Monday 31 March 2014

A Finish - Finally!

Finished my Windmills quilt...binding and all.

How hard is it to photograph quilts?...just when I pressed the button, the wind gently moved the quilt and in a minute it was down on the ground. I love the colours of this and am happy with how it turned out. Very bright and cheerful.

Below is the quilting. Overall the Jester Hats design gives it a very textured feel...maybe a bit more than I expected. However I am happy with that as I am learning to just go with it (and put it down to experience). Perfectionism, while not completely out of the window, is making room for just learning and enjoying the process. This is a good thing.

For readers interested in the pattern, this little quilt will make it into my pattern shop at Craftsy in the next few weeks.

For now, linking up to Anything Goes Linky Party at Stitch by Stitch


Saturday 29 March 2014

Planning around your FMQ design

So you've decided on a FMQ design to go on your freshly completed quilt sit down on your machine...and off you go!

Wouldn't that be great:)

Unfortunately, it is not quite as simple as that. I was thinking about this the other day and thought I might like to capture the steps that I go through to start FMQ on the actual quilt.
1. I start with doodling the design when I am coming to the end of construction of my quilt see whether the design will flow for me and what areas are going to give me some trouble.
2. After doodling for a few days, I start drawing a bit more purposefully - drawing the design into rows, going from left to right and returning back from right to left ( this is in preparation for the quilt which will be quilted in quarters in a clockwise direction)

This is the design I chose for my baby quilt: Jester Hats by Wendy Sheppard. Saw this on SewCalGal's FMQ Challenge in 2012.

3. As you can see lots of doodling going on I start thinking about scale.  For an overall design this step is important as I want the design to be somewhat consistent.  Would be great if one could just sit down and rattle it off, but I would not think that many people could do that. For my current quilt, I looked at the blocks which are 8" square and decided I would use them as a bit of a grid. The idea is that I would fill half of the block with the design as I travel along from the centre of the quilt to the outer border, hence my design would fit into a 3-4" space as I go along.

4. Next, trialling the design...I usually have a bit of a practice before I start on the quilt, and this involves a number of samples, as I am also trialling different threads, tension etc.

As you can see I used a fairly large sample and while this may appear quite wasteful in terms of fabric this is quite useful when aiming for a larger scale design. On my sample I started out a tad too narrow for my liking and then was able to spread it out a bit more to a nice open design only to loose the plot when I came down to the border fabric...I started to become a tad too big where my spaces in between started to be about 1" apart. Seems that my limit is somewhere around the 1/2" - 3/4 " spacing. That level allows me to stay reasonably consistent in the design. More practice is probably indicated to work a bit more on interlocking the design a bit better. Next one looked definitely better.

6. Now for the big step of actually going on the quilt. As odd as this sounds but I usually have a drawing of the design at the scale that I am aiming for close by so that I can look at it while I am sewing...this helps me to stay on track.

Incidentally I also am trying out my new Pinmoors. Only got one packet to start with, so I am using both, Pinmoors and basting pins on the quilt. 

Well, this is how far I got on the quilt...certainly gives a lot of texture to the quilt. Took me a while to get into a rhythm with this design and I struggled a bit with the scale at times, but I am glad I pushed past this and did not fall back into the familiar meandering.

Popping over to Leah Day's FMQ Project Link Up to see the progress of the Building Blocks Quilt that Leah has been working on.


Wednesday 26 March 2014

Dresden Plate Table Runner

Working steadily on my projects and finished the Dresden plate quilt top (almost!).  There is method to my madness. I am trying to finish a number of things to get ready for a FMQ marathon. Would be great if I had two machines where I could swap between piecing and FMQ without having to switch over the machine all the time.

Anyway, as so often with these spontaneous type of projects, I ran out of border fabric just on the last top part of the outer border. Obviously did not plan this through very well, so I had to get some more of the red fabric the other day.  Good thing too as I had no binding fabric for this piece whatsoever.

 So here is part of the table runner

This looks great even though it is a bit plain. For a moment I thought that I might add another little border  or do something else a bit more decorative but in the end I decided to just put the plain red border around it. I reckon it is enough...

PS. Got the last  70cm off the bolt when I went to the shop...lucky I went when I did.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts.


