Monday, 22 December 2014

Show & Tell - Christmas swap

Well, I think we can say we have had another really successful Christmas swap this year!  As you know, we were making cushions for each other and there has been lots of eye candy shared on Instagram and Flickr.
Compilation from #mqichristmasswap and Flickr group
Amazing how they all are so different from one another!  For my part, all I can say is thank you Helen, you are some woman for managing to get both dogs and penguins (my fave's) into a Christmas cushion and next year I want quilting lessons from Tomomi!  Beautiful work by all I think you will agree!

So thank you ladies for taking part and thank you to Fiona for being a great swap mama and organising us all so well!  More great swaps next year I hope.  Happy Christmas everyone and I hope you all have a wonderful New Year!

PS:  In case you missed it on our Facebook page, we have 5 members taking the Skill Builder Block of the Month 2015 with Alyssa @ Pile O'Fabric so we qualify for a group discount.  If anyone else is interested in purchasing the BOM to make this gorgeous quilt, please contact me for the discount code!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Modern Irish Bee 2015 Sign Ups Open!

Good morning Modern Irish Quilters!  Sign ups are now open for Modern Irish Bee 2015.

How our Bee works
Online Quilting Bees are usually made up of 12 members, 1 member for each month of the year.  Each member takes their turn at being Queen Bee. The Queen Bee chooses a block she would like the hive mates to make for her and before her month arrives, the Queen Bee writes instructions to make the block.  This typically involves testing the block, noting areas where any changes are to be made or difficulties encountered, to help the Hive have an easier time making the blocks.

Instructions are given to the Hive on the 1st of the month and the hive mates make 2 blocks and post the blocks to the Queen before the end of the month.  Hive mates post images to the Flickr group or on Instagram to share progress.

Choosing a Block
The Queen may design her own block as long as it is tested and instructions are provided to make it.  The Queen may choose a block from a free online tutorial and reference the original tutorial in the instructions and note any changes to be made.  Blocks from published books or paid patterns should not be used, as every hive mate would need to buy a copy to make the block.  Photocopying or emailing a paid pattern is not permitted and infringes on the rights of the author/publisher.  Special tools or fabric required to make the block may not be requested unless the Queen provides them to the hive mates in advance of her turn as Queen Bee.  It is expected that hive mates have access to basic quilting supplies, sewing machine, rotary cutter etc. and are comfortable piecing a 1/4" seam.

Bee Rules
The Bee is open to quilters of all sewing levels.  Beginners may have to learn new techniques to complete the blocks throughout the year.  It is a great opportunity to try new things and blocks you might not normally think of.  We are polling members who want to take part for a shorter 6 month or a full 12 month Bee in the sign up form here, and have asked for sewing skill level in the event we can put more than 1 Bee group together.  We will try and match skill levels where possible. 
This year the Bee is using fabric from our own stash or scrap baskets to make 2 blocks a month for our hive mates.  Blocks may be scrappy or may be made from a chosen colour group and hive mates are expected to pull from their stash the appropriate colours for the block.  Background fabrics may be low volume or any colour family you wish.  A specific fabric or colour from a specific manufacturer should not be specified unless the fabric is being provided.  Please give the hive mates guidance on how to choose the colour for the block for example bright white like Kona white or off white like Kona Snow.  All fabric used in the blocks should be quilt shop quality 100% cotton.
A colour, inspiration fabric pull or a photograph can be very helpful for hive mates in choosing appropriate fabrics from their stash.  If you are unsure of a fabric please post a picture to our Flickr group or Instagram (#modernirishbee) and the Queen Bee can tell you if it will work or not.  It's better to ask than disappoint the Queen who may have to relegate your block to the back as it will not work with the other blocks!

Please post your blocks on time before the end of each month and if for any reason there is a delay please let the Queen Bee know when they can be expected.  It's not fair to expect people to make blocks for you when you haven't made for them.  Please do your very best workmanship and only send out what you in turn would be happy to receive. When sending your blocks in the post please put them in a ziploc or water resistant bag to prevent them from getting damaged in the post.

Join in!
To take part in Modern Irish Bee 2015, you need to be a member of Modern Quilters Ireland (its free - join here!)  Please sign up  to take part in the Bee using this form and if we do not have enough people for more than 1 Bee the first 12 sign ups will be accepted.  Places fill up fast so don't wait if you want to participate.  Sign ups close this Friday 12th December.

