Monday 30 March 2015

Design Wall Monday - the virtual one!

It feels like a holiday here at the minute.  I've taken a break this past week or two from deadline makes and must makes to just play and I've been having a relaxing, fun time of it.  This weekend I took advantage of Creativebugs free 10 day trial to watch a few episodes from a series  they have put together on Fabric Design.

You have to subscribe and register your credit card but you can cancel if you like within the 10 day time period.  I had looked at Creativebug before and not really liking subscription based sites much I didn't keep up with it.  I had another look though when I saw their series of work-a-longs as some of the classes are basic and the work-a-longs offer a bit more depth.

The one that caught my eye was Fabric design.  Featuring Lizzy House, Denyse Schmidt and Heather Ross, it is a great watch and I've learned lots about thrown patterns and pretty much spent the whole weekend playing with motifs!

The three designers talk you through their different processes and Lizzy gives you an exercise to try to make a repeating pattern.  This is great fun.

You take a piece of paper approx A5 in size and you doodle a simple design.  I did daisies and dogs paws.  You rip the paper up and move the pieces and tape them back together and doodle some more. 

You scan this into a drawing program and trace the pattern digitally so you can move things around and re-colour.  I lost hours this weekend doodling and tracing.  I normally have the radio on or the tv in the background but not this weekend, just me in the quiet, drawing with the pen tool.  It was massively relaxing!

Heather uses Photoshop and Lizzy and Denyse use Illustrator both by Adobe.  I subscribe to creative cloud for Photoshop and Lightroom and thought both being by the same company and the menus look similar that I'd give Illustrator a go.  Wow, talk about the most awkward, least intuitive, could not be more diffferent program from those I used before!  Learning to navigate it took some time and the help menu was useless!
Still, I managed in the end to trace my patterns, colour them in and build a repeat.   I have a very great respect for fabric designers after this process and I'm sure with time it gets quicker but it is a timesuck that's for sure!

This one needs a bit of cleaning up and its a bit linear but I quite like it all the same!

On Saturday evening, I found myself  doodling some more and on Sunday morning back at the computer scanning and tracing.  This may be a new addiction!
My drawing skills definitely need more practice though.  I tried to sketch Wilbur who was stretched out on the sofa beside me.  Normally that dog stays in the same spot for hours but not when I was attempting to draw him.

Gordon took one look at this and asked me why I was mad at the dog as I made him look so terrible!  So much for artistic licence. I was happy I'd just gotten something that looked Bassety!

Still, this whole exercise has been tons of fun and I've really enjoyed the work-a-long.  All three designers are great to listen to and coming this Wednesday is the lesson on colour.  Really looking forward to that one.  So what do you think?  Tempted to give it a try?

Wednesday 25 March 2015

WIP Wednesday : A Finished Flimsy


Do you remember the story of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves? It’s the one where the cave of hidden treasures only opens when you say Open Sesame! For some reason I was reminded of this story when I saw a pattern in A Quilters Mixology by Angela Pingel from Cut to Pieces. I may have been primed as an earlier pattern is called Arabian Nights but when I saw Angela’s ornament design it reminded me of Aladdin’s lamp and then probably, that’s how I got to Ali Baba and the thieves hiding in oil barrels.


Still for whatever reason this pattern stuck in my head and knowing I didn’t want to make a bed quilt I decided to make a smaller project, a sewing machine cover! Now my machine gets used a lot but you still get dust gathering on the top plus you can see in our kitchen window at night time, through the fancy sheer, let in as much light as you can in the daytime blinds, that I thought were a fantastic idea!


So a dust protector and a hide the big machine protector was in order. I decided to be really clever and resize Angela’s 16” blocks to 8”, 10” and 12” to make a cover with a big lantern on one side and 2 smaller ones on the other. Sewing tiny curves is a bit fiddly and making the 8” yellow block gave me pause. So much for clever! I found it easier to hand sew the smallest curves in the end and I surprised myself at how close to 1/4” I got my eyeballing it and basically winging it! Sometime you just have to trust yourself and take a chance. I’ll pay more attention next time I decide to re-size someone’s hard thought out design!


To get this gorgeous continuous curve effect Angela uses a modern update on the traditional drunkards path block. The drunkards path block is essentially a quarter circle on a square background. The wandering path this block makes when combined with others is meant to symbolise the weaving path someone under the influence of alcohol takes on the way home!

Amy Gibson’s free Craftsy 2012 BOM has an excellent tutorial for the traditional block and I’ve seen a cheater method at Missouri Star Quilt Company where you applique a circle to a square and cut it into quarters. Angela uses a modern version of this block with an enlarged circle that goes almost all the way to the edge leaving only 1/4" seam allowance of the background block. When pieced to other blocks this gives a continuous curve which Angela uses to great effect to create Butterflies and lanterns and baubles!


