Monday, January 31, 2011

"Hair of the Dog"

All I could think of was the tongue twister about "how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" when I saw the inside of my dear Horizon. I just finished quilting the main body of the 'Monster', so all that fluff is from it. Sooooo,
How much fluff could a King quilt make when a King quilt quilting makes fluff?
I was a tad ashamed when I saw just how much gunk was under the needle plate. I swept with the brush, I pulled chunks out with my hemostats, and yet there was more. I stuck the straw adapter (held with good old duct tape) on my hand vac into every crevice and got more chunks out. Then I took out the bobbin carrier - AAAHHHHH. It looked like a felt pad under there. I pulled it out with my fingers in one chunk.
I am so sorry, sweet Horizon that I let you get so dirty. But I couldn't take her off the frame in the middle of a quilt.
So, it just goes to show you how important maintenance is.
After I used the brush, I got out my favourite cleaning tool.
This is where 'hair of the dog' comes from. Yes, I use batting to clean the lint debris from batting. It works like a charm. I take a piece about 1"by2" and first clip it into the hemostat, then slide it into every little groove that it will fit into. Make sure to clean all the lint off it, and do more. Then I fold the batting in half so it makes a little puff and use that to pick up all the tiny stuff that still clings to surfaces.
Once it's clean, a drop of oil on the wick, and a drop here and there in the take up lever and needle post, and she's ready for another 50,000 miles, or another quilt, whichever comes first.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Elna Supramatic

I must confess. I've been bitten by the vintage sewing machine bug. I posted a while ago about bringing home a 1904 Singer 27 treadle. Well, she, um, now has a sister.
I picked up an Elna Supramatic. Now, in my defence, I have been looking for one of these amazing machines for a while, ever since I first saw them. They are amazing little creatures.
The original one is nicknamed the "grasshopper." Mainly because of the green colour, and the way the knee control folds up looks like a grasshopper leg.
This is the second edition of that model. Built around 1956, so that makes her 'about' my age.
The most amazing part of this Swiss engineered model is just how well made it is. Every thing just hums, and you can hear how powerful the direct drive motor is.
And she packs up so neatly. Everything fits into the carrying case - which is steel - and it doubles as an extension bed for the machine. She's the original 'free arm' machine. I haven't named her yet, but I took her for a spin last night and she loves to sew.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The FNSI finish

I finished the purple and blue quilt top today. First I went to the fabric store to get more purple batik, as well as a purple print that I'll use for the binding. I dragged my son along. Then we went to the fairgrounds to check out a dog show. I've never been to a dog show, but we both wanted to see some schnauzers on parade, so we went. We missed them. The terrier class had shown at 10:30 am, and we arrived at 12:00. We did speak with one breeder who still had her dog there, but if there had been more, they were gone already. Better luck next time.

Here is a pic of the finished quilt top.

I've also discovered another sewing notion. One of those kind that you have around the house and one day you think, "hey, I wonder if......." I needed to label every block to keep track of which one went where, and I also wanted to keep straight how they were oriented so I didn't get a 'shadow' on the wrong way. So, instead of pinning a tag on them, or getting up to find some safety pins, I reached over and grabbed the stapler. It's a great way to label blocks. Once I had each one cut out, I stapled a tag with the number, onto the upper left corner. Then when I went to sew the shadows on, I got them right side up. They're so easy to remove - just fold the staple in half and ease the prongs out of the fabric. Should of thought of that one sooner!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Night Sew In

I worked on my niece's purple and blue quilt. I worked until I ran out of batik. ....just...could....not...stretch...that...two.....meters....far....enough.....!
I tried. Really. But short of sacrificing the look, I did not have enough. I'll have to go out tomorrow and get a half meter of the purple batik in order to complete this top. Crap!
I hate it when I run out of stuff.

I have lots of the fabrics that I used to make the scrappy blocks. But, no more black, so I can't make another block to fill in the area either. And that would put things off anyway.