For those not able to make the commitment to a full Bee please make the blocks along with us and share to the Flickr group.  All members are welcome to join in the fun!


Monday, 1 December 2014

Modern Irish {Scrappy} Bee: December Block

It is the final month of the Modern Irish {Scrappy} Bee 2014 and it is my month. The time was flying and sadly another bee is over. I am delighted to be Queen and hope to finish this bee with an amazing quilt!

If you ever think having 11 month to get ready helps I have to tell you you are wrong. I changed my plans last month and so now I am sitting here last minute to write the tutorial. Are you ready? I chose a beautiful HST block with a beautiful HST center for the first block ...

 ... and a much more gorgeous fussy cut center for the second block!

These are a lot of HST but at the end they come together quite fast. I had already four of the blocks on my wall and I love how they look together. Thank you so much for helping me making this quilt!

I hope you are not scared now and ready to get sewing! Each of the blocks should end in 12.5''. Please use bright colors and Kona white for the stripes/HSTs and press the seams either open or to the color fabric. Ready? Let's get started :)

Block 1:
  • 16 * 4'' white squares
  • 16 * 4'' different color squares
  • 4 * 2.5'' different color squares

You need to make 16 HST trimmed to 3.5''. I, for myself, make them using 4'' squares. Put them right sides together and sew on the right and the left side of the diagonal line, press the seams and trim to 3.5''. You will get 32 HSTs in this step. You can use 16 for the first block and 12 for the second one. I want this quilt to be scrappy so, if you can, do not use the same fabric more than once in one block but you can use them for the second block.

For the first center you take four of the HSTs you just made. Add the 2.5'' squares right side to the white part of the HST and sew diagonaly. Cut back the seam allowance and press.

Now you only have to arrange the HSTs and sew them together. Make lines out of the HSTs and sew the lines together to make the block. Press the seams open in this step and you are done.

Block 2:
  • 12 HSTs (you can use the ones you made for block one)
  • 2 3/4" center cut (on point)
  • 2 * 1.5'' stripes Kona white, 2 3/4'' length
  • 2 * 1.5'' stripes Kona white, 4 3/4'' length
  • 4 * 3 3/4'' triangles (side length)

The second block only differs in the center. You have the choice to either use the Paper Piece Template or make the block adding stripes to the fussy cut center. I would love you to use a fussy cut center that "represents" you. Feel free to use a fussy cut, stitch or applique. Whatever suits you is perfect. When you cut the center please remember the cut will be on the peak.

If you do not use the paper piecing template this is the construction for the center:
Take the fussy cut and add the 2 3/4'' stripes to the center block on 2 sides. Press and add the remaining 4 3/4'' stripes to the other sides. Press again.

Your finished block should measure 4 3/4''. Finally you need to add the triangles on two sides. Press and add the remaining two triangles to the other sides. Your finished block should measure 6.5''.

If you use the paper piecing template it should be straight forward. I used a leftover piece which I centered at the paper piecing template. After adding two white stripes on the opposite sides I cut back the seam allowance before I added the white stripes to the other sides. After adding the triangles you have to trim the block and remove the paper.

Finally you can assemble the block. Sew the upper and lower line of HSTs together and the HSTs on the sides of the paper pieced block. Add the two HST blocks to the sides of the paper pieced block and press the seams open. Add the upper and lower line and press open again. Done!

I am so excited and looking forward what you are going to make! Have fun and thank you for helping me making this quilt!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Stocking Fillers for Quilters!

There are lots of suggestions in blog land for crafty Christmas presents that you can make to give as gifts.  Anna, Fiona and I thought it would be fun to put together a post with items you might like to receive.  If you have family members or friends that are wondering what to get a Quilter for Christmas, or even ideas for things you might like to buy for your quilting best bud, how about some of these?

First up Fabric - can't go wrong with gifting a quilter some quilt shop cotton prints!

Charm packs (5" squares, 2 packs will make a baby quilt), a selection of fat eights and fat quarters, will always be welcome and will earn you a cup of tea and a biscuit if you drop by. If you are feeling really generous and drop by with a  fat quarter bundle of a quilters favourite designer, you will definitely be staying for Christmas dinner too!  (I was gifted this FQB of Kate Spain fabric last Christmas and am still hoarding it - just keeping the one bundle, everything else has been busted open to use!)

