Tuesday 31 July 2012

Quilt Along # 24 - Tree Roots

Last week's design in Leah Day's Quilt Along Wednesdays was called Tree Roots. Similar to Bare Branches, however this time with curvy lines. I did a bit of a practice and then stitched it onto my practice quilt.

Here is what it looks like

Not sure what happened, but something was not right with my tension...I used the same thread and the same tension that I had used before (I write this down nowadays!), had the same material and still....when I started off, the top thread floated across the fabric. Could not believe it. Maybe my machine is just temperamental...had to change the tension to a much lower setting before the stitch looked alright. No idea why this occurred...had me scratching my head for a while though, looking whether I maybe mixed up the threads, double-checking what I had written down. Still wondering about that.

Back- bit easier to see the design

Anyway, the design did not give me too many problems other than the spacing. By the time I really got into it, I had started to stitch the branches much closer. I think that would probably even itself out over a bigger area, so I did not worry about it too much. Like this one a bit better than the Bare branches...just flowed a bit better for me and no puckers this time.

Apart from this I am working on writing up some patterns. Am thinking about putting them up on one of those web sites for sale. At the moment wondering about whether or not some of the fabric might create problems with the copyright and have been doing some reading around this...that just about does your head in. It's not as if anybody will make millions from selling a few patterns. I do offer my patterns to the magazines here from time to time and had a few of my quilts published. While I do enjoy this and have and got a real buzz out of it (they do some amazing photography of the quilts) once that pattern is with the magazine I cannot really use it again and in many ways that is a pity. I have come to think that there has to be a better way to share my work which could then also include putting up some patterns for free.

Will just have to push on with this and make it happen...have been procrastinating for some time now.

Until next time


Friday 27 July 2012

Country-Themed Tote

This year I am concentrating mainly on FMQ, so I am doing a lot of practicing and a lot of FMQ in general. I am participating in Leah Day's Quilt Along Wednesday and also try different designs that I come across in other blogs. This has been great fun and I have learned a lot in the last 6 months. However, this also has meant that progress on some of my other projects has been incredibly slow...

This is ok, but on the weekend I had the need for some instant gratification...so, I decided to make a bag. What a hoot...I have very little experience with making bags, in fact I have only ever produced this little make-up bag project that I found on the Pfaff website. Fabric was not an issue, as I have a lot of bitses and pieces collected over time....also found some bag designs that I had obviously collected to do one day.

Well, I selected the easiest pattern that I had...2 pages of instructions....how hard could this be! Not sure where I got this pattern from...probably somewhere on the internet some time ago. It is called a Bazooples Day Holiday Tote by Springs Creative (designed by Amy Tallent).

Have a look at the end result:

Country themed tote 14"x17" (approximate)
Immensely proud of this even though it is very simple. As these were just bitses of fabric (the back as you can see is some green fabric I found) I just used calico for the lining. No pockets or any other fancy stuff ...this was enough to cope with. I stippled the front and put some loops on the back. Left the sides empty as I did not know whether one should quilt in those areas or not and the instructions did not mention anything about it.

This was a lot of fun...I can see some more bags coming up. Mind you, I think I should make them a bit smaller, this is huge.

Until next time


Wednesday 25 July 2012

Quilt Along #23 - Bare Branches

Last week's task in Leah Day's Quilt Along Wednesday was a design called Bare Branches. This is a different type of design that requires some backtracking.

Here is the result:

Not too bad, a bit sloppy on some of the backtracking, but overall quite manageable. Needs quite a bit of concentration to execute.

My question this week relates to my quilt that I am using for practice. I constructed this out of squares with some sashing in between. To stabilise this, I quilted all of the squares along the ditch ...now that I am quilting the squares I am getting puckers where it meets the quilting-in the ditch.  

Here is a close up - a bit hard to see as the photo is not the best quality but the pucker is in the left corner where the Bare Branch design extends a bit too far into the corner.

- should I have quilted in-the ditch of all the squares or should I just have had maybe one vertical and one horizontal line to stabilise the quilt and then commenced the FMQ in the squares (as some books suggest)?
-or, is this maybe the result of not adequately basting the whole affair (as the squares are a bit puffed out) ?

