But Where are the Fish?

25 Jul

‘Curiouser and curiouser’ as Alice said when her feet disappeared from sight as her head shot into the stratosphere. Apart from a near miss, with a skillful skid, on a patch of whey, in my shiny bottomed crocs, my feet have not exactly disappeared. However we are now the proud owners of a fish tank heater. No we do not have any fish, we have cheese. Yes, I said cheese, the blessed stuff is taking over our lives.  Daughter number two and I spent a portion of this afternoon searching for the fish heater. We found a very impressive pet shop. Not having any pets I haven’t been in a pet shop for donkey’s years.  I seem to remember they didn’t smell very nice. I suppose the correct word if we are to believe Dr Johnson is actually stink as, not having noses pet shops can’t smell but boy did they stink. Anyway, this one was a bit like a pharmacy. I was very impressed. I presume there must be ventilation in the cages as there was only a vague aroma of mouse flavoured straw wafting through the air.

I think one of the problems is that up to the age of ten I lived in a house  which regularly housed field mice. I seem to remember that on at least one occasion they took up residence behind the stove. (I often felt like that myself in the Winter). Mice behind the stove are not very nice. If memory serves they were fairly permanent but a combination of childhood memories and the fact my brain doesn’t work as well as it used to probably means it only happened once. They probably left in a hurry when my navy blue school knickers, put in the gas stove to warm in the winter, spontaneously combusted. It’s enough to make anybody leave home.

Enough of that, back to the fish tank heater. Apparently when you make gruyere in particlar you have to keep it in a humid atmosphere. Having spent years and money finding solutions to keep the cellars dry I did not take kindly to the suggestion that we bring in a humidifier and heater and make the corridor between the cheese cellar and the fabric cellar resemble a turkish bath. Compromise prevailed and we now have the cheese storage shelves  surrounded in black sacks and a bowl of water with a fish tank heater. Who said your brain goes as you get older. Go on like this and we will slow down patent office business big time. I would post a picture but one black sack is much the same as another.

On an entirely different subject and back to applique. I expect that many of those who have looked at my blog and appliques such as the cowboys will think that it must be difficult to do machine satin stitch on small pieces. Bear in mind that the ones on my patterns are usually done on individual blocks. My friend bought one of the kits from Gollyville in Australia. (You really must click this link. It is amazing.) She took one look at it and realised it was a lifetime’s task. I thought the same but eventually I offered to do it (probably thought it would help me live for ever) and I must say it was one of the most enjoyable appliques I have done. Unfortunately I refuse to hand applique, life is too short and my head too full of ideas- although I admire those who do. The quilt had to be done on a single bed sized piece of fabric. Trying to manoeuvre  that on a machine round small pieces is no picnic but actually I was surprised –  it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. The biggest problem with it was that, as I had done so much applique over the years the zig zag mechanism was on its way out so some of the satin stitch was a pretty scalloped edge rather than the smooth finish it should have been. When I took the machine to be serviced the engineer wanted to know what an earth I had been doing to wear it out. He wouldn’t understand so I didn’t go into details. I was sad to lose the machine though as it had been a friend over many years. The point I am making is that you shouldn’t just look at complicated looking appliques. Have a go, you might be surprised.

To summarise from the blogs posted so far if you are thinking of applique perhaps you could start with something like the cot quilt featured in an earlier blog  followed by something more complicated such as the farm wallhangings or quilt. Then go on to something more complicated as the pieces are smaller such as the cowboys and when you have  mastered that the Gollyville should be a doddle and after that the sky’s the limit. As I keep repeating, the pace is the secret – only do what you are confident of being able to do but also do not do something you are going to get bored with and therefore not finish. Then we are into the realms of U.F.Os and there lie years of guilt and wasted opportunity. You really don’t want to start down that track.

I have just realised that I haven’t included any photographs which, this far down the blog is a bit remiss of me. If you want a challenge but not too big a one and with a stunning result try the Kookaburra cottage Noah’s Ark quilt. As you can see the photos were taken when it was still a U.F.O. – actually it still is but I will get round to finishing it soon. It’s just that the quilting isn’t my favourite bit.

The Ark - obviously

The Elephant and The Mouse - and I thought elephants were scared of mice

The Giraffe. Isn't that fabric gorgeous.

Hippo, Rhino and Friends. That hippo looks too cheery considering the weight he's carrying.

The Zebra

and the pièce de résistance —

Isn't it lovely. I must finish it.

If you are thinking of making this quilt you need to sit down before you look at the pattern price. It started as a BOM (Block of the Month see side bar) so each animal is a separate pattern and priced as such . I think it’s worth it but then I’m an addict. If you look carefully you can see it is not difficult although it has the pieces overlapping the edges as in the my other post and also .

Happy quilting. I would appreciate some comment if you can spare the time. I have had a couple but I don’t know whether anybody enjoys the blogs or just thinks they are the rantings of a demented mind and steer clear after the first view. Please comment, even rude ones though I hope there aren’t too many of those.


16 Responses to “But Where are the Fish?”

  1. Karen July 25, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    Hi there. I have only just discovered your site a few posts back and Yes, I am enjoying reading your posts. Your site caught my eye when I spotted some of the Aussie applique and wondered how you had found it. I read back through and found the answer.
    It’s interesting how you are able to work on your designs in combination with your daughter. Great idea.
    I am keen to do some more machine applique but have usually worked in blanket stitch. I am really impressed with your beautiful satin stitch. It really adds an extra quality to the blocks.
    I may have missed an explanation as I have read through, but do you put a stabilizer behind each block before stitching?
    Keep the posts going, please. It’s a great way to catalogue your own work, and you are sharing it with lots of people, even if they aren’t commenting.

