At Plum Loco Ranch, Door County, WI.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My mother's obssession...err hobby.

My mother "collects" sewing machines.  At last count my step dad said she has over 40!  Does she use them?  Mostly, yes she does get one out here and there to make sure it works.  She has certain things she likes to do on certain machines.  She doesn't embroider and she doesn't quilt - she's a seamtress.  I say that now b/c she's been doing alterations for years and always makes something for the county fair.

Now, my mom will tell you that she's a collector and that most of the machines have been given to her.  I don't quite buy that.  I remember when she tells me that she bought a third, yes she has three, Singer 401 on eBay and travelled to northern Illinois, almost to Iowa, to pick it up.  She has three 301s and a Montgomery Ward "featherweight" (not sure if it was called that or if it's just a teeny, tiny machine) and about 4 treadles and too many for me to list.  She has been given several b/c people will tell her that the machine doesn't work.  Mom takes them home and works on them and adjusts tensions, etc. and viola!. they work.  Over the summer her repairman, who has to FL a few years ago, came back to Indiana for a family visit and spent a day at my mom's house servicing machines.  How many people do you know who has a repairman that does house calls?!
Mom also gets cabinets and has one of these FW tables.  She once got a 301 b/c she saw a cabinet sitting beside the road.

Sew, for Christmas I always find it hard to buy for Mom.  I tried to get a last minute quilt but just ran out of time with our travelling schedule - that will be for Mother's Day.  Somewhere in our discussions I must have gotten curious about something Mom said and ran across the International Sewing Machine Collector's Society web page and bookmarked it.  With time ticking away and no books at the chain stores about sewing machines or the history of sewing on the shelves, I bought her a membership.  What was I thinking about a quilt - she loved it and immediately checked out the web site. 

Then, she moved to Craig's List in our area, of course.  She says there are lots of good buys in our area.  Mom knows a good buy - she found a Singer 301 in its original case with all attachments at a flea market for $10!  My step dad said she paid for it and practically ran to the truck and locked it up!  I borrowed it while mine was in the shop - sweet little machine that I might have tried to talk her out of if my MIL hadn't given me the featherweight.  I refuse to "collect" more than I can use (and Mom has given me 3 Vikings, so the FW makes 4 - that's enough).

Back to Craig's List - she found Singers, another 401 and another 301.  Sew, yesterday I picked this up - no attachments and no stool, only a dusty little machine in a cute cabinet that needs a bit of sandpaper and varnish.  It runs!

Sorry for the quality but it is raining here and despite being next to the window it is DARK.  You can't really see how the leaf turns and almost makes a corner cabinet.

This isn't the first time I've been Mom's pick up service.  Before Thanksgiving she found a 221/FW on Craig's List in the city.  That one didn't run but she's working on it - I think she has two others in her stash of machines!  I have seen her turn down machines - I was amazed!

Monday, December 27, 2010


We had a wonderfully white Christmas this year in the St. Louis metro area.  Just enough to make it fun to play in, make everything pretty, and not enough to really cause travel problems.

While in South Carolina with my in-laws, my MIL mentioned that I should look at a machine she had that had been belonged to her MIL.  I forgot about it but she called me upstairs and brought out from the closet this little black case.  And there it was - a really cute featherweight. I looked up the serial number and it was manufactured late 1935 to early 1936, when my father-in-law was just an infant.  Some things never change....

It was last serviced in 1985 and hasn't been used since before my husband's grandmother passed on just over 16 years ago.  The cord is shot and despite a good oiling and lubricating by my mother (who collects sewing machines) it still moves rather slowly.  Luckily, I know some good repairmen that she can visit soon.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Just home!

And what a great place to be!  We had a great time at my in-laws in South Carolina but after 4 days of little sleep and 14 hours in the car yesterday, well, I am really happy to be home again.  So is Ruby who spent 6 days at the kennel playing with other doggies twice a day and getting plenty of exercise.

My son turned 4 on the 19th so we went to Chuckee Cheese for his birthday.  He had his two cousins and a neighbor of my in-laws to party with - he was very excited.  Daddy got to go into the ticket chamber with him to collect as many tickets as possible in so much time.

