Friday, January 31, 2014

Modern Irish Bee: January Blocks and a Book Review

In our inaugural month of the Modern Irish Bee (2014), Miss Ruth requested two scrappy blocks finishing at 12.5 inches each using this the tutorial she wrote in combination with these cutting instructions.  I was delighted when I saw her choice in blocks.  What fun to give these at try!

Using Kona Ash as the background fabric with accents of Kona Snow, Ruth wanted us to make little 9 (or 16 patch) blocks of 1 inch finished squares.  I had a wonderful time digging through my scraps finding a small tasty piece or two.  How cute is the little deer?  I didn't purposely fussy cut that!  Honest.

Our second block was to have 20 little 1 inch squares again with the Kona Snow frame and Kona Ash backing.  I'm not going to lie - small little mistakes in my seam allowance in those 20 pieces did add up and I created a wonky 12.5 (top) to 12.0 (middle) to 12.5 (bottom) block that had to be partially unpicked and re-sewn.  Second time is the charm.  

Ruth, I loved making these blocks for you.  You're going to have one stunning quilt!  

In other news, I've just finished reading Quilting Isn't Funny... Megan Dougherty.  It was delivered by good old Amazon over Christmas and  I've been picking it up and putting it down since then.  I love the idea of this book as we (quilters) are filled to the brim with wit and humor (you know who you are!).  I that the author this is a fellow blogger who has turned her love/hate relationship with quilting into a magazine column and book.  Congrats, Megan!  And finally, I think the book is formatted well as it contains smaller excerpts/essays preceded with a little 5-8 sentence commentary by the author setting the scene for the piece.  That being said, it just was not my type of humor.  I think I go more for word play or dry humor when the humor here is based on the reader relating to the character/situation.  I didn't really relate.  Some of you may see yourself in these stories or have had similar situations and will love this book!  To give you a chance at a laugh, I'll happily give my copy away to the first person who leaves a comment below and their paypal address to cover shipping.  If you want it, its yours. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I Can't Get Enough...Aurifil

I have spools on the brain.  I spend my lunches at work searching Google Image for spool quilt blocks.  I have collected a little list of Chorme bookmarks for spool quilts I dig and made a mini spool mini quilt.  I even tried a few (semi-successful) spools myself, but they were not for me.  It's still not enough.

But when I found this tutorial, my search was over.  I fell in love with those little Aurifil spool blocks and have not looked back since.  I am hoping to ask my Modern Irish Bee buddies to make blocks like these next month, so I wanted to give them a little test run.  

There are super easy to follow instructions for three block sizes (small, medium, large), so I quickly cranked out 4 of each spool. I dug through my trusty basket and pulled out semi-monochromatic fabrics for the thread colors and then red and orange solids for the spools/spindle.  I would love to include Aurifil grey and green spindle/spools in the final quilt.  I'm working on that right now. 

Anyway, you know how it is with these trial runs. It takes nearly as long to dig out the fabric and cut as it does to piece, so why not make 4 in the time it would take me to make 1?  I dove in.  

I think the medium sized spools are my favorite.  They're large enough to show off a print (5.5 x 7.5" unfinished), but small enough to be pretty darned cute.  I went for grey, navy (above), pink (below) and DS yellow.  Each one of them made my heart flutter.  I know their base and spindle look a little over exaggerated, but mentally just cut off 0.25 inches of each in the seam and they're right back in (super cute) proportion.

I also made 4 large spools (10 x 14.5" unfinished). in red (below), orange (below again), yellow and aqua.  It's funny.  In real life my favorites are the red and orange spool, but they didn't photograph as well as the aqua one.  So it goes.

 I found the smallest spools (4.5 x 4" unfinished) to be the most difficult to pull fabrics for. It was nearly impossible to use anything with a print they're so tiny.  I do love them in combination with the other spools, though.  I think they're going to look super.

This little corner of my design wall makes me want to stop everything I'm doing and make more!  I will resist, though.  Just have to wait a few more days and then I can strike out as Miss February in our bee.  The shortest month, but these are so quick and easy I don't think the ladies will complain.  

