I was going to quilt another quilt today. I had the quilt ready to go and the Juki threaded with the thread I want to use. I ended up babysitting for a couple hours today, not long, but enough to throw me off of my planned schedule. When baby left, I decided I didn't really want to quilt, so I decided to get a project done that's been hanging over my head for about 6 weeks.
My dogs' beds have been falling apart for so long, it's just been a shame. For a while I was saving small fabric and batting scraps thinking I would stuff dog beds with them. I had a couple grocery sacks full, but I realized that was not nearly enough, and it would take me so long to save enough it just wasn't worth it. I threw out the two bags I had saved (these pieces were smaller than crumbs, really tiny) and decided I needed to go a different route.
Kate and Bianca were litter mates we got from the pound about 7 years ago. They are very close, and usually sleep together. They have one crate they share, but they also sleep in our bedroom. It was the bedroom dog beds that were beyond repair. I hate the stuffing getting all flat within a few months of buying new beds, and I thought about how often I yell at them to get off the couch, so I thought why not buy a foam cushion like the one on the couch. Surely it will last longer than poly stuffing. The foam was on sale at Joanns a few weeks ago, and I had one of those extra 10% off your entire purchase coupons, so I got the foam for about what I would have spent on new dog beds.
I had actually bought some duck cloth to use for the dog bed, but I bought just enough, and when I washed it, it shrunk so much I didn't have enough any more. I had a bolt of ultrasuede I bought for next to nothing a while back, so today I got it out and made the cover for the foam cushion. I put velcro all along the back so I can remove the cushion cover to wash it. It took me longer to decide how I was going to make the cover and to cut it than it did to sew it together. I have no idea why I put it off for so long, one afternoon was all it took to get it done, start to finish.
Kate and Bianca were pretty concerned when they saw their tattered beds go to the dumpster, but they look happy enough on their new bed, don't you think?
Here is the Leftover Quilt, number 6 in my quilting spree. It is freshly washed and dried, ready to be dragged around by DD#2 after surgery on Friday.
This is the second quilt I've meandered on. Is it any better? I can see a couple spots just on this close up where my stitching lines meet, so maybe not better. Variegated thread is interesting to use, in that when the thread color and fabric color are similar, the stitching is hard to see, but that is constantly changing. The quilt is DONE, so I'm counting it as a success.
I have three more quilts basted and ready to quilt. I want to try a loop de loop pattern on at least one of those, but on paper that pattern is hard for me. I'll probably just go for it and use a thread that will hopefully blend in. I suppose if it comes out really terrible, I could rip it out, but it would have to be very bad for that :-) A loop de loop pattern sounds quick, and versatile because I can add other shapes in. I guess the only way to conquer it is to do it, so maybe the next quilt I post will have that, or my version of it anyway!
Here is quilt #5 on my quilting spree. It's quilted and bound. I tried freehand fans, or Golden Arches as Patsy Thompson calls them. This one will probably go to the veteran's hospital.
You may be able to see the quilting better in this pic. You can click on it to make it bigger. For my first attempt it will do. I hope with practice I can get my arches smoother.
Today I managed to get the leftover quilt quilted with a meandering pattern. I have the binding pinned on, but don't plan on sewing it on until tomorrow night after babysitting. The quilt above I quilted with Signature thread, and I had some issues with it. The leftover quilt I quilted with C&C Star thread, and I had no problems. I know everyone has the threads they love and the threads they hate. I really think it just depends on which threads your machine likes. My machine evidently prefers Star over Signature. It could have just been a bad cone of Signature, I'm not sure, but I'm not impressed with this one.
This is a busy week for me, so I don't know how much sewing time I'll get. I have two more quilts pin basted, and I'm hoping to get one more ironed tonight, and layered, so I can pin baste it tomorrow during nap time. I have enough safety pins to pretty easily baste three lap sized quilts. Sometimes I can do four quilts, but three is a good number. I don't want to leave pins in the quilts too long.
DS the Younger helped me out, and held up the quilts I've gotten finished so far in my quilting spree. This first one is the one I tried meandering in the border.
This one is just straight line quilted because it has that odd orange backing, that just won't slide! I decided to put scrappy binding on it. The top is flannel.
