Saturday, January 26, 2013

Grandma's clock

My maternal Grandma passed away last July.  My Grandpa passed away in October...I think he just couldn't bear to be without her and his body just gave out.  Now my mom and her siblings are going through their house, cleaning it out and preparing it and its contents for sale.

My grandparents were amazing people.  My aunt (on the other side of my family - my dad's sister) summarized them best.  She said they were just good people...when they saw a need, they filled it.  And they did it quietly, without seeking recognition.  They were devout Catholics and served their parish and the people around them every chance they had.  They were amazing.

As my mom's siblings talk about what they want from the estate, I asked my mom to get me something from the house.  I wanted something that Grandma or Grandpa used regularly - a roasting pan, a desk set, something like that.  Or, more preferably, I wanted something they made.  Grandpa was an enthusiastic amateur photographer and Grandma was very crafty. She sewed clothes - even her own winter coat once.  She upholstered their living room furniture.  She did needlepoint and embroidery.  I wish I had asked her about these things more when she was alive...I guess all I can do is learn my lesson and try to learn as much as I can from my equally crafty mom.

As she was cleaning out the house my mom  found two clocks that Grandma had made.  The faces of the clocks were needlepoint, and they had been mounted into wooden boxes and clock mechanisms were installed.  They clocks had identical faces...the boxes were a little different, but for the most part, they are twin clocks.  We have no idea why Grandma made two of the same clock...was one meant to be a gift for someone else?  Did she just really love the pattern and made two for different rooms in her house?  Who can tell.

Here's the clock.

It's obviously nothing I would choose to make, but even if it's not your choice of project, it's easy to admire the workmanship that went into it.

I hate's so slow and time-consuming.  Grandma made a lot of cross-stitches to complete this huge project.  She didn't even use cross-stitch's just linen.  Still, her little x's are remarkably consistent in size.

The blue part of the clock face is a big blue piece of fabric.  She turned it under and sewed it down with the tiniest stitches.

I can't even imagine how long it took to outline and fill these numerals. 

The work that went into this clock is amazing.  And she made TWO of them! 

I'm so happy to have this because it's the type of thing that would never sell at an estate sale, at least not for more than a few bucks.  The idea of all of this work sitting on a table labeled "$5" or, even worse, getting sent to a landfill, makes me so sad.  I'm so glad I can keep it.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Leather & Hexagons

This evening I tried doing some free motion...not quilting, but stitching?  Anyway, I tried it on leather.  I was just curious if it could be done.  Wait, scratch that...I was pretty sure it could be done.  I was curious to see if it could be done by me on my little domestic sewing machine.

I tried it on my Singer 115, which is in a treadle base.  I use the 115 for free motion work, and I kind of have it in my head that the 115 is "dainty"...maybe because I only do fancy free motion quilting on it.  But the truth is, the 115 is just as overbuilt as the rest of my antique machines, and free motion quilting is hard on a machine.  The 115 was able to handle this without a problem.

Full disclosure: I stitched this with an inappropriate needle (a quilting needle, not a heavy leather needle) and inappropriate thread (just regular poly sewing thread, not heavy thread) so that may have impacted the results.

First I stitched two hearts.  The one on the right was my first you can see, I lost track of my thread on the left curve of the heart.  The heart on the left turned out better.

I also made a daisy.

After that I practiced a few more seams.  I suppose that the next step for me will be to find a leather project to do, and practice some of the techniques used in that project.  What is the most basic, easiest project someone can sew with leather?

Last weekend was my local Modern Quilt Guild sew day, and I made a few log cabin quilt blocks.  I also nearly finished the hexagons I need for my husband's quilt.

I don't need a ton of hexagons...they're just going to be in a line down one side of the quilt.   I need to make three purple ones, and then I'm done!  I need to get some background fabric.

Monday, January 7, 2013


Recently my husband bought a guitar strap with leather ends.  He wound up cutting it apart to modify it, and wanted me to sew a seam to reinforce what he'd done.  I was pretty sure my machines could sew through leather, but I asked the good people on the Treadle On mailing list for advice before I tried.

It turns out that sewing leather is a lot different than sewing quilting cotton, so I decided not to sew his guitar strap yet.  But, I was sufficiently inspired to try sewing leather.  One generous Treadle On member mailed me a package of leather scraps to play around with.

This evening I tried it out.  I was initially going to use my Singer 27, which is in a treadle base.  But then I decided to use my Singer 66, which is powered by hand crank.  My poor 66 doesn't get much love - I only really use it on quilt guild sewing days.  And 66s with red eye decals, like mine, are dead common and not really sought after by collectors.  Even though the 66 was the finest machine of its time, it doesn't get much respect now.  I decided to see if it could prove itself.

This is the leather piece I started with.  A narrow strip.  The leather wasn't as thick as belt leather, but it wasn't vinyl-thin either.

I sewed one test line on a single thickness of leather, and it went so easily.  Next I doubled the leather up so I was sewing through two pieces.  Easy peasy!  I had to tug it a little to get it to start moving through the machine, but once the machine got going it just glided through.  I used a regular quilting needle, not a leather needle, since I was just playing around.

It sews a nice, tight seam.

I sewed together some more strips and yanked on them as an experiment.  I pulled them apart, but it wasn't my stitches that gave - the thread itself shredded.  I was just using regular polyester thread.  The recommendations I saw said to use upholstery thread or kevlar thread. 

Lovely!  Good job, little red eye!

I haven't seen tutorials on leather sewing projects online...but then again, I haven't looked much.  I'd love to sew something.  I think there might not be much out there because modern sewing machines would have trouble sewing through leather well.  Not my old beast, though! 

I have a new level of respect for my old 66.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Why I've been sick...

I've mentioned a couple of times that I've been sick and haven't wanted to sew.  Well, there's a reason.

As of today I'm 13 weeks pregnant.

I've been so hesitant to share the news since I had a miscarriage, but I recently had an OB appointment and they found a good heartbeat via Doppler.  They also found a heartbeat at 8 weeks via ultrasound, so it's good to have a second confirmation that there's a healthy little person in there!

I'm very excited and trying to have faith that it'll work out this time.  Prayers and well wishes are appreciated.

I have to go find some sort of a wheeled cart to carry my hand crank sewing machine to sewing days.  Pretty soon 35 lbs of cast iron will be too much to carry!