Posts Tagged ‘quilting’

retreat time

One more weekend away from home. I guess it’s the season. This time around it was a quilt retreat put on by the local shop, right here in my town. Well, almost  – just down the road in Long Beach.  I stayed at a friend’s house over on the bay, along with four other women. It was absolutely perfect.

    this was the view I woke up to. Complete with the sun rising over the mountains and streaming across the bay to my window.  My friend’s house was a beautiful setting for a get together.  We drove into town to sew during the day, went to eat, back to the hotel to sew some more. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

This retreat had only a couple dozen women, which made it a different experience than the ones I’ve been to before, with about 60 women all in a gym sewing. Since it was at a hotel in Long Beach, we had the conference room, along with a view of the beach. There were silly games – with prizes, no less. An obscene amount of snack food, and only moments of quiet throughout the weekend.

Because there’s been a lot going on around here I wasn’t sure as to what my weekend project would be much before I left. I put together a big bag of random cotton prints from my stash, along with my pretty box of duppioni silks. Friday was spent cutting strips of muslin, fabric, and fusing interfacing onto the silks to stabilize them. By the end of day one, I got one quarter of one block finished. Yikes. Never fear, on Saturday, I got another eleven, giving me three complete blocks. On Sunday I finished another couple. The walls were pretty full of other people’s projects, so I got a picture of just four of my blocks ( as yet still un-sewn together).  The friends I was with got a heck of a lot done. Here’s Michelle with a partially completed bag from one of her patterns (caught in a brief moment of not singing tv theme songs)    Along with that she finished binding an adorable baby quilt, and made a top for another one. Her mom got all the blocks done for a quilt from the same pattern – Victory Garden- and I fell in love with the chartreuse and lilac color combo:      I really want to make that pattern now. Our host for the weekend, Peggy, nearly finished a quilt top that had a ton of sewing in it    in one of my all time favorite fabrics “Aviary II”  in a whole new colorway of greys and yellows.      Love.     The fifth person in our group, Gail, made two quilt tops (my pic was too blurry) nearly completing her goal of making quilts for each of her nine brothers this year.

There were silly games: fabric bingo; something called Left-Right-Center; and door prizes. Our little group of five also traded gifts. Every time I turned around, I had more fabric. (And no, I’m not in any way implying that that’s a bad thing.) Ans notions. And candy. I left home with one ton of stuff, and came home with two.      In addition, I gained five pounds.

I’ve been trying all week to again get caught up on the work here – lots of alterations, along with more items for the coffee shop. Tomorrow I go to Seattle to wish my mom a happy birthday.

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 That is the beginning of the process – lots and lots of selvages I asked friends and guild members to save selvages for me, and they just keep coming. Still. I have a much bigger box stuffed full of them than when I began these selvage projects. I keep thinking that maybe I should call off the saving of them, but just maybe I’ll attempt another ‘something’. 
This  is what became of all those bits. And a pic of the back  
It measures about 70 x 60 inches.
I had one block of the border leftover, and made it into the label. I’m calling it "Mrs Spider Served Up Leftovers". The top of the back looks a little off, but it’s just an illusion; I used the cut off from the backing and sewed it on to make the hanging sleeve. I used a stripey fabric for the pieced inset on the back and for the binding. 

I gotta say, I love me some bias stripey binding.

I marked out the quilting lines with one of those magical Pilot Frixion pens. I can’t even begin to explain how much I love these pens.I’m somewhat of a marking item and notions geek. I used those blue felt type pens for years, and usually a little spritz with water makes the marks go away. But these,  you draw or write, and when you want  the lines to go away, a warm iron will magically make them disappear! Really. I tried drawing out a few different designs for the stitching lines, and settled on one, and when I was finished – poof! All of those red ink lines were gone. All of the working the quilt through the machine was tiring, but the walking foot worked well. 

I just have the sleeve and the label to sew on the dresses quilt, and then I’ll be done with all three and ready for the show.


Next up – some piece of clothing maybe. 