Here is my ugly quilt. I meandered over the whole thing. It took about three days to quilt it, I'm not very fast yet.
Here is the back of the ugly quilt. Now you can see the ugly fabric that inspired such an odd color combination.
The Looney Toons quilt is also finished. It has that odd orange backing too, and I just folded it to the front to bind this one. DS the Younger really liked the feel of the orange fabric, so I'm glad I stuck it out and used it. All of the smaller quilts will go to Project Linus, and the ugly quilt will go to the Veterans Hospital.
This is one of my dogs, Bianca. She was too funny when we were trying to take the photos. She wanted to be in the pictures so badly, and kept getting in our way. Once I took her picture she happily trotted off! Kate must have been camera shy today, because she stayed away during the picture taking.
I have another quilt about halfway quilted. I'm free-motioning fans on it, or Golden Arches as Patsy Thompson calls them. Good thing I'm not one to enter a quilting contest, they are pretty wonky! As long as I get better, it's OK, right? I think once the quilt is washed and such it will probably be fine. I know they say to practice on quilt sandwiches, but I find it such a waste of time and fabric. I'll just practice on the real thing, and look forward to the day I'm better at free-motion quilting.
So now I have four quilts done, done, binding and all. One is half quilted, and two more are pin basted. I know I'm not going to get all the quilt tops I have quilted on this spree. I started so much later than I had planned, because I snuck in making that queen sized Hawaiian quilt. I have about one more week where I can concentrate on quilting, then DH is off for three weeks, and we have some plans to work around the house.
I have been doing some piecing to take breaks from quilting. I've been piecing border for a purple quilt, and finishing up some blocks for a green quilt. I have all the blocks for the green quilt done now. I haven't spent much time piecing, just little bits of time here and there. My house is happy for the quilting spree. I'm so anxious to take breaks, I even do housework just to stretch. Scrubbing the sink never felt so good! I'm being very careful to not quilt too long at a time, and my shoulders are doing better now. My neck and shoulders get so tired from long quilting sessions, shorter quilting times are working much better.
I have three sewing machines set up, and I use all three of them. Of the machines I have, this is the one I've had the longest, a Brother CS6000i. I have recommended this machine to many people, and I'm not sorry I did. For the price, sub $200, it has everything a beginning quilter needs. It comes with a 1/4 inch foot, a walking foot, and the extension table. It has a lot of features I love; a needle threader, clearly marked seam allowances, needle up/down button, and the needle always stops DOWN! I love the needle stopping down! It has a quilting specific stitch, #37, and it tells me which presser foot to use. It beeps if I put the wrong one on and won't sew. It's great for troubleshooting because it has error messages. If I ever take a class, this is the one I'd take because it's lightweight.
It's a good little machine, so why did I get two other machines? Well, actually, this is my second one of these. I wore the first one out. The gears are nylon, and you cannot lubricate anything yourself. I am not a casual sewer, I sew about 40 hours per week on average. That's a lot of sewing for a machine like this. I was looking for something to be a bit more of a workhorse, though for garments, I still use this machine. (Except hemming jeans, this machine does not like hemming jeans) This machine has a nasty habit of having the thread jump out of the takeup bar, which makes me crazy!
Here is my Bernina 1080. I bought it used (probably made in the 80's), and it's a great machine. It is drastically different from the Brother, partly due to age, partly due to quality. It has all metal gears, and will sew through anything. I can lubricate the bobbin area, but still have to take it in to get the rest lubricated. It does not have a needle threader or a needle up/down button. I miss those. It can stop with the needle down, but I have to remember to press a button each time I turn it on to get it to do that. The tension is almost always perfect on this machine, with no fiddling, no matter which stitch I'm using, and no matter what kind of thread I use. The thread never jumps the thread path, and I am sold on Bernina having the best threading system. Overall, this is my favorite machine. I really like the way Bernina presser feet attach, it has a great machine bed attachment that helps keep my seams straight (I bought it separately), and it has a couple specialty stitches I especially like, like the serpentine stitch. I do not like the machine bed markings for seam allowances at all. It's very confusing.
