Friday, 18 December 2015

Happy Friday Modern Irish Quilters!  Sign ups are now open for Modern Irish Bee 2016.

If you haven't taken part in a Bee before here's some info on what it's all about!

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 Facebook group, or on our Flickr group and 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.  The sign up is form here, and we 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. 
Following on from last 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 photograph or fabric pull can be very helpful for hive mates in choosing appropriate fabrics from their stash.  Please take a photo to guide us in the right direction!

If you are unsure of a fabric please post a picture to our Facebook 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 of the quilt 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 2016, 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. 

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


Thursday, 17 December 2015


Morning Modern Quilters Ireland!  Just a reminder that your mug rug should be posted next Monday latest 21st December!

Here is a sneak peek at some in progess and finished shared on our Flickr page:
Looking forward to doing a round up of all after the Christmas.  If anyone is having trouble with the deadline please drop me a line as soon as you can. 

Hope all the Christmas preparation is going well and the last of those Bee blocks are underway.  We will be opening sign ups for Modern Irish Bee 2016 tomorrow and will take the first 12 sign ups for next years Bee!

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Modern Irish Bee December block for Suzanne

By now all hive members of this years Modern Irish Bee should have received in the post a gift of fabric from Suzanne for Decembers block. If you are taking part in the Bee this year and have not received your fabric, can you please let me know. For now over to Suzanne!


December Bee Block - Happiness Christmas Block

Happy Holidays! It is finally my turn to be the queen bee. I have sent out strip of striped green and gold fabric to inspire you. Let me know if you have not received it: suzanne(dot)pass(at)gmail(dot)com.

Please make me 2 x 12.5 inch blocks using this fabric. I am giving no other instructions besides the finished blocks must have at least 4 inches total of the fabric showing on the front of each of the blocks. I will put the squares together to make an inspirational Christmas quilt, and I do hope we have a Modern quilt exhibition next year to show and share it with all of you!

The remainder of this fabric is yours to keep, it is a Christmas gift from me. I hope you all have a terrific Christmas and a great creative quilting time leading up to the holidays. Last week was my big celebration - Thanksgiving! So my turkey making is done now and I can enjoy the big build up to Christmas.

Thank you for the very fun Bee experience and I look forward to seeing all of our finished quilts!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

12 Days of Christmas (for Sewists and Quilters)

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…. OK, I won’t sing the whole song, but you get the idea! It's that time of year again, and heads are being scratched by those who struggle to buy for the sewist in their life! Hopefully, this list will give you some ideas of what to get for the sewing enthusiast in your life (or what to put on your own wish list!!!). If anyone belonging to me is reading - one of each please!!!

  1. Set of Tula Pink Hardware!
    This may or may not tickle your fancy - it does mine though!!! It’s a Limited Edition Hardware Set includes all three of Tula Pink's new sewing notions. It includes, an 8" fabric shears, 5" Curved EZ Snip, and a Surgical Seam Ripper. I think it would make a lovely gift, as there’s an element of frivolity to it (but it’s practical too)... It might be worth including a padlock for the shears to prevent anyone using them for non-fabric use (shock horror)!!
    Available from Fat Quarter Shop and Pink Castle Fabrics.
    I’m sure there are other stockists, it’s worth a Google to see.
  2. Handmade item from another sewist
    Licence stalk their friends who make/sell ;) This one may be a bit on the tight side, time wise, but worth noting down! Most of us are friends with or followers of others who make and sell. I suggest a wander through Facebook/Instagram to see what’s happening, and you might strike it lucky in getting something handmade!
  3. Rotating Cutting MatAnother useful gift, a small cutting mat that rotates, making block trimming super easy and quick. There are available from most shops, I’d recommend going local, or at least within Ireland, to avoid silly postage costs.
  4. Jewellery!!!!If in doubt, jewellery works! What is cuter than the pieces by Irish Button & Co? They started off in Dragon’s Den with their classic button pieces, and they’ve expanded. Really lovely, sweet - I adore the needle that threads through the button, handmade, Irish made, you’re onto a winner!
  5. That Purple Thang What the…??? I know you’re wondering what am I on about now! This gizmo is a purple stick, yup, a purple stick. However, it’s a stick worth having beside every sewing machine! As it says on the packaging: It pushes, pokes, pulls, p-fudges, p-turns, p-stuffs! A neat little stocking p-stuffer! :) That Purple Thang can be found on Amazon (and the Fat Quarter Shop, should you be buying from there already!).
  6. Subscription to Sewing MagazineCheck out the coffee table/tablet/ereader/sewing room to see what magazines your sewist likes to read… Buy them a subscription, another gift that keeps giving! Most of the magazines are available as postal subscriptions and digital, so go with whatever works!
  7. Sewing themed mug or art piece
    Etsy is your friend here! Granted, the mug might end up holding sewing accoutrements, as opposed to a hot beverage, but I don’t think there’s a sewist out there who wouldn’t love this Sewing Alphabet mug from BeckaGriffin on Etsy!

