Friday, November 1, 2019

October Island Batik Ambassador Challenge Top it Off

Thanks for visiting.  Best laid plans, and all. 

I've had a busy few months, especially after Mom's fall in the beginning of September, and her still being in rehab, which is good in some ways, and not in others.  My schedule is still subject to changes minute by minute.  Mom's care is good, she's comfortable, and I'm healing from all the pain and injuries dealing with her inability to stand and walk unassisted for the month plus she was home before her fall.  She's now classified as "2 person assist" and I can't care for her alone anymore.  Alzheimer's stinks.  If she didn't want to stand up, she would throw herself backwards, with my arms behind her, or just the position I needed to be in to help her stand from bed or the bathroom, required my arms to be in an awkward position, and my elbows were twisted a few times, not to mention the strength needed to lift her weight, if she wasn't helping.  My chiropractor is awesome.  

With that, and also a 2 week visit by my brother and sister-in-law, where she decided she finally wanted to learn to sew, plus other activities, has led me to this period.  A plan that went awry, and will not be finished this month.  

Here's the runner, and how it started.  That's actually a funny story. 

The Island Batik Ambassadors were asked to Top it Off.  With applique, for a holiday.  There have been some gorgeous table toppers and runners.  Check Island Batik on Facebook if you need some fun inspiration from the other Ambassadors.  I wanted to use my Accuquilt GO! dies and embroidery machine.  When you purchase the dies, you can download a file, free, that does some basic machine embroidery edges.  I wanted to either use the Fall leaves, or these 3 1/2" snowflakes.  So, I went through my boxes of Island Batik fabric and tried to decide which color I would choose, which would decide the applique.  Both had similar ideas, trying to show the shape just as it would fall, in the wind or swirl a little.  So, when I found these gorgeous blues, and the 2 with snowflake designs, that color won, so I put the orange and green fabrics back.  I searched through the bundles of Blenders I have as well.  Island Batik is so generous in their supply of fabrics for Ambassadors, that I have a ton of choices from the years.  The blenders are always available, though.  Anyway, I had an assortment in shades of blue, and the creamy beige center has swirls of blue.  I think it's a Neutral that's always available, but forgive me for not checking.  I pulled some of the solid White fabric for the applique.  

So, without actually planning the final size, but hoping for about 45" long, I made a pile of the blues, and cut 4 1/2" by 18" strips, 2 of each, because I wanted the "ombre" effect.  I also wanted the center to be a good size, so a nice centerpiece would not hide the design and the fabric.  That's 8 1/2 by 18.  The 18" got trimmed to 16 1/2, and I started sewing based on the colors, which I had sorted from darkest to lightest, deciding the snowflake design would be at the ends.   And I kept sewing, and sewing, and eventually ran out of strips.  Not realizing I ended up with something about 76" long.  Yes, you can laugh.  I didn't expect it to be big enough for a bed runner, but maybe it's also good for a really really long banquet table. lol

Then I cut a 4 1/2" piece of the white, and ironed on Light Steam a Seam, and cut out 9 snowflakes.  I put the runner on the guest bed, and decided I want the snowflakes to look swirly and random, but not measured.  Once I liked the placement, I pinned them down.  Using an Embroidery Machine has a few limits, and on mine, I can't change the angle of the design.  It only stitches with the arm going east to west.  I decided I would need to change the angle of the fabric as I loaded it in the hoop, to make sure the flakes still looked random and twirly.  I loaded up some stabilizer, and got the first snowflake about where I wanted it, and stitched, and stitched, and stitched.  One snowflake takes about 15 minutes just to stitch.  That's not counting changing the placement of the hoop, winding 3 bobbins (total) of thread, and getting the placement adjusted.  And I had cut 9 snowflakes.  Once I got 6 stitched on, I decided I needed more.  I cut out a few more from another strip, and ended up using 15.  So, did you do the math?  That's about 4 hours of embroidery machine work alone.  Yes, I used 3+ bobbins and quite a bit of the spool of Aurifil 40wt thread in white.  So, my quick little project has already taken over 6 hours.  

Next step is to get backing and batting ready.  I found a piece of navy wide backing, scraps from the Quilt of Valor, and some batting, Warm & Natural, a scrap from another quilt.  I was really really hoping to have it done.  But I also wanted to use silver metallic thread.  I have a spool from Superior.  So, it's currently on Vanna, my Handi-quilter Amara, and NOT being stitched out because the thread is shredding.  I have so many issues with shredding thread, that it makes learning to long arm very frustrating.  I can't even get the top edge basted on.  I do have an awesome snowflake panto to use with the computer, but I need to double think my thread choice.  I am not sure if I'll use creamy beige, white, navy or clear.   About the shredding thread, it happens with all brands, I've changed and checked the needles, the tension is good when it actually stitches, and I've tried Sewers Aide.  I've replaced the last "pig tail" thread guide, and double checked within the tension disks and elsewhere for a burr or rough spot.  I can't figure it out.  No matter what, the thread shreds.  I want to be able to quilt for others, but this issue frustrates me so much.  I don't want to have to worry about damaging someone's quilt, or having to bury so many threads.  I plan to call my tech tomorrow, to see if there's another thing I'm not thinking of, but tonight's attempt brought me to tears, and I may have damaged the quilt top when I pulled the machine.  I don't want to look at it yet.  

So, it's not getting done in October.  November is Tool Time, and I have something I think will be fun, planned.  I have some secret sewing to do first, and hope that Vanna cooperates for that project.  
Thanks again for reading. 



Gene Black said...

The runner is looking great. Hopefully you will have it finished in time to use it this year.
Best wishes for you and your mom.

Kathleen said...

I love that - the thinking its a little big and then finding out its big enough for a table runner or a large banquet! I do think my big table is probably over 90" and with leaves. I hope your tech gets this figured have had too many problems!

Sally said...

Love all those snowflakes! Great blues!