Tuesday 26 August 2014

Progress on Plus quilt

Sporting a major head cold at the moment but managed a little bit of work. Also my camera is in for repairs so have not been able to take a lot of new photos.

Prepared the Plus quilt for basting

In line with my efforts to only use what's in my stash, went through and found a nice birdhouse print.  Some years ago I had this bright spark of an idea to buy yardage of fabric when it was on special to use for backing...great idea, except I paid little attention to the patterns. When looking at the birdhouse print I realised that I would have to piece it together to make it wider...now there was a hassle. Nearly went out and bought a wide backing piece.

Nevertheless I persevered to match the pattern. First, I looked at this fabric for a very long time to identify the pattern repeat...once I had this I then took the selvage off on both sides and then painstakingly marked the spot where I wanted the fabric to meet including the 1/2 inch seam allowance. Carefully cut both pieces at the marked lines and hoped for the best. Took my time with this and managed to piece this together nicely...

The seam is almost invisible. I wonder whether there is an easier way of doing this...this took me ages but turned out ok for the most of it.

Ready for basting once I put some batting together...have arrived at the last lot of batting. Feeling very frugal at the moment.

Linking up to Quilt Story Fabric Tuesday


Tuesday 19 August 2014

Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.2 - Progress Report

It has been some 8 months since I exchanged my Pfaff Expression 4.0 for the newer version, the Pfaff 4.2. I talked about my first impression of the machine HERE. Be warned that this is a long blog post.

Several readers have in between emailed me and asked questioned or just inquired how it is going, so I thought it might be useful to give an update. Please be aware that these are my personal views on the machine and as I had said to one reader I am probably a bit biased as I only ever had Pfaff machines. However, I hope that people in the market for a new machine doing their research find this of interest.

As reported before, the main difference in the two machines were the new 3 LED lights, the Start/Stop button, the Dynamic Freemotion mode and an improved feed system (Optimised Box feed).

I have completed several projects since I had this machine.

The Whole Cloth: the new LED lights were an absolute eye saver as I had an enormous area to microstipple
Was very happy with this...for once I could actually see where I was going which is important if you are stitching with a blend in thread.

The Windmill quilt: used the new Dynamic Spring foot 6D (optional extra) in the Dynamic Spring foot freemotion mode for this and quilted my heart out with Wendy Sheppard's Jester Hat design.
Dynamic Spring foot 6D
I love this foot...it is round and the visibility is very good which was important in trying a new design because I had to stop and look ahead a number of times as I was not that familiar with it. I read a comment somewhere that the foot was particularly fiddly to attach. Yes, true...it has this little groove in the part that attaches and I struggled initially as well, but it is really just a matter of getting used to putting it on. Bit hard to explain but once you know how it attaches, it goes on as easy as any other.

Dresden Plate: Excellent feed when sewing the small spokes together on the bias. This is actually the piece where I really noticed the improvement of the feed system. No veering off to the side at all. The individual pieces were 4.5" and the machine stitched them together like a dream.

Stitched around the Dresden Plate with Monafilament thread first and then echoed with beige thread. Not sure whether I am imagining things but I felt that this machine handles my Monafilament thread a bit better (maybe because they attached this little black rubber thingy on the lever that goes up and down when you stitch, holding the thread in place?).

The Chicken Quilt: Used both the IDT for straight line stitching and one of the decorative stitches for the center of the quilt. The decorative stitches (254 of them) is something I have to use more often. The machine comes with a number of quilting stitches that can be used in sashings or blocks. As I am so used to FMQ I hardly use them, but if you want a quick and no fuss finish this is very handy and looks great.
I posted about a selection of decorative stitches HERE  just to give you an idea.

More FMQ: I did mainly do feathers since I acquired this machine and there were some adjustments that I had to make. Please see the post FMQ on the Pfaff 4.2

I am used to stitching my feathers with the Springloaded foot on the Springfoot freemotion mode. I did find that the open foot created some issues on this setting, i.e. it did not perform the way the Pfaff 4.0 had performed...I had thread breakage and skipped stitches (unheard of!)...after further exploration and a talk to the technician at the shop I was able to solve this by using the Springloaded foot in the Dynamic freemotion mode (depending on batting, one of those Genie Bobbin washers was also helpful). As for the Springfoot freemotion mode I found that it is best to use a closed foot for this to work properly. Since that I have not had any issues whatsoever...it seems that this new machine is just ever so slightly adjusted differently to the previous model...once you figure this out and adjust your habits accordingly there should not be any issues.
I have stitched with various threads and needles...Aurifil 50/2 (needle 70/10) and Aurifil 40/2 (needle 80/12), Signature thread 40/2 (needle 90/14) and Rasant Ployester thread (needle 75/11).

