Friday, February 25, 2011

Auction night

My local guild, Illini Country Stitchers, holds an annual auction as a fund raiser for our program committee.  One of our wonderful members turns her home into a sorting factory for fabrics, kits, quilts, books, patterns, and notions for the six weeks prior to the auction.  Guild members are encouraged to go through their stash, and pull out those things that they are no longer using and donate.  Books and notions are set up for sale at 50cents each.  There is also a silent auction set up for quilt kits, and larger items.  The fabric is set up in cardboard box lots.  We had 77 lots.  I would say on average, a box went for 7 or 8 dollars.  A few went for less, and lots went for $10 or more!
Yes, I went with my determination steeled.  I was NOT going to buy anything.

As you can see from the picture on the left, I could just not help myself!  I got all these lovely things for $26!

I got this cute little thread stand for 50 cents!  I think it will be just the ticket for holding threads for embroidery projects.  The thread on the stand I got for 10 cents each!

I got this Ami Simms book for 50 cents.  It was published in 1990.  It has got to be a classic!

This is the reason for the purchase of two lots of fabrics.  I couldn't resist the Curious George prints.  One is a panel for a fabric book.  And look at those bananas!

There were lots of Christmas prints and other juvenile prints in my boxes.  Some will be great for I Spy quilts and other patterns for Project Linus.  There were some good sized pieces of several intact yards that will be great for backs.  And check out the blueprint fabric!  I don't know what I could do with that, but it certainly is fun!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Stitch in the ditch

When I was a new machine quilter, I did stitch in the ditch because I was so afraid my stitching lines would show and would not be "worthy".  Or I did a lot of outline stitching.  My feeddogs were always up and I had my walking foot on.  How I yearned to be able to make those swooping freestyle feathers, close stipples.  So I practiced, and practiced. And I got better and better.  And I thought my stitch in the ditch days were behind me.

Enter Circle of Life.  This quilt is taking me to edge and beyond of machine quilting.  And one of the many lessons that it has been teaching me is that stitch in the ditch is a good thing.  It helps stabilize the quilt sandwich. and helps those rays in the New York Beauty arches shine.

The work on the right has been stitched in the ditch.  The left side is yet to be done.  See how the rays stand out so nicely.

My current workhorse sewing machine is my Janome 7700 (Horizon).  Besides having an 11" harp size, it has the built in AccuFeed system.  This system is slick at moving the quilt sandwich evenly and smoothly.  No bunching up at the end of a seam.  There is a special SITD foot, but I much prefer using my open toe foot.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Squishy packages

Nowadays, most of the stuff that the mailman brings is junk mail.  But occasionally, I will find a squishy package stuffed in the box!  And all we quilters know what a squishy package means... fun stuff!

Today I got two packages.  One was my order from Red Rock Threads.  I love threads!  Those colors and textures just make me smile!  Today's order is on the blue side, as I was needing bobbin thread for Circle of Life.  I love to use Superior's Bottom Line in the bobbin. 

The next package was from my cousins Jo and Nancy.  Aren't family great!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Featherweight

It doesn’t take long to be in the quilting world until you start to hear about the legendary Singer Featherweight.  These little machines were manufactured from 1933 until 1961, at a rate of over 1.5 million per year.  They do one stitch, a straight stitch, but it was legendary in doing that one stitch well.  I became bitten by the bug, and decided to try to find one manufactured in 1954, the year I was born.  So I found one on EBay, and was the successful bidder!  You know, these little machines are just plain cute!  And I just love little things!
Speaking of little things, I decided to name my Featherweight Zola Mae.  My Aunt Zola was my favorite aunt, and was an excellent sewer and quilter.  And she was a tiny little woman.  So it is a perfect name!

Well, it doesn’t take long once the Featherweight bug hits that you start to accessorize.  So I decided to make case liner and cover.

The pattern is by Jean Meier, Meier-izms of Seattle, WA.

I decided to make my own pattern for the case cover.  I wanted one to cover the case to protect from dings, and to take the stress off the carrying handle.  Even though these machines are lightweight (hence the name), they still are 11 pounds, and that is a bit of stess on cotton fabric.  I backed my outer fabric with DecoBond (a Pellon product) to give it some strength.  I also used a double layer of DecoBond in the straps, and ran them under the bottom.
I had to use my thinking cap on how to get the liner on, but it finally clicked !  Voila! 
If there is a next time, I will make the straps a bit longer.  And I sewed it entirely on Zola Mae!

Saturday, February 12, 2011


For those of you who are scratching your head as to what the hey is presbyopia, it is a fancy term to describe why old people have to wear reading glasses, bifocals, etc.  In my case, I have been in bifocals since I was in my twenties.  I am currently in trifocals, have been so since I was 40.  Yes, they are the old-fashioned lined kind.  I tried the no-line, and I just was always frustrated with having to move my head to find the "sweet spot" to look through.  And as I have elected to not cover my white hair, it doesn't seem to make sense to hide the fact that I need the trifocals.
So why am I talking about this?  While I was quilting the last two squares of New York Beauty arches of Circle of Life, I realized that my vision could be just a bit better.  So I pulled out a pair of reading glasses and voila! crisp clear vision, as long as I didn't look up!
This afternoon I start my classes to learn how to knit socks on circular needles.  I have NEVER knitted a sock in my life (sweaters, hats, mittens, booties, afghans, no socks) so this will be an interesting enterprise.  As the class fee (for 3 classes) is $60, plus yarn and needles, this will be the most expensive pair of socks I will own.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Circle of Life-Pebbling

I am now onto stage two of quilting Circle of Life. I am working on the small New York Beauty Arches between the rays of the central Lone Star. I looked at as many quilts that I could find to get ideas and inspiration. I finally decided to break the square up into the three main areas, the inner circle, the central arch, and the outer circle or cap. The central arch was what needed to be emphasized, and I decided that pebbling in the dark blue would be the best.

Lessons learned: First, if I am going to do this much free motion quilting, I was going to have to wear my thumb/wrist splint to keep from aggravating my tendinitis. But I also need to wear a quilting glove to keep a grip on the fabric. Solution was to wear the splint over the glove!

Second lesson was that to keep the rays from getting wonky, I needed to stitch in the ditch around each ray.

Third lesson, was that I can stitch in the ditch free motion! YEA!

I'm still trying to figure out pictures and editing in blogger, so please be patient with me!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

New adventure

Well, here starts a new adventure in blogging for me! I have been blogging on "The Quilt Show" with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. But I guess it is time for me to expand my blogging horizons. Hopefully I will have enough things to say and to show to make it worth your while to visit my blog.

As for the name: I love Rod Stewart's "Maggie May". No, my middle name is Anne, and I am more like the poor guy that gets burned buy Maggie, but I still like it!

I am currently working on a quilt named "Circle of Life". I purchased the pattern from Quilting by the Bay while I was at the Houston International Quilt Festival this past fall. Jacqueline deJonge is the pattern designer. I have been looking for a pattern like this for a while. My former boss had asked if I would make a quilt for the silent auction at the E. Central Illinois Refugee Center benefit dinner. I was thinking of something in the manner of Caryl Bryer Fallert and swirling flying geese. I saw this pattern made up, and knew this was the pattern I needed to make. Problem is, I have fallen so in love with it, that I have decided not to part with it. So I will either donate another quilt that I have made up, or just make a nice sized donation. The other alternative would be to donate it , but outbid everybody else!

I am currently working on the quilting for it. It is a mind expanding experience. This quilt is definitely taking me to the next level on expanding my quilting!