Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tomorrow is the day!

Tomorrow we collect our new motor home! As well as being very excited I am also quite nervous as I haven't driven anything this size for quite a while! I think the actual driving on the road will be fine. It is the reversing into our drive way next to the house that is the problem. It isn't the easiest of places to access and with no back window could prove to be a very testing time! Fingers crossed! 

Today has been lovely and sunny! And I've actually seen a person swimming in the sea and they didn't have a wet suit on! It is incredible that tomorrow is the first of December and we haven't got the heat on yet! Long may it continue! While the weather is like this long walks around the coast are on the agenda before the paths become muddy and impassable. Before we know it Christmas will be upon us. As usual I am in a mild panic about Christmas presents but as happens most years I expect all will be well on the day!  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Always something to do!

I have been tidying up to make more space! It is a very therapeutic thing to do! And in the course of the tidying up I found this half started quilt top. I could see why it wasn't finished as it lacked pizazz! So I added to it. Here in pictures are the steps so far. 

I decided to add butterflies to give it more interest.  And I put blue circles around the centre circle.

It still looked a bit bleak so I put extra circles into the centre circles. However this still didn't quite give it the feeling I was looking for.
So I added markings to the butterflies. This was much better and I decided to leave it at that. I will now layer it up with wadding and a muslin backing and then quilt it. The quilting and stitching will transform it....I hope!

I shall post more pictures of the quilt as it progresses! The butterflies were all fused on as were the small circles on their wings and in the middle fabric circle. The original piece of work was a version of Drunkards Path and was very quick and easy to do! 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Little bags

I am using up scraps of silk ribbon to make little sachets like these to put lavender and rose petals in. I think that not only would they make good little gifts but one could also hang them on the Christmas tree!  The biggest problem I have is a lack of time! But they are very quick and easy to make that I am sure I'll find the odd half hour to make a few.

There is exactly a month to go before Christmas Day and I haven't done very much preparation for it at all. I have lots of ideas but that is about it. I have sent the grandchildren Fenella and Fred their advent calendar and they love it so that is good!

The weather is at long last getting a touch of winter about it. Colder at night and more windy as evidenced by the waves on the beach! 

There are still lots of seed heads in the garden and the leaves are still on the oak tree so winter isn't here quite yet. In fact Graeme finds it so much warmer down here than Scotland that he is still wearing shorts! Now I am into jumpers and woolly scarves feeble person that I am!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Sad Day!

Well my lovely Renault 25 txe has gone to the big scrap graveyard in the sky! In the end I scrapped it as the locks all jammed and it would have been as expensive to get them fixed as to the amount of money I'd get selling it. And the scrap man did give me some money for it so it's not all bad! But I will have the lovely new motor home to play with soon!

I think I have finally cracked how to use the Slice Fabrique. The secret is to use a brayer when putting the fabric onto the plate. This really helps bond the fabric with the spray glue on the plate. And also to make sure that the transfer adhesive is well and truly ironed on. Having said that I can truthfully say that I am now having 99% success. There is the occasional screw up but this is down to operator error on the whole. I've just cut out a set of numbers for an advent calendar and they went like a dream! So perseverence pays! And a new design card arrived today which is not particularly for the Slice Fabrique but for the ordinary Slice which is designed for paper and stuff. To my delight the Slice Fabrique cut out some really funky curly letters with no problem even though they were narrow and twirly! This new card has loads of stuff for Christmas so I will be playing with it as soon as I get a spare moment! Spare moment? What's a spare moment!!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Very irritated!

I am extremely irritated with Blogger as every time I look at a blog and want to leave a comment it tells me that I am not authorised to leave a comment under the account I'm signed in with and that I should log out and sign in again. Well I've done this to no avail! I could use lots of bad language! $**£&"^*!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Joys of Dyeing

There is something quite blissful about doing some dyeing. Getting the colours out and deciding which to use. Cutting the fabric and arranging it in the buckets. Then waiting, and waiting, and waiting, until finally the fabric is rinsed and put in the washing machine and one does another load of waiting. The excitement of then ironing and finally seeing the finished colour is the cherry on the icing. Yesterday we dyed some browns and did a time delay on the immersion into the dye. The resulting colours were amazing. The darkest colours were to be expected and although lovely nothing new but the lightest colours were fantastic and surprising. Who would have expected to get green streaks in a brown dye! Some lovely pieces for landscapes! The two browns, chocolate which is a warm reddish brown, and dark brown which is a cool brown colour with blueish overtones, reacted completely differently to the experimentation. I am now anxious to try this experiment with other colours to see what results we will get. 

Today in class we made advent calenders, which the students found fun,  and I was able to utilise the numbers that I had cut out with the Slice machine. I am getting more adept at using this piece of equipment I am pleased to say though I still don't feel it is completely problem free!  Now that the advent calendar is finished I can fill the pockets with gifts. I have bought some lovely chocolates to put in some of them and that is such a temptation as they are really yummy! 

My next job is to think of Christmas and decide what if anything I am going to make as gifts. I have some picture cushions to do but apart from that I'll probably not make things this year due to a lack of time and the pressing need to get other things finished. I have the pictures printed onto fabric and ready to be incorporated into cushions. All I have to do is find the time! I have got to the stage where I have lists of lists! 