Which FMQ foot to use for what? Different designs will need a different foot. For anything that has to go a bit faster I now use the Dynamic 6D foot and the corresponding FMQ mode. For slower work like feathers I use my trusted Springloaded open foot, however now on the Dynamic freemotion mode. I do not use the Sensormatic FMQ foot a lot other than for quickly trying something out or using the Echo FMQ foot which is used with that mode. My main complaint with that setting is that when you stop and take off again, it forces you to make one more stitch into where you stopped. I find that quite irritating. Also, I rely a lot on listening to the machine stitch when FMQ...this foot lowers and raises with each stitch making quite a distinctive sound and then when you gather speed it floats across the surface. Don't mind the floating for a fast design, however the sound on the slower speed is irritating. Mind you this might just be me.

And yes, I have started to use more of the functions again on the machine (got a bit lazy with the other machine)
- definitely using the tie off again (On Pfaff 4.0 this did not work that well)
- using the programmable function, saving particular stitches and sequences of stitches and functions
- using Stitch Restart a fair bit
- Stop/Start button: have used this while chain piecing, but also recently tried this out for FMQ. For FMQ you definitely need to be able to do the design in your sleep as even on the lowest setting I feel it is a tad fast. Nevertheless, this was a lot of fun and I could use this for stippling allover...noticed that I was able to stitch the design much larger as I only had to concentrate on the moving of the fabric. As the machine rattled away at a constant speed I had to keep my movements fairly wide and open when stippling resulting in a larger scale design. This could be useful.

Also, some people find the Bobbin Empty Alert irritating...when the bobbin gets low the Alert will sound and the machine will stop. There seems to be the assumption that you have to stop and change the bobbin...I do not do this, but keep on sewing until it is finished, as sometimes there is a bit of thread left.

So, all in all I am very happy with the machine and did not expect any different as it is very close to the Pfaff 4.0 which I had for some years. For me the improvements delivered and made this machine perfect for the sorts of things that I sew and quilt.


Sunday 17 August 2014

WIP: 99 Hexagons

My camera has given up its ghost...and it is only 1 yr old. So thankfully it is still under warranty but I have not had the time to go back to the shop.

On a more positive note, I continued on my hexagons...slowly...

Two more rows to go...there is an end in sight. The size has not produced any problems in stitching given that I like to leave the paper in while I am sewing it. I hand sew at the kitchen table and rest the bulk of the work on the table. This has been working fine.

Apart from this I have been playing around with FMQ...I am thinking of making another cat mat for the other cat in the household. Found a panel type fabric that I will use for FMQ practice...just a filler of some type. This way the cat might not use all the other quilts for lying on. The other day I found her on the table runner that is on the coffee table in the lounge as I had taken some of the other quilts away. She obviously needs a quilt of her own.

Until next time


Monday 11 August 2014

Chicken Quilt Finish

Finished my little Chicken quilt today

Material: Leftover scraps from other projects most notably the chicken print I bought in 2006/2007. This is the last of the chicken print and as you can see I was not able to fussy-cut the chickens anymore but just had to make do with what was left over.
The sunflower print was bought on impulse some years ago and this turned out just the right project for it. Fitted the little country quilt perfectly in colour and theme.
Size: 39" x 45"
Quilting: Grid design over the center of the quilt, decorative stitch in the sashing, wishbone design in the inner red border and a meander with variegated thread in the outer border
Threads: Aurifil 40/2 for the grid, decorative stitch and the meander in the border. The wishbone design was quilted with red Aurifil 50/2.

Very happy with this...did not have to buy anything new for this! Managed to use up pieces of batting by joining them with some batting tape and also pieced the backing together using horizontal strips of green, sunflower and yellow fabric.

Detail of the grid

Wishbone design in inner border on the reverse

The multicoloured back

On to the next WIP...my Plus quilt.

