Friday, March 30, 2012

March FMQ Challenge

March's Challenge, by Ann Fahl, looked easy to me.  Ann provided some great background information about FMQing and our challenge was to do some background fill stitching, rather than all "stipple" or "meander". 

I've done stuff like this before, on quite a few quilts.  So, I thought it wouldn't be much of a challenge to do more.  So, where did my challenge come into play??  In the middle of stitching a quilt using a loopy design, my machine broke.  My repairman said he's never seen a Viking belt really snap in two like that.  I knew it was the belt almost as soon as it happened.  The machine made a high pitched whirring sound, like a motor revving without being in gear.  I'm sure you've hit the gas on your car without having it in gear.  My machine is a Viking Sapphire.  I've had it for about 5 years, and done TONS of sewing on it, as have some of my students.  I've done costumes, quilts, tent bags, alterations, clothes, gifts, ... Well, you get the picture.  And I had never taken the time (or money) to get a tune up.  The machine travels often, from home, to NY, to Bethlehem, to...  Replacing the belt means taking off the entire plastic body of the machine, which requires some screws and "popping" the unit.  I kind of wanted to see what it looks like inside, lol, but didn't get the chance.  So, off to my favorite shop, Pocono Sew and Vac.  When they first took the machine, they said it could be in up to 3 weeks.  What??  From March 19th to April 9???  What was I going to do?  I can piece with my vintage Featherweight, but quilt with that?? Um, no.  No walking foot, and not about to try playing with the feed dogs to do FMQ.  I picked up a 1/4" foot with a guide, and planned to make some quilt tops.  But the FMQ Challenge?? How do I do that??  Well, since Ann's designs are similar to others I've already done, here are those. 

This is a quilt I made last year, with a Hoffman Bali Pop and other fabrics using Multifaceted by Cozy Quilt Works.  I did a loopy FMQ in the alternate blocks (some have stencils) and added some flowers within that. 

This is a Jelly Roll Race quilt I did last summer.  It reminded me of a sunset, so I quilted waves and swirls using King Tut thread.  I love this one.  I wanted something curly because the quilt was all straight lines of color strips.  So, I had already done something like Ann suggested. 

This one has stars and loopy stitching in the borders.  There is a center concentric star pattern, and then the FMQ design in the rest of the runner.   I think I did this 2 years ago, and anything Patriotic really should have stars, don't you think? 

I enjoy playing with thread and designs.  The quilts do "ask" for certain things.  I'm learning more every day, and enjoy sketching the design first before I put the thread and needle on the quilt.  I've also learned more about my machines.  I also plan to do more tops with these designs.  I really want to do some of the flower shapes I've seen on the Facebook page, too. 

Thanks to Pocono Sew and Vac, I actually got my machine back after 10 days.  I'll be finishing the quilt that "broke" it, lol, and posting more about that.  But in the meantime, I wanted to make sure I posted about the FMQ challenge.  Thank goodness I'm not totally scared about trying a new design or my own variation.  I would have been really upset if my machine had needed a "spa day" during February!!  I guess the timing was okay, afterall.

Update!! I finished the quilt that broke the machine, lol.  It's not the quilt's fault, just joking.  Here's a picture of the quilt.  I did a loopy meander using cream colored nylon thread. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lessons from a UFO

Quiltsy WiP
UFO??? Like with aliens?? No, in quilting or sewing, that acronym stands for UnFinished Object.  I have a few of those, and have been working on getting them done.  That's one of my goals this year, as is using more of my fabric and buying less.  With the economy so difficult, and my income even worse, it's more a matter of being practical.  I have quite a bit of fabric. 

So, the lessons from this project:  1.  Check your seam allowance on each machine.  Make sure you know how to adjust for a 1/4" seam if quilting.  This project was started a few years ago.  The 3 blocks that were done, and the kit for the 4th sat in the Shop Hop bag it came in.  Since I started it, I probably bought the 1/4" foot with guide for both of my machines.  It makes a huge difference.  So does using Aurifil thread, the 50wt.  I can see my points are more accurate in my more recent projects.  The new block on this runner is the top one.  The points are cleaner.  I also paid a little more attention when sewing the striped design in the cornerstones, those little squares the cream border..  All the stripes head the same direction.   I didn't have enough fabric from the kits to make too many more blocks, so I decided to just make a runner.  It will be listed soon, after I get it quilted. 

