Saturday, 30 May 2015

Tools of the Trade

I have not been that productive over the last few weeks (1) because I am back at work and (2) I have been surfing the net for all sorts of things.

Following my Stretched Star quilt and also the pillow I made recently I was searching for a grid stencil and simple stencils in general that one can use on baby quilts. Of course, I came across plenty (understatement!)...but not exactly what I wanted. I must say, I sometimes feel like living in the sticks over here Down Under...often cannot get very basic things.

I was after a 1/2in grid stencil and could only locate this in the US. In fact, most of the good stencils seem to be sitting in the US. After many hours of surfing the net, including Ebay, I decided on a different path. Do I really want to buy stencils?...chances are the ones I do get will not be the right size when I need them. Also, I really do not want to clutter myself with specific stencils and decided to investigate  templates that would enable me to draw my own (which I do anyway).

Ordered a 1/2in grid ruler from an Australian supplier 'Punch with Judy' that will allow me to draw all kind of grids. This is the June Tailor Grid marker. This will be much more useful than just one stencil. Still waiting for it to arrive.
June Tailor Grid Marker
Also settled on some June Tailor shapes, i.e. hearts and leaves but could not get the feather shape anywhere...


June Taylor Templates ~ Leaves ~ 6 Pieces...June Taylor Templates ~ Hearts ~ 6 Pieces...Normally I draw feathers myself which is ok, but this can be time consuming to get the plumes consistent. So I thought it would be good to get a set of simple feather shapes to speed up the process. Remembered Anita Shackleford's Infinite Feather template (an oldie but a goodie) and starting hunting around for that. Again, no luck in Australia but was able to order it in US with reasonable postage. Should have bought it when I did see it at one of the shows here years ago but then I was not able to stitch feathers as yet. Together with some ovals and circle templates that I already have at home, and the various computer programs that help me change/resize/alter images, I feel pretty much set.

Just waiting for the Infinite feather template to arrive now...




Karin

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

FMQ Wednesday

First at all...thank you so much for commenting on my recent post 'Am I killing my quilt'. That was fantastic. Each and everyone is, of course, right ...(and here comes the 'however')...

However, I have decided to start again!! Yes, you read right...I was sewing along and accidentally sewed part of my backing to the quilting, so had to undo a section. While I was undoing that part, I started to really examine my quilting, the backing etc. I actually have bought quite an expensive and nice backing for the quilt, so I started to think that this was a pity not turning out the way I had imagined it...I already had noticed that the top was slipping and sliding during quilting due to the movement of the FMQ. I have been using a Hobbs Tuscany Wool batting for the first time...it's absolutely lovely, however I believe it needed to be stabilised first before doing an overall design. Without that blasted SITD there was actually too much movement, even though I had basted this fairly well. So I was left with these puffed out seams and odd poofy areas...so, in the end I decided to start again. I will undo this and re-baste the quilt, then SITD around the main blocks and then have another look at how to quilt this.
Yep, bit of a setback particularly as I thought I could just overlook this and put it down to experience. In the end, I thought it was a pity to wreck the whole quilt. This is going to take me a while!

Anyway, apart from this I have been doing a lot of planning and a lot of internet surfing. I have decided on two Wholecloth quilts that I would like to do, one of them being the class sample in Cindy Needham's Craftsy class 'Wholecloth Quilts'. Thinking about this, I also started exploring silk as this has been something that I had wanted to try out for a long time. Given that I have no experience with silk, I started looking on the net for Dupion Silk and finally purchased a tiny piece of silk for a few dollars on Ebay to have a bit of a look at how this felt and how the stitching looked on this. Not sure why, but I had always imagined this to be difficult, something that needed a greater amount of experience etc...

Cindy Needham uses Kimono Silk thread (wt100) in her class for parts of the quilt and provided an excellent discussion of various types of threads in the class. Well, today my little sample arrived, so in the absence of any silk thread I went and bought Invisafil wt100 thread to try to stitch on this. I was really curious to see what such a thin thread would look like on the fabric.

As you can see this is a very small piece which will need to last me for a few trials of different threads, so I just stitched this little wreath in one corner. I must say, I am impressed...absolutely loved the feel of the silk. It is fairly firm and was a pleasure to stitch on. Also, was way easier to mark the design on with my blue water soluble marker. Obviously it was not secured properly being such a small piece, so that I have some fullness in parts.  I used two layers of what looked like cotton batting in my leftovers. The thread is actually quite amazing. Being the frugal  (haha...) person I am, I bought a light beige thread, so that I could use it for SITD (for stabilization) or similar if I was going to have problems.
My settings for the Pfaff QE 4.2 were:
Dynamic Freemotion mode with the Dynamic 6D Freemotion foot
Tension: 3.4
Needle: 60/8
Same thread in bobbin.

