Monday, 1 January 2018

Happy New Year!

2017 was a busy year, but overall much more productive and successful than 2016 - onwards and upwards worked a treat.

On the (quilt) blogging front I almost managed to double my meagre 4 posts in 2016 to 7 posts in 2017 (my e-learning blog only had 5 posts oops). I have made some use of Instagram (18 posts) which is very convenient when you just quickly want to get some feedback / want to show off progress or a finished project without needing to write much.

Work was a blast, I really love the mahi (work) and what our team have been able to achieve in 2017 - from no one with any experience in Museum Education whatsoever to 3 teachers who continue to rework and refine programmes and have worked with more than 6500 young people this year - and 2018 is looking even more exciting...

Our boys are growing up so fast; the 'bonus child' has returned home to his family and woke up to this on his first morning:

The oldest DS has finished school (!!!) and is off to university next year. He managed to score himself two scholarships which in combination with the new government's first-year-fees-free policy seriously cut down the amount of money he has to borrow from StudyLink. Middle DS is now starting to pursue his interest in film and television more seriously, it's so cool to see when they realise what approximate direction they want to take in life. The youngest DS is doing well also, still a little off from making any of these serious life decisions but he is proving to us that he can be responsible and think before he acts (a big thing for a 13y old boy!). DH has been in a permanent position since mid year and spent his free time gardening and building / doing repairs around the house. As per usual we celebrated German Christmas on 24 December, this year with 11 people and on the new extension to the deck: 

While we have a had nice summer weather since the beginning of December, it was grey a drizzly over the Christmas holidays and right now it's raining outside! In contrast, this is how we spent Saturday:

On the quilting front I have managed to achieve most of my resolutions from 2017 (which has really surprised me, I'm not one for making and sticking to resolutions lol):
  • Finish Press Start (binding, bury threads)
  • Finish Giant Chevron (quilting, binding, bury threads)
  • Finish Opal Essence (quilting, binding, bury threads): This had been finished with faux piped binding (inspired by Suz) for a little while and but there were still heaps of threads to bury. I finally got my act together and finished it yesterday:
  • Airing out on the line; going over it with the lint roller helped me find a few more threads to bury...
This is what it's meant to look like on the bed.
Close up of the quilting: Straight lines (walking foot) to support the 3D look on the cubes, and fmq pebbles of varying sizes in the dark background. The pebbles helped sort out any excess bulk, too.
And here the back; I tend to quilt with the same thread in the bobbin as on top to avoid tension issues.
I like the finished look of the fauz piped binding though my execution on the back needs some more practise. I prefer narrower binding in general, so I will experiment with this technique more in the future.
  • Complete remaining Vintage Quilt Revival blocks (anything else is a bonus)
  • Piece Metro Rings top (anything else is a bonus) 
  • New litte Plus Block project
  • Something 'arty': I have just picked up my Pohutukawa improv project again.

So here are my resolutions for 2018:
  • Quilt and finish Vintage Quilt Revival.
  • Quilt and finish Metro Rings.
  • Complete, quilt and finish Improv Pohutukawa.
  • Learn how to use rulers for quilting on my Pfaff machine. 
  • Use the remaining blocks from Aniwaniwa - Rainbow in some new project, and / or create something with my charm squares.
  • I have also asked DH to come up with an idea + technique for an arty quilt he has been nagging asking me about for a few years.
Given two of these projects are for my California King sized bed, this should keep me busy, shouldn't it?

Happy Sewing!!!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Washing, washing and yet more washing again...

I had a very fruitful sewing time while the cat was away hubby and two boys were in Europe, but since their return my life seems to revolve around washing, washing and yet more washing every weekend... While spring has officially sprung, the weather is still too wet and / or not reliable enough to dry washing on the rotary line outside, so both clothe horses full of washing are the 'in' look in the Himmelgarten household...

That was just the first half of yesterday...
Not only did the boys bring back photos, souvenirs and memories, they also brought our teenage nephew with them who'll stay with us until the end of the year - yes, I am heavily outnumbered by boys.

My sewing room has become the youngest son's bedroom (nephew is in his old room), so for now I make do with a smaller sewing desk again, out in the family room - not quite as convenient as the sewing room but better than nothing. Purely by fluke I purchased an addition to my sewing gadgets:

A Singer 201K, from approx. 1948/49, after a good clean and lots of oil it's working just fine for piecing
So what have I been up to?

  • Finish Press Start (binding, bury threads)

  • Finish Giant Chevron - done and on my bed (in need of a wash already lol)

  • Pinned up against the bookshelf in the family room
    more details...
    more details again...

    • Finish Giant Chevron (quilting, binding, bury threads): 38 of 40 cubes quilted, and I have decided on large pebbles for the dark background:

    Originally I had wanted to have it to look like a meandering river, but this didn't look right...
    Might no be as clearly a river now, but the pebbles contrast well with the straight lines.

