Sunday, August 27, 2017

My new 301A longbed

I always thought I wanted a Featherweight machine, like so many other quilters.  But somewhere along the way in my research I learned about the Singer 301s which are considered the Featherweight's "Big Sister" and knew that this was more of what I'd want to have one day.
Recently while perusing the local Craiglist ads while sipping my morning cuppa (something I do every morning just for fun) I saw an ad for one for sale about an hour from me and I quickly emailed the seller, hoping that it wasn't gone already.
It was my lucky day and before I picked up the kids from camp this was home with me. According to her serial number she was made in 1953 and I got her for a fair price.

Some people say the black longbed is the "Holy Grail" of the 301s as there were less of them made and they have the decals that the Tan and the Tan/Oyster versions don't. The long bed versions certainly seem to be harder to find than the short bed versions.
A complete buttonholer came with her along with an extra set of cams.  I expect that I'll try this out but since I really only wanted her for her excellent straight stitch I don't plan on using this accessory much.
Her decals are in pretty decent shape considering she is 64 years old.  The finish needs some polish but I know she will shine.
I haven't had the time yet to give her the TLC that she needs but overall she isn't in bad shape and it won't take a ton of work to get her humming along nicely again.
I love that these machines are reliable work horses and I know that she will be sewing beautifully for many more years to come once I get her cleaned up.  I chuckle when I hear about the people that collect these machines and that's not me.  I'm happy to just have my one. 
When I start taking her apart and giving her some attention I'll be certain to share that process with you.  I expect it will be interesting.
She does need a name, since I name all of my machines, but the right one hasn't come to me.  I'm sure in time that it will.  Of course, I'm willing to take any suggestions under advisement. :)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Baby Rory's Crayons

I have a new finish to share. This is 

Baby Rory's Crayons
This baby quilt is for my niece's soon to arrive baby boy.  Months ago my sister-in-law Felicia asked me to make a baby quilt for her expected first grandchild and after hunting around in my stash, she fell in love with the Colorfully Creative line from Riley Blake. 
She gave me free reign to use whatever design I wanted so I ultimately decided to make a modified Rail Fence quilt.  Since we already knew the gender I didn't use the Pink prints. The only problem was that once the blocks were made and laid out, I didn't like them all blending together.  Luckily I had some leftover solids from my Friends Together Forever and Our Own Art quilts that worked perfectly to give this quilt design some added pizazz.
For the quilting I again chose the Happy Times panto as it had the right scale and feel for this quilt.  I used a pale Yellow Glide for the top and a matching pale Yellow So Fine in the bobbin.
While chatting with Felicia about this quilt I learned that it's been a family tradition to sing "You Are My Sunshine" to the babies so I freehand added in the first line of the song between the quilting.
I didn't tell my sister-in-law or my niece that I was doing this.  When they folded it I told them they had to find the special message I added. They were beyond thrilled with the surprise.
For the backing I shopped my stash again and used layer cake squares of the same fabric line.  The binding is scrappy pieces of leftover jelly roll bits alternating with solid bits.
Baby Rory is due any day now and his quilt is all ready to surround him with snuggly goodness.
The binding was finished during the car ride to and from our annual China travel group reunion and I was able to get my quilt holding helpers to cooperate for a few minutes so that I could snap the pictures before the quilt was gifted.
Creating special quilts that show our love for each other is what it is all about and I can't wait to hold the new little one who will undoubtedly bring lots of joy and laughter to his parents and grandparents alike.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

And then came along Girl Scouts

My longtime followers may remember that a few years ago this blog was much more active and I posted regularly about my quilty goings-on.  I was on my way to getting my patterns developed and published, ready for retail sale, along with getting my longarm business up and running.

But then this happened! Girl Scouts!
I became what us leaders affectionately call ourselves....a Green Blood.  Little did I know when I started my troop 3 years ago that it would stuck up so much of my sewing and designing time.  

