Thursday, September 26, 2013

Quilted Tablets

Earlier this year, we got our oldest grandson a tablet for his 11th birthday. He was thrilled with it. When he called to thank us for the gift, his little sister got on the phone. She sweetly asked if we could maybe get her a tablet when she turned 11.

So, the twins each are getting a tablet for their 10th birthday.  What can I say, I'm a sucker for the grands, all five of them.  The other two grandkids already have tablets, so these are the last two to get them.  The twins' birthday isn't until late December, so we have plenty of time to prepare.

Here are the protective covers for their tablets.  The one on the left says "Mad Scientist."  It is an embroidery file from Urban Threads. It was a freebie at one time, so I grabbed it, knowing that at least one of my grandkids would enjoy the mad scientist persona. The name on the right was created using an alphabet called "Seacrest." This font was also a freebie, but I have forgotten from whence it came. On the inside of the flap of Piper's is a design called "Imagination," from Embroidery Library.

The covers were created using leftover fabric from a wall hanging quilt that was a block of the month from Shabby Fabrics, called "My Grandma's Garden," so it seemed appropriate to create the covers for the grandkids' tablets using the leftover fabric.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Not Your Mother's Shopping Bag

I belong to a quilt guild here in California, and our guild has a group of ladies who make quilts and other items for homeless or otherwise needy people. We also make wheelchair and walker bags, winter neck scarves, knitted hats for newborns, and more. It's a fun group of really nice ladies, and a few gents.

Recently the leader of our Philanthropy group issued a challenge to the group to decorate some reusable shopping bags that had printing on the sides. The challenge was to cover the printing, thereby decorating the bags. They will be voted on for the favorite, and I think there may be a small prize for the winner.

The bags are to be finished by October, when the voting will take place. This is my bag. The tiny ribbon bow is just being auditioned to see how it works, but I think I may have decided against it. Still, it needs something more. Someone has suggested big yellow buttons at the base of the handles, and that may be what I end up with. We'll see.

As I was working on the hexagon flowers, it reminded me of the Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt that I have been working on for a couple of months now. And I began to wonder, would this folded technique make a nice quilt? Batting could be inserted before folding, creating a quilt-as-you-go quilt. It would certainly be textured! My only concern would be to wonder if the nice neat folds would remain so when it is washed.

Monday, March 25, 2013


I have 4 sisters; one has passed away (RIP Kellie) and the others live far away from me. The one I am closest to is 18 months younger than me. For privacy sake, I will simply call her Sis.  We get along great (now) and have similar interests, although we have very different personalities. I am the quiet, bookish one, and she is vivacious and outgoing.  When we were in school, she just couldn't get it when it came to sewing for Home Economics. Now, however, she sews a lot of her own clothes, and things for her grandchildren.

On one of my visits back home, I taught her how to make half-square triangles, and showed her different ways to arrange them for making different patterns. I could almost see the light bulb come on over her head. This started Sis to making quilts. All sorts of quilts; table runners, coasters, bed quilts, even a mantle quilt for her son for Christmas.  She sends the large quilts to me for quilting since I have the quilting machine.

So, Sis found a Block of the Month online at Shabby  For some reason, it appealed to her, so she promptly enrolled herself and me for this wall quilt. They sent the blocks to her, and she mailed mine to me every month. The final month was February, when they sent the center block, sashing, borders, binding, and finishing instructions.

Here is my center block, all finished.  Sis is jealous; she hasn't even started on her center block. She is so much in love with this quilt design that she is afraid to begin the center for fear she will mess it up. I used the freezer paper method to begin making the applique shapes. I found the freezer paper makes things much easier, particularly with odd shapes

I am currently debating about whether or not to add some simple embroidery, such as a wispy butterfly or dragonfly to mine, just to add an individualized touch. I wonder if Sis is waiting for me to offer to do her center block for her, but I think she will have greater satisfaction if she does it herself.

Quilted Dishes

Okay, I didn't really didn't try to quilt my dinnerware. I picked up a kit for making a dresden plate quilt at our local (Manteca, CA) quilt show. Some of the "petals" were already cut; actually, as I sewed the petals together, I saw that some of them had apparently been sewn and then unsewn. The precut pieces were not enough to complete a quilt, but the kit contained more, uncut fabric from which to finish the blocks.

