Monday, February 1, 2016

My Red Dining Room and Other Stories

Sometimes I finish turning the binding and hand stitching quilts in my red dining room.  

I can leave my day's sewing mess behind in the studio and join Jon as he watches the television in the adjacent living room.  While I stitch--occasionally I hear Jon laugh out loud.  He's a jewel you know.  Treats me like a queen.  Supports me on my busy quilt work, and never fusses about me getting dinner on the table late, or calling him during the day and asking him to bring pizza because I stayed too long in the studio.

I didn't finish the hand stitching on Saturday night (I was tired), but I got up early Sunday morning and sewed three sides (turned binding and hand stitched).  I took some photos of the dining room to share with you.

I'm gonna back up one step, and show you my studio where Saturday I sewed the binding to the quilt. 

If you saw an aerial view of my second floor studio--it is shaped like a cross.  The north to south view is 12 ft. wide by 40ft. long, and then two east and west wings were added.  The west wing is a sewing suite, and the east wing is (red in the face)  f-a-b-r-i-c storage.  The garage/workshop/studio was built in the fall of 2009.  Three years ago we  painted the building red.  I like red.

If you zoom this photo--way in the back you can see some of my collection of vintage sewing machines that I restored.  Want to see one up close?

1950's Universal Model MIN

Above photo - I was dismantling Tension Disc Assembly,  polishing away the crud and oxidation.

I always take a photo when dismantling assemblies--this is the most important part of learning how to clean, oil, and restore any sewing machine (being able to put it back together again).

My lovely Universal MIN turquoise green and ivory 1950's sewing machine--was manufactured by the Happy Sewing Machine Company in Japan.  There is a casting stamp on the bottom of the machine that says HAPPY.  And golly I was HAPPY to see that stamp.  Lots of blingy chrome--that looks pink in this photograph because I was wearing a bright pink shirt.

The good news, bad news.  I bought it for $30 and cost of gas to drive to an auction house in Wausau.  It cleaned up beautifully, but the take up spring was partially broken so I took it to Dave in Princeton (Mr. Wizard) and he replaced the take up spring which was major surgery to install on this Japanese machine, but is a simple no brainer on many other older machines we've restored.  The repair cost me $52 plus gas (4 hours driving time).  

No accessories were included when I purchased this machine--and I learned it was a left needle position machine much later.  I did some research and ordered special offset presser foot for straight stitching from Ed in Maryland.  Learning about left needle position in early zig zag Japanese machines was an eye opener and I discovered three other vintage Japanese machines I'd acquired where also left needle position machine.  As technology improved, the left needle position machines disappeared. 

Jon replaced rewired the dry crumbling cord and electrical plug to the motor.  However, in the end the original motor in its beautiful turquoise green housing was arcing and Jon told me that wasn't good (dangerous even).  

I had 2 electric motor shops look over the motor to give me the bad news that it couldn't be repaired.  Reluctantly I replaced it with a new standard black motor w/new foot control and the set up looked ugly--a black motor on that pretty green machine.  

After 30 minute test run with the new black motor--the cheap foot control overheated and died.  I contacted Ed in Maryland and he solved my problem totally--he fixed me up with a vintage ivory color sewing machine motor, and I added a vintage foot control and universal block.

There was a problem with the sewing machine's two ivory buttons (lower right) that control up and down settings of the feed dogs (normal sewing, versus darning).  And a minor problem with needle bar/stop motion screw when winding a bobbin.  These problems were solved with more deep cleaning as these areas were just sticky.  

The last hair on my head was gone after a small part fell off of the machine and I couldn't figure out where it came from.   I photographed the part and emailed Ed from Maryland.  Ed got me back on track.  

These machines were well made, and to my surprise I'm learning that most problems can be fixed with serious deep cleaning.  Things/parts get stuck with all kinds of gunk: ear-waxy nicotine from smoke, old sticky sewing machine oil residue, thread nests, lint, and the blackest dirt on earth.  

When my friends and I get together to work on old sewing machines, someones always says--OMG this is the dirtiest machine I've ever worked on.   Most often Jerry says this.  

As Jerry starts cleaning a new acquisition, I know he's going to say "this is the dirtiest machine I've ever worked on."  And if he doesn't say it,  I ask him, "well Jerry, is this the dirtiest machine you've ever worked on?"  And then he starts to laugh. 

