Monday, September 14, 2020

Pickle Dish and Mariners Compass in one quilt

My small quilt group, which is only 4 people now who are willing to meet face to face, decided to challenge ourselves to make the same quilt with our own colors and then compare to see how we interpreted the design.  The quilt that one of them picked is a combination of a mariner's compass and a pickle dish pattern and was originally a 118" x 118" quilt.  Cowabunga!  None of us wanted one that huge.  Me especially, since I've said quite a few times in the last few years that I didn't want to make big quilts anymore.  I guess my ability to stick with my decisions is overcome by the excitement of a challenge.  Here's a poor picture of the quilt that they wanted to make.  It was published by Fons and Porter; the quilt was by Heather Kimpel Costen.

I decided that to make it smaller but still be large enough for a bed.  In order to compare with my friends, it just needed to have an entire row removed on the top and bottom.  This would make it about 87" x 87".  I also decided that I wanted to add a solid border that would alleviate the problem of all the tiny points and seams at the edges of the quilt.

Did I say that I used to teach the pickle dish pattern years ago in Portland, Oregon?  Yes, and the very first pickle dish that I made was hand pieced and hand quilted and was based on an antique quilt that was made by a friend's grandmother in Georgia.  I've made 4 quilts with this pattern, and probably have worked on a few more during classes.  I also have made a mariner's compass quilt that was hand pieced and hand quilted during a Jinny Beyer class.  Needless to say, this one will NOT be hand pieced or hand quilted.  I may even alter the pattern to get the points slightly away from the edges.

Keeping reading to see what I did with this pattern.

Friday, September 11, 2020

You Get What You Pay For in Sewing Machines

 One of my neighbors came to me for advice on making face masks.  She's a beginning sewer that is trying to do the right thing for herself and her friends under the COVID-19 pandemic.  I think her sewing machine might actually belong to her mother.  But for sure it is a cheap sewing machine, costing around $100.  She's had one problem after another, and most of the problems are due to the machine.  It can't hold the tension, and gets all out of whack about every other day.  

I'm so glad that I was able to help her get the machine operating again.  I thought that it might be full of lint, but she has been diligent about keeping it clean.  The first time  I worked on it, it was set for a slight zig-zag stitch and the top tension was too loose.  I gave her some better thread and a new needle and gave it back to her once the stitch looked right again.

Recently, she called me over because it was in the ditch again.  I went over with my sewing machine screw driver because she was having tension problems again.   Her bobbin case tension was so loose, the screw was practically ready to fall out.   Believe it or not, it was a tiny Phillips-head screw, and the cheap machine didn't come with a tool to tighten the screw.   So I came back home to get some eyeglass screw drivers.   Since I have a mechanical engineering degree, I love to tinker with mechanical things.  But it also drives me crazy that somebody designed the bobbin case this way.  It doesn't mater that it is a cheap machine.  Some poor beginning sewer will think it's all her problem and maybe will stop sewing forever.  

Bytes: Origins: Phillips Head screw

OK, I'm off my soapbox.

The lesson is that you get what you pay for.  Cheap machines are so inferior that they make it hard to sew.  I have been a dyed in the wool Bernina Sewing Machine fan for years.  As soon as I had some money I was ready to upgrade from my Mother's Singer Sewing Machine from the 1950's, I bought my first Bernina.  I think I'm on my 4th one now.  And not because they broke down.  I've been upgrading as the machines have more capability and larger throat spaces.  My current machine is a 570 Quilter's Edition, and I also have my 440 Quilter's Edition to take on retreats. And they both came with a screw driver that fits the bobbin case.  My oldest back-up machine is a Singer featherweight, which is a little gem.  Even that one came with a sewing machine screw driver.  

I hope you use a sewing machine that is reliable, and if you're like me, you own a Bernina (or two).

Monday, September 7, 2020

Piped Binding - Final

This is a continuation of the post about adding piped binding to a quilt.  Again, I didn't invent this technique and it has been handed down by a friend who learned it from Ricky Tims who learned it from Sherri Driver who learned it from Debra Wagner.  Whew!  That's a long of hand me downs!

The last blog post showed how to prepare the piped binding.  This will show you how to attach it to the quilt... all by machine.

Place the binding on the back side of the quilt and sew with a scant 1/2" seam.  Fold the corners at 45 degrees and mark the line.  Be sure to start and stop at this fold line.

I used my walking foot and moved the needle position 2 clicks to the left, so that this scant 1/2" seam was achievable by lining up the edge of the quilt with the edge of the walking foot.

Miter the corners in a few steps.  Fold the horizontal binding twice and mark the center fold line.  Fold the quilt on the diagonal.  Using a corner mark-it tool, or any 45/90 degree ruler, draw the sewing line.  Sew on this line and trim the seams.

