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Archive for the tag “Sewing machine”

Project Updates

At some point, which happened to be now, I wanted to take stock of where I am at and what I still felt needed to be accomplished.  I have finished so many different projects, but the year has already started spinning away from me.  Since I started this blog I have changed jobs twice and been part of three major projects at the companies I’ve worked for, the consequence of which is, not a lot of quilts were made.  Of course I was able to complete two this year, but that is way under what I had in mind originally.

The list of my current projects or to-do consists of the following:

A quilt for my brother, to be determined… Oh, the guilt, the guilt! He’s so wonderful and yet I still haven’t made one for him.

The new block of the month Thistleberry, Block 2 of 12 complete and posted.  If you hit the free stuff!! link you’ll see something new posted there…

Two flannel twin quilts for my nieces, fabric was purchased a year and a half ago… Update to this, I finally have a pattern that I like, now I just need to start them!

Another baby girl flower quilt, almost complete… this will be the third one of this design.  I’m keeping these behind at this point.  One is slated to go up on our wall (my wife’s request), but I have no plans for the other two.

The Ohio Star “Oh! Canada” quilt, finishing the last panel and it will be ready for the quilter finally!  Two years in the making…

I plan on updating this once a month to keep me honest about getting these done. I’m also re-dedicating myself to posting on a regular basis and answering any question others may have. I look forward to hearing from you!

The White Sale and the Sewing Room Remodel

The white sale

For this curiosity seeker the title has enabled me to compress the two things I wanted to write about into one topic, that of white and the impact it has on me and the trade of quilt making.

I have discovered within myself a great penchant for using white as a choice of fabrics.  I did not start out that way; in fact you could say that I avoided it through most of my initial quilt projects.  Having a great love of quilts, my wife and I purchased a lot of magazines, went to a lot of quilt shows, and visited a host of online sites to view finished quilts and patterns.

As I pointed out the quilts or patterns that I liked the most it became clear to me the thread of commonality among my choices, there was a lot of white fabric in my list of favorites.

I started using white in the quilts I was making and voila! I became happier with the finished quilts.  I honestly think it’s the stark contrast between colors, or how the white can extend a lighter colored block of fabric beyond its borders.

The white sale II

After shopping online and in stores I came to the conclusion that no one except for specialty stores were selling what we needed for the sewing room remodel.  The specialty shops were so far out of our price range it was incredible.  Yes, there products were perfect for use and would definitely improve anything we had in mind, but the cost was most definitely prohibitive.

Back to the drawing board I went searching hopelessly for something that would satisfy our space requirements and our pocket books.  IKEA had just what I had been hoping for on their website.  People may read this and say “DUH”, but I’ve never been to an IKEA store and no, I haven’t been living under a rock.  The problem with this store was that I had never been there but needed to see and measure each piece we were considering for purchase.

My great idea was to go there about noon on Saturday and wrap up no later than 2pm…  anyone who’s shopped at an IKEA store is laughing right about now.  I’m a good sport however and am laughing with them at my own ignorance.  For those of you who have never shopped there, well let me just refer to the phrase rats in a maze.  The cheese by the way isn’t along your journey through the place, just like a rats maze you’ll have to wait to reach the end before you can find satisfaction.

When we arrived home at something approaching 5pm, exhausted as I was Sunday was Mother’s day and I wasn’t going to have my wife waiting to use the new furniture when I could “easily” put it together that night!

The dread of messing something up washed over me as I opened the first box of parts and began assembly.  By the end of the first two hours, not only had I completed sewing table it had gone together so well hope sprang from within at the thought of the three other pieces of furniture waiting for assembly.

By midnight, all the pieces were assembled and positioned in the first of many configurations.

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This is what we were using!!


These are the new cabinets facing the entry wall

The new sewing tables and cutting board

The new sewing tables and cutting board


Quilting Room Remodel

I like many of my fellow quilters have a knack for collecting (hoarding) all things quilting (fabric, scissors, cutters, etc…).  This brings me to the love seat.  A love seat that I have to admit, I actually despised when my wife suggested we buy the living room set and bring it to our new home here in Texas.  I didn’t like the color, the fabric, and if you sat in it, you would be under the distinct impression that it wanted to throw you right back off.  After five years it was my turn to pick a new living room set.  At that point, even my wife admitted that the old couch and love seat were uncomfortable.

