Monday, December 8, 2014

Grand Illusion, Part 2

I am enjoying this mystery quilt so much, even more than last year's Celtic Solstice.  It's fun to see what other people are doing.  I always like to peek at the sewing machines, too.
For this clue, I'm using my Willcox and Gibbs handcrank.  The machine dates to 1898 (a friend looked it up for me).  I used it for my Civil War tribute quilt (see that post here Civil War Potholder Quilt), and I just love how nicely it sews.
The Willcox and Gibbs is a chainstitch machine, which means it has no bobbin.  The stitch is made with the needle thread only.
Here's what the seam looks like from the top:
As you can see, it looks just like any other seam.
But turn the patch over, and you can see why it's called a chainstitch.
It might be hard to see in this picture, but instead of the usual straight stitches we see with a lockstitch machine (one that has a bobbin), there are tiny chainstitches, kind of like you'd made in embroidery.

This kind of machine was used in homes for over 100 years for all kinds of sewing, and was used in factories as recently as a few years ago for sewing clothing.  These are the kinds of machines that were used to sew the feed sacks back in the day.  Now modern chainstitch machines are mostly used to close heavy paper bags, such as those full of dog food and cat litter (and farm animal feed). 
It is somewhat controversial to use a chainstitch machine for patchwork, since it is possible to rip out the seams much more easily than seams made with a lockstitch machine.  As an experiment, I sewed my Civil War quilt with this little hand crank, and it worked very well.  I quilted each block as I went along, and then washed the quilt after I had it together.  So far, no problems at all.  In fact, I'm not as worried about using a chainstitch machine for making quilts as I would be about making clothes.  The seams of a quilt are hidden inside, and will not be as stressed by use or washing.  I think.  That's my theory, anyway.
I'm only 80% done with Clue #2 (80 of these blocks made, 20 more to finish today), but I am so happy about how they are going together.  I was one of the people who struggled with the chevrons last year.  In fact, I gave up on them and replaced them with neutral squares.  I am so grateful to Bonnie for posting 3 different ways to make these units. 
I went with the Easy Angle, and I just love it.  I don't hate many things in the quilting world, but I REALLY hate drawing hundreds of lines on small squares of fabric.  I have used this Easy Angle for so many years that I'm starting to wear the lines off.  Might be time to pick up another one.
Only 20 blocks left to finish, and this clue will be done.  Now I need to decide which machine to use next.
Did I mention how much fun this is?
Here's the link to get back to the Monday Mystery Link Up Page for Part 2:
Back to Link Up Page
Piecefully yours, Sylvia


  1. Nice blocks. Nice machine. Great work!!
    Cheers from Dana in Adelaide South Australia

  2. I clicked on your post because of your Willcox & Gibbs! Lovely machine. You've inspired me to do one of my clues on my electric W&G. Thank you for that! Allison in Plano, Tx USA

  3. Great work cranking out these blocks, your right arm must be mighty powerful. Lovely blocks and lovely machine.

  4. Lovely to see such an old machine in use! Your red, white and blue colour scheme looks good, too.

  5. How fun Sylvia! One of my friend's has a Wilcox and Gibbs similar to your's, but, her's is electric. I loved playing on it! I admire you for working on this mystery with this machine! Way to go!


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