I can now see what people are saying about the wt100 thread...it just blends in and even though I stitched with a different coloured thread, it is hardly noticeable in the sample. This, of course, makes the backtracking a pure joy. I like to backtrack in my feathers anyway, but with this thread you really cannot see this at all. It just seems to disappear into the fabric. This I really like on the silk.

I am going to try to make my next cushion for the 2015 FMQ Challenge over at Quiltshopgal out of silk (if I can find a suitable piece on the web) to get a bit more practice and then invest in some silk fabric for one of the Wholecloths.

Very excited about this little trial.

Karin

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Am I killing my quilt?

Honest opinions sought...

Started the FMQ of my Field Guide quilt. After some prolonged pondering on the matter, decided on an overall design as the quilt itself actually looks quite busy.

Choose a fairly common design which I found in Christine Maraccini's book 'Machine Quilting Solutions'  under the name of Heat Wave pattern. I think this design runs under various names.

There is really no trying out the design for a bit to see what it looks like and then maybe changing your mind (although I have done this before)...you either go for it or not. I decided to give it a go, seeing that the quilt would not be a heirloom but just a humble lap quilt to put over your knees in winter.

So, made a start and  did not really stop until I had quilted about half of it. Needed to concentrate to get into the swing of things, but also because I have a slightly more puffy batting this time and was in danger of creating puckers when coming too close with the individual hooks.

Well, here it is
Is it just me or have I quilted my quilt away? This photo was taken in front of the window, so I got a really good look at the texture.

Next photo taken in a different room with the texture not quite as prominent.
This is better, but now I am a bit worried...although not much I am going to do about it at this late stage...will continue with it and hope for the best.

The pattern looks quite nice close up, but yes, very textured.

Hmm...not sure

Linking up to Let's Bee Social over at Lorna's blog SewFreshQuilts

Karin

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Blogger's Quilt Festival Spring 2015

Could not resist...another entry to the Blogger's Quilt Festival hosted over at Amy's Creative Side

I am entering one of my pillows (stitched for the 2015 FMQ challenge over at Quiltshopgal) into the Home Machine Quilted Category.

Absolutely love this pillow. The design was inspired by Christina Cameli.

Front of the pillow

Close up of the leaves



Back of the pillow

This is stitched with a variegated 50/2 Aurifil thread, the colour changing from a light beige through to a deep rusty-yellow tone. This looks super effective on the olive green background and  as one reader commented looks very Australian...this was unintended, however looking at it again, I agree...there is something very Australian about it. Must be the colours of the thread on the background... reminds me of eucalyptus leaves, even though they do not look anything like it.

You can find the main Festival post HERE.

The Linky is open now, going through to the 21 May. From 22-29 May you can vote for your favourite categories and on May 30 the winners will be announced. Lots and lots of quilty goodness!

Karin

Blogger's Quilt Festival Spring 2015

 spring 2015 BQF Button

Can't believe it is that time of year again. Where does time go?

I am entering in the Mini Quilt category with my '99 Hexagon quilt' that I finished late last year. As it is both hand and machine pieced and quilted on my DSM, I thought that that category probably fits best.





 Work in progress











The quilting was done with my trusted Aurifil 50/2 thread in a yellow colour. I outlined each side of the hexagons with a bit of a curve and used the black hexagons to stitch a simple flower design. This was good fun as I did this row by row, going down stitching curves and on the way back included the flower on the black hexagons.
The inner border was quilted with a leaf design which suited the overall floral theme.






99 Hexagon Quilt
The finished quilt measures 41" x 45".

The Blogger's Festival is hosted by Amy's Creative Side. You can find the main Festival post HERE.

The Linky is open now, going through to the 21 May. From 22-29 May you can vote for your favourite categories and on May 30 the winners will be announced. Lots and lots of quilty goodness!


Karin

Sunday, 10 May 2015

May 2015 FMQ Challenge

This is a very long post...I reckon I need to split up process and product a bit in the future.

The expert this month is Cindy Needham. Again, I was able to make use of the Craftsy classes that I have purchased in the last two months. I have both of Cindy Needham's classes and have watched them with interest over the last few months. I am yet to make  the Wholecloth quilt...got as far as enlarging the design and taping it altogether.

One of the things that struck me when I was first watching the classes was Cindy's exploration of ready-made stencils and what you can do with them. Actually I was blown away with some of the quilts that she had produced using two very simple stencils, just alternating them. So, for this challenge I used this idea and had a look around for a suitable stencil as I did not just want to repeat what she had done with the Double Wedding Ring stencils.

I recently got the Score of Four stencil from Full Line Stencils and decided to use the ugly duckling on the far right in the top row.

Was not sure whether it would work repeating this design over a larger area, but thought it would be fun to try out. The stencil comes to 5" placed on point and of course, I chose the more fiddly approach, putting it on point. Actually not a lot of planning went into this, it was more like...let's just see where this will take us.



