I consider it a successful week if I manage to get 3 basic customer quilts done in one week. I know a longarm quilter who can turn out 3 a day using 3 machines and an assistant, which I think is an incredible rate. I downloaded a new digital pattern called “Folkart Flowers” by Natalia Majors of Sunstone Quilting because I plan to quilt my Swedish Postcards quilt with it (although the kit has not yet arrived). I had to convert the digital file into the Bernina format using ArtnStitch but after that it worked well and was not too slow for such a busy design.
I treated myself to a couple of days off and made enough “ethnic” log cabin blocks for a quilt that will fit a single bed or the sofa – 70 blocks of roughly 7.5” square. I simply had a stack of yellow centre squares and a box full of 1.5” wide strips. The fabrics were Indian, African, Aboriginal and Indonesian, mixed in with shot cottons. Some of them frayed very badly but I just lined up the outer threads with the edge of the patchwork piece underneath my sewing machine and sewed with small stitches. The log cabin strip arrangement varied because it was intended as a scrappy quilt and I did not want it to look planned.
Most evenings I have watched YouTube demos on how Vloggers make quality “content”. Nella says I am over-thinking the process and just need to crack on with making some simple videos. Admittedly, I have got carried away by the technology. The original intention was to offer individual Zoom lessons with good audio and possibly 2 cameras so I need to stop thinking about it and just get on with it. I could have a practice with showing someone how to make hair scrunchies, as requested by Nella. I found so many demos on the internet but some of them are unnecessarily fiddly. The best method on YouTube, involving no hand sewing was by SewVeryEasy. We used organza – I am sure this can be done entirely on the overlocker with a rolled hem but I have not quite worked out what happens when the tube gets joined to make it as simple as possible. Obviously, to make life easier we could just buy scrunchies but there would be no challenge there;)
Nessie finally got a professional haircut this week. Bumble’s groomer had reopened after Lockdown. I warned her that Nessie thinks brushing is a naughty game. Let’s just say, I don’t think Nessie was very co-operative so it is a wonder that she came home looking so nicely trimmed.
Whether she was in a grumpy mood after that or whether she she just got carried away I don’t really know but I went to pick up her ball that evening for one last throw and she bit my finger. Her puppy teeth were sharp enough but her adult teeth are fearsome. I got a deeply gashed puncture wound. Freya insisted that I should have it checked at A&E because I did not know if I had a lifetime dose of anti-tetanus. I was examined by a triage nurse on arrival then I was sent to wait in a different area for the tetanus shot and sutures. There was nobody about and yet I waited… and waited. I became increasingly annoyed that half a dozen receptionists and security guards or porters seemed to be hanging around chatting, not making any efforts to maintain a social distance and not wearing face masks, despite multiple notices ordering all staff to do just that. I enquired how much longer I would have to wait for such a simple procedure but was told that the medical staff were really busy since each patient had to have their own examination room due to the risks of Covid-19. After 3 hours I left without treatment, absolutely fuming. If that is the situation on a quiet Tuesday night what happens on a boozy weekend night where there might also be a major traffic incident? I felt that some of the surplus and frankly, arsey admin staff could be swapped for First-Aiders. The next day I got patched up and dosed against tetanus by a nurse at the doctor’s surgery in under 3 minutes! It’s a good job I don’t need to do any hand sewing as it will be a while before it heals. I believe I will be watching dog training videos on Youtube this week…
Under normal circumstances I would probably be on holiday at this time of year – usually visiting family in Norfolk, possibly a music festival, maybe a trip to the seaside, or rummaging in junk shops. A Pandemic and caring for a severely anorexic child has put the khybosh on all that this year. It is not that I need to be away somewhere, necessarily. I just want a mental break – from meal preparation, supervision, and carrying out the same routine every single day. In my head I want to have someone deliver snacks and drinks and I want to read a book all day. That is not actually what I would normally do on holiday – it is all a fantasy. I find it difficult to switch off and suffer from guilt if I am not constantly on the go or creating something. I have always had a project underway or an adventure planned. I have not even been bothering to post much on Facebook as everything seems so mundane, even though I never used to post anything of national importance anyway.
