Peace is...a world in which women are inspired to hope and imagine.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Singer touch and sew

I picked up this sewing machine about 10 years ago at an auction sale near our cottage. $20 bucks. All it needed was a spool holder, and I ordered one of those online from a lady in Washington state. When we had the cottage, this was the cottage sewing machine and my Janome was for home. We sold the cottage in 2006, and I haven't looked at this machine since at least then.

I just opened her up today. I'm planning on teaching my step daughter to see. She's a very creative woman, and I know that adding sewing to her skill set will open up new avenues of creativity for her. I also opened the machine up because my Janome is in for it's first servicing ever (after about 8 years) and I feel lonely without it.

I took the top off, dusted the machine a bit, rethreaded it...and out came this beautiful line of stitching. I played with the stitch length a bit-that's all I touched.

This baby is circa 1970. I don't think I service it when I got it, and I have only use it for straight stitching. It has all of the stitch plates and throat plates and feet. It even has a no-remove bobbin wonder! Which means you wind the bobbin in the bobbin case.

So I'm excited to be using this machine to teach JB how to sew. It will be nice to see it going to a good home!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Spiral Wall Hanging

I find myself strangely drawn to spirals and Mariner's Compass patterns. So as a result, I am learning paper piecing. I am also doing one spiral or compass at a time, rather than a whole quilt - i'm working my way up to it. today's spiral is a 6 sided nested spiral, from Ranae Merrill's fabulous book about spirals. I was quite surprised by how this turned out. I also realize that a beauty feature of doing smaller quilts like this (apprx 20" by 18") means I get more practice with machine quilting, design, and of course, binding. I tried a new way to close off the binding this time (from Joanie's Quilting Elements). There is a picture below. it worked quite fabulously.

I made the piece for a friend who turned 50 this month, and is a big crafter herself. It went in the mail a few days ago, and she should have it by now...Happy Birthday, Maureen!

Stories and lessons on this piece.

Well, I wanted to make it from my stash of fabric and not buy new material. Cost cutting. Dear Husband of course was a huge help as always on fabric selection. I wanted a pretty traditional look.

However, I didn't spend too much time thinking about the design beyond the actual spiral. Once I had the spiral done, and was thinking about what next to do - I came up with the idea of squaring the spiral with the red corners. I only had one type of fabric that would do for that, the red already in the piece. Since, as some of you already know, I am mathematically and geometrically challenged (which makes it interesting to be a quilter), it soon became clear I did not have enough material to create the shape, whatever that was, for the corners. Couldn't get the shape of the corner piece in my head, and couldn't figure out the material requirement. So i started sewing pieces of the red into squares. Well, it was all different sizes, and the next difficulty was figuring out how to sew the small pieces together in an efficient manner to come up with a standard size piece of material. Let's just the end, some of the pieces sewn into the blocks on the corner are just one seam beside each other.  luckily, the seams kind of fit into the concept of the spiral, so they don't look out of place. and since it is a wall hanging, it won't be washed too often, so there won't be too much pressure on those small seams.

For the spiral itself - when doing these, it's wise (as Ranae lays out in her book) to build a template first, determine what colours are going where, number the pieces and letter the spirals (or vice versa - i always get these mixed up), and then make a chart to calculate the size of the pieces - because the triangles used grow in increments up the spiral. and if you cut every piece the same length, there is fabric waste. And if you are, like i was, working with a small amount of fabric to begin with, rather than calculating the actual amount and then buying the fabric, you need every small piece of fabric available. So you lay out the chart - which requires measurement of the triangles in a certain way to get their height and width, and then add on extra for seam allowance, and a little bit extra for Liz's geometry challenges. and then cut the fabric. The learning here is...if i don't calculate the chart properly AND i don't calculate ALL the triangles (ie, skip a few here and there and just say they will be the same length as say D5), well, when the fabric is cut, there's no going back. that's why i ended up with the 2 brown spirals of different colours. ran out of fabric from inaccurate calculations. oh the lessons keep coming.

What else have I learned...well, i wasn't sure about the material at first. it looked dowdy and dark. i was pleasantly surprised; nay, shocked! at the outcome of the spiral. the colours and the design worked together beautifully. So i learned i need to trust my instincts, and my husband's instincts, on fabric choice.

Once i had the spiral done, i needed to figure out what next - i did end up buying material for the borders and the binding. I ended up wanting some consistency in the fabric, so I got dark green and cream in the main print (from the 2 browns). this is a Robert Kaufman print, which is available in many different shades. I like it because each colour carries variances in it, which are not easy to see from a distance, but ensure that the fabric does not look like a solid colour. Creative Sisters in Kitchener carries this print. They also carry the print that I was using in corners - they just happened to be out of the red. They had lots of other shades, but they just didn't work the same.

The quilting is in the ditch around the edges of each spiral and the borders. I would make the stitch longer next time. I've been looking at some other quilts at Greenwood Quiltery in Guelph, in their gallery, and note that typically these stitches are much longer. I guess I'm used to hand quilting, where we try to make the stitches as small as possible.

What else. I'm experimenting with the label - embroidering my name on the back and the date. Worked OK for me. Also...back on the theme on not getting too much additional material...I didn't have quite enough of the dark green left for the back, so I put in some of the other colours I had in the same fabric line - creams and browns for a different touch. I am very fond of pieced backs. As you will see when I post the blog for the Joy Quilt!

OK, that's the summary. Here are the pix.

what the back looked like before i removed the paper foundation. note the  codes written on each triangle used to indicate order, size and colour 

showing the binding ends joined together

What creative adventures are you having?