Thursday 22 December 2016

So long 2016 and Hello Holidays!

I'm not one for seeing the negative in a year that's nearly done.  A year is a year and like the weather even in rainy Ireland there are more sunny days than rainy ones.  I must admit though that 2016 has been a challenging year in lots of ways.  I for one am glad to see it come to a close and am thoroughly enjoying the holiday spirit in this run up to Christmas!

New decorations this year and I love the Labrador card!

Apart from all the craziness in the world, I found this year to be challenging and frustrating as I struggled to get all the things I wanted to do completed and the creative sense of achievement in getting things done seemed to elude me for a good part of the year!

the last of the Bee Blocks for Stash Bee Hive #4

We had a very late holiday in October and at the end of it I picked up a head cold that lead to a chest infection that lead to bad reaction to antibiotics and meant I was out of action for the last month from anything but work and staying indoors.  I haven't quite gone into hibernation but I have been nesting!

Making a family tree in the hall, new knobs for the dresser and finally a tidy wardrobe (need one more hanger!)

I re-read the Marie Kondo book on tidying and though I haven't quite gone all Zen and thanked my possessions for their service or quizzed them as to the level of joy they bring me, (ok there may have been the green cargo pants I've had for 10 years that finally ripped beyond repair and I might have thanked that one!), I did take 2 things to heart from the book.  1. try to keep like items in one place only and not all over the house and 2. the frustration I am feeling is not down to others to pick up after themselves but for me to get my bit in order and others will follow.

What's going on here then, changing my garden?                     Tea-break?                Ta-dah! A path to my outside house!

I'm not sure that is exactly the case, as my side of the bedroom is looking ok, but Gordon's is like a tornado passed through but at least there has been some progress!  The dogs had run a path through the grass so I thought stepping stones would be a good idea so we wouldn't get all muddy when we have to clean up outside.  They magically got put into position with me only asking once!

Maggie is way bigger than Charly now, so Charly gains height by using the sofa!  Their play always looks so rough!

Spending a lot of time inside has had me casting my eye over the entire house and making small changes and planning bigger ones to nearly every room!  I moved in the dresser from my sewing area and it fits better in the living room and means I get more places to put Christmas stuff including the wreath I made for our branch demos in November!

Those two are mad little monsters!                                                     Who us?

Wilbs has had more seizures, 4 in 24hrs.  We were supposed to celebrate my friends birthday by all going out to dinner but Gordon kindly stayed home after seizure #2 in case there would be a third.  There was.  20mins after I came home from a very nice meal!  Poor Gordon missed out but we weren't leaving the old dog behind alone.  He has gotten massively clingy and talks to us all day long now in whines and chirps.  We have a seizure diary for him up on the fridge and as long as we are consistent with his meds, we seem to be able to get it to 1 cluster a month.

I have to agree with Wilbur, Maggie - 1 Christmas cushion -0  Still I rescued the tree from it so not all bad! 

Like the weather, more sunshine than you think, I did get quite a bit done in the end.  Got my Christmas one hour basket finished (another branch demo) and made progress on the Modern Irish Bee Round Robins.  2 done, 1 more to go!  I'm hoping to get there by the end of the year on the last one!

The last swap of the year was a covered notebook swap with the Modern Irish Quilters.

In September I had signed up for a paper piecing miniatures class with Gwen Cottis though our branch of the Irish Patchwork Society.  I had some cute 2 1/2" squares completed and decided they needed to be a Spring (February's valentine heart), Summer (Irish one with lots of rain in July), Autumn and Winter notebook cover. I used ribbon from a bundle of fabric bought from the Fat Quarter Shop, a Daler Rowney sketchbook and some letter fabric I bought on Instagram from Betsy Grey Crafts last year.  The tutorial we all used for the swap was Cindy's really easy to follow step by step on her blog Fluffy Sheep Quilting here.

Just yesterday I received a really lovely spring themed flower notebook and shabby chic calendar from Kristina - thank you so much!
Modern Quilters Ireland Christmas swap!

So frustrations aside, it's been a lovely finish to 2016.  Sunny side out.  Always!  So for 2017, I guess to get that feeling of a job well done I need to bust those UFO's and get back to what I enjoy most.  For me, that's exploring colour and shape in my own design ideas, testing them out in a quilt and hopefully writing more patterns - I'd like to get back to more of that next year.  It would be nice to get another magazine publication under my belt and finally make that quilt for our own bed!  Small goals but very achievable.  I have 2 teaching opportunities in March and April and am very excited about them.   And save for a proper summer holiday next year - that would be nice!

