Thursday, 18 October 2018

Marking your quilt #1

So I have made good progress until it came to the marking of my quilt. I am trying my brand-new Border stencils from Cindy Needham and needed to mark on a darker background, i.e. purple. I thought that my trusted blue water soluble markers were probably not such a good choice so I was hunting around in my sewing box for a white marker. For smaller marks and lines here and there I use the Sewline Ceramic pencil which works really well, but I did not think that was overly suitable for marking with a stencil. I do need the border design to stay on until I am ready to stitch this out.

A while ago I bought a White Marking Pen from a local quilt shop. The owner was swearing by it, i.e. best thing ever etc. It makes a very fine line that appears after a little while and you can then iron it out
I had not really tried this out in any great detail and thought I give that a go. The lines that this makes are very fine and very white, easy to see and apart from the wait for the lines to appear, this seemed to work well.

Until I made mistakes in the placement of my stencil. I am truly the world's worst marker...very impatient and usually only really start thinking it through once it occurs to me 'oh, this is not going to work!' I was trying to shrink the stencil by just winging it...yep, that did not work! I then went to the ironing board to make those lines disappear and yep, you guessed it, they did not come out.
Bit hard to see, but I think you get the picture. I was really annoyed with this, but probably most annoyed with my own's a chemical, that disappears with warmth, so it's reasonable to assume that the substance is still in the fabric rather than magically disappeared. I was going to throw the pens in the bin. Instead I re-did all of my border, unpicking everything and attaching a new border.
Since then I have stitched over this as a bit of a doodle and to work out which ruler I will use to stitch this out. I discovered that when you stitch on that purple line, you will not see it obviously and if I had marked this correctly, I could have gotten away with this. Knowing myself, this is never going to happen that I mark something absolutely correctly on the first go, so I will not use this pen for the marking of this border (as I have to do a bit of shrinking to fit it in the space). When calmer though, I thought that these pens do have a place in marking, for example when you transfer a motif. It is probably unlikely that you would get the placement wrong and then it would be just a matter of staying on the lines and to remember to put the registration lines on with some chalk or similar, so they come off easily.
Went on the internet and found some other pens which are chalk based and water soluble and found Roxanne's Quilter's Choice Marking Pencil through Quilter's Review so I ordered some of them to try out. Also ordered the Bohin Marking pen as I have heard good things about that one. We shall see...will do a bit of a post on all the different marking pens that I have in my collection. Truly infuriating, definitely need to find something that works for darker fabric once for all.


Monday, 8 October 2018

Dancing Squares and Progress on Challenge Quilt

I have been steadily working away...almost finished my Ruler Practice quilt and also started another quilt. As this is to be a gift, I will not be posting about this one for a while, but wanted to show you the border.

Following Ricky Tim's excellent lecture at the recent Australian Machine Quilting Festival, I decided to use the idea of dancing squares in the border. We had been given a syllabus of the lecture and there were some basic instructions in there for constructing this. Nothing earth shattering compared to some of the other techniques we were told about but such a nice simple idea to highlight a border.

This was easy to construct and came together very measuring or trying to be consistent, just putting it together to get the effect of dancing squares. The squares don't even have to be exact...mind you, I did mine at 3in square as uneven squares was too much of a challenge for me.

I did the dancing squares all around the centre of the quilt and the only issue I had was to judge in a roundabout way where the corner squares would sit which was complicated by the fact that I only had limited amounts of green fabric. I have made it all around the centre with about 6in left of the green fabric. This I will need to make a tiny alteration for one of the corners so it looks somewhat consistent, i.e. the squares in the corners in approximately the same spot on all four corners.

This was very interesting to do in terms of letting go of the restrictions around consistency and how things should be done and definitely not something that comes naturally to me, but I really enjoyed this.

The quilt will be super cute and I will be able to show you some time in December. Almost done, just need to put it all together and find a backing.

