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.