Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Bernina vs Janome vs Pfaff

For a little while I have thought about getting a bigger machine - mine is a Bernina virtuosa 150 I have bought second hand some years ago. It pieces ok, I can make it fmq, but the zigzag is dodgy, it keeps on missing stitches at regular intervals, and my often very large quilts gets squeezed through by brutal force lol. I can't really afford buying a new machine, doesn't stop me from looking though :-) The local sewing shop is starting to offer Pfaff besides Janome, and Jane, the owner, is very happy with her Pfaff quilt expression 3.0. I first started sewing on Mum's Pfaff, and I seem to remember we also had Pfaffs at Grammar School, so I have long been drawn to them. I bought the Bernina machine in Whangarei around 2006/7 and it has served me well though I don't get to that shop much anymore. A lot of local quilters seem to like Janome, I understand there is excellent service from the Dargaville sewing shop. I have done a bit of research online, seems all machines have the one issue or the other, often to do with thick seams. I tend to the Pfaff quilt expression 4.0 over both the janome horizon 770 and the bernina 440qe - which I can't find anymore on their website. Main features I am interested in are big throat space, integrated walking foot, knee lift / automatic foot lift, needle threader and cutter (that's just a luxury lol) and last but not least good piecing and fmq.

I mentioned this to my mum in Germany who has done some research of her own there, and with a round birthday coming up as well as considerably lower prices over there we are tossing up if she should buy me a machine in Germany. She could either have it sent straight to me or she could have it sent to her address in Germany and send me a birthday parcel:-) I did some emailing to find out if any of the vendors would ship to New Zealand, only had one and very comprehensive reply yet which recommended to instead go for the Janome Horizon (at about €350 more than the Pfaff) which apparently includes worldwide transfer of warranty. When I had another look online I was horrified of stories of Janome (and other brands') warranties being tied to the store you purchased from.

My questions:
Which big machine do you like best and can recommend?
Have you got any advice about purchasing machines overseas?
Does anyone know about customs duties etc. if you receive a pricey gift from overseas?
What would you do??

Your first question to me will probably be if I have tried the machines in question - no, I have not because I thought I can't get one anyway. Now that Mum might get one for me, I don't want to go to the "local"shops and try them if I know I won't buy them from them anyway.
Thanks heaps for all advice in advance!!!!!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

More rain...

this weekend brrrr I played with our new food dehydrator and dried some of the leftover apples from this autumn, some kiwifruit and a banana and homemade Zwieback - this is a kind of sweat yeast bread which gets sliced and dried again. It turned out pretty good, so next year's harvest might see less waste.
Since last weekend I have been playing around with feathers some more, I just can't get over how gorgeous Rhiannon's over at The Nifty Stitcher look - please go and have a look (sorry, insrting a link on the iPad is beyond my capabilities lol). Following her example I have been working on Karen Mctavish's Victorian feathers - see below. I am slowly getting there :-) I have also played around with different background fillers, I find getting echo lines evenly still quite hard so on my little practice piece (first pic) I went back to the trusted old stippling :-)
Have a good week all!
PS I almost forgot, this week I received my Sew It's Finished price, a charm pack of Sew Stitchy, really gorgeous (sorry, no photo taken yet, but just google it there are heaps of pics out there). I'll use it for the Sew It's Finished BOM :-)

Thursday, 26 July 2012

More feathers on satin

My first attempt at quilting echo feathers in contrasting thread - I need to work on the curve of the spine, looks too clumsy and bumpy. I had marked them roughly with chalk but it wiped off and I couldn't be bothered to redo it - deserves me right!
I filled the background with Leah Day's tree roots, practising my travel stitching, but to be save in black on black. I might make a second piece instead of a plain back for the cushion cover, it's not perfect but not horrible enough to not use it! On the side I tried out a few different fillers before I settled on the tree roots.
Any suggestions how to improve that spine and what other fillers I could use for the second piece? Rhiannon did pebbles in a recent feather piece, but after that placemat recently I needed to give that a rest lol.
PS: In reality the piece is actually straight, just looks funny in the shot sorry!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

It's raining, it's pouring

It was pretty miserable yesterday but today the weather is simply AWFUL! Can't wait for the summer...
Today I finished another pillow cover - just 3 more to go :-) Rhiannon from The Nifty Stitcher has been plowing through heaps of gorgeous quilting, so I was itching to try myself on a) quilting on satin and b) feathers again :-)
I used a leftover piece of charcoal satin type material (I used the rest to fix our sheers), batted it with (leftover) wool batting and backed it with an old screen printed piece of cotton. I started quilting with black bobbin fill, I liked the idea of the sheen and the thin thread but that was nightmare! While the tension was not obviously out, there were lots of skipped stitches and some really funny sound. The thread kept on breaking too, but when I fibally switched to black Aurifil cotton, all problems disappeared:-) Note to self: Don't quilt satin-wool-cotton sandwich with bobbin fill!
Threads will be taken care of tonight in front of tv, but tomorrow it's back to work again, so I wanted to quickly post it tonight before it gets buried in the everyday madness lol
Just three more weeks at school, then a week in the snow with middle DS, then I start my new job - can't wait!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

I can start building a house

This week the electrician came back and replaced the broken screw in the side of the oven with a new one and handed me the bricks I had holding up the tray rack thingy with a "you can start building a house with these now" lol. To celebrate - well actually because I needed some anyway - I made a double ovenmit as found on http://www.theboytrifecta.com/2010/10/double-potholder-tutorial.html
Shower, errands in town, then some baking are in order! (did you note I left out the cleaning - I still hope it could get itself done...)

