Friday, February 28, 2014

Back into Batt-le

Thanks to the new machine, we're up and running again on the garrison quilt. On Wednesday I finished the center of the quilt (minus the girl, who will be added last).

In January, both the left and right sides (2/3 total) of the batting were cut away to decrease bulk and drag at the machine--and what a difference it made! So now that the entire center was quilted, it was time to re-insert one side of the batting.

I had been careful not to quilt any closer than four inches from the cut edge of the batting, so that it wouldn't be wavy when realigning it with the cut-away section. To rejoin the two pieces, I used a soft cloth tape made specifically for that purpose, and fused it right there on the cutting table (cutting mat removed to prevent warping). The tape worked great, bonding really well.

Quilting is now in progress on the left side. The photo here shows all that has been quilted so far (minus the pinned areas).

It's slow going, but well worth the time, and the new machine is doing free-motion like a champ. Not a single thread nest on the back during an entire two-hour session!

Hooking up at Whoop Whoop Friday, where Sarah has a tutorial out with a giveaway! Check it out, along with all her reader linkups. Also linking up with Leah Day's FMQ Project Linkup, where work is progressing on the Building Blocks group project.

On the weather front, we are in for yet another ice storm tomorrow and Sunday...what a winter this has been. My sister said the heck with it and took off for Florida yesterday. LOL

Everyone have a great weekend, whatever the weather!


Friday, February 21, 2014

Delay into De-Liberation

As of yesterday afternoon, my main machine was repaired but had not had its final check at the shop. It's been at the dealer's for two weeks, but at this point I'm actually grateful for that long, dry spell. More about that in a minute.

Being still unable to work on the garrison quilt, I finished the quilt (made on the Singer 503) that's going to The Center for Women and Families. Don't you love the blue jeans and white tennis shoes it's wearing in the photo? And it has two hands! :)

Thank you, Mark, for being my quilt hanger.
We'll deliver it there next week. Here's the back:

(Why didn't I pick the cat's tissue paper up off the floor?)
No label; not necessary, and this way it becomes a reversible quilt.

Since my main machine still wasn't ready, I pulled some more fat quarters off the shelf and started a table runner on the old Singer.

Finally, today my main machine was ready for pickup. But as mentioned before, I'm glad it took so long for the repairman to get around to it, because it gave me time to contemplate a possible upgrade. The updated model of my main machine (which I love, by the way) has been improved in every way I could have asked for, and now has an optional, attachable magnifying lens in three different strengths. For me, that feature alone is almost worth the difference in price, as I've had more and more trouble seeing what is going on under my needle while free-motion stitching on my landscape quilts. My eyes were never great (started wearing glasses at age 3), and now, entering my 60s, magnification has become a real issue. For the last three years, I've tried attaching a really nice, stick-on magnifying lens at every possible angle, and every time I found a halfway decent position for it, the darned thing would start coming unstuck and sag or fall off right in the middle of stitching. Even with duct tape! :-/

So the attachable magnifying lens, as well as all the other improvements on the updated model, were just too hard to pass up. This afternoon, instead of picking up my machine from its first repair in the 3 years since I purchased it, I brought in the manual and all the accessories for it, left them with the dealer for trade-in, and took the newer model home with me instead. (We won't go into how much spousal discussion it took to get to this point. ;)

So next week it's back to the garrison quilt, providing everything works as expected on the new machine. No more slouching, aching shoulders and neck from not being able to see what's under the needle. No more catching fabric, threads and batting on the dual-feed bracket behind the presser foot. No more awkward (really awkward) screw removal just to clean out the bobbin area. And no more chasing that small foot pedal around on the carpet (I have really big feet).

I'll stop there, but there are several other great improvements as well. Again, though, my 7700 was amazing. I love, love, love the way it sewed, even when the feed dogs were down.

Thanks again to Moore's Sewing and Learning Center here in Louisville, our awesome Janome dealer and an all-around wonderful sewing/quilting/embroidery shop. I've been dealing with them for over 30 years, and have never been disappointed.

Linking up to Leah Day's FMQ Project...she has, much deservedly, been nominated for MQX show's Teacher of the Year!! If you're a fan of her teaching, as I am, you still have time to cast your vote by visiting the link she has included in today's post. Also hooking up with Sarah Craig's Whoop Whoop Friday blog, as I sure have something to whoop about with this updated machine. Sarah has made a love-ly quilt for a friend who just had surgery.

Everyone have a great weekend! Hope your snow is melting (unless you're at a ski resort) and your ground is drying up (unless you're stranded in a desert).


