Saturday, May 31, 2014

The very bad quilt

    A woman in my Bible study asked me if could repair a quilt. I said probably not. She brought it anyways next time and showed it to me and it was a tied disaster in a bag. I said if she cut all the ties and took off the back, I would consider putting in a new batting and backing. Then she had a fall on her icy driveway and has been out on disability unable to use her one hand. Then the quilt made a reappearance. She told me how much it meant to her as it was made by a relative and she cherished it. I took it and left it in a bag in the garage for months because it was too cold to work outside and it was not coming in the house. I am not a germophobe, don't judge, wait till you see the photo. Yesterday, I gritted my teeth, put on a dusk mask, rubber gloves, a shop coat and a table outside. I cut the ties that weren't rotted, and peeled off the backing. The quilt is made from upholstery fabric scraps and some crazy knit stuff. Someone had put this back over a very deteriorated and dirty backing with old batting still in it. I had to swallow real hard and work real fast to get that biohazard stuff off there and into the trash, which gratefully got picked up this morning. I had to get the binding off, old and older, and just get the front. 
   Then, I took the top and put it in a big bucket with laundry soap, Spic and Span, Awesome, and antibacterial soap and hot water. I let it brew for half an hour, emptied it real quick. I could not force myself to photo that. I did that three times. Then it came into the washer and spun out. And then it washed three times. And in the dryer for 20 minutes and then out on an old sheet on the ground outside and now it is dry.
   So, how do I mend this thing? I am thinking of finding upholstery scraps and fusing oval leaf shapes over the holes in the blue bands and zig zagging it down. I am not quilting this on any of my machines. I am not tying it. I am thinking of big running stitches with embroidery thread. Help, anybody with an idea??? I know this quilt means a lot to her which is why I have kept going despite what my stomach and head said. I am a sucker for a meaningful quilt, no matter how bad I think it is. 
   There. Two difficult things in two days. Now I am exhausted.
In its tied state with backing

Brace yourself, biohazard time. Told you not to judge me.

Drying in the sun, washed six times. Holey blue bands.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Hands2Help quilts in the mail to Happy Chemo!

     On the blog, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Sarah has posted about Hands 2 Help Challenge and donating some quilts. I made two and they went to USPS today on their way to Emily and then to Happy Chemo. I have had the logo in the border for awhile and it is finishing this week. Thanks again to Sarah for asking me to be a guest blogger. Here are the two quilts, newly washed and in the sun.
Children's prints, Double Nine Patch, flannel back

Exploding Squares as per tutorial,
notice the plants not potted yet so I can get the quilts done and out.

Between a rock and hard place

     Did you ever have something that you just did not want to do? I mean, it just was sucking all the joy out of anything you tried? I did two things in one day that have been a big burr in my saddle. One, was finish sewing the gray stripey thing I started at the Hudson Valley Art Workshop. It was a challenge using two colors we did not like. Working in improv, without any reference, but just sewing and posting on the design wall I found was not in my brain capacity. It was very difficult and I felt lost at sea in a fog. I managed to sew one piece there and had this grey stripey thing on my wall at home just hanging out taking up valuable design space. My husband threatened to have it disappear one night because it was a dark cloud hanging over my head.
    To make myself work on it, I used the treadle (who could not love to sew there) and did color leader and enders while adding pieces to the thingey. That helped. I like the crumbs I was making with color scraps. Finally, last night, I said that is it. I trimmed it today. It is 36 X 35. So much angst for such a little piece. I am thankful people at the workshop gave me fabric for this as I did not bring colors I did not like. And the darndest thing now, is I think it looks better sideways than the way it was sewn. Figures. Do I quilt this or call it a victory to finish the piecing?
   I think I will call this Between a Rock and a Hard Place. The other tough thing will be in a separate post.
No clue how to bind it. I will straight line quilt it.

It seems better sideways, huh?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

All together now! (mostly)

    My sewing table is all together and in place. I don't have a photo with the treadle and desk back in place yet, but here is the table my husband made. It has a maple veneer plywood top (cabinet grade so it is smooth as silk), solid legs of oak and aspen. It is bolted together. The cord winder underneath is from Ikea, all of  $10. It works great so there is not a snare of wires under the table since I have multiple machines and lights hooked up. The power strip is screwed to the crossbeam. It is 7' long and 38" wide. It is lower than a regular table because of the sewing machine heights. The light fixture gives great light at night, very even and diffuse. What a difference so I can sew in the evening. I bought a couple of Ikea LED small gooseneck lights, which are not in the photo here, but will be in the future.
  First, the room emptied out.
The inspector
Treadle off to side yet
The former living room space
He not only builds tables, but vacuums!!

Power strip on crossbeam
Ikea cord gizmo

The sun streams in
Just need the rug and chairs back

Puff light fixture

Sunday, May 25, 2014

I'm a guest blogger today!

    Whether you visit at times or are a new visitor, thank you. Today I am a guest blogger at Confessions of a fabric addict giving a tutorial on the Exploding Squares quilt. Thank you, Sarah! This is in promotion for the Hands 2 Help drive for quilts for some designated charities. I really think you can easily make one of these quilt with what you have around and quickly to give away.  Since I wrote this tutorial, Missouri Star Quilt company has posted a video starting with precuts. I use scraps and fabric people give to me and fabric finds at sales.
  My newest exploding square, which starts with 6" blocks, doesn't have the borders on yet, but here is an idea. I will wait and see if that leaf fabric is what I want. I have two that start with 4" blocks going, but not enough to photo yet.
Will be lap size when borders are one

