Wednesday, 4 March 2015

WOW: Real Opinions - Do They Still Matter?

WOW = WIPs On Wednesdays

I think they do.

Last week I shared my batting pet hate. Thanks to everyone who commented. I purchased the batting at a show and have no idea where to return it although I agree that it should be sent back. That got me thinking of the other products I have previously loved and trusted ... many have fallen short lately.

One of the advantages of having a blog is the ability to share real-life unbiased feedback. I love reading the real opinions of others and must admit that most of my purchases nowadays are based on recommendations and suggestions from those very same real life opinions. It's something I'd love to see more of. I get so annoyed when I trust in a brand and am then disappointed with the performance or quality standard. And its not just quilting or sewing products either- it's services too. Remember my post about QNNTV from December last year? It's now been 8 emails and still no reply. And no, I still can't get in. I lost $12 which is no big deal, but it's the blatant money grabbing set up I can't stand. And it just doesn't make sense. If there's no one there - who's running (or not) the website? That's just a minor annoyance - there are so many more where that one came from, and many much more significant too.
What's going on? 
Whatever happened to quality control? 
Whatever happened to customer service?

Yes, I actively seek out real reviews now before buying things and I think it's the way of the future. But I can't end this post without acknowledging that there are still some real service stars out there in the quilting community. EQ7 is one. I cannot fault their customer and technical service. Whenever I have needed advice or support, Penny has responded in such a friendly and helpful way, its made all the difference.  And often at the last minute too (from my end) because creativity just works like that, when you feel you need answers you need them straight away and I have always received them as quickly as humanly possible from EQ7. Thank you EQ7 for loving quilters!

And I can't forget Quilt Pro Systems either. I had purchased their HST Triangles Magic software for use in a HST quilt for easy printing out. Then I updated my computer (this happens twice a year in my household due to my DH's work requirements). Well, somehow I lost it. And then I couldn't remember where I had purchased it. Then I found the website in my favorites bar and contacted technical support to see if I could re-download it. Well, not only did they send me a new link to download it, Linda from Quilt Pro tech support found two other purchases I had made under my username (which I'll be honest, I had forgotten about) and re-sent me those as well. Talk about customer service!
See? It's completely possible!

What do you think?

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

I'm back!

Last night I arrived back in Melbourne from back to back workshops and I am exhausted! Too much creativity for one week... if that were possible.  I was also offline for almost a week, so if you have emailed me - I'll be catching up in the next few days and you will hear from me.

I did think I would miss being online and catching up on WOW as I did last week, but I was so busy that I didn't really think about it. It's only catching up to me now as I have just realized that it's almost WOW again. What a week!

I haven't washed Lily Rose again yet. I am hovering over it thinking about the best way forward. It will have to be washed and I will blog it when I do. Today I started preparing my kits for AQC. Now that March is here, April doesn't feel so far away anymore and AQC will be here in a flash. I can't wait - but I do have to finish Lily Rose first so that I can display it at the show!

As you can see, I'm taking bouts in cooling off my fingers. I have a bad habit of touching the base of my iron to see if its hot. It's such a silly habit and it's something I know I shouldn't do... and do it anyway. Well, on my last day of teaching I touched a far too hot iron - one of those old seriously hot bases and scorched three fingers all at once. It's been ice water since. The worst thing is, I'm always telling people not to do it. Just like my Lily Rose Colour Run Disaster, I need to start taking my own advice!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

WOW: Pesky Batting Pet Hates

WOW = WIPs On Wednesdays

As you read this, I'm heading off to WA for a series of classes and I'm leaving Lily Rose behind on my design table with mixed feelings. The stain is out and I'm relieved about that, but as Sally mentioned in the comments yesterday - I'm going to have to make sure that no trace of the chemical remains in the fibres where it might damage them in the long term. What can I say, I should have taken my own advice and that was certainly a reminder to me. Testing for colour fastness is always a must. Why didn't I listen?! 
Speaking of Lily Rose, yesterday I unpacked my batting in preparation for quilting when I return home next week. Do you have a pesky pet hate? I do. This is an especially pesky annoyance of mine and it happens much too frequently in my opinion. When I unroll a new bolt of batting and it has an ingrained buckle in the weave. Can you see what I mean? This isn't a crease, it's an actual fault through the batting loft, its like an overlap - it's rough, higher than the rest of the batting and generally super annoying! This is Hobbs Premium Cotton Batting and its what I'm using for Lily Rose. There are always degrees when you find this kind of fault, usually they are very minor and can be simply ignored,  but this one is lumpy and hard. I have found that batting with this kind of fault never quilts or hangs nicely, there are always issues. I really wish Hobbs had better quality control, I really don't like having to fix things before I use them. 

