Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue.

I wonder sometimes, how our grandmothers found the time to make such fantastical hand stitched quilts, when I often find myself, with all the modern conveniences, unable to accomplish much of anything.  Busy with a full time job, grandchildren, and church activities, I just wanted to sit this week out.  I picked up a book to read and surfed through my social media sites.  I do have a head cold, which may be impacting my choices.   But, this week held little chance of accomplishing much stitching.  I only prepared a few pieces for basting and took them on a weekend trip to keep occupied in the car.  That’s the extent of my stitching.

So, in order to entertain my readers, I am highlighting another favorite quilter topic: sewing machines.  Who among us quilters doesn’t love to check out the latest machines or find antiques worth collecting.  Although few in number, my collection is unique.  All of my older machines are Singer brand.

I grew up sewing on a Singer.  When I got married, my husband purchased me a sewing machine for our first Christmas.  It was a portable Singer that now sits inside a sewing machine cabinet; and my eldest granddaughter is learning to sew on it.

emma-sewing

sewing the pillow together

My husband also purchased me a Singer Featherweight as a 25th anniversary gift.  It’s a 1951 centennial edition.  It stitches nice, but I haven’t used is so much.

Featherweight

I learned to love sewing from my Grandma Smith.  She sewed clothes and other things; some quilts. My Mom didn’t really have an interest, but my Grandma was very creative.  She taught my older sister to knit and me to crochet.  We both started 4H together and began sewing clothing. I still remember walking through the fabric section of Newberry’s, a local variety store, touching the fabric and dreaming what I would stitch.  The Singer we used at home was an older machine that Grandma gave us to use, while she purchased herself a new one.  Later, she purchased a Singer Athena 2000, the first electronic sewing machine on the market back in 1975.  I acquired the Athena from my Grandma’s estate, along with the beautiful cabinet she purchased with the machine.  Although I’ve only done a little bit of sewing on it, it has a lot of sentimental value.

Athena2000 & case

Several years ago, I came across a Singer treadle at a yard sale.  I had to purchase it to round out my collection.  It sits in a corner of the front room as an ornamental, conversation piece.

Treadle & Cabinet

I know a quilter that likes to refurbish antique machines and sew on them.  I really have no interest in using the treadle.  I may use the other sewing machines from time to time, but I would rather do my sewing on my Bernina virtuosa 155.  I do everything on this machine, including free motion quilting.  Could I afford it, I would upgrade to the latest version.  But, my wish list is to purchase a Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen.

Happy Stitching…on whatever sewing machine you own.

 

I am a procrastinator.  I put off doing things when I definitely have time.  Last week, I procrastinated a lot.  I definitely had time to work on a quilting project, but chose not to.  I only found time to do yoga once during the week.  And, I ate too many sweets.  Maybe the change to daylights savings time affected me.  For whatever reason, my week slipped by with little progress on any WIPs; no machine quilting on my Sew Sweet Simplicity quilt that I want to enter in a quilt show; and no hand quilting on the solids improv quilt that sets beside the sofa beckoning to me nightly.

But, the week wasn’t a total failure.  I had prepared some applique shapes for basting and took them along to my guild meeting.  I was able to baste a few leaves. I fussy-cut some petal shapes.

Leaves & Petals

This project is from a hand applique class with teacher Mimi Dietrich over at Craftsy.  I like that I can learn at my own pace, going back over the information as many times as I like. And, I can work on my project as I have the time.  Mimi teaches several techniques, but I really like using freezer paper to back my applique shapes.  I have used freezer paper in past projects, but Mimi adds some great tips to improve my applique.  I appliqued the heart-shaped petals for the Heart Flower block on Sunday.  I also prepared the petal shapes and the body for the butterfly block, which is now ready for stitching.

Applique Block progress

Applique block progress: Hearts, Heart Flower, basted leaves & petal shapes, Butterfly

If you’re interested, check out the class at Craftsy, or any of the other classes, patterns, and supplies for purchase.  There is always something free to download and some fun YouTube videos.  Have you seen The Midnight Quilt Show with Angela Walters?  You really gotta watch!  Angela is funny & creative.

National Quilt Day was Saturday.  Did you do something quilty?  I had plans to attend a guild event, but they changed when my daughter organized a birthday party for my granddaughter.  I did turn my blotto block in at the guild meeting, so that it would be a part of the giveaway.

So, there’s the scoop for this week.  Hope you’ve enjoyed doing something quilty. Until next time…Happy Stitching!

