Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A new cat

new cat Sam

This is Sam!
I collected Sam from the shelter on November 27th. He felt right at home from the minute he arrived.

Of course he was given his own room at first, separated from Muis. However, it proved too difficult to keep him there longer than a few days, ;-)).

Sam is about 4 years old. He's very placid, loves to sit in my lap for a while, but also likes his privacy in the cat room upstairs. I loved him instantly and I'm so happy to have him.

He's also hard to photograph, because when I try to take a picture of him he rushes to me to be petted.

Introducing him to Muis was no walk in the park. It's not that they're not compatible, but Muis would probably have preferred to be the only cat.
Well at his age (16) that's to be expected, but I was so unhappy after losing Nils and Sieuwke one year apart. So I let my own feelings take precedence and welcomed Sam in the full knowledge that I would be asking a lot from Muis.
Thank heavens, the cats have most of the tension between them sorted by now, and are more comfortable with each other.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sieuwke's Quilt, top is ready

Sunday evening I completed the top for Sieuwke's Quilt.
It's been a bear to photograph. I must have taken twenty plus pictures of it, but the colours are off no matter what. Must be that bright orange, I suppose.
But here's a remotely decent attempt:

completed quilt top

And 1 more:
finished top different angle

Well, at least it shows how the design turned out. 15 yr old Muis can't wait for it to be finished. He sleeps on my bed every night so his approval is very important, ;-).

As I had mentioned in my last post, I've sewn the entire top on my Singer 127.  My 127 came with just the one fixed foot. There were no other feet or attachments.
But when I had finished the individual blocks it suddenly occurred to me I might try and see if I could use the hinged straight stitch foot of one of my other vintage Singers.

So I put on the 191B's hinged foot. It went on fine, but when I turned the hand wheel, the needle got stuck at the point where it meets the shuttle (the lowest position for the needle to sink in). It took some wriggling back and forth with the hand wheel to gently ease it out .  
Then I tried the 15's hinged foot, because that's an older machine. Much better, because the needle performed the motion completely, or does it?

It's odd, but occasionally the needle jams with the 15's foot too. It's intermittent, and it only happens when I want to move the needle back in the up position to thread it.
With the 127, when I stop stitching the needle sometimes lowers by itself even if I stopped while it's in the highest position.
Interestingly, provided there's fabric touching the feed dogs the machine stitches beautifully and with no jams at all.

Is it me or do hinged feet really make a difference while sewing? I find that I don't need to guide the fabric as much to sew a straight line when I use a hinged foot. With the fixed foot the fabric has a tendency to run off to one side.

So since the hinged foot appears to be working well with the 127, I'll probably continue to use it. By comparison managing the fabric became a lot easier once I put it on.
As originally planned the binding will be done on the 15, because that one has a reverse.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sieuwke's quilt

start of Sieuwke's quilt

I've started a quilt for my bed to commemorate my darling Sieuwke.

When I brought Sieuwke home from the shelter he was given a room of his own. In order to get Muis and Sieuwke to get along, a proper introduction was crucial. After all Muis was 15 yrs old, still grieving over Nils, and Sieuwke was extremely timid.

So Sieuwke started his new life in his very own room, and was given plenty of time to take it all in. I visited him a number of times during the day to provide food and water, and spend some time with him.
On those occasions I used to have some small sewing project handy so he wouldn't feel like the center of attention because he was so timid. I finished hand quilting a tablecloth while he napped in his safe spot between two cabinets. That tablecloth was a Courthouse steps quilt.

In his final hours Sieuwke wanted to be in the bedroom, which is why I chose to do a quilt for my bed.

I'm sewing the blocks on the Singer 127, my oldest machine.
The Singer 15 will also be involved at a later stage. I'm going to use the 15 for the quilting and to sew on the binding, because I want to use a hinged foot for that.

I've cut all the strips with the Log Cabin ruler (Marti Michell).

log cabin ruler

It's a dream to use and you have your strips ready to go in no time at all. After cutting your strips you can then proceed to sew them assembly-line style.
BUT, and I can't stress this enough, do make sure your 1/4" seam allowances are spot on. Otherwise every next piece you add won't fit. So if the piece you add is longer or shorter, make sure you fix it before you continue.
In case you're wondering, yes I got mine wrong on 10 blocks, :-).

