Monthly Archives: November 2014

Dress Stress!



Almost all I thought about this week was figuring out how to join the top and bottom halves of Freya’s frock and get the zip in, having deviated way off the original printed pattern’s instructions. It would have been FAR more sensible to put the zip into the entire back first before joining the sides but we were too worried about getting the fit right and attaching lurex binding to the neck and arm holes. The biggest worry was the strangely crinkly, flimsy fabric for the skirt which kept shifting, puckering and shredding thread. Getting the darts in at all was miraculous and then there was the challenge of distributing the skirt fabric around a piece of bias tape that served as a sort of waistband that tacked onto the bodice.

We must have had 3 or 4 goes at getting the zip into the skirt, even resorting to sewing it by hand. It is just a little gappy so I have decided that when Freya wears it for her Prom I will put in a few little stitches after it is zipped up to keep everything tidy. Apart from that the zip is now nice and robust and the dress fits remarkably well. After experimenting with scraps of crinkly fabric to work out how to do the hem, I think we have decided not to sew it at all since it does not even fray and it will allow the skirt to drape better. I just hope that it won’t look too obviously ‘home-made”…

After a bit of a palaver, I managed to enter “Dunes” into Paducah. I could not upload photos from my Mac so I had to borrow Freya’s laptop. I had hoped to enter “Odin’s Trilogy” or even just one of the trio but they did not fit into any of the AQS size categories for small or large wall quilts.

framed capercaillie

There were other interruptions such as a trip to the orthodontist to get Nell’s first set of braces and helping Mo to shift the last of her stuff from her upholstery workshop back to a workroom at her house. I also collected “Copper Capercaillie” from the picture framer who had cleverly managed to leave the back exposed and I dropped it off at a gallery to see if a buyer could be found.


My Millie machine with QP did a great job of quilting poinsettias across a Christmas quilt and I managed to give the Lenni longarm a service in between commands since he might soon be on his way to a new owner in France.

While not worrying about the Prom Frock I have been worrying about getting the E-book finished so I devoted some time to editing photos and instructions for 3 projects. If I can get the next two large custom quilts completed the next thing I want to do is take step-by-step pictures of the leather evening bags which should be the final book project.  Unfortunately, my plans could be scuppered when I have to face the fact that Christmas is coming and I have not yet done anything about it 😉

To-ing and Fro-ing



This week was spent dashing around as the kids had 3 days off because of teacher training. Some days we were in and out of town 3 or 4 times, being unable to co-ordinate the various activities and appointments. Thistle went to the vet to be neutered and bounced back to torment Bluecat within hours, although there there seems to have been a bit of a truce since the weather turned wetter and colder.

On Tuesday I left home at 5.30am to catch the “redeye” Flybe flight to London for a meeting at Bernina UK in my capacity as an ambassador for the B710. All of the other passengers were soberly attired geologists on their way to an oil and gas conference so my purple and green clashy outfit made me really stand out from the crowd. I was disappointed to be offered wishy-washy tea and a chocolate biscuit for breakfast and decided that if I repeated this trip I would definitely fly with British Airways. The Bernina UK team admired “5BarGate2” and will hang it on one of the office walls unless it is required as a  demo quilt at a show. I dashed back across London to get the afternoon flight home, wondering at the strange life of people who regularly commute up and down the country.

I finally got started on a customer quilt on Thursday, working on it solidly for two days. Since the blocks were large, there was a lot of rolling back and forth to work on filler and stitch-in-the-ditch and I was eternally grateful for my powered fabric-advance motor.


I helped Freya work on her gold dress-bodice over the weekend, trying to get the fit right and attaching lurex binding around the raw edges. The dress is being tackled like a quilt instead of adding a conventional dress-making lining. I thought it would be a good idea to sew down the bulky seams inside by hand so they would sit flat but the final fit showed that there was tiny bit of extra space in the bust. I decided that it would be easier to buy bulkier underwear than unpick all of that out for an alteration. Another lesson learned was that putting a zip into the quilted bodice only meant that every time the dress had to be tried on it was in danger of bursting at the seams so a zip that extends into the tricky skirt fabric will have to be used after all. However, the only foot that can cope with the crinkly fabric is the teflon one so I have no idea how we will get the zip on by machine.


On Sunday evening we went to an independent cinema in Aberdeen to see the “Imitation Game” about Alan Turing, the mathematician at Bletchley Park in WW2. The film was really good but shocking how his life and career after the war were ruined by revelations that he was a homosexual: he was not granted a posthumous royal-pardon until 2013. We drove home just after the official switch-on of the city’s Christmas lights. I am not  at all impressed by how quickly Christmas is approaching this year..!



Just about the ONLY thing I have done this week is work on “5BarGate2”. The quilting and painting was already done and only one of the half circles had been fancified. It takes a really, really long time to add machine embroidery stitches, couching and rickrack to a quilt… I was not quite happy with the consistency of the satin stitch in the central smallest circles so I decided to hand-sew some beads to hide the sewing underneath.


When I had finished sewing I was disappointed by how wavy the quilt’s edges were. This was the result of the half circles being heavily stitched whereas the diagonals were not. I pinned it all to the carpet and steamed like mad before and after trimming. The long edges were still ruffled so I decided to attempt an undetectable bit of gathering in the less densely quilted areas. There was an improvement but it was still not completely flat!


