Sunday, September 30, 2012

Former UFO

I finally finished my Floating Dresdens quilt!  

I really hate binding.  I haven't figured out a way to make it look great by machine, and hand binding takes forever.  I know some people machine sew the front and hand sew the back, but that doesn't seem easier than hand sewing the whole thing.  I have another quilt that's on hold because all that's left is to hand sew the binding and I just hate doing that.  I'll do it at my local quilt guild's next sew day.

Anyway, I bound this one with my Singer model 27... flipping the backing fabric over the front, folding it, and sewing it down.  Cheating!

Finishing a quilt is a little anticlimactic because after all these months of work it just winds up getting tossed onto the rocking chair in my living room, or stuffed into the basket where we keep our quilts.  But over the next weeks I'll see my husband and kids wrap themselves in it, build forts with it, and take it to bed with them to keep them warm all night.  That makes the work worth it.

This former UFO is finally done.

UFO Sundays on the Free Motion Quilting Project

Monday, September 24, 2012

Background quilting done!

I finished the background quilting on my Floating Dresdens quilt!

Long flowing lines?  Check!

Now I just have to quilt around the circles, and it'll be ready to be trimmed and bound.  I'm thinking of just doing cheater binding (flipping the backing fabric up over the front, folding it, and sewing it down) by machine for the sake of getting it done.  We'll see.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Finished mini-quilt

I finished my half-square triangle mini-quilt!  
I bound it by machine to save time, and I don't like how it turned out.  I'll stick with hand binding for now, even though it takes forever.

Now all of the attachments are stitched down and safe against curious fingers.  They are, clockwise from the right, a tucker, a ruffler, a button hole maker, a rolled hem foot, a regular hemmer, and a regular foot. 

I also had a chance to get some more thread (thank you, weekend!) so hopefully I'll have a chance to make some headway on my Floating Dresdens quilt. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Leaves and Berries

This evening I basted and quilted my mini-quilt.  Since it's just a wall hanging I didn't think it needed heavy quilting, like a quilt that's going to be cuddled, washed, and dragged around would.  I just quilted in the white areas and left the print areas alone.

The print is actually supposed to be leaves, stems, and berries.  You can't tell now that it's chopped up.  But I decided to replicate that in the quilting.

I don't know what all those lines are...maybe it was due to the fluorescent lights we have in the basement.  Anyway, the quilting is not really my taste, but I wanted to show off what the 115 could do.  Also, it was really fun.  I love drawing with thread and fabric.

I need to figure out how to include this more in my quilts.

Hopefully I'll have time to bind it this weekend.  Then, if I can get to the store for some more white thread (yes, that's how busy our lives have been lately, not even time to run to the craft store for thread!) I'll be able to do some work on my Floating Dresdens quilt.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

HST mini-quilt

I finished piecing my mini-quilt.  It's just chevrons made with half square triangles.

I always have trouble getting my HSTs to line up exactly at the corners.  I suppose it just takes practice.  There's some pretty obvious places where it doesn't line up. 


I'll just put sewing machine parts over those.

Tomorrow I'll quilt it up and maybe it'll be bound and finished by Sunday night.  I have to go get some more white quilting thread for this and my Floating Dresdens quilt.  I'm not sure how I'll quilt this...the blue fabric is a leaf pattern and I was thinking of quilting leaves into the white parts.  Unfortunately you can't really tell what the blue pattern is since it's all chopped up.  I'll have to think on it.  I really want to do some free motion quilting so I can show off my machines' abilities, but we'll see.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Another excuse to make a quilt

I'm still getting my machines ready for the museum's Collectors Day.  I wanted to bring some of the feet and other attachments to show the visitors, but the museum recommends that if you have small parts that you fasten them to something bigger so they don't get lost or stolen.

I don't know who would want to steal a 90 year old sewing attachment, but I guess you never know.

This evening I started covering a piece of cardboard with fabric with the intention of sewing the attachments onto the fabric.  But then I thought, Why not make a mini quilt instead?  

A little wall hanging-sized quilt would be the right size to sew those pieces to, and it would show off how those old machines sew.  Plus, I could hang it up later in my bedroom.  I've pretty much given up on the idea of doing the Mod in Milwaukee challenge since I just don't think I'll have time now that I'm working again, but I had a spot in my bedroom all picked out for the completed wall hanging.  After the museum show I could just clip off the attachments and hang it up.

So, now it looks like I'm making a quilt too.  This whole project is turning out to be a lot more work than I expected.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

UFO Sunday #4

I think today will be my last UFO Sunday because after today, my Floating Dresdens quilt will just be a regular work in progress.

I got lots of good advice last week about how to quilt my big quilt, but the advice I decided to take came from the author of the Mariner's Compass Quilting Project, who suggested dividing the quilt into parts and quilting one part at a time.

So this evening I grabbed a blue fabric pencil and (after testing it on a scrap to make sure it would wash out - what a nightmare that would be if it didn't!) marked out the lines for my quilt...the flowing lines I wanted, going from one corner to the other.

