Monthly Archives: April 2019

A Stitch Too Far


The balmy late Easter weather allowed me to soak up some outdoor Vitamin D and hand-sew kantha stitches onto my quilt binding. Despite making an effort to pull the stitches fairly tight, because they were not anchored into the outer edge of the binding, I could see that the stitches might not all stay neatly in position. The long-winded solution would be to add a clear glass bead to every crossover of red and white thread. I underestimated how long this would take to anchor every single bead using beading thread and a very fine needle. There will be somewhere over 600 beads in total around the binding but it feels like thousands. So much for my disapproval of the current trend for over complicated bindings!

I was very pleased with the label that I made for the Warli quilt. I cut a piece of freezer paper to A4 size then starched a piece of red dyed fabric which measured half an inch less  all round then ironed it onto the freezer paper. I ran it through my printer on the basic settings, deciding that it did not need any extra ink that might bleed if I used photo settings.  Next I printed a Warli stamp into a gap that I had left. It took me a while to notice that I had printed 2018 instead of 2019 so I had to repeat the process to get it right. I stitched the label onto the back of the quilt by hand and even added a quilt show “modesty flap” to cover the label to obscure the details during judging. 

I had 2 nice crazy quilts to do for a customer this week – one in batiks and one in African fabrics. I used Qmatic to quilt circular patterns which I thought complimented the angular patchwork. The quilts were small wall hangings so I was able to get them back to the customer within a couple of days. 

I sold one of my utility quilts to a friend this week which felt a bit weird. She could sense that I was reluctant to let it go and I tried to explain that it is a difficult process to sell a quilt, even to a friend because coming up with a sensible price for the materials and time is so hard. At the same time it is better if the quilt goes to a loving new home instead of languishing in a cupboard.

Poor Bumble was poorly this week and had a visit to the vet. She had blood in her pee and was off her food. The vet had previously told me that Scotties are very prone to bladder cancer and she is 12 years old. However, antibiotics have worked wonders so hopefully it was just a simple urine infection. She was most impressed that I tempted her appetite back with some posh dog food so if that keeps her happy I will keep spoiling her. 

I have placed orders for all sorts of trimmings that I plan to use on my Next Big Project so once they all arrive there should be no more procrastinating. The trouble with allowing a long deadline on a quilt is that there is no urgency to begin, especially when the plan is not quite fully formed. However, I do hope to explore some ideas soon, even it is just to alleviate the boredom of hand-stitching umpteen beads.

Keeping On Top of Things


If I did not have a notebook to hand to jot things down then cross them off then I would have no idea how I spend my time. It may seem that I have “produced” very little but there is always something going on. 

As a non mathematician I had to make a spreadsheet with all of the Q-series accessories that we will need to order for FOQ and I will have to do a similar thing to place a thread order. The Bernina UK Longarm Academy classes have been selling out quickly – the last time I looked there were only 5 places left out of a total of 48 which is terrific. 

Of the other minor but important tasks for the week I sent off an entry form for the World Quilt Show, tidied ONE teenager’s clothes that had been in a heap for months, had a few more bright ideas for my next Opus Magnus, sneaked in a few chapters of the epic novel  and did not deal with my paperwork;)

I had a huge customer quilt to do which was pretty challenging at 112” x 106”! For all the years that I had a 14ft quilt frame I rarely had to deal with anything that big. There was very little spare backing and I had a few issues sorting out some “bosomy” areas so I was relieved to get it finished. 

As a complete change of scene I produced 5 “Clam-Up” pouches to hold essential items at FOQ including thread snips, spare needles, tissues and mints. It was really good making the pouches in a batch because I could work on the same stage for each one, not muddling up the instruction pages and not having to continually swap threads or presser feet. Only one has a slightly wonky bottom for some unknown reason but on the whole I am really pleased by how smart they look. 

The 3 customer quilts that I did later in the week were far less stressful than the huge one in that each one was only 56” square and they were fabulously flat. I was even able to have a go at a hand-stitch experiment on the binding of my Warli quilt while I supervised Q-matic gliding along nicely. 

The pink sari quilt that I bought in India has a zigzag of kantha stitches along its binding so I came up with a version of that. What I failed to notice was that the Indian version does not wrap right around the binding and is therefore more secure. It may mean that I need to add anchoring stitches or beads to be on the safe side…

The first thing I am going to do in the coming week is gather up materials for my next Big Project / Magnus Opus, based on some antique Indian textiles, and make some sort of start on producing samples. I am aiming to have it ready for FOQ 2020 rather than struggling to complete it for this year – Let’s just say, I think it may take some time!

