Monday, 30 January 2012

But wait, there's more...

Just very quickly, managed to do one more lot of DD9 - Ireckon I will need 8 lots of 4 blocks and have 2 noe, shouldn't take too long :)

Dino quilt binding is making progress except I have sore fingers from these tiny needles.

But my major schievement today was a second teddybear - meet Timmy! Once I had realised that I can machine stitch most seams, itonly took about 2h to piece. I might change the pattern for the next one, with the other fur being shorter I am not sure that I can make it look good - Timmy's long fur was rather forgiving!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

And we're back...

Well, that was the quickest trip in a while, two of our DS argued and whined and whined and argued, so about 5km from home DH turned around and went back home. It's been very quiet since we've come home as all three have been sent to their rooms - good job DH, I might have been talked into going anyway and they would have learnt nothing from that.

Before I get to the Dino Quilt, let me quickly show you my finish from this morning. I have been searching for cheap T-Shirts lately because I can expect to wreck them in class with the screen printing - with little success (though the place where everyone gets a bargain has some in the current mailer now for $5 - can't go wrong with that, so I'll have to call in there). Lovely Suz, full of creativity and awesome ideas, suggested I should just make an apron instead, something with a bit of a twist that says 'me'. There are millions of patterns out in the www now, but on this site I came across one I liked, and here is my result:

It is quite hard to photograph yourself with your cellphone!

The 'me' bit at the top, and on the right you can see the D-rings

My pocket, using another recycled zip from an old first aid kit (I have only one more zip now!). Another smart idea from Suz who knows that I always carry heaps too much stuff around with me. It has a smaller compartment on the right, for pens etc., and the zip makes sure the things don't all come tumbling out when I take it off but can stay there nicely until the next day :-)
Things I learnt from the Dinosaurs
This sounds like it should be a poem, but I am not that way inclined! I used to enjoy watching 'Rove' on TV, at the end of the show they always had a section where every guest said something they had learnt that evening (usually very funny!), that's more the line I should be going with I suppose!
Firstly, the Dinosaur Quilt is almost completed, only half the binding to hand-stitch down and 2/3 of the gazillion of thread ends to bury inside (hear, hear!) the quilt.

Things I learnt (the hard way...):
  • When you buy cheap wool batting, it can be irregular in thickness
  • When you use a double layer of wool batting to compensate for the irregularity, your quilt will get a) heavier, b) harder to quilt and c) your trapunto will be no different to non-trapunto bits.
  • When you read on the web that for trapunto applique you should do an inside-out kind-of method with stabiliser, they do have a reason for it as otherwise your white (!) batting shows on the edges of your black (!) satin-stitch.
  • For some reason the binding of this particular quilt would not machine stitch down properly. 2h later, most of it spent with the seam ripper in hand, I decided to hand stitch it down after all...
  • Cotton thread is quite expensive (I have used almost only cotton for this quilt and I like it :-))
Things I learnt and enjoyed:
  • Two layers of wool batting nicely fluff up your quilt and should make it very warm
  • Two layers of wool batting help make designs come out trapunto even when you have no additional layer of batting under it.
  • Leah Day's advice on free motion quilting has shown me that my meandering is not bad, and in this quilt I have been able to stick with a slightly larger (than usual for me) distance between my stitching.
  • Even without major pre-planning, I can choose quilting patterns / styles and combine different ones, and the result is something I enjoy looking at.
  • When attaching binding by hand, Size 10 quilting needle make the process a lot quicker than the ordinary needles I usually use.
So what did it turn out like in the end?
Stippling / meandering under way - my husband had a week of night shifts, so I went quilting when he went to  work :-)
(Don't zoom in, it's out of focus and you can see the teddy bear fluff on the carpet!) 73 7/8 x 39 1/2' finished  size - I never understood until now how people created quilts with such crooked numbers! Looks quite skinny but is meant to go on top of a raised bed with sides and rails, I have tried it on there and it looks fine.

