Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Quilting: The Real Story

While it appears that I have taken the brave plunge into the world of quilting over the last year and come up swimming like a pro, I have a confession to make. I'm not that good. Turns out, that quilting is actually far more complicated than I had first anticipated and though I've tried to hide it, I'd just like to let everyone know it's true, I'm not that good.

Let me clarify some things for you faithful readers out there (and if you are not interested in sewing in the slightest, feel free to stop reading now, because that is what this post is all about). Firstly, making a quilt is actually something more like a three step process. Firstly, you need to piece the cover of your quilt. The bit that has the different fabrics and patterns and fancy stuff. The part that will be on display. Doing that is called "Piecing".

I'd say that in the last year, I've gotten much better at piecing. From my first attempts at getting things straight with corners matching up and what not, to my most recent experiences, the piecing is the most satisfying part of making a quilt. I like using up the scrappy bits of fabric, starting with small sections that eventually come together to make something fabulous. Piecing. That's where it's at.

The next step of making a quilt is actually sewing your lovely quilt top, the wadding and the backing fabric together. This is the part that is called "Quilting"; where you sandwich all those layers together with lots of stitches to hold everything in place. To me, this is the most difficult part. It's not the most time consuming (nope, that's piecing, because you've got all the cutting and pressing as well as the sewing), but it's certainly the trickiest.

All those layers need to be stuck together, either with pins, basting stitches or basting glue and then the entire thing has to be put through your sewing machine. It's difficult to juggle a 1.5m by 2m quilt through that little space on your sewing machine. Actually, the word difficult doesn't really seem to cover or explain just what it's like. This is where (for me at least) things go wrong. The bottom fabric pulls in ways you can't see, the wadding is so thick that it's taking forever for each needle strike to actually get through all the layers, the top fabric, despite all the basting and pins is shifting as you try to pull it through.

Maybe I'm doing it wrong, maybe I'm not going slow enough (actually, that could be part of it :P), but at the end of the day, I've got puckers and pulls and nothing is sitting quite as squarely as it was when I first put all the layers together. It happened on the Block of the Month Quilt of 2013 and it happened again last week when I quilted the Log Cabin Quilt.

I have to admit, I was quite depressed to see what happened after I pulled it through mum's sewing machine (Harriet the Husqvana) that one last time.  Especially given that I'd spent and hour doing it with just this much of a Mary Poppins Song in my head:

"Jelly isn't jelly 'till you set it, anything can happen if you let it!"

Talk about irritating. I did wonder for a while about how to get better, but aside from practicing (which btw, seems like a very expensive way to make a lot of rubbish before you making anything good), I've got nothing.

Anyway, the final part of making a quilt involves putting a edge on your quilted sandwich of fabrics and wadding. This is called "Binding". This part is all I have left to do with the Log Cabin Quilt. Maybe I'll do it today, maybe I'll do it tomorrow. One things for sure, the sooner I do it, the sooner Sophie will be unable to come along and pull out bits of wadding from my lovely quilt sandwich. That'd be nice.

In summary, making a quilt on the whole, is something I can do, and enjoy doing, especially the piecing. Actual quilting, is not.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Children of God

Last night at Church, Stefan Hall spoke on a bible verse that means a lot to him. Though he did end up referencing five verses all up, Romans 8:15&16, which talks about us as the children of God. Oh what a small thing that I've heard a million times, but how wonderful to hear it again. We are not slaves or servants. We are not visitors or renting in the house of God. We are Children! We are loved, welcomed and we belong.

I was reflecting this morning that in the modern world, this may not give great comfort to people. Families change, people leave, and often for children there is no sense of security in the home. But to be a part of God's family is nothing like this. God's family is always welcoming, always loving, always accepting us. God is always calling us home and the door is never closed.

How great is our God that he has called us his sons and daughters.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Heat Wave Procrastination

I cannot believe how hot this week has been. It's more the humidity I guess, but when I'm walking Steve to the bus stop at 7:10 in the morning and I feel disgusting before we have even left the driveway, you know it's bad. While the heat wave lasts, I think I'll take a break from doing too many productive things and rather escape to the air-con at my parents and play with the duplo... I mean my daughter. :)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Days like Today...

I feel like I've had a super productive week. The top-secret Birthday Present for my Dad is complete, the house has been vacuumed (twice!), I'm currently on book four of five in the David Eddings Mallorean Series, I've gone through the stash of material that was stored in the end room, culled and organised it and I've also quilted the Log Cabin Quilt (click for part 1 and part 2 of the journey).

I did have a huge post stored up in my head about the quilting of said Log Cabin Quilt, but today, after a terrible nights sleep, I've a headache, I'm fatigued by the heat and all I want to do is lie down.

So that's what I'm going to do.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Small Things

I would say last week was pretty busy, but at the same time super productive. Monday was three loads of washing, grocery shopping, a batch of these stellar cupcakes and some short bread as well as vacuuming the house. So lovely are Mondays.

On Tuesday and Wednesday the only time we were home was for Sophie's naps. The rest of the time was out and seeing people. Busy, but good, and Sophie survived well. Thursday not so much, but one day out of seven ain't bad.

Friday I had another productive day at home, after a walk in the morning and a visit from a friend. I walked Sophie down to the park around three so we could post letters and have afternoon tea out and maybe some time on the swings. Little did I know that at ten past three the park would be crawling with primary school students running off their last lot of energy while groups of mums gathered around chatting over afternoon tea. Not a safe place for my I-can't-walk-yet one year old. Oh well.

Steve is away this weekend (just overnight for a party in Sydney) and so I decided I'd day trip to some friends in Maleny for a visit. Lovely idea and it turned out rather splendidly. On Friday, I decided it might be nice to take something for their three year old, so I did a quick stitch and produced a marble maze.