Monday, January 27, 2014

Quiet Around These Parts

We had a lovely, quiet weekend here in Galway so I have very little to tell you.  There were walks with the dog, dinner with friends, laundry (of course) and a little bit of stitching.  I really enjoyed sit down to my cross stitch each evening.  

The little bone is done and dusted and (with any luck) the "HOME" will be finished tonight.  Just half of the H left.  As you may remember, though, the lettering is more "funked up" than this.  I have to go back and do a little prettying up of the OME.  Easy peasy.  

For a laugh, do you remember that I made hand warmers for my family as a Christmas stocking stuffer?  My SIL came back to me with this story of how she's using them:

"I've been meaning to tell you (and I thought everyone else would find it funny too) that I used your hand warmers when it was so so so cold a week or so ago to walk Lolo - I think it was 5 degrees when I went outside.  Well, they worked marvellously!  My hands were toasty warm the entire time.  The funny part was that when the rice was warmed up it smelled delicious, kind of like popcorn, so all of the dogs in the park were hovering around me and sniffing my hands.  They thought I was depriving them of a treat!  It was very funny.  I looked kind of like St. Francis. 

Anyways, thanks for keeping us warm!"

Hilarious!  Catherine, you are cracking me up!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Modern Irish Medallion Quilt Along

Note: This is a re-post of today's announcement over at the Modern Quilters of Ireland blog, but I thought I would toss it out there for anyone else who would like to stitch along.

You asked for it, you have it: announcing the Modern Quilters of Ireland quilt along!  2013 seemed to be the year of the medallion quilt, which really got my creative juices flowing.  Although there were several gorgeous patterns circulating, like the Marcelle Medallion or Made to Measure, they were not well suited to my quilting interests.  I really do not like using templates and flying geese make my heart clench.  I had to find another way to create one myself.

I started to do a bit of online research to find example medallion quilts that I loved, looking both at the design of the borders as well as the fabrics used.  I created a little inspirational mosaic...that I ogled time and time again when daydreaming of my own medallion quilt.  

1. Red Pepper Quilts, 2. Not available, 3. Red Pepper Quilts, 4. Not available, 5. Not available, 6. Not available, 7. Medallion Quilt detail, 8. Baisakhi Medallion Quilt, 9. 1930s Medallion Quilt

I've been looking long enough.  It's time to stitch!  What if we, as a guild, could create medallion quilts together.  Are you interested in stitching along with me?  I found a wonderful series of tutorials by Catbird Quilts that we can use together.  These tutorials are set up so that we can each create our own individual medallion quilt (depending on our skill level) using Catbird Quilts tutorials on the design-as-you-go process.  Melanie (the brains behind Catbird Quilts) gives two paths to follow in each tutorial.  One path (for beginners) will give block/border measurements for the center square and then for each border.  Alternatively, you can take path two (more advanced) and design your own quilt using Melanie's suggestions on size ratios, etc.  Melanie explains it much better here, so please do click over and read her first post

Here's how this will go:  

First, read this post to get the basic idea of this QAL.  I know this is something that each and every (interested) member of our guild can do to their own skill level AND we can have a great time stitching together, drawing inspiration from one another and learning as a collective group.

Second, search through your fabric stash (or go shopping...what ever makes you happy) and find a palate for this quilt that makes your heart flutter.  Scrappy is most likely best as we don't exactly know how much fabric we will each need.

Third, if you have not already done so, join our Flickr group so that we can all keep updated on each other's makes.

Finally, come back here in two week's time for a linky party.  By 5 February you should have A) a gorgeous fabric pull to share with everyone and B) an inspirational mosaic for your first central block of your quilt.  If you've started stitching, that's even better.  Show us what you've made in your own blog post and leave us a link to check it out!

We will then take each additional border as it comes with shorter intervals between linkies for the first, smaller borders and then giving ourselves more time for the larger outer borders.


If you're into books, I picked up a few inspirational books including border patterns that could be adjusted depending on the project.  Liberated Medallion Quilts  by Gwen Marston is quite inspirational with a WIDE variety of eye candy quilts to keep me interested each step along the way. 

