Sunday, 10 September 2017

Washing, washing and yet more washing again...

I had a very fruitful sewing time while the cat was away hubby and two boys were in Europe, but since their return my life seems to revolve around washing, washing and yet more washing every weekend... While spring has officially sprung, the weather is still too wet and / or not reliable enough to dry washing on the rotary line outside, so both clothe horses full of washing are the 'in' look in the Himmelgarten household...

That was just the first half of yesterday...
Not only did the boys bring back photos, souvenirs and memories, they also brought our teenage nephew with them who'll stay with us until the end of the year - yes, I am heavily outnumbered by boys.

My sewing room has become the youngest son's bedroom (nephew is in his old room), so for now I make do with a smaller sewing desk again, out in the family room - not quite as convenient as the sewing room but better than nothing. Purely by fluke I purchased an addition to my sewing gadgets:

A Singer 201K, from approx. 1948/49, after a good clean and lots of oil it's working just fine for piecing
So what have I been up to?

  • Finish Press Start (binding, bury threads)

  • Finish Giant Chevron - done and on my bed (in need of a wash already lol)

  • Pinned up against the bookshelf in the family room
    more details...
    more details again...

    • Finish Giant Chevron (quilting, binding, bury threads): 38 of 40 cubes quilted, and I have decided on large pebbles for the dark background:

    Originally I had wanted to have it to look like a meandering river, but this didn't look right...
    Might no be as clearly a river now, but the pebbles contrast well with the straight lines.

    • Complete remaining Vintage Quilt Revival blocks: I have started piecing the blocks together, 6 rows of 7 blocks each, with 3 1/2" (cut) sashing, and the first two rows are joined. Following +Suz J's example, my horizontal sashing strips are cut to 12 1/2" (block size), with a 3 1/2" square cornerstone in the same colour to  help keep everything lined up and straight. So far so good (with the help of pins:D).
    • Piece Metro Rings top 
    • Plus Block project 
    • 'Arty' Pohutukawa landscape - yet to make more progress
    As I mentioned in my last post, variety keeps me interested and I started & finished two little projects:
    This little triangle "Shades of Grey" (I think that's what I called it?) has winged its way over to Oz to the Brisbane Modern Quilt Guild for an exhibition
    A new little laptop pouch for my colleague & friend

    Sometimes it's a bit frustrating to see such little progress; however, slowly but surely I'll get my resolution list done. How are you doing with any resolutions you made at the start of the year?

    Happy Sewing!

    Sunday, 9 July 2017

    Time just flies when you're having fun!

    It's been almost three months since I last posted - where did that time go??? While work and family continue to keep me busy, I have been quietly working away anyway. However, with a nephew coming to stay with us for 6 months, I gave up my sewing room to youngest DS (so his cousin can move into his room) and eventually got a smaller desk set up in the dining / family area.

    With some of the family away for a European summer holiday, the usual chores around home are much less time consuming than usual so I managed to get through a few things on my to-do list from January:

  • Finish Press Start (binding, bury threads)

  • Finish Giant Chevron is quilted, binding is attached and I am in the process of stitching it down and burying the remaining threads. I've tried to flick back through my blog to find when I first started it, here in this post from January 2014 the inner giant chevron was completed, so it's safe to say I've been working on this for at least 3 1/2 years and it's moved countries twice, so it will need a good scrub before I can declare it truly finished!

  • Finish Opal Essence (quilting, binding, bury threads) - I have quilted 30 of 40 cubes - I can see the end :)

  • Complete remaining Vintage Quilt Revival blocks What do you think? 
  • After lots of shuffling with the help of Suz, this is my final layout.
    I had a little play with Instagram Layout - all 42 blocks, always both /all three versions of a block together. +Suz J 's blocks on the left, then my block(s) to the right [except second set of blocks from the bottom left, I reversed the order by accident]. Isn't it amazing how different so many of them turned out?
    Next step is 3" sashings and borders in cream, I will need backing, and then I have to think some more about quilting...

