Friday, 27 March 2015

Show & Tell and Upcoming Events

Happy Friday everybody!  Hope all are looking forward to the weekend and maybe like myself getting some work done on my two quilts for our Happy Exhibition!

I had a bit of a shock when I looked over the form and saw the date required in Dublin is May 8th.  If anyone needs entry forms please drop us a line and Fiona will send you the details. Thank you Fiona for all your hard work on this, so looking forward to it!  The exhibition itself runs from May 25th to June 26th with the opening being held on June 4th so mark your diaries.

There is lots going on for National Quilting week so check out Quilt Ireland website or Facebook page for more details.  The IPS (Irish Patchwork Society) have some exhibitions between now and then on the go.  In conjunction with the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild, the Hand Across the Border exhibit is opening in City Hall, Belfast in May and then travelling to the Botanic Gardens in Dublin for June.  The theme is Reflections.

If you are in Limerick there are two IPS exhibits on during National Quilting week.  The Mid-Western Branch exhibit "Local Landscapes" runs from the 2nd to the 6th June and quilts from the EQA exhibit Movement will be on display from to1st June to the 14th June.

It's been a while since we had a bit of Show and Tell.  Check out these group shares from Flickr, Facebook, and Instagram!
Modern Irish Bee blocks

IG #mordernirishquilters  #modernquiltersireland
Thanks everyone for the house blocks - they are looking fantastic up on the design wall, so good I might not want to take them down!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Quilt design part 3: Inkscape & QDAD

Have you seen the Facebook Group: Quilt Design a Day?  Known as QDAD this group encourages quilters to spend 15-20 minutes a day playing with colour and shapes to design a quilt.  The intention is not to make these into a quilt though if you come up with something that captures you go for it! 
Image from Facebook
The idea is to flex your creative muscles and by training them a little every day make them stronger!  By spending a short time, maybe during lunch break or waiting for the pasta to cook you can see what influences you in your likes and choices, develop new concepts, be inspired by what others are creating and generally just have fun!  Anyone who is a member of the Modern Quilt Guild will have access to Anne Sullivan's talk in the Resources section where she describes how QDAD came about and how her design aesthetic has changed and grown simply from playing with shape and colour a little bit every day.
Image from design seeds
An inspiration image is used to suggest a colour palette for your design and a new image is posted each day.  The group started using Design Seeds but has expanded to allow users to suggest a colour palette too.  You are not limited to this palette but can add or remove colours.  It’s there to prompt you and make it easier than looking at a blank page!

One of the programs that the QDAD group uses to make their designs is a free program called Inkscape.  Like Touchdraw, that we explored in the last post, Inkscape is a vector graphics program that allows you to manipulate shapes independent of each other, move them around, group them, scale them, rotate them and colour in any colour you want. Unlike Touchdraw, Inkscape is free!  It is available for Mac, PC and Linux and can even be installed as a portable program on a hard drive or SD card and moved from computer to computer if you have more than one!
Dutch rose coloured
There is a little bit of a learning curve with Inkscape and I find Touchdraw much more intuitive.  Having said that it is possible to make some really fun quilt designs with it and use it to help re-size or scale up quilt designs, or even colour in, as in this rainbow version of the Dutch Rose block.  (We explored the Dutch Rose aka Swoon block here some time back if you want to see more of this gorgeous block!)
Image from Inkscape Help
Like Touchdraw, you have tools to make basic shapes: squares, rectangles, circles, stars, hexagons but there is no short cut triangle from the main menu.  I find it easiest to draw one.  To do this the first thing to do when opening Inkscape is to open File/Document properties.  I turn off the border options as I don’t want to be limited to an A4 or letter sized workspace.  I also click on default units as inches.  Next go to the grid menu and change spacing to a 0.25 or 1/4” and major grid line every 4 steps.  Make sure visible is ticked to turn the grid on.

Next click on the pen tool or hold the shift key down and press F6.  Then draw a triangle on the grid.

Untitled picture
Click on any of the colours on the bottom of the screen to fill your triangle as a solid shape.  You can now build your block or design and change colour really easily.

