Monday, July 30, 2012

Have sewing machine, will travel

I've been trying to get more involved in my local modern quilt guild as well as trying to get more people I know to sew. That means taking my sewing machine around...not easy with a 35 pound Singer 66.

At first I just carried it in my arms, but that's cumbersome.  Then I put it in the plastic case it's in now.  Unfortunately it wasn't made for hand crank machines, so I need to remove the crank whenever I take it somewhere.  That's kind of a pain.  Also, I have a feeling that it's only a matter of time before some part of the case breaks.  I don't think that case was meant to tote a machine that heavy. 

So now I'm looking for something to re-purpose.  I was thinking about a wheeled office cart, if I could find one the right size.  Otherwise, maybe a suitcase with straps installed inside to keep the machine from sliding around?  I don't know.  I don't want anything that looks too weird.  I need to keep thinking.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Double slice quilt top

Yesterday I finished my quilt top.  Well, except for borders.  I'm still debating about including a border.

I hung it on our clothes line to photograph, and my daughter spotted it.

Here she's saying, "Is mine quilt!"  She's claimed it already.

This is the first quilt that I've pieced entirely without electricity.  I used my model 27 treadle machine to piece the blocks, and I used my model 66 with a hand crank to sew them all together.  It was very do-able, and kind of fun.

I don't have any backing fabric and it'll be a while before I can get to the fabric store.  I guess I'll be working on the Dresden plate quilt until then.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


After making that tricky tumbling blocks quilt I decided to do something really quick and easy.  I figured it would be a good change of pace, and also a good way to acquaint myself with using the treadle sewing machine.  I've done some piecing on the treadle, but not a whole quilt.

So I'm making this quilt.  I'll post pictures later.  It's coming together really fast, which is a nice change of pace from that other quilt!  I can't wait until the top is done!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Completed tumbling blocks quilt

I finally finished my tumbling blocks quilt. Despite the headaches I'm pleased with it.It's not really my typical style, but I think I learned a lot from it.
I did a pieced back for the first time.  I think my kids will like it because when they use the blanket for forts or hide underneath it, they'll have patterned fabric to look at instead of just solid.  It doesn't really match the front, but the kids don't care.  My son already remarked about liking some of the patterns on the back.
 I used different types of quilting.  A ton of straight lines... motion loops...
...and stitch in the ditch, all to help the blocks stand out from the densely quilted background.
 My daughter grabbed it as soon as I took it off the line.  She likes it.
I like it.  Now on to the next one.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Scrappy much?

Fabric is expensive, so I hate to throw any of it away.  I've been saving scraps of fabric and cutting them into strips for a log cabin quilt.  I need 64 squares to make it a good size.  I'm not there yet, but last night I arranged the squares I do have on the floor to get an idea of what it'll look like.

I think it'll be a really cheerful quilt when it's done.  Instead of the blocks being half light and half dark, I'm making mine half warm colors and half cool colors.  It won't be as obvious a pattern as the light/dark blocks, but I think it'll look good when it's done. 

The only problem is that it'll take a while to get enough scraps to make all of the blocks.  I'm really eager to get this quilt top done!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Another 27

Today I got my second sewing machine of the weekend.  It's a Singer 27.  I figured I could use it for parts for my dad's and my model 27s.  The woman who sold it to me was very happy that it was going to be used and loved.

I'm going to give the iron base to my mom, since I already have a base in good shape.  My dad might be interested in the cabinet, or I might take it.  If I keep it I'm going to sand it and see if I can re-stain it.  It's in rough shape right now.

 I had been hoping to use the machine head since it had such nice, intact decals. Unfortunately someone spilled paint down the side!  I don't know if I can get the paint off without damaging the decals.  We'll see.
When I bought it the woman remarked that she had opened the drawer on the cabinet, and saw some dress patterns.  I thought that was odd, and when I looked in the drawer I found out that it wasn't dress patterns, it was user manuals!  There was the manual for the machine and the manual for the attachments.  They're both folded in half.  After spending about a hundred years folded in half in a drawer I'm not sure how to unfold them without damaging them.  We'll see.
And behind the manuals and a mess of fabric scraps, spools, pins, and marbles, there was a wooden box.
It's called a puzzle box.  And inside was every attachment a 1900s-era woman would need.  Hemmers, a ruffler, a quilting foot, an underbraider, and other stuff.
There were also some feet and attachments that I didn't recognize. I hope it is, because I really liked using the rolled hem foot on my old sewing machine.
Love it!

I thought I'd regret getting another model 27, but the puzzle box alone makes this worth it.  I can't wait to use the quilt attachment!  

Friday, July 13, 2012

A new addition

So after trying and trying and trying to do free motion quilting on that dumb polyester border I finally gave up and I'm doing doing a bunch of straight lines.  It's producing a texture that I think my kids will enjoy, but it's really boring doing all those straight lines!

I even bought a new foot to try to make free motion quilting easier.  It improved somewhat, but that polyester really is resistant.  The foot works great on cotton, though!  And as a bonus, not only does it fit on my vintage Kenmore, it also fits on my Singer 27!  I was suspicious of the low price, but it really does work well.

Speaking of low price, check out this $10 Craigslist find.

