March 27, 2013

Spray Adhesive as a Basting Solution

Pinning a bedspread-size quilt is quite a job. It takes a couple hundred safety pins and plenty of wear and tear on my knees and back to get the job done.  I'd been reading about spray adhesives, and after doing some research, decided to be brave and give it a go.

And me being "me", I couldn't experiment on just a few scraps or a small project. Nooooo.  That would make too much SENSE!  Instead - I did it on this quilt - my William Morris print, a over-size queen bedspread.
And the results? Oh... I'm not really pleased.

In the photo below, you can see that it's apparently holding OK - but... when I started to pick the project up off the floor, the corners fanned loose - so I ended up supplementing the adhesive with pins. Now - to be fair - I only had to use about 1/4 of the pins I normally would - but even so... it's just not the result I wanted.
I'm very grateful to the author of the blog "The Crafty Quilter" - and her post about using spray adhesive. She advises to use as little as possible of the spray - and also notes that it takes more adhesive if you are working with polyester. And that was my problem. My top and backing are 100% cotton, but the batting is polyester - and I had to use an entire can of spray to get it to stick (and again, it still didn't really stick all that well).

I'm glad I tried it - and may try it again if I decide to do a project with wool, cotton, or bamboo batting. I sure do like the idea of having a tool that makes the "sandwich" step go faster/easier.

March 20, 2013

Quilt 7: Hey, Baby!

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that some of my projects get done fairly fast, others linger a bit. Well... this one has taken a while. I actually started this project in 2010 (it is actually Quilt 7 - don't believe me? Look HERE!)
It's a baby quilt. The project was launched when I came across this adorable koala print (here's a closeup of the blocks so you can see the pattern)

(click the image for a larger picture)

I saw the print in a fat quarters display - in a shop in Ferntree Gully that was closing down. I just fell head over heals in love and grabbed that fat quarter. Later I found more of the same print at another store - and they even had the love aboriginal-style brown strip material I've used for the lattice (I think it looks like bark, don't you?!).

And here's a picture of the back - just plain homespun:
This one is a baby quilt - and I used special flame-retardant baby-quilt batting for it.

So I pieced the top together back in 2010, and have worked on it off-and-on since then - but it's taken a back seat to other projects. I finally finished it, though, and just in time, as my friend Debra is about to give birth to her first child (due around April 20, she tells me).

Debra was delighted to receive it. She's fond of nature - and the gorgeous trees that we have here on Mount Dandenong - so the Australiana theme really appeals to her.

March 13, 2013

When the Tension Goes, It's Over

In early 2007, I purchased a sewing machine here in Australia (to replace the one I'd had to leave behind in Ohio). I'd owned a Brother and had been happy with it for several years, so it wasn't hard to decided on another Brother. And here it is: my beloved Brother BC 2500:
It was a good little machine and has seen me through countless projects in this past six years - but recently the tension has been giving me trouble. You know - you're whirring away and suddenly you realize there's "something wrong". All you can hope for is that you catch it before you've made a really long seam. I'd fiddle with it, make sure there wasn't excess lint building up and so on, and could get it straightened out again. But the machine had started making a clicking sound... and I knew the end was near.

There I was - whipping up a pair of shorts for Stephen. I'd just stitched down the waistband - and flipped the piece over to see that the bottom side of the stitching (the thread coming from the bobbin below) wasn't in a nice smooth line - it looked more like fur.

Yes... the tension had gone again, and this time I knew it was over. I played with it for an hour or so - trying all the old tricks to coax it back into proper operation, but no... it was over.

The old machine had served me well - but it wasn't exactly a "top of the line" machine when I got it (I economized, got a low-end model). I knew that a repair was probably not going to be cheap, and it was really time to look at a new one.
Goodbye Beloved Brother BC 2500 
and...(drumroll, please) 
Hello Brother NS 50. (...and to my sheer delight, it was on sale!)

Here's a photo (was so excited I snapped the picture before I even took the plastic off...):

The old machine had 60 different stitch patterns. This one has 135, plus the potential to combine 35 of those to make up totally new ones. I'm not sure I'll be doing that - but I'm happy to have the alphabet feature that is in this machine. Although I usually only do straight stitching and occasional zig-zag, that alphabet feature might come in handy - as I really ought to do something to "sign" my quilts.

Below is my first attempt with the alphabet. Hm... I'll need some practice, but there's definitely potential.

The old machine was packed up and sent to a recycling center. If the recycling folks are able to breath life into it - all the better. That would be lovely - but I'm really enjoying the new machine - it's a LOT easier to work with (and sews just a tad faster).

Happily ever after!

March 6, 2013

Quilt 15: Top Done and Ready to "Sandwich"

The top to this quilt went together in a flash, once I'd decided on the arrangement of the blocks. Really FAST! As I was assembling it, I made a few changes to the design. Here's the original design:
And here's the finished quilt top:

One of the things I changed was the upper edge of the quilt (over the pillows). I decided not to have the band of smaller blocks (which run around the sides) go across the top. And I slightly altered the width of the side borders because.

Just a couple of small changes, but the results were terrific.

I'm going to have to ring Pauline for her input. I'm not sure what colour thread I want to use for the quilting. I'm thinking a soft brown would work, but she may have better ideas (she usually does).