This morning I decided to finish off the two laundry bags I had started last Friday before I take the Janome Combi 10 in for servicing. That accomplished I thought I’d start on the remaining two bags — but when I went to fill a bobbin with the new colour I noticed that the thread platform was bent in, and it broke on one side when I straightened it. It was subtle enough that I didn’t notice when taking a photo of the machine the other night, only when I stood over it to put the bobbin on the winder.
Then I remembered that the tote had tipped over while I was wheeling it in from the car to my friend’s house last Friday — it had caught on the kerb, my hand slipped off the handle and it fell. I always place my machines with the motor as close to the centre of the tote as possible, and obviously the thread platform took the brunt of the impact against the handle. It’s quite possible that the actual overlocker mechanism was also jarred out of alignment.
I guess I’m lucky that the sewing side is unaffected — but the machine is definitely going to the shop to be checked.
I could get out the MyLock overlocker and use that on the long seams, but as I’ve stated before it’s an absolute bitch to thread and the last time I tried I couldn’t get it to make a decent stitch. For now the pinking blade is working and I’ll stick to that (and even though the blades are nearly twice the cost of the straight blades they are still a lot cheaper than a new machine).
[Note: all photos were taken here at home, not at Sue’s]
Every month on the fourth Friday I go up to see my friend Sue and we work on projects for Aussie Hero Quilts. Occasionally other people turn up but usually it’s just Sue and me.
I was lucky I made it yesterday — for some reason I had it stuck in my head that 24th May was next week. On Thursday night I was lying in bed, reading (as I usually do before going to sleep) when I suddenly realised that in fact 24th was the next day — and I hadn’t got anything ready! Not only that, but my alarm was set for 0930, which is a great time to wake up if you are retired and the only thing you have to do in business hours is go to the farmers’ market, but not a good time if you have to be at the other end of the city by 1000.
I got up, reset the alarm to 0730 and made a short list of what I had to get ready in the morning. Second lucky chance — I had cut a dozen laundry bag kits a couple of weeks ago after I had finished the oriental stained glass blocks, so in the morning, after I’d dragged myself out of bed, fed the cats and fortified myself with some coffee, I picked out four kits and set them aside. I also fused some web to a length of white poplin to use as write-on labels. My travelling notions container was scrutinised — threads were swapped to match the bag colours, plastic bobbins were swapped out for steel, and then all I had to do was load the machine into the wheeled tote.
My choice of machine for laundry bags is the Janome Combi 10 which is very solid and very fast. I don’t have a quarter-inch foot for her but that doesn’t matter with laundry bags, and the bonus is the two-thread overlocker on the other side which I use to finish off all those long seams (I know some people don’t bother, but it worries me to have an unfinished seam that isn’t stitched down in some manner).
Anyway, having arrived at Sue’s place and set up my working space, I started on the bags. Zig-zag stitch on the white labels went very well, and so did preparing the casement (cord channel) and attaching the two parts of the first bag. When I came to overlock that seam, however, the machine made a horrible clattering noise. I checked the workings but couldn’t see anything amiss, and when I hand-cranked it all I could hear was the knife cutting through the fabric. As soon as the pedal was depressed the noise came back so the machine is going to have to go in for a service (it’s been about two and a half years since the last one, so I can’t really complain). Bummer.
Here’s the third bit of luck — the rotary cutter with the pinking blade was still in the notions container. I don’t usually carry it around but I had put it in the container earlier in the month for a sewing day in Sydney, and since everything else I needed fitted around it I hadn’t taken it out. That meant I was able to use it to pink the edges of the long seams on the bag and its lining, and everything went swimmingly until I attempted to put all three parts together.
Unfortunately, I then hit another snag. I’d prepared the casements as I usually do: cutting off the selvedges, turning the edge twice and stitching it down. What I hadn’t done was check the width of the casement fabric against the width of my feature fabric … yes, you guessed it, the casement fabric was 4 cm longer than the feature fabric, and the casement itself was actually a smidgeon wider than the stitched bag.
Some days you just know the universe is against you.
I decided to call it quits and come home — I’ll get around to fixing the casement and finishing the bags later on this weekend.
Welcome to the third in my more-or-less monthly series of quilt retrospectives. I apologise for the quality of the photos — they are scans of old film prints. [And thereby hangs a tale — I had to find the laptop that has the software to run the scanner, then charge it (because I haven’t used that particular laptop in months), then I had to connect the power and USB cords to the scanner, which took much huffing and puffing and scrabbling under the desk, and then after I scanned the prints and edited the scans I found that all my huffing and puffing had managed to dislodge the power cord for the router … cue more huffing and puffing and trying to work out which cord is the router (they are all labelled, but the ink had faded on some of them — time for a re-do) and then waiting for the internet connection to re-establish. Phew!!]
Size: 30″ x 80″ (approximate)
Design: traditional Double Irish Chain
Fabric: all cotton
Batting: low-loft polyester (I think)
Pieced: by machine December 1991 (Janome MemoryCraft 8000)
Quilted: by hand, early 1992
Bound: July 1992
Just before Christmas 1991 I bought the brand new Janome MemoryCraft 8000 sewing machine — it was the first domestic sewing machine with embroidery function and I was completely in love with it. I made several Christmas-themed napkins for the family and decorated some T-shirts and pillow cases. I also started a machine embroidery/appliqué quilt that never got further than a few blocks, but that’s a story for another day.
I was in the RAN at the time, with another long overseas deployment coming up. I wanted a hand-sewing project to keep myself occupied as well as a bunk-size quilt to brighten up my cabin. I found black, pink and grey fabrics that coordinated, and I sewed the top together without any issues (quarter-inch seams are easy with an adjustable needle position!). I bought backing, batting and a tapestry frame that was wide enough for the quilt and took it all back to the ship with me.
