Monday 27 June 2016

Design wall Monday - Catching up with the Rainbow Rose!

I need a bigger design wall!  So far my 80" version of the Rainbow Rose is looking like this! There are pinks hiding behind the purples and the yellows are a bit squished trying to fit it all on the wall!  Standing as far back as I could in the kitchen this was all I could fit in the photo this morning - might have to go wider than 18mm on the lens to get it all in!

I'm happy with the blues but there is still one triangle in the blue green that is sticking out to me, overall though I'm feeling the rainbow is working so just need to get to sewing it up now to catch up.
I've had to leave it there on the wall to get on with making up the samples for the border options for this weeks post on Wednesday.  This involved drawing up templates in 2 sizes for some optional applique and fiddling on the computer to get them in a PDF format!  It always amazes me how you can lose hours of your life messing about with software!

Looking forward to sharing them and releasing this weeks post on Wednesday on assembly.  We will also have our final look at the colour wheel - I have some very cool quilt tops from Paula Rafferty to share as our last colour exploration!  See you on Wednesday over on the Modern Quilters Ireland Blog?

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Rainbow Rose–Thanks to all Quilting–A–Long!

Thanks a million guys to all who are quilting a long with the Rainbow Rose QAL I’ve been hosting over on the Modern Quilters Ireland Blog.  We are onto week 4 now which is piecing the centre star and next week is assembling it all together and adding borders.  It has flown by!  Prizes are still up for grabs for any progress made on the QAL so it’s not too late to join in if anyone fancies a 40” baby quilt or 80” lap quilt!

Where am I with the making of the 72” block for the 80” quilt – ammmm just about onto week 3 now so 1 week behind!  My green to blue from week 2 needs a little bit of work so major catching up to do this week.  It is the only thing on my table (embroidery machines all packed away, 44 quilts for Evolutions exhibition in July all photographed and processed!)  and now I am ready to get piecing!

Even though I had a lot of the blog posts prepared in advance, it has still taken quite a bit of time to double check dimensions, edit, add a bit more, edit again, make visuals, chase up photos for prizes, add them in, check links and figure out how to use inklinkz!  I did get the timezone wrong on the first post and it ended a few hours too early as it thought I was in Africa not Ireland!   Oops!  Sorry to all who missed out on the first link up because of that!

On a documentary about writing I saw Jeffrey Archer interviewed and he said for each book he writes 13 revisions!  I didn’t do anywhere near that many revisions but I really did enjoy pulling in the info on the colour wheel into the blog posts and as Leanne mentioned in a comment on blogging, seeing the link ups appear really gives you a boost and makes you feel like happy dancing!  Letting those that won the prizes of fat quarters was great fun too!

hot cold 2

This big version of the Rainbow Rose I’m making is for myself to keep  and like everyone else who is quilting a long, I couldn’t resist playing around with the shapes. Using just the centre pieces makes this weird shape and it could make for a fun quilt block.  The corner pieces on their own make another nice block and I’m sure this must exist as a traditional block somewhere!


I had a bit of fun with the colouring and like this last version as a bee block maybe?  I’m itching to do a Black & White Quilt and these could be fun to play with!

But enough playing for one week – down to the serious business of making from here on in!

Tuesday 21 June 2016

Embroidery machines make great quilt labels!

Have you ever seen the back of Tula Pink’s quilts?  She sold some last year on her blog and showed the quilt labels she used to name and sign them.  One was an aerosol can with fancy writing on the label of the can, naming the quilt.  They were really amazing and I realised, how bad a job I do on my quilt labels.  From time to time, I just write on the back with a micro fine pen!  One quilt, I signed with quilt writing on the front, in each of the 4 corners.  It’s legible to me!  This weekend, getting the embroidery machine I was given at the Cork IPS (Irish Patchwork Society) meeting going, I thought I need to do a better job labeling my quilts. 

