If you are not doing what you love, you are wasting your time-Billy Joel

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Friday, 31 January 2014

Blogging Milestone I Let Pass and Two of my Favourite (Sewing) Tools from the Hardware

With all my frustrations at the beginning of the week trying to stitch out those designs I let a significant milestone for my blog slip by. I have been watching the counter at the bottom of the page waiting for it to reach 500 000 and during the week it must have hit and gone past that magical figure.  Thank you to everyone who has supported this humble little blog of mine. I should host a give away but I think I give presents way most weeks in the form of patterns etc to anyone who requests one.

I thought I would share with you two of my favourite tools that I have in my sewing room that can be purchased from the hardware and possibly discount stores in some cases.
The first is my picker upperer as I call it. Amazon has one just like it here.

 My folding pick up tool is never far away and it does not take long to zip around the floor picking up bits of fabric strips etc that have been trimmed off and missed the rubbish. It is also good to retrieve those things that always seem to fall of the sewing table to the furthest part behind the table in the most awkward of places to reach. There are lots of versions of these around at many different prices and they may be foldable or not.

The second of my go tools is this approximately 9 inch long extendable, telescopic gadget with a light and magnet on the end. It also extends out to about 33 inches or so.

Again there are plenty of these around at different prices and with different versions of lights etc. This is just one I found here.

I use it to pick up the pins when I drop the whole container on the floor, or if I lose a small screw out of the sewing machine or off one of the feet I waive it across the floor in the general direction I think the object has fallen.  I know you would all get the "oh no" feeling when you drop the pins or lose the screws as I do. The light is also a great aid when searching under your sewing table for the small scissors etc or in a dark spot you can't quite get into completely to search.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Some pics of projects to share and a great link

I have come to halt with stitching out my Gypsy quilt as per my post from yesterday as it seems it is going to take another 2 weeks for the instructions to be ready ( this CD was released on November 4, nearly 3 months ago). Also not all of the fixes for the incorrect blocks have been done and sent to me as yet. One of my blog friends emailed me to say to put it away and only do one block a week. Very good advice and I will find it hard to follow but think I need to.

One of my blog readers  Kathleen alerted me to a great site. It is called Pixel Of Ink and you can subscribe to receive daily notifications of free and bargain Kindle book downloads. My husband and I have both subscribed and have picked up a few free Kindle downloads already.  Remember you do not need a Kindle to read these. You can download the "Kindle for PC" for free from the Amazon web site to use on your smartphone, tablet or pc .  

Barbel from near Dresden in Germany used the pattern to make this lovely little table topper. You can find the instructions from a link on this page

Beth emailed me a few weeks ago to ask if she could use my Fold Up Shopping bag pattern and instructions to teach at a class she was taking. These are the lovely bags produced by some of her students. Aren't they just beautiful!

You can find the original pattern from a link on this page.

I took a pic of this beautiful lily that has just come into full bloom in my garden this week.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Some recent pics to share-more baby penguins

We only have two baby penguins left at the Lillico viewing platform for this breeding season and I managed capture some pics of this one in his distant burrow just on dusk last Saturday. This baby is very close to getting his full adult feathers and is more than likely going to be making his maiden trip out sea at the end of this week by the look of him.
Lillico  Little Penguins

I also managed to take as hot of the crescent moon just before sunrise at around 6.00 am this morning and you can also see the white dot of  Venus (Morning Star) just to the south west of it. It is in the loop of the power lines in the first two shots.
Crescent moon and Venus January  29th 2014 

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

My New Quilting Project- a long monologue full of drama and woes

Back at the end of October I saw  that Sharon Schamber's Gypsy quilt that she won 2nd place with at Houston in 2013 was on pre release sale so I bought it and eagerly awaited its arrival mid November (over 2 1/2  nearly 3 months ago). I am  usually very hesitant about such expensive designs these days unless I know I am definitely going to use them. The pre release price of $115 compared the $150 was a good buy I thought.

I purchased my fabrics and all the particular supplies such as  Liquid Stitch, a special glue nozzle, freezer paper etc. that were needed and decided last weekend that I might launch into making some of the blocks. I was very excited to start.