Crib set mum bought for me in the Vatican shop on a trip to Rome, Nativity scene from Dresden Christmas market (my favourite decoration in the whole house!

So that's it from me for 2016.  Happy Christmas everybody and here's to a productive, happy and fun filled 2017.
2017 Planning Party

Thursday 17 November 2016

IPS Gallery at the Knitting and Stitching Show 2016

So the Christmas demos in the local fabric shop went well (post here) and since all that crazy busy-ness right up to last Saturday, I took my foot off the brake this week and got on with celebrating my birthday and getting the boring housework done! As such, the WIP's are still at the same stage, so I thought I'd share with you, photos from the Knitting and Stitching show in Dublin last month. I had the honour of curating the Modern Gallery of the Irish Patchwork Society's display. My booth was 3 walls of 3 to 3.5m wide so I had to seek 5-6 quilts to fill the space.

Not all the quilts submitted to me for consideration, were what I would call modern in the sense of the MQG definition, but they had modern elements.  In the end, it was choosing quilts big enough for the space and what would hang well together.  It was hard saying no but really lovely saying yes and I have to give a big thanks to Paula Rafferty for the hanging which made the booth look so well!

The modern gallery was 1 of 6 in the display with other categories being Young Quilters (18 and less), Traditional, Art, Bags, and a Christmas display by the South Eastern branch.  I was delighted to see a Rainbow Rose in the submissions and this lovely version is by Imelda O'Grady from Limerick!

Aine Lecky made this lovely modern quilt and had it long arm quilted by the Quilt Shop Tuam. 

The centre piece of the booth was The Aviatrix Medallion made by Erin Case.  The pattern is by Elizabeth Hartman and it is just a beautiful celebration of colour! 

A passerby to the booth commented that you would need sunglasses for our section and his companion said "yes, isn't it wonderful".  Not sure that was what he meant, but it put a big smile on my face!  This gorgeous scrappy colour quilt was made by Sharon Hughes.

Next to Sharon's was Tomomi McElwee's colour play, with Red and White the colours of the Japanese flag, and my quilt idol (see earlier blog post here!)  Ethelda Ellis' gorgeous sunset. 

As always I am in awe of Tomomi's quilting! 

This was the young quilters gallery...

and the bags...

and an early Christmas!

I don't have too many photos of the traditional quilts but I was delighted to see Paula Rafferty's Share Jane.  Over 100 quilters made blocks for this and 2 other colour versions for the Dear Jane anniversary exhibitions this year.  I made 2 of the white blocks in this version based on the colours of the Irish Flag.

One of my favourite pieces was Valerie Mulally's quilt from a block of the month.

I think my favourite block in this quilt is the rabbit - can you spot him?

Of all the quilts in the show though, this was the one that made me smile!  A Zebra made by Elizabeth Brennan for the Art Quilts section.  I would have had this in modern in a heartbeat!

That's the lovely thing about quilting - lots of genres, crossover of styles and opportunities to play!  It was brilliant to be a part of the exhibition and thank you to all the quilt makers who contributed and made our jobs curating such a success.

Thursday 10 November 2016

Small Christmas makes - Fabric Wreath's and Dresden Cushions!

Our branch of the Irish Patchwork Society usually has a demo or two before our meeting officially starts and from time to time I make up a project with step outs to share with the group. In order to try and recruit new members some of us are also doing demonstrations in a local haberdashery shop in town, so I have been making Christmas cushions, table runners and fabric wreaths and step by step bits to show how to put them together!

Last year, it was all hexagons (trees and snowflakes); this year it’s all about the Dresden Plate! Hickeys allowed me to chose a fat quarter selection of 6 prints with a Scandinavian feel and some background fabric to make up a Dresden plate cushion for the demo.  The template is here if you want it and for this 18" finished cushion I used the 5" sized wedge.  If you haven't made a Dresden Plate block before, it is way easier than it looks and gives such nice impact it's perfect for Christmas makes!  Missouri Star Quilt has some great video tutorials on how to make Dresden blocks on their You Tube Channel here.

Using quilting cotton, for a cushion, requires a bit of wadding or fusible batting to give the cushion cover a bit of substance. So, I straight line quilted the front and back and appliqued the Dresden plate and centre circle on top of the quilted surface with just a straight line stitch.

I like a cushion with binding to frame the front sometimes, if the cushion colours are quite light, so I used double fold binding strips made from 2 1/2" wide x length and attached with a 3/8" seam on the back first,  then folded over to the front and machine sticthed in place.  Keeping it simple with a envelope backing, (see tutorial I wrote for the Modern Quilters Ireland Group here if you want to make one too!)

