Friday, December 13, 2013

Blocks, blocks!

     My mom can sew straight lines, though not a quilter, but garment sewer. For the comfort quilts, I have asked her to sew strips and squares. The exploding squares quilts have light center and dark center blocks. I cut, press, and sort them. I just got back a lot of them. I had to mark and cut them open, press. When pressed here, I probably have enough to make at least 2 quilts. Recognize any fabric donated, Vicki? 
Mixed light centers and dark center blocks
Light center blocks
Dark center blocks

I also used one jelly roll in orange brights from to make 3 Dudes quilt blocks (6 strips sewn together WOF, cut into 12 1/2" squares, one put on top going the opposite way from the bottom one, sew all 4 sides, cut diagonally twice). Here they are on the wall, have to organize them before sewing together.

    I used the left overs from the Exploding Squares Blocks to sew up some piano keys strips that I will use later in a border somewhere.

Wonder-full times

     As a chronic migraine sufferer, days when I have no headache are super terrific and wonderful. As a quilter, from pieces of fabric, to complete, textural quilts is awesome and wonderful. As a vintage sewing machine tinkerer, removing filth, rust, and disuse and having a quality object purring better than its new counterparts is awesome and full of wonder. My grandchildren have entered into the wonder-full spot with fabric. The 20 month old discovered a bag of my teeny tiny scraps given to me and not yet sorted. With great glee she kept tossing them over herself and the floor...for 30 minutes. My three year old grandson joined in also. Another day this week, my grandson asked me what was ouchy on my machines, and I said just the needle. "So where is it, Grandma Linda?", he asked. When I showed him, he aked, "What does it do?". I had him pick out two scraps and put it under the treadle's needle and had him turn the spoked wheel until the fabric feed through. When I took out the fabric, and showed him the two pieces were now one, his eyes opened wide and mouth fell open. And then he said, "My arm hurts, that's enough." So I told him next time we will get out the handcrank. Does it get any better than this? Two grandchildren who think grandma's entire room filled with vintage sewing machines and fabric are cool and no big deal? Many adults ask me questions like, "So how many do you have?" and I ask them how many shoes they have. Or, "You can't afford a new one?" or a whole room for sewing? People don't think anything of a whole huge room for a TV/Home theater. 

Grandson's seam

Two pieces into one!

Tiny piece they found in the scraps and were fighting over. I promised them I would make an ornament for them.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Projects done and in progress

   I was able to finally lay out the fleece and cut the quillow for my granddaughter. I used two pieces, one larger so I could cut two 18 x 18 squares for the pillow sleeve. I used a plate to trace curves for the corners, looks so much better with curves. I had a little piece left over, so I made her baby a blanket. She is so into baby dolls. My daughter never looked at them. Sewed on the 201 without a skip or miss.
Side with pocket

Side without pocket

Folded quillow in pillow sleeve, baby doll blanket
     The binding for the Comfort Quilt child quilt was finished and hopefully the quilt has reached the little girl.
Back of quilt, fabric donated by Esta

Quilt with Binding
    I bought some parts to fix machines given to me for tuning and with that I bought a marked plate for the 201. I also bought a seam guide from Nova Montgomery to get perfect seams on long pieces and when chain piecing. I used it for adding borders and chain piecing some strips and it works great. I can loosen and move it if I don't want to use it. I like it much better than a 1/4" foot with the blade.
Attached to the 201 with the new marked plate, not silvertone, but shiny

Guide in use doing a long strip
    My daughter's girlfriend had a baby over the weekend. I bought this panel and fabric way back, but forgot or put off making this. I sewed it together today, but don't know if I will have time to back and quilt this before Christmas.

With borders, it is about 40 X 50

Saturday, December 7, 2013

New Quilt and old machines

    Today, I speed made a comfort quilt for a 9 yr. old girl undergoing aggressive cancer treatment. I got an email from someone requesting this quilt for a girl in another city. I did not think I could do it. However, I remembered I had my mother sew strips together from a jelly roll I bought at Jelly roll fabric during a sale. I had her sew 4 strips together, light and dark alternating. She can handle straight sewing. I pulled them out and if I cut them into 8 1/2" blocks, it gave me 20. I arranged them in the split rail design and used the leftovers to make a strip of 2 1/2" squares for the top and bottom. I had some purple that I cut into 4" strips to border, and then a blue for the sides. It looks custom I hope. I quilted 4 heart shapes meeting in the center of each block with Glide. The borders I quilted with hearts in pink Isacord. I kind of made up designs for the scrap strips and side borders also in pink Isacord. A pink binding done with the glue method, sewed to the front, flipped and glued to the back, sewed from the front in the ditch with invisible thread, YLI, and Aurifil in the bobbin. I put pockets on the purchased tote bag and made a quilt card. I just need to get a book for her. I use When God and Cancer Meet by Lynn Eib for the adult bags, but have not found a good book for children. Any recommendations? I think I will try and find a kid Chicken Soup for the Soul quick.

   Besides getting the 201 up and running, two people brought me machines to revive. Ruthy brought me her grandma's White 639 which had a shredded belt and frayed wire to the controller. A guild member brought me an inherited Kenmore 158.1650 which also needs a belt and was frozen up. Soaking with Tri Flow has it moving. So, the order for parts is out to Sew-Classic and when it comes in, hopefully these two will be done and gone before the holidays.

Kenmore 158.1650 with yucky masking tape to get off, why do they do that?