  • Piece Metro Rings top 

  • Plus Block project is done - turned out very different to how I had imagined it, but I LOVE it!
  • "Aniwaniwa - Rainbow"
    Just some simple straightline quilting, backed by a flannel sheet (after an unsuccessful attempt at using a flat cotton sheet)
  • 'Arty' Pohutukawa landscape - yet to make more progress

  • That leaves me with binding (Giant Chevron), quilting (Opal Essence), improv piecing (Pohutukawa) to get my list of resolutions from January finished. Not bad going, especially in comparison to last year!

    I've finally figured out that I need to have a balance of different sewing things around to be happy and to make progress, and with these tops being completed, I'll be very quilting-heavy again. I'll have to think about what projects I can start to give me enough of a balance - it's not like I have no stash to play with...

    Happy Sewing!

    Monday, 17 April 2017

    Happy Easter!

    We had the most amazing summer up here in the Far North of New Zealand, and it's only been turning autumn over the two or three few weeks now. We had the remnants of two cyclones passing us (Debbie and Cook), but thankful apart from a lot of rain we personally have been fine. Work had been so busy that while I have been sewing, I didn't seem to find the time to blog about it. With a few days off over Easter there is no excuse now:)

    Back in last Jan / early Feb I came across Karin's blog and her posts about using rulers with fmq on the Pfaff Quilt Expression. I have always had problems with my Westalee ruler foot, and her advice encouraged me to try again. Karin had found that the Accents in Design  ruler foot worked better for her. I ended up ordering their foot, too, and after some delays the lovely Carol ended up sending me my foot free of postage - thank you again!
    Eventually I got around to trying the foot out. Following Karin's example, I played with tension.  All samples used the same cotton/polyester batting and same homespun fabric front and back, thread is a 50w Aurifil top and bobbin. I started top right, forwards and backwards without ruler, than with ruler, followed by anti-clockwise and then clockwise loops.
    Unfortunately I encountered the same skipped stitches issues I have with the Westalee foot. :

    Default spring fmq settings, tension 5.2

    Default spring fmq setting, tension 5.2, stitch length set to 0

    Default spring fmq setting, tension 4.6 - foot sitting too high

    As above, but I lowered the foot more

    Default fmq setting, tension 4.2
    As comparison, this is stitched using my regular Pfaff fmq foot, using the default spring fmq setting but tension down to 4.0 (a bit too loose from the back)
    Just out of interest I tried the sensormatic setting but that was even worse.
    I am not sure what the problem is, but while I can sort of make it work stitching forward (with and without the ruler), going backwards or stitching curves is out of the question. I think I will give it a rest for a while and see if I can pick it up again in the future.

    So what else have I been up to?
    • Finish Press Start (binding, bury threads)
    • Finish Giant Chevron (quilting, binding, bury threads): Still quilting the background arrggghhh about a third to go I think?
    • Finish Opal Essence (quilting, binding, bury threads): 24/40 cubes are quilted, that's the larger part of them done...
    • Complete remaining Vintage Quilt Revival blocks: Just finished block 19 of 20 and made it in two colour ways so I get an extra (I decided to set it as 6 x 7 so I need to extra blocks):
    Night time shot, sorry!
    A post shared by Monika Kern (@himmelgartenquilts) on

    • Piece Metro Rings top (anything else is a bonus)
    • New little project - just four colour ways to go now (that will be about another 45 blocks)
    • Something 'arty': I had been toying with the idea of creating a NZ inspired landscape, to go with my Whakapapa #1, and I decided that inprov. piecing a flowering Pohutukawa tree would fit the bill. I looked at various images for inspiration (here is my Pinterest board) and sketched the outline of my tree. I divided it up into squares (1" on the drawing, 4" in fabric) and started improv-piecing it:

    After spending a bit of money earlier in the year I have been much more frugal for the last few weeks, but this little gadget has come in very handy:
    I found it at a craft sale in the Russell town hall when a cruise ship was visiting the Bay of Islands: Beautifully made from Rimu wood, it has a stiletto and a quick unpick, and both hide nicely inside the handle when not in use.

