Friday, 16 March 2018

Modern Plus Sign Quilts Blog Hop!

Image courtesy of C&T Publications

I'm so excited it's my turn to share for Cheryl and Paige's book hop, for their beautiful new book Modern Plus Sign Quilts.  It is a real honour to be a part of this hop and to have had the privilege of making from Cheryl and Paige's designs.  There are 16 brilliant patterns in the book and I had a hard time deciding which to make and in the end, I was delighted to make the Transparency Chain pattern.

Image courtesy of C&T Publications

I chose this pattern for a few reasons.  I love transparency designs and haven't made too many of them and thought it would be good practice to exercise a sense of value and tonal scale, by trying a design like this.

I think this was the quilt for me especially as, at the moment, my time in front of sewing machine is limited.  I am healing from disk issues in my lower back and knowing that basting a quilt top would be a struggle,  I  am limited to smaller projects, quilt as you go and design work.  One of the way's Cheryl and Paige suggested the pattern could be used was to make less blocks for a baby quilt or a table topper.  I decided to go with the latter and make a mini-quilt.  Given the small size of my project, I wanted to put a special effort in and to try and contribute to the book hop by playing with some extra chains in the design.  Cheryl and Paige invited us to change things up if we wanted and to be inspireed by the designs with our projects. 

Idea #1
Idea #2

Because the pattern is so well written and comes together in a very clever way, it makes it easier to piece lots of the same block than it looks and makes it really easy to play with.  I took it as a challenge to honour the beautiful clean nature of Cheryl's design and at the same time have a bit of a play. I love playing with design and suffer from a condition called curiosity - it's not fatal but it does take me down endless rabbit holes!  I end up with lots of variations and really struggle with just choosing one.  So I thought the Transparency Chain would be a great pattern to have some fun with and stretch myself a little.

This is what I eventually came up with.

Exact same colours, just different placement gives a different effect!
Originally I thought about framing the chain around the plus block but quickly realised a light to dark transparency was nicer and more true to Cheryl's design. By adding a chain to the outside and the inside in different tones I got a transparency inspired double Irish Chain.  To make the design work you need to add some of the chain to the plus blocks, so if you want to have a go, you take the pattern block and add a square into each corner.

I have a lot of grays in my stash so colour me surprised when trying to match a light to dark was not as easy as I had expected.  I have a good mix of warm and cool greys that don't really go with each other!  In my mind, I was looking for light, medium and dark grey but realised also, the background white was part of the gradient, so I made a change to my light grey to make it work better.  In hindsight, I'd not use as stark a dark again and try and get a smoother transition in the light to medium/dark grays.  But I'm still happy with the end result and I think it works.

This is how I think I could use the double transparency in the pattern and think this would make a great quilt for Gordon for the study.  It can be tricky sometimes finding a pattern and colourway that can be gender neutral and I think this is definitely one of them, that would also live very well in our house!

Final idea!

Especially when framed with hot pink binding!

Given the mini size of the block I ended up making for the hop, I thought it would make a great piece to practice some free motion quilting on and I had a blast.  I used a small stipple for the centre, parallel(ish) lines, pebbles, spirals, orange peel and wishbones to quilt it!  I am very pleased with how the quilting turned out and it will be hard to give this mini away.

One of the projects our committee of the Irish Patchwork Society has been working on is a project that brings all 8 of our branches together by having each branch take a traditional quilt block and make 8 variations of it from traditional to modern to share with each other.  My branch has the Irish Chain and it being St. Patrick's Day tomorrow this book hop and Transparency Chain pattern couldn't be more timely!

My mini will be donated to the branch, crediting Cheryl and Paige's book on the back label and I hope it will be used to show how versatile chain designs, and as a bonus, plus designs can be.  The Modern Plus Sign Quilts Book is available to buy directly from Cheryl and Paige as signed copies or from Amazon.  I could easily make so many quilts from this book and couldn't recommend it highly enough.  Whether you are looking for inspiration or a fun pattern well written, there is a quilt here for everyone!

To see more designs and the projects my fellow blog hoppers have made from and inspired by the book, the full schedule is below.  Please stop by and visit, you will not be disappointed!  Don't forget to visit Cheryl & Paige's blogs for giveaways while the hop is on!

Thanks again to Cheryl and Paige for allowing me to participate in the hop.  I have loved making your design and feel very privileged to have had so much fun playing and exploring plus blocks with you all.  Happy St. Patrick's to everyone!