Also finished my Challenge quilt which I will put up when it is bound and all pretty.
I decided to try the Piano Key border again after having a few hassles with accuracy in the last quilt. Used the Handiquilter Line Grid Ruler for this and this time I started on one end (started in the middle last time...not sure why and that clearly did not work well). As you can see I took the Handigrip off on the bottom for this exercise as it was most irritating when sticking to the wadding. Did just re-attach the grip pieces after I was finished with the border. I love the Line Grid ruler...very nice to hold and easy to handle. As always I had some trust issues in terms of the ruler giving me a definite 1/2in each time, so I had put little marks along the border. Well, after a few lines my marks were no longer correct and I prepared myself for not ending up in the right spot at the corner. So, I literally had to continue blind, trusting that the ruler would get me there with 1/2in to spare before I reached the corner square (the border was 43 1/2in). Well, to my surprise and utter disbelief I made it more or less exactly to the corner in all four corners.
How good does this look? Could not believe it and was very impressed with it. Could not mark this out that evenly, even if I tried. Such a time saver doing this with the ruler. If you are wondering what rulers to get, this type of ruler is definitely worth it!

Monday, 1 October 2018

Challenge Quilt

My week of leave was spent progressing the challenge quilt from my local HQ group. This was epic...
Arrived at those sections that were meant to have pebbles in there. So, I pebbled for almost an entire week as there were 8 sections of it. Absolute torture and my shoulder did not like it at all. Had to put in frequent breaks so as to not damage my shoulder any further (apparently I have got a frozen shoulder with a good dose of bursitis on top of it and now I am patiently waiting for it to thaw out 😅). I then decided that the sashing was puffing out too much and so I put a diamond design in there with the HQ Skinny ruler. Once that was done I felt that it needed some dressing up and so I put the ribbon candy design in there...and so it goes on! I now am stitching the sashing down with some narrow lines around the diamonds and that is doing the trick of making it nice and flat.
I am absolutely quilting the 'snot' out of this quilt. So far I have gone through at least 5 -6 bobbins of thread. Good learning as usual as I noticed that a slightly different coloured bobbin thread (both Aurifil 50/2) required an adjustment of the bobbin tension. I am definitely learning more and more about the tension on the HQ Sweet 16.


Sunday, 30 September 2018

Another Ruler Practice Quilt

Constructed a cute little ruler practice quilt out of Hoffman Bali Snaps that I acquired in one of those Flash sales from the Fat Quarter Shop.
Will attach a border with some leftover corner stones and this is done.

Had the hardest time sorting the colour graduation and think I might have ended up with one of the reds in the wrong spot, but so be it. Piecing this should have been extraordinarily easy but I struggled in the first row aligning the sashing until I remembered how to do it properly. So out of practice with my piecing!

This is for the Handiquilter Ruler of the Month Club 3 and in the borders I am going to trial my new Cindy Needham Border Stencils. Some of the rulers that we are going to get are going to be a bit big for this. Just had a look today on their website and saw that the Starflower ruler is quite big, so I am not sure how I will incorporate this, maybe do just half a flower in one of the squares...have not really thought this through and will just stitch away, I reckon, and see what happens. Just a bit of fun, combined with some practice in how to hold and stitch against the new rulers.


Sunday, 23 September 2018

Australian Machine Quilting Festival 2018

Well, it's come and gone. Great event organised by Tracey Browning from Constantine Quilts right here in South Australia, Adelaide.

I went for 3 days straight and must say, I was totally exhausted by then. While exhilarating and fun, I also felt slightly overwhelmed with inspiration, as usual. Currently washing some fabrics to try out Ricky Tims Convergance quilts idea...luckily, I took a week's leave to recover and let the ideas sink in and just finish off some things.

My last class was a Wholecloth drawing class with Cindy Needham. After a bit of a lecture on Wholecloth design (also got a CD of this as part of the class which I still have not had a look at) we got to draw for the whole afternoon. Cindy had the entire stencil collection out for the class to use. Usually I draw a bit and then loose focus unless I have got a very definite idea, but that day I was super focussed and just about finished an entire Wholecloth, measuring about 36in in the afternoon.
It was very interesting to see how people approached this in the class and every piece looked very different to the next (not that I saw that many as I had my head down the entire afternoon). I started with my little motif in the middle, not really sure what to do with it. However, I thought, it will come to me as I go along and just kept extending it out.
I used Cindy's Ultimate Stencils for the middle section, first drawing in the motif with the circle stencil and then using the square stencil to extend it out. I do usually do a bit of filling as I go along, just to get an idea of what could go in there...will always have to have some cathedral windows in there, so marked this in. Also tried one of Cindy's tiny border stencils in one of the inner borders and got myself very confused with direction initially. Then I went out further and put some feathers in the inner part and to finish this off I used Cindy's High Tide border stencil for the outer border...and presto, I had an entire Wholecloth! Not the most exciting design, however lovely to look at and a very workable design. I will re-draw this on paper and tidy up some areas and then stitch it out to have a bit of a memento of this class.
After the class, I went straight upstairs and bought Cindy's Border Stencil collection.
Now this was not part of the plan 😏. I had looked at them before on the internet and had thought that I do not need this as I can draw the basic shapes myself. Doing this class though I realised how very handy they the inner part of my drawing I wanted a bit of a curly type feather and then realised that I could use one of the border motifs (simple swirl) to just mark the curve in and off I went with my feathers. This was so handy and fast and looking now at those basic shapes I can see how useful this is going to become. Also liked the border stencils with the corner element and middle line cut out for alignment (I do struggle with this at times). This was a breeze to put into my border with a bit of fudging fitted nicely into that space. Obviously when I am going to draw it I will work this out a bit more precisely, but even drawing it in this roughly, it looks very good.

