Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Taking the plunge

After the Frankenblanket episode of 2012, I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to face EPP again. With a couple of years of recovery, however, I find myself ready to take the proverbial plunge and have started a new EPP project, after remembering how much I love hand sewing when I made a fun little baby shower gift for Sarah. Like my last EPP project, this one is also a baby quilt intended for a new bambino of my own, this one due early in November. Unlike the last project, though, this one is a little less ambitious. I'm going to make several large hexie flowers to appliqué on a low volume background. This will then serve as a central panel that will be surrounded by two borders - one narrow, one wide - of complementary fabric. My inspiration comes from Pinterest:

How could it possibly go wrong? I'm smarter, more experienced, and more EPP savvy this time around, right? Time will tell, but so far I'm really enjoying cutting and basting the hexies, and I think this will be a perfect project to bring along with us as we go on holiday this weekend. (A North American adventure comprising just about 3 weeks in Vancouver and Boston. I can't wait though am also dreading all those long haul flights with my very lively two-and-a-half year old!)

Speaking of taking the plunge, I've finally signed up for Instagram, which I think will be handy for more immediate, more frequent photo updates. Follow me on tinamharpz!

xx Tina 

Saturday, 6 June 2015

One Lovely Blog

Despite my recent silence here, my friend Judith (Just Jude) has kindly nominated me for the One Lovely Blog award. Thanks, Judith!

The idea behind the nomination is pretty simple. You thank the person who nominated you, providing a link to their post. Then, you share seven fun facts about yourself that your readers might not know. Finally, you nominate up to ten further blogs to share the love. So, without further ado, here are seven mildly entertaining, if not necessarily fun, facts about me...

1. My only brother and I are twins, born a mere 8 minutes apart. My mom actually didn't know she was having twins until she delivered us 7 weeks early!

2. Related to the first fun fact... My brother and I are NOT identical. This may seem obvious to most of you, but you'd be surprised how many people ask that when I tell them I have a twin brother, despite the evident gender difference.

3. Like Judith, my favourite colour is purple, though I'm also very partial to green and blue, the brighter and more vivid the better!

4. I first came to Ireland when I did what we Americans call my junior year abroad (aka Erasmus). I studied English literature and drama in Dublin.

5. I came back to Dublin a year or so later to do some postgraduate work, in the midst of which I met hubby. The rest is, as they say, history.

6. My favourite flavour of ice cream is Ben and Jerry's peanut butter cup, followed in a close second place by Haagan Daz cookies and cream. The great thing about liking expensive ice cream is that portion control is pretty much built in. We only eat ice cream in this house when it's on sale! 

7. I started patchworking about 5 years ago when I took a 'quilt in a day' class to make a baby quilt for a close friend. It definitely took me more than a day, but I caught the bug anyway! 

Thanks again, Judith, for the nomination! I'm nominating two fabulous blogs to spread the One Lovely Blog love. Enjoy!

1. Susan @ Canadian Abroad 
2. Cindy @ Fluffy Sheep Quilting

xx Tina

Monday, 20 April 2015

Step by step

While I may have the New Kids on the Block's infamous single running through my brain at the moment, the reference in my title is to the very slow progress I'm making on the little chevron quilt I showed you last month. Piecing that thing together really did boggle my mind, but luckily I've got the main part of the quilt top finished now. *huge sigh of relief*

As usual, my photo doesn't do justice to the vibrancy of the fabric colours, or to the quilt itself, but I'm really pleased with the chevron effect, especially as I'd used so many different scraps. I was afraid that the pattern of dark/light wouldn't jump out enough, but I think they all came together really well in the end. I'm now thinking of a thin Kona Snow border and a thicker lime green or aqua border, but I haven't chosen any fabrics yet. Any recommendations? 

Linking in with Scraptastic Tuesday

xx Tina 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Paper-Folding Exercises

When I was a kid growing up in New Hampshire, we had these standardised tests that were administered periodically throughout elementary and middle school. They were designed, I think, to rate school performance and to ensure minimum educational standards were being met. I don't remember them being particularly onerous and, in fact, actually enjoyed certain sections, like reading comprehension, but I always struggled with the section that included paper-folding exercises. Not origami, sadly, but cognitive jumping jacks in which you had to imagine folding a piece of paper with, say a black dot in the top left corner, in half twelve times. Why? In order to predict where that original black dot ended up, of course. Mind-boggling stuff, my ineptitude at which probably helps explain why I'm finding it so difficult to wrap my head around the layout of this scrappy chevron quilt. 

It may look straightforward enough, but there was something about laying the squares out on-point that just baffled me! Luckily, I've got all of the rows sewn together now and have managed to add on most of the Kona Snow triangles at the ends of the rows without too much bother. It's quite a small quilt at this stage, even for a baby quilt, so I think I may add a border or two, maybe one in that lime green?