Monday, March 12th

Tuesday, March 13th
Kitty @ Night Quilter
Sophie @ Luna Lovequilts
Afton @ Quilting Mod

Wednesday, March 14th
Abigail @ Cut & Alter
Sandra @ mmm! quilts
Karen @ Run Sew Fun

Thursday, March 15th
Bernie @ Needle and Foot

Friday, March 16th
Izzy @ Dizzy Quilts
Christa @ Christa Quilts

Monday, March 19th
Jessica @ Quilty Habit

Tuesday, March 20th

Wednesday, March 21st
Anja @ Anja Quilts

Thursday, March 22nd

Friday, March 23rd
Paige @ Quilted Blooms

Thursday, 1 February 2018

The Endeavourers Challenge - Nature

Last year, I answered a call for quilters who wanted to take part in quarterly challenges and push themselves to try new things.  The idea was to have some fun, learning and playing with fabric together, through themes randomly chosen.  I was delighted to see names of quilty friends and those new to me on the groups blog page : The Endeavourers.  There are 14 of us taking part and encouraging each other in our explorations. 

Today is the reveal day for our first challenge: Nature.

I am very happy to share my quilt idea, 'Making Waves'.  Mine is a top only at this stage and not a finished piece which it should be.  As my back issue, though settling and improving, had a bit of set back a few weeks ago and sitting is still no fun at all, I haven't been able to sit at a sewing machine.

The Irish Patchwork Society (IPS) national exhibition theme is Making Waves and this has been on my mind so with a theme of nature and my love of the west coast of Clare, part of the Wild Atlantic Way,  I guess it had to be a wave! To read more about the inspiration and influences behind the idea for this wave, please visit The Endeavourers blog.

I thought here I'd talk a bit about how I made it, in case you were inspired to break out the bondaweb and a big bucket of scraps!

I made this sketch to work from as a pattern, fiddled with it for ages, even though it is a simple enough shape.  I printed it on A4 and taped it all together and then thought now what?  My friend Louise asked if I had seen Shannon Brinkley's collage quilts using animals and cityscapes, so remembering her bear quilt, I looked her up and her website here where she offers an online course and patterns to buy.  I didn't use Shannon's process as I hadn't the materials she recommends but I was inspired by her bear pattern to make the quilt as a collage, and knew I wanted a strong line for the wave and not a broken one with overlapping collage pieces.  I highly recommend Shannon's process as she has multiple ways of finishing the edges and using different types of collage pieces to build up your design.  If you take her course you get to choose a pattern available from her shop so worth having a look!

I had previously made an art collage quilt before, of a boat on the river Shannon, for our branch's Local Landscapes exhibition.  I wanted to try something different for my wave and this feels a little more grown up for some reason.  I think it might be the fabrics; less contrasting colour and more blended maybe?  

I pulled a lot of aquas, turquoises, teals and blues and in the end used mostly scraps and very little from the fabric pull.  Still, creating that palette helped me select from my scrap basket (yes this is all the scraps I have!).

I wanted some strong clean curves in the piece even though it was going to be made of scraps and many pieces of fabrics, so I remembered my quilt friend Paula Rafferty telling me about drawing directly onto fusible bondaweb and not the paper at the back.  This means no faffing about with reversing patterns and I could stick pieces directly onto the fusible paper.  A pencil was no good as it's hard edge caught the bondaweb but an embroidery transfer pen was perfect and glided over the fusible smoothly.

I traced the whole pattern and then some of the smaller elements separately.  I used some parchment paper between the pattern and the iron to prevent my iron getting all gunky when fusing down the fabric.  I have a silicone A3 sheet for just this type of thing but I couldn't find it anywhere- it has to here somewhere in my kitchen/sewing room but no luck finding it when I needed it, so parchment paper it was!
The paper stuck to the fusible around the pieces and instead of pulling it apart which might dislodge the fabric pieces,  I simply cut around the shape I wanted and the parchment under the fabric just fell away. There are loose spots where the pieces overlap but I'll be quilting it all down at some stage so I am not worried about raw edges or un-fused pieces.  This little wave is not intended for washing!

Then using some photographs of real waves from a google search as inspiration for fabric placement, I built up the collage keeping the lightest sections at the top left hand corner of the wave and adding my curved pieces where I liked.  I used some backing fabric as a cushion for the iron to press onto and kept on building.

