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

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Grand Illusion, Part 1

Good morning!  I'm late to the link up, but happily I have clue #1 done and am ready for Friday's next clue.
I have two goals with this year's mystery (besides actually finishing it):
1.  Use only fabric I have on hand, with an emphasis on scraps.
2.  Use a different people-powered (treadle or hand crank) sewing machine for each clue.
For clue #1, I used my Singer 15 Treadle with the RAF decals.

As you can see, I am not using the recommended colors.  I am sure Bonnie's quilt will be wonderful, but turquoise, pink, and black are just not for me. Plus I have barely any scraps in those colors.  I was a little hesitant to make color changes, but all of the daring people from the Celtic Solstice mystery last year inspired me.
I kept the golden yellow, but I'm using several different prints.  I replaced the black with navy blue, the turquoise with light blue, and the pink with red.  So far, everything has come out of my scrap bins.
I used the Easy Angle ruler, because it works so well with strips.  Normally I would put a strip of each color right sides together and cut the triangles.  But because I wanted more variety, I just cut several layers of red (with the strips face up) and then several layers of blue (with the strips face down), and mixed and matched them at the sewing machine.
I didn't cut off the dog ears on the triangles until I had them pieced into a block or square.  Then I trimmed them even with the seam.
There, all trimmed.
So far, this has been fun!  Bonnie's directions are always so clear, and I love her scrappy style.
Wonder which machine I get to play with next?
Thanks for visiting!  Click below to get back to the link up.
Grand Illusion Part 1 Link Up

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Quilt Pantry

As promised, this week I'm taking you on a tour of my stash.  I'm not holding back here, I will show you the whole mess.  Brace yourself.
Here it is--my basement room, which contains my stash of fabric, yarn, sewing machines, quilt tops and quilt blocks.  Plus notions, knitting needles, and projects.
You might have seen this room before.  I wrote about it when I was working on straightening it up. 
Once I had my main sewing room upstairs, I decided to keep this room as a kind of storage room, or warehouse.  A quilt pantry.  Where I have everything I need to make quilts.
I want it to be pleasant to come down here, almost like going to the quilt store. I'm trying to "shop my stash" first, whenever I need fabric, so I have several baskets around the room displaying fat quarters.   The drawers here hold orphan blocks and cloth labels.
On the lower shelves, I have patterns and notions.  I took these photos on a bright sunny day, with a flash.  It is sadly dark in here.
My stash of vintage cottons is about the same as before, except for a few more pieces I bought last summer.  I think I feel a vintage quilt coming on.  Something with lots of different colors.

The boxes on this side hold solid colors, which work well with the vintage prints.  I also keep my Accuquilt cutter and dies here.  I can cut out quilts down here with the Accuquilt, if I bring the iron down for pressing (I have a pressing mat on the table).
Here are all my feedsacks.  The printed ones are in the trunk and the laundry basket, while the plain ones are in the bins underneath them.  It's really inspiring to look at fabric.  The file cabinet holds patterns.

Here's the cutting table and my White treadle, all set up for whenever it's needed.
The fabrics under the table are ones I'm planning to use for charity quilts for kids.  Kind of messy, I've been rummaging through them recently.
This is the last of my fabric stash.  The clear bins hold reproduction fabrics, and the smaller colored bins have more fabric for charity quilts.
This is the worst part!  It's all organized, just messy.  The quilt tops in the foreground need to have borders added, etc.  There are also old clothes to cut up for fabric, and denim to make into rugs.
I can't believe I finally got down to only one shelf unit for my sewing machines!  To me, this looks like progress.

I have a basket of old quilt blocks on top of this old treadle, plus the leftovers from the Celtic Solstice mystery quilt.  They are there to inspire me (or nag me?)

Speaking of Bonnie Hunter mystery quilts, the new one started last Friday.  I have my homework done, and I'll be creating an extra post each week to share my progress.  This event is always so much fun.  If you'd like to join in, it's not too late!  The new one is called Grand Illusion.  Click on the link below to find out all about it.
Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt
I'm planning to make each step of the quilt with a different vintage machine.  Think I've got enough? (grin)

Last but not least, I finished my string quilt top!
One hundred and sixty eight 6 in. blocks, sewn on cloth foundations.
Most of the scraps came from my bins, but I must confess I went down to my "quilt pantry" and picked out some orange fabrics to add in.
I'm not going to add any borders.  My plan is to quilt it simply and bind with a dark color.
Here's what it looks like on the back.  It's already kind of heavy.  It should be nice and warm when it's quilted.
And that's my wish for you this week, to be nice and warm and quilted.