Monday, April 30, 2012

Sew Bee Blissful April Block

I love, love, love the April Sew Bee Blissful block!  This month's queen bee, Caroline, choose the perfect fabrics for us to play with.

We each made two blocks, as scrappily (is that a word?) as possible.

Isn't it yummy?  It took a bit of time getting each HST trimmed to 3.5 inches, but I could imagine a whole quilt top could come together pretty quickly if you just dedicated an evening in front of the TV trimming, then a day or so piecing.  Anyway, I am really looking forward to seeing her finished top!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Winter Stitching Wrap Up

I missed you guys!  I fell of the face of the planet for a week there, but I am hoping life gets back to normal this week.  How better to re-join blogging than by checking projects off the ever growing to-do list?  As you know, I was yet another list maker joining in with FairyFace Design’s Winter Stitching Goals List.  I find things like this to be completely helpful in giving me direction when I am overwhelmed.  To keep the list moving along, I also just joining in with Rhonda's Finish Along....and so far it's working!

Birdie Stitches: Finish the Quilt Top
Done!  I finished my Birdie Stitches top and sent it over to Elisa so she can layer, quilt and bind it for use in her house.  You can hear the whole story here, but in the end I'm super happy to have expanded my embroidery skills and thrilled that Elisa has a quilt she likes.  Win-win.

Brother’s Mixer Cover: Finish it as a Christmas Gift
Done!  I was lucky enough to visit this little mixer cover in my brother's pantry this past march and it's lookin' pretty cute there next to the ice cream maker!  

Sister-In-Law’s Bag: Finish it as a Christmas Gift
Well, I finished a bag, not THE bag.  This 241 Tote was her Christmas gift that was delayed until 2012 as the fabric took nearly 8 weeks to arrive from the states!  Eek!  So, I had to giver her an IOU under the tree.  Anyway, we're both thrilled with this finish.  My mom has already asked for one for herself!  

Blankets of Love: Finish Two Tops, Two Backs, Two Bindings
Done. I really like what Kat is doing with her local organization, so I tried to chip in.  I wanted to make two quilts for her, but the shipping would be nuts given the weight of the batting.  So, I made two tops, two backs and two bindings and Kat assembled and quilted our quilts.  It was my first time doing a DP, which then included a huge learning curve, but I got there eventually!

There was even a third quilt top made as part of our Do. Good Stitches CARE circle!

Bees: Contribute On Time
Done.  I'm in four bees now, a list that is quickly growing to six. I am still completely in love with them.  Let's be honest, though.  I think I've hit the maximum number of bees I can contribute to in any given month.  I won't bore you with all of the photos, of the blocks made, but if you hop over to my flickr page you can see them all!

Swaps: Finish Two Swaps
Done.  I finished my Modern Christmas Table Runner swap with Susan of Canadian Abroad.  Doing just this one project has kicked me off on the table runner path and there have been several more since: one for my Mom, one as a PIF, and one for my SIL!  Oh, Susan, the slippery slope you've put me on!

I also co-organized the Mouthy Stitches swap with Susan and Hadley, which was great fun.  It was my first pouch, first zip, first time organizing a HUGE number of lovely ladies.  We had a great time!  I made this pouch for my partner...and again several more since! 

Quilts: Finish Mod Logs, the Community Quilt and Start Chaos and Scrappy Stars
I fell down a bit in this category.  Mod logs is finished and used every day in our house.

The Community Quilt and Chaos are going no where fast.  They're now officially UFOs...I have to do something about that ASAP.

Scrappy Stars has morphed into Stargazing.  The top and back are finished and off with the lovely Trudi to get quilted.  I can't wait to see what she creates!

International Quilt Festival of Ireland: Finish Cúchulainn 
Done! I am quite happy to have Cúchulainn  finished it and handed it to the festival organizers.

Guest Post: Write One
Done!  I was super excited to contribute to Sarah's tutorial series by submitting a notebook tutorial.  It was my first tutorial...and it took WAY longer than I thought it would.  Still, I love these little cuties!

Off to link up with Sarah.  Hop on over and see what everyone else created this past winter!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Have Clearly Lost My Mind

Have you noticed the insanity?  It has been creeping up on me!

I went to my quilt guild meeting on Saturday morning.  I usually bring just 5 euro so I have a little money in my pocket for tea and a biscuit.  Any more and I am tempted to buy fabric (that I don't need) or rotary blades from the pop-up shop that is always at the meeting.

This weekend was different.

