Thursday, November 30, 2017

Hallelujah: Glass Dish & Mug Rug NOT Fail

That's a great song written by Leonard Cohen.  My favourite rendition is by kd lang. Both great Canadians. :-) I may have uttered that phrase, or at least heard the choir sing it, a couple of times over the past few days. I showed you on Instagram this little dish I made from beach glass I've been collecting on the shore of Lake Erie at Seacliff Beach, close to my home.
It looks so pretty in the sunshine! It really is that pretty.

I am fascinated by beach glass, but until rediscovering this beach this summer, I had not had much success at finding it. A few friends that also know of the beach's plentiful treasures think it's the way the currents flow around there that tosses loads of beach glass and a fair amount of lucky stones on the shore. Lake Erie was, sadly, quite the garbage dump on both country's sides, for decades upon decades.

Just yesterday, the wind was gentle, the temperatures quite lovely, though not as fabulous as Wednesday when we soared to 19C/66F! However, that day the wind was shrieking, so not great for a walk on the beach. We remedied that yesterday:
Leamington, Ontario -- can you say 'ahhh...' -- ya thought you could
On a dog walk, it isn't as leisurely to keep stopping to pick up bits and bobs that one finds; however, I still managed to snag this treasure trove within a half hour:
Trust me I ignored a ton of pieces. That's the most greens I've found yet in one stroll! The teaspoon is there so you see the size of the pieces and of the dish. I just love the sugary coating the glass gets after years of being tossed around in the sands and water. Some pieces actually have grains of sand embedded in them. Yesterday I found those five pieces of pottery, worn smooth, but no designs visible on them, as we have found before.

And YESSS!! One lucky stone more for my collection, this one, another J, quite faint (I nearly tossed it back thinking na, it's just a stone). But no, got home, had a closer look, and yup, definitely a lucky stone. You can read more about them in this post, but they are the basically the otolith, or ear bones of a sheepshead fish. These bones are particularly plentiful in Lake Erie, and have been found in ancient burial sites, so they were clearly prized then too.

So how did I make that little dish?
I found this tutorial by Debi's Design Diary on Youtube.

The girl is a hoot, and I love that she shows you her first epic fail attempt, and then gives you some tips. I used a lot of glue, as she advised, Elmer's School Glue, but found that too much is not good; the glass pieces slid around, which gave me the kind of lip or angle you see at the top.  At first I was disappointed, thinking it would look dumb, but I really like the kind of curve that was inadvertently created! Also, the glass pieces are heavier than you think, and with too much glue, they don't stack, they slide around. I found that I was better off doing a few rows at a time, waiting a few days (I know, it takes forever to dry) and then adding a couple more. Below you see it after two weeks or so of building, drying, building some more, and finally taken off the original dish I used for a mold.

Another tip is in the wrapping of the dish you use as a mold. I wrapped it with Saran wrap as she says, but on my next one, I'd like to smooth out the Saran wrap on the sides of the dish somehow because the glue followed the folds of the wrap and created a bit of a crease-like effect inside the finished glass dish.

Here's a look at the creases:

If you look closely, you can see a bit of a whitish line where the glue followed the crease line. This was only a day or two after I put the final row of glass pieces at the lower edge of the side. Where the glue is white and not clear is where I'd set in my final pieces.
Saran wrap all removed. So pretty! Notice the bits of dried glue around the top edge.

Elmer's School Glue is the main glue I used but MacGyver also had some Weldbond I used when I was just about out of Elmer's. It dried faster, just as clear, and I think is even stronger.  Debi suggests using a Dremel to smooth out the top edge and remove any chunks or lines (as in those creases) of glue. So MacGyver got out his handy dandy Dremel and went to work. The first brush didn't do much of anything, so he went to a brass wire one. For future note, stay with the brass. It still wasn't removing the glue bits like he wanted, so he went to a stainless steel wire one, and that made black marks as it took off the glue. 😞 He tried to remedy it, but it made the marks darker, sniff. Oh well, this dish will be used as a candle holder, so not to worry, as the marks are inside.
Tried to find a darkish spot in the house on a sunny afternoon, so the bathroom shelf it is! Flameless votive inside. I love it!
All in all as a first attempt, and nearly an epic fail after the first few hours, I am super-happy with this! And the fact that it is made with garbage or trash found on a beach, each piece with its own story to tell, makes it that much more special.

Another near fail this week was this mug rug.
I did not pay close attention to my own instructions for the Leaning Tree mug rugs...doh! The big tree should be oriented with the wider edge at the bottom. Therefore my tree was too tall and not wide enough.  Sigh. I'd already cut the pieces for the mini trees, so how could I salvage the big trees? No trunk? Hmmm, a possibility, but they wouldn't match the mini trees. then I thought of putting in the frames so the mini trees would equal the big tree height. But then the mug rug was too narrow, so I added the frame between the big tree and mini trees section. Yes! It works! "Hallelujah!" this time of the Handel Messiah kind!