I am now thinking that I maybe should not have quilted in-the ditch at all and just FMQ the squares one by one. As you can see I am a bit confused about this.
Until next time


Friday 20 July 2012

For the Pfaff Enthusiast

Bought two new sewing feet. Unfortunately the workshop I was booked in at my sewing shop for August was cancelled recently but as I had already paid I had store credit....great! I have been researching FMQ feet for my sewing machine (Pfaff Quilt Expression 4) ever since I saw the Sensormatic Open Toe foot over at Pat's at Colour Me Quilty.  I did not even know this was available and had not been using the Sensormatic function of the machine at all (as it came with a closed Sensormatic foot).

So, purchased that one and tested it out on my 'practice quilt'.

 Open Toe Sensormatic Freemotion Foot

That worked alright, however I am not used to this foot at all. I had some problems with changing direction, in that I seemed to hover on the spot for a moment. This does not usually happen with my Sringloaded foot and may be just an issue around not being used to this set up at all. Also had some issues with stopping and starting. The foot seems to hold the fabric in place and I cannot move it slightly forward, so always ended up with a stitch on the spot when taking off again.

On the positive side the visibility was really good and I did some stippling with it as well and found it really good for that as you can 'hover' across the surface at higher speed. This works really well.

May need more practice on this one, as it behaves quite different compared to the Springloaded foot.

Well, and then I bought this little contraption:

Freemotion Echo Quilting Foot

...an echo quilting foot (used with Sensormatic function). Now this is truly amazing. As you can see the visibility is great and you have two circle markings, one at 1/4 inch and the other one at 3/8 inch. In order to attach this, the shank needs to be removed (did not even know you could do that) and this gets attached with a little screw.

Had some fun with this

This would have been very handy for the Wonky block quilt to stitch the double lines of the Zentangle design across the quilt.

I really like this foot as I could clearly see the lines that I was following via the markings - the visibility is really good as it allows you to see all of the surrounding area. Also tried it out on the Circuit Board design - very useful in keeping your distances approximately the same (which then hopefully detracts from the wonky stitching).

Very impressed with my purchases.

Until next time


Wednesday 18 July 2012

Quilt Along #22-Wonky Block Quilt

Finished my wonky block quilt. I am really happy that I decided to do this one in the last minute even though I am still limping a week behind. Learned so much from doing this and I am really pleased with the outcome.

First of all - scale: kept loosely to a scale of a little bit less than 1/2 inch; that worked for most designs, but I discovered that some designs worked better at a 1/4 inch for me, i.e sharp stippling

Also, found this exercise really quite liberating as there was no point focusing on stitch quality. Had I done this, I would have gone mad. There are many issues in there...tiny stitches, wonky stitches and just plain ugly stitches but I found that the eyes seem to only see the majority of the stitching which looks absolutely fine. I was actually quite amazed by that and hence stopped worrying about it.

A look at the individual designs:

Loopy Lines design:
Not a problem but a bit tricky to fit into some areas depending on which direction you came from.

Sharp Stippling:

 Bit nervous about this one as I had read in some other posts that people had issues with that. I did two areas of this, one in a loop section and one larger area displayed above. As it turned out, I did two different scales. The above one is quilted at about 1/4 inch and that suited me somewhat much better. Once I got into the rhythm of this it just flowed and the effect is quite pretty. I think I prefer the design at this scale.


This was a big surprise to me...loved it. I am born to zipple. Worked like an absolute dream, could zipple myself out of any corner, had no issues with direction and the whole thing just flowed. Not sure I followed Leah's example of what this should actually look like. Seemed to develop my own way of doing this and have some pretty odd shapes in there. But again, the eye only sees the majority of the design which is consistently zig-zaggy enough. I was most impressed with this. Definitely will use this again.

Circuit Board:

Absolutely dreaded this one and nearly chickened out. Funny enough my brain does not appear to be wired for this one. Only worked for me after I drew myself a loose grid across the entire area (about 1.5 inches). This way I was surrounded by horizontal and vertical lines - while I did not quilt within those boxes I could always see the lines in the corner of my eyes. Not one of my favourites, even though it looks quite nice.

 Here is the end result.

Wonky Block Quilt 51" x 42.5"
Just need to find a proper name for this quilt and make a label.

Thank you, Leah, from Leah Day's Quilt Along Wednesday for this great project. Learned heaps from it and (bonus) this was just the right idea for this fabric.

