Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday round-up: Crocheting, Tatting and Knitting

Grandma has been on baby jacket kick again, so I have brought her latest creation home to complete the fancy edging.  She does not like to do that part anymore!  I don't mind; this is the yarn we gave her at Christmas, and it is very soft and lovely to work with.

Larry has completed the tatting for this handkerchief that Grandma started.  His tatting has gotten so good!  The only difference I can tell between his tatting and Grandma's is that his rounds are a bit further apart from one another.  I will have to mind my stitching to keep the rounds the same distance apart on the hankie. Constant vigilance!  lol

I finally finished the scarf I have been working on at Grandma's place.  The skein seemed to be endless.  There was a large, poorly handled knot towards the very end of the skein.  I decided that was a sign, and ended the scarf before I had to deal with the knot.  It is certainly plenty long.

We are having a bee this Sunday.  Perhaps I can finish edging the baby jacket and the hankie there, then I won't have to schlep my sewing machine along with me.

Happy stitching,
Susan in Texas

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Dear Jane C-7, Megan's Mountain Laurel - a good beginning

You know it is going to be a fiddly block when getting this much done feels like a big accomplishment.  There are 45 tiny little pieces in Megan's Mountain Laurel, including four tiny little appliqued diamonds.  Megan is going to take awhile!  

I do love the "kite tail" stage. This took so long that my Clover iron got really hot waiting for me.  I had to use a press cloth to avoid scorching the muslin, but on the bright side, these tiny little pieces now lay perfectly flat. :O

And, of course, I just love the batik.  I believe the blue was a recent acquisition last Christmas in Green Bay.  So pretty!

Happy quilting!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wordy Wednesday: Harlequin Johnny - Conquering Inset Seams, a Tutorial

I am so happy!  I got all 100 inset seams completed on the Harlequin blocks.  All the seams lay nice and flat, with no puckers, and only a few garbled seams on the underside to vex me.

First I removed the paper from the large center square on the block. The inset seams are much easier to align after the center paper is gone, because the blocks move much more freely without it.  I also ripped out paper around the inner point on both the top and bottom of the block to get a clear field of vision.

I swept my finger between the two pieces of fabric to get all the inner seam allowances out the way of the next seam.  I did not do this at first and my previous seam allowances got sewn to the front of the block.  Yuck!  

I then stuck a guide pin straight through the point, just underneath where the two seams came together, making sure to check the back to verify the pin was coming out in the correct location too.

I looked between the fabrics to verify the guide pin did not catch on anything it was not supposed to, and to verify that all the previous seam allowances are well from the next seam.

I placed a pin at the point, right underneath the guide pin, making sure it evenly bisected the angle.  I will start sewing at this pin, so it needs to be as close as possible to the guide pin.  After this pin is in place, the guide pin is removed.

I placed another guide pin at the outer edge of the block and pinned there just as you would for matching any two paper pieced sections. I also placed a guide pin through the seam line at the center of the seam, to make sure my paper pieces are properly aligned, then I place a pin there.  It is really important that the entire seam is properly aligned, and all this pinning really helps to insure that.  

It is finally time to sew the seam.  Place the point directly under the needle.  Sometimes my two previous seams did not quite meet. When that happened, I aligned the needle just behind the pin to avoid having a tiny hole at the point.  When laying the block beneath the needle, take the time to sweep back the seam allowances so they lay flat on the underside.  I skipped this step a few times and some of those underside seam allowances got sewn in all wonky.

With some of the paper gone, use the quarter inch foot to get the correct seam allowance, and aim for the line on the paper.  Always use a leader and ender for this type of sewing, you do not want a thread nest at the point! 

With 100 inset seams on 25 blocks, I got lots of practice in this technique.  It was not as bad as I had feared, and I got very good results when I followed all the above steps.