Around the head of the T Rex you can see the white fluff from the trapunto batting - maybe I should just call it a 'halo' lol

Here you can see parts of the panel; I deliberately kept the quilting there to a minimum, I like the puffy look. There is some warping, will have to see if it comes out after a while or a wash

Doesn't he look scary (not sure why it's a he)! After the curves from the meandering on the straight log cabins, I decided for straight lines on the border fabric with it's coloured circles

Grrrr, I'll eat you!
And here a look at the quilting from the back (probably lots of fluff on there, but again, don't zoom it, one day I'll invest in a decent camera so it's not out of focus!). There are a few puckers around the edges which annoy me but I couldn't be bothered taken them out - DS won't mind either way. I could have satin-stitched the dinos through all layers, but my machine is not very reliable on zig-zag stitch anyway, so I just free-motion outlined them.

I guess I'll go hunting for some more teddy bear patterns now!

What's been going on...

Heaps has been going on, but somehow nothing seemed to get finished to a point where I felt like I have something I could show here. Earlier this month I took the boys to Hamilton and we had a great time catching up with friends!!! My lovely friend Carla is not only incredible smart (check out her site here, while I have not been to a church in a long time, she makes a lot of sense to me), she is also very creative and showed me how to make teddy bears. Tad-ah, today finally Johnny joined our family:
Am I cute or what?
Of course (!) there are already rivalries between the boys who will get Johnny, so I have bought two more lots of fur and I will make a few more. It's not necessarily something I would want to do forever and ever, especially because it's all hand stitched, but a few every now and then would be nice:-) Unfortunately, the process makes quite a mess, especially when I got to the 'shave around the nose' bit:
Might need camouflage pants for the next one...

Speaking of mess, I might have mentioned that I will teach screen printing at school this term. I went to a course a few years ago, so I completed a few projects to refresh my memory and remember the pitfalls:
I had photographed this upside down, so now it looks a bit funny :-)
The topic for this term is Tangaroa in the wider sense, so my idea is that the students pick a sea creature, print that in one colour (light green), in a second go they add darker details to it (greenish - grey) and lastly they cover what has been printed and print the background in a sea-kind-of colour. Had a great time experimenting with Suz from the All-the-good-ones-are-taken blog and I wish I had taken photographs of Nadia's pillow cases (hint-hint!). I have more pics of the process and when the mood strikes me might put a little tutorial together.
These are some I prepared earlier:
These plus some more will be used in a yet to be revealed way - I hope the person these are for does not read my blog ;-)
What else? I have quilted my first quarter of the pastel tessellation quilt with cross hatching; sewing together the backing drove me to distraction, it pays to cut your strips to length if you don't want to unpick HEAPS of them...
Looks a bit like a cot quilt for a baby girl at the moment...

I made use of the gazillion squares you get after cutting out the squares on the lean
The cross hatching was so simple, the distance from a corner to the middle of the square to the next corner was short enough that even I could stitch (fairly) straight lines, esp. with the walking foot (don't know if I needed it or not, I don't use it much really). Onto some more of this quilt in the near future :-)

I have learnt HEAPS from doing the Dinosaur Quilt which I will blog about in another post - family outing to the new Minigolf place soon :-)

Friday, 13 January 2012

Let's celebrate our achievements, not count our failings

Today has been a bit frustrating, the weather has cleared some but there's strong wind, so while it's been getting really warm inside, opening the window meant doors slamming - I ended up lowering the blind and turning on the fan instead!

I had gotten up late, and being Friday I wanted to do a general clean as well as
getting some sewing done, boys were arguing etc. - somehow I felt running behind all day. But then it dawned on me that I had achieved a bit - folded and put away the washing, put on two new loads (one of them still in the machine), vaccumed the house, cleaned the bathrooms, washed the floors, baked cookies with youngest DS, survived numerous fights between the boys, cooked dinner on time and got some sewing done. Yes, some things did not get done, but I can keep on beating myself up about it or I can say hey despite the late start and the boys fighting and the funny weather, I did achieve some things. So in case you have a day like mine, try to think about it as glass half full!

