8-pointed wonky star quilting motif

28 07 2014

Several people have asked me how I stitch the wonky 8-pointed star shape as shown in these quilts:

It’s really very easy — you go from the middle of one side to its opposite corner, then to the opposite middle, then the opposite corner etc. until you get back to the beginning. It’s easier to explain in a simple diagram!

You can start at any mid point or corner point — in this diagram I’ve started at a mid point. Follow the arrows and the numbers (1 to 8) to create your own 8-pointed slightly wonky star!



Community Quilt 156

27 07 2014

I loved the colours of this quilt! The aqua and black and white were so fresh and crisp, and set off perfectly by the plain black backing fabric.

With the colours and the wavy blocks, my first thought was to quilt it with parallel lines (with curved ends) emulating water, then I thought perhaps large bubbles (as in breaking waves), but decided on large spirals to emulate waves and water turbulence as I was on a deadline to finish this one and needed to quilt it with something that was big and that covered a lot of area fairly quickly.

It was a big quilt, so I used my bungee cord system to reduce drag and the weight of the quilt when moving it under the needle.

It took about 2 hours to stitch in the ditch around each block first, then about another 2 hours to do the spirals.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)





Threads used:

  • Top: Fil-Tec Glide ‘Mint’ (40 wt, trilobal polyester, colour #60345)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide pre-wound bobbin (black)
  • Needle: Size 18


2014 Retreat ‘show and tell’

22 07 2014

At our annual quilt retreat this year (first weekend in July), we didn’t have any challenge pieces to present to each other as we had a year off from challenges! But we still had ‘show and tell’ to show some of the work we’d collectively produced over the year.  I haven’t included everything in these photos as some are unfinished gifts for others and to show them publicly now would spoil the surprise. I also haven’t included my ‘show and tell’ as I didn’t take photos of my own (and some are for gifts too). Unfortunately, the photos aren’t the best — I was using the camera and flash on my phone and everyone moved around too much as they enthusiastically explained their work 😉

Some of the works feature fabric painting and couching in metallic yarns, using the new couching foot on the Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen.

(Click a photo to view it larger)


These are all just squares. The optical illusion is from the placement of the small black and white squares inside the larger squares


Frogs everywhere!


More frogs…



Cracked Pots from a Helen Godden class


Fabric painting and gold yarn couching on a bag


Other side of the bag


Very organic… and STUNNING quilting (also with some couching in gold yarn)


STUNNING quilting!


More fabric painting and gold yarn couching



All applique pieces cut with an Accuquilt Go! Cutter die


Cute cockatoo (unfinished top only)


Book US car rental via UK to get insurance included

22 07 2014

This is a very convoluted process, but it saved me a bundle of money!

I usually book my US car rental via an aggregation website like http://www.priceline.com and that was the case for my car reservation for later this year. Back in April, I got a good deal with Budget using Priceline’s bidding process, and was offered full insurance cover for $11/day for the booking, which I was happy to take based on previous experiences.

Unfortunately, after lots of attempts to buy this insurance via Priceline’s website, phone calls (via Skype, thank goodness) to Priceline in the US, to my bank, and eventually to the car insurance brokers in the US, I found out from the brokers that the reason my insurance request likely wouldn’t go through was because I was using an Australian credit card and address, despite Priceline having ‘Australia’ as one of the drop-down locations for this insurance. (I’ve bought car insurance from Priceline before, but they must’ve tightened up some of their processes as I couldn’t get it this time. It’s a pity their website doesn’t tell you why you’ve been rejected, and it’s a pity they haven’t told their customer service reps too, as I would have avoided lots of time on the phone to the US! The Priceline customer rep even told me it was my bank’s problem, so I called them just to make sure, but the bank couldn’t even see the attempted transactions let alone see if/why they had been rejected, so the transaction was being rejected at the US end.)

I could’ve purchased insurance at the counter on collecting the car, but a quick look at the Budget website in the US for that location showed that I’d be paying more than US$40/day EXTRA to have insurance coverage if I purchased it at the counter — that would be an extra US$320+ on top of a US$250 rental!!

So off to the internet of all things, looking for an insurance service that offered rental car insurance for US car rentals by Australians. I found some interesting discussions on the Australian tech forum site, Whirlpool (I find lots of [mostly] good stuff on Whirlpool!), some of which referred me to two rental agencies that included insurance with the car rental (www.rentalcars.com, which includes Collision Damage Waiver [CDW or LDW] only, and http://www.arguscarhire.com, which includes 3rd party liability protection, CDW and others, for a similar overall price for that charged by Priceline just for the car). I may well use these some other time, but the Whirlpool post that caught my eye was for Budget (who I’d already booked with via Priceline), The person who posted said that if Australians purchase via the UK Budget website (www.budget.co.uk), you get the car rental at a good price AND the price includes insurances. I checked the UK website and the price was very similar to Priceline’s but WITH all the insurances included.

