Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Crafting

I'm not quite done with my holiday sewing, but that's okay because my family isn't getting together to exchange gifts until the 29th. Plenty of time, right?

Here's what I made my co-workers...zippered pouches. I filled them with candy. I hope they liked them...I have one made with the same tutorial, and I think it's really handy.  

Hope your holiday sewing is going better than mine!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I've been busy lately (always!) but I've been sewing more. I think not having a bee block due this month has freed up some time.  I also think that we're finding our rhythm between work, school, and the baby, and now I can carve out more sewing time.

I finished my mom's quilt...pictures of that will be forthcoming!

I also sewed up some winter gear for my son in his favorite theme...robots! 

A hat, scarf, and mittens. They were fun to sew, so soft and cozy, and since they were all made with one yard of fleece, the whole project only cost $7.00.  I'll be making a winter set for my daughter next...it'll be fun to take her to the fabric store to see what she picks!

 I've also been working on my scrappy log cabin quilt.

I'm still working on free motion quilting it.  I haven't done free motion in FOREVER, and I was surprised how rusty I was.  However, I'm back to my old ability level...which, granted, was still pretty low.  But I'm having so much fun doing it.

I'm glad things are settling down and I have regular sewing time again.  I missed it so much these past few months.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


After months of work (actually, a few months of work and many months of not-working because of pregnancy and having a newborn) my mom's quilt is finally at the binding stage.

I had originally hoped to just wrap the backing of the quilt around to the front and sew it down as kind of a pseudo-binding, but I didn't quite have enough.  So I guess I'll have to do real binding.  I'm not sure if I'll do it by hand or by machine...probably by machine, otherwise it would take a year to finish.  I'm so slow at hand binding.

After this is done I can finally finish my scrappy log cabin quilt, and then maybe start a new project.  I feel like it's been forever since I've shopped for fabric for a new project...it'll be so nice to do it!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Paper pieced

Today was my local quilt guild's sew day, so I had to bring a project to work on.  I'm in the middle of quilting my mom's quilt and my log cabin quilt, but since treadle machines don't travel well I had to come up with a project that was a little more portable.

Paper piecing to the rescue!  I used this pattern to create my block.

I kind of adore it!  I'm going to make two more paper pieced blocks to use as mini quilts to hang between two of my husband's guitars in the living room.  Even though I love it, it took forever to make.  I couldn't imagine tackling a whole quilt this way.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Crafting and blogging don't pay the bills, so I have a job as an educator for a local school district.  Unfortunately, this coming year will be a challenging one.  I won't bore you with the politics going on in Wisconsin, but the end result is that my take-home pay has been sliced.  Badly.  And as the sole breadwinner in this family (my husband is a stay-at-home dad, another great occupation that doesn't pay bills) it's been causing me a lot of stress.  So I've been looking at ways to save money.

Unfortunately, over the past several months my son has developed the habit of chewing on the collars of his shirts.  His pediatrician and his dentist both have no idea why this is.  It seems to be an absent-minded habit at this point.  I started putting spray on his collars to deter him with a bad taste, but it was too late.  The necklines of several of his t-shirts had holes.  After taking a good hard look at his shirts, and a good hard look at my bank account, I decided to mend them instead of replacing half of his summer wardrobe.

I don't know how to mend...I actually had to look it up on YouTube.  It wasn't too tough, and now I'm pretty decent at it.  I worked my way through a small stack of his t-shirts this afternoon.  This was one of my first attempts.

Not perfect, but not too bad.  I think it'll be pretty inconspicuous on a moving five-year-old.  I also mended a dress of my daughter's...she got a hold of a pair of scissors and decided to "make a pocket." 

I also shortened the sleeves on one of my son's long sleeved t-shirts...his kindergarten class was painting one day and he got paint all over his sleeves.  It absolutely wouldn't wash off.  Why on earth would you give four and five-year-olds non-washable paint?  Anyway, my Singer 27 did a great job, as always.  I'm always a little surprised when I find it can sew a type of fabric that didn't exist in 1901 when it was manufactured.  But it actually did a better job than my modern machine did the last time I tried to sew knit.