G is a computer engineer and a bit of a hoarder – as such it was no trouble to find an old laptop with Windows XP on it and I got the driver installed so the laptop could finally talk to the little Huskystar EM10.  Using some Gutermann rayon thread that I had on hand, I downloaded some patterns I had purchased on sale from Urban Threads and stitched them out.  This little machine is a doddle to use and the hoop firmly holds the stabiliser and fabric with no shifting.  No thread breakage at all and you can walk away and let it do its thing.  The only issue is, from time to time, a faulty sensor on the presser foot gives an error.  I cleaned the machine, oiled it and released the lever and it started up again!


I did get a stitch error on the snowflake when I ran out of bobbin thread and missed sending the machine back a few steps when it restarted – can you spot the error in the stitching?  Totally my fault!


Then I did got a bit ambitious and tried a really dense pattern – I think this is really meant to be a bigger pattern – it has over 20,000 stitches and in a 4” space, this means a lot of thread.  It didn’t really like this much and thread breakage ensued but it got there in the end.  I can see these as really cool as pockets on a t-shirt, used as an embellishment for a bag or covers of notebooks as well as labels!

Saturday morning was pretty much taken up by all of this and when G saw my progress he asked if using the little machine had taught me anything I could apply to my own H600e – aka she who must not be named.  (If I named her she would be Hideous Heidi the Husqvarna, temperment like a Viking warrior!)  So while in town with mum looking for wedding presents, I just happened to pop into Hickeys, a haberdashery shop in the city centre.


I thought I might buy some more Gutermann thread, as the morning’s session has left me with very little on the spool.  I was shocked to hear they don’t carry it anymore!  They do have lots of hand embroidery threads so that’s a good sign!  I like hand embroidery but if I tried that for quilt labels none would ever be finished!  I did leave with a new oil cloth for the kitchen table though!

Pondering machined embroidery labels for my quilts while mum was oohing over a beautiful white stand up mirror, I told her I’d be back in a sec and wandered up to Lena’s who sell sewing machines, do custom embroidery and are the only place in town I can get Debbie Bliss yarn.  There was queue.  I was a little bit more than a second but I did pick up some Royal Rayon thread in these gorgeous colours!  Not cheap at 4.95 a spool!


So new thread, new bobbin case and old machine I gave she who must not be named another go!  The hoop size is much bigger about 8” x 11”.  The software is different too and runs off my windows cheapo tablet from Walmart, another plus!  It was getting a bit crowded on the kitchen table at this stage!


The software with the H600e will resize, allow you to add lettering, combine motifs and delete elements but doesn’t mirror and and you can’t precisely position something in the hoop too easily.  The little EM10 will mirror and is easy to position but not too easy to customise a pattern.    The EM10 follows the pattern on the screen so you can see how much is left.  The H600e instead gives you the number of stitiches done and shows 1 layer at a time.  Why you pay a fortune for an embroidery machine and the software from the same company is so different is beyond me but these are considered bottom level entry machines so maybe the 2000-3000 Euro machines have something different?


This wolf from Urban Threads reminds me of Game of Thrones and epic episode this week with Jon Snow, so I tried it out in the blue threads I bought (original pattern uses grey & black!)


 It’s fun watching it stitch out, kind of like waiting for a polaroid photo to appear.  Each new colour of stitching really adds to the effect.  I like this guy so much I think I’m going to hang him on the wall for decoration!


I learned something new.  My machine loves this Royal thread!  Not one breakage – no beep beep beep except when bobbin is about to run out – wish all machines had that sensor!

I kept trying to make this machine free motion quilt and had some success with Aurifil, but could never really get past the tension issues without adjusting the bobbin and you are not meant to do that with this beastie.  It seems all her short life, she only ever wanted to be an embroidery machine and have Royal Rayon for dinner.


So the weekend kind of got away from me!  The baby quilt I could have been making, the quilts I should have been basting and the QAL catching up didn’t quite happen but I did get some labels made.


