Wednesday 27 January 2016

WIP Wednesday : Meadow Mystery update

I think I need a bigger design wall! This is how its looking at the moment.  Some of the blocks wrap around the wall but I think you get the idea!  All the block pieces are done and dusted now that the mystery has been revealed and it's onto assembly.  As I made my quilt from fat quarters, it is a bit scrappy in places!

This was my fabric pull for Cheryl's Meadow Mystery Quilt-A-Long and I had originally thought of my fabrics (blue and coral with Kona Snow and Charcoal) in this order with the blue and orange together.  Happily I changed my mind right before the cutting step as I really like how the blocks look with an orange centre star and the blue surround.
I don't think it would have been as successful if I had a white centre and the two print fabric colours side by side.  That's the thing with mystery quilts, you have no idea what the end design is like and can only go with what feels right at each step!
One thing that is really good about making from someone else's design is the different construction methods people use.  For the star points, the method is to use a white square and add triangles to the corners to have a square on point or square in a square.  I probably would have made these as flying geese and sewn them together.

It is nice not to have a seam line and it looks clean and crisp once squared up!  Using a scant 1/4" seam meant quite a bit of trimming and I found I had some blocks spot on and 1 or two that I was in danger of having to trim too much off and lose my 1/4" at the points - and I thought I was being consistent with my piecing!

Most of the blocks have come together reasonable well despite the scrappy nature

Except this one!
The tones in the blues are too much separated light and dark that it looks right wonky!  Not sure if I want to un pick it - after all it will remind me that this was a mystery quilt and that's how things go sometimes.  Maybe though, I might have a go at the little light square in the top corner and sort that bit out at the very least!  What do you think?

Monday 25 January 2016

Stash manifesto!

Things have gotten a little bit out of control!
Mini Muu by Koko Sei - not 1 but 2 bundles
There might have been a little bit of Massdrop madness just before Christmas.
Modern Solids by Denyse Schmidt

And a little bit from Fat Quarter shop!
Moda Bella Spring Solids Collection

And the quilt shop Tuam..
Didn't need these but warms greys make a change!

And Patchwork Plus!
Traditional bundle not like me at all and Gardenvale by Jen Kingwell

Seems I am on a bit of rainbow binge at the moment.  I have a quilt design I have been playing with in rainbow colours that I have not gotten around to using and it seems to be in my head every time I look at fabric bundles.
Loominous by Anna Maria Horner

Two solutions to this problem - make the quilt and get it out of my head or stop looking at fabric bundles!  Maybe even do both!

I dream of a fabric stash like this:
Selection on Display at Pine Needles Quilt Shop
But have a full Ikea trolley with no room for rainbows:

Love volume fabric from Westwood Acres: Inside Voices monthly bundles
Storage boxes are kind of full too!
So I guess I'm just going to have to make a few quilts and use this fabric I've been obsessively buying!  So that's going to be my Stash manifesto for the moment - make these 2 quilts:
Rowing boats design inspired by Jen Kingwells Glitter Quilt
A Christmas star design, exercise in Alternate Grid
Now the next question, solids or prints? 'Cause as you can see I have plenty of both!

Linking up with Jen:

Friday 22 January 2016

Friday block finishes!

As I am not up to quilting my queen sized flower power on my small Pfaff, I have been getting on with piecing bee blocks.  I am totally in love with this block chosen for us by Kate in Hive 4 of Stash Bee. 
The red and white combo is just classic!  The tutorial for this one is over at Anyone Can Quilt.  I'm thinking about this for the centre of a Round robin quilt starting this month with Modern Quilters Ireland!

I managed to finish off the last of Modern Irish Bee 2015 blocks too so all caught up with that one!  Suzanne sent us the Green and Gold fabric and told us to make anything we wanted with it so I made Christmas presents for her festive themed quilt.
The blocks are from the free pattern by Kate Spain, called Flurry and can be found here on the Moda website.  I checked with Fiona @ Celtic thistle Stitches and Christmas bee blocks are ok to link up with Ho Ho Ho and On We Sew which is being hosted on her blog this month.  If you are trying to get ahead with Christmas makes or making up for a forgotten present from last year head on over to Fiona's where she has a collection of free tutorials with a Christmas theme!
Finally I have a block of the month club finish to share.  This is a block from Whipstich's Murder Mystery Blocks of the month.  This one is great fun!  You subscribe and every month you get a chapter of a story giving you clues to a murder mystery.  You also get a block to make and extra clues if you make your block on time.  You get one chance to guess Whodunnit and be in with the chance of winning a prize at the end of the year.
If you are interested head on over to Whipstich.  I'm really loving this one!
Happy weekend everybody!