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the accidental queen

Many years ago I got my first sewing machine. It was a Singer Futura II. It was in the era where Singer started going downhill, in the mid seventies. A friend at the time had one, and I used it to make her husband a suit ( to try it out, I guess). Hers had a few issues, but not long after I found one used at a sewing shop for a bargain and put it on layaway. By and large it was problem free for me, but the fact that they had begun to use nylon gears and parts gave it a somewhat shortened life span. Especially for someone who sewed as much as I did ( even back then, with three small kids ). When at last it gave up (maybe ten years later), and parts were not available, I bought a new machine.      A Bernette 200, which was the first machine that I had that had a free arm. It was a work horse,  sewing countless bridesmaids, prom, and wedding gowns. Ultimately it just got really slow and stopped. I took it in, and to the repairman’s surprise, I had worn the motor out. Not wanting to give up on something that had served me so well, I had a new motor put in ( which never had the oomph of the original ). Later on, it became my machine to take to the studio or on set. Next was my first overlock, a sweet little Viking, then the first embroidery machine, a Brother 8500.  I was working 10-12 hours a day plus, and bought a second embroidery machine, a Viking Designer 1( it took floppy disks). That one got traded in for my Viking SE, which is the machine I love and use daily. About seven years ago I bought a new Elna overlock in order to be able to do a cover hem. It’s a great serger, but making the switch to the cover hem stitch is a PIA.  Within a year the show I was working on needed a few hundred t-shirts shortened, and I bought a dedicated cover-hem machine ( which has been relegated to the idle shelf ).
Somewhere along the way, I picked up my first yard sale machine, a Kenmore from the late seventies. It was just after we bought this house, and I thought it would be sweet to have a machine here for when we were visiting. During one trip here, I bought another older, late 50’s singer in a odd corner type cabinet cabinet for 10 bucks ( it currently serves as a plant stand in my living room ).Then after we moved here I thought I might do some sewing teaching, and picked up yet another machine at a yard sale – that one is a late sixties / early seventies Brother. I am revisiting the idea of teaching, now that there are two shops here on the peninsula. 

A year ago I bought a nice old little Singer 99K    from the guy across the street. It is sweet, shiny, in it’s case and it works well ( it was his mom’s).
And a week or so ago, I got it’s little sister – a Singer 221 Featherweight  complete, with all the attachments ( minus the optional buttonholer, but the one that my sister gave me a year ago might just fit ) in it’s hard case. From a friend of a friend, for free. It was her mother’s and no one in her family wanted it. She just wanted it to go to a good home.
It has plenty of company here.  

Today I plan to finish the spider web quilt. There’s just the border quilting to do, then bind, label, and sleeve it for hanging in the show. Pictures will follow.

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Last week I was in one of those moods. Sort of like this: 
Maybe you have no idea about this. But the above picture is damn close to describing it for me. I sort of want one of these to crawl into, but that would not be a good idea for lots of reasons.
I’ve been up and down before, and I know that it will pass, but while I’m there…………not good. I’ve also learned to just do something to move forward, which for me is sewing. I’m so grateful that I have that to pour myself into – both good times and bad. 
I got a lot done – more items for the salon, work for a couple of clients, and got the three quilts done enough to get my entry forms filled out for the upcoming show. Thank goodness last week and it’s ‘bleh’ is history. 

One of the highlights of the week for me was finding this:  in a jar of buttons while searching for something else. I swear I know the hundreds ( thousands?) of buttons that I have, at least the unique ones anyway. But where did this come from? It is plastic, and less than 3/4 inch high. I pinned it to the edge of my design wall, which causes me to smile each time my eyes land on it. 
I also made this baby quilt as my contribution to the WIC program that the guild collects for a few times a year.
  All of the fabrics and batting came from my stash, and I sort of made it up as I went along. It was going to be a nine-patch, but instead I did a sort of a flip and sew with each row that quilted it to the backing as I sewed it together. I ‘almost’ decided to put it on etsy to sell, but thought I should stick with my original intent (and I didn’t want to come up with something else ).  This time there were a a total of twenty-two, which was the best collection to date. Pretty nice for our small guild of 55 members. 