Quilters, for some reason, seem to amass quite a bit of bits and bobs and need somewhere to put them.  I got these jars in Homestore & More last year and have seen similar in Ikea.  They are perfect for thread and I keep Jelly rolls (2.5" strips) in them, not the most practical when you want the jelly roll in the bottom but they look pretty!

You may have seen the Gorjuss fabric panels at the Knitting & Stitching show.  Well they do the cutest tins too - perfect for storing kneedles, pins and buttons.

Check out these beautiful pins and scissors on Pincushion Crazy's Etsy shop.  Imagine opening a Gorjuss tin with a packet of these lovelies hidden inside. 
Image from Pincushion Crazy's Etsy shop

Image from Cafe Press
Cafe Press and companies like them will print images onto mugs, coasters, T-Shirts, mouse mats etc.  If you sign up for their newsletter you will get discount offers.
Image from Cafe Press

If they had one of these mugs with a Jack Russell on it I might be tempted!

Image from
Something else to decorate your craft room could be this hanger from the Cotton Patch.  They also have a version to hold thread and some really lovely quilt hangers too!

Like fabric, you can't go too far wrong with books.  If you are buying for an art quilter these two are worth a look.  Paper and Metal Leaf Lamination describes transferring images to fabric and you could also gift someone some inkjet fabric sheets too.  I'm not a big fan of compendium books but this Ultimate Guide to Art Quilting has tons of information on all sorts of techniques.

For the hand quilter I really like this embroidery book Doodle Stitching.  It has small and pretty motifs and soon you will be doodling your own designs and stitching them out.  The Farmers Wife, though a traditional sampler of 6" blocks hand stitched, has been doing the rounds.  Even though this is a traditional book, these blocks made in modern fabrics are really gorgeous themselves.  (Check out these lovely blocks by Sewgiving and you will see what I mean!)
Probably my most favourite book I've read all year is Quilting With a Modern Slant.  Sarah Fielke has a new book out too called Little Quilts which I bought and gifted and it was well received!

If you know someone who is into applique, you can find patterns online that won't break the bank.  They come complete with templates and some even come with cute buttons as embellishments.
Image from Patchwork Threads
For some fun stuff check out Patchwork Threads

Image from Patchwork Threads
Image from Clafoutine blog
I love this bobbin bracelet from Clafoutine's blog and Fiona is expecting this sweater from Three Little Numbers under the tree at Christmas.
Image from three little numbers
If practical is more you're thing, (I have 2 friends who love practical gifts - they always buy brilliantly for each other!), how about some items to make your sewing life easier?

Image from Quilt in a Day

This isn't for clobbering someone if they try and take away your fabric, this is a wooden iron for pressing seams without having to use a steam iron.   A rotating cutting mat is on my list and if you know someone who travels to sew, a cutting mat/ironing board combo like this one could come in handy.   Speciality rulers like these Jaybird rulers and Bloc Loc Rulers reviewed by Swim Bike Quilt would make great stocking fillers. 

Not sure you can get this into a Christmas stocking but I had to show you my Ikea kitchen trolley.  Those that were at the Galway retreat will remember I was mildly obsessed with getting one of these.  It was a birthday present!  I love it to bits and it holds a ton of stuff.

And while you are in Ikea you might as well pick up a bolt of Ikea Britten Nummer - makes great backing fabric!

The Pink carry organiser was found in the cards craft section of Hobby Lobby in USA last year - another great buy.  It's worth checking our the card making area of Craft shops to find cool storage ideas!

Image from
On my wish list is a die cutting machine - how handy would these be for circles and hexagons?
Image from

Anna is looking for an Oliso iron, the lifty ones!  They rise up and down automatically and prevent your fabric from burning.  Not sure about the voltage working in these parts but you may get a good deal next week if you are in the US for Thanksgiving sales.

Finally, if computers is your thing you could gift someone a Craftsy class.  I love Camille Roskelly's classes for quick modern quilts and Elizabeth Dackson and Ann Peterson's classes for Free Motion Quilting.  If you are feeling incredibly generous and know a quilter who is into designing their own quilts there is Electric Quilt software which now runs on Mac and PC.

What do you think?  Any of these grab you?  If you have any suggestions please let us know and feel free to print this out and give to your nearest and dearest, marked up, circled in red and you never know what you will find under the tree!

