Thursday 30 June 2016

Quiltshopgal's Ultimate Quilting Challenge 2016

Have you got Cindy Needham's Ultimate Stencil Collection?

If yes, consider participating in Quiltshopgal's Ultimate Quilting Challenge 2016. You can find the schedule HERE.

There is still some time left for the next Linky Party. If you cannot manage an entire project maybe consider participating in the Doodle/Sketch Linky Party that will kick off on July 15th.

All you need is a drawing that uses one of Cindy Needham's Ultimate Stencils.

I am currently working on a Mandala design that I have drawn up on the Ultimate Circle Stencil

I am hoping that I will have that finished in time for the last Link Up on August 15th! We shall see...

While my Mandala above is a bit more involved it truly does not take that long to draw a design using those stencils. Would be nice to see what people come up with and to support our fellow bloggers who keep on putting up those fun events.


Wednesday 29 June 2016

Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.2 - Comparison

I am missing my sewing machine. Still at the sewing shop for repairs as I broke the needle threader.

So I have been surfing the net for most of the weekend and started to look at sewing machines.

I saw that there is a new machine, the Pfaff Performance 5.2, currently offered in US and Europe (I believe). I am a sucker for anything new so I started to read up on this and compare the various machines. No idea of whether this one is out in Australia already or not...

Watched an entire video on the Pfaff Performance 5.0 from the Village Sewing Center. That was hugely interesting...a beautiful machine with a slick black face. I then compared the three machines (4.2; 5.0 and 5.2) and was rather amazed at the differences (or lack thereof).

In terms of key features, in contrast to the Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.2,  both the Performance 5.0 and 5.2 have a very attractive Colour Touch Screen that is operated via a stylus. Both have 453 stitches including Maxi stitches and the Stitch Creator feature, Patchwork program, Sensor for Straight Stitch Needle Plate  and a Single Stitch program. There was very little difference between the Performance 5.0 and 5.2, in fact I think the only thing they added were some beautiful Stacking and Ribbon stitches to the 5.2. Obviously there were other little differences, including more memory and more inclusions, but overall it looked very similar.

What amazed me was the similarity to my Pfaff QE 4.2. I basically got all the same major features, dimensions are the same and the operation is basically the same. What was not the same was obviously the price tag. The Pfaff Performance 5.0 is thousands more and no doubt the 5.2 will be again dearer. I found that quite incredible and again was reminded on how confusing it is to go out there looking for a suitable machine. Very easy to get blinded by the really have to be super clear on what you are going to use your sewing machine for and compare the different machines to get the best value for money.

If I think about my much as I get sucked into anything bling and new, if I look at my machine I must say, that it has more than enough features for quilting. I have 254 stitches which I rarely use. I would like a better alphabet font, however again...I would only use it to delight in the joy of having it! Stitch Creator would be lost on me as I am a quilter and not really into embellishing my blocks or quilts. Nice feature though, if you are regularly using all your stitches and you are bored with them. Patchwork program...I have been told that this is somewhat overrated, and this would not be a selling feature for me. I was confused about the sensor for the Straight Needle Stitch Plate. Not listed under the 4.2, but my machine definitely will not work with all stitches if I have the Straight Stitch Safety feature enabled, so I also have that safe guard. I got a bit excited about the Single Stitch program...that made me laugh because I definitely do not need that. If I wanted to stitch out just one design I could set this up in the sequencing feature. A few more buttons to press but the same effect.

The other thing I did was read some reviews on the Pfaff Performance 5.0. I did come across some very negative reviews and was quite shocked as there is no way you would ever touch a Pfaff again if you had a similar experience. Made me wonder whether this was just a bunch of people who all got the 'lemons' or whether there was something in it. Mind you, I would also not take kindly to having a 'lemon' at that price tag and I felt quite sorry for those women. I can only speak for myself here...I have never had a bad experience with any of my Pfaff machines.

Morale of the story...I think it pays to select your brand and then do some research across the range of machines to really become familiar with all that is offered and then have a really good think about what you would be using the machine for.

As you can see I have got way too much time on my hands when I am not sewing.


