2012 FMQ Challenge: Bonus tutorial

30 09 2012

In addition to the usual monthly challenges, there are some bonus challenges throughout the year. Back in August, a bonus tutorial from Susan Brubaker Knapp was released: http://sewcalgal.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/2012-free-motion-quilting-challenge_27.html

I only got around to doing anything about it this weekend.

The challenge was to take a photo of something and convert it into a quilted piece. I decided to use a photo of a water lily I took in Bali a couple of weeks ago.

Here’s the original photo:

I converted the photo into a black and white image, then printed it out. I then stitched the outlines of the petals and leaves using an unthreaded machine onto a small quilt sandwich. I used an existing sandwich, which was a bad move, as it’s main colour was pink!

I used LOTS of different coloured threads, but I still wasn’t very happy with the final piece. Despite the thousands of stitches I did, there’s no way that pink background was covered, so the green leaves–in particular–look very insipid. I also didn’t check the placement of the centre of the flower before doing the stamens etc. so they’re out of whack too πŸ˜‰

Here’s how my piece looked after about an hour of thread painting:

If I did this again, I’d use a black base, and applique on the big green leaves and the pink flower shape before I started stitching. I also WOULD NOT do the surface stitching/thread painting on to the quilt sandwich as it puckers up really badly with so much thread — I’d put it onto some tearaway/interfacing/stabiliser and do all my stitching on that before making the sandwich.

There’s a long way to go with my thread painting! Shadows and colour depth are two areas I really need to spend some more time on.

Community Quilt 15

30 09 2012

What a brightly coloured quilt top this was! I decided to quilt it with all-over feathers, using several different variegated threads to match the colour panels of the top. The backing fabric was a plain calico.

These photos were taken before I squared off the quilt ready for binding, so you can see a little of the batting at the edges.

Click on a photo to see it full size.

Threads used:

  • Superior Threads spool of an unknown colour (pale blue and tan mix) that came with my Sweet Sixteen; I finished the last of this spool. This was the same thread I used for some practice pieces when I first got my Sweet Sixteen.
  • Superior Threads Rainbows; 40 wt, colour 829 (orange, tan, cream variegated)
  • Superior Threads King Tut; 40 wt; colour 943 ‘Nile Crocodile’ (yellow, olive, and green variegated)
  • Superior Threads King Tut; 40 wt; colour 932 ‘Cairo’ (purple, pink,blue, and green variegated)
  • Wonderfil Silco; colour #SCM03 (pastel pink, yellow, blue and green variegated)
  • Bobbin: Wonderfil Deco-Bob; 80 wt; colour DB 112
  • Stitches in the quilting: 177,000

And the back:

Bali hut finally getting repaired

24 09 2012

After several visits from insurance company building assessors, structural engineers, etc. and after being refused our insurance claim for fixing the Bali hut that was damaged in the June storms (no, I’m NOT happy with CGU insurance as this was a Shire-approved structure yet the insurance company says it wasn’t designed properly in the first place!), we’re finally getting it repaired and secured permanently.

The repairs are going to cost us nearly as much as the original structure cost to build six years ago (according to the building info submitted to the Shire back then)…

Here are some ‘in progress’ photos:

The main work is to replace the short bolts holding the poles into the stirrups with REALLY BIG bolts (see the photo with my shoe in the picture), replace the steel frame with a stronger wood laminate roof frame and tie these beams to the rafters, and then add bracing from the poles to the wood laminate roof frame.


Community Quilt 14

24 09 2012

I had a bit of a break from quilting the community quilts — I’d finished one batch and hadn’t received the next, then I had a lot of work deadlines to meet and a trip to Bali. I finally got back to my Sweet Sixteen this past weekend, after about a month of no quilting!

The first quilt I pulled out of the large box of 11 in the new batch was a very dark (mostly solid black) geometric quilt. I suspect it was made with a male in mind, so I figured that feathers and flowers wouldn’t be the right way to quilt this quilt.

I thought of some sort of Navajo design motifs, but all those I could find on the internet required a LOT of marking (I’m not big on marking — I just want to quilt!). So I looked at it a different way.

I saw circles in the triangle blocks (!), soΒ I decided to use one of Leah Day’s ‘matrix’ motifs. Out came a large bowl to mark the big circles and a lid for marking the small circles, then I free motion quilted each circle using a dark charcoal thread with a bit of a sheen (Floriani embroidery thread, 40 wt rayon, colour PF488), and using dark navy Wonderfil Invisifil (100 wt, colour IF 608) in the bobbin (the backing fabric was navy).

