Thursday, June 30, 2011

Everything Old Is New Again

Can I brag a little?  Please allow me this one indulgence.

A sewing trends column by Melanie O was just published on Sew Mama Sew entitled Everything Old is New Again.  I am so excited because my quilt is featured in photos!  Hop on over and have a look.

Oh, happy day!

Is anyone else having crazy blogger issues?  It took me all day to get this posted!?!?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesday WIP News

The traveling last week made it a little difficult to sew.  Still, I have a little to talk about.

Currently In Progress:
According to last week's poll, 99.999% of you agree with my other half that Lattice Illusions should be split into panels instead of a solid block.  The changes are not made yet, but they will be this week.  

Yippee!!!  We have the required 28 people needed for our Japanese Import Fabric Swap.  This week we are cutting our fabric.  I am nervous on this point, but I will eventually get the courage to start in.  Fingers crossed!

I am working on the May block of the Birdie Stitches BOM right now.  I really like the flowers as they add an abundance of color.  That being said, they take a lot longer to stitch than the other blocks.  I also have very little of my "official" Birdie Stitches green floss, so I think the stems will have to be several different shades of green.  That will be alright (I hope).

The Community Quilt is off and running!!!  This is where I spent most of my time this week.  I find it completely satisfying to see the stack of 2 inch squares get smaller and the pile of pieced strips get larger.  This is my pile of triplet strips.  The fabrics are so great!  This will take a while to piece the entire top, but for now I am happy just plugging along.

Thanks to so  many of you for your thoughts on washing batiks for my Irish Chain.  It seems that color catchers will be my best friends through this project.  Thank goodness I did pre-wash these strips or it could have been a real mess at the end.  Here they are all washed, air dried and ready to be ironed.  This week I hope to start cutting the strips and piecing.

Are any of you participating in Fairy Face Designs' Summer Sewing ? I have been thinking about the goals I listed a few weeks ago.  It may be time to return to that list for a bit of focus as I seem to keep going wider without finishing anything. 

Projects Starting Up
Tetris and Fresh Flowers quilts are still sitting (I know, I know), waiting for me to pay attention.  Some day I will get around to starting in on them full force - I look forward to it!

As usual on a Wednesday, I am linking up with Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday, and Someday Crafts Whatever Goes Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Community Quilt Kicks Off

Preparing for the Community Quilt has been quite the effort.  Thank goodness for the generous donations from many of you; without them this would not have started at all.  Once that hurdle was overcome, there were lots and lots (and lots) of little background rectangles that had to be cut.  It has been completely worth every bit of it!

I started sewing together our little 2 inch squares into doublets and triplets, and then started attaching pieces of the background.  There will be 370+ of these little strips in the end and I am about 1/4 of the way there.  It's a good start.  Thank goodness for chain piecing as its making life a whole lot easier.  Anyway, the Community Quilt is off and running and I could not be happier.

In other news, this fabric (Kokka Trefle) arrived in the mail today!  I love frogs so this hopped (har har) out at me while I was shopping for my Japanese Imports Swap fabric.  Now, I have a small stash and I tend to buy only with specific projects in mind.  That went out of the window pretty quickly when I saw this.  I have no plans at all for its use, but it makes me happy.  Any suggestions? 

As usual on Tuesday, I'm linking up with Quiltstory for Fabric Tuesday.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Washing Batiks: In Way Over My Head

First off, I am sorry to have ignored blogging over the past few days. I was traveling for work and just could not get the time to write (or stitch) anything while I was gone.  So, I am happily home and back to the norm.

As you may know, I have been SLOWLY starting an Irish Chain using a pattern from the Moda Bake Shop. I have a very white Kona fabric as the background, which was recently cut into strips.  I thought I would start cutting the batiks and sewing this weekend, but then I listened to Hip To Be A Square on Friday when Flying.  Pam has recently finished a quilt that used batiks and had a small problem with the color running.

I have never used batiks before and I am not a pre-washer (gasp!!), so I thought I had better rinse mine before they bled all over my nice white background.  And so I did...

