Saturday, May 31, 2014

Quilt as Desired: Claudia's Garden

Embroidery spread top c. 1940, Quilter: Claudia Pfeil, Krefeld, Germany.  You can see more of Claudia's work on her site:
The feathers on this quilt are just beautiful!
The detail on the appliques is wonderful.

Please check out Mary Kerr's site to see the schedule of when and where these quilts will be throughout the year.  My photographs do not do them justice.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Memorial Day Quilt

For the record, this quilt wasn't finished by the observed holiday.  It was made during the week of Memorial Day and has a patriotic theme.  This is a long post, since it compiles this week of sewing into one post.
This is a dancing nine-patch design.  You can find all the particulars about this simple block and quilt layout over on Quiltville.  Bonnie Hunter shares loads of patterns and like the majority of her designs this one is great for scraps.
I pulled out stacks of reds, blues and white-on-white fabrics for this one.  The blocks made up really quickly, which was nice.  I ended up cutting too many white-on-white strips, but nothing goes to waste around here so they are just going to be popped into the bin with the rest of the strings. 
I decided I wanted to try something very different with the quilting on this one.  My friend Cassie helped me out by making an easy to print file with outlines for my quilting.  I spent about an hour tracing the letters onto the quilt top before putting it on the frame.
I managed to pull the backing fabric from my stash.  I can't always do this, but it is so nice when I can.  I have so many smaller cuts of fabric, but few large cuts.  I quilted around each letter and used organic lines (this means no ruler was used for the lines) between and around the letters.  Around that, I used swirls, because I just love swirls.  
I also traced some stars and used the point-to-point quilting method with my ruler to make them more defined.  If I had to pick just one thing I really love about this quilt, it would be these stars.
I picked some blue thread and a leftover piece from the backing for the label.  Love that Magnifico thread from Superior Threads.
I decided to make the label match the wording on the quilt.  This is actually the second third label I stitched, not that I got very far with the first one (the second one stitched out all the way before I realized there was a problem with the first line of text).
While I love the idea of the words quilted into the quilt, I just didn't pick the best quilt-top for this type of quilting.  While the back is amazing, you lose all of that texture in the prints on the front.  I'm not giving up on the idea, just giving up on it working out spectacularly for this quilt.  That cold all change when I wash the quilt, we will have to wait and see.
Overall, this quilt is great.  The perfect size for the a throw quilt at 60" by 60" and almost everyone loves red, white and blue.  The binding is scrappy to match the overall theme.  The binding was attached completely by machine.  (I have a short tutorial on how I do this in an earlier post.)
Here is a shot of the back that I have manipulated so it is easier to read.  All I did was flip the picture around in editing software.  
I did all this quilting while barefoot.  Because creativity needs the freedom to dress as it pleases.

What helps you be comfortable when creating?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Computerized Quilting

I loaded up this charity quilt and let QBOT do the heavy lifting.
This simple design seemed appropriate for this quilt.  I didn't have the time to get in there and do some custom quilting, so I let the computer take over and did an all-over/edge-to-edge design.
Some might think this means I can just set it up and walk away, but let me tell you that it just isn't true.  While the computer may be doing the guiding of the machine, you still have to be available to correct problems with tension and things that may go wrong.  I used the time to finish cleaning up my little Kenmore 76 and getting it back into its cabinet.
The quilting design isn't very prominent on the front.  On the back you can see the rows of leaves.
This quilt is about 55" by 55" so the back was pieced.  I know I could have saved myself some time by only putting in one back seam, but I wanted it to be a little niceer than that.
All that remains is to get the binding attached.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wardrobe Wednesday: Ugly Shirt #1, Cutting and Sewing

