Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Storm At Sea Quilt

Sometimes you see something and you get a teeny bit obsessed with it.  I happened upon a Storm At Sea pattern a few months ago.  I can't remember what appealed to me first but I started googling the pattern and my search revealed a whole host of variations.  I was completely taken by it, it's total versatility!  The same blocks arranged and rearranged, the same blocks with 2 colours, with 3 colours with an array of colours, with an extra block thrown in........ the completely different patterns it can make are endless!

I spotted the picture below and knew this was going to be the variation I would make.  It reminded me of Moroccan and Tunisian tiled floors.  When I was 2 or 3 weeks engaged, I went to Gibraltar with my friend and fiancé and we took a day trip to Morocco......and we ended up in Tunisia on our honeymoon so you can imagine that I have lots of good memories from both places and wanted to recreate a little of that.......

Anyone who has happened upon my blog before knows that I'm a bit of a divil for the foundation paper piecing method and since this was going to be my first repetitious pattern in quite a while, I decided to go with this method again as it takes the guess work and the accuracy out of it.  I hate ripping anything back and when there are multiple seams...... this way is just easier. 

My sewing room floor.  My poor sewing room floor.  I meant to take a picture but I'd like you all to think that I'm a pillar of organisation and work only at a station of complete tidyness and order.....but those of you who have worked at paper piecing, you know what I mean by my poor sewing room floor! ;)  I took a little break in between blocks and made my little fabric covered box and it proved very handy for holding my little stack until I was ready to add them all together.

I stuck with the blue and white colour scheme from the picture I originally fell for.  I thought it was perfect and why mess with perfection.  I did however choose a navy "shadow" from Stof instead of a solid colour.  It gives a little more texture and dimension, I think.  I did hours and hours and hours of chain piecing and slowly my blocks built up.  Each block is easy but the process is very time consuming and a tad monotonous!  Let's just say, I can't wait for my new sewing machine which will have a built-in thread cutter so save me trimming hundreds of threads!  That alone sucked hours of my time!  Worth it though...

I moved my sewing machine from my sewing room, to the kitchen table, to the coffee table in front of the tv and back to my sewing room again..........just to change things up a bit.  In truth, I dislike repetitive patterns, I get bored easily.  I think that's why I like foundation paper piecing, you get to change things up completely and make very, very accurate tiny pieces with minimal points to match up!

I had intended to make a king size quilt for our bed....... everytime I look at it, I'm reminded of those first months and years together with my husband because of the memories it evokes but it wasn't to be!  My husband suffered from a case of labrynthitis not long after our twins were born in 2011.  It was caused by a simple ear infection but the ear infection was caused by those first few weeks of pure exhaustion brought on by 2 newborns in the house.  At the time, it was a terrible bout, he was off work for a good length (no joke for a self-employed person), he was so dizzy that he couldn't hold his babies and couldn't stand straight without the room spinning.   He still suffers when he's run down or overly stressed out and the dizzyness takes over........ well, I don't know what it says for my poor quilt because everytime he looks at it, he grabs the counter and turns away while muttering something about it being "lovely, dear".  I have joked about getting my own room if I do make a kingsize because I don't think he could actually get under this quilt but I'm not ready for seperate beds just yet!

So that's how my king-size plan converted to an over-sized lap-quilt.  It's probably more of a single quilt size but since I don't have any single beds at my house, this is going to be a throw quilt for the couch for our new conservatory when it's finished!

Can I just mention that while I do love paper-piecing, I am SICK of pulling those papers out.   Thank heavens I chose to use Carol Doaks actual paper-piecing paper as opposed to using standard printer paper as I used to.  This falls out in comparison but still it's a tedious job.  To those who always said it was therapeutic, I'm calling you in future to avail of free therapy at my house when I'm finished a paper-piecing project! You have been warned! 

I had planned on three borders, skinny blue, medium white and then a large outside blue border but I've decided I hate adding borders - not the look, I just ALWAYS seem to measure wrong and end up 3/8 inch short!!  Grrr, so right now, I've stopped at a skinny blue border........ I'll give it a rest and see if I can get the motivation to do the rest!