I need to finish my mom's Carpenters Wheel quilt, but I'm itching to start a paper-pieced Mariner's Compass...I want a Mariner's Compass mini-quilt, and I already know just where I'll hang it.  I hope I can finish both soon!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Finished block

My finished bee block...I kind of love it. I may need to make a great granny square quilt!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bee blocks, Mom's quilt, and oh yeah, I had a baby

I'm finally back on my sewing machine after a hiatus of over a month.  I had my baby!  She's beautiful and wonderful, and everything went great.  But the adjustment of going from a family of four to a family of five has been a challenging one and not much time was left for sewing.  Fortunately she's started taking longer naps, which means I can sneak downstairs with the other kids and get some sewing in.

My August bee block is underway!

I think this is the first block in the bee that I'm actually sad to mail off...I wouldn't mind keeping it!  I'm still working on piecing it together (and I actually made more progress since this photo was taken this afternoon) but I already really like it.  The colors are really pretty to me.  I hope the recipient likes it too.

I also got some work in on my mom's quilt.  I'm over a third of the way done quilting, and I'm going to show it to her this weekend.  Hopefully she'll like the direction it's going, since I don't want to rip out all of that quilting.

I also got an urge to start another mini-quilt...a paper pieced Mariner's Compass.  We'll see if I actually get around to doing it...I feel like I have too many WIPs, and I want to finish some before I start some more.

It feels so good to have my hands back in fabric and my feet back on my treadle.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Attachment Love

Today I did a little work on the Carpenter's Wheel quilt.  Nearly at my due date and still able to use a treadle sewing machine - that proves how easy they are to use!

The set-up I use for piecing and straight-line quilting is actually a combination of two sewing machines - I had a sewing machine head that I was able to oil up and use, but the cabinet was in pieces.  I bought a second 27 (I felt sorry for it!) with a completely frozen head, but a cabinet that was at least intact.  They were both made in the same giant batch of Singer 27s in 1901, so I don't feel bad about smooshing them both together. 

Some people may think that the second 27 was a poor purchase, but the cabinet came stuffed with goodies in the drawers - machine manuals (how cool!) and a big box of attachments.  Attachments to make hems, attachments to make ruffles, attachments to shirr fabric, and an attachment to quilt.

There it is!  It's just a guide bar to help you follow lines you've quilted previously.  They still make them for modern machines and they look a lot the same.  They work the same too.

The quilting is not actually that puckered, I just neglected to smooth it out before I took a photo.  Oops.

The quilting bar wasn't expensive - 20 cents in 1901, which is about $5.50 in today's money.  I forget how much the whole box cost, but it was pretty expensive.  I'm so lucky that I found one!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Baby shoes

I finished my last bit of pre-baby sewing...a pair of baby shoes. 

I was hoping they'd be like bait and lure her out, but I doubt it.  At least I can just quilt away until she comes...working on quilts is so much more relaxing than working on clothing or other things that are three-dimensional.  That works out a whole different area of my brain.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I'm trying to make light, but I'm seriously not amused.

We have three cats - Lucky Lou, Edison, and Juneau.  Edison has the tendency to wake me up around 5:30 AM by walking on my face, and Lucky Lou thinks litterbox use is optional.  I find both of these habits highly annoying, so I often refer to Juneau as "the good one."

Two days ago I finished the quilting on the central star of my mom's quilt.  I decided to bring it over to show her before I finished anything else, to see if she liked the direction I was headed.  I was going to visit her the next morning, so I carefully folded it and put it on the couch so I'd remember to bring it with me.  Juneau promptly curled up on it and went to sleep.  I laughed and thought, That's cute, it's not even done and it's cat-approved already.

The next morning I woke up and found her sleeping on the back of the couch near the quilt.  And the quilt?  Covered in cat vomit. 

I was so upset that I just put the quilt in the basement.  I couldn't even deal with it then.  Last night I brought it back out to survey the damage.  Luckily because of how it was folded only one corner of the back got stained.  However, I needed to wash it, and I couldn't very well put it through the washer and dryer in its half-quilted, half-basted state.  So I hand washed it and hung it in the basement to dry.

