Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Handmade Christmas 2014

Hello!  It's been a long long time since we have had a good chat.  I hope you are all well and enjoying the last week of the year.  I hope you are snuggled in at home with your family/pets/friends, lazying around, eating too much and sewing to your heart's content.  

Although the blog has been quiet, I have been sewing quite a bit lately.  There is a lot to tell you, but I am sure I will miss out on smaller projects like bee blocks, etc.  If you want to see it ALL, pop over to Instagram (@fluffysheepquilting) and page through my photos for the latest news.  

Where to start?  How about those super top secret Christmas gifts I was making but could not tell you about?  For now we will stick to the success stories - I will tell you about the total failure later.  

At the Modern Quilting Guild of Ireland meetup last September, we had a craft book swap.  I picked up a book on knitting animal hats.  I know  I am a bit too old/distinguished for this kind of get up, but I thought it might work well for my (nearly) 2 year old niece, Nieve.  

I choose a kitten pattern primarily because it's the only one that I could understand.

I am not the best knitter, but I am persistent.  This was in no way easy for me - I had to re-stitch the hat portion at least 4 times, had a hard time finding a semi-appropriate yarn and kind of made up a good bit on my own.  In the end, though, I had a kitten hat that any 2 year old might be proud (?!?!?) to wear...

The ears are slightly out of proportion and the cheeks a little mal-aligned.  It can be/was also mistaken for a rabbit.  But it fits Nieve and she seems to like wearing it.  We'll call it a success.  I will just need to become a much better knitter as she grows older....hiding my mistakes will become more difficult with time!

Nieve has also become interested in one of my most favorite pastimes: coloring.  While we were together over Thanksgiving, we spent a lot of time drawing, coloring and stickering our creations.

For Christmas, then, I wanted to make her a little tote and portable crayon wallet to bring her crayons and notebooks anywhere she goes.  I started with a little tote tutorial by Jennie of Clover and Violet that is the PERFECT size for this young lady.  It was a very well written tutorial that stitched up in no time.  I used Fancy Free fabrics from the shop as they're girly, but not overwhelmingly pink AND they have bicycles...which Nieve loves.

On the front there's a little ruffle detail on two of the rows...

and on the back an extra large piece of bicycle fabric for her enjoyment.

Sticking with Fancy Free fabric, I made a coordinating crayon wallet for this budding artist.  I choose a tutorial by Modest Maven as it was specifically crated to hold scrap fabric and not a store bought pad of paper.  The little crayon pockets also can hold the fatty crayons or the skinny crayons, so it will grow along with Nieve's skills.  

There's more bicycle fabric on the exterior WITH my very first snap.  I have to say, putting in a snap twisted my brain a bit.  I got there in the end.  

Fully stocked....

Or without paper so you can see the lining fabric.  How cute!

In a completely surprising stroke of luck, it turns out that the crayon wallet fits PERFECTLY into a pocket I installed on the inside of the tote.  Don't I look like a forward thinker?  Ha!

Thank you for brilliant tutes, Modest Maven and Clover & Violet.  You made my Christmas stitching easy as pie!  

Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday Sale at Fluffy Sheep Quilting

Happy Black Friday!  Today officially kicks off the shopping mania (in the US at least...) that leads up to Christmas.  What is Black Friday to me?  It's overstuffed newspaper with adverts tumbling out the sides, traffic that will make you wonder if the sale inside is worth the parking torture and lines at the checkout that will make your head spin.  But the deals are irresistible   

**How happy are we to stay at home and shop for pretty fabrics online?  Sheer bliss.**

What better way to celebrate Black Friday than with a Fluffy Sheep Quilting sale?  This Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday I am offering -20% off everything in the shop with the code Black....even the new stuff like Flower PatchMiss Kate, Karen Lewis Textiles, Mimosa, Paint and Fancy Free.  Just enter the code at checkout by clicking on Use Coupon Code to the left under the pictures of your pretty fabric in the shopping cart.  I will return to Galway 2 Dec, so all orders will ship starting 3 Dec.  Happy shopping!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Avant Garden by Momo.
This week I am home in the US with my family enjoying Thanksgiving.  It has been so nice to spend a few days with my parents chatting away and to see a bit of snow.  Today (Wednesday as I write this....) there's been a nice breakfast out in town with Dad munching on delicious scones and coffee, a wonderful trip to the local book store and a clothes shopping marathon with Mom that melted my credit card.  Tonight Dad is cooking dinner and we are watching a movie by the roaring, crackling fire.  Thanksgiving day, though, we pack up the car and head to Lancaster to meet my extended family to chow down on turkey and stuffing.  We'll all lazy around and catchup on the family news.  It's wonderful.  I can't wait.