Enthused plus!!!


Thursday, 20 September 2018

Australian Machine Quilting Festival 2018

It's all happening over here!

The Festival started at the Convention Centre...for me in the very early morning hours with a Masterclass with Ricky Tims
The class ran from 8.30 am to 5pm. He certainly is very entertaining and the time just flew. Absolutely loved it! Talked about Improvisational Patchwork, Convergence Quilts, Designing, Rhapsody Quilts, and lots of Tips and Hints on all things quilting. In addition, he showed some pictures of where he lives and talked about the recent fires they had. Really enjoyed myself and ended up breaking my good intentions of holding my money together. 
Yes, bought the Convergence Book (swear that I need it, as I have just the right fabric for it) and also a DVD on Machine Quilting and Finishing Techniques. We did get a bit of a handbook of all the things he talked about which is really good and has already given me a stack of new ideas.

Today I went to
Cindy Needham's Ultimate Stencils Workshop. Even though I have had the stencils for a while and have been raving about them, I did get a lot of useful information out of that and a few new ideas and got to try the transparency that was included in the later purchases of the stencils. The transparency certainly made things easier and I will email Cindy to try to get my hands on one of them. There were, of course, lots of fine examples (see Cindy's Pinterest Boards) stitched out on the most gorgeous fabric and we got to play a bit with marking a star design on some fabric.

Time flew and I did not get to finish this, but it was great just to doodle a bit.
Tomorrow I am off to the Wholecloth class with Cindy which will go for the whole afternoon. This should be great! Will take a ruler with me as I did get a bit sloppy with my lines and things started to not line up. Will spent the morning in the vendor hall...there is not possibly anything that I could need, but mark my words, I will find something!


Tuesday, 18 September 2018

The Australian Machine Quilting Festival 2018

Super's finally here! The Australian Machine Quilting Festival is held bi-annually in Adelaide originally created by Tracey Browning of Constantine Quilts  and Sharon Parkinson of Patchwork on Parade.

There are a lot of tutors from all over the world, too many to mention, exhibitions and, of course, there is some shopping. Fantastic event with lots of learning going on.

I booked into Ricky Tims Master class which is going to go on for the whole day. Not really sure what to expect but it will no doubt be entertaining. Hoping to  get inspired to try something new and different, rather than doing the same thing over and over again. From what I have heard that is the place to be.

And then, I am going to do two classes with Cindy Needham...can't wait! This will be great. I so admire Cindy and have been raving about her Craftsy classes and the use of her Ultimate Stencil sets for a while. One class is about the use of her stencils and the next one is about Wholecloth design. I am hoping to come out with an idea about my next Wholecloth and am looking forward to just playing around a bit with different designs.

Hopefully I can hold my money together in the vendor hall, as I really don't need anything, but we shall see. Shall report back on this to hold myself a bit accountable (famous last words!).


Blogger's Quilt Festival

Finally, I have a quilt finished to participate in the Blogger's Quilt Festival 2018 over at Amys Creative Side. The last few years I have missed out due to not having anything finished at that, apologies for posting about the same quilt again, but it's a beauty.

The 1000 Pyramid Quilt, cursed a thousand times and for the last 3 years in danger of becoming one of those UFOs.
The problem started with the construction...did not think ahead that this meant some insane matching of points and if you are a bit of a perfectionist like I am it was very hard to let go of that. Every row was a struggle. Mind you, in the end I used some fabric glue to secure the points in place as with pinning alone I had a fair bit of shifting going on. Ultimately I did accept that the goal was to finish rather than having nice points, so there are some dooseys in there, but given its scrappy-ness nobody will ever know.

