Friday, February 28, 2014

Cat in the woods

    After painting class, I put my snow scene (based on a photo from the Thanksgiving quilt retreat), on a chair. Unfortunately it was the favorite chair of Cassie and she climbed up as usual to nap. It was a big humorous, like she was in the woods. 
The painting looks washed out here from the flash, but you get the idea
     Last week was my baby girl's birthday. She is 28. Yikes, how did that happen? She loves the ADK, so I made her a scene on her card. Batik scraps, heavy weight interfacing, free motion quilting, variegated blue Isacord thread, metallic thread, yarn edging on cardstock. Wouldn't a whole quilt look great like this?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pin basting and tables

    For my Christmas present, my husband bought me 3, 6' tables- the plastic ones that fold in half for storage. It was the best present. Finally, I can baste my quilts, and not lay them out not on the floor. It is great. Over the weekend, I was able to baste 4 quilts. I usually spray baste the lap size, but it is too cold for the spray to work outside. I hate to pin baste mostly because it rips up my fingers. I always leave the pins open in the container, but closing them is not fun. Someone at my guild suggested a grapefruit spoon. Lo and behold, there was one in my drawer. However, I did not know how I was supposed to use it, on what part of the pin? After about 10 minutes of fooling around, I realized that the serrated groove in the spoon holds the pointed shaft of the pin and the other hand pushed the clasp to it. Sorry, I am not the sharpest crayon in the box. So maybe someone would benefit from this simple tip, like I would have. I have to say, not one shredded or poked finger after 4 quilts, so it works like a charm. Don't you just love when something so simple works so elegantly?

3 new tables!

The inspector general checks out the pin basting

Catch the pointed shaft in the teeth of the spoon, it helps to tilt the spoon

Push the catch to the spoon and click, no ouchies

401 cleaned and out the door!

     The 401 is totally cleaned and tuned. I delivered it to its owner, the receptionist at my PT on my visit for the neck. After all the gunk was cleaned out and oiled. there was a little corrosion to the tension discs in the tension dial. I had to disassemble, polish and reassemble. Good thing I have a 401 so I could check I was putting it together right. I always forget to photo something before I take something apart. I guess I am just too eager to jump in and fix. There was some other corrosion starting in the hook and thread guides. It needed a new spool pin, new felts, a new bobbin tire and lots of oil. The finishing touch was polishing with TR3. Just love the stuff. It does not harm the decals and the shine is so glass-like. It was missing the drip pan, it sits in a cabinet and I could not talk her into buying one on ebay. It has all the accessories except the straight stitch foot. 

All shiny! Yes, I know the spool pin is still missing in this photo.
I had not drilled out the old one yet.

No more gunk or corrosion

All the lint scrapped out along with hard gunk.
Isn't that machining just gorgeous?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

401 Bubble bath time!

   Well, not actually a bubble bath, but serious scrubbing time. The receptionist at my physical therapist's office told me about an old machine she had and didn't know if it was worth tuning. I told her to bring it and I would grab it at the next appointment. It was a wonderful 401! Her husband had bought it used for her when they got married. It was running, but very gunky with hardened oil and grease. I have it almost cleaned except for the tension dial and polishing with TR3. I used rubbing alcohol to get rid of the gunk with qtips and wooden pointed sticks in all the gears and cam stack. Everything was pretty hardened up and stuck on. I love when it all comes off and the metal looks like new. I have not taken the finished photos yet. It is a great machine.
Under the hook

Camstack with gunk

Handwheel removed

Needle bar area

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Getting the values right

    I have been sewing, well mostly fighting with sewing machines. I have been having migraine issues which make it hard to get these blog posts written. However, I want to pass on a tip to get the values organized with a quilt. I am working on my daughter's quilt that is all curves (Circle Dance from January 20th)  and have to line up the values. I used the camera set on B&W to see the values and rearranged the fabric until it flowed from the darks to the lightest values. I find that the red cellophane window works mostly ok, but the turquoise values will read as really dark with the red. This value chart will help when I sew the curves together so I have the most contrast to keep the eye moving. I still tweaked a couple after the photo.
The two parts of the drunkards path from dark to light

You can see the progression much better in black and white

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Making Valentine Crumb cards

  Every year, I make Valentine cards. Usually, I silk screen them. However, I am immersed in quilting lately and in love with crumbs. So, here is how I made a bunch. The insides need to be stamped yet. The stamps are from my former life as an art teacher. Every year, I taught the kids to make valentine cards. We made cards for the local VA hospital using collage and stamps. That was a great thing for the kids to do.
  I started with red and white and pink scraps sewing crumbs together. I love to do this.
I like to throw smidges of other colors in
     I keep building the crumbs until I get a large hunk. I ironed Heat and Bond on the back. I don't like it for quilting, so this was good to use for this.
     Then, I cut some heavy interfacing and fused the crumb piece to it. I traced a heart shape on in pencil, as close to each other as possible. I even made some small hearts out of the leftovers.  I made my heart template making sure the heart was not equally symmetrical (boring). I cut out the hearts. I like the heft of the hearts cut out.

