Monday 29 April 2013

Disaster Averted

It had to happen one day....a whole cup of coffee was spilled over the table runner on the dining table.

I thought I take the opportunity to share how I wash and dry my quilts as I am often asked about this.

First at all, my quilts are for use and hence should withstand washing in the machine on a gentle cycle. I have found people are really reluctant to put quilts in the washing machine. I have learned very quickly that the more quilted a piece is, the better it washes and the distortion is fairly minimal and a gentle cycle should do it no harm.

Now for the soiled table runner...I  did not put it in the washing machine as it needed to be rinsed straight away. I used cold water...experience has taught me that cold water is the way to go to avoid stains. Coffee came out straight away and no stain was left, so I put a bit of washing detergent in to wash it a bit....yes, the red fabric started to bleed a bit (and I am pretty sure I washed this fabric beforehand!), so I put a colour catcher into the water to avoid a major disaster. As it continued to run ever so slightly, I used vinegar in the end to made the dye more stable and that did the trick.

After rinsing a number of times (all in cold water), I  rolled the runner up like you would do with woollen clothing and gently squeezed out the excess water. Then I put it outside on the clothes hanger and gently stretched it into its normal rectangular shape and let it sit there for the rest of the day and night. I only put it on the washing line once it was almost dry for the wind to go through, so that there was no distortion. Came out absolutely brilliant.

Linking up to Anything Goes Linky Party at Stitch by Stitch


Saturday 27 April 2013

WIP: Colour Adventure...Saga Continues

If you missed it, I posted about the saga of the Colour Adventure quilt earlier in the week (see the post Here)

I did ponder over my FMQ for a the end I decided that the design was the wrong scale as well as quilted with the wrong colour. While it was beautiful in itself the design was competing with just about everything around it. This did not fit with the vision that I had for his quilt. For a moment there I also thought about going back to my initial idea of quilting concentric circles, however thought I better give myself a day or so to just look at it.

Anyway, I ended up sticking with the swirls design. Just had too much fun stitching them. However, I changed the thread and choose colours that just blend in. Also reduced the scale as this was meant to act as a filler and not an overall design.

I am now using Rasant, a matte Polyester thread as I was able to get most colours in that...for the multi colored sections surrounding the centre I used a taupe thread...I had read that this blends in well, so I thought I give that a go.  Had to look up 'taupe' in the dictionary as I was not even sure what colour that was. While I do not like the colour much, I must say it does blend in extraordinarily well.

This is how far I got...
Taupe thread for surrounding areas - blends in like magic

Red area next to star - now taking a backseat with smaller scale swirl and red thread

On left larger scale design still to be changed

Love the back
The quilting now blends in and just gives me the texture I wanted and the star is back to being definitely the centre of attention...just how I envisaged this. This quilt is so bold and colorful, the quilting really needs to take a backseat, otherwise it is just too much for the eyes to take in and you loose what you want people  to look at. As much as I prefer stitching with a light-coloured thread on dark fabric, it is just not appropriate for this quilt.

Would have been good if I had thought this through a bit earlier. Mind you, also discovered a new little trick to get rid of the stitching marks. Used the steam from the iron and just lightly hovered over the area without actually touching the fabric. The steam going through fluffs up the batting again and the majority of those little stitching holes disappear...good as new, was quite impressed.

Linking up to Leah Day's  FMQ Friday on the Freemotion Quilting Project.


Wednesday 24 April 2013

WIP: Colour Adventure Saga

What do people think of this...?? Brutal honesty appreciated!

I got carried away yesterday (my day off and had the whole day to myself)...started the swirl pattern and just kept going. I was so focussed on the swirls that I did not pay a lot of attention to anything else. When I stopped and looked at it, I was not so sure that I actually liked it. Does this happen to you (at least sometimes)?

The design looks bold and somewhat exuberant and I think it just about competes with everything else around it, both in scale and design. I then tried out my initial idea (not sure what really happened and why I did this impromptu change) of quilting concentric circles in those spaces.