Then there was the quilting! Decided against all better judgement to do an allover Baptist fan design on my newly acquired Sweet 16, using one of the rulers. Must say, that nearly finished me off but in the end, I stubbornly continued. It paid off in that it looks absolutely stunning and actually got finished.
The quilt got very big, 67in x 86in, as I wanted to use as many of the scraps up that I had. Needless to say, it did not make a lot of difference and I am now thinking that I should do a string quilt out of the ever increasing scrap least I will not have to match any points and can just mindlessly sew strings together.

Joining the Blogger's Festival 2018 at Amys Creative Side for some eye candy and no doubt inspiration for the next few projects.


Sunday, 2 September 2018

Finally Finished - 1000 Pyramids Quilt

I have finally finished my 1000 Pyramids quilt.

Size: 67in x 86in
Pattern: 1000 Pyramids, cut with the Accuquilt Equilateral Triangle die, 4 1/4in finished
Batting: 100 % Cotton
Thread: quilted with 40/2 light-green Aurifil thread in an allover Baptist fan design (using the HQ Circle set) on the HQ Sweet 16.
Time to complete: Had a look on my blog and embarrassed to say, but started this in August 2015, quickly tiring of it and continuing in starts and stops ever since.

And finally, happy to say that the quilt is cat approved

As I was sewing binding on for days on end I also completed my little Mini Wholecloth from Patsy Thompson's January online workshop
Planning to make a sleeve and to put it up in my sewing room as an example of what you can do with a few rulers.


Saturday, 1 September 2018

Challenge Quilt

Continuing on my challenge quilt for the local HQ group run by Heather Hopkins

Am running behind and will have to do another 6 of those including filling in the background with some pebble work...
Pays to pay attention...promptly put my big pebbles in the wrong spot when starting off. Aren't they the worst thing to unpick!

This will look great when all finished. Undecided whether to put something in the sashing, will depend on how much time I have got left. This is supposed to be finished for the November meeting. I should really put some simple ruler design in there, the yellow 50/2 Aurifil thread looks nice on this quilt and would really stand out in the sashing. We shall see...


Thursday, 30 August 2018

Onwards and Upwards

My 1000 Pyramid quilt is finished...I am currently sewing on the binding.

This was a very long and arduous journey. I think that I started this project about 2 years ago and it was always in danger of becoming an UFO.  In case you were wondering how I handled the bulk I have got photos showing the way it was situated at varying stages.
Initially I quilted away from me with the bulk sitting to the side.

As I advanced, the bulk became harder to handle and I had to switch things around quilting either sideways and in the end towards me. 
You can see that I also had it more folded in the I went along and came towards half way folding it in an accordion style proved to be the best way to keep the quilt from dragging as the whole lot had become more firm and harder to handle. Some quilters use a suspension system for their bigger projects...obviously a good idea, however I have never looked into this because I do not usually do big quilts like that.

Well, this was a bit of an adventure and I am over the moon that it is done. One more photo to come of the quilt all finished with the binding and that is it.

After this, I treated myself to a new Accuquilt die. When my little wholecloth quilt recently won first prize in the quilt show, I got a gift voucher to my favourite sewing shop. I took my time in deciding what to get as I wanted to spend it on something useful, so I started to look at the Accuquilt dies. I have got quite a number of dies, however have in recent times decided to get dies that make my life easier. So, rather than going for those really pretty and amazing 'one-off' dies, I am now tending to buy those that I will use all the time. Had not looked at the strip dies before because they are a bit expensive, however with the voucher was able to get myself a rather huge strip die. 

3, 2 1/2in strips on the die. Nowadays they have an added feature of having angled guides marked on the die, so that you can cut squares and diamonds at varying degrees. Bonus!

Used this on my binding strips for this quilt...needed a total of 9, 2 1/2in strips.
This was so easy and quick, just putting it through three times and done...I am always surprised at the absolute accuracy. Totally straight and perfect!
Should have invested in this years ago.


Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Handiquilter Ruler Of The Month Club 3

Picked up the first ruler of the HQ Ruler of the Month Club 3 - the HQ Hexie 3 Template
This is a bigger chunky ruler, very easy to hold. When stitching inside it will give you a 2 3/4in hexagon.

