Thursday, October 29, 2009

Harley's Debut

I didn't purchase leaders for Harley's frame - the fabric that is attached to the rails to make it easier to load the quilt parts on the frame. It would have been ANOTHER $100 for the leaders. The "instructions" that I downloaded from the Pfaff website had directions for making leaders. They are rectangles of fabric. How hard can it be????

Well - not hard. I picked up some gridded fabric pictured above (the store leaders have a one inch grid printed on them). It even sort of goes with my room! I got out my lil ol' serger and quickly zoomed around the edges of some leaders - and attached them to the frame. I even made one for the batting rail, which is not something included in the instruction book. They worked very well so for under $20 I got my leaders and some left over fabric - maybe it will find it's way into a quilt! I think it's sailcloth.

So - now on to the "first quilt." It took me quite awhile to load it up - a learning thing - when I've done it a few times, I expect it will get quicker.

The actual quilting didn't take too long. But... of course - first time nothing works out perfectly. I totally forgot about tension and it wasn't until I started rolling up the first "row" that I could see on the back that the tension was very bad. I adjusted the tension, kept going and finished it. But then I went back and pulled out the first row and redid it. Much better.
I didn't try anything fancy - just a freehand sort of wavy line. It will take me awhile getting used to the speed and idiosyncrasies of the machine. I will also have to learn how to "bump" over bulky seam joins, etc. I didn't expect perfection first time out, that's for sure. I'll have close up pix of the quilting on my next post.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Canada Scramble - Before Meeting Harley

I finally got the "disappearing nine patch" stitched together. I didn't think I'd like it (I've noticed there are quite a few things I don't think I'll like) but I think there are two lessons here:
1 - finish it first before deciding, and
2 - pretty much anything looks good in a fabulous border!

It's sort of like I love pastry and I'll eat just about anything wrapped in pastry!

I started out with the name "Oh Canada" - but I reserve the right to change my mind and I've changed it. "Canada Scramble" is much better, I think!

Here is the "scramble" - I more or less randomly put the fabric combos together and other than putting the prints in the spots that wouldn't be cut (mostly - I missed on a few at the beginning) because I wanted the prints to show, it was pretty random. If you are doing this block and you want to have more of a "non-scramble" - you will have to be consistent with the fabric placement.

So - the plan for the weekend is to introduce Canada Scramble to Harley - it will be my first long-arm quilted quilt. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 19, 2009

All the Kings Men

* the Diva quilts were put on the silent auction block today - things are looking good - they all have bids already - one as high as $100!!!!

* close to having Elaine's Place quilt top finished

* started stitching the 140 "disappearing nine patch" patches together for Oh Canada tonight. My friend Margaret is having a fund raiser for her charity Inspire Africa so I offered it to her for her silent auction - that's on or about November 19, so I'll have to move a bit faster!

* Harley is all fixed and ready to go - had the first of my "unlimited lessons" - I really just need to get some quilting done to learn how to use him

*working really gets in the way of sewing time!

*not to mention painting - the new bathroom was ready and I'm the official painter

*have a great week!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Harley makes his debut/Chris models her quilt - finally!

Why use one pix when four will do? :)

I finally got to Harley today - I HAD to fix Elaine's quilt before I could do anything else. I guess I'm pretty linear that way. Not that Elaine's quilt is making me happy - but it's better than it was.

Anyway - back to Harley.....

If you look closely you can see my name in there.

I'm really good at the squiggly things! Not so good at anything else. This is an old sheet - good advice I got from someone. Practice on an old sheet. I'm also using up some disgusting thread.

There are still a couple of unresolved technical issues with Harley: the stitch regulators don't work and there is a bit of "play" in the "table" that the sewing machine sits on. We replaced one of the stitch regulators and Saturday - now neither of them work. So we'll keep chipping away at that.
We did mention the "play" at the store and the fellow thought that it wouldn't be an issue. I do notice it though and I think if I were trying to do a fairly intricate pattern it would become an issue. Will keep chipping away to get these issues resolved.
It's just frustrating - it seems so often when a purchase is made that there is something wrong. Mostly, no one says anything because it's too much of an inconvenience. But on a major purchase - things just darn well should work properly!
Anyway - as I said, will keep chipping away at it - in the meantime, looking forward to my first "unlimited" lesson on Oct 17.
We were over to Chris and Karl's for dinner last night - turkey! I took my camera so I wouldn't forget to have her model her quilt. Here she is with Kokopelli Blues.
Karl said - "show the back!" - So she obliged....

