Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Share the earth's bounty and be thankful for all we have!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Design floor Monday

Log cabins again.  I cannot get enough of strippy quilts:  log cabins and string quilts rule!  All that color play and very little point matching.  It's all about the color for me. 

I bought this jelly roll a couple of years ago and it's been marinating ever since:  Bittersweet by Benartex.  Sometimes fine fabric has to age while you think of what to do with it.  With all the fall foliage around here, and in my part of New Jersey, we have gorgeous color for weeks, I wanted to do something autumnal, and this is it.  I tossed in a few batiks and some lights to add enough strips. 

Sophie the Sewing Machine contributed with needle down and automatic cutting.  I don't know how she does it, but she truly saves me time and thread.  And no, I still can't sew a straight line, but who cares.  It works well enough.  And anyhow, it's the color that I love.

And a better shot of the colors, taken on my bed, so not straight, but the color is better, although it's too washed out.  Ah well.

When I'm going to sew this all together is anybody's guess.  I have orders from the Frozen Northland for toddler socks and middle school socks, plus a hat or two for the toddler.  And I've run out of my own dyed yarns.  Well, I have plenty of them, but mostly they are green, and I'm now sick of green.  So it's the dye pots today, and then serious knitting all week long.  Gotta keep those grands toasty, especially since winter is now in Minneapolis.  They are supposed to get 14" of snow today.  And that, boys and girls, is why I'm not moving to Minnesota.  I love it there, but 6 months of snow and winter is not for me.  Give me NJ any time.  Although if we have the same kind of winter that we had last year, then I'm going to hide under my bed for the duration of the winter. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Machine quilting is finished!

Thanks to Judy of Gramma's quilting room for all her encouragement!  I did it! 

I finished machine quilting my friend's quilt.  I did semi circles on all the squares, and then stitch in the ditch along the edges of each block.

I marked the little semi circles with washable blue pens (I've done this many times with hand embroidery) and then wet them thoroughly with cold water to erase them.  In the process, I realized that I can now start to see crinkling.  The picture isn't the greatest because I just dumped the quilt onto the floor and didn't smooth it out at all.  

Here's the quilting from the backside.  I have no idea why it looks blue when it really is white with faint green circles.  The light, I suspect.  At any rate, you can see the quilting.  I don't like heavily quilted pieces; they feel board-like to me.  I want fluid and cuddly, so this should work very well.

Here's another view of the quilt.

So today's job is to buy fabric for the binding.  I'm thinking more blue and yellow, but I'll see.

Sophie, my lovely little machine, does this tie-off thingie where it reinforces the stitching at the beginning and end of each line, and then cuts the threads.  I think I've save hours of tying off and burying threads with this feature.  Yep, this is one wonderful machine.

So now I'm thinking that I'd like to start to learn free motion quilting.  This is not something I've ever been interested in, mostly because I thought it was totally beyond me.  But now I think it's possible.  I reserved some books at the library, and will make up some little quilt sandwiches and see what I can do.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Design floor Monday

I'm happily machine quilting this cutie quilt for my friend, Judy.  She wanted a quilt with blues and yellows, and I had a flimsy already finished.  I didn't quilt it up because hand quilting hurts my hands if done properly, and if I do a normal running stitch, it still hurts me to hold all that fabric, plus it takes forever.  So I kept putting it off. 
And then I bought Sophie. Sophie with needle down.  As a knitter, I know that the right tools make the job so much easier, and this lovely Pfaff was worth every penny just because of needle down.  That little feature makes machine quilting easy.  You stop, the needle goes down.  The fabric doesn't wander away, you can pivot without losing your place.  Oh my, oh really my!  I've been driving the Hubz and DD crazy with my talking about it.  

