Attack of the Vacuum

Last Thursday I was cleaning and decided to vacuum the stairs.  We have a landing part way down and that is where I had the vacuum while I was at the bottom of the stairs trying to use the extension hose/wand.  I know, I know.  Bad idea!  The vacuum fell on me and when I tried to lift it back up and then finish the upper part of the stairs I hurt my back.  Who knew vacuuming could be hazardous to your health?

So I haven't been doing much.  Driving and sewing were not comfortable and for a while I couldn't even sit comfortably.  Thankfully I'm much better now, although still taking it really easy to give it time to heal.

I got on a bit of a cross stitch kick once I was able to sit comfortably.  I made this Buddy the Elf, but I'm not entirely happy with it, so I'm going to redraw the elf portion and restitch it.  (This was stitched from a free pattern by weelittlestitches.)

In the meantime, I started on an easy "Super Koala" design just for fun.  I'm not sure what/who "Super Koala" is, but I like the design (by SewingSeed on Etsy--lots of really cute, easy stitches).  Hopefully it's not some weird thing.  ha ha

And I did sneak in a bit of sewing.  I have 28 nine patch blocks to sew.  I have a few of them ready for sewing the rows.

The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God — if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That’s what I think.”--Dr. Maya Angelou

Juki Dampening Plate for the TL2200QVP Long Arm

I mentioned a while back that I'd finally gotten the dealer who handled the sale of my long arm to order the dampening plates for me.  Juki is notorious for not having parts available in a timely fashion.  I figured it would take a while, but surprisingly the entire process of initial contact to delivery was within two weeks!  The man I worked with this time at the dealer was fantastic to work with.

Even though these parts now come standard on the machines, they are considered an upgrade to older (1-5 year old machines).  On the Juki owners Facebook group I belong to, some people were able to get the part at no cost while others were quoted upwards of $700!!!  The average seemed to run around $200.  While I still feel Juki should have provided these at no charge--at the time I initially inquired my machine was one year old; search Juki in the search bar for the back story--I felt that if $200 was what it took to make it run better, it would be worth it.  I ended up being charged $140, which was $125 for the parts and $15 for shipping  (a great deal since the dealer is five hours away!).  

So we got the parts and they sat for a week or two before I convinced my husband to install them for me.  The directions that came with the parts are not very good, again typical Juki.  In fact, the original  equipment parts shown on the diagram are nothing like what was on my machine.  I took step-by-step photos in case anyone else out there runs into this issue.

Here's what comes in the box.  By the way, you need to know which version of the machine you have in order to get the right pieces.  Mine has a green on/off switch and is version 2.
The directions 
The new plate
The hardware--the four rubber dampeners, some nuts and washers
 Here is a step-by-step process of what we did.
Remove the dead bar.
Remove the top bar.  This one takes a little more time since you
have to remove the handle wheel first.
Gently lift the machine off the tracks and lay it on its side.
We laid ours on several layers of fleece for cushioning.
Carefully remove the encoder since you will
need to reattach it to the new pieces.
Take the two bars off.
Remove the plate that was closer to the front of the machine.
Remove the larger plate from the back.
This photo show the new locations of the plates.  Note that you will
have to rotate the larger back one so that the holes line up.
Don't attach them just yet.
Add the rubber dampeners.
Tighten down the jam nuts.
Reattach the large plate to the bottom of the machine as shown.
Closer view.
Attach the rubber dampeners to the front plate, then reattach as shown.
Attach the new plate to the bottom of the machine as directed.
Detail shot of reattachment.
Reattach the encoder.  
Carefully place your machine back onto the rails and reattach all the cables.
I have not yet had time to try quilting with the new setup.  I can say that the machine feels wobbly on the tracks now.  I imagine this is by design, to help absorb all the vibrations.  I will update once I have a chance to try it out.

Update 10/11/17:  The dampener plate is great!  I stitched out a pantograph and the laser did not bobble from the line anywhere except for in the points.  The points looked fantastic on the quilting.  I did notice that the stitch length seemed a bit longer than it has in the past on that particular setting.  No big deal, just bump up the stitches per inch a bit.  I also worked from the front and did not notice any big change.  The only issue I have remaining is that the white box where everything plugs in is still really loose and the power cord still loses connectivity.

I've Been Busy

Now that the kids are back at school (a week already!) and things seem to be settling down, I've been pretty busy working on things.  Some sewing, lots of FLL.  

I successfully free hand quilted a quilt from the front of the machine using something other than loopy meandering.  I'm about 2/3 done binding it.  Fabric is Windermere by Brenda Riddle for Moda along with some Kona Snow.  Pattern is all HST.
I quilted and bound my Thimbleblossoms Vintage mini using Bonnie & Camille's Handmade line of fabric.  It's about 15" square.  This pattern was a lot harder than it looked!
I made a pieced backing out of some of the leftover charm squares and trimmings from the blocks.  I got some weird ripples.  I think I may need a new walking foot.  How do you tell if it's gone bad?
I've been slowly working on a Kate Spain Paradiso quilt made using Carlene Westburg's Labyrinth pattern.  This pattern uses charm squares and is really easy to sew.  I used five charm packs for the version I am working on.  I made one several years ago using B&C Bliss and finished it last year. I feel like this is a good pattern for making a quilt that you know you will use a lot but not feel bad or worried about using because it goes together so quickly.  Anyone else scared to use their "favorite" quilts--ones that took FOR-EV-ER or ones with a super special fabric?
Anyway, I'm actually almost done--half of it is completely sewn (as pictured in this really poorly lit and poor color-representation laundry room picture) and the other half needs to be pressed and rows joined.  I have been working on this in bits and pieces since January, one charm pack at a time, in between projects or when I needed a break.  I had my daughter choose the fabric pairings for the last pack since I did the last two at the same time.  This strategy worked really well because I did not find any blocks that came out the same!  My daughter also did the majority of the layout with a few tweaks from me.  Mostly I just left it. I have four leftover blocks that I think I'm going to use to make a pillow.