OK - well - actually - the quilt back, Chris!

Oh - work with me, Baby!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

If at first you don't succeed....

I could not leave Elaine's Place as it was. So I took quite a bit of it apart and added some plain dark green borders around the "feature blocks." It's a big improvement, but this will never be my favorite quilt. I want to add a "garden path" through the garden so I laid out a strip of light green to see what it would look like. I'll play with that a bit.
Now that I'll be able to sleep without trying to solve my screw up, I'll begin to play with Harley and make friends with him. That will be tomorrow's project. It's a long weekend so I get Monday off, too! Yay!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Night

Well - here it is stitched together. So what have I learned? Don't put so much busy-ness around "feature" blocks. This is just too busy. But I shall press on and finish it as planned. It will still keep Elaine warm when she's watching TV.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Making Progress?

I'm never sure if I'm going to like my quilts. It's the chance you take when you're flying by the seat of your pants - "no rules." I have learned that they always look better when all the pieces are stitched together. I'm still not sure that I'll like Elaine's Place - but it's getting closer to completion.

Someone asked how many birds or bird houses I was going to make. I said I'd stop when I have "enough" because I really didn't know. The answer is: 7 flowers, 5 birds, 9 small bird houses and 3 big ones (the big ones are equivalent to two 6" blocks). And I've made 10 filler blocks. I need 3 more. I think that should add up to 40 blocks (5 by 8 blocks - plus the house and picket fence). That won't be the end of it, but that will be most of it. Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bird Houses

Having spent the better part of the weekend acquiring Harley, doing household chores and sleeping off a migraine, I thought I'd best do at least SOME sewing so that Harley can eventually earn his keep. Here are the bird houses for Elaine's Place that I put together after dinner. They are considerably less fussy than the LBBs that will occupy them!
I'm considering using buttons as the openings to the bird houses, rather than appliqued circles. I'm also thinking of adding a few small buttons to give the LBBs eyes and the flowers stamens. I'll keep that option open and see what I can find for buttons.

Welcome to My Insanity

It's official. I am insane.
After moaning and groaning about having to 1) crawl around on hands and knees to pin quilt layers together and 2) force said quilt through my little Pfaff 1471 to quilt, I decided I need a long arm. My very own. No - not going to pay someone else to quilt my quilts for me - too much of a control freak. I want to do every bit of each of my quilts. Of course, a year ago I was saying - nope - not going to get another machine for quilting... Well - another prime example of "never say never" ....
My mission at the Creative Stitches show last week was to research and look at available long arm machines. I learned a lot. Things like: Pfaff, Husqvarna and Tin Lizzie 18 *8 long arms are all made by the same company - only the labels are different and maybe a few minor features. For that matter the regular machines are all made by the same company, too. It also turns out that in Calgary it is a husband/wife team that own all of the Pfaff/Husq retail outlets. So - essentially a monopoly at the wholesale and retail levels.
In any event, I was considering the Tin Lizzie on a wooden frame - it was less money - but Joe was absolutely against the idea of a wooden frame, which meant an upgrade to metal, which would have equalized the cost between TL and Pfaff. The TL distributor is out of Chilliwack, BC, quite a distance from Calgary - there are no TL outlets here that I am aware of. So for the same money, I settled on the Pfaff with its custom Imperial (made by Grace) frame. The "show price" was such that the discount on the machine essentially meant that the frame was "free" - hardly - but that's the way the math works out. As the money was the same at this decision point, I decided to go with the local retail outlet - that way I have "unlimited lessons", which I will undoubtedly need, and service when I need it.
Of course as it turns out, a week later, the store had no Pfaffs in stock, but three Husqvarnas. So I ended up with the Husk (as they are the same!) and the Imperial frame.
Joe, bless his pointed little head, spent the better part of yesterday assembling the brute. I still have to take the cardboard off the needle part and turn the switch!
The thing about this frame is that, as is, it assembles either in the five or ten foot lengths. No in between - unless you spend more money for the kit. At this stage, I think I've spent enough, so we assembled it at the 10' length as a few of my quilts have been a bit wider than 5' and this will give me the option to go up to a King size without having to bug Joe to reassemble the table in the larger size.
We'll be reorganizing the basement furniture - at the moment all is "temporary" until the renos are complete. Eventually I hope the layout will be much more efficient.
Now all I need is more time to learn how to use this baby, which I am naming "Harley" - because my sister got herself a Harley Davidson - she needs this like a hole in the head - just like I "need" my "Harley"!