Here is my Juki TL98QE. I bought it to go on a quilting frame, which was a disaster. Other people's Jukis love sewing on a frame, but not mine. My Juki sews like garbage on a frame. I took it off the frame, and had an 'aha' moment. It is a good machine off the frame, a very good machine. It only has a straight stitch, but it has a very nice one, and it's FAST. It is great for free motion quilting, and the nine inches of throat space is awesome for that. It is a completely mechanical machine, so I can do all the lubricating myself, and when I shut it off, then turn it back on, all the settings are as I left them. My other two machines are computerized, so if I'm using an odd stitch I have to reset everything every time I turn the machine on. Now that I have it in a cabinet, my Juki and I are friends, and becoming better friends all the time. This machine is really growing on me. I need to get a 1/4 inch foot for it, and then I'll probably use it for piecing too. It is really fast when strip piecing.
Even with three machines, I have still been wanting an upgrade. There are times I want embroidery options, other times I want more than the 9" of space the Juki has. I use the Bernina the most, but it has no needle threader, or an needle up/down button. I've been drooling over the Bernina 820 and 830 for a while now, but my budget can't handle either of those. I bid on a Bernina Aurora, on ebay the other day, but I didn't win it. I've been checking on Janomes but there isn't a dealer in town.
The thing is, none of these machines are exactly what I want. I want a sewing machine a la carte. Sewing machines are computerized these days, why can't someone say, OK, there are 30 buttons, what do you want them programmed to do? Wouldn't you just love a sewing machine company that charged by the feature, and you could skip the ones you'd never use? I don't need 200 stitches, or 12 button holes. I don't need a machine that speaks more languages than I do, or one that looks like you need a pilots license to operate. They can stretch existing sewing machines, so why can't they make them to order.
If an average sewing machine has a 6" throat, can I pay an extra $100-200 for every extra inch I want? Even at $300-400 an extra inch I'd come in cheaper than a lot of high end machines. What about stitch packages? If the cable company can separate out channels, why can't I pick and choose which stitches I want? Yes, I want the serpentine stitch, but I have no idea what those 20 are for, so not those. Can you see the beauty in a la carte sewing machines? I think it would be awesome! I want a 12" throat, a needle threader, a needle up/down button, the needle to stop down always, maybe 30 stitches, and you know what, while I'm ordering, make mine purple! or red?
On a more contented note, I got a great deal on some Aurifil thread! Aurifil is my guilty pleasure. It's my favorite thread, but because of the price, I don't buy it all the time. Tristan Threads, a Canadian company, is selling out all of their stock because they aren't going to carry it anymore. They had more Aurifil than I knew even existed! I knew they made polyester thread, but had no idea they had wool. I had never heard of wool thread before. At any rate, I got 48 spools of Aurifil cotton 50 wt. for $118 which was awesome! They are out of this particular set, but they still have some good deals going on. I had no color choice, but I'm happy with what I got.
I'm learning to be more adventurous in my thread color choices for quilting. I'm quilting on the ugly quilt right now, and I'm using my ugliest thread in honor of the project. It is the color of pea soup, and not a pretty green at all. You know, it's looking pretty good on the quilt! These will be fun to play with, and half of them are good colors for piecing, so I'll be set for a while.
Here is my first attempt at meandering. I'm actually pretty happy with it. I ended up having to trim up the edges because my batting was a little short, but that's OK. I just did straight line quilting in the center because I had no idea how free-motion quilting would work over the rick rack. I treated both borders as one, and just meandered through them both.
I think it's actually easier to see the quilting on the back, so here is a back view. I haven't been able to meander on paper without backing myself into a corner. Somehow it was easier when I was sewing. I'm hoping I get better, but for my first attempt, I think it will pass. Now I have three quilt tops quilted and ready to bind.
DD#2 was over so I could do her hair before she goes to a wedding today, so she was kind enough to pull my winners. Everyone who commented on my blog giveaway post or who emailed me directly were entered to win. There were over 40 entrants. The first winner is- Pajtr who wanted set 1.
The second winner was Gurnee who wanted set 2. How convenient is that? I did not divide out the people who wanted set 1 from people who wanted set 2, it just worked out. I'll be contacting the winners to get their addresses, if for some reason I don't hear from them within a week, I will redraw for the prize they won. For right now, I'm saving all the slips with everyone's names on it.
