Thursday, February 26, 2015

On the Catwalk, Baby

I actually heard that song on the radio last week. You know which one I'm talking about. I can't seem to scrub it from my brain. Don't tell anyone, but I may have even danced a little in my car seat.

Well, maybe it did provide me with an "Ah-Ha" moment (Now that's a song I don't mind running around my brain) as I was holding my just finished but pre-border Quilt of Valor flimsy in my hands. I was racking my brain for a place to put this freshly ironed and starched flimsy where it wouldn't get all wrinkled when I had an epiphany...the catwalk!

It's not really a catwalk but don't tell Son #2 because it was said feature that sealed the deal for him during our house hunting spree three years ago. His comment, "I've always wanted to live in a house with a catwalk!"  Sold.

It's really not a true catwalk but more like a complicated stair configuration that ends in a balcony/loft. The loft holds our home office and I am sitting there as I type. The stairs are so complicated that poor Cooper refused to go upstairs for months because he couldn't figure how to get back down. 

But look at all that railing! I have 9 bays that could hold quilts in various stages of finish if I were so inclined. This could be dangerous. I'm going to have to work hard to keep my WIPs under control now that I have discovered this great way to store them unwrinkled.

Yes, I am a bit embarrassed that it took me so long to come up with this rather obvious solution.

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, February 20, 2015

ALYoF for February and WIPs

I actually get to link up a bonafied ALYoF project for February. This is a rarity for me. It's not so much that I never have a finish but that I get distracted with other projects that I finish in place of my earmarked goal. 

I've shared this already but this is my official Link-Up post.

Here's the particulars:
Aspen Frost Mini-Charm Pack.
Basic Gray Grunge from my stash.
My own simple layout front and back.
Quilted on my Juki. 

The Three designs on the ends are supposed to emulate ribbon candy. Do you see it? I created little curved frames in each square and stitched simple connected snowflakes in the blue sashing. 

I can see quite a bit of improvement in my FMQ skills on this project. Still a very long way to go but it is encouraging.

From there I moved on to my second Christmas WIP. This is the Christmas Tree Pants project I started at my first retreat. I finished the scrappy side at the retreat and I finished the solid side early in the week. It is now stored in my little WIP box for quilting after I tackle my 90s WIP on the frame.

Currently I am making more of my Great Granny blocks. I was at a stand still due to a need for more fabrics but I won two charm squares of the RB Gingham in navy and I was able to use it for 4 more centers. I have ordered the final yardage that will allow me to complete this project front, back and binding so it will be clipping along again soon.

I will be attending my first (and maybe only) mystery quilt class on Saturday. I am excited but I can't share anything 'cuz it's a mystery.

Oh, and incase you are worried about the Hubs freezing on his major Cross Bike ride on Saturday. It's been delayed! Good thing we paid the upgrade that allowed us to cancel his hotel room. The Southern Cross is being postponed until sometime in March. I might be able to go with him after all.

Thanks for visiting!

Linking up with:
Sew BitterSweet Design's A Lovely Year of Finishes February 2015
Lorna's Let's Bee Social
The Carpenter's Daughter and TGIFF

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Finish, a Featherweight and a 301-A

Here's my Singer Spinet No. 74 Cabinet.

Don't ya love that trapezoid shape? I do, but that curvy black 15-90, though absolutely gorgeous, looks a bit out of place. A better compliment would be the machine that Singer designed to pair with the No. 74 cabinet, a 301.

My dream vintage travel machine has long been a Singer 221 Featherweight but I had a change of heart after attending my first quilting retreat. There were many 221's and several 301's and I fell head over heals in love with the 301's modern shape. Makes sense since I love its cabinet.

So, I have been hot on the trail for a 301 and placed a winning ebay bid last week on a two-tone beauty with a decent trapezoid case and a nice collection of attachments. She arrives on my Georgia doorstep this Thursday from, of all places, my home town in Washington State.

I'm so excited. I still need to purchase the necessary cradle to mount her in my cabinet but I have a 1/4 inch foot on its way and will be ready to piece up a storm with her as soon as I get her serviced.

