Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sew & Bee Happy: March Block

Whew!  Just in the last second I pull through with my Sew & Bee Happy block.  This month as been so full of travel, it has been difficult for me keeping up with the 4 bees I am in.  Still, here in the last day of March, I can say I did indeed make them all during the assigned month.

March's block in Sew & Bee Happy was a log cabin-style scrappy hexagon block made with this tutorial by Lee of Freshly Pieced.  This is a great block for scraps.

It looks a little wonky here, but it's honestly not.  Or at least that wasn't my intention...

When finished this quilt will be a baby quilt, so the bright, happy colors are just perfect.

Off to start in on April's blocks!

(PS: Hadley, I know what you're's Cindy posting on a weekend.  Not any weekend, but the last weekend with the last day of the month.  She must be boosting her Blogger stats.  Honestly, it's not true!    Just trying to get my bee blocks done as I promised in my Winter Stitching Goals! xx)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Beginner's Patchwork Sampler Quilt

As you know, I'm teaching a beginner's patchwork class at Pippablue on Wednesday nights.  Like any normal teacher, I'm barely just ahead of the class making my blocks barely in time to use them in the class as examples.  Well, I have finally finished all 9 of my sampler blocks.  Want to see what they look like on the design board?

We tried to do 3 for each lesson.  Three squares (square in a square, disappearing nine patch and a pogo stick block) to get the main concept of cutting, piecing, squaring.  Then there were three triangle blocks (pinwheels, sawtooth star, starflower) followed by three wonky or improv blocks (LOVE block, wonky star and wonky log cabin).   The point was to give the students the basic skills they need and introduce them to both traditional and modern piecing.  So far so good! 

Next we'll tackle the sashing, layering and backing.  I'm totally excited!  I have to test out a few different sashing color options before Wednesday :)      

What's next to this on the design board, you ask?  Well, blocks have started arriving from Sew Bee Blissful for my Electronica quilt.  They're looking great!  

Tonight I need to add a bit of dark brown and green to the one block on the bottom left, and a bit of pink to another Sew Bee Blissful block.  It's taking shape now, which is very exciting!  I love the individual personality in each block, but the unified colors seem to pull them all together.  Here's hoping at least!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sunshine = Happiness

It is so unbelievably beautiful outside today I can not bare to be inside sewing or blog reading and writing.  So, I will just leave you with this bit of happiness that I made this afternoon for tonight's class at Pippablue.  The sunshine has made me so happy today I wanted to make a block filled with happiness and cheer.  Did I capture the day?  Here's hoping!  We're doing a bit of improv piecing using wonky stars, wonky log cabins and scrappy letters later tonight.  Can't wait!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Stargazing Top Finished!

I finished my Stargazing top!  Finished I say!  Want to see it?

This was made with the Stargazing pattern from the Modern Blocks book combined with wonky stars from the Silly BooDilly tutorial.  The wide majority of the blocks were made by my Sew & Bee Happy international scrap bee, giving me a huge variety in the fabrics used.  Thanks, ladies!

It's 6 ft square, so the perfect size for me to use on the couch watching a film.

Clarkson, of course, had to inspect it a bit.  Never mind the fact he's been staring at it for 3 months now in the quilt room.  Here on the line it's again interesting.

Some of you might notice your stars are missing.  Please don't be concerned!  I saved several that I really liked grouped together for the back of the quilt and/or matching pillows. 

I was out shooting photos of Stargazing while these (not so little) fellas were out having dinner.  They didn't seem all that impressed with my quilt top.

So here is the question I am wrestling with right now.  Quilting.  Not how it will be quilted as that was decided long ago.  I want to quilt it with invisible thread using a wave pattern like Fiona used here and here.  I think it would break up the straight lines nicely.  What I am wondering is, will I do it or will I send it out to a pro?  Here's my thinking: 

** I have been jonesing for a finish for quite some time.  I have not finished a quilt in ages as I've been focused on classes, smaller projects, bees and swaps.  Is a "quick finish" what I need to be re-invigorated?