I also tossed in three Color Catchers because I was a bit nervous.  They turned brilliantly purple!  Thank goodness I did.

So, here is the question for the batik-users out there:  Am I OK with one wash or do I need to wash them again?  How do I ensure they will not run when the final quilt is washed?  Are there tricks to working with these fabrics?  Any hints you may have are absolutely welcome.

As on any other Monday, I am linking up with Canoe Ridge and Sew Happy Geek linky parties.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

WIP Wednesday: What do you think?

It was a good week for project preparation, not so much for finished products.  That's alright, though.  There is always room for mulling over a new project.

Currently In Progress:
Lattice Illusions has been occupying my mind lately.  I love this quilt top, but am doubting my original plan. 

As many of you know, I do not have a design wall, but instead a design spare bed.  I was arranging my blocks last night into my original pattern, as photographed here without the borders.  My other half walked in, staggered and mumbled "My eyes!  My eyes!".  I get it - it's a lot to look at, but that's kind of the point.  You get lost in the pattern. 

He re-arranged them into three panels with a border between each set.  Hummm....I think I like his pattern more than my plan. 
So, I am looking for your thoughts.  Which pattern do you like more?  The solid block?  The panels?  I am still not convinced one way or the other and I re-arrange each time I walk by.  Which is your favorite?

Japanese Import Fabric Swap is moving along nicely. We have a few spots remaining, so if you are interested in joining in email me at fluffysheepquilting(at)gmail(dot)com.   You can page down to Monday's post for further detail if you are interested in learning more.  This is a swap modeled on that by Anne Marie of Gen X Quilters with her permission, but for folks in Ireland and the UK.
Birdie Stitches (hosted by Little Miss Shabby) is flying by (har, har, har).  I have finished three blocks, as you can see in yesterday's post, and have printed out the template for the May and June blocks.  Maybe you'll see another one finished by next Wednesday!

Lots of prep-work happened this week for the Community Quilt. I have my 1,300+ little 2 inch squares cut and sorted so that we'll have only 1 or 2 of each pattern. The remaining donated fabric will go to a pieced back.  I have the 500+ background pieces cut now, so it only remains to start piecing!  I am really excited to get this one going :)

Projects Starting Up
I cut fabric on Friday for the Irish Chain, but have not actually started to piece it.  Tetris and Fresh Flowers quilts are still sitting (I know, I know), waiting for me to pay attention.  Some day I will get around to starting in on them full force - I look forward to it!

As usual on a Wednesday, I am linking up with Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday, and Someday Crafts Whatever Goes Wednesday.  Have a look at these sites.  You are bound to find something new!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

One, Two, Three Little Birdies

Briefly, I picked out my fabric for the Japanese Import Fabric Swap!  It's pretty cute :) You can page down to yesterday's post for more information on the swap if you'd like to join in. 

Over the weekend I found blue and green embroidery floss!  I dove right in to finish my February and March Birdie Stitches blocks.  I'm very happy with how they turned out.  Embroidery is new to me, so I am still learning. I am confident with larger pieces like the birds and the rainbow, but need practice on the little hearts and flowers - really on anything small and round.  It will come with time.     So, here is February....

 And March....

I was pretty happy with my progress, so I started (and finished) April too.  It's fully stitched, but I still need to rinse off the water soluble marker, dry it and press.  You get the idea, though.

So fun!  I will print out January and May this week and I will be caught up in no time!

Head over to Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story. There is always something inspirational there....

Monday, June 20, 2011

Japanese Import Fabric Swap: Update

I am completely excited about our fabric swap!  It has been less than a week since it was announced and it is really starting to take a life of its own. 

In case you are just hearing of it now, the idea is this: each person will take 1 mtr of fabric and cut it into 56 charm squares and send it to me.  From them I will make up little charm packs with 2 squares of 28 different fabrics and return them to the participants.  Who wouldn't love a little pack of goodness in their post by mid-July?  I would!