    I buy the cards already cut and scored with the envelopes, using a coupon at Joanns, AC Moore, or Michaels. I put Crafter's Pick, The Ultimate Glue on the back and glued them to the cards. I have this quirk I can't make two things the same. So, I tried some pastels and crayons behind the hearts for a few.

     I wan't really crazy about that. I glued some buttons on some of them as an accent.

     Then, I sewed some fancy yarn around the edges using the Singer 401 zig zag and invisible YLI thread. It was a lot of work. I don't know how much it added.

      The rest, I just glued them on as I thought they had a lot of design going on. It is hard for you to see that they have dimension to them.

     Bottom line is, I just think they need to be on a quilt. I am not making 20+ mini quilts. I did not want to make postcards because I wanted the hearts 3D. I thought the hearts might look good on mini painted canvas but who besides me would hang them up? I am thinking maybe I should make some mini quilts in these fabrics and have them next year for a few people. I just should be happy that I made plenty of cards with crumbs to give away. The line between card and quilt is hard to break.

Just had a brain flash! I could have bought valentine scrapbook paper, like red lines or simple small shapes and glued it on the card first, then the heart. Sigh....

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Some comfort quilt tops progress

    I have been recovering from a real nasty virus, not the flu. No temp, respiratory issues but unrelenting face pain, pulsing purple afterglows, nausea, gastro-intestinal junk. It has been a long time since I was flattened horizontal except for migraines . So, what I sewed are comfort quilts that I had cut out and needed assembly. The first of two You've Got Mail quilts is sewn together. Since it is 54 x 64, I am not going to border it because I think it would be too large for a comfort quilt. Earlier, I wrote how I used a whole layer cake. This quilt are the blocks from half of it. The other quilt to be sewn has the warmer color blocks.
All sewn, needs backing and batting

      The second quilt is another Gerbie's Exploding Squares. My mother had sewn the blocks for me. She sews all around, I cut, iron, etc until the block is done. She had sewn enough squares for me to make three different quilts. I laid them on her floor so I could teach her how to make decisions on what blocks went in each. I numbered them with blue painters tape and bagged each set in gallon baggies. Today, I took one set and sewed it together. I put it on the design wall and tried different fabric for the borders. I chose the dark purple because it stopped the eye from all the scrappy busyness and did not call attention to itself because of its dark value and muted pattern. The outer border was chosen because it was a value that contrasted with the inner one and the lines stopped all the floral scattered look. The border is a medium value that behaves as a frame and allows the blocks to show their colors. 
     I mention this because I know some people have a hard time with borders. My advice is wait until the quilt is sewn before you choose the border fabric. The color choices should play together and not be matchy/matchy. You spend all that time on the blocks, make the borders work. Borders should not just be fabric that makes the fabric bigger. You don't put a frame on a painting just to make it larger, but to showcase (but not upstage) the art.
     I won't choose the binding until after quilting.

Just the blocks

With borders, 50" x 60"

Monday, February 3, 2014

Studio Tour- it's clean right now

    I spent a lot of time and decision making to clean up and reorganize things a bit. I realize I have more room than a lot of people, but it gets jammed trying to cut and press pieces. I moved all my rulers to a shelf above the cutting mats. I do not like these blue cutting mats, and have to use 3 of them to fit the top. I looked at other mats, but the cost keeps me thinking. I heard of the Martelli mats, but they are $$$. I wish I knew someone who bought them and love them. I moved the ironing board out of the room for now and bought an ironing mat. This works for most of the pressing, except when I press backing and long pieces. I will drag it out then, but am tired of tripping over it. 
    My machines are in the center of the room on a couple of tables pushed together. I would love to have one large table so I don't have so many legs to bump into and could maybe have storage underneath. I have one machine for piecing, one for small quilts, one for large, one for zig zag and the treadle for scrap piecing. The cat, Tugger, supervises and tests out the quilts for comfort. 
Newly organized counter, rulers above, ironing blanket

Machines central to room. Now the last 301 is replaced by the awesome 15-91

Treadle with valentine card crumbs being pieced

Comfort Control is Job 1
Closet next to counter with fabric organized by color and scrap baskets.
Strips in blue handle boxes. Tiny scraps in baskets stacked at bottom