Saturday, October 25, 2014

Past Quilts

I love to see what other people have made, so thought I would post a few pics for others like me. 
Here's a quilt that I made for my daughter. She picked the pattern and the fabric. I free motion quilted the entire thing on my Viking Lily. It was a job, but I enjoyed putting my own design in it and even put in a few favorite quotes and sayings. My favorite is from Sleping Beauty when the fairies tell Rose, "Don't touch anything!"  

This one I made for my oldest son and his wife. She picked the colors and I paid to have this one quilted on a long
This one is a flannel quilt that I made for my youngest son. It's rather rustic and woodsy. Just like him. 
This is one I made for my husband. He asked for a "big" quilt. It's called a disappearing four patch. I used fabrics that represented the things he and I have enjoyed doing together: fishing, camping, bicycling, raising cows  and I used a flannel in the back that says, I heart my bike. 

I have several more I can share. But that's all for today. 
Happy Creating!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Handing It Over

Friday after work, my husband and I took my quilt top, batting and backing to a local long arm quilter.  I have never taken my work to her before, but I have heard she is good, and it's all she does.  Her name is Linda, and her place is called The Creative Stitch in North Manchester.
The town of North Manchester is a college town with old houses and quaint little shops.  They are in the process of painting the store fronts, so the sign for her business had actually been taken down that day.  We drove up and then down the street, but couldn't find it.  I typed the address in my iPhone mapping app, and my husband pulled into a parking spot in what he felt was the near vicinity of the business.
I got out of the car with my garbage bag holding the quilt and batting and backing and started walking. It's hard to find the place you are looking for when you are right up to it on the sidewalk.  I remember trying to find certain places while walking the streets of Chicago.  An aerial or street view is much easier.  Luckily, just as I was about to walk past the store, the woman in my phone said, "Arrived."  I turned and saw spools of thread in the window, smiled and grabbed the door handle.
As I entered, I was greeted by Linda, who had so graciously agreed by phone to stay past her closing time of 4pm, to wait for me.  She was friendly and welcoming, and I felt immediately at home.
We laid the quilt out on the table, so she could see what we were working with.  I told her since it is a flag quilt that I wanted an edge to edge meandering star design.  She had me come to her display on the machine and go through several star designs that she had.  We went through thread colors and finally decided on a gray/taupe.
I was disappointed to hear that she uses the same color on the bottom as she does on the top.  The backing of the quilt is dark brown, and I was hoping she would use dark brown bobbin thread.  She said the backing thread tends to show on the top, so she always uses the same color.  I didn't like this idea, but I decided that she was the professional, and, afterall, the back is the back, right?  The frustration of it all was really that the reason I had decided to have her do it was that when I was trying to do it myself, I was getting poke throughs of the top thread to the back, and I couldn't get my tension adjusted right to avoid this.  Now we were intentionally having the thread showing on the back.
Since the quilt is so large, and I was already there, I went ahead and left it.  Her turn around time is great - four weeks!  And she seemed to know what she was talking about, and she came highly recommended.  She must be good if that's all she does, right?
I am a bit nervous, and hope and pray that it turns out okay.  I spent a lot of time cutting and piecing it.  Not to mention the cost of all the fabric, right?  Fabric is so expensive these days - as is everything else!  I don't know about you, but I am shocked every time I get my total at the grocery store!
Anyway, I've been working on this quilt for so long that it feels weird not to have it to work on.  I've started some little owl projects, and am debating doing a craft show with my sister, whose business is called Nine Oh Nine,
My other option is to spend time making a quilt for my son-in-law.  He is the last to join our family and last in line to get a quilt.  The problem is that I am still not sure what quilt to make for him.  My daughter is supposed to let me know.
I guess I will let you know my decision soon.  Happy Creating!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

When At First You Don't Succeed......

Well, I spent a couple hours or more marking my quilt top and pin basting it to the batting and back.  I had my reservations about quilting it myself, but since my husband had purchased me the Sapphire 835 with the bigger harp space, and everyone was saying I should do it myself, I decided to give it a whirl.  I was actually all psyched up about it.
First I got a little frustrated with the marking.  It was tedious at best.  But I marked the main lines that would be hard to do without a guide, and then figured I could use them as starting points and go from there.
The pinning I ended up doing on my breezeway floor, where it was cold and hard on the knees.  But I got it done and headed to the sewing room with my large bundle.
I threaded my machine with the carefully chosen thread from the LQS (that means local quilt shop in quilter's lingo.).  I carefully positioned the quilt under the needle, folded up all the edges (or bunched it up), donned my quilter's gloves and off I went - or so I wish it would have gone.
Immediately, it got hung up.  I quickly stopped and awkwardly pulled the quilt off the machine.  Better do a practice run on a mock up of the project.
I cut some backing from the extra fabric, some batting and a piece of leftover top fabric and made a sandwich.
To save you the grief of having to read about it, and me the grief of reliving this nightmare, I will give you the short version.
After three different needles - a sharp, a quilting needle and a topstitch needle; three different brands of thread (and one trip to JoAnn Fabric in the next town to get said other two brands of thread); rethreading the top thread and the bobbin several times; taking off the darning foot and replacing it; trying every setting of tension numerous times; reading my owner's manual - three hours later, with nothing to show but five sandwiches with the top ecru thread showing through on the brown bottom fabric, I decided to take all the pins out and hire someone to just do a meandering star with their long arm.
I am not happy with my Sapphire 835.  I am still debating on trading it in.  I'd like to be able to FMQ (free motion quilt), because ultimately, that was the purpose of this machine.  It is great at other sewing, but that's not what I wanted it for.
I am disappointed and relieved.  I should have listened to myself.  I really thought a full size quilt was taking on a bit too much with my full-time work and other projects to do.  Everything happens for a reason, right?
But now - what to do about the Sapphire......