    • Complete remaining Vintage Quilt Revival blocks: I have started piecing the blocks together, 6 rows of 7 blocks each, with 3 1/2" (cut) sashing, and the first two rows are joined. Following +Suz J's example, my horizontal sashing strips are cut to 12 1/2" (block size), with a 3 1/2" square cornerstone in the same colour to  help keep everything lined up and straight. So far so good (with the help of pins:D).
    • Piece Metro Rings top 
    • Plus Block project 
    • 'Arty' Pohutukawa landscape - yet to make more progress
    As I mentioned in my last post, variety keeps me interested and I started & finished two little projects:
    This little triangle "Shades of Grey" (I think that's what I called it?) has winged its way over to Oz to the Brisbane Modern Quilt Guild for an exhibition
    A new little laptop pouch for my colleague & friend

    Sometimes it's a bit frustrating to see such little progress; however, slowly but surely I'll get my resolution list done. How are you doing with any resolutions you made at the start of the year?

    Happy Sewing!

    Sunday, 9 July 2017

    Time just flies when you're having fun!

    It's been almost three months since I last posted - where did that time go??? While work and family continue to keep me busy, I have been quietly working away anyway. However, with a nephew coming to stay with us for 6 months, I gave up my sewing room to youngest DS (so his cousin can move into his room) and eventually got a smaller desk set up in the dining / family area.

    With some of the family away for a European summer holiday, the usual chores around home are much less time consuming than usual so I managed to get through a few things on my to-do list from January:

  • Finish Press Start (binding, bury threads)

  • Finish Giant Chevron is quilted, binding is attached and I am in the process of stitching it down and burying the remaining threads. I've tried to flick back through my blog to find when I first started it, here in this post from January 2014 the inner giant chevron was completed, so it's safe to say I've been working on this for at least 3 1/2 years and it's moved countries twice, so it will need a good scrub before I can declare it truly finished!

  • Finish Opal Essence (quilting, binding, bury threads) - I have quilted 30 of 40 cubes - I can see the end :)

  • Complete remaining Vintage Quilt Revival blocks What do you think? 
  • After lots of shuffling with the help of Suz, this is my final layout.
    I had a little play with Instagram Layout - all 42 blocks, always both /all three versions of a block together. +Suz J 's blocks on the left, then my block(s) to the right [except second set of blocks from the bottom left, I reversed the order by accident]. Isn't it amazing how different so many of them turned out?
    Next step is 3" sashings and borders in cream, I will need backing, and then I have to think some more about quilting...

  • Piece Metro Rings top 

  • Plus Block project is done - turned out very different to how I had imagined it, but I LOVE it!
  • "Aniwaniwa - Rainbow"
    Just some simple straightline quilting, backed by a flannel sheet (after an unsuccessful attempt at using a flat cotton sheet)
  • 'Arty' Pohutukawa landscape - yet to make more progress

  • That leaves me with binding (Giant Chevron), quilting (Opal Essence), improv piecing (Pohutukawa) to get my list of resolutions from January finished. Not bad going, especially in comparison to last year!

    I've finally figured out that I need to have a balance of different sewing things around to be happy and to make progress, and with these tops being completed, I'll be very quilting-heavy again. I'll have to think about what projects I can start to give me enough of a balance - it's not like I have no stash to play with...

    Happy Sewing!

    Monday, 17 April 2017

    Happy Easter!

    We had the most amazing summer up here in the Far North of New Zealand, and it's only been turning autumn over the two or three few weeks now. We had the remnants of two cyclones passing us (Debbie and Cook), but thankful apart from a lot of rain we personally have been fine. Work had been so busy that while I have been sewing, I didn't seem to find the time to blog about it. With a few days off over Easter there is no excuse now:)

    Back in last Jan / early Feb I came across Karin's blog and her posts about using rulers with fmq on the Pfaff Quilt Expression. I have always had problems with my Westalee ruler foot, and her advice encouraged me to try again. Karin had found that the Accents in Design  ruler foot worked better for her. I ended up ordering their foot, too, and after some delays the lovely Carol ended up sending me my foot free of postage - thank you again!
    Eventually I got around to trying the foot out. Following Karin's example, I played with tension.  All samples used the same cotton/polyester batting and same homespun fabric front and back, thread is a 50w Aurifil top and bobbin. I started top right, forwards and backwards without ruler, than with ruler, followed by anti-clockwise and then clockwise loops.
    Unfortunately I encountered the same skipped stitches issues I have with the Westalee foot. :

    Default spring fmq settings, tension 5.2

    Default spring fmq setting, tension 5.2, stitch length set to 0

    Default spring fmq setting, tension 4.6 - foot sitting too high

    As above, but I lowered the foot more

    Default fmq setting, tension 4.2
    As comparison, this is stitched using my regular Pfaff fmq foot, using the default spring fmq setting but tension down to 4.0 (a bit too loose from the back)
    Just out of interest I tried the sensormatic setting but that was even worse.
    I am not sure what the problem is, but while I can sort of make it work stitching forward (with and without the ruler), going backwards or stitching curves is out of the question. I think I will give it a rest for a while and see if I can pick it up again in the future.