  2. quiltaholic July 25, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    Thanks for your comment. At least I know I am not talking to myself. You didn’t miss it, I haven’t mentioned the stabiliser. Yes I do use stabiliser. I spent many years in places where I couldn’t get the right materials – Papua New Guinea being one- and I have done the applique without stabiliser but it is a lot easier with it. Far less jams and a lot smoother running. As I said in the post I am too impatient to do blanket stitch applique and the satin stitch really isnt difficult with a bit of practice. I learned to love applique and bright colours when I discovered Australian quilts. There are lots out there and I have more to show.

    • Karen July 26, 2011 at 10:37 am #

      Do you have a preference for a particular stabiliser and also thread?
      On a different note, I am off to a quilt and craft fair in Melbourne this week. Looking forward to seeing all that is new and inspiring.

  3. quiltaholic July 26, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    Although I have all the Madeira threads as I do machine embroidery and most patterns seem to be digitized in that, I once bought the whole range of Gutermann Sulky threads so I tend to use them on the quilts to save the Madeira. In fact either would work well.I work on the principle that if I am spending money on good fabric and putting a lot of hours in I don’t want to risk using a cheap embroidery thread that might cause problems in stitching or maybe even run when washed. Having said that I have not tried the cheaper ones out so I cannot say they would not do. I use a 40g stabiliser, again because I use it for the embroidery machine. In fact you could use any weight but the secret is to experiment first. Don’t start on the quilt till you have tried it out on a piece of scrap. You also need to lower the top tension to 3 and use a bobbin thread in the bobbin. This will make the stitching go better and stop jams. It also works out cheaper than ordinary thread. An open applique foot helps see where you are going too – not essential but preserves the eyesight. Hope this helps.
    I will be off to the International Quilt festival at the NEC in Birmingham in August. I haven’t been for a while so it will be interesting to see what is new as you say.

    • Karen July 26, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

      Thank you for your advice. Machine feet I have, but the info re the stabiliser, bobbin and tension are all new. I can see I have some experimenting to do.

  4. quiltaholic July 26, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

    I learned everything by trial and error and also reading tips in magazines. The tension tip I got because the company I bought my Madeira thread from send out tips on email every so often and that little tip explained to me why I had been having trouble getting the thread on top to be neat without showing some of the bobbin thread. It’s not rocket science but sometimes it needs someone to point out the obvious. It’s called experience and if you can use somebody else’s experience it cuts a few corners and saves on the frustration. As I say just experiment on some other fabric before attempting your quilt. The other thing is that if you find a better way use it. Nothing is set in stone and even a different machines or thread can change the result slightly.

  5. ANNI BANFIELD December 6, 2016 at 2:59 am #

    My daughter loves this pattern. How do I get it her baby boy is due in March 2017

    • quiltaholic December 6, 2016 at 8:18 am #

      You can get it from kokaburracottagequilts.com.au
      It is really satisfying to make. It comes out as a large quilt as it has nice easily appliqués pieces. Have fun

      • ANNI BANFIELD December 6, 2016 at 5:09 pm #

        I am having trouble getting an account to order this pattern any suggestion

  6. Anni Banfield December 8, 2016 at 1:26 am #

    OK so since Ive never mad a quilt and my first grandchild is due in March a BOY…I am going to make this one. Any tips you can offer. Going to buy fabric on Saturday.

    • quiltaholic December 8, 2016 at 8:46 am #

      I am not sure why you are having trouble getting an account for this pattern. Perhaps email them.I have just been on the site though and it appears that it is only sold as a kit so that might be a problem.
      I bought it from a shop and maybe they were kitting them up themselves and so could sell the pattern separately.
      If you do manage to get it and you really have not done it before you may struggle. However I did sort of teach myself with this and other Kookaburra Cottage quilts so it can be done. The pieces are quite large which helps.
      Have a look at the Tips and Tricks section at the top of this blog. Read the tips the second, third and 4th about the dragon quilt and this should help you avoid some of the pitfalls.
      Cut your background pieces bigger than you need and trim them after appliqueing. Use stabiliser and lower your tension as suggested in the comment above to Karen. I have been known to lower mine to 0 but it depends on your machine etc. Try it out on a scrap of fabric first.
      Take it slowly and leave it and come back the next day if you have problems. That is what I do ( I don’t but I should).
      Use a stabiliser behind your pieces if you are going to satin stitch them on it makes life much less frustrating.
      Good luck

      • ANNI BANFIELD December 8, 2016 at 5:14 pm #

        Thanks for the tips. Since I don’t even know what stabilizer is….this should be fun.

        • quiltaholic December 8, 2016 at 5:22 pm #

          Ask for it at the fabric or embroidery hop. It is a non woven material that sits under the applique as you satin stitch or embroidery stitch it. You then tear it away along the stitching lines when you have finished.

          • Anni December 11, 2016 at 3:20 am #

            Let the fun begin bought twice as many colours as imsure I will need. There is always the next quilt.lol. My question ..If I am using fusable to hold my fabric how would I use the stabilizer to sew if it is already stuck into place

            • quiltaholic December 11, 2016 at 8:46 am #

              The fusible is between the appliqué pieces and the quilt top fabric. The stabiliser is placed under the quilt top between the fabric and the sewing machine if that makes sense. It just makes sure that the fabric moves smoothly and doesn’t get grabbed by the feed dogs and bunch up. Don’t forget to practise and experiment with the top tension.

              • ANNI BANFIELD December 11, 2016 at 3:06 pm #

                Thank you for all your wonderful tip. Today we start tracing. Gotta make sure everyone is looking the right way. Photos to follow if I ever get there.

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