Thursday, December 31, 2015

From Gramma's Kitchen : Egg Beater

From Gramma's Kitchen - Made with Love : Vintage Egg Beater

Gramma Matucheski used to make home made eggnog for me and my brother all year long.  
She would mix up eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla and we had a tasty, foamy snack to drink. 
Now, my mom (a Public Health Director for 25 years) would have a bird knowing we were eating raw eggs!  Somehow we survived our childhoods. ;-)

I found this treasure in my friend Karla Seaver's kitchen.  She was kind enough to let me take a photo.  It's been a while since I've played around with PSE and texture layers.  I am in the process of upgrading from PSE10 to PSE14, so I wanted to remind myself that I can still do it, before everything changes in the new version and I get bogged down in frustration ...  Wish me luck!

Here's the processing recipe for the above image :

Layer 1) Background Image
Layer 2) Copy background image for RadLab : Prettyizer - El Captain Crunch - Bullet Tooth
Layer 3) 2 Lil Owls Texture  - Artisan Collection - Big Set 2-1(4)    - Soft Light 82%
Layer 4) Sweet Leaf Alcahol Ink Texture #43 (Mine!) - Soft Light 69%
Layer 5) Kim Klassen Texture Serendipity - Soft Light 72%

From the Deli : Board Basting a Quilt Sandwich Revisited

Right Sides Together created a handy infographic to explain board basting a quilt sandwich :

In her post about it, RST describes board basting as a "game-changer."  I have to agree.  It was never my favorite part of quilting--trying to find an open space large enough to work, not wanting to be on the floor hunched over and uncomfortable in more ways than one ...  Board Basting is so much easier and quicker!  And it can be done on a table-top.

Here are some pics from the most recent quilt I board basted on our dining room table (not on the floor -- yeah!).  I did have to add the 2 leaves to the table as the quilt was a twin size :

Winding on the quilt top face up (backwards on the board).  
On the board, you see the wrong-side (seam side) up/out.  That's what we want.
Wind it on until the whole quilt top is wound around the board.
Set aside.

Using painter's tape to secure the leading edge onto the basting board.
A good start helps keep the fabric winding on straight.

Winding the quilt backing onto the basting board - wrong-side up -- which means, right-side shows on the wound board.   I like to use the wide quilt backings so I don't have to piece backings to be large enough to fit.  These work very well!

Turn the boards around to UNwind them.  Here the backing unwinds with wrong-side up.

I fluff the batting in the dryer after I take it out of the package.  This helps to release the wrinkles and smooth it out.  Layer the batting on top of the backing and let it free float over the backing and the backing board -- after smoothing it out.   The excess batting flows over the edge of the table onto a couple of dining room chairs.  I use Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 Batting.  It "sticks" to the fabrics, which helps keep things in place until I pin baste.  Then start unwinding the top - again, smoothing everything as you go. 
Here the quilt top board is unwound until it meets the backing board underneath the batting where they kind of nest together for the duration ...

After the backing, batting, and quilt top are layered and smoothed, it's time to start basting the layers together.  I prefer to use safety pins for this step.

Pin Basting.

Move the pin-basted section to the edge of the table.  You can roll it up, or let it hang over the edge. Then flip the batting up and out of the way so that you can unwind a new section of backing. The boards will help make sure things stay flat and straight--that's assuming your boards are straight to begin with.

Smooth the free-floating batting over the newly opened backing.  This batting "sticks" to the fabric, which I've always found very helpful.

Unwind a new section of the quilt top to correspond with the "opened" batting and backing.  Smooth things out as you go.  The boards make this remarkably hassle-free!

Here's the last little bit of the quilt top.  I cut it close with the batting.  Ideally, I should have a little more batting to hang over the edges.  But you see how nice and straight things stay with the basting boards.  It's so nice!

Here you can see the already pin-basted sectioned rolled up on the upper left side of this picture.
Sandwiched, basted and reasonably stable.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Free-Motion Quilt Suspension System and Other Pain-Free Quilting Modifications

Yesterday, my husband helped me set up a Free-motion Quilt Suspension System, designed to reduce the drag of quilting a bed-size quilt on a domestic sewing machine.  

I just love Pinterest for all the great DIY ideas you can glean.   I came across this idea a few years ago when Chris Lynn Kirsch shared a quilt floating system on her blog, but I wasn't crazy about using chains.  Then more recently, Leah Day came up with a different take on the idea, stemming back to Caryl Bryer Fallart's Quilt Suspension Thingie (really, that's what she calls it).     Patsy Thompson talks about her hang-it-up system.

This lady even used dog grooming arms to pick up the quilt and stop the drag.   I also like her idea of using muslin clamps from the world of photography.

