Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Here is a small quilt I finished this week. I did learn something whilst sewing this! Make sure you have the right bobbin case in the right machine. Somehow mine got mixed up. I was trying to sew a 9mm satin stitch to make the stems and horrible crashing sounds and broken needles ensued. I took the machine to get it serviced and make sure the timing was correct ( the servicing was overdue anyway). After working on it, and doing test sewing (and breaking another needle) repair guy suddenly realised what the problem was. I do have a bad habit of taking things apart and not putting them away properly - I have made a mental note not to mix the two bobbin cases up again (and when I find something to write on metal I will mark them accordingly) - so the moral is - if you have a machine that is capable of 9mm stitches and another of that can only go as high as 6mm - keep the bobbin cases separate!

I spent an afternoon looking around the garden for things to shoot (in the nicest possible way), and managed to get these two fellas. I used a macro lens for both of them, the dandelion and bug came out really well, the other bug is not quite right, but I was holding the camera and didn't have it on a tripod (which apparently is the better choice when using a macro lens) and that's my story and I am sticking to it!!

Have a great week. Sue

Saturday, March 13, 2010


I have never tried these before (and those of you in the know may say - and don't do it again) but what a lot of fun! I have a bag of fabric treasures that hasn't been put away since I went to a class two years ago, and having moved it constantly from point A to point B, I decided to see what was in it. So the results are as follows.

I am such a good shopper at the Stitches and Craft Shows of the past, that I could add lots of sparkly Angelina Fibres (I buy this stuff on impulse - it sparkles and calls my name), wool roving in purple, braid, machine stitches and gold leaf pen.
I am teaching a class on machine embroidery next week, so I hope they will inspire and show a few techniques.
Of course, now I am left with these little pieces of jewel - can I throw them I - oh I so don't think so..... Perhaps they can become the next batch - they look a bit like opals - I'll see where that takes me.

On a very important note - as I am known for my PAST appreciation of this product - until they did the unthinkable and changed the recipe - could it be...... be still my beating heart.......
I can't see those awful words - Vegetable Oil = Palm Oil on the new packaging - can I go back to buying it???

Another little piece from Painter Essentials 4 - Watercolour.
Bye for now.


A quilting buddy asked what happens when you use bleach on other colours - I only had red - I was pleasantly surprised - it didn't go a horrid shade of pink - the result was a shade of orange. For these two samples I used Easy Off Bam Power Cleaner Stain and Toilet (would you believe) - it was all I had in the gel type bleaches. I think from memory I then did a bit of overspraying with the normal bleach. Do do this kind of stuff OUTSIDE.

Norman at his regal best, as a "classic oil" painting - done in Painter Essentials 4. This program is a lot of fun.

Back soon.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I always wanted Derwents. As a kid, they were "the" pencils. I was in my mid 40's before I finally got a set of 72 Derwents - in a tin and everything. I now have Derwents in quite a few varieties. Pencils are a bit like fabric in my house. There are lots of pretty colours and plans are made with how to use them, but more often than not, they are just gazed upon. However, having a love for art quilts, I find there are other uses than putting pencil to paper. As part of my pencil collection, I have the very beautiful Derwent "Inktense" pencils. Put them together with some machine embroidery and you have a great way to while away a few minutes!

I stitched out a redwork/trapunto type design, then coloured in with the Inktense Pencils.
To make these colours come alive, you then have to add water or in this case some JoSonya Textile Medium. Note the change in colour.

I then fished out some Aquarelle's that were kicking around and roughly drew (and I mean roughly) a couple of flower shapes. Again I washed over them with some Textile Medium.

I did heat set both lots and left them for a couple of days. I threw them in the washing machine today, the Inktense sample held its colour really well, the Aquarelle's not so well, but they are meant to give a water colour effect, so in my moments of relaxation I will do some free motion outline work on the sample and see how it comes out - I still think it will give a great effect.
The sample was too nice to leave as a UFO - although I have only made it this far with it today - so I thought I would demonstrate a frame finish . This is a great way to use a fabric that has a large print - you know - the one you bought because it had a beautiful big design on it, but now find it impossible to do anything with, because whatever creature is on it will be reduced to either having no head, or only its bottom in a square.

I used this method for this quilt - - you will find other bits of it in my photobucket account on the side bar. All I could see happening with the large cranes, was having only their legs left but by choosing where to put the framed designs, I managed to keep a few whole cranes.

For a small piece like this, it was easy enough to fold the fabric and press lines in it to mark the centres. On a larger piece, mark with chalk or other medium. You will need to cut a second piece of fabric for the facing - in the picture it is face down) - I have drawn lines to show centre. Next I traced the outline of the embroidery design and then cut a shape to use as a template.

This is a bit like a donut and the hole. Check the template size for fit. Do you need to make the hole bigger? This will be the sewing line. Because we are now all becoming aware of the 101 uses of the glue stick, I placed a few dabs on the template and stuck it in place and I also used a couple of dabs to join the two pieces of fabric together, to reduce "slippage". Keep the glue within the area to be cut away. Next you need to stitch around the template.

