Monday, January 30, 2012

Sculptures at the Botanic Gardens

I'm back to work tomorrow so I'm desperately trying to cram in all the things I was going to do this summer but didn't! Mum and I went to the Botanic Gardens today to see the sculptures. I particularly liked this one.

As you walk around you see the more of the second hand.

And then looks what it turns into! I love a surprise.

The other thing I was going to do in the holidays was lose weight. Well, that didn't happen. I joined the swimming pool just before they shut the indoor pool but I didn't let that stop me. Even though the outdoor pool isn't heated and we have had no summer to speak of so far. What a hero/martyr! However, I know for me that I just have to eat better and less. I've loaded DietPower on to this laptop and bought an activation key for it. DietPower is software you can use for nutritional analysis. I lost a lot of weight using it and doing Sure Slim quite a few years ago now. Unfortunately it has all crept back on.

So, I've come up with a plan. I intend to lose 10% of what I weigh now in 10 weeks. That's a term, so by Easter. Then I'm going to give myself a break over the Easter holidays. I find the routine of work makes dieting easier anyway. Then in term 2 I'm going to aim to lose 10% of what I weigh then in 10 weeks. So every term my weigh loss goal gets easier until the remainder is a manageable amount that I can lose in a term.

I've said it now - publicly! I just have to do it!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Zoo pictures - flamingoes

These little quilts are so much fun to make. This one was painted by my daughter, Becky. I think the colours are really pretty.

The original photo with white flamingoes

Becky decided that they were pink and in the water

The back of the quilt
I used a variation on Eyeballs in the border of this quilt.
Quilting detail

Mitred corners on the satin stitch
I have a basic mechanical sewing machine, the Bernina 1080. I used to have a fancy Janome embroidery machine but I like to be able to adjust the stitch width smoothly so I can do things like mitred satin stitch. Digital machines don't have small enough increments - or didn't when I bought my machine.  You can see a step in the stitch width with a digital machine. With a mechanical machine, I can turn the stitch width dial and sew at the same time. By sewing slowly and giving it a gentle tug, I can keep the edge of my stitching in a straight line as I do the mitre. Sometimes it works perfectly, sometimes not. I'm very proud of the the top left corner of the first one!

I had a store owner argue with me about my need for a mechanical machine! She wanted to sell me a digital and when I explained what I wanted it for, she said that in all her years for teaching quilting, she had never had a need for such precision. Naturally, she did not make a sale! I went to Bernina where the machines are more expensive but store owner listened to me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

More zoo pictures - rhino

This one was painted by my new son-in-law.

Before quilting and the original photo
The great thing about these little projects is that you can indulge in some quilting. I've quilted Swirling Petals on the painted area and feathers on the green border. I'm still trying to perfect my feathers in free motion quilting. I don't seem to be able to keep making graceful tear-drop shapes. Stubby sausages are a better description of my feathers.

For the rest of the quilt, I took my inspiration from the batik and quilted a four petal flower all over. I knew that I wouldn't be able to keep the size and spacing consistent so I deliberately went for a more wonky look. Honest, it was deliberate! My feeling is that if you are going to hand guide a design it shouldn't look like a computer did it!

I decided to hang on to my sewing machine until the end of the holidays and just talk nicely to it when it makes clunky sounds. It really needs a good overhaul. I was worried about my boredom levels, now that I'm without my TV. The Sky guy is due today but it is now 2pm and not a word from him yet! On the plus side, I've found out that TVonDemand from TVNZ is actual very watchable, even on my little netbook. So I didn't miss the second episode of Falling Skies. I'm not hooked yet but I love sci-fi and will pretty well watch anything. I watched the whole of the series V and it was dreadful!

I'm off to finish the flamingo painting now.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My Blogger's Choice Fat Quarter Bundle

Laura from Quokka Quilts is holding a competition where you can choose your own Blogger's Choice Fat Quarter Bundle. You have until the 15th January to get your entry in. It's shopping without shopping! But I love my selection so much I may have to buy it!!

My selection is based around that gorgeous paisley fabric from Amy Butler. I love the soft teal of the background and the punchiness (oh, just invented a word!) of the pink. Then the whole thing is brightened with yellow making an old-fashioned pattern very modern looking.

To make my selection, I start by analysing the colours in the main fabric. I take the image into Paint (the one that comes on all Windows computers) and use the colour picker to pick out the colours. I gave a talk on colour theory at our guild and demonstrated this to a couple of women. This is something I used to show my students when I was teaching web design but it's pretty useful for quilting too.
Then I use Jinny Beyer's colour theory to pick my coordinating fabrics. This video explains it, complete with some resounding and over-emotional violins (Why??). Her theory, in case I have put you off the video but I still recommend you watch it, is to take one colour and go darker (brown in my case), another colour and go brighter (I chose pink) and another colour and go lighter (my pales are pink and green). I ended up not choosing a fabric in the leaf green in the middle top row but the pink print I chose has green circles so it fits in nicely.

Have a go. It's fun!

The SKU codes are, starting from the top left:
First row:
Second row:
Third row:
Fourth row:
Fifth row:
Mimosa-4-LIGHT PINK-450

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Third bag finished

This is the third bag I've made using this collage fabric. And yet again, this one is off overseas. My sister left for the Caribbean yesterday and she was very pleased with her bag. I was happy to make it for her. I'm happy to make anything that someone appreciates!

The strap is four layers of denim with one layer of heavy interfacing so attaching it to the bag was a little tricky. I cut away two layers of denim and the interfacing and did this mock overlocking stitch. It's a line of zigzag with a line of stitching top and bottom. My machine motor couldn't cope with some of the thickness where the stitches caught any extra layers of denim. I had to hand crank the machine for most of this!

The back pocket was made to take her iPad.

Front pockets or side pockets take her Blackberry.

And I didn't forget about old-fashioned technology. Pockets for pens inside.

I just adore these feet. They make a lovely finish.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Collage technique

I made my sister make her own bag! Well, I made her design her own collage anyway. It's easy and there is no wrong way to do it! Cut out flowers, leaf and stem shapes. Lay them on felt. Add some fancy wool and Angelina fibre. Put fine black net on top. Nothing is glued or stitched at this stage, just pinned to stiff interfacing.

Give it to your sister (that's moi) to quilt it. I used Heart Paisley this time. It's amazing how just a little bit of Angelina fibre comes alive when you quilt it. I also like the way the hairy yarns are captured.

And this is what you end up with. I decided we should decorate the side pockets this time because the bag is going to be made from black denim. It needed more decoration!
Bag front flap and two side pockets.
Happy New Year. That's been a whole year I've been blogging. I'm not great at journals so this is quite an achievement for me. I remember back in the days when I was a software developer and was sent for psychometric testing for a job, they told me that one of my weak points was daily journalling and that I could improve this by keeping a personal diary. I never did and they were right, it was my weakness. I was hopeless at keeping my timesheet! I love that nobody in teaching asks me to account for my time!

Were you in class when the kids were there? - Yes
Did you teach them? - Well, I tried. I taught my little heart out. Don't know if they learnt anything?
Have you marked their assessments? - Yes
Have you written their reports? - Umm, I've written something. It may be a pack of lies.
That's ok, you've done your job and we'll pay you.

So much easier than trying to account for your time in 15 minute slots - or one job I did was down to 6 minute slots! 
Let me see, 10:00 to 10:06, was in the toilet (must take more Metamucil). Who can we charge that to?

Yup, teaching is a lot easier - and the holidays are great! I hope the sun comes out soon and we actually have a summer before going back to school. Meanwhile, I'll keep sewing.