This lady used PVC pipe to build a frame around her work space.  Although, I didn't really have room for the frame, I liked the idea of the canvas leaders and the flexibility to clip the quilt anywhere along the lead ...

Everyone has some good ideas, and in the end, mine in a hybrid of all those, with some modifications to take advantage of the materials and tools available to me.

*  The wooden bar was the simplest and most elegant solution for my given space.   I wanted it to be more of an angle against the corner, rather that even with the window--which would have made it more like a curtain/window shade.
*  The black walnut stick was in the scrap wood stash in the basement (= FREE).
*  I've had the clamps for a while now.  I used to use them for layering and pin basting quilts ... but now I have a new and easier method (See Board Basting) for that task.  So the clamps were re-purposed (=FREE).
*  The only thing I purchased was the bungee cords -- 6 of them in a bundle for $7 in varying lengths.

Such a cheap solution, which makes me wonder why I haven't done this sooner.   I guess I should wait to say that until I've tried it out ...

I currently have 2 quilts waiting to be free-motion quilted.  A few years ago, my husband made me a sewing table custom-built for my sewing machine and the space I have to work with.  It made the job of quilting a whole quilt much easier.  That was when I started doing them at home, and not taking those projects to Quilt Camp or renting time on a long-arm.

Here's another tip that should improve the process yet again (Thank you, Pinterest):
Using a teflon oven sheet to help the quilt slide more easily under the needle.  It covers a lot of space and $8 is such a reasonable price, too!     I taped it down with blue painter's tape, and cut a small hole for the needle and thread to pass through. 

Now the hardest part is deciding just what to quilt into these quilts ...

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Handwork : Sparkly and Lacey Cowl

I recently finished this crocheted cowl.  The house is cold enough in winter that I need a little extra something around my neck to ward off the drafts.  And I like the bling!

The Yarn :
3 skeins of Yarn Bee Diva Sequins- Maui
I don't think this is available anymore, but I did find a page of alternative sequined yarns.

The pattern is from here.  Very easy.  This is the third one I've made, so far.  You get into a nice meditative state while crocheting this pattern.  


Aidin's Storm Home Quilt Top is Complete

Storm Home Quilt Top for Aidin

The pattern is Sonya's Windows, using multiple 2-1/2-inch strips from Keepsake Quilting in blues, purples and gray.  There might also have been some fat quarter bundles, too--just to get a variety of values and patterns amid the chosen color families.

The final finished top actually has 1 less row in it.  I removed the bottom row, as it was getting to be too big for a twin-size quilt.  I wasn't counting the borders in the final size until I realized it was too big.  Still looks nice, though!

Here is is on the Design Wall, auditioning block placement and sashing ideas. 

Aidin picked the colors he wanted (blues, purples, and silver with turquoise), and let me choose the pattern.  That's how it should be ...  that way, as a quilter, you don't get bogged down with an impossibly difficult and complicated pattern chosen by someone who has no idea of the difficulty level.  (I suspect that is why there are so many Grandmother's Flower Garden Quilts left unfinished in attics.)

Aidin has been like a 2nd son to me, mini-me.  He and Oliver (my kid) have been friends since they were very small -- Their whole lives.  They are like brothers.  Oliver is a very logical, smart kid--straight and narrow; while Aidin is also smart and creative, a true appreciator of the Arts--that's where the mini-me part comes in.  They are so different, and perfect compliments for each other.   Our house has been a "Storm Home *" for Aidin, meaning when things were stormy at his house and he wanted peace and quiet and a "normal" family, he could always come here for a respite.   We are literally over-joyed when we get to spend time with Aidin.  "When's Aidin coming over?" is probably the most often used question/sentence in our house.

Soon, Aidin will be moving away to start a new life in a new town.  This quilt will help him remember that he is loved unconditionally by his Storm Family.   We are here anytime you need us, Aidin.

Now to figure out how to quilt it ...

*  Garrison Keillor has an old Lake Wobegone Story about The Storm Child and Storm Homes.  In Minnesota back in the day, if there was a big winter storm, the the country kids were assigned a storm home in town close to school where they could stay and wait out the storm.  It was never actually put into practice, but just knowing he had a place to go where he'd be welcome made him feel good as a kid.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Stolen Moments : A Series of Art Quilts Inspired by the Songs of John Hiatt

It occurred to me that it would make sense to have a single post that showed all three of the John Hiatt quilts (so far).  So here it is :

Spark in the Back of my Mind
Based on John Hiatt's song, Back of My Mind.

 Northern Lights / Rivers of Light
Based on John Hiatt's song, Seven Little Indians.

Mama Let You Lick the Spoon
Based on John Hiatt's song, Angel.

