Wednesday 31 January 2024

Affinity Designer 2

Missing out on a week of the To Do Tuesday Linky as I have not done that much. Finished putting together my new pattern but that can wait to next week.

Instead I wanted to talk a bit about my new drawing program...Affinity Designer 2. If you are following my posts you may remember that I bought the App for my Ipad some time back and was somewhat in two minds whether to purchase the program for the desktop as well. I have got a very old drawing program on the computer from the same maker, called Serif Draw Plus. While it did the job for my pattern writing the new App on the Ipad did open a lot more possibilities however the transfer of my drawings from the Ipad onto the computer was somewhat tedious and the program appealed to me as it is able to be purchased with a one-off payment rather than a subscription service.

So I have been playing a bit on the computer with the new program in readiness for writing up my next pattern. I am generally an intuitive learner however I did sit down and watched a number of videos on some of the tools like the pen and the pencil as I was having difficulties controlling that and I wanted to really test this out in terms of drawing directly on the computer. I am thinking of re-drawing my Mini Wholecloth design into the program as I originally had drawn this in the Procreate App on the Ipad.

Started with the Mini Wholecloth and the Heart shape
This took me ages in alignment however got there in the end. Started playing with colours and the various effects that you can apply to your drawings, in this case the beveling effect. The drawing itself will have to be altered as I have not yet worked out all the measurements for sure.

I then watched several videos on using the Pen rather than the Pencil. On the Ipad I draw with the Pencil using the stylus which you can stabilise to give nicely flowing curves but I really wanted to be able to get a grip on how the Pen works once and for all as this allows me to clean up the nodes of the curves as I go along.

I traced this from the original design and tried all the different Pen modes on this to work out which one is the best to use. Came out not too bad, just need to get a grip on some alignment points and how they snap to the grid that normally sits underneath. If you were to blow this up you would see that the feather spray and heart point do not exactly meet at the same point. But this was just a trial and I will re-do this to get that exactly right.

To compare, I then drew with the pencil tool on the computer like I normally would on the Ipad (minus the stylus).

This is traced off a fretwork design, i.e. I traced one quarter, rotated it to 45 degrees and then mirrored and flipped it over. I did a similar design some years ago although I think this one has additional knobs on it. The tracing was done rather roughly as I just wanted to see how that would work with the mouse button. When using the pencil you can switch on the stabiliser (like on the Ipad) which makes it very easy to follow a line. Felt a bit more clumsy as I am not used to doing it with the mouse however absolutely do-able. Was quite impressed with this as this did not take long at all.

Have heaps more work to do in terms of learning but so far I have been quite impressed. Drawing my piecing diagrams for the patterns I do will be so much easier with this new program on the desktop. In terms of the Ipad App...will probably switch between the two depending on the size and purpose of the wholecloth design that I am doing. I did draw my big wholecloth on the Ipad coming out at problem. However when I did the Mini Wholecloth trial above I found it very useful to sit in front of the big computer screen. Found that easier in terms of viewing where I was at. 

Interesting few days...


Thursday 25 January 2024

To Do Tuesday #58

The weeks are going very fast again. Have been sort of productive however it seems things are not working out the way I want them to.
My list from last week included:

- start the new pattern with the block from above✅
- start the marking of the wholecloth and maybe
- do a little bit more knitting 
- baste another charity quilt 

