My week started off with my Bloomin’ 50th Birthday! My kids made a great effort with balloons and flowers and a some very special gifts, including a black Scottie dog lamp which looks like Bumble is sitting on top of a chest of drawers. My two BFFs were away but sent a helium balloon in the post. I am not into parties but hope to plan some kind of special trip later in the year.
Freya ran a taxi service in her Beetle, getting plenty of driving practice clocking up miles by ferrying her siblings around. It was the last week of her long Christmas holiday so for fun we went out for lunch a couple of times and decided to unscrew the filthy glass lampshades in the kitchen and run them through the dishwasher. It was amazing how dazzling the lights were when they were clean so we decided to clean the oven as well. There is plenty of other Spring Cleaning to do but there is no point in doing it all at once:P
I squeezed in 2 customer quilts – a lovely log cabin and a baby quilt with boats. Feeling virtuous, I completed the blasted rivets on the denim word search quilt and discovered that jeans buttons are far easier to attach. The hanging sleeve was sewn on securely and I even sewed the corners of the binding shut. The only job left to do is some mending on the reverse where some of the rivets have caused a little damage.
I decided that I was allowed to spend Saturday afternoon and evening making 8 thistle blocks for the Fancy Forest quilt. I realised that it it is easy to put the stalk in the wrong way around which made the leaves look completely different. After that I made 4 correct blocks and 4 deliberately wrong blocks to make it look like that was what I intended all along.
Before Freya left for the new semester at Uni I discussed ideas with her for my next Big Project. I need to do a bit of experimenting before I launch into it and will actually need to buy some fabric unless I decide to do something completely different. I saw something the other day that I want to figure out which could be interesting…
I decided to try and finish off the denim quilt before starting on anything new so I trimmed and blocked it, made binding, a label embroidered onto a jeans pocket and a hanging sleeve. There were several jeans pockets left over from making the blocks so I was able to have a practice run using the Bernina 710 alphabet and some thick yellow thread.
It is a very heavy quilt to deal with so I shifted my sewing machine table to join up with the big table, supporting the weight while the binding was being sewn onto the front side of the quilt. I find sewing binding onto the back by hand very tedious but it is necessary if considering entering a show.
I abandoned the idea of highlighting one or two words with yellow thread. It would have been very difficult to make a neat job on such a bulky quilt and I reckon it will be more fun to search for all of the words without any clues.
A test-run of hammering in a rivet was pretty easy so I hoped that adding rivets to all of the block corners would be a quick job. Let’s just say it was a good job that I ordered far more rivets than I needed because quite a lot of them failed. I decided that it was better if I hammered the seam flat first then poked a hole with an awl. Some of the rivet tacks were a tad shorter than others so they were hopeless, simply getting squashed. I broke a couple of finger nails trying to extract the reject rivets (should have used pliers). I even made a sizeable hole in the quilt where one rivet not only failed but also cut right through so I patched it with denim and ordered some larger jeans buttons to deal with such disaster areas. Bumble was not impressed by all of the banging and swearing. That job is yet to be finished as I am waiting for more rivets and buttons to arrive from Ebay.
The middle of the week proved to be lucky – BzB was awarded 3rd place at Road to California, Fergus was offered an audition for Music College and Freya passed her driving test!!!
One of Freya’s first trips in the car as a driver was to go and collect 3 ex-battery hens that she had decided to rescue. The hens are 18 months old when “retired” and are either adopted by a charity or slaughtered. They are in a dreadful state – almost bald with no idea how to drink or forage. Sadly, one died overnight but the other 2 have lasted 24 hours with the help of encouragement, a hot water bottle, porridge and fleece jumpers that I made for them. If we can keep them hydrated and warm over the next few days they stand a chance of a far better life…
Just when I was on the point of caving in to supply-teaching offers, the first customer quilt of the year came in. I had to piece together some small, embroidered squares and add spotty fabrics until it was big enough to become a cot quilt, hopefully without having to purchase much additional fabric. It is now ready to quilt and another 2 customer quilts are on their way so I should be able to stay out of school for a wee bit longer;)
I worked on the denim word-search quilt for the entire week! Firstly, I had to complete the vertical lines with the Bernina 710 using a walking foot, going cautiously over the ridiculously thick seams. When that hefty job was done I put the quilt back onto the Q24 longarm to stitch around all of the letters.
