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Work In Progress Wednesday

Ahh, it was a bank holiday weekend here for Queen Victoria's birthday (and why does a long dead monarch get a holiday for her birthday?  Who knows... who cares, it's a free day off!)  Anyway, I looked at my 'To Do' list, and looked at how long I had to get them done, and decided that I could split my time between grout removal, washing and the My Small World QAL.  It may not have been an even split, but it was a split nonetheless ;o)  I hope you all had a great weekend, especially if it was a long one (for whatever reason)

Finishes This Week


In Progress This Week:

For the My Small World QAL my square Sizzix dies haven't turned up yet, and as I had a wee bit longer than I usually would for prep, I decided to start with all the curved/difficult bits!  Here's what I have done so far in truly terrible light from late last night, including the start of construction on Part 1's buildings.  Are you quilting along?  If so, how's it going?

To Be Worked On This Week:

Back to earth, time for the next magazine project and my next class sample
Keep chipping away at the grout - literally, I found an alternative to the chemical but it is going to be a long process, albeit quicker than the chemical one was

Hope you all have a great week!  Linking up with Lee and the gang:

Camera Challenge 5 - Going Fully Manual

Yay, we have now worked our way through from full auto mode to using the partially automated modes and now we’re going to look at Manual mode.  It was important to be able to see the effects of changing the main individual components which can be altered in Manual mode, so this challenge will be a coming together of the last 3 challenges.

We are actually going to repeat the subject matter of the challenges from challenge 1, except that this time you will need to set the aperture, shutter speed and ISO yourself in order to achieve the desired effects.

Firstly, find a pleasing landscape to take a photo (or more) of.  *Hint* the key lesson here was found in the aperture challenge.

Secondly, find a willing portrait subject to take a few photos of.  *Hint* the key lesson here was found in the aperture challenge.

Finally, find a willing moving subject to take a few photos of. *Hint* the key lesson here was found in the shutter speed challenge.

One thing that you will need to know is that in your viewfinder you should be able to see a series of small lines in a row with either an arrow or a 0 in the middle.  It should also have a – to the left and a + to the right, and may or may not have a -2, -1, +1 and +2 above it (this will depend on the camera, for example Canons have this setup, but Nikon appear to think that numbering is for wimps!).  The purpose of this is to show you how well exposed your photo is – as you half press the shutter button there should be a larger line superimposed to show whether the settings will overexpose (bleach things out) or underexpose (things will be dark).  If the line is to the left of centre it will be underexposed, and to the right of centre it will be overexposed.  If it’s off the charts then the – or + sign should flash as appropriate to indicate from which direction you need to adjust.

To use the viewfinder guide, set your preferred value from either Aperture or Shutter Speed, then adjust the other until the line is in the centre.  Start at ISO 100, and if you can’t get the line into the centre with your chosen combination because it is going to be underexposed (eg with a certain aperture the shutter speed would be too slow to hand hold, or with a certain shutter speed the aperture can’t go wide enough), then increase your ISO until it is possible.

If you find the photo a bit dark when the line is in the middle and you don’t want to change your metering setting (bonus post 2), move the line a little to the right by adjusting your aperture or shutter speed as appropriate to brighten it up a bit.  Note that the value that you should be moving is not the fixed one you need to achieve your chosen effect, but the opposite one, so if you want a fixed aperture, adjust your shutter speed and vice versa.

Supersize Your My Small World Quilt!

I’ve been branching out more in what type of quilts I’m tackling these days, and I’ll admit that I got sucked into the My Small World quilt frenzy, which rather surprised me!  The pattern is by Jen Kingwell, and features in the Spring Special edition of Quilt Mania, photo at the top on the back cover.  There are 2 language versions of this, French and English, but the good news is that the English versions seem to be hanging out in many good newsagents and bookshops in the UK and North America (and no doubt other countries too, I just haven't seen any mentioned), and if they’re not available near you, you can find it online easily enough.

The only thing is that at 33” x 52” it’s quite small, and I really like to sleep under my quilts, so the only way to go, in my mind, was to ‘supersize’ it by increasing the size of all my pieces to bring it up to a desired width, and then repeat a bunch more blocks at the bottom to get the required height because frankly the idea of just making a zillion more teeny blocks to add to the top nearly made my head explode ;o)  I happened to mention this on IG and was asked if I would post some tips on how to go about it, so here goes!

These first bits I’ve discovered about the pattern will cover any size of the quilt, and some are actually editorial errors:

  • In the cutting instructions, the letters are not in order, so don’t panic if you find you’ve suddenly leapt up a large chunk of the alphabet!
  • The text instructions show the size of fabric to cut, the images show the finished size of the piece and the templates are the finished size.  What this means is that you’ll see different numbers next to the lettered sections between the images and the cutting instructions, don’t panic, it’s deliberate!  For the templates, you need to remember to add your ¼” seam allowance all around.
  • The image for Diagram 9 is missing, or rather Diagram 8’s image is actually repeated under 9.  To see the image of Diagram 9, check out the bottom left hand section of Diagram 10 or check out this link on the Quilt Mania site 
  • In Diagram 12, the centres of the churn dash blocks should be B squares, not A squares – this is wrong in both the cutting instructions and image, but has been corrected in the later churn dash blocks in Part 6
  • There is a typo in the cutting instructions for Diagram 17 – it should be AP not P (it’s labelled correctly in the image)
  • In the cutting instructions for Diagram 29, BO is mentioned twice at 2 different sizes, the second one should actually be an AK
  • The template for piece BF is missing its label, it's the largest semicircle

