Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Carolyn's quilt!

I decided that I had to start a new project. No, this will not become a UFO as I must finish it by April 3rd, my daughter's next horseback riding lesson. This is a gift for Carolyn, a beautiful soul who I think has the patience of a saint and is so giving of herself.

Carolyn has been teaching by daughter for the past year and a half. I wanted to make her a quilt, but couldn't come up with a fabric theme. Horses were out of the question, I can't begin to count the number of items she's received in the past that has a horse theme and they all stay in the barn! Batik suddenly came to mind!

The photo does not do justice to the vibrant colours. As I look at the photograph I notice some light beige, however that is not the colour of the fabric, it is a dark blue with some light beige in it. I just love the colours of the batiks in this quilt. At first I was afraid that the gold would stand out, but it doesn't. I decided to use a plain batik dark blue border. The original border I had chosen had a motif on it and I found that it competed with the center. I could add a plain small inner border to frame the center but I don't have anything in my stash that would suit. Perhaps I could pick up a dark purple batik on my travels today. Hum... I am heading down to Plattsburgh today and a stop at the LQS is always on the way.

The pattern is from Atkinson designs, Yellow Brick Road. I just love this pattern and I cannot begin to count the number of times I've made this quilt in a pinch. I enjoy finding a theme and working with it. The fabric makes the quilt!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Gosh, I'm exhausted!

Aside from being generally pooped due to health issues, which I am happy to say that I am slowly but surely recovering, I have been busy organizing a quilting workshop for my daughter's Girl Scout troop. I needed to tailor the workshop so that the girls would would earn the "Sew Much Fun" badge. I've been thinking about a project for quite some time and decided to keep my original plan to do a nine patch block that could be turned into either a small pillow or a pot holder.

Thursday I spend some time in my stash closet, trying to decided what fabrics I wanted to part with. Gosh that was hard! That's like asking someone to donate so many of their favorite clothing outfits. It took me forever to come up with enough fabric combinations for the class. I said my farewell and proceeded to cut up strips, backing and batting.

I thought this workshop would provide a wonderful opportunity for me to learn how to write a quilting pattern/instruction using EQ6 software. Friday morning was spent attempting to figure how to do this. After an hour, I gave up in total frustration and used QuiltPro 5, which was much more user friendly and I didn't have to read the manual. Bonus!

Saturday morning I packed everything that would be needed and lugged it all as well as three (3) sewing machines to the meeting place. If that wasn't enough, I had to bring my embroidery module and my laptop for one of the requirements.

From 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. I was busy running around like a chicken with her head cut off. Thank goodness one (1) parent and the other two (2) leaders were there to help with this. It was really wonderful to see their choices for color combinations. The girls all felt that it was a great workshop and they had a wonderful time.

Afterwards it was pack the car and head back home to put everything away. I didn't have one drop of energy left. To re-energize myself I worked a bit in my sewing room, just sort of puttering around. The room actually ended up slowly getting picked up and I will say looks much cleaner than the last time.

I haven't been able to work on the Wildberry BOM. I would like to have part two (2) of the pattern put together for my "Girls Night In" at the LQS this coming Friday. I decided that I wasn't going to lug any more machines for a while. I'll let you know how the evening turns out!

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sewing Machines I own!

I will take Suzette's suggestions and blog to you about my sewing machines. The first sewing machine I ever owned was given to me by my grandmother around 1989. It's a Remington bought in 1959. Would you believe my mom still has the invoice? My grandmother was an individual that kept a record of everything. At the time, it was the state of the art sewing machine. I do not have a picture of it as it is stored in a cabinet where the machine is almost upside down. A newer machine now sits on that cabinet.

