Wednesday, December 16, 2015

 I keep an eye on the Ebay and Gumtree listings for sewing machines in my area, just out of interest.  I've been wanting a treadle with Tiffany decals for a long time, but I never found any nice ones for under $500.  I was almost resigned to the fact that I'd have to pay that, or go without, when I saw this one on Gumtree.  I was already in Adelaide to visit the DD, so I just popped round to have a look, and it was in nice enough condition to buy. 

It's been restored, not very well, but at least the decals haven't been scrubbed off. It was $180, and I was happy to pay that because I haven't found a cheaper one, in this condition, in this area, in years of looking. 
The woodwork was sanded back, stained with an un-natural red stain popular in the 90s, and the edges painted black.  Not what I would have done, but never mind.  The machine is fine, which is the important thing.  I couldn't test it, because the drive band was in three pieces, but it turned over smoothly and the bobbin case was intact.
When I brought it home I had a pile of work to finish, so I couldn't do more than get it inside.  I admired it while I slaved away at the computer until one night I snapped.  I went out to my stack of machine parts and rummaged around till I found another leather drive band; after a few attempts I had it the right length, and the machine was working again.  I had to adjust the bobbin case as it was way too tight, but with two minutes work this old dear was sewing perfectly again. 
You have to love a machine that is so well engineered it's almost impossible to wreck it.  Her number was assigned in 1909, so she's over 100 years old.
I'm not sure the bobbin winder will work, it doesn't look like all the others I saw on Ebay, so I will have a little play with that later.  I still have no spare time to sew, or fiddle with sewing machines, but once the Christmas rush is over I will sit down with this old girl and get to know what she can do. 
 This certainly isn't the original bobbin cover, just something the restorer bunged on there to fill the gap.  I have spare ones in my stash, so it will get replaced quick smart.

I don't know what her name is yet, maybe she'll just be Tiffany.  I'll decide that after I've known her a bit longer.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

I finally had time to get the borders on my Sisters Nine-patch, and I can pack away the remnants of the red nine-patches.

These have been lying around for 18 months, and I'm ready to move on to something that doesn't involve this much red.  I agonised over the setting fabric, and then the borders, but it was worth it to have a top that I actually liked.  The border fabric was difficult to choose; nothing went with the setting fabric and I ransacked the cupboards auditioning dozens of fabrics.
The leaf fabric is old, and one of my favourites.  I decided I would use it, cut strips late at night and measured one wrong.  Disaster!  I already knew that there was nothing else in my stash, so I went round to Mereth's and raided her stash.  She very kindly let me have the leafy, scrolly print and I think I like the top even better with it's two different borders.  Thanks heavens for stash fabrics.
I'll be dealing with red and blue for quite some time though; I now have 30 of these blocks done, enough to set together into a decent sized top.
 I will have to puzzle through sashing fabric for that.  Then there are the red and blue sampler blocks, patiently waiting.  And also this 4-patch 9-patch top, just needing it's borders.
Once that is done I'm going to branch out into some other colours for a change!


My hands have continued to be a problem, I'm just overworking them with the day job, the computer work, sewing and quilting and spinning.  The writing is on the wall, I need to change how I do things or risk permanent damage.  I've slowed down an awful lot, changed the way I do things (not ever going to open a jar with my left hand again), and tried to be more mindful of how I can make things easier for myself.  So when I discovered an online shop where I could lay-by the Go! Big electric cutter I thought, 'Why wait till next year? Get it now and save your hands'.
This next bit is for Aussies only;  I bought mine from Cutting Art, and they were wonderful to deal with.  It was the cheapest price I found, and I had 8 weeks to pay for it.  Once you buy a cutter from them they give you a discount on the dies as well.  And there's free shipping over $120.  I was really pleased with their service. And they have a Christmas special on too, so Aussies can grab a bargain for Christmas.

I bought a Kite die, and a 3" Triangle In Square die, and the 6" Flying Geese came with the Go Big.  I have plenty of ideas on what I want to do with these various shapes, but not much time at the moment.  It will wait until Christmas.