My next suggestion would be to review all the templates and work out if you actually need them to be templates, or if you can make them up another way.  For example there are a number of HSTs in there, so you could actually make them using the 2 square method for extra stability rather than sewing the bias edges which could stretch out of shape.  If you need a review of appropriate HST sizes, then I have a tutorial here which has a calculation table up to 8” finished.  There’s also a few flying geese units in there as well, and again I have a tutorial here with calculations up to 4” x 8”, and for the QSTs I have a tutorial here with calculations up to 8" finished.  Finally, there’s a few bits that are totally Sizzix friendly (or presumably Accucut friendly, sorry, I don’t use that system to be able to definitively tell you), so you could cut out your LV ‘sky’ pieces a lot more quickly than by hand, for example.  I’ve never bought a quilting die for my Sizzix before (having bought it long ago for paper, and then upgraded the machine for making bag embellishments), because I don’t normally ‘do’ lots of repeated little cut bits of fabric, but I weighed up whether or not my time was worth more than £11.99 for a square die and decided that it definitely was!  I’m sure I’ll use it again anyway, and the clamshell had been needing an excuse to leap into my basket...

So how to supersize it…  I suggest you do the next bit in a spreadsheet, you can do this on the computer or old school on a piece of paper, whatever works for you.
  • To start with you need to establish how much bigger you want to make it.  For the ease of maths I would suggest making it a whole number, but if working in 1/16ths of an inch floats your boat, I’m certainly not going to stop you increasing the size by 1.67 or something like that!
  • Now you will need a column in your spreadsheet for the original FINISHED size of each lettered piece.  In the next column you will need to work out the adjusted FINISHED size.  You need to use the FINISHED size rather than the cut size because you're not increasing your seam allowance too.  Do you think I got enough capitalised 'finished's in there to make a point?!  I doubled the size of all my pieces so for example where A was originally a 2” finished square, my A is now a 4” finished square.  Once you’ve worked out the finished size, you can work out the cut size by adding ½” to the measurement for each side to take account of the ¼” seam allowance all around, so my A square is cut at 4 ½”.
  • For my templates I carefully traced them all from the magazine (as I find photocopying thick magazines leads to distortion near the spine), then I scanned the tracing into my computer and went over all the lines in Illustrator before doubling the size of each piece.  That might be slight overkill, you could probably just as easily photocopy the tracing at 200% or whatever your chosen size is.  Note that if you go up to 200% you will need A3 sized template plastic rather than A4 size in order to fit some of the larger arch pieces on.
  • I then went through and worked out how many of each piece I needed for each section for each type of object, eg LV for the sky, green for grass, all the buildings, windows, roofs etc.  You can skip this bit if you like flying by the seat of your pants, but I just like to know what I’m doing up front, not least to see if I need to round up more fabric than I have planned for the quilt.
Since I doubled the size of mine, here’s the Sizzix dies that I bought to save my sanity:
The final part will be to decide exactly which blocks you want to repeat to make it long enough.  For mine, I’ve worked out that I need it to be half as long again, but that’s the bit I haven’t quite got to in my spreadsheet yet!

I hope that made sense to you.  I’m sorry, but I’m not going to be sharing the measurements etc online that I’ve done for mine because if I do that then people could bypass buying the pattern, and, well, apart from breaking copyright laws, pattern designers need to eat too!  Also, I’ve made up a few hybrid blocks to make things easier for me that do not tie into the pattern letters exactly, and that would probably confuse you (I’m not entirely certain it won’t confuse me!)

Here's the 3 fabric lines I'll be embracing for this QAL, which are absolutely not my normal style, but I figure if I'm embracing new quilts, I can embrace new fabrics too ;o)

They play together nicely IRL, I promise!

So are you joining in the QAL?  Are you going for the original size, or are you supersizing yours too?
Photos From The North - Part 2

Last week I showed you the photos from the first part of my bank holiday weekend up north, so here's the second part I promised, which were all taken on the journey home.  I had fun just stopping randomly wherever I saw something I fancied taking a photo of, since I had nothing I particularly had to get home for, so this is what came out between Forres and Aviemore, after which I hit the A9 and didn't stop again until I was home.

Sarah kept promising me afternoon tea at Brodie Castle, but we never got there, so I just took myself there first on the way home!  It's not entirely what I think of when I think 'castle', more like a rather big house, but it's not a bad wee pad really:

And it has some quite nice flowers in the garden - this photo is about 3 x actual size!

Next stop was Dallas Dhu distillery (someone demanded a distillery on the 'what shall I take photos of' list)  Shame I don't actually like whisky...

This was on the road to Grantown on Spey, note the snow covered mountains in the distance.  It snowed on me as I drove up through them on the Friday!

