Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Singer Spartan - 1962

I decided to finish up the work on this darling little Singer Spartan.  (I think I spent more time getting that little slide plate onto the spring than I spent doing anything else.)
The only thing I hadn't done was remove the bobbin case and clean under it and the feed dogs.  I'm glad I didn't skip this step.  I found more a than a few dust bunnies had made their home under there.  I've learned so much about the 66/99 machines through my willingness to do a little bit of homework and to take things apart.  These machines are brilliantly designed.
Here is the serial number for this little Spartan.  According to she is a 99K, from September 11, 1962.  She sews beautifully!
I picked this machine up locally through a Craig's List ad.  It was a great transaction for a wonderfully maintained machine.  I may have paid a bit of a premium on this one, but I got an amazing machine for an amazing price.  You couldn't get a comparable machine for $75 in a chain store.
The Spartans didn't come with lamps, so I had to add a stand lamp.  (I'll share more about the lamp next week.)  I sewed up all the blocks for clue #5 of Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt on this machine.  Every stitch was beautiful.

Don't think this 3/4 machine is light.  I haven't put her on a scale, but I will say she isn't light.  I've read on the internet that she weighs in around 26lbs.  I should go find my scale.

Do you have a vintage machine that you love?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Charity Quilt: Jelly Roll Race

Jelly Roll Race quilt courtesy of Aunt Betty.  

Some of this fabric came from Aunt Betty.  Okay.  Most of this fabric came from Aunt Betty.  Okay, all but one of these fabrics came from one of two different Aunt Betties.  
When I pulled this fabric from the bags a friend dropped off, I knew that it would make the perfect jelly roll race quilt.  These simple quilts are perfect for quick sewing (you can find a video tutorial on Missouri Star Quilt Co's YouTube channel).  Here is the pile pieced end to end on the diagonal and ready for the first pass through the sewing machine.
I started this late in the day, so I didn't get very far the first day.  This one isn't a standard jelly roll race.  When I got the piece to 8 strips wide I cut it into three pieces so I could make it a more manageable charity quilt length.  I picked this fabric (from a different Aunt Betty) for the backing.  
Since the top was too wide, I trimmed it down and used the trimmed piece to widen the backing fabric.  I didn't need to do this, but I thought it was a great way to use up that piece of fabric.
To pull the front and the back together I used some of the backing fabric to put a border around the center of the quilt top.  If I can, I load quilts onto the frame so the selvage edges run parallel to the top and bottom rails.  This gives me a naturally straight edge to pin the backing to the leaders.  I wrote a post about how I piece backings and how I load them onto the frame earlier in the year.
This quilt didn't get fancy quilting.  I looked at the top and thought it would look great with a large swirl. There are some points in there, too, but it isn't fancy.  The piecing hides most of it anyway.
The binding was made with a coordinating piece of fabric I found hiding in my stash.  I also used a bit left over from the border.  I really like the effect.
I think this one is great from the front or the back!
I folded it up and dropped it off at the December meeting of Annapolis Quilts for Kids.  I hope it finds a wonderful home.  Thanks, Aunt Betty!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Mystery Quilting - Clue #5

This is the fifth post about my adventure in mystery quilting.  Go to Bonnie's blog to learn more about this fun mystery quilt.  It's time for another update to show you where I'm at and to link up with the rest of the quilters participating this year.  You can go back and check out my work on Clue #1Clue #2Clue #3 and Clue #4 from the last few weeks.
This clue was a quick one.  I think Bonnie was trying to give us all a little bit of time to decompress after the holiday and for some to play catch-up.   
Here are all of my other mystery quilt units stuffed into one project box.  I don't think I'll be able to squeeze clue #5 in there!

There is quite a bit of speculation going on about how many more square inches of quilt are left to piece and if the next clue will be the big reveal.  Still plenty of sewing left to do after the next clue!

Linking up with Quiltville's Link-up Party!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Aunt Betty Strikes Again!

