Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Feathers and more feathers

And I think they are looking pretty nice even if I say so myself :-)
I wasn't sure at first if I wanted to stipple behind the feathers - this photo convinced me to do it.

2 down (up), 14 to go :-)
That's what you can get done when you're home with sick kids :-) Actually the feathers are getting a lot easier with time. I suppose I will have feathers out of my system by the time I am finished - or I am forever hooked :-)

Here a few pics from yesterday's trip to Cape Reinga and Te Paki Stream (Giant Sand Dunes) as part of the school camp (DH looked after the sick boys. Update: One will definitely be back at school tomorrow, and about the oldest one we still have to see, type 1 Diabetes and tummy bugs don't seem to mix all that well...). We had the most amazing weather, a last little bit of summer I suppose...
See the tree on the right of that rock in the middle? Legend has it that the spirits of the dead leave from this tree for their journey to Havaiki

Cape Reinga Light House

Taputaputa Bay - one of the nicest beaches in New Zealand just south of Cape Reinga (if it wasn't for the long winding road to get up there...)

There were jelly fish and the kids said they sting! We had some creme in the First Aid Kit...

Smaller sand dune at Te Paki Stream

Medium Sand Dune at Te Paki Stream (I didn't get close enough to the giant ones :-) It's great fun to go down these on a boogie board, but a plastic rubbish sack will do!

Now I better go and google bulk supplies of Gueterman cotton thread, looks like I need quite a bit...

Monday, 27 February 2012

The dreaded tummy bug is back…

After a lovely weekend – the dreaded tummy bug is back. Middle DS vomited during the night, but at 9y old (!) just cleaned it up and made himself a bed on his sofa without telling us! His oldest brother is also not flash today, so I had to postpone my arrival at school camp to tomorrow.

Our postie had my stitchworks parcel ready when we left for school for the youngest, and this morning I have been cutting and washing, and pegging out and cursing the rain (and baking bikkies and bread). I also finished this little project, my first attempt at the feathers, by turning it into a place mat:

I had to add a strip to the left – just right to try out the QUAYG instructions from Quilting Edge
The backing fabric is NZ landscape but not my favourite colour way – my garden looks different!
Detail of the feather on the side – the binding chopped some plumes off unfortunately. The stippling is larger in scale than the one in yesterday’s post, worked much better.

Weather improved after lunch time which means the washing - incl. my fabrics - dried again nicely, and I couldn’t resist skipping more practice for working on the real thing, and I am quite proud of the result:
Stitch in the ditch around the squares – next time I will cross my lines over! – plus feathers in the white parts. Not sure if I will stipple yet or not.
Again I went with Leah Day’s matching threads on top and bottom, quite obvious on the back, but at least the details are visible on the pics!
I’ll keep on feathering…

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Fluffing around and finishes!

Weekend!!! DH at work, two of the boys had had a tummy bug so we cancelled Saturday morning swimming classes and instead of leaving the house early in a mad rush we took it just easy :-) DH had cleaned our house on Friday, so the only thing that really needs doing is the washing, and thanks to our very autumny windy day yesterday I have all baskets full to fold and put away.
Originally I had gotten up all excited on Saturday morning because on Friday my order for batting and a few other bobs was dispatched by Stitchworks (you girls were awesome, straight away picking up on the mistake I had mad in my order!!!) but sadly it didn't arrive on Saturday morning (well, we are on rural delivery after all...). I expect it will be here on Monday now, well definitely in time for next weekend.
I kept on fluffing around, but finally, in the late afternoon, I pulled out my 16 1/2" sample of tessellation. I decided that this would be a good practice piece for some more feathers. I divided the piece in half diagonally so I would get a similar shape to what I have on my QD9s; one half I stippled very small as I had left very little space to the centre line, the other half I went slightly larger:
Batting is a leftover man-made product, quilts similar to cotton

Detail of feather with very small stippling (more on that later). It took me some time to get the hang of plumes on the inside of a curve.
Detail of the feathers with stippling in a slightly larger scale
 I had some difficulty with stippling so small, I had to stitch fairly fast to get the stitches small enough that the shapes didn't look too jagged, but when I turned it over, all sorts of tension issues became apparent:

This half has the bigger stippling

This was the half with the smaller stippling, you can see where the tension was out...
16" is just the right size for the cushions on the sofa, though it is not quite the colours I had imagined for the lounge:

Another one of my recycled zips, this time from the packaging around a pillow inner :-)
 I can't remember if this was one of my 10 UFOs from the start of the year, but it's done now anyway!

