Busy fortnight ahead

2 09 2007

I’m off to Brisbane on Tuesday to spend all day Wednesday in the office, followed by a usability/user interface workshop on Thursday. I fly back on Thursday evening, getting back to Perth near midnight. Overnight in Perth then drive home Friday.

The following week, I’m back in Perth on the Tuesday for an all day meeting with one of my Brisbane bosses on Wednesday, then home sometime on Thursday.

After weeks of no travelling/commuting, there’s a few thousand kilometres to come in the next two weeks. Which is good, ‘cos I’ve got a lot of podcasts saved up to listen to!

Quilting Tip: 4

2 09 2007

I’m making a small table centrepiece quilt for a Christmas gift (shhh!), and using metallic gold thread for some freehand machine embroidery embellishing. Last night was the first time I’d ever used metallic thread—and it drove me MAD! It snapped regularly, and I had to continually rethread the needle. After doing two sections (of eight) I was ready to give up in frustration.

Ah, but what’s this? The internet to the rescue!!! I found some handy tips on dealing with breaking metallic thread here, and tried the first suggestion of loosening the top tension. That worked a treat and the thread only broke another two or three times for the remaining eight sections (it was breaking 10-15 times per section before that).

And the added bonus was that the other eight sections all remained flat while sewing (the first two puckered a little), giving a nice professional finish. Well, sort of… my stippling is nice and rounded in parts and looks like brain coral; but other parts it looks like schizophrenic brain coral, with sharp points and turns! It’s only my second attempt at freehand machine stippling, so no doubt I’ll get better…

Stippling examples

The stippling on the left of the star point is with a loose top tension; that on the right is with the top tension set for normal thread. Notice the flatness of the left compared to the slight puffiness/puckering on the right—and the smooth and rounded brain coral compared to the jagged brain coral!

Update: Finished! Here’s the finished quilt. The stippling is in gold metallic thread, and there’s some red metallic thread in the red centre star.

Christmas table centrepiece

Centre star

Quilting Tip: 3

2 09 2007

Back when I was about 10 years old, my mother taught me to sew on an old Singer treadle machine. For my 21st birthday, I used the money given to me by family and bought myself a Bernina sewing machine, which I continue to use now. In all that time (and a LOT of years have passed since I was 10!), I never really noticed that there was a groove on the front of a sewing machine needle. And if I had noticed it, I never knew what is was for.

Until the other day. I was watching an episode of Simply Quilts (yes it’s sad, I know, but I’m taping it for a friend who doesn’t have cable), and one of the hints was to use the groove to help you thread the needle. Well, blow me down – it works! I’d been muttering to myself about the size of the eye of these needles and blaming my not-so-perfect ageing eyesight, and cursing whenever I unsuccessfully tried to thread the needle.

What you do is run the tip of the thread down the groove and it slots straight into the eye. Not quite 100% every time, but a helluva lot more often than doing it manually!

The other ‘take home’ tip from the show was to NOT moisten the end of the thread to get it into the eye (like, how many thousands of times have I done *that* over the years!). It seems this expands the fibres, making them even thicker and less likely to go into that tiny space. If you moisten anything, moisten the area around the eye of the needle.

Who’d have thought?

See this web page for a diagram of the groove on sewing machine needles.