Have you heard of my Aunt Betty?
Professor Pincushion made this great video that you should totally check out!
Let's just say that I have my very own Aunt Betty.  She loves to give me fabric, books, sewing machines, thread, and other things that she no longer needs, wants or has room for.  Sometimes I find new homes for these things, sometimes I fill my shelves with books and fabric.  I will not discourage my Aunt Betty.  She supports my habit as surely as she supports her own.  Last week I received these two bags of unwanted fabric.
To be completely honest, this fabric came from a completely new Aunt Betty.  It seems I'm beginning to gain a certain reputation in my local community.  All of these wonderful fabrics came to me from a friend that is trying to clean out things so she can work more efficiently.  I totally understand how having too much fabric can be overwhelming.  That's why I try to make it into things and send it out the door as quickly as possible.  
I won't be hoarding this fabric.  I've already got plans for some of it.  I want as much of it to go to good homes as possible.  Stay tuned to learn more about where some of this fabric is headed.

Do you have an Aunt Betty?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Charity Quilting: Dotty Fun

This quilt top has been waiting for me to quilt it for a couple months.  It was pieced by another member of Annapolis Quilts for Kids.  I decided that a simple meander in yellow thread would be the perfect way to quilt this charity quilt.
This quilt is a little bigger than some of the others I've done for Quilts for Kids. Usually I don't have to piece backings for charity quilts.  I love pretty, pieced backings but sometimes I just don't have the time to make them fancy.
Trimmed up and ready to go to the next quilter in the chain.  That next quilter will add binding to finish the quilt.
One more look at the cute owl blocks and the meander quilting.

Do you use your quilting or crafting skills to help out a local charity?  I'd love to hear about your work.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Mystery Quilting - Clue #4

This is the fourth post about my adventure in mystery quilting.  Go to Bonnie's blog to learn more about this fun quilt mystery.  It's time for another update to show you where I'm at and to link up with the rest of the quilters participating this year.  You can go back and check out my work on Clue #1Clue #2 and Clue #3 from the last few weeks.
This clue had us grab the extra half-square triangle blocks we made back during Clue #1 and use them to make some more broken dishes units.  The green and red half-square triangle blocks are my set aside units from clue #1.
I laid everything out on one of my design boards.  This makes it easy to get the cut pieces from my cutting table to the sewing machine.  I tested my cutting and piecing precision with a couple of the red and neutral half-square triangle blocks.  They needed very little trimming so I pieced them all and got to work.  I did most of my cutting while watching Lynn on the Simply Colorful Fiber Cast.  She is sharing her progress on the mystery quilt, too.
Sunday evening around dinner time I finished up all the clue #4 broken dishes units.
Here are all my units.  All 400 units pieced and ready to go!  Come on clue #5!

Do you have any guesses as to how all these will be fitting together?  I know Bonnie isn't telling.

Linking up with Quiltville's Link-up Party!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2012 Block of the Month - Finally Finished!

Some quilts just take longer than others.  Nothing can be done about it.
According to the date on this photo, I started this quilt in September of 2012.  Well, I picked the fabrics in September 2012.  This Block of the Month from 2012 was a free Craftsy class.
All twenty blocks are provided, each block type done two different ways.
Some of the blocks challenged me, and when they were done they sat in a bin waiting to become a quilt.  When I got to the end of the year I wanted to finish up projects to clear the queue for next year.  I still have many quilts hanging around, but I've also finished loads and moved them on to new homes.  I didn't have enough yellow fabric left over to do sashing but that definitely didn't break my heart since I'm still not a fan of sashing.  I played with layout until I settled on this.
I did have enough background fabric to nicely frame the entire quilt.
I thought about the quilting and after the holiday print quilt I just wasn't in the mood for custom quilting.  I ended up just going with this fun flower motif.  Two blocks may have the flower motif centered.
I still love this quilting motif.  I quilted it as an all-over design.  Quilted with Superior Threads Magnifico as the top thread and a coordinating spun poly in the bobbin.  I used yellow thread for this one.
One bonus was that while I was making the blocks, I would cut a strip of each of the fabrics for the binding.  Scrappy binding is still my favorite.  Scrappy binding that is pieced, pressed and ready to go is even better!
After washing this quilt has the most amazing hand.  It just asks to cuddle.

Finished size:  52" wide by 62" long.

