Category Archives: Technology

Poof – Another Week Gone!

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Here we are again – another week has gone by! I got a few customer quilts done, mostly small ones and one very large one. Just when it seems I have caught up, a few more come in which keep me occupied.

I have been putting my hen blocks together, sort of inspired by an 1980s checkered plate from Habitat. I could not figure out the maths required to get a certain number of squares to go onto two different sized blocks. Illogically and randomly I came up with squares cut out at 2.25”. After quite some time it dawned on me to trim some hen blocks and extend others so they all all ended up at roughly 12.5” square. Somehow, 7 of the 2.25” squares fitted along the 12.5” block edge. I don’t know about the accuracy of the maths for this, I just made it all fit;) Despite the plan to only use up blue and white fabrics from my stash, I had to buy more blue and white fabrics because I did not have enough. The local fabric shop told me they are having a difficult time getting hold of fabric and they have no black or white in stock. I bought some white-on-white, which I hate, and used the “wrong” side.

 

I upgraded my phone to get a better camera and faffed around transferring things over. It does take good pictures, particularly in low light but it is still hard to photograph a black dog. Mind you, you would probably be able to see her eyes if she got a haircut!

 

There is no improvement in Nella’s anorexia as she is still very much struggling to eat many of the foods on her meal plan. At this point I have no idea how much longer she will remain in hospital or even what will happen for Christmas if she is unable to eat anything at home. The biggest problem is that her illness has such a strong hold over her that she does not want to recover from it and so she has no motivation. I think a good start would be to get into the habit of regularly eating less scary foods and then build on that success but I am not a medical “expert” so my ideas are generally dismissed.

I have decided to have a go at making a reversible Wixsten Haori jacket but can’t make up my mind whether to quilt the outer layer and line it or whether to quilt all of the layers and leave it unlined with exposed seams. I am also debating whether to buy thin, cheap fabric from India or whether to spend more in the UK and then be scared to mess it up!

Some Productivity

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Another week has gone by and I wonder what I did to faff my way through it! There was one big, colourful customer quilt. I tried to quilt rainbows onto it but the pattern kept crashing the system so I used a substitute pattern called “Dizzy Izzy”.

Nessie tried out her new, fleece rain suit. She was not altogether pleased at putting it on and taking it off but once it was on she did not mind at all and it kept her clean on a muddy walk.

Freya and I both made new sourdough starters for bread making.  I was excited when my KitchenAid pasta press finally arrived after months of back order and I made some vegan macaroni, substituting egg for a paste of ground flaxseed. This dried successfully in the dehydrator which is more than I can say for my semi-dried tomatoes and blueberries which obviously should have been vacuum packed since both went horribly mouldy in their soft state. 

I made 2 wearable pyjama tops using the simple and voluminous Athina pattern. My overlocker decided that it did not want to sew properly so I spent most of a day servicing it, panicking that it might have to be sent away for weeks

or be replaced. I tipped it upside down to clear out fluff, changed needles and the blade, before finally realising that

a tiny spring had jumped out of place. That was enormously satisfying. My next challenge was remembering how to thread the cover-lock machine to finish the hems. It is not actually complicated, just fiddly and would not have taken so long if I had consulted the instruction manual sooner rather than later.

After months of procrastinating, I got Freya to film an off-the-cuff workshop/studio tour that I have uploaded to YouTube. It was really just to check that I could make a half decent video and see if it would spur me on to having a go at some instructional videos. I had forgotten how much I enjoy making informal, short clips so despite the dark clouds of Covid and Nella’s illness, I hope to go ahead and make some more. It is quite surprising what people watch on YouTube – this week (for research) we have watched videos on garden tours, grinding flour at home, macrame bags, spice jar organisation and even stationery shopping. 

There has been a nip of autumn in the air so I guess summer is “officially” over. I need to do what I have not done in months and make some To-Do lists. Apart from getting brave enough to make more videos I need a proper project of some sort as I have not quilted in earnest for ages.

Dressmaking is Like Pregnancy!

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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!

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. 

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.