Today I'll inspect it in the bright sunlight.  Hopefully all of the stains will come out.  Otherwise I'm not sure what I'll do.  I've already quilted through a big chunk of it...I'd hate to rip it all out and replace the entire back.  I just really hope it all washed out.

This is the quilting I've done so far.  My mom wanted all straight lines, so I hope she likes this.

Oh, and Juneau seems fine by the way - not sick at all.  Honestly, why couldn't she have just jumped onto the floor to do that?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pressing on

I'm 37 weeks pregnant and still using my treadle sewing machine.  I'm surprised that I'm able to do it still, but it's been pretty easy.  The only problem I had was with winding my bobbin - I usually run my machine super-fast to do it, and I get out of breath. 

Quilting goes just fine, though.

I'm finally at the quilting stage with my mom's Carpenter's Wheel quilt.  She requested a lot of straight-line stitching, which I thought would go quickly...unfortunately, it's become more challenging than I thought since I like my quilting to make an interesting pattern on the back of the quilt as well as the front.  I'm still working on laying it out but I have a general idea.

I've also been doing baby sewing - I sewed up a second flannel blanket for my baby, and a flannel and minky fabric blanket for my cousin's baby shower next week.  I want to make a pair of baby shoes too...I had intended to sew one pair in each size before the baby came, but now I think that may have been ambitious.  If I can sew a pair in the smallest size I'll be happy.

Luckily my sewing area is in the basement, and my kids ask to play in the basement at least once a day...I've been getting a lot more sewing time in.  I love summer!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Quilting the Log Cabin

I haven't been quilting much lately - why is that a constant statement on this blog?  Jeez.  My school year is almost over and I'll have about three weeks before the baby is due, so I hope to get some progress done on these quilts...plus the baby blanket I still have to make for her...plus the baby blanket I have to make for my cousin...

...I should do less blogging and more sewing.

Anyway, I basted my scrappy log cabin quilt and finally got a start on quilting it.  I was stuck on how to quilt it...I figured straight lines would make the most sense since they would just follow the lines of the quilt.  But I'm planning on doing straight line stitching on my mom's Carpenter's Wheel quilt, and I didn't really want to be doing tons of straight line quilting.  That would be boring.

So I figured a free motion design might work well on this one.  I thought and thought about what to do and felt totally stuck.  I looked up free motion designs on Pinterest and Leah Day's blog, but nothing clicked.  Then I found a blog called The Inbox Jaunt where she posted free motion quilting tutorials where she stitched things that looked like real objects.  That kind of clicked for me...when I thought about how I wanted this quilt to be used, I thought about my kids snuggling under it for years to come.  I wanted them to be able to be able to look at the beautiful variety of fabrics I used to make it, but I also wanted them to be able to spend time cuddled under it, running their fingers over the quilting.  My daughter loves the pink and red quilt I made, which I quilted all over with spirals.  I thought they'd love this too.

Also, wow, was it ever nice to get my beautiful Singer 115 out of its cabinet.  I hadn't used it in forever!  Free motion quilting is such a pleasure on that machine...smooth, speedy, wonderful.  It's by far my favorite machine.

I used one of her tutorials (the flower one), but mostly I'm just making up pictures as I go.  It's like doodling with thread.  It's fun and low-stress, since the design is so busy that the quilting really isn't center-stage anyway.  It's slow but enjoyable.  I'm making flowers, some meandering lines, some shapes like hearts and concentric circles, phrases and words in cursive, and some random pictures.  It's kind of hard to photograph, but below you can see one of the things I did tonight - a happy cat.

It's a long way from perfect.  It's a long way from beautiful.  But if I can fill this quilt with designs like this one, I know I'll be so much better at the end than I was at the beginning.  That's really what it's about...that, and creating something cheerful, colorful, and warm that my husband and kids will use over and over again.

I think both of those goals will be met by the end.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

At last!

Things have been really busy with wrapping up the school year (three weeks to go!) and getting ready for the baby (six weeks to go!).  I haven't been sewing a ton, but I did manage to finish another quilt top.  I've been working on this one FOREVER, so it's such a relief to get it basted.