Wednesday 20 January 2016

Quilting and Gender: the lesson I am taking away

Gosh where to start!  Did you see the gender debate that has been happening in quilt blog land these last few weeks?  If not head over to Hunters Design Studiowhere Sam gives her thoughts and links to the other bloggers who have written about it. 

By writing about it here on my blog I don't want to open up the divisions I've seen explored on the other blogs but to write something about how following this debate has affected my view on gender and quilting.  I first saw gender raised in a debate on the cost of making a quilt and selling it for what it is really worth on Molli Sparkles blog (blog posts under We are $ew Worth it).  Questions were raised in the comments on why women tend towards not asking for their true worth but sell goods at prices less than they should.  It surprised me at the time as I thought what has being a woman got to do with pricing a quilt - isn't it market prices for your target audience and cost+some profit???  Naive, I know!

Some were claiming quilting as a woman's realm where men were dishonouring quilters of the past struggling to make a living by wading in with cost sheets asking why sell your handmade goods for less than they are worth - it got a bit heated and I left the debate shaking my head at it all.  That was 2013 but it has stuck with me and feels like not so long ago.  Cue 2016 and the debate has moved on to Male quilters only exhibitions (No Girls Allowed), Male Privilege and not a whole lot of sympathy for a man complaining of his gender always being a topic of conversation because he is a male quilter.  One commenter made a statement about how the lack of comments from other women was telling.  Telling what I don't know but at that point I had read all the comments (which are quite hard to read at times, anger and frustration from both sides of the debate practically jumping off the page!) and not commented yet myself.  I had to ask myself why?

I've seen some comments on social media wondering why as quilters with a common interest we can't all just get along, after all there should be room for everyone who wants to make a quilt in our community.  And I've seen some disappointment that our normally happy, supportive space was somehow threatened by the discussion.  I felt this too but still didn't explain why I was both interested and uncomfortable with the debate and pondering further the discussion about privilege, I think it may be that as a white woman living in Ireland I have enjoyed some privilege too. 

I've never understood how colour is always an issue in the US but I am starting to.  Coming from a country predominantly white I have never faced colour as an issue, never felt out of place because I am white, never at a disadvantage - it doesn't figure in my daily life. Privileged, yes.  As a female mechanical engineer I was 1 of 4 girls who graduated from a class of about 80.  I had a good bunch of classmates and while in the minority I didn't feel out of place.  My first engineering job as a student intern in the US I did have a boss for 3 1/2 months who told me women didn't belong in engineering - he was the minority in that opinion and I happily ignored him!  When I left college my first job along with 4 others of my classmates started on equal pay.  It never occurred to me that I would be paid differently.  A friend of mine had a different experience.  She saw her male colleagues earn more for the same work, be appreciated more for their forwardness and get promoted quicker.  I hadn't the same experience, I thought she was over reacting - Shame on me!  The gender pay gap in Ireland is 14.4%.  Quite a difference isn't it?

Last year our guild branch had a raffle and donated the group quilt we had made to raise money for Adapt House, a refuge centre and outreach service for those who have suffered domestic abuse.  The lady who received the cheque thanked us and gave a very moving speech.  She told us the statistics were 1 in 5 women will at some point suffer abuse.  It is higher that the same statistic for breast cancer (1 in 10) and how many people do I know that that's affected ? 1 in 5, scary isn’t it?  

This debate coming on the back of a tumultuous year all around the world has made me stop and think.  Men are not alone in feeling unwelcome in quilt shops at times.  I know quite a few people have had their ability as a quilter questioned, the assumption because they are young they don't know what they are doing.  Men are not alone when telling people they quilt and get that look, the assumption being it's an old person's hobby.  In this month's quilters newsletter there is an article about ageism/sexism and the term Grandmother's quilts.  Quite a few women have expressed  how they don't fit in some traditional guilds, preferring to connect with quilters online.  Seems we have some work to do to get past assumptions and make our community truly inclusive. 

If we want our quilting community to be the welcoming happy place most of us experience, we need to be open to the discussion in a respectful way.  Our community can only grow closer and be more inclusive if we recognise gender inequality does matter, we do need to talk about it,  and recognise that every body's experience is important in the debate, male and female.  It has to start with the recognition that privilege can make you blind to the subtleties of an issue or even that there is an issue to be addressed at all.  That's the lesson I am taking away from this round of the gender discussion. How about you?  Has it affected your thoughts on gender in our quilting community in any way?

