Tuesday, January 31, 2012

NewFO Challenge ~ January Recap

It's the end of January, for another few minutes anyway, and time to link up with Barbara at Cat Patches with how I've fared so far in the 2012 NewFO Challenge.

I'd say things are off to a good start.  In fact, not only did I start a few things, I finished them too!

One of the ideas/plans that I had listed for the NewFO Challenge was to do something scrappy—Scrap Happiness, I called it—and that is what I focused on this month.  It worked out well, because I had also joined the Sew Scraps Along at Pleasant Home for the month of January.

So here is what I did:

1.  Made a Scrappy String Ring wall hanging.  I'm going to continue making these Dresden plate type blocks in the coming months for a quilt.  In fact, I joined the String Thing Along, and the scrappy string ring quilt is going to be my project for that.

2.  Double Hourglass table mat.  Made with some bright, fruit and veggie print scraps.

3.  Scrappy Courthouse Steps block...

...which became a sewing machine cover...

...and what was left of the original block got "rebuilt" into a mini quilt!

I think that's it.  Looking forward to the start of a new month of NewFOs!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Sundry 1-29-12

"We Can Rebuild It...We Have the Technology"
I could not throw it away, that little courthouse steps block I'd cut a hole in to make the sewing machine cover last week.  So I started thinking and then turning circles in my sewing room, pondering the stash at hand.

Then I saw it:  A bit of Heather Baily Pop Garden fabric, bought on a whim during an online shopping spree last year. The daisies were huge...and perfect!

A bit of fusible interfacing and inconspicuous zigzagging closed the incision I'd made to extract the circle the week before.  (Hint:  The "scar" is at about the 3 o'clock position, but I hope you can't find it.)

I love how it turned out!  Some things are worth salvaging.  Like vintage Pyrex fridgies at the thrift store.

If you'd have told me 30 years ago that I'd have a soft spot for chartreuse, I'd have laughed myself silly.  Same thing about liking Tom Petty's music, or cilantro.  Weird things happen, is what I'm saying.

What shall I call this little mini?  The Six Million Minute block?  Because that's about how long the process took.  (For those of you too young to remember, that's a nod to The Six Million Dollar Man TV series of the 1970s, as is the quote above.)  Or something about flowers on the courthouse steps?  

Bunny trail:  I've got a wedding picture of hubs and me, with my little bridal bouquet, on the courthouse steps.  They were not big daisies I was holding then, but they were about as real as that fabric.  Hey, it was the '80s, lots of things were fake.  And here is where I could say something mushy like, "except our love for each other," which would be true and all, but I don't want you gagging on your breakfast this early in the day.

So here, in collage form, is the life cycle of the courthouse steps block.  Quite the metamorphosis, huh?

The Commitments
That is the sum total of the sewing that has happened around these parts lately, but I have committed to two other things this week, namely:

The String Thing Along, the mighty good idea of Brenda of Scraps and Strings.  The plan is to play with our strings and make a project by June 30.  A new blog has been set up so we all can post our progress along the way.  Care to play along?  Visit one of the aforementioned links and let Brenda know!

The second is a Scrappy Block Challenge, sponsored by Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.  Create a block using the three sizes of cut scraps described in the book Cut the Scraps!  Sarah gives all the details HERE.  I am going to give it a try and then donate whatever catastrophe block I come up with to her, for use however she sees fit.  I will admit to being a little anxious about this challenge, as I don't think of design as one of my strong points, but you never know, I may get a brain rave like I did with the courthouse steps block.  

Weird things happen, is what I'm saying.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wrap It Up

I have an earworm of that Fabulous Thunderbirds song quoted in the title.  What I did to my sewing machine was cover it up, not wrap it up, exactly, but somehow that song floated into my head.  It could be that I was listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan Live at Carnegie Hall while I worked on this, and, tangentially, his brother Jimmie Vaughan was the lead guitarist in The Fabulous Thunderbirds.  My mind likes to travel down bunny trails like that.

Anyway, the Silver Singer went to visit the repair shop on Tuesday and was back less than 24 hours later, in fine form.  He said those mechanisms often seized up on a machine when the fancy stitches weren't used often.  Must have been a pretty simple fix to unstick it, and I'm grateful for that.