I really like how it turned out and the Scandi style colours are lovely to work with.  The Dresden block is so versatile, you can adapt it to anything really.  I used a red/green traditional colouring on a silver background for the table runner and had fun using up scraps for the 1/4 circles at the corners.

I left the binding open so I can show how to close it at the demo.  Wool wadding has given the Dresdens a lovely puffy feel!

Figuring they make nice cushions and Christmas makes don't have to be out of Christmas fabrics, I tried a summery version, with some fussy cut musical fabric too. 

I am liking this one a lot!

The Dresden plates don't take a lot of fabric, so using the fat quarters I made a Christmas wreath too!

During the Knitting & Stitching Show in Dublin, the South Eastern branch had a Christmas display and lots of people admired the fabric wreath hanging on the wall.  The lady who made it advised the invigilators to use a tube made from 5" to 6 1/2" x length of fabric, sew the strips together at the top, stuff with toy stuffing, plait and hide the join with a bow. 

So for our branch November meeting, we normally have just a demo night of Christmas makes. I thought I'd have a go at making a wreath or two, following these general instructions and I wrote up a step by step pattern that you can download here if you like!

 I tired the 5" and 6" widths using fat quarters and prefer the 5" ones over the 6" wreath shown here in the bottom photo.  Because I was using fat quarters I felt that when stuffed they made a circle easier.

I had fun playing with a ribbons, and a bow tie and much prefer the look of the fabric ties so it is worth making your own.  When looking for bow tie widths online I found this tutorial that shows how to make the wreath step by step with a fabric ribbon so maybe this was the post that started the whole thing!

I have to leave you with this photo of Maggie and Wilbur.  While I was busy making for Christmas they were busy dreaming!  Don't worry guys Santa is going to be good to you both!

Friday 28 October 2016

Finish it Friday - some quilt flimsies using up bee blocks!

In the middle of our holiday we had a few days at home while Maggie, our puppy, was having her neutering operation.  It was a good time to do it, as we had to keep the other two away from her for a few days, in case they would go at her stitches and she was able to keep me company, while I caught up on a few things and not get too bored all on her ownio!

While sorting my stuff to tidy up before my cousin came to visit, I found some stash bee blocks made for me, from stash bee 2014!  I had picked the Spring Blossom quilt block by Charise Creates and didn't really have a plan in mind for them.  As always with Bee's you get unexpected things, sometimes blocks are a little too big or a little too small, or an odd colouring to the other blocks like the navy centre one above.

I had recently bought Amy Gibsons Quilt Block Cookbook with 50 block patterns in it.  Having been a big fan of hers since I learned how to piece blocks on her free Craftsy Class Block of the Month 2012, I knew I was going to really enjoy her book.  The blocks are fun but even better are the 7 layouts she gives for using some of the 50 blocks, to make a not so traditional sampler quilt.  The few pages at the end of the book got me thinking and made buying the whole book so worthwhile.  So I took apart a version of my star crossing block above, in navy and lemon, and used the pieces to frame the flowers.

I managed to get a small cot quilt out of both and really like that the navy in the squares now makes the dark flower centre work!  There are 5 blocks left still, so I had a go at putting them into a flower garden of my own and another of Amy's layouts from the books using columns of colour.

I think I am going to go with the layout from the book below but would like to come back to the garden for another go at it as I think there is something there.  I can complicate designs and sometimes I think simple is best!

Not having gotten around to that one yet, I did revisit the blocks I made in 2012, that were still sitting in a box!  I made the mistake of buying the cheapest fabric I could for my first quilt and not really liking it much, I still liked the blocks but didn't overly love it enough to finish the quilt.  I now only buy fabric I love and try not to think too much on the price (unless its Liberty at 24 a metre!)

Using Amy's celestial layout, I picked the blocks that I thought would work well together and added in a lot of Kona Snow, that I had on hand on a bolt. (I bought a whole bolt of Snow and White and it was the best decision ever as you can get right to making when inspiration strikes!)

At our last branch meeting, I showed my two new finished quilt tops - all from my WIP box and no new blocks needed!

And for the stuff I should have been making?  Finished my Snowflake Shimmer quilt (QAL with Quilting Jet Girl) and there is good chance I will have this finished for Christmas!  Made lots of progress on my round on Erin's Round Robin quilt!  200+ paper pieced sub-units later...

This seemed like a great idea when I first started it.  When I realised how long it would take me, I did think twice but it felt like the right thing for the quilt and I didn't want to let Erin down by doing something not as good so I just had to get on with it!

Nearly there now!

So a bunch of finishes and a lot of work in progress!  Happy Friday everybody!
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