It was not for lack of trying!
I started the marking of my wholecloth quilt
All was well until I noticed some parts not lining up. I did trace this in quarters and thought that this would work, but I am dealing with movable fabric, so of course that did not work out that well. Rinsed this out with a lot of cursing and taped my two quarters together to make that easier and also remembered that I could just have drawn my frame in from the measurements. Not entirely sure why I did not do this.
The next day I ironed the fabric again and just when I went to put my cross hair lines in I discovered the
of part of the center motif. How did this happen? I used a brandnew marking pen, I did not iron my blue lines in...I was flabberghasted and it threw me right back to last year when I finished a wholecloth table runner and had brown lines in some places when I rinsed it out. 
First I tried to get the brown lines out...followed all sorts of suggestions I got in a FB group of what one could use, but I think deep down I knew it would not come out as brown lines only appear when it is heat set. Suspected the harsh Australian sun, so the next day did all sorts of tests, hanging fabric out in direct sun, ironed fabric to heat set some lines and no, all my tests came out clear. The fabric I used for my wholecloth was spoiled. I did wash it a couple of more times and I got it faint enough to use for maybe another table runner project.
All the while I was cracking my brain as to what could cause this. My latest suspicion is my light box. I have got a very fancy LED lightbox that I have had for years. Never really had a problem with this. I did notice that the edges of the light box were quite warm when I was doing the tracing of my wholecloth (which took several hours) and wondered whether this could cause some of the marks to be heat set into the fabric. That would explain why it is only in very random places, i.e. maybe were I rested my arm for tracing or where the motif for example was resting for quite a long while on the edge while I was tracing the feathers around the edges (my wholecloth fabric extends the size of the light box so I have to shift the fabric over to do the various sections). Never really paid attention to this and it certainly has not been a problem in previous years but I cannot remember whether the heat has been an issue previously as it has been a while since I have done a bigger wholecloth. Interestingly enough, I also had this issue on the table runner, also close to the center section which I would have moved over to trace a feather border around the edges. The tracing area of the lightbox itself does not get hot, it is just around the edges, I think.
Anyway, I have bought new fabric and will try again. In order to test this out we will put some blocks of wood around the light box and put some glass on this, using the light box as the light source that way. This will ensure that the fabric does not touch the lightbox edges and if that does not work...I don't know.
Also discovered that my center motif is 3-1/2in and 4-1/2in in diameter. What was I thinking? I have not got half circles rulers I can use to stitch that out and would have to do this freehand. While possible it never comes out as clean as to when you use a ruler. No way was I going to change my design again...instead I went out and bought the echo clips you can get for the Bernina feet. A very expensive and frustrating week!
I did start on my new pattern by making my triangle units using the Freezer Paper Foundation Piecing method. Made about 10 units before I had to replace the foundation. Really like this method as it goes very fast and without much fuss and bonus, you do not use a lot of freezer paper.
And that's all I did. Frustration levels are high, not helped by the weather. It is 41 degrees today and I was going to piece a bit more today but that has not happened. With this sort of weather you can really only sit around without breaking out in sweat, even with the air conditioner running.

Hoping that other quilters had a better week. Linking up to To Do Tuesday #58 over at Quilt Schmilt.


Wednesday 17 January 2024

To Do Tuesday #57

Hi there!

I have had an interesting week. My goals for the week were:
- make a test block of the new pattern (and take some notes this time!)
- put my plan for the next 3 months on paper starting with the wholecloth quilt (which is still waiting to be printed)
- continue on my sock
- pull out the fabric for a new Fox quilt and get ready to tackle that.

I did sit down and did some major planning...too many projects in my head. I lost count after the 13th project. No wonder I was getting so confused! Carefully went month by month and really thought about what I can and cannot achieve. Split some tasks across the months and also build in the charity quilts which do take on average 2 days to complete. Used my Goodnotes App on the Ipad for this and spread out the projects over the year...will be interesting to look back on what I did and did not complete. Hoping that some projects will take less time as there are a few other things which are not even in there, but we shall see. Feel less out of control with what's going on in my head 😂

So, started off with making a test block for a pattern I am looking at doing for my Etsy shop. Posted about it HERE. Well, after I thought that I had it all worked out I went ahead starting to make the blocks.
It is a simple block that really should not have given me a lot of trouble, but after yesterday I thought that I might have to go back to Quilting School. I started off on the premise that I could actually piece this starting with two Square in Square blocks, cutting them into into quarters and using this to construct the unit. That worked and I arrived at a measurement of 6-1/4in for the finished block. Went with that as I had spent hours calculating this through. Also checked this with EQ8 and yes, this seemed to have been correct.
Yesterday I did piece a few blocks using the Freezer Paper Piecing method for those coloured units and started to have problems with squaring off the block. When I checked my measurement I seemed to be ever so slightly off when I measured those squares of the block. Checked my foundation print out...also off by a few thread widths. Now, this got my attention as the EQ8 program is never off! 
Went through the printer settings...did I inadvertently change something on there? But no, all was as it was supposed to be, so I went back to the EQ8 program.
Well, learned a few things! I still got the older EQ manuals in book format, so started searching and ended up in a section which talks about 'How to avoid rounding mistakes in rotary cutting. In essence, EQ8 applies conventional quilters wisdom to its measurements, i.e. it adds 1-1/4in to the finished size of quarter square triangles for cutting, just like you would when working it out yourself. The inaccuracy produced by rounding of to 1/8 or 1/16 however can become significant when the size of the finished patch cannot be easily measured on a common ruler. Had another look at my setting was set to rounding of to the nearest 1/8. When I went deeper though and rounded of to the nearest 1/16 and to 'no rounding' at all it showed me that my square was in fact uneven, meaning that I had a block that did not easily fit into a grid of any kind and the unfinished block was somewhere a bit less than 6-3/4in which explained why I had such difficulty squaring this up. In short, my amazing calculations were wrong somewhere.
I did test this further and made my block 6in...checking this on EQ8 produced a consistent value of the square, rounded to the nearest 1/8, 1/16 and with no rounding at all, coming out at 2-1/8in in the finished block. Checked my foundation print out...yep, all correct and sewed the block.
The block came out perfectly and the problem with squaring up had disappeared. Who would have thought that such a simple block would give me so much trouble. My work space looked like this which shows you what was going on in my chaos!
This has taken so much longer than it should have but it just goes to show how important it is to spent the time on making a test block, for any project really.

