Category Archives: Quilting

Wild but Mild Weekend

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Nella’s motivation for eating this week was the anticipation of an overnight stay with Freya in St Andrews to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I packaged up food with a military precision so I could be super organised in advance. We had a great visit – the show was raucous fun, we did a little frivolous shopping and spent time with a couple of Freya’s friends who came over to explain how to play old-school “Dungeons & Dragons”. Since the weather was unusually mild we even managed to go to the Banchory Bonfire and Fireworks on Saturday night for an hour. It all reminded her that her life could be so different if she can beat Anorexia but she did feel down afterwards, having no next big event to look forward to. We will plan small milestones such as a trip into Aberdeen or a visit to the cinema, things that we have not been able to do for months.

I started a Christmas customer quilt which I can work on for an hour at a time over the next week or so, deciding that for simplicity all of the trees will be quilted the same with small clamshells but the background quilting will be snowy and wild. 

I printed a pink screen-print doily onto the black camouflage fabric which looks really vibrant – maybe it could become a cushion or a funky cosmetics bag. The extra large doily is taking ages to draw out – after 4 hours I had not even completed the full outline so the detail will keep me busy for a while. I hope the crochet has not distorted too much from a circle into a sort-of squashed ellipse but then again maybe it will look more authentic if it is a bit wonky. 

The week ahead will include a couple of simple craft projects, the Christmas quilting and some school work – I have to brush up on Hamlet quotes!

Positivity

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The one thing that is essential when dealing with a child with Anorexia is maintaining a positive outlook. Even when it seems that there is no improvement, the only thing is to keep trying and keep hoping that the vicious cycle can be broken. On Thursday we were warned that a hospital admission is looking increasingly likely if the medical checks show up increasingly failing health and weight continues to drop. We were given the weekend to turn things around, even the tiniest amount. Her friends visited and gave her a brave and loving “talking to” which I hope struck a chord deep within. 

I now have to provide almost 24/7 supervision so there is no opportunity for her to exercise and I must insist that some food is at least tasted 3 times a day. Everything revolves around mealtimes and the issue of food, even though my daughter will only touch one piece of fruit and a few spoons of home-made soup each day. 

We kept ourselves occupied by building an IKEA desk and bookcase, getting started on some school-work and trying not get sick of each other’s company. She had to sit in my workshop while I had a DIY quilt customer for a morning. This new regime will curtail my DIY work since I usually work through lunch but I will have to figure a way of keeping going with some quilts otherwise the business will just disappear. I have not worked on my Rainbow Warli quilt at all and I really want to make some progress towards getting all of the pieces finished, even if I don’t know what sort of quilt it will become. I almost decided not to proceed with Year 2 of my textiles printing evening class but I will do it anyway as a lifeline for my sanity or at least a change of scene. 

 

I used the little Elna sewing machine that now lives on my daughter’s new desk and finished piecing the “Positivity” quilt. This is a pattern by Christa Watson using the fabric that I won as a door prize in her class in Florida, mixed with a few extra scraps and multi-coloured squares instead of neutrals. I got the Bernina Q-matic to quilt spirals all over it for texture and backed it with an Indian mandala cotton bedspread. While she made a short visit to her friend’s house I got the binding on and made up her bed. It is bright and cheerful – she loves it and IF she has to go into hospital this is something that she can take from home that I have created especially for her. 

Dropping In and Out

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You hear about people dropping out of Uni or Life all the time but I have never thought about what that actually meant. I feel as though I have temporarily dropped out of Quilting, certainly when I look at social media and think that Everybody Else is beavering away, teaching, launching new patterns or inventing new techniques. I have barely had time to think about quilting, let alone actually do any. 

We waved Freya off on a Grand Adventure to Tanzania where she will be staying with a university lecturer whom she met on the way back from her trip to Egypt. Her journey of 24 hours ended up in Mwanza where passengers on the 8-seater planes can either carry hand-luggage or a bucket of fish. She will explore Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar with her host and probably foster a desire to do an internship there in the future. 

I have been able to work on some basic customer quilts using Qmatic in between medical appointments and school meetings. I chose the same pattern, Flower Child, in various sizes because it was straightforward and suited several different quilts. 