For a few weeks I had been working on the binding and thread ends of the Dinosaur Quilt, and last night I finally finished it:
It is straighter than this picture shows :-) I don't think I will block it, but I might dry it flat when I have to wash it.

I like this guy and his brother below!

Some of the quilting from the back; I followed Leah Day's advice about using the same thread back and front. There are a few puckers but nothing 'fatal'.

DS under the blanket fast asleep with the thumb plucked in - I even turned on the big light to take this pic ;-) Note the dinos on the blinds?
That one was definitely on the UFO list :-) Glad it's finished, I enjoyed it, and I have learnt heaps. If you want to read more about this, just click on the Dinosaur Quilt label.

UFO / WIP count:
  • Pastel Tesselation (started 2011)
  • Optical Illusion / Chessboard placemat (started 2010 or 2011)
  • Doodles (started 2010?)
  • Flames Sq in Sq in Sq (attempted 2010?)
  • Weaving Wallhanging (started 2010)
  • DD9 which has morphed into QD9 (started Dec 2011)
Getting there...

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The 'p' word

'P' stands for 'practice' and with my non-existent limited patience I practice not often enough. After discussing with Suz the merits of various battings and things I decided to put the QD9 in the drawer until I have made a decision and have purchased batting, sashing and probably backing. On Rhianon's blog I saw that Diane Gaudynski was the February Tutor on SewCalGal's FMQ Challenge. The tutorial is very thorough, check it out here.

Following this tutorial I had my first ever proper go at feathers - yippieh - and on a (wait!) practice piece (there are few and far between in my house!). It ain't perfect (make sure you check out Rhianon's on the link above, hers are divine!!!), but I now know I can do them :-)

What I found challenging was that Diane's instructions included quilting away from you; combined with unexplained skipped stitches this made me wobble up the spine, and after 6 plumes on the left I gave up on it. When I instead turned my fabric so I was approximately sewing towards me, it went much better. Instead of locking in the stitches like Diane advises, I will pull my threads into the batting, I have found that stitches tend to come undone eventually.

Add caption

Placed on one of the blocks; I plan to use variegated thread. Combined with a diagonal through all the coloured blocks this might be enough quilting, alternatively I might stipple with white thread around the feathers.
What do you think?

More on the QD9 superking size quilt

Here's the promised pics for a start:
Excuse the mess around, and DS No.3 manage to sneak into the shot, too :-) It was actually quite hard to get all of the bed into the shot...
The colours are a bit random, and I am not keen on the placement of that small red square (but I'm not gonna take it out!!!). Sashing strips might be good to keep everything a bit apart.

That's the big white pinwheel you get as a secondary pattern - the ruler is 24 x 6 "...
Conclusions after sleeping on it: It will be QUAYG therefore do the sashing strips. Gives me a chance to learn to fmq feathers on a more manageable size (quite good practise squares I thought lol - I'm not good at doing practises on practise bits I don't get to use...). I am quite likely to not add a border, so the facing option is still on the cards...

One interesting fact I found out during research last night, NZ Superking is 71" x 80" and therefore smaller than the King size 76" x 80" from The Quilter's Pocket Reference Guide [Wikipedia simply knows EVERYTHING]; meaning with 10" drop on 3 sides I look at approx 91" x 90" finished. So if my blocks are 21" finished, I get 84" square, 2" sashings (with or without a border) would easily get me to the right size [Suz, I can hear you giggle already, but I just llloooovveee to know what sizes I end up with ;-)]

I better go and look for some backing now and get myself some cotton batting ordered!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

A quilt for my bed?!

I comleted my 4 sets of four 21 1/4" size QD9s, and now I have the hard choice of what to do with it... It was meant to become a single size quilt for my darling niece Storm when she moves into a big girl's bed, but when I laid out my 16 blocks on my bed, it covered all of my superking size bed.... DH looked at it and said "why don't you put into onto our bed?". Well, it's bright just as we like it, the big white spaces make it look light and summery, it would need a white border around it for the drop (I had to piece a few of the 14 1/2" white blocks because I was running out of white-on-white, so that's a reason to not give it away I suppose). I have thought about the narrow sashing and will keeo this as a second option. But I'll have to buy  the batting and backing (as well as the white for the border/sashing), and the white spaces are still calling for feathers (one big quilt to fmq feathers on...). Damn! I never have complained about (almost) completing a quilt top before!