Contrary to what the title says, there won't be much in the way of step-by-step in this post.  I'll just share the overview.  For a walk-through of this pattern, check out Joe's blog.
These are the prints Darling Husband selected for his shirt.  I think he has decided that there are no fashion police so he can come up with the most amazing combinations of fabrics.  I do curate his selections a little, but mostly to help him find a good companion to his chosen accent fabric.  This shirt, I think, is rather tame.
When I purchased the fabric, I made a terrible mistake.  I said 2.5 yards instead of 2 and 5/8 yards.  I should have just said 3 yards.  As it was, I couldn't cut one piece of the pieced shirt front.  I ended up going back to the store to pick up another yard.  Yes, a 1/8 yard mistake can cost you an entire yard.  That's okay, these are quilting cottons, so they won't go to waste.
This shirt took several days of work to construct.  I'm sure if I sat down and worked on it for a dedicated day I could finish it in one day.  As it was, I would work on it an hour or so in the afternoons after work so it took a while to finish.
I used some of the contrast fabric to add some cute little details.  The pocket was an experiment in lining up my print.  I think it worked out well.  It might have disappeared if I hadn't used the contrast for the top of the pocket.
I used the contrast on the underside of the collar, too.  I think this is my favorite part of this shirt.

Next week I will finish up with the buttons and the button holes.  Even with a sewing machine that does one-step button holes I have a little trepidation about button holes.  I'm sure this just means I need practice.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Quilts for Kids: Who Loves You?

Another Quilts for Kids quilt finish!
This is a simple four-patch quilt.  You can find the pattern for this and other simple quilts at Quilts for Kids.
I love how the quilting design shows the texture so nicely on the reverse.  Magnifico on the top and So Fine #50 in the bobbin, both from Superior Threads.  I love this quilting design.  I found it over on Amy's Free Motion Quilting Adventures.  This design is called Scroll Flower.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Vintage Revival: Singer Spartan

My newest vintage find is this darling little Singer Spartan.
I'm in the process of cleaning her up, though she was very well cared for throughout her long life.
This is a 3/4 size machine.
While I don't have a featherweight machine to compare to, I can tell you that this machine is anything but light.  It does live up to the name of Spartan, though.
No light, no fancy scroll-work, just a beautiful black finish and an even more beautiful stitch are packed into this little package.
Overall, this machine is in great shape.
According to the gentleman I bought it from, his aunt sewed with it as recently as last year.  It was definitely well cared for.
There are some cosmetic issues, but this is the only thing that might affect function or safety.

I think these are a late addition to support the weight of the machine as the little tabs of the case broke off.
The bakelite case is chipped and the supports inside really weren't designed to hold up this machine's considerable weight for as long as they have.
No fancy scroll-work here.  Just simple functionality.
Everything worked smoothly when I went to see the machine, now that I've got some oil on all the moving bits everything just glides.

When I get the rest cleaned up and put back together, I'll share some pictures of her stitches.

I found some great information about this little machine over at Old Sewing Gear.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Quilt as Desired: All Dressed Up

Bow-tie top c. 1940, Quilter:  Sue Papalia, Warren, Pennsylvania,  Each little flower is different and has its own personality. 
I love the fancy feathers on this.  They become these fanciful wreaths in each quartet of blocks.  So different from some other feathers.  The rest of it just makes me think I need to practice my ruler-work some more.  

Please check out Mary Kerr's site to see the schedule of when and where these quilts will be throughout the year.  My photographs do not do them justice.

Friday, May 23, 2014

In the Post: Superior Threads

Just a quick post to show you some of the fun that showed up in the mail this week.
I ordered some more thread form Superior Threads.  This time I wanted to try out their spun poly for use on the serger.  I ordered the color cards for future reference and five spools from the Try Me special.  I don't get to pick the colors but I do get five cones of thread to try out.  I also popped another cone of Magnifico in the shopping cart with that amazing orange So Fine!  I'll let you know how I like this thread once I get a chance to use it.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thread Thursday: Bobbins, bobbins, bobbins!