Of course part of being a Girl Scout is participating in the annual cookie sale.  My troop was clamoring to do this from the very first troop meeting and that first year they exceeded any possible expectations I had. As kindergartners we were the top selling troop in our community (service unit) of 70 troops and we've maintained that title for years 2 and 3. This was our first troop cookie order.
Girl Scouts has afforded me some unusual sewing opportunities.  Ror our cookie booths we couldn't use just any old tablecloth!  I had to create a custom one of our own.  This is my creation that is not only a tablecloth that works for both a 6 foot and an 8 foot table but it also morphs into a parade banner with a few simple changes.
Along with running my own troop, just a few months later our local council asked me to take over the volunteer job of Troop Organizer for our service unit.  What this means is that I kept the list of girls wanting to join a troop, coordinated new troops being formed and kept track of all 70 troop rosters.  Our service unit has almost 700 girls and over 300 adults and we typically add 125 new girls and 10 new troops each year.  In addition for the past 2 years I ended up taking over the Leader Recruiter duties which mean that I guided new leaders through the formal steps and mentored them as they got their troops up and running.

What all of this has meant, in regards to my quilting life and my sewing time, is that there hasn't been nearly as much of it.  I haven't been happy about that at all and even unhappier when I had to turn away quilting customers last fall because I couldn't be sure I would be able to complete their quilting in time for Christmas.

I knew I had to do something to get my quilting back on track and moving forward.

One thing that happened is that I've purchased a bigger and better longarm machine and frame.  A full introduction post will come out soon but here is a sneak peak. I've known for a little while that I needed to upgrade and the right machine finally came along so now she's all mine. 
My Penelope is still looking for her new owner but to be fair I haven't had a lot of time to get the word out that she's available.
 If you know of someone that is looking for their first longarm and doesn't want to spend $10K to $20K to start out, let me know and I'll share with them all that is included and lots of pictures.  She truly is a workhorse of a machine and hopefully she'll find her new home soon.

But having a new machine isn't going to get me moving in the right direction, though it certainly helps.  I had to make a BIG change in my life and that change had to come from Girl Scouts.  With some thinking and rearranging I've worked out a much better situation for me, for both my personal life, my Girl Scout life and my quilting business.

The person who is our service unit cookie manager's daughter graduated this year so she is done.  What that meant is that the position was open and I quickly decided that it was the right switch for me.  I'm already really busy during cookie season with Sunshine's personal sales, my troop's sales and being the local cookie cupboard (where troops come for more inventory).
Just for perspective....this was first cupboard delivery of 620 cases last March (7,440 boxes).  All told just under 15,000 boxes came and went out of my garage.
Adding the responsibilities for that position wouldn't be difficult.  I already spend a lot of time managing all there is to do during cookie season so it's a perfect fit. Plus the season only runs January through April so it is much less of a time commitment during the year.

My Troop Organizer and Leader Recruiter duties have been handed off to competent others and I'm starting to enjoy the late summer again (while still getting things ready for back to school.

The best part is now I have my sewing time back!!!!!!!!!!!

My quilting customers are thrilled and to say that I'm excited about this is a huge understatement.  I'm already working on some new projects of my own and I'm getting back to posting here regularly.  I hope that you are still following because there will be great finishes to share and lots of sneak peaks to come.


Friday, July 21, 2017

A new tutorial - create your own Jingle Wishes quilt

Confessions Of A Fabric Addict
Welcome back for part 2 of my Jingle Wishes quilt which I design and made for the 12 Days of Christmas in July blog hop.  Here is the super simple tutorial for making a version of your very own.
This quilt design is perfect for using up a lot of charms and half charms.  You can use either full charm packs or charms that you might have leftover from other projects.  It would also look fantastic made with scraps cut into charms so you could make it in whichever color scheme suits your fancy. The possibilities are endless....Halloween, patriotic, batiks, reproduction, name it, this design works.  I know for a fact that I'll be making more versions myself to use up more scrappy charms.  I have a ton of them!