Monday, 16 July 2012

Long Overdue Catch Up

I had heaps of fun during the July break creating all sorts of things - in fact I somehow really got onto a roll, will be hard to wean myself of that now that the real life intrudes again! While I put some short posts up on the iPad via the iPod Blogger app, I only now got to load the pics from my phone to the laptop and finally can do a long overdue catch up.

Firstly, I received the remaining two fqs from Leslie's Handprinted Fabric Swap, and aren't they gorgeous?
From Angelia

From Jackie
 And this is what I turned Emily's fq into yesterday:

The pattern is for the Caddy Pad by Sister's Common Thread which when I made it recently just looked like a cool little handbag. With a few adjustments - it is :-) Inner fabric is a green batik which I had to piece (I also reduced the overall measurements by 2" all around to make it fit). The folded flaps are now stitched so it won't fold out into the pad, instead I have one main pocket in the middle and four smaller pockets, two in front, two at the back, just right for keys, phone, brush etc. Suz and I had been on a girls day out ("Mums only, no children"), at The Country Yard I had seen a neat pattern for a wallet which I didn't buy in the end only to find a bright pink leather wallet at Farmers on sale later that day. So with a new wallet I needed a new handbag (girl logic, I'm sure you'll agree!).

What else have I been up to? I have shown you pics of my placemats, inspired by and for my mum - have a look at her blog, at the moment she is working at some new felted flowers over in Germany. I'll post new pics when I have completed the binding.

I also completed the third and final portrait of our three DSs:
Remember, photographically challenged...
Same method as before but this time I used the silk chiffon I had painted. As stabilizer and backing I used the cotton drop sheet. Again I raw-edge appliqued it, as it is fused with mystifuse it kept the softness, and the cotton-bamboo batting helps, too. In the background I quilted some cloud-like shapes as this DS is my soft, snuggly daydreamer :-) In difference to the other two portraits I won't put it in a frame, I bound it and attached a hanging sleeve and hopefully will soon be able to hang them all up (need to get some better hooks). One of these days I will write a tutorial (I slightly adapted it from the one in Quilting Arts), this is a fun technique and could be used for all sorts of motifs.

What else has been happening?
I have resigned from my current job and accepted a new position in the Special Education department of the Ministry of Education. I am yet to hear from my current school when they will release me, but I hope to start the new job about mid August.
We had very cold nights and gorgeous days for the last week or so, but today it was just raining more or less non-stop.
I have been contemplating the meaning of 'mid life crisis' after I discovered my first ever grey hair!!! Shock, horror! Well, I'll be 40 later this year so it's about time I suppose. BTW, I don't feel I'm in middle life crisis, but I decided that what comes with 'mid life' is maybe more of a conviction 'this is what I want to do, and not that'. Actually I was thinking about this all while I was mowing the lawns (1+ acres) on the ride-on mower, the humming sounded almost meditative (don't tell my hubby, he'll either declare me completely insane or he'll have me do the lawns all the time!). So I'm just thinking changes, decisions, choices people make which are often attributed to a 'mid life crisis' might in fact be more a 'I know what I want'. We'll see what further enlightenment future lawn mowing sessions provide...

I better finish this post before dinner gets cold without me...

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Been busy...

I had planned to get into work stuff today but it's almost dinner time now and I still don't feel like it lol maybe tomorrow... No cleaning done either, I guess that's not going away either lol
Instead I got a few other things underway, helped DH weed, mowed the lawns (hear, hear), painted silk shiffon and made art works with the boys :-) The shiffon will be used to create the long overdue portrait of middle DS, the artworks will go up in the hallway.
I have taken heaps of pics lately but all on my phone still so I'll do a pics catch up post soon. Here a couple of pics of shiffon and the art works:

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Pebbles and more pebbles

Now I can reveal the 'purpose' behind these pieces, they will be placemats for my mum who had a birthday on Saturday :-) Mum makes beautiful felt pieces and flowers, and middle DS suggested that we choose as motif for the placemats things she likes so I chose four of her felted flowers :-) Rona, the QAYG would have been a good idea, too, might do that another time!

Knowing blogger app's issue with putting photos in order, I better tell you: There'll be a photo of the handdyed blue background, a photo of the completed pink flower with paisleys (I've since figured out that with more loops over the top it would look more like the ones on Leah's website), one of the poppies with pebbles and a closer photo of this from the back.

