Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for Zee End

I have struggled to find anything to write about for Z which relates to my blog or to  my quilting life. This month's challenge has been themed around those 2 things. The only thing that vaguely relates is Zippers and I did that last year here. (I made the decision I wouldn't repeat any topics) so ... I am busted. 

If I had made a Zoo themed quilt that would have qualified but I haven't. I have made some animal themed ones... Elephant Parade, 

and some other baby quilts which used a jungle themed panel. 

I have made some baby quilts that have featured Australian animals as well 

but have decided to steer away from them but instead will completely stretch the boundaries and write about


The last post in this challenge. I resisted the siren call of the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year. I went in it last year and admit I really enjoyed it. I got organised ahead of time as we were in Malaysia for 10 days (well Malaysia for 7 and travelling for 3). This year though I knew I was going to be away for all but 4 or 5 days in the month. 

We have had 2 weddings this month. One was only 3.5 hours from our home but I was chief bridesmaid there and went down at the start of the week to help the beautiful bride (my friend Suzy) get organised. Fixit Guy and I stayed on a couple of days afterwards to get the house put back to rights before we left. (What a let down to get home from your honeymoon and have to wash sheets from visitors and mop floors etc)

Then we went home for just a couple of nights before leaving for Brisbane for 6 nights (busy times buying a car and some other business) and then went on to Newcastle for another wedding - this time my niece.

 That was 4 nights all up (Including time in Sydney to catch up with my mum). Next it was off to Melbourne to visit with our son The Beast and his girlfriend Beauty.

Also we had to pick up our caravan - brand new New Age Mantaray. SOOOO a huge month.

But we have made it and I have managed to get my blogs up each day. I had largely pre written them although tried to check them the night before they were to go live in case I hadn't actually completed them - or not gotten around to adding the pictures.   Sometimes they have gone live and I have realised I have left stuff out so have had to go back in and edit them.( Case in point. Am now back here madly inserting a few photos after the post has gone live ooops)

The more difficult part of the challenge to keep up with as far as I have been concerned is keeping up with reading and commenting on other people's blogs. I could pre schedule my blogs but you can't preschedule reading other blogs. On our travelling days i have tried to hotspot off my phone and catch up then. I am blessed that I don't get car sick reading or writing in the car. My husband does so he happily does most of the driving unless he is tired and wants a rest.

And what have I learned? I have enjoyed reading other people's blogs... mostly... when their interests coincide with mine, when they are well written, and interesting. Have to admit I struggle with the deep and meaningful prose and poetry, the angst filled ones, and the totally weird ones. I got selective and pragmatic. If it was too much any of these I just went on to the next one. If the writer was too far behind (ie we were up to R and they were still back at L) then I skipped ahead to the next  one. I tried to leave comments but if it was too hard to work out where to do that or I had to jump through too many hoops to do it... I didn't bother. (Or if all I could think to say was rather negative and I wasn't in the mood for the bland "all the best with the A to Z challenge)

And I have learned that I want to do it again next year. I am already planning what I will do. I have decided to take a leaf out of my daughter Fangirl (who introduced me to the challenge in the first place) She has cross stitched figurines for her  blog challenge. I am going to (try) to make a quilt block for each day of the challenge - quilt blocks all have names so I shall find one for each letter of the alphabet. I have already started looking for them and putting the patterns into a file on my computer. This hasn't been as difficult as it might be as there is a great website that has a huge cache of patterns listed alphabetically. 

So how did you go with the challenge? Did you keep up? Did you enjoy it? Are you in again next year?

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for Y seams

Y seams, are a particular "thing" that happen in certain quilt patterns where 3 seams come together on angles like a Y intersection. They are a bit trickier to put blocks with Y seams in them together and so many quilters will avoid them (me included). They are seen as being for more advanced patchworkers although to be honest they aren't THAT hard, just not as straight forward

Jinny Beyer, from Jinny explains it

Not all patchwork patterns can be assembled with continuous straight seams. Sometimes a piece has to be set in. The most important consideration when setting in pieces is that you must stop all stitching at the place where the seam allowances on the pieces cross, thus allowing an opening so the fabrics can be set in smoothly and without puckers.

She has an excellent video on the website too here I would insert it into the blog but I need permission to do that... and not sure I will get it in time or at all.

I have done very few items with Y seams in them.... I think I made some blocks in my first quilt that had the Y seams in it. And then I made a zipper bag with the tumbling blocks in it. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for X

This letter is proving a challenge to me as no doubt it has to many bloggers. Last year I wrote about x stitching ie cross stitching. I also wrote about seX which in quilting circles can stand for Stash Enhancing eXperience.

