Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ooops! I did it again.

It never fails.  When I am gathering up my goodies to go on a holiday or a fun weekend with friends, I suddenly realize there is something that I HAVE to make before I go.  Last trip it was the Alder Skirt.  This trip it is a (absolutely gorgeous must-have) tote bag.  How could I ever possibly live without it?  It would make everything that bit better, right?  I could bring all of my class supplies to the retreat in it.  And so I sew like a maniac to finish off a project before my flight takes off.  Why do I do it?   

I present to you my most recent obsession: the mahosive tote bag.  Ta da!

I took it out on my morning walk with Molly for a photo shoot.  

This was made using Judith's QAYG tote bag pattern.  I loved the colorful scrappy look of hers, but quickly realized I didn't have enough time (being a tote bag emergency and all) to QAYG the front and back panels.  I instead made two log cabin-esque panels for either side with Echino as the center focus, a Kona border, then Architextures (Curry) as the background fabric.  That piece of Echino has been held dearly in my stash for well over a year.  I've been waiting for the right project to use it in a large space to show it off.  This bag was the perfect project.

I will say, though, because I didn't QAYG (as the pattern clearly tells you to) my bag sides are a small bit squishy.  The bag can not stand up by itself.  I did quilt my side panels in 1/2 inch straight lines, but that's not enough to keep the sides rigid.  

As part of the pattern, there's a recessed zipper to close the top of the bag.  That's key if you're going to shove it under the seat in front of you on a flight.  This is my first recessed zip.  It's fine. It opens/closes and doesn't look awful, but now that I have made one I know my next one will be much better.  I used Dottie here and for the lining.

I wish I had a curry colored zip, but being totally unprepared for making this bag I had to run to the Galway shop to pick one up.  They only had browns, maroon and white.  White it is.

I was watching Sarah as she made her QAYG bag a few weeks ago and loved how hers came together.  She had added to the pattern two inner pockets, one slip pocket and one internal zip pocket.  In a bag this size, a zip pocket is an absolute must.  Sarah was such a huge help in giving me advice on placement, tutorials for the zip insertion, etc.  She's an absolute star.   This pocket is 8 inches wide, so I needed a rather large piece of fabric to make the pocket lining.  I wish I could have made it out of Architextures curry so that there's a piping effect along the zip and a fun surprise inside, but I had such a huge scrappy piece of the Dottie print I just had to use it.

And finally, for most trips I bring my ipad and travel docs slipped into a large external pocket.  I instead used a "scrap" of the Echino (12x12 inches) and made a slip pocket that will fit an A4 sheet of paper in a folder and my ipad.  Given that the external part of my bag isn't very rigid, the pocket does sag a big.  I will see how it goes for this upcoming weekend, but I think I may have to put a button on the top.  There's space, so that's easy to add in late.

That's my class supplies ready and my bag made.  If only I had clean clothes to pack and had the shop prepared!  Priorities, Cindy.  Focus.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Getting My Ducks In A Row

Goodness how time flies!  The Fat Quarterly Retreat is just around the corner and I am scrambling to get ready.  Are you?  

Most importantly I am trying to get fabric from the shop cut and made into bundles, the threads sorted an on pretty racks and scrap packs made for the Saturday evening market.  If you would like for me to hand deliver an order from Fluffy Sheep Quilting to the retreat in London, just hop over to the shop website, pile your cart full of pretties and use the discount code Presale20% at checkout.  That will give you 20% off your purchase and free shipping.  I will bring your order to registration on Friday afternoon.

Between packing up pre orders, I have been gathering together my class supplies.  The list is not short and some of the items are hard to find in Galway, so I had to start gathering pretty early on.

First up is my embroidery class.  This is the first time I have needed a Frixion pen, so I had it on my "in town" shopping list.  Much to my delight, though, someone had accidentally left one on my desk at work and hasn't returned to pick it up!

I then just had to transfer the pattern onto linen/cotton and gather together the floss I would like to use for the class.  I decided to use a white tea towel so that I had a finished, usable outcome from the class.  What I'm most worried about is making the back pretty here as it won't be hidden from view.  Help me, Jo!  Help.

I did use the Frixion pen to transfer the design.  I like that it's a fine line and temporary, but it did not transfer easily, so the lines are quite shaky and often overwritten 2 or three times before there was really a mark.  This may be because the towel is quite textured, so I won't rule out the Frixion pens just yet...

Next up is my Fabulously Fast Tile Quilt.  Here we had to cut strips from 18 of our favourite prints.  Hmm...  I had a good dig through the shop and my stash to find 18 that somewhat coordinated.

And then started cutting.  I am using Kona Snow as a background color so these prints will pop.  I am ridiculously excited to see how this quilt top comes together!  Am I delusional to think it will be finished during class?  We will see how Fabulously Fast this top is, won't we?

Next is hand quilting with Jen Kingwell.  We were asked to bring a 20 inch quilt sandwich and coordinating perle cotton.  Thankfully I had a left over block from Twinkle Twinkle and already have my perle cotton for quilting the rest of the quilt.  I framed the quilt block in two of the prints used in the stars to make it large enough, then used IKEA fabric on the back.  I hope this will be come a cushion cover to coordinate with Twinkle Twinkle so the back won't be seen.  Again, another "finish" from a class.  Brilliant.