I love these soft pink and mint colours together; reminds me of candy ice cream we used to get at they still make it? The best was Lucerne's my mum bought at Safeway. Yum! I can totally taste it just thinking of it. Once I quilt these, I'll post the finish. Ha! I only just now see I should've paid better attention to the mint doves fabric when used as the background; the doves sure are doing some trick flying!

My third topic is a bit of a fail. Sadly I do not have my OMG One Monthly Goal, finished, the flimsy for the 150 Canadian Women quilt. Sniff! I do have all 150 of the 1.5" X 6.5" sashing pieces sewn to each block, and I did find the most perfect fabric to use as the cornerstones, which I showed you in the DrEAMi! post just before this one. Ah well, two out of three 'ain't bad', right?!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

DrEAMi! Linky #10

Well are you feeling a little dazed after your Black Friday shopping craze? Or did you resist? Or did you stay at home and get your Amazon on? Or did you do both? (like, uh, me?!)

This funny but wise advice comes from Tish of Tish's Adventures In Wonderland, good advice for me. Yes, I dither.  Sigh. Overthink.  Second-guess--I'm the queen of it. One decision I'd made earlier this week was to support my LQS first. She had 30% off all fabrics and yarns (and she has loverly yarns and fabrics, she does, Preciousssss...ya, Gollum much) Look at these pretties...
Sorry, I cut off the Amy Butler one; it's "Violette". Doesn't it look scrumptious with the blue batik remnant I got? Remnant??! I may have to go back and see if she has any more, or a similar one....I started to twitch when I took them out of the bag and they fell together-LOVE! Not shown is a huge ball of yarn I bought to make Brady a slouchy tuque for Christmas, free pattern from the store.

Ya, it took me a wee while to make my decisions. Look at the plaid-looking one from the 'With Glowing Hearts' line, the black, grey and red maple leaves. It is going to be the cornerstones for my 150 Canadian Women quilt! Perfection! I was going mainly for two things: a couple more pieces of that Canada 150 line, so yay, mission accomplished, and a good Minky for a quilt backing that is in the works, (she has a fantastic assortment of Minky, like an entire little room, I kid you not) and that grey is just gorgeous, think the plush richness comes right off the computer screen at you, doesn't it? I have petted it uh, a lot? 😬 Might sleep with it, just saying'.

Longer in making my decisions was I online, sigh... However, I did get the Lily and Loom 'Modern Hand Drawn' from Craftsy (affiliate link) that I showed in yesterday's post. I investigated Fat Quarter Shop, and helped clear out some of their clearance section as well as took advantage of a couple of their Black Friday deals like a new rotary cutter. The two I have, a small and a large, are ancient, but still do the job. This one is turquoise, and has extra grooves for your fingers. We shall see. You will know!

So besides going down various rabbit holes and chasing various squirrels of sales, what has grabbed your attention this past month? I did have a squirrel, although it wasn't exactly unplanned, just a 'put to one side' idea that suddenly took over for a few days...
This is Little Green Cow, also named Jade. You can read about her here.

Remember that my own pattern is on sale through Monday for just $4 on Craftsy. That link will take you to my store where you will find it, and five other patterns that are all free.😊

Here are a couple of the squirrels from last month:

Elaine made an adorable witch's hat:
Check out her embroidery of the spider and her web:

This is Vicki's DrEAMi! just so adorable. Uh she's made more than one...I would hazard a guess that she's made a dozen of these this Fall??

Well, let's scurry on up a tree to see what we find has been furiously made from start to finish this month!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Little Green Cow

aka Jade.  aka LGC. She is now residing happily in her new home, so I can tell you all about this little project I made 10 days ago. No, it's not a Christmas cow; it's a green one, with a pop of red.

My friend Helen, of Word Weaver Art, retired from teaching a few months ago. She found my blog through a photo of two cows of mine that someone had pinned on Pinterest. Note that these cows are not my own design; you can find the free pattern at Piecemeal Quilts. Helen has done some marvellous (moovelous!) paintings of cows. So that was the first connection of many many more. She said the other day "no longer surprised" at the connections, similarities, coincidences between us when I wrote something about my grandma, whose name was Millie, and she'd written with a day or maybe it was on the very same day, about a painting of her niece with the same name! You can read more about our story here on her blog, and here on my Cows quilt post, and how I apparently influenced her in her decision to retire this year. There isn't a week goes by that I don't stop to marvel at how much this little blog venture has enriched my life.

