July 31, 2010

This Bernina is HOT

Well, the pedal is hot, and not in a good way. Here you can see me stopped, suddenly and without warning, mid-project. While taking stock of the situation I touched the pedal and it was hot hot hot. Overheated? Possibly. I calmly but efficiently embarked upon a rash of phone calls, soul searching, number crunching and sewing machine review reading.

Hours later, with the pedal cool again, the machine ran again just fine. But for how long? This Bernina 830  threw an equally annoying fit two years ago. I am considering my options. The little one is going to be accompanying me to lots of sewing machine shops, that's all I know for sure. It will all work out.

July 30, 2010

Can I interest you in some thread?

Wait, not that thread. But it sure is pretty, huh?

There we go. What you see here is three spools of YLI variegated machine quilting thread. I had to wind two of them back up but I don't recall ever using any of them and they appear to be full spools. The color ways are California Poppy, Caffe Romano and Rio de Janiero. I really like this thread. It is thicker than most other threads, which means it rarely breaks. And, the colors are rich and beautiful.

I just have too much thread and wanted to offer a little giveaway for my regular blog readers. To enter, comment on this post regarding free motion quilting. If you free motion quilt, what resource (website, book) has been most helpful to you? If you don't free motion quilt, what concerns or questions do you have about free motion quilting? I'll leave this up for a few days at least.

July 26, 2010

To work, with hexagons

This is how I get to work.

Sometimes, when I can tear myself away from all your blogs and swearing at how hard it is to comment with my iPhone, I might do some hand sewing. I took this picture admiring three flatty flat flat hexagons that I had just sewn together.

I then proceeded to document how I sew them together using a ladder stitch, which has always served me well with applique and other areas requiring an invisible stitch. I had to wait for the bus to stop to get clear pictures. Click on the pictures if you need to see them larger.

The first stitch. I erred just to the seam allowance side of the folded edges, and I did not experience any of the puckering that Christina described at the PMQG meeting using this stitch. I think that might have made the difference.

The second stitch goes in directly opposite where the first stitch came out. And so on.

When you get to the other edge, lay the hexagons flat. The stitches will be loose between them. Gently pull the thread until the stitches disappear.

One side done. But now to get over to stitch up the other side...

I just ran the needle along the seam allowance back to the starting corner. This is to save time and also use one continuous piece of thread instead of many knotted threads which could, as Christina pointed out, come undone.

Four little hexagons, snuggled up together!

July 24, 2010

Hexagon critters

Here are the straggling hexagon critters, lovingly rescued by Megan and delivered to me along with some gift hexies of her own! Thank you Megan!

All this stuff was embroidered without a pattern, as I went. I think that's pretty apparent when you look at this sheep. Ugh. What's wrong with it? Something terrible.

I have so many more of these little guys I want to make. A fish, elephant, crab, etc. If you make any of these critters yourself please let me know, I'd love to see them!

July 22, 2010

Chirp if you love green!

This is my block to inspire my bee mates in "Sew Scrappy Sew Happy" for July - my month! My inspiration is the forest, with little bits of sky and sunlight peeping through. Improvised log cabins are so freeing. Making a block feels like making a little masterpiece. I really do ponder each scrap. Just imagine Winnie the Poo poking his head and muttering "think, think, think".

This quilt was the answer to two equally important questions. What do I do with this bird fabric from Ikea?  And, why is my stack of green fabrics so much taller than all my other stacks?

Problems solved! Here are the little strips in their not-too-carefully considered piles. I am thrilled to see how this all goes down.

July 21, 2010


Once upon a time I was pregnant. That was a billion years ago. Or two. I forget. Anyway, I went to the Northwest Quilting Expo, and bought two charm packs of different fabric lines. I have no idea why I did this. Let's blame the pregnancy. Because in truth, quilts made straight from designer charm packs bore me. I am not trying to be mean or judgy. I just want more creative input with my projects; choosing, cutting, etc. So. I wondered what to do with my bizarre purchase.

Step 1: pulled out the fabrics that I liked, unloaded the rest on another quilter
Step 2: added some more fabrics from my collection that coordinated with the vintage feel and color scheme
Step 3: sewed into nine patch blocks, with a red fabric in the center of each block.
Step 4: cut nine patch blocks into four smaller "disappearing nine patch" blocks.

