Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Mud, Sweat & Gears

Well, Hubs finally got to do the Southern Cross Race/Gravel Grinder on the 14th. Weather was not ideal and here is a post finish photo.

He did it on fat tires this year instead of his cross bike. Thankfully he won a bottle of sports laundry detergent for being an early finisher in his class!

I had my first ride of 2015 this month. It was so pretty that I couldn't help myself. It was fun but it gave me a terrible headache. I started on a new med regimen yesterday that will hopefully alleviate my exercise induced headaches.

On the sewing front:

I made two blocks for the Augusta Modern Quilt Guild banner.

First a 6" version of my Micro-Stamp heart design. I'll show the back first since I forgot that shot in the tutorial. Now I can update it with this essential shot.

And the front.

I got pretty brave with my second one and designed my first paper pieced block. We have several I.M. Pei projects in Augusta and the Lamar Building Penthouse has become an iconic symbol since its somewhat infamous 1970s beginnings.

Augusta has a number of I. M. Pei projects; our The James Brown/Augusta-Richmond Arena, the Chamber of Commerce building, down-town streetscape and parking and the Order of St. Helena Convent.

Here's the block I created. First an in progress shot. Of course, I had to use my Carolyn Friedlander and I chose Navy Kona because I thought it would be more dramatic as a night shot.

You may notice a deviation in the piecing at the slanted sections on both sides. My design had the extra horizontal seam shown on the right but I missed it while sewing the left side. It worked both ways but I think the left looks better. I didn't fix it since it is such a small block and I was pressed for time. I just need to figure out more about how paper piecing works.

Here's the banner on the design wall.

Look at all those fun blocks! I need to try my hand at replicating a bunch of them.

The AMQG also has a fun raffle project in progress. We were given a selection of coordinating F8s in some gorgeous fabrics. Here are the 8 fabrics I purchased:

Here are two of the three blocks I made. I missed taking a photo of my Jumping Jack Flash block done in the RK Quilter's Linens. It was designed by Cali Quilter for an Aurifil Challenge.

The left block is another Great Granny Square that I had to make just because they are so fun. The right is an improv block I made using all the trimmings from the granny and jack block cuttings. It turned out so close that the only scraps I had left were about 8 1" squares for my Micro-Stamp stash and the rest were slivers and fuzz. Now I have nice clean sections left over from the F8s to store in my stash. My anemic purple section just got a healthy boost!

I'll be sharing a tip on how to modify your rulers to facilitate trimming blocks using that Granny Square on the left in a few days.

In progress:

I'm quilting a row or two a day on my 90s quilt. 

Will I finish it by the end of March? 

On deck:

This is a little task out of my comfort zone. Paper piecing 4 sections in batiks for the Pieceful Hearts' Raffle Quilt to support Camp Rainbow. 

I have to make 4 arcs and they gave me such small pieces. I know I'm going to need to pick up more fabric. I don't have a piece of batik in my stash of any color! 

Though I think they are striking, batiks have never pushed any buttons for me. 

 I may have an aversion to them because they remind me too much of the drug culture of the 60s and 70s. I wasn't a part of it but I got plenty of close exposure through my Step-Dad's line of business. He was a car dealer and he would take in down-and-outers and help them escape and improve their lives. It can be a bit intimidating to sit next to a someone with tracks running down their arms at the dinner table when you are a little girl. 

He had many successes through the years and it was a blessing when people stood and gave their testimonies at his funeral 10 years ago. Many I knew but there were several there he had worked with before my time that he had never mentioned.

My cousin spent his high school summers working at the car lot and because of his exposure to my Dad's passion for helping people he chose to become a Doctor of Psychology and has dedicated his life to working with the addicted. What a special legacy.

Dad's car lot was recently sold. The building was razed and the sign he created in the 1950s was removed. It was kind of a minor landmark after more than 50 years. My sister and I took photos of it on our visit home last summer since we knew its days were numbered. The sign was sold separate from the property so I hope someone restores it and gets all the lights blinking again so it can be enjoyed for years to come.

A funny side story, he shortened his name from "La Pointe" to "La Point" when he had this sign made to save money. He used the shortened name for the rest of his life. He could be a notorious tightwad!

Guess who caught the vintage Singer passion on her last visit...

My Sister! She has become the proud owner of a vintage Singer 185K this week. Isn't she adorable!

I can't wait to meet her when I visit Big Sis during Master's Week! 

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Singer 301A Meets Spinet No. 74

(Linking with Quilting is More Fun than Housework's Oh Scrap)

I have finally achieved my goal of uniting my No. 74 Cabinet with a Singer 301A and I couldn't be more pleased with the results.

Here's my latest sewing cockpit.

It's small and efficient, not to mention kinda cute. A much better presentation when you enter my very open floor plan home than the plastic table. Yes, that black door is my front entrance. 