The 4" Kite is a real scrap buster, I'm going to whittle down my scrap containers with this one.  It's super quick to cut and put together, and I will play with the colouring to get different looking blocks.

The Triangle In Square die will make lots of star blocks easier, and the border of Celtic Solstice will be a snap now.
 This die is badly designed; each Triangle In Square block requires a left facing triangle, and a right facing one.  The die cuts only one sort; to make even a single block you have to cut two layers of fabric, right sides together.  If they had had the diagonal line of the triangles sloping in opposite directions it would have made it possible to cut triangles for two blocks from each layer of fabric.  Not good planning on their part.  Seeing as I plan to use this for scrap cutting I'm not too upset; I just have to make sure I cut equal amounts of scraps facing up, and facing down, otherwise I'll end up with not enough matching pairs to make the blocks.  Surely their testers could have pointed that out to them....

Mereth and I have already cut a heap of blocks, and she has sewn up a fair few; I'm still waiting for the time to sit at the machine and send the pieces through.  Soon....


Thursday, December 10, 2015

I'm here at the farm, and enjoying it mightily.  It's so peaceful and beautiful, it's very relaxing to drive home here at the end of another busy day. 

Tawny is a Kelpie cross, about 6 years old, and she's missing her family;
she's getting lots of attention from me, but it's just not the same.  Plus I have a printed schedule of pills that she has to have; two different types, at differing times for the next two weeks.  Good thing I don't mind administering pills, I learned how to do that at ag college 30 years ago.  I'm glad Tawny is sweet-natured, allowing a total stranger to put pills down her throat, but she does flinch a bit whenever I come near her.  All is well as soon as she realises there isn't a tablet involved.

Of course there is the problem that so much of what I want or need is back at the hall, and when I'm in there I'm cursing because the computer or Ipad or whatever is out the farm; I just need to be organised and it will take a few days for me to work out a system.  I'll get there.
I made sure to bring out a bottle of red and a wine glass, to toast the beautiful view and the start of my little adventure.
Crackers from Ikea, and Stilton from Costco made an acceptable dinner. 
Both were bought on shopping expeditions with my DD, so there were happy memories to keep me company as well.  Nice...


Monday, December 07, 2015

These days are just racing by, and blogging is last on the list of things to do.  Everything else has deadlines, or obligations, or I just want to help family and friends, so the blog has to wait till I find more time.  I have a couple more days of computer work, then I'm taking a break till mid January; the postie rush has only 2 and a bit weeks to go, and then we should have a quiet time after that. 
To distract myself from all the work and running around I might have bought a few things..... I will blog about all these in more detail over the next few days.

 That would be an electric Go Cutter.
And a Quick Curve ruler from Sew Kind Of Wonderful. Thank heavens they have pdf downloads, so I don't have to wait for the patterns.
A treadle with Tiffany decals has been on my Want List for many years, and I finally found an affordable one.  It's not perfect, but still very beautiful.

My sewing room has been sadly neglected for weeks, but it's starting to inspire me again.  I've been rummaging through Mereth's stash and found some fabrics that will help me finish all my blue and red projects, so I'm keen to get back to that.
There are 4 things that need borders, it will take a while to deal with them all.
 And I may have snapped and started a tumbler quilt as a leader-ender.  I'm unrepentant.

Tomorrow I start 7 weeks of baby-sitting a friend's farm, just across the creek from Helen.  It's a few kilometres out of town, so I'll have to commute to work.  I will have a farm dog to look after, but it will be best if Dolly stays with Mereth.  When Mereth needs a holiday from our two dogs she can come out to the farm and I'll go in and stay at her place.  It's probably another layer of madness at this busy time, but I'm looking forward to it.  Life would be dull if we didn't branch out every now and then.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I really dropped the blogging ball, I think this is the longest break I've had.  Blame my mad schedule of work and travel and family time; my 'free' time seems to have vanished just lately.

