Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Get in line

I'm kind of a compulsively organized person - or, as much as I can be, while parenting two toddlers and being married to a guy who is the very definition of "laid back" about most things.  But it makes me antsy to have too many projects going at once, so while some crafters have a thousand projects they start and then have in process indefinitely, I try not to do that much all at one time.

I do have a list of projects I want to attempt.  And lately I've had two quilts going at once.  I want to be able to sew whenever the mood strikes me, and it frustrates me when a project is stalled because I haven't bought backing fabric yet, or because I ran out of batting and haven't had time to go to the fabric store.

My two current projects are a log cabin quilt made out of scraps, and a quilt that I'm doing in a rail fence pattern.  I got this Moda jelly roll for Christmas and I'm already putting it to good use.  But the list of projects that I want to tackle is much longer.  After I finish my current projects, my plan is:

1.  A Roman stripe quilt for my husband
2.  A quilt for my mom (maybe half-square triangles?)
3.  A quilt for the wall in my bedroom
4.  A sampler quilt from The Farmer's Wife or Civil War Diary Quilt
5.  A quilt made of crazy quilt blocks or string blocks with scraps from the above projects

There's just so much I want to try...I have to keep reminding myself that I can keep quilting until I'm elderly, so there's no rush!

Sunday, December 25, 2011


My family is pretty happy that I have a hobby they can buy things for. It makes Christmas and birthdays so much easier! I also got fabric, presser feet, and quilting templates...I'm so excited to use them!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The machines

I have kind of a silly attachment to my sewing machines.  I think that's the one thing that prevents me from collecting vintage sewing makes me sad to see a sewing machine sitting idle.  Silly, but true.

My first sewing machine was a Kenmore that I got for my wedding.  My husband was actually the one who wanted it - I had absolutely no interest.  Obviously I took it up eventually.  My Kenmore was okay, but I wasn't crazy about it.  Then I saw this in a local thrift shop.
We bought it for five dollars.  It required a tune-up and some replacement parts, but it's up and running now.  It's a Brother XL-6562.  It comes with a lot of stitch functions that I never use, but still, I love it. 

I didn't want to keep my old Kenmore (remember, idle sewing machines make me irrationally sad) so I gave it to someone I knew from college.  I was so happy it went to a good home.

The only thing I regret about my Brother is that it doesn't have dropping feed dogs.  I knew that vintage machines did, so I kept an eye out and last week found this.

My beautiful Kenmore 52.  The model number is 158.523.  I tried a little free motion quilting on it, and it was going well until I bent my needle.  I can't wait to replace it. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Learning to use my new/old machine

This morning I had a chance to play a little with the Kenmore I got yesterday.  It's a model 52, and I'm still trying to dig up information about it.  It came from a local thrift shop.  I'm a shameless thrifter and I was so excited when I found it.  I bought it without really looking at it - for eight bucks, I was willing to take a chance - and when I got it home I was happy to see that it had dropping feed dogs.  I've been wanting to try free motion quilting but since my usual sewing machine doesn't have dropping feed dogs I couldn't.  But now...

I have to admit, I'm a sucker for old things.  I love anything with a sense of history.  I was pretty excited about using it.  And really, it was kind of neat to use.  Below are stitches I made with the Kenmore, and with my other machine, a Brother.  The Brother's stitches are in green, and the Kenmore's are in blue.
My first attempt at free-motion quilting was rough because I had the stitch length set on four (the maximum) instead of zero.  Whoops.
I tried again with the length on zero.  It was kind of fun!  I made some squiggles.
Then I tried to follow a heart I traced onto the flannel.  The right half went okay.  Then I got over-confident and kind of screwed up the left half.
The back is kind of jacked up.  I think it's because the tension is wrong, but I'm not going to count out user error.  I'm still learning.
I also found the Brother machine at that thrift shop (it cost five bucks, and even though it also needed a $130 tune-up I still feel like it was a good deal), and this machine.  I got it just for my son to play with while I sew.  He likes to pretend it works.  I think it's just so cool-looking. 

If I had more space vintage sewing machines would definitely become an addiction.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Year in Review

I started cutting square for my first quilt in June of this year.  I did it because I hated the comforter on my bed, and I wanted a replacement.  I felt guilty about buying a new one since we'd just purchased ours less than a year prior, so I figured I'd sew a quilt.  At the time I was learning to sew clothes, and I figured a quilt would be a fun one-time project.  Something big I could point to and say, "Look what I did!"  So I made this.

Little did I know how much I'd love quilting.  I work at a school and this year has been challenging in a number of ways.  Sewing has been a great stress reliever.  I find that I feel much more renewed after an evening of sewing than I do after an evening of watching TV.

Also, I get to make stuff for my son...

...and daughter.  They like their lap blankets, and my son refers to his as "my very own quilt."

I also finished this quilt for my mother-in-law.  I hope she likes it.

And this project isn't quite done yet, but it will be soon.  It's the front of a floor pillow I made for the kids.  It was made from a charm pack, so I didn't have to do as much cutting as usual.

I never knew how satisfying this hobby could be.  I'm so glad we had an ugly comforter, otherwise I'd never have started quilting.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A break from quilting

A scarf made from this tutorial.  I really like was a nice quick project.  It's fun to start and finish a project in one evening.  I love quilting, but it just takes so long.