Quilter's Academy - Volume 2 - Sophomore Year

Vol 3 - Junior Year

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Yes, I'm still here - but not really working, well not quilting anyway.  I have however, made myself a little quilt just for the fun of it.

While all the shifting and sorting has been going on with the house move, I didn't want to work on any 'Harriet' projects, as they take a lot of focus and I just wasn't up for it.  Instead, rather than have nothing going on in the sewing room, I opted to make a 'quick 'n dirty' rag quilt.

Uh Oh.  Did I say quick?  Theoretically, it should have been a quickie, but being me, it turned into quite a project.  You see, the little quilt pillows are held together with applique.  The pattern suggested squares, which I thought a bit boring, so I used the heart template from Harriet's Applique book.  I used the only applique method I know (so far) which is to turn a tiny seam onto freezer paper.  I had 42 hearts to do - this took a LOT of time at the ironing board!  Days and days and days, whenever I found the time.

I did get a lot of practice using the blanket stitch though, and by the time I finished the final heart, I was getting pretty good at it!.  There was a problem with removing the freezer paper - each attempt to pull it out through a 2 - 3 inch opening, resulted in a lot of fabric stretching.  So much that I had to try to re-shape the hearts and re-sew them, easing in the stretched shape.  The result was pretty ordinary.  Finally, I simply cut the centre of the paper out before stitching the hearts on.  There is still freezer paper under the seams in the finished quilt.

Here it is......... a pretty little flannel lap quilt - ideal for these cold winter nights!

Flannel fabric with a wool batting - Hobbs 80/20. 

Down here in Tassie we are experiencing those cold mornings where the garden is white with frost, the car has a coat of ice, and a foggy mist is filtering through the leafless trees.  Very, very pretty, but oh so cold!  This cosy little flannel quilt with it's wool batting is made to order for winter.

Now that I see the finished quilt, I wish I had done it a little differently.  I'm tempted to make another, but this time twice the size.  I started with 9 inch squares and used 1 inch seams, so the blocks are now quite small.  Check out the back.........

It's kind of a reversible!

If I made it again, I'd use all those backing squares in the front, and a single colour for the back.  I'd free-motion quilt the bird squares, which is the focus fabric, and only applique every 2nd or plain square.  The heart applique covers up the bird fabric too much, which is a shame.  I'd have a much larger quilt for only a little extra cost. 

The applique covers up too much of that gorgeous bird fabric

Encouraged by the ladies at my quilting group, I chucked the finished and clipped quilt into the washing machine, then into the dryer.  I've never put a quilt into the dryer before, and was a little hesitant.  But it all came out fine.  I did expect a lot more fraying though - the 'raggy bits' have curled but not frayed.  I suppose they will fray up in time.

I've been a bit discouraged with my last Quilter's Academy project.  The grid quilting is awful and now, although I only have the borders to finish, which I am doing free motion, I can't seem to get up the enthusiasm to to it.  Procrastination is a terrible thing! 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sewing Space Takes Shape

Nearly every house move has its problems, and ours yesterday was no exception.  The truck was too small and a lot of our stuff was left behind - much of which was my sewing furniture.  Still, from problems come opportunities, and I got creative with what I had.  The Quilter's Academy books cover in detail setting up a sewing space, so I tried to follow Harriet's advice as much as I could, using whatever I had.

A cabinet which was destined for the shed, has became a very practical ironing station.

I think this cupboard was originally a microwave cabinet.

This orphan office bench, makes a great ironing table, to replace the one still at the old house.  It's actually much better, as it has very convenient built-in storage.

Once the fabric is moved, I can make good use of those shelves!

This old office table, also destined for the shed, I've 'borrowed' as a cutting table.  It can also be used as a sewing table for the dressmaking machines.  I may keep this instead of going back to the folding tables I was using before (which are still at the old house).

The Pfaff, the overlocker & the coverstich machines can be used on this table for dressmaking

In Quilter's Academy 2, Harriet talks about storing fabric, and one idea I really like is to use office filing cabinets.  I gathered up this one - it's shallow drawers could be useful for fat quarters.

I shoved my quilting fabric into the shelves under the ironing table as I unpacked it but it's ultimate destination will be in this wardrobe which won't be needed elsewhere in the new house.  It still needs to be put together, but it will hold lots of wire baskets, enough I hope for all the quilting and dressmaking fabrics.  There are actually 2 of these, I may or may not use the other one - it depends on if I have the need or space for it.