I've been sewing in odd moments, but nothing is finished.  I'm working on four projects, and I just need a few days to get them done and dusted; that might not happen until the Christmas break.

Things are very busy at the Post Office, as we deliver shedloads of Christmas shopping; when we finally give up this job it will be such a relief to look forward to Christmas again, instead of dreading it.  Still, only 5 more Mondays to get through (Mondays are a nightmare, with a veritable mountain of parcels).
I snapped and started cutting up the blue and red prints, as I knew I would.

 Sisters Choice sampler blocks
I'm doing three lots of blocks, and whittling the pile of fabrics down to almost nothing. I'm sure this is a good thing, even if I feel a bit of mild panic at their disappearance.
 Don't know the name of this block, I just drew it to use up this set of fabrics. It's probably got a name, but I haven't gone and looked to see if it already exists.  That centre octagon shows off the light, large print fabrics, and those big corner triangles are the perfect place for the darker fabrics. (That block with the red cross is going to be a separate quilt, I like it so much.) 
 My Sisters NinePatch now has blue setting squares instead of yellow, and I like it a lot.  It's been a good leader-ender project for over a year, I'll miss making those blocks which is why I'm doing blue and shirting ones now.  I don't have enough energy to do anything clever as a leader-ender.

I'll be going to Adelaide this weekend, to help my DD shift house; they have a new 5 bedroom home, and I will have my own room there!  Lots of visits are planned; Seonaid and Hayden bought me a ticket on the Nanna Train, boarding next May.

I've been very philosophical about waiting for grandchildren, unlike a friend; her daughter told her if she didn't stop asking she'd get none!  I know that life is never the same once the Grandies arrive, so I've been enjoying my insular lifestyle for the past few years.  When my grandchild is here I'll want to go visit, and help any way I can; I won't just be thinking of myself anymore.  It's exciting and I'm looking forward to it!


Wednesday, October 07, 2015

I was up at 5am this morning, so I did a little bit of cutting and planning.  I'm aiming for 56 of these blocks, and I need another 11.  (Don't think that my maths is up the creek, I found a heap more after I'd taken the photo.)

This fabric is so lovely, it's going to really bring the quilt to life.  I love big prints like this, but I rarely buy them; I'm glad I was daring and bought yards of it when it was released.
 I didn't want to turn the sewing machine before I went to work, so I amused myself by pairing up the blue and red fabrics with the red shirtings.  It's only a matter or time before I cut out the first block, and then I will have to list it on my WIP spreadsheet.  It's the only thing stopping me.
I might just make a sampler, it would let me choose different blocks to showcase the larger prints, and it would stop me being bored with the same thing over and over.  I have these ideas, and then they turn into an awful lot of work and I wonder why I bothered.  Good thing I'm going to have to wait a little while before I start anything.  I'll have more time tackle this sensibly.


Tuesday, October 06, 2015

I haven't been able to sew a stitch since I finished the last little top; there's been so many things to do that I can't afford even 15 minutes.  Our long weekend was entirely taken up with computer work and visiting family, and I was so tired when I got home each night I just went to bed.  I'm thinking that Great-Aunties can get just as tired as Nannas when it comes to running after little people.
I haven't seen Max since he was 18 months old; Mereth has visited him a lot more, so he knew she was Nanna.  But Logan kept talking about OtherNanna, and Max wouldn't have that.  'No', he kept saying, 'only ONE Nanna'.
When I arrived at the playground Logan was triumphant; 'See!! Two Nannas!'  Max thought about that for 10 minutes, then went to his mum and demanded 'I want two Dads'.  He had a meltdown when told he was only going to have one daddy; I'm sure it was reasonable to his nearly 3 year old logic.  If there could be two Nannas there could also be two Daddys.  So funny.
In the interests of my sanity I'm going to iron some fabric tonight, so I can cut it out tomorrow, and maybe sew it later on this week.  I'm going to finish the blocks on the design wall first, and then I will start planning a quilt to use up two lots of fabric that I have far too much of in the stash.
When I organised the blue drawers I realised that there were heaps of blues that had red prints, and that I always passed over them when choosing blues.  So I pulled them all out, and they are going to have a project of their own.

