Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sewing for the Sewing Room

Part of my New Year's resolution to stay organized this year includes a bit of sewing for my space. I needed a few organizers to hold tools and stuff in key areas to help keep junk from getting dropped on the floor, lost, and/or broken.

Ironing Board Caddy

I found this tutorial for an Ironing Board Thread Catcher & Caddy from Sew4Home, which includes a caddy with pockets for tools on one side, and a thread catcher pouch on the other.

Ironing Board Caddy

I made a long pin cushion (using the pattern for the pin cusion caddy below) to sit on top of the caddy, and the whole thing fits perfectly on the metal iron holder of the board.

Ironing Board Caddy

I also used a tutorial at Sew4Home to re-cover my ironing boards, changing the design slightly to make the back of the board match my new caddy.

For sewing at the machine, I made this Pincushion/Tool Caddy from a tutorial over at Sew, Mama, Sew!. I love the pincushion in this tutorial, because it is large enough to hold lots of pins and stable enough that it isn't easily knocked off your work surface. This is the pattern I based the pincushion on for the ironing board.

I think I deviated from the pattern when it came to the actual thread catcher pouch, I cut mine the same way but used fusible fleece inside to give it more body, and skipped binding it at the top.

So far I really am loving having these organizers, not to mention that they ARE pretty bright and cheery. Now I only need to make a cover for my serger and one for my big industrial sewing machine for my sewing in the sewing room to be complete!

Oh, if you can recommend a great tutorial for a serger cover, or any other great organizing projects that would go great in a sewing room, please share them with us!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Just got around to unpacking a bag of random sewing goodies gifted to me by a neighbor. Seriously, who could wish for a better neighbor than one who not only shares your love of sewing and quilting, but who also is trying to clean out her stash?

So, inside the goodie bag I found a stash of 5" squares of packaged "Polynesian Patchwork Prints." Not sure how old they are but the label looks c.1980 and says "Polynesian Patchwork Prings by Kepina."

Polynesian Patchwork Prints

Looks like there may be around 100 very colorful Hawaiian prints here!

Polynesian Patchwork Prints

COLOR! POW! It's like the color just socked you in the face, isn't it? Not sure what these will become. Yes, yes, maybe a quilt, but I'm kind of thinking an Aloha apron might be in order for the summer! At any rate, these patchwork squares will have to wait...

Unpacking from the CMQG Retreat

...until I finish the rest of my unpacking from last weekend's retreat with the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild. Ugh!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Making Tags and Name Tape

I'm sharing a tip over at WeAllSew today on stitching up name tape and tags using the lettering feature of your sewing machine! Click here to find the article!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Home Again, Home Again!

I'm home and (still) unpacking from the Spring Chicago Modern Quilt Guild retreat! I can't believe how much stuff I packed in my car. We were wondering who would win for "Most Crap Packed in the Car", and it really looked like some of us were pretty close!

Most of us arrived Friday and spent the afternoon getting unpacked and settled in. Friday evening I worked on cutting and piecing a top with the Bernina 350PE. I used foot #57, a quarter inch foot with a guide built right in to help make perfect seams, a big help for a beginning quilter like myself!

Saturday morning we were all set up and ready to roll - here's what it looked like at the beginning of the day.

I finished stitching all the blocks for the Amy Butler "Sexy Hexy Love" quilt - here it is before I sewed it all together. This is some Dick and Jane fabrics (along with a few others) that I've been hoarding holding on to for the past several years. It felt good to finally cut into them!

Saturday afternoon we did a group charity project, each of us working to make a free-form log cabin block to build a quilt. I worked with my table-mate Eileen on this orange and blue block.

It looked pretty dang awesome when it all came together!

I spent the rest of the retreat adding to this project, which I started about a month ago. I'm not sure where it's headed or what it will be, but it's been fun to work on. These are the remainder of the vintage scraps I used to make the quilts for myself and my kiddo.

And now I've got to get back to unpacking...happy stitching!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

First Day at the CMQG Retreat

We have a wonderful space to sew here at the Siena Retreat Center hosted by the Dominican Sisters! This is a huge space for us, it includes a little kitchenette, and our own little lounge area looking out onto Lake Michigan. It's very c.1970 cozy, isn't it? Love it!

I've been working on my first project, piecing a free Amy Butler Hexagon quilt pattern with (mostly) Dick and Jane fabrics.

These are really large hexagon blocks, and I am almost finished stitching them all together. This afternoon I'll be laying out all the blocks to figure out the best layout before I stitch the blocks together, and I'll post another photo then!

Hope you are having a wonderful weekend - I'm going back to keep quilting!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Use It or Lose It: Singer 221

This is sewing machine #7 as I'm taking inventory of my machine collection, a Singer 221 (a.k.a., Featherweight).

This machine was manufactured in 1957, and purchased on April 21, 1959 by the original owner up here in Waukeegan, Illinois. I picked it up all the way down in Carbondale, Illinois about 20 years ago (because I'm just THAT old, y'all) in a thrift shop. Actually, there were TWO Featherweights in the shop, this one and an older one in rougher shape. They were both priced at $50, and I talked the shop owner into letting me have BOTH for $75. He knew I got a good deal after I handed the cash over, dropped my poker face and did a victory dance before leaving the shop. I'll never forget it, he said "Uh oh. What just happened here?"  Luckily we were on good terms and there were no hard feelings, but that is by far my best thrift store find story!

Judging by the decent shape the machine was in and the fact that the original owner's reciept was still in the carrying case with the manual, I'd say I'm the second owner of this sweet little machine.