For a change I hand sewed the binding onto the back because I wanted a narrow binding on the front as my rings were so close to the edge that I lost some of the outer ones when I trimmed the quilt. To disguise this, I added a thin, gold crochet cord into the ditch of the binding of the front and THEN went round the binding again with a slow-moving triple stitch. I began to wonder if I would ever finish and trim all of the loose threads. After skooshing yet more steam along the edges, it looks like it should hang flat 🙂


After attaching a label and a sleeve, I decided that the quilt would also need a denim tube-bag to travel in while it is on tour as part of the Bernina collection. I just need some bright sunlight to take better pictures so I can finish editing it as a book project.

A couple more customer quilts arrived this week but almost all of them want custom-quilting to be completed before Christmas. This is to be done as well as trying to make the two leather evening bags for the book, being courageous enough to work out the next step on the prom dress and taking out the satin Aladdin pants for Fenella’s dance show.


I had a few techie moments working out how to get my Mac and the old projector to communicate. I do not understand any of the instructions that I downloaded from a Mac forum but everything seems to work perfectly. I wasted more time trying to draw quilting ideas onto quilt diagrams using various apps and had limited success with my lack of graphics expertise. I might just do something low-tech instead and photocopy some design ideas onto acetate then try to figure out how to include that in an E-book!

Flying Blind


leatherbagbitz   goldbodice

My week started and ended faffing around with the gadgets and software that I have purchased without devoting enough time learning how to use them efficiently. I could not send a Powerpoint presentation to my oldish iPhone so it could connect to a mini projector. I could upgrade the phone OR buy a better projector. I managed to get hold of a projector then frustratingly, could not find the connecting cables! My talk in Cullen went very well without the aid of any technology and the ladies told me they would definitely look out for my forthcoming book.

diff dunes diag

Spurred on to finish off the diagrams for the book I fumbled around with EQ7 to draw diagrams of the “Dunes2” and “5Bar” quilts but was unable to understand why the software told me the quilt would end up a different size to the quilt that I have already made and measured! If I ever attempt to write another book, maybe I should write the instructions first…(yeah, right!)

I cracked on with two customer quilts then quilted the two small pieces of leather to make the evening bag bag book projects. It was intense, eye-straining work, punctuated with sweeties and painkillers. The leather pieces still need to have some machine embroidery and beading – then I need to figure out some sort of smart bag design.

Another two customer quilts came along, giving me a good excuse not to accept any supply teaching offers. One afternoon was particularly chaotic since some ladies appeared thinking that I ran a fabric shop from my workshop. They persuaded me to sell them some wadding and a few fat quarters that I had lying around. At the same time, a digital-piano repair man was trying in vain to discover the source of the annoying buzz on the kids’ Clavinova. It was embarrassing to admit that the problem was caused by a large stack of music books adding too much weight to the top but at least it was cheap to fix;)

As part of my final Halloween Party duty, I helped to tidy up the boxes of props and thought it would be a good idea to make a waterproof broomstick storage bag. I used some tablecloth PVC and added an essential carry-handle. It did not occur to me until much later that they could just as easily have been thrown onto a sack that tied at the top with string.


Freya and I plucked up the courage to cut out the pieces of quilted gold spandex for her art project/prom dress. I was totally bamboozled by the instructions for selecting size. Freya’s measurements for the Burda pattern did not correspond to the dress size that she would normally wear so we erred on the side of caution and cut out a bigger size than necessary. We were pleased that it joined together neatly but it was far too large. Rather than attempt to take everything in, we decided that it would be better to recut all of the pattern pieces smaller. The skirt fabric is alarmingly stretchy so I have no idea how that will attach nicely. It has been pretty nerve-racking for me to advise Freya on how to construct the dress because I really have no idea what I am meant to be doing!! At least it gives me an excuse to order a new pair of gold Dr Martens in a size that fits us both…

Party Planner?



velma   kidzstockinz

After a frenzied weekend of entertaining children, I am not seriously considering becoming a professional party planner;) I had a great team of helpers for the school Halloween party to get the hall decorated and food sorted. I begged a favour and got someone else to make the pots of striped jelly in case the sickness bug from our house was still lingering. Freya’s ceilidh band dressed up especially and Nella looked just like Velma from “Scooby-Doo”. The party ran to a strict time-schedule and despite using a loud hailer I found myself hoarse towards the end. The children seemed to enjoy the new activities such as wand-making, broomstick races and dancing to “The Timewarp”. Next year’s organisers can either use my format or ignore it entirely since Nell will have moved on to secondary school. This Halloween party marked the end of a decade of school parties!

Several customer quilts arrived during the week so they can get quilted in time for Christmas but the only quilting that got done this week was a pile of computerised stockings. I made enough for a Wednesday morning craft class and for Nell’s birthday party. Most parents would opt to take their children to the cinema and a pizza but I decided it would be a good idea to have an arty-crafty party instead with food and cake-pop making halfway through. It was actually quite fun and the girls really enjoyed themselves – there was even a chicken-feeding, kitten-chasing and trampoline interlude;)

The list for the week ahead includes preparation for a talk, starting on the customer quilts, rediscovering the bottom of my handbag, getting ready for a craft class that technically nobody has signed up for and solving the mystery of the catapulting bobbin…