Three More Finishes and Rambling About Long Arm Quilting

I have a week an a half left to get done as many more UFOs as I can.  My goal is to have nine items from the list I turned in to my guild completed.  Right now I have five completely finished (some of the things I listed several pieces as one item--what was I thinking?!) and one more that needs the binding sewn down.  I also am quilting one, but ran into a snag and need to rip out some before progressing.

I finished this Civil War mini.  This was a kit that I bought in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, six or seven years ago.  I did the quilting on my domestic sewing machine, so the free motion quilting leaves much to be desired.  

I also finished these two minis.  These were projects in a class I took at a local quilt shop that one of my friends used to own.  The pattern is by Kari Carr.  Fabrics are Tula Pink, Moda Bella, and an unknown background print.  The print fabric was one where you can actually see the paint on the fabric and it made a mess all over the long arm during quilting.  The oil hole in the stitch plate was actually solidly filled with paint dust!  

I decided to try something new on each of these.  I did some dot-to-dot ruler work, stitch in the ditch ruler work, outlining ruler work, and a few free motion filler designs.  I was inspired by Angela Walters, Teresa Silva, Natalia Bonner, and Vicki from Orchid Owl Quilts.  While there are definitely imperfections (especially evident on the backs!), I feel like I did a pretty good job for a first attempt at these patterns.  

Some things I learned:  

1.  Doing ruler work with a very slow (5%) motor speed on the cruise mode works a lot better than using the precise mode that we were taught to use in the Juki users class.

2.  I need to pull up the bobbin thread before starting stitching every time.  In other words, don't be lazy.  Of course I already knew this, but was lazy anyway and it really shows.  The backs are a mess.

3.  I'm getting better at adjusting the tension, but I'm not quite there yet.  Make time to make it better before starting the quilting.

4.  I should probably use a ruler when doing continuous curve so that it is more even.

5.  It's okay to try something new that may not be perfect.  I'm still trying to let go of perfection.  It's hard.  Most other people probably won't notice how imperfect a job I did. It's so easy to tear apart and judge yourself.

After quilting these two minis, which took me the better part of a day, I decided to do an easy project after that.  I did a pantograph on this Fig Tree sampler.  Call me crazy, but I really love stitching out pantographs.  I find it relaxing to just stand there and follow a line.  It's just a little more complex than that, but I find it much easier than I do stitching from the front.  I particularly enjoyed stitching out the pantograph I chose for this quilt.  It might be my new favorite--Spiral Feather by Jodi Beamish.  This sampler has appliqués, so I wasn't sure how it would go, but overall I think it's good.  I love the glide foot for doing pantographs.  It's so smooth.  I just need to hand stitch down the binding to finish this quilt.  It's around 60 x 80.

I currently have this very large quilt on the long arm.  I made it 13 or 14 years ago for my daughter's bed.  Obviously I never finished it and she has zero interest in it these days.  I though this one was pretty flat and square, but I currently have a fold/ripple in the border to address, which includes ripping out part of a row of quilting.  That is NEVER a fun thing.  I cannot stress enough the importance of measuring out the borders correctly.  Don't just sew the border on to each side and cut off the extra.  (I am so guilty of this on so many quilts.  I didn't start doing it correctly until I saw what a mess it can become on the long arm.) It pretty much guarantees a quilting problem if your quilt is long arm finished with a pantograph (all over pattern). Take the extra few minutes to do the measuring and averaging to ensure flat borders.  Your quilter will love you.

I had a backing put away with this top that had a vertical 1/4" seam and approximately an inch and a half of extra backing at the top and bottom.  Since there wasn't enough extra fabric to attach it to the frame, I basted eight inch strips of fabric to the top and bottom. I think this is going to work out okay, but I won't know until I get to the end!  Also, vertical seams aren't ideal for my long arm. I can do it, but I feel I get a much better finished project if the backing seams run horizontally. Sometimes it is possible to turn the quilt sideways to mount it, but in this case the length of the quilt is greater than the width of my frame.  Also, 1/4" isn't a great seam for the backing.  1/2" is better.  And pressed open.  And backstitched on the ends.  

I will be spending the next few hours ripping out quilting stitches.

Oh, we got in the new camera lens we ordered from Amazon--not from Amazon, but sold through them.  It arrived in a plastic padded envelope with one layer of bubble wrap around it.  No box.  It did not match the picture on the listing (missing features) and some of the pictures I took with it are really blotchy, which I found weird for a digital picture.  I'm sending it back for a refund and I'm back to only cell phone pictures, which all of the pictures on today's post are.  Sigh.

Four Finishes!