Questions I had from last Quilt Along (which I posted too late):
- how far do you quilt to the edge of the quilt?
- does anybody have any tips on how to remove blue chalk marks (the variety that is used for dressmaking? The packet says to use a damp cloth which I tried and it does not just dissolve, so I am wondering if it is going to come out at all.
- I have a Pfaff machine and have a drop-in bobbin case - would you use the Magic Bobbin washers with that?

Until next time


Friday 13 July 2012

Quilt Along#21

I made some progress. This was a killer...when doing my Zentangle design I obviously did not think about my FMQ skill level. The first lot of lines were ok, in fact that went very smoothly. The echoing of the lines was very difficult and is something that I would have normally abandoned, i.e. put in the too hard basket. This is were the Quilt Along is excellent...it does spur you on to give things a go. So in the end I managed them with some stern determination to make it happen.

The issue I think has to do with my sewing foot which is squarish rather than round. This makes it very hard to echo around a shape without losing direction. Looking at the red markings or using the side of the foot as a guide only works as long as you have a straight line. When it is curving I tend to lose sight of the line that I am following. Maybe there is a trick to it...if yes, I have not discovered it as yet.

So, I eyeballed the echoing for most of it, turning the quilt in all directions and in the end got there.

This is my progress so far:

Discovered that loops are not that easy after all...had heaps of starts and stops as I kept getting stuck in places because I came to some areas in the wrong direction.

Some close-ups of my handiwork

Circuit board went alright if you don't look too close...all a bit wonky but easy enough to do. Have to let go of my perfectionist attitude...looking from afar it looks sort of alright.

The only other issue that I had had to do with the fabric - as soon as I hit the printed area it was really hard to see where I was going because the thread (lightgreen) just merged with the print.

Also, somebody commented on some post re the drape of the quilt (sorry, can't recall where I read that)...I used cotton batting and actually am quite amazed with the lovely light drape this is producing...I also thought that this might all be a bit too dense, however this does not appear to be the case. My scale of the designs is a bit less than half an inch and that seems to work.

I am linking up to Leah Day's Quilt Along Wednesday on the Free Motion Quilting Project. As I changed my day off at work I am always going to be a bit late with the link-up and actually miss the posting of questions, however I do have some today so I am just going to throw them out there.

- how far do you quilt to the edge of the quilt?
- does anybody have any tips on how to remove blue chalk marks (the variety that is used for dressmaking? The packet says to use a damp cloth which I tried and it does not just dissolve, so I am wondering if it is going to come out at all.
- I have a Pfaff machine and have a drop-in bobbin case - would you use the Magic Bobbin washers with that?

Anyway that's it for me today

Until next time


Friday 6 July 2012

Quilt Along #20

Almost caught up. How addictive is this wonky quilt!

Initially I was going to cut up my fabric into rectangles and make some sort of irregular type arrangement, however when I tried this it just looked like a pieced backing. In the end I decided to do the wonky blocks. I made mine 9 inches to retain some of the design of the fabric. Those blocks went together really fast and I can see how addictive this can become.

I kept the quilt top a bit smallish (approx. 43 x 51") as I needed to use up a backing that was miscut and would not fit most bigger quilts. I can't say I followed anything in particular but must admit that I pretty much did my own thing...the strips that were supposed to be somewhere in the middle were a bit of an afterthought for me and so I put them on the side. Once it was finished I realised of course that I could have used a whole strip down the centre....ha, ha, also realised that putting them horizontally was a pain as I had to cut a bit off to match the seams. Yes, I could have left that but I struggled with the idea of not having the seams meet...

 I managed to put the Zentangle design on it today. As I have a brown background I used a white marking pen (chalk). I think this is used for dressmaking and the packet had also a blue marking pencil in there so I used this for the lighter fabric. Then, of course, I went completely overboard and really marked the lines with the blue marker. It says on the packet that it comes out with a damp cloth...when I tried this, I realised that this is not going to come out that easily. Well, live and learn...not sure why I did not use one of the blue water soluble pens. That definitely would have been better.

Happy with my art work

I think this is going to look great. I am going to use my lightgreen Aurifil 50/2 thread to sew the lines and also for the designs. Can't wait, although a bit nervous about the odd angles and shapes of my little art work...this should be interesting.

New sewing room set up...

New chair
...and table
Anyway, I started the basting, so I better get back to it.

Until next time


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