Monday, January 31, 2011

It is for the bed

I need a new duvet cover and my search for one  lead to nothing. So the decision was made to make a duvet cover. Although I sleep under sheets and use the down duvet as a “blanket” or Quilt, the cover stil need to be wash often because of pets that also like to lie on it.

I bought a cotton sateen for the duvet cover and some stretchy satin to do the embroidery on. (After I embroidered the first designs I realized that the stretchy satin will need a permanent stabilizer- so I choose to use a non iron on interfacing as stabilizer).

I usually do not like to work in one color but I thought little specs of colour in the embroidery would not look good. So I choose three greens that is very near in value to each other to use for the Fabulous Flower Quilt 3 designs of Ace Point Quilting that I bought from Secrets of Embroidery.

I have now completed the designs. I plan to arrange these motifs around one central motif.

Hopefully I will be able to show the completed project later this week.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A reluctant dairy farmer

The deadly routine on a dairy farmer is only broken by a crisis of one or other. For the rest there is certain tasks that need to be carried out at every milking time, seven days a week for 52 weeks and a day every year. One can do it just for so long! I was involved in our dairy for 8 years on a daily basis with no one to release me from this deadly routine- my husband want the dairy cows but not the deadly routine. He say because he is the boss, he can delegate!

I am now unwillingly involved again after a year of freedom. It took me a long time to shake of the depression that these years left me in. My husband do not understand this- because he fill his day with things he love.

Patrick Badi
Luckily I can also do some quilting- not nearly as much as I would like, though. The dairy is not all bad. I do have wonderfull people that help me. People I can trust and depend on when I am not there. We also have a Computerized system from Alpro  where the milk flow and amount of milk every cow is producing at every milking, is recorded. In this way I can pick up any cow that might be ill at a very early stage.

Well I guess no one has a perfect life and one do appreciate things more if you have to fight for it than when it is just there.
I bought an industrial Bernina machine to be able to quilt at a higher speed. (I was moving my hands to quickly and the machine's speed could not follow. It result in to big stitches which the judges frowned upon). I made this log cabin quilt out of my scrap bags (only partly- in the end I needed to much fabric for the outer rings and had to cut from my stash). I use an old mohair blanket as a batting and it quilted beautiful. I now sleep under this. In South Africa quilts is not part of our heritage. As a child we had down comforters for warmth on top of our standard sheets and blankets. So many households now has duvets as standard bedding. Although I make quilts since 1983 I only start sleeping under a quilt 2 years ago. I love the quilting on this quilt and enjoy it every evening in the soft light of the bed lamp.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Can you remember......

In a workshop a good teacher might give a piece of advice that is not directly applicable to what she is teaching. In one of our machine embroidery classes Hanlie mentioned that every time you change hoop sizes you should calibrate your hoop and showed us how it is done with the 830 Bernina.

Some lessons you do not learn before you do not run into the situation. I embroidered a few projects where the embroidery did not go right to the edge. I got a message about the calibration but thought something was wrong with my machine. Eventually I checked the manual- and then it dawned on me- I need to calibrate the hoop! REMEMBER- DO NOT FORGET THOSE IN BETWEEN LESSONS

Luckily in my Christmas runner it is not so obvious! (The star point on the left side did not embroider all three loops at the point)

This runner was not completed in time for Christmas- so I complete the embroidery as soon after as possible and now only need to finish the edges and add the lace pieces- so I am ready for next Christmas!

Sometimes one learn best from experience. I will never forget now to calibrate my hoop when I change to a different size.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


A wonderful feature available in the Version 6 Bernina software is the ability to digitize squiggles. (Or stipple stitch as it is called in the software) You just outline the area that you want to fill, press the button and whola! You can adjust your squiggles to make them smaller and have a single, double or triple run of stitches.

Squiggles are a good background quilting design to have around an embroidered design. It flattens the background so that all attention is on the embroidery. The way that squiggles reflect light (in many different directions) is another contributing factor to have the attention moved from the background to the embroidery design.

Even so, it creates a lovely texture on the background- if one do nothing the blandness of the background would draw attention. Squiggles enhance the whole look without competing for attention with the main subject, the embroidery.

If you have the software go to the Bernina site and do this exercise. Experiment and learn how to use this wonderful optional feature. To get the best results, either embroider on the batting or add batting and a backing fabric before the squiggels are stitched.

This is just one of the FREE classes available at the Bernina website.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Applique in the Hoop

I have always loved appliqué but did not like it as a hand work. There were just to many pièces and I did not feel it is transportable. Machine appliqué is a skill one need to acquire like machine quilting and I never had.

