Wednesday, April 19, 2017

1939 Featherweight and Finished Gray Quilt

1939 Featherweight weighs 11 lbs.

Lots of photos on this post - scroll down to see more.

"Gray With All The Trimmings" queen size quilt, pieced on my 1939 Featherweight

How it began . . .

(Right) I had a quite a number of 16 patch blocks leftover from making another quilt.

I paired 16 patch blocks with framed 4 patch blocks.  The gray fabric is from Jeanne Horton's The Settlement Collection. 

I purchased the 1939 Featherweight last year.  It all started one morning--suddenly, I saw it on Craigslist, asking price $100. I emailed the seller to say I'd take it, and he emailed back to confirm.  I got in the car and drove there right away (a two hour drive). 

During the drive--the seller phoned me to say his father was mad at him for offering the machine at $100 and said his new price was now $200.  I told him I was already into my second hour of driving to his place to pick up the machine.  I'd already stopped at the bank to pick up  $100 cash, but thought I probably had another $50 on me.  I explained that's as good as I can do.  He said OK, $150. 

When I arrived I saw the machine.  It was very dirty, had no case, and a broken/taped-together spool pin cover--(I wondered if this machine had been dropped to do that kind of damage).    

There was no foot control/power supply cord, no sewing attachments, no manual, and no way to plug in to see if it actually runs or sews.  There was a bit of wear on the decals right/front, and its original 75 year old motor in place.  Oh well, when it comes to old machines--I like a challenge.  I bought the machine as it was, and hit the road for home, before another buyer grabbed it. 


I put another $100 or so into replacement parts, and extensive internal cleaning and lubricating.  I am still looking for a good condition vintage case (another $100).

Thank goodness the original bobbin case SIMANCO 45750 was inside the machine.  A vintage original bobbin case costs $100.  Chinese reproduction bobbin cases don't work.  

The machine was missing its foot control/power supply, so I ordered a vintage "clam shell with power cord" through my friend Ed Lamoureux.  I prefer the clam shell over the standard Featherweight issued stationary button type foot control. 

Ed is a great source for sewing machine parts, and has genius ideas for making machines run great.  He is a sewing machine wizard.  Here is Ed's website:

Besides replacing the broken spool pin cover, I added a new V belt for the motor, a 1/4" presser foot for quilt piecing accuracy, and new cushion feet for the base after scratching the dining room table. 

This is the first machine I've equipped with a LED light bulb.  And I bought a spool pin spring.  The spring does a great job of reducing jiggling of plastic thread spools.  The spring improves delivery of thread, resulting in better thread stitching.  Especially good for consistent thread flow to fill bobbins!

So, you think I should pack this Featherweight away, saving it because it is old and special?  To the contrary.  I sew with it often--doing piece work for quilts at my dining room table.  It runs fast and sews accurately.  

"Gray With All The Trimmings" on the frame

on the frame in the studio

I've been working in my dining room weekdays so I can keep an eye on our new puppy Buddy who is a chewing machine. 

He chewed two holes in the new couch, and two holes in two quilts.   There's more, but the couch and quilts are the worst of it.   

Weekends Jon watches "Buddy the amazing chewing dog " and then I have an opportunity to work in the studio to do the long arm quilting. 

Free style long arm quilting
See the art panels on the backing rolled up on the take up bar

Continuing this year with my goal to use up fabric scraps from previous quilts and purse projects
One full bin has been recycled, four full bins to go . . .

at the table, turning the binding and hand stitching to finish the quilt

Flipped over a corner of the quilt to show you some of the art panels on the back of the quilt.

Magic Needle Threader
At left, see needle eye placed into the tube, insert thread into the v-notch, press button. 
Viola! the needle is threaded. 

hand-stitching binding on
"Gray With All The Trimmings" queen size quilt

Thanks for stopping by.   I'd love to hear from you.  Leave me a note when you can.

Love ya,
Mrs. D

Monday, April 10, 2017

Raspberry Cobbler Quilt

(queen size quilt)

One of my favorite quilt blocks is "Arrowhead" by Anita Solomon; a block introduced to me at her class online. 

Two squares of fabric (one light, one dark) placed with right sides together,
sewn around its perimeter,
then sliced . . .
1. diagonally once
2. vertically once
3. horizontally once
then the slices are arranged and sewn together to form this beautiful block.
There are formulas for different finished block sizes. 

