Sunday 25 April 2021

Fearless Quilting

After all that practicing of the woodgrain design it was time for me to go on my actual project.
First though I basted my table runner. I did this in a loose grid following the seam lines where I could in order to keep it straight. I thought that this might help me to keep my design straight.
This time I used red thread for the basting so I could actually see the stitch line well enough not to get confused with my stitching. 

Thread choice! I was going to quilt this with a grey-ish thread, however during my trials did not really like this over my leaves that much. Also, the grey was much lighter than the background so every little imperfection was going to be a feature. Tried all sorts of different thread ideas...from different colours down to Invisafil and finally ended up with monofilament thread. This was not the original idea but I thought  that I did not really wanted the quilting to take over the project, rather the quilting was to go into the background and just give me the texture. The star of the quilt was supposed to be the falling leaves.

So, I made a start with Monofilament thread. I chose Superior Monopoly thread for this rather than the Aurifil Monofilament thread. Maybe I imagined it but I thought that the Monopoly thread just looked that little bit more matte than the Aurifil thread. So, I made a start...

You know that stupid feeling when you are starting something not that familiar...this fear of totally stuffing it up and for a moment then you are hesitant to start. Well, I still get that after all those years...however, I did make a start and it started to look quite decent. 
Mind you, came across another issue...skipped stitches! Not a lot, but one or two per row...enough to be annoying. Changed my needle to a Microtex Sharp 80/12 needle and also reduced my stitch length and that fixed the issue, except for one or two seams which seemed particularly bulky where the thread just did not grab. Noticed that when I went slower and more deliberate I could largely avoid this. For Bernina Q20 users:
Stitch length: 12 in BSR1
Tension: 1.25
Bobbin Thread: Aurifil 50/2

So, I kept going and going, the design going pretty much out of shape as soon as I started. You can see above that I did my first wavy line with a wave ruler to get off to a good start. I did echo this once and then started on the knots, then echoed again and slowly but surely got a bit out of shape. Must say that I did not mind my lines a bit flatlining here and there...with a bit of concentration and looking (and thinking) ahead this fixed itself up after a few rows.

Almost can see that I lost a bit of straightness going towards the edge of the quilt and also managed to put some bigger, ugly spaces in...was not really too worried about it as you cannot really see the stitching...was actually glad that I chose the monofilament after all...I think it would have looked totally overwhelming in a slightly different grey colour. Like this you only notice lots of texture which is what I wanted for this quilt.

And here is the finish

Very organic looking...happy with the result. If I was to do this again, I think I might choose a different background, the contrast is quite strong on this piece. If I had a rusty brown for example, I could have matched the thread to that colour and it would have still looked ok over the leaves...or maybe even a somewhat faded green background. 

Well, this was good fun and I might do another one of these with a different background. But for now, I'll do the binding and then get going on writing up the pattern. 


Monday 19 April 2021

Practice, Practice and more Practice

The Woodgrain design

So I practiced this design on the weekend. As I had to also do some testing re a thread issue, I went through 2.5 bobbins for the afternoon... 

I deliberately had a largish area to fill wanting to test how hard it would be to keep relatively straight. As I found out, the straightness was not so much an issue. What featured more was the issue of the lines flattening out somewhat...something Angela Walters had talked about in her recent Flora and Foliage Quiltalong. Yep, that was definitely happening to me as well and it was very hard to get back to a gently curving line. Angela Walters then shows leaving a gap and starting again a bit further down, coming back to the unfilled area and filling it in after. That was difficult as the spacing then got very wonky but probably better than trying to put your knot against flattening lines. Still undecided about that.

Here are some of my trials
I used a largish piece of calico...not too bad but as I went along it was getting quite wonky

The second piece was similar... now on the next bobbin and getting very tired.
Given that I was trialing some issue with my thread, I then went on just a normal cotton piece

 Not too bad... I am thinking that putting this over my table runner should somehow work. While I had some flattening of the lines and some ugly spaces in between, I did manage to muddle my way through it. It seems that I tend to loose the design a bit after the first few lines and then try to get back to getting my lines a bit more curvy to again fit in the knots. By that time I have forgotten my structure (i.e. a knot every second curve, for example) and just try to fit them in where ever they fit. Maybe need to do a bit more work on that.

I did this for a few hours and must say I was absolutely exhausted after that. Happy to say though, I resolved my thread issue which actually was not a thread issue but an issue with the speed of the bobbin winding. For some reason I had my bobbin winder down at about 50% which caused some tension issues half way through the bobbin. I was thinking about this for a while as I was convinced it was not the machine playing up but rather something that I was doing. So finally I recognised the speed issue and wound my bobbin at a higher speed and just like that the tension issue disappeared altogether. None of the bobbins played up during this afternoon and thinking this through it made perfect sense. Always amazes me what tiny detail can throw your freemotion-quilting out of kilt.

