Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Over The Hump

It is Wednesday night of the last week of the second term and a lovely sense of calmness has descended upon me. The shortest day (but not the coldest, which is usually about 6 weeks after the shortest) has come and gone, the reports are done and I finished some other paperwork deadlines today at work (tedious marking and self evaluations and all that stuff) and written my piece for the next club newsletter. There are only 2 more days of term and we are halfway through the year! Over the hump! Holiday time! Yipee!

I'm going shopping on Saturday, using Janice's quilting machine on Sunday, taking my Thai homestay to the airport on Monday, Club day on the next Saturday, committee meeting Tuesday after that, picking up new homestay from Vietnam (well he's from Vietnam, I'm picking him up from the airport), working on the raffle quilt, using Janice's quilting machine, working on a quilt for a challenge, sewing curtains for the laundry, using Janice's quilting machine, finishing the attic window community quilt (which only needs the binding hand sewn), catching up on reading and commenting on blogs, using Janice's quilting machine, planning next term's work clean the house, tidying the sewing area, using Janice's quilting machine - all in two weeks. Did I say a sense of calmness had descended?

Another view of that wonderful walking foot:

Monday, June 25, 2007

Look What I've Got!

My very friendly sewing machine mechanic found this to fit my 1963 Singer 201:
It's a walking foot! Who would have thought that a walking foot was available to fit a machine this old!! I certainly didn't but it works a treat and has made my quilting life a whole lot easier - thanks Hugh! You know my Elna died and I haven't got it fixed yet. In between deciding what to do about it the place where I was going to send it closed and all Elna business in New Zealand has been taken over by Janome. The Elna machines have been produced by the Janome factory for a long time but the businesses were still separate. At least know when I decide I can afford to get it fixed I can take into my local Janome shop and they will send it away!! In the meantime I can sew a seam, quilt with a walking foot and free-motion quilt. No fancy stitches though! A friend has loaned me her spare machine so at least I can do zigzag on that.

Sewing wise I haven't done much after the coffee moment of last week, except I have finished sewing the vine onto the second border of the raffle quilt for Cotton On Quilters. Frances finished the second corner block. Progress photos are here.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Coffee Moment I DIDN'T Need!

What a day!

I spilt coffee over my form class' school reports today. Eek, a swear word did leave my lips, but not the really bad one. Our students take 7 subjects, each one has a report on half an A4 sized sheet of paper, plus a cover sheet. I was sorting and reading through 25 students worth of them when my elbow knocked my coffee over. Well, I mean I didn't ASK my elbow to do it did I? Nothing for it but to type up a note to attach to them (apologising and asking for them to be reprinted) and put them back in the other teachers' pigeon holes. We did manage to save a large portion of them but there are about 70 to be reprinted. So I won't be flavour of the month but at least they are done on the computer and not hand-written. And why did Helen have coffee near her reports? I hear you ask. 'Cos it was my non-contact period and I had duty in the next break. A gal needs her caffeine fix!

On a quilty note I have been working on our club's raffle quilt. We are doing "Passing Fancy" by Kim Deihl from her book Simple Traditions (used with permission). I have hand appliqued the vine and stems on one side border and this is what it looks like (the colour isn't good):

Flowers, leaves and berries need to be added (and 3 more to be done). Frances has done one of the corner blocks and you can see this on our club blog here. I have done part of another corner block but Frances has taken it away to finish the leaves and berries for me. Progress is being made.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Quilting In The Country (again!)

On Saturday I went out to Janice's to learn how to load the 3 layers of a quilt on her Swiftquilter frame. I had a ball and only made a bird's nest once from forgetting to put the presser foot down. You can see a picture of me fixing it here. (I won't tell you how many needles I broke - suffice to say I owe Janice a new packet!) Janice wasn't feeling the greatest and pottered about working on her raffle quilt blocks.

I used a quilt top I had pieced from a whole lot of 2 1/2" squares I had cut out, years ago, of furnishing fabric samples and off cuts. These squares were intended to make a colour wash jacket and I had most of them pinned out on a huge piece of newsprint. It was one of the many things I never got finished. I had pulled them off the paper and had sewn them together in random (not colourwash) pairs. There they sat. With our club doing the Community Quilts project I pulled them out a couple of months ago and sewed them into 16 patch units. I finally got them together in an attic window setting. Not the greatest quilt in the world (in fact I think it is pretty ugly) but perfect for practicing some meander quilting:

Janice tells me I had the backing rolled the wrong way around, but it didn't seem to cause too many problems. I managed the edge quilting better than last time. I didn't quite get the whole lot finished in one day so out I went again on Sunday to finish it off.