A generic pretty label and those suitable for my dog quilt, camera inspired quilt and christmas quilt I am planning in my head!  I’ve left room to add the quilt name and date when I get to that stage.  Now I just have to find a home for the little EM10.  It’s not thread fussy and doesn’t pull in the hoop and is really easy to use.  She has a name – I’m calling her Happy Henrietta!  Glad she got diverted my way on her way to the dump!

All in a weekend's work!

Wednesday 15 June 2016

So... the class went well!

Last Saturday I had my first class running a workshop with the Southern Branch of the Irish Patchwork Society in Cork!

I was nervous enough about it as I had done demonstrations at our own branch but never before developed a class, class materials and created a lesson plan!  There was a lot of work in it but I'm really glad now it's happened that I took on this challenge.  Having written and published 2 patterns helped a lot in making the block directions.  Writing practice weekly on the blog here has left me happy enough to just start writing on a blank page and I filled up 18 pages about ways to play with traditional blocks in no time.  At the end of the process I had 3 quilt patterns and 14 block patterns!

Editing it was more work than the writing and I am very grateful for my blogging friends who proof read and pattern tested for me.  Thanks again to Serena, Anja, Abigail and Sandra!  I had really good advice from Paula Rafferty who has been teaching for many years.  The most valuable thing she told me was to have lots of step outs for each block showing how it is put together.    I chose 4-5 blocks out of the 14 and made step by step samples and these were better than the written instructions on the day!

It was a really fun day out starting with the branch meeting and a bit of shopping at the Patchwork Plus pop up shop.  Moya's shop had been to our own branch the night before in Limerick and I had bought some half metres of fabric and seeing it all on display again, I tried very hard but eventually gave in and bought a little bit more!  Though in my defence I did need to replace that 6 1/2" square ruler that I had chipped the corner off so, had to be done!

The branch meeting space is lovely and light in the hall of the Sacred Heart Church on the Western road in Cork.  I had great fun at the meeting socialising an hour before the meeting started, with tea and homemade buns!  Sandra @Sew of Course popped in to say hello and it was brilliant to meet her  and thank her in person for all her help proof reading and checking measurements on the class materials I had prepared!

At the end of the meeting, I gave a talk on Modern Quilting to the branch and after lunch, 13 of the ladies stayed on to do the workshop, Traditional Blocks Made Modern.

Between the group, 5 different blocks were made in the space of the afternoon!  Some very speedy sewers.  As we only had an afternoon for the workshop, I had sent on the dimensions to pre-cut fabric in advance and that helped immensely.  We made the Modern Economy, Offset Log Cabin, Wonky Star, Modern Churn Dash and I think the block that people liked the most was the Wonky Bento Box block.

Everyone's fabric choices were so different.  It was really brilliant towards the end of the day to see the blocks being added to the design wall, one by one.

I had serious fabric envy on the day looking at the ombre effect fat quarters Moya was using.  I love her choice of grey as the accent colour in the wonky bento blocks too!

And her very creative arrangement of the blocks.  Can't you just see a whole quilt made with these?

The design wall was a big hit!  I bought this on Massdrop last year thinking it could come in handy for photographing small quilts but this was its first proper outing and it was brilliantly easy to use!

This is the largest size 72" x 72" but it folds up into a small black bag about a foot long.  Clipping the support bars onto the frame is the hardest part, as you need a bit of finger strength to get them to pop in place!  Erin helped and we had it assembled in about 5 minutes, even less to take it down!

I think it really helped to close the class on a high note as we all got to see how productive everyone was on the day. And also to see how the different fabrics people were working with looked in the block designs.  Strangely I found myself pulled to the warm traditional creamy browns!

Oh, and I came home with an embroidery machine too!

They are a very generous bunch in the Cork branch.  Unwanted fabric was donated to whomever wanted it and one lady offered up 2 unwanted embroidery machines, older models that would only run on Windows XP.  I said if no one else from the branch claims it I'll take it.