I now have about five rather largish practice samples with that lovely texture all over it...ideal for the cat to lie on ( we have that ongoing issue in the sewing room with the cat consistently going for the quilts in progress and not taking 'no' for an answer. Maybe I can entice her with this.


Friday 16 April 2021

Maple Leaf Table Runner

Did some more work on my Maple leaves...this is going to be a table runner.

I did a Maple Leaf quilt some years was published in the Australian Patchwork & Quilting magazine, Vol 21, No3 and was titled Autumn Leaves.
I don't have this quilt anymore. It went with me all the way to Germany in 2013 as a gift to my sister-in-law. Had to dig around to find the magazine to have a bit of a look how I tackled this quilt because this is now quite a while back. This was really interesting because I remember the effect I wanted to achieve when putting this together...thinking about it now, I realised that I could have achieved quite a different look (and closer to what I actually wanted to achieve) if I had changed the setting of the blocks a bit by using a custom setting rather than the straight horizontal placement of the blocks in rows. No idea why I did not do that. Never mind, still a very nice quilt.

Have completed all my favourite colouring below
Also played some more with the camera and did a sort of stylised take on the blocks
Will need that for my Etsy shop as the pattern for the table runner will be added hopefully by the beginning of next month. 

Interesting also how the original ideas get changed in the quilting process. I was pretty sure that I wanted to outline the blocks, then do some gridwork in the empty spaces, but no...when I put it together it screamed woodgrain pattern! I will have to do some practice for that as I am not sure whether I can pull this off over the entire area in a consistent and well spaced manner. Will need to think about some sort of structure to guide my quilting...not entirely sure how I am going to tackle that. Last time I did a woodgrain pattern, I had a woodgrain patterned backing which I used to quilt from the back to the front, just following the lines. That, of course, was super easy and came out great.

A bit of work to do!


Monday 12 April 2021

Quilt Photography

I have had to spent some time re-visiting my new Camera manual. I have a smallish Panasonic Lumix DC-TZ90. While you can just point and shoot, I have become increasingly confused about all the features that this camera has to offer. In addition, I have little knowledge about photography and what is involved. Reading about it is like learning a new language which is made complicated (being a migrant) as I do not have the English words for some of what they are talking about. I very rarely use the dictionary and rely on picking up the meaning of words by association.  This is a process which takes a bit of time and patience. Of late I have been watching some FB videos by a photographer who offers a video master class (Mark Hemmings - Take your Digital Camera Off Auto). Really like this guy as he speaks in plain English that I can understand. Also like it that he is posting these little videos for free on FB which has been really interesting to watch. Very generous indeed. At some point I might consider doing that master class as I am sure that you learn a lot about your camera judging from the tips and hints I already picked up from those free videos.
It also helps that my husband is a keen photographer, so I can ask lots of questions...however if you don't understand the subject matter it is very hard to work out what to ask. Embarrasingly, I only just worked out that you can adjust the viewfinder to make it more clear. When looking through the viewfinder of this little camera, I thought...gee, my eyes are getting bad...can't see properly, hence I used the screen. Then I discovered the diopter adjustment dial and I said to my husband...why did you not tell me about this?... which of course was funny as he assumed I knew this very basic thing.

Anyway, I took some pictures this weekend and want to see how they look on the blog as I adjusted some settings to pull them over as well. Hopefully this is not too boring.

My camera does nice little 'point and shoot' photos
This is outside, so lots of light...(easy to do on automatic setting). Quilt photography is different though. Often done inside with lower light, tilting the screen to get shots from above...different altogether and in my case, the room I work in is slighter darker than anywhere else in the house. 
So, now I have been bitten with the photography bug, I wanted to put my new knowledge to the test, wanting to achieve a blurred background
Fail...another discussion with my husband about the f-stop again and what this does to photos, so tried again
Nice, nailed it!

Then went inside in my sewing room and tried to shoot photos using the Manual mode and how I understood that to work

Not too bad but difficult to photograph. I am photographing this on the extension table of the Q20 which is sitting beside the window, so I am getting the light sideways.
Another blurry background
Could be sharper, but in principle not too bad..lost some quality in putting this on the blog.

More quilting shots
This is pretty much what the room looks like in the afternoon without the light switched on. Taking this picture in Manual and adjusting for the lack of light gives me a much more realistic shot. Texture is really nice to see, but the colours become very stark. As you can see I have pressed ahead with my 'Year of Stars' quilt.