Finally, I have everything I need to sew beautifully on my thoroughly cleaned, oiled, restored vintage Japanese, Universal turquoise green and ivory, chrome bling sewing machine, but with considerably more money invested than the original $30.  

OK, ok . . . back to my story about finishing the Cheese Platter quilt.

Saturday in the Studio--sewing 400 inches of binding on the quilt.

Turning binding to the backing and hand stitching. 

In the background you can see some other restored machines . . . 

This 1880s  Remington No. 5 was covered with a hundred years of dirt and rust.

My friend Jerry did the cleaning, oiling, adjustments.  My husband Jon repaired the blistered walnut veneer and cleaned rust off the iron treadle assembly and repainted it black satin.  I did the research on the sewing machine/rifle manufacturer history and found an old advertisement identifying it as a No. 5.  

I found period reproduction hand pulls, and had a machine shop fabricate the missing leaf tension spring.  Jon re-glued the wood pitman (the arm that spins the wheel on the treadle).  To protect the dining room floor, I put down area rugs that Jerry makes.  Aren't they beautiful rugs?  

You can read more about restoring the Remington No. 5--found in our 120 year old barn and who it belonged to:

In the other corner of the dining room is a 1920s, Singer Model 115 with Tiffany (a.k.a. Gingerbread) decals.  It was purchased as a treadle and converted to a hand crank.  Jon built the box base.  Jerry did the cleaning and oiling.  I'm cleaning the bobbin assembly (almost done) which is dismantled in the labeled plastic bag on the right.  A missing throat plate slide and bobbin case were replaced with vintage Singer parts.  Now this machine runs perfectly, making a soft chuga-chuga sound.  

This Singer Model 115 was manufactured in Elizabeth New Jersey, production date April 1920.  5,000 units were made during that production run.  Its tension disc assembly is mounted on the (left) front end and is not shown in the angle of this photo.  

The Singer Model 115 is sitting on top of a fancy treadle cabinet that holds another beautifully restored Singer Model 27 manufactured in May 1905.  Jerry cleaned this vibrating shuttle 1905 sewing machine whistle clean.

I learned how to treadle last year.  At first, I was terrible.  Couldn't get it started right using my feet.  Then Jerry told me what I was doing wrong.  The start/stop motion doesn't begin with the foot on the treadle--it begins with the hand on the balance wheel to start and stop sewing.  

Remember the old saying, get the ball rolling?  Well, that's exactly what it takes to get the hang of treadling.  First, put your hand on top of the balance wheel and with a downward motion get the wheel spinning and then begin treadling with your foot to keep it spinning.  To stop sewing, put your hand on the balance wheel to stop the spin.  And never, ever let the balance wheel rotate in the opposite direction or your bobbin thread will become a tangled mess and you'll have to stop and fix it.  Treadling is so cool.  

There are treadlers (people) who actually do free motion quilting.  I gotta try that for sure.  

Alabaster statue purchased 30 years ago at Adeline's Antiques here in Scandinavia, WI.  It is signed, but I've never been able to find any information about the sculptor.

Tiffany style lamp--Jon bought for me, Christmas 2008 I think.

Today, I'll finish this quilt and set it aside to be sold this summer at a show.
Unless, unless you want to buy it?

Postscript:  My apologies to 20 followers I lost in one day (January 29th) due to Goggle's decision to block visitors who don't have Google Accounts.   Every Google Blogger Lost A Number of Followers This Week.

I am so sorry if this happen to you.  

Google Blogger left an announcement about this in the Design/Settings/Manage section of our blog.  They called the change, "streamlining." 

Wow--I am sorry.  

If you are not too insulted, will you sign up for a Google Account?  I'd love to have you all back again.

Also on January 29th, Photobucket bombed.  And all my blog photos were blank except for the first photo which I always use the Google preferred Picasa Photo Storage for the first photo so both the title w/photo appear in other blogs friends' favorites list.   

I had no idea my Photobucket blog photos were blank until a kind visitor left me a note alerting me of the problem.  Thank you again Cindi M for writing to me.  

Fortunately, Photobucket got the problem fixed.  

What a terrible week for visitors, followers, and bloggers.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Cheese Platter Quilt

I am taking a Craftsy online class from Cyndi Souder called, "Hitting the Mark: Perfect Quilting Every Time".  Learned some important techniques for more accurate work--transferring designs, and was fascinated by all of her quilt examples.  Love, love her color combos.  