As I've mentioned, I'm in the last few weeks of my guild's UFO challenge and I am making a big effort to get things done.  I've had a pretty good week; I've totally finished four things and am close on a fifth!

I got my new bobbin case for my long arm, so I finished quilting the second Bubblegum Kisses quilt. I did similar quilting on each, just trying a few variations from one to the next.  I had a lot of marking pen on them, so I gave them a rinse and spin in the washer and put them the dryer.  I wish I would have let them air dry because I don't really love the crinkled quilt look. Don't hate me!  I prefer things to look fresh and crisp and new, not wrinkled and used.  

These quilts are both made with Lori Holt's Bee Basics fabrics and the quilt pattern is Bubblegum Kisses from the Fat Quarter Shop's Sew Sampler box.  I did use some modifications to the pattern to avoid cut off points.  Thanks to my friend Katie for letting me borrow her pattern.

Next up is my Cotton Way Bobbin Box mini made with Bonnie & Camille's Basics fabric line.  I attempted to quilt this with my walking foot twice and pulled out the stitching twice as well.  It was really hard to keep the fabric from shifting and pulling out of square, not to mention this was when my walking foot went totally crazy and would do micro stitches and then huge stitches.  I decided to use a larger piece of backing fabric so that I could hook it onto my long arm frame.  I used a small, loopy meander to quilt it.  Sort of like if you drop your bobbin and it unspools into a tangled mess!  Anyway, it's done and I am happy.

Finally, I finished something I wasn't planning on.  I started this quilt in 2009.  It was going to be hung on the wall in my sewing room in the house we had just finished building.  I started quilting it, wasn't really sure how to finish it off, and then we knew that we'd have to move due to my husband's job loss and subsequent new job out of state.  I just didn't really have the heart to finish it at that point.  

I got my sewing machine repaired last week (more in a bit), and decided to try more straight line quilting with my problematic walking foot to try it out.  A few hours later I had everything finished off.  Luckily I still had the thread I'd started quilting it with and had enough to finish.  The pattern is a Miss Rosie Schnibbles, but I don't know which one.  Fabrics are by Sandy Gervais's  Fresh Squeezed line for Moda.  The colors are not my usual colors, but I still really like the line.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this now.

Like I mentioned above, I took my machine in for cleaning and service on Friday.  I also brought in my walking foot so he could test it.  I'm feeling a bit silly since I put off the repair forever, thinking I was going to have to shell out $200 for a new walking foot.  I had broken off one of the clips on the bottom of my straight stitch plate a while back--long enough ago that I don't really remember when it was.  Again, thought I'd have to buy a whole new plate, but it turns out that for $2.49 you can get a replacement clip put on.  And having that clip functional is apparently important because now the walking foot is working as expected again.  I have a Bernina 440QE.  It now has over 4 million stitches  and 1901 hours of use.  That seems staggering, but I've had my machine around seven years now and I do sew a lot (sometimes).
Although I love my Bernina, there is a definite reason for having the long arm!  I used my Bernina BSR foot to free motion this design onto the border of this mini quilt.  I'm pretty embarrassed by how it looks.  I am in awe of those of you who can free motion quilt on your domestic machine and have it look nice.  Mine is always ugly.  I think I may have ruined what was a cute mini, but oh well.  At least it will be done.  Reveal should be next week.

I spent a good deal of yesterday trying to figure out how to quilt a small top.  I think I tried a hundred different things on my plexiglass overlay.  All the blue marker is different designs I was trying. I have part of a plan now.  Hopefully I can carry it out.

The registration window for MQX Midwest opened up on Monday.  I'm planning to go Wednesday through Friday this year and have signed up for classes with Julia Quiltoff, Natalia Bonner, Dorie Hruska, and Clem Buzick.  I wish I could take more classes, or that the ones I'm interested in aren't always scheduled at the same times, but I'm sure I'll learn a lot with these four classes.  I learned a ton from the ones I took last year.  Any readers out there attending?  

Are there any readers at all out there?  My feed burner stats say I have a pretty sizable amount of subscribers, but my viewing stats say otherwise.  Say hello if you are a real person. 😏

How to Make an Astronaut Costume

I was in a mad rush to get things finished last week.  When you rush, you make mistakes.  I dropped the bobbin case to my long arm and apparently bent it.  The bobbin itself fits in, but the thread will not pull through.  No more quilting for me.

I ordered a new case and also one of Jamie Wallen's dewarpers, which my husband informs me is called a swedge in the machining world.  I have received and used the dewarper.  There is something else going on with the case since the thread still won't pull.  I have not yet received the new bobbin case.  Still no quilting for me.

I also had to prepare my son's astronaut costume for his grade's wax museum project.  We ordered a white paint coverall on Amazon since the local stores did not sell one small enough.  I still had to trim quite a bit from the legs and a decent amount from the arms.  I ran a channel on the sleeves for elastic since the sleeves were quite wide without it.  I just hemmed the legs.  The fabric will not fray, so need to worry about overcasting or otherwise finishing the edges.  The Amazon suit had a collar.  I just rolled it to the inside to cover up the factory seam, stitched it down, and trimmed off the excess.  Again, no need to worry about fraying.

Since the suit we were trying to replicate was from the 60s, we just did our best.  I ordered a NASA meatball patch from the NASA store in Texas.  They were out of the smaller size, so I got the large. And it was quite large!  I got the mission patch from our somewhat local Gus Grissom museum, but you can find replicas by Googling.  The flag patch on the sleeve was quite big on the actual spacesuit.  We used a cloth flag on a stick, removing the stick, of course.  That left the name badge.  I embroidered out "V. I. GRISSOM" on some black Kona cotton and then just ironed under the edges.  I sewed on all the patches we used.  The real patches are iron-on, but I was worried that either the suit would melt or the patches would fall off at school.  And it's very easy to stitch down patches.  Plus you can reuse them if you want.  :)

We also made the yellow harness belt with nylon webbing and a buckle from JoAnn.  Even though I measured it on my son, it somehow ended up really huge.  Oh well.  Did you know that you can use a lighter to melt the cut edges of the webbing so that it doesn't fray?  This works on ribbon as well.

There were also some ports on the actual space suit.  We used plumbing pieces and just pinched the fabric between them.  This helped with the bagginess on the front of the coverall too.

My son really wanted the metal piece that is where the helmet would attach.  We ended up buying a 9" wooden embroidery hoop, spray painting it silver, and then just pinching the costume into it. Since the yellow straps were drooping, we pinched those in between the hoops to keep it in place too.  We left off the bottom zipper per my son's request. The costume was a big hit amongst the adults and my son was really pleased too.

Image courtesy of NASA.  You can easily find this on Google.

In other news, I did finish a cross stitch piece.  My first Christmas gift for this year is now complete!  The pattern is Deck the Halls by JBW Designs.  I bought a kit that contained the fabric and embellishments at the local cross stitch store.  It's hard to tell, but there are seed beads here and there.  Its finished size is 3-3/4" x 4-1/2".

We seemed to have only about a week and a half of spring and have now moved right into summer. It's been in the 90s for almost a week now.  The vegetables are doing great except for the lettuce. Probably a bit too hot too fast for it.  My irises are going crazy!  My favorite Crater Lake Blues have started to open.  My son and I watched a Caesar's Brother Siberian iris unfurl right before us yesterday morning.  I've never seen a flower blossoming before my eyes in real life before.  Totally amazing!

Crater Lake Blue iris
I am participating in a Polaroid Greeting Swap again this year.  Here's part of my stack of fabrics (I had to order a few I did not have for specific requests).  This is such a fun, easy swap.  If anyone ever wants to trade a few blocks with me, shoot me an email.  The contact button is to the right.  Or you can message me on Instagram too.
Have a great week!
P.S.--I'm super excited that we ordered a replacement lens for my camera.  I can't wait till it arrives!

Quilts & Flowers

Our gardens are coming along nicely.  All the hard work is now done, so it's a matter of sitting back and enjoying them for a bit.  I can't wait for nice, fresh lettuce to be ready to harvest!  And it's almost time for my favorite iris, Crater Lake Blue, to bloom.  My daffodils are now all finished and the first of the irises has bloomed.    The white 'Immortality' irises are just starting to bloomThis one is 'Batik' and is particularly pretty this year.
I was really happy to see that the tulips I planted in my future sewing room window well made it (no pests like rabbits or deer eating them).  Oddly, none of the daffodils we planted in there came up.  But it still looks nice.  It's a moist and almost totally shady location, so we put in a few hostas, a small Columbine, and a Heuchera.
Our vegetable garden is growing (or attempting to grow) lettuce, beets, broccoli rabe, green beans, cabbage, jalapeño, potatoes, cucumber, and strawberries this year.  It looks like I might get some pears from one of the trees we planted last year.  I was trying to Google information about what pears look like while growing.  If you just type "pear" instead of "pear tree" you get a whole lot of images of body shapes instead of fruit!!  Anyway, I'm pretty certain that those little globes in the center of the picture are baby pears.