I've spent the last two nights trying to get it running on windows 7, even found instructions on the net to make it work but for some reason the software will work but the driver for the machine is missing and the software can't detect when the machine is plugged in.  So I bugged Gordon to borrow an XP machine and after a long time looking at the swirly circle, it installed and recognises the machine, a Husqvarna Viking EM10.  Hoping to play with it tonight and stitch something out!

No idea what to do with it after that - just couldn't bear to see it unloved or on its way to dump!  So all that has left me a week behind my own QAL!  Instructions are up on Modern Quilters Ireland for week 3 - piecing the corners!  It's not too late to join if you like.  You can link up any progress on the Rainbow Rose block to win a prize of fat quarters.  Thanks a million to all of you are Quilting-a-Long.  It's brilliant to see all the gorgeous fabric pulls!  I'll be catching up this week on piecing the middles and getting cracking on the corners!  Links to the blog posts are in the tab above called Quilt-A-Long or on the Modern Quilters Ireland Blog

Linking up to Let's Bee Social!
Sew Fresh Quilts

Tuesday 7 June 2016

I'm having a Rainbow Week!

This weekend was a long one for us with yesterday being our June Bank Holiday.  It helped having 3 days in a row off to get this one finished for the class I'm giving next Saturday!  

It never fails to amaze me how long it takes to make teeny tiny pieced blocks - so much longer that I thought it would - at least twice if not three times as long.  This bit took me a whole morning to make: a 3", 4", 6" and 9" block.

I must be having rainbows on my mind as one of the comments on Instagram was how perfectly rainbow this was.  It definitely is colourful and looks brilliantly bright in the evening sunlight in our kitchen!  Sampler quilts aren't to everyone's taste and G wasn't too enamoured with it but mum instantly loved it!  

This was made to show a very simple alternate grid construction and also each of these blocks are included in the class handout so it was a nice way of showing them to the class.
On their own repeated, each of the blocks make lovely quilts in and of themselves and taking on this opportunity, has given me 3 quilt tops now and I am hoping to make the booklet, with all of the patterns available as a download in my pattern shop after the class.  Of course I have to quilt them all yet!  

I have to say a huge thanks to Serena @Sew Giving, Abigail @Cut and Alter, Anja @Anja Quilts and Sandra @Sew of Course who proof read and pattern tested for me.  You guys were brilliant and a great help - thanks a million!

Continuing the rainbow trend, I've been pulling fabric for the large block version of the Rainbow Rose QAL running over on the Modern Quilters Ireland blog.  There are weekly prizes of bundles of Fat Quarters and in the QAL I am giving full instructions for two sizes a 40" baby quilt or an 80" larger quilt.  I pulled from 3 bundles of fat quarters and think I have more than enough to make the bigger version that uses layer cake or 10" squares.  I may even have to remove some like that blue that somehow snuck into the green pile!

If you want to make a Rainbow Rose the QAL goes on for the next 4 weeks with a final link up in July.  Link up each week for any progress made on the block to be in with a chance to win the prizes!  Tomorrows post is on cutting the background fabric and starting to piece the first section of the block!

Linking up to the Friday finishes for the Quilt top and Modern Quilters Ireland for the fabric pull!

Friday 3 June 2016

On Blogging–Being brave & putting yourself out there

With the new bloggers blog hop starting this month, the whole blogging concept has been running through my mind. I had a conversation with myself about it at lunchtime yesterday while pottering around the kitchen trying to figure out how to fit the baby George grill back in the press. Why do things expand in size the minute you take them out of a cupboard?

Try and explain to your friends and family, why you blog and why you put yourself and your work out there on the internet, can lead to a stumbling mumbling conversation that leaves them looking at you right funny. Some won't know what a blog is and others won't understand why you would want to blog in the first place, especially when there's Instagram and you can read lots and lots of other blogs already out there.

I was also struck yesterday by a link I followed through Abby's weekly While She Naps newsletter. The message was Create before you Consume! Get to the sewing machine first thing in the morning instead of the iPad to check social media.  It got me thinking about things you create as a blogger.  Writing about the process and ideas in creating blog content and creating physical tangible quilts gives not only to the family and friends we make for but gives back to the wider quilting community too. Blogging has real value.