    Lastly, I have been lucky to win a FB draw by Sew Armadillo and won this gorgeous little bundle by the very talented Jodi Carlton from Ric-Rac:

    I'll have to find just the right pattern for this :)

    Well, the sun is shining, I better go and hang out my freshly washed Tokyo Subway quilt to dry! After that I might just have to sneak back into my sewing room???

    Sunday, 19 March 2017

    In short bursts

    It's been harder to leave work at work over the last few weeks, but this weekend I made a big effort to do 'normal' stuff. On Saturday hubby and I worked together in the garden, but on Sunday I got my sew on :)

    Blocks 17 & 18 - just two more to go!

    A few weekends ago, Suz and I went to our LQS (a good hour 's drive south of us). Amongst a few other things, I bought pattern & materials for Annie's Carry all Tote - perfect for the beautiful music inspired material Suz gave me for a past birthday:

    It now carries my lunch, tablet, papers, charging cable etc. between work & home. I still LOVE work, but I could do with more time in my sewing room...

    Happy Sewing!!!

    Sunday, 12 February 2017

    I'm still here!

    Just checking in, I have not disappeared from the blogosphere or from my sewing room lol In fact I have had a bit of fun, playing, thinking, browsing, buying :) Not long until dinner, but I quickly wanted to update the progress on my resolutions:

  • Finish Press Start
  • Finish Giant Chevron - still just over half way through background fmq; after reading a post by Karin from The Quilt Yarn I have decided I will play with tension (esp. bobbin) and with different needles again to see if I can make fmq more enjoyable.
  • Finish Opal Essence - 21 cubes quilted
  • Complete remaining Vintage Quilt Revival blocks - currently piecing block 16 of 20:
    Exploding Star

    Star and Pinwheel

  • Piece Metro Rings top

  • Flimsy is a very suitable term, it will need a lot of starch and pressing, and then I plan to quilt it extensively :)

  • New little project - steadily adding to the little pile
  • I enjoyed a bit of online shopping, now I'm waiting for a package from Craftsy with batting and another one from Pink Castle Fabrics with Me & You Batiks :) Thanks to Karin's blog (mentioned above), I have also ordered another ruler foot, and I'm determined to make at least one of them work:)

    Work is great, I absolutely love it! Working hard, but everyone is incredibly supportive, and we are already starting to see positive results.

    Not a bad view from the office...
    Flagstaff on Waitangi Day
    Happy Sewing!

    Saturday, 21 January 2017

    Progress Update

    Just a quick update, using the Blogger app which can be fickle, so please be patient with me:)

    This was my resolution:
    • Finish Press Start - DONE and on middle DS' bed :)
    • Finish Giant Chevron - quilting of the background around the outside: Approx. half way
    • Finish Opal Essence - quilting the cubes: 19/40 done
    • Complete remaining Vintage Quilt Revival blocks - completed block 14/20
    • Piece Metro Rings top 
    • New little project - 15 blocks completed

    • Something 'arty' - no progress yet.
    • Nursing a cold in them middle of summer is no fun, I hope it will disappear by Monday when I start a new job as Head of Education at Waitangi National Trust, the place where in 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi between Maori tribes and the English crown were signed, the foundation for New Zealand today. I am hopeful that I can keep some momentum going in my sewing, even when back at work.

      Happy Sewing!

    Wednesday, 11 January 2017

    A write-off?

    Happy New Year:) With all the 2016 reflection and 2017 resolution posts floating around the blogosphere, it is time for me to say 2016 has been a write-off for me in regards to blogging. All of 4 posts!!! I put a few things on Instagram and posted some into the BMQG Members Group on Facebook, but the number of posts is a reflection on how I felt about my year - nothing much worth sharing. Let's see what comes to mind as reflection:

    At the end of January I had started in a new position, classroom teaching, and it has been hard work. I ended up getting sick at the end of the school year and sadly didn't have a chance to see the last few days of the school year out with my class. Work had a big impact on my quilting, and it's only now that my contract has finished that I feel creativity and a need to work on something and to make stuff have returned.

