Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Swoon! Or how I got stuck hand-quilting when I wanted to be on the new machines

So I was between machines but wanting to move some of my works-in-progress forward...and I decided to hand quilt my Swoon, that quilt top I started a year ago (January 2012) and finally finished over the holidays.

prepping Swoon blocks 2 - 9

for future Swoon blocks

Swoon 1, 2, and 3
Swoon 4, 5, 6, and 7

Swoon! No way to get a good photo right now (the tall people are still sleeping!)...but it's fully pieced, after 6 months of sitting, partially pieced, in a closet-- and before the end of the year

And now I have outlined 7 of the 9 blocks (in cream and grey perle 8 cotton, using the aqua Etchings blueprint yardage I have been saving for the backing, and Hobbs Heirloom wool for the batting). My plan is to echo the shapes with additional lines of quilting and also to stitch along the sashings strips (which are made of the Etchings blueprint in cream...I ran out of my cream solid background fabric!).

But boy am I aching to get on the Juki and the Bernina, my new-to-me toys!

I really, really want to move on to the quilting of my Farmer's Wife sampler, the making of Pony Club blocks, and some garment sewing experiments for myself...and at the same time, my mind is turning to writing, where it really needs to be during this precious research semester....

What a sweet dilemma, huh? I do realize how fortunate I am.

Swoon, hand quilting this star right now

Anyway, I promised my bloggy friends some progress shots of the hand-quilting...I warn you that my personal standards for hand quilting are fairly low, the effect is just soft and homey, nothing prize-worthy here.

Swoon back, hand quilting in progress

But Ramone and Penelope are big, big fans of all this hand-quilting, so I may have ribboned in the Kitty Cat Quilt Show.

Swoon, hand quilting in progress

an attempt at a photo of centre block from Swoon

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Gone mechanical

I love sewing machines...yes, I do.  I truly do.  This has been one of the discoveries of the past 3 years, as sewing & quilting have become a major part of my life!

This week I made a big change.

I sold my Janome Horizon.

Now I certainly don't want to bad-mouth this machine: it served me really well for 2.5 years, I learned a lot while making 30+ quilts and lots of little girl clothes on it.  It has a million and one features.  It is loved by many.

But I had the sudden revelation that one machine cannot do it all -- piece, free motion quilt, hem, topstitch -- without being a wee bit...fussy.  I asked a lot of the Janome Horizon, making it switch tasks repeatedly, and all she wanted in return was exactly the right thread, exactly the right needle, a perfectly wound bobbin...or else!

It dawned on me that what I really needed were two machines (try explaining that to your family, squeezed into a small urban house): one for quilting and another for garment sewing.

It also dawned on me that I had had it with computerized machines.  What I really love are sturdy, heavy, metal, mechanical machines (I spend quite enough time on computers), ones that purr when you oil and clean them, and that aren't mystifying.  My 1947 Singer Featherweight taught me that.

And I think it's important that you love your machine(s)!

And now I do, I really do!  

I found a new home for the Horizon (wow, there'a ton of kijiji interest in that machine!), and now I have two machines that together cost a lot less than a new Horizon.  To some this would look like a step down, but for me it feels like a huge step UP! Here are the details.

Garment (general) sewing

Channelling my great aunt Lucy, who was a fabulous seamstress and used a very simple machine, I focused on finding myself a beautifully-made, tuned-up zig-zagger with at least one decorative stitch, manual buttonholes, needle position adjustment, and I chose a middle-aged Bernina as my all-purpose, garment sewing machine.

Meet the Nova 900, built in 1980.

Miss Nova, I love you!!!! 1/4" ties were almost impossible to stitch on my janome (the feed dogs were so wide set), they were do-able on the featherweight, but they're a pleasure on my new baby. Nova has adjustable needle position, like newer machines, th
stitching teeny tiny strips (ties for Frida's dress) was a breeze

My yellow-trim Bernina Nova 900 came with all her original bits and bobs, including a hard-shell case (lined in lime green!) and the manual.