When the stitching is done, trim away the centre, leaving a 1/4inch seam allowance. This should now be clipped.

Now bring the smaller piece of fabric through the hole and finger press seam, until all points are in place.

This is what the back looks like. (above).

Now centre the frame over the embroidery or fussy cut piece of fabric.

Pin or use a little glue to keep in place. Top stitch around the entire frame then trim any excess fabric away underneath.

Your piece is now ready to use. Use whatever shape best compliments the design you are trying to frame. Circles, squares, rectangles - just try not to make them too complicated with lots of points to push out!!

I also finished a sample today of some free motion embroidery for a class I am giving next week. The fish thing is becoming a bit of a joke, but they do lend themselves so well to creativity.

See you soon.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I previously posted about using tape to hold your pieces when joining fabric for binding or sashing etc. Since I did that post, I have found an even easier method. The Glue Method.

Here are the pictures. Place your two strips like so, right sides together.
Fold the top one back on itself until you have the 45 degree angle.
Place some glue on the folded piece (the bit that will be removed). Stay away from the 1/4inch seam allowance.
Reposition. Give another press if necessary.
Sew across the fold line and trim back to 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Press the seam allowance open.

Hey presto, done!!
And finally, Norman and the "what do you mean you want to use the machine" look.

I think that is it for now.


Now that I have your attention -
I am in love with my blue glue stick. I have been playing around with different methods of joining fabric until it hits the sewing machine. The glue stick is the answer ( trumpets and heavenly choirs can begin now). So below is a tutorial, put together for those of us who look at a mitred corner on a quilt and then choose another style, because the mitre is scary. How many times do you get three corners right, but the fourth refuses to sit flat or match up - I dedicate this to you.....

Let me set the scene - the pink fabric is the corner of your quilt. It is irrelevant how large the quilt is or whether it is a square or a rectangle - this will work for you.

Make a mark on the quilt 1/4inch in from each edge. I have used a pin for photographic purposes, a pencil mark will suffice. Measure out your border fabric. This will include, the measurement of the actual quilt top plus the width of the border x 2 - it would also be wise to add just a little extra to this measurement. Centre the border as you would normally, and pin up to the 1/4 inch mark on the quilt top. If you are using a 6 inch border, you should have at least 7 inches on each side left over.
Stitch the border fabric on to the quilt top. I do not tie on or off at the start and finish of the row. Leave a reasonable tail that you can tie off later. Start and finish your stitching as close to but not on the 1/4inch dot. Now press whilst the pieces are still together to set the seam then with the border piece on top, lift the border piece and press open, the seam is now pressed to the border.
Repeat with the next edge and press open.

You may have a little gap like this - this is ok - just keep the first stitch tight by pulling the thread if necessary. Lay the quilt corner you are working on out on your ironing board or padded surface. The ironing board is the best option at this point, because you can place a pin right through your work surface. Place the quilt top so that the quilt is to your left as you look at it. (See below)
Lay the quilt top out so that the two border pieces cross each other. Place a pin right in the very corner. This is where the ironing board is handy because the pin can go right through the surface.
Push the pin right down.
The pin will act as an anchor, take the top border piece and twist underneath itself, until you have a 45 degree fold.
The two border pieces will now match up across the width of the border (not necessarily the length if you didn't measure the extra to a specific measurement).
You can check the angle by using the 45 degree on your ruler.
Give the mitre a press. The pressed line will be your sewing line. If you set up each corner in the same manner every time (quilt to the left), the piece will go on to the sewing machine in the correct order every time.
Apply a good line of glue across the fabric, beyond the fold. Keep the glue line away from the 1/4inch seam line - it will then be cut away once the seam is sewn.
Place the border piece back into position. Use the pressed line as a guide.
Feel free to give the corner another light press.
Take to the machine and sew down the pressed seam line. Again, DO NOT go beyond the 1/4inch mark or sew over the stitches already sewn.
Again, you do not tie on, it is very easy to undo just a stitch if there is any bunching when you open the piece up. DO tie off at the outside edge, this is where the quilt will take the most stress until you have finished sewing.
Trim back to a 1/4 inch seam.
Press the seam open and adjust any pressing of the quilt top. Tie off the threads or use a needle to lock the corners if necessary. If you find that there is a small gap in the stitching use these threads and back stitch it closed.
Repeat for each corner.

The finished corner.
Now go mitre a corner or four!!
Note: I have used a Bluglue stick by Bostick, but you can use any water based glue stick for this method. The Bluglue stick goes on blue but dries clear and is acid free (and no I am not getting paid for this - if you find something you like, say so). If you keep the glue beyond the sewing and seam line, it will be removed once you trim the fabric so I feel this method would work for any quilt from fine heirloom work, to something the dog/cat will sleep on! Another method of "sticking" that can also be used is good ole vlysofix. Use up those bits that won't stick to the backing paper any more.
This technique isn't limited to a 45 degree angle, as long as you press your angle in first, this method should help in any situation.
Back soon