Monday, 15 December 2014

1 less UFO, 1 more new project

Yes, this week I finished a long-term project.  So of course, I should move on to the next unfinished project and get some more knocked off the list........... that's what I SHOULD do, but this time Instagram won out.  I spotted the cutest little pattern, went on the hunt, found the sellers page and couldn't resist adding to my cart.  And sure, what's the point of an instantaneous pdf download if you don't start working on it instantaneously??? 

Anyway, let me rewind to my finished project first...

I started this quilt way back here.  The pattern is by Thimbleblossom and is called Swoon.  I added a paper pieced border of 3" flying geese to make it a little bigger and to add more colour.  I got the top done fairly quickly, it has enormous 24" blocks so it's satisfyingly swift.  When that much was done, I folded it up and put it aside!

Months later, well, nearly a year later, the ladies in my sewing class helped me baste it at our class (I've no floor big enough to baste a kingsize quilt at home) and when that was done......... I folded it up, put it aside and moved on to something new!!  Yes, sinful I know!

Eventually, I pulled it out again couple of months ago to decide finally whether it would be machine or handquilted and I decided to go with handquilting.  I know it's slow but I enjoy it and it's less likely to go wrong on me than using the machine.  I need to practice my machine quilting more! 

I did a basic three line, cross section through each star that gave a nice trellis effect on the back, then between the stars and all around the border, I quilted in some different sized stars.  I am happy enough with this much but have a feeling that I may add more quilting over time but in the meantime, I squared it off and added the binding last night!  This binding (pictured above) is also the fabric on the back of the quilt, it's deep navy with a black shadow and a gorgeous silver swirly design throughout! I love it!


Ooooh, it's amazing how excited you can get about a quilt that has been hanging around the house for nearly 18months!  Adding the binding seems to have transformed it!  It pulls out the navy from one of the blocks and from the flying geese on the border!  I love how binding just frames the quilt and finishes it completely!  I'm delighted that I managed to get this quilt finished just before we hit 2015 too otherwise it would have been on the go for 2 years!!! 

Hmm, it's actually difficult to see the binding against the dark green of the grass but take my word for it, it frames it nicely!  And now, I can finally put this project to bed!  Well, on my bed anyway!

Now as for the new project........ it's too darn cute to sit for long (and it's small so won't take much time) so watch this space!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

3 Years, 4 whole cushions

When I was younger and didn't know how to sew, I was envious of people who could make their own cushion covers.  To me, it was so complicated and I couldn't understand when they said it was "sooooooo easy" and "easiest thing in the world to make".  Nope, cushion covers were definitely complicated!

Fast forward to almost exactly 3 years ago and I took my first sewing class called "Getting to know your machine" with Pippablue in Galway.  I had taken a notion to buy an Argos Value Machine for a whopping €50 but didn't even know how to thread it, much less make it go!  I was reminded of this a couple of months ago when chatting with my good buddy Heather (who blogs here).  She said she remembered my excitement at that first class.  I went on a hunt to find the picture we took when we finished up.  Oh I was so nervous and delighted with myself that day.  Check out my first ever, teeny tiny cushion......... I'll admit, it's still on a chair in my bedroom, even more dwarfed by the size of the chair!

After that class, I didn't sew for months.  I was a little daunted by the thought of ruining beautiful fabric by actually cutting it up!  When I joined my quilting class a few months later though, I got over that and when I finished my first quilt, I made this cushion from the gorgeous nautical range by Sarah Jane called Out to Sea.  I made it for my son but eventually I "borrowed" it and it's sitting on the top shelf in my sewing room because........ well, it makes me happy!


After this a whole 2 years went by before I made another cushion.  To be honest, I was procrastinating.  A soft green velvet cushion on my couch had worn out/shredded/wasted away and it needed a new cover.  I just couldn't get the motivation to use a dull fabric.  When you're used to the beautiful quilting fabrics we use, upholstery fabric is just BORING!  But finally, last week, I got it done.  It's the one in the center......... blends in pretty ok, doesn't it?

Excuse my poor tatty couch!