In other news, here's a photo of my finished rainbow quilt

And that crazy cute bicycle print on the back.

xx Tina 

Monday, 2 March 2015

Joy in the morning

Way back in November, I had the opportunity to take part in the Fluffy Sheep Quilting Rainbow Charm Swap. I love swaps like this! It's so much fun looking out for the perfect fabrics, sharing photos and chatting with fellow swappers on Flickr, and receiving the much-anticipated delivery of charm square goodness at the end of the swap. This time around, I was given the task of choosing two different purple prints, one light and one dark, to be added into the mix with similar pairs of red, orange, yellow, green, and blue charm squares. How did Cindy know that purple's my favourite colour?! It wasn't easy narrowing down my choices, but I finally ordered two gorgeous prints: this rich aubergine print....

And this simple lilac polka dot.

The charm pack arrived while I was away for Christmas and was waiting for me when I got back - a lovely little pick me up after a holiday marked by sorrow. So delighted with my charms was I that I tore into them without taking a photo first. But, you can get a fair idea of what my pack looked like when you see the simple rainbow quilt I put together using it.

All but two or three of these squares come from my rainbow charm pack; the others are pilfered from the Japanese charm squares I had saved from an earlier swap. I just love how bright and cheery they all are, and the sweet bicycle print fabric I picked up for the back makes me smile! 

What makes me even happier is the concentric quilting I managed using a quilting bar on my Pfaff! The circles and curves remind me of rainbows, which is only fitting, and, while I don't want anyone to inspect my stitches too closely, I'm delighted to have accomplished something other than straight line quilting. 

This little quilt is destined for my sweet baby niece, Joy. Hope it brings her even a little bit of the joy she brings to all of us! 

xx Tina 

Thursday, 22 January 2015

I don't do deadlines

With patchwork and quilting that is. However unambitious I may think the projects I undertake are, life (and laziness!) has a way of intervening, with disastrous consequences for my timeliness. Baby quilts, in my world, are generally given 6-12 months after birth. Quilt in a day? Not likely! Try a year and a half.  'Still working on that?' - the general refrain from non-quilting friends and fellow patchworkers alike. Not that this bothers me. Do I wish I was a little better at getting things finished more quickly? Of course, but this is my hobby, a passion I pursue in my spare time; life and work are too stressful to put pressure on myself for this, too. That said, there are some measures I take to limit disappointment. Not engaging in any holiday-related crafting is the first and most important of these. Exactly what I was thinking, therefore, when I picked up one of Judith's Christmas stocking patterns and several Christmas-themed fat quarters, I'm not exactly sure. Baby G needed one, so why not make one? I comforted myself with the thought that I could easily buy one at the last minute if need be.

But, to my utter amazement, there was no need. I finished it! A time-limited project. On time! No, before time, if you consider that I had it hung by the fireside several days before Christmas. Here's the front... 

And the back.... 

It has a lining of the same red polka dot fabric and was so straightforward to make, thanks to Judith's clear instructions. A little disappointingly (and ironically), Baby G didn't actually use it on Christmas morning because pillow cases were the norm amongst her cousins, with whom we spent the holiday, but there's always next year, right? 

Apologies for the poor quality pics... I'm having trouble with Blogger on my laptop at the moment and am having to use the Blogger app on my iPad for the first time. I'm not sold. Anyone else having problems with Blogger at the moment? 


Friday, 16 January 2015

Catching up

Hello, hello! Remember me? I seem to be perfecting my disappearing act these days, but I'm back again with a little update on that baby quilt I mentioned in my last post (all those months ago). I'm really thrilled with the way it came out! In fact, of all the quilts I've made, this one may just be my favourite. I just love how bright and scrappy the blocks are!

I quilted simple diagonal lines - my fallback quilting style - and finished with a colourful scrappy binding, which seemed the natural choice for a quilt like this. For the back, I used the completely scrumptious Pink Bake Cherry by Riley Blake. Swoon. I didn't get a photo of it before giving the quilt away, but I did manage gleefully to deposit in my stash a few small leftover pieces for future projects. 

I'm hoping the beautiful baby girl this was given to will enjoy exploring each and every one of the blocks. There are a few different textures here, with one or two linen and silk scraps thrown in, and several fussy cut centre squares featuring cute little cats, horses, and other furry friends. Mum and Dad certainly had fun going through each square and pointing out the different patterns, shapes, and colours (which, naturally, thrilled me no end)!

A not quite successful attempt at a close-up.

I'm linking this up with Scraptastic Tuesday and promise to return (sooner or later) with a few other projects from the last little while. In the meantime, happy weekend!

xx Tina