So far, with only 17 blocks quilted, I have to say that it doesn't come easily to me, but then, nothing with sewing is easy for me.  Hand embroidery is easy, but a machine is another matter.  It doesn't help that I started with gentle curves that start and end within a square.  Had I been sensible, I would have done straight line quilting.  But why would I be sensible when I can struggle?  It is getting much easier and faster.  Clearly I have a learning curve here, and maybe that's the best part.  It's good to struggle with something new.  Good for the grey matter and for the soul.  And now I'm busy planning the next quilting.  Maybe I'll just practice stitch in the ditch!  I did get a foot just for that.
What I need to learn and/or practice on:  figuring out a way to get the fabric to slide easier.  I want it to glide.  And probably getting some quilting gloves to aid in moving that baby around.  I don't seem to have much trouble with all that fabric, just getting it to move easier.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Learning how to machine quilt

Who knew that figuring out how to machine quilt would have a serious learning curve?  So now I have a headache.  My brain is exhausted.  It's hard to do this.  OK, I did 2 practice blocks yesterday, and today I started on a real quilt.  

Yesterday I got brave and started to play with quilting a pineapple block.  Boy did I learn a lot.  After 2 conversations with those poor folks at Style Fabrics about puckers (yes, that dreaded word.)  I lengthened my stitch to 3, used serious body strength to make sure that the sneaky little fabric was taut, and began from the inside out.  

Clearly puckers are not what I want.  I don't care too much if there are puckers on the wrong side as long as they are not humongous.  After all, I am not a Real Quilter.  Real Quilters care; I don't.  But puckers on the right side are another matter.  So today I gathered up my courage and started to sew.  I've now done 2 blocks out of 72, and the second one took me 20 minutes from marking the fabric through tying off the threads at the back.  Not too bad, I think.

If I were a drinking woman, I'd have a large glass of wine at this point.  This is not easy, but the second block was faster and better than the first.  And my friend is needle down.  Oh, how I love needle down.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Welcome, Sophie!

We are happy to announce a new member of our family:  Sophie the Sewing Machine.

She was picked up Saturday morning in Kingston, NY at Style Fabrics about 11:30 (and some good lesson time) and arrived at our house at 3-ish.

She is a Pfaff 4.2, with a bunch of bells and whistles, including needle-down!

We set her up, and then I promptly forgot all the instructions on winding the bobbin, installing the bobbin, and threading the needle.  But a quick phone call to the store gave me all the info.  So now I can do all those necessary things, plus change the needle because, ahem, I managed to damage it. 

Now she is up and running and busy assembling some sort of half-log cabin block.  

She does the prettiest decorative stitches.  I can see why people buy embroidery machines, and I'm a hand stitcher from way back when.  I played around with all of them, and I have to get some stabilizer so that my fabric won't pucker.  I'm thinking of incorporating these stitches in my quilting.  Yep, Real quilters wouldn't do this, but I'm not a Real quilter, so I can do what I want.

Why the name Sophie?  Because she sews, silly.  Other than my car, I've never named an inanimate object before, but clearly she is Sophie.

BTW, if you are in the Hudson Valley (we are in northern NJ) and are looking for a great sewing machine store, I recommend Style Fabrics.  They sell and service Pfaffs. They are very knowledgeable, friendly, and they don't blanch when I ask dopey questions.  A lovely selection of fabrics and books and of course lots of Pfaffs.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Design Floor Monday

Finished!  A soft, pastel Boxed Stars quilt.

Finished a couple of weeks ago, but with the Jewish High Holidays going on for a few weeks, I just never had the time to post.

She needs a border, and I think I have enough of that white material to make a 2.5" border around.

I loved doing this.  My points are not perfect.  Hey, they are not even half perfect.  They were pretty good until I boxed the stars, and then most of them did not line up nicely with the box border, but I really don't care.  I['m far more interested in the color play than in sewing perfection.  Anyhow, whoever gets this quilt won't care either.  That's the advantage of being the only quilter in my family.  They all love what I do, and don't know enough to see the mistakes.  Hah!


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