I am determined not to repeat myself this year. So instead I thought I might write about when X means a mistake when something goes wrong.

Something I learned early on in my quilting exploits is that the quick unpick/ seam ripper is my friend. Reverse sewing, unpicking or  frogging as it is sometimes called (cause you rip it... ribbit ribbit like a frog) is common in any sort of sewing. 

In quilting I was most likely to unpick

misaligned points - where seams that were supposed to meet up didn't
Fipped over seams 
Crooked seams - sometimes missing the the underneath fabric completely
Incorrect placement of a piece ie when a Section of a block (or sometimes the whole block)  sewn in the wrong way around

Sometimes in the scheme of things these mistakes don't matter and can be over looked (flipped over seams, points ot matching exactly) .... and sometimes they can't left and have to be fixed. Everyone has their own level of perfection (Even I knew that the above mistake had to be corrected)

Mistakes that can be fixed with an unpicker/seam ripper are pretty simple - they indicate that the mistake can be fixed by resewing a seam.

Some mistakes in quilting are not able to be fixed so easily... the saying measure twice cut once is so true in quilting. If you cut a piece too long then you can trim it back, and all will be well so long as you have extra fabric. However cutting something too short is no so easily fixed ... sometimes it can't be fixed and a whole new piece of fabric has to be cut and or purchased..

Image result for measure twice cut once Image result for measure twice cut once

When it comes to quilting a few mistakes I have made more than once are not sandwhiching the 3 layers of the quilt correctly and not having enough of one or both the bottom layers under the top. The bottom layers need to extend out past the top layer (by 2-4" generally but at least past it) If you realise this before you start pinning then you can move the layers till they are correctly positioned. If you realise it after you have pinned it... you can unpin it or make allowance for it and add a bit of extra fabric.... its tricky but do able. If you don't realise till you have quilted all or most of the quilt... its harder. It involves unpicking. How much depends on how particular you are. I generally try to unpick as little as possible and patch in a piece of extra batting and or backing fabric. (did I mention I don't make show quilts?)

Another mistake I have made is to have some of the excess backing fabric flip over under the the quilt and for me to quilt it in to the back. That has to be unpicked. You can't get around that one.

I have made these mistakes in the past but haven't worried about photographing them. I mean they are mistakes. They aren't pretty. Why photograph them? I didn't know I was going to write a blog post about them

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

WIP Wednesday

Just realised that I could have done my WIP Wednesday post for my W post this week as the days neatly coincided however I have already written and posted my W contribution so this is a bonus issue. If you are here for the A to Z blogging challenge post go back a post.... or stay and read this one instead.

We are on the road at the moment and its been difficult to find sewing time. Last week we were staying in Sydney with my oldest sister (a very young 70+ woman who runs rings around most of the rest in our family) We visited my mum (93 and in an aged care facility) and some other friends whilst we were there. We also caught up with 3 of my sister's grandchildren and some other special friends. No time to sew.

On Friday we drove north an hour or 2 to a place just north of Newcastle for the wedding of my niece Cristy. It was a beautiful wedding full of so many special moments - the most tear inducing one for me was when the groom made some special promises to his Step daughter (8 year old Charlie) as part of the ceremony and she announced that she was taking his name. 

Anyway it was a great afternoon and evening catching up with 6 of my 7 siblings and partners and a good few nieces and nephews as well. A great time was had by all.

The next day we drove for almost 12 hours (with stops) to get to Melbourne. We wanted to get here so as to be able to spend some of the weekend with our oldest son (The Beast). He works during the week.

Sunday he took us to the zoo which was a really fun day although the Melbourne families were out in force taking advantage of the beautiful weather and the long weekend. The zoo was crowded with heaps of prams too. There was one family group whom we kept encountering who had some very loud and boisterous children who were basically ignored by parents. Mostly though the kids were having fun and doing the right thing and people were polite and everyone was having a good time.

Monday was a public holiday in Australia for the Anzac Day - our national day or remembrance for all those who served in wars. At home we usually attend the local parade but we didn't feel like braving the crowds in the city for the big parade and didn't know where the community based parades were being held. Instead we went for a drive down to Frankston and enjoyed the sand sculptures there. It was the last day of the 4 month exhibition and a few of the sculptures were showing some wear but it was a great show called A Day At the Zoo

 My Yetti (The Beast) with the Sandscupture Yetti
The sand sculture Steam punk structure

A sculpture from The Petting Zoo

Tuesday we packed up our unit and drove across the city (after Fixit Guy had fixed the indicators that had stopped working) and..... we picked up our NEW CARAVAN (am I excited - you bet) The company we got it from did a very thorough induction into the caravan so we knew what we were getting and how it all works. Then we towed it to a van park and set it up.