A Singer 15-91!  I put an ad on Craigslist saying that I was looking to buy a 15-91, but if people wanted to email the serial numbers of their machines I'd tell them if it was something I was interested in.  I got an email from a woman with a model 27 who really wanted it to go to a good home where it could be restored.  What can I say, I'm a sucker.  I agreed to buy it, even though it's exactly the same as the model 27 I already have.  My mom wanted a treadle base to turn into a decorative table, so I thought I could give her the base and keep the machine part for extra parts.  I figured I just wouldn't buy a 15 this summer, but then this one came along at a steal of a price.

Of course, it does need some help.

Check out those water marks.  Don't drink and sew!  Also, I need to clean my basement.

The power switch.  It's a knee controller.

I cut the wires to get it out of the cabinet.  I'm not an electrician, but I have a hunch the wires are no good anyway. 
 The wires are even crispy and melty on the back. 

So I'll have two machines to work on this summer.  That will keep me occupied, along with finishing the tumbling blocks quilt and making progress on piecing my Dresden plate quilt.  Of course, that's in addition to playing with the kids, and getting ready for the upcoming school year...the next six weeks are going to be busy!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Happy birthday!

Today there's no work in progress...just wishing happy birthday to my little girl

(This was taken at my parents' house.  That yellow stuff is supposed to be grass.  It's DRY.)

Happy birthday, my little two-year-old.  It's hard to believe you're this big already!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Another try at free motion quilting

I've been trying and trying to do free motion quilting on my tumbling blocks quilt.  After a brief period of success last week I got stuck in a cycle:

Stitch on my quilt.
Flip it over.  Notice loops and tangles.
Rip it out.
Stitch on my quilt.
Flip it over.  Notice loops and tangles.
Rip it out.
Practice on a remnant.  It goes fine.
Stitch on my quilt.
Flip it over.  Notice loops and tangles.

The time it went well last week I was stitching on the yellow part of my quilt.  But whenever I stitched on the blue border it went horribly.

Then one day I was ironing a small piece of that blue fabric for another project and I noticed a smell...a plastic, burning smell.

That fabric is polyester.

I have no idea if that affects the ability to do free motion quilting.  Maybe it does - whenever I stitched on the yellow fabric, which is cotton, it was okay.  I decided against ripping off the border, so now I'm just going to do a bunch of straight line stitching to quilt the borders together.  I still want to do free motion quilting in the yellow parts around the blocks.

And speaking of, yesterday I tried FMQ on my treadle for the first time.

It was okay.  No loops, anyway!  The thing on the side is supposed to be a plant, with a stalk and leaves.  I even put my name on it.  Not bad for a first try on the treadle.  The treadle was actually easier than the electric because I was able to go more slowly and have more control over the speed.  I can't wait to practice more and improve. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Planning the Dresden quilt

I'm not a very good planner when it comes to quilts.  I usually just make something and then add borders until it's the size I want.  But because this Dresden plate quilt is going to be big, I wanted to get an idea of how much fabric I'd need.

Most of the time Dresden plate quilts have the circles laid out in a grid shape.  But I wanted mine to look like bubbles or flowers or something drifting across the quilt.  So this is roughly how it's going to be laid out.  The circles are to scale...the scale is one square = 5.5".

Then it was easy to count up how much fabric I'd need to use as a background for the design.  I think I did the math right.  I think.
At Jo-Ann's they sell wide fabric that's made for backing quilts...I think it's something like 108 or 110 inches wide.  To have enough for the front and back of the quilt I'll need 5 yards.  Luckily that's only one cut of fabric.  I'm going to wait until I have a 50% coupon and get it then.  They'll give you half off one cut of fabric, even if that fabric is 108" wide and 5 yards long.  Awesome. 

Dull Spending

Every paycheck my husband and I set aside a bit money for ourselves for hobby spending.  It's an allowance that we can spend guilt-free on our hobbies, and neither of us criticize what the other spends it on.  Usually I spend it on fabric, but this time I spent a chunk of it on new needles, a new foot for my model 27, and other boring stuff that lets me do quilting. 

It's nice to have, but nowhere near as fun to shop for as fabric.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Back in the saddle

This morning I sat down at my machine and decided to do something I've been putting off for a while. 

I practiced free motion quilting.

I actually started last night, but got frustrated and stopped.  I hate being patient with my sewing.  I think it's because I have two little children who require patience and a job that requires patience, so in my down time when I sew I just want it to work.  I hate ripping out seams, I hate re-doing things, and I hate practicing.  But I knew that if I didn't do some practice that I'd be doing more seam ripping and more re-doing, so I grabbed some scrap fabric and batting and gave it a try. 

I'd just like to put a little disclaimer here that it's totally possible to sew on a cheap machine.  I've done it!  But without a stitch regulator or the appropriate foot, it's harder.  So if you have a cheap machine, don't give up.  Or, if you truly can't do it on your machine, go vintage before you drop a grand or more at the sewing machine shop.  Many of those old sewing machines are built to handle this type of just takes some know-how to get it to work.

I got the hang of it this morning and grabbed my quilt before I forgot how to do it.  I did a section of free motion quilting - about five inches by ten inches in the border of my quilt.  The stitches aren't all even but the tension is right.  I was so relieved that it was going better!

And then my needle broke.

Oh well - it was nice to put the project away after having experienced some success.  I'll change the needle and try it again later.