White on White

I recently finished this beautfiful modern quilt for one of my favourite clients! Sandra Butler is a member of the Irish Patchwork Society and part of a sew group called the sew n sews. I love her positive attitude to quilting and life in general. She made this quilt for her daughter and I’m sure her daughter will love it.

The pattern is called Raining Boxes and is from a book called Fat Quarter Shuffle by  Annie’s Quilting.

fq shuffle

The backing has appliques on it that compliment the top and you end up with a front and back that are useable, so basically it became a reversible quilt.

I ghosted the empty white negative space with blocks similar to that in the quilt. I filled in the spaces around the blocks with all my favourite fillers such as swirls, pebbleling, feathers, paisley, ruler work mixed with a lovely modern square border fill (that took ages!) but it was worth all the work as it turned out gorgeous.

I hope Sandra will tag me on a photo of the quilt when it is bound and gifted so I can share it with you all completley finished.

 

BeFunky Collage

You don’t always have to use a blended thread when quilting

I got a customer quilt recently that was a modern twist on an old pattern with lots of cream coloured negative space in it. The customer had decided on a pantograph for this one and picked out a design that would suit the overall look of the quilt. When it came to picking the thread, the customer wanted a raspberry coloured thread that would look nice with the small areas of colour. As a longarm quilter we would normally advise the customer to go for a thread that would blend well with the overall colour of the quilt and I was afraid raspberry coloured thread would look very stark on all that cream negative space.

The customer said she wanted it and you have to do what the customer wants in the end. I have to say I was actually pleasantly surprised with the finished product. I think the thread actually added to the design of the quilt and gave it a secondary design aspect.

Moral of the story, you don’t always have to use a blended thread when quilting.

 

 

Custom Orders for Made In Ireland Quilts

I don’t have my own website yet but I’m working on it. So when I got a call from a family that was out on vacation from the United States and wanted me to make a quilt for them I was delighted. She wanted a quilt made in Ireland and reckons there would be lots of other people that would avail of this service with me if I was easier to find! Like I say, I’m working on it.

Anyway the quilt turned out really gorgeous. The customer picked her fabric choices herself at my studio and already knew what pattern she wanted to use. The Double Irish Chain, as it is an Irish pattern. She wanted shamrocks quilted into it too. I had concerns about quilting the shamrocks with green thread as there is quite a bit of white in this quilt and I thought they would look too stark. Well I was wrong and the customer was right. The quilt looked beautiful with the 2 contrasting greens she picked and the green shamrocks look fantastic on the front and back.

I really enjoyed making a custom order quilt for my customer and I hope to make more in the future.

 

 

 

 

Injuries while sewing

ouch

I know it sounds so silly to say that I have injuries from sewing but the truth is I do. I custom quilt on a longarm quilting machine and no matter what height I have my frame set up at I still end up bent over it to some degree which puts a strain on my middle to lower back. I don’t find that my back hurts me all the time though, as once I take breaks my back goes back to normal but I would say after a lot of years there could be some permanent damage done there. Another horrible side affect to using a long arm is hand tremors! I have some twitching going on because of the vibrations from the machine. I have tried to lessen the vibrations by putting foam around the frame but nothing can take away the vibration from the pure power of the longarm machine. I have however started taking magnesium and that has helped with it would you believe.

When I piece for long periods of time my neck really starts to hurt. I would say this is a very common side affect to sewing. Sometimes I have to actually stop sewing because the pain and strain just gets too much and there is nothing worse than having to stop sewing when you are in the zone!

Pin pricks are no laughing matter and worse yet have you ever sewed your actual finger before? I nearly took the tip off one of my fingers once with my longarm.

Lastly ‘Burns’ I am constantly burning myself with my iron as quilting requires a lot of pressing. I remember my mother used to have a really old pressing machine and I would love that back at times as I am so clumsy with an iron.

I have heard of some sewers that have inhaled pins before too!

 

 

 

The joy of custom orders

I recently added a ‘request a custom order’ button to my Etsy store. I did have some reservations doing this however. The main reason for my reservations are the fear that the finished product won’t meet the expectations of the customer. A fairly valid fear I suppose but one I was determined to overcome.