The good thing is, I've become a design wall convert. Up until now, I thought "poo,poo" about using a design wall, "just follow the pattern!". Well, it ain't so easy when you aren't using a pattern. And by putting it up on the wall - with pins into the drywall at that- I did rearrange the blocks to a more appealing layout. Now, if only I had bough 2 1/2 meters......
(center photo has the top row pinned onto the rest - across the middle)

I have a different quilt (the monster) on the frame right now anyway. And I'm starting to wonder if I want to quilt this one on the tabletop. I could do larger, more variable designs for each area - the blocks, the shadows and the sashing. Hmmmm.

Progress report.

I've been sewing for the better part of 2 days. I've finished the top for my nephew's quilt - it's quite similar to the one at the top of my blog - squares and rectangles. Turned out pretty good, considering I didn't sweat over trying to not get two patches of the same fabric side by side. I just let it happen and it turned out pretty cool.
I made a design decision for my niece's quilt. I've decided to use the crazy patchwork in blocks and make it a shadow quilt. So, I blocked it out on paper, and then cut the blocks to their sizes - they're random sizes and some are horizontal, others vertical. Then I'm framing them in 1/2" black sashing and adding a 'shadow' to the right and bottom of each block. The background is going to be a purple batik. So far sew good. I hope to finish up the top for tomorrow's Friday Night SewIn. If I get it done, then I'll work on the Monster quilt on the frame and get some serious quiltin' done.
So, until I post on Saturday - happy quilting!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

uh oh, I've become a UFO'er!

I've always finished one project before starting another. Well, almost always, when referring to my quilting. *The rest of my life does NOT count!*
Until recently. I blame it on having more than one machine.
Now I have one quilt on the frame, the "Monster" quilt. I have one that I'm working on for my niece that is a crazy patch of blues and purples , and has a LOT of bias edges to deal with, and now a third - the quilt I started yesterday for my nephew.
AND, I called a client today that I discussed rescuing a quilt with, before Christmas.
I guess, I should also add the Cardinals paper piecing, and the applique snowmen wall hanging too.
I, yes, I've become an official UFO 'er. Too bad we don't make the pay of an NHL 'er eh?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Not bad for a day in the cave...

Monday. It's quilt club day in Dorchester at the Seniors Centre. I'm lucky that they let me come, being underage and all. I decided that the wacky purple and blue quilt that I'm making for one of my nieces made too many teeny tiny scraps to do at the centre - better at home where I can sweep them up regularly, or pick them off the dog, or cat, but I digress.

Club starts at 1:00 pm, so at 11:00 am, I started starching my fabrics that I had pulled from my stash. This quilt, destined for my oldest nephew, is coming COMPLETELY from my stash, even the thread! This makes me happy, and my chequebook too :) I brought all the starched pieces to the club. Then I started cutting. This quilt takes 120 - 8 1/2" blocks. So, I needed 240 - 4 1/2" squares, and 120 - 4 1/2" X 8 1/2" rectangles. I got them all cut and started chain piecing the squares together before I had to leave at 3:00 to pick up DS at school. I thought that was pretty good! It's all due to my newest favourite ruler, the ShapeCutter from June Taylor. It's a 16" square with slots every 1/2" in a 12" x 12" grid. This gem makes cutting strips, and then sub-cutting into squares a cinch. I highly recommend it, even though it is a bit pricey. It's as klutz proof as you can get. The rotary cutter fits into the slits - it's like it has training wheels. You can't not cut straight. And, you can't cut past the 12" because - well, you hit plastic at the end of the groove.

Well, speaking of groove, I was in the groove. So, once we got home, I fed DS a snack and kept sewing. I got all the squares paired up before supper. After supper, I started sewing each pair to a rectangle. Now, it's 10:30 and I have 120 - 8 1/2" squares - sewn, pressed and ready to lay out! Yeah! I think that should count as 'quilt in a day', don't you?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My new toy, or project, or family member......