I knew for a couple months ahead of her actual retirement that I would make her a cow. Wallhanging? Cushion cover? Hmmm. What colour??? She is a painter, she works with them all, and I didn't recall her saying anything about a preference. I tried to find out, surreptitiously, discovering, she, like me, likes the cooler colours best. That still didn't help.

So I stalled. Did a myriad of other projects, with this one, and a certain quilt for a certain grandson that is still in the stalled stage, percolating in the back of my brain. The oomph I needed to push me to bring it to fruition happened when she told me she was sending me a little surprise in the mail. Well! Get off your butt, Sandra, and get this cow in the stanchion to be milked...ha. And so I dug out the pieces for the cow and got to work.

So I literally Dropped Everything And Made It over the course of a few days. Yup, it became my DrEAMi! this month. My linky party opens tomorrow, in case you chased a squirrel this past month.

It was on my mum's quilt post where I wrote about my mum detesting 'buh-LOO' that I discovered green is her favourite. I remember her saying something about a rich red that makes a sumptuous combination. I had bought this paisley fabric, not a Christmas print, when I was fabric shopping with Julie of Pink Doxies this past winter in Florida. I loved it, having had a thing for paisleys for some time...oh I had the best most favourite royal blue paisleys skirt I made and wore many many years of my teaching career. I spied it in my greens pile of fabric, and that was my starting point. It took longer to choose the fabrics than it did to paper-piece little Jade, and this is no beginner-friendly pp pattern! I liked the bling of gold polkadots in the background fabric, the blaze fabric is one I've hoarded for at least a decade for a Christmas kaleidoscope quilt, so it hadn't been cut into, LGC's eyes are my favourite shade of blue, royal blue, and her lips are a maple leaf fabric scrap. Her muzzle has grass tufts on the fabric, one that's called 'Watercolor' by P&B Textiles, fitting for a painter, no?

She was layered and quilted up:

I love doing the beads design between rows of quilting, and the clover meander is another favourite. Yup there is one 4-leaf clover! There is also a handwritten H hidden amongst the clover, on the right side of the photo above, and my initial, S, and hers, H, in side by side beads on the left in that photo.  See below as well:
the H:

and the S and H together:

Here is the front freshly out from under the Bernina's needle:

and it wasn't long before it became a cushion cover:

It just screamed for a flanged binding with that pop of red again. Sadly I don't have enough of the maple leaf fabric, but I found another very very similar that worked beautifully.

Here is the back, envelope style.

What is that white fabric peeking out? It's the fabric label I sewed on so that when the cover lies flat, it's invisible, but once a pillow is inside, you see a bit of it and then you can investigate, and find the details.

One last shot before the quilt details:

Quilt Stats:
Pattern:  Cows by Piecemeal Quilts
Size: 18.5" square
Fabric:  À la Carte by American Jane Patterns by Sandy Klop for Moda Fabrics is the main fabric, with stash and scraps
Batting: Hobbs 80/20 cotton/polyester
Quilted: on my Bernina
Threads:  pieced with Gütermann cotton on Billie, my 1947 Featherweight; quilted with Isacord (aka Mettler) polyester white 0015 and green5324 40 wt

Now I'll leave you to go shop if you aren't already out there, or maybe you are home and done? Or maybe you're like me and waiting until the crowds subside...I'm only heading to one place, my LQS, A Stitch in Time, in Leamington, where she is having 30% off all fabric (she has an awesome selection of Minky) and yarns.

There are some great deals online too. My own pattern is on sale for almost 50% off, only $4. I haven't looked yet, but I think Fat Quarter Shop is having some amazing deals, (no affiliation, but I love their shop), and Sew Mama Sew sent a great list of 30 deals offered in an email, so if you're on their list, you got it. Another great deal is through a new company, Pattern Drop, great idea, a pattern a month, that you can find at Quilting JETgirl. Basically pay for 8 patterns but get 12, so 4 are free. Sweet!

Affiliate links below, if you purchase something through my links, I get a small commission.
You know I am an affiliate for Craftsy, and they are having the lowest price I've ever seen on all their classes, $17.87US (I have Christina Cameli's latest in my cart) along with some pretty sweet deals on fabric, this one, in two colour ways, I particularly like, Modern Hand Drawn by Lily and Loom:
Connecting Threads as well has terrific deals, (did you take advantage of the other flash sale, 50% off batting, earlier this week?!): They are offering 25% off their entire, yep, entire site. They already have some of the lowest prices out there, so wow.

Sewing Machines Plus (new affiliate for them). I bought my Little Foot 1/4" foot which I love, and you can read about here from them. I bought it, was not given it, just so you know! They also stock a lot of thread...

Okay, have fun!
Linking up
Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Crazy Mom Quilts
Busy Hands Quilt She is also hosting TGIFF this week.
mmm!quilts for DrEAMi! (when the link is live tomorrow)

Thursday, November 23, 2017

I Like #10

Everyone keeps saying it but here I go: how can it be the end of November and only one month left in the year, one month and two days until Christmas? Egad.  Well, it is, honey, so suck it up and deal with it, right?! Here is my list of things for which I am grateful this month, but also for always.