Grouping shapes together works the same as in Word and Touchdraw and you can add backgrounds or binding the same as in previous software tutorials.

Once grouped, if you click on a block you select the whole block and can move it or scale it.  Holding the control key and pressing D makes a duplicate copy.  To change the colour of a shape in a grouped collection hold down the control key and click on the shape in the group you want to just select that shape. You can then change the colour and play with colour combinations or different background colours.

To scale a block accurately in Inkscape you need to turn off the stroke (outline around each shape, grey in the black background block above.  For some reason Inkscape grows the shape by a very small amount when you add an outline.)  Select Object/Fill and Stroke to open the menu and click on X to turn it off.  You can then pull on the corner handles or insert a size in the top bar in W for Width and H for height.


Here I made my 16" block 36", duplicated it 3 times and arranged them all so that there is a 4" space between them.  I didn't like the corner squares so coloured them white the same as our background.  Click on each shape twice will allow you to rotate the blocks (or use the drop down menu Object/Transform).  I like this with the warm yellow/orange colours in the centre and the cooler colours on the outside.

Adding a background square, sending it to sit behind our existing blocks (Object/Lower to Bottom)  and colouring it in simulates binding.
Finished Happy rainbow dutch rose

I like this 4 block version but how about a giant Dutch Rose block?
Scaling up to 72" and adding a border could make another fun bed sized quilt project.  To determine what size squares to cut I could take the 72" and divide by 8 (the Dutch Rose is an 8 x 8 block) or just click into the group holding control and clicking on a shape gives me the square dimensions of 9".  This is the finished size to I need to add on 1/4" seam both sides and cut 9.5" squares.  For the triangles to get a 9" finished block I need to cut 9 7/8" squares (for lots of ways to make Half Square Triangles see this earlier post!)

72 happy dutch rose

So what do you think?  Want to make a giant Dutch Rose quilt?  Anyone up for a Quilt-A-Long?

I hope you have a look at the QDAD page and if you are tempted to try a quilt design a day, we'd love to see them!

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Bee Blessed - March Block

Morning all, just a quick reminder of this months Bee Blessed block.  This month Sarah and Judith are looking for Scrappy Canvas Blocks. 

Image courtesy of Just Jude

If you would like to make some blocks using any 2 colours and donate them to Bee Blessed  please see Judith's blog for the tutorial.  I can imagine lots of scrappy colour in this one, won't it make a great quilt?

This weeks quilt design software post will be delayed to next week - sorry still working on it (spent all last weekend in a workshop at the Limerick Quilt Centre!)  Tune in next week for Inskscape.

In other news the Find a Teacher page has been updated to include other resources.  Thanks to all who responded to our questionnaire.  If you want to add your blog, shop or facebook page to the Resources section please drop me a line.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Quilt Design part 2 - using Touchdraw!

Unlike Microsoft Word, which is primarily designed for text with simple shapes added in, Touchdraw is designed as a vector graphics editor.  This means Touchdraw has been designed to create, manipulate and scale shapes.
More complex shapes are possible and they can be enlarged and rotated without any pixelation or loss of quality (which you can get this using paint or photo editing software like Photoshop).

You can move a figure around, change its shape and size without having to cut and paste it and can do all of this without affecting the other shapes in your image.

menuIt is a favourite of Lynne’s from Lily’s Quilts who has written tutorials on her blog using it.  She has a great Getting started post here and one for arranging and colouring Half Square Triangle here.   I find it a very useful tool for playing with shapes and creating images for patterns and online sharing.

When you open Touchdraw you will see a menu on the right with sample drawings and this is where any of your creations is saved.

On the top line you will see a down arrow that will open an image from your gallery or hard drive and if you want a blank image to start with chick on the +document.  Beside that is a +Folder where you add folders to the menu on the right to keep organised.
Menu 2

Screenshot_2015-03-02-14-42-32Screenshot_2015-02-27-11-54-22When you open a document you get a blank canvas with a grid enabled.  If you click on grid preferences you can turn on the snap functions (shapes stick to each other to make alignment easier).

