Catching up - last of the round robin bee quilts!

Last year, we decided to try out a medallion round robin for Modern Irish Bee 2016. Seven of us came together for the challenge and slowly working through the quilts, I found myself on the last one. This is Mary's quilt and my turn was to add the final border to it!

I didn't quite get to it over the Christmas but it had been up on the wall looking down at me for the past month.  Time to get on with it and get her done!

I wanted to pull the black from the earlier rounds framing the sections out as a colour to use but didn't want to deaden the gorgeous grey and white frame Cynthia had added.  I pondered, I procrastinated, I avoided and eventually I thought, Triangles!

So I mocked it up on the computer to see how big the triangles would need to be, how many I would need and how many colours I could get from the quilt into the last border.  I came up with black corners to frame it and to get them to look like this I needed an odd number of triangles on each side.  The quilt measured 64" when I got it and I knew I'd need to make it a little bit bigger so the triangles would sit evenly across the length.  

Geometry on triangles is a little bit time consuming.  For equilateral triangles making them by cutting them from strips, you have to add 3/4" to your desired finished height.  The height of an equilateral triangle is equal to the root of 3 divided by 2 and multiplied by the length of the side of the triangle.  It can be head wrecking playing with the calculator trying out different sizes and calculating the finished width.  Thankfully Yvonne's spreadsheet available on her blog Quilting Jet Girl or to download makes trying different sizes so much easier!  So kind of Yvonne to put this together and share freely!

You just enter your numbers in the blue and it calculates it all for you!  I played with odd numbers of triangles and messed about with the heights to see what I could get that was reasonable to work with and bigger than 64".  I eventually settled on 6.75" strips giving a 6" finished height per side and using 21 triangles gave a pieced width of 69.28" from point to point which I rounded down to 69 1/4".

The white fabric border grew the quilt to the right size for the triangles and brought the quilt up from 64" to over 80"including the triangles.

The corners where 5 triangles come together at the white border was problematic.  I thought about mitred corners but decided too many points coming together so, I made a template and tried that with an inset seam and it wasn't great.  There was some trial and error with black fabric and in the end the remaining 3 seams were made by fudging it really!

I don't have photos to show as I was concentrating hard at this point and totally engaged in the task.  What I did was add an oversized black piece to the last triangle on the right hand side of each border piece.

I marked 1/4" in from the corner of the white inner border and sewed the triangles on right up to that marked point (middle image below). I added the second border piece on by sewing the triangles to the white inside border again just to the 1/4" mark on the upper corner.

Pressing the seam and flipping the border over allowed the yellow triangle to lay nicely on the oversized black fabric.  I was then able to turn the edge under a 1/4", press and glue in place with Roxanne's basting glue.  Flipping the border back again so it lay right sides together on top of the black I sewed along the crease of the glued triangle right down to the 1/4" mark on the white border and closed up the corner completely. It sounds fiddly but I got better results this way and 1 very good corner and 2 not too bad ones!  Final step was to square up and trim off.  Don't tell the quilt police - I am fairly sure this is not the way to do it but it worked!

Done and dusted!  Sorry for the odd photo angle.  At 80" this is quite big now and hard to photograph indoors (raining outside at the minute!)  It took all weekend to get this pieced and I am so glad its now finished and can be handed over to Mary this week!  I hope she likes it!

Linking up to the Friday finishes.

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!
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