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.