Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Practice, practice

My ten minutes a day practice turned into more than an hour or two and now I think my eyes feel like the owls in this fabric. I must remember to blink occasionally.
Opal owl by Tina Givens because you might need to know.
And it came wrapped up in this lovely tissue paper, like a present. That would be a present from me to me along with some background fabric. I tell you that they have some good priced Kaffes at that shop.
Onto the free motion quilting practice. I even tried some hyper quilting on this one. I like it.
I've been trying out some background fillers.
Really, I wanted to be able to do some casual quilting, you know where you can take a scrap quilt and do something informal? Nothing that would end up like a cardboard quilt.
I got a bit keen on the feather again, they're just so addictive. A light variagted thread made this one a bit fun but the quilting is a bit dense for my liking  but this would be nice on other projects and you can change the scale. The blue washout pen on the spine is all the marking required.
And the back looks cool too. I do believe I'm having a good time and loosening up, why I might even say I've graduated from beginners and into the intermediate stage, a good place to be. Oh happy days at the machine and I love you Patsy Thompson DVD's.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

By machine and hand.

When we were learning to write at school, we would practice every day and I'm convinced if I do the same with machine quilting, I'll improve. I'm still learning how the machine should sound in relation to how fast I push the quilt sandwich through. I'm still having some little thread nests on the back at the stop/start points and sometimes, I swear the needle has a mind of it's own.

I was considering having a wine as a relaxant but carried on without it. I hadn't done any practice for about a week and a half and It showed. I had got rustier. There's the first lesson I learnt today.
I don't need to be a super duper machine quilter but I do want to be able to know what I'm doing and I'll get there because my middle name is tenacious.
The applique has been nibbled at, not as fast as the first border but it's going good.
This quilt  isn't mine but I don't think the owner will mind a little peek, I hope not anyway. It needs finishing off with some perle quilting. The quilt begged me to bring it home, take pity on it and finish it off. I really love working on this one and I'm privillaged to be entrusted with it.
Today I was also trying to get some bread made with big holes and crunchy crust, like a ciabatta. The holes taste the best  you know. This was a little left over dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, just enough for two rolls for our lunch. The easiest bread in the world to make. If you're inclined to have a go, I found a link for you to the basic recipe here.
If you do a Google search, you'll even find videos.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A little bit of this and a little bit of that.

It seems like I don't have much going on at the moment. I did my best impression of a kitchen goddess and tried out these cheesy feet. I didn't really like them , they were virtually a cheesy pastry but appealed to my sense of humour. I think I'll send the fun cutter to my grandkids and they can make sweet feet instead. That or look for another cracker recipe.
I'm also still making  bread regularly and not only is it cheaper, it's not full of preservatives and other unknown numbers of ingredients. Who remembers all those numbers anyway and whether they're bad for us or not.This one happens to be a sourdough.
We've been making the most of some nice weather in the weekends and doing the odd day drive. It's so nice to be out in the countryside.
One shop I visited had some nice linen and a few fat quarters which I thought would be perfect for making pouches.
I was also looking for this book which I've been eyeing up for a while. When Nat posted her tea cosy, that was it, I decided I did need the book and I found it, now I just need to search out some wool.
The other sort of place I have a good time hanging out at is stationery and office supply shops. That sounds a bit nerdy but there was a reason for going.
This is what I was after, a trestle table to do my hand basting and any big fusible ironing job. The good thing is that it folds up for storage.
My little distraction this week on the sewing front has been this block, It was just a quick fix but I loved it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Glorious Applique

You know about the Glorious Applique blog by now don't you? I hang out there a lot because there are some darn good appliquers over there, all stitching away on Kim McLean's patterns. If you're not following along by now, you're missing out. There are a few tackling the new Roseville Album, Vases, Birds and Other Things. I bet you thought I'd have succumbed by now. Kim McLean has even started blogging there and I think we're in for a treat when we see some of her other quilts.
I was happily cutting away pieces for my Stars and Sprigs one evening. When I'd finished doing that and while I had scissors in my hand, I thought I might as well cut up the pattern sheets that just happened to be hanging out in the same room. Then I thought, I might as well cut some freezer paper pieces for a block, just while I had scissors in my hand you understand. You can see where I'm heading, right?
Next day, I thought to myself, well I might just cut up a few pieces of fabric and see what they look like on my background. Maybe I could even prep blocks and bag them for later stitching pleasure. Just think how organised I'll be after Stars and Sprigs. At this stage, I'm not thinking about UFO's. It's a slippery slide but I'm still convincing myself that I haven't started it. I'm just prepping don't ya know.
I did post about my progress on the Stars and Sprigs over at Glorious Applique and I'm beavering away on border number two, even if those blinkers have slipped a little.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hand quilting tools

I've got two  new hand quilting tools to share with you. The first one is a  quilting hoop for hand quilters. It was kindly sent to me from Harry of Barnett's Laptop Hoops to try out. I use a 14 inch hoop, my arms are quite short really, like the rest of me so this is my ideal size.

At first it took a bit of getting used to but I persevered as it's a little different from using a normal hoop.
This is the bottom part and as you can see, it has a base that you put under your legs to hold it stable. The black knob is to change the angle of the hoop and the metal hardware is actually a magnetic lazy susan. That's the ingenious part of the whole setup. You can very easily rotate the hoop as you work. It rotates 360 degrees and tilts to many angles.
This is the  hoop that magnetically attaches itself to the lazy susan and it just gets placed on and pulled off really easily. The part that I love is having two options for hand quilting, one with the stand and this hoop part that can sit on your lap that you turn manually.
I actually prefer to sit on my leather couch with my feet up on the foot stool because having short legs is such a pain you know. I am a little worried about the base under my legs on the leather but that could be fixed by putting something on the couch first.
I love, love this black knob, so much better than a metal wing nut.
What you didn't know is that I have a lot of pain and fatigue in my left shoulder area and supporting my basic hoop when it has a large quilt in it restricts how much quilting I can do in a sitting. With Harry's hoop, I don't have the same problem as the hoop is supported in my lap.
The other advantage is that when I need to do the odd stab stitch, both hands are free to do that easily.
The only disadvantage is that the base is heavy with the metal hardware which is to be expected and once you have set it up, it's not a problem. I'm still learning about getting the large quilt positioned but I think that's practice and will come with a bit more time.