I used Bonnie Hinter's method of piecing a 9 patch where you chain piece and then don't have all these thread ends sticking out, I wasn't patient enough to clear my sewing table off properly, so this helped keeping the patches in the right place. (My whites were rather thin so I just pressed seams to the darker fabric rather than doing that thing where you fold the four seams around where they meet - if that makes any sense???) My photos are on the laptop, will upload tomorrow. 

Melody of Fiberman just repeated an older post on using facing instead of binding, I might have a look into this to see if this was an option for this quilt - but around a white border I might need some colour (so maybe sashing after all? Will have to audition the choices...).

Too many choices...

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Quadruple Disappearing Nine Patch

The idea didn't let me go, so I had to try it...
QD9 before cutting

Same setting as Christina from A Few Scraps had used in her DD9.
If you dare to zoom in you might see that seems don't match yippieh but one is pretty close (might look like mismatched) so I might follow Suz' advice about narrow sashing. I won't go any bigger, my biggest ruler is 15". At 21 1/4" these blocks are huge so I will need fewer to complete the top and use up some of my batik stash! Might have to get more white fabric though...the white spaces are very large, I think I will quilt Diane G's feathers on it :-).
Now I am feeling good about this quilt top, that's the way to go for this one!

"Maths rulz" or "From the mouth of babes"

Weekend, house needs cleaning, mother needs recovering from 4 days at work with all of one half day of teaching (...), mother wants to quilt. Two DS off to another birthday party (that is a story in itself, the invite was for one of them but they decided they came in a double pack - no, they're not twins either!), oldest DS, speaking Legoese for about 90% of the day and expecting mother to understand, stayed home (...). So mother makes it to sewing machine (with DS in tow, he is doing his English homework - the fact that his ESOL mother needs to help him somehow doesn't go with the fact he was third best in his year level last year) and continues on the DD9s - fourth set out of approx. eight. DS asks how I am doing this, I explain about 9 patches and D9 and then DD9 and he says "could you make a triple or quadruple disappearing nine patch?" Ooh, aah, I guess I could, don't know if anyone else has done it before, quite likely. He calculated in his head for a while what sizes you would end up with (he lost me there somewhere - Rona, I am sure there's a simple rule about the ratios in here?!?!). I thought about it and gave it a try, and now I am very intrigued by it!
Following A few Scraps' post, I had started with 5 batik charm squares (never quite 5" square, no idea why they're called charming!!!) plus 4 white 5" squares, made 9 patch, cut the result into quarters - 7" each. Added one 7" batik square plus four 7" white squares, made 9 patch, cut the results into quarters - 10" each. Added one 10" batik square plus four 10" white squares, made 9 patch, cut the results into quarters - 14 1/2" each. Taadaa, a Triple Disappearing Nine Patch (TD9?). I stopped there for the moment, need to think about how far I want to take this :-) Also, my next batik and white squares need to be 14 1/2" - that limits my choice a little bit (but just a little lol). If I got my maths right, I think that would make 21 1/4" squares in a Quadruple Disappearing Nine Patch (QD9??). Where to end????

What intrigues me and at the same time annoys me that the two biggest batik squares in my current TD9 are both 4 3/4". After using all these different sizes, it's back to square 1 literally! But what annoys me is that now both outside batik squares are the same size which requires matching seems, something I can do but don't enjoy therefore avoid it. I just think I might try that QD9 some time very soon...

The original DD9

TD9 before cutting

One possible setting, but note the matching seams?

Another possible setting, still some seams to match...
DS's comment to the TD9 - "Maths rulz - and English sucks!" oh from the mouths of babes...

Saturday, 11 February 2012

The real world has me back...

So school has started again (...), well at least that means getting paid which means I need to go back to my online banking (I just spent half my next salary on bills) because I forgot I still have to pay the March workshop with Jeanette DeNicholis Meyer and the May retreat I booked myself in for - so there's something to look forward to over the coming months! [That was one loooonnnngggg sentence!]

