Monthly Archives: January 2013

Making a duvet cover


Its funny sometimes when you have an idea and then all of a sudden bits of information come your way about it. Well probably not. Probably the bits of information would have come your way anyway, and you would have ignored them because you weren’t interested. Surprisingly, this has to do with duvet covers.

When I moved into my house I had no bedding left after being flooded, and I had not a lot of money on account of having just bought a house. But it was winter, just a little freezing and I needed something warm for my bed. I ended up buying this quilted duvet thing off the internet. I think it cost me $20 including postage. It’s really warm, but there’s one problem. It doesn’t have a removable cover and it’s too big to fit in my washing machine. Which is kind of gross, because I’m of the opinion that you should wash your bedding every now and then, especially if you are like me and eat in bed. There are several ways of dealing with this: I could find a laundromat with a big washing machine (a rarity around where I live), take it to the dry cleaners (expensive) or hand wash it. So over the christmas holidays I was hand washing this thing in my bath, trying to get some chocolate stains out and giving it a general clean, when I had the thought that I should probably make a cover for it. That’s were the coincidence comes in to it. A couple of days later on my email quilt list people started talking about making patchwork duvet covers. Which is great, because I happen to currently be in possession of a large amount of large pieces of patchwork just sitting around waiting to be quilted. Of course none of them were the right size, but that’s easily fixed.

I picked a couple that were almost big enough and added some extra borders in matching fabric.  Then I placed them face sides together and pinned round three edges.

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I trimmed off the edges of the larger one so they were the same size.

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On the fourth edge I made a hem on both quilt tops, and then I bagged it.

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Kind of like making a cushion cover. Sewed about three quarters of the way round, turned it inside out and then put some press studs along the opening so it will close once I put the duvet inside.

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Some people on the email list suggested you should back the quilt top before sewing the two sides together, but I didn’t. While adding the backing might protect the patchwork, if I had to pay for two large pieces of wideback fabric it would have been cheaper just to go out and buy a duvet cover from the shops. Not to mention that joining the backing to the patchwork pieces would have required quilting the two pieces together and would have made the whole process hugely time-consuming. In the end, I’m quite glad that I didn’t because the finished thing is actually quite heavy, and I’m not sure adding extra weight would have been wise. I’m quite happy with the finished product and when it comes time to put the winter duvet back on the bed it will have a new cover to go on it, and because it has a different quilt on each side I can flip it to suit my mood.

In other news here it is raining. A lot. This is my rain gauge.

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When I came home from work on Thursday night it was empty. Thankfully I stopped off at the library on the way home from work on Thursday and have a stack of books and DVDs. A perfect way to spend a rainy long weekend. I may even make another duvet cover.

Health and free motion machine quilting


I have been pondering my possible goals for the year. I know it’s almost the end of January but I did put a whole month of goal pondering on my schedule, so I am determined not to fret about my tardiness. The added bonus is that a month without pressing deadlines and just pondering is giving me new perspective and time to read things and figure out how they fit. For example, I was reading an article in an online newspaper which turned out to be helpful (I can’t remember which one, I should have made a note of it but it wasn’t until I pondered on it that I realised it was relevant). The article was about health, more specifically not trying to lose weight but focusing instead on being healthy. Which is fair enough you might think, but you can’t be healthy when you are overweight, so you have to lose weight, which leaves you…I’m not entirely sure where. But then I thought about it. Back in the days when I used to be really skinny I didn’t think about my weight. I used to do a lot of exercise, but mostly because I had a long walk to the nearest bus stop and because I actually wanted to do it. I didn’t make myself do exercise because I wanted to keep my weight under control, I did it because I enjoyed being fit, I enjoyed health and strength. It was only after I got my first office job, and travelled overseas, and then came back and did more office jobs that I started worrying about my weight. Ironically after that is when the pounds really started to pile on.

As an aside, I am convinced in years to come we will probably be suing people who got us to work in offices in the same way they sue cigarette companies. Lets face it, they know it’s bad for us. They keep sending round those things about taking regular breaks and desk stretching etc. Yet they still keep employing more people to do more office work.