Turn the biding to the front side of the quilt, and poke out the corners.

Using the #10 edge stitch foot, stitch right in the ditch on the front side between the piping and the binding.

OK, here's how I felt about this technique when I was done.  It was VERY finicky and the tiny piping is hardly noticeable on the finished quilt.  I would probably NOT do this technique again.  I actually like to sew on binding and doing faux piping might just satisfy me.

That's it.  I do hope you try new techniques, even if they don't eventually go into your bag of favorite tricks.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Binding with piped edge

One of my friends recently completed a top with a tiny piped edge and I really liked it.  She learned the technique from Ricky Tims several years ago.  He credited the original method to Sherri Driver, who in turn learned it from Debra Wagner.  So credit is being given where credit is due.  Don't you find that you pick up hints and tricks all the time?  Not too many of my techniques are original.   Some are derivatives for sure.  But most are things that I've learned and wanted to pass along to you.

I used the #10 and the #32 feet on the Bernina, size #3 pearl cotton embroidery thread for the cording, cut the piping strips at 1" wide and the binding strips at 3-5/8" wide.

The first step was to insert the piping inside the piping binding.  This is where the #32 cording foot was used as well as moving the needle 2 positions to the right.

The second step was to attach the piping to the binding.  The same foot and needle position were used for this step.  I also placed some painter's tape at 1-5/8 inches to the right of the needle (keep the needle in the same position and measure from that spot).

Then you need to press the binding so that the piping sticks out.  Here it is on the back side.

And this is what it looks like on the front side.

That is how the piped binding was prepared.  The way to attach this to the quilt is in the next blog post.

So stay tuned!

Monday, August 24, 2020

Reflection at Nehalem Bay - Part One

I took a picture of a fabulous reflection at Nehalem Bay State Park a few years ago.  It was just dumb luck of being at the right place at the right time and I snapped this photo with my Iphone.  The beach is one of those lovely wide, flat, sandy beaches and when the tide is going out or coming in, you get this thin layer of shimmering water, which is perfect for reflections.  At this state park, you do have to hike out to the end of the spit and then walk back on the beach (or visa versa) and sometimes you see campers riding horses, which is just fabulous.  My husband and I liked  the picture so much that we converted it to black and white and had it enlarged and framed; it is now hanging on one of our walls.

Since I have painted so many small pieces of flowers and bees on flowers, I wanted to challenge myself to paint a much larger piece.  So, this was the one that I selected.  I traced the picture as an    8-1/2" x 11" size.  Then I took it to my favorite blueprint shop, Rose City Blueprint and had it enlarged to 32" x 43".  I used the blueprint (which is actually not blue anymore but black lines on white paper) to trace the design onto prepared for dying (PFD) fabric.  This was mounted onto a large sheet of foam core board and taped securely around the edges.  Side note:  In order to get foam core in this size, you have to go to a store that carries the larger size, such as FedEx Printing.  My husband was able to find a piece that was 36" x 48", which I believe is used for marketing posters.

I mixed up a bunch of blue, white, and brown fabric paint and dived right into the painting.  It took 3 days to get the painting done and when it dried, it bowed up the foam core board.  Here's a picture of it after the paint was dry.

The foreground was way too vivid, as I suspected that it might be.  So, I mixed up a gray wash and went over the foreground.  Here it is after the gray wash.  It's much better, don't you think?  If you do painting like this, you must let the first layer dry.  The watery wash will stay where you put it then; otherwise it will wick and feather out into the adjoining areas.

I had success in a previous quilt using organza to give some shine and to further dull a foreground.  So, this one got a layer of a light gray organza to give it the watery effect.  Here is a picture after the organza was sewn to the watery bottom.  It's hard to see the shine in the picture, but seen in person, it definitely has some sheen.

I hope you like this piece so far. I'm off to get it quilted next.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Turtle wall hanging

My sister Jeanne started to make her first foundation pieced wall hanging for her daughter.  She did a fabulous job of piecing the turtle top, but found that the quilting was just a little beyond her skill set.   So she mailed me the top, the backing, and some extra fabric for the binding.  Here is the top that she sent to me.

She had made some markings of where she was going to quilt the piece but said that it was up to me whether I wanted to follow the markings or quilt it a different way.  I did like the way she had the turtle marked and used that as a starting point for the quilting.  The background was quilted in the same amount of density, but with meandering stitch.

Here is the completed quilt.  It measures 36" x 36".

I hope both she and her daughter like the results.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Lime green 3-D quilt, Final

This is the final blog about the making of the lime green 3-D quilt.

The quilt needed to have lines that enhanced the 3-D effect, and I liked using just plain old gray thread.

Here it is in progress;

And the final quilt.  There's a very skinny pop of lime green piping just inside the border.  It's 51" x 51".

I hope you like it.