Thursday, August 30, 2012

Spirals, spirals, spirals

This evening I finished the free motion quilting on my double slice quilt.  I like the texture these swirls give the quilt.  I can't wait to wash it - it'll be so crinkly!

The fabric isn't really green, it's just a poorly-lit shot with an iPod camera.

Even though I was having a good time by the end, this might be the last free motion project I do on my Singer 27.  On Saturday I'm going to go pick up a new (well, new to me, it's really over 90 years old) Singer model 115.  Because of the way the bobbin it situated it's very conducive to free motion quilting, so that will likely be my quilting machine, which means the 27 will be for piecing.

I know, it's kind of weird to have two machines for two different jobs.  But I usually have two or more projects that I'm working on at once, and I like the idea of having a machine all set up with the right thread, foot, and tension settings for whatever I'm doing. 

Of course, since space is limited in my little sewing corner of the basement, that means that my electric machine will have to be removed from its cabinet, put into a case, and stored on a shelf.  Not that long ago I was writing about being nervous about putting my modern Brother machine away and using nothing but vintage machines.  Now I'm going to have nothing set up but non-electric machines.  I guess my attitude has changed!

I still have to do some straight-line quilting on the border of the quilt, but then it'll be ready for binding.  Hopefully I can make friends with my new 115 by getting started on quilting my Dresden plate quilt.  I'm nervous about quilting that one, but nothing will get better by putting it off.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Planning out the next one

The next new quilt I start will be a quilt for my mom.  I've really had my eye on the Swoon pattern, but I've heard it's a little fiddly to put together. I was thinking of making a giant block quilt, like this one from In Color Order, but a Swoon block instead of a star.  I didn't want to figure out new sizes for all the little bits and pieces, so I was happy when I found this tutorial that shows how to make a Carpenter's Wheel block out of half-square triangles.  It's very similar to the Swoon block and it'll be a lot easier to enlarge. 

I hope my mom likes it.  I'll finish it after I finish the double slice quilt, the Dresden quilt, and my wall hanging, which means it'll be sometime next decade.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

First UFO Sunday

So Sundays are now UFO Day at the Free Motion Quilting Project blog.  Check it out!

In the spirit of finishing our UFOs, I pulled out one that I'd been putting off for a long time.

A mug rug.

The shame of it!  Who couldn't finish a little mug rug?  Seriously, how did I avoid finishing it for months?

Here's what happened.  My sister and I had this idea that we could put together a craft show booth.  My sister would sell jewelry, and I'd sell sewn items.  So I started sewing together a mug rug out of my less-than-favorite fabrics to sell it.  However, I ran into two problems:

1.  It's not fun making something to sell, especially if you're anticipating that it will be one in a long line of things to sell.  For me, it just takes the joy out of it.

2.  It's not fun working with fabrics that you aren't in love with.

So I scrapped the idea of doing a craft show booth and my half-finished mug rug just...sat.  It was all pieced and quilted, it just needed to be bound.  It sat in my sewing area, bugging me.  But when I heard about this project I figured it would be a good reason to finish it.

Today I finished putting the binding on my mug rug. 

Ta-da!  I'm happy I finished it.  I'm going back to work this week and it'll be nice to have on my desk.  I don't drink coffee, so I'll put my Coke Zero on it.  And, this mug rug was pieced and quilted on my Singer 66 (which is powered by a hand crank), and bound by hand (ugh...another reason to put this project off...I hate hand binding!).

One UFO down, many to go...

Check out everyone's UFOs!

UFO Sundays on the Free Motion Quilting Project

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Oh, how I love thee

I'm really starting to love quilting on my Singer 27.  My treadling is getting smoother, my stitches are getting smaller and more even, and the spirals are getting smoother.  It'll be interesting to compare the quilting at the beginning of this quilt and the quilting I did at the end.  It's still not great, but it's getting there.  I have a few decades to perfect it before I'm too old to treadle (I imagine it'll be easier to use an electric when I'm in my 80s).

I read something a long time ago about people who are passionate about a hobby, and how their brains work differently when they get into their "zone."  That's how I feel when I'm quilting with my treadle...peaceful, centered, just...happy.

I still haven't tried free motion quilting with my 66.  I am getting annoyed at the limitations of how much thread that long bobbin can hold.  I had to refill it twice this evening.  Ugh. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Appliqué done!