Monday 24 March 2014

Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.2 - Tie Off Function

I have had the new Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.2 for about two month. I have posted before about the major differences and my first impression of the machine (see HERE)

I must say, I am quite impressed with the finer detail of this machine in comparison to the Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.0

I did a fair bit of work on the machine since January starting with a workout in FMQ...I microstippled the centre of my Whole Cloth quilt which took about a week of constant running in the evening. As previously mentioned I used the new Dynamic Spring foot and was impressed with the visibility that I had and also the new 3 LED lights. Had absolutely no problem with seeing where I was going and this was with a blend in thread that would have normally caused me some grief in terms of seeing where I am heading. I had no thread breakages, no snags on the back or indeed any other problem...just smooth and consistent running...very much like the Pfaff 4.0, except this time with much better visibility.

After this I started the Dresden Plate...this was a bit of an ad hoc idea and I just went with it. While doing this, I tested the thread snip. On my Pfaff 4.0 I had stopped using this a lot because it usually caused a bit of thread nest when starting to sew the next piece (even though I have a straight stitch plate)...sometimes it did this and sometimes it did not, so it became a bit annoying as I often had to re-do bits and pieces. The Dresden wedge was the perfect opportunity to test this out again, because when you start sewing the wedges together you start 1/4in down the seam and then go backwards to the edge of the wedge and down again (this is to secure the thread and to avoid the thread sticking out on top). I nearly did not use the thread snip as this was finicky enough to do in the first place and I did not feel like re-doing my seams every five minutes. Nevertheless, I stuck to my guns and used the thread snip. To my big surprise, it did this perfectly and very neatly without any major issues and I saved myself a bit of time cutting all the threads off. Also noticed the different feed system and definitely felt the improvement as the seams of the wedges are cut on the bias, so sewing them together well depends really on how well your machine is able the feed the fabric through.  As I said before  these are some of the finer detail and both machines obviously will give you a straight seam, but I did feel that the Pfaff 4.2 managed this task with a tad more ease.

The next thing I am going to test out on a finished quilt is the tie off. The Pfaff 4.0 and 4.2 have two different tie off options, one for Stitch 1 and one for Stitch 52 which is specifically designed for quilting.

The quilting tie off is on the left (Stitch 52) and as you can see gives a very neat and tidy beginning and end and best of all on the Pfaff 4.2, it is completely secure, i.e. it does not come out when you tug on it. Again, this is something I had stopped using on the Pfaff 4.0 because it just was too inconsistent...sometimes it worked and sometimes it did not.

This has been very interesting actually as I am re-acquainting myself with some of the functions that I had stopped using on the Pfaff 4.0.

Until next time


Wednesday 19 March 2014

Quilt top finished

Just a quick update on that Windmill quilt. I managed to finish the quilt top this weekend and am really pleased with the way it accomplished! This is exactly how I had visualized this quilt.

The colours are fresh and bright...

...and the border fabric really sets it off nicely

Attaching the border fabric took a little while. Don't know about you, but I find that directional border fabric can be a real hassle. This looked all nice and straight but when it came to the cutting I saw how the print veered off on both sides. Initially then I had a look at whether it would be better to cut lengthwise...sometimes the print will run straighter on the lengthwise grain. However, no such luck! As I had a limited amount of the fabric, I did the best I could and given its busy nature it is hardly noticeable. The next hurdle was the joining of two pieces to make up the length using a diagonal seam. Ha, ha...I spare you the detail, but needless to say that took me ages and given the veering off of the pattern, it does not always join in line with the pattern. But again, when finished you would really have to search for this (and we are not going to do that).

Unfortunately I did not have time to take a photo, but I bought this great fabric for the backing...looks like it consists entirely of selvage pieces and matches the colours of the quilt.

Anyway, I am linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts.

Until next time


Tuesday 18 March 2014

Rescue me! Lilypad Quilting Linky Party and Sponsored Giveaway

Can't resist any opportunity to show off our beautiful cat.  This is Abby at her best


...and after
I had made that little quilt for her and it took a little while for her to accept that she was required to lie on the blanket rather than the rest on the bed.

She is a gorgeous cat, approximately 4 years old by now. She came to us out of nowhere when she was about 18 mths old. She was looking almost emaciated when I first saw her in the garden and super I fed her some dog food and she was ours. We took her to the vet and while she was healthy overall, she was neither desexed nor micro chipped.  Poor animal, needless to say, she was booked in straight away and spent a night at the vet, receiving all the necessary inoculations at the same time...that did not exactly endear her to our family.  To top it all off we were booked to go on a few days holiday so when she came out of the vet hospital she almost immediately had to go into a kennel for a few days. Needless to say, she had trust issues after that.