Finally I had a finished wave.  Next decision: background fabric.  I tried patterned, solid baby blue for sky, black for high contrast,  and eventually settled on a graduated blue that seems to fit the highlights of the piece just right.

This is where I have gotten to as the next step involves basting and quilting and that means sitting at a sewing machine!  I do intend to face it when quilted so there will be no visible binding and hope it will look something like this. 

I always use the Silly Boo Dilly's tutorial for facing a quilt - it is a very well written tutorial and super handy to have when you don't want binding to show on the front.  So even though I didn't get her finished I certainly feel like I have lived up to the spirit of The Endeavourer's group challenge.  This was a great first theme and I am looking forward to seeing what nature themed projects are being revealed today.

If you want to see more from our group please visit the Endeavourer's blog and my fellow group members below:

Catherine -  
Janine –
Nancy –
Carol –
Barbara –
Ruth –
Gwen –
Martha –
Julie –
Maureen –
Tonia –
Kay –
Soma –
Fiona -

Friday, 5 January 2018

Thank crunchie it's Friday!

No chocolate crunchie bars on hand this Friday - I have to admit being all sugared out at this stage and looking forward to getting back to normal.  I did manage to sit at the sewing machine for a very small time this week and get my Home is Where the Dog Is quilt top finished! To be fair it was all done bar sewing the rows together.

So glad I got all the zig-zag done on the letters before the disk in my back came at me as that bit took ages!  Finishing it into a quilt now is going to have a wait a while as I have left a blank space on the first floor to add something special and have no idea whatsoever what that could be!  I do need to try and get on with a quilt and teaching samples I need for workshops I am teaching in February and March so I am happy to park it for a while, while I mull it over in my head!

Not being able to do to much at the sewing table means there is still lots of knitting going on!  Here's an update: Winter hat for Gordon - Done!  Pattern is A Hat Fit For a Fella by Shana Schasteen.

A sparkly Christmas cowl for mum - with her help!  I get bored with plain and purl and mum hates following a pattern so we share the workload sometimes.  Mum knits looser than I do so when gauge matters I give her a smaller needle.  This was her first time using metallic circular needles - my favourite - she didn't like them!

Still her finished cowl turned our lovely and perfectly matching Christmas decor.  This pattern is the Miss Marple Scarf free on Ravelry.

Chunky hat and shawl for me - done!  Hat is my own design using two a white and a pink ball of Tivoli super chunky wool.  The shawl pattern is Clouds in a Blue Sky by Andrea Rangel.  I added a bit of Swiss darning to it to tie in the edge yard to the brighter cream from my stash.  This technique was a lot of fun and I would definitely do this duplicate stitching technique again.

And if superchunky isn't fast enough I got a present of some Jumbo Merino wool for Christmas along with 25mm needles! 

I wanted to make a cushion for my cousin as a thank you present but the 1kg ball wasn't enough and the cable I attempted to add in ended up rock hard and messed up the width so I started again!  I found the needles hard to work with and had too tight a gauge to start with so loosened it well up on the second go.

This is how thick the jumbo yarn is and it is so soft!  Unspun, it is quite delicate and frogging it is not a good idea to do too regularly!  You can't wash it as it will felt but you can dry clean it.

 Second attempt went better with a simple pattern over 10 stitches!

 Yup only 10 stitches and I had the front of a cushion.  Now to figure out the back!

I had a bit left over to make a cowl for mum though - only 3 stitches and arm knitted and done in about 15 minutes!  Feels cheating to call this one a finish!  The arm knitting was much faster once I got the hang of the cast on!  She loves it and it is really soft and warm.

I am planning on arm knitting  with a bigger ball of 4-6kg acrylic yarn to make a blanket for the bed.  I normally buy the best wool I can as I think if you are going to take the time to knit up something might as well treat yourself to the best.  Acrylic is washable though and a good bit cheaper so while I would love a Merino wool blanket I think the Acrylic is the way to go for the moment.

Happy New Year everyone - hope 2018 is a good one and a cosy one to you all!

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

One last finish!

I couldn't tell you where the month of December has gone! It has been an upsy downsy month with flu (the entire family!), bulging disk in my back, lots of birthdays and the mad Christmas dash that always seems to happen no matter how well I think I have everything in hand. 

I've been absent here and online as home life, work and getting the secret sewing done has taken over and I haven't had a minute to myself except for last week when the back gave out and I had no choice but to find a comfy spot on the sofa and read and knit and not try to do anything that required brain power!