Clicking on the shape menu allows you access to units and rulers and you can set the grid to inches with 8 subdivisions.

The menu on the left hand side is the main drawing menu and you can leave it here for right handed users or change the preference to move the menu to the other side so left handed users can have an easier time of it.

Untitled picture

Some notes on the commands above.  If you draw a freehand line or a straight lines into a box Touchdraw will still only see these as separate lines.  If you want a shape you have to draw it from shape menu or trace with the pen tool.  You can change the number of sides the polygonal tools have and make hexagons with 6 sides or change the number of points in a star etc..


The blue handles let you pull the shape in any direction distorting it, the orange keeps the shape square and allows scaling, click or pull the red dot and the shape rotates and the green dots allow you to change the shape of the points making skinny star legs or short ones!

These handles can be toggled on and off by clicking on the shape and dragging the shape around to where you want it.  To zoom, you do the normal tablet thing of pinching the screen and if you tap on the grid 3 times the shape will fill the screen in a zoom to fit.  If you want to pan around the drawing (i.e move it about!) you click on the hand command and use two fingers to swipe up down, left or right!

So let’s make a quilt!  
To start with select a right handed triangle from the Shapes menu.  Copy it and rotate the copy to make a matching triangle  which when put together gives you a HST. 

Change the colour using the colour fill command.  I made one half white and coloured the other and copied and pasted my HST a few times to give me 4 yellow, 4 cyan, 4 magenta and 4 light orange to work with, just for a bit of variety.


Moving the HST triangles around and rotating them to play with the shapes gave me this block in the end that I quite like the look of.  If anyone knows what this is called, please let me know!


I could change the colours here if I wanted but I decided to stick with this and selected all and clicked on Group to make them all one shape and into a block.
Now that parts are one shape, the handles change on the entire group and you can pull on the blue corners to change the size or click on the red and pull to rotate it.  Copying this 4 times and tiling the blocks side by side gave a nice zig-zag ribbon, so I made a few more and arranged them in a long chain.

TD-20To make the design a more rectangular quilt shape, I drew a square to make a back ground shape that would sit behind my blocks.  To do this you have to change the order.  The last created shape will sit on top of the other blocks and obscure them but if you move this shape to the back it will sit behind the blocks.

On a MAC you can you use the menus or short cuts to send to back.  On the app, you can click on the shape orientation menu (rectangular box), chose order in the drop down and send to back.  You now have a background shape you can resize or move to create an off centre design.

I repeated the process to add a second square slightly larger again, coloured it with cyan and sent it to back to look like binding.

To simulate how your design will look in fabric, you can select all and click on the shape menu and on the drop down, click on stroke.  Turn stroke off and the boundary around your shapes disappears!

Now, I thought my design was a bit chunky so I ungrouped everything, deleted the two outside columns and got a narrower shape that I though fit better.  I also changed the way some of the magenta arrows pointed to make it more interesting.

Liking the cyan a lot (still loving the ikea kitchen trolley!) I pulled out more shapes and just played around with it.  So easy to do and you can save each variation under a new name and decide later which you prefer.
TD-06 For another example, here’s a Flying Geese block from Displacement Activity, who has a really nice tutorial on how to make this block called Migration.

Flying geese are traditionally twice as wide as they are tall.  This means you can make them using two HST or a long rectangle with triangles on the corners.  Changing the size and orientation makes for a really interesting block design.

Adding in colours similar to those above and turning off stroke will give us a block representative of how it would look in solid fabrics.

Copy to make 4 blocks and rearranging gives this design! 

You could leave it as is but similar to above, I wanted to play with negative space so, doing the same as the previous design, creating a background shape and some binding gives this result, which I am very tempted to make!

To audition possible quilting designs, you can turn on the pencil and draw on your shape.  I prefer not to draw right on top of my quilt blocks elements in case I want to change anything later so instead, I create a new layer and draw on that.  A layer is like overlaying acetate on your quilt.  You are drawing on a see through surface which doesn’t affect the layer below. 