Hmmmm....still a bit boring. And small. I have no idea what finished size I am aiming for, as usual. I am planning to add some more fabrics from my stash, in squares the size of the pieced blocks, to interrupt the predictability. I'm not sure what to do after that. I think more red and black are in order. Maybe spacing the blocks out with some sashing would help too. Anyway, I've gotten beyond the mindless sewing phase of this quilt and am in the design dilemma phase so it will probably sit around for two years while I ponder my options.

By the way, I am tinkering with the blog to make it look a little cleaner, and I updated my blog roll too. Please let me know if I've made any terrible mistakes!

July 19, 2010

I may regret this

Thanks for all the sweet comments about the hexagon critters! It's been so fun seeing that other people are excited about them like I am.  In other news, I joined a flickr quilting bee group. The name of the group is "Sew Scrappy Sew Happy". How could I not?

Here is the block I made for the first month. The next month is mine! The regretting might start some time after that. A whole year is a long time to stay on top of things, but I think I am up for the challenge.

July 17, 2010

Reconned toddler dress

My favorite sewing is sewing that doesn't involve hemming. Oh yeah, or patterns. I hate those things.

Sewing old tee shirts into new things fits the bill nicely.

I wrestled my daughter into this as soon as it was done and she immediately tried to pull it back over her head. "Ah! Ah!" She cried, telling me to take it off.

Apparantly I had not left enough arm room. But a quick trip to the sewing room and problem solved.

This is the only process pic I took but you can pretty much figure it out from this one picture. Sew sleeves to front and back corners. Sew up side seams - but not all the way or the arm holes will not be big enough. Fold inward all around the neckline and inner sleeves to sew one continuous casing and insert elastic. Done. Three steps. Maybe a few more. Who's counting?

July 15, 2010


These little guys debuted tonight at the Portland Modern Quilt Guild meeting, where they were inadvertently left, along with some of their pals who I haven't even gotten to photograph yet! I'll post again when they make their way home.

These were the end result of asking myself, in my instant-gratification-all-the-time sort of way, "what could I do with just one hexagon?"

After toying with the idea a while I realized it was very similar in approach to a book by Ed Emberley about making thumbprint drawings that I had as a child. Oh just looking at that cover is giving me more ideas.

Hello new obsession.

The hedgehog was my first and is still my favorite. Which may have more to do with my secret hedgehog obsession than anything else.

July 09, 2010

July 07, 2010

Scrap wrangling

I recently pawed through all my scraps and relegated them to separate bins by color.

I figure this will help me make more crumb blocks.

I had to combine yellow with off white, orange with brown, and purple with pink, because there's a lot of overlap in those colors. Black and white are together as well.

Part of me wonders if this is too much organization. But the truth is, when I go into my scrap bin, it's usually for a particular color. So why not have scraps already sorted by color?

July 05, 2010

Free motion quilting revisted

I really enjoy free motion quilting.  It is not as hard as you might think.

I've taught four people to free motion quilt so far. Three of them took it and ran with it and I love seeing their quilting, I think it's better than mine. The fourth was my grandma and she decided she would rather just let someone else quilt her quilts so she could focus on the part she likes best: piecing. Can't argue with that.

I originally learned to free motion quilt from Kathy Sandbach, who has a book about free motion quilting. It was a two-morning workshop at the Northwest Quilting Expo. Kathy does not have a long arm quilting machine so I thought she was the perfect person to teach me to quilt on my home machine.

Things get a little tight when you get into the middle of the quilt but it is doable!

This project brought me face to face with some tension problems with the Bernina. I can't explain why the thread would be in tension, then suddenly out, then back in again. I had to rip out more stitches than I would have liked.  Do you see that below? Maddening.

I would simply assume that it needs servicing, but it was just serviced less than two years ago and I've only quilted two and a half quilts since then. If I have to spend $90 servicing this machine every two quilts that is going to make me bonkers.

Makes me fantasize about a new quilting machine.

Anyway, I feel very passionately about free motion quilting. I'm good at it, and I've had good luck teaching it to others. I decided while quilting this quilt that I would like to teach a free motion class in the future. So that's a personal goal I set for myself to make happen in the next two years. Having said that, please ponder why this octopus is wearing eyeglasses. Ah....they can't all be winners.