Thursday, January 31, 2008

Machine problems

My SE was given the latest update week before last. A new bobbin assembly was installed which means it now cuts jump stitches in the embroidery mode. David even asked me what bobbinfill I use - obviously there is some calibration for the different types. The update was done in the morning while we were working on digitising a design; we were to stitch it out in the afternoon. The machine performed superbly and I was really pleased with the stitchout.

I haven't used the machine since then. Today I decided to do some patterned stitches on a quilt sandwich (I am still playing with ideas for both the fan and the journal quilt which is now overdue). Disastrous results. The top tension is too tight and is pulling the bobbin thread to the top.

I have reduced the top tension to half normal and the stitches are almost right, but I don't think this much adjustment should be necessary. I have flossed the tension disks in case something is lodged there and is causing the problem. Tomorrow I will stitch out an embroidery to see if it is OK.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Crossing off the list

A bit of fibre accomplished today. I finished the two heart squares I was committed to, plus I cut 66 squares 0f cream homespun (6.5 inches) and 128 4 inch squares from the various batiks.

These are for the siggy swap at the Scquilters Retreat in May. So far there are 69 swappers so I am a few short of the cream. You need one cream square and two batiks for each siggy block.

Yes, I have done the sums and I am four batik squares short. But I reckon if I get 64 blocks done in the next month or so it gives me a bit of wriggle room. Still have heaps of both fabrics to use.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Research = sorting the clutter

I have several impending deadlines.

I have signed up for the Aus-NZ Art Quilters journal quilt challenge for 2008. I did the challenge in 2006 and sent off 5 quilts from the 10 I made to an exhibition which toured the country. I got them back late last year and I am really chuffed that one of them was selected to appear in the latest issue (#117) of Down Under Quilts magazine.

This month's theme for the journals is Seasons. I have been tidying up my sewing room table. Because it is so big, everything seems to accumulate on its surface, and when I do a tidy up I never know what I will find. This time it was 2 pieces of transfer dye printed fabrics, an organza and a polyester satin, in red, orange and yellow. Think HEAT, SUN, BUSHFIRES! I think they will be the basis of January's challenge. Need to get a move on though - only 3 more days left in the month.

The second deadline is the fan piece for the Joan Schultz master class exhibition in Brisbane. This is due by the middle of February. I have been doing samples, but I am not happy with them. I am rethinking the design. More later.

The third deadline is the WA exhibition: Stitched and Bound. Entries are due in early April. I have a very nebulous idea, but it will need to be translated into a quilt in very short order.

But the studio table is clear now. I have rediscovered some very valuable and inspirational printouts on the creative process as well as some sheets on techniques that are beginning to resonate.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Actually some fibre today

We have been rather busy organising stuff for Martin and his move to the new unit. I did manage 3 sessions of aquarobics during the week, but the only walking has been around shops. Keep forgetting to put on the pedometer in the morning as well. Today it wouldn't have registered much, but I am still really tired.

These are the batiks that I bought to use for the SCQuilters' signature swap. This will happen in May and I think there will be about 100 people in the swap so I really need to get started. Today I washed and ironed them, plus I ironed half the cream homespun I bought for the base square. I also tackled the ironing basket and reduced its contents by at least half. Feel a bit smug about that!

While the fabric (and lots of other, more boring, stuff) was drying I worked on a piece I have had hanging around for at least a year. It is scraps of synthetic fabric layered between a cotton base and a polyester top with a grid stitched to hold it in place. Then I used a soldering iron to melt the layers of synthetics so different bits were revealed. While I quite liked it, I felt it was a bit crusty and needed something else. I talked about it here.

I tried putting red tulle over the whole piece and liked the effect. I had already decided to do some bobbin work on it, so today I wound bobbin after bobbin with some gorgeous hand dyed silk threads I have had for at least 5 years. I stitched the grid again and this is the result.

I am tempted to try just a little heat gunning now to make some of the shiny bits a bit more visible.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Textile Day

Every year in January Elizabeth Morley opens her house to West Australians interested in textiles. You bring a plate, some Show and Tell and network with like minded people. It is a most enjoyable afternoon.

This year I took along my sister. Dorothy has never been able to go before - as a school principal she needed to be on deck a full two weeks before school started. Now she is retired she is able to attend such gatherings. She enjoyed herself and found that she knew more people that she had expected.

