Japanese Meshwork

27 09 2008

I spent part of today at a quilting workshop in town learning how to do Japanese Meshwork. Earlier in the week I spent a few hours making the bias strips I used in my ‘tumbling blocks’ piece. A word about these bias strips—they aren’t made from the bias of the fabric. They’re cut on the straight grain, then put through some type of bias tape maker to create the double-fold strips.

Japanese Meshwork has no sewing in it, until you need to add borders etc. It’s all about weaving the fabric. And it takes some time to get the technique right. However, within a few hours all five of us at the workshop had a handle on it, though whether I could repeat the technique at a later date remains to be seen!

Here are some of our efforts:

My Christmas Japanese Meshwork piece - 9 in square

My Christmas Tumbling Blocks - Japanese Meshwork piece (9 in square)

Bobbie's Cafe Blocks

Bobbie's Cafe Blocks (9 in square)

Jane's stars and diamonds

Jane's stars and diamonds (6 x 12 in)

Flora's lattice

Flora's lattice - in progress (6 x 12 in)

Using the bodkin to weave the strips

Using the bodkin to weave the strips

See also: Japanese Meshwork: Finished

Free issues of Down Under Quilts magazine

24 09 2008

You can get a free 6-month subscription to the electronic version of Down Under Quilts, the Australian quilting magazine.

Just go to The Quilt Mouse (http://www.thequiltmouse.com.au) then scroll to the bottom of home page and click the link. You only have to enter an email address and you’ll get access to past issues and a free sub for the next 6 months.

BTW, this is my friend Bobbie’s website. It’s been revamped recently—her son set it up for her using Joomla, and her daughter did the graphics. It was their Christmas present to her last year, but was longer in the making than they’d all expected. But it’s up now, and you can even see one of the quilts I’ve made with Bobbie’s blocks in the Photo Gallery.

What did I start?

24 09 2008

I popped into the fabric store yesterday to see if my new machine might be here by the weekend in time for the workshop. It won’t, so I’ll have to borrow one.

While I was there, the owner said there was this guy who’d seen my Dragonfly quilt in the window (she’s displaying it in the store for a while) and wants to commission me to make a single bed quilt! She indicated that the price would be high—over $1000—but it seems he gave her his number for me to contact him anyway.

Arrgghh! I’ve got his phone number, but haven’t called him yet. I don’t have the time to make it—unless he’s prepared to wait 12 months—and I’m really not confident in my ‘art’ quilt skills as the Dragonfly was my first effort of designing and creating something myself. And if it had all gone pear-shaped, it wouldn’t have mattered. It seems he wants a particular butterfly, so I’m guessing that it’s for a daughter, especially as it’s a single bed size.

And the store owner also mentioned that some ladies were wondering if I did a lesson or workshop on how to make a quilt like that.

What have I started?

Sewing machine fairies

22 09 2008

Funny how things happen… As regular readers of this blog know, I’ve been considering purchasing a new sewing machine since we moved here 18 months ago and I started quilting again.

I staved off that purchase by trading my 33 year-old Bernina in on my Mum’s slightly newer 25 year-old Bernina, at her suggestion. But as my skills have developed and my needs have grown, I realised that I needed a machine that was better able to do things such as free motion embroidery and the like.

I’ve done some investigation and had decided on the Husqvarna Sapphire 870. I was all ready to put in my order when my friend Bobbie offered to loan me her Sapphire 830 for a while. It was 12 months old but virtually brand new as she’d hardly used it while they were building their house, but she was thinking of upgrading to the latest Pfaff, which has just been released. However, she had to find out from the Pfaff people whether a particular part she’d bought for the Husqvarna would work on the Pfaff. She offered me a good price on her 830, should I decide to buy it *if* she decided to purchase the Pfaff.

Anyhow, long story short… Last week, Di from the fabric store asks if I’m still interested in the 870, Bobbie finds out that the new Pfaff will work with the part, and my Mum calls to say my old machine has died! So, Mum picks up her old machine, I decide to purchase the Sapphire 870 at Di’s ‘good deal’ price, and Bobbie decides not to get the new Pfaff, so I return hers to her. Phew!

I think the sewing machine fairies were at work last week making sure that this all happened the way it was meant to happen! Mum keeps her machine, Bobbie keeps hers, and my old now-dead machine gets replaced with a Husqvarna Sapphire 870! Meantime, my old machine is going to an ex-electrician at my folks’ retirement village who will see if he can fix it and then Mum will donate it to charity or one of the people in the retirement village.

BTW, my Mum has taken up basic sewing again. My niece (her granddaughter) visited an orphanage in Africa a couple of months ago and one way that she can help is to get people to make cloth nappies (diapers) and bibs for the babies out of old towels. So Mum’s doing a lot of that.

Quilting: Easy double-fold bias tape

22 09 2008

I’m off to a Japanese Meshwork workshop this coming weekend and had to cut the fabrics and make double-fold bias strips from it. Bobbie lent me her 1/2″ bias tape maker, but I wasn’t happy with the results on my first few tries. I just couldn’t get the folds even, and on the lighter fabric, I got puckering in the centre, even when using spray starch to ‘crisp’ up the fabric.

