Friday, September 28, 2012

Pressing Matters to Attend to

I didn't get any pressing done this week, so today, when I actually had some time to spend in my sewing room, besides sewing the six or so strips I hadn't sewn last weekend, all I did was press. I would press until my back was practically screaming at me, then I would take a break and play with the twins for a bit. The twins are funny, now that I am watching them so much, they think I am always supposed to be with them. I snuck downstairs to the sewing room while they were busy (their Mama was with them) and when they realized I was gone, Miss S started calling for me and getting very upset. She was practically in a panic looking for me saying "Nana! Nana! Nana is lost!" I had to come comfort her for a bit, then she was OK, but Mr. L needed me to comfort him several times. It's nice to be loved, even if it does cut into my sewing time.

I always underestimate pressing time. Pressing these strips literally took hours.

Here are the snowball blocks for the twins I Spy quilts. I trimmed the corners last night while watching Voyager on Netflix. I realized I think I missed most of the last season. I am really not good at remembering to watch TV, and I probably spend less than 4 hours a week watching anything. A lot of weeks I watch nothing at all, no movies or television. At any rate, I got all of these pressed today. I need 116 for the two quilts, but there are almost 130 here. I always make a few extras when making I Spy quilts, sometimes I change a few squares out if the background color is looking too overwhelming in the quilt. These I Spy squares will alternate with nine patches, which aren't quite done yet.

Because of my sewing room rearrange, I now have a little bit of wall space available that I didn't have before. There was just enough room to have DH put my pegboard up to hold my rulers. I haven't been able to use my pegboard since I changed to this sewing room, and I missed having it up. I will likely rearrange the rulers a few times until I find the best arrangement, but this is a start. The rulers I use most are on the pegboard built into my cutting workbench.

Tomorrow we are having DD#2's birthday dinner. Her birthday is the first of October, and it wasn't going to work to have it on her birthday, so I opted for earlier, we almost always have her birthday dinner late, and I didn't want to do that again. I need to do some grocery shopping in the morning, then I'll likely spend most of the day in the kitchen.

Sunday I should have some sewing time, where I likely won't be sewing. I need to run all the larger strips for the floral quilt through my Go cutter to cut the HST's. I'd like to iron the strips right sides together before I run them through the cutter, so they are all ready to sew together.

This coming week is going to be fun and busy. We have a good friend coming to visit on Tuesday, and DS the Elder and family will be coming at the end of the week. We have a big scooter function next weekend, which culminates in a dinner here for everyone, so I am expecting about 50 people here for dinner next weekend. Needless to say, any "spare" time will be spent cooking and cleaning.

I had someone ask me to make a quilt this week. They need it to "give away" in three weeks. Hmmmm, let's see, I am babysitting about 50 hours a week between the twins and the other two kids I babysit. I have a bunch of out of town company coming next week, and a major function to prepare for next weekend. I cook and do laundry for six people, besides nasty other things like cleaning. Somehow, with kids all over the floor all the time, not cleaning at all seems like a bad idea. So with all this abundance of free time, I am supposed to make a quilt in three weeks? You know what? I didn't find it difficult at all to say "No."

Oh, I almost forgot, I decided to sell my Bernina 1080, and it's listed on ebay right now. I just had fully serviced about a week ago, and everything checked out fine. With my Bernina Aurora 440, and the Juki 98, and my vintage machines, I felt it was time to let something go. This will mean I will only have the Aurora that can do anything else besides a straight stitch, but since I mostly quilt, I usually only use a straight stitch.

Looks like garment sewing will definitely be on the Aurora, and that's fine, the Aurora has all the bells and whistles aside from embroidery since I didn't buy the embroidery unit. There are a bunch of really fun decorative stitches though, so I am set for a fancy machine. The 1080 was my first Bernina, and it will always hold a place in my heart for that, it is just time for it to not hold a place in my house.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Vintage Singer Babies

I spent plenty of time with fabric last week, just not sewing. I wanted to get a couple things done so I could sew all weekend, guilt-free. I did quite a bit of cutting last week, though I am not finished with that. DD#2 helped me go through my scraps, and we divided them by color. I am trying to not add to my scrap pile by processing leftover fabrics as I go, but I am just having the hardest time going back into my old scraps and dealing with them. I figured if they were divided by color, maybe I could just process them as I needed them for quilts. It's worth a try, nothing else has made me bother with them. I also divided out all the solid scraps, and I'm keeping those separate. I did weed out a few inferior fabrics, and I also separated out some things that should never have been in with my quilting scraps. Cotton knit? How did that get in there? I think moving the sewing room so many times ended up mixing my stuff together.