Fancy Free by Lori Whitlock

Screen Printed Happiness by Karen Lewis Textiles

Being the fabric maniac that I am, I brought a few FQ bundles from the shop here to Doylestown to photograph for the shop newsletter (Which you should have received?  If not, click here.) and the shop website.  I just can not find the time to snap photos after work but before the sun goes down!  But here on holiday, I have the time to mess around with FQ bundles and my camera.  I think my parents are worried that my obsession means now I travel with fabric, but they have been wonderfully supportive of this weirdness.

Mimosa by Another Point of View
Miss Kate by Bonnie and Camille

Our Thanksgiving dinner is in Lancaster this year, so my folks and I are spending an extra day out in Amish country to hit up the local fabric shops.  You see, when I lived in this area I didn't sew.  I have never taken advantage of Lancaster country being so close to home before.  I hope I get to see a few Amish quilts along the way, too  On our list is Log Cabin Quilt Shop, Old Country Store, Zooks Fabric Store and Family Farm Fabrics.  Are we missing any?  Folks in-the-know, give a suggestion or two, please!

Now, I know you're all thinking their entire fabric lines are brown, cranberry red and pine green.  I thought the same!  But if you look at their websites, they're packed full of our favorite designers!  Check out the list of designers at the Old Country Store Fabrics website.  I may need another suitcase.  And may have to quit my job to sew with it all!

Paint bCarrie Bloomston
If Thanksgiving is today, you know what that means tomorrow!  Yes, the annual Fluffy Sheep Quilting Black Friday sale will kick off at 12:01 AM from Friday through Cyber Monday.  The details will be in tomorrow's blog post so be sure you pop back some point over the weekend.  Yippee!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  I hope you are enjoying the time with your family.  xx

Friday, October 31, 2014

Screen Printed Totes

I dipped my toe into screen printing recently, but went a little nutters taking pictures in the process.  Weeding through them to write a blog post was too much for me to take.  Things have quieted down now, so I would love to show you what I made if you can tolerate the over-abundance of photos.

Armed with an A3 screen, Karen's book and lots and lots of newsprint, I transformed my kitchen into a screen printing studio.  I had dedicated space to lay the tote down, to place my paint and to lean the screen when it was not in use.  What I had not accounted for was the abundance of printed totes that had to dry somewhere!

Our clothes drying racks and quilt display racks from the shop came in handy!  I quickly took over the front hall as well.

With so much new stuff in weird places to inspect, it was inevitable that miss Molly would also be painted in the process.

I needed 15 bags, so I printed 20.  The vast majority of them turned out reasonably well.  They were stuffed full of shop fliers, Frixion pens, Aurifil threads and fat quarters from local shops supporting our Modern Irish Quilters retreat.

Not all of my screen printed totes were good enough to give out to our retreat members.  There were paint smudges on the back, dribbles at the bottom...and on...and on.  I decided that I would take one of those totes, cut out the sewing machine and make a new pretty tote for myself.  

Using Avant Garden I made a 14x15 (-ish) inch tote with Clover Poppies on the exterior and for the handles...

...and Dot Seeds in Sky as the lining.  These fabrics are so beautifully soft they are a pleasure to sew.  A huge thanks to Eva who caught me assembling the interior-handles-exterior in the wrong order at our retreat.  Without her, it would have been an absolute mess!  

I forgot to cut the selvage off of the handles before sewing them into the lining.  There's a little bit peeking out.  I kind of like it there!

This little tote is already in use bringing your happy parcels from the house to the post office.  Your orders are travelling in style, I can assure you.

It should be noted that Molly, my photographic assistant, was not paying any attention during our tote bag photo shoot.  She was just pure messing.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Irish Christmas Cushion Swap

Christmas is quickly approaching!  That's right - it's time we start talking about it, pulling our heads out of the sand/snow drift.  To kick off the season here at FSQ head quarters, I have signed up for the Modern Irish Christmas cushion swap.  As per all of our swaps, an inspirational mosaic was created....  

I don't know why Big Huge Labs has stopped giving me HTML to link to all of these photos, giving credit to the creators.  Has anyone cracked that code, yet?  

Irish folks, signups close on Friday so get your name in the hat today if you want to play along!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bespoke Baby Quilt

Hello (-ello -ello).  Echo (-echo -echo).  

It has been too long, my friends.  I fell off the blogging wagon for a while, but I would like to climb back on as of today.  Everything is fine here, it is just that life took priority over computer stuff.  You know how it is.

While the blog has been quiet, I have been stitching away.  About three weeks ago I received a call from my friends D&D.  They are expecting a new niece or nephew to join their family this week, so they wanted a small (1 yard squared) quilt that they could give as a baby gift.  As they didn't know the sex, I thought the Mixed Bag line would be perfect for their quilt.  I started playing with HSTs immediately and quickly fell into the pattern of making stars.  Shocker, I know.

With the Sizzix cutting the HSTs, it took very little time to put the 9 blocks together and pop on a border.  For me, the challenge was to quilt this little friend.  This was the perfect opportunity to put my new frame to work.  I have been practising using scrap fabric sandwiches, but have not used it to quilt an actual project.  With lots of deep breathing, I dove in...