After taking a machine quilting class in 1996 at the Quiltsmith in Shelbourne, Vermont, I realized that I needed a more versatile machine. At that time, I had been taught to tie my quilts or hand quilt them. Machine quilting gave me another option that was much quicker than hand quilting. In Spring 1997, I went shopping and bought my first Bernina. I love my Bernina 1090 and I wouldn't trade it for the world. I still do the bulk of my quilting on it. It's the machine that sits on this beautiful sewing cabinet that my husband custom made for me. I made the mistake of having him modify the machine bed to fit my 180E. Big mistake, now my 1090 moves when I use the free hand system. Oh well, he should be making a cabinet for my 180 so I'll get him to fix it! ;o)

While working for a quilt shop that was a Bernina dealer, I fell in love with the 180E. What I liked was the ability to increase designs and have it stitched on the quilt borders. Our Bernina expert, Gayle, had a sample of the many talents of the 180E. At the time it had not occurred to me that my inability to machine quilt designs on the borders was due to my lack of self confidence. Ironically, I never used the 180E for machine quilting and have barely pushed it's embroidery limits. I have recently started using it for piecing quilts. The High Tech Tuck was done on the 180E and it's the machine I brought to class. I keep my 1090 for machine quilting and now the 180E for piecing. I will say that it is sweet to have two machines available. I don't have to remove a project from one machine in order to sew something quick.

The embroidery module on the 180 (not pictured) has not had much use. I recently bought the Bernina Designer Plus V5 software thinking it would facilitate my quilt label creativity, but even that hasn't been exploited. It's not an easy software to work with. Well, it doesn't do what I want it to do! I need to read the manual, which is over 600 pages. It is not the best designed manual I have ever looked at either. I have thought of trading my 180E, not sure it would be worth trading, for the 730. The interface is much more user friendly and in color. Financially, it doesn't make sense to spend so much money on a computerized machine that becomes "out dated" in a few years. Doing the math, I realized that the software was much cheaper than the 730. Besides, the 180E does everything the 730 does but not as fast. I was told that with the software my 180E becomes the printer.

When you think about it, it's ridiculous the amount of money one can spend on a computerized sewing machine. I guess it wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't "out dated" so quickly. Alex Anderson has said in one of her podcast, that sewing machines are not made to last forever. Perhaps computerized ones but please, not my 1090!

As for other machines, you have seen my treadle and I do own an older Singer that I think came out in the early 1930s. I haven't been able to take a good picture of it. My camera has the stupids today. I should take that Singer to a dealer to have clean and oiled. My brother found this machine for me. Unfortunately, it has no attachments.

Here you have a very recent picture of my sewing room. It was taken in the morning and since I haven't moved much from the computer, it still looks like it does. Oh, and meet George, my beta fish. You'll find him next to the book case, in the left corner of my sewing table. George and I have had many wonderful conversations! lol

So, what a mess it is hey! The cutting table will need to be cleaned off when I start to put together part two (2) of the Wildberry BOM, which should be as soon as I get myself off this computer. It's amazing how much time one can spend blogging.

Honestly, the mess doesn't bother me at the moment. I know where everything is! When it starts getting on my nerves, I will do a good clean up. Actually, I'm waiting for my husband to finish this custom cabinet that he's making to hold my embroidery threads, supplies and module. This should be completed shortly. I will then do a clean up of my closets, which will lead to a general clean up of my sewing room! lol I will post a picture of this cabinet once complete. Stephen does amazing cabinetry work.

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit my blog.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

High Tech Tuck - Finis!

Here is it, the finished wall hanging. I will say that it's a fun project to do. Definitely different from anything I've ever done. I don't know that I have the right decor to hang this in my home. Everything is old looking. We do live in a beautiful house that is more then 150 years old. Perhaps I could hang it in my sewing studio. It is our more modern addition to the house.

I'm presently working on another one. Mainly because I had bought the panel that was part of this line of fabric. My daughter has already laid claims to it without even seeing the final result. I've done the math, now it's a question of putting it all together. For this project I will do a black binding as opposed to the gradation one. I find that the colorful gradation binding detracts from the main features of the quilt.

I checked out Pam's panel and it is much larger than mine. I would have preferred her version as opposed to mine. My panel was purchased from Erica's. They sold it by the panel only, which is a bummer. I wish I would have been able to order a larger amount of fabric. It was the only store I found that carried the Ocean Song line of fabric by Laurel Burch on the Internet. My LQS does not carry Laurel's line of fabric let alone any Clothworks fabric. Keepsakes also didn't have it, which surprised me. If anything, I would have thought I'd find it there.

