Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sam's flowers

variety of fabric flowers

The theme for Sam's memorial project is flowers.

Making flowers was what I had started doing before Sam fell ill. I made a bunch of them with Sam either on my lap or right beside me on the sofa.
So making flowers feels more Sam-related than a quilt.

I'm going to make Sam a wall hanging. It's going to be a flower sampler. The flowers in the photo are made from fabrics, but I plan to add silk ribbon flowers to the mix, and some spiderweb roses.
For stems and leaves I'll be doing a combination of applique and embroidery. The embroidered leaves will be done in silk ribbon and embroidery floss. 

The background fabric is the actual background I'll be using for the wall hanging.

For the silk ribbon flowers I have several gorgeous wired ombre ribbons, but they're very hard to come by and I don't have a huge stash of them unfortunately. So for the time being I'll practice the ribbon flowers with fabric strips and/or more readily available ribbons to build enough confidence to use the pretty ones.  

Except for the yoyo maker flowers, all the flowers come from a wonderful book I bought several years ago when Nils was still alive. The author is Janice Vaine, and the book title is "The Art of Elegant Hand Embroidery, Embellishment and Appliqué."
This book contains an abundance of techniques: fabric, ribbon, beads, you name it. It has lots of diagrams, and the instructions are quite easy to follow.
Definitely worthwhile, and very inspiring.

closeup fabric flowers

The flowers in the foreground are so enjoyable to make! In Janice's book they're called Batchelor Buttons.  The red flower above them is made with the yoyo maker, and the 2 cuties on the right are called Traveler's Joy. The Traveler's Joy flower were the easiest, but none of these flowers are hard to do. Some just need some more practice than others.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Till death do us part....

Cat Sam
My darling Sam

On Monday the 17th at noon my beloved Sam passed away at the age of 4.

Like Sieuwke, he died peacefully. Sam passed away at home on my lap. 
I'm devestated.

Rest in peace, my darling Sam. I love you so much.

Friday, March 7, 2014

A good decision

When I moved into this modest size terrace house, the largest bedroom was an obvious choice to dedicate as a craft room. It has plenty of room for multiple tables, and I could leave my sewing machine set up permanently.
The size of the room is fine, but there's no direct sunlight ever.

When I started the wall hanging, I set up a foldaway table in Nils' room, because the natural light is so much better there, and I love the view from the window so much.
But it's a smaller room. Leaving the table in there for days in a row was quite impractical. I use that room for drying laundry, ironing and storage of craft stuff as well.
However, I knew right away that this was the room for enjoyable craft adventures. And now I've finally come up with the perfect solution: the gateleg table (or is it a drop leaf?). Anyway it's perfect for a room this size!

table with dropped leaves

When not in use I can drop both leaves, allowing me ample space to access the storage cabinets or to do the ironing. And the room looks bigger of course.

But when I use it I have two options for size, fully extended or half extended. How brilliant is that?

table 1 leaf extended

table fully extended

Furthermore this table comes with six generous drawers. I haven't made up my mind yet on how I want to fill them. For now all my scissors and the rotary cutter are stored in the top drawer.

table drawers

This is how the room looks when the table is in use with 1 leaf extended. Still plenty of room to move about.

view of the room

sewing machines and overlocker

I loved how the room turned out. It makes crafting so much more fun, when you can do it in a pleasant environment.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Singer 15 meets Sieuwke's Quilt

Machine quilting

Well, it took me long enough, but I've finally started to quilt Sieuwke's Quilt.

I used a rather unusual way to sandwich the quilt, due to the size. Of course I wasn't looking forward to sandwich a quilt on the floor on my hands and knees to begin with, but also because I'm short. So I would have to crawl over it anyway, and most likely inadvertently cause wrinkling.

Instead I first spread the background fabric on my bed, and positioned the wadding (batting) on top of it. I had already marked the center.
Then I laid the background fabric along with the wadding on a table with a smooth surface, and checked for wrinkles. Lastly I carefully draped the patchwork over them, again smoothing out the sandwich and started pinning from the center.

Although I used a thin wadding the quilt is quite heavy. Much to my delight quilting in the ditch is going well, considering that I'm not very experienced at machine quilting. So far I've managed to stay in the ditch most of the time.
My arms tire, though, from handling the quilt. So I do two to three rows at the time, and take a rest or work on something else for a while.

After using the 127 to stitch the quilt top, I'm once again amazed at how quiet the Singer 15 is when you're operating it. Not that the 127 is noisy, but when you use the 15 you can hardly hear it at all. You just see the needle moving, ;-)))

A closer look at the machine quilting:

detail quilting in the ditch

Well, here you can see why it's hard on my arm muscles. I can stitch almost 3/4", smooth out the fabric, move the large part that is not being stitched along, and keep the folded part flat so it doesn't interfere with my lamp.

That's it, folks. I'm off to bed.

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, :-).