Archive | February, 2012

Frustration, Mayhem and the Screaming Heebie-Jeebies

27 Feb

When I decided to replace the machine on my frame they didn’t mention the need for a resident weightlifter to move it on and off the frame. I have the setup as high as possible in order to see under the needle and that makes it even more difficult. Luckily the big cheese used to be a rugby player albeit a long time ago so I have to ask him if I need to move it. Unfortunately he doesn’t like spinach so I’m not sure how long this arrangement might continue. Oh well, I guess at a pinch I could always go for the resident weightlifter.

The whole quilting frame thing seems to be jinxed. I spent a not so small fortune upgrading the machine and carriage added to which I have a stitch regulator and I still can’t quilt to anything like the standard I would expect. The catch 22 of course is that having spent all the extra money I cannot just abandon it as I did last time and revert to stitch in the ditch. Practice, practice and more practice is in order I suppose. Hopefully in a few months time I will not understand what all the fuss was about. I could of course have thrown the whole lot in the river under my window and jumped in after it. Watch this space.

If you are interested in the setup I have a few pictures.

This is a side view of the new aluminium carriage. It weighs a ton but I expect that added to the weight of the machine it helps keep it on the rails so to speak. It could be what caused the back rail to crack too. I am awaiting a replacement. More expense no doubt.

Back view including new machine.

Side view ditto.

Note ant like handles. It certainly won’t be getting any design awards.

The blue box with the number on it is the switch unit for the stitch regulator and the number is the stitch length setting. The one on the photo below is the control box and one of the sensors. It runs with the wheel on the carriage and sends signals to the control box . This controls the stitch length. It runs backwards and forwards. There is another on the bottom part of the carriage to control the sideways settings this runs on the frame rail.

The frame itself works on three bars. The backing is pinned onto ‘leaders’  fixed  onto the top back and front bars and the wadding laid over the top. Leaders are secured into a groove in the bars and make life much easier. They do not however come with the frame but have to be bought or made.  A row of stitches keep the wadding  in place and also gives a straight line along  which the top is placed to get the straightest possible feed and so most accurate pattern of quilting.

The top is rolled onto the bottom front rail.

I did a whole border and a row of hearts before I looked at the back and realised it was not acceptable. The top tension was too loose and the top thread was looping through. Unfortunately tightening the top thread seems to increase the ‘caterpillar effect’ on the curves which is why I had loosened it. I wouldn’t mind but I had tested and double tested. Still it wouldn’t be a skill of anyone could do it first time would it. By the way the quilt with the animals worked quite well. What was that about going off the rails? It must have been on the way round the bend.

The top is then brought up to the line stitched on the backing/wadding and pinned in place.

The next picture is at a bit of an odd angle owing to the way I took the photograph but it gives the idea. The three layers are now attached ready for quilting.

Each bar is on a rachet system to wind the layers up and down for an evenly tensioned sandwich. Please ignore the badly wound  leaders. They should of course be nice and neat.

Here is the quilt on the frame with the carriage and stitch regulator.

The machine is really for straight stitching so there is no mechanism to drop the feed dogs which is essential in free motion quilting. The compromise is a replacement plate to cover them. It makes the plate slightly raised but seems to work. There is also an optional foot holder for free motion quilting. Not that it is optional if you want to free motion. Luckily it came bundled with my machine. This allows the fitting of a darning or free motion foot. The open toed foot is very useful for seeing what is going on. There is also a foot for following round the edge of templates and appliques.  Maybe one day I will have a go at that but let’s pull ourselves up on the furniture before we try the marathon.

Ironically the actual quilting is therapeutical or at least it would be if I wasn’t always worrying about what the back is going to look like.

I am now going off to have another go. If you don’t hear from me again I really did jump in the river although it’s so shallow that would also probably fail at that too. To save face  perhaps I had better just persevere. If I come across any useful revelations I’ll let you know.

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Where’s Goosey Gander When You Want Him?

16 Feb

I was rather hoping to show you these quilts finished but ‘ the best laid plans’ and all that. I don’t know what’s going on with my quilting setup but you can bet it’s going to be expensive. Anyway I am determined to sort it out.

Meanwhile I have redone two versions of a top and photographed it so I thought I would show you all. The original had buttons for eyes which is OK if being used for a wall hanging but a bit risky – not to say uncomfortable if used on a bed. I replaced them all with fabric and feel much happier. It should make the quilting easier too if I ever get to do any. I should get through a few less needles anyway.

The pattern comes from Kookaburra Cottage and is called Mother Goose for obvious reasons. It’s also a very good way to use up all the odd scraps.