** I really do not like quilting at all.  She does.  Why do I "suffer" through that step?

** I have been saving up my pennies to send it out to a I have a little budget set aside.

** This has been rolling around in my head for months and it still seems like a good idea.  Usually the bad ones are discarded by now.

** But if I send it out, is it still my quilt?  Can I say I made it?

Have you guys sent a quilt out before?  What were your feelings about it?  Was it still yours when it returned?  Or why have you not used a long arm quilter before?  Any thoughts, guys?

Monday, March 26, 2012


I was in the US last weekend to see my family.  We had a fantastic weekend together walking the streets of Boston on a food tour, making pasta (actually from scratch!) for our dinner, lingering chats over home made ice cream and walks in the woods.  It was absolutely spectacular.

There was a point Friday morning that my SIL and I found ourselves alone.  What to do, what to do?  Well, run to JP Knit and Stitch, obviously!

I went a little haywire.  Want to see what returned to Ireland with me?  I'm a little embarrassed to show you all of this, but I keep telling myself it's OK since I haven't bought fabric in 3 months time.  That's what I'm telling myself anyway....

Right.  I needed more decaying leaf green and stinky brown to finish off my blocks for the Sew Bee Blessed quilt.  I think I'll call this quilt Electronica, but I'm still mulling that over.  Anyway, I bought a bit of Kona Kelly and Sable to finish off those blocks.  Boring, but necessary.

Then my attention turned to the lovely selection of prints.  I just need stash building beauties in aqua, purple and yellow.  These fit the bill!  Here we have (from left to right) Tufted Tweets by Laurie Wisbrun, So St Croix by Jennifer Paganelli, Hopscotch by Daniel Walker Studios, and finally another Tufted Tweets by Laurie Wisbrun.  They make me so happy!  

I picked up 5 prints of Echo to compliment the six I have in my stash.  There's more than enough here to plan a project using these prints.  I just have to decide if I want to use them all together or just smatter them into "scrappy" quilts.  It's something nice to daydream about, anyway.

I have also recently noticed that my FQ stash is lacking in true, honest, full-colored prints.  I have lost of patterns of color printed on a neutral background, but very few that are making a true colorway stand.  So, I picked up 4 FQs to spruce up my purple, blue, red and green stash.

 I have also been imagining a baby quilt for a little boy whose dad loves to race motorbikes.  I thought the mini-version would be fun with scooters.  I have long been eyeing up the Monoco line by Monaluna as it's perfect for this job.  So, I stocked up on two of my favorite prints.  That little man just may get his quilt sooner rather than later!
 These were just cute.  I have not seen this print by Dan Stiles for Birch Fabric before, so it had to come home with me.  It's totally frivolous.  I love it, I love it, I love it.

And of course there was a FQ bundle.  This was by Ann Kelle called Garden Colors.  Won't it make a great girly baby quilt?  It's a bit 80's preppy which is so very attractive to me right now.

Finally, there were pre-cuts.  These are incredibly hard to come by in Ireland.  I splashed out on Pezzy Print to stock up on blending charm squares.  These are great for "scrappy" quilts.  I also bought A Stitch in Color to use with the jelly roll scraps Di sent over as part of Mouthy Stitches.  I have a quilt in mind for the jelly roll-charm pack combo that will be started this summer.  Yum!  

Finally, you'll notice a little charm pack of Walk in the Woods.  If you know me at all, I'm not a big Walk in the Woods or Pips fan.  Now, I think that might be because I had never seen them in person.  Boy, these are indeed cute up close!  I might be a convert....

Anyway, I return home to a package from Emily of the Strawberry Patch!  Emily organized a rainbow charm square swap.  I jumped in as quickly as possible...actually jumped in twice.  I gave in a purple and a red print, and received in return two charm packs-worth of rainbow happy goodness.  

Yum.  Well, clearly I have to stop typing as quickly as possible and get to sewing!  Hope you guys had a great weekend too :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Beginner's Patchwork Class: Week 2

This week we had three ladies (and one 10 week old little girl) in our Beginner's Patchwork Class at Pippablue.  If you remember, we conquered piecing squares (nine patches and square in a square) in last week's class.   The square in a square block was homework.  We had one gorgeous one return to class for us all to ooh and ahh over!

