Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Threads Needles and Tension

Do you want to know how to alleviate 90% of all your sewing troubles?  Just learn about thread, sewing machine needles and the tension dials on you machine. If you do this with your machine, I guarantee you will have less frustration later and Aboid some of the typical problems. 

That is exactly what we did today at our Fibre Artists Meet and Exchange (FAME) day. First we spent one hour going through a handbook I created and discussing needles, threads and tension. Everyone added their suggestions too so we had a lot of great information!  Then we played with our machines to discover preset tensions and how to change tensions with regular 50 Weight thread in regular and free motion. Everyone discovered the ‘personality’ of their machine!

After lunch we had show and tell. Great work and ideas!  Then back to playing with our machines by trying couching and bobbin work. Followed by some playing with make-and-take bookmarks and needle minders. 

Everyone agreed that they would not take the time at home to ‘get to know’ their machine and were glad to discover so many tips in today’s class!  Now we are ready for next weeks class on thread painting!

A few of the FAME participants trying out thread, needles and tension on their machines. 


Ruth showing her Spoonflower print of a photo of a watercolour picture she painted. Ready for quilting. 

Susan showing a pieces quilt featuring many of her own hand dyed fabrics. 


Needle Minder directions and close up of the finished piece. It conveniently sits beside my sewing machine with a decorative straight pin marking the type of needle I have placed in my machine. 


I mostly use Topstitch needles now.  They work perfectly for piecing, appliqué, thread painting, garment sewing, etc. Basically any kind of sewing!  

I love Topstitch needles for three reasons. 1.  All topstitch needles have an elongated eye. That makes them easy to thread but more importantly there is less friction on the thread as it passes through the eye and consequently the thread doesn’t fray;

2.  Topstitch needles have a deep groove for the thread to travel in (again reducing friction and fraying issues);

3.  Topstitch needles are sharp enough to penetrate most fabrics and layers of fabrics. 

Also, Topstitch needles are now available coated in titanium which lengthens the life of your needle almost 10 times. Basically, you don’t have to change your needle after 8 hours as previously recommended but only when you hear a change in the sound of your needle going through the fabric (about 60 hours) or when the needle breaks. 

You can buy titanium coated Topstitch needles from Superior. They come in a plastic case of five needles for around $7. Or you can buy them directly from Organ, who makes them, in a foil envelope for even cheaper. Check at you Local Quilt Shop (LQS); if they don’t have them suggest they get them. A sewer really doesn’t need any other type of needle. Make sure you get all four sizes of Topstitch needles. You will want 70 for fine threads, 80 or 90 for regular weight threads and 100 for thick threads. 

The only other needles I buy are Microtex needles. These are great for very fine detail work where you don’t want to see a hole where you stitch, or when using finicky metallic and Mylar threads. However, since switching to titanium coated Topstitch needles I use the Microtex needles less often. 

Monday, 26 November 2018

Days For Girls Sewing

Imagine....  what if not having sanitary supplies meant DAYS without school. DAYS without income. DAYS without leaving the house?

Girls use socks, mattress stuffing, newspaper, corn husks, anything they can find . . . But often miss 3 - 5 DAYS of school every month. 

Resolving this issue is key to social change for women all over the world. The poverty cycle can be broken when girls stay in school. 

Imagine.....  What if your love for sewing, or your stash of fabric or cash donation, or your willingness to cut/iron fabric could help girls break free from poverty and reach their full potential?  What if YOU could make a difference? You can!

And I can!  And I did. At a sewing session at Mad B’s. Thanks to "DAYS for Girls - Gold Canyon AZ Team". 

What is in a DAYS for Girls kit?                     1 drawstring bag.                                      2 moisture barrier shields.                        8 absorbent tri-fold liners.                           2 large Ziplock freezer bags.                      1 washcloth.                                                  2 pairs of panties.                                       1 travel sized soap.                                


