Hens and Chickens

Hens and Chickens

Sunday, 31 August 2014

My new not-so-small baby.

Retirement so far has been wonderful.  Wet windy days spent piecing and quilting, and generally catching up on all of my UFO's.  Hot sunny days in the garden, mostly weeding, sometimes helping OH to paint the newly acquired summerhouse.  But suddenly, summer has disappeared, and the wet windy weather has returned with gusto - which can only mean one thing - sewing time!

I bought a Husqvarna 500 Computer sewing machine about 23 years ago, which in truth has seen very little wear.  After completing my first patchwork quilt for my then teenage daughter (she's now married with two children), I embarked on a second one for my younger daughter which to this day remains unfinished.  Life somehow intervened, we were so busy building up our own business, that there was no time for hobbies. 

My first patchwork quilt 

After we moved house several years ago, I decided to start sewing again, and about three years ago, I treated myself to a Janome MC11000SE.  Right from the start I found her to be oh so very temperamental.  Although I could stipple quilt by hooping my quilts, I could not sew anything which had thickish seams, hence no bag making for me.  After quilting my Autumn Table topper and my Xmas quilt, I started stipple quilting my Jolly Jelly Roll quilt.

Jolly Jelly Roll Quilt (pattern by Christa Quilts)

Although not a particularly large quilt, I still needed to hoop it 80 times.  All went well for the first 75 hoopings, but on the 76th, disaster struck, my bobbin case ended up deeply gouged and something went very wrong with the top tension.  After speaking to my dealer, it was arranged that I would drop it in for repairs.  Whilst there, I couldn't help but notice the many different sewing machines on display, especially the Berninas.  The very helpful lady demonstrated the many features and answered all of my questions.  Can it deal with thick layers?  How does the BSR work?  How good are the feed dogs?  How many presser foot pressure settings?  Can I unprogram the locking stitches at the beginning and end when quilting in the hoop?  And so on and so on. Then I test drove it.  I was sold.  This machine (750QE) just oozed quality.  Better than that, my husband was also sold, and promptly ordered it for me along with the Embroidery Module.  He says it's worth it just so he won't have to listen to me whinging about the shortcomings of my Janome.

Here she is, not even unwrapped.

The accessory cabinet (Barbie wardrobe)

Awesome LED lights
I cannot sing this machine's praises highly enough.  She is quite simply fantastic, and an absolute pleasure to sew on.  In just one week,  I have finished handbags on her, one for my daughter, one for myself, and two children's messenger bags for my grandkids.  I no longer have to be afraid to press the start button.  No bobbin case disasters, no crunches, broken needles or spoilt projects. This baby sews everything  I put under her.  She laughs at the thickest of seams, layers of harris tweed, fusible fleece, interlining and dec weight cotton.  Add some piping in - no problem, she handles everything with such ease and precision.  She is such a quiet machine too.  The BSR is amazing, and I have been eagerly practicing my FMQ. It's just so easy.  Never having owned a Bernina before I wasn't sure if I was doing the right thing in buying her, but she is just so easy and intuitive to use.  The needle threader has taken some practice, as it is not fully automatic like the one on the Janome, but I soon got the hang of it.  I can't think of one negative thing to say about her.

I am now busy planning projects on her.  Alas she is far too big for my Horn Nova cabinet, so I had to order a Horn Maxi Eclipse for her, which should arrive in the next couple of weeks.  Then I should be able to try out the embroidery unit.  I have already purchased some redwork designs for some cushions that I am planning for the new summerhouse.  

Ms Divers x

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Hanging head in shame!

I can't believe it - it's been a whole year since I last wrote anything here.  Oh the shame!

You may have noticed that my Blog name has changed.  All will be revealed (hopefully by the end of this post)!!

I'm still working intermittently on my Blue Ribbon Sampler.  It's so close to being finished now, just a wee bit in the bottom right corner to finish, plus the two filet panels, and then I can finally get it off my frame and onto my wall.  I never thought I would start, let alone finish, this massive sampler. It's not challenging stitch wise, but the sheer size of it - well, it's big.  One more thing nearly off my bucket list!

Blue Ribbon Sampler by Olwyn Horwood
I have also been busy piecing and quilting again after a break of many years.  I do enjoy my sewing, my favourite part is hand sewing the binding on to my quilts. Come February I started a quilt for my OH.  The fabric is Makower Mocha, it's coffee themed which seemed rather appropriate given OH's love of coffee.

Assembling the centre blocks

I love the colours especially, and as there was no complicated piecing to be done it came together very quickly - until I got to the mitered borders.  I found these tricky because of the pattern match, but after a bit of practice, I managed a respectable mitre.

Mitered corner, one down three to go!
This quilt is now all sandwiched up and waiting for me to quilt her.  Unfortunately she will have to wait, as my all singing and all dancing Janome sewing machine is at the repair shop, never quite having managed to sing and dance for me :-(  

I managed to finish off a couple of table toppers before disaster struck though.  I have to say how great it is to be able to finish off all my UFO's now that I am retired.  Both of these quilts had been in the works for a couple of years (hangs head in shame again)...

First a little Xmas table topper, made out of a charm pack in a disappearing nine patch.  You can't see from the picture but I stipple quilted her in YL1 gold thread.

Next an Autumn Table Topper.  This was a first for me, as instead of using polyester wadding, I used Hobbs 80/20 cotton batting.  I wasn't sure if I would like it at first because the loft is so much lower than polyester, but now that she is complete, I love how soft she is.  I used the same YL1 gold thread to stipple her too, as it went so well with the autumn colours in the quilt.  The fabric is Moda Awesome, and again I used a charm pack and good old disappearing nine patch again.  I must have been in some sort of disappearing nine patch phase.

Retirement continues to be a wonderful adventure.  We are still very busy as the garden takes such a lot of looking after at this time of the year, which obviously cuts into my sewing time.  I have also reassembled my three knitting machines - a Passap E600, Brother 950i and a Brother 230 Chunky.  I did a huge amount of machine knitting when the children were small, but I can't remember a thing about it, so it looks like I will be re-learning from scratch.  I should have more time at the end of the year when the garden has gone to sleep.

I have lots more projects to show you, but I will end this post now by explaining the new blog title. On our way to our friendly sewing machine repair man, we passed a car on the motorway and on the boot was a sticker saying "we are having an adventure before dementia".  It made us laugh. Somehow it just seemed appropriate.

Ms Divers x