And then Gwen's co-authored book with Freddy Moran, Collaborative Quilting, hit the mark with lots and lots of border ideas that can be scaled depending on the project.  Super!  You can read my Collaborative Quilting book review here if you'd like.

Now let's get stitching!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

They're Here!

Just a quick post to let you know that Architextures by Carolyn Friedlander have arrived at Fluffy Sheep Quilting.  I have seven colors in stocky: curry, tangerine, fern, lake, blue, black and grey.  I am simply delighted that they are finally here.  You better believe I will be adding each and every color to my own stash!  Yippee!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Bee Blessed: January

It has been months and months since I have made bee blocks.  I have really missed it - trying out a new-to-me block and pulling fabrics that make me happy.  What could be better?  Bee Blessed choose a Greek Cross block for January, to be made using this tutorial.

And here's what I whipped up: one block in purples and one in green.

I used left over Chicopee charms from this bag for the corners in both blocks, and then a little birdie print for the center 

or Architexture plum charms in the center of this block.

I am already looking forward to seeing what they choose for the February block!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Mexico City Donation Quilt

After reading Hadley's post last week, I too was inspired to make a donation quilt to be sent to Mexico City. I skipped right over to Alison's post to get the details and I signed up to make a small charm quilt for a small person.  I quickly decided this was going to be made 100% from my stash, using the wealth of charms I have recently accumulated via swaps.  As usual, the Moda Bake Shop had the perfect pattern for me! 

The background is really cream - that awful yellow is from the ceiling light
in the room.  Stinky winter lighting.
I jumped right in and finished the top in a day.  The charms, background and solid stripes are indeed from my stash.  I have to say I was surprised to find enough background cream in my stash to make this!  I have also find enough backing, batting and binding.  Super.

Sadly, I didn't realize until the top was constructed that the dotty navy blue in the upper left 9-patch should really have been cream.  It doesn't bother me enough that I have the urge to unpick it and fix my mistake.  I also mis-interpreted the pattern where they discuss the charm squares for the upper and side stripes.  I should really have cut up double the number of charms that I did (and mixed them all up between the 4 stripes), but only realized after the two stripes on the left were pieced.  I thought it would look funny with other charm prints running across the top as compared to those running down the side, so I choose to go with a solid.  I think it still works.  Do you?  Or should I go back and re-piece them?

Can't wait to layer this and get to quilting!  It feels so good to have a project that takes my interest again.  I'm on a roll!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Mini Spools Mini Quilt: Finished!

Some time before Christmas I told you about my mini spools mini quilt...but then I forgot to show you the finished quilt!  Silly me.

Here she is in all her glory:

This was made with charms from a Scrumptious charm pack, Kona white and blue Architextures for the spools. The quilting was done in diagonal stripes, about 1/2 inch apart from one another.  Finally, to bind I used lime Bias Stripe from the Scrumptious line.

On the back is the majority of a Sweet Aqua FQ.  I like how the aqua coordinates with the lime binding.

Now, this isn't the mini that I mentioned in my FAL list earlier this week.  That one will be just for me!  This cutie will be heading off to a friend as a thank you gift.  Safe trip, my friend.

Monday, January 13, 2014

FAL 2014: First Quarter Goals

I am thrilled that the opening 2014 FAL linky is up and running over at The Littlest Thistle.  I could use a little help focusing and pressure inspiration to get myself back into the sewing room and creating again.  So, here are my (overly aspirational?) goals for the next 3 months:

1. Swoon 2013
I signed up for Sarah's QAL and was nearly on time getting my blocks finished...but then I lost steam finishing the sashing and getting the borders on.  So, I need to finish the top, quilt and bind this project.  I am excited to dig back in again!

2. Home Sweet Bone Cross Stitch
I have been diligently stitching each and every night.  Recently this is my primary project and I am loving it through and through.  I'd like to finish stitching, tie off the back and have it hanging over my desk before this quarter is finished.

3. Modern Irish Bee Quilt
This quilt was started over a year ago as part of the inaugural Modern Irish Bee.  My bee buddies were wonderful and I did receive each and every one of my blocks.  However, when I tried to make a few additional blocks to enlarge the quilt, I could not (for the life of me) get them to the appropriate final size.  Several I totally unpicked 3-4 times!  Anyway, I lost my love for the process and I put the blocks away.  I would love to pull them out, finish the top (add a border?), hand quilt (ahem!) and bind it.