Hum.... I think Keepsakes is not the quilting store that it used to be. On my way to my in-laws late December of 2006, I made a stop there. I didn't know they had moved to the other end of the strip mall, that in itself surprised me. The first thing I notices was the downsizing. It seemed much smaller than the original store with less decor. I mainly bought Batiks that I could not find locally. You know, the unique stuff. I will say that they had a good selection of Batiks. As for the rest, I wasn't impressed. If it hadn't been for the Batiks, I would not have spent the amount I did. I would have walked out with only a pattern that a friend from Oz had asked me to pick up.

Breather from UFOs - High Tech Tuck

Yesterday I took an all day workshop at my LQS, High Tech Tuck wall hanging from a pattern by Caryl Bryer Fallert. This pattern was published in the Fons & Porter, Sept 2006 magazine. No, Caryl did not teach it, how I wish!

I enjoy taking quilting class mainly for the pleasure of meeting other quilters and seeing what they're up too. I hadn't taken a quilting workshop in an extremely long time. Even our snow storm did not deter me from attending.

Like most of you, I can pretty much figure out how to make a quilt from a pattern. So when I take a class, it's because, aside from being with other quilters, I'm hoping to learn little tips and tricks that will make the construction of the quilt easier. Unfortunately, this was not the case in this class. The teacher told us step by step what to do. The first clue should have been the supply list being a photocopy of the published list in the magazine.

For this project, I had chosen fabric from the Laurel Burch line of fabric (Thanks Pam for the inspiration). I purchased the mermaid panel as well as a fish fabric, just in case the first didn't work well, which it didn't due to size (I'll do the math another time).

In my first attempt, I started from strip one (1) onward. After sewing a few strips, I realized that it was not working. I had to start from strip 24 backwards. Ripit, ripit I croaked! This wall hanging is constructed with the batting and backing. I guess you can call it a "quilt as you go" project. So far, I like the way it turned out. Today I hope to have it finished.

Sadly, I did not learn any tips and tricks in this class. I'm pretty much on my own with the construction of this project. What I did learn pertains to my dream of opening my own quilt shop.

1) Make sure you have good equipment for your students. Cheap irons do not work well especially on a project that requires lots of precise ironing.
2) Tables should be made of something sturdy (thanks Kim for your comment) and not plastic. The sewing machine causes the table top to vibrate when you sew. Speed is no longer an option.
3) Never use the supply list from the pattern for a class. Make a new list, ensuring that the students have all that they need.
4) Check in on your teachers. See how the class is being conducted. Ask for feedback/evaluations.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that my understanding of a paid quilting class should not be the teacher only following the pattern instructions with the students, but providing demos, working with the student, explaining why something would not work as well as providing tips and tricks to make quilting easier. Perhaps I'm wrong, but that's how I tailor all my classes.

I'm glad that I had the opportunity to meet other quilters and see how their project turned out. The teacher was a very nice person as were all the students (we were three (3).

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ashland Treadle Sewing Machine

Since I haven't made much progress on the Wildberry Vine BOM quilt I thought I would tell you a bit about my treadle sewing machine. I bought this machine from an antique dealer the next town West of me. He's one of those individuals that keeps all of his treasures in a barn and every now and again he opens his barn doors for us curious souls. Unfortunately, he does not advertise and since I bought this machine four (4) years ago, I have not found him open. I do drive by every now and again to look for signs, but nada.

Sadly, I know very little about the company who manu-
factured the machine. I did a search and found nothing. As you can see, it's in an impeccable shape. There was some damage on the top of the cabinet from what my husband thinks was alcohol. Once the original finish was removed, he was able to see that the wood had not been damaged at all but only the finish. To maintain the original look of the cabinet, he was able to duplicate the original finish by using an old refinishing technique involving a lot of "elbow grease". I will say the cabinet looks beautiful. You can see the wood grain and finish on some of the photos. This machine is in my sunny "Yellow Room". I keep the cover closed, it's a lot easier to dust.

I had one pre-requisite for a treadle machine, it had to be functional and come with attachments. I will admit that I'm quite please with this find. I had been looking for a treadle for quite some time. I found that there were lots out there, but very few with attachments. I wanted to be able to make a quilt on a treadle machine, so you can understand the importance of attachments. It even has what I think is a ruffler. It was missing a belt, which is not uncommon given the age and wear and tear of the machine. I was able to purchase a leather belt at an old Amish General Store in Intercourse, Pennsylvania.