I fell in love with one of her wall hanging quilts--with a black background, yellow and orange stars.  

I was hooked.  Using her color inspiration,  I made a different star block--eight point star block with a 9 patch center.  I call it Cheese Platter.

When I build a quilt, I don't use a pattern.  I design on the fly--I don't know exactly what it will look like until I start sewing blocks together.  I changed the block layout twice.  I was happier with more negative space.  A bit more modern style.

I worked on the Cheese Platter blocks, while I was building my friend Sue's Folk Art Quilt (previous post).  That makes for a messy studio and a piles of cut pieces, half assembled blocks.  I use shallow, clear, rectangle plastic storage containers (like ones you store stuff under the bed), one for each quilt project to keep some kind of order.

The big checkerboard backing features two art panels.  Being able to take something of interest from the quilt top and re-introduce it again on the back is appealing.  And, there are other reasons I do this as I will explain later.

I always make extra blocks and sub assemblies so I can have my pick--keeping the variety alive.  

For me there is never any despair making an extra 8-10 blocks and oodles of sub assemblies.  I tell you the left over blocks made some pretty fancy over-sized potholders.  

Rolling the finished quilt off the frame

details of long arm quilting in progress.

Lots of sunlight streaming into the studio today.  Made it difficult to see where I was quilting.  Black thread on black fabric . . .

I turned off the overhead studio lights so I could see better.

I reintroduced same cheese flavor fabrics into a coin border. 

The long arm quilting design I'm free-styling I call Feather Bouquet.  

I chuckle saying that, cause it reminds me of  the BBC TV program "Keeping Up Appearances" with Hyacinth Bucket (which she pronounces Bouquet).  My husband calls me Hyacinth to tease me.

Like Hyacinth who is always telling her husband Richard to mind the road . . . I'm always scolding Jon about the way he drives the car--especially my car.  

We live in rural Wisconsin, and yes it is lovely driving in the country, but he drifts off the road, because he's taking in the scenery.  One winter he drove off the road, into the snowy ditch that we rode like a roller coaster, and then jerked the car back on the road again, all in about 7 seconds flat.  He laughed, and I told him a thing or two!

Ok, ok.  Back to the Cheese Platter Quilt . . . 

 Had a wonderful time driving the quilting machine today, (and I didn't run off the road!)

Feather Bouquet is an 8" x 12" serpentine stem sequence; then back tracked with feathers.  

I design 12" wide stitch sequences, edge to edge work: Squirrel Feathers, Fish Feathers, Cherry Tomatoes/Green Beans, Solar Flares, and others.  Zentangle elements really have my attention these days, and I adore Patsy Thompson and Karlee Porter's free style work.

Completing first row of free style stitch sequence.

When the light is just right (depends on the time of day) I can see black on black perfectly.
I was so happy with the top and bottom thread tension.  No thread breaks.  It was truly relaxing work.

After I finish a row,  I advance the quilt to the next row, reset the tension clamps (left and right) and begin again.  I quilt from right to left.  I don't know why.  I guess I do this because I practice drawing new designs on an erasable whiteboard from right to left.  And come to think of it, my stitch sequences are always 8" x 12" (just about the size of my whiteboard).  

After removing the quilt from the frame, I turned it over and draped it on the frame so you can see the backing.

Backing Construction:
The art panels help stretch the checkerboard fabric to 100" width I needed.  Without the art panels I would only have 88" width.   My quilt top is 91" wide, and I needed extra 3-4 inches of backing fabric at both the left and right margins, (some extra fabric to attach the tension clamps on the frame).  

There is also the very real problem of matching seams when sewing together two panels of checkerboard fabric.  The solution: the checkerboard fabric is interrupted by adding the art panels to eliminate matching checkerboard seams.  

Well that's the cheese today.  

Did you notice I put some blue here and there among the yellow and orange fabrics?  Got to have a little bleu cheese.  Also in the border I put some mottled brown fabric (head cheese).  My husband actually likes head cheese.  I won't touch it.  Looks nasty.

About 80 hours to cut fabric, sew blocks, assemble, quilt, prepare binding, hand stitch binding. 

My next quilt will be Cherry Pie, or Blue Lake.  Got some new block designs in mind.