1. Friends
My gratitude for my friends makes a regular appearance on my lists and on my blog. Friends IRL, friends in QBL, those in both, just truly make my world so complete. Thank you to those who reached out in my previous post, thank you to those who read my blog, thank you to those in Quilting BlogLand and in real life who support, love and care for me, as I hope you know I do you. We had a lovely visit with good friends over coffee at their house yesterday morning. The conversation, laughter, sharing and catching up, and also that view (ahh! they live right ON the beach of Lake Erie) was a good massage for my soul. As were the heartfelt comments on that previous post, well, and again, throughout this past month.

2. Quilting friends who make my pattern and send me photos!
This beauty was made by Carol, who also lives in Ontario. She entered it in their Fall Fair and it won a prize!
This one was made by Kathleen of Kathleen McMusing. She entered it in her quilt show, where it sold! You must check out that link where you will see some closeups of how she quilted it, just fabulous, and how she does her labels.

3. Finding quilting yogis!
I found another in my 6 am Yin class I teach, just this morning.🙏😍 A random conversation led to the discovery. So I sent her a couple of my patterns, as she's made just three quilts so far. Do you think it would be weird to have a quilting day in the gym where I teach yoga? Like on a Sunday afternoon when there are no classes? Ya, thought you wouldn't. Not so sure the athletic club would, ha! We could quilt to soft yoga music playing, eat hummus and naan and pita breads, I'd bring my homemade salsa (oh ya, gotta put the recipe on here right, note to self) and then we'd do a little yoga, and sew some more...bliss!

4. Learning new things.
Tied to friends, is this special person who I know from QBL, also my friend IRL, Tish. So talented a quilter, such a wizard with EQ. She is helping me with it this weekend some time. I have two patterns (see below) to release now that enough time has lapsed since the publication in the e-zine Modern By the Yard. I also will have a third one coming out in the next issue, super-excited about this one, so I'd like to have it in EQ ready to go. And I have to put Freefall, both sizes and the cushion cover, together and list it in my shop too!

5.  I like sales.
It's that time of year, Black Friday, which has now spread around the globe. I've never gone in person to any of the insanity that happens of which you see videos online...shiver. The last two years, I have partaken in the online part of this weekend, the fabric department! I am putting my one and only pattern for sale, (the others are free), on Craftsy (affiliate link), Blue Skies & Sunny Days, on sale for only $4US through midnight Monday, November 28. After that it will go back to $7. Both sizes are included.

Of course if I add either or both of my other two patterns to my shop, Coins of the Atocha, aka On the Plus Side,

 and Let Your Star Shine, those will be on sale too!

The Internet here suddenly quit for a couple of hours. Therefore...

6. I like the Internet and all the wealth of information, tools, knowledge, free stuff like patterns and tutorials, and inspiration that you can find with a couple of clicks in a couple of seconds.
I like Googlemaps.
What is the deal with the distance between Kingsville, my home, and Fayetteville? See #7.

7. I love surprises, both receiving and giving.
My dear friend Helen of Word Weaver Art (mentioned her before, I know, more than once!) sent me this booklet a couple of weeks ago.

The cover of the booklet is one of my favourite paintings; the words, the colours, (you used buh-LOO Helen!) just resonate so well, and it has such meaning for her. This is a booklet of her favourite sayings, quotations, along with her paintings, 52 of them, one for each week of the year. The possum card came with it, another of her incredible paintings (oh, how I love possums!). I haven't started this calendar yet, thinking I'd start January 1, but I am thinking nope, gonna start December 1. Cannot wait. Need an 'ahh!' each Sunday that I plan to turn the page. It's going to go on my to-be-built (by MacGyver of course) floating shelves in my kitchen. Today's the day! We are ordering the final stage of the kitchen reno from IKEA, and then I will give you a tour. Well, did I send her something, you're thinking? Tune in tomorrow and you will see.

8. Kitchens
I love bright kitchens, (yay! I have one now), a husband who is so handy at doing the renovations, and at doing his fair share of dishes. This greeted me the other morning:
Dishes all done. These are the ones we don't put in the dishwasher but he may have added a few extra by the looks of things. The floating shelves I referred to are going on this wall.
And I like cooking together, good food, this being a meatless meatloaf (baked beans, lentils, peppers, onions, garlic, spices, oats, ketchup because we are out of BBQ sauce). Yum. He did a meatloaf for himself, some of the same ingredients, and those are his to-die-for roasted potatoes.
And I like eating good food while watching Angela Walters' "The Midnight Quilt Show". She never fails to make me laugh. Aloud. Oh that puzzle quilt--so beautiful!! And GUESS WHAT?? Yes I yelled that. I have it! I bought it from Craftsy! A few months ago, and uh, cough, I haven't unwrapped the pretty bundle yet... I know! I know! I pet it, riffle it now and then. It's in a different colour way:
Trust me these batiks are beauties. This is the one I'm making:
It comes in three other colourways/fabrics. Click the photo or here to check it out (affiliate link)... just might be a screaming good sale on it, yep 50% off. Just so you know.  You know?!