Silver, Model 600 Touch & Sew, on the left -
and Tammy, my Golden T&S 603E, on the right.
So I wrapped—er, covered it up today with this quilted cover, using up some scraps and stash in the process.  I did a little straight line and loopy quilting on it.  

The side panels are backed with fusible fleece and not quilted.  It was helpful to review this tutorial on Flickr for making a custom fitted cover, but I kept it pretty simple and didn't need to make any holes for a handle, etc.

While I had the Juki threaded and ready for free-motion quilting the sewing machine cover, I went ahead and practiced the leaves for this month's Free Motion Quilting Challenge.  

This pattern is rather forgiving, in that being less than precise, shall we say, just sort of adds to the organic charm.  

At least that's what I'm telling myself.  ;)

The sewing machine cover is my third finish for January, and I am linking once again to Such a Sew and Sew's A Stitch in Time 2012 Finishes.  Elizabeth is having an open linky every month, and each finish counts as an entry for a giveaway.  For January, it's a jelly roll of Good Fortune by Kate Spain, sponsored by the Fat Quarter Shop!  Have a look by clicking the button below, and join the fun.  I think it's a great way to keep track of your completed projects for the year and stay motivated as well.

And swing by Confessions of a Fabric Addict to see some other finishes worth whooping about this week, and add your own!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Sundry 1-22-12

Hi-ho, Silver!
First, the good news.  (There really isn't any bad news, maybe just that the weekend is always shorter than my to-do list).

The "new" vintage machine sews like a champ!  Straight stitch, anyway.  I cleaned and oiled it and took the cover and bottom plates off and lubed the gears.  It really is in great shape overall, and doesn't appear to have been used that much.  In fact, outwardly, it's in better shape than my Singer 603E, its sister.  One is silver (or gray, maybe) and the other gold!

The only glitch—okay, so maybe a bit of not-so-good news—is that one of the levers to change to a zigzag or any of the other built-in stitches seems to be seized up.  I oiled the mechanism really well from the inside, hoping it might free it up, but so far it's still stuck.  It doesn't look like anything is broken or out of place with the mechanism itself.  So it may make a trip over to the fix-it man after all.  Still, it sounds great, looks great, and sews a nice, evenly balanced straight stitch right out of the gate.  I am thrilled, and I hope dear daughter will be as well!

Knock-knock...Who's there?...Orange...
Orange you glad I found some more Pyrex at Goodwill?  Two identical casseroles, one in a lovely turquoise and the other, well, you know.  I paired them with a matching vintage fabric found a while back at the thrift store.

And lest you think I buy up all the Pyrex in the county when I find it, I'll have you know there was an entire refrigerator set that I left there for some other lucky thrill seeker.  It was a brown speckled pattern with navy blue flowers, and if I weren't feeling so lazy, I'd look the pattern up and use the correct name to describe it, but you obviously don't know me.  Wasn't it enough that I left it there?  I thought so.  ;)

I could stare at pretty Pyrex glinting in the sun all day, but you all don't have that kind of time, so let's move on, shall we?

How about a vintage recipe box glinting in the sun?
It looks happy or hungry...I can't decide.

Cut it Up and Cry
Tears of joy, that is.  (Also, that's the title to a really good song by Sonia Dada that you might take a minute or six to listen to later.)  But cut it up is what I did to that courthouse steps block.  Don't worry, there will be a happy ending.

(I am not as maniacal as I appear.)
The idea was that I wanted to try one of my quilting idol's pieced circle technique.  If you follow Dan Rouse of Piece and Press, you'll know what I mean.  Seriously, I love everything he has ever made.
So I looked at that courthouse block the other day and thought, now what?  I don't really need another table mat or potholder or wall hanging at the moment.  Hey, why don't I cut it up and try piecing a circle?  
And was I at all nervous about doing this?  Well, sure.  But as Shay would say, it's only fabric.
But it totally worked!  Measure a bazillion times and cut once, was my mantra.  Then I pinned the bejeepers out of it all the way around the circle and sewed slowly and carefully.  Oh, and I had stay-stitched about 1/8" from the edge of my cut-from-courthouse circle because of all the seams I had sliced through.  I was worried about those coming apart as I fiddled with fitting the circles together.
And so now what?  Well, Silver, the sewing machine up there, needs a cover.  I pulled a couple other scraps, and I'm sure I'll cobble something together.  I'm sort of making it up as I go along.

