Monday, June 29, 2015

In the Mail Monday: Knit Picks

If you haven't shopped with Knit Picks you totally should.  They have great yarn at great prices.  Right now they have Felici Sock back for a limited time.  It is taking all my strength of will to resist buying some of this yummy self-striping yarn.
Last month they had a sale on many of their knit and crochet tools.  I needed a longer cable for my needle set and wanted a set of crochet hooks.  Both were on sale with the added bonus of a free ball of Chroma.  I couldn't pass up the free yarn!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Busy Bee for May

In February I told you about the bee that I joined in my quilt guild.  I am a member of the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild.  The bee is to be run by a different member for six months.  I started the bee with my star blocks.  First I did a friendship star and then a wonky star.
Since then I've made more star blocks and a plus block (not shown).
I also made some crumb blocks in a single color family.  Here are my red and blue blocks.
The May bee block is a great block.  It is a wonderful way to use up some little pieces of fabric.  I made the colored bits of my blocks with fabrics from my crumb bin.
I made two blocks.  One in green and the other using my yellows and oranges.  You can find a tutorial for the Scrap Plus block at We All Sew.  I handed these blocks over at the last guild meeting.
I also made a big signature label for my bee quilt.  The quilt isn't even close to done, but the label has been signed by all the block makers and I'm really pleased with that.

Have you tried any new blocks lately?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Bad Ass Quilt Club: Bazaar Delight

Spool has this really great quilt club that I couldn't resist.  Go check out the full description of the "quilt club for the oddly afflicted" and then come back here to see what I did with my version.  I promise, the blog will still be here.
This is how packages come from Spool.  Totally Bad Ass!
The June pattern is Joy by Jessica Darling.  If you aren't following her amazing work on Instagram you totally should.  An added bonus to joining the club is that you also get this pattern from Villa Rosa Designs for a card holder to hold your pattern cards.  I know I have several of these pattern cards.  I just don't know where I have put them.   That means I need this holder.
I picked out some fun fabrics from Spool in the Bazaar Style line by Pat Bravo for Art Gallery Fabrics.  This fabric is amazing.  I see more of this my future.  I think it would be great for making skirts and shirts.  It is soft, a very tight and stable weave.  This pattern is very simple and requires only 2.5 yards of fabric for the top and binding.  I pulled the solids and the backing fabric from my stash.  (You should also check out the Sale Table at Spool.  Totally worth it.)
This quilt makes up quickly.  I was really happy about the simple piecing.  The cutting is very straightforward with little waste.  I was glad the swirl print (Bellydancer Sky) had a little more than I needed since I did make one cutting error.  With the extra I saved myself some tears.
I wanted to add some applique that would give this little quilt some extra punch.  I grabbed three solids and coordinating threads and Urban Threads' Flash Stitch applique design pack.  All three threads are Magnifico from Superior.  It is a great filament poly thread that is perfect for embroidery and quilting.
I traced my chosen designs onto some fusible web and pressed them onto my fabrics.
Then watched an episode, or two of Downton Abbey while letting the embroidery machine do its work and carefully cutting out my applique shapes.
One of  my stars is a little wonky.  An embroidery machine is not to be trusted while you go get a fresh cup of coffee.  Ever.
I selected this great mauve So Fine #50 from Superior Threads for the top thread and the light gray Omni for the bobbin.  I usually match my needle and bobbin threads but I figured if the intensity was close enough no one would ever be able to tell.
Loaded up and ready to go.  I quilted with a gentle wave design that had some swirls thrown in for interest.  I'm really pleased with the overall effect.
This is the better of the two stars.
Each one of these appliques got me closer to the right answer for preparation, stabilization and stitching speed.
The anchor came out the best, I think.
Machine-finished binding helped me get this one finished in a weekend.  From start to finish, this was one weekend.  I think the quilting took almost as long as the applique, but it was worth it on both counts.

If you like a quick and easy project, or need a quilt in a hurry, this is the perfect project.  If you just want an excuse to buy some fabric, it's good, too.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Charity Quilting: Blue Strings

Last week I shared a string quilt I made using Bonnie Hunter's tutorial.
While working on string blocks I was making many.  When it came time to sew them together I had enough for two quilts.  Here is the second finished quilt from the sting blocks.
These blocks are a great way to use up those narrow bits lefter over.  I used the same zig-zag layout with this one.
Ready for the next meeting of the Annapolis Quilts for Kids.

Have you been doing any scrappy sewing?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Charity Quilting: Counting Quilts

Today is the June meeting of Annapolis Quilts for Kids.  If you are local and interested in joining us please head to the blog for the location and time.

Sometime in May someone on Instagram asked how many quilts were in my house.  I won't be shy, I have many.  How many?  On that day I counted 60 finished quilts.  Eight of them were destined for Annapolis Quilts for Kids.  This brought me to the question of how many quilts have I finished this year?  I think this is a fair question, so I'm going to try to answer it.  I'm also going to put a running count in my sidebar.  This post will cover the charity quilts I have made or just quilted.
January 2015
I did a review of my blog since January 2015.  I counted 22 quilts quilted for Annapolis Quilts for Kids.  Of those, I pieced six of those quilts myself.  The rest were pieced by other members of Quilts for Kids.
February 2015
I always set my goal at four per month.  I think this is a realistic goal.  I should be able to fit in at least one crib quilt per week.  I take a bag overflowing with quilts to the meeting and walk away with another four, or five, or six quilts.  By the next meeting I've filled the bag with quilted work.
May 2015
I've heard plenty of people say that quilting is their therapy.  I fully believe in this.  I think everyone deserves to have play in thier lives.  Play that allows them to decompress, express themselves or just plain have fun.  I find this decompression and expression in quilting.  I also find it in simple sewing, or knitting, or crochet.
June 2015
There is no one way to get this in your life.  Draw, paint, weave, just do something that you love.  You don't have to do it every day.  You don't have to do it for longer than 10-15 minutes.  I do believe that doing it will make you happier, whatever your play is.  Find that 10-15 minutes of play and fit it into your life.  You can do it!