I finally finished piecing the Positivity blocks over the weekend so it will be fun to put them all together with my youngest daughter. We have been spending a lot of time together, not only in the battle to get her to eat but also because she is currently unable to attend school. I persuaded her that it would be calming if I helped to sort out her messy room so we looked up how to fold clothes the Marie Kondo (Japanese) way so they take up less space and it led onto a major clean-up. She is actually thrilled with how ordered everything now is. 

The knock-on effect was that we moved the piano out of her room then shifted all of Fergus’ music gear out to the summerhouse so he has a space that is more of a studio. This involved moving a sofa-bed into the ex-music room via a tight front door and ridiculously small hallway – if I move from this house I swear most of the furniture will have to stay behind to avoid a repeat of those shenanigans. Hopefully those 2 siblings will now clash less over practise, noise and taste in music! The rest of the house would also benefit from a major declutter but really I would rather sew;)

Patchwork Therapy

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Life is not always a beach so it is good to have an interest such as patchwork and quilting that offers an escape from worry. We had our first Eating Disorder appointment which did not wave a magic wand but at least got my daughter accepting one tiny meal of vegetables per day. This is a small step in the right direction, mainly due to the threat that she will not be able to go to Latitude if she is not fit enough.

I took Bumble to the vet because one of her mammary tumours had opened up. She is not actually unwell but we were told that she had half a dozen tumours, some of which could be surgically removed but that they would come straight back. I decided that my beloved 12 year old dog would not be put through any further operations and just asked for antibiotics for the wound instead. I am sad that Bumble can’t come on holiday with us but I can’t leave her with my folks for too long and I would have to go back to Norfolk from Birmingham to collect her so I just have to hope that she is OK staying with friends for almost 3 weeks. 

One of my friends had a nasty road accident – she was badly shaken, bruised and her car was a wreck. I gave her a couple of lifts in Fergus’ little car which was making an alarming squeaky noise like a constipated hen. Hopefully it is just a dirty brake and won’t be another expensive fix. 

 

 

The last customer quilt before the summer holidays begin was a cream quilt for a Golden Wedding present. It was quilted with a Qmatic pattern then I had to attach a row of slippery bridal lace. I made a thin strip of folded bias to hide the raw edges then sewed it down with a decorative blanket stitch. 

A delivery van dropped off a package that I had forgotten about which was a Bernina eyelet kit. I spent a morning fiddling with settings and thread and was impressed at how well it performed. My plan is to make eyelets then layer them over silver lame fabric so they look like Indian mirrors to add to my rainbow Warli quilt. 

Another parcel contained my new Bernina style trolley-rucksack. I have designed a name badge so it looks like one of the bags that I coveted at BU and I need to find someone to embroider it for me. 

I decided that I needed a therapeutic “just because” patchwork project so I cut up the Christa Watson layer cake that I won as a door prize in her class. One of her patterns , “Positivity”, called for neutral greys in the background but I swapped that part for plain coloured fabrics from my stash. I really enjoyed some mindless patchwork where all I had to do was simple chain-piecing. I can just pick up around 5 blocks at a time and allow my brain to switch off. 

 

This week we will be working through my pre-holiday/packing lists and hoping that everything just ticks along without any drama.

A No Sew Week

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In theory I am meant to be starting a family holiday on July 12th that will lead me straight into FOQ so I decided that it was time to make preparations as the end of the school year is looming. I prepared my teaching materials and notes and packed them into a suitcase. In reality, parts of the family holiday may have to be abandoned since my youngest daughter has developed an eating disorder and we had several medical appointments last week. I cannot say more about it here, other than it is extremely difficult to deal with.

I gave up on the idea that the kids would sort out the summerhouse which they had used for several parties and sleepovers so it was down to me to wash the bedding and clear away debris. They were also not thrilled that I dumped all of their items into their rooms instead of leaving them strewn around the house but there comes a point when a major tidy-up is good for the soul.

I waited all week for Amazon Prime to deliver packaging for my show quilts and I admit that they did not receive my usual scrutiny so I just hope they hang relatively straight. Iconoclast is being sent to the World Quilt Show with another 20 UK entries and So Many People is off to FOQ for an airing. 