I've also got a lot of shirtings with red prints,
so I want to combine the two and make a quilt that uses up a heap of them.
This fabric is ancient; I'm thinking it was printed in the '80s, though I bought it after it had sat in the quilt shop for a few years.  It's always been precious, but now I look at it and think it's too bright for my taste.  It's precious because I've had it so long, and had so many plans for it, but I think I could actually bear to cut it up now.
This paisley is lovely, I need to make sure that I choose a block pattern that will show off those big swirls.  I'm thinking this is rather elderly too.
Got to love those shirtings, but I've got to use them too.
How much sewing have I done this year?
I found these behind the machine while I was tidying up, and there were another two in the drawer.  Mereth and I usually add these empties to a large jar in the workroom, just to remind us of how much we've achieved.  2000yds of Masterpiece cotton, 1300m of Aurifil cotton, and six 600m spools of Rasant polycotton.  That's a lot of thread, and a lot of seams.


Saturday, October 03, 2015

It's a long weekend here in South Australia, and the weather has decided to be uncomfortably hot all of a sudden. I was in the garden at first light, doing chores before it got too hot, and now I'm staying inside where it's nice and cool.  Not sewing alas, but working on the computer.  I did get a heap of work done yesterday, so I deserve a treat like 15 minutes in the sewing room, or half an hour spinning.  Too much fiddling with different software just addles my brain.  We have family arriving for a visit later today, I won't get much done after that.

I have to decide what I'll work on next, probably the 4Patch-9Patch blocks that I started some time last year.

 They are a lovely block to sew, and I have heaps of pieces cut out.
I just need a little break from the red nine patches, I can't face sewing the rest of them together just yet.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I did get four tops finished in September, so the tally for this year so far is 12 projects finished to the quilting stage.  I'm going to have to tackle a lot of computer work in the next month, and there won't be a lot of sewing time so I'm glad I got so much done.  It helped that I had my dates wrong when I decided to try and finish this little top; I thought it was the 30th when I started sewing the blocks together, but it was actually the 29th. So it was easy to get them all done because I had 24 more hours than I thought.  It's not often I get a gift of an extra day....

This was going to be Bonnie's Sisters Nine Patch, from her Leaders and Enders book, but I only had this much of the yellow fabric.  I still have 160 nine-patches that I've been sewing for the last year; I can't believe I started them in August last year, but I blogged about it so I know it's right.  They will become a full size quilt like Bonnie's and this is going to be a little Christmas quilt.
This little red and white print is so cute, I'm glad Mereth suggested it for the setting triangles; it makes the quilt feel playful and happy, and that's a good thing for a Christmas quilt.
I'm never going to get anywhere with my UFO list.  These blocks were listed as #20, Sisters Nine-patch.  I had to add it to the list as #21, Christmas Nine-patch, so I could cross it off.  I still have 20 items on the UFO list,  but at least I'm not going backwards.


Monday, September 28, 2015

I had a satisfying weekend at the sewing machine, finishing three tops on Sunday.  It was a bit of a marathon, but I badly wanted to see progress before the end of the month. 

The Scrappy Trips turned out way bigger than I expected, 84" square.  I don't know why that surprised me; I knew the blocks were 72"square, and I was adding 6"of borders all round so of course it was going to be that big. 

It was still a shock to realise that it wasn't going to fit on the design wall, and I had to take it down to the workroom to photograph.  I just can't seem to get the colours right when I take a picture of this, the blues and greens are so bright in reality; I wish I had the time to figure out the right camera settings. And I did use my Precious fabric for the outer border, and it didn't hurt a bit!
The Scrappy Bargello is a nice size, around 70 x 80", and I really like how it turned out.  I love the colour combinations, so even though it was a bit of a pain to plan I can see me making another of these someday.
I couldn't get  a nice photo of the cheddar and blue quilt, as the camera battery died.  Must have been all that searching through the menus to find where to adjust the white-balance.  I know I've seen it somewhere.....
So there are a few detail shots, but no picture of the whole quilt.