Still, I got one last quilty make done.  You might remember this when it was just a flimsy?  I finished it for my Friend's new baby for her first Christmas!  As my friend reads the blog from time to time I didn't want to show too much but now it's been gifted I can share away! 

Indoor photos only as it was miserable weather before the Christmas!  Rained most of the day Christmas day too!  The quilting is inspired by Patsy Thompson's Craftsy Class called Ultimate Free Motion Quilting where she teaches a technique of layering quilt lines called Hyperquilting.  I have been wanting to try it our for ages so using 2 different colours of pink aurifil thread I managed to quilt in some butterflies and flowers. 

I had a lot of fun with this and a small throw quilt like this was a great size to try something new.  I'll definitely be doing this style of quilting again.  I love the texture it gives the quilt after its first wash.

I showed it unbound at our branch of the Irish Patchwork Society meeting in December and the ladies asked me what colour I was going to bind it in.  When I said a very pale blue there were some funny looks but I think it works really well.  The background fabric is Kona Smoke and I can't remember the pinks but think one might be Rose.  The off white is PFD bleached white.  I think the blue might be Sky.

I'm glad it worked out very like I imagined and am happy to have to have one last finish for 2017!  I know there are a few days yet to go but it's unlikely I'll get a quilt top basted and quilted by New Years, though I have a chance at finishing another knitted hat!  Made 3 this month so far and happily today the rain has stopped, it's turning frosty and I may get to wear one out walking the dogs!

That is if we can get them away from their new toy.  Well it's meant to be Maggie's toy but Charly has other ideas and it has been a constant battle between the two of them for ownership!  We've had to hide it twice, so far Charly has found it every time.  Can't fool a Jack Russell, a Basset on the other hand...

Hope everyone had a happy Christmas and wishing everyone a very happy New Year!

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

WIP Wednesday - Still lots going on!

Keeping up a blog relies as much on habit as it does on making things to show but sometimes, the time it takes to write up a blog post, is lost to fun things like visiting family home for a month, secret sewing projects for new classes & workshops, designs for publication and guild work and the not so fun things like cleaning the house, reactions to the flu jab and ironing the clothes!

Having said all that, I feel the pull to the blog very strongly every now and again as the act of writing about WIP's and design ideas, things I've explored or learned and the desire to express that, gives me a sense of satisfaction and joy in sharing.  And there has been lots going on!

As Chairperson for the Irish Patchwork Society (IPS), there was the AGM where afterwards the guest speaker was Janice Gunner from the British Guild of Quilters.   We learned all about the different Japanese textiles made from Shibori techniques and got to see samples Janice had created (images above).  If anyone has or knows of some good books on Quilt History and Textiles I would be really interested in learning more - so far I have found very little in depth books that you could settle in by the fire and a strong cuppa tea and spend an hour or two devouring so suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

There are a pile of quilt tops and WIP's ready to be worked on, a new website for the IPS with lots of members only content planned and in progress, 4 new designs in various stages which will need pattern testing at some point and a pile of fabric waiting for cutting!

In the midst of writing about log cabins for the new IPS website I created these illustrations to show improv log cabins and now want to drop everything and make them so last weekend I uploaded the images to Playcrafts palette builder and bought a bucket load of solids from the Limerick Quilt Centre.  Thinking of a one block quilt in green for our brown leather sofa!  Nice and bright for the winter - should be cheery!

Another idea that came from the Elements of a Modern Quilt Class I am preparing for the IPS next March is this Triangle play quilt.  Really like the orange and blue with Kona Coal on this one so bought the fabric for that too, this time from Plush addict!

I had been without my large sewing machine for 3 months too as it was getting repaired - remember the bother I had with it for North South East & West?  Well turns out there was a teeny tiny spring gone in the bottom and we think that may have been catching the thread as I moved my hands in the 10 O'Clock position!

Lastly I have had this quilt on the design wall since August when we had to say goodbye to Wilbur and I just didn't feel like getting on with it.  Time is right now so I have two versions of Home is Where the Dog Is on the go.  I pieced in a day this minimalist one inspired by Wilbur's Kennel!  A finished Quilt top feels like progress.  Now to get on with the quilting!  I'm hoping to quilt the text in relief with straight line quilting around the shapes!

So much more to do....stay tuned...giveaway coming up this month too!

Linking up to Let's Bee Social, Needle and Thread Thursday and the Friday Finishes!
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