For a change of scene we drove down to St Cyrus on Saturday for a rummage around the junk-yard. It has always been scruffy but on this occasion it seemed particularly derelict. There were smashed LPs, broken shards of mirrors, headless figurines and I was convinced that there could be funeral urns full of ashes somewhere amongst the bric-a-brac. 

We went for a wander along the stunning beach afterwards and encountered a weird atmosphere. Crackling static electricity made our hair stand on end! The light was ethereal, the sea calm and the air still until we heard rumbles of thunder and flashes of lightning. A storm rolled in and we decided that it was best to head back across the dunes. Bumble seemed confused – she was either fazed by the size of the beach or knew that a storm was on its way. I am actually worried that she is becoming too frail to enjoy such trips. She seems fine most of the time, bumbling along in her usual fashion but it is either time to consider having yet another operation to remove tumours from her under-carriage or leave them alone and let nature take its course. 

I really have no idea what to expect from the week ahead. My Bernina 710 arrived back from Cardiff with a new CPU unit/brain so maybe I should cut out a mindless patchwork project to work on in order to keep myself preoccupied. 

Defying Gravity

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By the time I went to bed on Monday evening I had been on the go for 36 hours. Luckily, I don’t seem to be bothered with jet-lag after USA trips, maybe because I just need to keep going and get back to normal. It took some time to unpack, even though I had not bought much then I had to sort out my expenses and file paperwork which is a job that I loathe.

I had 2 DIY quilting customers this week – one was a long bed runner done using Qmatic but the other was a large Gravity Quilt which the customer bravely chose to do entirely with ruler work, never having done any before. It took her 2.5 days to “simple” designs on her quilt and it looked great when it was done. 

While she was busy I decided to make a couple of By Annie Clam-Up bags to control my ever increasing cables. I feel like I am always coming up with cable storage solutions yet every time I go on a trip I open up my bag to find a tangle of spaghetti wires. I can’t believe that I went to the trouble of cutting 2 pieces of quilted fabric which was directional then ended up with one half of the bags upside-down. I realised that I had flipped the template for the second half when I should have cut two pieces the right way up. I will just have to pretend that I am not an idiot and used a single piece of folded fabric. All of this was done on my Singer Featherweight because the Bernina is still in Cardiff. I have noticed that you don’t actually appreciate a machine until it is not available so I feel that I need to get a sturdy, back-up machine without any computerised parts. This might be the Elna Lotus after it has had a thorough service or maybe I need to find a mechanical Bernina 1008 before they are discontinued.

We went to see Fergus at a gig in Aberdeen in a post-punk, metal line-up. The crowd sang along to his lyrics and chanted his name which was great. I think some of the crowd wondered what I was doing there when the mosh-pit and feedback really got going but I have actually experienced the frenzy and noise of a live gig in similarly seedy venues, albeit 35 years ago!

 

I had a bit of a panic when I looked at the calendar and realised that there are only 3 weeks to go before I go to Norfolk with the kids and all of my FOQ stuff has to be ready as it is a week earlier. Once I go away I will stay away until after the show which means almost a month away from here. There is a lot to organise from sending off 2 show quilts, getting teaching materials sorted out and checking our camping gear. Things are going to be hectic…!

Bernina University – Jax to the Max

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I had a 3 flight journey to Jacksonville, Florida from Aberdeen – Manchester – JFK New York, arriving at the hotel just before midnight. All went fairly smoothly despite my trans-Atlantic seat neighbour man-spreading, gripping the seat arms and trying to persuade me to love Jesus. Clearing passport control and customs took forever at JFK, possibly even longer than I have experienced at Paris Charles de Gaulle!

We had an early start on Monday morning at the opening launch of Bernina University. It was a huge event with hundreds of dealers and educators from Bernina of America. There was a lot of razzmatazz loud music and disco lights, followed by announcements of forthcoming new Bernina machines and accessories. I was surprised to see a large contingent of Mennonite attendees who had travelled from Pennsylvania by bus. Apparently, they are among the most successful dealers of Bernina sewing machines in the whole of the USA.