That looks much better, I think. It fills the space in a structured and quiet way and flattens out the area. Well, here comes the next problem, i.e. my idea of using the light green thread is not going to work with this design because of the backtracking. I tried this on the orange fabric and it looked absolutely hideous.

On the upside, I did get a good rhythm going on the swirls in that bold, daring and exuberant way. I really did appreciate quilters saying that you need to make patterns your own...that was the only way to actually be able to execute this pattern in order to fill a defined space. Just not sure that this is the right pattern for this quilt.

I will look at this for a while longer...bit unsure which way to go.


Monday 22 April 2013

Cheryl's Quilt

This is my colleague, Cheryl's quilt...her first machine pieced quilt (she usually pieces by hand)

It's gorgeous. I love the colours of the Carpenter's Star and the old pink background. The pink and green seem to go so well together.

Why am I showing this? Cheryl did this quilt 2 years ago and when it was finished put it away. Unfortunately she had a very bad experience with having it machine quilted by a longarm quilter which literally wrecked the appearance of the quilt. We were looking at this today and seriously, it is quite fact, the whole story is quite unbelievable...

here are some close ups:

This is the pattern...huh?!
Horrendous stitching all around

The quilt came back with several cuts in it

Puckers galore on the back

I could show you more but will spare is actually quite painful to look at this. Apparently she did take this up with the quilter at the time but was told that her quilt was not well constructed, hence those mishaps. When looking at it today, I thought that this was a bit of a cheap excuse...yes, the points do not match exactly and it may not have been dead straight, but that does not account for the poor workmanship and certainly does not excuse actually damaging the quilt. If this was unquiltable, where was the phone call back to Cheryl saying...I don't think I can quilt this with my longarm.

I have seen work by some very talented longarm quilters, so hopefully this is an isolated example of really poor quality and one also hopes that this longarm quilter is out of business by now, but I reckon it serves as a reminder to check the work of the quilter that you are entrusting your quilt to and to be clear about beforehand what you accept and what is simply unacceptable.

Anyway, we decided today to rescue this quilt... (and may live to regret it). We will undo the stitching which should be quite easy as the stitches are incredibly loose, then take it off, repair some of the seams that have been ripped (probably fro trying to stretch it), and re-baste it and see what can be done.

Any ideas about the cut in the fabric...the cut above is the largest (the other ones are more like little nips here and there and can be quilted over)...not really sure what one could do with that.

This should be very interesting...

I am linking up with Anything Goes Linky Party at Stitch by Stitch in the hope that someone has some ideas about the cut in the fabric


Sunday 21 April 2013

WIP: Colour Adventure Progress

Here is a quick update on the Colour Adventure quilt. Managed to finally baste this quilt and got going on the motif for the star.

I used the bamboo batting that I had lying around...forgot that I had a major issue with bearding last time. Bit of a hassle...also think that more puffy batting would have been a bit better to make the quilting stand out more.

Currently pondering what thread to use on the surrounding areas...I have a greenish thread that I think will blend in. I am planning on some swirls or similar in the surrounding areas...

Belated link up to FMQ Friday on the FMQ Project


Monday 15 April 2013

WIP Progress: Colour Adventure

Remember this beast...

Well, still not basted, but made some progress in thinking through a plan of attack. Initially I was going to mark a feather motif in the yellow star before basting. So I spent some time yesterday afternoon working on the motif.

That took a while to get it exactly how I wanted it to look. Yep, I am not one of those gifted people  who can just whip this up in a few minutes. In terms of marking it on to the fabric, I tried to trace it putting a light under my see-through extension table (don't have a light box)...that could work but was too fiddly in getting it to sit exactly where I wanted it to go. Hence, in the end, I decided to use my trusted Golden Thread Quilting paper, i.e. tracing it onto the paper first and then stitching through the paper...that gives me much better control of the placement of the motif. (Alternatively I could have used Don Linn's method of tracing it on tulle and transferring it on to the quilt  using the tulle). As this is the centre of the quilt I need this to look as even as I can possibly get it.

So, that meant I was now ready to baste this quilt...ha, ha...I did try out my motif instead to get a bit of a feel for it...

