Thursday, 30 March 2017

Meet Longarm Quilter Liz Dunne

Ever wondered what’s involved in getting into Longarm Quilting? MQI member Liz Dunne has just launched a new site to reflect her Longarm Quilting services but also showcase her Etsy shop and media coverage. Liz can be found online at Made in Ireland Quilts and has written a post on getting started with Longarm Quilting for us – thank you Liz!

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I have been a longarm quilter for 7 years now and the learning curve was a lot steeper than I ever imagined it would be. Not only do you have to have the machine, which is quite the expensive investment but you must have the tools that go with it. The rulers, marking pens, pantographs, thread, wadding/batting, backings, stencils, preview paper, micro handles and plenty other tools that I won't bore you with, but just to give you an idea.

You need to be spending large volumes of money to be able to get wholesale accounts in Ireland so a lot of money goes into buying the tools you need to keep going. I know some longarm quilters are exclusively longarm quilters and some are longarm quilters that do some teaching. I am a longarm quilter that makes quilts to sell also.

I did a lot of my training in the US as I lived there for a few years but nowadays with Craftsy and iquilt.com, you don't need to be able to physically go to a class. Having said that I know most people enjoy going to a physical class, as there is the social aspect to this too. I personally love online classes because you have them all the time to refer to. I just need someone to give me a kick in the butt to make sure I do them all! I currently have a queue of online classes I have bought to do.

As well as classes, you really must have that hands-on practice and that can be expensive too as you are using wadding/batting and fabric for top and backing and all that thread too. I had the rare opportunity to be able to quilt for a charity in the US and got plenty of practice on quilts that would eventually be given to children in hospitals and sheltered accommodation etc. I took this responsibility seriously and put a lot of effort into those quilts and that effort paid off as I got the practice and am now a comfortable, less nervous longarm quilter.

Longarm quilting to me is an enhancement of a quilt and for that reason I choose threads that blend into the fabrics. You need to be careful not to blend in too much with your quilt top and forget about your quilt back, so choosing a backing colour like your quilting thread choice is probably something a lot of quilters don't really bother thinking of, but it is certainly worth considering.

I did a training retreat in Salt Lake City with Handi Quilter and we all brought in a quilt top to show to award winning quilter Suzanne Michelle Hyland and I would say that 70% of the quilt tops she looked at she suggested using monofilament thread. For those of you that don't know what monofilament thread is it is a see-through thread and Suzanne was suggesting it because if there is too much contrast between your thread and different parts of your quilt then it just won't look right and suggested using see through thread. I'm personally not the biggest fan of the monofilament look as I don't see anything wrong with seeing your quilting thread but traditionally your quilting thread should not be too obvious so as not to take away from the overall pieced quilt top.

There is so much to learn about in longarm quilting and each year they bring out more and more tools and rulers! We can't have them all but practicing as much as we can will keep the skill in check and in tune and progressing all the time.

Monday, 6 March 2017

MQI Sewing Day Recap!

This past Saturday we had our meet up day in Limerick.  It had been over 2 years since our sewing day in Galway so it was really lovely to get to spend the day sewing and chatting with Modern Irish Quilters we might only know through Instagram!
Our venue being in Limerick meant that quite a few of us only had to travel over the Shannon to meet up but some came from Wexford, Dublin and the Kingdom of Co. Kerry!  We were hit with tummy flu and last minute family commitments so our number of 15 signed up for the day dwindled to 7 but we made the most of it!
We spent most of the day talking, and eating chocolate goodies and talking some more!  Having a smaller group meant that most of the chat was all of us together which also meant there wasn't a moment when one of the seven of use weren't chatting!  Seven told us all about his recent visit to QuiltCon and we are all thinking about saving to go ourselves in 3 years time.  Paula filled us in on the European quilt shows and shared with us quilt stories from her recent exhibition in Mexico city. 
We had a brilliant show and tell.  Seven showed us a modern quilt with metallic looking silk fabric and his brilliant I'm OK quilt.  Every block has I'm OK in it in some new from, from text to Morse code to Braille - this was really fun to get up close to!
 Aideen shared with us her paper pieced cushion. 
 I really love this and want to make one giant sized as a one block quilt for our sofa!
Paula showed one of her quilts from Mexico from her Momento Mori series and explained to us the old Catholic tradition of carrying a reminder of death with you to make you live each day to the fullest.  Paula's series of skull quilts are made up of her favourite objects and this one is made up of lots and lots of individual lady birds layered on top.
We also got to see the skull Share Jane quilt that Paula co-ordinated a huge collaboration of over 100 people to make blocks for 3 different versions of the traditional Dear Jane quilt.  This was stunning to see in person.
Rita showed us a modern advent wall hanging for Christmas time and had photos of a fantastic modern quilt she made for her sister.  It took her 6 months to make a double sided wedding quilt.  It took me two years to make a one sided Swoon and Paula trumped us all by taking 7 years to make her sisters wedding quilt!
We all oohed and ahhed over this Fleur de Lis pattern which Rita is making by machine and hand piecing fabrics from her life, like table cloths and clothes.  The softness of the palette and vintage feel appealed to us all.
Louise is working in her Rainbow Rose made with a low volume background and is adding borders to make a bigger quilt.  She shared with us also some fabric printing pieces and her progress on a piece for Aurora, the IPS co-exhibition with the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild in May
I didn't know what to bring for Show and Tell so I settled for my favourite quilt.  I can't tell you why this little Charm Pack Cherry with Noteworthy and neutral fabrics is my favourite, it just makes me happy when I pick it up.  I like it so much our Basset hounds haven't had even a sniff at it (Charly our Jack Russell may have sat on it once!)  and being only 5ft tall it keeps me warm watching telly but is useless to anyone else in the house!
 My second piece was this quilt I'm hoping to have finished for Fun's April 27th submission date!  It's a play on traditional blocks made modern and I had so much fun with colour on this one.  Only 1 block was left traditional (the Ohio star!), everything else has had a modern slant applied to it.  We decided a dark grey binding might be the way to finish it off.
Suzanne shared her progress on a piece of Jupiter and its moons and we talked about facing rather than binding it in black to not lock in that gorgeous red curve.
And on the day, despite all the talking and eating, I don't know how she did it but Suzanne finished a jelly roll quilt top!
Seven kindly held it up for photographing and we decided we liked it better vertical than horizontal.
Thank you to all who helped out to make our sewing day a success.  Suzanne made tote bags for us all in red and green Cath Kidston fabric, Louise and Seven brought scrummy home baked goodies and Paula kept us well topped up with tea & coffee!
Photos shamelessly robbed from Louise and Aideens instagram feeds!
Given our number we all got spot prizes in the raffle to add to our goodie bags! 
Suzanne, Louise, Aideen, Rita, Seven & Ruth with Paula behind the camera!
Thanks to Aideen too who gave me a box of biscuits all the way from Sneem bakery which I have enjoyed immensely writing up this post!  Hope to see you all again soon!