Classes started later that day and continued through to Thursday. It was a tremendous opportunity to take lectures and hands-on classes ranging from technical training, getting to grips with Qmatic and using social media to promote business. There was the opportunity to meet with Bernina brand ambassadors and teachers such as Christa Watson and Tula Pink. It was a very busy time and with the chilly air-con, easy to forget that there was hot weather outside. The hotel was situated downtown which really means within an area of offices so not much else to see in the immediate vicinity.

We found a quaint Italian restaurant a couple of blocks away which could easily have been featured on the TV show, “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” but the service, wine and food was excellent.

 

The closing dinner was a glitzy affair with a Caribbean band, disco and dealership awards. There was great anticipation of where BU would take place in 2020 and great excitement when Palm Springs, California was revealed as the destination. My room-mate, Merete Ellingsen, from Norway and I are both very keen to attend again to take more classes or even offer project based classes on the Q24/Qmatic. We will have to come up with something unusual and fun.

 

We had 2 free days after the convention so decided to use Uber cabs to visit Jacksonville Beach and an outdoor shopping mall, both approximately 30 minutes away. Merete could easily cope with lying out in the sun all day but I bought a brolly with SPF50 because otherwise I would have fried. Even when there was a thunderstorm it was still far warmer than a really hot day in Scotland. 

I felt that my trip was really worthwhile and I did not add significantly to my luggage apart from Amanda Murphy’s ruler collection. It was great to spend time with the BoA educators to revise and learn techniques that I will be able to pass on with renewed confidence to Qseries users in the UK, Germany and India. 

Normal4Me

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I might have known that Monday would turn out unexpectedly when a vole strolled across the kitchen floor, freaking Bumble out, before disappearing behind the dishwasher. It was tempted out briefly with a piece of vegan cheese but when Thistle appeared it went to ground, never to be seen again. My newly fixed Landy conked out and had to be towed back to the garage, requiring a new alternator and some other remedial work that had not been covered by its MOT. I might as well send all of my earnings straight to the Landy Man by direct debit!

I had a DIY quilter and a simple automated pattern then I spent far longer than I probably should have on a Christmas quilt for a customer. I seriously under-estimated the size and time that would be required for a dense snow flurry freehand and I quilted for a marathon 8 hours in one day, trying to get it finished. It does look great so I hope the customer will not mind that I went just a little overboard;)

 

I did all sorts of things in between such as having a crack at 2 test blocks for a charming hen quilt by CluckCluckSew.com – I would like to make a wall hanging in blue and white to co-ordinate with  my vintage Cornish striped crockery but it will be a long-term background project. There are quite a few pieces in each block and I am seriously tempted to enlarge the pieces to make a couple of mutant hens. 

 

I am still trying to find the perfect silver ink and sponge combo to print my mini Warli woodblocks. They print beautifully in black but I can’t get the silver to be both crisp and sparkly. 

I sketched a very rough diagram to figure out an approximate finished size and layout for the Rainbow Warli Quilt, trying to calculate how many small squares might make sashing to connect it all together. There is a set with small coloured circles, tiny thermofax print Warlis, 1” glitter circles, and I will keep some aside for my dodgy hand-sewn shishas and some blank so I can sew colourful pompoms on later (or not!) I still don’t know if I will make one conventional flat quilt or whether I can work out how to hang it as a canopy. The only difficulty is how an exhibition might cope with that…

 

 

I other news, Nella celebrated the end of her exams, Fergus released his first single and Freya accompanied me on a knicker buying trip to M&S so all in all, life here is completely “Normal” 🙂

Some Work, Some Play

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I tried to balance out the Work and Play this week, getting quite a bit done. I had 2 very large customer quilts, both of which were to be quilted with a dense pattern, “Raindrops on the Pond”. It is a super pattern with densely nestled spirals but it takes ages and there is quite a lot of back-tracking. It is definitely a pattern that I have to watch like a hawk. While the machine was occupied doing that, I trimmed back all of the wadding behind my giant sequins and doilies so now I have a cardboard box filling up with blocks for the M.O. quilt. I actually thought of a really good proper name for it the other day but before I remembered to write it down I forgot what it was!