Miss S was trying to "help" us sort scraps, and she made a pile all her own, all purple. I think she has a favorite color already! I'm so glad her big girl quilt is already started- in purple.

Yesterday, Saturday, I decided I would sew on my "new" Singer 99K. Some of the cutting I had worked on last week was cutting cream and floral strips, and now those needed to be joined, a floral to a cream. After the strip piecing is done, they will need to be subcut. I thought the strip piecing would be a nice way to get to know my newest vintage baby, so I sewed strip sets all day. I think I have about 100 sets sewn, and I need to cut a few more cream strips before I am finished. I have one quilt for my main project with these strips, but have plans for the leftovers, so I made many more strip sets than I actually needed for the first quilt.

Today I sewed snowball blocks for the twins I Spy quilts. I used my 221 Singer Featherweight for that. This was the longest sewing session I've had on the featherweight.

Here is what I have to show for my weekend sewing time. Yeah, the strip sets were piled all neatly on the end of my ironing board- until I knocked them off and had to pick them all up. Now they are just a mess, but they need to be pressed anyway before I can subcut them. The snowball blocks need to be trimmed and pressed. I had been debating on double sewing the corners of the snowball blocks to get bonus HST's, but I decided against it. These are all large scale novelty prints, and the four corners may not even look like they are from the same fabric, so pinwheels or something wouldn't work well. These are for different quilts, so don't worry about them looking odd next to each other.

So, what did I think of the vintage Singer babies after some bonding time? I liked the 99K straight away. I had always heard that a vertical bobbin will always give a nicer stitch, and the 99K has a drop-in bobbin. Evidently no one bothered to tell the 99 it should have an inferior stitch, because the stitches were perfect! I liked the machine so well, that when I saw a 99 handcrank on ebay, I was sorely tempted to buy it. Maybe someday, I'd like to add a handcrank to my collection, but for now I held off. The 99 bobbins are larger than the featherweight bobbins, which is nice. This machine was just sewing perfectly, no complaints on anything it did. I don't have a manual, so I looked up a youtube video on how to thread it, and watched it on my phone so I could thread the machine while I was watching the video. This is one sweet machine.

Today was 221 Featherweight day. I had only had short sewing sessions on the featherweight up until now, and we really hadn't had time to bond yet. I switched the thread on the featherweight, to Aurifil 50 wt, my favorite piecing thread. Well, the tension was awful once I switched thread. The top thread was just lying on the fabric, and the bobbin thread was all looping on the top, not a good start. I tried loosening the top tension, but even when it was down to zero, I had the same problem. Time to start changing the bobbin tension. I have been sewing long enough to know you change the bobbin tension in small increments, but honestly, that info didn't do me much good, I ended up having to tighten the bobbin tension almost a complete turn! My stitches still weren't quite as nice as the 99, but they were acceptable. I was working on snowball corners, and that was a good project for the featherweight. I find the light bulb gets hot, and with snowball blocks, I am constantly moving my hands away from the sewing area to align the next corner patch, so I didn't really ever feel like my hands got too hot. The funny thing was, the longer I sewed with featherweight, the better the stitches got. It was like it just worked itself out. By the end of my sewing time today, I felt a lot happier about the featherweight. The Singer 99K was love at first stitch, but the featherweight is growing on me. I wonder which I will prefer a year from now.

What do you like to work on when you are tired? I have four long babysitting days this week, and by the time I watched little ones for 10-12 hours, made dinner, cleaned up, bathed the twins and put them down for the night, I am pretty fried! I need to start working on things at night after the twins are in bed, but lately all I've been doing after that is playing around on the computer, or occasionally watch a movie with DD#2. When my kids were little, I did all kinds of things after the kids were in bed. Twenty years later it seems much harder. Last week I had been hoping to work on assembling some nine patch blocks after babysitting, and that didn't happen. This week, I am hoping to do some pressing, and see if that is easier to do when I am exhausted. When I only have the twins I usually get something done during naptime, but when I have four kids, trying to get them all to nap at once is usually a pipe dream. It's happened a couple times, but usually only a 20 minute overlap or so. It would be nice to have all the snowball blocks trimmed and pressed before next weekend. If I could get all the stripsets pressed too, I'd be really happy, and estatic if I get the stripsets pressed and subcut! I'm thinking get all of that done is unlikely, but we'll see what happens.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My "New" Singer 99K

The technician I have work on my vintage babies is quick, cheap, and honest. Can you ask for anything more? We dropped off the Singer 99K on Friday, and he called me yesterday (Monday) to tell me it was finished and ready to go. I had DH pick it up yesterday, but I didn't have time to get it screwed back into the cabinet until this afternoon, and even then, I did not have enough time to sew. DH and I had errands to run and went out to dinner.