I also made the decision not to quilt the lines through the circles, and instead to quilt the circles by stitching around the perimeter.  This broke up the longest diagonal lines into little segments that ran between the circles.  Not too intimidating at all.

This evening I started quilting around the circles like Leah recommended, and it was a pretty low-stress way to put the first few stitches into a quilt that had been intimidating me for a while.  I'm still pretty new to using my Singer 115 treadle machine, but it performed beautifully and I have no concerns about finishing the quilt with it.

Now that I have some stitches in it's no longer a scary project lurking in the back of my craft space.  Instead it's a quilt that I'm eager to finish and see my kids snuggling under.

 UFO Sundays on the Free Motion Quilting Project

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

In which we abandon the pretense of quilting all together to just gush about machines

The Milwaukee Public Museum is hosting a Collection Day on the first Saturday in October.  It's an event where local collectors can apply to bring whatever they collect in for the day to show the public.

Well, I filled out the application and sent along some pictures of my sewing machines, and they want me to bring them!  I'm excited, but trying to restrain myself, in case the museum has second thoughts about hundreds of pounds of cast iron resting on their tables and taking up floor space.

So instead of sewing, for the past couple of days I've been oiling my machines, replacing parts that I'd removed, and just getting them ready to go.

It's actually kind of embarrassing that I have so just makes me so sad to see one of these in the discount pile at a flea market, or marked down a bunch of times at a garage sale.  I told my husband that I wanted to unload some of them after Collection Day, but since I've been reading up on them and their history, I'm just growing more attached!

Here's my 115, which has been well-photographed lately.

Here's my 27 (the machine I do my piecing on), my 15 (that I bought for $10 at a garage sale with the intention of re-wiring before I found my 115 that I bought for less than the cost of a re-wire), and my Howard (another marked-down item at a flea market).

And finally, my 66 without its hand crank, my 27 machine head, and my lovely Franklin Rotary, which I've been learning a lot about lately.

I'm also going to borrow back the Singer Spartan that I loaned my sister.  That means I'll be lugging eight machines to the museum for six hours, only to lug them all back. 

I don't mind, though.  If I can talk a few people into dusting off Grandma's old machine and trying it out, or at least appreciating what it meant and what it can do, then it will be worth it.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

UFO Sunday #3

I really thought that last Sunday would be my last linking up with UFO Sundays at the Free Motion Quilting Project.  My list of projects that are undone or ongoing is relatively short, so after I finished my mug rug and trashed my wall hanging I figured I'd be done.

But, to be honest, I have one more UFO.  This.

My Floating Dresdens quilt.  I basted it nearly three weeks ago, and then rolled it up and haven't touched it since.  I know three weeks isn't long, but usually when I baste a quilt I'm on it the next day, quilting it up.  Not this time.

I could say that I was busy getting acquainted with my Singer 115.  I could say I was trying to get the tension just perfect on that machine before I quilted with it.  I could say I was trying to make headway on my double slice quilt, or that I was tired from returning to work for the new school year, or any number of things.  They'd all have a bit of truth to them, but the real reason is, I'm nervous about quilting this thing.

When I got background fabric I decided I didn't want a seam running down the middle of it, so I just got 90" wide backing fabric.  Dumb move.  That fabric is flimsy and I fear that it won't withstand sewing, then ripping out, then more sewing.  I want to get it right the first time, instead of making mistakes, ripping them out, and having a quilt that looks mangled and punctured.  I've drawn quilting patterns on top of a picture of it (Procreate is a great app for that) but I'm not sure it'll really look the same when done in thread.

I'm just going to do loose, slightly wavy lines going from the upper left corner to the lower right.  I think.  I don't know!

Last night I figured I need to just sew a seam in this and get on with it.  Living with a mistake would be easier than agonizing over an unfinished quilt.  So I unrolled it and put it on my machine.  I sewed about twelve inches and snapped my thread twice.  Stupid cheap thread!  I wanted to keep going but that was the only white thread I had (how the heck did I run out of WHITE?) so I shelved it again.

However, in that time I got a little preview of how challenging it would be to quilt a nearly queen-size quilt with lines that would flow across its entire length.  It would mean wrestling with the quilt a lot.  When I quilt with smaller designs it means making little movements and only shifting the entire quilt once in a while.  It would also mean having to stop to take out pins (I pin baste since I'm allergic to some chemicals and would hate to put chemical-laden spray baste on something I'll be cuddling with), which might affect the flow of the quilting.

I'll have to do some reading and planning, but it feels good to start addressing the issues on this quilt instead of just letting it sit on a shelf.

UFO Sundays on the Free Motion Quilting Project

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Putting the 115 to work

I started work last week, but it was just meetings and teacher prep days.  This week the students started back, and oh my gosh, this year has kicked my butt so far.  I can't remember experiencing this level of's nuts. 

I'll figure it out - I always do - but I've been too tired to do much sewing in the evenings.  However, tonight I sat down and spent some quality time with my Singer 115 by doing some loopy quilting in the borders of my double slice quilt.

