Monday, August 11, 2014

Nice Headlights!

I just finished this block as an addition to a Chicago Modern Quilt Guild group project to support breast cancer patients/research. Each one of us is making a block based on a slang term for the breasts (and I've seen sneak peeks of some of the other blocks, this is going to be a fantastic quilt).

Naturally, I chose to work with "Headlights"!

Nice Headlights!
And of course, the Meteor was my model!
I used a combination of fusible webbing and stitches to make the block, using the photo as a guide.
It was fun, and I'd LOVE to make a larger piece based on the Meteor sometime soon! I think it turned out pretty awesome.
I'll definitely share photos of our finished CMQG charity quilt when it all comes together, and I can't wait to see all the other blocks! Next on my list is going back to the "new project" for another try, hopefully it will start to come together for me - and I'll share photos of that, too!

Friday, August 1, 2014

T-Shirt Sample Half Square Triangles

I recently came across some salesman samples of t-shirt fabrics, which amounted to a bundle of very colorful small rectangles of knits backed with interfacings. At first I was thinking that I would just pass them on to Fidget to play with, because did I really want to sew a quilt with t-shirt knit? But the more I looked at those samples, I realized I really loved the colors all thrown together - the different values, shades, and little pops of bright colors.

And I also remembered this - one of my favorite pictures, a late 1960's Jason Crum mural (from a vintage visual teaching aid). I love the half square triangles; the colors, the patterns made by the lines and different values.

Lucky for me I just bought a die cutter, and in less than an hour I had run all the rectangles through to become half square triangles. I pieced the HST's somewhat randomly, the only criteria was that the two halves could not be from the same color family, and one half had to be a lighter value. And so, with help of my lovely assistant...
Here is my Jason Crum inspired t-shirt sample half square triangle quilt top!


To be honest, I needed a project that would just go together fast and be finished - know what I mean? So yes, the piecing is a little wonky - some of the corners do not line up perfectly, but that doesn't bother me in the least. I still love it!

I plan on quilting it as simply as possible, turning it into a wall-hanging, hopefully to hang somewhere in the house!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A New Project (That's Kicking My Ass)

I've had this totally awesome, exciting idea all year long for making a medium sized-ish quilt based on a Color Theory exercise, one where the colors of the color wheel are arranged in a new way (based on how the student feels about the colors). I messed around with my design on paper for a couple of weeks, and finally recorded my favorite design in my sketchbook back in February. I have to say, I absolutely LOVE the sketch, and want desperately to see it rendered in fabric!

So, I've meant to start this project all summer long, but had a feeling it was going to be a challenge for me (read between the lines, challenge = pain in the ass), so I've conveniently found ways to put it off for the past two months.

I finally started working on this project last week, the first steps are trying to figure out how to faithfully transfer my tiny, exacting design drawn in my sketchbook into a larger quilt pieced with fabric. Now, let me say right here - I'm not at all sure I'm fully capable of making the final design as perfectly as I'd like it to. And there's the challenge; find a way using all my skills to try and pull this off.

Because I'm not sure if I can even pull it off, I'm a little afraid to share my little sketch with you until the whole thing is finished. Well, that, and then there's still the feeling of shock at having one of my original designs magically rendered by someone else and pictured in a magazine and credited as their very own original design. Yes - fear of having my design rendered by someone else before I even finish my own (is that crazy?).

I started with what seemed like the simplest idea to transfer the design to a larger quilt, which was making some measurements for how to cut the pieces and assemble them. I did a test with the first few rows of the design.

The test showed that I wasn't getting accurate enough using this method. Score 1 for the project, and 0 for me! My next idea will be more accurate where the piecing is concerned (or so I think), but it's also a longer process. I'm starting this week with making a few preparations, and hope to do another piecing test soon - which I'll share with you here, and hopefully can show the finished project in the coming weeks along with the original sketch. Or, I'll have to admit defeat and move on to something else!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Yes, The Meteor Is Still Broken.