Monday, 10 November 2014

Bee Blessed - November

For November, Sarah and Judith are looking for a brilliant block made up of strips, similar to the trip around the world blocks, with a white square creating a chain across the diagonal.  This is a great block to use up jelly roll strips. 
 You can have great fun playing with layout if you make a few of these!  Sarah has shown a number of layouts and cutting instructions for this block on her blog here!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Modern Irish {Scrappy} Bee: November Block

Round 2 for me, ding ding!

Anyone who didn't quite enjoy the lack of measuring and exactness of my April blocks will be happy to know this month's block isn't like that ;)

I have had a busy few months, with moving across the country and getting everyone settled and things into some semblence of order. There have been a few constants, one of which being this Sewing Bee, and a number of good friends I've 'met' through sewing and have listened to my moans/rants/rages and made me laugh each of the times!

I was browsing Pinterest for quilt blocks that struck me, when a quilt popped up and pulled me right in. I knew I'd seen it before, and when I clicked on the link, it brought me straight to Fluffy Sheep's blog, and her beautiful gifted Circle of Friends quilt. At that moment, the stars aligned and I had a lightbulb moment!

*warning, it gets a bit fluffy now*

I am part of a circle of women through a Shaman centre, called Moon Mná. We gather each month around the full moon, to tap into the energy, and perform a meditation circle, with some energy cleansing preceding it. It's a time for me, as a woman, to be just that. Things have changed slightly now that I live away from the centre in Dublin, but the circle has changed dynamic too, so there are now remote groups and all synchronising at the same time, in the same theme. Anyway, I digress somewhat, if anyone is interested, message me ;)

So, back to this month's blocks. Using Cindy's Circle of Friends quilt as inspiration, made up of a 'circle' of squares block, I will bring together all of your blocks to create my 'Women's Circle' quilt. I would appreciate if you could do something else for me while making these blocks.... this is entirely up to you, as it is a very personal thing. I would like you to use whatever method you like to imbibe these blocks with positivity, with female energy ;) This could simply be you making the blocks while in a positive state of mind, saying a prayer/chant/spellcasting over the blocks, dance around them, meditate with them... the list goes on, I hope you get the idea ;) As I said, it's a personal thing, I don't expect to hear the what or the how, this is more about the energies from all of you, and bringing them together into a quilt, which I believe, will be a blanket or shroud of healing. How could it not be?

Onto the block! It is a scrappy block, and I would like you to use Kona White as the background. Fussy cutting is welcome, no kiddie fabrics (Aneela Hoey style cute is fine). No heavy florals, or browns/blacks, no batiks. The scrappy squares should be bright, rainbow spiral.

The tutorial is from Emerald Coast Modern Quilt Guild. It is based on the 9-patch layout, using the placement of the scrappy, focus fabric, squares to create a circle. I would like you to make two of these blocks, both measuring 12.5" square. All seams are 1/4".

The block is made up of three different units: A, B, and C
The two A units make the top and bottom centre pieces, the four B units the four corners, and the single C unit is the centre.

Cutting instructions
Focus Fabric: Eight 2.5" squares of scrappy colourful fabric
Kona White:
  • 8 strips 2.5" * 1.5" for Unit A
  • 8 strips 4.5" * 1.5" for Unit A
  • 4 squares 2.5" * 2.5" for Unit B
  • 4 strips 4.5" * 2.5" for Unit B
  • 1 centre square 4.5" * 4.5" for Unit C
Before assembling, decide on the placement of your focus fabric squares. If you've fussy-cut, make sure you've the pieces placed the right way up ;)

Assembling Unit A - make 4
Take the focus fabric square, and attach the 2.5" * 1.5" strips to either side of the square (press seams towards the focus fabric).
Then attach the 4.5" * 1.5" strips to the top and bottom, again pressing towads the focus fabric.

Assembling Unit B - make 4
Attach a Kona White 2.5" square to the focus fabric square, press towards the white.
Then attach the 4.5" * 2.5" strip, keeping the focus square to the top left of the block (remember any directional print positioning), and press towards the white.
Finally, attach the top row to the centre row, nesting the seams, and then attach the bottom row.
Press well, and trim to 12.5" square.

Block assembly
Now it's time to put it all together. Reposition all the units in the order you want. Then take the left Unit B and attach to the Unit A, followed by the right Unit B, for both the top and bottom rows. Press the seams on two rows towards the unit B blocks. Attach the two centre Unit As to the Unit C square, pressing towards the centre Unit C.