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

In loving memory

my cat Sieuwke

On October 18th at 5.30 pm my gentle Sieuwke has passed away.

Sieuwke died at home in my arms with no pain. He was only six years old.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The knits

Sis and I went to our favourite yarn shop last Friday. As always when we go on trips we had a great time.
For the time being I decided to get yarn for two cardigans. So now I have plenty of yarn for the 1960 cardigan plus another cardigan that I noticed when I was browsing the knitting magazines.
In fact the two magazines I've bought have four potential candidates for future knitting, provided the first two cardigans go well.

I started knitting right away when we got home from the yarn shop. Prior to our trip I had already done a rather large swatch for the 1960 cardigan. As it turns out, I did need to go down two needle sizes, but that's normal for the technique I use.

A major difference for me, compared to knitting socks, is the tension. The tension required for a cardigan is much tighter than I'm used to. Another reason why I went down two needle sizes.
And it felt so weird to use only two needles instead of the usual five when I knit a sock.

On another note, I'm nearly done knitting the back of the 1960 cardigan.
Here's a picture:
cardigan back

If it seems too narrow to you, don't worry, because it's being knitted in ribbing stitch entirely.  I can assure you that it's quite stretchy. As you can see, I've just started the armhole. I now need to work 8" as is, then proceed with the rest of the armhole.
Well, at least the largest piece of the cardigan is nearly done. At least the other pieces have far less stitches, so in theory they should go faster, or at least appear to, ;-))
The yarn is called Bingo, and it's from Lana Grossa. 

Of course I couldn't wait to see how the other yarn would look like, so I knitted a swatch. I have no idea how the stitch is called, as it wasn't specified in the directions, but I sure like the look of it.
See picture:
royal tweed swatch

It's a cardigan pattern as well, made entirely in that stitch. This yarn too is Lana Grossa, and it's called Royal Tweed. I find it a little harder to knit with, but it's very pretty and the stitch is so fun to do.
My sister advised me to do at least one cardigan from a magazine, because you can use the exact same yarn as used in the design, making it more likely that the result will look the same.
I have no picture of the design, but it's a very simple long cardigan with straight sleeves and a collar.

Oh, I can show you some finished knitting as well. When I bought the vintage cardigan patterns on Etsy I also bought this irresistible pattern for dishcloths. 
And I've already made a pair:
knitted dishcloths

They were so much fun to make! Cheerful, aren't they?

Lastly, I'm still contemplating what to do about a quilt for my draughty  bedroom. I've decided that hand quilting would be too time consuming. After all I'm still hand quilting the lap quilt for my sister. I would prefer not to start another hand quilting project while hers isn't finished yet.

I've looked at quilts in shops, but I can't find any color I like. All the colors are ever so boring: greys, taupe, white..... bleh.
But how would I go about machine quilting?
Free motion quilting is out. It would take me too long to learn. Most likely I could do a large quilt by hand faster than attempting to get a remotely decent result by free motion quilting.
Besides, I would have to do it on my Pfaff, because my vintage Singers are hand cranks. Plus, if I use a vintage Singer for the patchwork top, I would prefer not to use an electric machine to quilt it, It just doesn't seem right somehow.

So the solution might be to quilt in the ditch by machine. If I do a log cabin top, all I would need to do is stitch the outlines of each block.  Meaning I would have to do straight lines only, lengthwise and crosswise. I suppose it won't be easy anyway, because I'm not used to handling such an amount of fabric with any machine, but since it'd be straight lines it might work.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

It's getting chilly

Although the weather has been lovely in the daytime so far, nights are starting to get chilly.

I live in an old house opposite a wood. When I sit on my sofa and look out of the window all I see is trees, bushes and a path leading into the wood.

So this is what I see when I'm siting on my sofa

livingroom view

This picture was taken last Spring. It always sets off with the small trees and bushes, and gradually all the other trees follow. And it's such a thrill after looking at bare trees all Winter.  Winters always last far too long, and I hate them with a passion.