Lesson 2. When choosing fabric to finish, since you don't have anything in your stash that is similar or matching, try to find the same "period" as well as similar colors.  I found a 1 yard piece last weekend at the quilt show.  I'm happy, but it has a small stripe.  I'm making a mitered corner in the border.  2 reasons for that! First, I need practice mitering borders.  2, I think it adds to the quilt, even if this is such a skinny stripe.  I'm also watching how I sew the pieces on, making sure I keep the little design going the same way. 

Lesson 3:  Have an extra machine while your favorite is in the shop.  It's still in.  They haven't ever had a problem with a belt snapping on a Viking, so they didn't have the part.  I'm hoping it will be in soon, and then I can sew a little faster. 

I did buy the 1/4" foot with the guide for this, and the stitches are really good.  It's different in many ways, but since I grew up sewing on a very old machine, I have no problems working with this.  This is a vintage Singer Featherweight.  I bought it a few years ago, and really only use it as an extra.  I miss the speed and built in needle threader on my Viking.  I also miss the presser foot down feature.  You step on the pedal to go, and the foot comes down.  I have to use my hand for this one!  Also, I have to take off my shoe to use the pedal on this.  Instead of having a full size pedal that you push down, this only has a 1" square button to push.  You have to feel it with your toe to make sure you have the right spot.  It's funny, because I notice my foot getting cold without my shoe or slipper on.  Do you sew with shoes or something on your foot, or barefoot?  I prefer a shoe, so I won't get hurt by dropped pins.  I need to make sure I wear something that I can easily slip on and off with this.   Isn't it funny what you learn when working on something from the past?? 

The borders will be on the runner tonight, and I'll pin the batting and backing in place tomorrow at Enright's.  Their cutting table is perfect for that!  Then, when my Sapphire comes home, I'll have lots of things to quilt, ready to go.  I'll have to find something else to piece and finish until then. 

Go click on the Quiltsy button at the top to see what everyone else is doing!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I LOVE winning!

I've been on a small winning streak lately!  It's been fun to see what comes in the mail.  Last December, I won 2 small prizes from blogs.  One was 4 coasters for wine glasses in Christmas fabric, and the other was an assortment of scraps and stuff from a blog hop. 

Then I won a Sewline pencil from Jo's Country Junction blog.  I LOVE my Sewline pencils, and am really happy I got another.  This one is yellow lead.  I had black and white, and pink leads I would put in one of the others.  This will come in handy on darker fabrics, especially when I need to mark the stencils on my son's quilt.

Then I won an assortment of 8 flannel Fat Quarters from Flare Fabrics, for commenting on their picture on Facebook.  This selection is by Riley Blake fabrics, and I picked up some coordinating flannel for the back and plan to make a raggy quilt.  I borrowed the Accuquilt GO! Raggy Die from Christine to make it faster.  I haven't used the die before, and am looking foward to trying it.  I've done raggies, and find clipping the seams to be the most time consuming task.  As soon as I get it cut, and get my machine back from its necessary vacation (aka repair), I will list the quilt.  Hopefully it will help pay for the machine repairs. 

Then I won an assortment of Aurifil Thread for commenting on their Facebook Wall.  It was a month long contest, so it took quite a bit of time.  I'm so excited about this!  The spools sell for over $10 each! 

I also commented on a post by Hoffman of California fabrics on Facebook and won a stunning collection of Bali Batik fat quarters, the Honeysuckle collection.  Beautiful turquoise and brown prints.  I have a quilt planned for this, and need to get some border and binding fabric.  This collection retails for over $50. 

But wait!  There's more!!  I won another blog contest.  This was by an Etsy friend.  You can see some wonderful things on her blog.
I commented on her blog, and won this great book, a charm pack, and a needle book kit.  I LOVE Moda fabrics, and Prairie Paisley is one of my all time favorites.  This is Prairie Paisley 2, and it's so pretty!  The book has some really pretty quilts in it.  I need to take some time to really look.  And the kit looks fun! 