I worked on a custom Christmas quilt, getting all of the S.I.D. and block detail done. That took some time and I still have to do snowballs and flurries in the background. The texture will be lovely because the wadding is wool and the quilt will be lightweight but warm/cool!

A brand new Scanncut machine arrived and I was keen to use it immediately. I was a little nervous since I had read online that the new model’s mats could be temperamental. The other new feature is that the cutting blade is automatic so theoretically no settings need to be changed when using different materials. I ironed Bondaweb onto my Indian cottons then put them onto the cutting mat with the Bondaweb facing up. My Warli figures were cut out beautifully except for the very fine cottons. I switched to the fine fabric blade and they were also cut cleanly. I ironed the figures onto contrasting coloured squares then wondered how on earth I would manage to stitch around the skinny arms and legs without causing damaging puncture wounds. 

Remembering the amber eggs that I made for Iconoclast, I ordered coloured organza for the Warlis. I could have used white organza but that would have paled the colours – the coloured organza matched the colour of the figure then made the contrasting colour look a bit like shot silk. I wondered whether it would be possible to remove some of the organza to reveal the bright colours underneath so I made a test block, quilted it with a twin needle then used a soldering iron to melt away some stripes. Considering that my soldering iron is a basic one with a screwdriver type end, the results were not bad, just a little gooey and scorched because there was a fine adhesive web (Mistyfuse) behind the organza. 

It was definitely a week for experimenting… I wanted to know whether I could sew shisha mirrors on using my longarm machine without a needle. I could but felt like I was living dangerously – I like to work with my fingers close the project AND the shisha mirrors have a metal ring inside so there is virtually nothing to stitch into. The other option would be to sew them on by hand either before or after quilting then add further stitching using the longarm. The other alternative will be to sew them on by hand after quilting if I also add pompoms;)

So far I have not had any success stamping clear wood block stamped images with silver paint, even using metallic screen print binder so I need to keep working with different formulae of paint mixtures to see if I can get that right. 

It turned out that I had falsely accused a fox of picking off my hens when a mink was spotted running up and down near the hen run, probably having snorted the chilli powder that I had sprinkled liberally. A humane trap has been set but so far it has avoided capture. Mink are not native to Scotland but were released after fur farms were closed so they are considered an invasive species, encroaching on the indigenous otters. In the meantime, I have to make sure that I round up the hens every night and shut them in to avoid providing free meals for mink. On a positive note – the new hens have produced one small egg so far:)

 

I collected my Landrover from the garage after extensive remedial work on the chassis for it to pass the MOT test. I was asked to sit down before being presented with the bill. It cost me the equivalent of 20 customer quilts so I had better keep very busy over the coming months to pay for it!

Shiny and Bright

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Having finally sewn on the very last glass bead to my Warli quilt, I decided to take photos outdoors with it hanging on a photographic / quilt stand. I don’t have enough room or light inside to do this so I have to put it up outside which means that the slightest puff of wind makes the quilt flap and causes the whole thing to topple over. Luckily, the quilt is not massive so it stayed upright just long enough for me to take a few quick shots.

 

I finished off a customer’s Christmas quilt. This was a pleasure to work on – the fabrics were fun, the piecing was perfect, the customer had requested wool wadding and it was custom. It was all done using rulers and freehand fillers, taking a total of 12 hours. The other customer quilt this week was a simple, scrappy bright batik quilt which I did with a simple honeycomb design using Qmatic.

I was annoyed that an online order that I placed 10 days previously had still not materialised so I had to get in the car to go and buy some Stitch-n-Tear stabiliser. Since I finally had just about everything I made a couple of samples for my new project, which for now I am calling “Magnus Opus”. I sewed giant sequins onto beautifully bright squares of Indian cotton then placed a coloured crochet doily on top. For some reason I have decided that there will be some trapunto under the circles which I hope will puff up when it is quilted. I can finally use up the reject wool wadding for this as it cannot beard through the sequins. 