But bare trees aren't the only reason I hate winters. The house has central heating, but only the living room is relatively warm during winters, not the bedrooms upstairs. Which is unfortunate, because my sewing room is upstairs, and so is my bedroom.
Anyway, last winter I consulted the housing company about it. Turns out that the HR-boiler is set up to heat bedrooms to 15 degrees Celsius max. Apparently you can request to change that, but then I would have to worry about my energy bill. So that's not an option.

To make matters worse, we have those ventilation things (I don't know what to call them) in the windows. Well, the thing is I have to leave them open at all times. If I don't the air gets too humid, which results in an even chillier feel in whatever room you're in.
So I leave the vents open all the time, meaning I feel the wind blow over my face when I'm in bed. And with temperatures below zero that's no fun.

So I'm thinking about a quilt to put on top of my bedding for extra warmth, since my bedroom is so draughty. But will I just buy one from Ikea or make one?

At the moment it's more likely that I'm getting a bedspread/quilt from Ikea. It would serve its purpose this winter, and give me more time to make myself a nice quilt.

After all, there's the size to consider. My bed is 47.25" wide and I want a decent overlap to keep warm and for appearance.   Well now, a quilt top goes together fairly quickly, but after that you still need to quilt it. And I'm a hand quilter.
Of course I could try to machine quilt it, I suppose. Yet,  that would mean handling a sizable quilt on a domestic sewing machine.  Would that actually save time?
Still, it's tempting, I must say.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Vintage cardigans

No sewing projects to show this time, because I'm not working on anything new at the moment.
Lately I've been hand quilting on and off for a quilt I've already shown in a previous post, and I've been busy knitting socks as well.
But as I don't want to stop blogging I thought I'd show you some gorgeous knitting patterns that I found on Etsy.com. Granted they're knitting patterns, but they're vintage so at least they're somewhat related to the focus of my blog.

So enough explanations already, here's the first cardigan:
fifties cardigan knitting pattern

Isn't it lovely?
The stitches are pretty straightforward: twisted ribbing, knit and purl, and a simple cable. The challenge lies in accomplishing a good fit.
The instructions provide a list of measurements you need to take to determine your size. I'm sure my sister will be happy to assist me taking them.
Next step is finding the right yarn. I'll have to try and match the gauge as accurately as I can, because it's a fitted cardigan. Besides if the chosen yarn has the correct gauge, all I need to do is follow the instructions to the letter and end up with a perfect cardigan *wishful thinking* :-))

In that respect I find sewing garments easier. My preferred method to make clothes is tacking the entire garment and put it on. Any fitting issue becomes apparent instantly and can be dealt with right away.

So, because the lovely fifties cardigan will be challenging, I treated myself  to an easier to make cardigan as well.  This one is called a 'Car coat' and was published in 1960, which is the year I was born.

Just look at that gorgeous collar:
long cardigan pattern

I'm going to make this cardigan first, because I don't foresee any fitting problems. Of course I don't want to end up with a too over sized cardigan, but if the finished size is slightly bigger or smaller it wouldn't be that big of a deal really.
The cardigan is knitted in ribbing stitch entirely, combined with some crochet ribbing.

In Holland the most common way to knit is to tuck one needle under your right arm, and to hold the yarn in your right hand.
So you can imagine what it was like for me when I decided to knit socks. The only sock needles on the market are 7"!  You can't tuck those under your arm, so what was I to do?
Well, I found the answer on  a website called KnittingHelp. I had to learn what they refer to as the 'Continental method'. I believe it's quite common in the UK. Anyway, you hold the needles in your hands and you hold the yarn in your left hand.
It took me 7 weeks to master, but it was definitely worth the trouble, especially when you need to alternate between purl and knit stitches a lot. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Amsterdam shopping spree

Yesterday was wonderful. Sis and I went to Amsterdam on a shopping spree!
It was a huge success.

First stop was Birdblocks, my favorite quilt shop, to show them my wall hanging.

After that we took a streetcar to the Albert Cuyp area, where several fabric shops are located.
The first one was the most promising, online at least. According to their website they were supposed to have 3 stories stocked with fabrics and notions. 
Unfortunately they were relocating to another building. Due to limited space they didn't have much available, so we left and decided to visit the store another time.