Immediately after the guild meeting this week I had to run home, shower, pretty up and head right to a friend's wedding.  Dangerously, I had stopped at the bank machine before going to the guild meeting just so I was ready to head directly to the wedding and errands wouldn't hold me up.

You see what's coming, right?

Well, the temptation was WAY TOO HUGE and I spent some of my wedding money on fabric.  Oh, the shame!

I bought eleven (ELEVEN!?!?) fat quarters of Stitched in Color.  I just love this line of fabric.  You would know as you have already seen me drool over it here and here.  I now have so much of it that I need a serious plan.  How do I use gorgeous jelly roll scraps, fat quarters AND a charm pack in one project?  Is this really three?  Eeek!  I need a plan.  I was thinking of granny squares....

Rest assured I did go back to the bank and took out more money.  (No bride was harmed in the writing of this post.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Strawberry Sweetness

The super awesome Emily from the Strawberry Patch has recently celebrated her 100th (fabulous) blog post with an adorable zippy pouch give away.  I, of course, immediately jumped in waving my hand wildly....Pick me!  Pick me!

I was lucky enough to win!  Want to see the awesome pouch Emily made?  I can not wait to show you!

Is it not fantastic?  I am so in love! I love the dotty red and blue. It makes me happy.  The text print fabric is just delicious.  And what's more, the entire back is speaking to me!

And inside there's more of that cute little blue print.  Yippee!!

And that's not all!  Emily was also super duper generous and gave away a set of her earrings.  Emily made these herself!  How cool.

And, of course, yummy scraps.  I've been coveting that little sheep print for a long while.  For now I'm super happy to just pet these and re-arrange them....I wonder what I'll make?

Emily, you are fantastic.  Thank you so very much.  I am completely delighted with this pretty package.  If you, FSQ readers, have not met Emily yet, hop over to her blog and say hi today!  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Cúchulainn Finish!

Cúchulainn is done!  Cúchulainn is done! 

I have been stitching (or just staring) at Cúchulainn for several months now.  I am THRILLED to tell you that this project is officially finished and handed over to the International Quilt Festival of Ireland organizers in time for the June exhibit.  

This project was many firsts for me.  First time with batiks, first applique, first hanging sleeve, first binding of the quilt with the top, first bit of quilting fun.  I have learned a whole bunch through this process, being taught along the way buy the ladies at the Irish Patchwork Society at our post-meeting sew-ins.  Although this has allowed me to grow as a quilter, I am certainly glad to see it handed off.  

I would very much like to add in more quilted waves when it returns to me in June.  I would like to add more texture to the background and that might do the trick.  

Cúchulainn has possibly the ugliest quilt back that has ever been created.  You see, at our society meeting this past autumn, we cut backs for each of the 20 panels going into this exhibition.  Sadly, I ended up with one that was too short, so I had to paste on another piece of "scrap" material.  Since I was generally short on backing, I was then also short on material to make the hanging sleeve.  So, again I dipped into the "scrap" bin.  Where better to have a bit of brown than on the back, I say?  After the hanging sleeve was applied, it was discovered that the panels will hang better with a second hanging sleeve to take a weight at the bottom....and another dip into the scrap bin.  In the end, it's a totally functional back for the purpose of this quilt - to hang from a banister a story above the registration desk at a festival.  It will be perfectly fine.  Not pretty, but fine.

A little label with all the, designer, stitcher, event and contact details.  I need to order more Fluffy Sheep Quilting labels, but honestly that never occurred to me as I was finishing this quilt.  So, this temporary one went on instead.  It will be replaced this summer.  For good measure, I added a little Fluffy Sheep business card tag...just in case it gets really lost

My other half is simply thrilled with it and is ready to start hanging it in our stairwell where we have a large, empty blank wall.  It would fill the space nicely and echo the color of the wood well.  I will have to see how well the second round of quilting comes on before truly agreeing!

This is my first Finish Along finish of the quarter.  Woo hoo!

Quilt stats: 
Quilt name: Cúchulainn 
Made for: the International Quilt Festival of Ireland exhibit in June 2012.  to be displayed with 19 similar panels created by the Irish Patchwork Society (Western Branch) members.
Top: batiks appliqued with bond-a-web and satin stitched in black 100% polyester (*gasp*) thread.
Batting: warm and natural
Backing: a generic muslin
Quilting: with three colors of Coats 100% polyester thread in a wavy pattern
Size: 41 inches by 70 inches 
Design: Irish Patchwork Society (Western Branch) committee members.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tweet Tweet!