So, rather than trying to sell our old set and have someone pay to become uncomfortable in their own living room, I set the couch out on the curb.  When my wife saw the love seat still in the house, she ask why we weren’t setting it out as well.  I thought as we converted one of the bedrooms into a sewing room that we could use the love seat as a place to sit when only one of us was sewing (she scoffed at the idea).  I had this thought of curling up on the thing and being able to spend time chatting while the other person was sewing.

It became nothing of the sort…  At present, on the couch, are an assortment of different projects in the last stages of completion.  This has been its main function for over a year.  Lost to me was the fact that I could never be comfortable on it and would always sit across from her at my sewing station instead.  Time to let go and utilize the space for a more purposeful reason and to admit that yes, my wife was right… we should have gotten ride of it a long time ago.

An old leather swivel chair provides some comfort while sewing which I had to talk my wife into letting me keep even prior to the sewing room.  It sat in our bedroom for a while with nowhere else to store it.  When we turned the other bedroom into a sewing room, it had a new purpose, my sewing chair!  Score one for the hoarders!!  My wife has been using one of the dinning chairs that we kept from the old dinning set.  It is very uncomfortable and not the best idea that we’ve ever had.  As part of the room remodel however, our children are buying her a proper swivel chair for mother’s day.

I’ve seen many pictures of what some people have as their sewing/craft rooms and have to admit I’m jealous with the amount of space they have.  Because of the love seat and the distinct lack of square footage, our cutting is currently done on the coffee table  in the front room.  Our ironing station is set up and taken down in the hallway, and our sewing is done on… you guessed it, a dinning room table that I moved into the sewing room when we bought a new dining room set.  The old dining table was on its last leg when it was replaced, well its last three legs to be more specific.  It has the unusual tendency to shimmy ever so slightly when we are sewing at the same time.  It’s a bit like sewing on a really great washing machine that is perpetually stuck on the spin cycle.

I’m finally ready to bid the love seat and dinning table goodbye and rearrange the room, replacing the old dinning table with two sewing tables, setting up a cutting station, ditching the love seat, and buying some shelving for the bare walls.  The ironing can then be set up in the sewing room and broken down when it isn’t needed.

Here is the before look of the room and I’ll post a picture after we’ve converted it into a friendlier space.

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Progress on the “Oh Canada!” Quilt

Oh Canada

Another labor of love that I’ve been able to enjoy piecing together.  I’m 4/7 the way done with the quilt top and yes the square at the bottom will mark the center of the quilt.  I’m very excited about piecing this two-color quilt.  I wanted to break it down just slightly to give an idea of what it’s like to put something like this together.  Not to scare anyone off, but more of the scope of this sort of project.

This quilt when finished will be composed of 49 blocks (7 rows of 7).  Each block has (5) 3 1/2″ squares and (16) 3 1/4″ triangles.  Put in perspective of the whole, it will contain 245 small squares, 196 each of red and white triangles, 31 bordering strips, and 4 pieces for the panels.  In the end I have planned to add 13 maple leaves of different color to give it a total piece count of 685 individual pieces.  I could be off on my count a little as I was doing the math a little quickly, but you get the idea.

When I start a quilt, I always start with a single block and don’t even necessarily allow myself to think about the above information as it  will quite literally stall the project before it begins.  I don’t even cut out the fabric for all of the pieces because of this.

This quilt, or more correctly the idea that started this quilt is now a year past, as is the first block I created for it.  My question for anyone out there is how do YOU eat an elephant?

Flannel Binding

If I were to talk about one of the biggest obstacles that I’ve face since I started piecing quilts, top of my list is piecing and binding a flannel quilt.  It’s almost like sewing a Lycra skirt together I would imagine.  I am a “fair-weather” pinner and will always try to get away without pinning where I’m able, so long as the fabric I’m working with cooperates.

Flannel is one of my favorite fabrics to piece and wrap up in after a well-done job.  This is also one of the fabrics that needs the most pinning due to the stretchiness of the material.  To go a little into the woods with this topic, when I initially started quilting I wanted nothing more than to make a flannel quilt.  Off to the store I went to pick out some of the warmest, softest, and flannely flannel I could find.  I purchased much more fabric than was needed using the… “if it calls for a yard and a half why not buy four yards” guy mentality.