Now I just have to remove the rest of the paper, iron the blocks and trim them down.  I gave the blocks an extra quarter inch to allow for paper-piecing "shrinkage".  I do not believe I would do that again.  These larger blocks do not seem to experience shrinkage to nearly the degree that that tiny Dear Jane blocks do, and now I have to trim them all down, but that is a task for another day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tatting Tuesday - Snow Dragon Progress

My new tatting project is a Flying Minor Norwegian Dragon, from a free pattern posted on the internet by Anne Bruvold.  I stumbled across it while I was looking around for animal patterns, and I thought it looked mighty cool.

Flying Minor Norwegian Dragon - Head, Body, and Tail
This is a Snow Dragon, since it is all in white.  The linked pattern also identifies several other color variations, and suggests there might be others not yet classified.

The basic shape of the dragon is very easy to see, from the tip of the snout, down the neck to the rounded body, to the barb at the tip of the tail.  The threads where the neck joins the body are not part of the wings, although they are suggestive of where the wings will be eventually.

Part of the challenge of mastering these dragons is the use of a new (to me, at least) technique, the Single Shuttle Split Ring (SSSR). All the rings of the dragon's backbone are SSSRs. The pattern does not explicitly teach you how to do the SSSR, but does provide a link you can follow to find instructions on how to do it.

I am just starting on the wings, which are started separately and each is joined to the body as you work it.

Soon I should have a Snow Dragon to bring me cool thoughts during these hot summer months!


Monday, July 27, 2015

Grand Illusion - the Block Building continues

Back to Grand Illusion agan:  I have been broken up the construction of the Grand Illusion blocks into manageable sections.  In the last GI post, I put together the center strip.  This time I did the top of the blocks.  Of course, the tops and bottoms of the GI blocks are identical, so I was able to make up ten blocks and five half blocks on the design wall.  The rest of the strips are just grouped in a jumble below the blocks.

I will spend another session putting together the lower strips of the block, and then another session assembling the blocks.  Only then will I finally get to play with the green sashings.  It is hard to believe that yet another color gets thrown into this mix.  I wonder if a thread color exists that would help to tone this wild child down - maybe grey?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Six on Sunday - Week 11

While cleaning out our coat closet, among other things I found a collection of dog collars and leashes.  Since we no longer have any pets, we really don't need this many collars and leashes, so we decided to let most of them go.
Twelve dog collars and leashes - 4 pounds
I think I will take them down to the local animal shelter, although I fear they will try to get me to take a pet home with me!


PS  What Larry doesn't say is that we used to have three dogs, including a Saint Bernard.  His collar was the large red one in the upper left corner.  He was the reason for the extra sturdy red leash! I still miss him, but he has been gone for over 18 years now, so it is probably time we cleared out his stuff.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Singer Restoration Saturday - Return to Model 66

With the restoration of Dollie's case completed, it's time to return to the Model 66 (no nickname at present). I had started to disassemble it for cleanup and refurbishment (as the one in the next worst condition) when I switched to work on the other Model 127 ("Pearl").

Model 66 Case
The paint had definitely suffered from its previous use and storage, and almost all the decals have been worn off the bed.  After removing a few more parts (like the brass Singer logo plate, and the rest of the needle rod), the body will be ready to be stripped for repainting.

Model 66 and parts removed
And, as you might expect, there are a lot of parts that need to be cleaned and de-rusted. 

I re-wired the electric motor, control box, and light, since the original wiring was falling apart.

Model 66 re-wired electric motor and light
This machine also came with a cabinet (as opposed to a treadle table). As you might expect, it is in poor shape also.

Model 66 cabinet - front view

The veneers are all peeling off, and the exposed wood is weathered and warped. The lid seems to have been closed and provided some protection, but the rest looks like it was exposed to the elements for quite a while! You can also see the knee lever for the motor controller (hanging down under the drawer). The controller would be mounted on the right side inside the cabinet.

Model 66 cabinet - rear view - closed
The two pieces of wood resting on the top are the back pieces of the lid and top, which have come loose.  You can see the lid support arm, which swings out when the lid is opened to help hold up the weight of the lid.

It looks like a pretty big job, especially the cabinet! I will get to try out some new techniques with it!


