Thursday, September 4, 2014

Christmas in September

   You might remember my post in early August about the work on the Pink Atlas.  I also posted this project on Facebook and was contacted by an old friend and previous co-worker about a machine she had acquired at an auction.  She was bidding on a tablecloth and the auctioneer threw in a sewing machine trying to raise the bidding past $1.00.  No one else joined the bidding with the additional incentive and Debbie ended up with her tablecloth and an unwelcome 50 lb. boat anchor, she thought.  When she saw my post about my vintage machine, she saw her opportunity to get it out of her garage.  I said "yes", sight unseen.  We have spent the last two weeks, trying to find a day to get together, catch up on each other's lives, and switch the sewing machine from her car to mine.  Today was the day!

     She wouldn't take the $1.00, so I took her to lunch and gave her a hand-quilted doll quilt for her granddaughters.  Quite a bargain, I thought.  
Here's what she brought me.
A Singer 128

Crinkle finish, Centennial.


You probably noticed it is missing its slide plates, but has the bullet shuttle, a key to the case and some attachments.   The wiring is pretty dicey, but it runs and sews after some Liquid Wrench and sewing machine oil.  I'm in love!
    That's all for tonight.  I'm off to search the web for some black slide plates.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Quilting Season

     I saw this picture today on Facebook page and loved it.  That's the way I feel about September.

    I really love summer, but also miss the long days of sewing and the feeling of accomplishment that comes from making real progress on a project in a day's time.  To celebrate, I decided to clean off the cutting table.  Here is the pile of scraps from the summer sewing waiting to be cut into usable pieces.

                      And here is the stack of strips and charms ready to be stored in their bins.

On upper left is strips and squares, lower right is the throwaway pieces from that whole pile and bottom center is some chunks and narrow strips going to someone who uses smaller pieces than I do.  I concentrated on 2 1/2 inch squares to add to the Split Nine-Patch I've been working on, so now have lots more variety for it.

     And finally, I finished row A of my Dear Jane quilt.  Here are the last five blocks of that row.  
It was quite a feeling of accomplishment to put all 13 of those blocks in a baggie.  Now to start on row B.  They don't seem as complicated as those in row A.  Hopefully it will go faster.  

I hope you got some September stitching done today, too.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A-10, Dear Jane

A-10 is done!  It was a dandy too.  What is it about the A row?  I should have started this when I was 40.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dear Jane, A-9

After another hour today, that little block is done.  A little wonky and I had to use a different fabric to finish the outside row, but done is better than perfect, right?  I always underestimate how much fabric paper piecing requires, so ran out of the background after doing the center.  Here it is in all of its tiny glory.

     Have a great Labor Day week-end.  I hope you have time for some stitching.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer's Swan Song

     Summer is coming to a close and even though it still feels like August, September is just around the corner.  It has been a pretty slow week around here.  We had a full week-end with company from Colorado, and had a great time.  Lola and I traveled to Stover and Excelsior for a little quilt shopping, so that was fun too.  Sunday was something of a let-down, as they left Sunday morning, so in the afternoon I went to the sewing room and started quilting on a project that had been sandwiched since May.  It has some mistakes in it, which I refuse to point out to you, so I haven't had much enthusiasm for finishing it.  But once I started the quilting it began to look better, so now I am pretty happy with it, mistakes and all.
Here is the finish.  Don't look too close.
I found this stencil at one of the Mennonite shops Saturday and
it fit perfectly in the big blocks.  It was easy to adapt to free motion quilting.
I had never used this pounce pad, but it worked well.  Messy though.

Here is a close-up of the stitched block.

I always have several things going at once.  I'm still working on those Halloween blocks.  I was given these adorable vintage post card prints a couple of years ago.  I would pull them out and admire them, but wasn't sure how to use them.  

I now have a plan.

Stay tuned for the big reveal.  

    I signed up for a challenge on my Dear Jane Yahoo group, one block a month.  You would think that would be very do-able, right?  Then I chose A-9 for my block.  Two hours later, it still isn't done.  How can one little 4 1/2 inch block take that much time?  Here are the ones that are done, but no A-9 in the group.
If I get it finished tomorrow, I'll share it in a quick post.  You can help me decide why it took so long.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Summer Sabbatical 2014

     I don't know why I can't keep up with this blog in the summer.  I suppose I just need to let everyone know I'm taking the summer off instead of just disappearing for several months.
    I had a great vacation in June, visiting Williamsburg and Washington DC, traveling with a quilting friend.  We looked for antique quilts everywhere we went with no luck in finding them.  Not in Williamsburg, believe it or not.  We did see an occasional one in the historic homes we toured, but I suspect most were modern reproductions, as they were on beds, not behind glass.  I thought, for sure, we would see them in the Smithsonian.  They did direct us to a certain gallery, but the only quilt there was a small doll quilt (behind glass), that was a reproduction of a four patch, made for the bicentennial in 1976.  I'm sorry, that is not an antique quilt to someone who was making quilts in 1976. ( I also made matching bicentennial dresses for myself and my two daughters in that year.  The girls were adorable in them, by the way.)  We finally found someone who told us there were antique quilts in the Smithsonian collection, but they were in storage, and not on display.  So much for our tax-supported National Museum in Washington DC.  We did finally find a quilt museum on our way home in Harrisonburg VA, which was very nice, albeit small.
It was in an old house close to the center of town.  I'd recommend it if you are in the area.  No photos were allowed inside, of course.