I'm finally done with the applique portion of my Dresden block quilt!  I wound up sewing the middles on by hand.  When I sewed the big circles on I had to rotate the entire quilt to keep the edge I was sewing under the needle.  I wasn't sure if I could turn the quilt enough to make a circle with a smaller radius.

I don't like hand sewing, but I parked myself on the couch and fired up my Netflix and just did it.

I'm pleased with it so far.  It's really imperfect, but I'm proud for my first attempt.

I used this tutorial to make the circles in the middle.  They didn't come out perfectly - I got the impression that it's easier with bigger circles - but they're good enough.

So now it's on to basting and quilting.  It feels weird to have two quilts in the quilting stage.  I also need to figure out how to quilt this thing...I was thinking about just doing loose, curved lines to suggest wind.  I'll have to think about it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


I resolved my feed dog issue and spent some time this evening making spirals of varying sizes on my double slice quilt.  Fun!
The only issue I've run into is that the bobbin on a vibrating shuttle machine doesn't hold as much thread as a round bobbin.  It's frustrating to stop and refill the bobbin.  I have three bobbins and I suppose I should just fill them all so I can switch them quickly.  Still, I'm thinking about trying FMQ on my Singer 66.

Boring antique sewing machine babble: from what I've heard a Singer 66 is not considered an ideal quilting machine.  That's because it has a drop-in bobbin, which means the bobbin thread has to come out of the bobbin and take a turn to go up into the machine.  This puts stress on the thread.  A great quilting machine is the Singer model 15...I have an electric one from the 1930s, but it needs to be rewired and I haven't used it yet.  I don't know how the thread path of a 66 compares to a vibrating shuttle machine, and which machine puts more stress on its thread.  Maybe if my 27 works, then my 66 would work too.  I suppose it wouldn't hurt to try, though it would be a pain to wrestle the 27 out of its cabinet and install the 66.  I suppose it'll just depend on how much I hate changing the bobbins out.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

FMQ on a treadle

If you treadle and you want to find out more about free motion quilting on your machine, check out this tutorial. I followed a lot the advice and did some free motion quilting on my old Singer 27.  I was having some trouble with threads breaking so instead of a flowing design I decided to do a bunch of spirals.  That way the spiral would just end when the thread broke.  However, today I switched from cotton to polyester thread and that helped a lot.  The poly thread seems stronger and I was able to make bigger spirals that I knotted off instead of just allowing the thread to break.

Behold my work!

It's not pretty by any means - I can't do those beautiful, little, even stitches that other quilters do when free motion quilting.  But I know I'll only get better with practice, and really, it was easier to do FMQ on a treadle than on my electric.  I guess I have an easier time treadling and moving my hands at the same speed than I do controlling my foot pedal and moving my hands.

It's not great, but I did it!  On a treadle machine!  And a machine with a vibrating shuttle, too!

That's what's underneath my machine instead of a round bobbin.  Strange, huh?  This machine was my first treadle and I was shocked when I opened those slide plates and found that weird little bullet instead of a round bobbin.  At first I thought it might be some hidden evidence of a century-old murder, but no, it was just what they had for bobbins a hundred years ago.

Unfortunately, just as I was really going my needle snapped and the tip lodged itself in the feed dogs.  The screw holding that plate is stuck tight so I'll have to wait until tomorrow and try to get my husband to help it along.  Figures.  But I was having a lot of fun before then, so I'm looking forward to trying it again tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

First round of applique done!

Tonight I finished my first round of applique - I got all of the circles onto my background fabric.  Next I have to applique all of the middles on.

I still have to trim the background fabric to be an exact fit for the circles - I wanted them to go from one corner to the other, so there's some trimming to do.  Here's a poorly lit iPod photo of my progress:

Appliqueing the circles made me wonder how on earth I'm going to quilt this thing.  I've never quilted a quilt this large.  I did make a queen sized quilt once, but I tied it instead of quilting it.  I'll figure it out...generations of women before me quilted on the machines I have in my basement.  Also, I appliqued using my Kenmore 52, which has a smaller harp than my Singers.  The bigger harp space might help too.

I'm getting ahead of myself, though.  First I have another round of applique to do along with basting...then I'll worry about the quilting part.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Continuing the applique

At this point I've appliqued (that doesn't look right) four of the eleven circles.  If I keep going at this rate I'll be able to finish the initial applique by mid-week!  Then all I have to do is:

1. Cut and make the circles for the middles
2.  Applique the circles
3.  Baste
4. Quilt
5.  Bind

I can do that!