We have 8 spaces remaining, so if you are interested in joining in, leave a comment below.  Oh, come know you want to!!  You can find more detail by visiting the original post if you are interested

Aren't these adorable!?!?  We created a Flickr group to share photos of the prints we bought.  Cute little bees and frogs, horses, a marching band, kimonos, elephants, parachutes and sewing machines.  What a great addition to our stashes! I am already day dreaming about what I will make :)

We have several bloggers participating in this swap.  I have really enjoyed peeking into each of their worlds.  You may too, so I listed their blogs here in random order.  Do stop by when you have a lazy minute.

Sheila highlights her projects at Blue Patch Quilter 
Lotti blogs at Lawson and Lotti
Mary write on Mary Emmens 
Eva is half of Pippa Blue in Galway with both a blog and a shop website
Sarah may be snoozing at Narcoleptic in a Cupboard  
Hadley is always posting something new and pretty at Flying Blind on a Rocket Cycle  
Irina blogs in two languages at El Petit Taller  
Linda writes Sew Nicely  
Karen is over at Lisnaweary Quilts 
Sarah always has something new at Fairy Face Designs
Fiona is ever creating at Patchwork Delights 
Katy has several blogs, but my fav is The Little Thistle Craft Shop 
Emily is just starting Strawberry Patch Ramblings  

This swap is based on one by Gen X Quilters with Annemarie's permission.  It was a great success!

As usual on this Monday, I am linking up with Manic Monday at Sew Happy Geek and Sew Modern Monday at Canoe Ridge Creations.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Friday Night Cut In

First off, happy Quilting In Public Day!  What are you doing to celebrate?  Are there events planned near you? 

Last night I participated in the Friday Night Sew In, but really it was my Friday Night Cut In.  I didn't even turn my sewing machine on.  Is that possible!?!?!?  Still, it was a really good night for me.  Here's the scoop:

It was a good night for me to spend a ton of time preparing for new projects.  I am not great at starting new projects (or large steps of existing projects) during the week, so I have to do do larger bits and pieces over the weekend in preparation for the week.  This was the prep night to end all prep nights.

I cut 80x2.5 inch strips from my new Kona White for the Braided Irish Chain that I would like to make with batiks.  The pattern calls for 2 natural (Kona White) jelly rolls and 1 patterned (batik here) jelly roll.  I'm too cheap to buy three jelly rolls for one quilt top, so I decided to cut my own.  There is more cutting to do subdividing the strips into smaller pieces, but this was a good start.

I also cut Kona Snow for the Community Quilt background, which really was my most rewarding accomplishment tonight.  There were 128 2x6.5 inch rectangles, 128 2x5 inch rectangles, 128 2x3.5 rectangles and 128 2x2 inch squares.  Whew!  Now, most importantly, I am ready to start piecing.  I am 100% excited!!!

That's the news.  I did not touch Lattice Illusions tonight only because I was having a love affair with my rotary cutter.  It is top on the list for tomorrow and I am really jazzed. 

If you have not already done so, I encourage you to link up with the next FNSI.  It is a great way to focus and accomplish a ton of sewing in one evening.  Hope you are all well!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Night Planning

Are you looking for our Japanese Import Fabric Swap?  You can page down or click here to register.  There are only a few spots left, so join in today!  It's going to be a great time :)

Tonight is the Friday Night Sew In and I am really looking forward to it.  I know every night could be a Sew In, but there's something special about calling it FNSI, anticipating the night of quilting and working out a plan that gets me all excited!  So, here is what is floating in my head. 

1. just after work run into town and get floss for Birdie Stitches
2. while in town, pick up my fabric for the Japanese Import Fabric Swap
3. cut my Kona solid fabric for the Community Quilt to start piecing this weekend
4. cut more Kona solid for the Irish Chain I'd like to start in the next week
5. piece what I can of Lattice Illusions to get the gazillion piles of blocks off the sewing table

OK, so it's more of a Friday Night Cut In, but that's important too, right?  Check back tomorrow for a progress update.  Happy stitching tonight!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wednesday Progress

It was a good week.  A weekend in the garden, dinner with friends and a little sewing.  Who could ask for more?  This week was especially filled with some really great starts.