9. I love that I get to work with new fabrics that haven't hit quilt shops yet!
Polka dots are not my go-to fabrics, but I am super-excited to work with these bright and happy colours using one of my very own designs again. 😁

10. I love starting the early morning with some quiet Yin yoga, though the mornings I drive into Windsor to do Ashtanga are also good, just harder to drive 45 minutes each way as opposed to tiptoeing up the stairs...
A couple days ago, some flame, some flameless candles, all beautiful.

May my American friends and neighbours have a most wonderful Thanksgiving Day and weekend. We are so very blessed on this continent.

Linking up with LeeAnna, where you will find links to several other quilters writing about gratitude.
Not Afraid of Color

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Splash of Colour Quilt Along

Here are half of my blocks for the Splash of Colour QAL with Myra at Busy Hands Quilts:

A few years ago, I started collecting fat quarters, 1/4 or 1/3 yard cuts of black and white fabrics, thinking it would be cool to make a quilt one day entirely in black and white. The stack has mainly just sat.  I did use several of them in Callum's quilt, Shift. There are bats from Brady's quilt, Jack and Friends. Then there are several meaningful ones, like the Paris one, the starfish, the music, the flowers, the French text, the sewing-themed ones.

I'm so happy that Myra is running this quilt along, because it gave me the incentive to use these, and to do them in a pattern in a magazine I've had the page open to for the past oh year? Blue and green is my favourite colour combination, no matter the shade or hue. I like this splash of colour idea better than just black and white, too! I also appreciate the relaxed schedule, as I'm able to fit it in as a leader/ender project or when I just feel like grabbing something to sew for a half hour.  It's not too late to join us! Click the link in the first sentence to get the 'deets', as they say.

It's hard to know what to say, what to do, in these dark days, where depressing events occur on a daily basis, and I find myself in such despair for our planet, environmentally-wise, (the deaths this year of 15 more right whales, only 500 left globally; the pipeline going ahead and tar sands continuing) and for our people, wars and hate-wise, (hundreds of children dead or starving in Yemen due to the relentless bombing, where the US and UK are supplying bombs, Canada supplying arms --we are one of the top 10 exporters of arms--, the ethnic cleansing occurring in Myanmar, where the military is using rape as a weapon and method of intimidation, the deportation of Haitians now from the US). Joining across continents in these type of Quilt Alongs, shows me that we are one. It is possible to join hands and do things together, beautiful things. Who cares what colour Myra's skin is splashed with? What god or goddess Cindy, who is also participating, worships? What foods Rose, another participant, eats on special occasions?  Whether I sleep at night with a male or a female partner? Sigh.

If I figure out some way to help in Yemen I will let you know. Donating to the Red Cross, an organization for which I have deep respect, is one way to get much-needed money in the right hands. There is a special section for donations to the Rohingya crisis, which will be matched by the Canadian Government until November 28. I also know and believe that doing good works quietly within one's own community surely must have ripple effects.
Linking up

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Singer Featherweight Love #2

She nearly became a tractor.

Wow, back in June when I wrote the Featherweight Love #1 post, I did not envision it being this long before I wrote about my second machine purchase. You may recall that in finally actively pursuing a long-held dream of owning a Featherweight, I became the owner of two within one weekend! This girl was the first one I spied on kijiji, a buy/sell site, when I decided to 'just see' if there were any available in my area. There was just this one, in Belle River, which is where I got my first teaching job when we moved here in the 80s.
Here she is on her first sewing job, on May 4. Yup, the thread is not being fed through the cone thread guide in this photo, but I always always do, as these machines were not made for the cross-wound style of threads we have nowadays.

Just look at her tension and be amazed when you find out her background:
Right side is top thread, left side is bobbin thread. Pretty darn fantastic, no?

What's with the tractor?

Like I said, this was the first one I emailed about. The person selling her did not respond for two days. She had no case, and no cord, and hadn't sold, so the price was reduced to $90. I checked with my good friend Danielle, who owns two Featherweights, and had rekindled my flame to own one. She said they normally sell for around $300 here. So this one must've had something seriously wrong with her. When the guy still hadn't responded after a few days, I looked a little further afield which is when I found Mathilda, aka Tillie up in Tillsonburg.