On a quilting note, I have started my quilting marathon. I have two quilts quilted now. I have the strangest fabric for the backing. It is like a cross between ultrasuede and minkee. It is bright orange! I got a whole bolt of it for $8, and I thought it would work great for backing a few kids quilts. The thing is, this fabric will not slide. Even while using a walking foot, I couldn't get the fabric to slide, so I had to lift up the quilt while stitching. Thank goodness they are not huge quilts! I just did some straight line stitching, free motioning with this stuff would be a nightmare. The fabric washed up fine, and there are no puckers on the back. I still think some kids are going to love the feel of this stuff, but after I finish this bolt, I won't buy any more. I'm not skilled enough at the quilting stage to handle all the extra difficulty. I will use up the rest of that bolt though.
I have three more quilts pin basted and ready to go. They have normal cotton backings, so that will be easier. I am planning straight line quilting on one of them, and freemotion on the other two. I finally counted up my finished quilt tops, and I had 16 quilt tops ready for quilting, more than I thought. With two quilted already, and three more pinned, I'm making a dent fairly quickly. I guess after my quilting marathon, I'll have to have a binding marathon, if I don't do a few at a time in between quilting.
...for a blog giveaway celebrating my 200th post! Since I hit 200 posts, I decided to do two giveaways of two books each.
Here is set #1- Playful Quilts for Kids by Carolyn Vosburg Hall (the pattern pieces in the back are uncut) and Rainy Day Applique by Ursula Michael (with a CD ROM of applique patterns). These patterns are upbeat and fun.
Set #2 consists of Sew and Quilt Japanese Decor by Trice Boerens and Quilting Through Life by Julia Teters-Zeigler. This set is relaxing and calm.
So here is the deal. If you want a chance at winning, leave a comment on THIS post. Let me know which set you prefer, and make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you don't use your google account. I will draw two names on Saturday, July 17th. The first person gets the set of their choice, and the second person gets the remaining set. It will be great if it works out that they want different sets, but it will be the luck of the draw.
I'll mail the books out as soon as I get the addresses of the winners. International winners are fine, I'm getting used to filling out those customs forms ;-)
Speaking of customs forms, DD#1's quilt got mailed today. Since I never put up a photo of it completed, here you go.
Also, here is my Carolina Christmas quilt completed too. It feels good to have two big finishes.
I didn't think I'd get this assembled today, though I did make all the double 4 patches while assembling the Hawaiian quilt. I was looking around my sewing room, while thinking about what I needed to move so I could pack up my Bernina for a spa treatment (routine cleaning and oiling). I decided it wouldn't take me long to assemble this since there are only 20 blocks, so here it is! Now I have another quilt top ready for my quilting marathon.
The Looney Toon big blocks are scraps from making all of the rally bags for DH's scooter rally. I had 10- 8 1/2" blocks, which is not a size square I save, so I wanted to get them used pretty quickly. I think I might have some 6 1/2" blocks as well, but I save that size anyway, so I'm in no hurry to use those.
I was playing with my Quilt Wizard computer program the other day looking for an alternating block for the large Bugs and Taz blocks. I really liked the double four patch with this unusual coloring option. It was quick too, so great for anytime you need a quick quilt.
Here is the Hawaiian quilt top, folded into fourths. I don't have anyplace in the house large enough to lay it out flat, and it looks like rain so I'm not laying it outside just to take a photo. I knew I wouldn't have any time to sew Thursday or Friday, so I have done everything on this since my post on this weekend. It's been two LONG days of sewing!
This is the fabric I bought for the backing. I need to cut it and piece it, but it's just two seams so not too bad. Right now I'm just taking a break. Even unloading the dishwasher sounds like fun right now. At least I'll be moving!
I decided I am sending this to my LAQ. It may not get back in time for DD#2's surgery, but at least I tried. I decided it really needs quilted hibiscus on it. I'm keeping this quilt for the guest bed, so I will see it and know it not like I wanted if I do it myself. It would be different if I were giving it away, since someone else would have no idea what I planned.