Monday 11 January 2016

Flower Power - a finished quilt top!

There's nothing at all on the design wall this Monday.  I made my deadline last week and finished up that hexagon quilt top!  It's a really nice feeling to finally be done with hand sewing hexie flowers at last!  I'm calling this one Flower Power!

This quilt top came about from a fabric swap and challenge with our branch of the Irish Patchwork Society.  You can get sixteen 2 1/2"squares from a strip of fabric so we worked out a plan that if you had 25 strips you would have 400 squares - enough for a baby quilt or something bigger if you added from stash which most of us did and our finished quilts all turned out so different from each other. 

Each person cuts 25 strips of fabric or jelly roll strips from stash.  Cut each strip into 16 squares.  Take 1 square from each strip and make 16 different piles, each containing 25 different squares.  Take 16 plastic bags (like ziploc or sandwich bags) and place 1 pile into each bag and write your name or initials on the front.  Keep 1 bag and donate 15 to the group pile.  You get 15 bags back and depending on how many people sign up you may get some of your own back or all different.
Design idea
We got a really good mix in our swap and I was inspired by the little hexagon Flowers for Eleni that so many of us made for the beautiful quilt created by Jody of Tales of Cloth.   I wanted to try something along those lines but a little different.  I kept the black centres and cut fabric from my stash for those.  All but 1 large flower and 2 small ones came from the swapped squares.  Mum and I spent some time arranging the squares into colour families and over the Christmas I sewed them into flowers.

I also added over a 100 light grey hexagons to connect the flowers into rows.  I'm wondering now if I shouldn't have used a darker colour as it almost blends in with the background. 

I used 1" Hexagons as they are a really good fit for 2 1/2" squares and I had a bag of them from quilt now magazine so I only had to cut out 10 more printed pages of them!  And I used each paper piece more than once - I think its about 550 Hexagons in this altogether!

I had to modify my design a bit in the making as I changed my mind on the layout and didn't have enough white fabric (backing fabrics are from Dashwood Studios range Nature Trail that I bought from so I ended up with 1 row less than intended but to be fair this is pretty big and covers our standard double bed with overhang!  About 80" x 95" in total. 

So my first finished flimsy of 2016.  It's massively girly and I love it!  I've fallen in and out of love with this one so many times since I started it in November but am back to liking it again.  So, so, happy it's done at last.  My hands are hanging off me and need a break already.  I ended up glueing these all in place (with Roxanne's basting glue!) and am hoping to top stitch them through the quilt sandwich when I get my machine back.  I'm thinking of adding a line of black hand quilting around each flower row to add a bit of definition.  I think it needs it and by the time I get around to that my hands will have recovered!  Hope your new year is off to flying start too!

Thursday 7 January 2016

A Thankful Thursday Post - minis & mug rugs!

You might remember me getting carried away describing how I sew at the kitchen table last year when tagged in the My Creative Space blog hop hosted by Julie @ Pink Doxies and Mayrse @ Mayrse Makes Things?

Well, I showed this one photo of my computer space with my ancient macbook (its so old, its one of the ones with the silver keys - but still going!)  I do spend quite a bit of time at the computer, writing for this blog and Modern Quilters Ireland, playing with design software and following and commenting on blog posts.  It amazes me how much of  what I consider quilting time that I spend online!

What I didn't show you is G's stuff in this room.  Turn away from my desk and its a hoarders delight.  He is terrible at de-cluttering computer bits and bobs, books and magazines.  Now I have a lot of stuff - fabric, books, notebooks, and I have been gathering a small collection of swap items and mini-quilts.  There isn't any real space to show mini quilt swaps so I have been making do by rotating them on an easel and brightening up the corner of the man cave.  This Christmas after tripping over a gearbag, a box of astronomy magazines and accidentally knocking a bunch of tiny screws of the coffee table I had enough, I moved out!

Upstairs to the box room.  I gave up my window view (useless in the summer as the sun directly shines in and I can't see the screen but don't tell G that as I am milking this one to make him tidy up!).  I moved a wardrobe and chest of drawers around to the other bedrooms and took over this wall - all to myself.  He did help with the heavy lifting though!  That's what happens when you can't use your sewing machine,you end up re-arranging your house!