This of course saved me.  I knew something was off, and at first it was that I had indeed cut the wrong size on a couple of pieces.  Standing there trying to line the fabric up after I re-measured however I started to sew only to have the squares go all wonky on me once I tried to join them together.  This was my initialization into the world of flannel.

Lesson #1, pin… every… little… piece… to sew it together.  Then, pin each and every piece as they come together.  Use the steam and weight of the iron to flatten the material and set the seams, do not stretch the material while pressing.  Now I know there is someone out there that may be able to sew this without pinning using the proper tension and fabric selection on their sewing machine.  When I first started with my singer, I have a difficult time getting this correct.  Now that I have a husqvarna viking, it is a little easier, however I still have to ensure I have the machine set correctly.

I’ve posted before about how much I love to put satin blanket bindings on baby quilts, but I wanted these to have more of a homemade look to them.  People are finally getting vocal about what works for them on a flannel blanket and I’ve decided to go with the double-fold binding.  I’ll cut the fabric 2 1/2″ before folding rather than my normal 2 1/4″ wof.

Lesson #2, Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone.  I’ll post the pics of these next week to show you how they turned out.

Until next time,

Keep Sewing!!

Are you like a crazy person?

I love the world of quilting.  I love to design, sew, and finish these wonderful projects.  I am especially fond of having a finished product to admire at the end of all my hard work.  The flurry of the holidays is long since passed for me and my time is starting to open back up ever so slightly.  If I am to be perfectly honest, I’ve noticed that something has been missing in my life, a certain lack that when I tried to pinpoint exactly what it was, I realized that I hadn’t created anything new at all for over two months.



Does anyone else feel the same when life has “caught them up”?  Given the fact that the holidays are a busy time for both work and life in general, I sacrificed one of my passions to make room for others.  It’s the dance we do when a choice has to be made.

The Persian Plum that I started last year will be complete by next weekend and then it’s off to the quilters.  Between then and now, I have two flannel blankets that simply need to be bound and they will be complete as well.  I should have pictures up of those by tomorrow.

To everyone reading…  Thank you for all your wonderful comments, they mean a great deal to me and are very much appreciated.

Sew Happy!!

Finished at the last gasp

Kay was getting a little upset as I started putting on the first of my planned borders for the Christmas quilt.  We had two hours before we needed to leave to get to Linda’s house clear across town and I was just starting to put the first of three borders on.  I really meant to do them the day before, but lacked the motivation.

Meanwhile, Kay had a lot to finish and DID do a lot of it the day before with only a little bit remaining on the day we needed to turn it over to the quilter Linda.

As I was sewing on the first border, I looked at the back and realized that a patch was all wonky!  That’s what I get for trying to go too fast… another ten minutes wasted.  I finally got on-track and managed to get all three borders sewn on in less than two hours.  The last border was the toughest and required the most amount of attention with all the seams it had.

We were talking to Linda after we had arrived and were discussing thread colors and quilt patterns and I looked down at the six piles of fabric, their backing, and the batting realizing that this represented six quilts (translated… a LOT of difficult work) and it honestly put me in awe of what we had accomplished.  Two of the quilts Kay had ear-marked for a firehouse, one of the large purple ones to our oldest daughter Amanda for her birthday, and the last three to keep.

As I mentioned before our daughter Samantha had a valid point that we can only use so many at a time.  I really do like having them around the house though… on the backs of our couches, on the bed, and in the closet.  I keep saying 10 more quilts should be sufficient, but don’t feel the slightest bit of bad when I make one for a relative and two for me.  It’s not like we’re charging anyone.

Anyway, I actually wrote all of this to say that by the time I’d finished the Christmas quilt we had to leave immediately.  Yes, I did finish all three borders.  With Kay’s help I had the backing sewn as well.  As we rushed them out to the car I realized that I hadn’t taken the photo of it yet.  Delaying our trip slightly more, I placed the last bundle in the back of the car and snapped a quick shot of all six bundles on their way to the quilters.

Our daughter put us to shame

So it looks like Autumn is coming to Texas finally!!  I realise that we may yet have a few more days that the heat makes us uncomfortable, but with this forecast it’s a promising sign that we’ve turned the corner and can start pulling out those quilts soon.