The pebbles are taking their time, and I can tell when my concentration lapses, traveling over the other stitches becomes less accurate but thank goodness the background fabric is forgiving :-) I've almost run put of grey aurifil cotton for the bobbin, so I might have to move on to the last one soon until I can get more of that thread. For this one I am thinking of Leah's swirls. It's quite funny, a year or so ago when I first came across Leah's site I couldn't imagine where to use her designs leave alone do them but things are starting to fall into place now :-)

I'll keep all the hand stuff for when I go to hospital with oldest DS (week after next - he is getting his insulin pump). I have also promised Suz' DD Nadia a little handpieced ball so I should have enough to keep myself busy :-)

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Quilting under way

Two friends of oldest DS visiting, so all I am needed for is feeding the five boys lol Fantastic, no "Mum I'm bored", "Mum he hit me" etc. Not much longer until I'll have to drop them back, so here are some progress pics of what I did while they played: I filled the green background with a pattern resembling McTavishing, and I've started with my interpretation of Paisleys in the light blue - neither of which I have ever tried before but after a quick little practise following Leah's instructions I'm quite pleased :-) Sorry, the pics are in the wrong order (thanks Blogger iPhone app....), green one supposed to go first, followed by the shot of the light blue backing, then the pink flower. BTW, for the backing for all I dyed some of my white sheeting material with procion dyes :-)

Thursday, 5 July 2012

And more again...

With fantastic help from Suz my pink flower changed and looks more balanced, and I just finished a fourth piece- what do you think of the whole lot together?

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

And some more...

It's oldest DS' 12th birthday today! Given his single minded interest in Lego and Robotics he had a cake and a card with the Lego Mindstorms logo :-)
His main requests for today were staying home and unlimited access to the computer ;-) so some more playing around time for me!
That last piece is missing sth - any suggestions???? BTW, when will Blogger bring out an iPad app, that iPhone app is quite limited andfiddly I think...

Monday, 2 July 2012

Playing around

The weather is even more miserable than yesterday. Kids are (un)fortunately occupied with various screens after middle DS helped me with some inspiration. I have sone ideas what this might develop into, it will be revealed in due time :-)

Sunday, 1 July 2012


It's the holidays thank goodness!!!
(I had to leave this space so you have time to appreciate the importance this holds lol I so needed a break...)
As to be expected, the weather as simply awful. How on earth will I get the boys outside?!?! I have raked my brain to come up with a sensible, educational holiday programme that extends beyond each of them staring at a screen, thank goodness there are some appropriate movies running at the cinema, and if the weather improves, we might be able to go to Russell for the Birdman Festival (in the middle of winter watch crazy people trying to fly crazy creations into the freezing water of the Bay of Islands - I don't know how much that says about my level of intelligence either, but desperate times require desperate measures...). Not much to do around here in winter I'm afraid, no museums, school holiday courses etc.
Oldest DS has already been on break for a week, his school started earlier in January to allow for 3 weeks in winter, so by now his blood sugar levels (and his behaviour some of the time) are truly awful as always in the holidays, but mid July we're getting him on an insulin pump and hope that this will make a difference. He will be 12 this Tuesday, just another year until official teenagedoom starts...
Isn't it amazing what you can tell about a person by their folded washing? Youngest DS ("Little T") on the left, always on the go, always heaps of dirty clothes. Middle DS in the middle, he is a darling and will look after his clothes so usually little washing. On the right his highness, oldest DS ("Big T"), who will wear each item only once no matter how clean it still is :-)
We've obviously gotten too acclimatised - look at that pile of socks!
We started the holidays with a trip to the next bigger city, Whangarei, an hour drive south, and the majority of our spending was at the shoe shop - time for the boys to move beyond cheap sport shoes to leather type shoes with laces except - the bad mother never taught her boys how to tie laces! Thank goodness for 'springers', laces that look like springs and somehow twirl themselves together. By the looks of it they will not last so maybe I need to start teaching them anyway...
I got myself some gloves for the snow as I will accompany middle DS' class on their trip to Mt. Ruapehu as well as a smart cover for the new iPad - in pink so none of the boys will ever claim to their mates it is theirs lol. Poor DH got nothing :-( He has to go back to work tomorrow so I better make sure he gets decent dinners while I am off work!

Over the last week I got a couple of lovely packets in the mail - each accompanied by a gorgeous card, makes me feel so bad that I never sent any cards with my FQs!
This one is from Rebecca, it is hand carved and printed on light blue batik - isn't it just amazing?
This gorgeous one is from Emily, it whispers 'handbag, handbag' to me lol
I finished my stripey LC before June was over, so another Sew It's Finished item off the list:
With cat Crystal

Closer up of large stipple on the polar fleece backing
That lounge is starting to look more coordinated, and there are still some more leftovers that could add to the currently two cushion covers
Today I tried to repair what our white little monster cute cat Crystal wrecked - the sheer curtain in the bedroom. At almost 4.50m wide for half of it, I will attack the other half another day:
I substituted the bottom part across the whole width with a satin type black fabric. Not perfect but ok - and cheaper than replacing the whole lot she might only shred again.
Now I will have to think about what I will be working on over the next two weeks... Pastel tessellation? More cushion covers? (well, they might become a last resort for when I haven't got my monthly finish for Sew It's Finished) Portrait of middle DS? Abstract representation of cherry blossom in the area where I grew up in Germany? Too many choices...

Happy Sewing!