If you read The Free Dictionary, my title indicates being “late and ill-prepared”, while Dictionary.com says “inadequate; overdue and lacking; too little too late”. Historically Speaking explains “that action taken was taken late and is of no use. An opportunity has not only been missed, but if it had been snagged, it would have been to no avail as there was inadequate preparations made that would have resulted in a favorable outcome.”

I don’t know that my blog post meets all those definitions, but I am a day late in making my weekly post on my quilting project progress.  Hopefully, when I am finished, you won’t agree that I am also “a dollar short”.

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned attending a week-end event with my sister at my LQS.  I purchased a package of double gauze fabric to make a swaddling blanket – a quick & easy project only requiring a rolled edge hem after trimming away the selvedges.  The fabric in the package is printed with gray elephants and fits my youngest grandson’s room decor theme.  I also stitched together a baby bib using a foam bib form and a fat quarter with tractors.  The bib is for my other infant grandson who is beginning to eat pureed foods.  The first photo shows the items when I purchased them, while the second has the finished projects.

You may have noticed the picot edged bias tape in the first photo.  This is a new product the LQS ordered at Market.  I plan to make a second bib with one of the fabrics from my elephant walk quilt stash.

I also spent time preparing some of the applique shapes for my Craftsy class project. Currently, I am preparing leaf shapes using freezer paper.  Guild meeting is tomorrow night and I like to have a hand project to take along.  I have more than enough to keep my hands occupied during the program.  I continue considering machine quilting designs to use on my Sew Sweet Simplicity quilt.  I enjoy browsing through the multitude of designs over at The Free Motion Quilting Project by Leah Day.  This always sparks my imagination for machine quilting.  I will likely use some swirls and some pebbles, since those are designs I enjoy quilting and have practiced a lot.

Are you working on a machine quilting project?  What designs are you quilting? Seeing what you are working on may inspire me to make my decisions and get to the quilting.

Until next week…Happy Stitching!

Emma’s Pillow

Learning a new craft is challenging.  Teaching can also be challenging, trying to explain basic sewing principles in easy to understand terms.  My granddaughter, Emma, has been a willing learner, but she exhibits frustration when she doesn’t do something right.  When that happens, she needs a break and I allow for it.

Today’s project was a small charm square pillow with a hand stitched initial.  Emma has a keen sense of color.  She spent quite a bit of time selecting fabrics from my stash, selecting fabrics that appealed to her and looked nice next to each other.  Today’s lesson involved learning how to use rulers and a rotary cutter, including handling the cutter safely.  We handled the rotary cutter together, knowing that she needs close supervision until she is more skilled.

emma-sewing

sewing the pillow together

I also allowed Emma to practice her previously learned skills.  She wound a bobbin, threaded the sewing machine, and stitched quarter-inch seams.  She also learned a new skill: how to use a seam ripper.  Interestingly, she realized during the sewing that she had veered out of the seamline.  She stopped and immediately reached for the seam ripper to tear out part of the seam.  No hesitation on her part to unsew and resew.  That may be the perfectionist coming out in her.

Emma completed the pillow project over the course of the day by taking breaks to do other things.  At one point, I thought that she had stitched enough for the day, putting the project aside and shutting down the sewing machine.  Later, I found Emma back in the sewing room hand stitching her initial onto the pillow top.  It is exciting to see her developing an interest in handiwork.

emma-her-pillow

Emma’s Pillow

She’s already asking what our next project will be.  I’m ready to teach her how to cut out a paper pattern and stitch together a piece of clothing.  I made my first pair of pants in 4-H when I was 9 years old.  My plan is a pair of flannel pajama pants.  Emma is also learning to knit, from her other Grandma.  Someday, she will realize how fortunate she is to have learned these skills as a child, since many of our young people are not learning them.  If you’re a sewist, quilter, knitter, or embroider, pass that skill onto a younger person.  We owe it to the next generation.

Until next time…happy stitching!

This week has been very productive.  Early in the week I found time to hand quilt on the improvisational solids quilt.  I appliqued a few more hearts on blocks for the Craftsy class project.  The Sky Rocket blotto block is complete, although the dimensions are not accurate, but I am glad to have it done and will not fret over it’s imperfections.

sky-rocket-blotto-block

Saturday, I attended an event at my LQS with my sister.  The shop held a Baby Gathering event and offered several ideas and patterns for baby items.  Of course, as a grandma, I couldn’t walk away without purchasing a kit to make something for one of my new grandsons.