There are several quilt hoop designs available and I think perhaps the magnetic tilt and frame might have suited me better, just because of the way I work in a hoop. In any case, these are made with a lot of passion, attention to detail and what quilters want.  There are also videos on the website  to see how they work, go check them out.
Have you tried these new clover needles? The price had put me off but I finally buckled and bought a pack. There's only six needles and they cost more than double for my usual pack.
I tried the fisrt one and liked it a lot, I thought they were very sharp at the tip and indeed seemed quite strong. The needle glided through the layers.

I was happily quilting away on my second length of thread when the eye snapped off when I pushed the needle through with the thimble. Could have been a fluke.
Threaded up another needle, didn't even get the thread used up when the same thing happened. Not a fluke, I think I'll keep these ones for hand piecing, the needle is not holding up to the force I'm using.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The joy of quilting

I picked up this old thing to put some stitches in when I didn't have any applique ready to stitch and I'd forgotton how much I enjoy hand quilting on it. I think I might have got a bit bogged down thinking about how much left there was to do and how long it would take. Forget all that, I'm over it and not feeling the pressure any more. I gave myself a good talking to. It worked.

The hardest part is stitching the inside of the applique because none of the background  is cut away and I'm quilting with a cotton batting.
Do you worry about how your stitches look?
Do you compare yourself to other quilters?
Do you get the ruler out and measure how many stitches to the inch you do?

I don't because I lost my quilters competitive streak a while ago, I don't enter shows and I quilt how I quilt and that's good enough for me. I'm happy with what I do. That's not to say that I don't try to make improvements from time to time. I do try to take five minutes every so often to do some pretty stitching, just so I don't deteriorate.

I'm doing my version of echo quilting around the applique, it's quite meditative and exactness doesn't seem to distract from this since it'll be really crinkly after washing.
Oh and I'm being true to my word and getting in some machine quilting practice too. I love this one a lot and found it easy enough. I do believe I might be getting somewhere. I'm amazed at how much the practice is helping.
I wanted to take some photos of some quilting tools I've been trying out but it's been a grey wet day so it'll have to wait until next time.
In the meantime, you could go visit the Minnick and Simpson blog to check out a whole heap of hand quilting information with a series of really great blog posts.

Have you visited  Glorious Applique lately? There are some beautiful blocks being shown in different colour schemes. I've just stuck my latest progress report on there too.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


My daughter Amelia and grandson Noah have gone back home after a whirlwind ten day visit and of course while they were here, we did visit a quilt shop where Amelia picked up these two wooden needle holders which she tarted up. One for me and one for her. Of course mine is the red one.
One day was spent in a furious sewathon while she had the chance. I got baby duties and Amelia raided the stash. She had bought Kellie's Worry Dolls pattern and wanted to make three cushions as gifts for the girls up coming birthdays.
For someone who hadn't done any machine applique or quilting before the workshop, she nailed these and now has the confidence and know how to tackle more of the Don't look Now patterns. I think these look fantabulous.
As for Noah, he was really hard to get photos of, the little guy doesn't stay still. I have a few nice ones though. Here he is modelling the knitted wool jacket I started ten years ago. (yeah you read that right) I hang my head in shame but Amelia sewed it up and I put the hood and buttons on and it can be used by at least one grandchild.
A perfect fit, lol. I actually knitted the same pattern up twice before for when my two were little but it didn't take me that long. Funny that the pattern is still around after thirty years.
I love this one with his glasses on to help correct the squint, pretty hard to keep on when there is no nose bridge. He's a babylicious sweetie but then I'm biased.

Corrie from Retro Mummy has just posted part two of the workshop we took last weekend, I see another photo of Noah over there.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Weekend workshop

I've not had time to get around blogland, I've been busy with visitors and I've been to a weekend workshop. Do you recognise this person? It's Kellie from Don't Look Now. Lucky me and double lucky me because I did the workshop with my daughter who came all the way from New Zealand to join in the fun.
Retro Mummy, Corrie did a fantastic job of organising the weekend and it all went like clockwork, have a look at her blog to see more pictures and news of the weekend.
This is Corrie's cushion which Kellie was demonstrating on and the level to which we were all trying to mimic. Of course it's all about the practice and experience, there was no getting around that.

This is my humble wee cushion, I didn't quite have enough puff to get the quilting finished.
That's Corrie on the left and Kellie on the right, two gorgeous ladies.
Here's a group photo of the rest of us. That's my DD, Amelia on the bottom left and I'm on the bottom row, 2nd from the right. This is the very first workshop that Amelia has ever done and her excitement was contagious.
We had a practice at some different quilting designs that Kellie demonstrated and drew up for us. I've promised myself to spend at least ten minutes a day practicing. You can hold me to that.
Amelia bought her youngest with her, I'm allowed to show a picture of 11 month old Noah. Note the food all over the floor.
He'such a dear wee boy, so easy going. If his eyes look funny, it's because he's got a squint that needs correcting, He even has the cutest glasses to wear. His Dad was left at home to look after the three girls.
Amelia and Noah are going home on Friday so we have a lot to fit in before then. I'll be back when things get back to normal because as you know, there's no normal when there's a baby around.