I was more successful at the next fabric store, where I bought this lovely pink fabric with matching lining.

pink fabric

Next stop was Nanucci, where they have the most wonderful fabrics. Their lace fabrics were to die for. Here at Nanucci's I purchased my most exciting fabric: a floral by Liberty of London.

liberty fabric

Now, I've uses plenty of cotton fabrics throughout my sewing life, but I had never encountered a Liberty cotton before. Good heavens, it was quite a thrill, let me tell you. The cotton is ever so smooth and soft to the touch. Imagine what it will feel like to wear it.

Then, with a much thinner wallet but ever so happy, we headed back to the Dam Square area. When we visit Amsterdam we always go to a tiny yarn shop, which also has a quite extended range of embroidery kits. 
The last time we were there I had seen this gorgeous needlework on display, depicting a spotted sow and piglets, by Elizabeth Bradley. I loved it right away, but couldn't afford it.
However, this time around the kit was on sale, so how could I resist?
And here it is:

woolwork kit

It coordinates beautifully with the color of my living room wall.

wall color

At the same shop I also bought some sock yarn. I've been knitting socks for several years. Nowadays you have so much yummy yarns to choose from. Multicolor yarns are my favorite. It's always a surprise how they turn out, I love that.

multicolor sock yarn

Last but not least we went to another quilt shop, Den Haan en Wagenmakers, where I made my final purchase of the day: these cute elephant fabrics with matching border fabric.

quilt fabric

Aren't they adorable?  I might turn them into small quilts for my cats to lounge on.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The wall hanging is ready

I finished the wall hanging some weeks ago. Then I had to find some kind of rod to hang it. And after finding one it took me a while to get around fotographing it.

So here it is:
wallhanging finished

It's a pity that I can't get the color of the wall right in pictures. It's a tad more yellow in reality. I've tried to take photos with and without direct sunlight. This was the best take yet.
Anyway the wall hanging matches very well with the color of the wall. :-))

You'll probably notice that the houses aren't very distinct, especially when viewed from a distance. I loved the color scheme so much, that I didn't make a real effort to solve that. My mind was set on that particular background fabric.

Remember the border issues? Well, I managed to get the puckering less noticeable.

In hindsight, I don't think the puckering was caused by tension problems after all. Once I finally figured out the right setting the Singer had no problems keeping that setting.
The foot might have made a difference though. The 127K came with a fixed foot, while my 15 has a hinged foot. I had been stitching the entire wall hanging with the 127K, but decided to put on the border with the 15. That's when I noticed that stitching with the hinged foot was easier.

When it comes to mitering corners I can't live without the reverse feature. That's why I wanted to use the 15.

Another thing I learned from stitching this wall hanging is that I need to iron the seams more precisely. Had I done that, then I would've noticed that I hadn't pressed some seams as neatly as I thought. So I didn't notice that I had caused some distortion that would get me in trouble later on.

The thing is, I try to avoid ironing if I can. It's a pain when you have cats. Every minute that I'm not using the iron I have to put it away in my shower and close the door. Cats are like toddlers. You wouldn't leave a hot iron unattended around little kids, would you?

Now imagine how that plays out when you're  doing paper foundation piecing: stitch one very short seam; press it; disconnect the iron, and put it in the shower. And go back to your sewing; stitch another short seam; collect the iron from the shower; heat it up again; press, and put it back in the shower. Well, you get the picture.

Anyway, I'll have to come up with a solution, because careful ironing does get you better results. I'm sure I'll think of something brilliant one day.........

Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer Dress

Lately I've been reading much about sewing garments in the blogs I follow daily. It's so enjoyable to read all about their adventures that I was totally in the mood to make something too.

As it happens I discovered only recently, at the age of 53 no less, that knee length dresses don't work for me because I'm short. So when that eye opening moment finally occurred I immediately started to shop for some new dress patterns.

This is the one I'm working on:
summer dress

The design is a princess line with short sleeves, button down closure, and a collar with stand. The sleeves are gathered, but only at the the top. Needless to say they were very easy to sew, since there was no easing involved.
Much to my delight the collar with stand went quite well too. I was a bit worried because I never made a collar with stand before.

collar with stand

I've sewn one side of the collar stand to the dress with the sewing machine. The inner side, which is pinned in the photo, is going to be hand sewn.
Now that I'm looking at the photo I'm not sure whether I should have sewn the inner stand to the dress, thus having the hand sewing hidden by the collar when I wear the dress. I'll keep it in mind for the next dress, and try how it looks when I do it the other way around.

collar and sleeves

I love how the sleeves turned out, but I'm not happy with how the buttonholes turned out. I used the regular sewing thread to make them. Perhaps I should have used a thicker thread. But how to thread the machine then? A thicker upper thread and the regular sewing thread in the bobbin? I have no idea. Luckily the buttonholes will be less noticeable once the buttons are sewn on. 