No sooner had I added the button and I got my first custom order. The customer (one of my favorite customers so far, I might add)  liked a bed runner I had for sale but wanted to add hearts into the equation as it was a lovely gift for her daughter towards her wedding gifts.

I was excited that it was such a special gift and I really wanted to do a good job. I was really pleased with the result and I really want to do more custom orders in the future.

With modern technology where it is now, there really is no need to have to meet customers face to face. I suppose the saying is true, a picture is worth a thousand words.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/MadeInIrelandQuilts?ref=hdr

 

Review so far of Judi Madsens Quilting makes a difference

It’s no secret I am the biggest fan of Judi Madsen of Green Fairy Quilts. I did a workshop with her in Phoenix before I returned to Ireland and I still have and love the sample I have from that workshop. Also, it was so great to actually meet her. I am also a mother to 3 boys and one girl and I know how busy that can be so I really admire her work ethic too as you would not believe the amount of hours that goes into one of her masterpieces.

I do love doing Craftsy classes so this was my first on line experience other than Craftsy. The class was run by  I Quilt sponsored by Bernina and I have to say I would highly recommend the class. I do plan on taking further classes with them but they are pricier than Craftsy classes so I will keep them for Birthday gifts etc.

The thing I loved about this class is you get a pattern for the pieced part also. Nothing too complicated but still, I thought a very important part of the process. You make 2 of these pieces. One for traditional style quilting and one of the modern style. So once your pieced item is made it’s straight on to the marking and I really loved this part as it shows me how to go about executing the marking. When I first started quilting I would sometimes stand there with my marking pen and not know exactly what to do but this class shows you how to separate the different sections of your quilt and what size sections to mark out.

I was actually surprised how little marking was involved in this quilt considering there is a lot of quilting on it. I also loved that aspect too. A lot of the time all you really need are reference lines rather than actual exact markings and the reference lines tell you when to change the size of your quilting for example when you are turning a corner etc.

I am so pleased with the outcome of this little quilt. I even decided to do it in Ireland colors seen as I am Irish and all 🙂

I will do another blog post on the modern version when I am finished. I’m excited to get started on the modern version but I have to admit I really enjoyed the traditional one so I’m sure I am going to love the modern version also.

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T-Shirt quilt stabilizer recommendation

I was busy quilting for people over Christmas but because they were all being gifted I can’t blog about them. Generally speaking I like to have something on my sewing machine at the same time I have something on my longarm machine because I like to change what I am doing every so often as I get bored working on the same thing for long periods of time.

Some of my friends want me to start advertising making quilts from baby clothes or shirts etc but I didn’t really want to go down the route as I have a whole room full of fabric that is actually for quilting.

I had a last minute request from a woman that wanted me to make 2 quilts for her out of her mothers pajamas who unfortunately had passed away and she wanted a comfort quilt for herself and her sister. I didn’t use a stabilizer as it wouldn’t have been the comfort quilt they were looking for. It would have been more stiff because of the stabilizer. They turned out great and the customer was delighted with her quilts.  However, I would love to hear from other quilters that make t-shirt quilts as to their opinion on stabilizers for t-shirt quilts. Do you always use stabilizers for them and can you get a stabilizer that can still keep the quilt comfy and cozy and not stiff. My only walk in source for stabilizer here is more of a soft furnishing store rather than a quilting store so I’m sure I can probably get a good soft stabilizer on line and would love to hear of a recommendation for this. I have also been looking for a soft fusible that is only fusible on one side and can’t seem to source that here either for some reason.

I enjoyed being busy before Christmas but I will be happy to get back to working to normal time frames again!

Where did your creativity come from?

I pop in and out of my blog as sometimes I feel like writing and sometimes I don’t and I guess that is how creativity works….right? I am married to a very accurate, has to be symmetrical but has a great pair of hands man. You would think that someone who is considered to have a great pair of hands would think themselves ‘creative’ but I don’t think he ever thinks himself creative. Why? Why not? Answer from him ‘I just don’t’ Ugghh that is not really an answer now is it?