Peach/Ivory Solid border decorated with Lined Prairie Points

Light Fabric: a very traditional pink rose with vines on a cream background.
Dark Fabric: a raspberry floral that reads solid from a distance.

I added a third fabric (a peach/ivory solid) around the perimeter decorating it with raspberry prairie points lined with leafy green.  I quilted over the extra thicknesses of the prairie points, but did it slowly and cautiously. 


Details--how to make lined prairie points . . .

The edge to edge quilting is my free style sequence "Floral Bouquet".  It is a "S" curve ending in a spiral, back tracking with feathers down the spine, and returning with feathers up the spine.  The sequence takes me under two minutes to do, and covers an area 12" high x 15" wide. 

THE BACKING - decorated with art panels using up leftover blocks.  I always put two art panels in a queen size backing, always different block combinations, usually one wider than the other.  Below--the smaller art panel features a nine patch of the dark raspberry floral fabric paired with contrasting peach/ivory solid. 

Final Step - Adding Binding

After the binding was added I took the quilt to the dining room table to turn and hand-stitch binding in place.

Notice how the white fabric shows off the quilting better?
I created this queen size quilt in 2015

Fabrics are from "Magical Garden Collection" by M'Liss

Loading Quilt on Frame

Detail of Quilt Top prior to long arm quilting

It took me a long time at the fabric store, looking at this M'Liss collection of three companion fabrics "Magical Garden" to figure out how I was going to use the fabrics.  I mean, really!  Just look at that solid mass of flowers on the backing.  

I chose to frame each Arrowhead block in the lighter fabric.  It tamed the busy fabric and made the quilt look airy and reminded me of pie crust.  I introduced a double row of color into the border--to help make sense of the saturation of color in the backing. 


There's more coming soon.  A new queen size quilt I call, "Gray with all the Trimmings"

" Gray with all the Trimmings" Quilt:
Last week I finished the assembling the quilt top, and this weekend I started adding art panels to the backing.  I may be able to finish today--and get the quilt loaded on the frame to quilt.  More photos to follow soon.

As you can see from these photos--this scrappy quilt is a combination of 4 patch framed in gray and 16 patch blocks.  All sewn at the dining room table on a 1939 Featherweight. 

Next post, I will tell you the story about acquiring the fabulous little sewing machine and why I was working at my dining room table instead of the studio.  


My Focus Again This Year:
To reduce my scrap bins (now numbering 4 very big, full tubs).  But it was worse last fall--I had 5 tubs full). 

Into the Light:
I made a promise to use up many bolts light fabrics this year--to make oodles of pillow cases.  It is time to remind myself why I bought so many lovely light fabrics the last five years.  I didn't buy them to decorate my studio, I bought them to use.  Ha. Ha.

Thank you for stopping by.  Leave me a comment; I like hearing from you. 

P.S. - It's Spring:
The ground outside is still thawing and mushy.  Not quite ready to start up the Condor high lift so we can climb aboard and scrape the alligator paint off the ancient barn.  Because of my recent bout with inner ear dysfunction (dizziness) I'll be working close to the ground.   

The past two seasons our lovely neighbors Renee and Steve have worked silently and generously with their time to remove small trees and bramble around the old barn and clearing scraggy bushes between our properties.  They are absolutely amazing people.  I don't know how we can ever repay them.  They do so many wonderful things for lots of people. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Cloudy with a Chance of Sashiko

When Mistakes become Something Marvelous . . .

How This Quilt Came About . . .

Quilt Title:
"Cloudy with a Chance of Sashiko"

Thanksgiving weekend I woke up at 3:00a with vertigo.  The entire room was spinning, and I ended up in the emergency room.  This imbalance thing (vertigo = dizziness; inner ear imbalance) can go on for months, and it has.

The vertigo started out quite awful--as I couldn't walk to the bathroom without bumping into walls and throwing up.   The first month I spent in bed, and by Christmas eve I'd advanced to sitting in a big chair in the living room and was mostly ok if I didn't move my head fast.

January I started physical therapy, and two months later--I'm about 80% my old self.  I still have dizziness if I bend over to leash the dog, but at least I can walk down the stairs without losing it.

The last three weeks I was able to resume sewing from the red dining room table on my 1939 Singer Featherweight.  I framed scrappy 16 patch blocks with dark fabric, and soon I realized I didn't have enough dark fabric to complete the quilt.

