Sunday, 24 July 2016

FAL 2016 Third Quarter - First Finish!

2016 FAL

Well, here we first finish for the Finish Along Third Quarter! I have been working on this for a while during the second quarter and obviously could not make it to the Second Quarter deadline, so here is my long overdue finish of the Mandala quilt I have been working on.

You can find the list of my Third Quarter goals HERE

Our Guild is running a Mandala Challenge  for the 2016 Festival of Quilts. The quilt must be circular with a diameter of between 50 - 60cm. Any quilting technique is allowed! If you want to find out about the design process and how I used Cindy Needham's Ultimate Circular Stencil to draw this design, please go to the Mandala Challenge post.

I was a tad conflicted a couple of weeks ago, thinking that I had made the wrong thread choice as it is not contrasting enough. Was incredibly discouraged but thought that I better finish this off. Looking at it now, I quite like it...I am particularly impressed with how evenly round I ended up, given the challenge this provided with drawing up a perfect circle at this size.

Mandala Challenge finishing up at 55cm in diameter

Close up of the fantastic blue Aurifil colour (#2725)

Mandala measures 55cm in diameter
Cotton fabric (Moda Solids) and Legacy cotton batting
Stitched with Aurifil 50/2 thread (Brass, Medium Red, Light Wedgewood, #6728); all the colours are from the Shannon Brinkley Dryad Thread box
Cindy Needham's Ultimate Stencil used to draft this design; Ultimate Background stencils used to fill the outer petal as well as the outer rim of the Mandala.

Very happy with the end result. Now onto the next project!


Sunday, 10 July 2016

Westalee Sampler Template Set

I have bought the Westalee Ruler foot last year some time and have only dabbled with it here and there. I found it a bit fiddly at first and obviously was not used to stitching with it at all. Recently I have dug it out again as I want to use it to finish off one of my quilts. Looking around for a suitable Arc shape on the Westalee website I decided in the end to get the Sampler set. At $65 this represented good value when I was looking around. It has a 6" Spiral, Spin-e-fex No 4, Circles on Quilts Spinning Wheel No 36, 4"Arc, Clamshell and a 2" Circle.
Westalee Template Sampler Set

It comes with a few pamphlets, however I would advise  to check out the YouTube videos that are on the website. They are excellent and give you a really good idea on how to use the templates.

Today I thought that I put up some pictures of my trials with those how difficult is it to stitch with those templates?  I obviously can FMQ but stitching with rulers is a completely different ball game. The photos are from my second time using these templates, so they all look less than perfect but will give you an idea of what to expect. I was very curious about this...

For Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.2 owners: I used Aurifil thread 50/2 on a 80% cotton/20%polyester batting. I used a Titanium Topstich 70/10 needle. I think the recommended needle size is 80/12, however I do stitch better with the 70/10 needle and my machine likes it. Had no problem with my tension or stitches.

I am particularly keen on the Arc as this is the shape that I will have to use to finish off one of my quilts. So I drew myself a 4.5" square and started outlining it with the Arc. As I am going to have to deal with a large quilt I did not turn my sample but tried to stitch it as I would on the real quilt which meant stitching with the Arc both in front and behind the foot. Now this was a bit of a challenge. Initially the template moved a fair bit, until I put that little tape on to keep it in place.

First attempt with lots of slippage
On the plus side, I noticed that I have conquered the straight ruler...have no problems aligning this and stitching nice straight lines that meet in a tidy fashion!
Second attempt...getting much better
Eyeballing the 1/4" space was tricky particularly stitching behind the foot. I started to examine the Arc's markings...very clever obviously got the arc lines etched on it but it also got some straight lines.
Took me a while to work out how to align my Arc using those straight lines and eyeballing it from there. This will need some more practice but if you look at the second attempt I am definitely getting the hang of that. Also useful for filling in sashings
Just arcs
Next I did the Circles on Quilts Spinning Wheel No 36...very handy, comes out at 5.5" and is a lovely simple shape that would look great both in alternate solid blocks or simple 9 patch blocks.
Circle on Quilts Spinning Wheel No 36

I loved doing that. Bit strange to stitch inside a template and be restrained by its form but easy enough to execute. Was actually very impressed with this as the template makes you stop in exactly the right place, like magic.