Wednesday, 1 March 2017

March Bee Block for Erin–Washington Star

Edited 18/03/17: updated to correct numbers of squares to cut!

Greetings Hive mates!

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Erin, and my family and I moved from Washington State 3 years ago to Cork. As we’re moving back to Washington in June, I asked if I could get one of the earlier months for the Bee.

When I first moved here in April of 2014, it was quite a culture shock. I was quite isolated, as my twin sons were only 16 months old at the time. For the first few months here, I hated it. It wasn’t until I discovered Modern Quilters Ireland and the Irish Patchwork Society that I found my people, began to make friends, and enjoyed living in Ireland. To say these two groups saved my sanity is an understatement. I’ve met some amazing people, and learned new skills in the process.

I’d love it if you could help me commemorate my time here in Ireland by following my instructions to make the Washington Star block:

Yes, I’m asking you to use the colours of the Irish flag! I thought it was a great way to commemorate my time here, by making a barn block I found on the ‘net called the Washington Star. I wasn’t able to find any sort of instructions for it. So, I broke out my quilting design software and came up with this:

You’re going to need three green fabrics, a light, medium and dark, two orange fabrics, a light and a dark, and a white background fabric—I used Kona White. Feel free to use prints, solids or a mix of the two. These instructions will make an 18 inch block.

Cutting Instructions:

White Background Fabric:

Four 5 inch squares

Four 3.75 inch squares

Twelve 2.75 inch squares

Dark Green Fabric:


Two 4.75 inc squares

Five 5 inch squares

Medium Green Fabric:

Eight 2.75 inch squares

Four 3.75 inch squares

Light Green Fabric:

Eight 2.75 inch squares

Two 4.75 inch squares

Dark Orange Fabric:

Four 2.75 inch squares

Orange Fabric:

Four 3.75 inch squares

To Assemble Corner Units:
Begin by taking your four medium green 3.75 inch squares and draw a line from corner to corner. Layer on top of your white 3.75 inch squares and sew a 1/4 inch away from the line on both sides. Cut on line.

Press open and trim to 2.75 inch square.

Using the photo as a guide, take your HST, medium green 2.75 inch squares, dark orange squares and your 5 inch white squares and arrange as shown.


 Sew the units in a row together.

Sew your rows together. Repeat for a total of four corner units. 

To build Diamond in a Square unit:

Take the eight light green 2.75 inch squares and twelve white 2.75 inch squares and draw a line from corner to corner. 

First, you’ll be building one all white and dark green diamond in a square unit. Take one dark green 5 x 5 square and four white 2.75 squares with the diagonal line. Place two squares on opposite corners. Pin and sew directly on the line. 


Next trim excess fabric more than 1/4 inch away and press open. Repeat with remaining corners for a white and dark green diamond in a square unit. 

Next, you’ll be making the same unit, but when you work with opposite corners, you’ll be using one white fabric and one light green fabric. follow the same process as above to make FOUR units total that look like this. 

To make Half Quarter Square Triangles

Take your light green 4.75 inch squares and and draw a line from corner to corner. Layer over the dark green 4.75 inch squares and pin. Sew a 1/4 inch away on both sides of the line. 
Cut on the line and press open. Trim to 3.75 inches.

Next, you’re going to make a half quarter square triangle using these half square triangles. Take your 3.75 inch orange square and draw a line from corner to corner. Layer this square on the half square triangles made previously. ENSURE THAT YOUR DRAWN LINE INTERSECTS THE HALF SQUARE TRIANGLE. Sew 1/4 inch away from both sides of the line. Cut on the line and press open.

To trim this unit, take your ruler and line up the 45 degree line up on the seam line. Your final measurement of this half quarter square triangle will be 2.75 inches, so be sure to line up the light green/dark green seam on the 2.75 inch mark as show in the photo below. Rotate unit to trim to
2.75 inches square.
Once units are trimmed, you’ll be sewing these together in pairs, matching dark green triangles. Make four units total. 

To begin sewing your block together:
First, sew your multicoloured diamond in a square units to the previous unit made. Ensure that your light green triangles of the diamond in a square unit touch the orange triangles of the other unit. 


Next, arrange your units using the photo as a guide. The white/dark green diamond in a square unit goes in the centre. 


Assemble as you would a nine patch by sewing all the units in a row together. 

Press the seams in opposite directions so you can nest them in the next step.

Sew your rows together, and you’re done! Great job!