Off to Joann Fabrics I went, and they looked up the bar code info and found more dark fabric at another store.  A week later, I was back in business with the extra fabric framing the 16 patch blocks, sewing rows together with sashing and borders. 

I assembled the backing with two art panels I created from left over 16 patch blocks, and other fabric scraps.  Got everything pressed, and loaded on the long arm frame. 

I began free style long arm quilting.   15"w x 10"h quilt sequence design I created called Feather Bouquet,

and just for fun I added an extra swirl here and there.

The dark fabric is actually a really deep teal and black diamond print.  Lots of contrast.

I used a Cornflower Blue thread for the quilting--it blended well, allowing me to see where I was free style quilting.  I auditioned other colors, but they didn't fit the bill.
The sun was shining through the double doors in the studio . . .

I couldn't ask for better lighting.  Everything went smoothly
UNTIL . . .
I took the quilt off the frame and put it on the layout table to square it up . . .
Suddenly I saw something bad.  The two dark fabrics were not the same color lot.  The extra fabric I bought at Joann's was a slight shade lighter.  All that work, and now what can I do?
To the right of the turquoise cotton thread ball--can you see the lighter shade of dark fabric in the sashing?  Also the border has the lighter shade of dark fabric.  Aye-yi-yi-yi!

I decided to bite the bullet, and disguise the lighter shade of dark fabric by adding handstitched running stitches in various colors of #10 cotton crochet thread (nearly the same type of thread I use to do blanket stitches on wool penny medallions and decorate wool purses I make. 

(right) marking stitch lines with chalk . . .

Folding quilt as I marked and sewed running stitches . . .
sorta like Sashiko?

Well, at least I got in a lot of practice time towards trying real Sashiko stitching in the future.  

That's when I thought about the title for this quilt: 

It took an additional 20 hours to do the hand stitching on the quilt.  But it did the trick--it helped hide the mis-match of dark fabric.

and . .
Counting the lengths of each row lengthwise and across, x multiple stitch lines, and the border--it was about 4,150 inches of hand stitching. 

I used #10 Garden Secret Cotton Crochet Thread from Herrschner's in Stevens Point, and selected a Pumpkin and Christmas Green from Herrschner's Best #10 Crochet Cotton Thread.  They also have an online store.  Check them out.

After all of that hand stitching--I went to the studio to add a scrappy binding.  Another way to trick the eye away from the mis-match dark fabrics.

Sitting at the dining room table, turning binding and hand stitching in place.
(about 5 hours)

Mission accomplished.  I will offer it for sale at the craft shows I do. 

Thank you for listening to my story.  I am feeling better each day and the vertigo (inner ear imbalance problem) is less and less each week.  I am not able to put in long hours quilting like I used to, but I'm ok with that. 

There will be more stories this summer to share with you.  We are going to 1) paint the 125 year old barn, 2) take down two trees on the west end of the lawn, 3) add more surface materials to the driveway--get it looking and working lovely again, 4) build drapes for my brother's 1892 Wild Rose Victorian House.  Check out the photographs of his restoration at

Talk to you later.  Drop me a line sometime, ok?  I love hearing from you.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Designing Wool Purses

I started making wool purses in August.  

This one is called Constellation, the front pocket gives me the impression of twinkling stars against the night sky.  The shell is made from a black wool coat deconstructed.  Love this black wool with flecks of gray.  Let me get you a detail photo . . . hold on.

Purse # 4 "Constellation" a Black Wool with Gray Flecks

There are opportunities to make several purses out of one wool coat.  "Constellation" is purse#4 from the same wool coat.  The purse shell is sewn crazy quilt style from smaller pieces (leftover pieces of wool).  

Method: I use a rotary cutter to straighten edges of two pieces of wool.  Then I sew the wool pieces together using a zig-zag stitch.  

To cover the zig-zag--I cut a strip of printed black/brown cotton fabric; fold the raw edges under and pressed with an iron.  Laying that strip of fabric over the zig-zag, I top-stitched it in place.  

In the photo above is a purse#3 called "In Stitches" . . . 
I've turned the lower half of the finished purse inside out--so you can see the fancy interior wool pocket, pieced together and decorated with strips of printed fabrics.

Back to purse #4 called "Constellation"  . . . sometimes a "purse front" can get too busy looking, when sewing smaller pieces of wool together and top-stitching with decorative fabrics.  

Knowing when and how to edit is important.

 In the photo above I peel back the solid wool front pocket facing to show you the very busy purse shell.  It was just too much, too busy.

