Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spray Basting - Still Not Convinced

Four years ago I tried spray basing a small quilting piece, and didn't like how it behaved. Here's that post:
Not convinced by spray basting.

Recently I did a Craftsy course called Quilting Big Projects on a Small Machine, taught by Ann Petersen.  There are a couple of large quilts on my list of unfinished projects, and if anyone has a small machine it is me. I did get a few ideas, but was a bit sorry to see that spray basting is the basis for all Ann's techniques. She has a "How To" page on her website here if you are interested to see how she does it.

I was prepared to try it again, because maybe my previous issues were due more to operator error than product failure. Rather than tackling a large quilt immediately, I spray-basted a 40cm square piece. Here's how the back looked immediately after completing the basting:
This had me worried before I even started stitching. I could smooth it flat with my hand, but as soon as I removed my hand and the wool batting relaxed, the surface became bubbly-looking again. It did look smoother after I ironed it (one of Ann's techniques).

However, with only a small amount of actual quilting, the layers began separating. This is the same problem I had last time. To try and hold it all together, I ran a line of stitching close to the edges, but you can see here that the layers have shifted so I'm getting pulling and buckling:
I will have to unpick the stay-stitching, then pin-baste this small piece to get it smooth again, before I can continue quilting. And there is no way I am going to try this method on a large quilt.

I know people who love spray basting. I have read lots of blog posts by other people who love spray basting. I did find one other quilter who had the same problem as me, and interestingly what we have in common is the woollen batting. Anne (and maybe everyone else who loves this method) uses a very smooth cotton batting. I think wool just has too much inherent springiness for the spray adhesive to bond it successfully with top and back fabrics. Once you start manipulating the piece through the machine, the layers separate.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Orphan Annie - the Continuing Saga

In spring 2009 I planted a hebe "Orphan Annie" in my garden. In May 2010 I questioned if it was a dud plant, as it had not grown at all. It looked like this:

In June 2011, I noted that it still hadn't grown, and that any surviving plants in the neighbourhood also hadn't grown. Here's how mine looked then:

By October 2012, I had decided that it definitely is a dud plant. At that stage, every example I had seen in anyone's garden had died. Mine was the only survivor. Here's how it looked:
I know all those photos look as if they were taken at the same time, but that is 3 years of "growth"!

At that point I had decided to just let it die over summer, if that's what it wanted to do. But amazingly enough it survived two summers, and here it is today:
It has actually grown! It has thickened out quite a bit, but it isn't much taller. It is nowhere near the 40cm it is supposed to reach. In 5 years, it has never flowered.

However, it does have this now:
One branch without the variegation. So now I have a dilemma. Should I trim off this branch or leave it alone? Orphan Annie was originally a sport of hebe "Marie Antoinette", which looks like this branch and grows to 75cm or so. This branch could be reverting to that, or could be something different again. Left alone it will probably take over, as with all that extra green energy-producing chlorophyll it will be much stronger than the variegated leaves. What would you do?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bethel Sage

Salvia involucrata 'Bethelii' starting to open:
It is a couple of weeks earlier this year than previously. It was planted in January 2012, and that year and in 2013 flowers started opening in the first week of May. It is also much, much bigger this year! This branch is over 2 metres tall. I had to reach up and pull it down towards the camera to get a shot.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Light Green

Spent a little time sorting my green fabrics:
A few of those are in the wrong place, but somehow that is easier to see on the computer than in real life. Also the darkest ones disappeared off the left-hand side of the photo.

Then, starting on the right-hand side, I made some pieces for my new project:

Pattern is Geta Grama's Flower Ball.

Added to Sarah's Hexie-aholics link up.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

AQC 2014

The 2014 Australasian Quilt Convention is on, in the beautiful Exhibition Building:
I spent most of my time looking at the amazing quilt show. The section you can see in the first photo has the "Best in Show" winners from each state and territory displayed. One of them will be crowned best in the country later this week.

This section had a collection of quilts by Jenny Bowker, the current holder of the Rajah Award for her outstanding contribution to quilting in Australia:
I saw some of these quilts close up at the week-long workshop I did with Jenny last July, but there were a few I hadn't seen before.

Of course there are lots of opportunities to spend money, too. The commercial end of the building was very busy:

I didn't spend much, but I did put an entry in Bernina's "Guess how many bobbins and buttons are in the big glass jar" competition:
It probably has a much snappier name than that, really. The prize is the 350SE machine to the left of the bottle. Pick a number between 1 and 9999!

A stop on the way home:
GJ's Discount Fabrics, where I bought batting for my mystery quilt. It turns out GJ's don't normally stock 3-metre-wide batting, but fortunately they had a special purchase of various size and composition battings for sale this week. That's all those bags in the front window (sorry about the reflections of the street on the window - no fancy polarising filters on my little camera). Happily I found a piece the right size for less than I had thought it would be.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cosmos Flower

It has taken a while, and something has already had a munch our of this one, but I finally have some flowers on the cosmos plant which grew from seed last July. (And if you follow that link, the unidentified seedling is a lavender which hasn't flowered yet. It will be interesting to see what it produces, as there are several lavenders in my garden that it could have come from.)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Final Border

Sewed the final border onto my summer mystery quilt:
Now the top is officially complete, the next step is to make the back. I've got the fabric for it, but will need to piece it. Unfortunately the quilt top is about 5cms wider than the 240cm batting I have on hand, so I will have to either find someone who sells the 3m stuff, or do some piecing for that, too.