So that was it, I got my mojo back with that boring cushion out of the way so today, I grabbed a bunch of scraps from a gorgeous range of fabric from The Quilt Shop and sewed them up and finally, FINALLY I have a proper girlie cushion in my house!  It took less than an hour to make this 18" cushion. 

Feel free to squeal at the girlishness........I did!

When you live with a hubby and 3 male children, you don't get many girlish things in the house.  My small boys are happy for me - well, they were after they exclaimed in disgust "what is that girlie thing doing in our house?" while pointing and screwing up their faces.  I explained mummies need for pretty and they're ok with it.  I might even manage a few more!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Bionic Gear Bag!!

BIONIC!!  I love the name of this little sewing grab-bag!  It delivers too.......... it can hold everything but the kitchen sink and I don't take that with me when I head out to sewing class so that's ok!  I mean, check out this picture from the website - it holds TONNES!!!

For ages, I've been dying to make the Sew Together bag by Sewdemented on Craftsy and when I started to go online and look for it, I happened upon this bag pattern.  Oh me, Oh MY, I had to have it.  So, I purchased the pattern and printed it out.  All 36 PAGES of it.  I went to the printers and got it bound, knowing that I would make more than one of these if I liked it.  

Daunted? Me?  Eh.........yeah.  I mean 36 pages of double dutch and I had never, ever put a zip in anything before so of course I chose this pattern with 5 zips!!

I decided I wouldn't rush it.  I'm a bit of a divil for rushing projects, jumping ahead of the instructions and I was scared of this one before I even started.  So Day 1, I cut all my fabric, ironed on the interfacing and laid out my zips and stopped!

Day 2, I went to my sewing class and got some help with the first zip from Roisin at The Quilt Shop.  She had assured me they were "easy peasy" but I didn't believe her.  In fairness, she spoke the truth, they were easy but despite the instructions, I don't think I would have gotten it right without a bit of help.  

Day 3, I finished putting the next 3 zips in and sewing down the pockets, then I got really brave and I put it together with the sides and onto the back.

That left just the binding and the final zip!  The pattern says it can be put together in 3/4 hours.  I'd say in total, I probably took 7 or 8 but I was happy enough to go slow and steady since it was a completely new project for me but MAN, I love it and I'm sure the next one will go faster. 

My side pleats were the only thing that I was a little unhappy about. They could be a tad neater but my next one will be better!

So now I have to make one for my son.  He "needs" a lego grab bag, reckons the small pocket at the front would be ideal for his lego men (I'm inclined to agree) and the tray would be handy on road trips.  He's got foresight, I'll give him that.  And if you didn't see my pic on facebook or instagram during the week, he did make me this lego sewing machine so he kind of deserves one.........

Oh what's that?  You want to know where to get the pattern?  Try clicking HERE!  If you make one, I'd love to see it - so link back here if you can!

AND..........if you have any suggestions as to what kind of fabric to use for a Lego bag, I'd really appreciate it!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Modern Quilt Guild of Ireland - Sept '14 Quilting Retreat

Cindy - Organiser Extraodinaire
Last year I joined the Modern Quilt Guild of Ireland, drawn in by the most gorgeous creations I kept spotting on facebook.  They are a very active group, hosting meet-ups, swaps and getting involved with Bee Blessed.
Due to location and/or bad timing, I haven't had the chance to meet up with any of these stitchery-queens until last week.  I wasn't working, I didn't have family commitments and if I do say so myself, I deserved a day out doing something I love, so I signed up for the Quilting Retreat which just happened, very fortunately, to be in my hometown! 

From the outset, I was very impressed with the organisation.  Cindy, from Fluffy Sheep Quilting e-mailed me with a schedule for the day, directions, times, carparking details, food details and so much more.  Honestly, she thought of everything!  The room that was booked in Galway University was comfortingly close to the carpark so we didn't have to hump our machines and gear too far into the campus!

I'll be honest, I was nervous!  I'm well used to some of these girls online personas from instagram and facebook and deliciously pretty flickr pictures but to meet people in person!  Ooooh, that scares me! 

