Friday 29 January 2021

Very Tricky Ruler

For the star quilt that I am working on, I decided to use one of the many rulers that I have accumulated over time.

The Handiquilter Star Flower Ruler
I have only tried this ruler a couple of times to quilt the flower and was keen to use the star in the middle as an accent on my quilt...anyway, that was the original idea. Trying it out, I changed my mind several times, almost deciding that this was going to be too hard.

But first things first...this ruler has to be handled with extra care as it is very easy to hit if you are not careful. On the Bernina Q20 I lower the foot before I start quilting in order to see where I hit the fabric. If you are in the middle of things, it is very easy to not pay attention as to where your foot is in relation to the ruler. To overcome this I had my foot in the middle of that star before I lowered it (not quite in the middle in the photo below)

...then decided where I wanted the star to sit by placing the ruler around the foot, shifting it into position...
After I was satisfied that this was the spot, I then moved the ruler away again  (so the foot was in the middle again) and only then did I do my tie off, bringing the ruler only against the foot once it was lowered and the needle was in the fabric. Then I stitched the star. Had to put on a few Handigrip patches to stop it from sliding, but also used my draw liner patches for added stickability.

This ruler is quite tricky. The star shape is small (2in) and I struggled to go around the curves to get from star point to star point. Without fail I would have these sudden elongated stitches on the curve because of jerky movements on my part. The more this happened the more my death grip on the ruler strengthened which only contributed more to the issue. I was doing this in stitch regulation which helped and it took me a while to figure out how to overcome this. In the end I set my stitches per inch to 11 which meant my elongated stitches were slightly smaller and I began to relax more and consequently had less of those. The trick really was to take your time, relax and go slowly around those curves without any sudden jerky movements as you descend into the star point.

Managed to put my stars onto the quilt and then looked at the border. It's smallish and the star would just fit in it. Thinking that I would probably regret this I set out to stitch the stars also into the border. 

For this I had to go along the top part of the star first the entire length of the border and then return right to left to complete the bottom part of each star. First attempt was a fail as my bottom parts were at times slightly out of alignment with the top part giving me these weird wonky stars (even after having made 2in marks along the border and following those marks). Second attempt I tackled differently by looking at where the top part was sitting. If I could see I was out by a few thread widths I shifted my ruler slightly so that top and bottom were in alignment. That worked quite well. While the stars are probably not exact, the overall picture looks consistent. 

By the third border I felt that I conquered this ruler...the issue of going around the curves was less of a problem and I was able to put the stars down quite neatly and quite quickly.
Happy that I persevered as this small shape is ideal to use in sashings or in blocks and once you are used to it you can complete  this quite quickly with minimal fuss. I stitched this out in a light yellow variegated Aurifil 50/2 thread and it does look quite charming. Now I just have to work out what I am going to do in the rest of the quilt.


Saturday 23 January 2021

New Handmade Quilt in my Etsy Shop

Nearly forgot to show you my new listing for a handmade quilt. Besides patterns I do offer a few select quilts as I just have too many of them.

Lucky for me I am not attached to most quilts...once they are done, it's onto the next project, the next idea, the next challenge and that is how they accumulate.

This quilt is both hand- and machine stitched. The center consists of 99, 2in hexagons, sewn together using the English Paper Piecing method. It is 41.5in x 45.25in and has a lovely feel to it. I did freemotion quilt the hexagons down with some point to point curved designs for added durability as it is hand stitched. And of course, I did a bit of a leaf design in the sashing and some lines in the border.
How do you put a value on this? With difficulty, I must say...funny story though...I did stitch this rather cheerful and sunny quilt watching the entire series of 'Breaking Bad'. Can't remember now how long that ran for but it felt like forever. Anyway, that is how long that center took to construct.
Would not mind doing another one, quite liked the therapeutic, calming repetition of sewing those hexagons together. Maybe in winter. 


Thursday 21 January 2021

A Year Of Stars Quiltalong with Natalia Bonner - January

I am participating in Natalia Bonner's 'A Year of Stars' quiltalong. If you are interested - it is not too late, as the actual quilting has just begun and it is going to be running for the entire year. Natalia is also running YouTube tutorials on how to put the blocks together. I have not watched these as I purchased the accompanying Workbook last year to get going on the blocks as I knew this would take me a long time to piece.