I did not use white chalk to mark this as I could hardly see it on the beige fabric and also did decide against the blue chalk as the blue chalk marks do not come out easily (did a trial on some calico and the blue marks literally needed washing and scrubbing to come out...will not be using the blue chalk again). In the end I traced the design using a light box.

Stitched out repeated design placing stencil on point
After stitching out the first few, I decided to make it into a tile design rather than spreading it over the entire top. Had to erase some of my other blue markings carefully which looked messy, but I needed to make room for the next idea of putting grids on the sides. Ever since the first pillow I have become rather fond of grids (rather odd as I used to really not like them at all).

Got carried away and stitched out all four sides with a 1/2in grid which, in itself, looked great.
But can you see what is happening? I now had the blobs of unquilted area really come to the foreground. Yep, did not consider this at all...after some indecision, ended up stitching them down with just a simple cross through them. This made the whole picture look much more uniform.
Much better...after this, I tried some of the grid designs that Cindy teaches in her class "Design It, Quilt It".

And here it is...the finished product
Finished pillow
For some reason this did not photograph that well...very rainy, low light day today!
My favourite - 1/2in cathedral window grid

Double grid

Checkerboard grid

Combination grid (not part of Cindy's class, just gave that a go)
The back - oversized cathedral window grid

Linking up to the May 2015 Freemotion quilting Challenge over at Quiltshopgal. Thank you Darlene for hosting this and thank you, Cindy, for those wonderful classes.

 Karin

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Westalee Ruler Foot on Pfaff QE 4.2

After having watched Amy over at Freemotion Quilting Adventures talk about her use of rulers in her FMQ work, I did go ahead and ordered the Westalee Ruler foot to try this out.

There was a bit of a wait as a Medium Shank foot was needed for the Pfaff QE 4.2

If you do not know what I am talking about, head over to Westalee Design for their information on doing Freemotion ruler work on domestic machines.


The package arrived a few weeks ago and contained the following:

Pamphlet on how to attach it
Arc Ruler
Tape for making the ruler stick better to the surface (if you want)
Foot
black placement guide
 Off I went to try it out...well, this did not work for me at all in the beginning...had lots of skipped stitches, in fact, could not get the machine to form any stitches in part. Fiddled for a while and then set it aside as I was working on other things. In between I also checked out the Janome Convertible foot, however as you also have to buy the little ruler foot that would be quite an expensive exercise...decided against this as I do not know whether this would work on this machine.

Went back the other day to have a play and same thing happened...skipped stitches galore. In the end I emailed Westalee Design and finally spoke to Bill West and his wife, Leonie on the phone. Lovely people...had a good talk about Pfaff machines in general and this model in particular. After checking out that I understood the instructions in the pamphlet, Leonie pointed out that I was probably dealing  with a tension issue. Now this was interesting...definitely had not considered this and had set the machine to the setting that I normally do my FMQ on. She suggested that I might have to get an additional bobbin case to play around with the bobbin tension (or, if you are game enough to try it on your current bobbin, which I would not advise). I have in the past played around with bobbin tension, particularly on my first Pfaff machine and remember the pain, however in the machines that followed, definitely never had to touch the bobbin, probably because my FMQ skills have improved over time. However, this could be an option, I thought, if I got a second bobbin case.

Anyway, went back that afternoon to try out the foot again, this time focusing in on tension. Started with the preset tension (5.2 on the FMQ setting for the Pfaff, which is very high). Never mind...I thought I would go systematically through the motions. Also paid more attention on how I attached the foot, i.e. placed my fabric sandwich underneath and loosely tightened the screw so it was just above it when the foot was lowered. Then double checked with the little black placement guide. Yep, looking good...then started sewing with that enormously high tension. Needless to say, the thread did not like it and started shredding after a little while, however I noticed that I was actually forming ok looking stitches. I think I adjusted the foot a tiny bit, tightened it and then started going down in tension, increment by increment to see what the machine was doing. Still had the occasional skipped stitch and followed Leonie's advice and put a different needle in (had started off with 80/12 and went to a 90/14).  I was now stitching perfectly towards me but still had problems going backwards...I then lowered the pivot height in increments and that seemed to fix that problem.

My settings were:

Spring Freemotion setting mode
Tension: 4.0 with an Aurifil 50/2 thread
Needle: 90/14
Pivot: -3 (the batting in my sample is very flat)
Here are my grids...stitches look good and I did not have any problems. The only issue I had was that I did not know at times how to align the ruler, as you can see in the first example. Started off ok and then somehow lost the plot. Worked it out second time around. I really do not have any experience working with rulers and need to practice more.

The ruler is great and works very well. What I like about it is that you can flick it in any direction (for example for the little star above)...stitch a line towards you, then flick it sideways, place it behind the foot...very handy indeed.


Now this would have been handy the other day when I had to use my walking foot to stitch out a series of grids.

Will let you know how I go next time when I use a different batting etc...I am hoping that I 'got' it on how to adjust this.


Karin