Although pin basting on your hands and knees in your eighth month of pregnancy isn't the easiest thing.  That belly gets in the way!

I did manage to get it done, though.  Now I just have to baste my Carpenter's Wheel quilt, and start quilting them both.  I'm going to do straight line quilting on the Carpenter's Wheel one at my mom's request, but I want to do free motion on the log cabin quilt.  I have my Singer 115 set up for free motion work and it feels like it's been forever since I've used it!  I can't wait to get back to it!

I also made a baby blanket for the new arrival.  I planned on making two, so I have one to go.  I used this tutorial...it's simple and it works really well.  My kids still use the flannel blankets I made for them, even though they are really small now.  One of the blankets will be orange with yellow-striped backing, and this one is a bicycle pattern!  Not very girly, but too cute.

I really want to get going on FMQ, but first things first...tonight I need to make my bee block.  May is nearly over and I haven't started it.  It's not hard, I just need to do it.  It's so hard to go and piece another block when all I want to do is baste and quilt!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Mother's Day quilt

Today I gave my mom her Mother's Day present - a quilt top.  

I finished it at my local guild's sew day yesterday.  I'm so happy to finally see it coming together.  I asked my mom how she wanted it quilted, and she just asked for straight line quilting - easy enough!  I don't know if I'll get it basted, quilted, and bound before the baby comes, but I'm going to try. 

I'm itching to get started on this project, but before I do that I'm going to do my May bee block and finish my scrappy log cabin quilt top.  I still haven't decided on what to do for a back for this quilt, and I need some time.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


We removed the offending bits of metal and glued the base of the Bradbury back together.  Now, we wait. 

Once it's all firmly together I can oil it, or maybe take it outside and squirt some lubricant into it.  It turns, but just a little stiffly. 

I can't wait to get this one running.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Two "new" machines

Today I found a nice woman who lives within driving distance of me...and she happened to be selling off seven hand crank sewing machines!  Joy!  I went to look at them today and took home two of them.

I was seriously torn between a few of them...in the end I wound up dithering between an Ideal with beautiful decals and a box full of attachments (I'm a sucker for a rusty box full of a jumble of attachments) and a Bradbury.  I took the Bradbury.  I already have a box of attachments for my Singer 115 and a puzzle box of attachments for my Singer 27, so I figured I have enough gadgets lying around.  Plus, this machine was from England!  All my other machines are American.

Isn't it a beauty?  I love the decals.  The enamel is chipping off in places, but I still really like it.

The base is badly damaged, but after looking at it and emailing some pictures to my dad, I think it's within the realm of repair.  We'll try.
Apparently it cracked while being shipped to this woman's house, and then it appears that an attachment wedged itself into the crack, which means the cracked pieces no longer fit together.  If I can get that piece out I think it'll all come together again.
I don't know who this guy is, but from what I've Googled he's on all the Bradbury machines.  
These decals make my heart swooooooooon.  I did some Googling and I think the design is called Celtic Knot.  This makes up for not owning a Singer with Celtic Knot decals.
The other machine I got is a transverse shuttle machine.  I think this one is pre-1900s.  I'm excited because I've been wanting to own a machine with a manufacture date in the 1800s.  Unfortunately, it's in rough shape. A lot of the enamel is gone, and the decals are just history.  Still, it's interesting.
The seller thought the machine was German, so I did a Google Image search for "antique German sewing machine badge" and matched this one up with the Durkopp Company.  It makes sense because the bottom of the machine is stamped "D & Co."
The same symbol is on the base.
And what a base it is.  So ornate.  I love the female faces on the four corners and the ornate feet.  Who does that anymore? It's also my one and only fiddle base machine.
That hand crank is seriously old school.  See the faint chips of green and orange paint?  I bet this machine had gorgeous paint back in its day.
The stitch length adjuster (I think) and the serial number...just four digits long.  It's 2437.  I'm dying to know how old this is.
Sadly, no shuttle...and I'm sure there's no hope in ever getting one.