The quilt I am currently working on uses  1930s prints. Since this is not the color palette I would normally use, it will be a challenge for me to pick background and sashing fabrics to complete the quilt.

According to this article, the Dresden Plate quilt pattern was one of the most popular quilts made during the 1920s and 30s. It was first published in the 20s but not always under the name Dresden Plate. Grandmother's Sunburst, Friendship Ring, Aster, Dahlia and Sunflower are all names used for this pattern.

I'm not in a big hurry to finish it, however, because my quilting frame is out of commission at the moment. I was quilting a quilt for our Philanthropy group last week when I noticed I was having a lot of trouble making the machine go where I wanted. If you look closely at the quilted lines, you might think I was drunk when I did the quilting, the lines are so crooked. Upon investigating the trouble, looking for obstructions or other causes for the trouble, I discovered that the rails upon which the machine carriage rides are cracked. Replacement rails have been ordered, so all should be well soon. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Quilted Toads

The last time DH and I visited "back home," our daughter-in-law (DIL) asked me to make her a quilt. She was the only one of our 3 DILs that I haven't yet made a quilt for, so it was on my to-do list anyway. Therefore, I was more than happy to oblige.  Then she told me that she had never had anything that had been made especially for her, which made me a little sad for her. I asked her about color scheme and/or pattern preference, and she said she would love anything I came up with. She did mention pink, which is one of the colors I chose for her quilt.

This particular DIL is very fond of miniature schnauzers (she has four), so I went on a hunt for some schnauzer fabric, which I found on  If you've ever followed Project Runway, you know they usually have one challenge where they print their own fabric, and this is one of the features offered at Spoonflower. Anyhow, the fabric was found, so now I had to find a quilt design to highlight the schnauzers so they didn't get lost in the mix.

Our local quilt guild meets on Tuesdays for group sewing on philanthropy projects. This is a generous, fun bunch of ladies who like to share. Usually there are quilt magazines available that members have brought to share, to clear out their stash. Last week I found a design in a 1995 American Patchwork and Quilting magazine that promises to be perfect for showcasing the dog fabric. The pattern, called "Toad in a Puddle" is a 100-year old pattern that was first published in the late-1800s mail-order catalog produced by Ladies Art Company. This is a picture of the main block, the "toad". (Such an unromantic name!)

The so-called alternate block is the block that will feature the schnauzers. It calls for a 9" square, which will be "framed" with contrasting fabric.  So now, I have the pattern, I have the fabric, and am almost halfway through making the "toads".  Now I look ahead to see how the alternate blocks are constructed, and the cutting instructions don't give the measurements for the frame around the 9" square. Yikes!

After panicking slightly for a while, studying the magazine for clues, and finding none, I was in a quandary. What was I to do? Then it dawned on me, I have Electric Quilt 7, which I had used to do a layout of the colors I wanted to use. EQ7 to the rescue! I was able to print out the rotary cutting guide for the alternate block, and of course it includes measurements. Another thing I like about EQ7 is the fact that it will figure and print out the quantity of each fabric needed for the quilt. There are many more features in EQ7 that I haven't discovered yet, but I will figure it all out eventually.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Feeling Like a Traitor

I've always loved the look of the old black machines from days gone by. And I truly appreciate their reliability. They were built to last, and they do. I have so many I am embarrassed to tell the number, and I love each one, although some get used more than others.

So, why am I feeling like a traitor? Last week, I attended the Machine Quilters Expo in Portland, Oregon, and took some machine quilting classes. The machines that were provided for us to use were Janome Horizon quilters edition, and I have to say, I really liked the machine. It provided 11 inches from needle to post, more room even than my old reliable Singer 15, 201, 27, and all the others. It came with a whole slew of decorative stitches and it handled all different types of threads without complaint. I used 30 wt, 40 wt, 60 wt, bobbin thread, even metallic thread and that machines just kept chugging along.

The machines used in the classes were being sold at reduced prices, and if I'd had the $$ I would have bought one. A few people in the classes DID buy one. Since I came back, I catch myself mooning over them online, checking prices, comparing features. Still, there's that nagging thought that keeps recurring, about the fact that it is a computerized machine, that surely wouldn't last as long as my old reliable cast iron models have.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Maybe I'm Crazy

I'm one lucky gal. DH was required to visit Switzerland for a month, for business. It was one of those things where you think, please, twist my arm to make me go. Lucky for me, his company agreed to pay for my airfare to accompany him. To Switzerland!  Since it was my first trip outside North America, I had to apply for a passport, which wasn't a big deal.

