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This project started out as a panel of pre-printed Christmas designs that were meant to be cut out and made into tree ornaments.   I wanted to make a quilt with them, so I framed each square with muslin strips and and then added corners to make the blocks into snowballs.

Then I sewed all the blocks together into rows, and the snowball corners make nice little diamonds.

Now I’m adding the borders.  There will be three borders — red, green, red — and the quilt top will finish at 48×56 inches.

It could be a lap quilt, but I think I will probably use it as a table covering for Christmas Eve.

Happy Quilting!

This is one of my much-loved vintage Singer sewing machines.  She is called the Bluebird of Happiness, and she’s painted pale Sky Blue with dark blue accents.

She is a 359K straight stitch machine, manufactured at the Kilbowie factory in Clydebank, Scotland.   She has an EY serial number, which is not listed in the Singer archives, but from Internet research, I think she is probably a 1967-1969 model.

I have heard this model described as “low end,” but that phrase sounds so derogatory.   I think she’s a wonderful sewing machine, so I prefer to think of her as “priced for the modest budget.”  🙂

There is nothing low-end about the way she performs — a nice even stitch every time, and she is extremely quiet for a 40-something-year-old mechanical sewing machine.

I wanted to be able to use her for a full range of sewing tasks, so I have been buying new accessories for her from time to time.  She now has a vintage Singer buttonhole attachment for dressmaking:

and a vintage Singer zigzag attachment for overcasting seams and making decorative stitches:

I also wanted to piece quilt blocks with this machine but was having difficulty maintaining a consistent 1/4-inch seam.  I looked all over for a Singer 1/4-inch foot to fit her and could only find one for Featherweights (Singer 221K) that would have to come from America, and it was very, very expensive.  So….I made my own 1/4-inch foot adaptation for this machine using a low-shank connector and a snap-on foot that were salvaged from another brand of machine whose motor had burned out and couldn’t be repaired.

See what the Bluebird can do now!  We were happy before, and now we’re overjoyed!

Happy Quilting!

I haven’t been sewing very much lately, but our oldest daughter has some new projects on her design wall!  She went shopping in my fabric stash this week, and look what she took home!

Hooray!  She took 3.5 yards of that grey corduroy my friend gave me last Spring, plus some other goodies — about 7 yards total.

In the meantime, I bought some new fabric.  I got these three Hawaiian prints on eBay.  They are 100% cotton and measure 60 inches wide by 72 inches long, just the right size for backings for lap quilts.  Maybe.  I think the dark red and the taupe/black will be nice for men’s quilts, but the turquoise might just turn into a summer dress for me next year!  😉

Here are my totals for the year so far.   It’s two steps forward and one step back.  I’m afraid there’s not much progress towards positive numbers in the Total Used column!

Bought this week:  6 yards
Total fabric in this year (bought and gift):  60 yards
Used this week:  7 yards
Used year-to-date:  44 yards
Total (net):  -16 yards

To see how others are progressing with their Stashbusting, please visit Judy, who hosts the Stash Report on her blog.

Happy Quilting!

A new home for George

This is George, my Brother Window-Matic sewing machine, after his “rejuvenation” last year. My other vintage sewing machines all have girls’ names, but my little daughter insisted that a “Brother” machine had to have a boy’s name.  So, George it is.  🙂

I love this sewing machine so much — it works perfectly, and it’s very quiet.  I wish I could find out more of its history, but vintage Brother sewing machines are very difficult to trace.  The Brother company doesn’t have an extensive database of serial numbers online like the Singer company, but if you write to them and send a photo of your machine, they are very helpful and will send you whatever information they have.

I discovered that Brother started making sewing machines about 1951.  I found some dated photos of earlier and later models on the Internet, so I am estimating that this model is from about 1955.  If anyone else has this particular model, I would love to hear from you.

I bought a nice little sewing machine table for one of my old Singers, but the machine wouldn’t fit into it.  Happily the table was a perfect fit for George.

Here it is when it’s just being a table with the sewing machine stored inside:

and here it is with George folded out and ready for sewing:

Happy Quilting!

My Sunflowers quilt top is finished — right on deadline for my own little Quiltathon to join in with Judy Laquidara’s big Quiltathon.

I was able to make the quilt top larger by adding four borders, and it’s now 50 inches square.

The yellow print below is going to be the binding and backing, the blue fabric is what I used for the wide border, and the small pieces are what I used for the pieced border.  I sewed the little bits together in Chinese Coin fashion, and then trimmed them to get four equal width strips to go all the way around.