And still more!!  It's been pretty incredible lately.  This was from a comment on a blog post at and it arrived today.  A wonderful book called Vintage Notions by Amy Barickman and a beatuiful assortment of 15 Fat Quarters and a panel of Amy's latest collection.  The book is stunning and fun, including some great pictures and even recipes.  I can't wait to discover more about the book, and play with the fabrics.  Many of the prints are perfect for me.  I LOVE vintage sewing related things, and there is a great piece that has stripes of trim and measuring tape prints, plus a few that have buttons, and sewing notions and dress forms and pattern pieces and... You get the idea?? So fun!!  I'll need to play with ideas for these for a while before I do any cutting, if I do choose to cut them, lol.  Sometimes you just need to collect great fabrics.  

I feel so blessed by this string of luck lately.  It's added to my life in small but fun ways.  It's been unexpected and surprising and fun!  Most of all, it's made up for the fact that other things haven't been going well, and with money being tight, has given me a few things make money.  Maybe it's because my birthday is coming, and what I really wanted for my birthday isn't going to happen, so these are little ways of making up for that.  Whatever, I'm grateful.  Keep trying to win things on blogs and on Facebook.  You never know what little blessings you will find. 

But, I'm still hoping for the winning Mega Millions ticket.  Then I can pay some of this forward.  Thanks for reading!  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Light Peas in a Pod!

You are probably saying "What kind of title is that???"  but I'll explain. 
My friend Miko said she needed a costume for a contest.  The costume had to represent Bethlehem's Veggie Fest, and would be voted on for mascot of the festival.  The costume needed to be green,  have lights, and be funny.  I decided to create Mr. Green Peas.  Then I realized it was a little Steampunk (that look from he beginning of the industrial revolution, Victorian, like "Wild Wild West" with Will Smith.) 

Um Steamed Peas???  lol.  Yes, I got a little giddy with this.  Oh, yeah, it had to have lights (Lite Craft and Off Grid technologies was the sponsor, lol.)  I've been putting lights in a variety of things, mostly quilts and home decor items, so needed to think long and hard about how I was going to incorporate strings of LED lights.  So, how does one do all this, when there are no patterns for pea pods in the regular market?  And something unique that may win a contest?  I adapted a Simplicity pattern (not my favorite brand, uggh, but the only one currently available that was similar to my idea)  I made it longer, with a curved front edge, to look like a pea pod.  Add peas to the body, and a stem and leaves to the hat.  So, when Lee tried it on, I also realized it needed a large bow tie. 

I put the strands of lights in a sheer green chiffon like fabric.  The lights show well, and the lighter green was a fun accent for the seams, and helped to make the back look like the seam of a pod.  I added a smaller pea to the large bow tie, and 3 large stuffed peas to the front.  The crushed panne looked really cool, but was horrible to work with.  It's too stretchy for this design, but it added to the fun, texture and richness of the costume.  Since the contest was during the Bethlehem St. Patrick's Day Parade, Miko added shamrock sunglasses and the shamrock hat.  Lee was a great sport and really showed off the costume well.  It was fun to think outside the box, and to work with him on making the lights work, be wearable, comfortable, and practical.  We came up with a few ideas and solutions for adding lights to clothes or costumes.  So, here are a few pictures. 

Photos are courtesy of Lite Craft and Miko Green.  We didn't win the contest, but it was really fun to do something so unusual.  I never know what I'll be doing next, and it's always a fun challenge. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What I'm working on

Good news and bad news!!

Good new is, I have a table runner top ready to baste and quilt, and a strip quilt partially quilted, and I'm working on my son's and nephew's Irish Chain quilts.
Quiltsy WiP

The bad news?? My machine broke. In the middle of quilting the strip quilt. Well, not middle, exactly, about 1/4 way through. So, I'm currently using a vintage Featherweight sewing machine, rather than my very fast and efficient Viking Sapphire. I can piece and do basic straight things, but no quilting and no binding and finishing. I prefer using a walking foot for those things, and don't have one for the Featherweight.