I'm calling the series "Stolen Moments" after one of my all-time favorite John Hiatt's albums.  
Thank you for the inspiration, Mr Hiatt!

From the Deli : Board Basting a Quilt Sandwich

I happened to catch a video on this novel board basting technique by Sharon Schamber.  It could have only been developed by a long-arm quilter who uses the rods to keep the back and top straight and even in the machine quilting process.  The boards serve a similar purpose in this technique, but because they are flat (not round), they stay put better.     Here's another blogger demonstrating the technique (I think this is where I first stumbled upon it.)   Since Sharon S. and Color Me Quilty explained it so well, I won't make this a tutorial, but I will highly recommend this method as no nonsense, quick and easy.  Look at how FLAT the sandwich is.  I've always had trouble with this step in the past.  I LOVE this technique!

I asked my husband to cut some pine boards 8 ft x 3 inches x 3/4 in.  8 ft would cover the largest quilt I'd be able to make (a Double), and these boards will fit in my car (barely) so I can take them to Quilt camp where I will have the space to use them properly.   I had him make a 2nd set 6-1/2 feet long for twin-size quilts.  In the meantime, I need to label and store them, so they don't get used for something else.  Doh!   What do you suggest for binding the boards together?

At Quilt Camp last month, pin basting a quilt was my main project.  I thought it would take most of the day on Saturday.  With this board basting technique, it took only about 1 hour and 15 minutes to work up a large Twin quilt.  It was amazingly fast, easy, and orderly.  I can't believe I never tried it, nor heard of it before.

A few tips that I think made the process easier for me :
1) Used the 6-1/2 foot boards, appropriately sized for this quilt.
2) Since the quilt I was working on was a Twin Long (half of a King), I used a queen-size batting.  I like Hobbs 80/20 cotton poly because I love how it crinkles up for an antique look after it's washed, and the quilt tops and batting sort of stick to it (without spray adhesive) while you're working out this basting step.
3) The Backing :  2 yards of a 108 in quilt backing.  These are so wonderful and so worth the price!  No messing with trying to piece together a backing to get it the right size.  And these come starched so they lay nice and flat (after you've ironed out the folds).  It behaves nicely.   2 yards fit my quilt just about perfectly with only about 6-inches to cut off.
4) Used 2 large tables together as my work space.  The Quilt top and bottom were wound onto the boards.  I used painter's tape to start them out evenly on the boards.  That helped keep them even throughout the winding process.  The batting hung freely in between.  I smoothed thing out as I went.

What you see pictured is a smallish Christmas Quilt top made by my dear Auntie Rosita who died a few weeks ago.  I asked Unca Ray if I could have this top to finish it.  He said yes.   It will be a good one to try quilting on the Featherweight as it's small.

At this step, though, I can't bring myself to do the hand basting with the herringbone stitch, as Susan S. demoed in the video  I struggle too much with hand stitching, tangled threads, and stitches that pull out -- but maybe someday I'll take that step.    It's not an appropriate technique for the quilt I have in mind -- pin basting should work.  But I will still need to make sure the quilt sandwich is properly lined up and even, and this board basting technique makes it look so much easier than taping and struggling with those too-large pieces of fabric.

Have any of you, my gentle readers, used this technique?
What did you think?
I'm definitely sold on it!

Newest Member of the Family : Singer Featherweight

So excited about my new purchase : a classic Singer 221 Featherweight, circa 1941.  Yup, with the Egyptian Scroll endplate, which means it's from the pre-WWII era.  ;-)   It's so cute!

I'd seen them before at sew-ins for the Quilt Guild, but pricing at that time was out of my range.  Someone had one at Quilt Camp in November, and I fell in love all over again.

Read more about them at Cheeky Congiscenti's blog post.

I learned to sew on a portable Singer Genie.  And I remember "running" [no thread] Great Gramma's old Singer Treadle when I was a kid.  It's been a long time since I had a Singer in my care.

With a new needle, new thread (including a newly wound bobbin), oil and lube, it sews like a dream!  Yahoo!  You gotta love these purely mechanical sewing machines.  With a little care and maintenance, they will sew for many years.  I don't have that same confidence in my newer computerized machines.  Although I do appreciate what they do for me here and now!

It's also neat that Singer provides a database so that you can date your particular machine by the serial number.  You also can tell what factory it came from.  Kind of like having a birth certificate, but not.   This one is dated at 1941.

If you're interested in getting one, these days, eBay makes it very easy to find them.  Still, this book will be very helpful to anyone interested in Featherweights, including where to find them, and their care and feeding, as well as trouble-shooting basic and common problems after they've been neglected and poorly stored for years and years.  

I got my copy from my local public library, but you could certainly purchase a copy, too.  

I have a couple of jobs in mind for my new baby, too!