In General Interest
Have you seen this article in the Daily Mail entitled Why Quilting Improves Your Health In Ways Even Exercise Can't Manage?  Its your best excuse for skipping the gym this week. 

As announced yesterday, I am starting a Japanese Import Fabric Swap.  This is a swap modeled on that by Anne Marie of Gen X Quilters with her permission, but for folks in Ireland and the UK.  About half of the placements are full, so sign up quickly if you are interested!  Just page down to yesterday's post and leave a comment to join.  Click quickly as spaces are filling rapidly! 

Currently In Progress
Birdie Stitches (hosted by Little Miss Shabby) has captured my heart and time this week.  I have been stitching the February and March blocks to get started.  They are adorable!  I am missing a blue, green and taupe floss to finish them off, but hopefully that will work out by next WIP Wednesday.  I may start the April block today...I am sorry they are so wrinkly, but I do not want to iron them for fear the water soluble marker becomes permanent.

The Community Quilt has not progressed hugely this week. I have to cut the background fabric, a task for my Friday Night Sew In. I have a good number of little 2 inch squares cut, so I have started to sort them to ensure one scrappy fabric is not over represented in the quilt.  It's little stacks of two on the left and singles on the right.  Do you see your fabric in there?  If not, it's in the next bin that I am sorting and cutting...don't fret :)

You would not notice a huge change in Lattice Illusions, but I have been making more blocks and ironing to ensure the points are sharp at each block junction. I had a mile-high stack of individual blocks on my sewing table, so I decided to start piecing the center of the top even though I still need to make 12-15 center blocks to finish.  I just had to see something move forward instead of repeating myself again...and again...and again.  I love this quilt.  It will be the focus of my next Friday Night Sew In.

Projects Starting Up
I have not touched the Irish Chain, Tetris or Fresh Flowers this week to keep myself focused.  They are all so bright and colorful I am dying to jump in, but really I need to get another project finished before starting these.  They are the carrots (or Oreos really) at the end of my long, long stick.

As usual on a Wednesday, I am linking up with Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday, and Someday Crafts Whatever Goes Wednesday.  Have a look at these sites.  You are bound to find something new!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Japanese Fabric Import Swap: Ireland

Do you love those cute little Japanese prints?  We all do!  Want to play along in a centralized swap?  Well join us!  

For the 1 meter of super-cute Japanese print fabric you contribute, you will get a diverse charm pack in return.  What a great way to add a bit of splash and color to your next project or brighten your stash!

Let me start describing the swap by giving credit where credit is due.  This swap is heavily based on one organized by Anne Marie from Gen X Quilters, reproduced here with her permission.  Do jump over and see what a great success it was!

To play, each swap participant will contribute 1 meter of imported Japanese fabric (unwashed and 100% cotton).  Be sure you choose a print that will suit 5 inch squares, so a large print may not be your best option.

You will cut the fabric into fifty-six 5 inch x 5 inch squares using Elizabeth Hartman's method before sending it to me.  Wrap the fabric in a plastic baggie for protection and pop it in the mail.  Once the charm squares have arrived, I will sort them and return a charm pack to you filled with great variety.  What fun in your mail box!   Include also a little note with your name, mailing address and email address on the front.  On the reverse, record the fabric manufacturer and the print name and color when appropriate.  Include also a self-addressed envelope so I can return the charm pack to you. 

I will ask that you pay for the postage of your return package by Pay Pal before I ship your charm pack to you.  I am estimating the cost of shipping to be 2.70 euro within Ireland and 3.50 euro to the UK, but we can test it before the swap actually begins. 

Sign up starts today and will close when 28 people have registered.  It's really easy to join in...just leave a comment below.  Be sure you are not a No Reply Blogger or be sure to include your email in your comment.  Sign up will close on 30 June or when we have reached 28 participants.   If 30 June comes and we have not reached 28 participants, we can shrink the swap to match the number of entrants (i.e. 14 people and 1/2 meter of fabric, etc).  Charms must be mailed to me by 20 July for their return to you the 2nd week of August.