Then he responded, on a Friday. Someone else was supposed to take a look the next day, and he'd let me know if it was still available. However, the next day, Saturday, we'd arranged to take the trip to Tillsonburg. As you know, we bought Tillie. I wasn't sure what kind of state the Belle River machine was in, nor whether she'd still be available. Well. That very evening, Belle River emailed back and said I could come Sunday and see her. Did I really need another Featherweight? No. But she was the first. She's American; Tillie is Scottish. She was an incredible price, and well, I'd bought a spare case from Tillie's seller just in case I acquired her... She could share Tillie's foot control.  It's only 25 minutes' drive away.... I had a déjà vu sort of feeling about her...

Well, we arrived, and when the garage door opened, I saw not one little dusty Featherweight but many, many Singer sewing machines, various models, in various states of disrepair and pieces. Yep. Pieces. And then.  I saw a little tractor, the tractor motor housing and steering wheel being a Singer machine, modified (noooo) to look like a tractor. Painted. Apparently the guy's dad who was deceased, used to collect old Singers and turn them into display tractors (that link will show you). The machine I had come to see actually did work though. He showed us. She was a little rougher than Tillie, but still purred along. No case. No foot. No attachments, had sat for who knows how long....would he consider $75? He certainly would. Sold.

And then, he said, "I might have a foot cord you can take that will work with the machine. You might have to replace the wiring. As you see, my dad collected all kinds of old machines, and repurposed them into tractors."
Had to wipe off some layers of grime!

Now, what to name this new girl? I was super-duper-excited to have scored her for this price! I cleaned and oiled and greased her up at the same time I was doing Mathilda. Hmm, Belle? She certainly was a little beauty as I shined her up, working over the course of many a spa session on the tape residue on her bed. She came from Belle, Belle is too close to Bella. It took some time, but she is just Billie. Close to Belle, rhymes with Tillie. She's feisty. She escaped becoming a John Deere.  She waited for me to bring her back to life. She's built the same year as our house, 1947. She actually sews quieter and smoother than 1951 Tillie! And, well, the other Billie I know is Billie Halliday, a pretty fine, smooth-voiced singer....😍 My grandmother's treadle machine, which I inherited, is Millie, my grandmother's name. A good trio. (ya ya, I do have two other vintage Singers, not Featherweights, but their names do not rhyme. I will write about them as well, don't worry.)

So I take turns on the Featherweight girls. I sewed most of the summer on Tillie, but this Fall, pulled out Billie and have been using her a lot. The more I use her, the smoother she sews. My one and only concern is the elusive 1/4" seam. At first, I would switch out Tillie's throat plate that her seller had had engraved with the seam allowances. That was okay but the 1/4" marking was a tad healthy.

Long story short, I decided to buy the acrylic seam guide from Nova (not an affiliate link). I sewed for the months of September and October using this seam guide.

I like the unobtrusive screws you use to hold the acrylic in place.  You can get it to exactly a scant 1/4" (note my little ruler to the right for this purpose).  However, there were a few issues. The first was despite being flat on the bed, threads did occasionally find their way between the acrylic and the bed of the machine, and the fabric would sometimes slide under it slightly. She suggests removing the front screw of the throat plate to get it as flat as possible on the bed, but that is the original screw, though not the original throat plate (it's Mathilda's) and so it did lie very flat. I was not a fan of removing that screw anyhow (gotta find a safe place for it); what about when I don't need the acrylic, then I need to put that screw back in, and remove the guide to clean under the throat plate when I oil her. I also found it a bit of a pain ensuring the guide was exactly perpendicular as well, holding it in place while I finger-tightened the screws, adjusting again as it invariably wiggled (think smooth acrylic on smooth machine bed).

Second, pinning, which I don't do a lot of, but at intersections I almost always do, was a learning curve. Because of the thickness of the acrylic, about 3/16", if you pin with the pin sticking out on the right side of the fabric, the pin hits the guide, and you have to remove it. So I made sure to pin so that the pin is sticking out to the left, and the tip didn't stick out past the 1/4" seam. A bit of a pain, especially if I'm dropping in pins as I go. I'm right-handed, so I'd be either awkwardly trying to pin on top of the fabric with my left hand, or lifting up the fabric and pinning with my right hand but underneath the fabric layers. Ugh.

Finally, the worst and not fixable issue is sewing on either side of a marked line. With a seam guide resting on the bed of your machine, the fabric will not lie flat. See below where you see me trying to do the corner connector method to make Lorna's Dog Gone Cute dog blocks for Karen at kaholly.

So ix-nay Corner Connector method, No-Waste Flying Geese, HSTs, as well as joining binding ends, unless you cut the 1/4" seams before stitching. I'd go back to my Bernina for any of these techniques. Not the end of the world when I have both machines as you see in the first photo, on either side of my sewing table. However, were I to be sewing at a friend's house, or at a retreat, I'd not be packing along two machines!

