Saturday, April 27, 2013

Out of the Box

My entry for the Modern Quilt Challenge my guild is hosting is officially complete. The rules for the challenge were to make a large (5'x7' minimum) quilt using only solids, one of which had to be white, and embrace some of the techniques that are emerging in the world of modern quilting. Unfortunately it was windy when I was taking pictures so I couldn't get a shot of the whole quilt however there's a good picture of the top here.

I've decided to name this quilt "Out of the Box." This quilt was definitely outside of my quilting box. As is frequently the case with stepping outside of the box I find I really like what's out there. I'm already planning more quilts featuring solids although I think future quilts will probably have more planned blocks and less randomness. I'm also naming this quilt "Out of the Box" because I forced randomness on myself by throwing all of my fabric into a bag and sewing together whichever pieces I pulled out.

I wanted to try making a quilt that could be reversible. I made a large four patch for the opposite side of the quilt. I wanted it to be asymmetrical so the white sashing is 3" wide on two sides and 6" wide on the other. Knowing how to do the quilting is always the hardest part for me. I was worried about doing too much on this quilt so I did straight line quilting with a walking foot at random intervals. Looking back I wish I had done lines every 1.88 inches (the width of my masking tape.)

One of the rules of this challenge was that the binding had to be solid too. I was struggling to find a single color that really finished off the quilt until I read Sunday Morning Quilts and learned about scrappy bindings. I love how it looks on this quilt.

My husband is interested in modern art so I decided this quilt would be for him. He gave me a lot of input as I was working and pushed me much further out of my box than I intended to go. I love the support my husband gives me in my quilting. I know I would not have the courage to attempt all of my quilting dreams without him. I'm so glad that I can finally give him a quilt of his very own.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sleeve Update 5

This sweater is starting to reveal it's problems. The multiple charts for the back make absolutely no sense to me. In truth the problems are probably with the knitter and not the pattern, but let's just skip over that little detail. One of the ladies in my quilt guild is an experienced knitter so she'll be able to help me figure out how to do the back.

For today I'm going to focus on the positives. All of my quilts for the show are finished so this weekend I was able to focus all of my attention on knitting. The attention paid off because I was able to finish the second sleeve!

My husband pointed out last night that the sleeves may be a little larger since I was able to try them on over the sweater I was wearing. I'm planning on wearing this sweater as a top layer so I'm not that worried about it being big. Hopefully when I block it everything will work out.  

As I was taking these pictures my camera battery decided it was a good day to die. I apologize for the blurriness, but since my goal was to finish both sleeves by Ginny's Yarn Along this week I wanted to show off that I did indeed finish.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Brother Sewing Machine Review

This week we've had snow. This is actually the second snow storm we've received this month. I've heard people talk about getting snow in April but I always thought it was just a light little dusting that occurred on April first. (Honestly I thought it was just a horror story that stayed in circulation to keep you from getting too cocky when spring arrives in February.) With all of this nasty weather I haven't gotten pictures of the Modern Quilt Challenge quilt taken. I'll have to come up with an actual name for that quilt before I do it's final post.

In February I bought a new sewing machine and promised I'd do a review after Sammy and I had gotten to know each other. My first sewing machine is a basic Janome named Jenny so there's probably stuff Sammy impresses me with that I shouldn't be impressed by. I've been using Sammy exclusively since then and overall am rather pleased with what he does. I live in rural Iowa so I didn't have a lot of sewing machine dealers near me. I bought the Brother 100-Stitch Computerized sewing machine at my local Wal-mart.

I love the variety of stitches that this machine has. I've tried a few of them for quilting and look forward to experimenting with more of them in the future. The alphabet font is very basic, but I could see using it to make labels for quilt backs. One of the stitch features I don't like is that the default stitch setting (stitch 00) is in the left hand position. The markers that show you seam width are measured with your needle in center position (stitch 01.) I wish that the machine would start with the last stitch you selected. It didn't take long to remember to change my stitch when I turn on the machine though so while this feature in inconvenient it's not anything that makes me regret getting the machine.