But, my biggest accomplishment was basting my Sew Sweet Simplicity quilt top, a BOM by blogger Jacquelynne Steves over at The Art of Home.  For smaller quilts, I like to pin baste on my wooden floor.  I place the backing wrong side up on the floor and use painter’s tape to hold it in place.  I make certain that the backing is smooth and taunt.  Next, I add the batting.  I opened a new package of Warm & Natural for this quilt top, placed it on top of the backing, then trimmed it even with the painter’s tape using regular scissors.  Next, I folded the quilt top into quarters and centered it on top of the batting, unfolding it and smoothing it into place.   The photos below show the flow of this process.

Lastly, straddling the quilt, I place safety pins over the quilt top, every 3-5 inches around the blocks and along the borders.  I decided to snap a photo of the quilt outside in the sunshine today.  January was so dreary in Michigan, but the last couple of weeks have been wonderful.  The natural light brightens the colors showcased in the quilt top.

pin-basted-quilt3

Now my quilt is ready to for machine quilting, which I’ll complete on my Bernina.  I am contemplating the designs I will use on the quilt to highlight the embroidery and fill the borders.  My goal for this quilt is a finish in time to send an entry into the AQS Grand Rapids quilt show, deadline April 21st, so I will be doing a lot of quilting over the next month.

Well, that’s my weekly update showing progress on my quilting projects. Hopefully you have been able to find time for stitching, too.

Until next time…

Blotto Block

Thursday was guild night for the Capital City Quilt Guild.  I took the opportunity to sign up for the guild sponsored National Quilt Day event on Saturday, March 18th. Received a square of fabric for the blotto block with a theme of Out of This World and decided to work on a block today.

I found a pattern called  sky rocket in my Carrie Hall Blocks book by Bettina Havig – page 129.  Selected some coordinating fabrics and planned out the block.  The pattern uses templates and the sizes are not conventional block dimensions.  I managed to finish the central nine patch, but my corner sections do not fit correctly. I am not a math whiz – that’s my older sister.  So, I still have to figure out how to make the pattern work to finish my block.  I think the idea is that the yellow sections look like rockets.

out-of-this-world-blotto-block

I also took hand applique along to the guild meeting and completed some applique on one of the heart blocks, but that’s all the stitching I accomplished this week. How about you?  Accomplish anything more than I did; or struggling to find time to quilt?  Hopefully next week I can show some real progress on my WIPs.

Until then…Happy Stitching!

Quilting and sewing is enjoyable only when you are able to share it with someone else.  I share my stitching with my two sisters, friends, guild members, and even acquaintances.  Now, I am sharing stitching with my eight-year-old granddaughter. She spent another Saturday morning practicing the sewing lessons I started a couple weeks ago.

Emma is learning to embroider.  She traced the heart pattern onto a piece of muslin and hooped it with flannel backing.  She selected three colors of embroidery floss and is learning to thread a needle and make a knot.  This isn’t easy for a newbie and is teaching Grandma patience.  She outlined the hearts using a stem stitch. Sometimes she made large stitches and had to take them out and redo them. Sometimes she didn’t catch the thread on the front of the stitch and either removed the stitch or kept it.  Sometimes she caught the corner of the fabric in her stitch as it folded across the back of the hoop.  All this is a part of the learning process.

emma-embroidering

We took a break from stitching to practice on the sewing machine.  She threaded the machine and stitched a sample with straight, curved and V-shaped lines. Learning to start and stop at a specific point can be challenging.  She is also learning how to adjust the speed with the foot pedal.  After a couple of hours, I think Emma needed a break.  But, she was persistent and wanted to finish the project. So, she trimmed the finished embroidery, pinned it to a backing, and stitched the seams on the sewing machine.  After turning right side out, she stuffed it with some batting scraps and whipped stitched the opening.  Voila, a pincushion.  Quite an accomplishment.

emmas-pincushion

As for my projects, I completed some hand quilting on Sunday.   Too many other activities going on in my life to allow much time for stitching.  But, sewing with Emma is worth more than finishing a WIP anyday.

Until next week…Happy Stitching!

Just Checking In

As Monday rolled around this week, I realized that I wouldn’t have much to say about my quilting progress.  At first, I wanted to rush into my sewing room and complete something, anything, so that I could say something about it.  Then, I realized that part of this process is being real about what I have been able to accomplish.

Just as in life, there are times that our hobbies take a back seat to more important things: God, family, yoga, career, day-to-day tasks.  Really, only those that make a career of quilting should get into their sewing studios every day.  As much as I would like to, I know that there are more important things in life than quilting.  Gasp!  How dare I suggest that we could spend too much time in our sewing rooms.  I do not find true fulfillment in doing just quilting.  In my not so distant past, I’ve immersed myself into my quilting to the detriment of my marriage, family, finances, and friendships.  I find myself much more satisfied with my quilting, when the rest of my life is balanced.