So, I'm limited in what I can accomplish over the next 2 weeks. It seems the belt broke or slipped on the Viking. I'm told that's unusual, but with the way I make my machine work, and all the travelling, I'm really not surprised. So, it's getting a "spa" day and I'm getting a workout, lol.

So, here are some pictures of my current projects. First is the strip quilt, before it was pinned and partially quilted. It's a collection of about 15 different fabrics, all florals, from my stash. It's a little wild, like a contrary garden. Hmm, Mary's Contrary Garden sounds like a good name for it. It's a nice lap size using the 1600 Jelly Roll Race pattern.

I did add a border (the dark red and roses print in the middle right section) and will probably use a blue binding.  Not sure yet.  What's that peeking out from behind it on my design wall???? That's a Radiant Star quilt in progress, using bright batiks.  It needs some work still, but the main star sections are done.  I want to finish the Double Irish Chains first. 

Here's the runner. It's my design using my Accuquilt GO! and EQ7. This is about the 5th or 6th I've made, all in different colors. If you like it, it will be for sale soon. If you want different colors, let me know and I'll make one for you. I call it Ribbon Twist, because of the twist effect around the star. The block is traditional, also called Friendship Star.

This last one is a Double Irish Chain queen size quilt for my son. It needs a Seminole pieced border, which is small squares set on point. I have some of it done, but hope to get more done this weekend. The fabrics are batiks, and I love how it looks so far. What do you think?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Time to Vote!!

SewCal Gal is sponsoring her annual Golden Quilter awards.  Please go check out the list, and fill out the quick survey to vote for your favorites in the quilting world. 

Who do you think will win???  I've placed my votes.  Send your friends, please.  Thanks!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

One never knows!

Okay, I'm cheating a little, lol. I just found out my Etsy Quiltsy group is doing a linky for works in progress, and since this post has some, I snagged it to link up. Go see what others are doing!

Quiltsy WiP

I just did a quick check and realized it's been about a month since my last post. There have been quite a few things happening. I do have some finishes to show.

I spent some time on Long Island with my parents and helping my friend Christine work on a quilt. She tried Free Motion Quilting for the first time, and had a blast!! We got her first big quilt layered and she's working on the quilting. I fixed Mom's machine again, then had to do it again the next day. I don't know what she does, but as soon as I go back home, she calls and says the machine isn't working again. I don't like her machine at all. It's very noisy now, too, and the stitches are not great, but it's enough for her to do some minor alterations, which is what she wants. I do anything major when I go. She's shrinking, so I do the pants hems and other repairs.   Mom always asks "What color thread is on your machine?"  She thinks it's difficult to thread a machine, and would rather not change, but for me it's about 20 seconds, and no problem.  Maybe it's her way of "not imposing", but she wants to??  I think it's funny.

I also spent time with my nephew sewing his quilt. He has now finished all the A blocks. When I go back, we'll start on the B blocks. They should be pretty fast, then maybe we can get the top done. He's having fun, and I made him replace the ankle and foot, rethread the machine, adjust the needle position, replace the needle, and clean out the bobbin case. He needs to know how to care for the machine as much as use it, and likes taking things apart. We plan to go to a quilt show when I go down again. I'm looking forward to seeing his reactions to the quilts, now that he knows a little about making one!

So, on with my stuff. I'm working on a pea pod costume. More on that later. Just know it's a little Steampunk, and has lights. It should be really interesting for a mascot contest.

I finished another St. Patrick's table runner. This one was a quick one, mostly to practice my feather stitching, and to list in my store. It's still available. I'm hoping it sells soon, so it can be shipped to it's new home before Saturday.

I've also done a Jelly Roll Race quilt top, too. It's waiting to be quilted. I have another table runner started. It needs the borders and then can be layered and quilted. Those will be done and posted soon! I have so many other things planned! This week's class is the Lighted Easter Egg. Oh, that's another finish! 

You never know what I'm up to until I post!!  Thanks for stopping by!