Have to love it when the weather cooperates!!

On an entirely different note, I did over the weekend manage to finish binding the schoolhouse quilt and the Land of Whimsy quilt.  Since my daughter was here and will be thru Thursday, we decided to try to complete a mini apiece to hang on the wall as a family project.  This started out really great with all of us picking out the pattern that we were to complete and then… Kay started working on a completely different project (more on that project later), I initially was helping our daughter determine fabrics and layout, and finally I realized that both sewing machines would be in use so I opted to finish the bindings of the other quilts.

In the end, only one mini quilt was near completion and almost ready to be bound…  our daughter’s mini.  We still plan on finishing our minis later on, but will not be doing it as originally thought as  a family project.  I’m okay with that however, as I was able to spend a lot of time with our daughter discussing quilting and watching her abilities grow.

The other thing I was able to accomplish was to finish my niece’s daughter’s quilt.  This is a picture of the backing that I finally decided on and now just need it quilted down.

Blue Pinwheel is Pieced!!

No, I don’t know why it’s taken me soooo long to finish piecing this quilt.  Call it quilter’s block, which is the term I use rather than the real culprit which I’m sure boils down to laziness…  Well maybe 98% laziness and 2% quilter’s block.

Whatever the reason, I’ve finally managed to finish this quilt top and because I did not follow a pattern ended up with a king sized quilt due in part to the double 4″ borders I thought would look good.  I obviously am not finished with run-on sentences either!  This is, I believe, the largest quilt that I’ve made to date.

Here’s an up-close look at this quilt that has taken me the longest to make.


Now, the points are not perfect and it won’t win any awards, but I’ve learned another valuable lesson on the importance of using only one machine to make the different pieces.  Kay and I have different sewing techniques and obviously use different machines.  She helped me piece ten of the blocks together and that introduced some variations that played hell with trying to line up everything.  Now I’m not placing blame, only stating that I have yet to learn for a quilt such as this how to “play nice” with another quilter and get the desired result.

Also in this pattern, when sewing the blocks together there are eight different points that need to line up which presents another challenge.  Normally I would have to make sure that all of the blocks are the exact size and then pin them prior to sewing to give me beautiful uniformity.  When there are eight points that need to match however, block size is only one component to a beautifully pieced quilt.

With all that said, I am still and all very pleased with how this turned out and can’t wait to get it quilted down and bound.  Speak out and tell me the challenges that you’ve faced!  Until then, happy quilting…

The weekend that got away from me… complete with pictures!

Can you imagine trying to get FOUR quilts done in one weekend?  That’s what my wife and I attempted to accomplish… and failed miserably.

We started trying to do the two blue pinwheel quilts, but as I said in a previous post… shopping comes first!  So, after work on Friday we made a special trip into Fort Worth that has the largest selection available.  I wanted to be able to get some early Christmas fabric as soon as I could and this is what I found:

Back to the story though, Saturday morning came and I had a leisurely breakfast followed by an unbelievably long problem at work that needed to be taken care of.  Fast forward to 1pm on Saturday when I finally had the time to “Start” the pinwheels.  I was feeling confident that I could still manage to make three of the quilts at that point.

Sunday morning came and we started to get the ball rolling early.  We were making good time until a comment from me stopped play again…  have you ever heard of a couple fighting over seam allowances and construction techniques?  We don’t argue that often, but this seemed to be the weekend for everything to go askew so why not?

As you can see, we made up, but that caused another four-hour stoppage!  Then as we’re setting the blocks together, you might have already guessed… they did not line up the way they were supposed to.  Blame it on Karma or a cosmic joke, but no matter what we did they were off here and there.  It was 6pm on Sunday night at this point and we were about to call it quits without having completed even one quilt.

They panels were done however and we just needed to sew them together.  Of course they didn’t line up.  We tried to figure out what to do with them and in the end came up with an idea that we’ll try later this week and I’ll post pictures of.  In the mean time, here are the panels together.

At 7pm on Sunday night we decided to start work on the purple.  It requires almost 150 squares, we did not finish cutting both sets of it out.  Here are some  pics of the material and the blocks that were finished.

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