Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spring Swap

I participated in the Springtime Mug Rug swap hosted by Michele at the Quilter's Gallery.  These are the two mug rugs I made for myself. 

Here are some pictures of the front and back of both mug rugs.
In hindsight, I can see that the label works so much better with a dark color thread on these batiks.  I still love the batiks for this project.  Bright colors are just so much fun!  I fussy-cut some of pieces to make the fabrics work for me.  I love these flowers.
Both patterns were designed by The Patchsmith.  You can find her patterns on Craftsy in her store.  They are reasonably priced, so click through and check them out.  The butterfly trail was free-motion stitched before I layered the top with the batting and backing.

The appliques were stitched down by machine with Masterpiece from Superior Threads before I layered the top over the batting and backing.  

While Masterpiece is not intended for quilting, I did quilt with it in this case.  Since I did all the quilting free-motion on my sewing machine, I could stitch slowly and get good-looking stitches without thread breaking.  I don't think I could get this good a stitch with the long arm with this thread.  I would have used So Fine! #50 for long arm quilting with this level of detail.

The binding was attached by machine on the top and hand-stitched to the back.  I don't usually use a narrow binding, but these mug rugs finish at 5.5" by 9" and I thought a binding cut at 2.5" would be entirely too wide.  This binding was cut at 2" and finished just a hair over 1/4" on the front and right at 3/8" on the back. I could have cut the binding at 1.75" and gotten a great result on the front and back.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cheery Placemats

My friend picked up a pattern for some place mats and these fun, spring colors.  She pieced squares, slashed, stitched those together, slash and so on.  The resulting made fabric is bright and cheery.

I cut the made fabric into two pieces to get it onto the frame with the most effective use of the batting and backing.
I learned this all-over quilting design while taking a class with Erin Underwood.  A simple clam shell surrounded by a couple rows of petals.  This one is fun and really adds a nice effect to the surface.  It is also easy to move around as you can echo petals or sneak in another clam shell or two.
On the back, you can really see the quilting design.
Top thread is Fantastico from Superior Threads.  This is a dye sample, so I can't tell you if it will be available in the future.  I love the surprise threads I can get from them with their Try Me specials.  I used a yellow So Fine! #50 (color 514, Polo) in the bobbin so it would mostly match the top thread and blend with the back.  Matching a bobbin thread to some variegated threads is a challenge.  I like the little bit of visual interest that these threads create, but I don't want the bobbin thread to sneak onto the top and show up when I don't want it to.
After pulling it all off the frame, I trimmed the two large pieces and cut out six place mats.  The all over quilting was a great option for this.  I'm glad I quilted it as two large pieces and then cut it down.  It takes the design right over the edges and I really like the effect.  It also means that all six place mats are the same size since they were cut from the quilted piece.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Free Motion Quilting

Today the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild hosted a free motion quilting class by Erin Underwood.  I have never taken a quilting class, so this was a new thing for  me.  Yes.  I am a crazy quilt lady that has never taken a quilt class.  (I suppose I have taken online classes, but this is my first real, in-person class.)

We started with meanders and loops and swirls.  The problem with sharing samples is that I may get a little off-task and quilt something we haven't covered yet.  We spent about three hours going over different designs and how there are stitched.  I used my thrift store Singer for this class.  I didn't have the right foot for the job, but I managed. 

The best part about this is  that I might be able to move on from the simple meander when quilting smaller pieces on my domestic sewing machine.  I learned a couple things and the best part is that I think I may have figured out feathers.  Before today, I just had difficulty working the petals back to the center in a cleean way.  Today, I think my feathers don't suck!  Such an improvement.

Thread used is So Fine #50 from Superior Threads.  For the record, I love this thread as much as all the other Superior Threads I have tried.

There was a question about what that "#50" means when talking about thread.  If you want to know more about how this measurement is derived, please go check out some of the great information on the Superior Threads site.  Click here for a direct link to the article about how thread is measured.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Iron Lady, Day Three: Comparisons

Tuesday afternoon I had a chance to spend a couple hours working on cleaning the machine head.  I've put together the before/after pictures as best I could.  I would like to think I'm a better artist than I am a photographer since I didn't match up my before/after shots very well.
The face-plate on the machine is very pretty.  I could have scrubbed some more, but figured I had gotten the worst of it off.  At least the screw heads are clean.
I didn't get as much of the old, dry and caked oil off the tension disks as some other areas, but they are clean on the inside.  I think it looks much better, though.
I was really surprised to see how much nicer the decals look in the after picture.  Sure shined up that cover plate, but the decals are really showing now.
I didn't get all of the rust off of the hand-wheel, but I managed to get most of it.  Such a pretty little thing, isn't she?
I didn't get every bit off the underside, but I did spend some time cleaning up the worst of it.  I was really lucky to find a machine where everything moved, so I'm not going to complain about a little dried oil that doesn't affect operation.
This picture is a little weird, since I took one from each side of the machine.  I'm just happy I didn't damage the decals in my cleaning.  This is the decal in the center of the machine bed.
I realized, after some cleaning, that I had read the serial number incorrectly.  It doesn't change her age or place of birth, but it is nice to know I have the right number written down in my records.
I thought this one of the stitch-length adjustment screw and the bobbin winder was the most dramatic.  Surface rust removed and everything oiled up.  I am overly excited about seeing a bobbin wound on this machine.  Silly, but I'm still excited.

All that remains is to set her back in the cabinet, attach the belt and do some test sewing.  Since I moved every adjustment screw all the way out and all the way in while cleaning and oiling, I'm sure it will take me a little while to get her stitching predictably.

My references for this project include:

The Treadle Lady
Etsy Shop:

Our Handmade Home

Granny Miller:  A Journal of Agrarian Life & Skills

A-1 Sewing Machine Specialists
Singer No. 66 Manual:

I am not an expert at refinishing.  I am not an expert and sewing machine care or maintenance.  I am a quilter, sewer and sewing machine enthusiast.  My goal is a working treadle sewing machine.