Here is the 99K back in the cabinet, ready to go. When DH first saw it, he thought it was a featherweight because it was small like one. They are both 3/4 sized machines, but they are different. I decided to take a couple side by side pics so you can see them together.

^Here is the front view. Featherweight 221 is on the left, 99K on the right. You can ignore the height difference because that is just the 99K is dropped into a cabinet, and the 221 is sitting on top of it. The decals are a bit different, but there were different decals used on the machines anyway. My featherweight 221 is a 1955 machine, made in the USA. My 99K is a 1957 machine, was cast in Scotland, but the motor is from Canada.  The featherweight has a flip up extension table, the 99K does not. The light on the featherweight is in the front of the machine, and it is small. The light on the 99K is on the back of the machine, and it is larger. If you really pay attention, you can see the 99K is stockier than the the featherweight. The 99 had a larger handwheel, the arm is thicker, everything is just a bit beefier, and the major thing that effects is weight. The 99K is a LOT heavier than the 221. I didn't weigh them, but it is really noticeable. My technician said the 99K was in great shape, that I had gotten a very good deal, and that it would make a good boat anchor too. It is surprisingly heavy!

^Here is the rear view, so now the 99K is on the left, and the 221 on the right. You can see the motor case on the 99 is larger, and it's very noticeable the light is on the back side of the 99. The 99 light is also like a spotlight, angled down on your work. The 221 light is more like a Christmas light in shape, and it has a cover so it doesn't shine in your face. I find the 221 lamp gets hot to work under, so I am anxious to see how the light on the 99 does, since it is a different bulb and located in the back.

I am hoping to get some sewing time in this week, but it is more likely to be at the end of the week. I won't be able to tell which machine I prefer until I get some hours logged in on both of them.

Oh, DH and I went thrift storing again today, and I found a table top ironing board for $1.98, so I have a smaller option when I don't have large pieces to press. I think that will help out considerably in my new sewing arrangement.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Rearranging Again!

Will I ever get my sewing room just the way I want it? Unlikely, especially when you consider I snagged another vintage machine to play with this week! DH and I had gone thrift store shopping (my favorite type of shopping aside from online) We went to this thrift store we had never been to, and in the corner I spied a sewing cabinet.

Of course I had to see what was in it, and it turned out to be a Singer 99K. Hmmmm...tempting...How much?....$40....This machine is definitely coming home with me for $40! DH is so sweet, and as soon as he saw it, he asked if I wanted it, before he even saw the price. Even more a sign of his awesomeness, he insisted we drop it off for servicing while we were out, so the technician could make sure all the wiring was safe, and rewire if necessary. The technician was surprised I bought a 99K in a cabinet, and when I got home and did a little research, I found out why. It seems cabinets for 3/4 sized machines are rare indeed, and in all likelihood, the cabinet may be worth more than the machine.

I started researching cabinets after I found out how rare they are, and I am really confused now. The ISMACS site says there was only one cabinet made by Singer for the 99K, and this isn't it. I did a google image search for 99K cabinets, and I found a couple others in this style, but none this color, they were all dark. I am sure this is the original color. I did not take a photo of the machine before we dropped it off, but I did look up the serial number on my I-phone just as we were carrying it into the sewing shop. My machine is a 1957, which makes sense with this color cabinet. My parents still have the dressers they had when they got married, and they are just this color, and they were married in 1958. The cabinet has no markings on it at all, so I am wondering if perhaps there was another company making cabinets for Singer machines?

At any rate, I really want to play with the 99K when it comes home next week, and I need some more time with my 221  Singer Featherweight, but it's hard to use them when they are not set up. This is where the rearrange came in. I've spent lots of time in my sewing room this week, but moving pretty slow because of the mumps, so I had lots of thinking time. I needed frequent breaks from whatever I was doing, so I would just sit in the sewing room and look around. I realized if I blocked off part of the doorway, which is large, I could move my sewing cabinets around and have more machines set up at once.

Here I moved a cabinet to partially block  the entry to the room, and I have the cabinet opening to the hallway, so I could use the back of the cabinet as a sort of extended wall area.

Now my Juki 98QE is right when you enter the room, and I put the back leaf down. Under the leaf towards the far wall, there is a microwave cart underneath it, which fits when I remove the wheels. The smaller leaf has the plastic drawers under it that you can see in the foreground.