Switzerland in the spring is breathtaking. There were flowers everywhere, although the mountains were still covered with snow. And the waterfalls! We saw many waterfalls created by melting snow, which in turn created crystal clear streams, rivers, and lakes.

German is the predominant language there, although some French has made it into the everyday spoken language. Being in a country where little of my native language is spoken gave me a very real sense of how immigrants must feel when they come to the United States. The Swiss are very friendly people and always willing to go the extra mile to help whenever possible. Still, not knowing the language made for interesting challenges when it came to food. More than once I ordered food at a restaurant not knowing what I would end up with. It also made grocery shopping and cooking interesting.  Who knows what measure 3 dcl is? Eventually I figured out it is 0.3 liter, which is the amount of tea you get in a restaurant. It's actually printed on the glass with a fill line. I was tempted to buy a local cookbook (if I could find one written in English) but since the measurements were all in liters and grams, my cups and teaspoons wouldn't really work.

So, because we were there for a month, we did our share of sightseeing and exploring. We went to Luzern, happening upon some sort of festival going on. We also went to the capital city of Bern, a busy city which also includes some ancient (by USA standards) architecture alongside modern buildings. On the way back from Bern one day, DH took a little detour  into the city of Thun in search of a gas station, where we discovered a real, authentic castle.  We were tired and hungry at this point, so we decided to come back to Thun another day to explore the castle/museum. The castle was built around 1190 a.d.  and contained some fascinating historical objects, such as armor, weaponry, clothing, furniture. When my oldest grandson saw the photo of me standing in front of the castle, he decided it was Disneyland and was not impressed at all!

Because DH was tied up at work most days, I had time to search for interesting things to do while we were there. I enjoy visiting thrift stores, so when I discovered one in a nearby town, we decided to visit and see what they had available. What we found was a treasure trove of things I would have loved to bring home with me, including pottery, military items, clocks, and even a couple of sewing machines. One of them in particular caught my eye: it was a Naumann hand crank sewing machine that looks very much like a Singer model 27. The price was reasonable, and I had been thinking about adding a hand crank machine to my collection, so I took a picture. Of course, DH didn't like the idea of having to deal with shipping it back to California, so we left it behind. I posted the photo on The Quilting Board, telling about the machine.  Several others encouraged me to get the machine, commenting on the beautiful decals and the fact that it is something not often seen in America.  For the next week, he teased me about visiting a country like Switzerland and wanting to get an old clunker sewing machine. The following weekend, we went back to the thrift store and brought it back to our lodging. Later he took it to arrange for shipping it back home. So far, I haven't found  much information about the machine, such as when it was built. After winding a bobbin with the hand crank, I have decided the machine definitely needs some serious cleaning and oiling before it will be useful. It also needed a needle clamp screw which was generously donated by AshleyR of The Quilting Board. Thank you Ashley!

DH thinks I'm crazy for loving these old machines, and maybe he's right. The fact remains, however, that these old machines were made to LAST, and with proper care and maintenance they will last indefinitely, continuing to sew as well as they did when new. The same cannot be said for today's computerized sewing machines.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hello, my name is...

Hello, my name is Ginger, and I am a sewing-machine-aholic.  Uh, I mean, a vintage machine enthusiast. That sounds much nicer, doesn't it?  I just can't seem to help myself when I see a vintage machine. I have to look it over, see if it works, check out its attachments and appearance. Most of my acquisitions have occurred while living in California, so I shall blame it on being so far away from friends and family.

Here is my latest "rescue." It's a Singer model 15-91, built in 1934, two years before my mother was born. Obviously, the base it is in is not the original, but it needed something to sit in.

I love these old machines for several reasons. First, and most important, their reliability. These machines were precision made, all steel, and built to last for generations. If they are kept clean, oiled and lubricated, they will work like new for a hundred years or more. Most machines made today cannot make that claim.

Also, I just like their looks; their lovely decals, decorative face plates and sleek shiny surface. Another great feature is the large opening to the right of the needle. Modern machines seem to be much smaller here.  This large opening is important when it comes to making quilts, which is something I enjoy doing. These older machines will sew just about any fabric you can get under the presser foot: anything from silk to denim.