This was my first play with it
Obviously you can do hexagons with it, with or without echos. Very easy to stitch inside and if you want to stitch a 1/4in echo you just have to shift it over. Alternatively you can use the echo feet set and stitch out your echo that way giving you 3 different options (3/8in, 1/2in or 3/4in echo)...this is very handy. I am planning a hexagon quilt where the hexagons will be 2in on each side, so I would position my ruler in a way that it would align on the points, but shifting it inwards to the required size, if that makes sense.

Then I tried the diamonds...accuracy suffered there on my part and I must have aligned the ruler slightly differently and the diamonds came out somewhat misshapen. Obviously needs a bit more care.

Tried a second time
Managed the first 3 on the right accurately but then started misaligning it again. Later discovered that there is a much easier and sure way to stitch this out by first stitching an upper row of little triangles and than going back and stitching the bottom half...not sure why I did not think of this earlier.

Was impressed with the elongated hexagons and the horizontal hexagons...lots of opportunity to fill that in with all sorts of things and make quite interesting sashing designs. In the end I stitched a row of mini half hexagons...really liked the look of that. In terms of sizing this ruler gives you a lot of options which I like.

So much fun to play around with this...


Friday, 17 August 2018

1000 Pyramids Quilt

I am not posting a lot because I am still working on the 'blasted' 1000 Pyramid quilt, This was not one of my brighter ideas...taking forever and is actually quite hard as I have a lot of bulk to contend with as the quilt is very large. On the plus side, I am surprised how easy it is to push a large quilt through the throat space of the HQ Sweet 16. Had I chosen an allover design, I would have had this finished in a flash.

This is how much I have got left
Does not look a lot but there are about 5 rows left to do on that quilt. Each row takes me about an evening to complete, so not really that bad, except that motivation is by now down to zero.

Even though consistency is sadly lacking a bit it looks quite nice and is definitely the right design for this rather colourful quilt
I don't think I will do this again in a hurry, however after this I can confidently say that trailing off a ruler is a thing of the past...definitely got that down pad and also have been able to speed up a bit so that it is going slightly faster. The biggest issue has been the alignment of the rulers with all the bulk around me and the holding of the ruler. Overall, happy with the result though, just need to get some discipline happening now to actually finish this off!


Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Pets on Quilts 2018

The Pets on Quilt Show is on again over at LilyPad Quilting. This has been an event that I have participated in since I started blogging in much fun to see all our furry friends.

My entry for this year is Pixie, our somewhat reluctant second cat. She has not grown up with us and is a somewhat anxious and skitty cat but getting better as time goes on. Here she is sitting on my ruler practice quilt from last year when I ventured into the world of rulerquilting with my newly acquired HQ Sweet 16. The quilt is a lap size quilt made out of charm squares that I had sitting around. I had joined the HQ Ruler of the Month Club and used the quilt to give each ruler a bit of a go. The result was variable, to say the least, but good enough to be used as a bit of a throw over the seats to ensure that the cats don't dig into the furniture with their claws.

And here she is...Pixie...with that brooding, unimpressed look.
I have another favourite cat photo of our other, cat, Abby. Unfortunately I cannot use this for the event because she is not actually lying on a quilt, but have a look:
See what she is lying on...the ruler! I caught this when I came home one day and found her lying on the cutting table like this, on the ruler, amongst the pins etc...too funny! Since then I do make sure to always close up my rotary cutter, just in case. No idea how she could have found this comfortable or why she chose this.

Linking up to LilyPad Quilting for the Pets on Quilts Show 2018. Have a look, I guarantee that it will bring a smile to your face!


Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Dragging My Feet

Our local Quilt Show was in the beginning of July
My little quilt won 1st place in the Open Category of Other Techniques. Was a bit chuffed with that as this was only meant to be a practice ruler project and the fact that I only used minimal marking to put the design down.

Since then I have been working on my 1000 Pyramid quilt which is in danger of going onto the UFO pile. Doing the Baptist Fan design on it is taking a very long time and is quite fiddly, but I am half way through, so I do not want to give up. Apart from this I am in some sort of hibernation...this usually happens to me after a big quilt show. Maybe it is inspiration overload or just the busy-ness of those days and I start dragging my feet with all sorts of other tasks. I was actually going to retire from work in April however this is just dragging out a bit with no immediate resolution. I guess it is not that easy after all to just walk away after some 30 years! 