Before booking via the UK site, I thought I’d better check the Australian Budget site; however, as soon as I said the rental was for the US, the Australian site took me straight to the Budget US website, where the price was almost double the Priceline and Budget UK price, although because I said I was Australian, that price did include LDW.

So I called Budget in the UK to see if I (an Australian) could book a US car rental via their UK site. I got straight through to a customer service rep (Tom) who said I sure could and he could do the booking for me right then! Tom also confirmed that the rental included CDW/LDW and liability protection with no excess. Within 5 minutes, I was all booked and it cost me less than my Priceline booking with no insurance included. I don’t have to pay until I get to the counter, just like with Priceline. After getting my confirmation, I cancelled my reservation via Priceline, a simple and painless process.

Bottom line: It pays to look for alternatives! Here’s what I found (8-day period, same pick-up/drop-off location and times/dates, same car category [mid-size]):

  • Priceline bid price in April 2014: US$250 (AU$266 at today’s rates) with no insurance (insurance via Priceline — if you can get it — is an extra US$11/day)
  • Australian Budget website redirected to the US site (checking the option for Australian citizen): US$494 (AU$525) (includes LDW insurance only)
  • UK Budget website: GBP144 (AU$254 at today’s rates), which includes LDW and liability insurances and no excess
  • US Budget website (saying I’m a US citizen): US$352 (AU$374) for no insurances; US$764 (AU$813) if I add liability and LDW insurances!


Testing out my new camera

20 07 2014

In preparation for my ‘bucket list’ trip to the NZ and the US in October/November, when I *know* I’ll be taking lots of photos , I decided to upgrade my digital camera (I had a Canon IXUS 400 that I bought around 2002, which had a 256 MB CF memory card). I purchased a little ‘point-and-shoot’ compact camera — a Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS1 — for just under AU$150 (the 32 GB Micro SDHC card was extra).

And today I went into the garden to test out some of the features such as the 5x optical zoom, the panorama feature (no public pics from that as yet as I was photographing my house and I don’t make those pictures public). I haven’t tried features like burst (lots of photos in rapid succession, which would be ideal for sports or moving animals etc.), or effects such as focusing on a colour and making all the rest of the background black and white.

I was really pleased with how these first photos came out — this little camera (it only weighs 100 g!) packs a punch. I haven’t retouched ANY of the photos below — they are as they came off the camera and as I saved them onto my computer. The only thing I did with some of them was crop out some of the background to centre the object better, and/or make a duplicate in my photo editing software, then crop out even more to better show things like the raindrops. I also didn’t resize them any of them or adjust the angle or apply any effects. As it rained overnight, quite a lot of the photos caught the raindrops perfectly on the flowers.

Click on a photo to view it larger.

King? Protea — one has a cropped version to show the raindrops and inside; the other is cropped to show the raindrops on the outside of the flower.





king_protea04  king_protea05

Strelitzia (aka Bird of Paradise) — I have several of these plants in the garden. Most are orange, but there’s at least one that’s yellow, and a HUGE one that’s white (not in flower yet).







Unknown protea — this is just a bud and no more than about 2 inches (5 cm) across, ready to flower. I just love the Fibonacci sequence in this bud! The bottom one is a bit blurry, but it shows the Fibonacci sequence better than the others, and also the size of the flower in relation to dead leaves on the ground.





Pink Diosma — this plant has TINY little pink flowers and I didn’t think I’d be able to get a decent photograph of them. The bees were buzzing around, but were hard to capture. That said, each of the photos of the diosma have at least one bee!

diosma01 diosma02

 Update 28 July 2014: Some pics of a freshly cut lemon. Standard auto settings on camera, no post-processing except cropping the image.




Community Quilt 155

20 07 2014

This large quilt was unusual in that it was made up of 9 large rectangles of fabric divided by white sashing strips. From the ‘hand’ of the fabric, I suspect the rectangles were screen printed. I liked the almost Japanese feel of the fabric, with the indigo and the stylised chrysanthemums (that’s what I saw, anyway;-) It was quite a large quilt.

How to quilt it? I had some thoughts when I first saw it — perhaps uneven parallel lines almost like a tartan? Perhaps large circles or wreaths? My thoughts on this waxed and waned, but what didn’t change was my idea to quilt it using fluoro (neon) thread. I auditioned a few threads against the fabric, and while I quite liked fluoro orange against the dark blue, I decided to try something different and blend a fluoro lime green and fluoro pink! I’ve only stitched with two threads once before, and I was a bit hesitant as the weight of the combined threads through the needle eye might cause shredding or breakages. But I worried needlessly — the two threads I chose worked PERFECTLY through the size 18 needle I used, and I didn’t have a single thread issue across the whole quilt.