4. Spools Mini Quilt
I made one of these minis to give away, but I'd love to have one myself to hang in my sewing room.  I have the pieces all cut and laid out, but not stitched together.  I need to piece, quilt and bind this cutie.

5. Donation Quilt
I would like to make a quilt to be sent to Mexico City.  I have a pattern in mind, but instead of using a fresh new charm pack I would like to dive into my stash for this project.  I have so many charms from the gazillion swaps I joined recently.  I have the top nearly done, so I need to quilt and bind this before we'll call it done.

That's my list and I will try my best to stick to it!  Thanks so much, Katy, for keeping us on the straight and narrow!  (HA!  Who would have thought it was you who would herd us in?)

Finish Along 2014

Friday, January 10, 2014

Galway Modern Stitchers Meetup

 Last night I had the great pleasure to meet up with two other Galway quilters for a little stitching on the way home from work/before dinner.  I had such a wonderful time chatting with the ladies and checking out what they're making (and how they're doing it) all while drinking a hot chocolate.

Annette was finishing off three wall hangings for her nephews.  There was one dog, one cat and one horse, each personalized with a little fella's name.  These are my most favorite things I have ever seen made with PB&J fabrics.  I thought they looked super.  Annette is nearly there - just tying off a few threads and getting that binding down.  Stitch on, Annette!

Anneliese joined Annette and I to finish off her matchstick quilting wall hanging.  I won't show you the front as I don't want to spill the beans before it's on her blog.  I will say it's gorgeous, though!  I'd love for her to make 5+ more and turn them into table mats.  They'd be gorgeous!  

Check out Anneliese's travelling goodies - a little metal pin box, a sewing roll (cute fabric!) and a kindle to keep her little ones occupied.

I brought along my little cross stitch.  You can see some progress from my last post, but I will say it was slow going.  I could not see well in the dim light, so I unpicked as much as I stitched.  I was also more interested in what Anneliese and Annette were making so I wasn't paying attention to my own project.

Anneliese's two daughters spent a little time drawing and writing notes.  Here's mine, clearly addressed to myself with a cover photo of my bone...

Inside was a fuzzy kitten (with a bow!) and an interpretation of my entire cross stitch panel.  I did receive a second love note from Anneliese's younger daughter, but I think Anneliese is very careful to not mention their names and her name was so very carefully written in the center (surrounded by hearts).  I will keep that one to myself.

We even did a quick cross stitch lesson, so I can't wait to see what they created by our next meeting!  Ladies, it was wonderful to stitch with you.  I can not wait until we meet up again!  Thanks for such a great night out.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Creating a happy place

Before Christmas I moved my (day job) desk and laboratory into a new building.  It's only now on my return to work that I have focused on making it my fresh, new happy place. I spend so much time at work, I might as well like my little personal space.

I have started stitching my little nerdy cross stitch.  I had such plans to stitch all the way to/from the US over my Christmas break....but the DMC order didn't arrive in time.  (Sigh.)  It did arrive by New Years so I have been happily stitching each evening.  Want to see what I've made?

It's an 18 count piece of Aida, so WAY finer than I am used to working with.  There was a small learning curve, but I think I have found my stride. I choose a soft, light blue/grey color so that the cream of the bone stands out.  I'm quite happy with it so far and can't wait to dive in on the lettering.

In the mean time, I have a massive grey noticeboard over my desk that is screaming for color.  (Weirdly enough it is nearly the exact color of Kona Med Grey.)  I decided to create little scrappy fabric thumb tacks to bring my fabric prints to work and spice up the board a bit.  So, I grabbed my button forms (stocked up while in the US!)...

and my overflowing scrap basket...

and I started in.  I used a tutorial by How About Orange for inspiration, but had to make a few changes given the bits and pieces I had available to me.

In no time at all I had a set of 10+ thumb tacks ready to brighten up my desk!   How satisfying is that for a nice little evening project?  Perfect.