The only issue with this machine is a slight power problem, it just doesn't sew very fast. Not as fast as my other featherweight at all. I had the electical cords replaced a few years ago, and the original foot control is in great shape. In fact, the foot controller works like gangbusters on the other featherweight. I've also replaced the belt and had it properly adjusted, but it still just doesn't sew as fast as it should.

I do remember that the grease tubes were bone dry when I bought it, and I'm afraid the motor may have been run dry in the past. But, since I only use this one once in awhile, I'm not ready to try replacing the motor yet. I guess it's a case of if it ain't broke don't fix it!

If you'd like to see some of the other machines in my collection, you can click back to read about:

#6. 1934 Singer 99-13
#3, #4, and #5. 1922 Singer 66, C.1900 Vibrating Shuttle, and Singer 114K103
#2. 1919 Singer 128
#1. 1901 Singer 15-30 Custom

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Repurposed, Reusable T-Shirt Shopping Bag Event

People celebrate Earth Day in April many different ways, but my favorite way to honor the day is to pass along some ways that sewing can help you repurpose, reuse, and recycle.

I'll be offering a really fun recycling drop-in-and-sew project here in Chicagoland; repurposing an old tee into a reusable shopping bag. We'll start with an old tee (the bigger the tee, the bigger the shopping bag)...

...and with a few cuts and a few quick stitches, you'll end up with a roomy, reusable shopping bag...

...that folds up into a small, portable package!

These bags are perfect to keep around for those quick shopping trips to the supermarket or drug store, or for a little Saturday afternoon shopping. Keep a few in your car to save yourself from bringing home any more plastic bags, and make some as gifts for friends and family.

Drop in and craft one up with me at either of these locations: check in with me at Facebook for more detailed event information closer to each date.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Use It or Lose It: Singer 99-13

I'm looking at machine #6 in my sewing machine inventory today, and this 1934 Singer 99-13 is near and dear to my heart. This is the first vintage machine I ever bought, found in a Southern Illinois thrift store sometime around 1990.

The 99's are a 3/4 sized machine, basically a mini-version of the 66, and this model was one of the first sewing machines advertised to be totally "portable." Although at about 25 lbs in the case, it's not quite as portable as a modern lightweight machine or even a featherweight.

Since this is a "portable" machine, it has an ingenious way of storing all of the extras. Inside the wooden case is a space for the attachment box and a place for a metal bar shaped like a question mark.

The metal bar is a knee control, attaching to the front of the wooden base and taking the place of a foot control! It is a pretty cool way to sew, no chasing after a foot as it walks away from you on the floor. This machine really does sew wonderfully, I have always enjoyed sewing with it. I set it up last week and have been doing a little bit of piecing on it, enjoying every stitch.

It really is a pretty little machine. I was drawn to it esthetically when I bought it, and then after sewing with it I completely fell in love. This machine is the reason I continued to purchase vintage sewing machines, because I knew they just didn't make them like this any more.

The only thing I'm doing to this baby is adding some small metal handles to the base to make it easier for me to lift and carry. After I added handles to the wooden base of the 15-30, I couldn't believe I ever repeatedly lifted machines without adding them sooner!

I'm planning on sewing on her again tonight before moving on to the next machine in my inventory - which will be whatever machine I grab off the shelf next!

To see some of the other machines in my collection, you can click on the links below. Happy stitching!

#3, #4, and #5: 1922 Singer 66, C.1900 Vibrating Shuttle, and Singer 114K103
#2. 1919 Singer 128
#1. 1901 Singer 15-30 Custom

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Vintage Scrap Quilt Finish

I finally finished the second vintage scrap quilt!

Vintage scrap quilt

The front is pieced with 1/2" red strips bordering the vintage scraps, and the back is pieced with 1/2" navy blue strips along the vintage scraps. The vintage scraps are quilted with 1/2" wide straight lines, while the white fabric in between is free motion quilted with flowers similar to those in some of the fabrics. I finished the whole thing with red binding.

Vintage scrap quilt

I think I know what "overquilting" is now. I mean, you can see some of the flowers, but others seem to get lost in all that quilting. Seriously, that is a LOT of mother lovin' free motion stitching.

Vintage scrap quilt

Still, despite my struggle to finish this quilt, I do really like it. Especially after finishing the binding and sending it through the wash.

Vintage scrap quilt

I feel good about finishing both of these quilts (this one for me and the one I made for my tot) because the scraps were saved from the trash, and I can't help but feel like the original owner would be happy to see her fabric scraps finally stitched into cozy quilts that are used - and loved.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Pulling a Late-Nighter

My hubs got temporarily switched to the night shift a few days ago, and I've been pulling a few late-nighters myself. I finished quilting the last of the second vintage scrap quilts two nights ago, and started on the binding last night. (Check back to see my first vintage scrap quilt right here)

Binding the vintage scrap quilt

Tonight is one more night shift for my hubs, and one more late-nighter of stitching for me. I plan on a marathon of hand stitching binding tonight while watching as much Star Trek: TNG as I can handle, and I think I will call this quilt finished.

Although I was really in love with this quilt as I was piecing the top and the back, after all that quilting, quilting, quilting, it's just not the same love affair. Mostly because I got so frustrated with the free-motion stitching (well, because I just don't have a lot of experience with it) that I hurried through some of it. I just know I could have done a much better job, so now looking at this quilt kind of makes me cringe.

So, I will try to get some photos of the completely finished quilt next week. At least this was an invaluable lesson in free-motion; I know how to make my next attempt even better. And now I can move on to the next project!