I hate my Bernina 830

What induced the engineers at Bernina to design these bobbins —–


They are a nightmare. I am trying to complete a big quilt and my tension keeps messing up. First it loops underneath. I get it all sorted and the bobbin runs out. Change the bobbin and the tension changes and loops again!!


This is one of Bernina’s most expensive machines and …

  • The bobbins are temperamental
  • The upper thread sensor has to be turned off as it keeps stopping the machine
  • And the thread threader, even when clean, doesn’t always work

And the household wonders why I am bad tempered! Ugh, ugh

Back to Greys

Thanks to a Facebook friend, I have found some great grey dyes – Dharma Trading in the US have bought out a range of Hot Water Reactive Dyes and I now have a lovely range of real greys – not slate blues or greens ….

They do have a downside – they need more manipulation than Procion MX to stop blotching which means it is not possible to get the same level of texture I usually want. On the left is the blotchy effect and I has soaked the fabric in soda ash before dyeing – and on the right is the texture I get with Procoin MX.

I also bought some ebony black so I added a full tsp and a quarter tsp of ebony to the grey to get darker colours.

Although the image on the left looks like dark blue, it is actually grey -something to do with my ability to take photos on my phone!!

If anyone knows more about these dyes, I would love to hear from you.


Working in Series – 3

In 2006, I joined the Committed to Cloth community and did a Wet and Wild Course. This included working with formusol as a discharge agent and using a needle nose bottle to doodle. I loved making these pieces. I have no idea why I stopped! Probably a difficult day job. After these doodles, I really lost my way – didn’t want to be a quilter, wanted to embroider, tried making unsuccessful whole cloth pieces and so on until the end of 2012, when I started to quilt. The next year I began properly quilting and working in series. But more on that later……..

Here are some phone camera photos of the doodle pieces.

The first three – design principles play no part in these!

And then some which reflect the shapes of a later series, Pieces of Crow and one which resembles a quilt!!

And then the wheels fell off and my work got somewhat random!! I started working with trees. It could never be a series as I had 11 meters of lovely cloth printed with a single motif of trees all done in one session. How was that going to develop as I worked each piece. The last one I pieced ended up in my UFO box when I saw no future for it and realised that the chances of my being able to sew neat nine patches was nil. When I do a talk, I take my box of UFOs and throw them on the floor – it makes people really happy to know that I don’t get it right all the time!! Someone asked for it and completed it for a charity so some good came of my misfortune

The rest of the fabric is waiting for me to make it up into cushions like the yellow one above – one day.


Working in Series – 2

After the handbags, I did two Textile courses at Open College of Arts – then distance learning courses. I loved the first course and learnt lots of new techniques. During the second course, I started my second series which at the time, I called Bodies. In some ways, it is probably not a true series. Whilst the theme and the basic shape remained the same, the techniqueBleach Ladys changed as I learnt more about surface decoration on fabric.

I experimented with bleach and here is the first one.It is behind glass so photographs badly. I made two of these and gave one to a friend.  I often get asked about using bleach – these are over 15 years old and still seem fine. They will outlive me.

I also did did some of my first screen printing. My nephew kindly made me a frame to use.

The Gold Gold Lady.JPGLady was an improvement as my screen printing got better and the stencil didn’t disintegrate as it did with bleach.Fan Lady







Then the series  changed and I used very different techniques to produce the Fan Lady. The Fan Lady was my project half way through Textiles Two. The tutor did not want me to continue with my Bodies series for the rest of the course and wanted me to work on a very different theme – so I stopped the course and moved on.

I have a lot of small paper designs but only completed a couple more. However, I consider that the corsets I made on a C&G Historical Heirlooms course are also a part of the series – a bit of a stretch.


Working in Series – 1

At the end of last year, I lost my way with my Collage series. I wasn’t happy with the last 2 I had made in the series. I was also not really concentrating on my quilting – printmaking had taken over.

I really like Kathleen Probst‘s abstract work so to get myself back on track, I joined her Working in Series online workshops. It is working and I am finding that it is re-enforcing working practices and tools that I have used but have let slip.

One of our tasks was to read the Working in Series posts on Kathleen Loomis’s blog, Art with a Needle. I have followed this blog for a number of years. But re-reading the posts, made me realise that instinctively, I have worked in series ever since I took textiles seriously and tried to make art. For me, it was all about trying to improve the previous design and my techniques.

So here is the first series I worked on – some embroidered handbags. They were shown in an Exhibition in Henley-on-Thames, I think in 2002. This was long before I learnt how to dye properly at Committed to Cloth. The black ones were the last I made, a definite improvement on the pink ones!!

Part of my homework is to catalogue my various series including photos. so as well as documenting them on my pc, I thought I would share the images.

The series do improve and I will share more in further posts!






For Claire

I did plan to print on fabric – in trouble with Claire as she wanted know what happened to the printing on fabric. So now I have done it. I spent Sunday morning printing – uninterrupted, an usual occurrence. I printed on cartridge paper, rice paper, two fancy Japanese papers that Liz kindly gave me and on FABRIC, cotton. All the same design – well nearly. But much consistent than normal. Howver, my report would say could try harder. 

Here is one of the fabric ones that I have quilted.


More to come.

Printmaking to textile

Why is nothing easy?? The next step with my printmaking was to replicate the design in fabric that it could be quilted. So on the left is the design I choose from yesterday’s printmaking:

Next to it, it is the fabric version – well sort of. The cutter won’t cut the fabric stencils the right way up so I turned the bonded fabric over on the cutter and it mostly worked. A bit of scissor work required. The pale grey is the failed cut which required lots of scissor work. The dark is the turned over fabric – which means it was reversed!! So I know I am dyslexic but even I should have worked that out!. So then I randomised with the fabric shapes to see if the concept worked. The resident art critic says it doesn’t have enough texture! So the jury is out.

Hopefully when I do my next post, i will have managed to replicate a print in fabric.

In answer to Maria’s colour question

Last time, I posted my prints on Instagram and Facebook, Maria asked about the colours in my printingmaking. We talked about it on Saturday. She felt I haven’t established a colour palette – she is right I haven’t. My quilts are made with colours I like working with and can easily dye to order. Printing inks have proved more difficult for me to work with. I want mucky colours, not clear colours and I am having trouble mixing them right. I need to find a week where I do nothing else but print!!! Yea, right!! But I know it won’t work till I find that time.

In the meantime, I have been cutting up designs I don’t think have merit as a whole. Cut up I can often find bits I really like. A bit like using “L” corners to isolate good bits of a design. I started stitching into them. The first ones are quite crafty.

And now I have one which has the potential to be made into a quilt.