Of course resizing and doing my own thing left me making this the hard way. I cut out my own templates and forgot that Angela has a trick in her book to make this easier. Make the block over sized and trim down. I didn’t do that and made the traditional way with pins and went very slowly.


Still it was worth the effort in the end as I really love the curved effect of this block!


Fabrics were left overs from my Lost in London quilt with a bit of purple added in. And the background came from a piece left over from it the Tape it quilt pattern we played with during the workshop with Brigitte Heitland. So a bit scrap friendly!


I may have made a mistake in the sizing though. The length is not too bad but will shrink a bit when quilted. 


The pink looks likes it in the right place but I should have placed the yellow a smidge lower. Oh well!


Still I now have a finished flimsy. I may just make it a little bit wider! Any suggestions for quilting it? What I have in my head is probably far too ambitious for my hands at this stage in my free motion quilting abilities but its a small project so probably a good one to practice on!

Linking up to
Sew Fresh QuiltsWIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday 23 March 2015

Design Wall Monday: Bee updates

So the design wall looks like this at the moment.  At least in my head it does!  The house blocks I received from my bee mates in Modern Irish Bee have been adorning the kitchen since they first arrived and I got 2 more last week.  They look so bright and cheery I don't think I want them to come down! 

I'm planning on adding to them with some trees, white fluffy clouds and 4 more house blocks to include Wilbur and Charly, pals for Harvey the dog already in Helen's block, a cat up a tree (to be fair with that many dogs where else is a cat going to go?), a birdhouse and something I haven't decided yet in the bottom corner - any ideas?

I was Queen Bee at the same time in January hive 3 and the last of the blocks arrived last week!

Stephanie sent me extra fabric and so there will be a second crafty book shelf and I think my Halloween knitting witch fabric might have to make an appearance with those scissors and skulls!

Thanks to all my hive mates for such amazing blocks. 

So my turn to make blocks and for Stash bee February Bonnie asked for brown!  Yup the dreaded colour modern quilters love to avoid!  Surprisingly I had tons of brown in my stash - who knew I didn't dislike it as much as I thought! 

A little bit of mushroom and plum added in made an improvised strip block.We were encouraged to not have the blocks too even and not too straight.  This came out a bit more straight than intended!

This months Stash Bee block was all flying geese for Carolyn of Sweet Boater Chick.  Carolyn picked this 16" block from Displacement Activity called Migration.  This one tested all my piecing skills.  My new 1/4" foot got a workout as did the meaning of scant 1/4" seam.  I spent a good part of yesterday struggling with pressing seams, ripping and sewing scantily - the block not me! 

Eventually at about 3.30 ta dah!  A finished block at last.   I did struggle finding the right colours in my stash, grey was no problem but lime, chartreuse and turquoise required a rummage, plenty of teal though!

You can tell it was a gorgeous day.  Some of the light greys are blindingly bright! 

We've had the most beautiful spring weather all weekend except of course last Friday morning during the eclipse.  I was ready with my sun visor waiting for 9.24 where the sun was 95% covered by the moon where we are in Limerick.  Didn't see a thing through the thick cloud cover for the 2 hours that was in it!   Sun came out at 12 and it stayed gorgeous all weekend long.  I did watch it on the telly though and got to see Gordon's astronomy club on UTV Ireland for 90 seconds!

I haven't Modern Irish bee March block yet.  Feb's is done but I can't find a picture!  After this monster I called it a day and we took the dogs for a long walk in the evening sunshine.  I'll get to March Modern Irish Bee this week and hopefully get to add sashing to my bookshelf blocks too!

Linking up to Design Wall Monday.

Thursday 19 March 2015

Catching up!

Hope all enjoyed the St Patrick’s day celebrations and monuments all around the world going green for the day. I love that bit!

It’s my mum’s wedding anniversary on that day and as Dad is no longer with us we like to make a big fuss of mum on the day. (Couldn’t get married during lent back in the 1960’s but everyone knows St. Patrick’s day is a day off from lent right? ) So very little sewing done this week. I’m late with my WIP Wednesday post, so I’m thinking of this as a To Do Thursday post instead!

I did get my Make modern quilt finished on time so really happy with that and looking forward to sharing with you for the May edition of the magazine.

Now that the deadlines are done and dusted, I am hoping to work on swaps, book reviews and finishing some long languishing WIP’s!

I joined 2 swaps on Instagram, #spdfairytaleswap and the #nerdscraftitbetterswap.  For some reason Big Huge labs was acting up and didn't give me url info to credit the infividual images.  They are compiled from searches on Flickr and Pinterest!

Anything mythological and fantastical with a bit of the underdog winning through brains and co-operation is right up my alley. I have a fondness for Hans Christian Anderson as his stories always have an element of kindness to them.  Little Red Riding Hood seems to be the most popular and it really is hard to resist the Brother's Grimm for evil villains!
For the nerdy swap I geeked out on Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Doctor Who and Buffy!  After missing the Make a Dalek, make a Friend swap I was delighted to see this one on Instagram in time to join.