I'll be packing this up as soon as the backing is pieced. I have to go to the post office tomorrow anyway, since I have the first of DD#1's packages ready to mail to SA. Well, almost ready to mail, I still have to print out the customs forms, but I have the boxes packed.
Now if I can get some Hawaiian blocks done today, I will feel OK about things. I am not sure I can get the Hawaiian quilt done soon enough to send it off, so I may end up quilting it myself after all. With something this big, I'll just do cross-hatching, which seems a shame. Some quilted hibiscus would be so nice, but it takes me so long to do that. Finished is better than perfect, right?
Last night I pulled an all-nighter with DD#3. I don't usually stay up until sunrise, but sometimes things come up. She was pretty stressed out, so we watched Disney's Princess and the Frog, which she had never seen. We talked a lot after the movie, about yesterday being her birthday, about today being her 1st wedding anniversary, and about the baby that's due in February! Yup! DD#3 is pregnant, so I am going to be a Nana again! I am very excited!
I finally got to bed at 5 AM, after DSIL picked up DD#3 when he got off work. DH got up at 7:30, and I couldn't get myself going then, but by 8:30 I was fine. I never sleep very well, so 3 1/2 hours wasn't really anything new.
I was supposed to be working on the Hawaiian quilt today. I have 16 blocks done at this point, with 14 left to go. I was looking around at my very messy sewing room, and decided I would not be able to assemble the Hawaiian quilt without knocking stuff over. I had my SA(South African) DSIL's computer quilt partially assembled, and I decided if I could finish assembling it, I could at least fold the top up and put it aside. I got it done, and after looking around some more, decided there was not really that much sewing to do to get the leftovers from DD#2's star quilt assembled into a top. The picture above is one block in the leftover quilt. There is one other block like this one, but spinning the other direction, and then there are two other big pinwheel blocks. I almost have the top finished, and if I can manage to cut the border fabric tomorrow, I should easily finish it tomorrow, and still have time to work on some Hawaiian blocks.
DS the Elder was over for a while today, and DD#2 was over for a bit as well. DD#2 and I went to Babies R Us, and picked up a couple things to send to SA for DGS#1 as well as a couple things for the new baby that will be here in the US. We know it is very early to get anything, but everything was on clearance, and hard to resist. I bought one outfit for the grandbaby-on-the-way in a gender neutral color scheme, and DD#2 bought two outfits.
Clearance sales work great when I'm sending stuff to SA. The seasons are opposite, so I can buy something on clearance here at the end of a season, and they get it at the beginning of the right season. I bought 3 outfits for DGS#1. Now to just get all the boxes packed to send to them!
I've gotten 14 of the 30 blocks I need completed. I keep rearranging them, so none of these blocks are sewn to each other. I'll be adding more black sashing when I sew the 16" blocks together. I really underestimated how long it would take to make this. I figured big pieces, no problem. Adding the black "leading" means twice as many seams, and with such large pieces, I'm finding chain sewing difficult, so I am only working on one block at a time. Well, I do have a leader/ender project going, but I am only working on one Hawaiian block at a time.
It's funny, I normally avoid florals like the plague, and I don't use many large prints in quilting, with the exception of novelty prints. I'm finding using the large florals pretty entertaining. On some of these pieces, you really can't tell which prints came from the same piece of fabric. The patterns were such large scale, that the colors in one piece may not be the same another, even though it came from the same fabric. I've had this happen quite often when working with 1 1/2 or 2 inch squares, but I was surprised to see it still be the case with larger pieces.
I contacted my LAQ and she has a hibiscus pattern she can use for this. That part is OK. My fabric for the borders and backing haven't been mailed yet since today is a holiday, but I'm hopeful it will be mailed tomorrow. If I can't get this mailed to my LAQ by next Monday, I'm figuring there is no chance it will be back before DD#2's surgery. I could try quilting it myself and possibly get it done in time, but that is not my preference. We'll have to see what happens and when. I'd rather spend my quilting time working on all the smaller quilt tops waiting for quilting, than wrestling with a huge quilt.