There are huge advantages to sewing in my dining room. I am not at all removed from Hubs while he is taking his much needed and deserved evening rest watching TV. We can talk, as long as I'm not sporting my wireless earphones and watching a program on my iPad while I sew. I also have a great view of the TV with my sewing space straddling that short wall. 

I recently purchased two TV trays at an estate sale and have converted one into a portable ironing pad. It's great to have close by and now I only use my 2'x4' to iron large cuts. The second stand makes a great landing spot for my tools and a drink.

I never really thought about how my Lafuma chair would look with the No. 74 but I am pretty happy with the combo.

This setup is a bit of a teaser since the 301A is covered but look at all that fabric. My ironing station is covered with a bright home dec cut from Ikea, my scrappy sewing machine cover fits nicely over the 301A and you can see I'm set to sew blocks 19 and 20 for my Great Granny Square project. I actually put together blocks 16 and 17 on this setup last night. I have used 3 different machines to piece my granny blocks! Good thing the white is oversized so that the points don't even come into play when they are trimmed to 12.5 inches!

Here's a tour of the Spinet No. 74 features, starting with a proper shot of her fully closed. I've never shared a photo like this before because I felt like she wasn't finished when she held the Singer 15-90.

She is the blonde wood version and she has a chrome bead around the bottom of her casing and chrome on the tips of her legs. I do not have the matching stool. I really don't mind because if I did I would be tempted to exclusively use it and I much prefer using a chair with a back. She has two piano hinges which are very handy. She is that adorable trapezoid shape that Singer chose to accent their updated machine shape. Pure genius.

Feature number one is a storage area that flips out on that first piano hinge. It reveals the knee space and provides a bit of storage. It has a row of thread pins. I like that the bent wood detail continues inside the cabinet.

That second piano hinge allows this gate leg to fold out. This adds stability by expanding the footprint and it provides solid support for the fold out leaf. This little cabinet is rock solid even though it has a lightness of design.

This is the entire work surface that is created when the cabinet is unfolded. 

Here's the surprise tucked inside. Notice how the opening is offset. I've read that it mimics the 9% slant that Singer used for the 301, their first "Slant-Needle" machine. The purpose for this angle in both the needle bar and the cabinet layout is to enhance the sewist's view of their work under the needle. It seems quite effective.

Here's the 301A tucked inside. You can see the un-deployed knee lever next to her handle. I love that feature. Unlike the modern machines which tend to use a knee lever to lift the presser foot, the vintage machine's lever replaces the use of a foot pedal. I can't get the hang of using my Juki's lever but using the Singer lever is a natural move for me.

Doesn't she fit nice, it's almost like this cabinet was made for her. Oh, it was. The 15-90 required an extra spacer piece under her flywheel to fill this opening.

So here is the 301A in its natural habitat:

It wasn't a walk in the park to get her here. We had to undo several modifications that were made by the Singer store back in 1953 to accommodate the Singer 15-90 model. 

There was extra blocking attached inside to support the smaller body 15 when the machine is folded inside. It was glued to the proper 301 support and Hubs got to use his oscillating saw to cut it off. We also had to remove that extra spacer that the 15-90 required. Due to tight spacing this was quite the ordeal. 

The vintage 301 cradle I purchased on ebay was a little bent and this affected alignment to the point that the front panel would not seat properly. Hubs persuaded the arms back into their proper alignment and everything now fits perfectly.

I am so happy with the way this whole project turned out and I know I am going to love using this as my main piecing machine so that the Juki can spend more time on the Grace frame. 

Speaking of the Grace, I have the 90's quilt all loaded and ready to go. I just might make my March goal for ALYoF's. That is if Master's rental prep doesn't get in the way. I'm not sure why anyone would want to run a B&B. I rent one time a year and that is more than enough for me!

Here's an iPhone shot I took of the 90's quilt just before I pinned it on the frame. This is the first real shot I have shared of it in all it's blue/ecru and big box fabric glory.  I was more interested in the process of quilting at the time and the fabric of day wasn't speaking to me so I played it safe with my selection.

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Friday, March 6, 2015

Who Knew Habitat for Humanity Provided Homes for Vintage Singers?

Well, that may be a bit misleading,

...but what I'm talkin' about is this kind of vintage Singer.

I have to admit, they both look good in black with bling and they both still got it goin' on! 

This is the Singer 15-90 that I resurrected last summer. She was frozen, had a sluggish motor and her foot pedal cord was cut. Plus, she was so dirty that I thought she was missing most of her decals.

I originally purchased her because I fell in love with her cabinet. A Singer Spinet No. 74 that was specially designed to compliment Singer's new updated 1951 model, the 301. 

They didn't match. It looked like 1924 met 1954. Both lovely but that didn't make it right.

Then I got to see some 301's in use at my first quilt retreat. I knew that I had to have one for my adorable trapezoid cabinet. I got busy and purchased one on ebay. (She's my next post)

She's here, she's lovely, she got a clean bill of health from Frank the Sewing Machine Tech at my LQSs. But she still does not reside in the Spinet No. 74. She needs a cradle; which I have purchased but it's delivery is being hampered by the weather up north. I can't complain, I'm down here in GA with temps hitting the 70s almost daily. It is another reminder to keep our northern friends and family in our prayers.