The last run:
The Juki (back view):

Pulling the quilt off the rails (what a great feeling):

The back:

And the coffee was great!

A friend is someone who lets you quilt 2 quilts on her brand new equipment when she has done only one! At the end of the month Janice is going away for 5 weeks and has given me a key to her quilting studio! Coincidentally I have 2 weeks holiday starting the day after she and Terry leave. I can go out and practice machine quilting to my heart's content. Thank you, Janice.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

"You've Come A Long Way Baby"

I have been thinking about how I got started quilting. I have been patchworking and quilting in some form or other since I was in my teens. My first effort was a 'quilt' made from left over dressmaking fabrics. My sister and I used to sew all our own clothes in those days. I cut 8 inch squares from mostly brown, burgundy and blue suiting weight fabric (of plains, stripes and checks - plaids to the USA) and sewed them altogether with a 5/8" seam. There was no pattern. It was huge, heavy and never got any further than the "flimsy" stage. But I remember being very proud of myself that I had made it so big and I can remember listening to Simon & Garfunkle's Sounds of Silence on the radio when I was sewing it. I don't know what happened to it. I guess in the end my mother threw it out. Sadly I have no picture of it.

The first time I used "proper" purchased fabric was when I was 18 or 19. I decided to make a cushion cover from these wonderful fabrics. I had no pattern but decided to make up one myself. It too never got past the flimsy stage, but I kept this one (maybe 'cos it was little?) and here it is.

the front (great original pattern huh?):

the back (don't you love those pressed-open 1/2" seams):

and a closeup detail of why adding a seam allowance all around is important (I knew it needed to be added and I did on the horizontal and vertical seams but I forgot about the diagonals of the triangles:

The fabrics coordinate really well don't you think? (One great shade of blue!!) They were purchased when specialty quilting fabric first began to be generally available in New Zealand (I'm talking around 1974/75.) At least I had some idea of light and dark, although not totally successfully because the 4 corner blocks are all the same construction with one half-square triangle and 2 quarter-square triangles. The last picture is closer to the real colour.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Community Quilts Stacked!

It was Community quilt hand-in day at club last Saturday. We got 52 quilts for distribution, which is an awesome effort. To see the quilts displayed around at the meeting visit our Cotton On Quilters blog here. You can also see the Show & Tell photos.

This is what 52 community Quilts look like stacked up on a bed. Don't they look great!

Today is a public holiday, Queen's Birthday (although it is not the Queen's actual birthday - very good of her to give us a day off though). I am having a sewing day at my house with some good friends. Which is great 'cos it made me do some tidying (how long will that last?). Janice has just arrived so I'm off to have some fun.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Pin Container . . .

Well, here it is. It really isn't much to look at but I love it. It is round, which makes putting the lid on easier. It has that little pin cushion on the lid, which gives me somewhere to put the hand sewing needles. It is just the right size to fit next to my machine (that's the one that isn't going, by the way, and which I haven't yet made a decision about). The lid is indented and to replace the crumbling foam rubber that was originally there I cut a circle of card the right size and a circle of fabric bigger and ran a gathering thread around the fabric. I stuffed it with a scrap of batting, gathered the fabric around the card, tied it off and glued it in place.

It will probably shatter apart if I drop it on something hard because that hard plastic gets brittle with age. Perhaps I should be hunting the second hand shops for another one?? I don't think I've seen this type of container in the shops for a long time. Okay, that does make me sound sad, doesn't it?

It is a bit bereft of pins at the moment. I have some new ones to put in, somewhere . .

Friday, June 1, 2007

I'm Done Cutting!

I've finished the cutting. The piles at the top are for the flower applique. The cream piles in the middle are for the blocks, with background fabric placed on top of each pile. The skinny pile to the right is for the berries and the green pile at the bottom is for the leaves. I am tired!

I will post a picture of my little pin container tomorrow since some of you are interested. I need to wait for the camera batteries to recharge!

In reply to Tanya, my organisational skills are wafting their way to you via the ether, right now!