Both swaps require a mini quilt or similar sized item, a smaller handmade item and some goodies.  A mosaic image of likes to help your partner and 3 work in progress photos are needed to abide my swap rules.  Nerds has a post date of 1st May for Internatinal and FairyTale June 29th.  Thinking cap is well and truly on!  Might have to try making a Sew together bag yet as one of my items!

Also on the To Do list is a book review I promised a friend.  I'm reviewing A Quilters Mixology by Angela Pingle and decided to make some lanterns from her book only I'm not making a bed quilt.  I'm hoping to make a sewing machine cover!  Using EQ7 I've resized Angela's designs from the book from 16" to give me a small medium and large lantern.  Imagine this folded in half with the pink on one side and the purple and yellow on the other.   It's all curves and drunkards path and looks like fun though I suspect lots of pins will be needed!

Of course I got carried away with playing with the curved shapes then in EQ7.  It's kind of addictive when you get going! Not sure what this is going to turn into. 

Lastly but not leastly, I am hoping to play catch up with all the blog posts I've missed while my nose was firmly to the sewing machine face plate!

I love reading what everyone has been up to and though you can't sew and read at the same time it's important to me to make time for both!  Apologies to those comments I've been late replying to!  How about you guys - are you having a To Do Thursday too?  

Wednesday 11 March 2015

WIP Wednesday - Zen Chic Workshop

Just finished quilting my Lost in London bed quilt for Make Modern, here’s a sneak peek!


Binding this baby tonight for photographing at the weekend.  Baby is probably not the right term for this 84” x 84” quilt!  (Biggest quilt I’ve made!)  So glad to be coming to the end of deadline projects,  I feel the need to play for a bit now!

Image courtesy of Limerick Quilt Centre Facebook Page
Speaking of playing with fabric, I got to attend a course this past weekend at the Limerick Quilt Centre with Brigitte Heitland of Zen Chic. 

Brigitte designs fabric for Moda and gave a wonderful 2 day workshop on a very playful pattern technique and curved piecing.  On day 1 we made our own versions of this quilt: 


Using jelly roll strips and some bondaweb we stuck rectangular strips to our background fabric, placing them to overlap in places and pull the eye to certain spots on the quilt.  Starting with random and then being more deliberate in terms of colour and direction, this was lots of fun.


Everyone had different ideas and Brigitte worked with us all to tell a story with our strips.  Some had the ocean or a wind blown quilt.  Not sure what I had! I used art gallery grey print as my background instead of solids and used an old jelly roll of Valerie Wells Karavan for my rectangles.  I managed to get them all ironed down though not all sewn in place.  WIP!


I was in the purple corner for the day!  I might be a bit obsessed with purple, trying to find just the right shade is quite tricky!  Though in the shop there is lots of choice.

Anyone passing by Limerick should definitely drop in for a look.  I went home with 5 spools of YLI thread to add to my collection in addition to extra backing fabric!

We were treated to a trunk show of gorgeous quilts and quilting.  There were some themes in Brigitte’s quilts that were different to what I had come across before.  Brigitte likes to quilt the background to recede and leave the coloured prints or solids quilted in the ditch only so they stand up from the quilt.  Using monofilament thread to applique and travel stitching along the length of the prints to move from place to place with the all over designs.


To get that puffiness Brigitte likes to use polyester batting and advised us no to be afraid of it, battings have improved in recent years and to give it a go!


Another characteristic of Brigitte’s quilts are the beautiful backs, incorporating leftovers from the fronts in unusual ways.  And then there’s the quilting!  Love the numbers hidden in this one!


The second pattern we were making involves curves!  This is the OHO quilt.  I love the outer border, so densely quilted with different sized circles.


And a feather in the middle of the O’s!  Again with the prints left un-quilted.


The materials list called for background yardage in white with a layer cake.  I originally chose Moda Bella Porcelain for the background and Mimosa for the layer cake but changed my mind after the first block.  One handy thing about making a quilt in a quilt shop is you can change your mind!

Anne at my table bought her fabric on the day and chose the most gorgeous Kona Charcoal and when I put Mimosa up against it it just popped!  I cut 4 more background pieces out of porcelain and kept thinking that charcoal is really lovely!  Once you get something in your mind like that you just have to go with it.  Eventually I gave in and bought the charcoal!
I can use my white another day – I have a project in mind for it already.

So using lots of pins for the first few I found it slow going but not too difficult and managed to get 4 blocks made on the day.  This one could be a while in the making!

It was a great workshop - thank you ladies and to Limerick Quilt Centre for bringing Brigitte to visit!
Linking up to
Sew Fresh QuiltsWIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
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