This little gem came from the Estate of Esther Fischer and I will say that she took very good care of her machine. The drawers had not been cleaned out. You can imagine how exciting it was for me to go through someone else's sewing cabinet drawers. This woman had bits and pieces of patterns she had made as well as old medicine bottles to keep odds and ends. I have numerous original sewing needles for the machine and lots and lots of bobbins. Buttons, yes she had lots of buttons as well as attachments for an electrical Singer sewing machine. I have the manual for the treadle and the electrical one (that I do not own). It's obvious that no one had bothered to look in the drawers. Oh I have to tell you that I also have the original key to the drawers. An old fashion key, it's a beauty.

So there it is, a treasure I am so pleased to have purchased for a song. I think the gentlemen just wanted to get rid of it and there I was!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Baltimore's Country Cousins

Four Feeding Birds - First Block
Since I really don't have much to report on the Wildberry Vine BOM, I thought I would write a bit about this UFO project. I was so excited to read on Suze's Blog that she was doing the Baltimore's Country Cousins quilt by Susan McKelvey that I just had to share that I too am doing the same quilt but in lighter colours. This was originally a BOM from one of my favorite quilt stores The Quilted Crow. I started this BOM back in June 2006 and received the last part the end of December 2006. This is a quilt that is part of my UFO list of "to do" for 2007. So I will get to it as soon as I finish with my other projects.
This was the second block and it is called Unbroken Circle. It was a long block to complete mainly due to the many leaves. Some of the blocks are quick while others can take some time. I use the needle turn applique method. I make templates with freezer paper, outline with a pencil for light fabric and a blue or white pencil for dark fabrics. I glue my pieces using Roxane's basting glue, which I'm sure is Elmer's glue diluted. Don't quote me on this, I haven't tested this as of yet. I have used archival glue stick and had the same results. What I do not like about the glue stick is the hardness as it dries. It is difficult to be precise and not put a blob of glue on. Roxane's tiny applicator solves that problem. I was informed that Avery came out with a glue stick that is the size of a pencil, archival and washable. I may give that a try.

The third block is called Drooping Daisies. I had a difficult time with the gold decor of the vase. It took me a while to get the inner curve right. I'm no expert in applique but I will say that I'm seeing some improvement. I have yet to wash an applique quilt. I'm somewhat afraid that it will fray and/or fall apart. For all I know I may be stitching the pieces to death. I should note that none of the blocks have been squared. They are all 18.5 inches but the templates were photocopied using the percentage of a 16 inch block. I haven't decided to what size I will square the finished blocks too.
My last finished block is called Crossed Hearts. It was much simpler to do than Unbroken Circle. What I liked about this Baltimore quilt is that it has a folk feeling to it. Lately I have been attracted to what I consider Folk colours and styles. I do have 3 blocks ready to be hand appliqued. They are in my basket of hand work. However, the Wildberry Vine BOM takes precedence over this one as it is much older. I am determined to get the old UFOs out of the way before I work on newer projects. Thanks Suze for allowing me a little break from the Wildberry BOM. It was a pleasure to get out the blocks and say a bit about them.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and share in my quilting joys.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Wildberry Vine

Yesterday I finished assembling the last of the hand applique blocks for part one (1). It's amazing how much time this process requires. It's definitely much more tedious and longer than a machine pieced block. By mid morning, every block was ready to be hand stitched.

I have a room in my home on the first floor that I call the sunny room. We painted this room a light yellow because of the amount of sun it gets during the day. It has two (2) Large windows, one facing the east and one the south (that window being pretty much from floor to ceiling). It is such a cheerful room to sit and quilt or read a book. It is quite a moral booster on those long winter days.

In the sunny room I sat and did some hand applique most of the afternoon. I managed to finish two blocks. I now have three (3) more to hand applique and part one of this BOM is done. Today, I'm not sure how much I'll get done. My daughter has a half day of school.

It's is not a sunny day today, but that's okay. I did get my daily dose of sunshine yesterday. Happy quilting!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

UFO # 3 - Wildverry Vines

Today I worked on part one (1) of Wildberry Vines BOM. I had not worked on this part of the pattern so I felt it would be best to start numerically. This part has three (3) machine pieced blocks, nine (9) patch star and five (5) applique blocks. I worked on the nine patch stars today and managed to prepare the hand applique squares.