Now what to do with the 15-90? I'm going to try to source out another cabinet to mount her in but I may sell her. I'm a bit torn. I think she's a real beauty and she sews like a dream but do I need so many machines? Especially since I added another machine to the stable last Friday.

This one is definitely a keeper because she is a sad little abused machine and I don't think anyone would ever love her the way I will. Let me introduce you to my new little puppy.

Kinda like a pound puppy. Here she is among her pound mates at the estate sale where I picked her up. Can you guess which one I adopted?  She was dirty, damaged, abused and in need of a good bath.

Let me share her before and after pictures:

Notice the Social Security Number engraved on the front. This puppy was a victim of the "mark all your belongings" craze of the late 80's. A fair amount of her clear coat and decals were worn off as well. She was pretty worse for wear. I've done a bit of touchup with an automotive paint pen and she's been waxed.

If you are a Featherweight purist you might want to skip this part. 
You may notice her new spartan look. I chose to remove what remained of her decal work except for the Singer badging and have about 90% of her clear coat removed. I still have spots that need work. I'm not really a fan of the gold decals anyway so I'm letting her finish her days unadorned like the later celery models.

Yes, she is a Centennial 221. That makes it an extra shame that she was molested with an engraving tool.

It's hard to get under the motor so the damaged clear coat remains but at least the puddles of debris are gone. She purrs pretty nicely though she still needs fresh grease in her motor. I drove all over town and couldn't locate a single tube of Singer lubricant! I have some coming in the mail.

Notice the missing Gib Screw. That is on order too. She sews nicely but is a bit clanky and I don't want to chance a cataclysmic failure so she is benched until that screw is in place. I thought I may have washed the screw down the drain until I went back and looked at her before photos.

Her bottom looked pretty good before here bath, even when I took off her bottom plate. Somehow that area was spared all the debris buildup but her oil mat was actually fuzzy with old mold. Yuck!

Now for the crazy part. I literally gave her a long hot shower with Dawn Dishwashing Soap in my laundry sink. She was so nasty and I got her so cheap that when I read David McCullum's suggestion I went for it. I couldn't believe that wrapping the motor with plastic wrap would keep it safe but it did! Then I baked her in my oven! Twice!!!

So now she's mine and like that ugly little mutt from the pound, she will be loved by me even when I take her out and the pure bred owners cringe and snicker behind our backs. (Disclaimer: I'm that purebred dog owner so I am familiar with the routine and you could say I deserve it, but does the little Featherweight Puppy?)

I am happy that I will have two vintage travel machines because I will be able to share with my sister at next year's guild retreat. How sweet am I?

Now for some actual sewing:

I made my February ALYofF goal for February!

It's a Christmas Table Runner in Apsen Frost and Grunge. My own design and nothing fancy. I bought a Mini-Charm Pack while Hubs was doing the 2014 Southern Cross in Dahlonega, GA last February. Guess what, he does the 2015 Southern Cross this coming Saturday.

I'll be attending my first ever Mystery Quilt Class. I have my fabric cut and I am excited. I will be starting my 2015 Quilt of Valor. He will be riding his cross bike for 50 miles and I'll be sewing what seems like 50 miles of thread.

Will I be sewing modern or vintage on Saturday? Juki or Singer. Only the postman knows for sure!

Thanks for visiting!

Linking up with:
Blossom Heart Quilt's Sew Cute Tuesday via The Gnome Angel
Mabey She Made It's Do Tell Tuesday

Monday, February 9, 2015

Micro-Stamps Pixelated Quilt Tutorial

Tutorial revisions of May 19, 2015 in italics

I am a bit overwhelmed by the number of views that my post about Son #1's ring bearer pillow has received. I feel like I should share the process I used to make that little pixelated heart.

My inspiration for the technique came through several sources. 

First, the pixilated heart. It is a fairly common theme and I couldn't even begin to decipher the original source. 

Second, in order to achieve such small piecing I was inspired by Elizabeth Hartman's Stamp Collection tutorial (no longer active) on her blog, Oh, Fransson. The difference is that her unfinished squares are two-inches whereas mine are one-inch.