It didn’t take me long to quilt it — a few weeks at most. I did basic diagonal lines through the grey squares and border, and a simple eight-petal flower in the pink squares. I used a blue pencil to mark the flowers which was hard to see at times and one of the petals ended up being a lot larger than its fellows (I can’t find it in the photo so it probably wasn’t as glaring an error as I thought it was).
I can’t remember if I bound it prior to or after the quilting, but I’m fairly certain I attached the binding by machine and stitched it down by hand, and I have a note that says it was completed in July 1992. Of course, shortly thereafter I was posted to a different ship where the bunks were wider and the quilt barely covered the mattress, but I still appreciated having something colourful in the cabin. On leaving that ship in December 1992 I decided that it wasn’t worth taking it home (it was much too narrow for a normal single bed) so I sold it for $25 to one of the stewards who had often admired it — my one and only quilt sale. I hope it had a long and useful life.
Now that I make quilts for other service people it amuses me to fake an old woman’s quavering voice and say “In my young day I had to make my own bunk quilt!”
1. Use a quilting marker that will remain visible until washed.
2. A tapestry frame makes a perfectly adequate quilting frame for a narrow quilt (or portion thereof).
It’s definitely getting colder. I haven’t been able to bring myself to put the heaters on yet (much as I would like to) because the thermometer says it’s still 20° C in the living room — and yes, that’s probably making most of you laugh but I’m a thin-blooded Aussie and anything under 23° has me thinking wistfully about woolly pullies and fluffy slippers.
The cats are also feeling the cold, and while I can tell myself to tough it out (or put on a cardigan) I don’t want them to suffer, so I brought out the heating pads and set them up a couple of nights ago. They both love the heat and have spent most of the time since then sleeping in their new warm spots. They didn’t appreciate me waking them last night to take photos and expressed themselves in their own unique ways:
I’ve completed my latest Aussie Heroes quilt and used the new Accufeed HP2 foot on the Janome 9400 for the binding. I made the happy discovery that aligning the left tongue of the foot on the edge of the binding gives me a perfect 1 mm space between the edge and the stitching line. Previously I used the walking foot that came with the machine (AD) but it’s very wide and I was never able to keep it precisely in line.
I also reverted to pinning the binding rather than using Wonder Clips, which I have found to be too easily knocked out of alignment, dragging the binding with them — I did try using washable glue between or under the clips a few times but that didn’t help much and was even more time-consuming (as well as messy). Pinning may be old-fashioned but it’s much more secure.
I also continued to work on my FMQ eucalyptus leaves — I’ve done them on a few quilts now and they’re getting better but could still use some improvement. I’ve given up on the gumnuts for the time being as I couldn’t get them to look as neat as the leaves but I’ll get back to them when I have a bit more confidence.
Today I finally got around to visiting the sporting goods store and bought two 2 kg weights to use with my rulers. I had been using books (of which I have many) but they are awkward to keep picking up / putting down and the dust jackets were starting to suffer, so they can go back to the bookcase now and be safe.
I missed my usual retrospective post around the 21st of the month — the post itself has been drafted for a while, but the quilt I’m talking about was sold long ago and the only photos I have are prints from film, so I need to get the scanner working in order to have digitised images for the blog. I’m an Olympic-level procrastinator so it hasn’t happened yet … maybe next month.
Apart from that, though, I’ve been very productive.
AHQ goal: One quilt and one laundry bag. Almost done. I’ve finished the quilt and I’m working on the laundry bag — I don’t anticipate any problems in having them in the post by 06 May.
Personal goal: make the last two Hawaiian appliqué blocks. Not done. Now that I’ve found my bottle of fabric stiffener, however, they might just get done in the next few weeks.
FAL goal: Attach borders to En Bourgogne. Done. I’ve attached the two borders, basted it (with the help of my friend Sue) and started the quilting. I’m doing straight diagonals first, and then I’ll add some FMQ later on, just to ensure that every piece is quilted. It’s a large quilt, and the batting is a little denser than I had expected and not very easy to shift around so it’s slow going.
Shiny squirrel attack! The Sunday before Easter I had a rush of blood to the head and made up some stained glass blocks while I was watching the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs (North American ice hockey, for those who don’t follow it) — once I got into a production line it was so fast that I decided to complete the lot over the next few days. There are 15 A blocks and 15 B blocks:
I still need to assemble the blocks and attach the border to the top and right side, but I’ll leave that until next week or the week after.
I also went up to see Jan-Maree just before Easter (she’s doing very well) and helped her to sew two tops for recipients. I discovered that I have been spoiled by my Janome 9400 — I didn’t want to take it up to Sydney (it’s very heavy) so I took my little Pfaff Passport 2.0 instead. Unfortunately the Pfaff doesn’t remind me to check the pressor foot so I managed to break two needles by trying to stitch zigzag on a straight-stitch foot. Luckily the machine continued to work but I think I’ll take it in for a service before it’s used again.
I haven’t done much hand work at all — my wrists and thumbs are recovering (slowly) from the overuse I subjected them to in March, but it will be a few more weeks before I can do more than half an hour of piecing at a time. I’m hoping that hand-quilting will be a different enough movement that it won’t aggravate them, but we’ll see. The weather is definitely cooling down at night so quilting season will be here soon and I want to get started on Pentastic (the quilt in the header).
1. AHQ: Four laundry bags for Townsville.
2. Personal: Assemble the Oriental Stained Glass top.
3. FAL: Finish the quilting on En Bourgogne.