Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Tips Taken Away from my One Block Wonder Workshop

This past Saturday I taught a workshop on the One Block Wonder Technique at the Eastern branch of the Irish Patchwork Society. It was a busy but satisfying day and I think the participants enjoyed it. I don't have a lot of photos from the day, but I thought I'd share those which have resulting blocks in them (pity I don't have everybody's), as well as the tips we were able to take away from the day.

I'm really looking forward to seeing the finished quilts, though finalizing the layouts may take quite some time.

This is a picture I wanted to print out, but didn't manage to get to the printers'. It sums up what we did on the day very well (both the picture and the phrase were found on the Web).

I will not run through the whole process of making a Now Block Wonder quilt (there are a lot of tutorials around on the Web), but I do want to share some tips which proved handy and/or were learned the hard way.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The Meadow Beyond Grandmother's Garden

Thanks to the gods of weather for smiling at Dublin fair city today! Lots of sun (probably too much for a good shot) and here we go:

Somehow the mood of quilt chimes in with the mood of the day, with the daffodils opening all around and the grass greener than ever.

The whole idea was inspired by the pretty green fabric with itsy-bitsy flowers:

I have mentioned before that this project started about half a year ago, but I then realized that the first flowers were made last April, so that's more like year really. I don't like projects that long, so I decided agains hand-appliqueing the flowers to the background and instead machine stitched them down to the assembled quilt sandwich, to avoid additional stitching lines when quilting.

So, the only thing left was to quilt the background. As this quilt is not intended for show or something, just for pure FUN, I thought I'd practice my "blended quilting" or "freeform quilting" or whatever you choose to call it. The idea was to use small-scale patterns between the flowers and larger ones in the free space. It didn't quite work out like that, as it was difficult to judge the spacing and scale when the thing was crumpled under the machine arm. However, I did practice a couple of large feathers and spirals and some kind of flowers.

So, that's finally done and now I can't wait to start a new project, that's been waiting around for some time.

Linking up to Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts
Free Motion Mavericks at Lizzy Lenard Vintage Sewing

Monday, 6 February 2017

New Beginnings

It's been a long while since I have written anything in the blog, but I have two excuses for it, and I have something new to show as well.

The first excuse is that we have moved home in January, and everything is still a bit of a mess. One of the great things about the new place is an extra bedroom which became my sewing room! It's tiny and  somewhat dark and it still needs storage, but it's all mine, which is super cool.

That's about all there is to it - an ironing board, a table and a design wall.

The second excuse is that I went back to school - started a Graphic Design course at the Dublin Institute of Design, which means I now have homework to do! = less time for quilting :((

I used the transition period to finish the handwork that has been in the making for about half a year - a bunch of EPP flowers in three sizes and three designs.

Bright, happy and fun like a box of candy ;)))

The idea was to play with the different shapes and sizes to create something beyond grandmother's garden, something like a sun-lit summer meadow. The layout took a lot of experimenting and progressed from something like this...

... to something like this:

I think this has a bit more drama. I'm working on finishing it now and hope to be able to present it in a couple of days, provided the weather permits taking pictures outside (don't know where exactly - miss the old fence).

Linking up to Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts

Monday, 2 January 2017

Winter Sun

Now, this may seem a bit out of season, but I think it only makes it more welcome:

machine pieced flower quilt

A bit of history first. Last year I made a storm-at-sea bed quilt for my brother- and sister-in-law, and used the scraps from it to make a small wallhanging to match:

winter landscape quilt

This winter "landscape" has been on their living-room wall since, and every time time I saw it in person or in Skype I thought they need something more summerly for a change. What with one thing and another, I only got round to making it in December, in time to make it a New Year's Day gift. My sister-in-law loves sunflowers, and what could be more summerly than that?

It's machine curve piecing, one of my favorite techniques that works so brilliantly with oversized flowers (if you haven't tried curve piecing yet, check out my butterfly block tutorial and pattern - it's really easy!). Here is the finished top:

pieced flower quilt

In case anybody still needs proof that quilting texture is responsible for about half of a quilt's appeal ;)) I used very simple quilting on the flower - pebbles for the middle and "vein" curves for the petals.

pieced flower quilt

pieced flower quilt

At the last moment I decided to play with my beautiful variegated YLI threads on the black background, where they would be more prominent, and added a kind of "halo" around the petals. The rest of the background is quilted with the same pattern in black, which is almost completely invisible.

pieced flower quilt

I really enjoyed working on this bright project, it really seemed to add sunshine to the room when it was on the design wall. I hope it will add some light and warmth to its new home, too.

pieced flower quilt

Linking up to Main Crush Monday at Cooking up Quilts
Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River
Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts

Friday, 23 December 2016

Wrapping Up Christmas Sewing - the Mug Rugs

Now that some of these have already been given and some have just a couple of days to wait, I'd like to give an account of (part of) my Christmas gift making - mug rugs.