    Likewise, most of us adore dolling up our sewing spaces, so when I saw this print, I thought it was very understated and chic, the perfect match for each of our spaces! This print comes from MadameMemento, also on Etsy.
  8. Designer Colouring BooksTwo well-known fabric designers have brought out their own colouring books. I’m sure you’ve seen/heard about mindfulness colouring books, and these are no different. You get the chance to colour own version of a fabric design… such fun, and yes it’s calming - don’t forget the nice colouring pencils/markers to go along with it!
    The Tula Pink Colouring Book, Cotton + Steel Colouring Book
  9. Monthly Fabric Club MembershipSign the recipient up for a fabric club. Several online shops run these, each month you get a bundle of fabric, either from a designer, manufacturer, or following a particular theme. It’s a gift that keeps giving, as they usually run monthly throughout the year! The 2016 clubs will be coming available in the next few weeks, so keep an eye on the various online fabric shops.
  10. Aurifil Thread
    Say what, I know, another odd name! This is a fabulous Italian thread, beloved by a lot of quilters and sewists. Fabric designers have their own coordinating sets available to buy. Aurifloss is the embroidery thread equivalent, and adoreable on wooden spools. Google stockists near you, or online, or speak to the lovely Fluffy Sheep Quilting to create a bespoke bundle of threads to suit your beloved!
  11. VoucherIf all else fails, you cannot and will not go wrong with a voucher for any of the Irish Fabric Shops. Further afield, a lot of online shops have vouchers also.
  12. Bespoke BundleCall or call into any of our lovely Irish fabric shops and they will be more than happy to assist you in creating a unique package of goodies. My husband did just this with Fluffy Sheep Quilting earlier in the year for my birthday, and it was a beautiful surprise. Keep it fabric, or consider fabric with coordinating threads, etc… Don’t be afraid to ask!

…...and a partridge in a pear tree!

Enjoy the shopping ;)

Competition Time!
Cindy from Fluffy Sheep Quilting has kindly offered us a €15 voucher to raffle off - a handy stocking filler, or helping hand with a gift purchase!

To be in with a chance of winning, comment on this post from now until 5pm on Tuesday, 1st of December. We will then pick a winner out of the hat (I have the hat ready) that evening. 

Good luck and happy shopping!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Christmas swap - the small one!

Morning all, this year in brainstorming ideas for the annual MQI Christmas swap, Anna and I decided that after the brilliant Tote bag summer swap we'd keep things small for Christmas and do a no-pressure, quick and fun project.

You might have noticed there has been a lot of mini-mini quilts on social media lately and teeny tiny piecing!  So this year we are keeping the swap small to a mug rug & a bar of chocolate.

Remember the kit-kat logo - Take a break, have a kit kat !  Well that's the theme this year.  After all the Christmas madness is over, treat yourself to a cuppa or a hot chocolate and enjoy a moment!

To keep things simple, there will be no need for an inspiration mosaic, just make a mug-rug or a mini-mini quilt based on the idea of taking a break!  Partners will be assigned randomly so it will still be a secret swap.  You won't know who is making for you and we hope it will add to the surprise when opening your swap item!

Mug Rugs have no fixed size but are typically 6" x 9".  A mini/mini is 4" to 6" so whatever works best for your idea!  Please include a treat like a choccy bar and optional this year (though I really love collecting these!) is a handmade decoration for the the Christmas tree. 

The sign up form is here.  I hope you will join us again - I love the Christmas swap and we always make such lovely things.  The postal date is 18th December so it will have time to arrive for those in between days, after Christmas and before New years.

This swap is limited to MQI members resident in Ireland so as to avoid any issues with post at this busy postal time of year.  Sign up close this Friday and partners will be assigned over the weekend.  I hope you will join us for our 3rd Christmas swap!

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Modern Irish Bee - November block for Stephanie!

Can you believe its November? The weather has turned a little chillier and the leaves a little browner, and that means it’s the perfect weather to sew, right? I have really enjoyed making all of the monthly blocks (even though I am usually late sending them) and I am learning so much, thanks everyone.