I am just delighted that I got into Karen's screen printing class.  I have decided on the image I hope to print and thought I would like to put it on a few tote bags instead of just cotton scraps.  In the end, I would love to be able to print my own quilt labels, but that may be a bit too adventurous right now (with tiny text and all).  I whipped up two reversible totes with Riley Blake fabric on one side and Kona Ash on the other.  The Riley Blake is a bit twee as compared to my usual fabric choice, but I love these prints.  I thought using them as a lining may be perfect as they don't have to coordinate with other fabrics to fit into a quilt.  The Ash is nice and simple, so I'll print on that blank canvas.  If it's any good, the screen printed side will be what's seen.  If it's a disaster, the screen printed Ash will be the lining and no one will ever know.

Finally there's Green Tea and Sweet Beans with Jen Kingwell.  We were to choose a mix of prints and background fabrics, bringing with us F16th cuts.  I pulled out my usual saturated rainbow and a few LV prints to mix in.

Again, this pattern is not my usual style of quilting, but I think a class is a SUPER way to be exposed to new skills/techniques and ideas.  I'll give it my best try.  If appliquĂ© is no for me, I will have a wall hanging or something that will happily live with the other minis in the shop.  Nothing lost and a whole lot gained. 

I am off to cut more fabric like a maniac.  I've never seen so many FQs in the shop.  How will they ever fit in my suitcase!?!?

Friday, July 11, 2014

We Will Try This Again

Did you happen to notice that I posted my second quarter FAL hopes and dreams list, but did not post my second quarter finishes?  That's because there were none.  No. Finishes. Last. Quarter.


Let's give this one more try, then:

1. Swoon (from the Swoon Along 2013 *ahem*)

The Swoon top is finished.  It was sent to the long arm quilter at the end of April and there it sat.  It's only now that we're swapping sketches of how it may be quilted.  If there's not a stitch in this quilt by the end of this month I'm taking it back.  Seriously.  

2. Twinkle Twinkle

When you last saw this quilt it was layered in a hotel lobby.  I decided to hand quilt it, echo quilting inside each star.  The stars are now finished and I am working on the square/diamond pattern between each star block.  I have been struggling trying to decide what color to use in the square/diamond quilting so that was a bit of a delay.  I am sorted out  now and back to stitching happily.

3. Medallion

I have been testing out blocks for my last medallion quilt border.  I have created a LONG list of border blocks I do not like. 

 Most importantly, though, I have found one that I do!  I just need to get to stitching and I can finish off the final 6.5 inch border of cross stitch blocks, followed by two quick and easy thin borders to finish this top off.

Not a great photo - it's inside on the design wall.  You get the idea....

I am not convinced that this will be finished this quarter - I am thinking of hand quilting it, which would mean it will be finished by the 3rd quarter of 2015.  

4. Big Stitch Swap Mini
I can not show you much of this super top secret sewing project, but it involves this:

and some of these:

Fingers crossed that I finished something (anything!) on the list this quarter.  Oh, how I'd love a finish sometime soon.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hello! My name is Cindy.

Thank goodness we have personalized hand stitched name badges instead of those awful stickers.

The Fat Quarterly retreat weekend is coming quickly!  It's time that we all post a little bit about ourselves so we have a heads up of who one another is when we get to retreat.  With the games we play at registration, we will know each other in no time!

Let's start with the basics, shall we?  I am Cindy.  I live in Galway Ireland with my other half, my cat Clarkson (nearly 5 years old) and my dog Molly (1 1/2 years old).

I am originally from the good old US of A, but moved to Galway 7 1/2 years ago for work.  It was here that I discovered quilting, which is funny seeing as I grew up right near Amish Country.  Missed opportunity there!

Molly checks on the cows every morning during our walk.
I have been quilting for nearly 4 years now, blogging for most of them.  I love the opportunity quilting offers to combine color, pattern and geometric shapes, which is a blessing for those of us who love art/craft and are not great at drawing or painting.  I have come to realize, though, the most fantastic part about my quilting journey is the community I have been lucky enough to join.  Quilters are a great source of my daily inspiration, support and humor.  A great reality check when you need it, too.

I am a full time scientist doing research in regenerative medicine during the day, quilter on the weekends and in the evening (or on a sneaky day off!).  I am also owner of a fabric shop also called Fluffy Sheep Quilting which has been a wonderful adventure!  The shop will be at the Saturday market, so do stop by and introduce yourself.  More on that in Friday's post, though.

Pretty shop blogger bundle created by Sarah of Fairyface Design

Oh, it rained and rained this market day.  It was miserable.
When I am not quilting, in the shop or walking Molly, I am usually camping.  More often than not I bring along something stitchy to do by the camp fire with my friends. 