So what have I been up to?
Nothing much on the quilting front I am afraid, I am still slowly getting rid of the thread ends on the dino quilt alternating this with finishing the binding. At least it has been very warm lately during the day, so he doesn't quite need the double wool batting quilt yet :-)
I am also working on the screen printed place mats that will hopefully find a loving home overseas :-)
I have just finished looking for another teddy bear pattern because I still owe one to middle DS who as always waits patiently - he is just gorgeous (99% of the time).
Suz and I have had a great play with screen printing, and on Friday the first group of kids had a go. For some reason on their prints the paint bled out under the stencil, will have to do some more research on this over the weekend (when I repeated what they did, it was fine...). Have a look at what Suz did with her prints on her blog - mine are in the meantime stapled to the walls in my art room, by Easter I am probably so sick of them that I will bury them in my cupboard!
While my 3 of my 4 men are out, I might quickly cut up some fabric for another DD9 for my darling niece who turns 2 today - HAPPY BIRTHDAY STORM!!!

Once things settle down, i.e. the printer and the photocopier at school work simultaneously so I can print off what I need photocopied (oh the joys of technology!!!! I am waiting to print 220 copies of my 8 page workbooks for this term....) I will have to return to some resemblance of routine in regards to quilting so I stay sane lol

So I better log off and go sew!

Friday, 3 February 2012

The things we just sleep on...

I returned with oldest DS from school camp today. Completely Slightly different from at home he was lovely, helpful and gave everything a go ;-) I had a rally nice time, the 60 kids were lovely (unlike some of the students I will meet again next week...), great location at MERC at Long Bay, north of Auckland. While the weather packed in today, we had awesome weather for the other two days so what more can you want. Now a long weekend back home before I have to will face the reality = work again!
No bed is ever as nice as your own, so when I got home I changed the linen - and ripped my husband's pillow inner. It is filled with heaps of these little fluffy beads, and as he is a bit particular about many things his pillows AND on night shift again,  I went to mend it straight away. [too many strike throughs tonight!!!] The fabric has become extremely fragile, I doubt they will survive another wash which they are due for.

I was quite annoyed, but I realised these pillows must be 14 years old, a present from DMiL when we shipped our household from Germany to NZ (in case the accent is not 'loud' enough in this blog, I moved here from Germany 15 years ago). This led to a bit of a reflection about the things we just sleep on...

See, in regards to bedding we are still very German. We came here with our regular "double bed" which for most German couples would is 2m x 2m, with two individual sets of slats topped with two individual "single" size mattress - sort of putting two single (twin) beds next to each other, but with the frame around them both. When we could not replace the mattresses for an affordable amount (I think we had a quote of $2000 per mattress), we replaced the bed with a NZ superking size bed - one mattress, approx. 1.80m x 2m. The single sheets we had were passed on to the children. The superkingsize sheets when on the line quite annoy me, and shifting the mattress almost requires a rugby team, but it is very comfortable.

Following the German custom, we also have a single duvet each, no topsheet, no tucking in (would be quite unpractical, too, as you can't tuck single sheets into the middle of the big mattress of course). The size is slightly smaller than NZ singles. I have never been an avid linen buyer, so those times that I buy new covers, I usually buy superkingsize duvet covers and cut them in half to make two singles - cheaper than buying two singles and often nicer designs.

For pillows DH and I have always differed in preference - I like one regular size pillow and go shopping for nice quality when the old one gives me neck pain, but he just loves his two German style 80x80cm pillows - fluffy with heaps of give to make them 'squashable'. I have just researched my options in replacing them given the abovementioned issue, but the largest I find is the 'European' at 26" square. Why on earth all these differences in different countries?? Can't we just for once agree on something? And why of all things call itf European, its's certainy not standard German size at least?

My options are: 
Persuade DH to go for umpteen regular pillows (unlikely).
Buy Eurpoean size pillow inners and start new collection of pillow cases (I could always cut the big ones down??)
Get DMiL to post some (horrendous postage I am sure)
Make some pillow inners myself? There must be something out there in the www, but I can't start to think about looking!

So the things we 'just sleep on' can be very different - and the difference can be very complicated. I wonder how the pioneers went about that??? Well, they probably just made their own and didn't whine like me!

Any suggestions?? Sleep well however you are bedded :)