Vicki's square in a square

This week was then dedicated to several methods of piecing half square triangles. Again, they did a fabulous job!  Want to see what we created?  We started off with pinwheel blocks.  A tried and true block that can easily be spiced up with modern fabric.

Cindy's pinwheel

Rachel's pinwheel

Gina's pinwheel

Vicki's pinwheel

We then went on to the spiced-up traditional sawtooth star to work on piecing flying geese units.  Only one was completed in class.  I'm sure we will see the other two next week.  They were nearly finished with the flying geese when it was time to pack up and go home.

Vicki's sawtooth star

And for homework, they'll have a Star of Le Moine (or recently re-dubbed the Starflower).  It's so similar to the pinwheel block I'm sure they'll be flying through these.

Cindy's Star of Le Moine
Next week we're going wonky and doing a little improv.  I think we're all looking forward to breaking free!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Name Tag Swap

I am heading to London for the Fat Quarterly retreat this June.  I am so over the moon excited about this trip I can not tell you.  I will save my gushing for a post closer to the big day.

To get to know a few folks attending, I signed up for the Name Tag Swap on flickr.  Luckily, I have been assigned the most fab partner ever!  I can not wait to create something great for her.

So, I started searching for a little inspiration on flickr.

1. My Name Tag for Sew It Together yay!, 2. Sewing Summit name tag, 3. Name Tag for the Sewing Summit, 4. DSCN3107.jpg, 5. Hello, my name is..., 6. Name Tag!, 7. my PMQG name tag!, 8. Name tag for STLMQG, 9. name tag for sewing summit 
There are so many great examples out there to draw inspiration.  I love the hand stitching in "Mandy" and "Amy".  I love the colors in "Diane", "Faith", "Susan", "Lynne" and "Jeni".  I love the attention to the blog in "Jennifer", "Faith" and "Kate".  

Here is the question, do you guys have a favorite style?  What would you want in a name tag?  What floats your boat when it come to a name tag?  Careful what you might just find yourself walking around London with it strapped to your front!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bee Blessed March Block

For the past few months of Bee Blessed we've been choosing our own blocks and Judith (and friends) have been making sampler quilts of our contributions.  Not this month!  She's spicing it up with a little Pippi Longstocking block.

This was a great block for me as I am getting more and more interested in improvisational piecing.

I tried to make her look a bit like I would like to look.  She has dark brown hair with whisps of "blonde" that are really grey.  I would love, love, love to have a dress made from this gorgeous fabric and would absolutely adore tights of yellow polka dots.  Now, would I ever dare to wear it all outside at once?  Most likely no.  But each piece would make me really happy on its own.

She used to have shoes :(  They were lost in the squaring of the center block to 8 1/2 inches square.  That's OK.  I would rather be barefoot anyway!

Hope you like her Judith!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Do.Good Stitches March Block

I am in love with this block.  Love it, love it, love it!

This was our CARE circle's Do.Good Stitches block.  It was requested by Kat of Diary of a Flutter Kat to be donated to her local charity, Blankets of Love.  I really like what Kat does with this group, so this is not my first contribution.

We used Kat's tutorial, but modified it to use 5 inch blocks instead of 4 inch.  This made each block nearly large enough to be a baby quilt of its own.

I tried to use blues, greens, purples; all boy-ish colors.  I always feel bad for the little guys as we girly quilters tend to flock to reds, pinks, yellows in our scrap piles and create feminine quilts.  So, this one is for the little men out there who need a little help keeping warm.

Thanks for organizing this month, Kat!  I really enjoyed this one.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Patchwork Class: Week 1

I was super lucky to be asked to teach a beginner's patchwork class at Pippablue here in Galway.  How exciting!  What a great adventure! Here's how it was advertised:

"Learn to create a variety of blocks, which combine together to create a beautiful quilt. Over this 5-week course, you will learn the basics of patchwork and quilting, with an emphasis on modern design."