Here is the leaf up, so you can see there is room to have it up.  My problem it those bookcases on the right belong to my daughter (DD#2), and she is an Amazon bookseller. She must have access to those shelves. She only has four sets of shelves in my sewing room, I donated one wall to the cause. In her bedroom there is a maze of bookshelves, and she has somewhere between ten and twelve sets in there. She basically sleeps in a bookstore.

Because of the book issue, I will only raise the back leaf when I am quilting, but the Juki cabinet is fully functional where it sits now.

I moved my Bernina Aurora 440 where my Juki had been, and now I have an adjustable height table with my Featherweight, and the new-to-me Singer 99K cabinet on the backside of the Bernina cabinet. The Singer 99 cabinet looks so sad with no machine in it! It should be back in a few days.

Here is the Bernina side of the arrangement. I think with my Ott lite in the middle, it can be used with all three of these machines. I'll have to try it out.

This section of my sewing room stayed pretty much the same.

I am not liking the view of the back of that cabinet, so I think a small wall quilt is needed to cover the fiberboard backing. I had to stack my white strip drawers. They had been under the Juki back leaf when it was in it's previous location, and always up. Please forgive the messy surfaces, I had to move a LOT of stuff today, and I just got too tired to deal with the last of the piles.  Most of the stuff on my sewing cabinets are current projects, and my cutting table has a bunch of fabric from several projects I am currently cutting. At times the room will look worse than this, and I'm hoping at times it will be better. I haven't finished moving little things like trashcans yet either. I think the ironing board is going to have to go up only when I need it. I think I will likely use a small pressing board when I am working on blocks, and only bring out the ironing board for yardage or when I am assembling a quilt top.

I'm anxious to see how this arrangement will work for me. I'd love to have a different project going at every machine, and I could pick and choose what I wanted to work on each time I was going to sew. I ordered some bobbins for my 99 today, it only came with one, but at least the bobbin and bobbin case were there! The machine moved freely, and the wiring looked to be in good shape, so I'll be surprised if the motor has major issues. It can be converted to a handcrank if it has a bad motor, and I've been wanting a handcrank, so even that would be OK.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Denim Scraps

I'm still not feeling great, but I am trying to get something done. Yesterday I decided I'd pull fabrics for a quilt, and start cutting out two quilts (one already has the fabrics together) I pulled some fabrics, but when I looked at my cutting table, I realized I would need to be some cleaning up of a few things before I could cut much. I had a big pile of denim scraps from my jean deconstruction binge early last month. These scraps were too small for the project I was cutting for at the time, and too oddly shaped to want to put them with my denim stash. I have chosen a couple different patterns I want to try with the denim, so I knew which sizes I could cut and would work with my plans. I hadn't tackled the scrap pile before now, but it was time.

This is a good representation of the type of pieces I had in this pile. Any large pieces were already stored with my denim stash in its fancy cardboard box ;-) These were the odd bits, and there were more in the pile than I thought there were. I was only able to cut for 20 or 30 minutes at a time before I needed a break. Like I said, still not feeling great. I started working on the denim yesterday. I didn't think I'd have much time to cut today, because I had the twins all day, but DH was home, and he took them outside for a couple hours so I could have some peace. I cut some while he was outside with the twins, then again during their nap. I was so close to finishing the stack I went and cut some more after dinner. 

Here is what is left of the denim scraps. Since I was cutting for specific quilts it was a little easier to decide what sizes to cut from each scrap. I basically just started with the largest size I could cut from each scrap. Since I was saving down to two inch squares, there are a lot of denim bits in my trashcan, but none bigger than that.

Speaking of my trashcan, I had been using just a small trashcan next to my cutting table, but I was tired of having it fill up so quickly when I was cutting or trimming bits of batting. I save any larger pieces of batting and piece them together to make usable battings, and I save even 1 1/2" squares of fabric, but still, when I am on a big cutting spree, especially of scraps when there are all kinds of odd shapes, or when I am trimming a bunch of string blocks, the little trash can was filling up all the time. DH had to go out to buy a new weed eater, so I had him pick me up a kitchen sized trash can to go next to my cutting table. SUCH an improvement! I must be a little odd to be so happy about a new trash can :-)

There are still a few things on my cutting table to deal with, but even now I can likely start cutting for the quilts I wanted to cut. At least the denim is all dealt with for now. I will have to break out the larger denim pieces to cut more of the sizes I cut the last couple of days, but that can wait until I am actually ready to start those quilts. I'm not planning on doing any sewing until the weekend, but I'm hoping to get quite a bit of cutting done. Having a bunch of quilts cut out and ready to go works well for me, because I love to piece, but have to psych myself up to cut. I don't hate cutting, it's just something I procrastinate on, and then go overboard cutting a bunch all at once. I've learned to deal with my odd habits, and it all works out in the end.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Quilty Finish!