Are you on twitter?  I am!!  I joined in the fun as @FluffySheepQuil.  If you would like to, you can follow me using the little button on the right hand side of the blog.  Chance are I will follow you back!

Since I have ABSOLUTELY no idea what I am doing on Twitter, I quickly (like 15 minutes after joining...) ran to my friend Laura Jane for help.  She was kind enough to write a guest post telling me all about it.  Want to learn with me?  Teach us, LJ!  xx

So, Cindy asked me to do a little “Twitter 101” for you, her readers, after I helped her out settling into twitter. I wouldn’t say I was an expert; in fact I’ve not even been using twitter very long. Well, actually, that’s a lie. I got a twitter account years ago, but I followed, and was followed by, 3 people. My then Boyfriend, my Bestie, and my Dad. I thought, “What’s the point?!” I could just text any interesting life updates to my Bestie, or discuss it in person with the other two. So I didn’t tweet very much, if at all.

Fast forward to a month or so ago and I thought I’d give it another whirl, it seemed like something all the cool kids were doing, and I wanted in. In the short space of time I’ve been using it, I have tweeted 956 times, found 149 people to follow and am followed by 103. (This is not bragging. In twitter terms, I’m a bit of noob. I know people with upwards of 36,000 tweets. Yes @imagingermonkey, I’m looking at you… )

I’ll start by explaining the main twitter-isms, hopefully in a way that makes sense to all, and then give you a bit of an overview on how I personally see and use twitter. K?

Twitter is, at its core, a social networking site. You follow people you think are interesting, or are friends with, or who post funny tweets. You can also follow celebrities (authors, film stars, TV personalities, FABRIC DESIGNERS etc) or themed tweet accounts. When you follow someone, their tweets will be displayed in a stream on your home screen. You don’t necessarily have to know the person to follow their tweets.

-Character limit
When you tweet, your message is limited to 140 characters. This is based on the length of one standard sms message. Bear in mind if you are replying to someone, or a group of people, their user names will take up some of those characters. NB: Twitter will automatically shorten any web links you put in your tweet.

-Reply vs Mention
If you start a tweet with a user name, eg “@laurajane7789 I think you’re really cool” it is classed as a reply. Only people that follow both you and the person you are replying to will see this tweet in their stream. If you put the user name anywhere else in the message i.e. “I think @laurajane7789 is the coolest gal in town” it is classed as a mention. Anyone following you will see it in their stream.

To retweet a message is to pass it on to your followers, like a techy version of Chinese whispers. Twitter will automatically add the text “RT:” to the beginning of the message, and you can add some text to the beginning or end of the message as desired. Let’s say Cindy, @FluffySheepQuil, tweeted this “Showing a quilt at the Ireland modern quilt guild today!”, I might go ahead and retweet it to my followers because I thought it was interesting, or I wanted to get the word out to people who may not necessarily follow Cindy. I might add a little message when I retweeted it, so my tweet would look like this “Good luck Girl!! RT @fluffysheepquil Showing a quilt at the Ireland modern quilt guild today!”. Usually people retweet messages with web links/urls so you can go and look at something on the web that they liked.

-Direct Messages
You can send users direct messages, which are completely private tweets. They will only be seen by you and the recipient. You can only do this if you follow that person.

-Hash Tags
Hashtags are kind of hard to explain until you start reading the twitter language! In my opinion, they are used to either express a feeling of the message i.e. “Drank too much wine last night… #hungover #fail”, or are used to group a whole load of messages from different people together i.e. “I’m really excited about going to #sewingsummit”.  You can click on the hashtag and see everyone’s tweets that include it, and as such they are used to “trend” stuff (i.e. make it popular among the millions of twitter users). Last week there was a #sixwordfilmplot trend… i.e. “big ship, cant sink, it sinks #sixwordfilmplot” (Titanic). I contributed “Tiger in bathroom, where’s the groom? #sixwordfilmplot” (The Hangover) to that one.

Learning to use Twitter is hard to begin with… well, not hard, just slightly overwhelming. But then one day you will have a light bulb moment. Everything will just click into place and you will be tweeting like mad. For me, it’s less about posting interesting one liners about what I’m doing (akin to facebook status updates, if the analogy helps anyone) because let’s face it, who wants to know that I’ve woken up, then gone to work, then come home from work, then ate some dinner… etc etc. It’s more about chatting with people who have similar interests.