    The boys have all settled in well at their high school, all received a price / certificate in some shape or form at their respective end of year assemblies, and the oldest has last week passed his Learner's Licence; now to persuade him to actually learn to drive a car... DH has had his contract for the next 6 months confirmed and he is enjoying his work (teaching for a tertiary institution).

    With moving into our new-to-us home at the end of February 2016 we found the garden very overgrown and in need of serious TLC aka chainsaw pruning. DH and I have spent a lot of time as of late to weed and mulch, and it's starting to take shape:


    While the rest of New Zealand seems to have a hard time getting sunshine and warm temperatures, Northland has been blessed with lots of good weather, to the point of a drought threatening. We have spent a lot of time relaxing at the pool, and with both my sister's family and my mum & partner living close by, my niece has learnt to bomb as well as her teenage cousins:


    Kerikeri Stone Store and Mission House

    We live in a beautiful part of the country, lots of historically significant places within walking distance or easy commute:

    Kerikeri Inlet from Kororipo Pa (Stone Store and Mission House towards left)

    Waitangi Treaty Grounds

    Reflection: I actually did some sewing in 2016 (the following in no particular order)

    Vintage Quilt Revival Block Exchange with +Suz J:
    Back in April 2016 there were 11, now there are 23 blocks:

    I laid out each pair of blocks side by side to show the similarities and differences between them. 
     7 more different blocks to go - we might get that done in 2017 :)

    Giant Chevron
    I've only just recently unfolded it again (it's been living in the corner on top of my sewing table) and I am still (!) quilting the background outside the chevron. Just about half way; by the time I am finished it will need a VERY serious wash owing to the cats that have been sleeping on it over time...

    An old photo, but it hasn't changed all that much...
    I have had less trouble with thread breaking since I started on this again, but I have noted, when I fmq a circle, clockwise, between 5 and 7 on the clock face my machine can skip stitches. It's not always possible to stitch anticlockwise, so I've been careful and slowing down to try and avoid this issue.

    Press Start

    This is now quilted, labeled, and I have started stitching down the binding. After some experimenting DS and I settled on invisible thread for the top and black for the bottom (I might live to regret this choice, but it quilted a treat and looks just like we wanted it to - blending in but not completely).

    From Gunda's Hope Chest
    Needs to be ironed...

    My MiL gave me beautiful damask from her hope chest when we visited Germany 3 1/2y ago. Instead of making duvet covers, I turned it into a large quilt for our bed. There is one problem with California King Size beds, the quilts need to be ginormous! Now I can put this on first and smaller quilts on top :)

    Opal Essence
    Yep, still walking foot quilting the cubes. Enough said...

    Aotearoa Quilt Challenges
    Tree of Life
    Winter Blossom

    I entered a piece each for the Yellow and the Floral Challenge.

    Totally Cactus
    I made a couple of these as Christmas presents:

    Whakapapa #1
    I don't think I blogged about this one? I finished it last summer, it's a piece inspired by the landscape of where we grew up in Germany:


    To a certain degree the success (or otherwise) will be influenced by work (and I am still applying for jobs atm). What I would like to do (again in no particular order):
    • Finish Press Start (binding, bury threads)
    • Finish Giant Chevron (quilting, binding, bury threads)
    • Finish Opal Essence (quilting, binding, bury threads)
    • Complete remaining Vintage Quilt Revival blocks (anything else is a bonus)
    • Piece Metro Rings top (anything else is a bonus) 
      Great way to use up my gazillions of leftover 3" squares from the Tokyo Subway Map quilt

    • Something 'arty' - it's been a long time since I made an 'art quilt' and I have various ideas floating around.
    Well, now that it's written down, I'll have to do it, won't I? 

    Happy Sewing!