I didn't get a chance to quilt my double slice quilt this evening, but I have been working on it a little and I think I'm getting the hang of it.  I'll post pictures tomorrow if my good progress continues. 

My husband works the next two nights so I hope to get lots of sewing time in.  Not that I don't enjoy having him at home during his nights off, but...hey, silver lining for the nights he does work.  I can get a lot done in the two hours between when the kids go to sleep and when he comes home.  I hope to have all the applique done on this quilt before I go back to work on the 29th.  We'll see if it happens.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Foray into appliqué

I went to the Milwaukee Modern Quilt Guild sew day for a couple of hours today and was pretty productive.  I finished all but one of my Dresden plate blocks.  When I got home I quickly cranked out the last one.

This quilt is going to be big - the top, without borders, is 77" x 90" - so I couldn't get a picture of the whole thing.  Here's most of it:

Now here's where I run into trouble: I don't know how to applique.  I'm going to try to do it by hand, but I generally hate hand sewing so we'll see how it goes.  I might break down and try it on the machine, not that I know how to do that either.  We'll see!

Friday, August 10, 2012


Last night I took one of my pictures of the bricks and used a drawing app called Procreate to draw on top of the bricks so I could see how I could model a quilt after it.  These aren't the colors I'm using...I just wanted to use lots of colors to see where everything would go.

Ah, technology!

Thursday, August 9, 2012


 A local fabric designer named Allison Beilke developed a line of fabrics inspired by Milwaukee.  So the local modern quilt guild is having a contest where you can make a quilt or other sewn item from the fabrics and some selected Kona solids.  The judging will be in mid-November and all the entries will be put on Flickr.  When I first heard that I thought, Hey, that sounds like an awesome contest that I will never enter!

I'm a novice quilter.  There's no way I'd win.  There's actually an excellent chance that I'd embarrass myself.  I can't even do free motion quilting right.  Do something like that?  No thank you.

But a little part of me thought, It would be fun just to participate.  Just to be involved. 

I was pretty sure I wouldn't bother to enter until this morning.  My son is entering kindergarten this fall and we've been taking walks to his school so the school is familiar to him.  I was looking at the beautiful old building while the kids played on the playground.  The brick work on the building is beautiful.  I especially liked this:

And I found myself thinking, Wouldn't it be cool if someone made something like this pattern using those Milwaukee fabrics?  That might look really neat.  And gradually my feelings changed from, there's no way I'd enter to, it would be neat just to participate.

So I'm going to get some fabric scraps and try to replicate the brick pattern.  If I can, I'll make a mini-quilt and enter.  And if I can't, at least it'll be a challenge and I'll learn something. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Continuing the log cabin

I'm nearly halfway done piecing blocks for my scrappy log cabin quilt!  These aren't all of the blocks, but it's enough to get an idea.

When you're close to the blocks you can't really see the isn't until you step back that it's apparent.  That's kind of neat.  Once I reach the halfway point I should start pressing the blocks, because pressing will take forever if I wait until the end. 

I had wanted to make the entire quilt out of scraps, but I think I may have to break down and get a couple fat quarters of green and orange fabric.  Those are two colors that I don't have many scraps of, and I'm trying to get all of the colors of the rainbow represented at least once in each block.  I don't know if I have the patience to sew a green quilt and an orange quilt just so I can finish this project.

Tomorrow if the kids cooperate I'm going fabric shopping to get, among other things, border and backing fabric for my double slice quilt.  I'm going to try quilting it on my Singer 27 treadle...I'm apprehensive about the idea of using it for quilting, but I'm going to try.  It'll be an interesting experiment either way.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Carrying on

I'm letting the Double Slice quilt sit while I try to figure out how to finish it. In the meantime I'm carrying on with the Dresden plate quilt.  I'm going to make fifteen circles.  So far, I've made three.

They look a little busy, but when you put a circle over the middle it helps. 

Now I just need to make twelve more.  If my kids are cooperative and go to bed at their appointed time, I can make one before I get to sleepy to keep sewing.  So, in theory, I could be done with the piecing in under two weeks.

In theory.  We'll see.

Domestic bliss

My daughter colors while I sew.