The pockets are a nice detail, I think.
This is a fun project overall. And several first times are involved, like making buttonholes, and a collar with a stand.This fabric, however was so cheap that I bought 6 meters of it. It's incredible, but the fabric cost only 1 Euro per meter, and the width is 1.40 m.!!! No wonder I didn't fret about making mistakes.

 The dress is being sewn using the Pfaff and the Juki.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Meet the rest of the gang

Finally I have time to blog again. The past weeks I've been very busy, but not with fun stuff unfortunately.

Anyway, this post is about my other machines. Apart from my two hand machines I own four more.

The Singer 191B
Singer 191B

The 191B is the machine I learned to sew on. It was my Mum's, but she gave it to me when I showed some interest in learning to sew.  No zigzag, strictly straight stitch, and still going strong.
I have many fond memories of sewing on it, especially because my Mum was still alive the last time I used it, and some of the clothes I made on it I still have.

The Pfaff Fashion Select
Pfaff Select
Pfaff Fashion Select

The Pfaff is my go to machine when I sew clothes.
As you can see it's a mechanical machine. Apart from the money involved, I wasn't keen on computerized sewing machines. For one I wasn't sure to what extent the computer would automate things, leaving me with not enough control over it. And secondly the fuss of updating software, not to mention software issues.
Anyway, I'm very pleased with this machine. I love that you can change the needle position. I often use that feature to get an accurate seam allowance.
Then there's the built-in walking foot. I think it's brilliant. As a matter of fact it's the main reason for choosing a Pfaff in the first place.
The Pfaff walking foot can be engaged or disengaged in a split second. Furthermore it's never in the way,  and you can see exactly what you're doing at all times.
pfaff walking foot
Walking foot engaged

walking foot 2
Walking foot disengaged

The Janome CoverPro
janome coverpro
Janome CoverPro

The Janome CoverPro is very user friendly. It's very easy to thread. It produces very nice stitches.
Due to lack of sewing projects I haven't used it much yet, regrettably, because it really is a fun machine to sew on. I've experimented with 4 and 3 threads.
I believe you can also use it for chain stitching, but I've never tried yet.

There are two ways to cut the threads when you finish your stitching. It depends on whether the stitching will be secured by another seam or whether you want to stop in the middle of the fabric if you're doing decorative stitching. This how to video on YouTube explains it better than I can.

The Juki Overlocker
juki overlocker
Juki Overlocker

Last but certainly not least is my Juki Overlocker. My Juki was truly love at first sight. Or rather at first sound really. When I heard the sound of its motor the first time, that was it. I knew this was the one. It sounds ever so smooth, almost velvety if that makes sense. It's quite hard to describe.

It's a joy to use. Threading it is relatively easy. It's a bit intimidating at first but the more you do it the easier it gets. This particular model, the MO-654, has a lever which makes it easier to thread the lower looper thread. The most basic Juki overlocker doesn't have that feature.

I consider myself very fortunate. I own all the machines I ever desired.
And I cherish all of them.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I love hand quilting. Back in the day (some 30 yrs ago) when I took a beginners class for making quilts, machine quilting wasn't as common as it is nowadays. The long arm machines remain expensive of course, but here in the Netherlands they were very hard to come by too.
Moreover, in my class hand quilting was considered the real thing.

Thanks to the internet and YouTube I now have a wealth of info at hand, which led me to the conclusion that machine quilting is a skill, requiring an equal amount of effort to become good at it. I'm glad, because it would be a pity to not appreciate craftsmanship.

I love to watch videos about free motion quilting, both on long arm and home sewing machines. It's quite a skill, and I was particularly impressed by this one video demo by Lizzie Lenard about free motion quilting on a treadle sewing  machine. 