I see it as less formal/long winded as an email, and not quite as personal as a text. Anyone can see what you are saying, which initially is a bit weird and voyeuristic, but actually works in its favour. By following one person, you can see and find out all kinds of things about other people (in a non stalkery way, of course), events, news etc. You might feel like you are butting in on people’s conversations, but don’t let that worry you. If you’ve got something to say on the subject, just bite the bullet and butt in!

Twitter moves fast. It’s a fact you just have to get used to. I have the twitter app on my iphone, which means I get notifications sent straight to me when someone mentions, or replies, or DM’s me. I occasionally have the webpage open on my desktop too, but truth be told, I find the app much easier to use. You WILL get sucked in. That’s another fact. There's always someone to talk to! From UK time zone perspective, early morning you get the Aussies before they go to bed, then the Brits all day. The Americans start waking up about lunchtime and will take you through to late night. By which time the Aussies are up and you can start all over again!

I hope this has cleared up at least some of the mystery surrounding twitter, for at least some of you. If you have any questions, do feel free to email me (LTAYLOR AT ETHITEC DOT COM), or you know, you could tweet me... I’m @laurajane7789

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Beginner's Class Sampler Top Finished

Seriously, I need a better name for this quilt.  Any suggestions?  School Yard Sampler?  Come on, guys.  A little help, please?

We have this week "off" from our Beginner's Patchwork Class at Pippablue to allow students to catch up on their unfinished blocks and me to get to sashing, layering and quilting under control so I am prepared for the next class.  It has been a welcome break.  Not away from the students; I like them for their sense of humor and enthusiasm to learn.  I just needed the time to get my mind re-focused on the project.  Anyway, want to see what the top looks like?

Well, really it spent most of our photo shoot looking like this:

Either way, you get the idea.  I have to say, I like the sashing much better in this photo as compared to real life.  The orange isn't quite a true, rich orange as compared to the colors in the blocks.  It is a little softer and more subdued.  Still, it's a great color.  Ah, I am going back and forth with it.  There is so much going on in the blocks nothing looked quite right so I took my best guess.

Off to layer and quilt.  I am going to stitch this as quickly as possible while I am still on my Cúchulainn  quilting high.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Quilting can be fun? Who knew...

Guys, I have news.  I have just finished quilting and trimming Cúchulainn.  Although that is a nice little achievement in itself, the real news is....are you ready?....I had fun quilting Cúchulainn.  WHAT!?!?  

I know.  I am as surprised as you are.  I think it was the freedom that this quilting allowed.  I could follow Eva's guidelines, or I could stray a bit.  I could play.  I think that is what is killing me with the Community Quilt quilting - the unforgiving straight lines.  So that when I am quilting all I can think is "Do not mess up.  Don't mess up!"  But here, it is so much more natural.

I used two shades of blue and one shade of green kind of playing in and out of one another.  It's simple.  Subtle.  I nearly wish I had a few more waves, but the clock is ticking and he needs to be finished off...pronto.

No binding on this quilt.  The top will be pulled to the back and stitched closed.  This project is just filled with little bits and pieces I haven't tried before, so it's a great learning experience.  Using the front to find the quilt.  New.  Adding the final hanging sleeve.  Also new.  Goodness you can nearly see me growing from there, can't you?  :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Drinking the Finish Along Kool-Aid

All of the cool kids are doing it.  

I wanted to join in on Rhonda's Finish Along (FAL) last quarter, but there was just too much running through my head/sewing room at the time to add another "to-do" on the ever growing list.  Now, this quarter is a different story!  I am super excited to join in.

What will I finish this quarter?  Well, Rhonda is telling me that to "finish" a quilt it has to be quilted and bound before the quarter is out.  I can do that. 

1. Stargazing.  Stargazing is currently being quilted by the lovely Trudi, but I will have it back in early June.  I can happily have it bound and finished before the end of the month, therefore within the quarter.  I'd kick myself if I didn't.

2. Cúchulainn.  Cúchulainn has been on my to-do list for quite some time.  I want to say since September, but that scares me a bit.  The appliqué is now finished and the quilting well underway, so this isn't a huge stretch.  Anyway, it MUST be finished off in time for the quilt festival.  So, I will quilt and bind it this quarter.

3. Beginner's Patchwork Sampler Quilt.  This is just a pile of blocks sitting in my sewing room.  So, I will have to add the sashing, layer, quilt and bind it.  Still, it's a very manageable size so I should be able to finish it off in the next month or so.  I am really enjoying this little patch of craziness, so it will be fun to spend more time with it.  