So off to the internet to see if there was an easier way! I couldn’t find anything on YouTube but I did find an easy method here:

In case that blog post ever goes missing, here’s my variation on it (apologies for the blurriness of some of these photos).

Position a needle on the ironing board so that the gap between the ‘grabs’ of ironing board fabric is 1/2″.

Needle on ironing board with 1/2" gap

Needle on ironing board with 1/2″ gap

Clip one end of a 1 inch fabric strip to a point so that it can slip under the needle easily.

Snip the end and pull through gap

Snip the end and pull through gap

When you gently pull the fabric through, you may need to wiggle it a bit to get the folds even.

Wiggle the folds to make even, if necessary

Gently pull the fabric through, about an inch or two at a time. Watch that the folds remain even, and help guide the fabric through if necessary. I found that with some fabrics I had to use my left hand on the lower fold to keep it even—the upper fold sorted itself out when I did this.

Pull through gently

Pull through gently

Iron as you go. Press each inch or two as you pull it through the needle. Be careful you don’t burn you fingers—the fabric gets pretty hot with all that pressing.

Iron as you go

Iron as you go

End result—perfect 1/2 inch double-fold bias tape strips! Give the strips a squirt of spray starch and a final press, then, if you’re not using them straight away, roll them around a cardboard tube and pin until you need them. The folds will separate if you’re not using them immediately.

Perfect 1/2 inch double-fold bias tape

Perfect 1/2 inch double-fold bias tape

A day’s worth of your mother

20 09 2008

Very funny! Things a mother would say in a 24 hour period, condensed into less than 3 minutes. Safe for work.

(Thanks to Ron M for sharing this link.)

Quilt workshop: Cosmic Curves convergence quilt: Finished

20 09 2008
Sun and Earth convergence quilt

Sun and Earth convergence quilt

I finished quilting and binding the “Cosmic Curves” convergence quilt the other day. So it’s done.

Sun - free motion embroidered in metallic gold thread

Sun - free motion embroidered in metallic gold thread

I used a lot of gold metallic thread and did free motion embroidery for the sun and around every little circle (waterhole) on the Aboriginal-style fabric.

Gold metallic embroidery

Gold metallic embroidery

And I used the same gold metallic thread for the ‘animal tracks’ in the frame, as well as to outline all the ochre lines in the border. You can’t see it in the photos, but I used a maroon thread to outline all the purple lines in the border.

Contours on the earth

Contours on the earth

I tried to make the earth more ‘earthy’ by adding ‘contour lines’ in a matching thread.

More photos…

Access no areas

19 09 2008

Another frustrating computer day. Late last night our internet connection just died. No websites, no Messenger, no Skype, no emails in or out, no connection to my client’s system. Nada. Zilch. Nothing. I rebooted the router. Still nothing.

Same thing this morning when I booted up. So at 6:00 AM I called my ISP. After an hour of diagnosis and testing, the Support guy determined that the router had died. But all its lights were on and flickering away like in a demented cockpit, as they normally do. Fortunately, my folks were coming over here for lunch and to pick up my Mum’s old sewing machine (another tale), so I called and asked them to pick up a new ADSL modem/router from the store in their town (we can’t buy such things in our town though the electronics store can get them in within 24 hours).

After we had lunch, Mum and Dad headed home and I connected the new modem. The instructions had three steps only—how hard could it be? Problem was, one of those steps was “configure the modem” with no information on how to configure it, what the native IP address of it was, etc. I called the ISP again and the guys there helped me establish a connection around 4:00 PM, but that was just on a direct line to a machine. The ISP guys couldn’t help me with the network settings and warned me that some settings might need to be changed on the server too.

So another call, this time to the PC Guru guys. The very patient Mike helped me through changing the IP address of the new modem so it matched what my server was looking for, and removing the modem’s DHCP settings so that the server ones applied (WTF?). He then helped me do some ipconfig stuff (ipconfig /release; ipconfig /flushdns; and ipconfig /renew) on all the machines. After another reboot of the server and all PCs as well as the modem, we FINALLY got access after 5:00 PM today.

The cost of a new modem ($110) was small in comparison to the real cost:

  • 8 hours: Lost day’s work—and therefore pay—for me… and this is with my new client too. Not a good look for the second week of working for them.
  • 3 hours: Round trip for my folks + fuel
  • 1 hour: Time on phone with PC Guru
  • 2 hours: Time on phone with ISP’s Support

Bloody computers… [mutter, mutter, mumble, mumble]

Quilt binding: Joining the ends

17 09 2008

I’ve always fudged joining the ends of the bindings on my quilts, but decided it was time to learn how to do it properly so you can’t see where the join is. There’s a great video on how to do this on YouTube (see below). I’ve used it a few times now, and my bindings are now perfect!

Update: There are printable PDF instructions of the same technique here: http://www.heatherbaileydesign.com/HB_QuiltBinding.pdf

Proud as Punch

16 09 2008

The AFL’s All-Australian Team was announced last night, and for the first time ever my nephew was named in the side. Not in the 40-man squad (which is an honour in itself), but in the 18-man on-field team! Woohoo!

He’s had a stellar year, and this honour is well-deserved. Unfortunately, his Finals season is over as they lost last week and got knocked out. So, the Anzac Medal and an All-Australian. Only the Brownlow and a Grand Final will beat that.