But trust me, it's a completed top.

I had this mad idea that I wanted to finish 4 quilts in September, and there are only a few hours left.  I've got a tiny quilt top to put together, I'll have a go and see if I get it in one piecebefore midnight.  I'm up for a challenge.


Saturday, September 26, 2015

I'm still keeping track of the amount of fabric I buy, and how much I use.  I'm not No-Buy, so the fabric tally is just because it's interesting to see how my buying habits have changed over the years.  As for the amount used, it's an indicator of how much sewing I get done. 

I've been working on three things lately, inching all of them closer to completion, so there is going to be a big addition to the Fabric Used column soon.

I'm glad that I don't have fierce 'Rules' about what I can and cannot buy.  There was a cheddar fabric that I impulsively bought recently, the rest of the bolt in fact; I love the blocks which use it, such a pretty play of colours together. 
And the sashing fabric is so perfect that I want to go back and get the rest of the bolt as well.  I could have scrounged up fabrics from the stash that would be OK, but I'm so much happier buying what I need to make the quilt exactly what I intended it to be.

I'll look for the perfect border in my stash, but if I don't fancy anything then I'll be off to the patchwork shop on a mission.  My fabric costs so much less than acrylic nails, designer shoes and handbags, expensive hair-dos or fashion outfits.  I'm a low maintenance kind of person, and that's how I want to be, but I don't compromise in the sewing room.  I have really high standards there!


Friday, September 25, 2015

I'm going to make another list for this weekend; it worked quite well last week, until I lost the list.  I did get to cross a lot of things off, but haven't a clue what else was on there. I'm a bit hopeless at organisational things.

Nevertheless, I intend to try again. 

The two blue quilts will get their borders, the fabric is all pressed and ready to cut. 
The sashing for the cheddar and blue blocks was bought on Thursday at Elaine's in Jamestown.  I was organised enough to take the blocks with me, and try them on the fabric to see if the colours worked.   I've attempted to do that before, and left the bag of blocks at home, so I was quite pleased with myself this time.
I tried to use this ancient blue fabric from my stash, but I thought the rigid geometric pattern might cause me some anguish when it was cut into sashes, as the pattern is a bit off-grain; it may end up as the border.

I will be setting those blocks together as soon as I decide how wide to make the sashing.  And how to place the blocks.  
I can't decide if I like them with all the blue four-patches set vertically, or every other block rotated. I think the rotated blocks have a sort of plaid effect.   I'm pondering the photos in between other tasks, and hopefully my On-Board Computer will sort all that out in the background.
Maybe it could also remember where I put last week's list......


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

For some reason, the Bargello quilt seemed to be a lot more work than the Scrappy Trips.

It took a lot of organising to make those long panels with 47 strips in each; I tried really hard to get the seam allowances to nest together (and failed). I tried to use 47 different fabrics in each panel, and not have them near the same fabric in adjoining panels (and failed).  I tried really hard not to make a mistake and sew anything wrong (and failed).  The last panel was sewn on upside down, so the squares went up for two panels, instead of up and down.  I tried to like that effect, (and failed), then got a cup of coffee and the seam ripper and took it apart.  So now that seam is sewn correctly, and the centre is in one piece, on the design wall. I think I've got the border fabrics chosen, I'm just waiting to see if I cut them wrong, or sew them badly.  I seem to have messed up a lot on this quilt.
I was brave and used a few batiks in the mix, and it's something I will do again.  The wild patterns and colours really bring the other fabrics to life.

I made an executive decision and packed away all the remaining strips so that I could finish a few of the projects that have stalled. 

These cheddar and blue blocks are next in line to go on the design wall; I was going to make 42, but 30 will be enough.

Then I'll tackle the red nine-patches and make my version of Bonnie's Sisters 9-patch.

Before I do any of that I'm going to cut some leader-ender pieces that I like; I'm not going to make more nine-patches if I can help it!

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