I'm one of those quilters that does not read all the directions before starting. I guess you can say that I'm visual and just look at the picture and the numbers. So I proceeded to cut the necessary fabric for the center of the star as instructed, 1 & 3/4 inch strips. Upon completing the center, I read the instructions. The author says "square nine-patch to 4 1/2" X 4 1/2"." Okay, so a light bulb comes on! Why should I be squaring? After doing some math I concluded that the strips should be cut 1 & 13/16" in order to arrive at her required measurements. It annoys me when designers are not accurate. So my next two (2) blocks were cut accordingly, the top block being the first pieced.

Off to do some hand applique while watching a DVD. Hum.... what movie shall I watch?

Sunday, March 4, 2007

My New UFO Project - Wildberry Vines

Here it is my next UFO project, Wildberry Vines by Nancy Odom of Timid Thimble Creations. I will admit that this is a biggy. This was a block of the month I had decided to do at the last minute. At the time I worked at Quilter's Courtyard in Vermont. As you probably all know, when you work in a quilt shop it's a constant tease. I don't know why they call it a job, it's not like I made any money! lol but I digress...... So, on the last month I decided to join and only because Annie, who was in charge of the that particular BOM, says to me "I managed to put an extra kit together, did you want it?" Okay, so I had mentioned to her that if they had extras I would join, but did she have to listen to me and make an extra! lol She did an amazing job with the fabric combinations, how could I refuse.

Being the complicated being that I am, I decided to hand applique the blocks. Everyone did the fusible web thing, but me? That would be too easy! Today I took the time to get a bearing on where I'm at on this quilt. It's not as bad as I thought. I may have approximately 8 to 10 blocks to do and the border. I haven't decided if I will keep most of the applique on the border. I'm thinking of only doing the vine part.

I've come to the realization that the more I work on UFOs the more they show up, out of the blue. I've decided to make a list of all the UFO projects that require completion. This way, as they magical re-appear from their hiding place, I can add them to the list. Of course we won't mention a thing about those projects I have specifically purchased fabric for and are just sitting there, patiently waiting for attention.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Voila Old Friends!

Here it is, at last the wall hanging is completed. I cannot believe I took so long to finish that quilt. What was I thinking? There was so little left to do. Friday, I took the time to applique the eyes. For the pupils, I decided to draw with black thread using the sewing machine. I do like the way the eyes turned out. Afterwards, I finished the embroidering of the ears, whiskers and mouth. Onward I went to the sandwiching part.

For machine quilting I chose not to do anything fancy as I did not want to detract from the characters. I do like the way the quilt turned out.

I chickened out regarding the borders. The pattern called for a mitered corner border so I cheated by doing a mitered binding. Large binding does require more fabric than mitered borders, but it felt safer. I realize that one day I'm going to have to tackle this fear of mine but today wasn't a good day.

I will now go rummage through my UFO bin to see what project I will tackle next. I'm sure it wont be a quick one like this wall hanging.

Thanks everyone for taking the time to peak at my blog. Your comments are always welcomed and appreciated.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Next UFO Project - Old Friends

This is my next UFO project that I shall be tackling. The pattern is called 62802 Old Friends by Warren Kimble published by Fiber Mosaics. I started this hand applique and embroidery pattern back in 1998/99. This is/was my first attempt at hand applique. I really don't know why I put it aside. So little is left to do on it. Appliqueing the eyes and embroidering the whiskers, that's it! For some reason I just could not bring myself to complete this wall hanging.

I did ask a good friend of mine Cheryl from Oz, who graciously accepted, if she would finish the embroidery but somehow I think I would be cheating myself of the wonderful feeling of completing my first ever hand applique quilt.

Today, I glued the eyes in and they are ready for hand applique. Once the eyes are done, I will embroider the whiskers. There is one main border left to add and voila, the quilt will be ready to be sandwiched and machine quilted. I promise to have a better picture next time. It's just that the eyes are now glued and it would not reflect the stage the quilt is at.

Best let you all go so that I can get some work done. My next UFO will not be that easy to complete. I've peaked at my listing on Stashbusters and it's a project that requires much more work to be completed. Perhaps Old Friends is a good project to tackle after the paper piecing quilt ordeal.
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