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!

Friday, 24 October 2014

2014 Christmas Swap - sign-ups open!

After the huge success of last year's Christmas swap, and with lots of requests for another, we are delighted to open up sign ups for another Christmas themed swap. This time around we are making a Christmas cushion!
This year's swap will be for a modern Christmas themed cushion size 18" x 18" to facilitate the standard Ikea cushion insert. You'll also be making a small Christmas decoration for your partner, e.g. something suitable to hang on a Christmas tree.  For inspiration check out last years swap items on our Flickr group Modern Irish Quilters Swap.

This is open to all sewing levels and is a beginner friendly swap.  This week's blog post showed how to create a mosaic like mine above to give your partner an idea of what you would like to receive.  Next week's post will include instructions on how to make a simple envelope back cushion with the dimensions needed for this swap.  Swaps are a lot of fun and some require prior participation to be accepted.  Now is your chance to get one under your belt and if you have not made a quilted cushion before,  take it from me they a little bit addictive and are great fun to make!
Sign ups will be open until next Friday, 31st October, and partners will be assigned by Friday 7th November latest. You'll then have 4 weeks to make your items for your swap partner, and posting dates will be 8th-10th December.

This swap is open to members of Modern Quilters Ireland residing in Ireland. If you are not currently a member, and want to join up (membership is free) please find the information and link to the registration form here or email us at
So I hope to see you over in the flickr group where you'll find the sign up thread open and more detailed instructions there. Will you be joining?  Last year was a lot of fun and we hope for more of the same this year!


Monday, 20 October 2014

How Virtual Swaps Work!

In advance of our Christmas swap – yes we are having another one! – I thought I’d put up a post on how virtual swaps work and how to create a mosaic of likes to help your partner make you an item you would like to receive.

Modern Quilt Guild of IrelandThis year’s swap sign up will open on Friday. For anyone who hasn’t taken part in a swap before they are brilliant fun and this is open to members of Modern Quilters Ireland residing in Ireland. Apologies to our members abroad, Christmas being a busy postal time we are limiting this swap to Ireland residents only. We do have more swaps planned for next year.

If you are not currently a member, and want to join up (membership is free) please find the information and link to the registration form here.

Our virtual swaps are secret swaps so you will not know who will be making your swap item for you. On the sign up form, there are spaces to fill in to give your partner an idea of what you like. For example you may love Heather Ross prints or Tula Pink’s mad animal prints, you may hate Christmas wreaths and holly but love snowmen, reindeers and Santa. Try and give your partner an idea of the style or colour you like to ensure you don’t get something you don’t like in the swap! Likewise try and keep your partner’s likes in mind as you are making your swap item and gift them what they would like rather than what you want to receive!

As this is a beginner friendly swap all skill levels are welcome. We will try and match skill level but be generous we were all beginners once! If you sign up and something happens that prevents you from completing your item let us know. Life happens, (kids get sick and give the flu to the whole house! ) and we may have to call on a swap angel to make sure your assigned swap partner isn’t left in the lurch. It happened to me on a Halloween sewing swap and the organiser felt so bad, I felt sorry for her as well!

With a secret swap you are allowed stalk your partner online! Yes this sounds creepy but it is the only time I can think of that its ok to be a stalker and look at your swap partners instagram, Flickr, or blog without them figuring out you are their assigned partner. So please when you get your partners details don’t suddenly start following them on social media – wait until your swap item is in the post! Part of the fun is keeping it secret and having the surprise when you receive your parcel in the post too!
1. Winter Baubles, 2. From Belair to Yosemite, 3. Tablerunner Progress, 4. Minimalist trees Modern Christmas Table Runner, 5. brrr christmas table runner, 6. Table Runner for the SHG Table Runner and Wall Hanging Swap, 7. Christmas table runner, 8. Christmas Fabric Bee- Finally!, 9. Holiday Table Runner, 10. Snowman Table Runner, 11. Christmas table runner, 12. Christmas table runner finished!, 13. Christmas Wonky Star Table Runner 1 Detail 2, 14. Nutcracker Sweets Table Runner, 15. Finished Christmas table runner, 16. Funky Christmas Table Runner

To participate in the swap you are required to make a mosaic of items you like, to help your partner out. The easiest way to do this is on Flickr. If you do a search on Flickr say for a Table Runner (last years swap), you can mark the items you like as a favourite by hovering over the photo and clicking on the star symbol. To make a mosaic a 3x3 grid or a 4x4 grid is usually good so you would need to star 9 or 16 items.