Can I do that?  Here's hoping!  Well, with a few weeks of preparation, class started earlier this week.  We have 5 people enrolled.  The ladies were super nice, funny, creative and ready for a laugh.  Each has her own very distinct style, making this all the more fun.

The idea is to tackle a skill each week making 2 blocks in the class and one as homework.  After 3 weeks we'd have a nice baby quilt sized sampler that we can sash, layer, quilt and bind in weeks 4 and 5.  

Each person has used a sewing machine before.  Some made clothes, others have dabbled in quilts, but we are generally starting at the beginning.  We started off with choosing fabrics (discussing contrasting but complimenting colors, print scale, etc) and accurate cutting and pressing.  I thought maybe this week would focus on squares.  How about your classic nine patch to get basic piecing skills, nesting seams, accurate cutting skills, etc.  That seemed OK, but a little boring.  How about a disappearing nine patch instead?  Sounds great!

We used the tutorial by Judith of Just Jude to make these pretties:

Don't they look great for their first quilt blocks?  Look at those matching points!  I'm so pleased with how well they did....more importantly I think they were too!

Homework is a square in a square based on a Fresh Lemons tutorial:

Next week is triangles.  This is so exciting!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mouthy Stitches Delight

Woo hoo!  Woo hoo!  I have just received the most fantastic pouch ever from the Mouthy Stitches Swap!

My super top secret partner was Di of Random Thoughts...Do or "Di"....and she rocks.  If you have not been to visit her blog before, hop on over there!  She makes the most gorgeous quilts and always gives a nice glimpse into what she's got cooking or what is happening with her family.  Get on over there and give it a read :)

Want to see my most beautiful pouch?  Well it came in a great big box....

and when I opened it there was a little card peeking out at me.... was a sassy one!  Can you read it?  "Always wear a thong. It's the perfect excuse for never carrying cash."  Genius!

Di even played Easter bunny and sent a pile of deliriousness!  It's nearly all gone already!  Who ever thought of dipping marshmallow peeps in chocolate deserves a promotion.

Inside there was a little package wrapped in gorgeous ribbon holding the nicest little skein of twine!  I can't wait to use it to wrap a little gift!

What's inside?  Scraps!!!!  Yum yum yum!!!!  I love Malka Dubrawsky's A Stitch In Color line, but it never made its way to Ireland....until now!  I can not wait to start sewing with these pieces of gorgeousness.

But really, you want to see the pouch, don't you.  Look!  Look at this!

Squeeee!  I am so in love.  I love this Melody Miller print.  I love the purple zip with the charm.  I love the piecing down the sides.  I love its size and that it's boxy and can stand on its own.  Love it, love it, love it.   The back is also Melody Miller Ruby Star Rising.

Inside there are four of the cutest little pockets I've ever seen!  I stuffed them with fabric, of course :)

Di, thank you.  Thank you so very much for your thoughtfulness in designing this pouch, the care you put into stitching it and the energy you put into making the delivery just so much fun.  Thank you, Di!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bird's Nests? Argh!!!

I was off skiing last week in the French Alps. It was SPECTACULAR, but I missed my sewing machine.  As soon as I returned home, I was itching to start quilting my Community Quilt.

I had 45 minutes of gorgeous quilting, but then started to hear grinding.  That's never good.  Being the idiot that I am, I continued on with the line I had already started.  When I flipped it over, I found this:

What?!?!?  What is that?  The top looks just fine.  Nice even stitches.  On the underside I have these huge loops.  What are they?  What is making them?  How do I make it stop?  

You can even see the row I did right before this nasty one.  Nice, pert little stitches.

I googled it, as we all would.  The few references I could find say that it's a result of the bobbin not being threaded properly.  So, I ripped all of the thread out of the bobbin, rewound it and tried it again.  For good measure, I cleaned the lint out of the bobbin case and under the throat plate.  

But still, I have nasty loops (and now a lot of unpicking to do....)! Now you can see the bobbin thread is even breaking  a bit in the red sections.

Can anyone tell me what is making my machine to this when it was completely fine the row before?  How do I fix this?  Help, guys!

(PS: I am so sorry for the dark photos...took them in desperation at 9PM at night.  Never a good idea...)

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