It's very tall !!

The Horn cabinet is awaiting the arrival of the Bernina 830 Record

The Horn cabinet can of course be moved to anywhere in the room.  I've placed it in the centre, close to the ironing station, great for piecing.  For quilting, I have the space to surround the cabinet with folding tables for supporting the quilt.

Some storage bins and quilting books are set up and ready.  One of the storage 'towers' lost a wheel in the move, so it's now wheel-less and shorter than the other.  It holds quilting scraps, the other one has various dressmaking notions.

The Singer treadle was left behind but the 201 made it onto the truck, along with the Jones treadle.  I put them in a corner for now.

Almost ready to sew!

I suppose I've been a little indulgent, getting the sewing room functional so quickly, but sometimes a girl needs a place to escape the chaos!  Anyway, the important bits have been attended to - the kitchen is done, the living room done, bedroom done, linen done, the study half done (the computers are set up and working - thanks John!).  The garage, shed & laundry are disasters, so are the spare bedrooms.  No, I'm not Superwoman, we've been moving boxes across in the Ute for the past week and unpacking as we go, which has really helped in getting set up.

 Tomorrow I tackle this room - the place where everything else gets shoved until it finds it's right place(including more sewing stuff)!


Monday, June 7, 2010

It's Here!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Book 2 has arrived!

I have book 2 of the Quilter's Academy series at last!!!!!!!  It's exciting to flick through to see what's coming up.  There are lots of projects - 14 in all - including the Sampler, the alternatives and the Final.

Signed by Harriet & Carrie

I can't wait to get started.  When Harriet says it's a skill building course in quiltmaking, she really means it.  Not only are there instructions on making the quilts, the book also covers everything surrounding that - sewing machines and sewing spaces, fabrics, tools, needles & threads, drafting, fabric calculations and loads more.  There really is so much more to making a quilt than sewing patches together!  These lessons continue on from the basics learned in book 1 and set the foundations for stitching the more complex patterns coming up in future books.

Sadly, I'm going to have to wait a bit longer to get started on the 2nd book.  I still have 3 1/2 tops to turn into quilts, and currently my sewing space consists of a pile of boxes sitting in the middle of the floor in my new house.

The same day my new book arrived, so did my new-to-me sewing machine.  Yes, the Bernina 830 Record finally showed up. It seemed the E-Bay seller decided she didn't get enough money for it and wanted to re-list and it took a while before it finally made it to the post.

I have a new respect for Bernina's - the packaging was very poor but the machine managed to survive and arrived in one piece.  It runs well, but after only a short line of stitching I could hear it screaming for oil (which of course is packed in a box) so I had to be content with reading the manual and playing with the knobs.  The machine is pretty dirty too, but instead of cleaning and oiling it myself, I'm going to take it to my local dealer and have a full service done.  This should keep her running for another 40 odd years!


Bernina feet are a mystery to me, but I found a chart which lists all the feet for this machine - I have 13 in all, Bernina branded, generic and a couple which I suspect are for a different machine, as the box also included bobbin cases and plates which don't fit.  These are the genuine Bernina feet included :

000 - Zigzag
285 - Darning
053 - Teflon Straight Stitch
016 - Gathering Zigzag Wide
030 - Pintuck 3 Groove
007 - Tailor Tack
470 - Overlock

No walking foot, buttonhole foot or zipper foot (although I'm pretty sure the one of the generics is a zipper foot).  Honestly, I only had about half an hour to explore the machine, before packing it up so I know very little about it at this point, except that it works.

In the top picture you can see the current quilt I'm working on and I'm still quite a way from finishing.  A tip from me - don't try to sew a grid around a pattern without marking!  All the straight grids I've done so far, I've eyeballed, which isn't difficult when working with 2 inch or 1 inch squares.  With this one I managed to get the grid out of whack, but battled on anyway, which of course made the situation worse.  After about a week's work I finally finished one half of the diagonal grid.  It's not lined up properly and the angles are all over the place.  I pretty much decided not to do the other half of the grid (to make the diagonal lines into diagonal squares) and started on the borders instead.  After quilting 2 designs, I realised it wasn't a quilting day, put it aside and there it remains. 

I'm going to be offline for a little while until after the move is complete and everything has been set up.  I've invited some ladies over to help me set up my sewing space, hopefully sometime next week.  I'm itching to get back to it - I'm so over this moving house business.