These are 8'' and feature beautiful animal-themed fabric I have left over from a Christmas quilt made two years ago.
Christmas patchwork decor

The next ones are 6'' squared and are a part of my poinsettia craze. If you haven't seen my tutorial for them yet, check it out.

Christmas applique

Christmas applique

Finally, the 7'' Nordic mug rug which featured in another tutorial, has a family now! Family shots:

Christmas patchwork decor

Christmas patchwork decor

Christmas patchwork decor

Merry Christmas to all!

Linking up to Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Off the Wall Friday at Creations by Nina-Marie
Finished or not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Winter Forest Friends

I have a very special (and somewhat unexpected) winter quilt to share with you today, boys and girls. It just came to be, almost of its own accord, as a chain of chance events and spontaneous decisions, between big projects completed and Christmas gifts made.

animal quilt block

I have written before about the great prize I won in the Handmade Halloween link-up - a pattern by Lorna McMahon of Sew Fresh Quilts. Although I was busy with a couple of projects, I couldn't resist trying it out and was really hooked. Lorna's technique is very clever, so the sewing was much easier than I had anticipated, and between this and that I made three of Lorna's forest friends - the fox, the deer and the bear.

It was the deer that prompted the direction where it was all going - of all the browns I have I thought the most suitable shade was the one with snowflakes on it (it's a strange kind of pattern really - snowflakes in brown -, but it was on sale when I was looking for various browns for a project...) So the poor dear deer ended up looking like he had a snowflake on his nose and wasn't happy about that. And then the background, which was supposed to be just neutral, suddenly appeared to look like heavy snowfall.

fox quilt block, deer quilt block

That's how I decided to make it a winter quilt, and winter forest in my understanding isn't complete without a red squirrel and a hare turned white for the season. So I set myself a challenge to try and design a couple of blocks using Lorna's techinique.  I must say it took a lot of juggling the shapes to achieve a compromise between image likeness and ease of sewing, I can now really appreciate the effort Lorna puts into her beautiful creations.

bear quilt block, hare quilt block

I think I managed to create a reasonable hare and squirrel, and also an owl to finish the layout. I was also lucky to find this snowflake batik that completed the winter look - I saw a fat quarter of this fabric held by a lady in front of me in the queue to the till and, thankfully, there was another left.

owl quilt block, squirrel quilt block

I had a nice (leftover) piece of pine print green, which supported the forest theme, and I looked for some tree print to use in the border, but could only find this holly one - so we also have a hint of Christmas in the air. I had so little of the green left, that I had to make the binding of two fabrics, and barely had enough.

And with this tale of winter magic, farewell, boys and girls, have a most wonderful Christmas, don't forget to believe in miracles, and make sure to check out Lorna's site Sew Fresh Quilts and her weekly link-up Let's Bee Social for even more wonderful quilting inspiration.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Poinsettia Mug Rug Tutorial - Raw Edge Applique

Anybody who has read this blog during the last couple of weeks will notice that I am obsessed with poinsettias this Christmas season. During the Christmas demonstration at the Eastern branch of the Irish Patchwork Society I showed some ladies how to make these poinsettia mug rugs and the participants seemed to enjoy them, so I thought I might share the process here as well. It's not a pattern as such, rather an idea for an easy last-minute gift or decorative element.

For the mug rugs in the tutorial photos I used raw edge appliqué to use up some of the scraps from my large poinsettia quilt, you may notice that some fraying develops around the edges, but I don't mind that. In my demonstration and in the Christmas wreath mini quilt I used fabrics prepared with the crafted appliqué technique, which yields a clean edge with no fraying - you can choose what suits you.

You'll need:

  • quilt sandwich (backing fabric + batting + background fabric) about 6.5'' squared (or any other size to your liking, but make sure to leave some margin for trimming)
  • green and red scraps
  • glue stick or pins if you're making it raw edge
  • matching thread
  • a piece of binding about 32'' long
I prefer to make this kind of appliqué freehand, without templates, and poinsettias are great for that, because they are not particularly symmetrical and their leaves have very simple shapes. When you are eyeballing a leaf shape, you give it unique character and are free to play with size, shape and positioning, however you can download this cheatsheet to use as your guide.

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