I encountered Anneliese from mailfromthecheekymonkeys first when I got to the room and she said "Oh, you look different to your pictures"!  Seriously, that's everyones nightmare, right?...... I mean we all just put our somewhat-passable pictures online but we like to think that in real life, we look like our "best" pictures.....right??  She's a sweet chick though and I relaxed pretty quickly.  Cindy arrived in the room then and there was a bit of organising to do before everyone else arrived. 

Anneliese & Eva  (& Kristina in the background)
In total, we were a group of 14........ a nice, comfy group from Galway, Portlaoise, Limerick and Cork.  There were three shops represented - Fluffy Sheep, Pippablue, and Wrap It.  So, we had lots to check out, some fabric to pick up and even some gift options!!  All three shop owners were sewing alongside us for the day too which was nice, it was great to put faces to these store-fronts and get to know them a little bit.   

We received really cute tote bags full of goodies which was a really lovely surprise!  All of the sponsors of our little retreat were very generous.  They included......

Aurifil - a fab selection of different weights of thread!
The Crafters Basket - a pack with some charm squares, ribbon and buttons
The Quilt Shop Tuam - some gorgeous fabric and a money off voucher
Fluffy Sheep Quilting - more fantastic fabric
Lisnaweary Quilts - yet more delicious fabric
Pilot - an erasable pen

And that wasn't all, we also were given a selection of vouchers for online purchases from other shops like Vibes & Scribes, Slaney Handcraft, Rags for Linda, and Seams Sew Simple.

Our super tote bag of goodies!!
The kettle never got a chance to cool down as we tucked into the lovely fare that the women brought - there was chocolate, brownies, buns and flapjacks to name but a few, but we promised ourselves we'd work it off........ eventually!

As the afternoon wore on, we got right down to work, there was a queue for the ironing and cutting tables at times as we all wanted to go home with something substantial accomplished. 

Áine, Ruth & Erin (& Cindy, well her reflection anyway)
I was working on my Storm At Sea quilt variation.  I got my head down and worked away but didn't get half as much done as I thought I would.  An 8-hour sewing day is not something I get to do often but I guess I did more chatting than I realised!

Storm At Sea work-in-progress

I did finally finish this quilt top this week though, well, at least, I finished the paper piecing side of it, I just need to add a couple of borders to "grow" it a little and then I'll bring it to the blog in all it's glory! 

The last thing to mention about our lovely Quilt Retreat though was our little part in Bee Blessed.  I had heard the name before but really had no notion what it was.  When we got our details for the day however, we were asked if we would like to make a couple of blocks for "Bee Blessed" and our colours were to be green & blue on a white background, with the finished quilt being for a boy.  The world was our oyster as regards design, as long as the blocks were 12.5" unfinished.

 I decided to make a little row of  houses with different characters in the windows and doorways - because every neighbourhood contains all sorts, right?  Even monkeys and pirates!!!  However, I didn't double check the size of my pattern and ended up doing a bit of re-jigging to make it size up properly but it worked out ok in the end.  

My second block was a simple colourful star.... nothing to write home about but it fit in well.  In the end, there was quite a lovely selection of blocks, I think it will make a lovely quilt and can't wait to see them put together, it's the first time I've been involved in a community quilt!

My poor blocks could seriously do with a proper iron......whoops!

If you are interested in learning more about Bee Blessed....... click here.   Sarah can answer any questions!

So that was our day...... a lot of sewing, a bit of shopping, alot of chat, even more coffee n' cake....... it was BRILLIANT!  Can't wait for the next one!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

A little something different - for me!

This week I got to do something a little different.  Along with one of my buddies in our sewing class, we made fabric covered boxes.  We used kits available at The Quilt Shop, it came with pre-cut sturdy card, box corners and precise instructions.  All we needed to add was our choice of fabric and some pva glue!

I've been dying to use this funky range of fabric for AGES but couldn't decide what to make with it.  Well, this was the perfect chance and I chose to use the umbrella design.  It has lots of colours in it and there are some beautiful co-ordinates in the range but I picked the red spots to co-ordinate with it........because it's a little more girlie!

 If you like getting crafty, this is a super project,  you get to mess around with glue and for a change it's a no-sew project!

And we got to bash around with a hammer............ great for working out the frustrations of the day! ;)
This box is about 13.5" square.  It's called a block box because it's useful for storing your 12.5" patchwork blocks flat. 