I invested in two more of those fabulous Bernina feet: a 1/4" piecing foot and an invisible zipper foot.

I am a total Bernina convert! (If I were in a position to buy a new Bernina, I would definitely go to Karyn at the workroom: to my mind, the ideal sewing machine dealer is one that is local and who actually loves to sew!)

This is by far the best sewing machine I have ever worked on...and because it's an old machine, it also was far from the most expensive.

I made Frida's birthday dress yesterday and I couldn't be happier with this machine! As an experiment I used the Nova and only the Nova for the whole project -- including seam finishing, which I did with ease with the Overlock foot (470).  The Blindstitch foot (016) worked amazingly well for topstitching (who knew?!).  I may actually make more clothing simply because I enjoy this machine so much.

Getting ready to sew Frida's birthday dress: ModKids Gretchen

Frida's birthday dress with ribbon trim detail#modkids #berninanova900

Quilt making 

(piecing, straight-line quilting, free motion quilting)

For quilting, I went with a straight-stitch, metal, mechanical, semi-industrial workhorse bought from a (recently-discovered) awesome local dealer (Cloverdale Sewing Centre, if you're in the Toronto area!).

Meet the Juki TL-2010Q. 

I'm in love with this machine too!

I tested my Juki thoroughly before committing...free-motion quilting with everything from beautiful variegated Aurifil 12 wt to a nasty, twisty, miserable 50 wt thread I bought at Creativ Festival two years ago, and which made my Janome Horizon throw a fit.  I fmq'ed with tight crazy curves, swoops, twists, everything nutty you can imagine...and the stitching was PERFECT!  No eyelashes at all, perfectly balanced stitches.

Yes pleeeeaaase!

My new best quilting friend, juki 2010q!!!!! She's amazing. The Janome Horizon has found a new home and I am thrilled to have replaced it with the lovely 1980 Bernina nova 900 and this juki -- a less $$ combo than the Horizon and they're making me sososo

I finished quilting my version of "Scrappy Trips Around the World" as soon as I got the Juki out of her box (ummm, that would be yesterday!  I got right on it!).

Working meandering loops with Connecting Threads cotton thread in white, the quilting was an absolute pleasure! By this morning I was making and attaching the binding (using the Juki's included walking foot).  Ahhhhhhh!

Finally binding #scrappytripalong. Listening to CBC and getting mentally prepared to do some work-work

#scrappytripalong FINIS!!! Bound with Kona turquoise. Fmq loops in white.

#scrappytripalong is Ramone-approved

I am one happy woman today!

And I'm very happy to talk machines, so please let me know which ones make you a happy stitcher.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Eeek! My Ruby Star skirt!

I just saw that my Ruby Star skirt was featured on the blog of Brenda's wonderful shop, Pink Castle Fabrics! Eeeek!

Melody Miller clocks, M6290 (modified)
That photo is from last September -- here's the original post, if you'd like to read a wee bit more about the skirt. The sight of bare legs and toes (and my messy back yard...how'd that wheelbarrow end up in my photoshoot, anyway??? I have to have a word with my photographer) makes me long for springtime...especially because this spring I will be travelling with my sweet sewing friend Melinda to Brenda's Camp Stitchalot!  Double eeeek! And Ms. Ruby Star herself, Melody Miller, will be there!

Phew, time to calm down and get a start on this rainy Sunday.

A final little note: I am feeling a bit destabilized by the fact that my sewing machine is getting serviced right now (I have been sewing a lot since the fall semester ended)...soon it will be purring happily again.  But in fact I am considering selling it in favour of an all-metal, non-computerized workhorse, maybe-just-maybe the Juki 2010q (I'm going to test drive one soon), which may be better suited to what I really do on the machine than is the fabulous Horizon I currently have.  More on all this soon, so many details to contemplate and to resolve....Of course, I always welcome your advice and words of wisdom!

In the meantime I am going to dream of sunny days, smooth stitching, a tidy craft cupboard and a clean desk....

Best wishes for a very happy, peaceful day.