This is what the wall was like when I moved my desk in - bare except for an Egyptian papyrus print bought in Las Vegas (I kid you not!).  So I've hung up all my swap items (except Lara's Wilbur & Charly mini which is in the kitchen beside the tea pot clock over my sewing machine!) and removed Las Vegas souvenir closer to the bin!
From top left : Schnizel & Boo mini round 2 and 3 and hoop from MQI exhibition last year. 
Bottom row:  Cork board with swap items from @Shevvyrox for nerds craft it better on instagram - Serentity, Star Wars & Millenium Falcon, gift from Suzanne, Pay it Forward gift from Deborah, Mug rug (Christmas swap 2015), Little Red riding hood mini's from Fairytale swap on IG. 

So I have to say a big thank you to all those I've swapped with and a special thank you to Deborah @ Sunshine Through the Rain for the purple improv mini (and the extras all the way from Indonesia) and Mags from the Modern Quilters Ireland group for the cup & saucer mug rug which made such happy Christmas post.  Thanks a million guys - this space is looking brighter and more crafty now thanks to you all!  

And there's room for a few more yet!  I'll be spending quite some time here this year as I hope to get finishing on some pattern writing and have lots of design ideas to play with.  More on quilty resolutions and the Finish-A-Long list in the next post!

Monday 4 January 2016

Happy Hexie New Year!

Happy New Year everybody!

Before Christmas, the design wall looked like this image on the left and now it's full of hexie flowers!

You would have thought I'd have had enough of hexagon projects at this stage but nope, still hand sewing hexies right into the New Year!

A lot of the predictions for this year included more slow stitching, hand sewing projects like the New Hexagon & Millefiori/La Passacaglia projects that were very popular last year.  I have loved following everyone's projects on these, particularly Wendy's that she has shared on her blog Wendy's Quilts and more!  Though not a deliberate decision on my part to do so much hand sewing, it has been a blessing.  My poor Janome, (less than a year old), has given up sewing!  She is going back to the shop this week for repair.

Resting in the spare bedroom over Christmas taking a break!
I started hearing clunking noises in the bobbin during free motion quilting and it got worse and worse until eventually the bobbin case jammed up completely.  So while that's been out of action, I dusted off my small Pfaff and finished up a table runner for Mum.  This was a super quick project.  Some layer cake squares cut into 5" x 10" bricks with some 5"x5" in between and quilted with a wiggly circle pattern. 

She likes it a lot and I have to keep reminding myself sometimes simple is the best way to go!  I have a habit of gravitating towards complex designs and forget that simple can be pretty and effective too!

So while my main machine is resting at the repair shop, it's hand stitching for me.  Last year (weird to be typing that still!) our branch of the Irish Patchwork Society swapped 2 1/2" squares, about 400 of them!  We were challenged to make a quilt using the squares and trying to do something different I decided to make hexagons out of them!

During one of the nights Mum stayed over in our house, we spent a few hours sorting the squares into colours (while watching Foyle's War on the telly!)  Before Christmas, I arranged them into flowers and stacked them all on the lid of an Ikea box.
This meant I could sit on the sofa and sew away to my hearts content while watching more TV.  All 4 Indiana Jones, Kelly's Heroes, Back to the Future, Santa Paws, and of course my favourite: Doctor Who!

I thought I was on to a winning plan here but I underestimated how long it takes to hand sew 400+152 more I added to the pile to make up my design!

And there was Wilbur!  The dogs loved the fact that we were around so much and took up residence on the sofa beside me.  Wilbur got it into his head that my colourful hexies must be sweets and tried a few times to eat them!

Guess who the culprit was!
Thankfully he didn't mange to tip the whole lot off of my lap but he did succeed in knocking over the Christmas tree 5 times!

Being a Basset Hound, Wilbur has long ears and you have to clean them for him every few weeks.  He hates this and hid under the tree when he saw G reaching for the ear cleaning bottle.  #1.

#2 & #3 happened at night.  No idea what happened.  Woke up to find tree tipped over twice.

#4 I'm blaming G for not putting the tree back properly as it didn't last long this time at all and broke the lights.

#5 My fault!  I left a box of Cadbury's biscuits in a Christmas present bag under the tree and big nosed Basset must've been having a sniff as we found teeth marks in the tin and the tree on the floor.  Thankfully the new lights still work!  At this stage, I was nearly tempted to give up on the tree but I took a deep breath and made a cup of tea and put it back up again!

Beginnings of a design - more on this later!

That's kind of how I feel about these hexies at this stage.  Take a deep breath, make a cup of tea and get on with it.  The challenge deadline is this Friday at our first meeting of 2016!  A busy start to the new year, even without my big sewing machine.  How was your  holiday break?  Hope all had a lovely time and here's to a slow stitching, handmade new year!
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