Most of the last week was stitching-in-the-ditch with invisible thread to stabilize the quilt. In case you wondered how I resolved the issue of whether or not to go around every single element - I did a partial stitch-in-the-ditch, i.e. stitched around all the major seams and some of the seams in the blocks where it mattered in terms of colour. As I am stitching along in an off white Aurifil thread I was mindful of stitching the seams of darker colours down with the invisible thread and leaving the seams where I can get away with white thread for  when we get to that block. That seems to be working.
While a bit out of practice, I got into the groove of it pretty quickly. Did not follow Natalia's video on how to stitch this out in one continuous go as I would have had to stop the video every 2 seconds. I made some mistakes and had several stops and starts when starting off but then 'got' it and moved purposefully around the block stitching those lines. The only issue I had was the deep purple colour and the white thread. In order not to break thread every few minutes I had to travel along the ditch to get to the next part and initially that was a bit of a nightmare. Learned something though...I have become so used to the Bernina's stitch regulator that I forgot I actual have the option of using the manual mode. So, whenever I hit the dark purple fabric in the ditch I switched over to the Manual mode, carefully stitching along. Found that I had much better control this way. In terms of rulers, I used my trusted Handiquilter Ditch Ruler for the straight lines and one of Lisa Calle's Pro Echo rulers for the curves.
Turned out really pretty, I particularly like the crossed lines in the white triangles...looks very effective.

In case you have not heard, Natalia is also running a Border and Sashing Online Class in March of this year. Looks great and no doubt there will be a lot of  inspiration and learning in that. This is my second quiltalong with Natalia and while I am tempted, I just have too many other things on the go this year and need to stay focussed.

On the home front, I finished testing my new it is just a matter of putting the quilt together, quilting and binding it while at the same time writing the pattern up. This should take probably another 2 - 3 weeks and then its onto the next pattern.

Also, look what arrived today
Could not resist getting another E2E design from Urban Elementz. Undecided at the moment whether I use that for the new pattern...might be too distracting as the quilt features a few stars, so it would be more of the same and I usually like to pair lots of angular structures with more of a curvy and flowing design. We'll see...not there yet.


Wednesday 13 January 2021

Freemotion-Quilting Again

Ahhh...after what felt like weeks on end, I finished my three quilt tops and am finally able to get back to what I love most... freemotion-quilting.

Made a start on my Natalia Bonner 'A Year Of Stars' quilt for the quiltalong that has commenced in January.  As I am not on a frame longarm, I have to secure my quilt with stitching in the ditch before I can start all of the ruler work. I did order some Monoploy thread on a cone which arrived recently and started with testing my tension.
I have a few blocks that ended up in the 'not so perfect bin' and I am using these for testing. On the Q20 I used a Universal 70/10 needle and Bottomline in the bobbin. I deliberately am using a different bobbin thread - normally I use Aurifil but I am a bit more in experimental mode with this machine and I have a few spools of Bottomline thread that need to be used. Had no issues really. The tension came in at 1.25 which was comparable to what I have read about on other owners' blogs. The testing did not take long and I was ready to tackle the stitching in the ditch.
I am using my trusted Handiquilter Ditch Ruler for this task. Must say that that ruler is one of the rulers I probably use most of all. It is just a good size for my hands and it has those handy notches that you can align on your seam. In the photo I am quilting on the right of the foot, but I often change over and also quilt with the ruler on the left side. Have not figured out which side is more comfortable for me. I think it depends how much bulk I am dealing with at the time, where the pins are and what the seam feels like.

How good does this look with invisible thread
I am using stitch regulation, so it is looking nice and even (except for those times when I wobble). Bit undecided whether to stitch in the ditch around the elements of the blocks with the invisible thread or to leave that until I go into the block for the ruler work design. I will do the ruler work with Aurifil 50/2 thread, probably in a light off white colour which would stand out a fair bit if I do the ditching in the block with that as well. On the other hand, I am unsure how much back tracking is involved in the ruler work, so I will have lines that will stand out more anyway. Will ponder on this as I go along. 

This was almost therapeutic! Tomorrow, no doubt, I will be whinging about the stitching in the ditch as I will get impatient to start the ruler work. Watched the first of Natalia's videos on YouTube and can't wait.

Linking up to Midweek Makers over at Quilt Fabrication.


Monday 11 January 2021

New Pattern Emerging

Did a lot of work yesterday, continuing on my pattern for my little shop.

This is probably the most exciting time in pattern writing...when it all comes together just as you had imagined it (almost)!
Had some issues with the pressing of the seams and will probably include a 'pressing diagram' as this was majorly confusing. However we got there in the end and now it is just a matter of putting it all together and work out some sizing options. As you probably can tell, I am super excited about this. This pattern has been sitting around for a very long time and I am just so chuffed I am finally stitching it out. 

Back to work for me!


Saturday 9 January 2021

Plugging Along

Very hot over here today. Fur Baby is completely knocked out

I am currently working on three projects all at once. Why I would have thought that this is quicker I shall never know. Everything seems to be taking so much longer!

Natalia Bonner 'A Year of Stars' Quilt
Made good progress and then discovered that I did not have enough backing (or wadding for that matter)! So had to wait a moment until I got to the shops to get suitable backing, then wash it...finally ready to put it together
Will wait for the weather to cool down a bit before I baste this together, then start on the stitch-in-the-ditch quilting in order to catch up on the quiltalong.

Pastel Quilt
Also coming together and will probably finish this today. A bit undecided whether I should put some applique shapes on there. This is just for freemotion quilting as I have not had anything to quilt on for the last 3 weeks!