Friday, July 24, 2015

Dear Jane C-6 Ashley's Aura Progress to Completion

Ashley's Aura seemed like it would be simple enough to applique. So, instead of dealing with all those curved seams, so I did it that way. Except for getting the melons sized correctly and placing them just right, this was not a difficult block.

I basted the pattern down to assist with placement, just like I did for Eye of the Cyclone.  It only takes a very few minutes to baste down the paper, and you make up the time later because everything comes together so smoothly.  I had very little excess of this batik, so I had to be careful with placement; basting helps with that too.

After basting down the pattern, I basted down the melons.  This was where I learned that some (most) of my prepared melons were a bit too large due to poor ironing at the points.  I corrected the points as well as I could, then basted the melons in place.  The actual applique was a breeze after all this preparation.

This is by far the most intensely colored Dear Jane block I have made.  It really stands out in its place on the design wall.  Some of the other fabrics in my batik stash are almost this bright; I will have to make sure to use plenty of them so Ashley's Aura does not become known as Ashley's Angry Aura!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Harlequin Johnny - All Done except for the Inset Seams

All twenty-five Harlequin blocks are done, except for the very hardest task - those pesky inset seams! Some people recommend that all the paper be removed prior to attempting the inset seams.  I can see where they are coming from; however, I still have to trim the blocks down, and I would like the paper on for that.  Maybe I should just remove the center paper now since that is the part that inhibits folding to complete the inset seams.

I think I'll do the sensible thing, take out the center paper, and then try sewing the inset seams a few different ways until I hit on the one that gives the best results. I wonder how long that will take?  I have done six of them so far, and they seemed to take forever - only 94 to go.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tatting Tuesday - Multicolored Bookmark completed, Handkerchief Edging Progress

The completed Beginner's Bookmark, with minor modifications:
Multicolored Beginner's Bookmark

The multicolored thread really makes this a fun item.  We tried a number of ribbons from Grandma's extensive collection, but the white worked best, making all the colors pop out brightly.
On the hankie edging front, I stopped when I thought I was a few rings short of having enough to finish.  I expected to have Susan stitch the edging to the handkerchief until she got close to the starting point, and then I could see exactly how many more rings to make.  But when I checked with Susan, she was afraid I had made too much!  

Grandma's (and my) Handkerchief Edging
Susan says when she stitches the edging down, she will try to space the rings the same as Grandma's, so we will see how much the edging stretches around the hankie.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Dear Jane C-5 Eye of the Cyclone - My Way!

I just love this block; there is only one problem - I made it all wrong!  The outer edges of the block are supposed to be all white.  For some reason, I got it into my head that the ground was a pinwheel and started from there.  I even marked my pattern incorrectly.  And you know what?  I like my block better than the original.  Sorry Jane, but this is a neat variation and I am glad I did it this way, though I do think the batiks looks more like a celestial vortex than the eye of a cyclone.

C-5  Eye of the Cyclone
This block is almost completely hand-pieced.  The only seams that are done by machine are the ones between the brown and white on the applique.  I made this block on the road, and even though the sewing machine was in the trunk, it did not make it into the hotel in Memphis where I made the pinwheel.  I am a very novice hand-piecer, so I was very impressed by how well the points came together on the pinwheel.  Maybe there is something to this hand-piecing after all!

The applique on this block looks like harlequin smiley faces to me. They were a little tricky to do.  The points were sharp, and I had never done curves quite like this before.  They came out only OK, not great.  It did turn out to be a good idea to baste the center of the pattern onto the center of the pinwheel as a guide.  I do not think I could have gotten the appliqued bits to form a circle without it.

Happy quilting!
Susan in Texas

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Six on Sunday - Week 10

This week Susan culled a laundry basket full of stuff from the shelves in her closet.

Items pulled from Susan's closet
From this bounteous haul, she consolidated a box of little items, and a bag of medium sized things.  Plus a basket and bath scrubber, some fancy soap, and an exercise monitor.