I wrote to Nova before I posted this, to see if there was a solution or suggestion to my concerns. I let her know I'd be writing about this on my blog, and that a few readers had asked my thoughts on the seam guide. I told her that had I realized the third issue, I'd have probably put my money towards a 1/4" foot instead. Well, she was not the best at customer service, let's just say that. Wow. I was pretty surprised at the tone of her response. I will say that she has added a sentence in the product description about the geese and HST issue. She was most definitely not very understanding, devoting an entire paragraph to the much better benefits of her guide, by being able to adjust seam guides from 1/4" to 1" and beyond...  Not too many quilters I know of who require anything other than 1/4" for the vast majority of their quilting.

So.  What did I do? Well I had a generic 1/4" foot I bought 20 years ago or more for my Elna. It fit on the Featherweight and I sewed with it for a bit.  Then I decided you know what? After 20 years of use, I do think I could buy a new 1/4" foot that is known to be terrific, and works fabulously with Featherweights. So I ordered the Little Foot from Sewing Machines Plus. (affiliate link) It is still on sale for $19.99.  I have been sewing with it for the past week and I love love love it.  Yup. Three loves.  It has a little beef, or muscle, meaning more than my generic 1/4" foot for my Elna.  It actually sews better than my Bernina 1/4" foot made for Berninas! Sadly, my Bernina has always annoyed me going over any bulky seams; it chokes a bit and the stitches go very tiny, and often I have to help her by tugging gently on the fabric as it is trying to get out from under the foot.  Not so with the Little Foot and little Billie.  She chugs along merrily and smoothly as can be. See for yourself:
One thing to note, that the iPhone is propped between my boobs in my bra, lol, (good thing they're tiny but perky), resting against the inside of my t-shirt, therefore quite close to the machine. Thus it sounds a bit more "clunkety" than it truly is.

Here is a photo to compare the original Singer foot with the new Little Foot.
Ha! Nesting seams means sometimes you find you've pressed them the wrong way when you line up intersections. A little re-pressing once this is sewn and Bob's yer uncle!

One of Nova's arguments for her seam guide was being able to adjust it to exactly a scant 1/4", whereas with the 1/4" foot one is relegated to the manufacturer's idea of a 1/4". Well, I measured.  Pressed my seams to one side as you see.  Lined up just-sewn pieces with the next piece and all is very very well.

So in my honest opinion, if you are wanting a tool that helps you get that perfect scant 1/4", I would recommend the Little Foot. The acrylic guide that Nova sells is also a great tool, and sure does adjust sideways to whatever width seam you may require, but it is limited where certain quilting methods are concerned.

One other thing to note about my sweet Billie is her bed. See how shiny it is?!  Look back at the first photo, taken May 4, and see the gummy and hard residue from previous sewists using tape to mark the seam guides. With lots of spa sessions, gentle massage (lol) rubbing with machine oil, gentle scraping with fingernails, I've been able to get it pretty much completely all off.  I am also getting totally comfortable with oiling her and even gave her a little grease on her gears the other day.  I did order Nova's motor lubricant, which I haven't used yet, but plan to shortly. It doesn't need doing like the regular oiling does.

Something else I ordered from Nova is a set of four rubber bed cushions. However, I have since found out they are $4 cheaper (only $6 for the set) at Sewing Machines Plus. Billie's were either not there at all, or so compacted and eroded that even MacGyver had a bit of a time digging them out. But we persevered, and she now has four new feet! You can soften them up with a bit of kerosene, apparently, but we got them out okay.
Fancy-footed girlie! Look on the brown towel and you see the bits of shrapnel from the previous eroded, rotted feet. Also note to the right of the machine is a red felt spool cushion, also purchased from Nova for only 35c.

Just a note on my 150 Canadian Women quilt. My OMG for November is getting it to flimsy form.
Here are half the blocks, 75 of them, with side sashing sewn on. I am finally using this gorgeous leaves low volume fabric from Benartex, 'Nature Studies', that I've had for eons, and that I love. It was the lining and featured in several blocks of a lightweight jacket I made about a decade ago!   Anyhow, for the Canadian Women quilt, I was unsure what I was doing, two quilts, or one, sashing or not, so I didn't sew these on as I went. I've been doing it as a leader/ender project. I am not quite half way on the next 75.  And I have now realized I need to do 6 more blocks since I'm doing just one big quilt, so that it will be 12X13 blocks, = 156.  I'd figured all along it would be 10X15 blocks, a rather long narrow quilt...  Anyhow, stay tuned for further developments on it, progress on my Splash of Colour, which you see one of the blocks of in the second last photo, and more on my other Singers.