If you want to try another design, simply hide this layer by clicking on the eye and the layer turns off, create another new layer and draw again.  Toggling between layers will let you decide which you like best!
This is what Touchdraw looks like on the Mac!
This is what Touchdraw looks like on the Mac!

Example image from Touchdraw
Like our exploration of Microsoft Word last week, Touchdraw has a grid, simple shapes that you can draw on your image and snapping to be able to align shapes to each other.  It allows grouping of shapes together to make blocks and fill in with lots of different colour options and textures.   In addition to this it has the ease of use and functionality to do much more!

You can import an image, create a new layer, draw on your image without affecting it to pick out shapes to make templates (useful for applique work), or add text to make headers for your blog or patterns.

Here’s the thing, it is not free.  For a tablet on the iTunes store and Google play it is £5.99 or $8.99.  For those of us who use a Mac, it can be downloaded from the Mac App Store for $19.99 and installed on your computer.  You can share files between tablet and computer and can import and export your image in lots of different formats including JPEG, PNG, SVG and PDF.  (Windows programs run on Mac’s through a special virtual machine and is a pain in the butt sometimes, so its nice for Mac users to have this option for a change!)

There are other vector graphic editors like idraw, Inkscpae (free program for Mac/Windows/Linux) up to Adobe Illustrator which is expensive and hard to navigate for beginners.  Next week, I’ll be looking at Inkscape and how you can use it to help resize basic shapes with easy or little maths involved!  I have to admit though, I really like Touchdraw a lot and I think it is worth the $8.99 price tag!  What do you think, tempted to give it a try?


Sunday, 1 March 2015

Modern Irish Bee 2015- March Block

Welcome to March’s Block for Modern Irish Bee. This month Liz has chosen the

The Burst Block Quilt: An Easy Quilt Tutorial with Rob Appell of Man Sewing.

I was only looking at this on you tube last week too! I love these and Missouri Star Quilt Company’s video tutorials. Here’s Liz’s description and instructions for this month’s block – great choice Liz. Looking forward to this one!


Ok, so I have a really cool block for you to make and once you make one, you will have the templates to make as many as you like when you are finished. I made some changes of my own to this tutorial as I find Rob quite fast and also, I didn't have any interfacing, so I made my own templates out of a cereal box. You are more than welcome to follow Rob the whole way on this but I think my changes make things a lot more simple if you are using cardboard.

I cut out my 10 inch cardboard square and then made the marks as per the tutorial and drew my lines but then I cut out my templates as per my picture, just the templates no fabric yet. (use your rotary cutter for this) burst block

I put my biggest template on my white fabric and drew around it and then cut 2 white number 1 templates. My other change is, I was not using a layer cake just yardage or fat quarters, so I just sewed on a large piece of my colour fabric, enough to cover the sewline and next template but I didn't even measure this. I just used a large piece that I knew would cover it. I tend to do the same when paper piecing.

Then I set my seam and pressed it and then I got my next cardboard template piece and drew around that on my sewn colour fabric and then cut along the lines with my rotary cutter. Then I sewed on another large piece of white fabric set my seam and pressed and then drew around my next cardboard template piece and cut until I finished and so on until the block is complete.

My blocks ended up 8 3/4 x 8 3/4 so hopefully all of yours end up this size too. Any questions about either method just pop me a mail. Don't worry if your blocks are not exactly the same size as mine ok.

I would like 2 8 3/4 x 8 3/4 blocks. I would love my main fabric to be grey but you wouldn't end up with the same greys so white is the safer option. I would like solids or tone on tone for the colour fabrics please. Your 2 blocks can be the same fabrics or different coloured ones I don't mind once the white is where it is supposed to be.

I hope you enjoy this tutorial as much as I did! They came together fast when I made my changes to it. Robs method is probably more economical with your fabrics, as he uses the left over triangles from layer cakes but my changes just make this whole process easier. I didn't use triangles cut from a layer cake, I just used big pieces of stash fabric that I knew would cover the areas needed.