Friday 24 June 2016

Westalee Ruler foot on Pfaff QE 4.2 - Update

My machine is off for repairs as I mangled the needle threader. Just one of those things...had my Ugg boots on, resting my foot on the pedal. I reckon I must have leaned forward just as I was threading the needle and the whole thing came down. Yep, that's done it...had to wait for the technician to come back from holiday in order to put the machine in but in the meantime realised how much I need the needle threader. What a hassle threading the needle by hand.

Since finishing the Wholecloth I am having a bit of a break, just playing around, so I was looking at the Westalee Ruler foot again (bought this over a year ago!). Still find it fiddly but have made some progress in getting it to work for me. Thanks to Brenda from The Quilting Nook...she sent me some photos of how the foot looks attached to her Pfaff machine and that helped a lot. I am using thin cotton batting so I had to do a few adjustments to get the stitching right, i.e. lower the foot so it sat just above the quilting sandwich.  Brenda also shifted her needle so that it sat right in the middle. I tried that too, but for me it stitched fine whether I had it in the middle or not.
This was stitched out with the 12" arc ruler that came with the foot, concentrating very hard on getting the backtracking right. As this foot is new to me I will have to practice a bit more to be able to do the backtracking a bit more tidy, but this has come out really nice. At least this time I got the sequence of stitching right. Must admit, very easy to use and very effective in stitching out a grid like that in no time at all. Before I stitched this one, I was practising a bit on another piece and so far my biggest problem is to align the ruler 1/4" from where I want to be...This is truly a practice issue and should get easier with time. Also had some skipped stitches, but was not too worried about this at this stage. I have been watching lots of videos posted by Leonie West from Westalee Design  and it probably has to do with the tension. Will have a closer look when I get the machine back from repairs. Not sure, after I finished the piece above, I changed thread and bobbin and discovered that I had a lot of fluff in the bobbin case from finishing a quilt recently (materials were of somewhat lesser quality and there was a lot of fluff).

I am motivated at the moment as I have to finish my WIP: A Field Guide which has come to a complete standstill, mainly due to the marking. As I had some puffed out squares, I decided to quilt them down with a simple line design meaning that I have to mark the lines now that it is fully basted. This is a hassle...

Looking at the variety of rulers, I realised that I could do this so much faster and efficiently if I used the ruler foot and an arc template. All I would need to mark is two lines in the block and aim for the center. That would certainly give me the much needed practice in aligning the template and ruler foot!
This is where it is at at the moment ...not the greatest look in the world, but I like the fabric and someone will use it when it is finished. It's got a nice feel to it. While I could probably stitch this out without marking, I know that I could not handle the inconsistency that this would produce, so this has come to a bit of a halt.

So today, I took the plunge and ordered the Sampler pack from Westalee Design. This includes an Arc, Spin-e-fex No 4, Spiral, Clamshell, 2" Circle and a Circles on Quilts shape. Very good deal and these are really useful templates for quick and easy designs. Actually looking around the website I discovered that they have expanded in terms of their range of templates since I last visited...there are some really interesting templates that would make life a lot easier. Also saw that they have a circles template...really liked that one...that would have been really useful for my Mandala quilt as no matter how good you are, stitching a larger circle is not that easy and you will always see that that is done freehand following the marked line. This is where ruler work really shines.

Interesting times ahead. Hopefully this will work for me and I have this quilt finished in no time.


Wednesday 22 June 2016

FAL 2016 Second Quarter - Second finish!

Can't believe it...managed to finish off another project for the FAL 2016

2016 FAL

You can find my original goal list for the second quarter HERE

Now this quilt is an old be exact this is from 2012 when I participated in Leah Day's weekly FMQ challenge for the entire year.
Quilt Details:
Dimensions: 49in x 58 1/2in
Materials: Cotton fabric; Polyester wadding
Polyester thread used for FMQ designs
28 different FMQ designs which can be found on Leah Day's website

I was new to blogging and thought that this was just what I needed to consolidate my emerging FMQ skills. We were given weekly designs to stitch out and linked up every Wednesday to show off how we went and to ask questions. This was a lot of fun and I did learn so much from this QAL. Looking at the weekly stitching tasks I decided after a few months or so to throw a quilt together to stitch my designs on. I think some quilters at the time did their samples as a Quilt-As-You-Go project, however for me it made more sense to have a quilt ready that I just could pull out from week to week to stitch my designs on.