It's a good thing that I'll be starting a quilting frenzy soon. I think my Bernina needs to be serviced. I think it just needs a good cleaning and oiling. I've haven't had it that long, but I've sewn on it a LOT, and it is almost 20 years old. It was serviced right before I bought it, but with how many hours I've sewn on it, it's probably time. WOW! I just looked back at my blog, and looked for the date I got my Bernina. I got it September 3, 2009. I've had it 10 months already! Yeah, for the workout I put it through, 10 months is probably past time to have it cleaned and serviced.
I still drool over the Bernina 820 every time I go in the store, but I'm not likely to get one of those anytime soon. I was doing some internet research on the Janome Horizon this morning. It's much less expensive than the Bernina, but I'm not sure I'd be happy with it. It has a couple of nice features, and some I really don't like. I really dislike the way the needle threader works, and I think the one on my sub-$200 Brother is better. I like the width of the throat but I think the height is not so great. One of the things I like about my Juki is the height of the machine. The throat is 9" wide, and the height of it is about 6". I've quilted a large full/small queen on it, and when I was in the middle of the quilt, the tall height was as important in moving the quilt with ease as was the width. I can't find the information on how high the space on the Bernina 820 is, so next time I go in I might measure it. The Janome lists that the height is less than 5", I think it was 4 3/4", but I'm not sure. I just remember it was less than 5. I tried to find out where the Janome was made, but I couldn't find that information. I know some of their machines are made in China (along with almost every other sewing machine brand), but I don't know if any are still made in Japan. I know the high end Berninas are still made in Switzerland, and the Swiss make high quality items. I think I'm just a Bernina fan now, albeit a less affluent one ;-)
Ah well, my dream machine will just have to wait! If I take good care of the Bernina I have, it should have another 20 years in it. I can definitely see how quilter's end up with so many machines. At this point, I use my Brother CS6000i for garments, my Bernina 1080 for piecing, and my Juki 98QE for quilting. Even if one is in the shop, I have the others to keep me busy and out of trouble.
Last week I had pretty good idea what I wanted to do for the next couple of months quilting-wise, and this week, well, things have changed.
DD#2 is needing to have surgery, and we finally got her surgery date. It's July 30th. We were supposed to be leaving to go to South Africa and see DD#1 and family on August 3rd. I am not at all comfortable with leaving the country so soon after DD#2's surgery, so our trip is cancelled. Rescheduling right now is not really an option, we were trying to go with DS the Elder, and he has college to schedule around.
DD#2 will be recovering here with us, and I decided she needs something cheery on the bed. I have been meaning to make a quilt for the guest bed for quite a while, and just never got around to it. Well, I took out all the fat quarters I bought in Hawaii last year, and I decided to try to get a quilt made out of them before the surgery date. I needed to choose a simple pattern with fairly large pieces, so the large scale prints wouldn't be completely lost. I am hoping to get the quilt top done in a week, then get it mailed off to my LAQ. I'm not comfortable quilting large queens myself yet.
I have been trying to be good when purchasing fabric for a particular quilt that I know I won't routinely make. I want to make a 30's quilt, and I bought some 6 inch squares and one layer cake. I would imagine that will be enough to make a 30's quilt, and I think one will probably be all I ever make of that. I bought about 25 fat quarters of Hawaiian fabric, and the pattern I chose needed 30. I dug out some men's Hawaiian shirts for the extra fabric I needed, so that was fine, but then I remembered borders and backing! I went online and bought fabric for the border and the backing from one of the fabric shops I went to in Hawaii. Their prices are very reasonable, and I only bought what I needed, so they were allowable on no-buy. I guess I might have the same problem with the 30's quilt since I have no yardage of that either.
Here is one block of the Hawaiian quilt. It is a 16" block. I opted for a stained glass type effect to help all the fabrics play together nicely.
On other projects, I have all the blocks done for DSIL's computer quilt, and the rows sewn together, but not to each other. No pics of that until he gets it, which will be a while now that I'm having to mail everything. A package usually takes six weeks to get to them, and that quilt is not even done yet. My quilting spree is going to have to wait for the Hawaiian quilt top to be finished.
I am packing up the stuff I was bringing to South Africa, and I'll be mailing it instead. I got DD#1's Buckeye Beauty back from the LAQ along with Carolina Christmas. I'll try to get pics taken in the next couple of days, so I can post some COMPLETED quilts! Yahoo!