Digitised appliqué was all I wanted from machine appliqué and I have the opportunity to have all kind of fancy stitches on the edge and not just a satin stitch.

This design was bought from  Ace Points Quilting  design at Secrets of embroidery   and was digitized without appliqué. I wanted a contrasting colour and just add the appliqué.

The machine is digitized to sew a placement line. The appliqué fabric is then attached with a straight stitch and trimmed close to the stitching line. An open thin sig-sag stitch are then sewn to make sure the fabric is well anchored and to provide an underlay for the satin stiches to follow.

Joanne Winn introduced me to have a fancy edge by first sew a decorative stitch on the edge before adding a satin or stem stitch.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Piece in the hoop

I love to use my machine’s embroidery unit for precision piecing. I do not really like paper based piecing but since my machine do it for me, my view changed. Blocks like Pineapple where the angles get wonky and blocks do not fit together paper based piecing or Piecing in the hoop is an essential method.
This Pineapple block (miniature) was created using the embroidery unit of my machine. This method is very suitable for miniature blocks. If the block cannot be pieced as a whole one can pièce the different units and then sew them together in a regular way. The Queenofstitching apparently has a method to complete the block in the hoop.

With the bigger hoop that many machines now have, once the block is pieced one can carry on and embroider the block as well as quilt the block. I have combined piecing and appliqué to achieve this. Bigger blocks can be sewn in half and then embroidered on this half before the other half are sewn in the hoop as I did in these blocks.

For a tutorial of these methods go  here

Or for a   video

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Stash, My treasure

I have been collecting fabric for more than 30 years now and it is my most valuable asset. Other people spent money on jewellery, make-up or beauty treatments. I spent it on fabric and on books and I know of many quilters who do this too. This is the wonderful thing to be among your mates- you are not so weird any more!

I live on a farm therefore a stash is essential and indispensable. I make multi fabric quilts and often design as I go. It is not possible for me to purchase fabric for a quilt or a project because I sometimes do not even know what I will do or need tomorrow.

I made sure that I have a wide variety fabrics in all the colors. Apart from these shelves (photo) I also have 2 shelves with big prints, a shelf with Batiks and one with hand dye fabric. I have 7 crates of solid colour fabric and 2 with South African fabrics. I have several crates with upholstery and curtain samples. I have a crate full of fabrics suitable for watercolour quilts, one with yardage for kaleidoscope effect quilts and 2 crates with Taupe fabric.

One only has enough fabric if you are willing to give some small pieces away if a friend need it. That does not mean that you now need to stop buying more fabric- only that you can now cut into your stash with more spontaneity. The fabric trends and colours change with every season and one cannot afford to be without these pieces. Remember, one buy for the future- not only for today and tomorrow.

I do not bust my stash. I treasure it and enjoy it and marvel in it. I touch it, stroke it and handle it whenever I feel like it. I draw inspiration from it. It is good for my health and well being.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Some Close-ups

 Janet Sampson- Pattera Garden
 Floral and lace- Addicted to Stitches
Another Addicted to Stitches design

Here is some detail shots of the embroidered blocks in my quilt

I have completed the embroidery on all the small squares. I have started to sew all the blocks together. I am running into problems though. The bigger embroidery blocks is slightly bigger than the pieced star- all my own fault! Now I have to stretch and fudge to get sharp points to match up!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Stabilizers in quilts

I hate the idea of paper in my quilt, therefore I tried to avoid using tear away stabilizers in my machine embroidery. I must admit that I did not realize the importance of the stabilizer in the formation of beautiful stitches. So after learning the hard way by trial and error I came to appreciate stabilizers more, but also try to come up with more acceptible solutions for myself.

When I make a quilt with heavy embroidery like a lot of satin and fancy fill stitches I use a needle felted cotton batting as stabilizer. The only problem then is to keep the batting out of the seam allowances when one sew the blocks together and to trim it evenly so as to have no lumps. I do add another full batting when layering for quilting. If this will be to lumpy I use a thinner needle punched poleyester batting- but not if the quilt is intended for a bed.

I also did not realise the reason for using a cut away stabilizer in stretchy fabric. Once again this lesson was learned when I ruined a nice T shirt when the embroidery shrinked the fabric. The cut away stabilizer is to hard for my liking and leave scratchy edges. So here I now also use poleyester needle punched batting to provide the stitches the support they need.

At a time I thought that water soluble stabilizer is the answer for all projects. I have now revised this idea. I have learnt that one need different stabilizers for different situations and tasks. I have also learned that one can experiment and come up with solutions that suit your own needs better. (I use a napy liner for continous support- it is a poleyster fibre and very soft after washing.)
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