4. Electronica.  Here is my stretch finish.  Electronica.  This quilt is being pieced by Sew Bee Blissful as our March block, so the blocks are now arriving at the house.  It is going to be a whopper!  So, I will have to collect the blocks, finish them off as needed, finish off 2 of the 5 blocks I have to contribute, add sashing, layer, quilt and bind.  It might be a big ask, but at least I have all of the materials I need and a quilting plan in mind.  We'll see how it goes!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Little Random Bits and Pieces

I hope you had a fantastic holiday weekend, for those that had a bit of time off of work.  It has been spectacular here - lots of sewing, catching up on stuff around the house, visiting friends, dining with family and general laziness around here.

You might see the general laziness sticking to this post...I just can't get myself organized enough to give you a glimpse of my sewing right now, so I thought I'd fill you in on the other scattered bits and pieces over the past few days.

In super happy news, my charms from Jenn's polka dot charm swap arrived.  They're super!  Isn't it funny how you look at the prints in flickr and you know exactly what you are going to receive, but when they arrive they are a million times better in real life?

In other news, Fluffy Sheep Quilting and friends made the Spring 2012 issue of the Irish Patchwork Society's news letter.  Now, I know it's not like my quilts are appearing in some super fab publication, but still it was a nice surprise to see my quilts featured.

Now I'm wishing I wore something a bit cuter, but there I am in my little white shirt and blue jumper with jeans.  There's Mod Logs in the upper left, Rhonda's rockin' Christmas table runner in the bottom left and Lattice Illusions in the bottom right.  How fun!  Next time I'll dig a bit deeper into the closet before the Society meeting :)

Finally...and I wish I had a photo for this...Stargazing is winging its way to Trudi to be quilted.  I am so super duper excited about the swirly design we have agreed on.  I hope it arrives at her place soon!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cúchulainn Is Slowly Moving On

I have shown sneaky peeks of Cúchulainn in the past, but have not shown you the entire quilt top before.  Want to see my little sea dog?  

He's been the focus of my last two days and will be my buddy for the night.  

Cúchulainn is part of a quilt instalment made by the Irish Patchwork Society (Western Branch) for the International Quilt Festival of Ireland.  There will be 20 quilts total with 10 looking like this, or 10 facing the other direction.  They're all (hopefully) perfectly aligned, so one will knot into the other when all in a row, or when displayed in a square interacting both horizontally or vertically.  It was quite an intricate design!

Anyway, Cúchulainn is made fully with batiks never my first choice, but the committee chose them and they look good together.  They were secured with bondaweb and I'm spending my time now securing Cúchulainn with a satin stitch around each and ever little piece.  I needed to use the batting as a stabilizer, so that's what you see floating behind the quilt top.  That's taking FOREVER and a football stadium of thread.  I'm nearly there...just missing a small bit on the right swirl that will be finished tonight.  

Before the Easter holiday is out, this beast will have his back on and will be quilted.  Eva, of Pippablue, drew on my quilting lines last night to make life easier for now I just have to follow her path.  Easy peasy...right!?!?  

You know, in many ways this would never have been my first choice of a quilt to make.  The batiks, the theme, the appliqué, the size.  However, I wanted to try something new, to contribute to our local community, to grow my skills a bit more.  In the end, I am absolutely glad to have taken this project on...but will be just as happy to see it end :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sew & Bee Happy: April Block

This month in Sew & Bee Happy, Leona asked for a classic card trick block in red and aqua.  Using this tutorial, I set off cutting.  

This bee constructs blocks using only your stash.  I have lots and lots of red, so that was not a problem.  However, aqua is a little more difficult to find in my "scrap" pile.  This was my one and only.  I wish I had something that was a bit more toned down.  Still, I'm generally happy with the block.  I hope Leona is too!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Do.Good Stitches: April Block

April is kicking off with a rockin' block!

Lynne (of Lily's Quilts) has set out to donate 50 quilts this year to Siblings Together, a summer camp bringing siblings in care together.  With 50 quilts, each child attending the camp can bring a quilt home with them.  Isn't that a great idea?  Hop over to Lynne's blog to learn more and find a way you can contribute.  This month, the Care circle of Do.Good Stitches will be donating two quilts to Siblings Together.

The lovely Annabella is organizing us this month.  She asked for a pair of Japanese x and + blocks in super scrappy mode.  I was totally excited!

So, using this tutorial, I made two of these:

Don't they look happy together on the line?

They were super fun and easy to make, so if you have not already given one a try, I suggest you do ASAP.  Annabella, thanks for organizing us!   I truly enjoyed making this month's blocks!
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