Sunday, 3 September 2017

Trying something new (to me)

It was months and months ago that I acquired a super cheap, second-hand Janome overlocker.

After the overlocker came into my possession it spent a few weeks in the trunk of my car, and then several months languishing in a box while I focused on a few quilting project deadlines. Finally those quilting projects are done so I've been able to put the sewing machine away and pull out the overlocker for a bit of a play.

She's a really old Janome MyLock 234D and on top of my months of neglect, it looks as though its been a very long time since she's been used.

I spent a few hours today cleaning her up, oiling her and then more than an hour working out how on earth I was supposed to thread her (and lots of fiddling with a super long needle threader). After all that it was a major fingers crossed moment hoping that she would actually work.

And guess what? She chugged along almost perfectly the very first time!

All threaded and ready to go

She even stitches!
After a stitching a few scraps and adjusting the tension I was good to go...Except for one thing...

When I threaded her, I used four different coloured spools of thread so I could easily see if there were any problems, and which one it was that I needed to adjust.After spending an hour getting it threaded properly in the first place I wasn't keen on going through that process again!

Pinterest to the rescue! Instead of doing the whole re-threading process again I simply cut the threads at the spools, tied the new spool threads to the cut ends and sewed until all four of the new threads were coming out the other end.

So just over 3 hours of fiddling and I had myself a functioning overlocker.

And an hour after that, I've cut and sewn my very first usable item with it - a long sleeve raglan shirt for me!

My first overlocked item - a raglan shirt for me.
Apologies for the bathroom pic, its getting late and that's where the lighting was best. 

I did need to pull out the sewing machine to hem the sleeves and bottom, but other than that it's all overlocked.

While I've made a few items of clothing for the monster and I've had lots of good intentions to make my own clothes, I think I can probably count on one hand the number of wearables I've made for myself (and actually worn). But this turned out awesome! I'll definitely be making a few more of these in different colours / prints.

I can see lots of knit fabrics in my future... shirts, tank tops, pants, pyjamas.. the possibilities are endless.

Until next time.


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Two steps forward... One step back...

Do you ever feel like you're going so slow or having so many setbacks on something you're almost going backwards? Well that's how I've been feeling the past few weeks.

I have a deadline of early next week to finish one of my largest un-bloggable (for now) quilts, and that's pretty much all I've been working on for the last month so apologies for the absence. While I am not able to write much about the actual project (yet), I can use this post to vent some of my frustrations!

Even though I love my new DIY sewing machine extension table and it's doing the job well, I'm really not enjoying the actual quilting part of making quilts right at the moment. If I could just make quilt tops and have them quilt and bind themselves that would be fabulous! (yes I know I could pay someone to do the quilting for me but I really want to be able to do these things from start to finish all by myself).

My biggest issues with my current project have been fine-tuning the machine tension settings; and getting that balance between pedal speed and fabric movement under the needle for my free motion quilting just right. And if you were wondering what happens when you don't get those two things right.. I've put a pic below of the back of one of my practice pieces.. it's really ugly.

See the 'eyelashing' on some of the curves? That's because my speeds weren't balanced.

The other pops of darker thread showing through are because the machine tension settings are not right.

Of course both the eyelashing and the pops are more noticeable because I have a light coloured thread in the bobbin and a dark thread on the needle for half of this quilt (the other half will be dark top and bottom).

It took me days and days, and lots of practice pieces before I got both adjusted to what I thought would be acceptable i.e. to a point where I thought they were gone or were at least minimal enough to disappear when the finished quilt is washed and everything relaxes, crinkles and fluffs back up.

I'm doing Quilt As You Go (QAYG) for this project so I'm quilting individual sections (each about 70 x 11 inches) before joining everything together and then binding it for a finished quilt. Thinking I had overcome my issues with the tension and speed I really got stuck in and proceeded to do the quilting on five of the sections (I think all up there will be 10 or 11 sections in the finished quilt). There was only a little bit of popping and only a couple of really minor little eyelashes so I was pretty happy with that progress.

Over the weekend just passed I got the idea that I should probably try washing one of my practice pieces just to confirm that the little inconsistencies would actually be hidden after that process. So that's exactly what I did - I trimmed up one of my practice pieces, bound the edges so it didn't fray and threw it in with my weekly laundry.