It's all in how you look at it. This lady is 6 years older than my hundred year old grandmother. By putting it in that perspective, I have a huge respect for what she's seen in her years. Yes, the Singer 27 is home. I've found out that the cabinet is one called "Eastlake." The only real part I need is a replacement for the front center door. I'd even be happy just with the front panel if I can't find a whole drawer. But we are living in the age of eBay, so there is hope.
For the machine herself, all she needs is the front bobbin plate cover, and a new treadle belt. That and some TLC to clean her up.
I did a test patch in the back corner and she'll clean up nicely. The fancy decal, called the Sphinx model, is pretty much intact.
There is a tutorial online at on how to clean up and get an old machine working again. So, this summer, when I can work with kerosene, outside (!), I'll get cleaning the machine up. Right now, my focus is on getting the cabinet looking as nice as possible.
So, here are the promised photos.
I need to name her. Any suggestions?

Friday, January 14, 2011


That has to be the only way to describe it. Last night, at our London Friendship Quilters Guild meeting, we had the pleasure of hosting Helen Fujiki as guest speaker. She is a quilt artist from Toronto, retired math teacher, who does amazing quilts.
I'm not talking about "oh, that's nice," or "what a lovely colour palette." I'm talking about "oh, my God. That is breathtakingly gorgeous" quilting. Helen started quilting in a traditional way, but soon was looking into her husband's Japanese heritage. She was hooked. She now uses a lot of Asian fabrics in her interpretation of Japanese culture. One of the foci of her work are her manhole covers. In Japan, manhole covers are a work of art, designed by local artists to depict the essence of their town. Helen has recreated many, many of these in her quilt designs. Each round quilt is labeled as to which town it is from.
Helen also makes drop dead amazing wall hangings. Vivid colours, three dimensional, raw edge applique that will make your heart skip a few beats.
If you'd like to learn more about Helen Fujiki, either google her name - you'll find several hits, or go to

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Photos to follow

Well, I saw, I fell in love, and I loaded her in the van.
The Singer 27 treadle was more beautiful than I expected, and I immediately knew I had to have her. But I chatted with her owner for a while anyway. He was quite interested that I had managed to "date" her just by her serial number. So we had a good chat about what you can find online these days. He was pretty hip for a senior. Note I did NOT say anything about "old." Ever since I passed the halfway to hundred mark myself, there is no such thing as "old." It's "vintage" or " experienced" if you want to be politically correct in MY house.
Well, she's still in the van until I get the Christmas tree down, and the Lego put away, and the furniture moved, and the vacuuming done, and maybe a little (lot) dusting done, so I can make a 'perfect' spot for the new kid in town.
I figure I'll work on the few repairs to the cabinet over the winter, but as for using kerosene to clean her up - that will be a summer, and outside, job.
Since she's in the van, I don't have photos yet. But stay tuned- that will come asap!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The little quilt that grew, better known as....

The Monster! Here's the top of the stars and blocks quilt that I've been working on. After I had it laid out, I decided it needed sashing between the blocks to make each block stand on its own. Well, I didn't take into consideration that it would add a foot to the width and a foot and a half *or so* to the length! This monster is 92" wide and 114" long, and I don't even have borders on it yet. I plan to add another 2" of the sashing material and then a 4-5" dark red border as well. Oh, and pardon the light fixture in the middle of the photos, it's too snowy outside to take it out for a photo shoot.
All I can say is , it better go to either really tall or fluffy people who will appreciate its "all-over" comfort. This is going to put my quilting frame to the test. I think I might just add the borders after I quilt the middle - sew and flip style, that way it will be stitched in the ditch - sort of- by the time I have them attached. If I expect to add the borders before quilting, I don't think it will fit on the frame - and leave me room to change the bobbin - which judging by the size, might be every row! Good thing I found another meter of the red fabric "on sale" last week.
I've decided this one is going up for sale.

You see I have my eye on a (nother) new toy.
I'm going to see a 1904 Singer model 27 treadle sewing machine this afternoon. If she "speaks" to me, she might just come home with me. Stay tuned.....