Then I tried the Spin-e-fex No 4...
Spin-e-fex No 4

Simple flower shape that I could use on my Meadowbloom quilt (yet to be done) in the solid alternate blocks. No problem stitching that out. Might just have to get a bit neater with this and the surround is obviously a fail...was just mucking around.

Then came the Clamshell. I like the big Clamshell but realised fairly quickly that I needed to put the tape on to keep it from moving. Now here you stitch on the outside of the arc which is a little bit more difficult...if you loose concentration, you start stitching away from the template, as I did a number of times.  Again, this needs more practice...not sure I aligned this correctly all the time. The little clamshells were a hoot to do. Initially I would slow down every time I came to the valley and make some horrendous long stitches with the ruler foot going into the valley however second time around this was better. Certainly very easy to stitch out and alignment was easier for me on the smaller ones.

Overall, I was impressed...with a bit of practice this should become easier as you go along. Particularly like the Arc...this is a shape that I use very often, so using a ruler foot instead of marking would make life a lot easier. I will have to do a few more practice samples to get my alignment right and to practice stitching behind the foot before I go on the quilt with this. But yes, definitely do-able!

Highly recommended!


Saturday, 9 July 2016

2016 Finish Along - Third Quarter Goal List

Wow, time is certainly flying...
2016 FAL

Here is my list of goals for the third quarter.
Not a lot of new projects on here as I only finished two in the last quarter. But I am least I am making progress!

#1 Mandala Quilt for SA Guild Challenge - This is still in production. Here is the drawing
...and this is how far I got during the second quarter
Still lots to do and I am actually a bit disappointed...did not exactly turn out as great as I had hoped. I think I should have used stronger colours or stuck with my original idea and quilted it with white thread.

 #2 WIP: A Field Guide - acquired the thread I was missing and also got myself some ruler templates to finish this off quicker. Really no excuse left.

 #3 WIP: Oriental Robert Kaufmann Fabric Quilt - No Name Yet!
Has additional border already attached. 'Just' needs basting and quilting.

 #4 WIP: Thousands Pyramids Quilt -  have about a hundred more units to go...

Linking up to Eleven Garden Quilts for the FAL Quarter 3 Link Up


Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Finally Got It!

I cannot tell you how many times I have fumbled my way through trying to match patterns when piecing a backing piece together.

Finally read up on this on the weekend and found this 'no nonsense' youtube video 'Pattern Matching Fabric - How to join patterned fabric  by

This worked a treat for me for this rather bold and busy fabric
Finding and greasing the fabric where the pattern joins

Pinning the two pieces together and hoping for the best
and voila...a near perfect join
I must say, this worked really well and produced a great result.


Sunday, 3 July 2016

Australian Machine Quilting Festival 25 - 28th August 2016

The Australian Machine Quilting Festival is coming up being held from 25 - 28th August. I know it's only the beginning of July, but I am getting very excited about this as I registered to attend some workshops for the first time.

I am enrolled in 2 drawing workshops

Claudia Pfeil - Free Motion Wholecloth
Image from Pinterest 'Claudia Pfeil'
Wholecloth Design class with Claudia Pfeil, a German quilter who runs a quilt shop and the APQS Showroom in Krefeld/Germany. Curious...4 hours of drawing, so theoretically I should come away with a new Wholecloth.


If You Can Feather You Can Freehand (Drawing) with Bethanne Nemesh, a well known US quilter (www.whitearbourquilting)

And there will be a vendor mall with lots of goodies, of course...can't wait!


Thursday, 30 June 2016

Quiltshopgal's Ultimate Quilting Challenge 2016

Have you got Cindy Needham's Ultimate Stencil Collection?

