August 31, 2015

One Meter of Civil War Reproduction Print - MIA

I was at my favorite quilt supply shop today picking up some bits and pieces for projects in progress, including a meter of a charcoal-grey print from their "Civil War Reproduction" prints. I was happy, relaxed, and chatting away with the gal who was cutting my fabric. She was telling me about her upcoming wedding (in about 3 weeks) and it was such a joy to see her so bubbly and happy.

So we were chatting away - she cut the grey fabric and set it aside, then reached for the bolt of bright turquoise I'd picked out for another project. Then the bright yellow homespun and the lime green homespun, and so on.

After all the bits I wanted were cut, she added up the total, I paid her and she slid the stack of bright homespun into a bag. I gave her my best wishes for her wedding and she said "See you again soon!"  Smiling as I turned to leave I answered "Yes, you probably will!"

That was prophetic.

At home, about three hours later, I unloaded the bag - and uh... where's the charcoal calico? Unfortunately I made my discovery about half an hour after the shop closed - but I'm hopeful that my bride-to-be friend found that cut on the counter after I left, knew what had happened and set it aside for me. 

I'll ring them first thing in the morning and have my fingers crossed.

August 28, 2015

My dance card is getting full

I'm having the time of my life with this longarm.  And my friends are right in there with me, enjoying the spree.

Just this past week, my favorite quilt supply store had a sale - and of course I went. Stocked up on this and that - and drug Anna (the friend who now is enjoying the Hawaiian Tsunami quilt) along with me.  Her 2 grandchildren (who live in Germany) are visiting Australia in October - and we agreed that quilts for each of them would be a lovely take-home prezzie.  So off we went to Gail B's store - picking out horse-themes for the girl and soccer balls for the boy.  And, of course, Grandma should not be left out.  A lovely red poppy print for her.

The credit card machine was smoking when her purchases were rung up, but Anna didn't flinch.

She confided that when you are a grandparent who only rarely sees the kiddees, you just don't worry about how much prezzies cost - you just want to get the prezzies right.

Well, I'm thrilled that she trusts my skills to this degree. And, to be honest, I think I'll be able to deliver the goods without trouble. We did agree on fairly simple designs.

And yes... you'll be seeing those here.

So 3 more quilts for Anna. And then my friend Kay (who's granddaughter now has 2 quilts from me) said she'd like one for herself as well. Fine. We will.  And then Janet said she wants 2 adult-sized ones and Jacquie would like one for each of her 3 kids.  And I've got some lovely fabric to make something nice for my much-loved mediumship mentor, Jackie.

And there's the "Inspirational Quilts" group - yes... must produce some items for them. Got one almost finished (which I haven't told you about at all...)

I'm so happy.  I'm powering through my UFO closet - and friends are happy to jump in and add to it all with their own project ideas.

And I have to admit that this blog's reports on my projects is WAY BEHIND what is actually happening. I was posting once a week, well folks, that's not often enough. So there'll be more frequent posts for a while. 


August 26, 2015

Quilt 37: Hawaiian Tsunami - DONE!

This has to be the fastest quilt I've made. Or maybe not. It was fast in some ways, slow in others - and with this one... a minor disaster at the start of the quilting stage.

Here I've nearly finished mounting the backing.
Happily, my friend Anna agreed that the "tsunami swirls" print would be good for the backing.
 Now the batting and the top:
Notice how close the batting is to the backing.
 We wanted the finished quilt to pretty much be the width of the backing - see how close I am?
That's CLOSE!  I was going to have to move the side clamps around
when I got to the edges.
Then disaster struck.  This was the quilt I was working on when the bobbin winder broke down. I had a freshly-wound bobbin in - was quilting away, and when it came time to advance the quilt, I realized the tension was bad. I had to pick out about 15 feet of stitching!

And that's not the worst of it - look at the marks it left!
You know I was just about sick when I saw this.
As it turns out, the fabric isn't actually dyed - it's more like a silkscreen print.  It washes up just fine, but oh, once you pierce it with a needle, the mark is there and isn't going away.

I left the quilt on the frame that week when the bobbin winder was being repaired.  I hoped to be able to position the groovy boards exactly where they had been, but frankly found it impossible.
Yup - it's always going to show.
Fortunately, it's only in the white area that you see the stitch marks - and there's only about an 18" square area where this is happening.  Once the quilt was done and I turned it over, I realized that it doesn't really show that much unless you look closely.
It's still gorgeous - and if you don't look too closely, you don't see the marks.
So there it is - all ready to bind.  I bound it with the green shamrock print, which goes well with both the front and back. Unfortunately, I neglected to take a photo of it after I finished it!  Oh well, just use your imagination.... 
The colours really are stunning.

Other than the mishap with the bobbin (and the unpicking), this was a very fun quilt to make. And Anna's thrilled with it.  Because I goofed and didn't get good pictures of the finished quilt, I asked her to take some for me. The photos below are hers - I think she had a good time arranging it for the camera.  :-)

August 20, 2015

Quilt 37: Hawaiian Tsunami

Back about a bazillion years ago, hubby Stephen and I paid a visit to Hawaii.  While there, I wandered into a fabric shop and went NUTS looking at the gorgeous hula prints.  I found 3 in particular which became part of my "fabric =  yes, design =  no" series.

