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.