I'll have to cut out this fault and lose quite a bit of batting doing so. And I just don't think I should have to. It's really annoying.
What's Your WOW ?

Monday, 23 February 2015

Lily Rose: Colour Run Disaster

I am just so mad with myself! You'll know that I always recommend pre-colour testing all your fabrics and especially batiks. But did I actually go ahead and do that? No I didn't! I did a quick spot test with some water (not following my own method) and thought that would be fine. I took this image with a big sigh of relief, thinking I'd accomplished so much making this quilt in so little time.
Here it is being washed in preparation for those final finishing steps. I'd even purchased some Colour Magenet sheets to use 'just in case' as a back up.
But straight out of the machine, and all is not well. I notice some magenta in the water and cold rinse straight away. Then I lay it out flat on my table with some absorbent towels beneath.
Oh no!
The dye has run right in the focus of the light background. It can't be covered up and as the background is beige and printed, it can't be bleached out either. And the right side of the centre background has turned a pale lilac hue.
My heart just sinks. So much work potentially ruined with such a basic mistake. I can't live with this kind of smear on my quilt. Especially as its a wall hanging. I know this dye run will drive me crazy in the long term. My only option is to get it out. I even consider unpicking the bouquet, but I've stitched it down by hand really thoroughly and it will be next to impossible to do. And it will mean losing all my embroidery embellishments too.

I would normally never recommend using something I've never used before as a fix, but I really have no option and have to act quickly. I drive down to the shops to pick up some dye remover. The only one I can find is Dylon. Strangely, there are no instructions on the packet as Dylon assumes you will throw it in the wash. But I'm hesitant to wash my quilt again and worry that Dylon might actually release more colour rather than collect it. After all, its made to clean up garments, not fabric saturated quilts. I decide to mix a tablespoon into a glass with some warm water.

Experimenting mid disaster is not a good idea, but the fact is, I can't live with the stain above and really don't have any other options. In the car on the way back home I reason that I will unpick and salvage what I can of the applique and remake the rest on a new background (I don't have enough of the current fabric). So it's really a case of trying to save my weeks of work.
I start 'painting' my stained areas with concentrated Dylon. I saturate and immediately blot the area with a clean white, dry cloth. I also have extra dry white cloths beneath the quilt to absorb excess moisture too. I saturate and blot continuously. 
As I start cleaning up, I notice small pools of discoloration all over the background that didn't immediately show up as a stain but will certainly come through as the fabric dries. I saturate and blot these areas too. My batik vase is the cuplprit and you can see from the back that it has run a fair bit.
Over on the front, the released dye has created a halo around my handles and I can't get them cleaned up with the paintbrush alone as the Dylon is making the fabric bleed when it comes in contact with it. I'm so glad now I didn't throw it in the wash as per the instructions as it would have bleed much more. I have to unpick my vase edge details and the handles to clean up the stain properly. I will then restitch the handle pieces back down when the stain is removed.
The stains lift after 30 minutes of blotting and re-saturating the stained areas. I wait for the cleaned up areas to dry and check the back as well before repeating the process. If stains aren't thoroughly removed at this stage, they can ghost and come back after the quilt is quilted, ironed and hanging on the wall. This is why it's important to make sure the back is clean as well as the front. When I am satisfied that the fabric is clean, I stitch back my vase handles,

It looks like Dylon SOS has saved the day. I love this product, its a new 'must have' in my laundry now.I'd previously never used it before for anything so its been a nice surprise. To be honest, most products for the laundry which I have used for stain removal have been total disasters on my own shirt fabrics. I'm just so glad this worked.

It's definitely time for me to have a coffee and a lie down. I have a pounding headache from the stress of my own stupidity. I really should listen and take my own advice regarding pre colour testing.

Shortcuts are never so. I know that better than anyone.
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