On Friday I had a one-to-one session at Peacock Visual Arts on trying to get to grips with vector drawing on my iPad. I had watched various Youtube tutorials but there is nothing like interacting with a real human to be able to ask questions. My tutor was an expert in Illustrator (not the iPad) but he was able to explain how nodes work. When I did Maths at school I thought that I would never, ever need to know about Vectors and Nodes so it is ironic that now I am now keen to know exactly how they work. I am hoping that I will be able to come up with designs that can be digitised to use with Qmatic. With a bit of digital fiddling about I discovered that I can use an app called Adobe Capture to smooth and clean up black and white images so I was able to tidy up my original Warli figure. 

I took a photo of my large Warli spiral that I had created by sticking hundreds of figures on a large piece of paper and managed to get rid of all of the shadow lines, making a clean copy that can be resized. This means that I can print directly onto fabric or have a Thermofax screen made. I wish I could find an evening class that would teach me all that I want to know as it would mean far less time spent watching online tutorials, avoiding the temptation to get side-tracked looking at Festival tents!

I cut into some of my vibrant Indian cottons so I can print glitter Warlis onto squares that I will cut into circles. My Scanncut was not altogether happy – I bought it as a well-used model and the rollers keep shifting. I will attempt to give it a really thorough clean but I have already started looking online for a replacement since it has proved to be so useful. I wonder if I can sell the old Scanncut at a nominal price except I would not want to think it might be temperamental for its new owner;) And if I thought it would sell for anything I would also sell my Accuquilt Go which I have not used for ages except to cut patchwork pieces for a customer.

Supply and Demand

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I was at a bit of a loose end on Monday morning because I could not get started on the next customer quilts until some wool wadding arrived by post and I could not launch into the Big Project because I was I did not have everything for that either. To make myself useful I cleared out the store cupboard in my kitchen, discovering several small packets of opened pearl barley and at least 2 kilner jars that might be semolina, chickpea flour or some other pale yellow powder that had been there far too long. 

With a clear conscience I stitched a couple of big sequin samples to see if Razzle-Dazzle thread in the bobbin looked good and I wondered whether to try trapunto using the reject wool wadding that beards but won’t be able to poke through the sequins. At the end of the exercise I had to go and order yet more supplies such as embroidery stabiliser, a clear Bernina foot, circular attachment, and yet more silver thread. 

Several packages arrived during the week and I amassed a colourful selection of doilies, pompoms and shisha mirrors. I had better make sure that I make use of every single one of them!

I got a customer quilt done by Qmatic but it took a while because halfway down the quilt the narrow outer borders started to ruffle so I had to stuff them with extra wadding and spray copiously with starch in an effort to shrink them down. 

The next customer quilt that I started is a Christmas one which I am doing totally freehand and with rulers. It is coming along slowly but I am enjoying it. It is one of those quilts that could be have been quilted with a panto but is really fun to do custom.

Over 2 nights we had foxes in the chicken run and lost 3 hens! That is relatively uncommon here as we have a walled garden and there are usually plenty of rabbits and pheasants to keep any foxes fed. With one old hen left to protect my kids were puzzled when I told them that I was going to use a tray and a fork as my last line of defence. A garden fork was used to wedge the rear hatch shut and a large tin tea tray was used to block up a gap at the front of the shed. I don’t tend to shut the hens in overnight because in summer it gets dark so late and light so early that there does not seem any point. I will reinforce the fence, wait until the fox has moved on then get some more hens because there is nothing like collecting eggs from your own hens. 

I am probably going to sign up for Year 2 of the textile printing evening class so I can get access to the Art School equipment. However, that will not start until September and I wanted to screen-print silver foil onto fabric, maybe incorporate it into the new project. I had tried using an iron but found that the foil did not stick properly so I decided to order a budget heat press aimed T-shirt printing businesses. The other idea that I wanted to try was using heat transfer vinyl shapes that I could cut out using the Scanncut. I ordered 1m pieces of basic white, red flock and silver glitter in the colours of my Warli quilt. The heat press arrived and is a hefty item at 27kg which cannot be stored easily. The instructions were minimal but it was quite straightforward and I even managed to cut the vinyl without any problems. I cut and printed some 3” Warli figures as test pieces and I was really pleased how well they transferred onto fabric, especially as the shapes were so small and intricate. I think this new gadget has a lot of potential if only I can decide what to do with it;)

A Stitch Too Far

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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

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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

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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

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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.