The beginning is easy enough.....sort your charms into color families.  The charms you use for each individual row should all be the same color.  The half charms in each row should also be all the same color but they need to be a different color than the full charms. 
Pair up your full charms and half charms as the mood strikes you, making sure to mix up the prints for more interest. Here I paired up the Green charms with the Red half charms.
Then creating the blocks is just a matter of chain piecing until they are all done. How many you make it totally up to you and depends on how many charms you have available as well as how big you'd like your quilt to be. 
The next step is just as simple.  You'll add skinny sashing strips to the right side of each half charm.  These skinny sashing strips are cut at 1" x 5" and will finish at 1/2" wide.  Your completed block should now be 7 1/2" wide x 5" high.
Begin assembling your rows.  The first row should start and end with a full block (full charm/half charm and sashing strip).  Every alternating row should begin with half charm/sashing strip partial block and should end with a full charm. Use as many blocks in each row as you want your quilt width to end up.
During construction my quilt helper had to come check out and inspect my progress so far.
The rows come together fast and before long you'll see a sneak peak of how your quilt will eventually look. When designing my quilt I laid out all the charms and half charms before sewing anything in order to have control of the planned randomness.  It truly bothers me if I end up with the exact same print next to each other or too much of one color together.
Continuing adding additional rows as you wish.  Towards the end you might want to audition blocks before sewing them so that you ensure you get a nice overall mix of colors and prints and any areas isn't too saturated one way.
Here are all the completed rows.  But wait. You aren't ready to sew them together into a completed quilt top just yet. 
 The next step is to add the horizontal sashing which are cut at 1 1/2" wide by however long your rows are.  My rows are 57" long.  Measure all your rows and use the average length for your sashing strips to ensure they will all line up correctly when sewn together.
Join strips as needed to get sashing strips the length you need and then sew a sashing strip to each row of blocks.
 Once all the horizontal sashing strips are completed begin to sew your rows together in pairs, matching up blocks across the rows so that you have nice straight lines going down the quilt.
 The completed quilt top should look like this.  It is your choice whether or not to add a border(s).  I chose not to for this one.
 All that is left to do is to quilt it and add your binding.  There are so many quilting designs that would work well for this pattern so have fun with it and let your creativity shine.
 I'd love to see your completed quilts.  I bet there will be a lot of different versions made from this tutorial.  I myself will be making more of this one as I have a lot of scrap charms to use up. 
Maybe I'll host a linky party so we can all show off our finishes.  Let me know if you'd like to do this and when would be a good date.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

12 Days of Christmas in July blog hop continues

Today is day 5 of the 12 Days of Christmas in July blog hop.  I don't know about you but I'm seeing lots of great ideas for new holiday projects, not that I need my quilty To Do list to get any longer.
Confessions Of A Fabric Addict
Today's participants are:
Thank you so much to everyone that commented on my Jingle Wishes quilt yesterday.  I'm working my way through replying to all of you and if you don't receive a reply from me in the next few days it is because you are a No Reply Blogger and I can't reply to you.  I've come across at least 6 in just the comments left yesterday before noon.  You really might want to fix that problem so that bloggers can get in touch with you, especially if your name is picked as a winner for a giveaway. 
The tutorial will be posted in a couple of days so be sure to check back in for that.  I'm just putting the finishing touches to the instructions. Gather your charms so you are already to get started.
Next project up will be a baby quilt for a little guy due to arrive later next month.  I'll be using a jelly roll and a layer cake of Riley Blake's Colorfully Creative.