So here's where Habitat for Humanity comes in.

With the 301 in the house I had to uproot the 15-90 from the cabinet. Singer Model 15s do not have a closed base. They must be in a case or cabinet so I have been on a hunt for a Singer cabinet without a machine that will compliment my curvy machine. A difficult task since these cast iron machines often outlive their cabinets.

I was scheduled to work a shift at the James Brown Arena (yes, the "I Feel Good" James Brown) selling raffle tickets for my guild's quilt to benefit Camp Rainbow and I was early. Shock!!! So I drove around sight seeing since I am rarely in that part of town. Wow, has it changed!

I spied a Habitat for Humanity store and stopped in. They had 4 sewing machines in cabinets and I snagged this nicotine encrusted beauty.

Believe me this photo does not show the extent of yuck on this machine.

I dismantled the table and washed it with Mr. Clean Magic Sponges in my laundry sink. I had to rebuild the drawer and I even washed all her hardware, screws and bolts.

It was in very good condition under the grime and it is a very well built piece. That funny metal bracket eliminates sag when the leaf is folded out. I like that.

Based on the Singer 478 that was housed in it, I'm dating this table in the late 60s to early 70s. The serial number on the machine does not line up with the Singer data base on line so I can't get any closer. I found several photos of this very table on the web but have only found a similar table in a Singer brochure from that era. 

Here she is all cleaned up. Her finish is in excellent condition so I haven't done any refinishing. Plus, I'm debating on painting. Hubs says "no way" to that.

Here she is with the 15-90 installed. Don't they look good together? Now I have to work on that stool.

So, what's become of the crunchy 478?

It's in pieces on Hub's work bench so I could clean it up. The nicotine is pretty tenacious on the plastic and nubby paint but the slick parts shine. It will NOT permanently reside in my home.

I'm debating whether to list it whole as a parts machine on ebay or whether to part it out instead. What would you do?

Now for the promised fabric tidbit, here's what I am working on now:

That's my rigged up sewing space until the 301 cradle arrives. The 221 is sitting in a tray so that it doesn't fall down the hole. That is one of the final four Great Granny Square blocks that I have to piece.

So, I gotta ask...Tom Jones or James Brown?

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Fishing Kit to Sewing Kit Redo & March ALYoF Goal

There won't be much actual sewing in this post so I'll give you a little fabric taste up front.

The Augusta Modern Quilt Guild was fortunate to be part of the Windham Block Challenge for QuiltCon 2015. Sadly, no members were able to attend the conference, though we did have one close call. We did get to catch glimpses of our blocks on display in the Windham booth via Instagram and we also had a quilt in the Charity Challenge. Unfortunately, as a late joiner, I was not involved in the production of that beautiful quilt.

We have extra Windham Challenge fabric and we are passing the basket around again for our own charity quilt. Here is the block I made last week while the basket was in my possession.

I used badskirt's Hack Slash tutorial. It was fun and I'm thinking I'll use it for one of my 2015 baby quilts goals.

Now on to one of my many sewing related projects.

I picked up this crusty tackle box at the same estate sale where I snagged the $25 Featherweight. I thought the price was a little steep but I loved the patina.

It was a bit rough inside but it surprisingly didn't smell at all. I love that the top and bottom are the same size so that it doesn't tip over when it's open. It rests equally on the top and bottom halves. This makes it completely stable unlike many other tackle boxes.

It has been too cold to spray paint even in the garage so I rigged up a spay booth in our guest bath. It has a window, I kept the fan running and I would lift up that plastic bag while I was spraying. It worked quite well.

 First I cleaned, prepped and taped it off so I could spray the inside a bright glossy white.

Next, I sprayed the outside with clear poly to preserve the patina. It was quite delicate.

One thing I really love is the handle. I definitely did not want to cover that up.

A close up of the crunchy exterior. I had to encapsulate some of the grime since I couldn't scrub it hard. No problem, it adds a touch of history.

Now I am filling it up with all things quilty and sewy for my travel kit. I love that I can stick all kinds of magnetic goodies inside. I have plans for a cute and handy pin cushion!

I will be sharing a number of non-fabric sewing projects for the next several posts. Next up I will be the new home I bought for my vintage Singer 15-90 sewing machine. It was another project piece.

I have been sneaking in time sewing as well, so I will be able to temper these posts with a fabric tidbit as well.

A Lovely Year of Finishes March 2015 Goal:

I will leave you with one more fabric related tidbit. I am declaring my 90's WIP as my ALYoF goal for March. It needs to have a couple of lines of failed walking foot quilting picked out and then it will be loaded on my frame to quilt. My goal is to have it bound and donated to the Ronald McDonald House by the end of the month.

Thanks for visiting!

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