I used a variegated King Tut thread (colour 403 ‘Cairo’) for the rising sun motifs in the blue/grey border, and a soft green/blue rayon for the flames in the same border (Robison-Anton rayon, 40 wt, colour 2313 ‘Sprite’). The large flames in the other black areas and the large border were quilted with a black Gutermann polyester thread. I didn’t want any sort of sheen for these areas, which is why I just used a ‘standard’ thread.

Total quilting stitches: 160,000

2012 FMQ Challenge: September

21 09 2012

This month’s challenge tutorial was from Paula Reid. Like Don Linn’s piece earlier in the year, this one used a design that we had to mark on to the fabric. Paula suggested several options for transferring the design and I ended up using a sample piece of Transdoodle from MistyFuse (received in my pack of MistyFuse several months ago).

I was pretty impressed with Transdoodle — you just lay it between the pattern and the fabric, chalky side down, then using a ball point pen or similar and a hard surface to write on, you go over the pattern and the chalk transfers to the fabric nice and neatly. There’s a bit of chalky residue transferred from where you press down with your hand etc. too, but it brushes off very easily. You can use the sheet over and over again.

Here’s my design transferred onto the fabric, ready for stitching –I didn’t transfer all the lines for the feathers, thinking I could do them without the marks.

Here’s the first lot of stitching — I used a white thread so that it would stand out against the deep red/maroon of the fabric. I was wrong about not marking the centre feathers. I could do the outside ones easily enough (though I’m much happier making commas a la Diane Gaudynski’s method), but I got a bit caught up on the inner feathers. I may have better off just doing them without the markings. I added some tiny pebbles in the centre and at the edges (the whole design fits an 8″ block).

Here’s the back:

I thought it needed a lift, so I added some variegated green ‘veins’ to the feathers and the teardrop motifs. Then went around the outer bumps and edges in the same green, about 1/8″ from the original stitching.

I’m glad I tried this technique, and especially glad I tried the Transdoodle paper as I think it has a lot of potential for anyone marking quilt designs.

However, having now done a couple of marked designs, I realise that they are not for me — I much prefer to create my own designs and patterns freehand on the machine. That said, I’m glad I’ve tried various marking methods as I’m sure I’ll use some marked designs at some point. So thanks Paula for stretching my bounds.

Threads used:

  • White: Madeira Rayon, 40 wt, Colour 1001
  • Green: Superior King Tut Egyptian cotton, 40 wt, Colour 988 (Oasis)
  • Bobbin (navy): Wonderfil Invisifil, 80 wt, Colour IF 608

Ricky Tims in Perth

20 09 2012

Last weekend I had the BEST time – I attended four Ricky Tims sessions and one concert by him! He’s currently in Australia and the lovely Michelle (my good friend and my Handi Quilter Sweet 16 [S16] dealer) got him over to Western Australia for five days, two of which were the session and concert days. Ricky has blogged about some of his experiences here: http://www.rickytims.com/ (and you can see a picture of Ricky and Michelle here: http://www.rickytims.com/home/47-blog-general/1789-down-under-day-6).

Ricky was such a personable, open, warm presenter. We got HEAPS of tips and tricks from him (and fortunately a 50+ page book of notes so we didn’t have to try to write everything down), as well as stories about his life in both quilting and music. And the concert was fantastic – not only is he an award-winning quilter, author of quilting books, Quiltshow TV presenter etc., but he’s also an incredible musician and composer.

He also spent time after each session signing people’s books, CDs, etc. and allowing photos to be taken.

If you get the chance to see Ricky live in concert or attend his lectures, just DO IT. He also holds retreats at his home town in Colorado a few times a year. I believe he’s also presenting in Brisbane and Adelaide this month.

BTW, Michelle and her staff have made the excellent videos on using rulers etc. with the S16: http://www.handcraftershouse.com.au/index.php?act=viewDoc&docId=8

Ricky signed my book

Ricky signed my book

Close-up of his Rhapsody quilt — one of several that he brought with him and talked about at length.

Bali: Day 6: Thursday 13 September 2012

17 09 2012

We were up at 6:00 am for a 6:45 am pickup by our driver. We arrived in plenty of time for our flight — the traffic was pretty light at that hour of the day. The gate wasn’t even allocated until about 20 mins before boarding, so we had to wander about the international terminal past security — a ploy to get you do last-minute shopping? The flight was due to leave at 9:30 am but we didn’t take off until about 9:45.