But…back to my main point…the goals for the year. I have put away my scales and my food trackers and my guilt and I am now going to focus on health. It makes it as hard a goal to track as improving my quilting but I am confident that I can do it, because I’ll know it when I’ve got it. Sad though it is to say it, I haven’t felt healthy for a long while. Not that I’m sick, I just don’t feel healthy. Even when I was losing weight last year I didn’t feel healthy. So my new goal is not going to be about what the outside looks like but how I feel on the inside. How does what I do make me feel?

My job for this week is to come up with a tracker, something that makes sense of the imprecision.

On a happier note, I have started quilting some of the smaller bits and pieces I finished last year. I have been practicing free motion machine quilting. Unfortunately, I am not very good at it. My first effort was a table runner and I stippled all over, which I don’t think suits it very well at all. It’s just too distracting. Because of this, for my next piece I decided I would try doing lines along the edge of the block pieces. I’ll let you judge from the photos how well that went. The problem is I can’t seem to get an even consistent stitch. I have seen other people doing it and their stitching is very slow and steady and my machine doesn’t seem to do slow and steady. As soon as you so much as touch the foot pedal it is flat-out and I can’t move my hand fast enough to make a decent size stitch. I probably just need to practice more.

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Combustion Engines and Reflection


I don’t consider that I am a difficult person to buy presents for. I have several hobbies, I read, I’ll eat pretty much any kind of chocolate.  Still every year before Christmas my Mum usually asks me what I want. I guess she  doesn’t feel confident enough to buy me fabric or wool or anything like that, but it still peeves me a little because for me, part of getting someone a gift is showing that you actually know something about them, that you’ve thought about them. So in response to being asked what I want I usually say “surprise me”. This strategy has led to a lot of awkward present openings where I say “Oh, you got me one of those”, while I try to figure out what it actually is. And then I feel really bad about being ungrateful, because really I should be happy that someone got me a present at all.

This year, I am at the shopping centre a couple of weeks before Christmas with my parents and I get the “what do you want?” question. So instead of my usual “surprise me”, I blurt out instead “you can buy me a model of a combustion engine from the Australian Geographic shop, either that or a telescope, but a telescope is probably too expensive, so get a model of a combustion engine.” Then my Dad went and bought it, before anyone had a chance to change their minds.

Why a model of a combustion engine you ask? Well, I kind of think that if I am going to spend all day driving around sitting nearly on top of one then I should probably know how it works. Which is great, but after putting the model together last week I still don’t really know how a combustion engine works. Plus it doesn’t work. At least I think it doesn’t work. The manual says when you press the start button the engine should run for 5 seconds and when I press the ignition button it makes this grr sound for 5 seconds and that’s it. But maybe that is all its meant to do. However, I think if you are going to include a propeller that sticks on the front, it should at least turn round when the engine is running. Possibly the problem has something to do with timings, there was something about that in the book at the step when I was installing the alternator. Or it could just be that I didn’t oil it. It said at the start that you should oil the bearings, but since there weren’t any parts on the parts list called bearings so I didn’t oil anything. I probably should have done the opposite and oiled everything. I have however learnt much from this experiment, for a start I now know that engines are incredibly complicated and I will celebrate appropriately whenever my car starts. Plus now I have the joy of being able to tinker with it endlessly until it does actually work.

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At the end of my last blog I said I was going to read the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin to find out about his system for self-improvement. Which I have done. It was quite interesting. Essentially what he did was define his key values and then he set up a table with the values down one side, days of the week across the top. At the end of each day he would reflect on his actions and put a mark in his table when he had done something that contradicted one of his values. He would focus on one value each week and try to make sure that week his table remained unmarked against that value. It has a lot of merit, though probably not in the way that I originally thought that it might. For me it’s not the table, or even the fact that he has a clear idea of his values, but the fact that he is spending time every day in reflection. That act of thinking about your day and what you should have done differently would make a difference even if you didn’t have a table or a clear idea of your values. Though I guess both of those wouldn’t hurt, and the table gives you a tool to focus your thinking, because if you just had to make time to reflect you probably wouldn’t. At least I wouldn’t anyway.