So have I tried machine quilting yet?  I think so, but I'm not sure. In two projects I stitched in the ditch, yes, but I used the regular sewing foot and just stitched through all three layers. No lowered feed dogs, because my Singer 15 doesn't have that option anyway.
Although I made the usual beginner mistakes, I had so much fun! I definitely want to practice more on future small projects and just have fun with it.

Whether I'll take thing further and actually try free motion quilting, however, remains to be seen.
It's not that I don't want to learn, and it would definitely mean more finished project, not to mention the more elaborate designs that you're not likely to hand quilt.
But it's just as time consuming to learn as hand quilting. So at the moment I'm more inclined to focus on hand quilting.
And yes, I do feel like it's a choice. If you want to eventually excel in something you need to give it your all. It's also being aware of the person you are. By nature,  I find lots of skills interesting and exciting. So I can choose to keep on dabbling in all of them or focus on one and see what I can achieve.
Maybe I should have 10+ lives, all of them with good eyesight and a good pair of hands, of course :-)))

Anyway, before I get too philosophical, here are some pictures of my hand quilting.

quilted heart
This heart was my first project in a long time. I went for whole cloth, as I find it much easier to quilt than a patchwork top. You don't need to deal with seams, and this heart was a stencil, so it was a breeze to transfer it to fabric.

quilted heart back side
I obviously had some trouble with stitches not through and through. It's the rocking motion I have trouble with. The hard part for me is the moment after your needle has pierced all layers, when it's time to lay the needle flat to make the next stitch. I usually load 2 to 3 stitches on my needle, by the way.

Nils quilt motiv
I think I improved my technique slightly when I made Nils' memorial quilt. I forgot to take a picture of the back. At least the stitches are more uniform, albeit not very small.

squares hand quilting
Like I mentioned before, I find it a lot harder to quilt a patchwork top. I always manage to have seam allowances in the way somehow.
Apart from uneven stitches, I haven't quite mastered the whole rocking motion yet. The first stitch usually is the hardest. It can take me more than 20 attempts to get it right. My goal is to have less of a gap between that first stitch and the following stitches.

On the bright side, I'm delighted that I've made at least some progress. I'll just keep on practicing.

cat sleeping on lap frame
Lastly, a less obvious reason why hand quilting is time consuming: the cat factor.  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A few completed projects

Well, I've only completed very few projects really. I rekindled my love for patchwork fairly recently after a hiatus of over thirty years when I learned the basics.
In fact I started to hand quilt shortly before my cat Nils passed away last September. I adored Nils. He meant the world to me.

So the first picture is the doily I had started when he was still alive.

quilted doily
Hearts, hand quilted

I had no particular purpose for it in mind. I just felt like hand quilting something. The heart motif was easy to transfer, because it was a stencil. It's also easier to quilt a whole cloth than a patchwork top. because you don't have to deal with seams.

The next picture is the small memorial wall hanging I dedicated to Nils. I intended it to be bigger, including a matching quilted border. But I was in mourning and hadn't planned it properly, so I just added a binding to it.

small wallhanging
In loving memory of Nils

Not much later I purchased my first vintage sewing machine: the Singer 127K. And shortly after that came the Singer 15. Of course I was excited about using one of them, so I made this log cabin tablecloth using the Singer 15.


This one is also hand quilted, but only two squares per block.

After that I made a place mat of sorts for my 127K, so the machine wouldn't damage my table.


And with this place mat I took things a little bit further: I machine quilted it!

placemat detail

I quilted in the ditch, or rather I tried to, but I had a blast. It was so much fun!
This was done on the 127K hand crank. Of course due to the small size it was quite easy to feed the fabric through the machine.
The wall hanging, that I'm currently working on, is much bigger. I intend to sew very very slowly on that one.

Lastly a picture of the back of the place mat.

placemat back side

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Waiting in the wings

After I finished a tablecloth for my cutting table in my sewing room, I had plenty of fabrics left for a smaller one. Very convenient actually, because by that time I had purchased both my hand crank machines, and I was looking for a simple project to use one.