We had an uneventful flight back to Perth (beef rendang was my choice again for the meal), and cleared immigration, customs and baggage claim in about 15 minutes (a record for me at Perth International Airport!). My nephew was waiting to pick us up. After getting dropped at my sister’s place, I drove the 90 minutes home. Not a big deal when it’s only about a 3 hour flight πŸ˜‰

The highlights of my first trip to Bali:

  • Spending time with my parents and sister (our first ‘just us’ family holiday in almost 40 years!)
  • Bumbu Bali Cooking School — I highly recommend this!
  • The fabric place in the Denpasar markets for quilting batiks at $2.40 a metre
  • Totally relaxing in a warm tropical climate, in such a beautiful location
  • The food!
  • Amazing massages, foot reflexology, etc.
  • The low prices of everything.

Would I go again? Yep!


Bali: Day 5: Wednesday 13 September 2012

17 09 2012

This was the last full day in Bali for my sister and me. It was another early start, but this time even earlier as I had to be ready for hotel pick-up at 6:00 am to visit the markets prior to the Bumbu Bali Cooking School.

The maximum number of students is 14 (two minivans of seven people each), though they fitted me and my sister in, with one of us having to miss the market visit as the vans were full.

First stop was McDonalds! Seriously!! But only to meet the other minivan and allocate people between the two vehicles πŸ˜‰ So the real first stop was the Jimbaran markets. At the markets, Heinz von Holzen — the chef (classically French trained and ex-chef at various Hyatts throughout the world and author of several books on Bali cuisine) — talked quite a bit about breakfast foods and ‘Mama Bali’ and her disposable daily income and why she has to come to the markets every day (no refrigeration) to get food to prepare meals for her family.

We sampled several breakfast foods — despite them looking very sweet, they weren’t. Heinz then guided us through the markets, explaining various foods, herbs, and spices (their pork meat is quite red as it is freshly slaughtered and there are no preservatives or hormones etc. in it).

Surprisingly, there was no ‘off’ smell in the markets, despite everything being out in the open (uncovered) and the closeness of the produce and the stalls. Everything is fresh and is sold the same day it comes to market or the next day. The markets are open seven days a week, for many hours (I believe the Denpasar markets are open 24 hours). Thus there is no food left out long enough to rot.

After the Jimbaran markets we headed to Jimbaran Bay where the fish markets are. Again, there was no smell of rotting fish in the markets, which is REALLY surprising as there are no concrete floors that get washed out each day. Heinz spoke at length on the overfishing in Jimbaran Bay and we watched as various catches came in and the fish were pulled from the nets and put into baskets and taken into the fish market.

Back to Benoa Peninsula and the Bumbu Bali Cooking School (right opposite the Peninsula Beach Resort, which is where we were staying), where we met up with my sister and had the most amazing breakfast! What flavours and delights for our tastebuds! Palm sugar and coconut cream featured in some of the most delicious dishes — they weren’t sweet… just DELICIOUS!

Then it was a few steps over to the open-air kitchen where we were to learn how to create 15 to 20 Balinese dishes (including stocks, spice pastes, and sauces). But before that Heinz showed us the ‘happy piggies’ they raise themselves for their restaurants, and the 24-hour old Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings that they rescued from the beach at Jimbaran Bay (see the photos — link at the end).

We didn’t have our own cooking stations (with 15 people, that would’ve been really hard to manage), but we all had a really good view of everything and we each got to help prepare at least one dish. Everything was pre-cut and ready to go and the almost invisible team of helpers cleaned up after each dish, took away the empty containers and dirty utensils and brought out the next lot for the next dish. It was a very well-oiled and practised machine. We sampled many of the dishes in the preparation and completion stages, including raw Wagyu beef brisket cut up in small cubes for beef satay. I was hesitant, but figured that I’d eaten steak tartare before so the small piece of raw beef (imported from Australia!) should be OK. It was. I was amazed how nice it tasted.

It was an amazing day. Heinz and his offsider offered SO many tips, including busting several myths about cooking that we had (like NOT searing steak on a very hot pan/griddle and cooking with high heat versus low heat).

After cooking school was over (about 2 pm), we sat down to lunch on all the dishes we had collectively prepared over the past 4+ hours. The food was magnificent. Unbelievable flavours, textures, and tastes.

Heinz said our names would all be on the blackboards at their two Bumbu Bali restaurants that night as ‘guest chefs’ as we had helped make the spice pastes etc. that would be used that night in the restaurants. We were already booked into the Bumbu Bali restaurant that night, but unfortunately we had to cancel as our plans changed (more later).

My verdict on cooking school: BRILLIANT! Well worth doing. If you’re going to Bali and are interested in food, then book a place (try and book as far ahead as possible — I heard there’s a two to three month waitlist; we were just fortunate there was a cancellation). Cost: US$90 for cooking school plus market (start at 6:00 am); US$80 for cooking school only (start at 9:00 am). If you can get up early enough, do the market part to as Heinz imparts a lot of information at the market that he doesn’t cover while cooking.

