Thursday, August 28, 2014

Saved from the Trash

I needed a smallish quilt to try FMQ on the Singer 15 I recently acquired (for a grand total of $22.50). I didn't want to use an important quilt for my test drive, and I wanted something smaller than anything I had on hand. Time to look at some UFO's and see what I could finish up quickly.
I had some leftover pieces from this quilt, that almost made it into the trash. The pieces were small enough I could not cut any more units with the Companion Angle ruler from my strip sets. I decided to try cutting the end of the strips sets with my Easy Angle ruler, and see what happened. Some of the strip sets had so little left I couldn't get that extra cut, some I could just eek it out.
I ended up making these blocks from the dregs of the strip sets from the other quilt. These blocks have been made a while, and they'd be quick to make up into a smallish quilt top. Some of my blocks spin one direction, some the other, so I couldn't set them next to each other. Hmmm, need some sashing... I had this brown, green, blue shirting fabric in stash, that I had purchased at a thrift store. Cornerstones? Yeah, this all the remaining fabric from a recent baby quilt I made. Border? I had purchased the frog paisley fabric as a remnant at a quilt shop, there was less than a yard of it. This is basically a quilt top made from discards of one type or another. I think it's pretty cute, and it will be a great trial piece for the Singer 15.
I got my Singer 15 and my Bernina back from the shops they were at. I don't have either set up yet. I decided to finish assembling a couple projects that were in my way, this being one of them. The other quilt I'm assembling is a wedding quilt I'm making from a UFO. The blocks and pieced sashing have been done for months, and it's in rows as of today. Maybe tomorrow I can get it together? It doesn't need a border, so I only have to sew the rows together to have the quilt top finished. I have some cooking to do tomorrow too, because DH has a family reunion this weekend. We'll see how much I get done. It's busy around here!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Vibrating Shuttle Machines

Anyone who reads my blog at all hears me talk about my love for vintage sewing machines. Well, I was gifted with TWO vibrating shuttle machines on Sunday. One of my "adopted kids" has a mom who sews and is thinning her sewing machines, and two of them came my way :-)

This is my first White. It's a 3/4 machine, and is in great shape. I've not been very successful finding information on this machine so far. The manual that came with it does not have a model number, nor can I find a model number on the machine. I am thinking it may be a number 8 which was a Singer 28/128 knockoff. I know the shuttle bobbin that came with it is the same as a Singer, but I haven't had time to see if it fits correctly. I'm hoping it is a number 8, because if it's not, finding the correct shuttle and bobbins will be difficult. The paint is in great shape. I've read that I can call Husqvarna/Viking and they can tell me the approximate age of the machine by the serial number. I plan on doing that. It was made in Japan, so my guess is it's early 50's. I'm not sure when vibrating shuttle machines stopped being made, but I can't imaging much later than that. I have so much to learn about vintage machines!

This is a Singer 27 or 127. The sphinx decals are in rough shape, but the machine moves easily, and I'm hoping will be a good one. Singer has better dating methods than White, so I know this machine is a 1911. The side plate is completely plain, no scrolling, no grapevines, no striation, nothing! I'm seriously doubting this machine came with a motor. By the date and the spoked wheel, I'm thinking treadle or hand crank. 

The spoked wheel sits so far from the machine, maybe it was a hand crank? Does anyone know? I'm thinking I'd like to look into turning this into a hand crank. I have a hand crank that is a Singer 12 with a beautiful fiddle base. The downside to a Singer 12 is they take special needles that are no longer being made. The needles are very expensive when you can find them. The Singer 27 takes a normal 15x1 needle. If I convert this to a hand crank, I could have a hand crank I could use more frequently since I needn't worry about needles.

I need to spend some time learning about my new toys! Researching new machines is a fun thing for me, and the more I learn the better I can use them. What a blessing to be given two machines! I am anxious to start sewing on them.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Flirting with Dresdens

I hadn't ever made a Dresden Plate, and since none are finished, I guess technically I still haven't. That said, I just think Dresden Plates in 30's prints are adorable, and I knew I wanted to use Dresden Plates in more than one project. My idea of making my fabric go further, make the Dresden Plates small.