I had some 20 tone-on-tone fat quarters just perfect for the quilt and just chucked this together with a coordinating sashing and a border and...voila, I was ready to go every week! This was an enormous time saver for me and also a neat and tidy option for all those designs. I literally covered the entire quilt with FMQ designs...when I had run out of space in the squares, I moved my designs into the sashing and finally also covered the whole border with those wiggly lines (forgot now what that design was called). I was impressed when it was finished...however, somehow this ended up rolled up in the cupboard. All it needed was a idea why I did not complete this. Needless to say, I did not have any coordinating fabric left and had to purchase some binding fabric for this to finish it off.
How pretty is the Matrix design in the bottom left corner

This was the nicest thing to finish off. As I was sewing the binding on, I admired my somewhat wonky handiwork from years ago...I literally could feel the transition that I must have made at that point...from being overly perfectionist and fearful to stuff up a quilt to just allowing myself to go for it and stitch your heart out. I used white thread (Polyester because Leah is a bit of a rebel) for the most part and it often involved backtracking along the ditch...definitely did not hit the ditch consistently and have all these white little mishaps all over the place. I could see the hesitation at times in the design, but I could also see the absolute joy in the stitching to be free from this ridiculous fear of stuffing things up.

I beautified my binding a bit for this quilt (see previous post) with some decorative stitching just for something a bit different and this was the perfect opportunity to give that a try. That turned out fantastic and I am really happy with the end result...the quilt looks great...interesting...a bit crazy...and definitely less than perfect, but there is something really satisfying about having finished this quilt.
Linking up to Let's Bee Social over at Sewfreshquilts

and also

Linking up to the FAL2016 - Second Quarter Linky Party over at She Can Quilt


Monday 20 June 2016

Wholecloth Essential

One of the things that I thought was important to mention in the construction of a Wholecloth was the marking and the washing...

I used a blue water soluble marker (and made an amazing mess in some areas) to get the main designs onto the white background. As I went along I sprayed the Wholecloth with water to get rid of some of the lines as I find them quite distracting when stitching.

Towards the end, most of the marks were gone, however for my last few photo shoots, I had a few pockets of re-appearing blue marks on the front and on the back. For the purpose of taking photos I managed to shift them, so that it looked as if they had all gone, however I knew that I  had just managed to spray the blue marks into the wadding and was aware that they would eventually re-surface.

It is winter here and not the ideal time to wash quilts, however I felt uncomfortable leaving this as I have seen in the past how these blue spots can turn slightly brown over time. With a whitish Wholecloth, not a good idea. So, on the weekend we had a bit of sun and my quilt took the plunge
Always makes me nervous, however given the amount of marker in this quilt, this had to be done.
Kringe!!...not a pretty picture! In order to get the marker completely out, you do have to totally submerge the quilt, rinse it several times, and at the end you are left with this crumbled up mess.

After that I had it outside on a flat surface for a while to get it to a stage where it was reasonably damp and now it is nicely blocked, taking up some space in the kitchen area. This will take a few days to dry in this climate and I will just have to make sure that the cats stay off it.
I did spent some time on this, gently stretching it into shape...this is as good as it gets! I am a bit short in the width by about half an inch. I am pretty sure you could probably stretch it even further, but I decided to leave it as it makes perfect sense to me that it is more compacted on the crosswise grain and the quilt was not entirely square before the wash.

So while the temptation is there to just spray the blue water soluble markers off I would urge others to wash their quilts after finishing...just not worth the hassle after. I had a few brownish marks in one of my pieces recently and I thought that this probably happened as I had just sprayed my designs and then left it sitting on the sewing table where it would have gotten a fair bit of sun in the day...that was enough to set the marker.  


Sunday 19 June 2016

How clever is this!

Are you subscribing to the Aurifil blog ( ?

Have a look...apart from having super giveaways and segments on top designers they also have some great informative posts about various topics at times.