Then go to Big Huge Labs mosaic maker here and click on the number of columns and rows you want, click on Flickr faves and add in your Flickr name. Click create and a mosaic will be created automatically for you. If you have blanks in your mosaic it is because the person who owns that photo has opted out of allowing big huge labs to do this. You can remove that particular photo from your faves or leave the one blank in your mosaic if you wish.
Big huge labs automatically creates a legend with links to the original photos that you can copy and paste into your photo description when you upload your mosaic to Flickr. It is important to respect other peoples images even if they are shared freely on Flickr and Pintrest. Always give credit where credit is due!
If you want to manually create your own mosaic rather than Flickr faves, click on individually on the mosaic maker screen. Find an image you like and right click on it, then click on copy link location. Paste this into the url box and Big Huge Labs will pull this photo in and keep the link information to create a legend for you automatically.

Save your mosaic and upload to the Flickr group Modern Irish Quilters Swap. When the swap partners are assigned you will get a link to your partners mosaic and she yours. As you are making please share in progress photos and participate in the Flickr group by commenting on other’s shared work. If you are posting photos to Instagram please use the hash tag #modernirishquilters so we can find your photos and follow along. This is a way for us to get to know each other better, have some fun and receive a lovely item in time for Christmas.
Pincushion in progress
Don't forget to upload a photo of the item received and thank your swap partner!
Table runner I received from Sarah last year - thank you!

So get ready! Please join us on Friday when sign ups open on Flickr!


Monday, 13 October 2014

Call out for donation quilts for the BUMBLEance!

Last year, when Cindy and Sarah polled our members as to what we would like to see for 2014, one of the things many of us wished for was to get involved in making donation quilts. We are delighted to be supporting Bee Blessed and making blocks every month to donate as one of our activities.

This post is a special call out to members to help support Nikki Foley’s request for quilts for the BUMBLEance. The BUMBLEance is a children's ambulance that is specially outfitted to provide a child friendly transportation service to the long- term sick and seriously disabled. Decorated with a bumble bee, the BUMBLEance aims to make the kids Queen Bee for the duration of their journey!

The BUMBLEance carries 5 patients a week for transportation to care centres, from babies to young adults. It’s no fun traveling in an ambulance for treatment and the BUMBLEance aims to make every trip a positive experience for the children and parents alike.

To support this goal, Nikki Foley from The Sewing Shed has committed to providing a quilt for every patient carried by the BUMBLEance for a year.  5 patients a week is a lot of quilts and donation quilts for this effort are coming in from Ireland and abroad. We would love to get behind this goal and support Nikki by making quilts for this very good cause.

Any size is welcome, baby quilts, lap quilts etc. as the BUMBLEance carries a variety of ages, girls and boys. When you have a quilt ready to donate please email us or leave us a comment here or on facebook and we will let you know the nearest collection point to you, for you to drop off your quilt.

We are looking at receiving quilts in Galway, Limerick, Cork and Dublin and passing them down to Kerry. If anyone is willing to volunteer to receive quilts in other parts of the country please let us know, it would be much appreciated.

Alternatively you can post them to:
The Sewing Shed
Co. Kerry

Nikki will be in the RDS for the Knitting & Stitching show and can accept donated quilts there too.

