Sunday, 19 November 2017

Marmalade and Jeans



The kids had two days off school for teacher training days so I took Nell to see “Paddington2” at the cinema. We laughed and cried at the small bear’s antics and wished we had taken marmalade sandwiches as our movie snack. 




I chopped up a pile of old jeans into squares and raided my stash for any additional fabric that could pass as denim. My arithmetic skills failed me when trying to work out how many blocks would be needed if cutting out a positive and negative letter for the giant wordsearch quilt that I have in mind. Despite making a list and crossing off letters as I went along. I seem to have a few extra that might end up in another reincarnation. On the whole the Scanncut made a good job apart from spitting out the cutting mat when the dodgy roller became dislodged. The biggest problem was that denim backed with Bondaweb would stick well but not cut nicely, whereas the fabric backed with HeatnBond cut nicely but hardly stuck at all, even when ironed. The tedious solution was to stitch all of the letters in place using a small zigzag and invisible thread, otherwise the letters will just fall off when it comes to sewing the blocks together!

In the middle of the week I wrote down a Plan of the Day in big writing and managed to whizz through several jobs without getting distracted. This included 2 customer quilts, both of which also had to be bound. 




One evening I sewed the second half of the Fancy Forest bunny block and had to concentrate not to muddle up the many pieces. It is cute when finished but I will definitely cheat and enlarge the sizes of any future blocks as I don’t want it to be a 5 year project. In fact, I reckon I could rattle off a DWR quilt more speedily. 




It was great to receive an acceptance email from the Road to California show for BzB - my friend, Bonnie in Oklahoma has kindly agreed to look after all of its deliveries while in the USA. I have entered it into a couple of AQS shows so I will just have to wait and see if it gets juried in. I think I have now settled on an idea for a new show quilt from my wacky list of potential ideas so I hope to have a crack at at test block in January and see how it develops…

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Sticking With It



My plan was to work on customer quilts for 4 days then leave Friday to experiment with the ScannCut machine. I managed to stick to that plan fairly impressively, working on 3 different customer quilts. There was a lovely leafy appliqué quilt then a large blue and white quilt where the back was the same size as the front and had the additional challenge of bulky intersections, followed by a baby quilt that also needed piecing as it was actually a box of 40 hand stitched squares.







The free day on Friday was scuppered by having to get the Landy’s dodgy headlamps fixed which only left me with an afternoon to play. I was not pleased to discover that the ScannCut machine was loading the cutting mats lopsidedly. After a frustrating amount of time spent cleaning and huffing I even contemplated blowing almost £500 to buy a brand new one before noticing that one of the little black rubber rollers had gone out of alignment. 

I wanted to find out if it could speed up the process of cutting out DWR pieces which on balance, it just about does. It cannot cut out the large pinched square piece because that is just a smidge too big but it can mass produce little bits although they have slightly sticky backs where I used spray glue to get them to stick to the cutting surface. 



My main challenge with the cutting machine was to cut out a stack of large denim letters for a quilt that I am planning. The trouble with that was that denim backed with Bondaweb did not seem to cut cleanly whereas denim backed with the HeatnBond cut well but was not sufficiently sticky. I was hoping not to have to stitch around the letters before longarming but if they keep peeling off I may have to - goodness knows how tricky that will be with all that stickiness under the needle!


Jobs like paperwork, tidying up and cleaning my printer seem to have been forwarded to next week’s To Do list - again;)

Sunday, 5 November 2017

On Track and Side Tracked



I stayed on track fairly well this week, only sidetracking a couple of times! I was determined to finish the remaining samples for my upcoming class in Coburg so put in a couple of long quilting days to finish a wool folk-art piece and the pleather rendition of a St Moritz drain cover in fake leather. 







I even got a customer quilt done which was tricky with absolutely no wriggle room on the backing.