There are some tension issues to be dealt with.  It's pretty puckered, but I like my quilts to get crinkly in the wash, so that doesn't really bug me.  I do want to improve it before I quilt my Dresden plate quilt, though. 

I was clipping along quickly until I ran out of bobbin thread.  The tire on the bobbin winder is crumbling and unusable, so I can't wind any bobbins until I get the tire I ordered in the mail.  Also, I broke the treadle belt, so instead of using a leather treadle belt I've been using a pair of nylons to run the machine.  They work surprisingly well (and have been working surprisingly well for nearly a week), but I think I'll get less slippage when I use a real treadle belt. 

Thank goodness it's almost the weekend.  I'm completely worn out.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Practicing FMQ

I'm still getting acquainted with my Singer 115 so I haven't sewn any projects with it yet.  Right now I'm content to just practice.

 It runs so smoothly, it's amazing.  I was capable of free motion quilting on my Singer 27, but I had to use some muscle to move the quilt around.  I was putting a lot of tension on those poor threads!  This machine is so fluid, and such a pleasure to work with.

After making a lot of loops, swirls, and shapes I practiced doing some drawing and writing.

I also tried making a feather plume.  That will definitely require some practice!

I'm so excited.  And the deal I got on this machine is even better!  It was a fraction of the cost of fancy quilting was even less than the cheap ones you get at Target. 

I guess it's time to work up the courage to quilt that big Dresden block quilt. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

More geeking out about my sewing machine

I got my new 115 all oiled up, running freely, tension balanced...and then I snapped the treadle belt.

Oh, the cussing that happened after that.

I'm going to order a new belt because the only place I know of to get one locally did some eye-rolling the last time I went in there.  The repair guy even went out of his way to tell me that he'd never repair a machine as old as mine because they were "obsolete."

Thanks dude.  I'll take my belt business elsewhere.

Anyway, since I can't use the 115 for at least a week while I wait for a belt to come in the mail, I spent some time poking through its drawers and enjoying the little artifacts it came with.

The owner's maual for my machine.  I love it when a machine comes with the manual!

I also found a box of attachments.  Imagine how exciting it would have been to open, knowing how much time it would save you and what it would let you do.

Those are some of the attachments.  I think they're a button hole maker, a ruffler, a hemmer, and one of the bobbins.  They're kind of unusual - really flat.  Luckily the machine came with a bunch of spare bobbins which is fortunate because it doesn't take the bobbins you can buy at JoAnn.

A manual to teach you how to sew.  It said it was for home ec and college students, and it teaches you everything you need to know about those new-fangled sewing machines.

Some of the illustrations showing how to use the attachments.

Here's the cabinet, settled into its new home in my sewing corner.

I still can't get over how pretty it is.  With its flower and shell decals...

...the perfect Singer logo, printed in rose, gold, and green...

...and the beautiful big decal on the bed.

So, so beautiful.  I'm so glad I have it to use and enjoy, the way its first owner might have, and that it won't be just sitting around in a garage.

I can't wait to get a new belt and see it in action! 

UFO Sunday #2

It's UFO Day at the Free Motion Quilting Project!

I don't really have many UFOs.  I'm chronically organized and I don't have many projects that I start, but don't finish.  If I have too many projects going on at once it actually makes me uneasy.  This is my list, and I'm determined not to start another thing until these projects are finished.

One project that I've been avoiding is my half-square triangle wall hanging.  A co-worker gave me a bunch of fat quarters and I planned to make them into a wall hanging.  I wasn't really feeling the design, but I soldiered on anyway.  I cut them up, but when I started to piece the HSTs I found out that I was piecing them with an eighth-inch seam allowance instead of a quarter-inch (I was just following the edge of my foot and not really paying attention).  After that I just kind of let the project grind to a halt.

You can see some finished HSTs, and then a bunch of fabric cut into squares and sorted...although, after all these months, I can't quite remember how they were sorted or why certain pieces were paired together.

I felt some guilt over dumping the project, but this is supposed to be my fun hobby.  There's no point in doing it if I hate everything about a project, and will end up with a product that I'll eventually dump in a closet.

I didn't really throw the fabric away, I just added it to my almost-bursting scrap bag.  But I kept some pieces out to try improvisational piecing.  I've always been afraid of doing that, but I figured that I'd be using fabric that would have been trash anyway, so I couldn't really ruin them.  I followed this tutorial and produced this little improvisationally (that's not really a word, is it?) pieced block.

I'm happy that I tried it - happier than I would have been with my lame HST wall hanging!

Let's see your UFOs!

UFO Sundays on the Free Motion Quilting Project

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Singer model 115

Today I drove down to Racine and bought my brand new (to me, obviously it's not new) Singer model 115.

The decals are in great shape for it being 91 years old.  The cabinet is nice too!

One of the problems I had quilting with the 27 was that the cabinet is in rough shape, and the quilt kept catching on chunks of veneer that were chipping off the cabinet.  That won't be a problem with this one! 

I can't wait to oil it up and try sewing with it.  I'm so excited!