I decided that each letter should be outlined 3 times with thick cotton thread, freehanded with no rulers and in manual mode which gives me greater control. Once I had found the best speed and tension for the denim I programmed it into the Q24 to remember the next time it was switched on. (The machine wants to run in BSR mode by default but once I clicked the manual button it also remembered that I like to stitch at 350 which is 30% slower than the default manual speed.)
Some letters were faster to outline than others but it still took quite some time – 121 letters x 3 outlines = 363 outlines and quite a few of the letters had insides too.
I was not happy with how some of the seams looked really bulky so I couched over all of the vertical and horizontal seams with a denim-look yarn to help flatten them. By Saturday afternoon I could not listen to anymore political analysis on Radio 4 so I downloaded an audio book instead which seemed to pass the time very well.
I am trying to decide whether it would be a wise decision to wash the finished quilt or not. Some of the denim is from well-worn jeans but some was crispy and new so it could shrink at very different rates. I wonder whether a wash would give it a good scruffy look or just make it look scruffy?
My plan was to highlight a couple of the word-search “answers” with thick yellow thread but that will mean more wrestling with the domestic machine/walking foot so I may drop that notion. The quilt is very large, stiff and heavy – so I could easily talk myself out of that.
However, I am keen to add rivets to all of the block corners so I have ordered some (maybe a hundred or so!) from Ebay, which will all have to be hammered on. Apparently you can get a hand-held rivet gun but I don’t know how often I will actually need to apply rivets to any future quilts. This denim word-search quilt could well be a one-off;)
I hope to get the entire project finished next week. I had intended to apply a facing but the quilt is far too thick to turn and get a neat knife edge so a conventional binding will have to suffice. It will also need blocking, a hanging sleeve in case it is ever exhibited and a label which I plan to make from a jeans pocket. Then I will have to decide what to do with it…
I always find the first week of January a bit of a drag – I feel that I should be zooming around productively yet it is still the Christmas holidays. It would probably be better if I was away from home so the guilt could not set in and I would not have to contend with a fridge full of uneaten cheese.
I did manage to get some boring admin out of the way such as my tax return for the previous year but I was peeved to find that the school teaching that I had done to prop up my quilting business took me over the tax threshold so that was a bit of a nasty sting.
I occupied myself by completing next year’s diary with dates on my phone, 2 paper calendars and a planner so there will be no excuse for being disorganised;)
I received great news that BzB has been accepted into the AQS Lancaster Show but there was a minor panic when I realised how tight the shipping deadlines were following Road to California. Both shows were very helpful at changes to my shipping preferences meaning the quilt will not be going back and forth to Bonnie in Oklahoma for TLC so I hope it does not start to look crumpled!
We had fun at an open-mike night to end the holidays when Freya and Fergus both performed on guitar and piano with a super group of their friends.
I may have met my match with my denim quilt. I had it all ready to longarm in neat lines but the seams were so hopelessly thick that the foot could not get over the bumps. In the end I stitched in the ditch, missing out the worst seams then had to resort to using the Bernina 710 with a walking foot. It is doing a great job but the quilt is really big and heavy so it is an incredibly slow job, with needles dulling quickly. There are a few wrinkles here and there but I hope to disguise those later with some couching and long-arming. I still plan to freehand around the letters with the longarm since there won’t be any lumpy seams to contend with in the centre of the blocks.
As usual, it is a more complicated job than planned and I had hoped to make a start on some sort of Russian inspired project during January. I expect that will also become something I regret. So much for telling myself after every major quilt that the next one will be simpler. Who am I kidding?!