We took the plunge and ordered new living room furniture over the weekend--a navy couch, navy/turquoise nubbly fabric for two chairs and an ottoman, and a recliner in a pattern called "very cherry" which is actually a dark fuchsia pattern.  I'm hoping that the Paradiso quilt will kinda blend with the furniture colors.  And I really hope I like the furniture in person because I will be in debt for some time and it had better last the next 20 years at least!  

I've been busy prepping for our upcoming FLL season.  We are starting on Friday.  I'm not really ready yet.  I still don't really understand the programming, so I'll be learning that as my husband teaches the kids.  My part is more teaching Core Values and supervising their project progress. And discipline and assigning homework.  It's a pretty intense program for elementary kids and for us adult volunteers as well, what with all the prep and stuff.  If you know someone who is a coach or a participant, please recognize all the hours they put in.

I got my Juki dampening kit last week.  We have opened the box but have not gotten it installed yet.  I'm planning to wait to quilt anything else until it's on.  Once we get installed I plan to share photos of what's in the box, the installation, and my opinion of the change.

And finally, I've officially broken the 20 pounds lost point.  I'm now back to pre-babies weight, but would still like to lose another 15-20, taking me closer to my wedding weight.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."--Martin Luther King,Jr.

First Day of School!

It's the first day of school for my kids.  We didn't get off to the best start--my daughter's bus was over 1/2 hour late and I almost forgot to take a picture of my son, amongst other things.  I hope things work out okay for them during the day.

I haven't really had much sewing time lately.  My birthday was a few weeks ago and my husband and I spent a good chunk of time that day putting insulation in my future sewing room.  I totally felt like I was shoving pieces of Chewbacca into the walls.  And I learned that insulating ceilings is the worst.

We have a bit more cleaning up and more insulating out in the main part of the basement and then we are ready for drywall.  That will be the half-way point.  Man, I can't wait!

In sewing news, I have my B&C Vintage pattern mini ready for quilting.
I had to take a break from trimming all the Fishline HST because it is so incredibly boring.  Plus, the trimmings are coming off in little tiny chunks, which makes clean up frustrating.
So, I cut up my Tasha Noel Pixie Noel fabric over the weekend.  I am going to make her Winter Wonderland pattern with it.

I got a few more stitches into the blue bird cross stitch.  I really should be working on the never-ending house cross stitch instead.

I need to get going on quilting Windermere #2.  It's been hanging on the frame for two or three weeks now.  Oh, that reminds me...I ordered the dampener plate for my machine and it is in.  Theoretically I should receive it by the end of the weekend.  All the more reason to get this quilt done.

Unfortunately, I think cleaning will have to take precedence over all of these things.  I need to vacuum and the kitchen desperately needs a good cleaning.  And if I am really good, I should do some weeding & clean up in the gardens.  Probably not gonna be that good though!  :)

Sewcial Bee Sampler Blocks

I have finished up all my #SewcialBeeSampler blocks and am considering what to do as far as making a top.  

The pattern calls for sashing between the blocks.  My original plan was to use a pale aquamarine for the sashing and then something with the aqua/orange print that was my original color inspiration.  Now that all the blocks are done and I'm reminded how much orange is not really my color, I'm rethinking the aquamarine sashing.  I just don't think it would look that good.  In fact, I'm considering leaving out the sashing entirely!  Or maybe seeing if I have enough of the white polka dot left over to make the sashing.  

I don't know.  I don't love it anyway, so we'll see how long it sits here undone.  I made this with pretty much only what I had on hand; I added a few fat quarters from JoAnn to it, but mostly all from stash.  And, sadly, it barely made a dent in most of the fabric.  Check out the hashtag on Instagram though, because I love everyone else's but mine!  So many wonderful quilts!

In other news, things have been rather busy around here.  We've been insulating the spaces in the basement.  We're just about at drywall time!  At that point, you're basically half done with the job.  But I'm halfway to a dedicated sewing room, so it's all good.  

I've also been looking at new furniture for my living room.  The timing is not wonderful, but I am so over my 15 year old plaid sofas and 20 year old recliner whose second fabric covering has giant holes in it.  It's pretty embarrassing, especially since it's the first thing you see when you enter our house.

And we're deep into preparations for our upcoming FLL season.

Trimming a few of these HST is the only sewing I've gotten done lately.  I haven't even pressed most of them yet.  This is going to be a lengthy process!!!!
I had quite a bit of car time in the last week, so I've added a lot more stitches to the bluebird cross stitch.
Ooh, I've forgotten to mention something exciting:  I finally got someone to help me with getting the dampener plates for my long arm.  While I didn't get them for free (tired of fighting for that), I did get them for about half the cost I expected to pay.  We'll see how long it takes for them to come in.  They should make a huge difference with the vibration!