To edit (correct this) I added a solid wool front pocket to hide the busy piecing.  To finish, I chalked several lines on the plain pocket and stitched beads of blue, purple, and gold.

So--here's the finished purse #4 "Constellation"   

The cross-body strap is made from 1" wide black grosgrain ribbon length of 42", and top-stitched with a 1/2" wide strip of black/brown printed fabric.  

The evening before building purses #3 "In Stitches" and #4 "Constellation" I made 50 polymer clay beads with all the leftover colors of clay I'd been saving in a small plastic bag.  

Purse #3 "In Stitches"
Once again, I zig-zag stitched together smaller pieces of leftover black wool and covered seams with strips of top stitched printed fabric.  Double row of wavy running stitches in DMC No 8 perle cotton. 
An off-set button yo-yo, and handful of my random batch of polymer clay beads to make my signature zipper closure.

Black Wool Purse #4 "In Stitches" 

I've discovered that my hobby of purse  building, and my other hobby of making polymer clay beads work hand in hand.  When I throw random clay colors together to make a batch of beads--it influences my selection of fabrics to build a purse.  

I admit--while I'm building the beads I'm creating the next purse in my mind and planning how I will use the beads.  I don't let any time lapse between the two processes for fear I'll lose my momentum.

Black Wool Purse #2

The beads arranged "Shower Curtain Style" on the front pocket. 

Purse #2 was created from a large piece of the same black wool coat including 42" long cross-body strap.   After I wrestled with the very thick layers of the carrying strap I chose black grosgrain ribbon for later purses #3 and #4.  

Random beads for zipper pull and pocket decoration.  Before I sold this purse I removed the dark thread top-stitching and chose a matching thread . . . that means I took off all the beads and started over again.  Sometimes, things are just wrong and need to be corrected. 

Black Wool Purse #1 from the same black coat.

Decorated with random polymer clay bead batch, yo-yos, buttons, and simple embroidery stitches of No. 8 DMC perle cotton.

Black wool purse #1

Note:  all of these black wood purses sold within the first hour of my August show.  There were two fun gals I met who both like the same two black wool purses, and each gal had in mind their first and second pick.  It was a matter of deciding which of the gals (friends) would get the first pick.  

I added my two cents and suggested they go ahead and buy both purses now, as they could determine later who would get first pick.  I feared they might walk away to ponder the problem and possibly lose the purses to another prudent buyer.   

All my purses are padded and lined.  They feature an interior pocket and hidden pocket inside.  The hidden pocket is great storage for your passport or folded receipts you need to store rather than having them swimming around in your purse (in your way).   The best function of this zippered purse is to carrying and protect your phone or tablet.  

I wear my everyday purse around my neck, making my shopping experience always hands-free.  I clip my ring of car/house keys to the strap rings at the top of the purse.  I prefer a front zippered purse because it keeps things from spilling out.  

There is still more of the black wool coat left.  My neighbor Renee is taking a class from me right now and she is decorating the black wool with couched wavy lime green yarn, and a needle felted pocket with a dandelion type flower highlighted with No. 8 perle cotton and glass beads.  Let's keep in touch and I will post photos of Renee's finished purse.

By the way . . . my dear friends

Our Saturday/Sunday Oct 29/30 Halloween Victorian House Tour and Craft Show (at our house) was so successful.  What a turn out!  Thank you, thank you, thank you.   

Donations for the Humane Society of Waupaca County were fabulous and so were their staff Faye and Monica. 

Our talented craft show vendors Jerry, Patti, Kay, Jenny, Jan, Jane, Krissy, Deb, and Cathy enjoyed showing and selling their beautiful items. 

Our resourceful crew: Sandy the kitchen manager, Patricia the studio manager, delightful greeters Jean and Diane, and wonderful neighbors Renee and Steve--how can I ever begin to thank you for your support (and giving us your entire weekend).  You made it happen!

There were two days of delicious chili and dessert lunch provided by Scandinavia Library Group,   Melissa, Jane, and Sue--you are the best.  

If I left anyone out--please write or call me so I can update this post.  I confess, I'm getting so forgetful.  My brain, my brain--where did I put it?

And finally, a big thank you to our community.  You are wonderful beyond words.   We are in awe of the number of people who came by to see us during the event, some from far far away.  YOU are forever in my heart for making this event so successful.

Mrs. D (Linda and Jon)