I'm very pleased with them.  I'm still researching them - I'm coming up with info for the Bradbury, but the Durkopp is really tough to research.  We'll see what happens.

Friday, April 26, 2013


I haven't been sewing much...lots of stress at work combined with normal pregnancy exhaustion makes it tough to go downstairs to sew.  Not to mention that my sewing space is in the basement, and we've had a ton of rain which has created a small stream through my area...blah!

But tomorrow I'm going to go scope out a potential early Mother's Day gift for myself, and maybe get it!  I'm going to look at some hand crank sewing machines that a local people powered machine enthusiast is selling.  From what I understand none of them are beauties - rusty, chipped enamel, missing decals - but they're interesting to me because they're all English or German.  My collection consists primarily of Singers, with a National and a White thrown in for good measure.  I'm really interested to see some other machines.  And I'm also interested because one of the machines has a transverse shuttle!  I have some vibrating shuttle machines and round bobbin machines but no transverse shuttle ones. 

Ha - so tomorrow I might be geeking out with a new machine or two...and then I'll get right back to sewing.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Busy night

Quilting and fiddling with a vintage machine...my crazy Monday night.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Hello, Kenmore

Today I went to my grandparents' house for the last time to get things left over from the estate sale.  I took a picture she made.  It's all needlepoint.  I chose this one because she stitched her name into it.  It was made two years before I was born.

I also got my grandma's sewing machine - a Kenmore model 1813.  I took it out of its cabinet, and will have to find a new base for it.  I'm still happy to have it, though!

It has some built-in stitches.  But if that wasn't enough, it also came with 30 pattern cams!  Cams make the machine do different fancy stitches.

You just pop it into the top of the machine and start stitching!  How fancy and modern!

I'm still working on making all the cams work...some do, but some are giving me trouble.  I can't wait to play around with it some more.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Coming together

I finished assembling the half-square triangles for my Carpenter's Wheel quilt.  Once I square them up and cut out my blue squares, I can start assembling the quilt top.

This evening I laid some of it out on the floor to see how the prints worked together.  I think it'll be okay.

I kind of wrestle with this because this isn't a quilt for me - it's a quilt for my mom.  If it was mine I'd put some orange or yellow in there to make things pop.  But my mom is a very traditional quilter who likes a more muted palette, and I want to make a quilt that she'll like.  No, scratch that...she likes my quilts.  I want to make her a quilt that she'd be willing to have out in her living room.  It's kind of hard when we have differing tastes.  However, I think this is growing on me.  At least the circle pattern kind of breaks things up. 

I'm planning on giving the quilt top to her for Mother's Day.  I can't wait to see her reaction.  I hope it's good!

Rockin Robin

Yesterday someone posted a link of my Facebook page to a project where someone sewed little stuffed birds to use in a mobile.  You can see the adorableness here.

Too cute, right?  I had to try.  My bird didn't turn out quite as well as theirs, but considering that I don't sew three-dimensional things and don't sew by hand very often, I think it was a good first attempt.

Hello, bluebird!

They offer the PDF pattern for free here if you want to sew up some birds of your own. It was really quick, although I did cheat and use my machine to sew up half of it.  However, I might cut out a bunch of pattern pieces and bring it as a hand sewing project to my quilt guild's next sewing days in the summer.  I love bringing my Singer 66 hand crank to sew on, but I'm almost into my seventh month of pregnancy and that thing is HEAVY.  I can only lug it around for so long. 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Button hole success

I tried out my buttonholer tonight on my Singer 115.  It took a while to get it all set up since it was the first time, but then I cranked out a button hole super-easy.

I snipped out the center of the hole, and...success!

I'm no seamstress, but now I'm tempted to make something with button holes, just to use it again.  It's such a clever little device.  I'm going to study the manual to make my button holes prettier...they were a little ragged looking, but I could tell they were still of higher quality than the button holes on my cheaply made shirt. 

Love it. 


Today we got together with my parents for Easter, and my mom had more things from my grandparents' estate.  Mostly she just picked out stuff that was nice for me, my brother, and my sister to divide up.  But this was especially for me.

My grandma's Singer buttonholer.