On the sewing front, yesterday I got myself some cotton batting for my tesselation quilt (2 of the 4 rectangles are done and will be QAYG). Today I was piecing strips together for the backing. I was reminded the hard way why I should measure and cut strips to lenght; I hadn't and ended up taking it all apart again, over 28" width I had managed to stretch it almost 2" longer! Tomorrow I will put my sandwich together and try out the cross hatching I have planned - sounds simple and almost boring but I have never used this before. I want to have a go before I'll head away with my boys for a few days - a selfenforced sewing break, surely to lead to withdrawal symptoms except in plan to call in at Grandmother's in Gordonton :)

If you can, make sure you check out our Kerikeri Quilting Exhibition at Kerikeri Primary School, 10 - 4 Sat, Sun and Mon!

Monday, 9 January 2012

FMQ practise and something different

Again got something done - I might get so used to it that I can't go back to work - do you think ACC covers you for inability to work due to quilting addiction?
Yesterday I practiced my FMQ following Leah's post last Wednesday. I have done stippling in most of my quilts, but it was nice to go back to basics, and she explained it really well. My main problem is that I need to slow down :-) I got a bit bored by just meandering, so I added a few other bops and bits I had wanted to practise:
My circles are a lot rounder when I slow down :-) I like koru (curley whirleys), and towards the left third I played around with squares and the like, I am thinking about using them in the background of the dino quilt. My quilting shapes get quite small when I am not careful, so I will do some more practise :-). Left bottom I had a play with leaves, there is a big Black Tarorright outside my sewing room window, it sways in the breeze and at night sometimes gives me a fright when I see it move! Bottom left hand corner is supposed to be a Queenpalm frond, heaps of them at our place :-)

Now to the 'different' bit: Last night both DH and I agreed that we needed some sort of footstools to go with our new sofa. Research on Trademe brought nothing exciting, so I decided I would try to make some, check these out:

I followed the pattern for "Bat Wings" from Jinny Beeyer's Patchwork Puzzle Balls. Basically you take 12 pentagons (2 each from 6 different fabrics) and sew them together. Her balls are juggling size, so I enlarged my pentagons to a base of 7 1/2" for the ball on the top picture and 9 1/2" for the one at the bottom. I used fabrics I had already at home, leftover curtain material, some remnants I had bought to make a table cloth and assorted fabrics out of my stash - as our curtains and floors are charcoal and sofa and chairs are black I stuck to this colour scheme. Using a 1/2 seam allowance I joined 5 different pentagons clockwise to the 5 sides of another pentagon (e.g. the stripy one in the forground here). Then you stitch up one side of two pentagons (e.g. the grey one and the one with the black flowers). You end up with a bowl like shape with peaks. Do the same with the remaining 6 pentagons. To not have same fabrics touch, you use the fabrics in the same order but this time anticlockwise (I mucked that up somehow in the second ball but doesn't matter in this colour scheme - I would have changed it if it were brights). Sew the two bowl shapes together, taking care to have a peak join to one of the valleys (otherwise you end up unpicking like I did - twice - on the first ball...). You can either leave one seam open to stuff it, instead I inserted a zip into it (I used zips I took out of an old first aid kit :-)). I stuffed mine with styrofoam packing chips which I had bought at Kleenpak for my outdoor bean bags which ripped after only one summer... Good use for them now! Voila, here are my footstools that cost me basically nothing except a couple of hours of fun. (PS: Quite a hoot that they are labeled small projects, probably the biggest things I have sewn in years!)
Back to more tesselating tomorrow... I plan to QAYG this quilt, and with 2 of 4 sections (almost) completed I have started thinking about batting. Cotton? What would bamboo batting be like? I plan to mainly use this as a cover, not so much to sleep under, so no wool, and following Caroline's advice (the Powerquilter) I have been thinking about going away from polyester. Any advice?

Saturday, 7 January 2012

More rain...

It is 7 January today and we had more rain! DH mentioned somethign about wettest summer on record, and even he agreed that there was little else to do but quilting - right before he disappeared into his green house. (His answer to my question what I would do when the boys drove me nuts was to join him there - well, thanks, but no thanks!)
Not that I got that much quilting done in the end, but the day was busy nevertheless. My quilting was confined to finishing face of oldest DS and after much ironing and padding with batting I placed it into the frame without the glass pane:
The heavy quilting of the hair (multiple layers of fabric) had distorted the piece to the point where the face - only one layer - would wrinkle and crinkle. While his highness does pull faces, I didn't want to look at a grumpy mood every day, and without the glass it came out smoother. I intend to do something about the colour fo the frame, but it was cheap at the place 'where everyone gets a bargain'...