When we rolled into the resort after cooking school πŸ˜‰ we found that some friends of my sister’s had arrived a few hours earlier and had invited us to their apartment about 2 km down the road. They sent their driver to pick us up, and when we got to their place, their staff had prepared a veritable feast! So we cancelled the reservation at Bumbu Bali. Rob and Jules’ apartment overlooked the beach and had an infinity pool on the first floor. Amazing place! Two ladies from Broome (Colleen and Cori) who were staying in their other apartment next door also joined us. We had a lovely night with them. Their driver dropped us back at the resort about 8:30 and my sister and I packed as we had another early start tomorrow — we have to be at the airport at 7:30 am to catch the 9:30 flight back to Perth.

So, suddenly, the holiday was over. 😦

Will I be back? I think so πŸ˜‰

Bali: Day 4: Tuesday 11 September 2012

17 09 2012

A very quiet day lazing by and in the pool today. Read lots, did some puzzles, drank fruit juice and generally did not much at a very slow pace! Isn’t that what a holiday is all about?

Later in the afternoon we took the shuttle van over to the sister resort being built on the other side of the peninsula, not far from the resort where we were staying. The first block of 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments are finished, and they expect to have the main reception, restaurants, bars, spa etc. block completed by Christmas and more 1 and 2-bedroom apartment blocks. The maximum height for any development on Bali seems to be four floors, so these blocks aren’t huge.

The sister development already has two of the three pools completed and has a temporary restaurant/bar. Residents have reciprocal rights at the resort we’re staying at and can catch a free shuttle to the other resort any time they want.

We looked through a 2-bedroom unit and a 1-bedroom one. The 2-bedroom apartment was VERY stylish and HUGE! This resort is a timeshare with a difference — the apartments are for sale ‘in perpetuity’ so there’s no limit on how long an apartment can stay in the family. Also, they can be sold privately or willed with no effect on the status of the apartment.

Although the 2-bedroom apartment could sleep four people in beds, you could actually sleep eight in it at a pinch — the massive sofa would sleep two, the day bed on the verandah would sleep another two, and another day bed in the dining area would sleep another two.

When we got back to our resort, we got a call that my sister and I had got into the cooking school tomorrow, though there was only room for one of us for the market part of the day. My sister graciously let me have the 6:00 am start πŸ˜‰

Later that evening we went to dinner with some of Mum and Dad’s friends (Mary and Jeff from Victoria, Alan and Diane from NSW) at Giorgio’s Italian Restaurant at the Aston next door (I still don’t know why we ate Italian in Bali!). The food was excellent — I had the linguine with veal meat balls and it was full of flavour.

However, there were some discrepancies in the menu. Of the eight of us, seven had a menu that had ‘grilled aubergines’ on it, but my sister had this:



Bali: general observations

11 09 2012
  • Areas at hotels/resorts/restaurants are very clean as are most businesses and homes, but the vacant lots in between as well as stormwater drains etc. are strewn with rubbish (probably blown in).
  • HUGE number of motorbikes — everyone rides them. I’ve seen Muslim women in full hijab, small children riding in front of or between their parents, riders carrying sheets of glass (!) and other merchandise, women riding sidesaddle as pillion passengers. There’s lots of tooting and it all seems terribly chaotic, but there’s no evidence of road rage and little evidence of bingles between various road users. We could learn a lot!

  • There’s no such thing as clearing tree branches around power lines. I saw power lines running through trees, trees leaning into power lines etc. Heaven knows what happens to the power if trees blow down in a storm!
  • The Balinese are a very religious/spiritual people. There are temples and shrines everywhere — homes, restaurants, businesses, hotels, etc. And people make offerings all the time. Therefore I was very surprised to see some tagging on some buildings (never templates/shrines) when we were out and about on our trip to Ubud and Denpasar. I guess not everyone is as respectful of their own place….
  • Very few insects/bugs. I expected a lot of bugs as Bali is warm, tropical, humid/ But I’ve seen maybe two flies, no mosquitoes, no cockroaches, no spiders, no ants, no moths etc. anywhere. We saw one large scarab/rhinoceros beetle on the verandah one day, but that’s all. It was on its back so perhaps it had been dropped by a bird. I’ve also seen no geckos, which are always good at reducing insect numbers in a house.
  • First world problems: Disputes at the resort about towels and ‘baggsing’ sun lounges by the pool! It’s taken up a lot of conversation time that I’ve overheard. Really, people. There’s a helluva lot more to worry about than who left their possessions unattended for more than an hour or who ‘bags’ a sun lounge at 5:30 am!