The Show and Tell was as interesting as ever. I took along some of my experiments with the embellisher. So did another lady, but she had bound hers into a little book. I love that idea and I think I will copy it.
I did not take this piece because I really don't know what I am going to do with it. I layered some scrim that I had dyed with one of Dale's embellishment felts and then scribbled all over it with the embellisher. It is obviously unfinished, but I am not sure what I can do with it to keep the scribble while adding more complexity.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Surfing the net

I just love the serendipitous discoveries you make when you follow links.

Try this one .

Quite hypnotic. Did YOU know how a machine stitch is made?

Monday, January 14, 2008

A $160 T-Shirt

I saw it in a boutique and thought that it was a simple and clever idea. Then I checked the price tag. EWWWW!

The original used a brocade fabric. I took some of the red rayon stamped with gold fabric that I was experimenting with the other day and tried another lot of bleach discharge, using much less bleach. Some of the stamp could actually be seen, and I still got a bit of the purple when the gold discharged. I thought the fabric was quite interesting enough and so I replicated the T-Shirt.

Nine squares, each stitched to hold it in place, then the edges frayed. A line of hand stitching through the centre of each row of squares. Knots left on the surface rather than hidden.

The base for my top was a T-Shirt from K-Mart costing $12. I cut 2.5 inch squares from the discharged fabric and stitched them in place.

I used 2 different silk threads that had been part of my Christmas gift pack from Dale. The colours were exactly right: yellowy-orange and purples.

I am very happy with the finished product. And while I would like to credit the designer of the $160 T-Shirt, I am not at all guilty at pinching the idea.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Flower Stitcher

I bought one of these attachments from Dale before Christmas.

Unfortunately it was faulty - the spring which holds the lever in place on the needle bar was broken so the lever went up with the bar and stayed up, instead of coming down to move the wheel along. As usual Dale was very helpful and agreed to replace it, but I did not manage to get into town until last week. I played a little bit with the new one, following the instructions carefully, but had no success with it. I selected the stitch on the SE, set free motion and increased foot pressure. The stitches went all over the place. Today I tried again, still with no success. Then I decided to ignore the instruction to drop the feed dogs, and just use the machine settings for each stitch. It worked!

So now I have to practise some more before I set about making the pile of rings I have in mind to use for another project.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Some fibre at last

For some reason water aerobics is at 10.30 on Fridays so I had an almost free morning.

I shot off early to the Licensing Bureau - my driver's license was due and I was not sure that I had the concession I knew I was entitled to. Turns out I was entitled to another one as well and I now have a license valid for 5 years which cost me zilch, nothing, $0! There ARE some benefits to growing older.

And since I went so early the waiting time was minimal. When I got home I realised I had an hour free so I decided to try some discharging. I saw a T-shirt in a boutique yesterday when I was out with Helen that I thought would be really easy to replicate. It used a Chinese brocade type fabric, and I knew I had something similar. But when I delved into the stash yesterday I found some red rayon which I had stamped with gold paint and I thought it might be interesting if I stamped it again with bleach.

I think it is. I used too much bleach so the stamp I used is not clear, but the bleach also took out the gold and turned it purple and made that stamped design clearer.

I still have some scraps of the stamped rayon so tomorrow I will try the discharge again. And I did go to water aerobics - that makes three times this week.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Getting active

I went to water aerobics on Monday and again today.

Yesterday we went walking around Manning Lake in the early morning, and then I went shopping. Unfortunately I forgot to put on the pedometer again after my shower, so I don't know what I might have achieved. I did manage over 10,000 steps on Monday though, as well as the aqua.

I am determined to shift some weight. I lost 6.5 kg before we went to New Zealand in September and I didn't put on anything while I was there. But I have been inactive since we came back (I was sick for a month, but that is no excuse not to have resumed exercising when I was better) and I have regained 2 of the lost kilos.

So this week is start again week. I have even bought some new scales that weigh in 100g increments - the old ones only measured in .5 kg. I have compared the two and both seem reasonably accurate.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

I've been very lazy

and haven't written anything in my blog for over a week.

In fact I haven't done much of anything, except socialise. We have had a number of visitors. I did go once to water aerobics last week - first time in more than two months. We have been walking fairly regularly though.

Today we went back to the spot at Bibra Lake where we saw the Scotch thistles growing. They are really pretty. The foliage is a soft green and the flowers are a pinky purple. But looks are deceiving. When you look closely there is nothing but thorns, no leaves at all, and I would hate to get caught up in them. The new plants look nothing like the mature ones, but I suspect those soft pillowy leaves have sharp edges.

The Scots seem to have left a legacy of savage weeds to the Antipodes. We were amazed at the prevalence of gorse in New Zealand.