This is his youngest brother, a smaller size and easier to handle (the quilt, not the boy!), the piece was a lot less distorted as the quilting was a lot lighter. Again a frame from the warewhare, this time with the glass - obviously not anti-reflection coated as I had to take multiple shots to get a decent one. This DS has already requested to have the picture in his room (while the big brother would prefer to take to the other one with scissors...):
I managed to miss most of the fluff on the floor - but not all :-)
As I have three sons, this should not really qualify as a finish but while I have heaps of nice pics of middle DS, none of them was suitable last time I looked, will have to have another look. If anyone is interested, this was a project from an issue of Quilting Arts a few years ago. Take a photo, via the computer turn into into about 4 different tones of grayscale, print of (mirro image) and layer fabrics lightest at the bottom to darkest on top, always cutting away the lighter parts (sounds confusing the way I say it, but I can look up the author and Issue if anyone wants to know). Quite a bit of waste though, because you use about 4 layers of fabric, all backed with fusible, plus stabiliser. Fun still.

Apart from that, I made a birthday card and wrapped a present, took youngest boy to 4h long birthday party (I left...) - bless the poor mother who had a dozen or so primary age kids running around her house while outside the rain kept on pouring. Went grocery and red shed shopping (on my own!) and didn't see anything for myself I liked. With middle DH had a serious go at cleaning his room. Made ricotta cheese for cheese cake (see Homemade Recipes page). Tried to rescue my remaining plums - of the dozens there yesterday, I had 5 left today - thank you birds and damn rain! Well, we had had plenty from two trees for the last couple of weeks. Now I just might try to get some FMQ practice in - do you think DH will realise I haven't made the cheese cake yet?....

Friday, 6 January 2012

Some Finishes

With the weather improving - we actually had a stunning summer day here yesterday - the kids are entertaining themselves more which suits me fine thank you. Happy for every cent of mortgage interest we are paying for the pool when it keeps the boys and friends occupied, and now that they all swim really well, mama bear doesn't have to stand next to the pool for the whole time. Saying that, I had to have a word with them today about NOT holding others under water....
I have been mightly annoyed with my various attempts of using the iPad to blog; I donwloaded a blogger app which obviously is designed for the iPod but functional, but when it isn't the camera it's the internet connection and what have you. So for now I give up on the idea of using it (unless someone can give me a crash course?!?!) and return to my trusty work computer that won't read the camera memory card - but I have found a way around this as my new phone (see December) has 5Mp camera and takes alright photographs (well, as good as you get when you are obviously photographically challenged lol).
A lot of my time has been spent feeding the beasts boys, doing the dishes, the washing etc. but I am utterly ignoring need for weeding, washing the windows and exercise and concentrate on getting some of my projects finished:
Completed Crazy Quilt
Completed Pinwheel Table Cloth - big enough to fit in the middle of our humongous outside table

I practiced my FMQ with some pinwheels

I don't like handstitching the binding but my machine stitching does not always come out pretty, so I tried this ric-rac stitch instead and was quite pleased with the result - it hides little imperfections and adds a touch of colour to the border where before I had been tossing up if to quilt on it or not.
Binding from the back

Reversible with a tie dyed back, originally bought as border but once at home it didn't seem to go with it. I added some purple as border and voila it works! Note to self: Need to work on my accuracy for cutting backing and backing when trying to make things reversible / piece a backing.
My husbands just sighs when he gets home after 5 and again catches me sitting at my machine, but there is still a bit of work I want to get through before I have to go back to work 1 (!) month from today. Here is how far the Dinosaur Quilt has now progressed:
Top is pieced, some of the applique is fused. Size is approx. 40 x 74", enough to go on top of his bed (he has a semi-raised bed with rails around it, and tucking-in does not really happen in our house).