Fixit Guy enjoying the bed upon which I had spread my "Jean's Jeans" quilt which I made during our last extended camping trip (October - December 2014)

I was itching to set up my sewing space. I unpacked the car and settled us in and then got my machine out and plugged in... and Fixit Guy suggested we go shopping to get some food and other bits and pieces. I reluctantly dragged myself away.

Tuesday was also Fixit Guy's birthday. He got a van from me. Pretty good present. Our son The Beast and his girlfriend Beauty came over to check out the van and then take us out to dinner. Beauty had given him a door mat for the van (It is a perfect fit) and the Beast gave him an electric jug and toaster for the van.

Home again for cake (baked by Beauty and decorated with crumbled Violet CrumbleBars (Honey comb... FGs favourite chocolate) and then they left and .... I didn't go to bed. I got that machine out and did a little bit of sewing. I had been missing it so much.

Today we have stayed home all day apart from another walk over to the supermarket for a few extra things and a coffee as the power went out at the van park for 2 hours (scheduled outage)

Apart from that time I have sewn. I have been working on the piano key border for Onya Bike, (T Intersection Quilt pattern by Missouri Star.) I have used up all the scraps from the blocks plus cut up more fabric. 

I am still a bit short having put it all together. Not very much - perhaps 15" over all. I have a 3 bike trees that I was thinking of using as corner stones.... but I am going to need 4... so maybe I won't use them as corner stones after all. I am still wondering what I shall do and that is why I have stopped sewing and am instead writing my blog.

I have been posting daily for the A to Z  Blogging Challenge all through April. It was W today so only have 3 more posts. Mostly I had them prewritten and scheduled their posting. I did have to go in and fix up a few and had Y and Z still to write this week but they are done. Part of the challenge is to visit other blogs on the challenge which has been very interesting (and time consuming) 

WIPs on Wednesday

W is for Weezy Works and Weddings

W is for Weezy Works, another podcast that I love to listen to. Tina is a multi faceted/ multi skilled crafter who talks about her life and her crafts on her podcast. As well as being a quilter and cross stitcher she also collects and restores vintage sewing machines. She shares her skills in all these areas on her blog and her podcast.


Weezy Work's podcast is available from iTunes and from Tina's website

Tina has a page on her blog about making quilts for other people - on commission. She sets out the many steps in making a quilt and the costs incurred. It is well worth looking at. I don't make quilts on commission.  If someone has ever given you a quilt it may surprise you as to just what is involved and the relative costs. It will help you realise just how generous a gift that quilt is.

I don't make quilts on commission because I doubt anyone would actually be prepared to pay me what it costs to make the quilt - especially not if they were going to pay me for my time and effort. The quilts I make are gifts for family and friends. For special occasions. Usually I make a quilt as a gift for a new baby. I have made one for all of my great nieces and nephews and for babies who have been born to close friends. My most recent one was for baby Theo, my close friend's grandson. I knew his mum when she was born too.

And at the beginning of this month I gave another close friend a quilt for a wedding present. Usually my husband makes the bride and groom a turned wood lamp but he had already made the bride, our former minister one when she moved to another church. We weren't expecting to make her one for a wedding present (she was 59 and single) but a year later she announced her engagement to another friend of ours. So... it was my turn to make the gift  - a quilt for their bed.

She loved it :)

The wedding party. I was chief bridal attendant

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for very sharp things.

Quilters use a number of things that are very sharp. - or at least need to be very sharp in order to work optimally.

Pins - sharp pins make piecing so much easier. They slide into the fabric easily which makes for less distortion.

Safety pins - when pin basting a quilt sharp pins makes the process so much less hassle - it is quicker, less painful (pushing on blunt pins makes for very tender finger tips) and there is less distortion once again

Machine needles - blunt needles cause the stitches to skip and not form properly. As soon as my machine stitching is playing up I change the needle. It isn't always the problem but often it is.

Scissors - sharp scissors are so important. 