With the light switched on
Got my shadow in the way now and the texture is much harder to see.

...and a shot of my sewing table in the corner where I used a filter to overcome the yellowish light (now I am just playing with the many different options of the camera).
All done in Manual...pretty impressed with myself. Also spent more time reading the Manual with the camera in my hand to work out some of the functions. Drives me crazy when I cannot work out what all those little symbols mean on the touch screen. Assigned some action to the empty function button (preview...did not even know I had this!) and worked out what some of the others mean and how I can operate this little thing quicker by using the touch screen. There is just so much in this camera and I will have to go over this a number of times to retain the information, I think.  Actually quite surprising and almost a bit too much, but we will press on with the learning.

But back to quilting now...just discovered from one of the photos that I sewed one of the leaves together wrongly.


Wednesday 7 April 2021

New Project

I started my next quilt...the star being the humble Maple Leaf. Always loved this block.

I am using my favourite fabric - The Dryad range of leafy fabric from Shannon Brinkley. I have lots of leftovers from when I did my fox quilt and the Maple Leaf takes so little's great.

My piecing is as always a bit out of practice. Just don't piece enough to be really good at it. However, a while back I noticed an issue with one of my rulers and today set out to really explore this. I have got a stack of rulers, some of them very old (see selection below). I do try to stick to one ruler for one project as I have heard that there can be slight differences. However, to square up 2-1/2in HST for example I often will use the top square rulers which are both the same brand. In one of the more recent projects (I think it was the Star quilt) where I had painstakingly made sure my pieces were cut accurately I found that after squaring off I often was short by almost 1/8in (I had a good comparison on that project as some of my pieces were cut with the Accuquilt cutter which is dead on correct). That was when I started to get a bit suspicious of my squaring up rulers.
The offending ruler is a 6-1/2in square which I have been using for years. Today I compared this ruler to some of the other rulers in my collection and noticed that it appears a little bit 'out' in its measurement.

Here is my very scientific exploration, i.e. stacked on top of a similar ruler
Slightly out, so I tried to see whether it corresponded with my measuring tape

Almost, but not quite...
Squaring those 2-1/2in HST today for the Maple leaf definitely showed the difference. When I used my old square ruler my unit was inaccurate compared to the 2-1/2in squares that I had cut from a strip with the long ruler.

Now I am actually a bit confused as to what ruler to use as I always will need to use the longer ruler to cut strips and then crosscut pieces. However if my squaring up ruler then is slightly different, it is little wonder that my piecing comes out so inaccurate at times.

Will definitely need to pay more attention to this in the future and maybe invest in a more accurate squaring up ruler.


Saturday 3 April 2021

A Year of Stars with Natalia Bonner

Have absolutely nothing to quilt at the moment so finished the Mosaic Star for the month of April...I have got Natalia's Companion Workbook which details one of the options for quilting out the stars. For further options you will have to join Natalia on Patreon which I did not do, but obviously there are many different ways of stitching this out.

Anyway, here is my Mosaic Star for April

Enjoyed this one but made a few mistakes, i.e. not stitching in the ditch around some shapes which you can see are puffing up a bit, but otherwise was relatively painless to stitch out...almost managed to stitch this out in one hit.

I then did the centre of next month's star
Love this! Really enjoy this motif with the added echo around it. Will keep going a bit and then continue on filling in the sashings.

Need to find something else to quilt in the meantime...maybe its time for another wholecloth! 


Thursday 1 April 2021

New Pattern - Wooden Blocks Quilt

Finally managed to complete my little colourful quilt for the Etsy shop. Took way longer than expected.

And wow, yes, it is very me!

Might have overdone the colours a bit 😂 but I like it and have spent the last week writing up the pattern. It looks super simple however has some partial seams in there which took a moment to put into graphics. Apart from that it is just putting shapes together, so very simple to construct. What I like about this one is that it is really quite versatile, i.e. if you don't feel like half square triangles, you can just leave them out and put squares instead which makes it even quicker. A good quilt if you need to gift something in a hurry. I put the quilt top together in a weekend. 

This is the same quilt with just squares...obviously a bit more restrained in terms of colour but great way to use up some of your favourite scraps.
I used the same edge to edge design on the colourful quilt...really enjoy doing that one. Easy to do and gives such a nice texture.
The quilt measures 36.5in x 45.5in...nice size for a playmat or comforter.
So, onto the next pattern for me. While I was doing this, I already worked on another two pattern. I am on fire this year!

Given that this is my only finish for the month it is also my favourite for a little while. Linking up to the monthly 'Favourite Finish' held by Meadow Mist.


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