I decided to reduce the designs by 4% and that meant I could stitch them out on my Janome Horizon 12000. I also reduced my applique pieces by the same amount before I printed them out.

The centre of the quilt has 5 embroidered floral blocks with blocks 1-4 being stitched out twice. Block 5 is in the centre of the quilt  and then there are 4 full compass blocks as well as half and quarter compass blocks around the edge of the of the quilt before the borders are added.

This is my journey over the weekend and the last day or so. 
Step 1
 I went to the website and downloaded the updates to fix errors etc that have been picked up. The last update was made on the 12 December so thought everything was OK to start as all the issues should have been ironed out by now, the end of January. I hooped the  fabric, batting etc for my first block (Block 2 of the set), cut all my applique shapes out and started the embroidery machine using the full block jef file from the design set. I was able to stitch out the quilting design and that was beautiful so I was quite excited at this stage.

 The next step was placing the applique pieces but it was here I hit the first speed bump. The machine did not stop to lay down the appliqué and they are quite fiddly. Result, one ruined  block. I shot an email off to the digitiser and was told the machine should stop and was told by return email that perhaps I wasn't using my software or the designs correctly. I have stitched out hundreds of applique designs in the past, the most recent being the set of Aristocats from Hatched in Africa and they have all stopped to lay down the applique shapes without any special intervention from me. I tried again and it didn't work again as I was told it should so I decided to rescue the block by opening the exp format and then converting to jef as that format at least has different colour section for the stops in it. Off I went again and got one block done and I was pleased with the result.

Step 2
I decided I would then do the middle block, Block 5 as that block is very striking in the quilt. I decided to do mine bright pink instead of red. I got the block quilting all done and then started to lay down the applique pieces for the leaves using the Liquid Stitch. That went well. I moved onto stitching the outline of the leaves and they did not exist in 3/4 of the block, result another ruined block and another email sent.
By this stage I was feeling rather discouraged and extremely angry to say the least. The fix for that block came back later in the day and I stitched it out and it looks lovely.

Step 3
Thought I would then try Block 3 and all was going well until I broke 3 needles and the machine gobbled the quilt block. I then realised what was happening. Half the leaves were stitching out double and that resulted in very thick stitches and broke the needles. Again I sent an email but have not heard back so decided to delete the extra  double stitches myself in Embird and restitch the block.

Step 4
Block 4 was next on my list. Loaded it into my machine and noticed that it stitched for way longer than any of the other blocks without a lot of extra detail.. In fact on looking at the specs for the design it had approximately 30 000 more stitches than the two half blocks combined and that is taking into account the alignment stitches. So I have again come to a screaming halt on that block and waiting for the fix to come back. I could go in and fix it myself in Embird by combining the two halves etc but should I have to?
Step 5
I have stitched some of the sashings and the cornerstones so thought I would have a go at putting some together to get a feel for how it was going to look.

 Went looking for the pdf on how to construct the quilt particularly any hints on how to handle those tricky little curved seams,the stitched mitred borders etc but could not find one. After much sewing and ripping out and destroying a couple of sashing blocks I finally resorted to clipping the curves ferociously and after making one stitch on the machine, stopping and readjusting and repeating this procedure for 15 minutes have one sashing block attached. If I do one a day I may keep my sanity.

I am debating whether to put all of this in the garbage. I have yet to stitch out the compass blocks or start the borders and I may not do so. I have already wasted over $50 in fabric and supplies so a couple of hundred more is neither here nor there especially to preserve my sanity

These are my thoughts,please let me know if am I being unfair. 

  • Perhaps I am just way too inexperienced as a seamstress and embroiderer to be attempting a project like this 

  • It is 3 months in a little over a week since the design set was released and with the updates that had been provided up to last Saturday the designs would not have enabled you to stitch the quilt out satisfactorily.

  • Is it too much too ask that a design set of this price not have any errors

  • If I load a jef  or any other format file into my machine and it is an applique design I should expect it to automatically stop to lay down the  applique pieces. I should not be standing by the machine watching it stitch and manually stopping and starting it to achieve that.