Most quilters are very ferocious about protecting their scissors from other family members who might use them for inappropriate purposes.  
 Image result for scissors meme

Rotary Cutters - for the non patchworker who has never seen a rotary cutter they resemble pizza cutters but they are for cutting up fabric. The blade (which is circular) is replaceable. They are used in conjunction with a cutting mat and usually a ruler (special patchwork rulers not the ordinary kind used for ruling up pages) Again a sharp blade is important. It cuts through the fabric more easily and more accurately. The rotary cutter must be used correctly and with due care. They can be dangerous if they aren't. A blunt blade though can be more dangerous than a sharp one as then more force is applied meaning a slip is more likely and then... ouch. Blunt blades that are also being pressed down harder can score the cutting mat and damage it.

I tend to be economically minded so I always try to make my things last which means that I don't change my needle as frequently as recommended, nor my rotary blade. Oops. Still it means that when I do change them I really notice and enjoy the sharpness.

Do you have little economies that you make that in the end aren't economies at all.

Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for UFOs


UFO's in the crafting world are not to unidentified flying objects but t UnFinished Objects - projects that have been begun but for various reasons has been left incomplete. 

There are many reasons why a project might be left to languish and progress from a Work in Progress (or WIP) to being a UFO. 

  • the crafter runs out of fabric or material needed to complete it, 
  •  they run out of inspiration or motivation 
  • it was begun at a workshop and once the workshop is over the momentum to finish the project falls away. 

This quilt was from a workshop. It sat unfinished for many years. Ultimately I made it much simpler than I had originally envisaged but I finished it. And it gets used periodically
  • the crafter has moved onto another new project Many crafters suffer from CPS - Compulsive project  Starting disorder or OCD - obsessive crafting disorder.... they love starting a new project - the thrill of choosing a pattern, selecting fabric and starting something new. They start but are easily distracted by the next new project.
  •  it was put aside for some reasons and when the crafter returns to it they find they have lost the instructions, forgotten what they were going to do next or lost confidence in the particular technique.
  •  the crafter has fallen out of love with the project - they no longer like the pattern, or the fabric or the technique.

  • Some quilters dislike particular stages of making a quilt - they love piecing tops but hate basting, quilting or binding. For some it might be the expense. They can make tops from their fabric stash but batting can be expensive as can buying the fabric for the backing.

 In my past I have had a pile of UFOs. At the beginning of 2012 I had 24 UFOS. I set myself the challenge of not starting any new projects that year, but just working through my pile. I broke this resolution to make a baby quilt for a great nephew (and to do an applique project) After the year I allowed myself to start some new projects but they had to be finished. I also kept on busting through the UFOs 

I wrote a blog post( here ) here November 2014 about my UFO busting exploits. By then I had only 9 remaining

Now, almost 2 years later I have to admit some of the UFOs listed still remain incomplete.

There are various ways of working through a pile of UFOs. One of the most helpful things I found was to actually identify all of them - go through the cupboards, project boxes, bags and the like and find them all. Write them down. This brought to mind all the different things I actually had... some of which I had forgotten all about.

Sort them out. Work out why they are unfinished - identify what still has to be done to them in order to bust them off your UFO list. Organise your list according to what has to be done. If its a lost pattern try to find the pattern - if it was started at a workshop then contacting the person who ran the workshop can lead to the pattern being found, or asking someone else you know who was at the workshop

This quilt was begun at a workshop. I put it aside for several years and when I came back to it I couldn't remember what I was doing and had lost the instructions. Another friend who had done the workshop had also bought the book and I was able to borrow it and finish of the quilts

Otherwise work out another pattern that you can use. If you need more of a particular fabric search for it (online resources are great for this) Identify something that you can use instead - adapt the design.

I had cut the pieces used in this quilt and then lost the pattern. I held onto the pieces for a good few years and then finally decided to just work out another pattern. It wasn't the same but it got the project done. Done is better than not done.

A challenge (such as I set myself in 2012) can be very helpful-no new projects for a period of time, just working on existing ones.

Some people set aside a day a week or month or whatever where they work on UFOs. Occasionally bloggers run UFO challenges - where people blog about ones they have worked on or finished, or commit to finishing a particular project in a set time frame.

Sometimes it is a case of being ruthless - go through the list and work out if there are ones you just don't want to finish - you don't like them or have lost the desire or motivation to finish. Its ok to just let them go - donate to charity, give them to another quilter or just throw them out. 

I don't like waste and I see UFOs as wasted time, effort and money - a pile of un realised potential. I used to get a real sense of guilt from the pile of unfinished projects. Since my year of UFO busting I have determined to NOT make any more UFOs and I am proud to admit that since then I haven't added any more to the pile. Every project I have started I have kept working on steadily till it was completed. I have worked on more than one project at a time which is different - so long as progress is being made its not a UFO, its a WIP.

We are all different.... we all have different ways to approach a problem. Find the way that works for you