Here is the upper half the motif

Worked nicely once I had worked out the stitching sequence. This is getting very exciting...not sure re the thread yet, but I am thinking to use Aurifil 50/2 in a light beige thread...this should almost but not completely blend in.

I shall baste this tomorrow...(also thinking that I might invest in a can of basting spray soon to give that a go. I am hearing good things about it - but not tomorrow, as this will be just another excuse to delay it)

Linking up to Anything Goes Linky Party at Stitch by Stitch.


Saturday 13 April 2013

Kim Bradley Workshop

Went to a great FMQ Workshop on Friday.

The workshop was run by Australian longarm quilter Kim Bradley (Kim Bradley Creations) who hails from Sydney and has featured at the Houston Quilt Show with her art piece, Feather Fantasy, a wall hanging enhanced with Derwent Inktense pencils (not sure I have seen that one but have come across her beautiful quilting on one of the local quilts and also seen some of her art work in the quilt shows over here). The workshop was held in what used to be a monastery, now being used for student accommodation, I believe.

Beautiful surroundings and gorgeous weather...the gardens were really nice. So peaceful...

This was a day long workshop. My local sewing shop which hosted the event organised this beautifully with morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea provided...just great. The day, of course, went very fast...

We were taken through quilting some simple but effective designs with our walking foot...something I do not do very often anymore at all....I actually found this quite difficult. We did some basic Clamshell designs in different sizes and also quilted the Apple Core design and used the walking foot to create some magical simple echo designs.

After that we tried some FMQ using a basic grid and literally just doodled over it trying out different shapes and designs. That was good fun and reminded me that it does not always have to be this complex and intense ...often simple, unassuming designs are really effective. Some women in the group further enhanced their samples with using the decorative stitches on their machines when using the walking foot (e.g. when quilting the clamshell design...that looked really good). Then went on to do some Victorian Feather quilting which was good fun (finished this in the evening). Amongst all this, lots of really interesting discussions about all things 'quilting'.

My efforts for the day

I love attending workshops...unfortunately not that many FMQ workshops are run in my area, so when they do come up, I make a point of going.

And yes, of course, I purchased something...a little Apple Core and Clamshell template. I could have used the Clamshell one the other month when I did my Japanese Table Runner. I bought the smaller size...which will be just right for an overall design for a table runner, I reckon.

Linking up to FMQ Friday at the Freemotion Quilting Project


Thursday 11 April 2013

Quilters' Show and Tell

This week's theme is English Paper Piecing and my table runner from last year fits the bill (apologies to all who have already seen it).

Except for the border and binding, this table runner is entirely hand pieced using the English Paper Piecing method. The table runner measures 19.5"x 34". I must say, that this was one of the most therapeutic things I have ever done. There was no rushing this, just steady stitching at a very slow pace...I really enjoyed doing this and the end result was so worth it. If you want to re-visit the painstakingly slow progress of this table runner start here

Check out the entries over at the Quilting Gallery on Friday morning. (Voting starts on Friday and continues through to Monday morning).

Quilters’ Show and Tell


Monday 8 April 2013

Finish: Pack N' Go Tote

I am finished!

A big thank you to Mhairi, mtnquiltr and also to Linda in Calif for their encouragement and good advice. It came at a time when I really felt like chucking it...all seemed a bit too hard and complicated. Had to leave it for a day or two just to get a bit of a grip. Followed Linda's advice and re-did the lining by 1/4 inch. In the absence of any clue seemed like a good idea and given that the lining appeared way too big I thought that that little bit smaller might just make the difference. Must admit, I was a bit nervous when I put it in...but yes, that did the trick. While still loose, it just fitted that little bit better.
After that I had a lot of fun making those little pocket closures and the fabric-covered buttons. Turned out really nice, I think.
Now back to the quilting...need to baste my Colour Adventure quilt and then I am looking forward to do some more feather quilting (also attending a whole day workshop on feathers on Friday...really excited about this)


Wednesday 3 April 2013

WIP: Pack N' Go Tote - Progress Report

Did I describe this bag as "simple" before??