Linking up to Anything Goes Linky Party at Stitch by Stitch


Wednesday 6 August 2014

99 Heagons Con't

The hexagon project is taking shape. I actually call this the TV quilt, as I usually do this while watching TV. This quilt so far has incorporated several series..some of Breaking Bad, The Vikings and at present I am making my way through American Horror Stories with my daughter. This might give you an idea how really slow the process is.

This is my progress so far

...and the back

As you can see, I glue the 1/4inch seam to the paper rather than basting it. When finished, you spray it with water and the glue disappears so that you then can remove the paper with more or less ease. Learned the hard way not to stitch through the paper!

I have read that people usually take the middle paper out while they are stitching. I have found that I prefer to leave the paper in until the whole project is finished. I usually do my hand stitching at the kitchen table, so that I can rest the bulk of the project on the table while sewing. So far this has worked fine...not sure whether you would need to maybe take some of the paper out if you were doing a bed size quilt like that. Like this the whole thing is nice and stable and I am actually quite rough with it, bending it, flipping and folding to sew those seams.

I think I have another 5 rows to go...this will be so worth it though. I like the random colours and patterns, even though it is a bit full on.

Linking up to Sew Fresh Quilts for the Let's Bee Social Linky Party
and WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced with guest host Cori from Let's Eat Grandpa


Tuesday 5 August 2014

WIP: Chicken Quilt

Finished the grid work on my Chicken Quilt

I wonder whether other people have this experience: the quilts that I throw together, fuss little over and just put together seem to turn out like a dream. This one was put together to use up the alarming amount of stash that I was accumulating and put together very quickly.

It is by far the most perfect quilt...totally flat and straight, every seam matched perfectly and the stitching was a pure joy. The needle just went through like butter (was a bit worried as the batting was also bits and pieces which I put together with batting tape). There was no shifting of the fabric through the basting process whatsoever...hence the grid over it looks just lovely. The feel of the quilt is just soft and fluffy. Hope I have not hexed it now :)

After finishing the grid, I used one of the stitches on my Pfaff 4.2 to quilt a wavy line in the sashing. Could have done it FMQ, but thought it an opportunity to use the many stitches that come with the machine.
 This turned out great and then I was hunting around for another design for the red inner border. Initially I was going to do a swirl, but when I went through Angela Walters book "Freemotion Quilting" , I came across the Wishbone design. Wishbone - Chicken Quilt...perfect! It fits with the simple design of the quilt and was one of those common designs I have never tried. In order to make this a bit easier as I had to stitch the design going down the border (normally I would draw the design facing me), I put little chalk marks down the length of the border so that each loop would be about half inch apart. While not absolutely necessary, I get easily confused when FMQ over patterned fabric, particularly when I am using tone-on-tone thread, so those marks helped to keep me on the right track.

This was a lot of fun...absolutely love this simple design as it is easy to do and gives a really nice texture to the inner border.
The texture looks almost like chicken wire.

The back

Now I only have to work out what to do in the sunflower border. Currently thinking either meandering to keep it nice and soft or just simple lines...

Linking up to Freemotion by the River

and Fabric Tuesday over at Quilt Story

Until next time


Saturday 2 August 2014

Pets On Quilts Show 2014

It's that time of year again...Lilypad Quilting is holding the annual Pets On Quilt Show. This is always a fun event and I am going to enter into the Cat category, i.e. cats on quilts.

Currently we are having two cats in the house, our cat, Abby and my daughter's cat, Pixie.

This is Abby

What is it about cats that they appear out of nowhere when you are trying to photograph a quilt. In the first shot I was trying to photograph the quilt draped over a chair and she went onto the chair looking out from underneath...this was getting very funny as she was just not going to move at all. Needless to say it took a very long time to get a shot of the quilt without the cat.

And here is a shot of my daughter's cat, Pixie

 A particularly great photograph that I managed to get of her posing

Yep, Pixie also has claimed the quilts that are lying around the house. I find this extraordinary how cats just have this incredible thing about quilts...almost claiming every quilt like as if to say...thanks for making another one just for me to sleep on!

Join the fun and head over to Lilypad Quilting to have a look at the gorgeous entries. I promise this will keep you going for at least a week, if not longer. Just had a read: the party will go for 10 days this year and there will be six viewers' choice awards...and then there are prizes via random drawing.
I am heading over...

Until next time


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