  • Should we have to test sew each and every embroidery design we buy on scrap fabric to make sure they are correct.

  • Quilt shop fabric in Australia is $25 a metre and I can ill afford to have purchased expensive fabric to have it ruined by means other than user error. That I could deal with and cop it on the chin.

  • Perhaps it is now a case of once bitten twice shy

Friday, 24 January 2014

On The Mend and My Project for the Week

Jovi's Pillow

My war with the strawberries seems to be nearly over with the worst part of the rash and blistering clearing up but I now seem to have a sinus infection. I do not like to take antibiotics as I am allergic to penicillin also another antibiotic family so that leaves only one or two.

I have managed to make a pillow for the son of a friend this week. This is my prototype and I have another in the works. If anyone would like a basic tutorial please let me know. This pillow is 18 inches square so makes a good size. The designs I have used are form  Bunnycup Embroidery. The font is my favourite for this type of project and is called Patty Cake Alpha and the embroideries are from the Move It Too set

We have had another visit from the rabbit this week.
Rabbit in the  Garden

Make sure you head on over to Embroidery Library and pick up the free designs they have this weekend only.

These are very versatile design as you can take the inside part of the design out of each of these and reuse the frames for other projects if you wish.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Why did I?

I have had an on and off relationship with strawberries for many years. Some years I can eat them, some years I can't. I thought I was able to this year as I had a few and nothing happened so I had a few more. Over the weekend I have developed a bad allergic skin reaction and blisters have now formed around my neck. I am miserable. Salt water and calamine lotion have been a life saviour. That is why I have not posted for a few days. I don't normally take pics of myself but I took this one to remind myself to never eat a lot of strawberries again.

We did go out and do the penguin guiding on Saturday night. One of our few remaining chicks was still there. You can see how much of his downy feathers have been replaced by his permanent feathers over the last week. I do not think he will be there next week. I like the way he happened to come out of his burrow and stand in the same place so that I could take a comparison photo.
Penguin chick photos 1 week apart

I have been working on a few of the blocks for our BOM's
and hope to get some of those out to those participating later on in the week.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

And the hot weather continues and Sassy Cats Block 10

Today has again been hot so once again it has been inside with the air conditioner on and the curtains closed across the windows that catch the sun during the day.
Have a look a this gorgeous little ringtail possum cooling off in a backyard paddling pool. I think the video was made somewhere on the mainland of Australia yesterday where some centre had 46C temperatures. We have  a little ring tail living in one of our trees. We also see one nearly every Saturday night at the penguin platform at Lillico we do the penguin interpretive guiding.

The little finches were back again today taking numerous dips in the bird bath but once again they were very self conscious about being seen taking a bath. I did catch this little fellow preening himself after he had been in for a dip.

Block 10 of the Sassy Cats BOM has been sent out. I tried to take the pic in the hot glass room that we have and it is a bit crinkled in the corner but I was not going out there again to try and get another.

As I have been getting a few returned emails I sent out the progress email today about where we were up to as some people have full email inboxes and it also appears that some blocks are not arriving at all. I think this may be the case with those who use AOL as their internet provider. After I sent out the progress email today I had all the AOL addressed emails bounce back.

At this point the latest blocks I have sent out are

Crazy Quilt  Block 43
Sassy Cats Block 10

Graceful Block 6 (Perhaps another one tomorrow)

One of my blog followers Anne, sent me a link to this free BOM from Project House 360 called Garden Gate. Part 1 is up and from what I can gather other parts will have the included embroidery designs as well when that section is done. Some of you may be interested in joining this BOM as well.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Another hot day and Block 43 of Crazy Quilt

The temperatures have been high again today. The bird bath outside my sewing room window was a great place for the little finches to take cooling dips during the day. Unfortunately every time I got up to take a pic they saw me standing in the window and flew off. I did manage to stand at the window for a while and they came back.

The little finch on the look out for me!

Finally they had a good soak

and dried off on the branches of the clematis.

I have also sent out Block 43 of the Crazy Quilt BOM.

Crazy Quilt Block 43