I came across a post recently, written by guest Aggy Burczyk called 'Thread Matters: Binding with a touch' in where Aggy uses her decorative stitches of her machine (Bernina) to beautify the binding.

Just had to try this...

See that faint white line...Aggy uses a distance of 5/8in to place her decorative stitch. On the Pfaff 4.2 and with the size of the decorative stitch I used 3/8in as a mark to align my sewing foot against. Also chose a very 'light' stitch as I was not sure how this would turn out the photo above, this is the side of the binding that will be on top of the quilt. When attaching the binding you will turn your binding strip around to attach the binding with the wrong side up. This is important for the direction of the stitch...when stitching this, I chose the mirror function to turn my stitch around so when I folded the binding over it was the right way around.

I used Aurifil 50/2 both in the top and bottom  in my favourite blue colour.

And this is what it looks like when it is attached
How cool is that!

Must admit, I got very enthused when I was trying this and did not read the blog post to the end...haha, only to realise that I was not going to be able to close the binding in the normal way. In the end I just sewed the endings together as this quilt is fairly bulky with lots of puff, so that little bit of extra bulk will not be noticeable. Aggy does provide two different ways of working out the closure of the binding...very interesting.

Lots of possibilities!


Thursday 16 June 2016

The Ultimate FMQ Challenge - Summer 2016

I should call this 'See what You Made Me Do!'. It started with Cindy Needham's Craftsy Class 'Machine Quilting Wholecloth Quilts'. Absolutely loved this class and undertook to do a Wholecloth with the stencil provided in the class. Getting annoyed with all my good intentions and constantly dragging my feet I finally started this earlier in the year. Changed the center stencil a bit to make it my own and also used a darker background colour just to be different:)

I ordered Cindy's Ultimate Stencil Collection over Christmas and decided to combine an exploration of the grids with the Wholecloth. This was not a particularly well planned out approach and the little Wholecloth just grew and the end I had some space left on the sides and threw in a feather border which I then hyperquilted (see also Patsy Thomson's website)

The end result is rather insane
Grid Sampler 35inx35in
Texture galore

Some of this worked and some of it did not...was not too fussed as this was declared a practice project early in the piece. Here are the stencils that I used
1/2in square grid, Diamond (baby size), Twisted grid (Mama size) & Twisted Clam grid (Mama size)
With 20 stencils (Six designs in 3 different sizes) to choose from there was plenty of choice...

Cathedral Windows

How cool is this filler? - Diamond grid filled with lines

Twisted clams filled with alternating lines
Fail - Twisted grid stitched into oblivion
The compaction I had from stitching out these grids was pretty unreal...hence the pebbles around the feathers...that was super intense and definitely something I want to avoid in the future. Initially I was going to flatten it with lines but then realised that this would not work as I had the lines in the Diamond grid directly next to it. Yep, planning was not that great!
I absolutely loved stitching this out...even the crazy diamond filler! Just took my time and seemed to find more and more things that I could do. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Cindy is absolutely right in saying 'The only ones you ever need!' about her Ultimate Stencil collection. I have used the Ultimate Stencil collection on various projects since then...marking 1/2in dots in a sashing to guide my FMQ design, using the Lines stencil for marking a Baby blocks quilt and developing a Mandala design with her Circle stencil. Just brilliant!

Linking up to Quiltshopgal's Ultimate FMQ Challenge - Summer 2016


Wednesday 15 June 2016

2016 FAL Second Quarter - First Finish!

2016 FAL

You can find my goal list for this quarter HERE

Bit of an ambitious list this quarter and very little chance of completing all of those projects. However, I am thrilled that I am making progress. The list definitely helps as I nearly got side tracked again into starting something new when new fabric arrived through the post!
And here we have my first finish!
Wholecloth Grid Sampler
Insane Wholecloth measuring 35in x 35in.
Entirely freemotionq-quilted using Aurifil 50/2 (#2000) thread
Little fun fact: I used an entire spool of thread, so that makes it 1300m of thread in this project! (actually probably more as I used a slightly different colour in the bobbin)

I am very proud of this little beauty and I must say that I enjoyed every little stitch of this, as insane as it looks. The quilt design stems from Cindy Needham's Craftsy class 'Machine Quilting Wholecloth Quilts' using the center stencil design provided in that class. I varied it a bit and used the project as a practice piece for various grids. Needless to say, stitching out the grids took forever!

