Monday, September 5, 2016

Vanquishing needle holes...

... I think.

At long last, the edges of the quilt are finished the remaining squares are sewn into place.  The process of sewing, however, left a glittery effect when the quilt was held up to the light.  I had tried different sized needles in the machine, but smaller ones simply shredded the threads, making sewing impossible.  I did reach a happy compromise with needle sizes and threads in the end (this is a learning quilt), but was still left with a galaxy of holes, especially near the center of the quilt.

After much searching online for solutions, and reading interesting advice, such as "use only cotton fabrics" (which I don't), I settled for soaking the quilt in warm water in my washing machine, spinning it out after half an hour, and drying it in the dryer for 20 minutes.  The theory behind that method is that the warm water will swell the cotton threads, as does the heat of the dryer before the water evaporates, thus returning the fabric to its pre-sewn state of no holes (other than the now tight fitting hole around the thread).

My sewing held up to the soaking, spinning and drying, and the frequency of glittery holes is now much smaller than it was,.  The holes that are left are few, far between, and much smaller than when they started out.

On to the next step - creating a focal point!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Fused Fabric Foibles

Well, I found a problem challenge with using fused fabric pieces on a quilt. Not only are they hard to bend and fold for the edge, they are really hard to sew through by hand! On the flip-side, they stayed in place while quilting without the need for hundreds of pins. There are pros and cons to every method, I guess.

I bent, folded, pinned and ironed quilt top edges, then decided that basting was the only way to keep them lying where I wanted them while sewing the backing fabric in place. My regular sewing machine came in handy for that:

Next it was time to sew the backing fabric just an eight of an inch in from the edge. That's when I found out how difficult it is to push a needle through the fused fabric, especially tightly woven batiks. I struggled with it, as both pushing and pulling the needle were hard to do. The first edge took "forever" and I was moaning about it to my eldest who asked why I wasn't using a thimble. Normally thimbles and I don't get along -- they are clumsy and don't allow my fingers to do what I want. Today, however, my thimble became my new best friend and the remaining three sides were finished in the same amount of time as the first side took.

Tomorrow I shall start to quilt the final squares along the edges; the ones I left unquilted so I could turn the fabric under as far as I needed to. In the meantime, I shall retire for the night, happy that yet another step is finished.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Measure twice, cut once

Well, I couldn't wait until the weekend. This morning, I measured...


...and cut.

One of these days, I'll need to find out if there is a better way to square up a larger quilt. Now the questions is, do I want to keep it this shape, or cut some more?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Slowly but surely

I've been sewing in the mornings over the past month. It's been relaxing, taking that half hour before work and simply letting the fabric wander underneath the needle.

My mind wanders at the same time, and occasionally there are "whoopses". Nothing irreparable, though, even if I did have to dismantle part of the machine at one point, as the thread had wound itself around the bobbin casing. Of more immediate concern is keeping track of the time. I have found myself running to get to work on time more than once!

Today I reached a point where I needed to stop sewing on squares. I have an idea for finishing the edges of the quilt that will require me to turn under the quilt-top (rather than add a binding afterward) and for that I need to have not quilted through the layers! This morning and evening, my scissors and I were busy, cutting all the threads that had traveled from square to square.

I think the next step will be to "square up" the quilt edges, and then figure out exactly how to achieve the effect I am imagining. Once I am successful with that, I can finish the quilting. I'll wait until the weekend, though, so as to have an hour or two of uninterrupted time to figure it all out.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Stress, making, and making progress

I recently had a good reminder of what it takes to relieve my stress. For some people, it is exercise. For others, it is music. For me, it is something else.

From mid-May until almost the end of June, my arm was in a sling because of a sprained collarbone, and my stress levels skyrocketed. My brain started to race about problems at work, kids leaving home, the fact that I couldn't tie my shoelaces, and on, and on, and on. I was waking up at 3am and my thoughts would churn, and churn, and churn. I didn't put two and two together until my arm came out of the sling.

When I was finally able to use both hands again, I did so with gusto, finishing one 20-year old unfinished project and starting on another, slightly younger UFO project. As I did so, I realized that my body and mind were starting to relax. I was reminded once again how important it is for me to be able to sew things... create things... make things... call it what you will. At the times when I am not involved in a creative project, my mind dwells on situations and problems that magnify out of proportion to the actual situations. Give me a project to work on that is of my own making and my mind has other, more pleasant things to think about in the wee hours of the morning, or at any other time when my monkey brain (as I call that 3am overactive overthinking organ) threatens to take over.

My current project was started at the end of my Masters program in 2009, and has lain dormant ever since. I remember the basic idea (mosaic quilt, gradations of rainbow colours), but will have to go back to my notes and jog my memory for the details that will be added, once the background is complete. I have one more colour to finish on that background, and then I can immerse myself once again in modes of learning, which is where this quilt started.

I still wake up at 3am occasionally, but have been able to keep the monkey brain under control a bit better and it doesn't keep me awake as much as it used to. When it threatens to, I have other, more constructive things to let it chew on, so it needn't churn over the useless thoughts as it did before. I call that progress. Let's hope it continues.

Monday, January 18, 2016

First project of the year.

The t-shirt arrived and I spent the weekend making a bear for someone special. Here he is in all his glory, ready for lots of hugs, tears and laughter:

He'll be delivered to his new family tomorrow. In the meantime, he's having a little visit and catching up on all the news:

On to the next project, which I started over the holidays:

Can you guess what it will be?