So, checking in today, I completed very little.  I appliqued some stems on my Craftsy class project on Friday night.  Sunday, I hand-quilted two rows of stitching around one of the center blocks of the liberated solids quilt.  Although this isn’t much, it is progress.  I will take it.

Just so I don’t leave you without some eye candy, I’ll share some pictures of my sewing room.  I could call it a studio, but it really is just a bedroom overflowing with sewing and quilting paraphernalia.

Whether your space is at the dining room table, like early in my marriage; a corner space or a well lit studio; your sewing space and mine is a haven, a place to retreat from everyday cares and create.  I hope you find time to relax and sew something this week.  Meet me back next time when I check in with more of my weekly progress on finishing up WIPs and UFOs.

Disclaimer: These photos were taken a few years ago after reorganizing my sewing & quilting space.  The room has overflowed out the door and into the next room.  It will probably never look this organized again.

Until next time…

 

This weekly progress update has multiple topics.  My goal was to complete the borders on a BOM begun about 1-1/2 years ago.  Although, I would like to say that I met my goal, I was only able to complete 3 of 4 borders.  But, I also spent time doing something crafty with each of my granddaughters, and made progress on a project that wasn’t even on my radar.

Mid-week, I put the first border on my Sew Sweet Simplicity quilt.  The pattern is by Jacquelynne Steves over at The Art of Home.  My older sister & I planned to do this project together.  The block options included applique or embroidery, and I chose to embroider.  The first border is the cream fabric used as the background fabric and the sashing.  This framed the blocks, making the fabric colors and embroidery stand out.  By Friday, I was able to add the second border of blue bird fabric.

2nd-border

Both of my granddaughters spent time with me this week-end doing a crafty project.  I planned a Saturday morning sewing lesson for 8-year-old Emma that included a trip to the local dime store to purchase items for her personal sewing box, practicing straight line stitching on striped fabric, and teaching embroidery stem stitching.  Her first project is to make a pin cushion, which has embroidered hearts.  Her nearly 5-year old sister Carly, spent time with Grandma on Sunday making a beaded turtle keychain kit.

In between, I added the third border to my quilt.  The dot fabric was purchased off the Hobby Lobby clearance rack.  I love dotty fabric and couldn’t pass by this purchase, only realizing after I got it home, that it is a perfect match to the fabrics in my quilt.  Bonus: I have enough to do the backing.

closeup-of-blocks

Being Grandma is lots of fun, but tiring.  Carly is a bowl full of energy.  I spent the remainder of the week-end on the sofa.  I picked up a hand quilting project in the vicinity of my resting place and added some stitches to the project.  My Solids Liberated Improv is from a Gwen Marston quilt retreat in 2009.

solids-improv-hand-quilting

So, that’s what I accomplished last week.  How about you; what projects have you been stitching on?  Join me this year in finishing up all those projects you’ve started.  I’m trying to learn persistence and determination with my UFO’s.  Just a little every week and, as the saying goes, “slow and steady wins the race”.

Happy Stitching!

 

Here we are in week four of the new year and I continue to document my quilting activities.  Over the last week, I basted several hearts for my Craftsy Hand Applique class.  And, that wraps up another blog post.  Wait, here’s a view of all the hearts that I have basted.

hearts

Actually, I could say a bit more.  I basted most of these while listening to the business part of the guild meeting last Thursday night.  Although it doesn’t look like much, I did accomplish what I set out to do for the week.  I applaud anyone that keeps moving forward with a project.  Each stitch leads to the final stitch.

As for the guild meeting, I am a member of the Capitol City Quilt Guild in Lansing, Michigan.  This month’s program featured quilter Debbie Grifka, of Esch House Quilts, who spoke about her modern quilt style.  She had lots of great quilts to show.  Debbie designs her own quilts, making many into published patterns.

As I was thinking about what project I would work on this week, I recalled a WIP from just over a year ago.  It’s a block of the month that I finished putting together with the exception of the borders.  My plan is to cut and stitch the borders and get the quilt top ready for machine quilting.  Check out the border fabrics.

border-fabrics

I love the dot fabric, and the whimsical bird fabric is a South Seas Imports designed by Debbie Mumm.  It’s been in my stash since the late 90’s, picked up off the clearance rack on a guild bus trip.  I finally found a quilt to use the colors and design in.  The cream muslin is for an inside border to offset the blocks, while the gold will be used for the binding.

Hope all of you are finding something fun to stitch on this week.  Next time I will reveal the quilt these fabrics will border.  See you all then.

Happy Stitching!

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