Apr 27, 2014

D282&3: Time Away

The original layout
We've spent a few days at the in-laws', relaxing and resting.  Between all the walks, cups of tea, naps and trying to get Bub to eat something, planning the quilt was all I could tackle.  The softies fabric was brought but not unpacked, such was my access to the kitchen table over the days.  I didn't even bake anything!

I remade the little animals with the new colours, leaving the most flexible ones, like butterflies, till last to diversify and balance the colour range.  Then I spent some time shuffling them around, dropping a few out, looking at economical ways to arrange them in a balanced rectangle. 

Hub reckons I should knock back the range of animals and make it smaller.  I'm already changing it from the original 6"-squares to 4"-squares. I'm still getting over how long and narrow a single bed quilt is!  Although it's also not much bigger than a cot quilt when you chop off 15-18" for the the pillow area.  

I'm going by this advice from Stargazey - Standard Australian quilt sizes - but I suspect I'll be doing whatever size takes my fancy and feels proportionate. ;D

A bit tricky to sash, with lots of open spaces.
This one could be sashed in columns.
A square quilt? Almost random sashes would be awkward... hmm.

Apr 22, 2014

D281: There was a sale!

As if you would've done better!
Finally bought these things for a neglected quilt!

Hey, at least I was sensible. I even did two purchases - one for the things I really wanted to get using my focussed take-no-prisoners brain, and then another for some other things with my wouldn't-this-be-luverly brain, once I was sure I had time.  So there.  
It's just that I could see the opportunity to buy without Bub's distracting was along way off in the future, and I'd already been putting off a few purchases for a while.  There are a few things I'd like to knock off while I think about the next quilt...

My cousin bought me an Ink & Spindle pack to make a single-bed quilt top for my 35th (?) birthday.  (It's very similar to this one, which is just droolingly good.)  I have pictures of myself working on it the night I went into labour, trying to get it done before the biggest interruption of my life, sitting on a towel just in case.  Well, now I hope to get it done before Christmas, not necessarily 'next'.  The animal one is coming along and I can't delay it if I can figure it out.  I'm pleased this stuff is here now, though, so I can at least baste it together if I find time, or need a break from quarter-circles!

This arvo I began using pencils to try and figure out how many of which colours to buy, but I haven't felt like I was really making progress.  I was trying to see how many browns, blues and greens I could get away with, and such.  You know how some explorations just feel like busy work, but you run it out in case you learn something, or until a better alternative reveals itself...?

Well, when I saw a batch of solids on sale I thought maybe working backwards might be more helpful.  The Kaufman Kona solids are marvellous, but I'd be lost with all that choice - I need a restriction, not 271 options!  The pencils aren't bright or bold enough and the few textas I have aren't a helpful range - but I do have enough to sorta match them to my new fabrics and plan effectively.  

So here it is: my set for the quilt.  All I'm missing is black and white.  I think I can get nine 6" quarter-circles out of each fat quarter.

Matching my new fabrics to the pencils and textas I have, for future planning.

Apr 21, 2014

D280: Cutting it all!

We're off to the in-laws' for a while and I'm hesitant to start on any new sewing, so I've decided to cut fabric in preparation.  I've even packed away the machine! It's strangely liberating and I've already cut two projects today (although one of them requires a lot of pressing and interfacing before I can sew).

More on the horizon I hope.

A toy that may go OS - not sure about the colours...

Another toy, awaiting interfacing...

Apr 19, 2014

D279: Doodling fun

May niece was over for a few days on the Easter weekend and, as it's also my birthday on the Saturday, I'd schuleded something of a dream day for myself - watching Supernatural with a few uni friends and eating whatever we want, interrupted by toddler cuddles.  Afterward, we spent the evening brainstorming quarter-circle animals...

My final arrangement, thus far, of what we thought worked.

Hub even created a quick webpage to help us quickly flick through the different configurations for 2x2, 2x3 and 3x2 quarter-circle arrangements.  It's not available online I'm afraid, but it was pretty cool.

Apr 14, 2014

D272-78: Oh my goodness - it's done!

Long story short: the house had been sick, with Hub home since Tuesday and Bub coughing and gooping everywhere.  But in the midst of that I took quiet moments for this quilt, and all of a sudden I could see the end!  Blogging took a back-seat to quilting (as it should really).  Here's how it went, in pictures...