I also need to construct new quilt tops and have been playing around with a number of ideas...again, too much inspiration and not enough time. For the moment I am going to construct another ruler quilt as I am again participating in the Handiquilter Ruler of The Month Club (missed no 2, so this will be no 3). Some interesting rulers in that lot
Image from
So I had a look around what I have got in my stash and found some Hoffman Bali Snaps. Had the hardest time to sort this into a graduated colour scheme

In order to make it wider had to play around a bit in the EQ8 program. Still exploring the upgrade and learning the different layout of the program.

Also still working on the Challenge quilt from our local group...actually already running behind a bit, so I really do need to finish off the 1000 Pyramid quilt!

And what is wrong with Blogger! Why are they not fixing the email notifications that we used to get when somebody commented. Very annoyed with that... please be assured that I do read your comments and will answer via the blog.  


Friday, 27 July 2018

What a Crazy Idea

So I am about half way through my 1000 Pyramid Quilt quilting a Baptist Fan design all over it.
I did trial this on a lap sized quilt before that and it worked really well. Given the size of this quilt I was a bit hesitant, however started it and am obviously committed to it by now. I am using the Handiquilter Circle Ring Set to do this. Wow, what a hassle! It is absolutely do-able as you can see, but consistency went out of the window by the second row because the alignment is just a bit difficult having the quilt scrunched up on all sides.  In thinking about this, this made a lot of sense to me because you are shifting, scrunching, moving etc...there is no way one would get this exact, so I concentrated on getting this approximately right because it does not really make a difference. Worked out a system of alignment that allowed me to more or less eyeball the alignment of the ruler (the HQ rings got a very handy 1/4in line ruled on there and some straight lines that helped a lot. I do mark in a straight line after each row of fans and then also mark in vertical lines at the widths of the fans, but overall just going for approximates.

Must say that this is a bit of a handful and requires a bit of patience. This quilt will go in the spare room so I am not too fussed really how consistent this turns out and I will probably not try this again on such a big quilt, however for a smaller lap size quilt this is definitely a great design to do on the Sweet 16.

Apart from this I am trying to work out what to next, problem is I am having too many ideas...


Sunday, 8 July 2018


I made a start on my 1000 Pyramid quilt...

Once I basted this thing, I went over it with the basting stitch of the HQ Sweet 16 in a broad meander pattern.
You can see how I stuffed the whole quilt to the left of the machine...not rolled up, just bunched together in a big bundle. Once that was done, I went around the edges with the Versa Tool, still using the basting stitch
That is one thing I have used from the beginning with this machine, saving me heaps of time in terms of going around the edges of a quilt and I am used to doing this with the Versa Tool (has these little notches which I line up so that it stitches about 1/8in from the edge).

Then came the Baptist Fans...could not resist trying this, although I was still not convinced that this would work
Starting off...
...and having 2 rows done
Hard to see, even though I am using a 40/2 wt Aurifil thread. The scrappiness of the quilt just soaks it up. This is a good thing as consistency is a bit lacking, however overall it looks really good. I am making the fans slightly bigger, i.e. 5.75in instead of 5.5in (my largest ring gives me an 11in circle) so that the fans do not land on the seams. This is where the HQ Echo foot became really handy
This is the 1/2in Echo Foot. Looks a bit intimidating, but I must say I almost find it easier to stitch with this. Have not once trailed off and find it easy to work with. Took me a while to work out a workable process for quilting the fans, i.e.
- placed the quilt in a bundle to the left and then moved the bundle under the machine to the right onto the next table as I went along
- had a chair next to me with all the rulers and bitses, as the quilt kept pushing things off the table
- did temporary marks on the quilt of 5.75in width and height so that I would roughly stay on track

Overall, a half ring set would probably be better in terms of holding and aligning the rulers, however I am obviously not going to buy yet another ruler set just for this. I bought the circle set specifically to do circles of various diameters and this set is particularly handy as you can ride on the inside for some of the sizes. 

We will see how this progresses. For now, all is well...will be very interesting to see how I am going to manage this as I am getting more to the middle.


Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Taming The Beast

I finally knuckled down and attacked the basting of my 1000 Pyramids quilt. Was unsure exactly how I would do this, i.e. whether to spray baste or to pin paste. This quilt turned out a bit big, approx. 66in x 87in! I have done spray basting before and like it but have little room to do it and also was not a friend of the mess that it created around the basted piece (i.e. had to wash the floor twice as all that sticky stuff was spread out all over the place as I got it on my socks).

Anyway, decided against the spray basting as I am also not sure how I will quilt this and thought that it would be good to get a sense of how heavy and unruly this quilt was going to be.