     I cut up the scraps given generously to me according to the system Bonnie Hunter uses. I don't cut anything smaller than 2". I cut 6.5", 5", 4", 3.5", 2.5", and 2" squares. I cut 2.5 x 3.5" rectangles. I save random strips also. I put these in plastic bins by size and dark or lights.
Some fabric just received from a friend I already cut up and sorted
I also received this Charley Harper print as a gift, but will not cut this up.
I love Charley Harper. I wish I had all his birds!
    My next post will be my new sewing table all put together in the studio. It is done and being used. Now go make something! 
    Thanks for visiting.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Best signs

     On our mini vacation to New Haven, I was aghast at how few fabric stores there were around there. I only found one driving distance on the way back from visiting Mystic Seaport in Old Saybrook, Coastal Sewing Machines. I bought three yards of batik for Sea Urchins, but it was a little store, nice, but little. I asked the salesman where all the stores are and he said there were none unless I went all the way back up to Hartford. No quilters around New Haven? Lots of yarn stores, but where are the quilters?
     On a visit to White Flower Farms in Litchfield, I found this plate and my husband had to stop me looking for a screwdriver. Wouldn't I just love this plate!!
     In our one day, train to NYC and back to New Haven, I saw this restaurant in NYC. Unfortunately, it was out of business. Must have my business and math sense. I could not get my husband and sister in law to stop at City Quilter, boo hoo. I did get to see the Freedom Tower at the WTC but was one day too early for the opening of the museum. I hate the memorial as much as I did the last time I saw it. It is very hopeless and desolate.

There is a whole wall of art across the street.
I could not get more photos because of the crowd. I thought the mural was excellent.

Freedom Tower behind the museum

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Studio Redux

     As my machines increase and vary and I make more and more quilts, the studio set up needed to change. The areas of difficulty are lighting and table space. My studio used to be the living room. We have added cabinets and a counter. The machines are in some undercounter cabinets and on an assortment of tables, drawing tables. The tables are not the same size and could not be lowered enough for normal sewing, so the chairs had to be higher. Uneven table tops are an issue. When I bought the Bailey, my husband bought wood to make one large sewing table, 7' by 38" which will have the Bailey, the 15-91, and the 301 and if needed to swap out for zig zag, the 401. The treadle in the parlor cabinet will position to the table on its short side and will be joined by the yet to be refinished treadle and go back to back. The other treadle will have a zig zag machine in it which is ready to go. So today, after our mini vacation to New Haven, we emptied out the space and cleaned it up. My husband is installing an overhead light, which is the best we could come up with, but are not satisfied with, and then the table will go in. Everything is in quite a state of disorder at the moment.

Cleaned and ready for lighting and table.
      I am taking off all the photos from my trip and writing some new posts on that, but the studio is the biggest effort now.

Monday, May 19, 2014

New machine, new era, vintage longing

    Well, the stack of quilts basted is growing. My ability to get them FMQ is low due to the rearranging and stuffing of the fabric on my 301s. I love my 301s. They are the best. But, I researched and tried a Bailey 17" Pro. I could not afford a Handi Quilter or mid arm of that type. I do not want any computer assisted machine. I was down that expensive road and will not do that again. I do not want to use a frame for physical reasons and space. The Bailey is on my table and soon to be new large table (one more coat of poly if the weather would cooperate). I am using my Sewing Mates table which I love and have used on the 301s. It adjusts to any size machine and is built great and in the USA by a great family. I have quilted a comfort quilt and not one skip or break. However, I long for the quiet and fit and finish of the beloved 301. If I could only stretch it...

17" of real estate, I am just saying

Saturday, May 17, 2014

All together now, and it runs!

     The Singer 15-91 rescued from Restore that was all apart in pieces has actually been assembled with no parts left over or missing. When plugged in, it ran and the light turned on. When I got it, the cord was dust so I had not idea if this would run. Thanks to online help and encouragement from Elizabeth and Andrea, I was able to complete the task. The info from Rain on motor rebuild was also invaluable. A new set of Chapman screwdrivers did not hurt. Lots of cleaning and polishing. Now all I have left is tension tweaking and why o why is it so noisy in the bobbin area? Hurrah! It is together, what a miracle by someone like me!
$20, cords, and 20 hours= shiny Singer 15-91

Friday, May 16, 2014

HST arranging

     I am having difficulty arranging the HSTs because of the choice in the charm packs. I am limited in values and amounts. I tried a bunch of ideas and thankfully Vicki had some more arrangements on her blog today. The third one on her post seemed like it was more all over in its effect which is needed with the fabrics  I have. I think that might be the choice.
HST sorted by Value

Idea 1
Another idea

Ignore the gray stripey thingey

Today's idea, lousy lighting

Saturday, May 10, 2014

HST Adventure

    One of my favorite bloggers, Vicki Welsh,, is sponsoring a Half Square Triangle Block Quilt Along called HSTeria Quilt Along.We can choose our own patterns and fabric, but use Half Square Triangles. 
     I am going to use two Marcia Derse charm packs I bought at Missouri Star Quilt Company and some black and white fabric from my LQS, Kim Schaeffer from Andover as the other half of the triangle. I have no pattern in mind. As mentioned by Vicki, I bought a copy, used, of Spectacular Scraps by Judy Hooworth and Margaret Rolfe. In there are many layout ideas. Once I have all the blocks made, I will decide how to put it together. This is a challenge to myself. I was a little disappointed in the Derse squares as they were grayer in color than I like. I like fabric a little brighter. I am hoping the black and white will help. 
     Wanda, on her blog, is doing gorgeous colors with her HSTs. 
     I took some photos of my start. I make HST with the lines down the square method as when I sew triangles, the bias always gets me.
The charm packs, some samples made, and the black and white fabric
My favorite tool to draw the lines and all the blocks paired up ready to sew
Chain, chain, chain on the Singer 15-91
The whole pile chained
All ready to cut apart