This past weekend with my friends in their garden.  I'm third from the left.
Yes, the one with the wine glass.
At the retreat you can find me hand quilting with Jen Kingwell, embroidering with Jo Avery, screen printing with Karen Lewis, making fabulously fast quilts with Amy Smart and finally diving into a Green Beans and Sweet Tea quilt (gulp!) with Jen Kingwell.  I am really looking forward to this weekend of stitchy fun!

In the mean time, you can find me on social media in a few different places:
Twitter - @fluffysheepquil
Flickr -
Instagram - @fluffysheepquilting

Looking forward to seeing you all shortly!

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Alder Skirt

At the beginning of the year, I listed the ways I hoped to expand my sewing skills.  I was itching to start sewing basic clothes.  You see, I started sewing with quilts as I loved (and still do) the combination of geometric design with color/pattern.  I was not that girl who made their own skirts or Halloween costumes.  It never crossed my mind.

Anyway, I was thinking in January that it's time to sew some very basic things for myself.  I started with PJ bottoms, which were semi successful.  More recently, though, I saw several posts with the Alder Skirt, from Imagine Gnats, popping up.  I can make that...right?

After a semi-successful trial run with IKEA fabric, I dove into the shop's stash of Essex Linen Navy and Vintage Happy Orange Hangers and I started cutting.  After an evening of manic stitching, a skirt was born!

I dig it.  It has a little pleat in the front, which makes it quite roomy.  Pleats would have scared me except for the little top I made for my niece.  I had mastered the pleat and was ready to fly to pockets.

What do I know about pockets!?!?  I freak out if a bag pattern has a pocket.  The 241 tote (here and here) is my least favorite thing to make just because of the exterior pockets.  These were different, though - not those awful rounded bottom pockets I was used to, but pretty straight forward rectangular piecing.  I was feeling confident at this point.

Now, here I got very brave.  I originally used fully Essex Navy for the whole bottom of the skirt.  However, I'm a shirt-out girl and then you couldn't see the orange pretties when I was wearing the skirt.  So, I took out the scissors and cut off the bottom 1.5 inches of Navy and replaced it with orange Vintage Happy.  It's SO much better with the addition of color.

Over the weekend we had a photo shoot in the back yard to show you all the finished skirt.  I have to say, this is one of the funniest things we have ever done.  Ever.  I was crying laughing at my other half with his faux Italian accent, flashing the camera all over the place barking instruction.  He even finished with a very dramatic "its a wrap".  Oh, I couldn't keep a straight you won't see a photo of the full me here.  Clearly.

It is supposed to fit around your hips, but my skirt continually inches up to my waist.  So, when I made the original IKEA tester, I had used the size chart in the pattern and stitched according to that guide.  However, when my skirt inches up, it became very roomy in the hips.  This version I made one size smaller and it suits my hips and waist.

It's very comfortable, flowing but stays put in the Galway breeze with the heavier linen fabric.  I'm quite happy with the finished product and would absolutely make another if we were to take a trip somewhere warm.  Rachel's pattern is very clear, easy to assemble and has great step by step instructions.  So much so that with minimal thought I could make my own with no previous garment sewing experience beyond my niece's tops.  I would absolutely advise, though, making a tester in not-so-precious fabric to be sure you have the right size for you.  Beyond that, the Alder skirt is an absolute hit around here!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Officially The Cutest Niece Ever.

If there was a contest I would win for the cutest ever niece.  Hands down.

Several of you have recently asked after my niece, Nieve.  Much to my delight, I have photos to share with you today!  My brother and sister-in-law held a photo shoot of Nieve in her new Imagine Gnats pinafore to share with you all.  

I have not seen Nieve since Christmas, so when I started making clothes for her summer wardrobe I was guessing on sizes.  The chart in Rachel's pattern was spot on, thankfully.  I will say, though, I imagined the pinafore would be longer on her and she could get away with just wearing her diaper when the summer heat hits.  

My mom's gardens are always beautiful.  Nieve will soon be put to work
if she lingers admiring too long!

This pinafore was made with Scrumptious fabric from the shop:  Berry Aqua for the side you see, Dainty Flowers for the lining peeking out in the first photo, but really it's fully reversible.  

These little jeans are killing me with their cuteness!

Thanks so much, P&C for sending on photos of your cutie.  You made my day!  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Sparkling Blogger Bundle!

Who is this month's featured blogger?  Can you guess?  They created a bundle that's sophisticated, masculine and modern....and dipped the FSQ in pink glitter.  You have one guess and only one guess...

That's right! Today is the launch of the Molli Sparkles blogger bundle.  Today's a great day to visit Molli's blog if this is your first time meeting him.  Just this past Monday he made his television debut on the Today show where he did a super job promoting quilting while the co-host lost all sanity while trying to stitch together two little squares of fabric.  Step away from the machine, Karl.

Back to the fat quarter bundle!  This month's bundle is filled with teal, aqua, grey and black mixing Kona solids (teal, aloe and black) with Simply Style, Le Creme dots, Minimalista and Architextures.

Retailing for €27.50, you can pick one up in the shop right here.  It's the perfect stash builder, really boosting your aquas and turquoise selection.

Molli, this has been great fun.  We'll have to find another way to join up in the future - I have to get these little sparkly sheep back to Oz!  Baaaa!

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