Monday, August 31, 2009

New Book: Great Lakes, Great Quilts

I was in Gibsons this weekend and found a great quilt book at the local mall's sale book stand. On Friday I walked away from it, thinking "you don't need that" but then on Sunday I was still thinking about it so out came the $7.99!

Great Lakes, Great Quilts
has 12 patterns inspired by heritage quilts in the collection of the Michigan State University Museum. The first half of the book speaks about the collection, providing an historical perspective for modern quilters. I found it fascinating to read of women who had immigrated to the USA from Britain, bringing their quilting traditions, as well as the story-telling appliques of the First Nations and African-American people. There are pictures of quilts made entirely of cigar ribbons, quilts that have been in families for 100 years, and quilts from an international collection that showcase things like poisonous insects from China!

I am most excited about trying the Stove Eye pattern. The String Plate project is also cool looking, and comes with detailed sewing tips. It's very useful to have a book in hand with instructions on technique and piecing methods.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Friendship Bag Fun

I made my friendship bag, for the swap, last night. It's all pieced from scraps, and even part of an old collared shirt. Although I don't sew at my best after 10pm, I stayed up until midnight to put the last top stitch on the wee bag. I like finishing something all in one go!

Do you think my swap friend will like it? She's into green, and seems like a cheerful, feminine lady.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Stipple Dipple Dapple Cat

I got a free motion foot for the Bernina yesterday, technically a #15 embroidery foot, and tried it out today. It seemed a good idea to practice stippling, but a waste to practice on something that would get discarded, so I made a hot mat. Or maybe it's a pot holder. Whatever it is, it's alright. The cheery red and white polka dot print is fun. I liked the wide, lazy, curvy lines I quilted at first. Then I thought I should practice loop-de-loops and wee turns. I'm less keen on those, although they have their place aesthetically.

The free motion foot and no feed dogs is a totally new sewing sensation. One has to be so careful not too pull or push the fabric too much, because then the stitch length gets all weird. I had to go pretty slow in order to make relatively even stitches, but they are certainly far from perfect. Practice practice, I suppose. Knowing me, I'll practice on a genuine quilt. I'm way too impatient to spend hours on things I don't really want to make. On the other hand, when I have an opportunity to take cute cat pictures, it all seems well worthwhile.

Christopher Robin looking super sweet.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My First Finish, Learning with Bernina

My mum bought a Bernina Activa 130 about 12 years ago. It's basic and deluxe at the same time, and really has all the features I could ever ask for in a machine. The tension is always dreamy, the motor is quiet, the feed dogs drop down at the press of a button (I just learned that) and it memorizes the first button-hole you sew and then makes them all the same size after that. It is super sweet of mum to let me borrow her Bernina for weeks on end, but I still mourn the days when I have to return it. My machine is a 1990s Singer that refuses to cooperate even with the simplest task. It balks at seams longer than five inches, creates a tangle when put in reverse, has sloppy tension no matter how carefully one checks and adjusts, and the thread breaks all the time. I do remember when it was working fine. I was in elementary school and then junior high, and I was allowed to mend horse blankets with it. Probably I killed it with that treatment. Horse blankets weigh about 100lbs (well, maybe 15lbs), use cordura nylon, wool, batting and thick webbing straps, and always smell even when they're clean. Poor Singer. No wonder you hate me now.

This is my first quilty finish ever. "Peachy"

I did a little strip of piecing on the back. I almost like it better than the front.

The binding was a labour of late nights, but worth the effort.

I'm hoping to get a free motion quilting foot for Bernina this week, when the parts man is back on deck at my local sewing machine store. With my first finish, the Peachy coin quilt, I didn't know how to lower the feed dogs and had the regular presser foot on. The end result is fine, but it was one of the most arduous sewing tasks ever, and of course there are little puckers that caused frustration. Hopefully quilting the Cats & Birds quilt I've pieced for my boyfriend's sister will go much more smoothly.

My arduous quilting adventure turned out OK, but I don't recommend right angled turns.

The top of the second quilt. I'm calling it "Cats and Birds" and I imagine that they're in a garden with a lattice fence.

The back is quite plain, but does have a 1/2 yard piece of super cute owl fabric. "Spotted Owls" by Alexander Henry.

Just some close-ups of 2 blocks.

Fabricland eked a good deal of money out of me this weekend as they had a 50% off everything sale. I have "Warm and Natural" batting for 3 queen size quilts, bamboo stuffing for the making of fun little creatures, fabric for two dress patterns I bought in the spring (some at $1/metre!) and some really fabulous solids and prints to round out the fancy fabrics I got online this summer when my quilting frenzy started. I'm even a proud quilter with real olfa tools now too, which were also 50% off! How cool is that. No more painful scissoring!

After getting all this pink, I need a girlie girl to sew for! The top fabric is an espresso brown, not black.

The ice blue didn't come out that well in the photo, but it's very pretty.