I finished the quilt I was working on, and here it is! All the tan areas are micro-stippled, even the narrow one inch border, and the green areas have concentric diamonds straight quilted. The green border just has some large meandering in it. This is technically a two color quilt, just green and tan, but I used about every shade of green in it ;-) I have several scrap quilt books that specifically say you can't mix shades like this, and I ignore all of that advice. I like the movement that all the different shades create.

DH wants to give this quilt away at a scooter function next month. I'm sure he would have preferred a scooter themed quilt, and I had one in mind, but not enough time available to make it.

Things have slowed way down around here, because I am sick. If the baseball sized lumps on my neck are any indication, I have the mumps. If it's not the mumps it is a nasty viral infection, and any way you look at it I'm contagious, so no babysitting for me this week, except for the twins who are already exposed. I'm not really motivated to do much right now, and frequent napping is more my current speed. I had the chicken pox in my thirties, so getting the mumps in my forties seems reasonable, right? I must have saved all the childhood illnesses for adulthood :-P

I don't know what I am working on next, and honestly, I don't much care right now. I needed to get this quilt finished so I did. If I feel like sewing I can work on the twins quilts, and I have several quilts I need to get cut out. I have lots of scraps that need to be cut too, and maybe getting my Accuquilt Go cutter out will be the least taxing option. I finished a book last night, and downloaded a bunch of free books onto my kindle, so that may be my more my speed right now, just chilling out, reading, and hopefully healing!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


I actually have been doing some sewing, quilting on a quilt in little bits of time here and there. I don't want to take a photo of that until it's finished, so I'll put up some pics of my grandkids instead.

The twins have been on an apple kick, asking for apples all the time! I'm hoping to take them to an apple orchard soon, so they can see where apples come from. The apple orchard closest I want to take them to is open until the end of October, and it's about a 90 minute drive each way.

The front closet is a prime piece of real estate in our house. The twins hide in there all the time, and since Miss E is visiting, she tried to get in there too.

Here is Miss E playing with her Aunt (DD#2)

I borrowed a pic from DD#1, and here are Mr. Z and Mr. J waving from South Africa!

DDIL's knee surgery has been postponed, so they will be going home on Saturday. Some insurance issues need to be worked out before it can be rescheduled. 

Now I will have a bit more time to sew than I had anticipated, so finishing this quilt for early October should be much easier now. I made a rookie mistake when I started quilting it, and I had forgotten to change the tension when I had switched from FMQ the last quilt, to using the walking foot this quilt. I didn't do a sample piece, which I know I should have done. The quilt I am quilting is in sort of a barn raising layout, so I was quilting concentric diamonds to mimic the piecing. When I had finished about a 2 ft by 2 ft area, I ended the thread, and noticed the tension on the back was awful! I had to rip it all out, and the only good thing about that was the tension was so bad it was fairly quick to rip out. When only sewing in little bits of time, it's easy to forget things, and hard to catch back up. 

I am finished all the straight line quilting on the quilt, and right now I am free motion quilting the border. I plan on changing thread colors after the border, and go back and stipple in the light diamond paths in the center. I'm hoping to have the quilt finished by the end of next weekend at the latest.

The next project is still undecided. I need to cut out a baby quilt I need before December, and I just got a request for more baby bibs. If I cut out the baby quilt, I can work on it and the twins bed quilts at the same time. I have a couple other quilts I want to get cut out as well. Soooo many ideas in my head! I am learning to quilt in little snatches of time, so I get to see progress, which is really encouraging!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Another Thing Scratched off the List!

Miss E was in need of some more bibs, and when I went to buy towels to make more I was amazed at how much towels had gone up in price just since I made some bibs a few months ago. I found some hand towels at a thrift store that looked new or almost new, so I bought much better quality towels for just 99 cents each!

I don't get too concerned about bibs matching exactly, so I have six colors of ribbing and I just mix and match. On the blue ones I used some appliques I've had hanging around for a while.

The pink ones get to be twins, and have the same trim on them, and the purple/gray towel is printed so I didn't add anything.

I started quilting a quilt today, and that's what I'll be working on tomorrow. I'm hoping to knock this quilt out fairly quickly, as this will be a busy month for me, and I need it finished by the first weekend in October. While I am working on the quilting, I'll be thinking about what sewing project gets priority next. I have a lot of options, and I really don't know which I'll choose. I do some of my best thinking while I'm sewing, so the simple quilting pattern I chose for this quilt will be prime thinking time.