As far as sewing, Sammy does a great job. He holds tension very nicely and it is easy to load both top and bobbin threads. I don't like the fact that the case to the left of the thread channel doesn't move. I'm slightly worried that I won't be able to do as much cleaning on this machine as I can with Jenny, but I'm sure as I hunt around I'll find the screws that let me remove the shell. I love that I can tell the needle which position to stop in. This feature has been really wonderful for doing all of the curved seams on my drunkard's path blocks. I also love the ability to lower the feed dogs. I struggled to do FMQ with Jenny since I couldn't lower her feed dogs. I'm sure there's a way to make it work, but I love that I don't have to figure that out. 

Another feature that I'm very impressed with is the speed control. When I was learning to sew I struggled to go slow. I love the fact that if I ever get to teach someone to sew I can set the machine on the slowest speed and they'll have one less thing to worry about. (I haven't used the slowest speed yet, but I have found it useful to switch to speed 2 when doing difficult piecing. By forcing myself to go slower than I normally sew I give myself a little more time to focus on my seams.) So far I've only sewn with the peddle, but I like the option of a start and stop button. I attend work nights and workshops on a regular basis and I'm comforted by the knowledge that if when I forget my peddle I'll still be able to sew. Speaking of taking Sammy places, it's a lightweight machine. I've hurt my wrist carrying Jenny places. I'm certain that because Jenny has mostly steal parts and Sammy is mostly plastic Jenny will outlive Sammy (despite the fact that she's already 10 years older than he is.) For my purposes a cheap, light machine that can do everything Sammy does is more important than lifespan. I did struggle with Sammy's lightweight when I was quilting my modern quilt. It's a large quilt and pushed the machine around a lot when I was trying to do straight line quilting. Probably after I get Jenny fixed she'll be responsible for all walking-foot quilting. I'll also use her for piecing blocks to extend the lifespan of Sammy.

My biggest complaint with this machine is the light. Jenny's built in lamp is big enough that I could sew comfortably in a dark room if I wanted to. Sammy's barely lights up the bed of the machine. Thankfully when I bought Sammy I also bought a light that attaches to the side of the machine. (I can't find the link to the light I bought, but it was displayed with the other sewing machine accessories on the rack directly above the machines.) One of the ladies from my guild said she spent 50 dollars for a light like this at a quilt shop and was never very happy with it. My little light cost a whopping 10 dollars and works wonderfully. It's LED so it won't need battery changes very often, but when it does it takes AA batteries. 

Overall I really like Sammy and would definitely recommend anyone looking for an affordable machine to consider this one. 

*It should be noted that this review is not sponsored by Wal-mart or Brother. I did a lot of research before buying this machine and hope to make it easier for other sewers and quilters to research this machine in the future.

Linking up here:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sleeve Update 4

I can't believe this is my 50th post! I know in the world of blogging where people are celebrating their 200 or 300th post 50 isn't very big, but I have to reach 50 before 300. I'm almost finished with the binding on the last quilt for the show so next week I'm hoping this sleeve will be much further along. It's encouraging to look back at previous posts of this sleeve and see that it is indeed getting longer. It feels like it hasn't grown at all since last week, but when I reviewed last week's post I've realized I completed another repeat of the cable pattern.

I'm currently reading listening to When the Morning Comes, the second book in the Sister's of the Quilt series. It takes such a drastic turn from the first book in the Sister's of the Quilt trilogy that I really don't want to give anything away. All I can say is that it's a really fun read and I'd recommend it to everyone.

Linking up here:

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Baby Sweater

My quilt guild hosts a work night once a month and it is such a great time to get advice and work on big projects. Last night I was able to get the Modern Quilt top basted. I'm absolutely in love with basting spray. It still took two hours to get everything smooth, but my fingers aren't in pain from opening hundreds of safety pins and dreading the part where I remove all of those pins during the quilting process. Today I'm hoping to get all of the quilting finished and attach the binding. We'll see if I still love the basting spray when I'm done.