Incidentally, my Superior Monopoly thread cone arrived in the mail and I can report that the Bernina Q20 just runs beautifully with it ...had no issues at all.
Actually hardly had to make any adjustments at all other than loosening the top tension a bit. 
Initially was going to go for Aurifil Monofilament thread but could not find it anywhere in cone format in Australia. Will have to wait until we (hopefully) have some Quilt Shows again and see whether I can grab it then.

New Pattern
Almost done...will have all of the blocks finished this weekend and will just have to work out what dimensions I make the borders. Thinking of offering the pattern in multiple sizes...
Still a fair bit of work to do before this can go up in my little Etsy shop, but at least the piecing is almost over.

Still feeling incredibly productive 😄


Tuesday 5 January 2021

Writing Patterns

I have been writing quilting patterns for a very long time, initially  as a contributor to various quilting magazines and eventually on a number of different platforms.

I am currently revamping my Etsy shop which is turning out to be a huge job, but I made myself a list and slowly but surely working through it, checking my photos, my pattern instructions, making slight improvements here and there. It is starting to look really good.

At the same time I am working on a new pattern (actually I am working on three new quilts which is always an interesting scenario) which is taking a bit longer than I expected. I do not use pattern testers but trial the pattern myself. Pattern testers would be good but I feel it is a bit of an imposition to ask other people to stitch together my quilts. Also, I do like to iron out any issues with my pattern before I publish it and the best way for me is to sit and go through it myself. 

I draft my patterns in EQ8 and as I know the measurements go ahead and write down a bit of a draft first, noting the changes that have to be made as I go along. The actual stitching looks something like this...somewhat messy, but I assure you this is my organised version of a mess.
I thought that I had my pattern down pad, but this is one of those moments when I noticed that I need a diagram in front of my nose, as I attached my triangle to the wrong side. This is why it is so helpful to actually test the pattern yourself. I had glanced over at my quilt layout thinking that I knew what I was doing but obviously got it wrong. I need something like the diagram below in my pattern write up at this point.

If I get that wrong, so will other people and unpicking stitched units is so annoying. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to follow your instructions.

And so I go along through the pattern, making notes of what needs to be included, what is not that clear and whether or not there are any tips and tricks to speed up the process. 

Not a quick process but necessary if you want to get it right. This is why I love pattern is such an absolute brain drain! Once the quilt is done, the actual write up of the pattern will take about as much time as I did for construction.

Despite your best efforts there are sometimes things that are missed. I have had a pattern up on the net for some six years by now
Let's Play Baby Quilt

This little quilt has been incredibly successful over time but it was not until last year that a lady emailed me providing some feedback (which I love). She liked the pattern but found one part of the instruction confusing. When I looked at it (I had not looked at that pattern for years!) I had to agree...what I had written was somewhat confusing and needed changing. These things do happen and its great when people take the time to suggest improvements. 

I have about three patterns lined up, so will be very busy with that over the next few months.


Friday 1 January 2021

Happy New Year!

Wishing everybody a Happy and Healthy New Year.

I have been fairly productive in the last few days. Still exploring my new camera...started working on making a new banner for my little Etsy shop which now also adorns my blog. I thought it was time for a change. Well, that little idea went from one to the next thing to the next...before I knew it I was working on several other things. So far I 
- updated my Etsy banner
- cleaned up the site (still heaps more to do), and
- made a new button for the Etsy shop which also serves as my new blog button.

Was particularly impressed with the button as I literally started with nothing.

...and all of the sudden everything fell into place. Decided on my colour scheme, kept my font the same as the banner and then started playing with shapes. I did this in the Canva program which made this fairly easy.
Getting to know the new camera (Panasonic Lumix)

This shows some of the elements of a new pattern that I am working on. Really like those colours together which gave me the idea of using these elements for my banner.

Apart from this I finally picked up the quilt for the Natalia Bonner 'A Year of the Stars' quiltalong. Have been dreading this a bit as all my blocks are slightly different. I think none of them is exactly 12 1/2in. However, this is going to start today and I definitely want to participate. Worked on the sashings today and even managed to put on some borders. Was amazed as it went without a hitch. Points got cut off and I dare say it may not be entirely straight, but it looks great! 
Chose a dusty pink colour for the sashing as I could not see very well on my white sashing last time when I participated in the 9 Patchalong. Still got a fair bit of work to do as I will have to baste this and then do all the ditch quilting before I can go into the blocks for some ruler work. Should be caught up by the end of the month. Looking forward to this. This quiltalong goes for the entire year, so plenty of time if you are thinking of joining in.

Also started something new once again. Don't know about you but I get fairly grumpy if I do not have something to freemotion quilt on. There is only so much doodling I can I rummaged around and found the leftover fabric from my pastel baby quilt. There was enough to do another one, so I cut all of the fabric into a stack of charm squares and spent some time arranging them on the floor.
It's so pastel that it is hard to see...planning to just stitch this together and maybe put some applique shapes on top...we'll see. In any case it will be great for a nice easygoing allover design.

Good start to the New Year.

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