Also spent some time printing my revised version of my wholecloth and spending a bit of time with the Affinity Designer program again. Good fun...did a few more lessons as I am still thinking about purchasing the program for the desktop. It is a one-off payment which is more attractive than the Adobe Illustrator subscription service. At the moment I am still working on the Ipad which is great but when it comes to printing I need to export my drawing, then get it onto the desktop as I need to print the thing as a poster, i.e. spread the design over multiple pages to get a 100% copy of my drawing which is somewhere around 35in.
Spent some time sticky taping this together...always painful as you get slight inaccuracies on the home printer but we got there in the end.
Looks crooked, but is actually a perfect square. So now I am ready to mark this onto the fabric and think through some of the elements...its been a while since I looked at this, so some of the things might change. Happy with my measurements though and the revisions I made.

For this week I am planning to:
- start the new pattern with the block from above
- start the marking of the wholecloth and maybe
- do a little bit more knitting
- baste another charity quilt 

That's probably enough...we are in summer down here and the weekend will be uncomfortably hot, so I might just fade out.

Linking up to To Do Tuesday #57 over at Quilt Schmilt


Friday 12 January 2024

Making a Test Block

I spent a few days on looking at new patterns and set out to do a test block for one of them. Certainly looked simple enough if I could figure out the math for this block.

Wow, what an adventure...I have the EQ8 program which of course gives me the precise measurements which (after many attempts of mucking around) were at 6 1/4in:

Now, nobody is going to piece that with those measurements. How did I even get there. When thinking this through I tried to figure out the math for this block but it got very hairy as I tried to work out a simpler way of piecing this starting with a simple square in a square block and cutting that into quarters. My head hurt trying to work out what measurement I had to start with and in the end I had to sit down and piece this multiple times to think this through.
First attempt seam allowance was cut off. Next attempt:
Nice, but completely different measurement to what I thought it should be! Back to the drawing order to piece this, I had to understand the math of the measurements. I was sitting there for ages doing all sorts of calculations with fractions until I worked that out and realised where I had gone wrong. I have a few more samples that I have not included here of my attempts to get that right. It was actually a bit hilarious.

So here it is, the final  attempt
Two Square in Square blocks (who would have thought that they can be so tricky in terms of their measurements). I cut those into quarters and arrived at my block
Not too bad but I thought that this is a very convoluted way of doing this and while piecing this is ok, you are dealing with a lot of bias edges and the likelihood of distortion and erosion of seam allowance is high.

So then I tried the Freezer Paper Piecing method. That was something I was going to try in the New Year when a friend alerted me to the possibility of this last year. Never heard of it...went over to Bryan House Quilts and read through a tutorial on this. It is basically foundation piecing without actually stitching through the paper. And can use your template again and again.

Gave that a go...easy-peasy!

Here is my first finished unit. 
It is a small unit so that went very quickly and without any great hassle apart from me being a bit rusty in foundation piecing (i.e. making sure to cover each piece). Peeled off the paper from the back and made the second unit and then sewed them together and attached the big white triangle.
Can't beat that in terms of accuracy and the stability of the block. While still dealing with some bias edges the distortion was noticeably less. It also means I can make this block bigger, in fact I could make it any size I want without any great hassles. Piecing this from starting with a Square in a Square block really only gives you two measurements that you can work with if you are not into cutting pieces in 1/8 increments, so that was very limiting. 

Learned a lot over the last few days! Not sure whether I am going to pursue this is sitting there looking at me saying 'make me!' but I am not sure whether people are that interested in foundation piecing. Mind you, these are only very small sections to make, so that could work for some people. Will ponder on this for a moment. In the meantime my mind is again going sideways already thinking of the possibilities...I have got several other designs sitting there where the freezer paper method could be a real game changer. Almost thinking to make this year the year of 'challenge'.


Wednesday 10 January 2024

To Do Tuesday #56

My goals for the last week were
- complete the dinosaur charity quilt using the edge-to-edge design from above.
- continue knitting my brown sock
- developing a plan of attack in terms of projects for the coming months. I know that I do want to start my wholecloth but also need to be working on some patterns for my Etsy shop, so that needs to be thought through a bit.

I finished the dinosaur charity quilt and it came out really beautiful. I used an edge-to-edge design called 'Happy Times' by Hermione Agee available through Urban Elementz.