So I followed my trusted 'crawling around the floor' method (yep, paid for that the next day with a very sore back).
Lucky, I was by myself as there was no space left to walk around anywhere. I pin basted it very tightly as I did not want to risk any shifting or distortion as I am not going to stitch-in-the-ditch (that much I know).
I then took it to the HQ Sweet 16 and had some fun using the inbuild basting stitch (at 1/2 sec) and noodled around the pins, taking about half of them out as I went along. This went surprisingly fast and secured the quilt even more. The handling was not as bad as I thought it would be as I do have a fair amount of space around me, i.e. one extension to the left and on the right I have my cutting table, so it was just a matter of laying it out properly.

Still don't know exactly what to tempted to try to do the Baptist fan with the rulers...would look lovely on that but just not sure whether this would become too difficult given it's size.

Linking up to Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework 'Oh Scrap Linky'

Saturday, 30 June 2018

My HQ Sweet 16 Journey

Its time to write about my experience with the HQ Sweet 16. I bought the machine about a year ago. I had been looking at the machine for some years however was not sure whether I actually really needed it. I was by that stage proficient in my FMQ and was quite content with how things were travelling. However, doing mainly Wholecloth quilts I felt some kind of boredom as I was essentially doing the same thing over and over again. I then quilted this beast

 All was well until I realised that my marking of my framework was out by sometimes as much as 1/4in and more and I realised that I needed to use a ruler to set the framework down in order to straighten this up. The first problem was that I did not actually have a large ruler that would allow me to do this and I ended up using a normal quilting ruler to stitch my frame around the motif. This was hellish, to say the least...not because of the quilting ruler, but because I could not see behind the foot of the machine. I spent a good 10 min to align the ruler each time I wanted to stitch, making sure it would not slip and then stitched in absolute snail pace against the ruler. I think it took about four attempts to get that first frame around the motif and that definitely got me thinking that I had reached the limit of my Pfaff machine. I did use a smaller ruler to quilt the Orange Peel design in one of the borders and thoroughly enjoyed looking at the stitches I thought then that it looked so much more refined then if I had drawn the design in and then stitched it freehand. Well, this got me thinking about the Sweet 16 (again!)...then doing some more research on the machine I also was somewhat horrified how much they had gone up in price over here and I decided...its now or never! I had to decide whether this is something I wanted or not. If I waited any longer I would just have to pay more and more and with the Quilt Show coming up there would be a Special on offer on the machine.
So the journey began...I decided to buy the machine.
I had watched all of the instructional videos, had read other quilters' introduction to the machine and started initial reaction was one of utter confusion. The machine was very different to what I was used to and I also realised how much I had sat in my comfort zone. The machine had a different noise, rhythm and speed and the different set up, i.e. the larger room around the machine was utterly confusing. I would take a quilt and scrunch it up to quilt and the quilt would just unroll itself in front of my eyes and lie flat. While this was a good thing, this completely threw me!
Initially I had only minor issues in setting the tension on the machine. I successfully quilted 2 baby quilts with Aurifil 40/2 at some speed. All went well and I managed to quilt a nice meander all over, noting that this was incredibly fast, possibly because I hardly needed to shift and re-arrange the quilt.
At the same time I started the Handiquilter Ruler of the Month club with our local HQ group
Stitching more deliberate and slowly and now using my familiar Aurifil 50/2 in both bobbin and top, tension issues started to appear. In addition, I found that starting off gave me issues as I could not reach the hand wheel to position the needle where I wanted it to go. The more I tried with the tension the more difficult it became...also realised that I had only ever FMQ with Aurifil 50/2. As I had received a gift pack of thread with my purchase I started to experiment with all sorts of thread combinations, fiddled with tension and got incredibly frustrated in the process (see post where I was just about to loose the plot). It felt as if I was starting all over again.
I watched untold videos re tension issues, went on forums, web sites etc to find the answers...
It was my worst nightmare which continued for several months. In addition, I could not manage the speed, i.e. how slowly did I quilt before ? The fastest I could do on the Sweet 16 was 10% and as time went by I seriously started to doubt my purchase and started to hate my FMQ. I became increasingly annoyed with hearing 'you will get the feel for it' or you 'feel' when the tension is right. I was definitely not getting the feeling and definitely not loving it. At that stage it would have been 3 - 4 months into my purchase and I was starting to wonder whether I needed to sell the machine!