Where did your creativity come from and why are you creative..or why do you consider yourself creative? How come he doesn’t consider himself creative? I know you can’t answer that but I’m interested in the background of creative people and why they consider themselves creative. Do I consider myself creative? It took a few years of practicing and learning before I could consider myself creative. I didn’t think I could consider myself creative before I had actually felt good at what and where my creativity lied. I do believe you can be creative before you have actually gotten good at what you are doing though. In fact a lot of artists find the process of the end product the most creative part of the process of the end product if that makes any sense.

The better I get the more creative I become because I am starting to get to know what works and what doesn’t and I can get to the end product quicker now.

I am so glad I am back blogging whether people read it or not I like that it feeds into my creativity so always  a good thing when I blog.

 

Never improv without finishing UFO’s at the same time

So I haven’t blogged in ages. I don’t really know why. I guess sometimes you want to be creating and other times you don’t but mostly I have been creating lately and not much else. I probably shouldn’t say creating, more like practicing. I have wanted to hone my skills lately. I have always wanted to do curved piecing so I am practicing a lot of this. I have also decided to get started on my UFO’s. This part of quilting I don’t really like. Sometimes when you start a project you are into it and you think you are going to be able to finish but half way through if you never see another y seam or certain block again it wouldn’t be a bad thing.

I have some UFO’s about 5 years! That is really long for me, compared to some quilters I would still be considered a newbie. I have also been designing some of my own quilt patterns but I don’t use EQ or even graph paper (note to self, invest in some graph paper!) I have been designing them as I make them if that makes sense. I am strip piecing, paper piecing adding a touch of improv here and there. Its been a bit of a mess really but I am really enjoying the freedom.

I have to say though I was really surprised with how good if felt to finish up a UFO. There is certainly a feeling of freedom in doing this which I guess I am craving at the moment. So if you are looking for me I am finishing UFO’s one day and the next I am creating twice as many but loving every minute of it.

ufo

Working for yourself by yourself……your thoughts

I knew when I had 4 kids I wasn’t going to be in the workforce for a good few years so I decided to work for myself. Simple, right?

Most of the time it suits as you can work around picking up kids and dropping off kids, cooking dinner and cleaning the house. I mean lets face it, those of us that do housework on a regular basis, be it men or women know that you could do housework 24 hours a day and still find something to do around the house. So you really need to prioritize when you work for yourself so you fit in enough time to get the work done.

I like to divide my work time between making quilts, cushions, bags etc and working on my longarm. The extra bit of time in the evening I get goes into blogging and trying to sell my work on my etsy shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/MadeInIrelandQuilts?ref=hdr_shop_menu  I really need to put more time into SEO (search engine optimization) but really I would love to pay someone to do this for me as I don’t like sitting in front of the computer for long as I get restless. My guess is most creative types are a bit like this. Another reality is I am not very good at taking photos of my wares but I am getting better all the time (well I think I am anyway)

The tricky part for me anyway is doing the work you don’t want to do and sometimes even trickier is doing the work you do want to do! Let me explain. If you were in the workforce you would have a workload and certain times to do said work and either a boss or a team around you pushing you to meet the expected targets or work. When you work for  yourself you can’t give yourself the kick up the arse  you sometimes need to get your arse in gear.

Another downside to working on  your own is not being able to bitch and moan about said work. I am working on a piece for a customer at the moment and it is so frustrating I could scream! All I can do is give out to myself which really isn’t the same now is it? When you work with other people  and you complain about a certain job you have to do, they give you sympathy or better yet even help you get the job done. The first thing I would do if I won the lotto is hire a personal assistant! I’m sure some people also feel a little bit lonely when they work for themselves. I on the other hand don’t get the time to feel lonely but maybe if I am still working for myself and the kids are all older and leaving the nest, maybe then is when I will re-join the workforce but I imagine that is really tough after being away from it for years.

The other thing I really wasn’t prepared for was the amount of extra work you have to do to work for yourself and it sometimes feels like you are crazy to even be doing this. When I worked for companies in the past I got paid for the hours of work I did but that is not the case now.

Having said all that I wouldn’t have it any other way (well actually I would like to give myself a good raise, ha!) I get to stay at home with the kids and that is what is important to me at the moment. Sometimes I worry about the future of my work but then what is the point. I keep having to tell myself to just put the head down and also one of my favorite quotes which is from Finding Nemo when Dory said – Just keep swimming, just keep swimming

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