Lost in Literature


I took my 2 teenagers on an outing to the V&A Museum in Dundee, hoping that they would be blown away by masterpieces of British Design. The outside of the building, designed by Kengo Kuma, is magnificent. It looks like a cross between a futuristic ship and an Aztec temple and has a similarly impressive interior with giant wooden planks reflecting Dundee’s industrial heritage. However, there was actually only one rather small gallery that show-cased Scottish design, including a Charles Rennie Mackintosh panelled room. It was rather cramped and crowded, therefore difficult to see the exhibits. My kids were mortified that I asked a museum guide where the other galleries were. I was told that the other main gallery was closed (for up to 6 weeks) while they prepared it for the next temporary exhibition about computer gaming and would cost £12.00 per head. The £80 million pound building is large with plenty of room but in the style of many trendy museums has little substance. There were hands-on areas for young children to build structures and 2 cafes but I was disappointed that the Scottish branch of the V&A was not a patch on its London parent. After less than 30 minutes we had seen everything, went for lunch then headed home.

Years ago I read a novel called “The Far Pavilions” by M.M Kaye set in India with an impetuous hero and wonderful descriptions of 19th Century Indian palace life. I had completely forgotten the plot and found myself totally absorbed by a weighty, addictive novel. I don’t usually “allow” myself to read during the day so I found that I was sneaking in several chapters between what I was meant to be doing. Of course, it has made me yearn to return to India and explore more of a vast country that I merely glimpsed last year.

Eventually I finished all of the stitch-in-the-ditch on the house quilt and had to decide how much more quilting to do apart from some simple free-motion in large areas of sky or grass. It is not my quilt and the brief was to “keep it simple” so apart from some roof tiles and patterns on large areas of gable end I had to step away and declare it done. 

Freya came home for a visit over the weekend having been on a trip to Egypt with Uni friends to celebrate her 21st birthday. She seemed pleased with my present of a wee braw bag filled with goodies from Lush and a red metal tool box that I had stocked with everything from pliers and screwdrivers to plasters and chocolate. 

I prepared my next customer quilt which I had been told was 100” square but when I checked it was actually 106” x 112” so it was lucky that there is JUST enough backing fabric. I decided to wait until after the holidays are over before tackling it so I made a “Clam-Up” pouch by Annie, having coveted one that I had seen on Instagram by Norway’s Bernina Q24 Ambassador, Merete. I made the tiny one which was fiddly but it does look quite professional, especially since I decided to neaten up the inside of the zip by hand-sewing it inside. 

Exciting news is that I have booked up classes for myself at Bernina University in Florida this June, hoping to get to know the Qmatic system inside-out. Finding flights to Jacksonville was not easy and I explored many options of flying via Europe or going to Orlando then hiring a car. It was annoying that Virgin had good offers online but when I attempted to book the price went up by more than £200.00 In the end I used Expedia and have bookedFlybe flights to Manchester followed by JFK with Virgin. I just hope it all ties together!

Around the Houses


It is rather annoying that some sellers on Ebay and Amazon claim to be from the UK when they are in fact based in China, so items take ages to arrive. A box of 60” tape measures finally arrived that looked positively vintage although the contents had never been used. I devised a way of sewing them onto my mini zipper canvases so both zeros met in the middle and I even wrote down detailed instructions in case I ever need to make 4 sets again. 

I am never sure how much work I will get done during school holidays but I loaded a sweet customer quilt called “Welcome Home in Spring” and started off with a basic bead-board border. The plan is to stitch-in-the-ditch around all of the applique, add some detail on roofs, some free-motion in large areas of sky or grass then decide if it needs any more quilting after that. It is one of those projects where I could just keep going – adding chimney smoke, paw prints, flower pots…

I was required to be a Roadie for Fergus for a band rehearsal then I detoured to IKEA to collect a Raskog trolley so each Q24 can have its own set of kit parked nearby. Since I had now made 4 sets of zippered leaders I decided to make 2 more one-hour baskets. As I could not find the fabric that I quilted before, I used off-cuts from the vintage kantha jacket that I had tailored for me in India. I have really enjoyed making these baskets as they are so easy and useful so next I made 2 smaller ones to hold Q24 cleaning kits. I even had to buy mini tins of WD40 that would fit nicely in each basket!


Much time was wasted online and on the phone trying to line up Young Driver insurance in the event that Fergus might pass his driving test. Because he is 17 and a boy the prices were shocking and some companies would not insure him at all. His lesson and test began at 7am on Friday morning and I was so pleased for him when he sent a text with good news. 

We went to collect a pre-loved VW Polo from one of my quilting friends and he drove it back home sedately following my Landrover. He gave it a quick wash and then spent much of the weekend driving around on little jaunts to the shop, beach, around the block, and even to Aberdeen city centre. It will be very handy to have an extra driver and vehicle – I just have to hope he continues to be a sensible motorist.