......................................................................................................................................................Finding BEAUTY, JOY and CONTENTMENT in my everyday life.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Christmas in August?








Stitch by stitch this Christmas panel has come to life under the needle of my machine. Choosing threads of matching colours and some special highlight threads, working out which shapes to outline and which to leave - I spent much more time than I had originally anticipated on this panel.




With many different colours and fine details to stitch, there were hundreds of threads to knot and bury......

Some tips for quilting a panel which I learnt along the way include sewing at very slow speeds, decreasing stitch length where curves are involved and minimising presser foot tension to give a little more wriggle room for smoother curves. I had never used a presser foot knee lifter until my new machine arrived two weeks ago. The knee lifter proved to be extremely helpful while stitching this panel due to the constant changes in sewing direction. A walking foot/dual feed system works great for sewing long straight lines/borders, keeping top and lower fabrics in alignment.




Choosing a presser foot with maximum visibility made it much easier to see and follow the lines. I took opportunity to try out three suitable decorative stitches too. It really was quite a perfect little project to learn more about my new machine.

Sulky/Gutermann Sliver thread* proved to be the perfect feature thread. I used small amounts of silver Sliver in several places and outlined the tree topper stars in dark gold Sliver.






Longer stitches make the most of Slivers sparkle qualities. A little care with tension is needed and it's advised to use a vertical spindle holder. Both my new and old (broken) machines have a vertical holder, designed for use in winding the bobbin without needing to unthread the machine.




Sulky Sliver in Opalescent was the perfect choice for all the gorgeous snowflakes and snowmen. It very difficult to try and capture the opal-sparkle-reflective qualities of this thread in photos. It's beautifully subtle yet pearly shiny at the same time. 




Due to Opalescent's subtle visual qualities last night I ended up using the machine's lock stitch for many of the snowflakes - much quicker than knotting and burying all those hard to see, slippery tails.






Yes, it was a little hard to part with this one. This morning I finished attaching a hanging sleeve.....






and gently bundled it up with the Owl panel quilt. They are now both safely on their return journey to Creative Sewing Centre in Sydney where customers may enjoy their many colours and beautiful little sparkles.



* Thank you to Gutermann who provided me with the Sliver threads as I couldn't source them locally.

Sharing at WIP Wednesday.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Through The Lens










Our annual Home Educators Sports Day was held on Monday. Unfortunately three of our children were unwell with a feverish virus and sadly had to miss out. Those who did attend on this sunny winter day had a wonderful time catching up with friends and enjoying a range of track and field events. Each child was awarded a certificate at the end of the day with a sticker for each event they participated in.








The stillness of early morning brings quiet joys for those who watch carefully.




The Owl quilt panel is now completed and work is underway on a smaller Christmas panel (more photos soon). I am thoroughly enjoying the detailed stitching using my new machine, often sewing in small snatches throughout the day from the side table where the machine now rests, rather than waiting for a cleared homeschool/dining table space. 





Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Quilting a Panel




Have you ever quilted a preprinted panel? When my old sewing machine ceased to work a couple of weeks ago I was part way through quilting a beautiful panel as a display item for a Sydney retailer*. Quilting a panel has proved to be a great way to improve my quilting skills. All the outlining was completed using a regular sewing foot with frequent stopping and pivoting, not free motion, as I wanted to follow the lines precisely and have even stitch length, something I wouldn't have been able to achieve on my old machine with a darning foot (which jumps up an down as you sew). However I'm thinking I may be able to work towards this on my new machine using one of the free motion quilting feet - with practice.




A genuine free motion quilting foot has also made this loopy pattern very workable. On my old machine I would have had great difficulty producing a finish I was happy with. Until now I had only quilted using stippling, outlining and straight lines. This Owl panel has many little corners and small areas for quilting so I was hoping to try something loopy if possible. It seems my old machine died at the ideal time. Although not perfect, I am very happy with the overall effect of the small loopy quilting.




Another unexpected little surprise feature on the Janome 8900 is the 'clasp stitch' which has proved ideal for one area on the Owl quilt. I'm thinking there may be other stitches which lend themselves well to quilting applications too. If you have any suggestions I'm very keen to hear them.








This quilting has been very time consuming, particularly the outlining, but also very helpful in pushing my skills and quite enjoyable too, especially as I'm learning how to use various features on my new machine.

There's just a matter of completed the binding, knotting and burying the last of the quilting threads, and a hanging sleeve to sew and attach before the final reveal. Then there is another rather different panel awaiting my attention for which I have some more quilting ideas to try.


*Creative Sewing Centre, is an independent haberdashery supplier and Janome dealer located in Seven Hills, Sydney. Their new showroom just opened yesterday! I would love to be close enough to visit and see their amazing range of threads, fabrics, beads and so much more.


Sharing at WIP Wednesday.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Supermoon Heads-Up




Tomorrow night,  August 11th, will be the second and the largest of this year's three Supermoons. This evening I accidentally saw the almost full moon rising and hope to see the Supermoon just a little later tomorrow evening. 

If you also enjoy watching the night sky it should be a good one to try and catch if the sky is clear in your corner of the world - what a beautiful sight it should be.


Sharing at SkyWatch Friday.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Here She Is!




Sitting very happily on our antique family side-table is my brand new sewing machine, surrounded by my essential everyday tools (laptop, Ott-Lite lamp, pincushion, pens, quick unpick, scissors, glue pen and my box of chargers and cords).  Most sewing is done on our large dining/homeschool table only a metre away but there has also been a little sewing happening right where she lives.








Over recent weeks I have researched my options as the quilting limitations of my 29 year old Janome (SL.2022) had become increasingly frustrating. In the end I chose not to buy yet, and to continue using my machine until it would no longer work. This deadline came sooner than I had anticipated - last week Tuesday.

After seriously considering the Janome 6600 and the 8200 I thought the 8200 would be the machine I was most likely purchase one day. However after speaking with three Janome dealers (on the phone as we have none in our town) each one highlighted a variety of reasons as to why the Janome 8900 is a better long term choice. The day my machine broke I began to relay to my husband the information I had gathered and before I had progressed far he said "buy the better machine".

Three days ago my beautiful new Janome 8900 arrived and I have been constantly delighted with all I have discovered - and I've only just begun to explore all her capabilities. The most striking feature is her larger size, which is marvellous for quilting. The onboard lighting is excellent, the speed control is very responsive, it is very quiet to operate, has a needle up/down stopping option, a presser foot knee lifter, a convertible free motion quilting foot and so many other features which my old machine didn't have. With an onboard start/stop button you can even operate the machine without the foot pedal. She is a total pleasure to sew with!

The basic operation is similar to my old Janome, making threading, winding and inserting the bobbin all comfortably familiar. As with my old machine there are onboard storage compartments for all the feet and little extras - beautifully designed.

I feel like all my Christmases have come at once. As I sit down to sew I am grateful to my husband and also excited to know there is greater scope than ever to enjoy the process as well as to further develop my sewing and quilting skills.


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