This pillow is only eleven-inches square and I wanted a lot of detail. I knew that would not be possible with a larger pixel. I am so excited about how well this turned out and I have plans to do more experimentation.

I do not like poly-fil pillows so I cut down a 16x26 inch feather and down pillow form that I purchased from Ikea. It was messy but it worked. I covered my little 11x11 inch form in muslin to make it pretty. I still have a 16-inch square pillow form to play with. Maybe another Micro-Stamp is in order?

So, here is the series of photos that I took while making the pillow.


Light Weight Fusible Interfacing. (I used Pelon 906F)
An assortment of One-Inch fabric squares. (I used snippets of all the shades of red and pink I had in my stash.  White was my only allowed exception.) 
Pen to mark grid. (I found that a thin Sharpie left a nice quality line.)
Ruler to mark grid lines
Clover Mini Iron (a full size iron could be used in a pinch but I found the mini iron to be much easier to use with the tiny pieces)

Step One:

The first thing I did was mark my grid.
I marked one-inch apart the first direction but realized that two-inches would suffice since I could use the four corners for placement. I used two-inches apart on the perpendicular lines.

I'd skip the muslin and mark your Pellon if you do not plan to ever repeat this technique. No sense making a gridded muslin for a one-off.

Next time I do this I think I'll try making a muslin grid like the Oh, Fransson tutorial so that I can reuse it. I also think one of those marked June Tailor pressing boards would be a time saver.

I am now using the muslin grid. My squares are marked at two inches.

Step One and a half:

Cut your interfacing to a scant under two times the size of your desired finished piece. This will keep your iron and cloth clean.

The pellon piece above is cut at seven inches and will yield a three and half inch finished piece.
(I colored the edges of the Pellon red so you could see them easier)

Step Two:

Quickly press any all your little squares flat. This can be done in in groups and clumps.

 Lay out your design.

Notice my revised layout below. The Pellon is completely covered by the one inch fabric squares.

Add in your background grid pieces.

Fill the entire grid to the size square or rectangle you desire for your finished piece. 

Step Three:

Lay an ironing cloth over your grid and press. I was able to eliminate the need for the mini-iron and the piece was much flatter with the pieces were more strongly adhered.

Look how flat it lays and it only took a few seconds! 

Use your iron to fuse down each square in its place. This is where the mini iron was a life saver. These little one inch pieces have a mind of their own. They are a bit stiff and just sort of float above the interfacing. A breath can send them flying.  

I tried setting my full size iron on them as per the Oh, Fransson tutorial but there was too much movement. I broke out the mini iron and went to town. I started in the middle and worked out.

No photos here. I dropped the ball.

Step Four:

Sew your seams. Fold on the lines, right sides together, and sew all the seams with a 1/4 inch allowance going in ONE direction on the interfacing side.

I had a lot of warpage on my first few goes that required quite a bit of pulling and teasing with the iron to work out. I discovered that if you alternate the direction you sew each seam the warpage is pretty much eliminated. See photo bellow where I have marked the seam directions.

 Step Five:

Trim your seam allowances. No photos again, sorry.

I tried several techniques.

First I tried my small embroidery scissors that fit into the seam allowance. This didn't work for me even though I was using a nice pair of Ginghers.

Second I tried using my rotary cutter, mat and a ruler but it slipped around too much on the interfacing.

My third attempt, and the one I settled on, was using a standard pair of scissors to trim off a sliver of the seam allowance. This was safe, fast and worked perfectly for me.

It is important to trim off about a sixteenth of an inch of the seam allowance fold. This allows you to iron the seams open and reduces the width of the sides so that they do not touch or overlap.

Step Six:

Iron your seam allowances open. This is a must as the bulk is considerable. The seams will remain strong since they are continuous from end to end so there is no need to worry about squares coming loose. I used a considerable amount of home-made vodka starch during the process.

The increased adhesion with the pressing cloth and alternating seam directions eliminated the need for starch and the mini-iron! Just start on the edge of the outer seam and carefully use your fingertips to fold open the seam as you go. Then move inward until you get to the center seam. Flip the piece and do the same from the other side.