I'm not talking about monetary value and sponsorship and marketing your goods though that is also a valid reason to start a blog. I'm not sure those reasons are what sustain a blog or a blogger year on year. I will admit that maybe there is a teeny bit of vanity that comes into wanting to share the best bits of your work with the world, kind of like a nice selfie but to be fair it's not all about look at me, I made something pretty, pat me on the back. There's a lot more to it than that, though a pat on the back is always nice to get! And here on quilt blog land people are brilliantly supportive and encouraging which helps with the first thought that came to me on blogging. It takes a bucket load of bravery!

Contrary to popular belief, most quilt bloggers are actually quite shy peeps. And even if you are not normally a shy person, sharing a bit of yourself with the world online is a little bit scary - especially for those first posts. Too many words, not enough pictures. You write them awkwardly at first, maybe you are not used to blogging and have yet to find a groove. Safer to keep them published but private before taking the plunge and making your blog public and findable on search engines. I never read my first posts - I think I would be afraid to!
My original blog banner!
Here's the second thing about blogging, it's bloody hard work! So many decisions to make when starting a blog: what background to use on your blog, what font, which image for the header, how to write the about me bit so you don't give away too much about your family and make them mad at you but are still friendly and approachable? How to make your space online a comfy safe place to share that people will want to visit with you. Because I think that's really what it's all about at the end of the day, that's what sustains me at least- making friends, having a chat, sharing a good story, helping out with a tip, teaching a technique and spreading the joy that being creative brings and sometimes, just playing with lovely fabric! So if it is a little bit vain, it is only a little bit.

The writing part does get easier, you find your groove. The photographs get better as you take more time over them. Blog posts get more polished and informative. Blogging will surprise you.  Posts you spend hours on, putting large parts of yourself into will disappear into the ether.  Others you write in no time at all will somehow resonate with your readers.  It can be very unpredictable.  The blog itself gets fancier as you learn more about html, adding links to photos, making grids, adding numbers to comments. You create more content and over time add more interesting places for people to visit like Tutorial pages, Galleries, Patterns and you put yourself out there even more joining in Blog Hops and linky parties. The dreaded about me page gets an update but still there is that fear to overcome - what if no one visits, what if people don't like what I make, what if no one comments which can make it feel like what if no one likes me?

Even now 4 1/2 years blogging & quilting I still that get that niggling fear of self-doubt. As you get to know more people, opportunities come along that push those buttons again. Running my first quilt a long and getting ready to teach my first class this month has given me moments of what if… all over again. What if no one links up, what if I'm not ready, what if I can't teach my way out of a paper bag, what if I forget my power cord to my machine (I've done that!)…

Things like The New Bloggers Blog Hop are a brilliant way to help with some of this and be supportive while you figure all of these things out. Most of my best bloggy friends are those I met on past Let's Get Acquainted/New Bloggers blog hops and these are the people I turn to for advice time and time again!
The blog hop this year is made up of three groups and are being looked after by Yvonne @Quilting Jet Girl, Cheryl @ Meadow Mist Designs and Stephanie @ Late Night Quilter. If you have a moment please reward these new bloggers bravery and hard work with a visit to their blogs, leave a comment and say hi - it will be greatly appreciated!

For my part if I had any advice for myself of 4 years ago, I think I would say:
  • Be brave, what's the worst that could happen?
  • Take your time - build good content and give your space time to grow.
  • Ignore the stats pages and the number of followers on bloglovin'. Don't get hung up on anybody's else's numbers - do your own thing.
  • Give back, visit and comment on others blog posts - you have to put yourself out there to make friends.
  • Enjoy the process and most importantly have fun! 

I can't imagine now, not writing and have learned so much not just about quilting but grown as a person, learned about branding/marketing, creating, designing and have made wonderful friends. I don't regret it for a second!

What advice would you give a new blogger? And if you don't yet blog are you tempted?
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