Monday, 16 September 2013

Assemblyline piecing

I am very happy to report that I managed to put together the remaining 16 blocks of my Hash Tag quilt on Sunday.

It was quite a bit of work and seemed to take a very long time, but they are assembled!

It really helped that I finally calculated the length of the strips I would need and went from there. You know, instead of cutting a bit, sewing a bit, and then needing to cut some more and some more and...  Rather tough going.

I didn't sew all the blocks to the very same stage, I did some quicker than others so it didn't feel like too much of a dreary and routine job.

The blocks are quite easy in that I put together a very long strip of grey, blue, wider grey, blue and grey again - then I sliced those into one wider and two standard cuts and inserted my 'across' lines of blue fabric by placing all units along a long blue strip that I then cut after pressing seams open.  That seemed to be the most efficient way.  I'm sure I could have cut the blue strips to the right length first - I have to weigh up which method is quicker next time.

What is left to do for the quilt top is to connect the blocks with grey sashing.  I uploaded a photo of my sample four block unit a couple of posts ago if you want to have a look.

I am hoping that I can post another update soon and that time I'll make sure to include a photo!

I love it when something comes together.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Time for a new blog template

Follow me on Twitter: @GiselleKnits

I've been staring at the pinkish twirly design a bit too long: it is time for a new background. And while I'm at it: an overhaul of the overall blog design is not a bad idea.

So far this isn't the exact thing I had in mind, so I will be tweaking this a bit more.

Still the same crafts obsessed blog as it was before though!  All about my projects in knitting, sewing, quilting and anything else crafts related that takes my fancy.

I must say that I like a white background: it looks all shiny and new.  Sparkling.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

My new sewing machine

I am so happy: I have a new sewing machine.

Getting it set up is a story and a half.  I blithely assumed that I would be able to strap the box onto my little trolley (I use it to take my other sewing machines to be repaired, so the assumption was a natural one) - but didn't expect this one to be too big so trolleying it around on the tube was a no-no.

Chastised I patiently wait for one and off in a cab I went. I was in luck: there was no rush hour stop-and-go traffic and we got through very nicely. Thanks so much driver!  Great job.  (Although to be truthful the guy did a few things I wasn't expecting someone to do, only while at a stand-still but still: he put in eye drops a couple of times, and then he was reading something? Most odd. But all was well that ends well.)

Then it turned into quite an adventure. I felt a bit like St George and the dragon.  I had to wrestle this monster of a machine out of its box while the accessories kept dropping on my feet (they weren't taped down in their molded compartments in the polystyrene). I couldn't pull the machine up and out of the box, too heavy, and I couldn't pull the box off the machine either: too unwieldy.

I had the clever idea to put it onto its side, exerted a vice-like death grip on the machine handle and tried shoving the box out of the way. Didn't work too well: it kept banging into the wall while the machine threatened to slide off the table. You would have heard some cursing if you had happened to be passing.

I finally got the two separated by pulling the box towards me and making sure the machine stayed on the table. It nearly didn't, but it all had a fortuitous end after all. Phew.

Then in the days following, I developed a cold where reading the instructions just didn't make any sense and absolutely nothing sunk in. After that I went on holidays (honestly, I never had a holiday that was so inconveniently timed!) and then, all of last week, I was just knackered from my time away (don't ask, there was lots going on).

So it was really only yesterday, Saturday, that I had a chance to set it up.

So obviously the thing that I did do, was this:

Right?  That's not quilting?  What happened there? (I didn't knit all of this, just some, during the morning. Not too long)

Honestly, what am I like. I must be scared of success. All the potential of my new toy must be having a terrifying effect on me. That's ridiculous.

At least I managed to finally set the machine up, with some virtual help from friends (thank you Shevvy and Pennie! Just the sort of push that I needed). Completely knackered afterwards of course. So I left the actual sewing to the following day.

Which is today!

I woke up feeling like a kid at Christmas: I get to use my new machine today, yay, yay, yay, happy dance!

And this is what I did:

A hash tag quilt! Heh-heh. Well, you know, the start of one.

I wanted to make this kind of criss-crossed motif in blue and grey for ages. Very simple: just the two colours.  Very simple motif: two lines each crossing.  It did dawn on me that this would look like hash tags but I happen to even like that about this quilt.  There might just be a certain amount of geek in me.

The plan is to make four motifs across and goodness only knows how many for the length. It's supposed to go onto my bed, so we'll see when I get a bit further.

What I am quite excited about: the machine does indeed sew relatively quietly (unless you put your foot down at the highest speed, then it produces quite a whine), at least when you use the slowest speed. But I think I'll get away with slightly more noise and that means: I could, if I really, really wanted to and happened to wake up very early... I could even sew a bit in the morning!

Not that I actually think I will, but the thing is: I could. That's quite something.

I'm thinking a black binding for this quilt. What do you think?

Sunday, 1 September 2013

The state of crafts

This post is really about the state of my works in progress, the state of my place and a bit about my frustration at not proceeding in quite the way I would like to.

So I like to start a great many projects. There are advantages: starting a piece of knitting shows up very clearly whether the yarn and pattern go together. You don't find that out until you start. If it's not a successful combination you can use a different pattern, or go with a different yarn.

Things are slightly different with a sewing project: I made a muslin for an A-line skirt which turned out pretty well, except way too big so I had to go with an inverted pleat at the front. Lesson: measure your cut out pieces against the pattern, or yourself, before you start. I cut out the actual fabric from the altered pieces when I should have just cut them properly. Whoops.

Then I cut out some commercial dressmaking patterns, a task I dislike: it seems to take ages, you have to be precise and it's not actually sewing yet. In fact it just takes too damn long until you can get to the sewing part. Is it just me or do other people lose interest as they go along?

Quilting is slightly different: in order to put the patchwork for the quilt top together you don't have to prepare much. In fact I just love the feeling of organic growth about starting somewhere and seeing where it takes me. No traditional quilts with exact measurements of fabrics and exact advance planning for me. It feels too regimented and kills the joy of creating.

You get to make up bits and pieces of the quilt top in pieces. It's not supposed to be one continuous slog until you're done. You are allowed to put your work in progress aside and pick it back up another time.

Which brings me to the thought that launched me into this blog post: I finally got some pretty large clear bags with resealable tops (this white line that you can press together. Just like the freezer bags) - and now I am busy bagging up one WIP after another: some of my quilt projects already inhabit shoe boxes (too much fabric), but others as well as some of my sewing projects have found their way into a bag each.

I also added some of the cut-out commercial patterns and even thought to include a post-it note with all the pattern numbers on it. Nice to be able to see what's inside each bag.

Which is all working pretty well: I'll be able to go straight to whichever project I want to work on, pull it out and have the whole kaboodle right there without having to hunt for the bits and pieces that go with it.

Just one problem: you can't stack plastic bags, they keep sliding off one another. I can't even line them up like books, too much slippage there too.

So I'm thinking that I'll need to hang all those bags. Question is how. I'll come up with something.