White 639 soaking in the oil

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Quilt Retreat

    Well, I had been closed out of a quilt retreat Thanksgiving weekend, but late on Wednesday, I got a call saying there had been a cancellation. I couldn't stay for Sunday, but I went all day Friday and Saturday. I only knew the woman who had invited me, but it turns out I knew a couple of others and re-acquainted with twins that I had graduated from high school with and had not seen since. What a great couple of sisters and what a wonderful bunch of women to sew with. I was the only one quilting, the rest were piecing. I finished Aurora Aura and am working on finishing Flippin' Nine Patch. I took my trusty 301s with me and was the only one sewing on vintage machines, very happily. The retreat was at a Lutheran camp, Camp Pioneer, in Angola, NY. The weather was spectacular. There had been an early snow, but no wind and sunny skies. I will post some photos here, but all of them on are my Flickr site. The cabins were modern and the staff fed us. There were plenty of snacks to distract. The main room is on the lake and the view is unbelievable. I could just move in.

Deck behind the Sewing Room

Some of the cottages

Friday late afternoon from the deck

Looking towards Buffalo

Too cold to sit on the viewing benches

Back windows of Sewing Room

In the Sewing Room

Saturday Sunset

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It is done and running strong!

   I need a drumroll. Finally, the 201 I bought in tattered wiring condition and filthy, is actually sewing. I could clean and polish, but it took a friend to do the wiring in the motor. It even took an entire day for me to finally hook it up and run. My husband said electrical stuff it like that. Sometimes it just has be the right time to fire. Today, I sewed with it. At first it was great gobs of loopy thread underneath. I took off the the tension knob and re-cleaned and re-oiled, re-assembled. I found some vintage bobbins, the new ones don't work. I had to hold down the bobbin winder, but it did the job. The bottom case is all finished also, looks terrific with the machine.

Ensconced in the sewing room

  Since this machine took a long time to find, to clean, to get wires right, I thought the first thing to sew were some blocks that Missy Shay requested for a prayer quilt she is making a friend. I had the right color scraps and was able to sew 8 of them, the stitching close to flawless, still need some tweaking. I had to oil a few moving parts again, but soon it was just humming. The 201 is such a stately machine. I still love the 301s, I feel I know them. Love the slant needle, metal gears, no belts.
Red and white Rail Fence Blocks courtesy of the 201

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Working away on different things

    Since I have a lot of projects going on at once, sometimes I just chip away at a variety of them. I needed a birthday card for a very good friend, so I usually make cards in a multiple of 4 because I have to drag so much stuff out. I wish I could take an entire day and make a whole supply of cards. I used batik scraps (always save them, rescue them from others) on a base of heavy interfacing sewing on my Singer 401 with YLI invisible thread, black aurifil in the bobbin. I added some novelty yarn at the edges instead of doing satin stitch zig zags.
     I have been cutting up jeans that some quilt guild friends donated to me. I am making another applique art quilt. I did not want to throw out so much, so it dawned on me that I could cut the pockets out in the shape of stockings. I got some recommendations on sewing them, like using a denim 16 needle, and hammering down the seams. I sewed two just to see if I coud do it. I used the 401, invisible YLI thread, and aurifil in the bobbin. Here are the first two. I don't want to use Christmas trim, but how can I add some things to this to make them extra special?
One side

The other side  
 The landscape quilt in progress. Next step, cut denim out for each numbered template shape and start assembling on the hand dye. I am going to pin them down after applying Liquid Thread like Grace Errea showed on her applique quilts on The Quilt Show episode. They won't stick at this point, but be ironed later. The plastic overlay sheet will help me (hopefully?) position them. Then iron them down, then quilt adding the batting and backing first. Clear as mud?
The freezer paper templates

The plastic sheet line up guide on the hand dye background

The original sketch with values added

        Also, I finished quilting the leader-ender 4 patch quilt from a  previous post. All it needs is the binding. I quilted it with Glide, a USA made polyester thread, that I was dying to try. I bought some from Just Threads at the quilt show in Old Forge. A huge cone for $8.99. It is a little heavier than Isacord, but it is AWESOME quilting with it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

More Cleaning

   Besides the 301, I also have been working on a Singer 237 I bought that will go into the treadle stand that is not completed refinished. This machine was made in Italy, so now I have the US, Great Britain, and Italy represented in my sewing colony. It was not terribly dirty, but surprising, inside, it had a lot of surface rust. This machine is from the 70s, and all the older machines I have, have never had rust like this one. The casting is a lot rougher than my other Singers. A green scratchie and rubbing alcohol got rid of most of the rust. The needle plate was stuck to the insides with rust, yet the outside of the machine is pristine. I wonder if the quality of the steel was just not as good? I remember Fiats and Alpha Romeos from the 70s and they were a joke of a rustbucket- great interiors, lousy steel. Anyways, I coated all the metal with Tri-flow and hope that will arrest the problem. I am going to disengage the motor for use on a treadle so I can zig zag on a treadle. The belt that was on there was so stiff, that the motor wouldn't turn the machine, so I put on one of those rubber band types to see how it sews. The zig zags looked perfect. I had done a lot of digging out of old gunk in the zig zag gears with wooden sticks and alcohol and regreased with Tri-flow grease, so it paid off. Now, I have the refinish job on the treadle top to contend with and I can't work out in the garage anymore.
Before cleaning

Cleaning out the surface rust

The zig zag gears

All shined up, ready to sew