Thursday, June 26, 2014

Some Bernina....

dealers are spammers.  I keep getting spam from various Bernina Dealers.  What's up with that? 

I delete them but it still irritates me. 


Sunday, June 22, 2014


...doing other things: vacuuming, swabbing a toilet, shaving my legs, cooking supper.   Just the same, I finally managed to install the quilt on the frame today.  I made several mistakes with this quilt.  Perhaps only one.  I washed the quilt top after I pieced it.  The seams unraveled and created a mess on the back.  There were multitude thread nests.  I spent over an hour last night trimming them off.   I don't think the Bailey would tolerate them.

It took me about an hour to sew the zip leaders on to the quilt top and back this morning.  Prep work is crucial; not unlike a nice paint job.  Spend the time prepping the quilt for installation on the frame and your time actually quilting is more enjoyable.  I am still intimidated by this process.  I had cut up an old sheet and used the strips for "leaders" for the zippers.  I sewed the zipper onto one edge of the strip and sewed the edge of the sheet to the quilt top, thus preserving the zipper tape.  I found that I was not so accurate when I cut the sheet.  Other quilts have not mounted to the frame evenly.  I spent some time yesterday making a new leader from a "striped" sheet.  The stripes were woven into the fabric and difficult to see.  I had planned to make new leaders for all of the zippers from this sheet but changed my mind after the first one.  I ordered some cotton ticking instead and will use that to upgrade the zipper leaders. 

I panicked a bit this morning when I zipped the quilt onto the frame.  The back was way out of square, or so I thought.  I thought that I would have to remove the zipper from the back and acutally square it up by cutting it.  Bull shit.  I was not undoing work.  Instead I wound the back and top onto the take up rail and found that it was not out of square at all.  The center of the quilt back is pieced and it has much less "stretch" factor than the rest of the back. I had washed it after I pieced it, too. Same mistake.  I think that created some shrinkage.  I wound the back onto its take up rail and stretched and smoothed the center part as I did so.  This took additional time but the result was worth it.  The quilt back is tidily wound onto its rail and the quilt top "floats" on top of it and the batting.  Next quilt I will take photos,  I promise.

While it is true the TBHITW (The Best Husband In The World) recently returned from a trip to California and is about to go off to Vermont for a few days, he did take the time yesterday to make blocks for the frame so that it is 3 1/2 inches higher.  I am 5'7" (I am probably really 5'6" but at 5'7" my BMI is lower) and I would have to bend over or really spread my legs out to get a good view of the needle  The additional 3.5 inches makes a huge difference.

Steve cut a 4 inch block of pressure treated lumber into 4 inch high blocks.  Then he drilled out a hole in the center of each about 1/2 inch deep so that the feet on the frame would sit inside.  We had to adjust for level and that, my friends, was a PITA.  I had glued some felt on to the bottom of each block.  This was good for floor protection but bad for frame stability.  We had leveled the frame together.  Steven lifted the frame while I adjusted the feet.  According to the 6 foot level, all was good.  I discovered, however, that a couple of feet weren't even touching the bottom of the hole.  I adjusted them (finally figuring out how to get a little wrench in there to do it).  Steven proclaimed that I was creating another problem and putting the frame out of level. 

"The only way to do the fine tuning is to have the machine on the frame and do it then."

"I don't think so.  I don't see how I can adjust these with the machine in place."

I hate it when he is right.  I moved the machine down the frame and found that it wanted to list toward the back of the frame in one spot.  Damn.  I had to adjust that foot (opposite the one I had raised up earlier).  Of course, could I remember which way made the stupid foot go up?  Nope.  I had to ask T and E (Trial and Error) to help.  Now I know;  righty higher, lefty lower). The frame wobbled too much, too. It was sliding on the floor.  I thought the rug anti slip material was a brilliant idea.

I took my first stitches this afternoon.  The machine is working well and the stitches look even.  I don't see much tension problem. I am winding my own bobbins on my favorite machine; Kenmore 158.1760.  It seems a shame to relegate this lovely machine to bobbin winding only.  For now, though, it is the best solution.  I need a perfectly wound bobbin for good stitches.  I could use pre-wounds but the color choice is limited.  When I get some time I will set up a 15-91 and see how it does.