And a bit closer look at those mountains south of Grantown.  With the sheep in the foreground I almost think it looks like an Alpine scene rather than the Cairngorms:

Next I stopped at the train station at Boat Of Garten, where I found this chap outside:

And finally a steam train came in:

Shame it was going backwards!

And then I made like the littlest piggy and went wee wee wee all the way home.  That was probably all the coke though ;o)
Work In Progress Wednesday

I gave myself a wee bit of a break this week to do some almost selfish sewing.  It was sewing for a swap really, but I kind of think of swaps as selfish sewing because for the most part you can make what you like, albeit guided a little by your partner's preferences!  I also finished my Brit Bee medallion I was working on last week, taught my class on Thursday, hit the hairdressers on Saturday and did some blog admin behind the scenes.  So totally relaxing week really ;o)

Finishes This Week:

This is the most I can show you of the finished medallion.  It's all the recipient has seen too!  We're inching ever closer to a final reveal I believe though, I've seen several others finished already, but they all have to be before the show off...

In Progress This Week:

After designing the pattern for my Cotton + Steel Mini Swap last week, I just had to get it sewn up this week, and I got the top finished last night.  My partner liked arrows, chevrons, geese, Tokyo Train Ride, secondary colours and linen, and I think I ticked all the boxes.  I made up a wee story for the centre bit - the wee dudes are waiting on the platform for the train top left, then they got on the train and went through the forest, where they saw foxes and birds and bunnies, then they went past the river full of lily pads, and ended up going through the mountains to the big town where their journey ends.  I may need to get out more...

Now I need to work out how to quilt it, any ideas?

To Be Worked On This Week:

It's a bank holiday weekend this weekend, so I will spend one day on admin stuff, and then I will have 2 glorious days to sew!  And scrape grout *sigh*

Hope you all have a great week!  Linking up with Lee and the gang:

Bag Making Basics - Clipping Curves

Bag making is a time consuming business, there's no two ways about it, which makes it especially tempting as a beginner to think 'Really?  Do we need to faff about with these fiddly wee details?  No-one will notice, right?'  Well that may just have been me in my naivety as a beginner, but there were quite a few things in my first pattern that I skipped over in an effort to just be done with the whole thing, and clipping curves was one of them.

So what exactly does clipping curves do?

Above is my first bag, the bottom corners of which should be nicely rounded, which clearly they are not, but just in case you couldn't see it clearly, here's a closeup:

Now fabric is a very pliable medium, but it does get stressed under certain conditions, curves being one of them (and you thought fabric therapy was a joke!)  When you sew 2 pieces of woven fabric together to create the curve, at least one piece will get all bent out of shape, and the warp and weft of the fabric put under strain at angles they normally wouldn't.  The way to solve this is to cut notches into the seam allowance, which allows the fabric to relax a bit.

Here's the top curve of one of my recent bags:

And here's how it looks right side out - note the nice smooth curve:

Now it's possible that I may go a bit overboard on the clipping of my curves, but I'm a subscriber to the 'better safe than sorry' school of learning, and having made bears for years, who have no end of curves, I've worked out the number of notches that work best for me, you may be able to get away with less, but if you notice that your curved pieces look more like a series of angled lines, you might need a few more!

Photos From The North - Part 1

I spent a fair bit of time with my camera when I was up north a couple of weeks ago visiting Sarah and family, and as there were some requests to see what I took, i thought I'd share a few with you.  There were really 2 parts to the trip, camera wise, so I thought I'd split the post in two so there's not too many photos in one post, leaving you with an urge to dose off ;o)

The trip north was punctuated by a large amount of rain and snow between Stirling and Aviemore, but as I ot north of Aviemore the clouds cleared and the sun came out.  This is a wee church which appears quite randomly at the bottom of the hill on a pretty sharp bend on the road between Grantown on Spey and Forres.  I was fascinated by the viaduct in the background, and the large house with American style stable buildings between it and the church.  It was to be the first of many random stops I made with the camera!

On the Saturday we headed along the coast a wee bit to Roseisle forest park and beach, which is between Findhorn and Burghead.  It's also between a couple of other noteable places, but I'll leave them until later!

I was playing about with these posts in the water, trying to get them to point towards the north side of the Cromarty Firth, but unfortunately the clouds rather blended in with the snow topped mountains over there!

There were some questions of a beachy nature...

And this random toddler that didn't quite know what to make of the black thing pointed at her.  But not scared enough to stop her from following us home:

Now remember the other 2 places I mentioned?  Yep, that would be Kinloss and Lossiemouth, so it's left some interesting structures on the beach from wars gone by - it was a bit like being on the beach in Normandy!

While I was walking back through the forest I had a wee bit of a play with something I'd wanted to try for ages.  If you move your camera while taking a shot, you can get some rather impressionistic effects.  I want to find more trees to try it with now!

Next we headed along to Findhorn for lunch.  The taxis round there look a little different...

Looking from the beach at the north end of Findhorn towards the Black Isle and Cromarty Firth

Back at home that toddler showed up again.  This was at her regular speed:

But occasionally she would stop to show off her ballet skills:

Next week I'll show you my journey south again.