Version two.

Humpty Dumpty

The Owl and the Pussy Cat.

The Cow Jumped Over The Moon

Little Bo Peep

Little Boy Blue

The Three Pigs. I must confess this one has always puzzled me as Mother Goose is to do with nursery rhymes and the pigs are a fairy story. Mind you I am easily confused.

Hickory Dickory Dock.

Little Miss Muffet.

Taking close up photos is quite useful as any little details that have been missed are more obvious. Also obvious are loose threads et al.

When I did these quilts I was overseas with a stash of fat quarters and little else. This explains the very busy nature of most of the quilts I did at that time. I wonder how I would do them now with the choice of fabrics I have available in whatever quantity is needed. I must try just for the interest.

It Might Be Cheaper To Move House

6 Feb

I am finding quilting very frustrating at the moment. The machine I use on the quilting frame has decided to go on strike. I am struggling to find anyone to mend it,and there was I thinking that there were people out there who needed the work. Shows what I know. Anyway until I can get that little problem sorted I need to change tack a bit.

Over the years I have had many interests. Those of you that have persevered with my blog from the beginning may remember that I had a go at porcelain doll making at one time. I also had quite an obsession with cross stitch until I realised that although I enjoyed doing it I didn’t really want walls full of cross stitch pictures. The same applied to the dolls. I loved making and dressing them but displaying them is another thing entirely. I had a fairly serious dabble in dolls’ houses. I had a small dolls’ house for years without doing anything to it. Then I walked past a shop displaying a very large one in the window. I sent for catalogues and saw what can be bought in miniature and the rest, as they say is history. I was hooked and I did display one of the houses, in fact still do. The other two are taking up valuable space in my cellar but I’m not sure what I can do about that.

This is the house I saw in the window.

The Study with the boyfriend being interviewed perhaps. The clock does actually work if I make the effort to change the battery.

The snooker room to which they might repair if they hit it off.

Milady’s Boudoir

Milady’s withdrawing room. Don’t you just love the ‘real’ fire effect.

The other living room.

The dining room.

The workroom.

You may have noticed some of the rugs. They come from my cross stitching days. I did find a use for it for a while.

Reminder of The Big Cheese’s family past this one. Apparently his Granny had one before it fell apart. What can I say.

I also made cold porcelain flowers on one of the courses I went on. You would not believe how realistic some of the flowers were. They are cut out with tiny cutters and then moulded to shape. Very therapeutic.

Some from another project but the same course.

I dabbled a bit in bobbin lace for a while too. This was fascinating but I didn’t feel I was ever going to be an expert. I also had to rely on someone else for a lift and I hate that. I still have all the gear though. I always buy all the gear.

I went on a very satisfying course to make a parquetry picture. That was very fiddly but the result is, I am sure you will agree, worth it. Unless you are a dolls’ house fanatic you may think it a waste of time but there you go – obsession changes your outlook on life. By definition if you are reading this you must be a bit if a quilting wannabe or expert.  (I know this because I do not have enough friends to account for the number of people regularly reading my blog.) Look on it as a perfectly executed Baltimore but one twelfth of the size, then you will understand. Which reminds me, perhaps that should be my next project.

My obsession led me to treat myself to a course to make my own. I chose a terrace of three houses and made one into a shop. (Never let it be said I choose the easy option.) The tutor had been in the job too long and lived for the coffee breaks but it was still satisfying. All that big machinery cutting small pieces but I still have all my fingers. The company was good and the food even better.

Another rug this time from the terrace block; the family scene.

Yet another.

Some furniture daughter Number One painted for the shop. I’m still waiting for a couple of other things but it’s only ten years so I expect they will appear soon.

A builder who did some work on our house also had an interest in dolls houses. I made him a carpet and  swapped it for a work bench for the shop keeper in the toy shop. The vice works, it has a mechanism from a clock in it. Clever or what.

Students live in one flat on the end house.

I’m not the only person that spends time making miniatures. The only difference is they manage to charge a fortune for theirs. These are knitted. They must have used pins.

Also for this porcelain doll’s outfit.

I do have another dolls’ house but as I think you have probably reached satuation point with the photographs I will just show one room of this one and  only because it is relevant.

My shop/workroom.

There’s no doubt about it dolls houses are fun especially if you have a sense of humour. It was good whilst it lasted but what do you do with three big dolls’ houses when nobody has a nursery any more? Hope I never have to move it would be a nightmare.

Keep your fingers crossed for my sewing machine. Hopefully my next post will be back to quilting but I’m not holding my breath.