My thread choices for the top quilting

All the zigzag quilting complete, with the sashes to be quilted.
My idea for feeding the bias tape to the sewing.
The detail of the quilting at the corners.
The whole thing, getting an airing in the sun.
You've no idea how paranoid I was about birds flying over.
Plus some other things I did in between sewing, which require less attention and are more interruptible :)

Children's clothing patterns; ideas for the next quilt.

Apr 5, 2014

D271: It all my fault! Yey!!

I'll start with the key point here...

Tip of the day: If you love your machine, use quality thread.  It affects the tension and the debris and build up in the machine (at least). The quality of your machine's performance begins with the thread.

The poor quality thread in the bobbin is fluffy
My sewing machine dealer provides a free lesson on any machine purchased.  Today I used mine.  While I waited for the previous lesson to finish up I mentioned I'd had trouble with my machine's tension and was worried about the timing.  The technician plugged it in and, after looking at my trial swatch, did these things:
  • Changed the needle
  • Oiled the only user-accessible oiling spot available.

Thunking sound gone.  :0  
Stitches even and beautiful.  :O
Me stunned. 

And delighted!!  It was me!  I'm not sure which thing made the difference - he didn't run it between the changes to see - but there are three things that may have caused the problem.
  1. The needle may have been bent. This is highly likely when I think of the fifty or so pivots I've done, on the nine or so zigzags so far.  This involves manoeuvring a lot of heavy fabric, which I'm very careful about, but it's only the needle holding it in place.
  2. The thread fluff may have collected in the oil.
  3. The thread fluff or quality may have affected the tension pads.

A low quality thread, such as a brandless bulk-buy three-pack spool I may or may not have been using, it can be uneven in it's thickness and fluffy.  The fluff can pack up corners and lubricated points.  The thickness can make the tension pads lose their even grasp on the thread as they adjust from thick to thin patches.  Top-thread loops on the back of your work can ensue.

I thought that, like with my old workhorse machine, I could throw anything at this one and it would suck it up.  I wrongly assumed that a higher quality, more refined and sensitive machine would adjust itself it all sorts of thread - coz it's awesome right?  Nope.  It's sensitively means it needs consistency and, well, protection.  Cheap and nasty thread was okay on my old 807 as it wasn't sensitive enough to notice.  My 530 needs better quality thread.  Like I said, the quality of it's performance begins with the thread.  Also, like a commenter on my quilting forum discussion mentioned, it's not really the machine, in the end; crap thread is crap.

I also learned that 'quilting' needles aren't desperately important; regular universal needles are fine.  It's more important to match the needle to the thread thickness and to the fabric.  Can I mention my awesome Bernina, again, and the page in it's manual dedicated to different needles and their purpose? 

So, with all that under my belt, I finished quilting the white zigzags tonight.  I plan to tie up all the loose ends and remove most of the basting, and then do the coloured zigzags.

I'm working from right to left in all the initial zigzags because, even though I'm using a walking foot, I want to avoid twisting or pulling the fabric by working back and forth.  It means that I'm not sewing the quilt in the most convenient way, which would be to put whichever end is closer through the machine throat. Instead I'm putting the same side through and rolling up its bulk, when necessary, for easier management.
Here is me working through the last of the zigzags with as much bulk as possible being put through the throat.

Top: At the start, I support the length of the quilt over my shoulder and change shoulders as I zig and zag.
Middle: Managing the bulk of the quilt through the throat of the machine is challenging, especially midway when pulling it all back through as I pivot to go up the zigzag (the 'zig'!). I keep a firm hold on the roll to ensure my sewing area is flat.

Bottom: To keep the quilt weight from pulling on the machine I hold the tail of the sewing with one hand and guide with the other.  I don't know if I could do this with a full-sized quilt!

Apr 4, 2014

D270: Resigned

So I tried sewing some lines last night and, once again, the timing was out. Or still is.  I had to redo a few lines, so I'm hoping it will get fixed at my lesson tomorrow.  Which is the hopiest hope you've ever seen coz there's no way that's happening.  It'll be gone for at least a fortnight, I bet. 

I've leant my old machine to a friend (which she loves, joy!) and I'm not dragging it back for just a few weeks.  My craftiness will just have to be spent sewing in the threads if the work so far and working on other hand sewing.