Well, those three gorgeous blue/white/green prints have been sitting in my UFO closet ever since.  I've not had any idea how I might use them.  But my friend and neighbor Anna visited a while back - to check out the new longarm, and when I showed her the fabric stash she just went wild for those prints. So we agreed I'd make quilt for her.

What we agreed to was initially a use of all 3 prints on the top.  The soft blue/green fern leaves in blocks surrounded by a lattice made of the "shamrock green" print, and the large tsunami white and blue print as the border. But once I got into it, I realized we'd made a mistake.  That tsunami print was going to do a "number" on the more delicate greens and blues of the other 2 fabrics.

After swapping a couple of emails, Anna ageed.

Discussed how to approach it all, and came up with something like this:
Well... I'm really sorry... this probably looks a bit confusing.
The blue and green blocks in the center are the leafy/ferny prints. The green
lattice is the shamrock. The outer border is meant to be the tsunami print.

I got the ferny/leafy prints cut out and the lattice - but once assembled, I realized that putting the tsunami print on the border would be wrong. It would swamp out the inner prints (as a tsunami would, of course).

Here are the photos I sent her:

With the tsunami:
Without it:
A bit hard to completely envision - but what I proposed was extending the internal grid by another column - and reducing the outer border a bit.

Anna trusted me, and thank heavens she did.  We used that fabulous tsunami print for the backing - where it was away from the delicate ferns of the top.

Here's the top after piecing it:
Now, oddly... in the photo you can see the blue in the border is a flat blue, with none of the green/teal of the inner blocks. But in real life, you just don't see it. Your eyes lie to you, I guess!

August 19, 2015

Bobbin Woes - resolved

My longarm's bobbin winder went on the fritz.  Well, actually, I'm not sure it every really worked correctly. But when it finally turned up it's toes... I was stuck. If you can't wind those huge class "M" bobbins, you can't use my longarm.

And so off it went to NSW, to "Kirsten" - an associate of the dealer I bought the machine from (dear Howard was on holidays in Samoa - but he picked up and answered my emails, even on vacation - is this guy a treasure or what?!?!).  I posted it to Kirsten and when it arrived she looked at it and knew exactly what the problem was. She fixed it, tested it, and posted it back to me on the same day.

OMG.  Is this SERVICE or what?!?!?!

I'll have to say that I'm very happy with Handy Quilter. The machine is fabulous and the service - top drawer, folks. Honestly, I was preparing myself for a 3 week wait.

So it's back - and working better than ever - quieter, faster, and the tension in the bobbins is just right.

I'm back in the saddle - here we go!
It's big, clunky, and a bit homely. But without it, there's no longarm quilting.

August 13, 2015

Oh... NO! (the bobbin winder is dead...)

I can't believe it happened.

My usual sewing machine is finally back from the shop. Oh.. .so good to have it back. The cheap "Brother" I got to fill in was functional, but that's about all I can say for it. How I've missed "big Brother" NS50.

But now there's a new tale of woe.

My longarm uses huge "M" class bobbins. It came with a separate bobbin-winding machine. I've been having a bit of trouble with the bobbin winder. It's been running slower and slower, and jams up if I attempt to wind a 2nd bobbin immediately after the first (so I have to wind a bobbin and then let the machine sit for half an hour or more before doing the next one).

And finally, well, it's just plain broken.

I emailed the dealer who, as it happens, is on vacation. But he did get my email and promptly contacted a collegue (Kirsten) in NSW. Kirsten said she might be able to fix it, so I've posted it to her.

In the meantime, I tried to use the last bobbin I wound on it and... uh-oh... the tension in the bobbin appears to be off-kilter. I was happily quilting away when suddenly the stitches started kicking downward - as if the top tension (which has been perfect ever since the machine was delivered back in May) was too loose. Because you can't see the bottom of the quilt while you're working on it, I didn't know it had happened and now I've got about 20 feet of unsightly stitching to pick out. Ugh.

There's nothing I can do at this point, but unpick those stitches and wait to hear from Kristen.

August 12, 2015

Quilt 31 - Civil War Charm Squares - DONE!

Time to try a different set of groovy boards!  This time I'm going with "Blustery Breeze". Here's the boards:
The pattern is interesting because all those swirls are part of a single line
that starts at one end and finishes at the other.
I decided the pattern would go well on my "Civil War" print quilt - and oh I am so pleased with the results:
The stitching pattern is dramatic, and in dark brown thread, shows
up just enough to be noticeable on the less-busy prints.
 And here's the finished quilt:
(click the picture to see a larger image)
I had no trouble finding a home for this one. Our friend George went wild for it when he saw it and was thrilled to take it.

August 5, 2015

Quilt 23: Tablerunner for Kathy and Katherine - DONE!

During their visit to Australia last January, my friends picked out some fabric for a table runner. The main print (turquiose background with flowers) is lovely - and the flowers are all Australian natives - so it will make a really nice souvenier.

I debated for a while on whether to quilt this by hand or by machine. In the end, decided to do it on the longarm. I'm pleased with how it came out:

(click the picture above to see a larger image)
I did free-motion quilting on this one, and opted to use dark green thread. Hm.. looking at it now, I'm thinking it might have been interesting to do the block centers in turquoise thread and green thread on the rest of it. 

This was a very fun project to do. I think I'll go through my scrap stash and see what other tablerunners I can whip up.