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sailing the Blue

October 13, 2014

It’s Columbus Day.  Yay for the day off, but boo for the guy it is honoring.  I don’t know much about history, but I have heard he was real bad!  Anyway, selfishly, it works for me.  Nothing like a three-day weekend - and a paid holiday to boot.  Government jobs my not be the most enthralling, but the holidays are great! 

I woke today with a sore neck.  It alarmed me, because I plan to start quilting my latest project.  Is this an omen? I thought.  Then I remembered that I have been doing yoga planks to strengthen my core.  And I spent an hour on my hands and knees pin-basting the quilt. 

I was looking forward to the day home alone to putz about the house and get into my quilting, but plans have changed.  Thunder and lightning and a nice downpour awakened us.  My husband is a building contractor and had warned me that if it was raining, they wouldn’t be working, as their job this week is a metal roof.  He has been home a lot recently, but not because of the weather – unless you want to say it’s because he has been “under the weather.” 

Last Monday he awoke with a scrotal infection and hydrocele.  I will let you Google that and you will see that it is a very painful and uncomfortable illness.  He is doing much better than he was, at least physically, but his spirits are down.  The pain is almost all gone, but he is not convinced it is getting better. 
I have been trying to be supportive and caring, nurturing and compassionate, but I am feeling a bit at a loss, as I am starting to wonder, too, if more might be done, and the doctors that he has seen are just missing it.  A third doctor may be in the future. 

My husband’s passion is training.  He rides extreme distances (which don’t seem extreme to him anymore) on his road bicycle.  I think this obsession may have something to do with his condition, but he is adamant that it has NOTHING to do with it!  Regardless, he is not able to get on a bike, or run, or swim, and those are the things that make him happy.  He needs, as I feel everyone does, a diverse set of hobbies.  I see elderly people, men especially, who when they lose their physical abilities, become depressed and feel useless.  He does read, and he IS addicted to his iPhone, but it doesn’t feed him like his physical training.  So, if this thing doesn’t hurry up and get better, he is not going to be a happy camper.  Poor guy. 

On a happier note, I have my son’s flag quilt all pieced and now it is sandwiched and pin basted!  I cleaned my sewing machine last night – removing a pile of lint from under the bobbin and surrounding the bobbin case – and I have a new needle inserted.  I have the various colors of top thread set out and my comfy office chair now in position at my sewing desk. 

I moved my Viking Sapphire 835 to the large school desk that we purchased from my husband’s old high school buddy.  He saw it for sale on Facebook and thought of me!  So sweet!  I have been using it with my Viking Lily, but haven’t used it for any large projects yet.  This is where it will really come in handy having all that surface to work on.  I am excited to see how well this works.  It has been several years since I have machine quilted any large quilts.  I had been opting to take them to a lady who does an all over meander quilting with a long arm, but this quilt, the flag quilt, pattern showed the diagram of quilting it, and it looked like something I could handle, especially since my husband insisted on getting me the used Viking Sapphire 835 for Christmas a couple years ago.  It has a larger throat (or harp) space, and it sews faster, too – amongst other features.  My Lily has been a workhorse, and I still love it best, but it’s a bit slow and small. 

I had a little trouble with the 835 at first.  Bird’s nesting on the back of my quilting.  It was horrible and so disappointing, and frustrating!!  So I took it to a nearby dealer, Sew Biz,, where the owner, Donelle, who for $65, cleaned it and said it worked great for her.  She did point out that the bobbin was very specific in its threading.  There is the tiniest little bit of metal lip that you HAVE to get the thread under.  Since then, it has been great!  Although one day I did have it threaded wrong and the top thread kept breaking.  I got out the manual and realized my blunder.  Whew! 

So I am ready to go – EXCEPT – I have to wait for the local quilt shop to open, so I can get the right thread for the bobbin.  Wish I would have thought of that on Saturday instead of on Sunday.  I have two hours to wait.  But hey, anyone who knows me knows that I can find plenty to fill those two hours. 

So Happy Columbus Day!  And Happy Quilting!