It is the cutest thing. The design is new to me and comes with 2 rows printed out so I wanted to see how that goes on the sitdown longarm.

Starting off...
Going very well but I am astutely aware that I am spending a lot of time on this. Not that I think these charity quilts don't deserve that but when I started quilting for the local charity group I did consider that I need to keep the quilting fuss free and relatively quick unless like in this case I do want to try out something specific. For this quilt also, when I do look at them closely and see the work and commitment that has gone into it, I often feel that they deserve the best. This quilt is a panel and the group just sewed two small borders around it. However, the batting...somebody has sat down and sewed batting strips together at about 3-4in width for the entire batting. Was very impressed by this.
Anyway, to speed up the process, I traced my next row of design and then placed 5 more rows behind and sewed through this with an unthreaded machine, so that I now had 5 stenciled rows ready to go. Normally I trace all my rows however wanted this to go a bit quicker and also try it out again.
Well, it was very hard to see (maybe should have used a bigger needle!) as you can see in the picture below.
Given that the design was really quite easy to stitch out, I managed with the extra light from the machine and completed the quilt quite quickly. However, for the future I probably go back to tracing row by row as this was more difficult to manage.
However look at the bottom
Was impressed with how straight this turned out.

Close up of the design
Great design, definitely will use this again. Came out really cute and suits this panel.

So what else did I manage? I did not continue my knitting however spent a lot of time on the computer looking at new patterns and while I was at it, cleaned up my EQ8 program a bit. Have several possibilities of new patterns and have been spending the last few days on trying to work out one particular pattern in terms of math to make it more user friendly. Will have to do a test block to see whether my calculations are correct, will probably start on that pattern. Apart from this I did spent a lot of time in my head trying to work out a plan for the next 3 months or so, but have not written that down as yet, as I am constantly side tracked with new ideas. Definitely need to develop that plan to stay on track.

For the next week I am planning to
- make a test block of the new pattern (and take some notes this time!)
- put my plan for the next 3 months on paper starting with the wholecloth quilt (which is still waiting to be printed)
- continue on my sock
- pull out the fabric for a new Fox quilt and get ready to tackle that.

Linking up to To Do Tuesday #56 over at Quilt Schmilt


Tuesday 2 January 2024

To Do Tuesday #55 - Re-Emerging!

Wishing everybody a Happy New Year!

The last few weeks have been incredibly busy and I really felt that Christmas had become just that little bit more frantic and labour intensive than in previous years. But we made it...lots of good food, good company and generally a very nice time. Spent today putting all the Christmas decorations away...thought about sorting them out a bit for about a second, but nah...just stuffed them back in their boxes. That task can wait to next Christmas 😏

I did manage to finish one more charity quilt off just before Christmas. It was a scrappy little thing with a very thin batting...I think it was a cotton/poly mix...perfect for doing a quick clamshell once over. Never fails.

In the last few days I had a look at what else I picked up from the charity group (the Orange Tree Quilters) and came across this
That is really cute and I basted this today, ready to be quilted. I will do another edge-to-edge design over it to try out a new design that I bought from Urban Elementz a couple of weeks ago. It is titled 'Happy Times', measuring 5-1/4in wide by Hermione Agee.
I bought this especially for little baby quilts. It is a nice and open design which should be easy to stitch out and to remove the paper. I enlarged this ever so slightly to 5-1/2in and have printed out multiple copies, ready to be sticky-taped together.

Apart from this I also started a new sock!
This will be for my daughter. When I first started to get into the sock knitting, I bought a few balls of wool and this now has to be used up before I start anything new.

But wait...I got some new wool for Christmas...also for socks.
This is a skein of wool that we had seen on one of our many outings to the wool shop. Just gorgeous! So that will be the next pair of socks for me for winter.

For this week I am planning to 
- complete the dinosaur charity quilt using the edge-to-edge design from above.
- continue knitting my brown sock
- developing a plan of attack in terms of projects for the coming months. I know that I do want to start my wholecloth but also need to be working on some patterns for my Etsy shop, so that needs to be thought through a bit.

I am linking up to To Do Tuesday #55 over at Quilt Schmilt.

Also, just to let people know. I am having some problems not with leaving comments on other blogs but with the comment notification that people would get once I left a comment. On some blogs it works but on many I am now getting the emails rejected. Had a look at that with my husband over Christmas and worked out that this has to do with the authentication of emails, however we have been unable to fix this from our end. It is really quite weird as I am able to respond to emails from other blog users as I did test that out with one kind reader the other day. Also noticed that this happens on the desk top but did not happen the other day from the Ipad, so will try to leave my comments using the Ipad and see whether this works consistently. Interested to hear whether other people have encountered this problem. 


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