Do you have quilt blocks that have been hanging around for years?  Put at least one of them on your list to finish next year.  You'll be so happy you did.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Mystery Quilting - Clue #3

This is the third post about my adventure in mystery quilting.  Go to Bonnie's blog to learn more about this fun quilt mystery.  It's time for another update to show you where I'm at and to link up with the rest of the quilters participating this year.  You can go back and check out my work on Clue #1 and Clue #2 from the last couple weeks.
This clue worked up quickly since it is just strip piecing and then string piecing the cut strip-sets.  Easy doesn't mean fast by any means.  Bonnie gave directions for pressing after the strip units were stitched.  I had a little bit of trouble with them before they were pressed, so I pressed them before joining.  It might seem like an extra step, but I think my piecing and pressing was better for the effort.  I cut all of my strips from fat-quarter pieces.
Here is another first for me.  That's right, cutting both of these strip-sets at the same time.  Risky!  I was pleasantly surprised with the results.  I think the precise cutting, pressing and trimming made the difference here.
I've learned a great deal about my own cutting method and my own perfect 1/4" seam.  The secret is in the testing and trimming.  If you test, learn your own methods and allow for them you can turn out accurate blocks again and again.
Even though I cut these together, I did mix and match a little as I went along.  Since I was using fat quarters I would have ended up with only 12 different units.  I consistently got 10 square-sets out of one pieced strip-set.  Not enough variety for scrappy.  Well, not to me.  I ended up sewing seven of each of those ten as cut.  The other three got swapped around with others to create a little variety. 
Before I was done there was a terrifying moment when I realized I'd somehow ended up with an extra black strip that got sewn to one of the oranges.  I had a lonely white strip without a mate.  It seems I'm destined to rip a little with each clue.  Last time it was 5", this time it was closer to 22".  Not too bad, in the grand illusion scheme.

Linking up with Quiltville's Link-up Party!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Merry - A Curvy Quilt with Color Problems

Last week I showed you the quilting on my curvy quilt I named Merry.  As I've said before, I no longer pre-wash my quilting cottons.  I do pre-wash flannel, but that is to ensure the top and batting do as much or more shrinking than the flannel that I'm using as a backing.  I usually wash quilts after they are finished to make sure anything that has been picked up by the fabrics during the construction and quilting processes is removed before gifting.  I occasionally use spray starch.  Sometimes sewing machine oil gets onto the quilt from the long arm.  I handle all those pieces, blocks, fabrics and batting during construction, they are all pressed several times.  This is after the manufacturing process puts a myriad of chemicals onto the fabric.  I think washing isn't just a nice thing to do, I think it is something that makes the quilt complete.
Today we're going to talk about how I had some of the fabrics in this quilt pick up some of the residual dye from other fabrics.  I say some because it is only some.  This is the first time I've had anything quite like this happen and I thought it would be good info to share.  This photo is of the finished quilt after washing.  The square of fabric is a leftover that was not washed.  As you can see, the color of the fabric hasn't changed much with washing.  The light isn't perfect, I was using indirect daylight through my window.  Winter in the northern hemisphere does not make for great indoor photos.
Next, we have another piece of fabric before and after washing.  This fabric has been in my stash for a long time.  It was pre-washed.  Again, not much difference between the washed and unwashed fabrics.
This is another older piece that was pre-washed.  The block on the left is the fabric we're looking at for this comparison.  Again, not much difference between the pre-washed and the finished quilt.  The fabric on the right is what's interesting.
This is where things get interesting.  This fabric picked up some of the red in the quilt after washing.  This fabric came from either pre-cuts or a piece of coordinating print I had on-hand.
This fabric picked up even more of the red after washing.  This fabric was from either pre-cuts or a coordinating piece of fabric.  Only the fabrics from this line from this maker picked up the residual dye from some other fabric (my best guess is that it came from a solid red of unknown origin meaning it could be from one of several different manufacturers).  No other white fabric in the quilt, pre-washed or not, picked up any of this dye.  My conclusion is that the quality of the fabric is to blame.  I'm not blaming the red, though it is suspect.  I'm blaming this line of fabric as it is the only fabric that picked up any excess dye.
Overall I don't think it detracts that much from the overall design of the quilt.  If you're thinking maybe that fabric was something cheap from a chain store you should rethink that.  Two of the white-on-white prints were from chain stores and likely from ten years ago or more.  Two of those fabrics did not pick up any of the red.  The fabric that did pick up the red was quality quilting cotton that you can get at hundreds of quilt shops and pay top dollar for, too.
After it was finished and washed and stained and everything else, I had to capture the quilting from the back side.  I love how all the different quilting motifs show up in their own graceful way.  I used four thread colors for the quilting on this quilt.  You can really only see the red and white from the back.  The green and gold is much harder to see from this distance.
Not such a close-up lets you see the color a little better.
What am I going to do about the discoloration?  Not one damn thing.  It is still a very striking quilt that I put numerous hours into.  It is a beautiful piece of usable art that will function just fine as a quilt.  I will not let the fault of a piece of fabric defeat me.  I will not bemoan my hours of time and talent on something less than perfect.  I wasn't aiming for perfect.  I was aiming for a quilt.  In my book that makes this one a success.

