Monday, June 25, 2012

JUNE - The Double Challenge with FMQ

The day after my post earlier this month with my practice piece for SewCalGal's Free Motion Quilting Challenge, the old Singer 15-91 was pushed to one corner of the sewing room, and in her place a brand spanking-new Janome Horizon 7700 sat on the cutting table, awaiting its first tryout.  A few days before my birthday my incredibly sweet husband announced that my gift would be a brand-new sewing machine, but I had to choose which one.  Hence, the double June challenge:  to create the block using a brand-new machine - me, who has never used a sewing machine newer than a 1960s Kenmore, and up until two weeks ago the only machines in the house were vintage Singers.  But, this is a year of learning, so cold-turkey it would be.  The new Janome would create the Challenge block presented by our teacher Cindy Needham.  There were a few adventures along the way, as you will soon see, with breaking threads and a fabric or batting, not sure which, that was determined to bunch up and create wrinkles across the top of the design.  So, this is how we progressed through the challenge, my Janome and me ...

Day 1

I started by drawing a 10 1/2 inch circle, added a few flowing lines and some spikey leaves and quilted those - probably my first mistake was not pinning more closely and completely enclosing the circle, trapping the fabric which either stretched or shifted while quilting.

Day 2

Drew and filled in feathers, added a couple more dividing lines.  Beginning to really spot some problem areas to be conquered.  Another lesson:  drawing too many lines close together gets really confusing when under the FMQ foot! 
Day 3

Drew grid and filled in with "Diane Shiko."  Big puffy areas becoming even more prominent, yet I like where the design is going.  Wet areas showing here from spritzing the blue washout lines.

Day 6 (or maybe 7?)  this morning around 6:30

I'm thinking this circle "block" is about finished, having stippled and curlique'd some of the worst puffs into relative submission.  A few ripples and small pleats seemed unavoidable however.
This is the back.
And here's a close-up.  Can see that there are a few areas around the upper right feather that still need background fill - another day.

Now to ponder awhile about how to quilt a border around all this so the final piece will be rectangular.  But that won't be finished this month, so this is my June entry.

Happy to report bonding with Janome is progressing well, though we're still working on finding that magic 'humm-purr.'  That will probably happen once the drop-in table arrives from the warehouse across the country.  The machine is still sitting on my cutting table and too high to FMQ comfortably.

I LOVED this month's challenge.  A big THANK YOU! to Cindy Needham, our most excellent tutorial expert, and to SewCalGal who goes above and beyond making this huge challenge such a success!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Just Messing Around

Two posts in one day!  Not likely to happen again until the next total solar eclipse but just had to share the fun!

The June tutorial for SewCalGal's Free-Motion Quilting Challenge is provided by Cindy Needham who creates stunning works of art incorporating vintage and antique linens and fine free-motion quilting.  Cindy has even joined our FMQ Challenge Facebook page, providing personal advice and encouragement as we begin to explore her tutorial - now, how wonderful is that!   Thank you Cindy!   (Links to both SeweCalGal's FMQ Challenge and Cindy's blog can be found on the right-hand side bar.)

Anyway, after a morning of tedious black-on-black FMQ outlining on my current project, an empty bobbin presented an opportunity to attempt to regain some hum-purr with my machine and try out a few of the tutorial designs.  I proceeded to mark a 3/4 inch grid on the last quarter of my big practice sandwich, then gridlock set in, literally, as I and my machine did not hum-purr through those little lined squares but promptly made a mess of them.  Not to worry though, permission granted to ignore the remaining grid lines and just go for it!  Playtime!  Can say that I don't think I've ever had this much FUN doing FMQ!  Now, the results you see below aren't art-worthy, though they may be kitty mat-worthy after binding, but that wasn't the point!  Hum-purr regained! 

Top, with the blue grid lines still showing, quilted on my 1942 Singer 15-91.  Some sort of polyfill batting that puffs rather nicely, Aurifil Mako 50 for both top and bobbin.

Another view of the top - little squares kind of drunken spider-webby.

 Reverse side.
Reverse close-up.

This month's challenge is going to be a blast!   Now, back to quilting ...

A few of my favorite (sewing) things

Do you have a favorite sewing collectible?  Vintage rick-rack, laces, 1930s feed sack fabrics, etc.?  My vintage Singer collection began about 15 years ago when we were out looking for an inexpensive bedside stand, and DH spotted a suitable table with Queen Anne legs in an upstairs corner of a local second-hand shop.  We soon discovered said table was a sewing stand complete with a vintage black Singer machine inside.  Priced at $20.25 (everything in the shop had that 25 cent extension).  We asked if the machine was in running condition and the proprietor obligingly carried it downstairs for us since there were no electrical outlets in the upstairs of that huge old barn.  We plugged it in and it purred.  Sold!  That machine turned out to be a 1951 Singer 201 Centennial edition - often reported to be one of Singer's best models.  Still my favorite go-to machine for piecing and general sewing, it was later joined by a 1952 Featherweight, then other Singer models ranging from a 1907 treadle to the early 1960s 401 and 503 Rocketeer models.

So, how to decorate a sewing room housing all these vintage beauties?   More vintage Singer, of course, plus other vintage textile related lovelies!   Here are a few of my favorites:  vintage magazine ads, early postcards, needle cards, etc.

Page from McCall's April 1929 issue, featuring the Singer Library Table with a new electric Model 101 machine.

Needle cards ranging from early 1920s through 1950s.

Early Singer postcards with vintage lace mounted on fabric, with 1950s frames from my parents' home.

Full page ad and close-up, Good Housekeeping April 1945.  Love this ad!

So, do you have a sewing or quilting collectible?  What makes you smile when you walk into your sewing room or nook?