Now I’m on to finishing the wall hanging – I got nearly done yesterday but we had a power outage late in the afternoon. Then it’ll be on to the spider web quilting, and, and, and……….

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 Let me begin by saying: I am NOT a wall hanging person.

First, there was this little thing I did as a gift, and because I liked it so much, I made one for myself to keep. Why? I have no idea.  (but I am still NOT a wall hanging person )

Then, last year I made this small piece to try out the quilt-as-you-go technique (that I just used on the big quilt):
Both of these things have found a home in my sewing room.( but really, I am NOT a wall hanging person )

Then, at the retreat I went to last fall, after I had pretty much done all I could on the selvage spider web quilt, I began a project sort of on the fly. I had the box of selvages with me, so it seemed like a thing to do. I came home, put it away, and the other day I began working on it again, with the idea to finish it up to put it in our guild show in March. All that’s left is to finish the quilting — I’m once again attempting to do some free-motion work –and bind the edges.  It’s about 44 inches wide x 38 high.
   ( but really, I am NOT a wall hanging person ) This one sort of began to take on a life of it’s own. While looking through my (huge) scrap bin, I’d find another piece of fabric that would make just the right detail. Then parts started looking empty so I added a bit more. The detail pieces are all appliqued on and I used some machine stitching to define a little more.  
( a confession of sorts, I like it. )
 But what am I going to do with it???
I don’t want to walk into my house in a year or two and find quilted wall hangings in every room. I will be vigilant, and no more wall hangings.

For now, anyway. 

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que the music

 The quilt is finished.  well, except for the hanging sleeve and a label.  Those can go on later, but for now, here is the finished project:

and a shot of the back, with all of the little prints as they came up randomly :  
It is BIG, measuring 94 x 96 inches.  I had to wait until the guys were here and we had daylight; in order to take the picture, both the Richards had to stand on the fireplace hearth.  
I figure that the hand sewing on this is equal to going all the way around Richard’s shop building, stitch by little stitch. I’m really pleased with the green sashing on the back, and the small print sashing on the front seems to disappear, which is exactly what I wanted. 

I’ve also got the border done for the spider web quilt, now on to the quilting, which I still need to figure out.  I now know how big it will be, so I can fill out my entry form for the guild show; then I have about six weeks to finish it up.
I’ve got some other stuff to get caught up on;  and I need to reconnect with the etsy shop ( which I’ve totally neglected since the holidays ).
For now I’ll bask in the glow of completion. And rest my fingers. 

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needling around

 I got the blocks all quilted, and like I said, got faster as I went along. By the middle of the bunch, I got it down to just over four minutes each. My quilting is not fancy free motion, but simple echo stitching. 


I count things: times, turns, strips, stops, steps, stairs, and sometimes stars.
In the quilting of each block there are 37 pivots. The only thing that made that do-able is my machine, which has an automatic pivot function. No presser foot lifter; you simply tap the foot pedal and the needle goes down and the presser foot raises slightly and you can pivot your work. That feature alone is the golden ticket. 
Then it was time to trim them all up before sewing them together with the sashing. I set up a little guide to make sure they were consistent.    

Then, I attempted to lay out all of them – on the floor – as the whole thing is too big for my design wall.  
Too big for the camera angle as well. But it worked out to nine rows of eleven blocks. I’ve gotten the blocks sewn into rows, and am now hand-sewing the back sashing down between each block. Then the rows can be joined and more hand work. Then the binding and voila! – I’ll be finished. 
I can’t help wonder what the heck I signed myself up for here. Once upon a time I hated handsewing.  I would do anything and everything to avoid it. Thank goodness thats not so much the case anymore. Though my fingers are starting to get a little sore, I may be back to that mindset before this project is over.
"Endeavor to Persevere"  
It is windy and rainy again. I think I should find a good movie and set about to the needle and thread work. 

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