If yes, consider participating in Quiltshopgal's Ultimate Quilting Challenge 2016. You can find the schedule HERE.

There is still some time left for the next Linky Party. If you cannot manage an entire project maybe consider participating in the Doodle/Sketch Linky Party that will kick off on July 15th.

All you need is a drawing that uses one of Cindy Needham's Ultimate Stencils.

I am currently working on a Mandala design that I have drawn up on the Ultimate Circle Stencil

I am hoping that I will have that finished in time for the last Link Up on August 15th! We shall see...

While my Mandala above is a bit more involved it truly does not take that long to draw a design using those stencils. Would be nice to see what people come up with and to support our fellow bloggers who keep on putting up those fun events.


Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.2 - Comparison

I am missing my sewing machine. Still at the sewing shop for repairs as I broke the needle threader.

So I have been surfing the net for most of the weekend and started to look at sewing machines.

I saw that there is a new machine, the Pfaff Performance 5.2, currently offered in US and Europe (I believe). I am a sucker for anything new so I started to read up on this and compare the various machines. No idea of whether this one is out in Australia already or not...

Watched an entire video on the Pfaff Performance 5.0 from the Village Sewing Center. That was hugely interesting...a beautiful machine with a slick black face. I then compared the three machines (4.2; 5.0 and 5.2) and was rather amazed at the differences (or lack thereof).

In terms of key features, in contrast to the Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.2,  both the Performance 5.0 and 5.2 have a very attractive Colour Touch Screen that is operated via a stylus. Both have 453 stitches including Maxi stitches and the Stitch Creator feature, Patchwork program, Sensor for Straight Stitch Needle Plate  and a Single Stitch program. There was very little difference between the Performance 5.0 and 5.2, in fact I think the only thing they added were some beautiful Stacking and Ribbon stitches to the 5.2. Obviously there were other little differences, including more memory and more inclusions, but overall it looked very similar.

What amazed me was the similarity to my Pfaff QE 4.2. I basically got all the same major features, dimensions are the same and the operation is basically the same. What was not the same was obviously the price tag. The Pfaff Performance 5.0 is thousands more and no doubt the 5.2 will be again dearer. I found that quite incredible and again was reminded on how confusing it is to go out there looking for a suitable machine. Very easy to get blinded by the really have to be super clear on what you are going to use your sewing machine for and compare the different machines to get the best value for money.

If I think about my much as I get sucked into anything bling and new, if I look at my machine I must say, that it has more than enough features for quilting. I have 254 stitches which I rarely use. I would like a better alphabet font, however again...I would only use it to delight in the joy of having it! Stitch Creator would be lost on me as I am a quilter and not really into embellishing my blocks or quilts. Nice feature though, if you are regularly using all your stitches and you are bored with them. Patchwork program...I have been told that this is somewhat overrated, and this would not be a selling feature for me. I was confused about the sensor for the Straight Needle Stitch Plate. Not listed under the 4.2, but my machine definitely will not work with all stitches if I have the Straight Stitch Safety feature enabled, so I also have that safe guard. I got a bit excited about the Single Stitch program...that made me laugh because I definitely do not need that. If I wanted to stitch out just one design I could set this up in the sequencing feature. A few more buttons to press but the same effect.

The other thing I did was read some reviews on the Pfaff Performance 5.0. I did come across some very negative reviews and was quite shocked as there is no way you would ever touch a Pfaff again if you had a similar experience. Made me wonder whether this was just a bunch of people who all got the 'lemons' or whether there was something in it. Mind you, I would also not take kindly to having a 'lemon' at that price tag and I felt quite sorry for those women. I can only speak for myself here...I have never had a bad experience with any of my Pfaff machines.

Morale of the story...I think it pays to select your brand and then do some research across the range of machines to really become familiar with all that is offered and then have a really good think about what you would be using the machine for.

As you can see I have got way too much time on my hands when I am not sewing.