Well, all went well...I followed the pattern (taken from Fresh Fabric Treats with your favourite Moda Bakeshop designers) one section at a time and thought I was making very good progress. I did use fusible batting rather than the Warm and Natural batting that was used in the book but thought that this would not make too much of a difference.

My machine struggled with the thickness a bit, so if I was to do this again I probably stick to the Warm and Natural batting, but otherwise all good, until I got to the Assembly section. WHAT!!...inset seams?? did I not see that before? I could not believe it. In my eagerness I obviously did not pay too much attention to the assembly side of things otherwise I might have backed out of this one. Well, I have pieced inset seams, how hard could this be. With that I set out to assemble the bag...what a struggle! With the double layer of panels and batting this was like taming the first attempt was less than satisfactory with the corners not meeting properly at all and the seam itself somewhat crooked.

So, I undid all the stitching (yes, this took ages and was very frustrating) and started again, working deliberately slow and concentrated a bit better, with the occasional swear words accompanying the process. The corners came out better, not sure whether all the seams are totally straight, but this is brilliant compared to the first attempt. Then I discovered I had ripped into two of my quilting lines...(don't you love it) had to do some repair work.

So, it the body of the bag done

So far, so good. I am pleased with this...the panels which are pockets are all around and will be secured with a pocket closure and a button in the middle...(to be continued).

I did the lining yesterday and must say that after the struggle with the bulk of the bag the inset seams of the lining were an absolute breeze. Now my measurements were all more or less exact but when I put the lining in, it seemed to be too big. I measured everything again because I thought that I might have to re-do this as well, but my measurements were correct on both lining and bag...not quite sure what to do because even if I wanted to make it smaller, I have absolutely no idea how much smaller it should be, as it should fit as it is. Then why does this look miles too big? Maybe I should iron the bag gently to make everything a bit flatter?

Any bag-makers out there who could comment on linings and what that should look like? My lining is literally throwing folds in there, but when I pin it around the top of the bag it definitely fits as it should.

Anyway, that's been my challenge for the week and no matter what, this will actually be finished and at least from the outside, it will look great.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced guest hosted by Natalie from Greenleaf Goods


Monday 1 April 2013

A New Bag - Pack N' Go Tote

So, I am tackling bag-making once again. Found this really cute bag in a book I picked up over X-mas at a sale (Fresh Fabric Treats with your favourite Moda Bake Shop designers). No zippers, just a simple bag...

The bag in the book is made out of bright, modern fabrics, however I am using my Moda Jelly Roll - Chateau Rouge/French General for it. May turn out a bit too red, but who you can see I love red, particularly the more deeper tones.

This is how far I got...finished front and back pocket plus the sides, the rest should come together a bit more quickly.

Was actually nice to get re-acquainted with my machine. Forgot how many useful features I have got on there. The panels were not that easy to do. In the book they sew the strips directly onto the batting and then sew the decorative stitches over the seams. Now that did not work for me at all. I put the strips together first and then used some fusible batting and a stabilizer for the decorative stitches. I think I have got about 250 decorative stitches on the machine that I never use and most of my time was spent staring at all those stitches, unable to decide which ones to use. In the end I tried all sorts of stitches and some of them would have probably been better to leave out as they became fairly tight and there is some crinkling going on. However, I rarely use them and I thought that this was a good opportunity to just try and see how this works.
And here is one of the handles...absolutely love doing handles

Now I only have to do the body of the bag...not sure how that will go as I bought some small floral print in similar colours to go with it which may turn out to be a bit much on the eyes (Colour looks a bit different does actually match a bit better in real life).
I find it really hard to visualise things so just have to go with my hunch that this will turn out alright. I will do the lining out of the same floral print with the red binding all around. Then it has got some pocket loop closures and some fabric covered buttons to go on there....
Let's see how this will turn out...if I like it then I might consider doing this in more modern bright fabrics.
Linking up to Plum and June's Let's Get Acquainted Link Up Held over at Taryn's from Pixel to Patchwork and (later on) Anything Goes - Quilt & Sew Linky Party held by Marelize at Stitch by Stitch


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