As soon as that is done I'll be getting to work on the mini quilt for the Instagram Falloween Mini Swap.  I know exactly what I want to make.  Though I haven't decided what fabric to use for the background this is the fabric pull for the main part of the design.
I can't wait to have the time to start it.  I can promise that you'll love what I have planned.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Jingle Wishes - my 12 Days of Christmas in July Blog Hop quilt

Welcome to my stop on the 12 Days of Christmas in July Blog Hop hosted by Sarah of Confessions of a Fabric Addict.
Confessions Of A Fabric Addict
This is the 2nd year for this holiday themed blog hop and it just might become an annual event if the enthusiastic response is any indication.  :) 

Last summer for this blog hop I designed and created my Merry Jingle quilt (which happens to be in the process of being remade with non-holiday fabrics for my first pattern release for retail sale.)
 It was made using the charms I collected after hosting a Kate Spain Christmas Charm Swap in the fall of 2015.
That swap consisted of her lines Joy, Solstice, 12 Days of Christmas, Flurry, In From the Cold and Jingle.  For this year's hop I wanted to use the same fabrics since I still had so many charms leftover and I also wanted to make a second Christmas themed quilt for my home.  This design is my newest result.  May I present:
Jingle Wishes
 This is a simple charm and half charm quilt with skinny sashing strips between the blocks.
I admit that my main motivation for this design was to use up as many of the Christmas charms as I possibly could.  My only constraint was the amount of fabric that I had for the skinny sashing pieces. This quilt finished at 57" x 55" and used a total of 120 charms for the top.
The panto I chose was Christmas Doodle and the lighthearted motifs suited this cuddle quilt perfectly.  For the top I used Glide thread in Chartreuse which stood out a little while still being very subtle over all the various fabrics. The designs included ornaments.
Sweet candy canes.
And whimsical Christmas trees.
This picture taken in the morning light shows the lovely texture that the panto gave to this quilt without overpowering the fabrics.  I love it!
For the binding, since I had just enough of the same yardage left from the Merry Jingle quilt binding, I used it for this quilt too. It works for me as it includes all three of the main holiday colors of Red, White and Green and ties everything together well.
In keeping with the "use up what I already have" mentality I used a yard of one more Kate Spain Christmas print I had in my stash with even more charms from the charm swap, 64 to be exact.
I'm a big fan of pieced backs because they add so much more interest plus using up bit of this and that is always a good thing so that there's room to buy new fabrics.

The panto design again just shows as great texture across the back. Signature thread in Lime was used on the back.
I'm thrilled with how this design experiment turned out and if you might want to create your own version check back in a few days for the free tutorial.
 I can't thank Sarah enough for hosting this blog hop again.  It gave me the excuse chance to make another beautiful Christmas quilt to adorn my home this coming holiday season.
 Please visit the other ladies who are sharing their projects today.

The entire blog hop schedule is:

Friday, July 14th

Saturday, July 15th
Sunday, July 16th
Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting

Monday, July 17th
Crayon Box Quilt Studio

Tuesday, July 18th
Wednesday, July 19th
Thursday, July 20th
Friday, July 21st
Saturday, July 22nd

 And to just add to the excitement and fun here is more great news from Sarah!

And as if great holiday ideas and a tutorial weren't enough, this year we've got something extra special!  The lovely folks over at Free Spirit Fabrics have donated not just one item for a giveaway, but THIRTEEN!  And it's pretty drool-worthy stuff, too - it's Tula Pink's new holiday line, Holiday Homies!!!
I have six design rolls, six layer cakes, and one fat quarter bundle to give away - and here's how we're going to do it!  Visit each stop on the hop, including this blog, and leave a comment on each post for the day.  At the end of the hop, I'll do a giveaway for each day by putting everyone's name in the hat who commented that day (from all that day's hop-blogs), and drawing a winner for that day.  That will be twelve winners - the design rolls and layer cakes.  Then I'll put all the names from all the days in a hat and draw out a grand prize winner for the fat quarter bundle!  Only one prize per person, though - let's spread it around a bit!  So carve out a bit of time to visit all the blogs and comment - it makes the time spent on each post worth it when you see what people think about your work!

So it's worth your while to visit each blog hop participant and leave her a comment.  Not only will it make her day but it will give you another chance to win some of this yummy fabric.

Thank you for visiting today.  I hope you enjoy my quilt and will come back to see what else is going on in my studio.  Lots of fun projects are in the works and I can't wait to share them.