We have bought a mobile home so that we can not only take stuff to shows but also have somewhere to rest our heads and save on hotel bills. I am quite excited and can't wait to take it on a trial run. Firstly though it will need equipping and that will be fun as well. So far we have booked to do six shows next year so it will get a fair amount of use! I shall be very sad to sell my Renault though as it has done me proud over the last ten or so years. However it has really come to the end of it's life being around 20 years old and having done 120,550 miles! It is becoming expensive to maintain! I shall use Graeme's little car for running around in....much cheaper on petrol too!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Slice Fabrique part 2

I have been playing with my Slice and am beginning to understand it. I cut some numbers for an advent calendar that I am making plus some of the other shapes on the card which comes with the machine. It took me some time to cut the numbers as I tried to be economical and the machine screwed up every now and then. I have found that it is important that the fabric is smoothed down onto the cutting plate between cuts and a rubber roller really helps here. Also it is important not to cut to closely to any other cuts. Make sure the transfer adhesive is well and truly ironed on and then the machine will work perfectly. Here are some pictures of some to the stuff I've done. 


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Slice Fabrique

I have treated myself to a Slice Fabrique from Making Memories. I watched lots of videos on the net and read up about it before I bought it and was well impressed. However when I got it home I found it wasn't as brilliant as I had expected. That isn't to say that it isn't good but it is NOT the next best thing to sliced bread!

It is light and compact and comes with everything one needs to get going. However having said that the adhesive supplied with the machine isn't the best! And only three small pieces of transfer adhesive are supplied! I put too much of the adhesive on to begin with which was a mistake as the fabric slipped around on it. Also I didn't let it dry sufficiently so my impatience to get going didn't help. As well as the kit I also bought the 12" hands free kit which was well worth it and some spray adhesive which is MUCH better. 

So the glass mat is tacky with adhesive and I've put some transfer adhesive onto a 12" square of cotton poplin fabric. This is now my second attempt having not been very successful with my first attempt due to the reasons stated above. I'm using the transfer adhesive that I always use as that way I can have a larger piece of fabric on the glass. The disks with the designs on are easy to insert and have a large number of designs including letters and numbers. The machine comes with a basic applique disk which is very good. I also bought the Christmas disk. To access the designs one pushes buttons on the front of the machine and when one has chosen a design then one can choose the size. Designs can be cut from 1" to 4" in 1/2" increments. They can also be mirror imaged and a shadow effect can be got. On some of the disks there is a layering technique which is useful. 

It is important to make sure that the fabric is smoothed down onto the glass mat thoroughly so that it won't move while the machine is cutting. Once the design is chosen all one has to do is select it to put the cutter into position and then hit the on button. Within seconds the design is cut. It does make a fair amount of noise while it is cutting! Then one lifts up the cutter and voila upon lifting the fabric one has a cut out design. I found that it was easier to lift the cut out design using a paint spatula but you can buy spatulas for doing this from Making Memories (or local supplier). 

I like to utilise every scrap of fabric and this wasn't the simplest of things to achieve. Possibly with time I may find it easier. I did manage to cut out enough numbers to make an advent calendar but not without a few problems along the way. One of the problems is that if one cuts too close to a previous cut the fabric screws up. Also the blades seem to blunt very quickly and a blunt or nearly blunt blade doesn't like cutting curves! Blades cost £12 for 5 so they arn't that cheap! However they do seem to be easy to change. There are three blades that come with the machine plus one that is already installed. The instruction book is quite good but could be better.

What I found was that I couldn't rely on getting a good cut each time. I would think that I was going along swimmingly and then it would crack up. Most annoying! I did cut different types of fabric such as silk and rayon and they cut OK. And using 505 one can adhere copy paper onto the fabric if one doesn't want transfer adhesive. For example cutting patchwork shapes.  At the end of the day I think the biggest problem is knowing when the cutting blades are giving up the ghost and changing them.

Am I pleased I have one? Yes and no! The pros are that it is quick and cuts shapes that would be fiddly if having to be done by hand. It is light and also works both on the battery and plugged into the electric. It holds a charge for a long time! So would be good for taking to class. The designs are good and the design cards are not expensive when one considers that one is getting fifty or so designs each of which can be of several sizes. It works well on paper so could be good for card making or labels. It is quick in its operation.

On the con side it doesn't always give one the result one is expecting. One can waste a lot of fabric. It is necessary to have a fair number of spare blades on hand. The adhesive supplied in the kit isn't useful. It is necessary to have the spray adhesive.

At the end of the day I think I am glad I have one and the more I use it the more I will learn about it. For anyone who loves applique as I do it will open up a whole new world. The main thing is not to let it stress you out and to take it slowly when starting! It is allowed to yell at it! lol

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


Malvern was fantastic and I would have written about it sooner only no sooner had I arrived home than I was struck down with a heavy cold which is still refusing to give up the ghost and go away! Not fair! 

We hadn't been to Malvern before and were blown away by the view over the valley from out room at the Wyche Inn. Unfortunately I only took pictures of the sunset which was incredible! I can highly recommend this inn for a visit to the area. The food was amazing and I put on pounds just looking at it! And what was even better was that it was only a fifteen minute drive to the show ground. 
We had fun at the show and I was pleased to see that the Crazy Patchwork packs all went. Eleven years ago I started selling packs for crazy patchwork which included all one needed and they were very popular. Then over time I gave up on them but now I am finding that they are just as popular. Also the light to dark packs of cotton fat quarters also walked off the stand. Very pleasing. 

And I had to wander round and see what everyone else was doing. It was very tempting and I had to restrain myself from using all the profits to buy more stuff! There were some lovely quilts on display. Beautiful eye candy! 
So all in all a good show!