I will be blogging more on the this project in the next few days as I am using this to participate in Quiltshopgal's Ultimate FMQ Challenge - Summer 2016 when the link is up. If you own Cindy Needham's Ultimate Stencil collection, consider participating in this fun event. Have a look - kicks off today with a Linky Party, then a Sketch/Doodle Linky Party on the 15 July and a Virtual Quilt Show on 15 August. As always, a great way to promote FMQ...can't wait to see some FMQ goodness!

Linking up to she can quilt for the FAL Q2 Linky Party


Friday 3 June 2016

Can this girl shop!

I have been very lucky lately...won a Fat Quarter shop voucher ($25) from Quiltshopgal's 2015 FMQ Challenge. Got the coupon code a few weeks back and have been going through the shop many times over, given that the postage was obviously not included in the voucher.
Have not bought anything from the Fat Quarter shop before as postage to Australia is obviously a bit prohibitive, but reading through their shipping and postage information I was thrilled to find that I could get away with $13.00 postage if I kept my order under $20. Excellent!

Have a look what I got
Meadowbloom by April Rosenthal, both a Charm pack and a Mini Charm pack...thinking of a very simple little quilt...white background, with Charm squares and Four Patch blocks...the fabric is super pretty! Then I got the Aurifil colour that I was missing and could not get over here in the shops and...

Bali Snaps...well, they had one of their Flash sales on the morning I ordered and that went out for $0.46, so I added it, staying just under $20 can never have too much fabric!

Super impressed, paid a grand total of $7.62.

THANK YOU Fat Quarter Shop and Quiltshopgal! I had the greatest fun


Wednesday 1 June 2016


So I finally started on my Mandala.

Bought some Bella Solids fabric and ended up with the same colour that I usually choose... a sort of burnt orange. Took me ages to select, there are just too many choices. Whether this was the best choice to make for this project remains to be seen. I marked the fabric using my light box and the trusted blue water soluble marker. Was not as bad as I thought and I even managed to not mess it up too much...except for the grid. For the live of me, can never get the orientation  of the grid right first time around, so need to re-mark this when I get to it.

My thread choices seemed great. Used the new Aurifil thread from the Shannon Brinkley Dryad box. Chose a nice watermelon colour (#5002) as my base and added some accent colours (#2975 and #6728). For the center I chose a brilliant blue (#2725). Not sure about the result as the moment I am thinking that I should have selected stronger colours, but we shall see...bit hard to tell as you go along.
Funny (not) thing happened when I started stitching this...the machine did not behave itself and it felt as if I was having two left feet. The speed was doing something funny, i.e. I did not seem to be able to get into any sort of rhythm. I kept looking at the stitches and everything seemed fine. The back also seemed fine except after a while I kept noticing a few 'fuzzy' stitches. Weird! The other thing I noticed was that I was absolutely not getting any body in the quilting...even weirder as I was using the same cotton batting that I had used for my other Wholecloth. Thinking that it had to do with me somehow I continued and put the inner frame down...
When it was time to change the needle, I realised what happened...I had taken the wrong needle and was stitching with a 60/8 needle. Duh! Now looking a bit closer at the stitches in the back I could see what the machine was doing...given the needle was a tad too small for the 50/2 thread it did 'nick' the thread every now and then while forming the loop on the back creating this somewhat fuzzy appearance. Overall though, I had done really well considering that I  had stitched this with the wrong needle.
The perfectionist in me (of course) needed to fix this, so today I re-stitched the inner frame and yes, with the right needle I now had the right amount of structure or puff in the piece. So obviously the whole tension was not right with the smaller needle even though it looked perfectly alright from the front.
Anyway, so this is what I have been up to...
My white Wholecloth is nearly finished...taking a bit of a break from it...looking very pretty draped over the table
When these two are finished I really need to clean up my sewing is a complete mess.

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


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