Participation is limited to folks in Ireland and the UK only.  I created a Flickr group for us here and there's a button on the right of the Fluffy Sheep Quilting home page that I encourage you to take.  Please spread the word - the more folks who join, the more fabric you get!  I suggest you post a photo of your fabric in our Flickr group so we can avoid duplicate prints.  Check the Flickr group to see what other folks purchased before going on your shopping spree!

Come on, join in!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Birdie Stitches: February and March

Friday was hair day.  We all love hair day, don't we?  A nice little trim and a new color will make anyone happy.  As looking this nice takes quite a long time sitting in a chair, I thought I would bring my Birdie Stitches blocks to embroider.  I ran to the fabric store (a generic blah chain) to pick out my floss, but could only find a pink, orange, yellow and brown to match the block fabric.  You have to start somewhere, right?

As a side note, the lovely woman who makes me pretty at the hair shop claims to have seen people do homework, hem pants, eat lunch, paint their nails, etc while getting a hair cut, but my embroidery was a first for her.  Maybe I will turn her into a quilter yet!

Anyway....Over the weekend I managed to finish what I could of the March block and get a good start on the February block.  I need green, blue and taupe/gray/brown floss to really finish them off. 

In case you can not see the markings, the February block (on the left) has two little love birds smooching.  The March block has a little birdie under a rainbow.  They are really adorable.   Once they are finished, I will remove the water soluble marking pen, iron them to really make them crisp and post close-up photos.

Today I am linking up with Canoe Ridge Creations' Sew Modern Monday and Sew Happy Geek's Manic Monday.  Have a look at the other blogs linking up!  There is always something there to brighten your day!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Today...I Fell in Love

Oh, no.  I did not meet someone new.  My first Kona Solids color card arrived in the mail from Hancock's of Paducah!  Now, I heard about cards like this from podcasters, but I have never seen one before.  I am swept away.

I have been looking for solids to insert into several quilts I am planning.  I have limited fabric stores near by to browse, so I turn to online vendors for several solid Konas by Robert Kaufman.  However, when you view fabrics online, you are at the mercy of the vendor.  You never know if their photos are true reflections of the fabric color.  So, a Kona color card seemed like a smart idea.  I absolutely love it, and would suggest anyone in a similar situation pick one up too (unless you're in Galway...then you can borrow mine). 

Do you have a reference like this that you use?  Are there similar products out there that I should also check out?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Quiet WIP Wednesday

It has been a slow week, so this will be a short post.  I have been off enjoying long weekends and playing in my garden instead of sewing.  You understand, right?

Currently In Progress
Birdie Stitches (hosted by Little Miss Shabby) is moving along!  It took me a while to get the fabric organized and cut, but I now have my 12 blocks made and ready for embroidering (right photo to highlight the fabrics).  I am really happy that this project is coming along and I can not wait to pick out my embroidery floss!

I am cutting like crazy to create squares for the Community Quilt, as you can see in yesterday's post.  I have more than enough cut now to get started, but I will have to continue to cut little 2 inch squares as the project progresses.  I ordered Kona Snow online to use as the background and it has just arrived in the post.  I will start cutting that next! 

Lattice Illusions is getting a little repetitive.  I am completely happy with the pattern and the fabrics, but these blocks are time consuming.  I am still making strip sets to cut the little individual squares (4 of which create a 8 inch block).  I am trying to be persistent as I am truly enjoying it, but its a bit slow.

Projects Starting Up
In my Kona Snow box at the post office is also the background Kona White for my batik Irish Chain and my Fresh Flowers jelly roll quilt (photo left).  Once I get to the post office, I will have all of my fabric and my patterns to get started.  I may be a bit delusional here, but I keep thinking these are "quick" quilts.  Maybe I should finish off one of the ongoing projects before jumping in on either of these. 