I won't show you the "finished" version quite yet...will wait for the great unveil of the whole notice board.  I'm now thinking of a little bunting too.  Too much?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Hello! Hello Out There!

Hi there!  It's been weeks and weeks since I last blogged.  I am so happy to re-join our lovely online community.  How are you all?

I took a blogging/IG/sewing break over Christmas mostly because it is just not practical to keep things up and moving while I travel to/from the US for the holiday.  Anyway, I am back in Ireland and ready to dive right back in to blogging/IG.

While I was in the US, I picked up a WHOLE LOT of fabric orders I had posted to Pennsylvania.  These goodies were picked up from American shops in sales from Aug through Dec.  Needless to say I had a great time digging through these parcels after my flight landed.  Yum yum yum!

Wait!  Re-focus.  I have been thinking a good bit about how/what I sew, about blogging and about the shop.  I have come to a few conclusions I would like to share with you.  (Interspersed with photos of my new fabric/notion goodies!)

Two layer cakes and one charm pack.  They were at insane sale prices, so I couldn't resist.
The plan is to make two single-bed sized quilts for B and I to use when camping in front of the camp fire.
Get it? The camping themed S'more Love line and Road 15 prints seemed perfect.

It's time. I should start making basic clothes like PJ bottoms and skirts.
Why not start with this?  I can do this, right?  I already have questions before I even opened the package!!
Also on insane sale at Joann's (-75% or something nuts).

1. Blogging - Blogging seems to get pushed to the bottom of my to-do list each day.  I do not want it to be that way.  I love chatting with you guys; love the laughs and inspiration I gain from each of you.  Instead of ignoring my blog, what I would like is:

A) reading your blogs over my lunch break each day for a bit of mid-day quilty inspiration.  I am usually pretty bad at reading weekend posts and I think it is going to stay that way.  Too much real-life living to do over my weekend :)

B) aim for posting 3 times a week.  I tend to get overwhelmed thinking of 5 posts per week, then spend all of my free time writing posts and not sewing or (worse) not writing at all!  Or I get focused on showing you only finishes instead of where I am each day/week.  Instead, I will most likely sew week evenings/weekends and write three posts on Sunday to go live through the week to tell you about all of the creative action here at FSQ headquarters.

Three Blueberry Park FQs from my LQS in Pennsylvania.
I'm so lucky to have such an awesome LQS when traveling.
I know so many of you love this line, but I just don't get it.
I thought if I made something I'd see what you see?  Maybe?

Also from the LQS.  Who could resist Echino at American prices?  I couldn't, clearly.

2. Shop - I would like for the shop to become a bit more interactive with each of you.  For that reason, I will be offering monthly blogger bundles (have the first three brave volunteers lined up already!) with each blogger putting their own spin on the fabric choices, associated tutes and giveaways. I think it will be great fun.  I will also start organizing monthly activities/contests to spruce things up around here.  Keep your eye out for a way to play along in the near future.

Hello Tokyo.  I. Love. This. Line.  The whole thing.
This is destined to become a new lunch bag going to/from work.
3. Sewing - I am at a loss here.  I would like to:
A) create more from my stash (without going on a fabric diet!) and for that reason will link up with Sarah each month. I love my stash - why wouldn't I use it more?

B) be more creative and THINK more about what I am making.  The planning/thinking/math of a project is nearly as great for me as sewing it - I love letting my mind tumble over these problems when I'm falling asleep or driving.  I miss that when I have a set pattern that I'm following.  For that reason I have a project in mind starting next week that will be a new adventure for me.  More on that later...

C) create more by hand.  I am not a great hand piecer, but would like to gain more confidence hand quilting or in needlework like embroidery/cross stitch.  That way I get to create on my couch and still interact with my family WHILE indulging those creative juices.

Denyse Schmidt from Joann's.  It was on sale and I couldn't stop myself.
Oranges, reds and yellows...

....and more from the same line.
I'll have to do some epic-scale quilt to incorporate all of these prints/colors.

Those are my mental rumblings.  2013 was not my most creative or fruitful year.  I will do my best to grow in 2014 and to really push my skills/ability/productivity.  Here's to fresh starts!
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