I am not an expert machine quilter.  I am not an artist.  I don't doodle well.  I can meander quite nicely but other designs defy me.  Somewhere I learned about muscle memory as the key to being a decent quilter.  I believe it.  I have quilted several quilts with the random, meandering design.  I feel comfortable with it.  I would like to learn spirals and flowers and, of course, feathers.  Some people use pattern boards.  I don't see the point.

Back of quilt.  Meandering design
Do you see the lighter thread poking through?  Likely those stitches will nest into the batting when the quilt is off the frame ( I hope, I hope, I hope).
Quilt top. Spiral attempt.      

Top stitches look fairly decent
I was heading in to the house to have a glass of wine when I looked back and saw this.  You can see how I am improving even with the little bit of practice.  Now that the quilt is on the frame I can have some fun.  I guess it was worth the effort, albeit challenging.  I must remind myself that I am yet a novice. 


Friday, June 20, 2014


The quilt top is pieced.  I don't have any decent place to hang it and the frame is not ready for prime time so I had to drape it over the fabric rack.
 It has been hanging there a week.  I reckon I will have to press it again.  Sigh.  I think, though, that I will do it in the apartment just before I mount the top on the frame.  There are no rugs out there and the bamboo floor is new and sweeps up easily; translation: NO LINT.

I finished piecing the back today.  Lots of lint.  It has not yet been pressed.  I used up the extra strips and made some DNP blocks.  I would have had to piece the back any way.  It looks much better in real time.  Wilson doesn't really like it.  He was waiting to go in to the house.  Supper time.
I am going to pop this in washer on gentle cycle tomorrow.  I washed the teal fabric but the not the others.  Then, if all goes well, I can get this on the frame and start quilting. 

I interrupted this project to work on some bibs for bebe.  I bought some PUL from  The celery green is nice and neutral.  Personally, I love the Michael Miller pink daisy peace sign PUL.  I lined them both with flannel.  Quick little projects.  I used one I bought from the Evil Empire as a pattern.  I just traced around it and cut out the paper pattern from some poster paper.  I love my Kam Snaps.  What fun!  PUL is not easy to sew.  I switched to the Kenmore because it has stretch stitch capability, but I found that the Singer 15-90 treadle did just as well.  I kept the stickier side toward the feed dogs, otherwise the foot would drag on the fabric.  The manufactured one had seam binding on the edge.  I prefer to sew the wrong sides together and then right side out and top stitch.  

 Now that I have been sewing for weeks, I am having machine repair blues.  No problem.  I have to clean and oil the serger as well as the Bailey.  That practice quilt threw up a whole lot of lint.  I wonder what the shuttle gears look like. I don't want to start on another quilt until I clean that lint out.  There never is enough time.   I have discovered, though, that if I don't vacuum, cook, groom dogs or shave my legs, I have about three extra hours per week.  

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Pressing Problem

I have been making lots of quilts lately.  I had five in process.  I finished a practice, scrappy quilt so now I am down to four: Molly's quilt, the baby's quilt, the OBW and another scrappy, practice quilt.

 I started quilting this May 18.  I worked on it quite frequently, almost every day.  I think that I had quilted about half of it when I had to put it away Memorial Day weekend.  We needed the guest apartment.   I just moved the whole kit-n-kaboodle up against one wall in the apartment. That Wednesday, when I moved the frame back into the middle of the apartment, I discovered that it was about a half a bubble off.  YUP.  Out of level.  I spent some time leveling it.  Well worth the effort.  The machine rode much more smoothly on the frame and I was much more comfortable quilting.  I practiced some feathers (I have a long way to go) some spirals (not my favorite) and some flowers. 

 I think that I like the flowers for Molly's quilt and the baby's quilt.  If I do Molly's quit first, I should have lots of practice by the time I get to the baby's quilt.