If anyone has a favourite free quilt pattern that sews up quick,  please share a link and give us some inspiration!  My favourite quick baby quilt to make is the Strip and Flip quilt from Cluck Cluck Sew.  I made mine from jelly roll 2.5" strips instead of 2" yardage and it gives a really nice size. I liked it so much I made it twice!
Image2 text here Image text here

We really hope everyone will get on board the BUMBLEance quilt effort and support Nikki and this worthy cause!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Bee Blessed: October

This month's Bee Blessed block is a scrap busting, strip block.  For October's block Sarah and Judith are looking for  Scrappy Stripey Triangles (try saying that 3 times real fast!).  Judith's blocks below have a vibrant happy look to them and they are easy to make.
Bee Blessed BOM Oct'14
Block Instructions can be found on Judith's blog here this month. 


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The changing of the guard.....

I'm sure you'll have noticed our lovely new header and blog button at this stage (aren't they fab? Miss Anna is the talented lady responsible for designing them and doing all the techy stuff to get them up there too). As well as putting a lovely new face on our blog, officially changing our name from the Modern Quilt Guild of Ireland to Modern Quilters Ireland, the change of name, look and feel also coincide with some behind the scenes changes.

Modern Quilt Guild of Ireland

As I'm sure most of you know, Cindy and I (Sarah) started the Modern Quilt Guild of Ireland back in 2012. Our hope was that we would gather together the small, dispersed group of modern quilters in Ireland  into a fun, happy, chatty community through meetups, swaps, bees, online chat etc. We were (and still are!) totally in love with modern quilting and wanted to share that with other like-minded quilters. We also were hoping we might encourage a few people to dust down their sewing machines and get involved.

Happily, two years on, we have created a vibrant group of people. There is lots going on! Swaps, bees, charity quilts, sharing of ideas and inspiration, local meetups and lots of chat, whether it is through Instagram, our chat group on Facebook, or simply lots of email. There have been a number of different meetups, particularly in the last few months, and this is an area that seems to be gathering momentum all the time.

For me, the highlights have been our swaps and our Bees. I have these beautiful spiderweb blocks awaiting assembly in my sewing room at the moment from my month this year - I need to add a few more as this will be a picnic quilt - but it will be done for next summer.  Didn't the Hive members do a good job?

And the other highlight was the Medallion quiltalong Cindy coordinated earlier this year. Lots of lovely medallions made or still in progress from this. I made a baby medallion.

But both Cindy and I have been really struggling to find the time in the last 6-9 months to keep on top of what needs to be done for the MQI. It is growing all the time and it needs fresh energy and perspective. Plus, MQI was never intended to be solely ours - it was always our intention that other people would be involved in the running.

So we are handing over the reins to some fresh organisers, namely Anna, Ruth and Fiona and we are 100% sure they will do a great great job seeing as they are all fabulous! They have already come up with lots of ideas and they are going to be sharing those with you.

For now though, Cindy and I want to thank all our lovely members for their support of us in the last few years and for getting involved. We aren't going away - we will be active members - but we are not going to be involved in the administrative or organisational side for the forseeable future. And wish our new organisers luck! You're in safe hands.

Monday, 6 October 2014

September Show and Tell & Upcoming Events

We've had a busy September in our Modern Quilters Ireland group! Thank you to Cindy, Anna and all who were involved in our Sewing day in Galway last weekend. 

A group of us gathered in NUI Galway to spend the day stitching, working on blocks for Bee Blessed, swapping books and fabric, eating home baked goodies, shopping at Pippa Blue, Fluffy Sheep Quilting and Wrap it and generally getting to know each other.
(Click on the photo get a closer look and if you search Instagram with the hastag #modernirishquilters you will see comments and general banter!)
It was brilliant to finally meet people in person and we were spoiled on the day with goody bags!  Thank you to Aurifil and Pilot for our selection of threads and Frixion pens and thanks to all the Irish shops who donated fabric and vouchers - it was wonderful bonus to a brilliant day!
In addition to our day out, our Modern Quilting group have been busy sharing what we've have been up to in September.  Taking part in swaps and markets and making blocks for our Modern Irish Bee!