As far as the quilt motif went, I decided to follow the organic roundness of the flowers (or are they fireworks?) and do a mostly rounded motif, with some ‘flames’ scattered between. In the end I did lots of spirals, segueing into flames and/or bubbles. I really liked how the threads played together — despite them being fluoro pink and lime green, the overall effect is a sort of thick yellow, and it’s only when you get close that you can see the different threads weaving around each other.

One final thing — if you’re ever handing off your quilts for someone else to quilt (or if you’re going to quilt them yourself) PLEASE make sure that ALL pins are removed from inside the quilt layers. I ran over a small safety pin a couple of times and was just very lucky that I didn’t break a needle, jam the needle in the bobbin case, and/or throw the timing out on my machine. Had the timing been thrown out, it would have cost me a 4-hour round trip to the city plus about $50 to $100 to get it fixed!! That’s one expensive safety pin!

(Click on a photo to view it larger)










The back:



The tiny safety pin that I missed, which was buried inside the quilt layers:




Threads used:

  • Top: Both Isacord 40 wt threads — colours 1940 and 6010
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide pre-wound bobbin (60 wt, white)


A mighty tree falls

14 07 2014

I left my quilting retreat weekend early last Monday as there was a storm raging and predicted to get worse. It was about a 90-minute drive home for me, through some of the most forested regions in Western Australia and I didn’t want to be on that road when the very strong winds hit. I made it home safely, but not without some white knuckle moments.

I didn’t have a chance to take photos of it, but the estuary, which is usually very calm, had two to three foot waves that were crashing over the road. The high tide didn’t help…

Some days later I drove into town and saw this mighty (Tuart?) tree crashed into a paddock close to us. Fortunately, it didn’t crash onto the road. This tree must have been rotten inside, as the outside looked healthy and the leaves were all healthy too. Such a shame.



Update: About two weeks later, this was all that remained:



Update June 2015

Almost a year later, and new growth has sprung out of the old stump!





Community Quilt 154

14 07 2014

I quilted four Community Quilts on my quilting retreat weekend last weekend. I didn’t keep track of the threads I used, so unlike the others I’ve documented, you won’t get thread choices in these posts.

What a pretty quilt this was! Navy and yellows just go so well together. There was a lot of work in this quilt, and like #152, it just cried out for different quilting motifs in each block.

As usual, I started by stitching in the ditch around each block, then around each appliqued piece. Once that was done (yes, it took a few hours…), I tackled each block separately, deciding on one or more quilting motifs to stitch in it. I did all the navy blue stitching first, then the stitching with the yellow thread.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)
















Community Quilt 153

14 07 2014

I quilted four Community Quilts on my quilting retreat weekend last weekend. I didn’t keep track of the threads I used, so unlike the others I’ve documented, you won’t get thread choices in these posts.

Unlike most of the quilts I’ve quilted for the Community Quilts program, I did NOT like this quilt. I didn’t like the colours, the fabrics used, or the size of it (it was HUGE), though I didn’t mind the backing fabric 😉 The plain blue fabric used on much of this quilt just didn’t match (in my eye, at least) the other colours used, and I suspect it was old sheeting or old fabric from someone’s stash. The size of the quilt made it a real pain to move around, and, as I was away from home, I didn’t have my improvised bungee cord system to help prevent drag and hold up the quilt, so my shoulders were really aching by the time I finished it.

To avoid looking at that horrible blue for too long, I took the advice of one of my quilting buddies (none of whom liked this quilt’s colours either!) and just did a simple straight line motif to hold the layers together.

I started by stitching in the ditch around each star and the blocks making up each star and the joining squares. Then I used my Line Tamer ruler to stitch straight lines joining the points of the stars to each other, then to create a ‘wonky’ star in the centre of each of the expanses of blue fabric. In the border, I did a large meandering stipple.

I was glad when it was done and I could fold it up.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)








Community Quilt 152

14 07 2014

I quilted four Community Quilts on my quilting retreat weekend last weekend. I didn’t keep track of the threads I used, so unlike the others I’ve documented, you won’t get thread choices in these posts.

This quilt just screamed out for different quilting motifs in each block, so that’s what I did! I stitched in the ditch around each block first, and around the appliqued centres, before stitching a different rounded motif in each block.

I did a large meandering stipple in the outer border in a variegated thread that blended with the fabric.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)