The next day we did Christmas so the kids could play with their toys for a day or two before packing up and driving home.

Here are the kids playing with the bean toss quilt.

Now, I'm off to finish cleaning and finalize my last grocery list.  Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More finishes...

I had hoped to quilt 2 of the 3 tops my long-armer basted, got one of those done.  However, I pieced three more tops, and even quilted one of them.

I have two tops from a pattern called "Bean Toss Quilt" that I found on The Quilt Show website under "projects." It's a quilt and it's a game - how cute.  I finished one to take with us to the in-laws where we will have a 3 yr old, a 4 yr old, and a 6 yr old, who I hope will play with it.  It has the added bonus of being my son's blankie in the car.
And I had to use Ruby's napping spot to pose the qulit.

The Paddington fabric was on sale at my LQS for $1.99/yd last spring and I was going to get a yard.  Well, luckily the staffer talked me into 4 yds b/c when I needed a backer for this one and I just went to my drawer and there it was. My son likes green so - even better.

Here is the other top I made.  It's going to the son of a high school classmate who's dealing with work-related injuries and now a divorce.

Here's the box of bean bags - all 32 + 2 "toe the lines" - to go with the tops.  I will be stitching these on the road.

This is a really quick pattern out of a book called The Giving Quilt.  It uses 9 FQs and makes a small lap.  I got the FQs at Spring Mkt and my mom went gaga over it.  So, I was going to do this for my guild's charity but decided to give it to my mom instead.  However, I've run out of time to quilt it - maybe for Mother's Day.
The colors are  a little washed out here.

My SIL asked me Sunday to make her a little pillow she can use in pilates and yoga.  No problem to make but the timing is a little off with a road trip looming.  I just stripped it and used quilt as you go to give a little padding to the top.

Finishes for Nov-Dec

This photo was going to be last but I'm still learning blogger,'s the back of the one of the quilts I completely finished this month.  I like to use backings that offer, uh, relief (?) from the top, i.e. something with a different feel than the top.
Here is the the completed Thangles buck-a-block.  It's a present for my 3 yr old niece.  I discovered that my FMQ skills are not up to the test without a template.  My attempts to FMQ each block were aborted in favor of the walking foot and highlighting the reds by quilting the blues.

I like my second method better - sometimes blocks don't need much, the piecing stands on its own.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Winter is here!

I LOVE snow!  Most people don't seem to like it but this morning we have just the right amount - enough to cover the dull brown ground and to put some shine on the trees.  It also brings out the birds!  Since the beginning of Nov. I've fed almost 25lbs!

The above photo is a bit of an action shot as the wind is really blowing today.  Luckily our house is sheltered a bit from it.  

Here's Ruby - she loves snow too.  Since she turns one year old this month, this is the first snowfall she's been able to play in.  I'm glad she likes it too.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Machine quilting in sections, part 2

I will try again to show you some photos.  Here is the quilt in sections.

Here is the finished project.

Machine quilting in sections

About 1.5 years a go I ran across Marti Michell's book Machine Quilting in Sections.  This was after doing FMQ on my largest project yet, a large lap Yellow Brick Road.  I have a cabinet but no insert to fit around my machine and I just got tired of wrestling with the quilt and the 100% cotton Warm & Natural batting that I decided to use.  So, I bought the book and decided I was going to try it.

I wish I could have attended a seminar from Marti about this technique but it was not to be.  Sew, with book in hand, on graph paper, I carefully planned my attack of dividing the bed size quilt tops into manageable pieces that would allow me to stitch them together after quilting. Marti provides 5 methods for working in sections so planning is a must.  For my first project I chose not to use the seam strips.  Instead I quilted to within one inch of the outside of each section and joined a five layer seam, leaving one of the backing pieces to press, fold over the large seam and then sew down over the seam to hide it.