I've always had a soft spot for log cabin quilts. They are fun to sew, and I love how you can play with a variety of layouts. So, when I read about log cabin rulers by Marti Michell, I bought them in two sizes.
The photo shows the ruler for the widest strip size available: the 2"/1" ruler. It's the perfect ruler for jelly rolls, because all you need to do is cut the strips to the appropriate lengths.
log cabin ruler
Log Cabin Ruler

detail log cabin ruler

As you can see in the closeup picture, the strips you cut are the exact length of each individual strip. Which means that you don't need to cut excess fabric once you've added a new strip. I find that very helpful in keeping the blocks square.

What the picture only shows a glimpse of, is that you can combine 1" and 2" strips to make off-center log cabin blocks.

A picture of the small tablecloth:
tablecloth log cabin

Since this was done with the jelly roll leftover, the blocks are quite big.
For my next log cabin quilt, I'm going to use the other ruler, because I want smaller blocks. So I'm going for  3/4" strips (finished size).  I hope I have enough fabric for a bed quilt.

The fabrics for the new log cabin quilt:

The red and yellow are accurate, but for some reason the soft green looks like turquoise. I have a very specific block setting in mind, and 1 shade of red and yellow will do.

Lastly, just a fun picture of the new fabrics together with the Singer 127.
log cabin fabrics too

Friday, April 19, 2013

Border woes

overall view of wallhanging

Adding the three borders to my wall hanging didn't go well.
The seams of the first border puckered.  I should've taken the time to find out why, but I continued to sew them on instead. I was hoping to literally iron them out, I guess. ;-))

Anyway, prior to this project all I had done with the Singer 127K was a couple of test runs after I had oiled it. In other words, this was its first real project.

I had to tinker a bit with the stitch length when I started the paper foundation piecing, but the tension was fine. And remained fine most of the time.
But this is what I couldn't figure out: occasionally the tension setting changed apparently, particularly when I hadn't used the machine for a couple of hours. And then I would have to find the correct setting again first and continue to sew.

Now, I'm a beginner when it comes to hand crank machines. I'm not sure how they're supposed to behave. My first sewing machine was an electric Singer 191B. I still have it, by the way.
As I recall I hardly ever had to adjust the tension on it. It would sew anything.

Anyway, after trying every setting of the upper tension I resorted to adjusting the screw on the shuttle by turning it 1/8" anticlockwise. As a result of that the seams of the last border strips were fine.

Of course I still need to unpick all the borders, and start over. Hopefully the tension won't give me any more problems this time around. However, if the tension problems keep reoccurring I obviously haven't solved the problem. I feel I need a professional to have a look at it.
But first I'm going to start over with the borders, and see how it'll play out.

Time to show and tell, so here's some more pictures I took. Come to think of it,  maybe it wasn't just the tension issues. After I added the first border I removed the paper foundation. Some parts of the houses stretched a bit. I chalked it down to how the pieces were cut. I hadn't paid any attention to the grain. After all, the paper foundation acts as a stabiliser. Maybe I should've left it in.

detail puckerd borders
detail puckered borders
detail puckered borders

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Row of houses complete

Yesterday I completed the row of houses.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had to order new fabric for one of the houses. The fabric I had planned to use didn't match the overall color scheme.

houses ready
Houses are ready!

I had taken my chances and ordered the fabric online. Well, I was lucky, because I love it. I think it coordinates very well with the other fabrics. It's the fabric in the fourth house from the left.
The design of this house is different, hence the fabric should be different too.

Next I'll need to cut borders and the binding.
A total of three borders in two different widths (alternating wide and narrow), followed by the binding.
The thing is I don't like cutting borders, so I'm procrastinating. I don't mind sewing them, but cutting them is bleh. The binding on the other hand is something I look forward to. I like to sew on the binding by machine first, and after that hand sew the back. 
I find hand sewing very soothing, especially on a sofa with two napping cats next to me.

It's so enjoyable to do this on the Singer 127K.  It holds the stitch length perfectly, and the tension too. Of course you need to adjust the presser bar a bit when you add a new house due the amount of seams involved.

I do have to pay intention to where I start stitching. If the needle is lowered it must hit the fabric. You can't start stitching while there's no fabric under the presser foot. Good heavens, how do you say this in English?
Well, I hope it makes sense. Anyway, if you're not paying attention to that, you'll get snags. That's what I was trying to say, ;-)).