On one hand I'm really glad that I did, on the other doing it has added to my frustrations and really annoyed me.

Practice piece - back (after washing)

Practice piece - front (after washing)
I didn't expect that the larger mess ups would be hidden, but I had really hoped that some of the smaller ones would be. Nope - they're almost all still highly visible.

So tonight, and probably tomorrow this is what I'll be doing to the three white backed sections I've already quilted (Jack is getting a heck of a workout):

Less than a week until my deadline and I feel like I'm almost starting over with the quilting!

But... I'm determined that this quilt will be finished on time and that it will be awesome, so I'm not giving up.

A darker bobbin thread will stand out against the white backing fabric more, but after doing some more testing, it shows significantly fewer flaws so I'm switching over to that set up for the entire quilt. I'm going to embrace the visible quilting on the back as much as on the front instead of trying for matching thread colour with fabric and trying to make it look inconspicuous. (It's not a bug - it's a feature!)

I've got two more evenings after tonight, plus Friday off work and the weekend to quilt, assemble, bind and wash/dry this quilt before my deadline of Monday afternoon ... IT WILL GET DONE.

Fingers crossed and hoping for all of your positive thoughts to help get me through this.

Until next time


Sunday, 25 June 2017

Speedy Stitching

Sometimes you need to change things up a bit. I was like that the other night.

I've been in a quilt finishing frenzy recently - frantically trying to get a couple of quilts finished in time for the local show in a month - it felt like I was getting nowhere fast and I sort of lost my mojo.

A quick sew was in order and this little earbud pouch from Dog Under my Desk was just the thing.

Earbud Pouch - front
(from pattern and tutorial at Dog Under my Desk)

The great fabric the monster picked for the reverse of the earbud pouch

The monster chose the fabrics from my scrap stash, I just happened to have the perfect zip colour in my box of assorted randomness, and it came together in about half an hour.

This is a great, easy and super quick sew. I can see this little project becoming a regular in my repertoire of go-to last minute gifts.

Now back to quilting.

Until next time.


Sunday, 18 June 2017

I made a thing! Sewing machine extension table

I've reached the stage now with a couple of my WIPs that I will soon be doing a LOT of quilting (as opposed to just piecing quilt tops).

Each and every time I've done a quilt on the Brother in the past I've cursed that I don't have an extension table to make the quilting process a bit easier. I've had a look online and at my local stores and haven't been able to find anything that comes in at under $100. With cash a little tight at the moment, and WIPs needing finishing I decided to put on my big girl DIY pants and make something myself.

So off the the local hardware store I went (twice actually!). I came home with:

  • 600 x 900mm MDF customwood
  • plastic cabinet legs
  • 3mm plastic tubing
  • Glue

A bit of measuring, cutting and gluing later and I'm done! A benchtop extension table custom made for my sewing machine (and larger than any of the commercial ones I've looked at).

Sometimes I need a little reminder that sewing and crafting tools are not the only tools in existence and this project was just the thing. All up it came in at about $35 of materials and completed in just a few hours - win!

Now lets see if it holds up to the volume of quilting I'll be doing over the next month or so.

Until next time.


Saturday, 17 June 2017

Extras - Goblin King: Labyrinth Quilt and Stitch Along

Originally intended to be part of the design invitational, this pattern didn't quite get finished in time. But its done now and published on so I can share it with you all. Yay!

A huge thank you to the wonderful Jo Minvielle who tested this pattern for me in record time.

Paper pieced Labyrinth Title - Designed by me, tested by Jo Minvielle.

I designed this paper-pieced pattern to complement the quilt layout presented in the Fandom in Stitches Goblin King, a Labyrinth-themed Quilt & Stitch along.

It is an absolute monster of a block, finishing at 60 inches long by almost 15 inches tall. The intention was to create a title block that you could put inside the outer border of the quilt, at either the top of the bottom of the original layout.

If you are planning on using this block in conjunction with the QAL layout, you might want to add extra sashing around it so the spacing between this block and the character blocks doesn't look too uneven. You will also need to adjust (increase) the length of the outer border strips for the finished quilt.

Download the pattern here if you want to give this pattern a go, and don't forget to share pics of your finished work. I love seeing how others interpret my designs - no two ever end up the same.

Don't forget also, that all the patterns from Goblin King: Labyrinth Quilt and Stitch Along are available over at

Until next time.