In the meantime, apart from working on customer quilts I have occupied myself by… re-covering my 2 disgusting ironing boards, made an elasticated fruit bowl cover, completed rewriting my lost spreadsheets, obsessively done Duolingo German and EVEN washed the glass lampshades in the kitchen which I can only face doing once in a blue moon!
(Revamped ironing boards)
I got a bit carried away with the idea of teaching online so I have ordered all sorts of amateur videography gear that will allow me to deliver good quality sound and audio. I am having a bit of a funk about what I can actually teach as it seems that the internet is awash with expert tutorials so what could I possibly add that might be of interest?
I have ordered a “Postcards from Sweden” quilt kit – I don’t have to come up with a plan, just sew together some pre-selected fabric and simply enjoy the process. Hopefully, that will give me a boost to come up with some new ideas.
(Postcards from Sweden Quilt Kit from Tartan Reel)
I had one of those weeks that felt really busy and quite stressful but I can hardly remember what I actually did. There were 3 customer quilts and I ran up a few more face-masks. It rained a lot, I practised my German and I did not catch up with any paperwork. I spent far more time than was necessary researching microphones for teaching over Zoom – apparently people can put up with a dodgy camera but not poor quality sound.
On Saturday I tackled sewing up the Collins Top. I swear that every time I attempt dressmaking I vow never to do it again. Like being pregnant, the mind forgets the agonies and persuades you that this time round everything will be easy. There really was nothing wrong with the pattern. On the whole I understood it except when it explained how to attach the sleeves. The problems were entirely of my own making. I was not sure if I had lengthened the pattern pieces correctly and soon discovered that some bits needed to be chopped off. I cut a notch right in the middle of the front panel so had to make a kantha stitched repair patch. I used the overlocker to construct the whole thing, deciding that if it went wrong I would just chuck it and I attached the neck binding as if it was a quilt. Nella reminded me that I always get totally stressed out by dressmaking and I really should not waste my time but by then I was already looking at kimono style jacket patterns and admiring the French seams inside a tunic top that a street tailor made for me in India.
Much to my surprise, it is actually a wearable garment. The 16 pieces went together well, although none of my pattern notches matched or they got sliced off by the overlocker. I might make it again under supervision or I could simply give the pattern to a friend so I don’t feel so guilty!
I spent almost all week continuing to sort through my workshop. It often seems to happen when I have finished a major project. It is not as if it was very untidy – it just felt a bit crammed and there were quite a few cobwebs. I was ruthless with scraps, particularly small, plain pieces. I have plenty of larger, plain pieces and could not face fiddling about with a huge box of little bits. I got rid of dried up leather that came off old armchairs and discovered over 10 metres of brassy, gold stretch spandex. Why did I buy all that? I know I used bronze spandex for the coracle and some gold lame for my totems but I cannot think what I intended to do with so much stretchy gold!
The more I tidied, the more obsessive I became about getting everything look neat. It is not exactly a working environment having an immaculate space but psychologically it clears the decks to think about what the next project might become. Since the dump had opened I was able to get rid of a cardboard mountain that had taken over the garage. I offered the defunct Scanncut machine free for spares/repairs on Facebook and it got collected the same day.
In between the house-keeping I attached the binding to a customer quilt and had my first online Zoom session with Bernina colleagues. The sound and camera was better than any Skype call I have ever had. It was good to know that virtual teaching is entirely possible, although not absolutely perfect.
The last time we had decent weather I ordered a pattern from The Fold Line for a “Collins Top”. There are something like 16 pieces and then I realised that it was a fairly short top so I would prefer to lengthen it. Contrary to what I thought, garments are lengthened somewhere in the middle, rather than at the bottom. I followed the instructions on The Fold Line blog but so far I have not plucked up the courage to sew it together in case it is yet another home-made garment that does not fit. Face masks will be mandatory in Scotland so I feel obliged to make some more, even though I have not really been anywhere since March. Maybe I should not have been so hasty to get rid of my scraps!