Today, I put the those bolts of fabric out on the layout table just to coax me to get crack'in.

Thank you for visiting my blog.  Hope you'll leave me messages and follow my blog.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Folk Art Quilt

Here's the Folk Art queen size quilt I just finished.  I had a great time experimenting.

Simple 4 patch Kaleidoscope blocks,
Hand applied button yo-yos,
Lined prairie points (border decoration),

Kaleidoscope Simplified

I began by stacking 4 identical layers of fabric and cutting 6 inch squares.

Once the cutting is complete, it was fun spinning the 4 identical images
to make simple 4 patch kaleidoscope blocks.

My client Sue loved the finished quilt when she picked it up last weekend.  She had given me her sofa pillow for color inspiration to begin the quilt project.  A well known acrylic artist and wood carver, Sue is a beautiful friend inside and out.  

I added gold fabric frame, and cornered the growing block with rust, teal, olive, and espresso.
Added green sashing strips, and hand sewn button yo-yos.

I took an online Craftsy Class called "Quilted Kaleidoscope" with Marilyn Foreman--fabulous instructor.  Great class with lots of information for people like me who haven't tried Kaleidscope blocks.  Wonderful results.

Spent many evenings hand sewing 5 inch fabric circled into yo-yos while listening to TV in the background.

Added buttons for extra stability to make sure the yo-yos will stay put for years to come.

Then sewed button yo-yos to sashing.

Cool Technique Alert:  I learned how to make lined prairie points for border decoration
in Susan Cleveland's Craftsy Class, "How to Bind a Quilt".  She has some great techniques for adding piping to borders, that I will sure try out on my next project.

I chose a running stitch of No. 8 perle cotton to tack down the prairie points.

There was still a little flap at the tip of the prairie point, so I hand stitched a decorative bead.

Here's the quilt coming off the frame (finished long arm quilting).  It's a great size 92 x 102.

Next I squared the quilt . . . and prepared 440 ft. of binding.

Sewing the binding on the perimeter.

I moved my sewing machine to the corner of the big extended dining room table in my studio. 

 Yes, I have a dining room table in my studio I use for measuring, cutting, squaring, and in this case I am sewing on the binding.  Perfect table for building bed size quilts.

Then I turn the binding strip to the back, and begin a day's work on hand stitching to finish the quilt.

Today, I'm working on a new quilt.  Will be done soon.  More photos to follow.

Monday, January 25, 2016

On The Road, Finding Decorative Pieces

There is a fine second hand shop in Appleton, where I used to find the most interesting pieces to decorate our old Victorian.  I found this beautiful two-piece Northwood punch bowl and cups at that shop.  It looks splendid in our tomato red dining room.  

A friend Kathy was with me and she saw the punch bowl first, sitting on the counter.  Being a collector of antique glassware herself, she wanted me to see this piece immediately.  After circling the store, she found me and whispered. "there is an lovely Northwood punch bowl at the counter you need to see". 

I bought a lovely 5 light chandelier for the east bedroom there and a credenza there to store bed linens in my upstairs laundry room.  Also, four gold rimmed pressed glass berry bowls, with matching cream and sugar pieces (pictured in these photos). 

On another adventure, Kathy and I took a road trip to Galena, IL and stayed at a Victorian Bed and Breakfast.  It was lots of fun visiting all the shops on the main street, but the tags were priced for royalty.  However, on our return trip to Wisconsin, we stopped at a little collectibles shop in Cuba City, IL.

In the Cuba City shop Kathy spotted a four piece set of  marigold color "Anniversary" Jeannette-McKee marigold plates, cups, and saucers, and salad plate  (c1960s).   

The marigold candy dish I believe is Fenton.  Ceramic birds and stack of old books made a good looking Thanksgiving table.  

Have you every noticed all the different birds in my house?  Every room is decorated with a bird or two.  It is so subtle, no one sees them but me.  I don't think my husband even realizes it.

Henry is the pheasant who lives on the mantle in the dining room.

Iron curtain holders with bird in the upstairs bath

Blue Heron, Front Door

Two Blue Herons Etched Glass Door 
West Porch Door

Iron garment hooks on several bedroom doors and bath upstairs

Iron garment hooks on several bedroom doors and bath upstairs

The early bird gets the worm, and I've gots lots to do today!  

Talk to you later.