...and started quilting a line of circles.  Some looked great, others could use a little help but all in all the effect was pretty super.

I won't lie; the quilting took FOREVER.  I had imagined that this frame would make the machine work some amazing magic and that is simply not true.  Each line had to be created slowly with care.  I learned a tremendous amount in this process and can't wait to try quilting on the frame with my next project.  

With a bit of red binding and a dip in the washing machine, this little quilt is on it's way to its new family.  I love the orange border, love the pop of red on the edge and am delighted with the bubbly texture the quilting has created.

The back is one full piece of Mixed Bag Which Way, pulling together all of the colors on the front.

I am already creating projects in my mind that will let me use the frame to quilt a bit more.  You can be sure you will see a few large Christmas presents appearing here in the near future!  Until then, I'll just keep petting this pretty bubbly friend, content with my first try being (mostly) a success.  Woo hoo!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Oops! Forgot this one!

I completely forgot to tell you about this bit of happiness.  A finish!  I have not had a finish in ages.

I had a orphan block from my Twinkle Twinkle bee quilt that joined me in Jen Kingwell's hand quilting class at the Fat Quarterly retreat.  I recently spent evenings echo quilting the star, straight line quilting the red boarder and then quilting triangles into the outer pink boarder.

I then was stuck.  The star needed more, but it took me ages to find inspiration.  Or for inspiration to find me.  Eventually I remembered that I had stencils for orange peels so I thought I would give them a try between the star points.  And they worked!

The back is an envelope closure of teal blue, coordinating with the front.  This is my first cushion cover, so I could not envision how it would come together.  Now that I have one down, I think I could try a zip in my next version. 

And so it lives on the living room couch.  It has been napped on, curled up on and snuggled by the dog.  It adds a super spot of color and makes me happy every time I see it.  Needless to say, I'm already plotting my next!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Charm swapping!!! Let the fun begin.

Do you love charm squares?  Scrappy pretty piles of charm squares?  I use them all the time for bee blocks or the quick baby quilt finish, so I like having a colorful selection at the ready.  Several of you have used up your charms from our last swap (me too!) and have asked for another to be organized, so here is your chance to jump in and join in the fun.  It is going to be a small bit different this time, so please read this post fully before signing up.

I am looking for 28 people to join in the fun, but would entertain 56 participants if we are so lucky.  There will be one week of signups starting today and closing on 12 October at midnight.  To sign up, leave a comment below.  If you are (or may possibly be) a no-reply commenter, include your email address in your comment.  Myself, or my fellow Charm Fairy Irina, will be in touch with you after signups close to assign you a color.  That email should arrive by 17 Oct.

When you get your color assignment email, you are to run off and look for TWO prints (1 yard each) that are predominately your assigned color, but in two very different shades of that color.  One dark and the other light.  We are looking for modern prints and not solids.  Be sure that the print you are choosing is of a reasonable scale to be cut into charms.  Fabrics must be 100% cotton of high quality - no cheap-o prints that will bleed everywhere, please.

When you choose your fabric, please upload a photo to the flickr group.  To ensure no duplicates, be sure to check what others have uploaded before you buy your fabric.

Being a Fluffy Sheep Quilting sponsored swap, a 10% discount is offered on any fabrics purchased from the shop.  I will send out a discount code in the email with your color assignment.  If you buy from FSQ, I will also cut the charms for you AND you will not have to pay shipping.  Oh, the happiness!

Cut and ship your fabrics so that they arrive in Galway by 22 November.  If you have not cut charms before, use this tutorial as a guide. A new rotary blade and pressing ahead of time helps a whole bunch.  Include in your parcel a pre-addressed return envelope.  No return envelope, no returned charms.    

You will receive in your returned parcel 112 charms, 56 prints in duplicate.  When shipping comes around, I will ask you to send (via paypal) to me the cost of your shipping so that I do not loose out on paypal fees.  I will not be invoicing you, but requesting you send the payment directly to me by email.

Let's get swapping, friends!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Modern Irish {Scrappy} Bee: October Blocks

I totally cheated.  I knew what blocks Tomomi wanted for her bee month ahead of anyone else as I pre-schedule the bee block blog posts to appear on the first of the month.  I cheekily packed up all of the fabrics I needed to make her blocks and brought it with me to the Modern Quilters of Ireland retreat last weekend (27 Sept).

Tomomi was looking for book shelf blocks, but with a twist.  She wanted to blocks 11-13 inches long x 12.5 inches tall with various sizes of books and Ash background.  However, she wanted us to each create a section on her bookshelf with a theme.  Humm....now that's interesting.

I choose to give her a section of bird watching guides:

and a section with cook books:

Tomomi, I hope you like them!  I know several other hive members have started thinking of really super, creative themes for you.  I am sure will you will love what they create!

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