I know this box is going to get great use......... I have been putting in the blocks I'm currently working on, they're not 12.5" but it's the perfect spot to keep them until they're ready to be stitched together!


It was easy to make but it does take a little time - all in all, I would say about 3 hours but in that, as this was my first time making one, some of that time was spent checking and double checking that we were doing it correctly.

I think you end up with something a little funky for your efforts! 


Thursday, 28 August 2014

Bowtie, Dickie Bows, neckties.......whatever ya call 'em!

These are definitely a few of my favourite things right now!

So recently I finally made my first dickie bow! 

You know how there are certain things you want to try but just never get round to it..... well, a friend posted on facebook looking for one.  Her super stylish son needed a red spotty one to finish off his outfit for a wedding. 

Now this lad is one seriously funky little boy and I hated to think of him heading out without his accessory of choice so I took the opportunity to finally try a bowtie and help him sort out his outfit!  It worked out grand........ a bit rough around the edges as "firsts" usually are but he fairly ROCKED it judging by the pictures I saw.

I got an opportunity to fine tune my method however as having seen Jacks one my twins decided they loved bowties all of a sudden!

They've always loved accessories - hats and shoes are big items in our house but now it was...
"I want a green bowtie"
"I want a red bowtie"

Since I have nothing to do all day, every day (tongue in cheek, I promise) I went for it and indulged them!  They were thrilled, especially when everyone told them how smart they looked in them.  In fact, a couple of grown men were a little jealous of the red car fabric and the green animal fabric.    There is definitely something fun about bow-ties, even though they are mostly seen with formal tuxes, they someone seem a little less formal than ties and allow your inner child to pop out!

As we had a weekend coming up where they got to dress-up nice and smart each day, it meant that I got a good bit of practice in but it was well worth it as they were nicely turned out and looked darn cute alongside their buddies in Dublin!  I'm not done yet though........ I picked up a few orders from other little boys while we were away so it's back to the sewing machine for me.  Next time the boys meet their friends, they'll have even more in common!

I've just realised that these two are like little Ant & Dec, they always seem to stand to the same side of each other!  I still don't know which is which though.......... Ant and/or Dec, I mean......... I know these two, obviously!

Monday, 25 August 2014

A Quilt for Baby Elsie

Another week, another project!

This past week or so I've been working on another gift quilt.  My husband has worked with the father of this gorgeous baby girl for years.  In fact, they were roomies before he moved to Galway to marry me so you could say they've been around the block together.  They each have a fair few stories about the other that neither wants repeated (again). 

In 2010, we travelled to France for his wedding to the lovely Vicky.  I was 8 weeks pregnant with my twin boys and although I had a wonderful time, my memories are mostly of being sick.... morning, noon and night..........and at least 3 times on the way to the airport!  (One big bonus, to add to the rest, about having twins, is that you get two babies for one pregnancy - whoop whoop, I don't have to do that again). 

Anyway, I've derailed.  The happy couple recently welcomed baby Elsie and we were all very happy to hear that she entered the world as a teeny tiny but healthy little girl!

I asked her auntie what colours mum and dad put on her to get an idea of what they liked.............and then ended up going completely the other direction.  The colours I chose, kind of evolved.  I had lots of the suggested colours in but as I fine-tuned my palette, they were being eliminated one by one!!!  Whoops! 

I kept the design basic because I didn't want Elsie to have grown up before she received it!  I think the hearts can be sweet for a baby, a little girl and even a teen and the background fabrics also, I tried to keep a little timeless.  I didn't want her to outgrow it in a few months if it was too babyish. 

Oooh and see that little white thing on the far right of the back of the quilt?  Those are my new quilt labels....... Elsie's quilt is the first one I got to put them on.  I'm happy to finally have my little labels on my quilts and will put them on any future projects but I'm not very excited about the label's very black and white, I think I need some colour and a more basic design as the sewing machine is slightly cut off once it's sewn into the binding.  Shame....but you learn as you go and I'm learning by the minute, like a newborn ;) 

And on that note, WELCOME to the world Baby Elsie!