Molly's quilt top is pieced.  I only have the outer borders to attach before I can declare that finished and put it on the frame. 

A disappearing 9 patch goes together quickly  There is a fair amount of cutting, but if you strip piece the blocks, it isn't too bad.  I tend to get confused by the time I get to the actual block construction.  I had to rip out a couple of blocks, even after I had sewn them all together in the row.  Steven suggested that I leave it.  I just couldn't.

 I think that I will not quilt at all in the small, pink squares.  I think that the thread will clash.  I suppose I could use a light pink thread, but I am inclined to use some shade of blue and avoid those squares entirely.  BUT, I wonder if that will make them stand out even more.  I suppose that I could experiment on some scraps.

As you can see, there are many seams in this quilt.  When I pieced the long strips together, I pressed the seams to one side.  When I pieced the nine patch, likewise.  When I pieced the cut blocks together I pressed some seams open.  I tried pressing all the seams to one side on one square.  I just didn't like the look.   My pressing problem?  I don't know which is proper and considered correct in the quilting world.
I did NOT  pre-wash the fabric. This might be considered sacrilegious in quilting circles.  I don't care.  I used to prewash and then press all of my fabric.  What a PITA.   I did pre-wash the backing fabric.  I used some of it for the inner border.  When this is all pieced, I will washt he quilt top and press it before I  put it on the frame.  I have used some "Best Press" spray throughout the construction of this quilt.  I like how it smells and I like the little bit of stiffness it gives the fabric. (Home made spray starch made from Water and Vodka would do the same, and be much cheaper)   I think it helps with accurate piecing and cutting.  But it has to come out or else it will create problems on the frame.

All of this sewing has kept me from machines.  Once I finish the two D9Ps I will get back to machines.  It will be hotter then and the loft won't be as comfortable as the shop.  By then, I am sure I will pretty tired of quilting and sewing.  For a while.

Monday, June 2, 2014


MADE IN TAIWAN: Kenmore 10 stitch

I have been trying for weeks to get this post up.  I wish that I had taken more photos and when I get a MINUTE to breathe I will try to take a photo of the clutch knob.  I have been sewing and traveling to Boston and working, so it isn't as if I have been slacking.  I just haven't been blogging.  

This is a good little machine.  True it was made in Taiwan but it is quiet (now) and sews well.
I wouldn't sew upholstery fabric on it, but it probably could handle small projects.  I had to adjust the belt a little bit to quiet it down.  Honestly, when I was showing it to a neighbor, it sounded like a dentist's drill.  A little adjustment, and it was fine. 

I hav a 12 Stitch that looks just like this one.  The hand wheel just wasn't right.  It felt too stiff.  The same neighbor showed some  interest in the machine and I was trying to get it ready for her. I kept adjusting the belts but could not get it right.  Too loose and it sounded like the drill.  Too tight and it bogged the motor. 

Kenmores have a two pulley system to make them stronger.  To adjust the lower belt, one must loosen the motor mount and turn the pulley screws TO THE RIGHT.

As you can see in the above picture, there is only one belt attached.  That's because once, after loosening the motor belt, I forgot that this is a lefty tighty and turned  the screw too far  to the right.

Clink.  And the whole pulley came out in my hand.  Uh Oh.  Something dropped in the back.  A rectangular shaped nut.  Oh Sh!t.  No worry.  I have a parts machine.  I can look at that and see how it fits.
OH ! That's easy, and I got it back together.

But before I did that I figured that I might as well take the belt drive off and clean it and the shaft to see if I could get that d r a g out of the hand wheel.   That didn't fix it so I took the clutch knob apart.  OOPS.  I had done this before, I thought to myself just as I lifted out the clutch and the springs spit out the ball bearings and they flew across the room.

SH!T.  Oh right.  The parts machine.  I took its clutch knob and installed in on the 12 stitch.

Sews like a dream.  Nice and quiet, but still a bit sluggish.  I tweaked the belt ONE MORE TIME and now I am happy.  I wonder if my neighbor is still interested?  If not, well, it is a lovely machine.  I can always use it as my class machine.