There are no quilting pictures to share today, but since one of my best friends received her baby shower gift in the mail (incidentally she also gave birth to her son this week) I get to share this cute baby sweater I made for him.

I was hoping that April would be snow free (haha) so I knit this sweater sized for a one year old. He should get lots of use out of this sweater next winter, and with this size he'll fit into it during most of the cold season. I love how it just has two buttons at the top. It should make dressing time really easy, and won't get in the way when he's moving around. I'm hoping that he uses this often enough that there's nothing left for his siblings to inherit. I'm a firm believer in the idea that knits should be well loved and replaced with new knits when they wear out.

If you're wondering the pattern is Jonah's Hoodie and is knit in Lion's Baby First in Sea Sprite. (My pictures show the yarn as a little more blue than it really is.)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sleeve Update 3

The second sleeve to the Fogarty Creek Blazer is coming along slowly. It would probably help if I stop getting distracted by games on my ipod. I love the knit counter app I have, but knitting goes really slowly when I play a level in my game after every round of knitting. I'll also make better progress when I stop focusing on the quilts. My last quilt is scheduled to be finished this weekend (by which it is understood that I'm superwoman and there are 72 sleepless hours in every day.) I have reached the end of the first skein of yarn which means I'm one third of the way through the first sleeve. I love how this sweater is looking so far and can't wait to wear it next winter. Hopefully it will be done by then.

To answer Ginny's other question, I'm currently reading listening to When the Heart Cries. It's another Amish fiction book, but takes a much different approach than many of the other authors I've read. Hannah is unhappy with her life as an Amish woman and is in love with a Mennonite when she's raped by an Englischer. It's the first book in the Sisters of the Quilt trilogy and I can't wait to see how this story unfolds.

Linking up here:

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Modern Quilt Challenge

Every year my quilt guild has a challenge category. This year's challenge is to make a modern quilt. The specifications are that the quilt needs to use only solid colors, be at least 5 feet by 7 feet, and use white. My husband loves modern art and was very excited by this challenge so he dragged me kicking and screaming helped me stretch outside my quilting box. I ended up cutting my fabric into 6" or 3" strips and then randomly cutting those into pieces. I threw everything into a bag, drew out pieces, sewed them into a long strip, and then cut the strips into 7 foot sections and sewed my quilt top together.

It's very different from the quilts I've made in the past, but it has a quirky kind of charm. My husband really loves it. He says it reminds him of the DNA tests, perhaps there's a name floating in that idea. The back has been giving me a few challenges. My plan is to have a large four patch (each block is 12") in the lower left corner with asymmetrical white sashing surrounded by blue. Sounds simple, but I can't seem to get enough of the same shade of blue to finish this quilt. I had it half done with one shade of blue, went to my LQS to get more of it only to get home and discover the blue I bought at the LQS was not the same blue I bought online. I ripped out the old blue thinking I'd just use the new stuff and learned that I didn't buy enough to do an entire quilt back.

I think this weekend the modern quilt is going to be put on hold and I'm going to focus on finishing my Penguin quilt top. Earlier this morning I was thinking how much I hate modern quilting compared to the penguin quilt. Then I remembered that the Penguin quilt is a queen size quilt done completely with solids and my finished block size is 13" square. According to the guild's guidelines Penguin is a modern quilt too. There's just no escape.

Linking up here:

Fresh Poppy Design
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sleeve Update 2

I got distracted by a dish cloth this weekend. (Some how in learning to knit I skipped over the step where you make tons of dish cloths. I made my first three last Christmas and gave all of them to my MIL. I was so excited to use a dish cloth I'd made myself that I forgot to take pictures. I do admit dishes are much more fun now. 

After finishing my dish cloth I was finally able to turn full focus on the second sleeve. I'm about half way through my first of three skeins of yarn and so far everything is going smoothly. I'm still questioning why the designer has the repeats every sixth and thirteenth rows with only half of the chart read after the first repeat, but I'm staying close to my row counter and (knock on wood) I haven't made any mistakes yet. 

Linking up here: