Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How much throat space is needed for Machine Quilting on a DSM?

Today, I basted!!!  Had to bring the 2 large tables in the house -- too cold outside!  I have PVC legs to put on the table legs to bring up the surface to my height - no bending over!!!  But the job is done, all mess put away, and I am ready to MQ this MOUNTAIN of Jamestown Landing (my way)!  I say "My Way" because I didn't make the strings for the HSTs, just used large blue triangles instead.  Thank you Bonnie Hunter of for her continued inspiration!  

I machine quilt on my domestic sewing machine (DSM), a Janome MC6500.  This machine has never had a problem with thread - I've NEVER fussed with tension other than the transition from regular sewing to machine quilting.  It has been a workhorse.  It is 7 years old with not one bit of trouble and I've never had it serviced.

How much space does a person need to MQ this one?  There is a fuzzy photo, you might see that I have 8 7/8 inch from the housing to the needle, and my quilt is 87" x 104".  This is the largest I've quilted - it will work, with some fiddling, and patience needed near the center.  I will work perhaps 2 hours a day, not longer because I don't want to strain neck and shoulder muscles. 

Below is my favorite quilting pattern, a kind of paisley I learned from I now use Schmetz Microtex needles for quilting, but Schmetz regular quilting needles are good as well.  The Microtex seem to last longer and I use them for regular sewing well beyond one quilt.  The thread I'm using is variegated cotton (YLI) with soft shades of pastels which add some sparkle to the mostly all-blue quilt.  I feel brilliant with this choice of the subtle added color, AND I alrelady HAD some on hand!  

I have also learned that setting my machine to a certain speed  - not too fast, not too slow, and then flooring the foot pedal gives me the best control and most even stitches.  I use my left foot on the foot pedal and my right knee on the knee lift - so glad I learned that efficient technique!

I pile my quilt around the needle - definitely NO ROLLING - and keep adjusting, futzing, moving, plumping.  My sewing table/surface is flat, and opens up wide.  However, having that extra space means I have a tendency to pile UFOs, etc., on the surface. Bad me!  Occasionally, I've quilted a stray block or bits of fabric onto the back of my quilting project!  One time I quilted my Machinger onto the back.  Duhhhh! 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

One thing leads to another ...

A friend surprised me with this beautiful hanging basket chock full of flowers.  It looked so cheerful, I added a decorative birdhouse, usually kept inside the house.  THAT looked even more cheerful and I added the church, and then added the quilty Jim Shore birdhouse, that no self-respecting bird would EVER move into.  Never-the-less, the end result looks a little like a Christmas Tree - all very cheerful and happy .  On the shepherd's hook almost out of sight is yet another birdfeeder, another BARN.  Unfortunately, with the owl occasionally living in our little back yard, we seldom see other birds, so the cheerful bird houses will have to do!  Look at that GREEEEEEN grass - hooorayy!

Below, the purple/red batik, is probably the last of my practicing of making cosmetics bags.  I have that tab (left of the zipper) on the zipper figured out.  I still need guidance on zippers and will check with my local gals - there are so many versions - I don't remember having problems waaaaay back 35 years ago!  LOL.  These cosmetics bags called for fusible batting - I think next time, I'll try fusible interfacing - it may be less bulky.  This one turned out pretty good!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Buttons, and Practice

 Today I vowed to "practice" regular sewing, and relearn long-forgotten dressmaking techniques.  I used to be reasonably competent, before quilting took over my life.  Yikes, fumble fingers, what foot???, where is the right foot???, where is my instruction book???, what thread??? change this and that, up and down, "how do I...?", "I forgot something", etc.  The item on the left is a nearly finished zippered pouch, and called for fusible batting, and scraps.  My zipper was an old one with metal teeth - uhhhh, not a great idea.  And the buttons for a little pizzazz?  I have a half-gallon jar full of possibilities, but didn't find many that added "pizzazz".  There seems to be an art to using them effectively.  Why do we save them for 50 years???  LOL  I"ll give myself a "C-" for the finished project, and an "A" for effort.  I'll try again, and do better on the zipper ends which remain crumpled at each end, not sharp and neat.

DH has fashioned a few old wood thread spools into doo-dad-type-buttons by cutting them in half lengthwise, and drilling out sewing holes.  I have a small spool supply as you see in the photo - that should last me another 50 years!  LOL  

What about you?  Do you USE your carefully saved buttons?  

Practicing 3 little bags  

First one, brown batiks --  I didn't know how to resolve the issue at the end of the zippers with that fold thing.  Crumpled corners are not attractive.   This was my "C-".  Arranging buttons artfully is not as carefree as we think!

Second one (blue) looks great, but upon inspection when FINISHED, a seam on the zipper was not deep enough and pulled away.  I "fixed" it with hand stitching - looks terrible (not shown).  This is a "B-"

Third one, (red/black)  is good all way around - an "A"!  I added a bit of grosgrain ribbon to the zipper pull.

Practice is good!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Is it Spring finally?

Despite my long absence from blogging, I HAVE been quilting!  Here is the completed top of Jamestown Landing.  Even by substituting HSTs for the string units, there are over 2000 pieces, and is queen size.  I have the batting and backing and "one of these days" will get it sandwiched and then quilted.  

I have lost all my favorite blog addresses - another job to find them again, and then get them in a Reader.  I am  perturbed with Google Reader that my blog list went totally away without the chance to get it copied or ??????  

 These tulips are "passable" ... this is the first year when blizzards, heavy snow, heat, then blizzards, have definitely damaged my spring tulips.  But these poor quality tulips are better than nothing!

Poppies are coming up and spreading everywhere!

And we have our friend, the screech owl, who spends some days with us, some days elsewhere.  We are watching for his mate and youngsters.  While we love to see him, we miss the songbirds which are, unfortunately, nowhere to be seen.  We may as well take down the feeders.  Even goldfinches only stayed a few days and then disappeared.

We haven't cut grass yet, and my front garden has suffered the same fate as the tulips - just a crummy garden this year.  Only a few daffodils appeared, and only a few red tulips - there should be 3 dozen - I think 6 came through.  Maddening!  We are trying grasses this year and day lillies.  The mugho pines look pitiful, with a lot of ugly yellowing around their bases -- they do not look promising either.  

I am reading my post and holy smoke, I sound cranky!  Snow and blizzards did a lot of damage and we all look forward to lovely spring.  This is a harsh climate here in western Nebraska and during the last blizzard, one poor local resident became lost and disoriented and froze to death.  Rescue efforts on snowmobiles saved her adult son who tried to come to her aid - there are times when one needs to stay safe at home.  We are glad to see spring.