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sing-out for the Old Singer

With my main sewing machine still in the shop for repairs, nothing could be done on the free-motion garrison quilt this week. So it was the perfect time to concentrate on making the back for the pieced quilt top I finished last week:


I had already decided to quilt it on my late mother-in-law's beloved Singer 503 Slant-o-matic. This machine needs to work hard and often, or she gets depressed and lapses into sluggish behavior.

The 503's streamlined design is interrupted here by the masking tape I used to attach extra thread guides (safety pins).
This is a workhorse, an all-metal, industrial-strength home machine built in 1962 and housed in its own cabinet. It pounds through multiple layers of seamed denim like they were butter, as demonstrated by a YouTube video I ran across recently. (When I first took this machine in for service, the technician's eyes lit up, and after giving a low whistle, he called out for his assistant to come 'look what we have here.') Deservedly, this machine was highly respected in its heyday, and apparently still is by those who know their stuff. If you find one of these available to buy, and it operates really (really) fast and smooth, jump on it. They run like formula race cars. It's almost scary.

This also happens to be the machine on which I learned to sew, in 1976. My mother-in-law was a kind and patient teacher (imagine entrusting your one-and-only, very expensive and much treasured sewing machine to a 22-year-old novice), and I hope I thanked her for those invaluable lessons, because sewing and quilting have brought immense satisfaction to my life.

However, to use the 503 for this quilt, rearrangement and innovation were necessary. So the machine went from its normal position against the wall (photo at left)...

to this position:

All it took was 3 storage containers, 2 old card tables and books, 1 vinyl-covered ironing board~~and a partridge in a pear tree~~. (Actually, those birds on the back of the quilt just might be partridges, who knows? :) Across from this setup, one leaf of the cutting table, which usually stays fully extended, had to be dropped just for the sake of passage. This is a long but narrow room.

Also, a bit of designing has been done on that gorgeous piece of Hoffman fabric pictured in last week's post:

I'll keep adding elements as the inspiration strikes. This usually happens when I get tired of working on the pieced quilt. It also gets me up out of the chair and provides a nice break for my brain.

Before signing off, I just have to give a 'proud mom' shout-out to my son, Alex, aka music artist Nmesh. His music opened the Lacoste Fall/Winter 2014-15 runway show (update 3/6/15--this link is no longer working, sorry to say) during New York Fashion Week this week. This is the fifth runway fashion show in the last few months to feature his music, and the first to open with it. Way to go, Alex!

Linking in to Sarah Craig's Whoop Whoop Friday post, where she has finished a lovely quilt to give to a couple whose baby has a heart defect. Perfect for Valentine's Day.

Hope everyone's weather is looking better this weekend. Just as our snow is finally beginning to melt after many days below freezing, we find out that we're in for another possible 3 to 4 inches tomorrow! But then it's back to some rain and temps in the 50s. Yay!


Friday, February 7, 2014

Absent Without Leave

Progress on the garrison quilt has come to a halt. And this time, it's not static cling.


See anything missing? machine has gone AWOL.

Ok, technically, it didn't just drop out of sight; I took it to the dealer. Hopefully, the problem is not too serious. After winding a bunch of mushy, malformed bobbins, I had given up. There was obviously an issue with the first thread tension position (the only one involving the bobbin on this machine). Which, being in the top-thread path as well, had also been affecting my free-motion stitching. Not horribly, just enough to be annoying and cause lots of stops and starts. Nor were the stitches looking very nice, even after adjusting the tension several times. It was puzzling, to say the least, but the reason didn't become obvious until I tried to wind a new bobbin. Well, 6 new bobbins. As mentioned in previous posts, I'm nothing if not stubborn.

So, while the dealer figures out what's wrong and repairs the machine, I'm choosing fabrics for the backing for the quilt top I finished last week. The (folded) quilt top is in the foreground.

I'm also beginning a new landscape quilt. This will be the background:

Is this not gorgeous??? It might be a Robert Kaufman fabric, but I'm not sure. If anyone knows, please leave a comment below. Unfortunately, there is no clue on the selvages, and since I bought it quite a while back, I don't remember. (Update: after digging around on the internet, I think it's a Hoffman.)

Hooking up here with Leah Day's FMQ Project Linkup, and Sarah Craig's Whoop Whoop Friday post (I can at least whoop whoop about starting a new landscape, even if I can't work on the current one!). Don't forget to check out the reader linkups at the end of each of their posts.

Everyone have a great weekend, even if you are in for more freakin' snow, as we are. (Will this weather never end? We still have ice on all the tree branches after 3 days!) Stay warm (or cool, depending on your location)!