As usual on a Wednesday, I'm linking up with Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday, but this week I am also going to jump in at Polka Dots on Parade Wow Me Wednesday and Someday Crafts Whatever Goes Wednesday.  Have a look at these sites.  You're bound to find something new!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Back on Track!

I am finished with my Birdie Stitches blocks!  No, I have not embroidered them, but I have made the 12 blocks required for the quilt.  Now I can start embroidering once I choose my floss.  I am 6 months late in jumping into this project, but I am so very happy to participate.  As I mentioned in my Fairy Face Designs Summer Sewing Plans post, I would like to have the June, July and August blocks finished before the end of the summer along with 2 from January to May.  Fingers crossed! 

I have also been cutting up the generously donated Community Quilt fabric.  Its a great way to kind-of quilt while watching a movie.  I have never seen so many 2 inch squares!  I have a good number cut now, so I hope to start piecing soon.  This is so very exciting!

I am participating in Fabric Tuesday over at Quilt Story, and Sew Cute Tuesday at Creative Itch so hop over there to see what other bloggers are doing today.  You will certainly find something inspirational!

Monday, June 6, 2011

June Bank Holiday Weekend

Today is a holiday in Ireland, so we took the opportunity to make the best of the weekend.  It's been busy, but with very little quilting.  I'll fill you in...

I went to Bloom on Saturday with a friend and we had a FANTASTIC time. If you live in Ireland and like flowers or gardens, do make a point of heading to Bloom next year. This exhibit, held in Phoenix Park, mixes together vendors of indoor and outdoor plants and garden accessories with small enterprise food, and exhibition gardens (flower and kitchen). I bought more seeds than I know what to do with (flowers, veg and herbs) and two plants: a lemon balm and this lovely geum (above).  Poppies were popular this year, jumping up all over the place.  They make me so happy! 

We then went up to Clifden on the Connemara cost to camp. It was an absolutely spectacular site next to the sea, but it was awfully cold!  I know several folks are podcasting and blogging about the warm summer weather, but Galway is always a bit behind. 

I brought fabric to cut and my cutting boards, rulers, etc but chose instead to explore sea critters instead of quilt. 

I was missing quilting, though, so I decided to sit in my hammock and read last month's Quilter's Home.  I'm not sure you understand how cold it is in June on the Connemara cost, but this self-portrait will give you an idea :)


I have a few hours free tonight, so I will absolutely break out the fabric and start sewing. I hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend, too!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Birdie Stitches: Making Blocks!

I am participating in the Birdie Stitches quiltalong hosted by Little Miss Shabby.  I am very late in jumping in, but am excited none the less.  When you look at the supply list, there are several items suggested with varying degrees of fabric left over.  To look cute, you want several types of fabrics in each block, so using a charm pack or jelly roll is attractive.  Little Miss Shabby was really great in giving her supply description: jelly rolls will leave some left over material while charm packs may be better suited.

Anyway, I chose a jelly roll thinking I could use the leftovers for binding or piecing the back.  Earlier this week I cut the 240 little 2.5 inch squares required and pieced them into 120 pairs.  Tonight I will make 4-block or 6-block strips to piece around the solid cream center to the block (which still needs to be cut).  With any luck by tomorrow night I will have my 12 blocks made and ready for stitching!

Are you participating in Birdie Stitches too?  What block are you on?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What's In Your Closet?

I was digging through my Mom's closet for a sleeping bag this weekend and what did I find?  QUILTS!  My mom is not a quilter, but is a great appreciator and supporter of quilting.  It really does not surprise me to find quilts hiding in there, but I was awfully happy to take them out and have a good look!  I was not a quilter when I lived at home, so to look at these again with new eyes was fun.

She bought these in the early 1970s. They are hand stitched and hand quilted and are absolutely spectacular.  I pasted below images of the entire quilt, a close-up to show the fabric and an image of the back to show the quilting.  I wish there were labels attached to get more information, but no luck.   I thought you may like to have a peek too.  Enjoy!

Thanks to my Dad and brother for modeling the quilts.  They thought I lost my marbles when I asked them to hold these out in the back yard.  They are good sports, though :)

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