In sewing news, I finished up my Paradiso #1 quilt this morning.  The backing print I used is one of my favorites ever.  And I love the hot pink prints in this line too.  The fabrics are all Kate Spain's Paradiso.  The pattern is by Cluck, Cluck, Sew.  The quilt measures 55" x 63". I originally intended this to match my living room furniture, but it doesn't, so if you would like to purchase this lovely quilt, please inquire.  :)

This week is check-in on our guild UFO challenge, so I'm scrambling to try to get some things finished.  I have one of two Bubblegum Kisses mini quilts ready to bind.  I tried some different continuous line/curve designs.   I'm pretty happy with how it turned out even though my orange peel segments are still pretty inconsistent.  The overall effect is decent.  The fabrics on this one are all Lori Holt Bee Basics and Bee Backgrounds.  The pattern is slightly modified from the one that came in the Sew Sampler box.  My finished size on this is going to be around 22" x 24".

I'm trying to determine how to quilt the second version and am hoping to have it done by Friday evening as well, since I listed them as one total item on my UFO list.  I also decided to finish off one of my partially complete cross stitch projects.  It's a Christmas ornament and I just had to sew on the beads and then do all the finish work on it.  I did the beads yesterday and washed it, so now it's just a matter of mounting it and finishing the ornament.  I haven't done the finishing technique before, but it seems pretty straight-forward.

I'm also creating a replica Gus Grissom space outfit for my son since he needs a costume for his famous Hoosier wax museum school project on Friday.  It involves a disposable painting coverall, a bunch of patches, some webbing, and some plumbing parts.  We didn't have school yesterday due to it being an election day, so we got a good portion done.  Still a ways to go though.  Hopefully tonight it will be totally done.

What are you working on this week?

Spring Has Sprung

The weather seems to finally have decided upon staying in spring.  Indiana is pretty for about two weeks in the spring when everything is coming back to life and greening up.    All my vegetables have come up.  Things are starting to flower.  I've been spending a good bit of time outside, buying and planting flowers and trees.  

This is my transplanted lilac.  It seems to be doing well.  We  planted a few creeping phlox around it and transplanted a few lamb's ears from the lawn, but only one made it.  We added in a few rocks from our basement too.  Totally need to wash the siding.

We added a standard pine and a few more perennials.  Those scraggly messes are knock out roses, which will be removed/transplanted elsewhere next year.

I have at least two hummingbirds coming in to the feeders, both male.  We also saw a Baltimore oriole at the hummingbird feeder this week.  We have an oriole feeder, but it doesn't attract any birds.  My mom lives five hours north of me and she mentioned that she had rose-breasted grosbeaks come in to her feeders yesterday.  I said I hadn't seen any yet.  No sooner did I hang up the phone with her than I saw a handful of them on my feeders!

I really enjoyed my guild retreat on Saturday.  Time flew by and I actually got a good bit of progress in on my Aviatrix quilt.  I quilted one of my UFOs last week and attached the binding to the front of the quilt yesterday.  Just a quick (ha ha ha) sew down on the back and it will be finished.  Side note on this one:  I tried out the Juki glide (or cup) foot on this one and it worked so well!  Of course the directions weren't the greatest.  You really need to change the needle before the foot is on.  I dropped a needle down inside the machine attempting to do it while the foot was installed.  Also, you need to take the screw all the way out of the shank in order to attach this foot.  It is a much longer screw than you would think...  The effort was worth it though.  Great foot.
I also sewed rows together on one of my Bee Basics Bubblegum Kisses quilts.  I still need to press it. Then I need to add borders to both and get them quilted.  This was a project that came in the Sew Sampler box (which most of my quilt friends subscribe to).  I borrowed the pattern from one of my friends and bought the fabric--with careful cutting and some extra background fabric I was able to make two.  
I have just over a week to finish up more UFOs before my next guild meeting.  I also have to create a Gus Grissom costume for my son to wear at a school function next week.  I'm just waiting (apparently until the last second) on a coverall to come in and then I need to sew patches to it.

We got rid of cable Monday and went with only streaming services.  I'm getting the hang of it, but it's an adjustment.  I think we all miss the clocks on the cable boxes the most!  I have one clock on order and I'm going to go buy a second one this morning.  

Random things I've been thinking about:  I don't get the whole "promposal" thing.  It's been on the news, my daughter has talked about it, and it was even on The Middle last night.  I would like to know where it originated.  I think at that age I would have appreciated the effort, but as an introvert, I would also have been mortified by the whole thing as well.  Have you ever seen a sage grouse male calling?  It's really weird and entertaining.  You can find all sorts of videos to watch, definitely with sound.  I really need to come up with a business name so that I can officially quilt for others.  I also have some things I need to destash.  Need to locate boxes and determine shipping.