That's it! Your two, energy imbibed, circle blocks ;)

Finally, if you could include a few scrappy 2.5" squares (only if you have them, and feel extra generous), I would really appreciate it!

I hope you enjoy this block, I can't wait to put all these together and watch the sparks fly ;)

Monday, 27 October 2014

How to make an envelope backed cushion

Morning all, hope everyone is enjoying the bank holiday Monday.  Today's post is a how to post for those taking part in our Christmas cushion swap, who haven't made a cushion before and want to know how to make an envelope back cushion.  I'm showing how I do this and you may have another method you use so if you have any tips for us please let us know!
Our cushion swap is for a finished cushion 18"x18".  It is a good idea to make your cushion top larger than this, as after quilting you will probably see some shrinkage.  I don't trim until after all the quilting is done!

I'm not a big fan of spray basting (had a problem with it on a lap quit!) but I really like it for small projects like cushions.  You can pin baste your layers together if you prefer.  I normally don't bother with a third layer and quilt just the top and wadding and before you shake your head in amazement, Crazy Mom Quilts does the same!  But if you are worried about the wadding in the wash or sewing on it bare with your machine you can use a lightweight calico/muslin or cotton fabric you don't like very much as your backing - it will be inside the cushion and only seen when stuffing!

When spray basting make sure you have a ventilated room, open a patio door or go outside.  For spray basting quilts, fold over half your top and spray in short bursts, no need to cover the whole patchwork top.  Fold back and smooth out and then do the same for the other side. 
Hand quilting a cushion is great fun as it is a small project.  I quite like dense quilting on a cushion by machine too!  A tip I learned on Craftsy's Creative Quilting with your walking foot, is to mark a little distance away with some masking tape to give yourself a straight line to aim for.  For this cushion I'm a little off in the angle but can correct it on the next line and move the masking tape up an inch or two as I go along.
Once the top is quilted I trim to an inch over the finished cushion size I want.  For this 18" finished cushion I trimmed to 19" square.
To make an envelope back you need two pieces the same width as your top but length approx. 3/4 that of your top.  So for this cushion I cut two backing pieces 19" wide by 13"  to 13.5" length.  
For this cushion I was using a home decoration. weight cotton.  If you want to use quilting cotton you can cut 2 pieces 19" wide by 26" length and double them over to 19" x 13".  Then sew a top stitch along the fold as in this tutorial by Crazy Mom Quilts.

For the pieces I folded down 1" on the shorter side to create a piece 19" x 12" and pressed it flat.
Then tuck this fold in again by half and pressed a second time to give a nice finished edge.
Top stitch along this edge to keep in place and repeat these steps for the second 19" x 13" piece of fabric.
Layer your quilted top and 2 backing pieces right sides together with the seamed edges in the middle and pin to secure.  I like to use 1/2" seam allowance as that is what I learned for home decoration projects.  You can get a bit of movement when sewing around all four sides and the larger seam allowance helps sometimes. It can also help to backstitch an extra layer of stitching where the cushion back panels meet as this is the point of most stress on your cushion when stuffing.
Once sewn, clip your corners and if you wish you can trim back some of the extra seam allowance and stay stitch or ziz-zag around the edges.
Turn right side out and push out the corners with a blunt tip like a crochet hook.  Careful of using something too sharp - I've poked a hole in my corner on more than one occasion and learned that lesson the hard way!   When I was making this cushion in our weekly meet up, Paula offered a tip to keep the cushion square, top stitch all around 1/8" from the outside edge and it will keep it's structure better.  If you have any other tips, please share below! We'd love to hear them.
And voila, one 18" cushion!  If you like a really plump cushion you can stuff your swap item with a 20" insert a la Katy Jones from I'm a Ginger Monkey.  Katy's blog has instructions for other methods too including zips, binding and piping.  If your cushion insert is too bulky in your finished item you can rip a hole along one edge of the insert, remove a handful or two of stuffing and sew it back up with a whipstitch!  

If you have a design that is larger than 18" and you don't want to lose it in trimming you can make a bigger cushion top (don't forget to adjust the cushion back fabric upwards) and add line of stitching around the middle of the finished cushion measuring 18" square.  This will create a flanged edge and reduce the size where the cushion insert sits.  Lots of options!  Don't be put off by not having made a cushion before, please join in and I hope you have fun making for this Christmas swap!