Meteor In Garage
The 1962 Meteor is still in the garage, still broken. Part of the fun of owning a vintage car is being able to do some of the mechanical work yourself, and lucky for me I married a mechanically minded man - without him I couldn't own this car.
But, that also means that I need his help to get the Meteor back up and running again. In case you missed the previous Meteor episode, the car crapped out on me while on a weekend drive back in mid-June, we couldn't get it running again and had to have it towed back home.
Fast forward 5 weeks, and we've figured out that the issue is somewhere in the ignition system. When we time it correctly, it will run for awhile, but it eventually comes out of time again. No, we're pretty sure it's not anything with the timing chain or gears, since the simple act of futzing with the distributor and re-timing works. There is a test that we can do to definitively see if it is the timing with the distributor, but I have to wait for my other half to have the free time to help me. Sigh...
So I wait! Meanwhile, while I am missing driving my baby, I've found some sweet original marketing images of the Meteor. Mine is not the S-33, but the basic model with the original 221 engine...
I'm going to try and nail down one evening this week when we can check the Meteor and for sure find out what the problem is - then our next steps will be to fix it.
For you mechanically minded readers, I hear that it may be just as economical (and better in the long run) to switch out the stock ignition system and install an electronic ignition. Any thoughts if one is better than the other? I'd love to keep this car as stock as possible (because it is, at this point, all stock), but if switching ignition systems means less issues down the road (and therefore more driving time), then I'm down with it. It's just not as easy as fixing a vintage sewing machine!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Atlas Model A-59

Atlas Model A-59
This is the newest addition to the family, a PINK vintage 1950's Atlas Model A-59. I picked her up in Wisconsin on vacation, and she was in pretty sad shape. She was dirty, the presser foot bar was misaligned, the needle was in the wrong way, and the wiring was a nightmare! But you know what? She was only 10 bucks, and for that price if it didn't work, it was going to make a pretty rad decoration in the sewing room!
Atlas Model A-59
The wiring was so messed up on this baby - wires badly spliced all over the place and old, sticky electrical tape barely holding it all together. We updated the wiring a bit with some left-overs I had from another machine, so now at least it is safe. If I decide to sew with her more, I'll probably look into something even better, just so I don't have this mess of plugs and sockets in the base.

We couldn't get the old motor re-wired, so again I pulled an extra from my scrap parts bin for the old girl. I'll probably end up painting the motor either white or gray, the black just doesn't go with the pink, gold and chrome.
Atlas Model A-59

The base is original, but I recovered it with new fabric. It was this old nasty brown stuff that was flaking and pulling off, and it had a ripe mildew smell to it. I peeled off all the old stuff, sanded it down a bit, and used Mod-Podge to apply the new fabric. It's finished off with a hard coat of acrylic clear coat to keep the fabric from ever absorbing moisture and mildewing in the future.

Now for a bit about the Atlas machine itself. This is a straight up Singer 15 clone made in Japan. I've also got a very similar machine in a light blue that is tagged "Brother", and I used to have one other in a pretty turquoise tagged with the name "Morse". I do believe that there were factories in Japan that made all of these machines, and would tag them according to the buyer's instructions. This particular Japanese clone has lots of flair, from the gold-toned tag "Atlas" on both the front and back of the machine to the message stamped in the bottom of the stitch length plate "Exclusively made for Altas in Japan". And there's a black and gold decal in the center of the bed that reads, "Atlas Sewing Centers, Miami, Florida". Now that makes perfect sense doesn't it? Where else would a pink sewing machine come from?

I had a few issues getting a good stitch out of her. The bobbin case in the machine was damaged, so I had to quickly borrow a Singer 15 Class case from another machine to test it out. The stitch width lever works, but the knob to the right is supposed to act as a stopper and indicator, and doesn't work. Despite all of that, she DOES sew! It's what you'd expect from a Singer clone, a little louder and a little clunkier than a classic Singer, and the tension is tricky. Still, she does sew and looks pretty sweet in the sewing room! I think I'll let her stick around, but most likely she'll be displayed on a shelf where I can keep an eye on her!