    I have done some sewing this summer.  I managed to get one quilt quilted of the two that I sandwiched in May.  I had a deadline on this one.  It was my UFO challenge for my guild and was due at the August meeting last week.  These were the birthday blocks from 2012.  I really like the setting.
Here is a close-up of one of the blocks.

    Speaking of Quilt Guild, here is a picture of some name tags I made for new members.  They finish at 4 inches.  There's not much room for error in a 4 inch block.

     I went to a one-day sewing retreat in July and had a great time.  It was in Brunswick, MO, the location of Sew Sweet Quilt Shop, which has a beautiful new retreat center., where we were privileged to meet Victoria Findlay Wolfe, visiting Missouri from New York. She makes some beautiful quilts and was a super nice person, in the bargain.  
     Here is what I was working on:
I picked up the pattern and bunting fabric in Atlanta in February and thought it was appropriate to work on in July.  The star fabric came out of the scrap bins.

    I needed some handwork for the summer, for those long summer evenings when I want to be outside, but have difficulty just sitting in a lawn chair watching fireflies.  Here was the stitching project for those times.
This is a pattern by Shelly Pagliai  Shelly taught at Arrow Rock Quilt Camp last spring and also organized the little retreat in Brunswick with Victoria Findlay Wolfe.  Shelly does a lot of the quilting for Victoria.  I wish I had pictures to show you of those.

     One of my biggest projects of the summer was buying and refurbishing another vintage sewing machine.  I had long admired the machines called the "Pink Atlas".  They were a class 15 Japanese clone modeled after the Singer 15-91 and other class 15 machines.  Mine is a 1953 model, so would have been making its debut about the time I started sewing at age 9 or 10.  
It is really more peach colored than pink, but has as much chrome as a cadillac of the era.  The case was in terrible shape with termite damage and a peeling cover.

And here is the transformation;


     The machine also required some work, a new bobbin tire, tension check spring, foot controller, re-wiring, etc.  She is now running well and has been named "Blossum".

     I haven't neglected my treadle with all the excitement of a "new" vintage machine.  Lest she feel forgotten, I took a paper piecing project to her this week, and she sewed like a champ.  Talk about control when you need to start and stop in a particular spot, she's the girl.  
Notice the colors?  I'm thinking Halloween!  My favorite holiday.
    Stay tuned and keep on stitching.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A week of treadling

     This week has been one of those limbo weeks.  I am going on vacation next week and this week was a short one due to the holiday, therefore I haven't been able to get into anything of any consequence.

I  did spend a couple of hours in one of our community buildings sandwiching a couple of quilts, using two 8 foot tables pushed together.  It sure is better than crawling around and around on the floor, especially for a larger quilt.  I haven't wanted to start the quilting because of being gone next week, so was looking around for something to sew on that wouldn't require much concentration and could be easily interrupted.
     I pulled out the Split Nine Patches and brought them upstairs to the Singer 127.  I knew my treadling skill could use some improvement, so decided to concentrate on getting more comfortable with that process.  Here's the things that needed improvement; my 1/4 inch seam was inconsistent, my seams weren't very straight, the treadle belt was slipping and I would frequently break the thread because I would start the treadle movement backwards.
     I set up my sewing space and started addressing these issues.  I had bought a 1/4 inch piecing foot that was supposed to fit the 127, but if I used it, the fabric wouldn't feed through right.  I tried adjusting the presser foot pressure, but it still wouldn't feed properly.  I put the original presser foot back on, but then my seam wasn't a consistent size.  After trying several ways of marking the throat plate, I ended up with masking tape plus a magnetic business card.  Whenever you change the bobbin, you open the bobbin cover and disrupt the magnetic card, thus the need for both.
     Next, I shortened the treadle belt by about a 1/4 inch.  That helped with starting the machine going in the right direction.  I am happy to report that I haven't broken the thread all week.
     Now to work on the straight seam issue.  I seem to need to pin a little more with the treadle.  Otherwise, when I take my right hand off the fabric to give the flywheel a push, I get a little zag in my seam, or maybe its a zig, anyway it zig-zags.  I also think practice will make perfect.  The more I do it, the more control I feel I have.  I don't seem to think about the treading as much as I did.
    I love these split nine-patches.  Everyone of them is unique.  I have 70 now, on my way to 196.  That will give me a quilt 84 X 84.  The blocks finish at 6 inches.  Here's some of them;

I love how the shades of color blend on each side of the diagonal line.  I do find it difficult to just pick up the units willy-nilly and sew them together.  I find myself planning the color arrangement of each block.  I don't think that is the intent of a scrappy quilt, but just can't help myself.
     I will try to post about vacation, but not sure I can do it with my phone or i-Pad while on the move.  If I can't figure it out, I will post when I get home.  Meanwhile,
keep on stitchin'.