I'm not going to ask about pre-washing or not pre-washing.  That discussion has been had until I would rather not talk about it.  Ever.  No, really.  Not.  Ever.  Again.  

My question for today is have about label placement.  When you label a quilt do you put the quilt near the top or the bottom edge of the quilt or somewhere else? (This is all relative since what the maker thinks is the top edge may not be the same as everyone else's.)

Linking up with Quiltville's very merry linky party.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Mystery Quilting - Clue #2

Last week I shared about my adventure in mystery quilting.  Go to Bonnie's post to learn more about this fun quilt mystery.  It's time for another update to show you where I'm at and to link up with the rest of the quilters participating this year.
This is where my post left off last week.  
I managed to work through that bin of pieces and ended up with 98 finished blocks and this.  Somehow two extra black squares had made their way into my bin and I used them leaving those two brown pieces lonely and afraid.  I rarely rip.  I mean that, too.  I would rather make an entire new block than to rip most of the time.  In this case, though, I made an exception.  I decided that ripping five inches of stitches was totally worth it to not have to make two more half-square triangle blocks.  
Clue one was finished up before Friday but not by much.  Then clue #2 was published on Friday.  It wasn't easy being at work all day thinking about the clue and the fun I would have when I got home.  I made it, but it wasn't easy.
For clue #2 Bonnie provided three different directions for how to make the block.  I looked at the different directions and decided that the one that used the Easy Angle ruler was the one I wanted to go with.  This meant I needed to print out the template she provided.  Since my printer went mad -- and refused to do anything -- I had to make my own template.  I started from the size the half block should finish at (2.5" by 4.5") and drew out my template and added seam allowances.  Then trimmed along the cutting line for the center diamond.
Then I used Bonnie's instructions to tape my template to back of my Easy Angle ruler.  I only have the 4.5" Easy Angle, so it was a very exacting fit.  From here I made a couple test blocks using some holiday prints I had handy.  (More about that holiday quilt later in the week).  With my test blocks done, I was ready to get cutting.
And boy did I cut.   This is what six hundred tiny quilt pieces looks like all lined up.  It took me over two hours to cut all these and I'm pretty quick with my rotary cutter.  To learn more about this ruler you should check out some of Bonnie's tips.
When I had pieced the halves of the block I used my Tucker Wing Clipper to trim the dog ears and make sure the halves were the right size.  I think my blocks would have been a disaster if I hadn't done this step.  Trimming block pieces to make sure they are accurate really makes a difference.  Is it an extra step?  Hells yes.  Is it worth it to stay away from the seam ripper?  Even more hells yes!
I did have more than a little bit of sliver trimming to do, which was totally fine with me.  My critic Waldo waded through the trimmings with a disgusted look.
I worked through most of Sunday to get all of these pieced.  I didn't need to trim them at all once the two halves were together.  
Not every seam is perfection.  I'm okay with that.  Why?  Because my goal is to learn some new techniques and to make a quilt.  I'm not going to lose sight of either of those goals by worrying about every seam.  I've got better things to do with my time.  Like make more quilts!
When I was done with that I put all of clue one and clue two into my bin to save for next week.  I'm going to need a bigger bin!

Linking up with Quiltville's Link-up Party!