Small and Medium Toiletries, Basket and Scrubber, Soap, Body Bugg - 5.5 pounds
Not finding much in my closet to eliminate at this time, I moved on to my drawers in the dresser, where I found a clothesbrush, a collection of orphan pocket squares (I no longer have the matching ties), some brown socks (which I rarely wear anymore), and three organizers (of which I have more useful ones).

Clothesbursh, Orphan Pocket Squares, Socks, Organizers - 1.5 pounds
Not a lot of weight this week, but Susan's closet shelves have gained a lot of tidiness.  


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Singer Restoration Saturday - Dollie Complete

After all the excitement of the trip to Green Bay, I finally finished the restoration of my great-grandmother's Model 99K and case (nicknamed "Dollie" after her), and a little table to display it on.

Dollie ready to go
The crocheted runner that Dollie is resting on was made by my grandmother (Dollie's daughter). It makes a nice touch, in addition to protecting the finish on the table.

Closed up for storage
Everything packs up neatly for storage or transport. The wires for power and the foot control coil up nicely and stow in the space below the arm.

Top removed

Power Cord and Foot Control unpacked
The two wires run from the motor (on the back of the throat, just peeking out from behind) to the right and down to plug into the wall and set up where the user's foot would be.

Plugged in and Foot Control in place 
On to the next project!


Friday, July 17, 2015

Dear Jane C-4, Tic Tac Toe, Complete and a quick trip to the Green Bay Botanical Garden

The "Tic Tac Toe" block got completed in Green Bay.  I took my traveling Bernina along, and finished piecing the block at Mom's house.  I traced the octagon onto freezer paper and used my craft iron to apply it to the back.  I do not think I have ever used such a large piece of freezer paper, but it adhered to the back of the block just fine.

After the freezer paper was attached, it was very easy to press the seams under and baste the unit to the muslin ground.  It was nice to have such oblique angles to applique for a change.  I am going to be sure to place the darkest "window" at the top when I orient the block in the final quilt.  That way, I am hoping it will look like a darkened attic window.  :)

We went to the Green Bay Botanical Garden on the 4th of July and had the whole place almost entirely to ourselves.  The weather was perfect and it was really lovely.  The tall, spiky flowers in the background caught our attention.  They are called foxtail lilies and look very dramatic. 

I was captivated by the Hobbit House; it was such an enchanting little structure.  And so practical too.  It is very deep in the garden, well away from the main entrance, and houses restroom facilities. Brilliant!

Green Bay is hosta central; they are by far the most popular foundation plantings around residential homes.  They were everywhere, but I had never seen hostas with such large flowers as these.  They were the size of snapdragons!

I wish we could have stayed longer, but this was the day after the wedding, and the bride and groom showed up at her mom's house to open some of the wedding gifts, and we wanted to be present for that.  We got the call, and off we went.  We had a really fun hour or so at the gardens, which were in top form, with ample rain and sunshine this year.  If you get the chance to visit, you should definitely go there.  It makes a nice change from Lambeau Field.

Happy quilting,
Susan in Texas

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dear Jane H-2 Jacob Anthony Complete

I did quite a bit of hand work on vacation.  There is nothing like sitting next to someone who is coming out of anesthesia for getting hand work done.  First they're awake and talking, then they're asleep, lather, rinse, repeat.  Larry and I sat quietly by Kathi's bedside after her ankle surgery, tatting  and sewing respectively.  It was actually very relaxing after the long drive to Chicago.  The first thing I did was to sew the tatting onto Grandma's hankie.  Sewing on tatting takes forever, even though there was not nearly enough tatting to circumnavigate the hankie.

The first night we spent at Kathi's there was a power outage. There is nothing like being in a strange home in pitch dark, trying to find flashlights, candles and matches.  One of Kathi's kind neighbors helped us out, but we ended up going to bed very early.  I did manage to get the triangles prepped for the Jacob Anthony block the second night we spent in Chicago.