A Reminder
The Veggie Market Quilt is in its final hours of auction on Ebay, but there is still time to bid.  You can own this one of a kind quilt and support Japan Quake Relief with your winning bid.  The details can be found in the auction description and also at Mom Wald's Place.

Thanks for visiting!  T-minus four hours until Downton Abbey!  Have a great evening!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Deal or No Deal?

I think it was a deal!  But aside from plugging it in and hitting the foot feed to see if it ran (oh, it purred), the jury is still out.

For less than the price of lunch, this Singer Model 600 came home with me on Wednesday from Goodwill.  We took a roundabout way home though.  

While shopping, I spied a mid-century sewing table, closed up.  The sign said "Sewing Table $9.99."  The table had seen better days, for sure, and I really wasn't interested in the furniture.  I lifted the lid, however, and peeked inside.  There was a machine in there, and I recognized it immediately!  

It was just like the one I'd passed up at a different thrift store a couple weeks ago, the only difference being this model had the button to wind the bobbin in a different place (this is a 600 "Auto Reel", that was a 600E).

I looked the machine over but didn't buy it right away.  Instead, I went home and—what else—Googled a bit.  Then I called a repair guy to find out if he still did repairs (he's been "retired" a while).  Sadly, he said his eyesight was failing and he didn't, but he gave me the name of another man he highly recommended.  I called the second man, and he said he'd be happy to go over it for me.  He just wanted me to make sure it was one of the models with all metal parts (it was).

So I went back to Goodwill and bought it.  The sales associate grabbed a screwdriver and helped me remove it from the table, and I "re-donated" the table (that's what they called it, because I didn't want the table itself, and they were fine with that).

I'll give it a cleaning, oiling and test drive this weekend.  Then, if it needs any other work, I'll take it to the fix-it man.  Daughter, if you're reading this, you may be looking at your "new" machine. 

As far as actual sewing, there hasn't been much happening here (work has had other plans for me), but I did make a scrappy courthouse steps block for the Sew Scraps Along.

I've got an idea for this block, but it involves cutting and piecing it into something else, in a way I've never done before.  I'll need some weekend time to play around with that scheme, though.  If it works, you'll see it again in another form.  If not, it was fun while it lasted!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Favorite Things Friday ~ Downton Abbey

Season 2 of Downton Abbey is well underway on PBS's Masterpiece Classics, and that is my Favourite Thing this week!

This means you will find me tucked under a quilt in front of TV at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday night, unless I have procrastinated on getting my weekend work done, in which case I'll be gone doing that, but then later in front of my computer watching it online.  But I digress.

For those unfamiliar with the series, it is a period drama that takes place in the early 1900's around the time of the first world war.  The Masterpiece synopsis says it better than I could:
It's 1912, and life in the Edwardian country house of Downton Abbey is idyllic and bustling for the Crawley family, aided by their cadre of servants. Robert, Earl of Grantham, his American heiress wife Cora, and their three daughters, along with Robert's mother Violet, have lived largely uncomplicated lives. But the sinking of the Titanic hits home in an unexpected and dramatic way — Lord Grantham's heir, James Crawley, and his son Patrick have perished. It's personally agonizing (momentarily) for daughter Mary who was supposed to marry Patrick. On a grander scale, suddenly all the predictable succession plans have gone terribly awry, and unheard of questions now loom large — Who will be the new heir to the earldom? And what will happen to this distinguished estate, now in jeopardy?
I love a good costume drama, and this one ranks right up there with many other BBC produced gems, like Pride and Prejudice, Cranford, and Little Dorrit, to name a few.

