A Busy, Quilty Weekend and Month

Sewing, Stashing

So, March eh?  It felt like it flew by at a million miles an hour, but at the same time it felt like forever.  What’s with that?  Skimming back over my posts for March, it seems like I’ve managed a lot this month, including making a birthday presentfinishing a major project, playing with triangles and making progress with my Marsala Challenge quilt, so I’m pretty pleased with this month’s efforts.

The weekend just gone is no exception when it comes to quilty busyness.  It started with Quilt Club on Friday, which I used as valuable piecing time to crack on with more Marsala Spice blocks.  That project is finally taking shape and I now have a much better feel for where it’s going.

We’re also still house-hunting, so after Quilt Club I threw everything plus dog back in the car and scooted up the road to Aberystwyth (Mum had already gone up on the bus), where we planned to stay at my sister’s house for a weekend of re-visiting some possible properties with my uncle and aunt, who’d come down from north Wales to meet us there and offer fresh eyes and second (third, fourth…) opinions.  My aunt and uncle are recently back from an anniversary trip to Oregon, and before they went I’d rolled my eyes, batted my eyelashes and begged them to maybe pop into a quilting shop while they were there to buy me some fabric.  For the sake of simplicity, I asked them to pick me up some pre-cut strips.  Their choice, I told them.  And I would be happy to reimburse them.fabric_0104_2And didn’t they do well?  😀  They bought me two as a very early birthday present, and I’m paying them back for the other two.  I think they made some superb choices.

Batiks!  In case it wasn’t clear already, I LOVE batiks!  And the colours are fab – those purpley jewel tones and the juicy rainbow-y effect are just delicious.

fabric_0104_5This is a much more floral affair, but I still rather like it – it’s got a very comfortable, graceful feel to it.  Would make a lovely throw for the living room.

fabric_0104_6And I’m thrilled with this!  I’ve been ogling these strip sets on t’interwebs but hadn’t quite stirred myself to buy any, so I was truly delighted to find this lurking in the bottom of the bag.  🙂

They also picked me up a nice little postcard pattern (the how-to is on the back), which I think is for the purple/jewel-tone batiks, though it would work with other colours too:fabric_0104_1And that’s the shop’s card there, too.  One thing that did surprise me was the fact that the prices of the strips were, mostly, pretty comparable to what we pay here (~$45/£30), which is why in the end I only asked for a couple of extras.  However, locally we’re pretty starved for fabric shops and those we do have don’t usually have much of a range of jelly rolls/strip sets, so just having some surprise extras to play with is really nice.

The Friendly Pfaff

On Sunday evening, I and all my sewing stuff travelled up from Aberystwyth to Brimingham on the train.  I’d booked myself onto a “Making Friends with your Pfaff” day through The Cotton Patch for Monday, and to be there on time I needed to stay over the night before.  Thankfully, the carry case I bought for the Pfaff just about fitted it, so my machine had some decent protection from the abuses of public transport and I had some wheels to haul it around on.  And I’d found a Premier Inn right up the road from where the course was being held, so it all worked really well.

The course was very interesting, with a cosy group of six students including me, all of whom were really friendly and welcoming.  It was run by Joy of Pastures New Quilting, and she did a really good job of introducing the machines (most of us had QE 4.2s) and walking us through what we could do with them and how to use the feet and accessories properly.Pfaff_day_0104_2These are the first samples we did, using fine chiffon and chunky denim to show off how the Pfaff handles such things and takes them in its stride, especially with the IDT system engaged.  (Although in fairness mine did a pretty nice job on the chiffon even without IDT because I’d loaded it with a size 70 needle and some fine piecing thread.)  We followed this up with an introduction to using the automatic buttonhole foot (OMG, awesome!) and trying out some machine applique and some of the nifty effects with the decorative stitches and sequences:

Pfaff_day_0104_3

Finally, we tried quilting, first in a straight line with the IDT (no worries there) and then (le gasp!) with the sensormatic foot that comes as standard with the Pfaff QE 4.2 (and other models, I believe).  I’ve had my reservations about this foot since I’ve had some serious arguments with it.  However, with the settings Joy suggested (a pivot height of -2, a tension of 4.6, and a medium speed), it WORKED!  (Though my improved choice of needle and thread probably helped, too.)

I found myself doing a version of my “cloud” stippling, mostly because I’ve just done loads of it on the Japan Fan Club door curtain and it’s still in my muscle memory, then I tried a bit of a meander and some leaves, plus some pebbling (I’m not great at pebbles yet).  And it all worked great, and the back looks tidy too.  Maybe I can learn to love (or perhaps even just like) the sensormatic foot after all.  🙂  It would be fair to say that I’d discovered or looked up a fair bit of what we covered in the class because I’ve been using my machine a fair bit since I got it in December, but there were certainly plenty of things that I hadn’t found out about or needed to use yet and it was great to try things out and have someone to ask when things didn’t work out quite right.

After the course was over, I couldn’t resist nipping a couple of doors down the road to Cotton Patch’s shop.  In any case, I had a shopping list from my Quilt Club friends, so I couldn’t disappoint them!  😉  The actual shop is smaller than I expected (I think they do more online), but very orderly and well laid out.  I picked up stacks of wadding and some bobbin boxes for the Quilt Club, and some more crib-sized wadding and basting pins for me.  Under the circumstances, I think I was VERY restrained!  😀  (In fairness I didn’t have that much time to browse, which was probably just as well.)  One of the other ladies on the course very kindly offered me a lift to the station, which I was hugely grateful for given that I was laden down with all my sewing stuff AND all my purchases.  All in all it was a tiring but fun trip, and I would certainly consider going back for another course there, especially if there’s something FMQ-related.

Looking Ahead

So that was my weekend (and month) just gone.  I can’t believe it’s April already.  As well as working on Marsala Spice and perhaps finally starting the quilting on my sister’s quilt, I have at least one baby quilt I’d like to get done this month, plus FrostByte needs some love.  Oh, and we’re STILL looking for somewhere we’d like to live.  April’s looking pretty busy already!  😮

Linking up with the Fresh Sewing Day over at Lily’s Quilts.  🙂

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