H-2  Jacob Anthony
I like how Jacob Anthony turned out; a nice, serene brown block. It certainly spent lots of time half finished; I had already completed the center of the block by June first.  It was nice to finally trim it down, as the muslin ground had gotten very wonky and raggedy.

I found out yesterday that Kathi gets out of rehab on the twenty-first.  I'm sure she is ready to go home!  After that, she has another three weeks with no weight on her left foot; then she'll have a walking cast for a few weeks.  I hope she finds the quilting area we put together useable, and does not have to send her friends to the basement too many times on "treasure" hunts - that could get old very fast.  

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Terrific Stash Enhancement Experience ;)

I mentioned on Monday that I did a little shopping at my favorite quilt stores in Chicago and Wisconsin.  There are five stores that I always try to get to and really enjoy.  The amount of stuff purchased surprised me when it was all neatly laid out.
Quilt Store Bounty
The three stores in Wisconsin were all participating in the "Row by Row" experience.  I picked up all three free patterns - they were really cute; I just love the little fishies!
"Row By Row" - Free Patterns
There were no batiks at all in the scrap bin at My Favorite Quilt Shop in Green Bay this trip; however, I was able to stock up on lots and lots of wonderful neutrals at $4 per pound.  My stash had very few neutrals before, now it abounds with them.
Scrap Bin Bounty
I saw these attachments at the Sewing Basket in Plymouth, Wisconsin.  For $20 they convert an ordinary vacuum cleaner into a sewing machine cleaning powerhouse.  I plan to use these attachments instead of the canned air I have used in the past. Apparently canned air pushes dust ever more deeply into the crevices of your machine.  Who knew?
Handy Vacuum Attachments
The main thing I was searching for this trip was mid-range yellow batiks, which, let me tell you, are difficult commodity to come by. The only store that had a nice selection of medium range yellows was in the western suburb of Willowbrook, IL.  I bought quarter yards of each of these yummy yellows.

I also found these three cute black fat quarters for my leaders and enders project in the bargain bin at My Favorite Quilt Shop in Green Bay; - there are always black fat quarters in the bargain bin.
Stash Additions #1
I bought some clear vinyl for some projects that currently exist only in my head.  I have not seen much clear vinyl at the local quilt shops here in Fort Worth, so I thought I had better stock up at Fabrics Etc. in Bensenville, IL.
Clear Vinyl
This was the first time I ever saw one of Jacqueline de Jonge's drool-worthy "Be Colourful" patterns in real life, and I was unable to resist its siren song.  This wonder is currently queued up behind my Dear Jane in the rotation.  (Apparently it is true, I am definitely planning to live forever. lol)  See, I have designed things in Electric Quilt that I have no idea how to begin constructing.  If I can learn how to put this puzzle together, then I figure the sky is the limit.  
Challenging Quilt Pattern from
Quilting Divas, which is very close to my Mother's home on the west side of Green Bay, had this cute panel.  When you sew the parts together it forms a tree.  I thought it was a cool idea, and would force me to keep it simple by design.  Divas also had a terrific selection of batiks, though very few yellows.  I had to satisfy myself with these lovelies instead.
Stash Additions #2
I got this cool cupcake fabric panel from Fabrics Etc. too.  One of these days I'm going to keep a panel quilt in the rotation until they're all done... maybe.
Fun Panels
I am such a sucker for batiks.  I do not even remember which stash addition came from which store.  They are all so beautiful!
Stash Additions #3
I have enough batiks for about four Dear Janes, but I just adore working with them.  I can see myself making multiple (hopefully simpler) batik quilts after Jane is completed, just so I get to keep playing with them.

Stash Additions #4
And finally, the last stash addition, from one of the five stores.  I really love them all, but the red below (and the red and blue just above) are really spectacular.
Stash Additions #5
By keeping to quarter yard cuts of each batik I was able to acquire lots of lovely new fabrics for Jane without breaking the bank.  It wasn't until the last shop, where I became bewitched by the five part "Be Colorful" pattern, that the bank got a bit bent.  lol  I'll have to be very frugal for the rest of the year.  :)