Saturday, 17 November 2018

Drive to Roosevelt Dam

Don, Leah and I took a long drive past Tortilla Flat to Roosevelt Dam on road 88 up to Lake Roosevelt.  The road is paved a ways past Tortilla Flat, but then turns to a dirt/sand road with many twists and turns.
First stop was at Fish Creek Vista. Hard to believe they cut a road throughout here in the early 1900s to build a dam for the water and electricity.


A quick stop on the road to check out a tarantula that Don spied.


Lunch stop at Apache Lake Resort.


Roosevelt Dam built in 1906 out of natural stone blocks cut on site, then raised 77 feet in the 80s.


Roosevelt bridge spans the huge Roosevelt Lake that was created by the Dam project.

Canal Convergence

Many festivals featuring light occur here in the desert. Scottsdale has an annual Canal Convergence where artists creat art installations that are set up along the canal for 10 days. Very interesting and festive mood!

Infinity Crystal - uses form, light and mirrors to create the illusion of infinity. 

Re-Cyclone - 20 foot tall sculpture made of 5000 upcycled plastic water bottles that illuminated as participants rotate it with a hand wheel. 

Flotus - 12 polished aluminum lotus sculptures with LED lights and the ability to shoot flames up to 30 feet in the air. Spectacular light, fire and music show!




Maverick Challenges

The November Mavericks meeting focused on various challenges issued a year ago. 

The first photo is of the challenge "Free Reign" based on depicting carousel images. 

The second challenge was "Fractired Flowers" where each participant made a simple flower block. Then the blocks were cut into four pieces, mixed and given out for the participant to finish. Here are some of the transfigurations. 

Another challenge was "Yellow Brick Road". Each participant received a piece of paper with a flowing line traced on to it. Each participant was to use that pattern to design a piece of a yellow brick road. 

The next two photos show work from a stamping class at Marla’s Marvellous Mansion with Randy Kemp. 

The last photo is of an interesting scarf made from old silk ties made by Wanda. It is a great idea and set my mind to wandering!

Monday, 12 November 2018

First Water Hike

In preparation for their longer hike, Don and Leah planned a short hike on which I joined them.  They chose to park at mile 208 on Tortilla Flat road and scramble down to First Water Creek and follow it to Canyon Lake. 

And scramble we did!  There did not seem to be any clear path. Going down didn’t seem too hard. We let gravity do the work. Lol. We scrambled down about 300 feet to First Water Creek. 

Leah and Don did a small side path exploration while I sketched the canyon scenery. We had a snack lunch on the river worn rocks and hiked a short distance farther to see an inlet of Canyon Lake. Lots of Fountain Grass growing here!

The scramble back out of the ravine was more difficult than the descent. We never really did find a path. Got "attacked" by a few cacti and Palo Verde bushes!

Fun hike!  Now we are ready for a Mexican supper at Blue Adobe. 😋


Saturday, 10 November 2018

‘Arizona!" Installation 

Once Jin Choi had the total crocheted lace ribbon built it was then Thomas Shine’s turn to take over and get this 2 to 3 ton lace ribbon suspended in the air!  

First the lace ribbon was sewn onto a mesh grid to keep the ribbon from sagging. Also, the ribbon had to be able to curve so plastic tubing was attached horizontally to the top and bottom of the ribbon and also some pieces of 8 feet tall tubing was placed vertically. The mesh and tubing gave the ribbon structure and support. 

Then the ribbon had to be suspended over the canal. A crane, large metal posts and hundreds of cables were used to lift and hang the art!  An amazing feat of engineering!

Plastic poles and mesh. 


Sewing the ribbon to the mesh. 


Crane in place to lift crocheted lace ribbon for installation. 


See how the poles and mesh give the crochet lace ribbon some structure so it will not sag but can still curve over the canal. 



One small section of the crocheted lace ribbon suspended over the canal. It looks like it is floating in mid air!  Amazing!