Let's have a little talk about bobbins.  These small pieces of metal and plastic that make it possible for us to create a locking stitch are wonderful little things.  But, what if you don't have the right one?  I suppose, the first part of this discussion should begin with what sorts of bobbins are generally used (I don't have all the available bobbins, so this will cover some of the more common bobbins and will definitely leave many out.)
From left to right:
M-Style:  I use these in my long arms, Empress and Pfaff 18.8 (both are Tin Lizzie machines)
Class 15:  I use this in my Brother and at least one Singer
Class 66:  I use this size primarily in my many Singers; treadle, electric, old and new
L-Style:  These are actually bobbins for my Pfaff, complete with Pfaff stamped on the side.  I checked the internet and there seemed to be some confusion about these out there, so I'm glad I got the bobbins from my dealer.
L-Style pre-wound from Superior Threads is in the foreground, proudly labeled.
(If you want to learn more about bobbins, and what bobbin is right for you, I recommend clicking over to Superior Threads' and checking out their reference guide for bobbins.)
M-Style.  This is the bobbin Darling Husband refers to as "massive."  That's what the M stands for, he says.  These are used in the larger machines.  On the left is an aluminum bobbin and the right is a pre-wound from Superior Threads.  Why would anyone want a pre-wound bobbin?  Well, because at the factory they can get way more thread on that bobbin (about 50% more) than you can winding it yourself.  That means more time quilting and less time changing the bobbin.  That's a win in my book.
Next we have the Class 15.  Superior just started offering these as a pre-wound bobbin.  I haven't tried them in this size, yet.  These come in metal (with and without a bunch of holes around the sides) and plastic.  I like to stick with the metal for the older machines, but that is a preference.  I used the plastic bobbins in my Brother machine (before I got the timing out of whack and put it on the shelf).  I know these also fit in some White machines.  The metal one is from one of my vintage Singers.
The Class-66.  The metal bobbin is from my Singer Model 66 treadle and also works in my Singer Spartan.  I also have many plastic bobbins from some of my newer (2000s) Singer machines.  Many of them still have thread on them.  These can be substituted with an L-Style pre-wound, drop-in bobbin.  I recommend trying a sample with your machine, though.  You may have to adjust the bobbin tension to get a perfect stitch.
This is the L-Style bobbin for my Pfaff.  I use this bobbin in both my Creative Performance (sewing and embroidery) and my Expression 2.0 (sewing and free-motion quilting).  I have had great success with the pre-wound L-Style bobbins from Superior for both regular sewing and quilting.  I just purchased the pre-wound bobbins for use in embroidery.
Finally, here is the L-Style pre-wound bobbin in comparison to the 66 and the Pfaff.  It is lower profile than the Model 66 and the Pfaff.
Why all this business about bobbins?  Well, because I bought a sewing machine without a bobbin (sometimes Craig's List is like that) and went looking for a bobbin.  Everything I read told me that every single Kenmore ever made uses a Class-15.
For the record, this is not true.  I don't care what the internet says.  I have a Kenmore that will not take a Class-15.  It also will not take a Class-66.  I did manage to get it to make a pretty stitch with an L-Style pre-wound bobbin.  Above you can see (from the left) the bobbin case, the pre-wound, Class-66 and finally the Class-15.

I'm not giving up on finding a bobbin that will fit, but I wanted to document my findings. UPDATE: If you want to see the machine with the mystery bobbin, check out this post.

How many bobbins do you have?  I'm not going to admit to how many I have.  Let's just say I'm prepared for the zombie apocalypse.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wardrobe Wednesday: Ugly Shirt #1, Copying the pattern

My Darling Husband, asked me to make him a shirt.  Joe, over at Seam Ripper Joe and his Sewing Machine, said he would be using this pattern from Kwik Sew, and it fit in with the kind of sewing I like to do and would meet DH's idea of fun.
DH gave me one of his other shirts, so I could compare it to the pattern before I started tracing.
I did some comparing and decided to go with the XL.
Her is Rita (my dressform) sporting the sample ugly shirt.
I have a couple tablets of 1" grid paper from Staples.  It is perfect for tracing patterns.  The lines help me keep everything lined up while I'm tracing.  I only had to piece a little bit to get all the pattern pieces traced out.  I went with view B on the pattern.
I cut out all the pieces in preparation of laying out and cutting my fabrics.

If you want a great walk-through on making this shirt, I recommend you check out Joe's blog.

Next Wednesday, I'll post the next steps for this shirt.  I'm going to attempt to keep up with regular posts.  No promises, but I will try.