Now it’s my turn and I have looked at so many different quilt blocks to choose from and I think I must have changed my mind at least a hundred times. But yeah, I have finally decided on the patchwork Wheel Block and Elizabeth from Don’t Call Me Betsy has kindly allowed me to link to her tutorial on her blog Don't Call Me Betsy, thank you Elizabeth. I love the fact that this block uses scraps, and boy do I have a lot of those, and also that every block will be different.
In her tutorial, Elizabeth uses a dark grey for the background, which looks great, but I think I would like white or something similar as long as it’s very pale and then you have free choice about which colour of scraps you would like to use, the scrappier the better, I love bright colours! I would love two of these blocks, if you cut 8 extra 3.5" coloured scraps and keep the HST that you have cut you should have enough for two 12.5" blocks.

You can follow Elizabeth's tutorial or you can follow my attempt at a tutorial.

Cut 8 4.25" squares of solid white

Cut 8 3.5" squares of coloured scraps (you could cut 8 more 3.5" now and you will have enough for two blocks)

Cut 8 4.25" squares of coloured scraps
Draw a line diagonally from one corner to other.

Place a 4.25" scrap right sides together with a solid white square with the drawn line uppermost.

Stitch a scant 1/4" seam on either side of the drawn line. Cut along the drawn line to give you 2 HST.

Press open and trim down to 3.5" square.
 Assemble the squares into a pleasing display and stitch the first row together following with the remaining two rows. Press seams.

Join strips together and press. Your finished block should measure 12.5".

Sit back and admire your work!

PS please ignore the bad state of my cutting board I am hoping Santa will bring me a new one

Stephanie x

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Book Review - Step by Step Free Motion Quilting by Christina Camelli

I might have a slight Craftsy addiction. I've watched free motion classes by Leah Day (free videos on quilting the Craftsy 2012 BOM), Angela Walters (has 4 classes on Craftsy) , Ann Peterson (has 2!), but the one I have enjoyed the most has been Christina Camelli's The Secrets of Free Motion Quilting.

Christina blogs at A Few Scraps, where she has lots of free stuff on free motion quilting. If you want to take any of her Craftsy Classes she has links from her blog that will get you the classes for half price at about 15 Euro. She has also written 2 books on the subject : First Steps to Free Motion quilting and Step by Step Free motion quilting. I enjoyed her class so much I bought First Steps and when I saw Christina had a new book out Step by Step Free Motion Quilting, I wondered if it was worth buying as well. After leafing through Paula Rafferty's copy, I didn't hesitate and bought it too.
First steps and her class Free Motion Quilting Essentials give lots of advice on getting started, setting up and managing the movement of the quilt in your machine, things to avoid and where to start quilting. Step by Step and The secrets of Free Motion Quilting show basic shapes like circles, lines, spirals, arc shapes, loops etc. and growing them into all over edge to edge motifs or very neat filler designs. The tag line is turning "9 simple shapes into over 80 designs".
I find myself turning to this book when I am looking for quilting inspiration and stuck on what to do with a project. When we were away on holidays in September, our Jack Russell, Charly, went on holidays to 2 different households. Neither would take anything from me for minding her, so I made 2 cushions as thank you presents. (The pattern for the pieced pups is available for free on Sew Fresh Quilts blog here up to the end of October or you can buy the pattern here if you want to make any of these - pattern is Dog Gone Cute!.) 
I knew I wanted to quilt the dogs in a loopy wiggle pattern, as this gives really lovely texture and to me, looks like fur. For the background, I wasn't sure what to do but wanted to try something different from straight lines or all over stipple (Lori Kennedy who blogs at the Inbox Jaunt is out to ban the stipple to encourage people to try new things - check out her free quilting tutorials here)
Leafing through Step by Step Free Motion Quilting I found this version of a free motion linear design and gave that a go.
For the second cushion I found a string of pearls type design that Christina keeps very free and easy by not being too perfect. I used this technique on a sewing machine cover but tried to be prefect travelling around the circles. This sketching style is much easier and I think suits the piecing, though when I was showing the cushion off with a "What do you think?",  I was answered with a "Why did you put the poor dog out in the rain?" Oops!

Still I like the result and had fun playing with the designs that Christina suggests. If you are looking for a book on Free Motion Quilting from Santa this year, this one might be the one to put on your wish list!

If anyone has a go to book that they would like to share or write a review to share on the blog please drop me a line!  Thanks Helen for reviewing Sew Organised!

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Book Review - Sew Organised

When I saw Ruth's request for someone to write a book review, for the Modern Quilters Ireland mqi blog, my hand shot straight up! I can do that! Miss! Miss! Me! Me! It just took me my normal two weeks to get around to it. I have been told Procrastination is my middle name. If I didn't procrastinate so much, I could look that up in the dictionary. I love books, novels, craft books, cookery books, I love them all and I buy them all even though I work with books all day. The difficult thing is to decide what book review. In the end I decided on the most recent "Sew Organized for the Busy Girl" by Heidi Staples. Heidi blogs as Fabricmutt.