Detail of some of the dinos
Now I am on the lookout for just the right size wool batting at a prize I can afford.  I have also done a bit of research on trapunto, I want to 'stuff' some of the dino features.I have dyed a brushed cotton sheet (it was pink - who needs pink in a house with 3 boys?!) with Dylon from the supermarket to a dark green, so I can't wait to get the batting issue sorted so I can get to quilt! That could become no.3 of 10 WIP done??? And not started a new one yet though Suz and I drooled over some nice looking quilt pics today... (heaps of ideas what we could be doing - not that she hasn't enough lovely things on the go yet, if you haven't been there, check out her blog
Just one more pic of the (almost) finished Mortimer:
I made a bit of a mess with the binding and have decided to take it off and put in on by hand instead
Lastly, I have been watching with interest Leah Day's new Free Motion Quilt along - I would really like to work on my FMQ, and hopefully I will pick up useful tips and tricks from here:
Let's see what the weather gods bring tomorrow, there was some rumour about another bout of rains....

Sunday, 1 January 2012

2012 - tying up loose ends...

Happy New Year to everyone!
I hope that everyone made it safely into the New Year, our celebrations were not specatcular though the boys and a friend on sleepover enjoyed the sparklers and were calling various magical spells to no avail - the weather has hardly improved and so I feel like I am keeping caged animals rather than children at the moment...

"2012" - the first thing that came to mind was the round birthday coming up this year - I am getting old... Anyway, that's still quite some time off. 2011 was a year of many changes, oldest son started at another school in Y7, he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in March, I changed jobs after Easter and was luckily offered permanency from 2012. The work is rather challenging, but less time consuming than my last position, so I hope that overall our family (and my quilting!) will benefit from more free time. 2011 was also the year I ventured more into 'home making' things. When were we convinced and by who that we had to buy everything at the shops? We have been baking our own sourdough bread for 9 years now, and I ventured more into making preserves last summer. Cheese making has been on my to-do list for at least a year, and in 2011 I learnt from books how to make Mascarpone, Ricotta, Mozzarella and Gouda:

Sourdough Starter - looks, smells and tastes yuck but helps make nice bread:-)

Curdled Milk for Mozzarella

The finished product - 350g Mozzarella from 3.8l milk, and it took less than an hour
I also ventured into cleaners, made my own dishwash powder and my own woolwash (and in the process of using it clogged up my washing machine...). Most my recipes come from other people's blogs and I keep on loosing the addresses and recipes, so I have decided I will add another page to this blog to keep track of them there from 2012 (resolution no. 1?).

As the weather has been so sh... and due to some new purchases and presents we have done various furniture re-arranging and shuffling. As part of this I tidied the wardrobe in my sewing room and discoverd that I have 10 projects in varying stages of completion. I have already reduced this to 9 (handstitching the binding does not count, does it?) and worked on two more, so I can tie these loose ends up (resolution no.2!). These are some of the things I have been working on over the last little while:

A couple of my little bookcovers I made follwoing Ms Lottie's tutorial - by far not as decorated as hers as I simply fuzzy cut motives I liked

Had to make another doorstop, our house has polished concrete flooring and a large gap between floor and bottom end of door so I needed to make a bigger one (the other one went to my sister for xmas :-). The weight of the gravel would have been too much for the bag, so I added some styrofoam packing chips as well, they keep the pyramid tip up. Works well, though I could imagine adding some rubber to the bottom to keep from slipping should the wind blow harder.

My first ever quilting project - a crazy quilt kit from Spotlight in Hamilton. Very cheap, and very poorly done by me. Might have been cut with scissors, seam allowances are all over the place, but I managed to complete it, use 34 of the originally 40 blocks and cut them 1/4' smaller. Sashing some Moda I had in my stash, and the backing is an old sarong - not ideal but the quality goes with the rest of the fabrics. Was fun to get it done after 6 years; will live in the lounge as lap quilt. Will post another photo once the binding is done.

Pinwheel Table cloth - started last summer and planned as seat cushions for the deck. However, Northland sun is too harsh and despite applying a sunscreen-like product the matching table runner faded. Yet to back and quilt.
Mortimer has been completed an now lives in DS' bed with the three other turtles. Dino Quilt has the remaining 5 LCBs cut and will get pieced soon (tomorrow?). Now I just need to keep that momentum going...
Just to keep myself on track here: Resolutions for 2012 are to keep a decent record of my home made recipes, probably on this blog, to tie up loose ends = finish WIPs before strting (too many) new projects. Sounds doable?!

Happy New Year to everyone!