The sidetracks were an experiment to see if I could make little pouches using foam interfacing - I decided that they were too bulky, a fabric strip covered bowl - not sure I liked all the fraying/wrapping, and some more giant double-wedding-ring blocks using clashing Nigerian fabrics. 










It is alarming that the clocks have gone back and we are now into November - I simply don’t know where all my time goes;)

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Baked Alaska and Other Adventures



The second week of the school holidays was certainly action packed with visiting family,  a 14th birthday and various outings. She loved the secret project - a camera bag and did not seem to mind that the lid does not fit as flush as I would have liked;) Nell got her braces off after 3 years, dyed her her neon pink and got a helix piercing expertly done by Maree at Rebel Ink in Aberdeen. We visited the Cat Cafe which was not teeming with cats as I expected. One feline did show up at our table but only because it wanted to steal the cream off the top of the milkshakes. 








This year’s birthday cake request was a purple baked Alaska. I watched some Youtube recipes for inspiration but most of them used a blow torch which I don’t have among my many kitchen gadgets. I added parma violet syrup and purple colouring to white ice cream and dolloped meringue on top. It is essential to work at speed so I quickly put the cake back into the freezer so it would be nice and set for a blasting in the oven. I forgot that an oven tray would have been a good plan because my fancy plate exploded with the drastic temperature change so we had a bit of slippage on one side. Sparklers and edible glitter saved the day and I now know how not to oven-bake ice cream.





I had no phone for 2 days while the screen was being repaired but I did not really miss it as we were so busy out and about, although I should have taken more photos with a real camera! Bumble enjoyed her visit to Crathes Castle and kept up with the little-boy cousins on an expedition to Dunnottar, an almost impregnable ruined fortress near Stonehaven. Pumpkins were carved and the sludge collected for a pie but eventually the house emptied and things settled back to normal. 

Over the weekend I managed to cut out and fuse wool felt pieces for a folk-art piece that I will be teaching in Germany. It was inspired by a painted panel in Coburg Castle but I don’t think I possess the geometry skills required to arrange six motifs around a central point, 8 would have been far more sensible. Since it is “folk-art”, I reckon it is fine to arrange by-eye.



I am hoping that the temporary supply-teaching job that I was offered will have been snapped up by someone else because I have so much that I want to create, although I have to be realistic and appreciate that some extra cash would come in handy…







Sunday, 22 October 2017

Making Lots of Mess



During the school holidays it feels like there must be some kind of formula such as h = 2t - p otherwise known as “holidays mean more time but less productivity”. For example, the more I remind a certain teenage boy about homework, the less he is inclined to do it! 

There was a severe weather warning at the beginning of the week but in the end it missed us. I think that was because I stocked up on baking potatoes and charged all of my gadgets in case of a power cut. 



I completed 2 faux eiderdowns for Mo’ customer using very fat poly wadding, updating the tatty brushed nylon for pink silk. I ended up with silk threads everywhere and had made quite a mess working on my secret project so it was time to get the hoover out. It did not take long for me to mess it up again as fallen leaves kept getting dragged in and I cut out about a million small pieces of pleather. And I had to scrub spray glue off my table. I must remember to stash away some old newspapers in future!




I had hoped to cut out a tricky pattern from faux-leather using the San-n-Cut machine but the pattern was too intricate and it was not really big enough at a maximum size of 12” square. I had to resort to the old-school technology of an overhead-projector. The results were a bit sketchy as I traced the projected acetate image using a Sharpie pen onto paper taped to a board that was propped up on the table with a chair behind it. I realised afterwards that I did not have to draw around every single detail and my second attempt was an improvement. I had to abandon the attempt to cut out the pattern using a craft knife as only tiny scissors would do the job. 




The pleather project will be offered to my German students as an extra challenge if they get the mini wholecloth and the other one (which I still need to make up as a kit) finished in 2 days. I think that one will involve wool felt because my plan is to explore a wide variety of materials, threads and techniques with the Bernina longarm machine.