Pieced and quilted by me :  6
Pieced by others and quilted by me:  16
Total charity quilt count for 2015:  22

This isn't a competition.  I'm not winning and no one is losing.  This is about making something that brings you happiness and brings warmth and comfort to the recipient.

What is your play?

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Bitchy Stitcher and Clever Notions

I've mentioned The Bitchy Stitcher a couple times.  She makes me giggle (and maybe even snort).  She is smart and funny and no-nonsense about quilting.  I love these things about her.  She even wrote a book about how funny quilting is.  A few months ago she put out a call on Facebook for volunteers to test her virgin foray into pattern writing.  I'll admit, I'm not a pattern person.  I like to go my own way.  On the other hand... I wanted to do this so much it hurt.  I threw my name in the virtual hat.  I was pleasantly surprised when I was chosen.
Step one was to pull out a bunch of fabrics.  (I've been on a fabric diet this year.  I have self-imposed a rule that I cannot buy fabric to add to my stash or for new projects.  I am allowed to buy backing fabrics because that is the only way quilts are finished.)  That means I can file this quilt under Sew My Stash 2015!  I'm calling it a win!
I started with a yellow solid for the background and then started digging in my bin of batiks.  I've pulled three quilts (including this one) out of my bins and boxes of batik fabrics.  This is why I'm on a diet.
I stitched up the required number of blocks.  These blocks are really fun to put together and go together quickly.
Sadly, I still do not have a design wall.  I just don't have the room (or an appropriate wall) in my sewing space.  I've been using a design floor for a while so I suppose I can do it a little longer.  This quilt is big!  This photo doesn't show all the rows.
I love the way the blocks march across the quilt.  The block is easy to piece but it makes a big impact.  I'm still thinking of other ways I can use this block.  Keep an eye out for this block in other projects.
With all that yellow I have the perfect quilting thread.  Top thread is So Fine #50 and the bobbin thread is Omni; both threads are from Superior Threads.
I loved the area of negative space.  It was a perfect way to use some different quilting.
I love the texture that the swirl hook provides but I always seem to stitch it so small.  This means the quilting seems to take forever.  Totally worth it, though.
The final lap!
Here it is fresh off the frame.
With the dense quilting I ended up trimming just a tiny bit more than usual.
A quilt like this deserves an awesome label.  (DISCLAIMER:  Megan named the pattern Daryl, I named my quilt Blooming.)
Scrappy binding is the best!
Some outdoor lighting and the pattern release inspired me to run out in the yard and take some better photos.
The sun was setting so the colors aren't washed out but they do read a little closer to true.  Sorry about the creases, I've been keeping this one under wraps for a few weeks.
I had to work to get a good photo of the entire quilt.  My lawn is a little shaggy, but the quilt is amazing!

I'm super pleased with the finished quilt.  I recommend you check out this pattern and others from The Bitchy Stitcher.  At the very least you should pick up a copy of her wonderful book Quilting Isn't Funny.  Because quite honestly, it is.

Linking up with TGIFF.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Vintage Revival: Singer Stylist 457 Gear Replacement

Last year I wrote a couple blog posts about a Singer Stylist 457 that I picked up.  She isn't fancy, doesn't do any special stitches and isn't much to look at.
First I talked about the machine and then I talked about the cabinet.  Then I also talked about my sadness when the gear that drives the bobbin assembly was chewed up.
While making an order for some other parts for some vintage machines through a very helpful seller on Etsy called Old Sewing Machines, I found that he also had the gear I needed for this machine for a great price.  I added the gear to my order and did some research while I waited for my parts to arrive.
The belt on the underside is what drives the bobbin hook.  When the gear went, the machine wouldn't pick up the bobbin thread because the hook wasn't grabbing the needle thread.  I had shared an email or two with a commenter on my original post and was given a link to the procedure to change the gear and reset the timing.
Here is the best photo I could get of the damaged gear while it was still in the machine.  This photo is taken from the front of the machine through an access port.
Here are some of the remnants of the gear that I managed to rattle loose during replacement of the gear.
Somehow I lost the gear inside the machine and it got wedged inside but not near any moving bits.  I had to get a friend to come peer inside to find the darn thing for me.  But here it is after removal.  Since I had already installed the new gear I don't have a side-by-side comparison.  I did some more cleaning and oiling while I had the machine apart and it sews quite nicely now.  
I did some test stitching and while it could use some more minor adjustment, I'm really proud of the result.  For reference, the white thread is the bobbin thread and the pink is the needle thread.
Now that she is all put back together she is ready to go back in the cabinet and back into the travel trailer.  I'll let you know how the new gear works out.  So far I'm really pleased with the outcome and I'm so glad someone told me it was easy to do so I could get over my reluctance to trying to time a machine.

Have you stretched yourself lately and learned a new skill?