The machine she was using most recently was a Kenmore, but the machine before that was a Singer.  Apparently this was the buttonholer for that machine.  I found a video on YouTube that featured, I think, this buttonholer hooked up to a Singer 27, but I can't find it now.  I'm sure the good people on the Treadle On mailing list will be able to help me figure out how to use it. 

I'm pretty excited.  After the kids go to bed I'll try to figure it out. 

Next weekend my grandparents' house will be opened up one last time to let their kids and grandkids take what's left.  I'm going to go and take any of Grandma's sewing stuff that's still there.  I'm sad to do it, but I'd rather go and have it end up with me instead of just ending up on the curb.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Planning - not my forte

I'm usually a great planner, but pregnancy has made me absent-minded.  That's not the best thing when picking up a long-abandoned quilting project.

Since it's almost April I got the urge to finish the quilt top for my mom's Carpenter's Wheel quilt with the idea that I could give her the top for Mother's Day. I had shelved the project when I ran out of gray fabric.  The fabric store didn't have it in stock again, and then we found another gift for my mom for Christmas (this was originally going to be her Christmas gift), and I was feeling worse and worse with morning sickness, and then...it just ground to a halt.

Today I went to the fabric store and noticed the gray fabric was back!  Huzzah!  I bought two yards and brought it home to chop up.

But when I got my pieces out, I noticed that I had an awful lot of uncut gray fabric in my pile of Carpenter's Wheel fabrics.  Maybe enough to finish the project...

...and then I realized I hadn't run out of gray.  I'd run out of blue.  And then I clearly remembered that it wasn't the gray fabric they'd been out of...I had cleaned them out of really saturated, monochromatic, forget-me-not blue fat quarters and yardage.  That's what I needed.  More blue.

I'm going to finish my half-square triangles, including trimming and squaring up, to make absolutely sure of what I need before I go back to the fabric store. 

And I labeled all of my materials to keep everything straight.  No more screw ups. 

Although it's not bad.  I can still use the gray on my husband's hexagon quilt. But still...so frustrating.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Estate sale

I mentioned once before that my grandparents both passed away in 2012.  Today was their estate sale.  I went - I don't know why.  My mom called me later after the sale was over and asked if I wanted anything, so I totally could have saved myself an hour of driving and six dollars.  But I'm happy with what I got.

This was a little tin filled with random sewing stuff.  My mom kept her sewing stuff in a cookie tin, so it made me smile to think it might be hereditary. 

Inside was mostly bobbins and random stuff.  A lot of tape measures and screwdrivers.  There were also some seam rippers, which is good, because I can always use those!

A thimble.  Do I even have that on the right finger?

I also found a bunch of teeny-tiny crochet hooks.  My mom told me they were used for tatting, which is neat because I was thinking I wanted to learn tatting.

She had a lot of them.  She sewed a lot of clothes for her kids (they had eight, so you had to do something to save money!) so maybe she made lace for the girls' dresses.

Honestly Grandma, you could have popped for a new pencil.  You deserved it.

I liked this.  It's a little tape measure.  It says Standard Die Press on it.  My grandpa was a tool and dye maker, and I imagine he got this from a business associate or something, and it wound up in Grandma's sewing supplies.

My parents are also bringing me Grandma's Singer button-holer.  I had originally driven down there to consider buying Grandma's sewing machine.  It's a cool old Kenmore, but I didn't buy it because I wanted it to go intact to somebody who would use it a lot.  I'd use it, but really not that much.  However, I told my mom that if nobody takes it, I would, because I'd rather it stay with me than end up on the curb.  So she said that after everyone in the family went through one more time, if it was still left she'd get it for me.  That sounds like a good deal to me.  I just want it to go somewhere where it'll be used.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Monthly block

I had to make a wonky house block for the Newbee Quilters bee.  This is the result of my efforts.

It wasn't super wonky, but it's more crooked than most other things I make.  So I guess that's progress? 

I wasted a lot of fabric in making this...I suppose I should have followed a tutorial or something, which would have been a more efficient way of doing things.  But at least it's done!  I wonder what April's block will be.