No photos again but this was the second time the mini iron saved this project. 

Once again I started out trying to use my standard iron but it did not allow me to maneuver among the tight seam allowances. I used the mini iron to initially tease the seams open and then once they were under submission I pressed the stew out of them with my full size iron. 

Step Seven:

Repeat folding on the seam line and sewing all the seams in the perpendicular direction as per Step Four.

The above shows a block finished in several stages for a demo.

Step Eight:

Repeat trimming the seams as per Step Five.

Step Nine:

Repeat ironing your seams as per Step Six.

Give the finished block a good starch and press, front and back. Only if desired.

I was quite happy with how flat I was able to get the piece. I wish I had a photo to share here. The seam allowances come just short of touching all the way around. It really looks cool.

Here's the block I made for the Augusta Modern Quilt Guild's banner. 

Step Ten:

Trim block to square and stay-stitch around the outside edge within the quarter-inch seam allowance if desired.

I'd love to get feedback from anyone who tries this tutorial.

Once I had my block complete I made a removable cover using Essex Linen and a red zipper. I didn't end up using the blue Kona but opted to do some simple quilting in blue in its place. The bridesmaid dresses are Navy so I wanted to emphasize the blues in the Carolyn Friedlander bits.

Thanks for visiting!

Linking up with:
Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday (This project is one of their features this week!)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I "Heart" February Finish

Meet my first official finish For February:

You might be surprised to know that it is an 11" square pillow. Those pixels are a mere half inch finished.  This is the ring pillow for Son #1's wedding in March.

I was inspired by all the Pixellated Heart projects floating around the blogosphere. I knew I couldn't get the desired affect with two inch finished pixels so I used the Elizabeth Hartman Stamp Collection tutorial on Oh Fransson to mini-size the project. I think it came out smashing!

It all started out as a 16x26" Fjadrar Inner Cusion from Ikea, a pile of pink and red scraps, my stack of untouched Caroline Friedlander, a little RK Essex Linen, a red zipper and some navy pearl cotton. That's what you see. Underneath it includes, fusible interfacing, cotton batting, muslin and of course, thread. I guess you could add in all the vodka-starch I used to tease those seams into submission.

I will share the construction process is another post, but for now, here is the pillow in detail.

Note that the ribbon can be removed so that the little heart can be tossed around the home as a decoration post nuptials.

Now for an update on my 2015 Goals:

The Hickory Knob Retreat left me in an unusual position. I have a larger number of WIPs than I am used to. They are staring me in the face from the rail of the grace frame. It makes me feel a bit anxious when I look at them. Add to that that the ring pillow was NOT on my 2015 Goal list and I am feeling a bit behind. I do have a lot of starts just not many finishes.

I did finish some welcome additions to help me with production in January. These were also not on my 2015 List. I made six of Lori Holt's Design Boards. I absolutely love them and have another board to make a larger one that will fill in as a mini design wall since I am so short on wall space in my studio.

I changed up the design a bit and used gray flannel instead of batting scraps. I can neaten these babies up with a swipe of the lint roller.

They are coming in so handy with my granny square quilt. I lay out blocks on the 20x20 boards and organize my pieces on the 10x10 boards. I can stack them and move them around with ease. Lori is right, these are invaluable.

I have constructed seven of 20 granny square blocks. This project just moved up from a May finish to a mid-March deadline so I have to get hopping.

I have purchased more Kona Snow for the granny square quilt and the Christmas Tree Pants Side-B.
I still need to order some additional RB Small Dots to round out the granny square project.

And last but not least, I failed on my January ALYoF goal and only got my Christmas Runner sandwiched and FMQ'd two rows of Ribbon Candy.

I was going to make the Ring Pillow my February goal but since I finished it before I even shared it I am going to go back to the runner for my January ALYof goal.

Linking up with:
Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday
Sew Fresh Quilt's Let's Bee Social
Mabey She Made It's Do Tell Tuesday
Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday
She Can Do's Craftastic Monday
Blossom Heart Quilt's Sew Cute Tuesday
I have to Say's Show & Tell Tuesday
Bitter Sweet Designs A lovely Year of Finishes