My favorite character in Downton Abbey is the Dowager Countess Violet Grantham, played by Maggie Smith.  It is such a treat to watch such a master of her craft, sprinkling her peppery lines on what might otherwise be a bland scene.  Watch her here in action and enjoy!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Sundry 1-15-12

I took time to play in the sewing room yesterday.  First, I sorted some scraps and strings into piles by color, so that when I'm ready to make my next scrappy string ring, I won't have to go digging.  

I heard an organizational expert say that there are two kinds of people, pilers and filers.  I think there may actually be a third category, a hybrid—pilers who wanna be filers, or pilers-until-it-reaches-critical-mass-then-filers.  At any rate, the pile system, albeit a very loose method of organization, works for me, for the moment.

While I was sorting through scraps, I found a couple strips of fabric I had trimmed off when I was cutting prints for the Veggie Market Quilt that Mom Wald was putting together.  I had just enough to make a double hourglass block from each of the four prints, plus a length of scrappy binding.
I used Cluck Cluck Sew's tutorial, using 2-1/4" strips (mostly because that's all the wider my scraps were).  Instead of using her cardstock triangle template idea, though, I used a Companion Angle ruler that I had on hand, matching the center strip seam at the 3 (2") mark and the lower edge at the 7 (4") mark.  It worked perfectly, with only a bit to shave off the edges when trimming.  The final blocks were 7-1/2" trimmed, 7" finished.
I used a bit of a bright lime green print for a border and quilted it with a loopy meander.  Another little scrappy finish for the week!  

(For vintage pottery fans, that fruit plate up top is a Hull caladium leaf plate/bowl that I found at a rummage sale down the block a few years ago, probably from the 1950s or 1960s, I'm guessing.  It was love at first sight!)

Next up:  Making some scrappy courthouse steps blocks in conjunction with the Sew Scraps Along.  But first, I have to practice some FMQ Challenge leaves!

Speaking of the Veggie Market Quilt by Mom Wald and helpers, the auction for the finished quilt is going live today on Ebay, with the proceeds going to Japan Quake Relief.  

You can check out all the details and find the auction link, when it gets posted, over at Mom Wald's Place (Edited to add:  You can find the auction HERE).  I hope you do check it out, and if you are inclined to bid on this happy, one-of-a-kind quilt, please do so!

I changed the vignette on my hallway telephone table to something funky and retro-ish.  

It needed a little height for balance, so I added the lava lamp.  It makes me smile every time I walk past it.

There was some thrifting earlier in the week.  A stop at Goodwill yielded two identical Pyrex bowls in a favorite color.  

I already had one like it at home, but at $1.99, I couldn't say no.  Who says three's a crowd?

Have you seen the week of terrific giveaways Elizabeth at Such a Sew and Sew is having?  Head over to Such a Sew and Sew to check them out!  You have until January 19 to enter any or all five giveaways.  While you're there, be sure to leave some birthday and blog anniversary love.  She is a most generous and kindhearted soul, and her many projects always inspire!

I'll bop on out of here to Jack Johnson, who kept me dancing around the sewing room to this one yesterday.  Hope you've had a great weekend!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Scrappy String Ring Wall Hanging

The scrappy string ring, a/k/a Dresden plate, that I made as a sample last week has become a little wall hanging.  It hangs above my computer at the moment, a fun spot on the wall!

In case you missed it, you can read how I was inspired to make this in a previous post HERE.  Although I didn't know it at the time, the subject of the second week of Sew Scraps Along was scrappy Dresdens!  Jodi at Pleasant Home linked to a tutorial at Lurline's Place, which is the same one I happened to Google when I was thinking about making my "ring."  I went very random with the strings, cut the wedges shorter, and left out the points to get the effect of the inspiration photo, but the idea is essentially the same.

The quilting is just straight-line quilting between the blades, carried out to the edge, and a little wonky spiral in the center (which I did not unpick and do over, after all; we'll call it "organic").

I used the last of my Heath stash for the background and finished the hand binding during some waiting room time with my dad earlier this week.

This weekend, I'm going to pull a pile of strings in these colors and set them aside so I can make at least one scrappy string ring like this every month.  By year's end, I should have enough for a quilt!