Knowing that the week ahead brings visitors, a birthday and various outings, I cracked on with a customer quilt. The pattern requested was umbrellas which was very appropriate in weather so wet that my workshop carpet now needs drying out. I want to keep on top of customer quilts because it is inevitable that there will soon be a pre-Christmas rush;)



Sunday, 15 October 2017

Remind Me Not To Do This Again!








I finished the first sample for my classes in Germany - a small whole cloth loosely based on BzB. I actually got a bit carried away and did more quilting than I intended so by the time I quilted the background with a twin needle it was quite stitchy;) The project took a fair while so I will have to make my pupils sew FAST! I have a couple of other samples to run up by the end of October so the students have some idea of what they will be working on.

Bumble was not speaking to me after her proper Scottie Dog haircut, she looks very smart, although quite hilarious so Mo and I may just take a little bit more off her legs so she looks less comical.

Socially, I judged Battenberg cake at a WRI meeting where I was the speaker and attended an alcoholic Book Group, which I enjoyed so much that I offered to choose the next book and host the Readers.  

My Sunday night blog feels rushed after spending 2 whole days in the workshop, working on a semi secret project for Nell’s birthday. I followed the instructions as carefully as I could but forgot to include the pocket that I had made, seemed to end up with a slight lining fit problem and resorted to hand sewing some binding because the item could not squash under my sewing machine. I am a little disappointed by the finish but looking at the original photo of how the finished article is meant to look, concede that mine comes pretty close. If I make a thing like this in future I think a zip should be involved.

The midterm break has started so I will need a Plan of Action to keep everyone fed, get on with some quilting and catch up on the mountain of laundry that I did not do while making the above said “thing”…



Sunday, 8 October 2017

Perseverance Pays Off



I had 2 ladies in doing DIY quilts for 3 days in a row and quilting like crazy, 10 quilts were completed! I would love to have more weeks like that and would be able to turn down supply teaching offers guilt-free. 

With some trepidation I tackled a wedding quilt that was a montage of black and white photos and written messages. I was a bit worried about some of the fabrics which included dress linen, sheeting, interfacing and T-shirt transfer vinyl but the machine just took it all in its stride with silvery Glide on top and Madeira cotton in the bobbin. 

On Thursday I took the day off, caught up with friends for coffee and went on a jolly with Mo to a Christmas Fayre where we ended up buying ourselves treats, rather than Christmas presents for others. I keep telling myself that I will have an opportunity to do that when I visit the Christmas market in Coburg when I return to teach at Regina Klaus’ studio at the beginning of December. 



After sulking a little about BzB’s lacklustre performance at MQX, I was delighted that Linda Hrcka (The Quilted Pineapple) awarded it her faculty ribbon. She is one of my most favourite, awesome quilters so that really gave me a boost. BzB has now gone to stay with my friend, Bonnie Botts, until it gets sent off to other USA show in 2018. 

I persevered with the Dreaded Scanncut machine and successfully cut out samples of denim letters for one of my potential projects. I used Steam-a-Seam instead of Bondaweb and starched the fabric thoroughly, writing down everything that worked so hopefully it will co-operate another time. It was still rubbish at cutting paper and labels until I got a new blade except that it wanted to cut out everything dark coloured, including text. I have figured a simple way around this by just plonking a shape on top of a sticker and cutting out the shape. I have watched some helpful and other not so helpful tutorials on simple stuff that I want to do on Youtube but other than that, it’s still all Greek to me! It is a machine that can be extremely complicated if you want it to but I just want it to cut out fiddly shapes without having a hissy fit. 



I achieved a lot of stuff on my ToDo list for the week then promptly jotted down a new one which seems even longer. Never mind, I seem to get more done when there is more to do.

I must apologise to anyone who has left comments on Blogger - sometimes they don’t show up for ages and then it won’t let me reply so I must fix that. I appreciate everyone who reads my blog, particularly if they go to the effort of leaving a comment:)