A note that next weekend is the last one in November, and therefore a DrEAMi! party opens on Saturday.  In case you may have been sidetracked by a squirrel... Oh and I'm sure some sales will be sidetracking your wallet too, no doubt! Remember to check your email from Connecting Threads (affiliate link) for whatever fabulous deal they are going to offer on Monday. I don't even know!

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Wayward Transparency

I already knew it had been a while since I posted, but when I got a text from my daughter, Dayna, stating, "you don't blog anymore," I decided all right, sit your butt down at the laptop and write a post. There's no real reason for the 11 days' gap between posts; yes I've been sewing, bits and bats of various projects, nothing much (yet) to show. I've been reading too: some of it very heavy and oppressive, A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead, non-fiction about the women in the French Resistance during Nazi occupation in WWII, not as oppressive but not really uplifting, The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff, historical fiction, also about that same time period. Now I'm reading a fairly light fiction, Folly by Alan Titchmarsh. I'm part of two quilt alongs, the third, The Honeypot Bee, falling by the wayside but I do plan to pick and choose some of the blocks to at least have a wallhanging or small lap quilt.

I'm up to date with Step 2 of Wayward Transparency hosted by Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl. There are several layout possibilities with these four blocks.

Here are my four, taken this morning in the beginning rain. We are now under a heavy rainfall advisory over the next 24 hours, so this is as good as the photos will get! Sorry for them being a little skewed; it was, "Line 'em up, quick lift the phone in the air, check all four blocks are visible on the screen, lift a little higher, click! Rotate a couple blocks..." Repeat. No clue why the colour isn't consistent in all four photos, outside of the rain actually starting to fall by the last two arrangements!
The first is the original layout as in Yvonne's quilt. I like this one. The four corners are symmetrical. You barely notice that the centres of the four blocks... are not. I know I didn't until I started this second step! The eye sure can be fooled!

Oops cut a bit of the one corner off, but the rain was beginning, so good enough. Here I turned two opposing blocks outward. Ya, no. Not a fan.

I like this one too, because there is symmetry in the centre, and I love the radiating squares...until my eye finds the outer square isn't there, and that bugs me. I want four medium pink corners... So I am ix-naying this.

At this point, I had seen these three layouts on Tish's blog; I had only got half way through piecing the first two blocks. She actually has a fourth layout on her blog, two 'arrows' pointing in and two flowing through the quilt from bottom right to top left. Didn't feel that layout either. So #1 was going to be the one.

And then.

Yesterday she sent me another layout that she had played around with in EQ, and well, the sun shone and the choir sang. (too bad not in real life because the blocks were actually getting fairly wet; if you look closely, you'll see raindrops!

Yep, yep, this is it.

As for the transparency, I do think my medium and dark are spot on, but I think my light pink is too light. I mean, overall, it's great and I like it, but there's a bit of a jump between the light and the medium. I am very happy to say that I put my menopausal melon through a good math workout, both good old figuring and also geometry, and was able to get all the A (light) pieces out of the yardage I had with a mere 5" by not quite WOF to spare! I had to reinvent the cutting directions but it all worked out; I didn't even have to piece to get the long 24.5" pieces either, yay.

If you haven't joined in, it's not too late! Yvonne has all the directions under the Wayward Transparency link I provided, and the quilt stitches up really quickly. Each block is 24" square finished, so you have a 48" quilt with only four blocks, sweet!

I have a few posts percolating, so I might break my 'computer-free Sundays' rule and post again tomorrow. This quilt was stitched entirely on my 1947 Singer Featherweight with a brand new Little Foot, which I want to rave, er write about, along with the machine's story, long overdue. I picked it up on sale at Sewing Machines Plus (affiliate link) (just checked, it still is, only $19.99) because I was unhappy with the seam guide I had bought. More on that in the next post as well. I'm a new affiliate, though not a new customer, for Sewing Machines Plus, so clicking through on that link or the one on the sidebar will earn me a small commission on any sales. They sell a few brands of thread I really like, King Tut (LOVE) among them.

Waaah, hope some of you got in on Connecting Threads (affiliate link) 50% off one day only threads sale yesterday, Friday.  If, like me, you didn't, at least they are still on for a decent deal, 30% off. This thread works wonderfully on my Avanté, minimal fuzz, straight line quilting or FMQ, it's terrific. I use it primarily with The Bottom Line in the bobbin. Anyhow, CT is having more of these one-day sale events this coming week, which are a surprise, so be sure you get their emails, and be sure (ask me how I know) to check your emails on a daily basis! The next flash sale is Nov. 20 and the one after that Nov. 22. They are having a week-long sale as well, (that affiliate link will take you to the correct page): 50% off on stash builders and pre-cuts fabric, to mention just one.

Thank you so very much for your support of this blog. 😘

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