Sunday, November 4, 2018

Woo-woo & Witches

No new quilts to show yet, but there is something new...and something not-so-new. It begins with the new music box I received in mid-October from my oldest friend and college roommate, Nita.

(Click any photos to enlarge)
The balance wheel turns an actual belt, moves the treadle, and moves the needle bar (sans needle) up and down. When the center drawer is opened, the music plays...oddly enough, my favorite piece of classical music, Fur Elise by Beethoven. I don't remember ever telling Nita it was my favorite; still, I'm not surprised. It's that kind of friendship. Lots of synchronicity. (Some would call it "woo-woo," and that's fine. Keep reading for more woo-woo.)

Fast-forward to the not-so-new part of this story. About a week after I received the music box, my husband saw an offer posted online in a give-away, recycle -type group, and he replied that he (I) was interested. By then the owner had already promised the item to someone else, but two days later she wrote my husband and said it was his if he still wanted it.

He wanted it. And look what he brought home.

This beauty, a Singer Sewing Machine No. 15, is 116 years old. It was originally sold in a wooden cabinet with a treadle (like the music box), but has had a motor installed, a new pedal added, and is housed in a 1950's portable case.

Coincidence? You be the judge. To me it's more synchronicity (or woo-woo).

The decals are worn away in places, but still gorgeous. The crank assembly, which would have been decorative as well as functional alongside the balance wheel, is missing, as are the attachments...but the machine works! Its full power hasn't been tested yet, however. I don't want to run it hard until it's cleaned up and oiled a little more. But I have a feeling it will run like a top.

And though it's a bit premature to find space for it in the studio (and I really thought it would be impossible), it didn't take long to figure out where it would fit. There's a fair amount of space on the wooden table behind the big machine, and the Singer can sit on the edge facing the window. There it will also serve as a stop-guard for quilts being sewn on the big machine.

With the holidays approaching, the restoration job may be a 2019 project. I'll be reviewing Lizzie Lenard's (Muv's) videos on how to clean and oil a vintage sewing machine, parts 1 and 2, as well as others she has posted about using vintage machines. I'm very grateful she has shared her experience with these wonderful old workhorses.

Off subject, on the knitting front, finally it's a finish for my granddaughter Lucy's Secret Garden sweater coat. The pattern and the yarn are by Alice Starmore of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland (click here to visit her stunning website, Virtual Yarns). This sweater coat pattern for ages 3-4 & 5-6 was fun, and not nearly as difficult as it might appear at first glance. I found it in The Children's Collection knitting book by A. & J. Starmore (J. is her daughter, Jade). Lucy won't be able to wear the sweater coat until next year, but in the meantime I can take it out occasionally and admire it. It is such a lovely pattern.

That's all for now, except to share a photo of Lucy in her witch costume, taken with me this Halloween.

The sweetest witch ever (at left, that is. The one on the right is not nearly as sweet)
Have a great November!


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Villa Views

Finally, a finish for the quilt featuring the cut-apart Hoffman fabric photo panel of a beautiful beach at sunset. My husband took one look at this quilt and said, "Can we go there on vacation?" I wish!

Villa with a View, 39 x 19
Further down are some close-ups of the finished quilt. But first, here are some photos taken in progress...

The original panel, just after cutting it apart. (Click on any photo to enlarge.)

Tracing freezer-paper patterns from my original drawing of the arched windows....

...and using those to cut fabric pieces from Northcott Mills' Stonehenge fabric.

Fusing the fabric pieces with pre-applied Misty Fuse (which never gums up my needle!). The stone wall and inner arch pieces were also cut from Stonehenge fabrics. Don't know if these are available anymore, but I hope so. I use them often from my stash!

Next, some close-ups of the finished quilt, Villa with a View. I wish these were better photos, but between dim light/heavy clouds and my camera's automatic adjustments (time to get out the manual), this was not a good week for photographing in the studio. 

This may end up being just the first of a series (something I've never done), because there are some other photo fabric panels lurking in my closet that could be cut up and spread out like this, too. And right now I have my eye on a fall scene that should work well with these triple arched windows, so...

Speaking of which---happy fall, everybody!!


Monday, July 30, 2018

Villa with a View

Finally, I've decided to cut up this Hoffman printed fabric panel that's been hanging in my closet for longer than I care to estimate.

The upper sky is a bit over the top (no pun intended), but I might use it or parts of it in another project. The beach at bottom is a fairly "muddy" looking piece and may never be used at all.

I've always wanted to make one of those 3-window-view landscapes, and I love arches, so off to the drawing table...

 ...and then to the design wall, to audition fabrics...

 ...then back to the drawing table to trace pattern pieces onto freezer paper...

 ...then to trace the windows on vinyl (previously used---can you see the upside-down mountains from my last quilt design?)...

...and then, let the real mess begin! Pressing, fusing and cutting...

 ...and finally, the first piece is fused to the muslin base, where guidelines have also been traced.

More next time. Have a great day!


Monday, June 11, 2018

Fresh Eyes

Yesterday I retrieved my un-sold quilts and began packing each one for shipment, so that when an order does come through, the quilt will only need a receipt, a shipping label and of course a box in which to travel to its new owner. The quilt will have already been neatly rolled and tied on a hollow core, and sealed thoroughly in plastic to prevent any possible water damage during shipment. When this is done, I can cut my estimated shipping time from the current 3 to 5 business days, down to 2 days. That's good for sales.

However, the third quilt I pulled out of the closet gave me pause. I'd long had a nagging feeling about this particular quilt...that, for some reason, it wasn't going to sell. Which was a disturbing thought, as I had put an extraordinary amount of embellishment on it (mostly free-motion machine embroidery) and was fairly pleased with the result.

Or was I?
The Overlook
Lying there on the table after months of being hidden away in the closet, the quilt presented itself to a more objective eye on my part, and I started thinking, Maybe I should just keep this one and find someplace to hang it here in the house...but where? The basement? NO. No way am I relegating something I worked so hard to make beautiful to a place where dirty clothes are washed and cats use their litter pans.

Then I zeroed in on something. I had never been entirely thrilled with the foliage in the distance, across the river bend. That lilac-like color, for wasn't quite the look I'd been going for. It just didn't make sense for summer-into-fall foliage. Even my husband had commented on it back when I first finished it. And looking at it with fresh eyes, I noticed other parts of that distant foliage I didn't like. It just didn't look leafy enough. Too blob-like. Almost cartoon-like.

And that's when the Muse was freed up. (I hadn't realized I was holding her prisoner all this time.) The paint markers came out, and twenty minutes later the lilac color was masked, and all the "blobs" were more leafy. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the quilt was ready to go back into the queue of those waiting to be sold---and I was feeling grateful it had never left the house in its previous condition! So there was a lesson (which I'm probably not the first landscape quilter to learn): If something doesn't seem good enough to hang anywhere but my own wall, what is there to lose by changing it?

It may not look perfect, but I like it a lot better. And that goes a long way toward the possibility of someone else liking it as well.

Coincidentally or not, I just had cataract surgery. Here's to fresh eyes!