It took some time for her to trust the family and settle down but I must say, she has well and truly established herself as the queen bee in the household. While somewhat aloof and eccentric she can also be extraordinarily affectionate and will come to you to lie on you for a cuddle when it suits her...definitely owns us by now.

Anyway, could talk for hours about this cat, but will get a move on and link up to Lilypad Quilting for the Rescue Me! Linky Party


Monday 17 March 2014

Local Quilt Exhibition

Went to a local quilt exhibition weekend before last. The group held their 12th Anniversary and celebrated in good style by putting on a small exhibition.

Very enjoyable as always to look at beautiful quilts and talk to like-minded people. Many quilters in this group are into hand stitching and I must say I did see some awesome quilts made entirely by hand. They even had an Australian Wagga quilt on display.

Also found some nice FMQ

This must have been done by a longarm looked very nice and I inspected it for a while.

Came across many more interesting quilts but I did not meet the people who made them and hence could not ask whether I could put them on the blog.

I did however meet Cheryl (remember Cheryl's quilt?...still have not finished it) who had one of her quilts on show. I thought I share this with you as I had not seen this before.

Cheryl's Chicken Scratch quilt

This is called Chicken Scratch embroidery. It is a lace like embroidery that is worked on gingham and seems to involve some basic embroidery stitches. I believe it is also called Depression lace or Amish embroidery amongst some other names. How effective is this ? Cheryl's quilt is entirely hand stitched and quilted. Must say I cannot imagine stitching an entire quilt by hand...just incredible.

Linking up to Anything Goes Linky Party at Stitch by Stitch


Monday 10 March 2014

Sneak Preview of the Windmill quilt

Before you consider a project that requires a lot, and I mean a lot of HST, consider the cutting time! I have been cutting for most of the last 2 weeks and really started to drag my feet with this...also made one of those stupid cutting mistakes, wasted some fabric and half way through changed my mind on the background fabric...

But finally, the beginnings of a beautiful little quilt

Very simple, but I do like the simple quilt layouts where the fabric and colour does most of the talking. I won the border fabric (Remix by Ann Kelle for Robert Kaufman) in one of those Magazine competitions and have long been wondering how to use it...this just fits perfectly. The blocks come together quickly if you are organized and chain piece your way through it...the only fiddly bit is the join of the eight seams in the middle as this can become a bit bulky, particularly if your points are a bit out. Hence, the accurate cutting of the triangles is very important as I found out yesterday evening with having to redo and fix about 10 of those blocks...lesson learnt! 

Well, on with the show...more cutting coming up for me.

Linking up to Anything Goes Linky Party at Stitch by Stitch


Sunday 9 March 2014

EPP Linky Party

Well, not much happening Down Under. Did not continue on my TV project other than looking at it...

However, I did come across some more fabric on my regular exploration of the offers at the fabric shop. Have a look what I found in one of the sales bins.

Yep, another stack of Fat Quarters that matches the Fat Quarters that I already had. I paid $1 for this...can you believe it?

While that fabric has a more modern design to it, I think I can use some of those pieces to extend my hexagon project. You never know, I might want to make it bigger!

Am really busy at the moment with a host of other things, amongst them I also started a Dresden Plate project that turned out a bit more work intensive than I thought as I am stitching the Dresden Plate on by hand.

Also got side tracked with looking into the Accu quilt system...will attend a demonstration around this at the local sewing shop in April. So I am spending a lot of time researching this on the computer at the moment. As luck has it a friend lend me her Accu quilt Go Baby cutter (thanks Mhairi!) over the weekend to give it a try.
She has the hexagon die cutter. Comes in 3 different sizes and so I tried the smallest hexagons on some leftover strips of a jelly roll.

Look at these
I cut a stack of them in about 5 minutes. They will come out as 1"hexagons...this is very easy indeed and very accurate. I am quite impressed. However the whole affair is quite expensive if you want to acquire a collection of dies and I do think that for this to be useful you will need quite a collection. I am a bit undecided at the moment and will ponder re this little machine  a while longer.

Anyway, I am linking up to the EPP Linky Party at Splish Splash Stash. Hopefully I have got a bit more to share next time.


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