The first part of the book deals with Heidi's background, how she fell in to quilting and then blogging. Why sewing and quilting is important to her,  from the creative, the nurturing, "the nicer for less" financial aspect and lastly on how it keeps her sanity in a busy life. Perhaps that is the most important. Heidi then moves on to how to make space in our busy lives for sewing, and how to have an organized work space.  I think this follows along the lines of tidy lives, tidy work space and tidy mind. I wouldn't know about that!

And then the fun bit, the bit we are all really waiting for, the projects. Here we see the quirky projects, not the bog standard quilts but the pin cushions, the pouches, the organisers. The things I see on other people's blogs and instagram accounts and think, I would like to make that. Note, I don't add Flickr, I'm not organised enough to keep up with Flickr.

I wish I could show you some of my finished projects, but you know that isn't going to happen. After all, we don't really buy these books to make the scrummy things, we just buy to look and covet. Or at least I do.

Overall I loved this book. I really will make loads of things, and all Heidi's advice makes sense. The advice is at times rather homespun, it even has a quote from Laura Ingalls Wilder. Homespun but cosy, not twee.

Next time if I get to do another review it will be of the Japanese zakka, I think I may actually have completed one of those. And, oh yes, I have read and love quilting fiction, there's a whole life out there in the world of books.

midgetgemquilts x

Sew Organized for the Busy Girl
Heidi Staples
£15.99 UK

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Modern Irish Bee - October block

clip_image002clip_image004Happy October Ladies !

I am thrilled and so excited to be this months Queen Bee.  

I have taken this block from a free tutorial @ Hyacinth Quilt Designs
It's a super quick quilt block to make entitled “Garden Fence” and I too think it would be awesome in lots of colour combinations. However, I have chosen to stick with the colour theme seen here of: Greys & Yellow/Golds Autumnal but not too wintery!

I would like you lovely ladies to make two of these blocks please:
· The first with the grey tones in the centre square with the yellow/golds outside.
· The second block will be the opposite effect with yellow/golds in the centre and grey toned fabric outside. I have made one block following these exact measurements and it works out to be 12” square after sashing.
· I would like the yellow fabric in the block to be the same on the four corners and similarly with the grey fabric. This will give the blocks a sense of uniformity rather than simply tones of the colours.
· I will be using Kona white for my blocks so if you have that it would be fantastic as the white borders will be joined directly. If not, something as near as possible please.

Here are the cutting dimensions for the block:
· Center square: 4 ½ " x 4 ½ "
· Outer rectangles in opposite colour fabric: 4 - 2 ½ " x 3" and 4 - 2 ½ " x 5" (all same)
· White: 2 - 1 ½ " x 6 ½ "
2 - 1 ½ " x 4 ½”
4 - 1 ½ " x 2 ½”
· White sashing: 2- 1 ½” x 10 ½”
2- 1 ½” x 13”
To piece the block: (pics below)clip_image008
  • Sew the white 4 1/2" and 6 1/2" rectangles to opposite sides of the center square.
  • Sew the white 2 1/2" rectangles between 2 outer rectangles; add these to the center pieced square.
  • Once the main part of the block is completed, I would like if the 1.5” (unfinished) border could be added to the block please, by piecing the top and bottom followed by the side strips.
  • This should make the completed blocks 12” square.
I have absolutely loved seeing all of your choices so far this year and each block chosen has been so different. I was so mixed up trying to decide on my block as there was so much out there. I cannot wait to see what you all produce and I look forward to beautiful happy post from such a talented bunch. How nice to imagine everyone playing such a part in creating our quilts. Happy sewing ladies and if you’ve any questions on my block just contact me on the Facebook group or Instagram. Below is a few snaps as I made my first block to check measurements etc Sorry they are just fired in there but I hope it all makes sense

Best Wishes, Jacinta xx


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Bee Blessed update!

Hi guys, the Bee Blessed Charity group we love to support is back up and running. 

Bee Blessed meets in Belfast at the Christian Fellowship church on the first Saturday of the month and times and dates are listed on their new blog.  If you are in the area and want to contribute to the bee in person you can find details on their blog or follow on Instagram @beeblessedquilts.

Bee Blessed will be choosing quilt blocks and putting the instructions to make them online.   They will be assembling the blocks made into finished quilts and would love to receive donations so even if you are not local to Belfast you can contribute by making blocks and posting them!