My Stash Report totals for this week are:

Bought this week:  0
Total fabric in this year (bought and gift): 54 yards
Used this week:  2.5 yards
Used year-to-date:  37 yards
Total (net):  -17 yards

To see how other quilters are getting along with their Stash Busting this week, please visit Judy’s blog for a list of links.

Happy Quilting!

For Judy’s Quiltathon this week, I’m working on a UFO project of 4-inch squares in cheerful sunflower prints.   I can’t remember what these squares were for, but they’re cute.

Today I have sewn them into 4-patch blocks and arranged them in sewing order on my design wall.

This is going to be a small quilt, maybe 40 inches square when finished, but it will make a good table covering or picnic rug.   Just in time for the end of summer!

Happy Quilting!

Respecting the Scraps

Bonnie Hunter wrote in her “Scrap User’s System” article that our scraps are worth just as much as new yardage from the quilt shop.  For me in England, that’s £9.60 per metre, or approximately $14.25 per yard in US dollars.  That’s way too much value to toss into the waste basket, and it really gave me pause to think.  That is when I started to respect my scraps.

I’ve been saving all my small pieces of good quilting cotton for years but didn’t really know what to do with them until I found some fantastic inspiration from three sources:

Last week, in between other sewing projects, I started making some crumb blocks of my own.

Here are some blue blocks showing their stages of evolution:

And some scrappy multi-colour blocks:

Eventually all the blocks will be trimmed to 8.5 inches square to finish up at 8 inches.

I’ve heard several people describe the making of these blocks as “therapeutic,” and I have to agree wholeheartedly.  This kind of sewing doesn’t require a lot of concentration, and after about two hours, I felt very happy and productive to have created these little cuties!

Happy Quilting!

I worked on my Grandmother’s Flower Garden for 15 minutes this morning, according to my new plan.   I am feeling very enthusiastic and decided not to wait until 2011!  🙂

Some of these fabrics are so precious to me.  I feel very sentimental about the scraps that bring back lovely memories. ..a blouse that I made long ago for my best friend… my first English fabric… other treasures found up on various holiday travels.

I’m looking forward to my little “dates” with this project.  I’ve even written it into my weekly planner as an activity!

Please visit Judy’s blog to see what other quilters have on their Design Walls today.

Happy Quilting!

What bliss!  I’ve been sewing every single day this week!  I have now finished 58 patriotic blocks, and I made a second recycled bath mat.  I also did some mending, cut out a pair of pyjamas for my little girl and started basting a lap quilt that’s been waiting in my stack of UFO tops.

My Grandmother’s Flower Garden blocks have also seen the light of day this week.  There are many more flowers than I remembered!

When I was playing with all the little flowers yesterday, I fell in love with this project all over again.  It really would be nice to finish it into something useful and/or decorative instead of smushing it back into that shoebox for another 14 years.  😉

I’ve been having difficulty doing hand sewing lately because of arthritis in my thumb, but I despair at abandoning this project, so I’ve come up with a plan!   If I work on it for 15 minutes at a time just a few days a week, I could probably make fairly good progress over the course of a year.  I’ll put this at the top of my Goals List for 2011.

For my Stash Report, here is some new fabric from America.  I bought this set of 7 hand-dyed fat quarters from my Internet friend Vicki.  Aren’t the colours pretty?

Here are my totals:

Bought this week:  1.75
Bought year-to-date:  24 yards
Gift fabric received:  30 yards
Total fabric in:  54 yards
Used this week:  .75 yards
Used year-to-date:  34.5 yards
Total (net):  -19.50

Please visit Judy’s blog to see how other quilters are getting along with their stashbusting this week.

Happy Quilting!

My first recycled bath mat has been so popular with my husband and daughter that I’ve had to make a second one for the other bathroom.

I hate to throw away anything that still has an ounce of use left in it.  This was an old and faded mat, still usable but not very pretty.

I used the flip and sew method, as with the previous mat.  The instructions are here in a little tutorial.

Here is the mat covered with strips and trimmed.

To make the mat sturdier and more durable, I straight-stitched down the centre of each strip and used a machine embroidery stitch down each seam line.  Then I bound the edges with some red bias binding left over from a Christmas project.

Here is a view of the back, which is just thick cotton.  I wouldn’t like to sew on a rubber-backed mat because it would probably harm my sewing machine, and I don’t like the way the rubbery stuff feels to the touch.

Here is the new finished mat…

…and the original mat, which is now 9 months old, still in service and looking fine, even after weekly trips through the washing machine and tumble dryer.

Happy Quilting!