    So what else have I been up to?
    • Finish Press Start (binding, bury threads)
    • Finish Giant Chevron (quilting, binding, bury threads): Still quilting the background arrggghhh about a third to go I think?
    • Finish Opal Essence (quilting, binding, bury threads): 24/40 cubes are quilted, that's the larger part of them done...
    • Complete remaining Vintage Quilt Revival blocks: Just finished block 19 of 20 and made it in two colour ways so I get an extra (I decided to set it as 6 x 7 so I need to extra blocks):
    Night time shot, sorry!
    A post shared by Monika Kern (@himmelgartenquilts) on

    • Piece Metro Rings top (anything else is a bonus)
    • New little project - just four colour ways to go now (that will be about another 45 blocks)
    • Something 'arty': I had been toying with the idea of creating a NZ inspired landscape, to go with my Whakapapa #1, and I decided that inprov. piecing a flowering Pohutukawa tree would fit the bill. I looked at various images for inspiration (here is my Pinterest board) and sketched the outline of my tree. I divided it up into squares (1" on the drawing, 4" in fabric) and started improv-piecing it:

    After spending a bit of money earlier in the year I have been much more frugal for the last few weeks, but this little gadget has come in very handy:
    I found it at a craft sale in the Russell town hall when a cruise ship was visiting the Bay of Islands: Beautifully made from Rimu wood, it has a stiletto and a quick unpick, and both hide nicely inside the handle when not in use.

    Lastly, I have been lucky to win a FB draw by Sew Armadillo and won this gorgeous little bundle by the very talented Jodi Carlton from Ric-Rac:

    I'll have to find just the right pattern for this :)

    Well, the sun is shining, I better go and hang out my freshly washed Tokyo Subway quilt to dry! After that I might just have to sneak back into my sewing room???

    Sunday, 19 March 2017

    In short bursts

    It's been harder to leave work at work over the last few weeks, but this weekend I made a big effort to do 'normal' stuff. On Saturday hubby and I worked together in the garden, but on Sunday I got my sew on :)

    Blocks 17 & 18 - just two more to go!

    A few weekends ago, Suz and I went to our LQS (a good hour 's drive south of us). Amongst a few other things, I bought pattern & materials for Annie's Carry all Tote - perfect for the beautiful music inspired material Suz gave me for a past birthday:

    It now carries my lunch, tablet, papers, charging cable etc. between work & home. I still LOVE work, but I could do with more time in my sewing room...

    Happy Sewing!!!

    Sunday, 12 February 2017

    I'm still here!

    Just checking in, I have not disappeared from the blogosphere or from my sewing room lol In fact I have had a bit of fun, playing, thinking, browsing, buying :) Not long until dinner, but I quickly wanted to update the progress on my resolutions:

  • Finish Press Start
  • Finish Giant Chevron - still just over half way through background fmq; after reading a post by Karin from The Quilt Yarn I have decided I will play with tension (esp. bobbin) and with different needles again to see if I can make fmq more enjoyable.
  • Finish Opal Essence - 21 cubes quilted
  • Complete remaining Vintage Quilt Revival blocks - currently piecing block 16 of 20:
    Exploding Star

    Star and Pinwheel

  • Piece Metro Rings top

  • Flimsy is a very suitable term, it will need a lot of starch and pressing, and then I plan to quilt it extensively :)

  • New little project - steadily adding to the little pile
  • I enjoyed a bit of online shopping, now I'm waiting for a package from Craftsy with batting and another one from Pink Castle Fabrics with Me & You Batiks :) Thanks to Karin's blog (mentioned above), I have also ordered another ruler foot, and I'm determined to make at least one of them work:)

    Work is great, I absolutely love it! Working hard, but everyone is incredibly supportive, and we are already starting to see positive results.

    Not a bad view from the office...
    Flagstaff on Waitangi Day
    Happy Sewing!

    Saturday, 21 January 2017

    Progress Update

    Just a quick update, using the Blogger app which can be fickle, so please be patient with me:)

    This was my resolution:
    • Finish Press Start - DONE and on middle DS' bed :)
    • Finish Giant Chevron - quilting of the background around the outside: Approx. half way
    • Finish Opal Essence - quilting the cubes: 19/40 done
    • Complete remaining Vintage Quilt Revival blocks - completed block 14/20
    • Piece Metro Rings top 
    • New little project - 15 blocks completed

    • Something 'arty' - no progress yet.
    • Nursing a cold in them middle of summer is no fun, I hope it will disappear by Monday when I start a new job as Head of Education at Waitangi National Trust, the place where in 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi between Maori tribes and the English crown were signed, the foundation for New Zealand today. I am hopeful that I can keep some momentum going in my sewing, even when back at work.

      Happy Sewing!