Aren't they cute? I looked at several Dresden Plate tutorials, and the pointed ones look much easier, but I wanted some rounded ones too. I am going to sew these to interfacing and turn them, so I get nice rounded edges (hopefully). I'll cut most of the interfacing away to reduce bulk, but I'm going to leave the fusible interfacing along the edges, and press them to the background fabric so hopefully I'll be able to applique without pinning.
I cut more pieces for Dresden Plates, both the rounded and pointed. How many can I make? I have no idea, I didn't count. The template I used for the rounded ones uses 16 petals per plate, the pointed template uses 20, so these stacks will go down quickly once I'm assembling. I didn't count the squares I cut either. I cut up all my fat eighths and fat quarters of 30's fabric, as well as most of the two charm packs. I left the layer cakes (10 inch squares) alone though, so I could use that fabric for wherever I fall short. I kept some of my 30's fabrics as strips, which can easily be sub-cut into squares if needed. If I were planning one project, I would have been more careful about how many pieces to cut, but since I'm planning more than one project, I was fine with faking it. I often overcut, and I always end up finding ways to use the extra pieces. If I'm short, the layer cake is there, or if that's not enough, I happen to be able to find my way to a quilt store ;-)
I don't think I'm the only quilter as laid back as this when cutting. It certainly worked well for me when I was trying to bust some florals from my stash. I think I ended up with five quilts from that cutting spree. Well, so far two of those are completed quilts, and the others are quilt centers hanging in my closet. I just finished making a piano key border that will finish at least one of those quilt tops, if not more than one. It's fun for me to occasionally just cut some fabrics and see where I go from there. When I get all the components made and THEN figure out how big the quilt will be. Or which quilt pattern it will be. With my floral busting spree, I cut all things either 2" or 3.5" so I could make 3" finished units. I ended up with Jacob's Ladder blocks, Friendship Stars, and Windmill blocks. Some of my blocks ended up 9" blocks, some 6" blocks. I had a blast working on those, and just seeing where the playing with fabric led me. I hope to do the same with the 30's prints, one baby quilt is planned, one quilt I have a rough idea of, but playing with whatever is left over, THAT's the really fun part!
It always cracks me up when I hear someone who has a lot of fabric say they can't cut it because what if they need it later. I especially hear people say that about scraps. It's probably just because scrap quilts are my favorite, but honestly, I've never made a quilt where I couldn't make a fabric substitution. If I am afraid I will run out of something major like a background, I just start with several background fabrics in the same color family, then I needn't worry about running out. Once there are several in there, you can add whatever you like in the same color family and it will work fine.
I finished quilting the quilt I was working on, binding went on this morning. Now my Bernina 440 needs to go get a spa treatment. The maintenance light went on a couple quilts ago, but I had such tight deadlines, I couldn't let it go yet. It's sewing great, it's just normal scheduled maintenance. I'm going to bring my new-to-me Singer 15 in as well, just to make sure all the wiring is safe. I really want to try FMQ on the Singer 15. I have a couple of vintage additions that haven't gotten the all clear from a technician yet, but I can't afford to bring them in all at once. Once my vintage machines have been given a clean bill of health by my sew and vac guy, I do most of the general maintenance on those myself. Cleaning, oiling and lube is about all those need. Wiring is above my knowledge though, so I try to have them all cleared for safety issues before I sew on them. The sew and vac guy I use is faster than the Bernina dealer, so I'm sure I'll have the Singer back first. He's also much cheaper, and I can get three vintage machines serviced for one Bernina servicing. I love having my Bernina, and all it's bells and whistles, but for piecing, the vintage machines are just plain fun!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Moving Slowly

Trying to get anything done lately has been a challenge. I have chronic pain issues, that I try very hard not to dwell on, but sometimes I get such a string of bad days together that it really affects my life. I have pretty much stopped taking any pain medications at all. I've developed allergies to most of them, and the couple I can take make me sick. My main ways of dealing with chronic pain are heat packs, ice packs, and distraction. I don't watch television because it does not engage my mind enough to distract me from the pain, so if someone wants me to watch TV with them, I normally have to do something else at the same time. I know there are a lot of people out there with chronic pain issues, so occasionally, I mention mine, but not very often. Unfortunately, this has been a bad couple of weeks, so it's really on my mind.

So what do I do when it's bad, but I need the distraction? I have multiple projects to work on right now, that are all in different stages, so I can keep switching as one task becomes too much. I am currently quilting a quilt (no pics, it's a gift). My main pain issue is a nine year long headache, and sometimes I cannot stand the sound of the sewing machine, so I always try to have something else to work on.

 I'm machine quilting the quilt, so if that's too much, but I think I could piece (I've been piecing on my Singer 201 and it's pretty quiet) I work on assembling this^

If I can't deal with sewing machines at all, I've been cutting for a couple projects that use 30's repro prints. I need 2.5" squares for one project, and 2" squares for the other. I don't have 30's repros in my stash, but I wanted a good variety. I bought some fat eighths packs by color, and some misc. fat quarters that were on a really great sale. I've finished with the fat eighths now.
Here are the fat quarters I need to press before I cut them, not too much more cutting of squares to do.

My other cutting project, for times when I need to sit, rather than stand, is to cut these mini Dresden plates from my 30's prints. Yes, I know the striped print is not 30's, but I needed some coral to go into one of the quilts, so I'm cheating a bit on that one. The finished Dresden Plates will be 5.5" I am using these mini Dresden Plates in both projects I'm cutting, so I need a LOT of petals, and they are pretty time consuming to cut. I've been cutting the sides with a small rotary cutter, but I just can't get a nice rounded edge with a  rotary cutter, so I'm tracing the tops and bottom and cutting that with scissors. If I'm careful, I've been able to do two layers with no shifting, so it's a little faster than doing one at a time. I could have done the pointed petals and easily cut them all by rotary cutter, but I wanted the rounded petals for these. I'm going for the soft, flower look. I think I'm going to end up with WAY more Dresden Plates than I need, but we'll see. These need 16 petals per plate, so my pile may go down a lot faster than I think.  I'm not worried about extras, I'll use them in something. Someday I'll have to do a project with big Dresden Plates.
That's what I'm up to these days, watching the twins, quilting as I can, and taking LOTS of breaks. Some days I'm the tortoise, sometimes I'm the hare, but as long as I'm getting something done, it's all good.