Please be nice about the photos. I decided to take them somewhere new, and didn't realise the lighting at Steve's desk in the afternoon would be so harsh. Oh well. This was made out of some old T-shirts that I cut up. Sewed on the felt dots, stitched up the maze, popped a marble in and sewed it closed. Hello choke proof kids toy! Also, because it's squishy, easy to put in your bag and take out whenever and where ever bordem threatens.

I am well pleased. While I had Sally the sewing machine out, I thought I'd finish off some baby shoes that I ambitiously cut suede for a while ago. I did this, and they look pretty nice.

The pattern is the Pleated Mary Jane from Shwin&Shwin. I have to say I'm not a massive fan. Maybe it's the fiddly-ness of the small baby shoe, but they take ages to make sure it's going to all go together right. Also, I don't like the way a lot of baby shoes have the inner soles just stuck in or sewn in but so you can still see all of the edges. So I spent extra time hand-sewing the inner soles down with stitches that you cannot see from the outside.

I feel it was worth it because they are beautiful and very soft, so perfect for a baby, but I doubt I'll be making baby shoes again.

P.S. I did do more work on the Log Cabin Quilt and another chunk of that top-secret Birthday Present for my Dad. Hooray!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Birthday Project - Top Secret!

Sudden inspiration for a birthday gift for my Dad lead to me spending about five or six hours on Friday at Sally the sewing machine. Maybe I should name my rotary cutter, since he played a large role in what occurred too.... Anyway, in the spirit of keeping things secret, I can't tell you what it is, and you will have to wait until October to find out. Heh. I am pretty proud of what I got done though (the whole present is probably about a third finished, but I did get the most fiddly things out of the way) so here is a sneak peek for you all. :)


Saturday, February 08, 2014

Busy Book

Last year, I ventured into the land of felt books with this little bit of excitement and since then, it's been on the to-do list to make another. The next one, I decided long ago, would have a variety of pages that work on a different skill, rather than just encourage creativity. I know that lacing is something that is supposed to be great for kids, and after Steve wore through a pair of his old connies, I was struck with the inspiration for the first page of the book. Behold!

Is it not fabulous? Sorry about the way that it is currently laced, my original lacing did make it all the way to the top, but I thought something went wrong, tried to do it again and came out with something rather worse. Now, I can't be bothered change it. Lazyness wins again. But really, look at the lacing potential! Not to mention the excitement that might come from using it to teach how to tie shoe-laces. And it's general awesomeness from being Converse!

Page one done. I'm not sure how I'm going to sew these pages together, but something will come to me I'm sure. Now that I'm all inspired, I've done the layout (though not the actual sewing yet) for page two, which uses buttons.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Work In Progress

Much of my spare time recently has been spent doing smaller things that can be easily finished and also reading. It's such a great feeling to cross lots of little things off the to-do list. I read somewhere that when you sew a lot, it's really good to have one big project on the go, as well as a smaller one. That way, when the big project gets too much, you can take a break, finish a smaller one and feel productive enough to get back to the big thing.

So while the Log Cabin Quilt has been sitting on the shelf for a while, I've been doing some other things. Things like making great breakfasts for my one year old (and my husband and myself too!). 

Writing Thank-you, Thinking-of-you, and other encouraging cards for friends. Putting together invitations for fun events coming up. Meeting up with friends to talk about how they are going and what God is doing in their lives. Reading books, specifically some of David Eddings' epic sagas. Also, doing a little sewing, but that's a post for tomorrow (a super exciting, stay tuned or you'll miss it kind of post!).

And after two weeks of doing this, I have crossed off enough small things on the to-do list to make me think of the Log Cabin Quilt. This morning, I sewed the boarder back onto the slightly smaller backing sheet and now, the front and back are the same size. This is a good feeling. It's a work in progress, but it is progressing. :)  

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Thoughts on Exodus

I've been reading the bible in my quiet times (even as I type this sentence I think to myself "Duh!"). Anyway. I am going through a reading plan that will take me through the whole bible in a year, but has Old and New Testament readings for each day (just to spice it up, especially when things like Leviticus hit).

I'm happy to say that I've finished Genesis, Exodus and Matthew already! I feel like this is a huge achievement, given that it's only the first week of February, but when I think that I've done three books out of 66, it feel a little less grandiose. Oh well.

I've been thinking a lot about what happened in Exodus the last few days. The Israelites have managed to escape Egypt with God giving some pretty spectacular and memorable events to boot. Then they get away and seem to stop for a long time. I'd never really noticed it before, but even before they are at the promised land for the first time, God has them all camping in the wilderness while he gives them some (quite detailed) instructions.

This is the first time that the people of Israel are actually getting instructions from God about what it means to be his people. And boy, it takes some time. I guess that when we come down to it, God is a holy God, and for the Israelites to be his people, they had to learn a few things (and unlearn a few bad Egyptian-influenced habits).

It strikes me that because this is the first thing that God does with his people after their rescue, it stands that it's probably the most important. They get their commandments, they are told the terms and conditions of serving God (which they agree to), they spend a lot of time (and effort, and resources) making the Tabernacle, the holy things that go inside and the outfits for the priests among other things.

This makes me think back to when I became one of God's people. How precious were those first few months, even years, where He instructed me. How great are the truths that I learnt at that time, that I keep coming back to.

Even now, nearly 10 years on, I am again struck by how important it is to leave everything else aside, and get to know God first. I am again amazed by the fact that God wants to know us and will take the time to teach us, with his word, with his Spirit, with his people. How great is our God who loved us first, and loves us still.