So, what helped me in this?
- Jamie Wallen's comment in one of his videos re sticking with one thread initially (at least for 6 months) and how to clean your machine properly (very important!)
- decided to follow my intuition and sense what I thought right tension feels like; the only advice I can give re this is that my tension works when I test the bobbin in my palm and set it so that the bobbin lifts up in your palm but will not leave your palm, however just about wants to leave your palm...just at that point; also got a Towa guide to note down the number which I now use as a bit of a starting point to set my bobbin; I am still stitching with Aurifil 50/2 in top and bobbin, however also have successfully stitched with 60 wt Bottomline in the bobbin and tried the Decobobs 80wt prewounds (really like them); each of those needs a different bobbin setting and I am managing this without any major dramas.
- I continue to stitch rather slowly and decided not to focus on that, i.e. one issue at a time
- I don't blame the machine every time something does not work; as I found out the hard way there are a number of factors at play like batting, thread, bobbin winder...

Since then there has been a definite change in my attitude to the machine and towards the end of last year I started to really enjoying quilting on it. The tension adjustments seemed so much easier; the speed, sound and rhythm started to feel more familiar and I could really appreciate the potential that this machine has:
- ruler work - love ruler work and all that it brings to my quilting; not great at it yet, but getting better all the time
- pantographs - have stitched out a pantograph design on a small baby quilt; while time consuming this got me very excited as I was getting really bored with my overall designs; also managed to stitch out a Baptist fan design on a smaller quilt recently - something I have wanted to do for a very long time
- larger scale designs - all I have to do is to crank up the speed and I will naturally make wider movements
- definitely faster process as I use the machine to baste the quilt (and stitch down the edges) and also have continued to use rulers to stitch-in-the-ditch (I use Invisafil for this which strangely enough has worked for me since I got the machine).

So, I am feeling that I am back to 'normal' with my quilting however if you look at it, this has taken me a good 9 months to get there. This is in contrast to some quilters who get these machines and are just loving it and do not seem to have any issues from the word 'go'. I tend to think that I was too stuck in my comfort zone with my DSM which made it difficult to accept any changes...who knows! Still have a lot of work to do...I got a whole box full of thread from Superior Threads that I have never used before, but at least now I do not feel so intimidated by that.


Thursday, 28 June 2018

Absolutely love Ruler Work

I have been working away on the challenge of our local HQ group run by Heather Hopkins.
Absolutely love the ruler work! Getting better at it, bit by bit. For this piece we have so far used the HQ Skinny Ruler, some curved rulers and are currently using the Line Grid Ruler for the corner treatment (not shown).
For the arcs I used the circle ruler set combined with the Echo feet set for the Sweet 16 to get the right size. Bit of an adventure but I managed this in the end. The echo feet set for the machine is amazing, basically 3 feet with different echoes attached...3/8in, 1/2in and 3/4in. This makes is possible to customise your rulers to the size that you need. In my case, I used the 9in circle and attached the 1/2in echo foot to quilt out a 10in half circle. Very useful indeed.

Then I used another arc to create a bit of a swag. For this I used the Pro Echo 12in arc
As you can see I am starting to amass a bit of a collection of rulers to choose from. I did participate in the first Handiquilter Ruler of the Month Club that was run by Handiquilter through our local group. This just coincided with my purchase of the machine and I thought this was an easy way to get introduced to quilting with rulers on the machine...6 rulers in 6 months. They then ran a second ruler club and I did exercise some major restraint and did not sign up as I did not want to 'start collecting' rulers. Haha...have just signed up for the third Handiquilter Ruler of the Month Club though! There are some very interesting shapes in there that could be useful (it has a 1/4in Line Grid ruler in there!). Reality is I am just addicted to the ruler work...also saw the other day that Angela Walters has brought out another set of her own rulers. Very enticing indeed, hers are particularly useful for quilting on the DSM, I think. In fact, if you look around on the net there is a ruler for just about any shape and given that they are not cheap you really have to have a bit of a think about how often and for what you are going to use least that is what I am trying to do.
I might stitch together another Charm Square quilt for the next ruler club, so that I can practice the new shapes that are coming.

Apart from this I am trying to piece together the backing for my 1000Pyramid quilt. I am so spatially challenged...this always takes me an extraordinary time to figure out how to put this together. There is a free class on Craftsy run by Elizabeth Hartman called Creative Quilt Backs that was quite handy to watch for this exercise...she makes it sound so easy.