There are 3 large tops that I had near completion:  a mystery quilt from the sewing center that went together very easily (due to the big pieces), a scrappy pinwheel quilt, and a 90x100 BOM that I plan to back in flannel. The mystery was done first, and since it was not one of my favorite projects (DH asked with a frown in his brow if I planned to keep it), it became the guinea pig.  The scrappy pinwheel still has blocks to finish and the BOM had to wait until a test subject had been sacrificed finished.

The part of quilting that I dislike most is sandwiching, especially large pieces. This method helps immensely.  My largest piece was 45x45.  Yes, I cut more backing but it was so much easier to get the small sizes ready than to work with one enormous piece, same for the batting.

I am sorry there are no photos in this post - blogger is not cooperating!  I will try later.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Big giveaway!

Here's one big one to check out - at Stray Stitches - an entire Thimbleberries BOM (minus a border or two).

Saturday, November 27, 2010

More "Be Merry"

Here are a few more blocks to the Christmas BOM, Be Merry.

The rectangular blocks are supposed to be gifts but I've not fused the bows onto them yet.  Thanks to Leona (this post), I had several fabrics to choose from when putting these little guys together.  I mean little - each block is 7.5".

Calling Be Merry a BOM is a bit of a misnomer.  The first month we made one block - the church block, about 15x18.  Since then, we have made from 3 to 6 blocks per month.  While the blocks may be small, it's the cutting that takes time.  For the gift blocks we cut ribbon strips that were 1" wide by 3.5" to 5" long.   At least it uses up scraps - gotta love that!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Today was full of stuff that had to be done.  Seems like that's been happening a lot lately, hence the time between posts.  First, my 92 year old grandmother had a brief stay on the hospital this weekend that switched our plans from her coming to see us Thursday to us going to see her.  A little change in medication and she seems to be just fine.

The only thing I don't like about the change is that several quilt shops in the area are having special Friday sales that I cannot attend.

Ruby had to go to the vet.  She has some sort of tumor on her leg that is benign and the vet says is common to young dogs.  She has some ointment and it should go away in a month's time.  When I told Alec she had to go to the doctor he said to Ruby while giving her a hug, "I'm sorry Ruby. I maked you sick feeding you chocolate."  No ill effects from the chocolate, at least.

I wanted to put the final borders on the 3 quilt tops that I've managed to piece over the past week.  However, I forgot all about my guild's Christmas block exchange - tonight, so I whipped out a quickie block this morning before the vet visit. A little dizzy-ing (is that a word) but it will have to do.

And while I have been waiting for the pix to upload, I've been enjoying a little something I picked up for myself at the health food store which is by the vet's office.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Not mine - my husband's.  We have plans - plans that will bring us joy and plans that will show how old we are - LOL!

We will be seeing a movie, not any movie but the long awaited new...

Harry Potter movie.  That doesn't make us seem old, does it?  Harry Potter is for kids, right?  It's which showing we are going to that makes us seem old.  We will be in the theater at 3:30PM for the 3:50 PM show.

After the movie we are off to try a new Peruvian restaurant.  The restaurant isn't new, we've not been there. We will be arriving at a normal dinner time - 6:30 or 7.  We should be back home by 9PM.  Our babysitter will earn her money for entertaining and feeding our 3 year old for about 6 hours!  (That's also part of the fun.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Christmas BOM

My only block of the month this year has been through my sewing center (well, I did do a thangles project but that was a pick up and go, no meetings or socializing).  We sit around and sew and talk for a couple of hours and the projects aren't too complicated.  I mean, I love some of these BOM programs out there but I found myself spending about 3 hours on each block in the 12-month program that I was in last year through my LQS. No wonder with 52 pieces in a 12" block.  I have too many projects that I want to do to spend that much time on a single block. We won't even talk about the finishing kit.

The sewing center sells machines and accessories but no fabric, so we can use whatever we want to use.  It's a lot of fun to see what everyone selects.  The first half of the year we did a mystery quilt - more on that one when it's done, which, hopefully, will be soon.  The last half of the year we've been working on  "Be Merry."  It's a ton of fun to do - a little of this and a little of that: piecing and applique.

 (the above is not my finished project!)