From Instagram #modernirishquilters
From Flickr Group
From Modern Irish Bee group

Coming up in October for your diaries are the following:

West Cork Quilts Group exhibition 7th -12th October

The Bloggers Quilt Festival @ Amy's Creative Side opens 24th October for 31st November.  Bloggers can link up quilts made this year for prizes and we get to vote for our favourites on 1st November.

I'm sure you don't need reminding of the Knitting & Stitching show in the RDS on 30th October to 2nd November. 

Schoolhouse quilters, Athlone are celebrating 20 years of quilting November 21st to 23rd.

 - Ruth

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Modern Irish {Scrappy} Bee: October Blocks

Hi I'm Tomomi, hive mama for October! This is my very first to do the quilting bee actually so I am very very looking forward to what I am going to get from you ladies!  After nine month going through everybody else blocks, I was bit worried somebody may come up with the same idea as mine. But you didn't! So here you go!

I would like to have bookshelf blocks please :)

My idea came when I saw this beautiful room.  We moved the house last November and got rid of a lot of books but still we have a lot. Yes we are a family of book worms. And now I want to have a book shelf quilt too.  There are some variation of them if you google it, but since this quilting bee is working with scraps, I want to make something like this or this or this.

I like being organised and my book shelf to be organized by genre. To do so, I would ask you to have a theme for each blocks you make. Grown up section, old books, pop section, Jane Austen  section, future section, exotic, or whatever your books collections are. Just no kids section please. Pretty section, maybe.
Only fabric I wouldn't want for the books are whites or very pale unless some bright pattern on it. I am going to ask you to use Kona Ash for the background, so if you can use anything brighter or darker than it, it's fine.

Blocks size : 12.5” H and about 12.5” W. I need you to make them 12.5” high but the width can be between 11” and 13”. I will explain why later. And two blocks please.

How to make blocks.
The short tutorial
Cut up the scraps of fabric for book parts between 2.5” - 1” wide and 6.5” - 11.5” long. Add the necessary length of the Kona Ash as a background fabric on top of each strips to make them 12.5” long altogether.
Fold the seam allowance to the book side together so the book gets some lift from the background.
Stitch all the strips together to make a block about 12.5” wide. You don't need to make them exact 12.5” wide, shorter or longer, both fine.

Please vary the hight of books especially neighbouring ones, means don't put similar hight books next to each other. And wide colour variation please.

The step by step tutorial.
Cut up the scraps of fabric for book parts between 2.5” - 1” wide and 6.5” - 11.5” long. Lay them in order you like with 0.5” overlapping.

Measure and make the total width around 12.5”. I made mines a bit longer to be on the safe side because I usually end up too short.

 Cut one Kona Ash 2.5” wide strip for the background. Measure the length of book strip which is 2.5”, say that was A”. Cut the Kona Ash strip to (13 -  A)” long and stitch it on top of the book strip. That should make the strip 12.5”. Do the same to all the 2.5” books.

Slice the left over 2.5” Kona Ash strip or cut new one to the same width as the next widest book strip. Repeat as above. And proceed to the narrower books. In this way,I Think you don't end up with too much Kona Ash scraps.

Fold the seam allowance to the book side together so the book gets some lift from the background.
When all the books has background attached on the top, stitch them together.  Please verify the hight of books especially neighbouring ones, means don't put similar hight books next to each other. And wide colour variation please.

Alternately, you can make them with this measurement.
Book strips; 2.5” *10.5”, 2.5”*6.5”, 2”*10”, 2*10.5”, 2”*11.5”, 2”*7.5”, 1.5*8.5”, 1.5*7.5”
Background Kona Ash ;  2.5” *2.5”, 2.5”*6.5”, 2”*3”, 2*2.5”, 2”*1.5”, 2”*5.5”, 1.5*4.5”, 1.5*5.5”

I wrote them in order to go together, so don't mix them up! Refert to the pic too. When all the books has background attached on the top, stitch them together whatever the order you like.

The picture is sideways for me to draw easily.  All the measurements are seam allowance included.
Please contact me if you find something wrong or difficult in this tutorial. I will help!

Romance Section

Pop Culture Section