The best part - it's all done with scraps. I like to play with fabrics and see what works best.  Guess that's why I don't buy many kits.

These are the first few blocks.  The church and snowman are pieced with no applique or embellishments added.

Here they are with the fusibles added but no stitching yet.  Author, Ann Fahl talked at our last guild meeting and provided some great ideas on embellishing with thread.

I will update the photos as the project progresses.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Blogland Giveaways

Here are two more great giveaways!

Click over to Aunt Henny's and see the bags she has up for grabs for her followers, old and new.

Then, click over to Lavender Ridge for a chance at an Acccuquilt GO!  Hurry, entries end tomorrow.

Good luck!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What my Long armer did for me

I love piecing, and I like quilting, too - it is the end of the creative process. I cannot stand sandwiching the quilt - it takes so much time and I usually have to redo it.  I've tried all kinds of tips and still the back is wrinkly.  Then there's the time issue.  With a 3 year old, almost 4, who still wants me stop everything I'm doing and play and watch cartoons, well, that doesn't leave much time after all other household chores are attended to and I need my 8 hrs/night - I am an early bird, not a night owl.

I've had a couple of quilts done by a local long-armer due to time and lack of FMQ skills on my part.  She offered to baste quilts for me!  She did these 3 lap quilts for about $10 each.  Awesome!  Two days after getting them back, two of them are ditch quilted so I can remove the basting and add some FMQ.

(sorry about the sun glare!)

Sew, this afternoon I will be sitting with my feet propped up, having been to the gym already, watching the Colts play and removing basting stitches.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Clermont Farms quilt

A few posts ago I showed you the quilt  was workimg on for my LQS.  Photography in the morning, before the sun is up too high in the sky, doesn't really capture the colors.  This is the first time I've tried to photograph a quilt outdoors.

Here's a close up of the cornerstones.

And here's a close up of the quilting by a friend with her long arm.

I get the quilt back when the shop sells all the kits.  If you like the pattern, you can find it on the Fabri-Quilt web site.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Package!

A few days ago a package arrived.  It was filled with goodies - see what I mean?!

Thank you, Leona!  

Charming Girls goals for the rest of '10

It's time to post some goals for the remainder of the year.  Over at Charming Girls Club, Kelly keeps us engaged while we all work through our projects and rewards us at the end when we meet some our goals. 

So, here's a list of projects that I realistically may finish this year:
1. bind the Mystery quilt
2. quilt and bind my niece's "Pretty in Pink" Christmas present
3. quilt the Cranberry Wishes split decision
4. piece a lap size quilt for my mom(already cut)
5. piece 2 Bean Bag Toss Game quilts (already cut)

Okay - only the 1st three projects are realistic.  Numbers 4 and 5 are wishful thinking, esp. with my piecing machine in the shop right now.

Do any of you have a domestic machine dedicated to quilting and another to piecing?  It's a symptom of quilter's ADD, I suppose, having so many projects to choose from that you never know from one day to the next if you will be piecing or quilting.

Are you ready to win?

You are? Then you have two stops to make in blogland.  Head over to Stray Stitches for a celebratory giveaway and then on to Leona's Quilting Adventure for another great giveaway.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Another parenting first

This afternoon we went to the emergency room. While playing and rough-housing with Ruby, my son fell and hit his head on the edge of the baseboard. He had a gash in the back of his head that clotted in the short time it took us to get to the hospital about 2 miles from our house. We were quite a sight in the ER, no one else came in with a laceration. After the shock wore off he was playing and talking and being 3.

Until the procedure began. I've never had to get stitches for a laceration, knew I didn't want to, and now - oh, hope we don't ever have to do this again - I almost cried along with him.

After a doctor approved nap he's fine. Kids certainly are resilient, maybe more so than their mamas.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Last roses

These may be my last roses.

The red ones are from a Knockout rosebush - you've seen them - everywhere. It really does hold up well - to black spot, drought, and those dreaded Japanese beetles.

The pink roses are from a David Austen bush that, despite my ignoring it and it's losing almost half its leaves every summer to black spot, still blooms.  They smell as lovely as they look.