Sewing


My kid’s stuff branch “Sweet Potato’s Baby Boutique” has been busy this winter with baby quilts. These were custom ordered and designed, constructed and longarm quilted by me. I really had fun coming up with designs and fabric choices.
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This last one was a pattern I found on “about.com” called “In the Pinks”. It was easy to put together and came out beautifully.

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I just completed a quilt honoring a Viet Nam veteran. It was a privilege to make this quilt and I had some research to do to get it right.

 

He received the quilt this week and this is what he said: ” Just received it. I am blown away, far better than I ever expected. Thanks for the card, I know you put a lot of Love into it, believe me it shows. We have got to get together sometime for sure. Take care ”

That veteran is my uncle. He was in Viet Nam when I was a kid. Every night I would watch the news to make sure he was ok and then pray he would be okay the next night. Somehow I thought Walter Cronkite would tell is if something happened to him. Childhood innocence, I guess.

Anyway it makes me smile to know I could honor him and give a piece of my heart to him in this way.

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The statue of liberty was made from a photo I took. It was appliqued.

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The boots, rifle and helmet were drawn on fabric, and the soldiers and helos were painted and embroidered.

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A quilt label was embroidered for the back commemorating the quilt and the date of construction.

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This section is a panel I quilted with an additional layer of batting to emphasize the eagle and the waves in the flag. There is an embroidered label on this portion that commemorates the years and locations off service.

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Overall views of the left and right sides of the quilt. I arranged this layout so that the quilt can be displayed across the foot of a bed or across the back of a couch. When you commission a custom quilt, you can request a vertical or horizontal set-up depending on how you want to display it in your home.

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I took a paper piecing class the first weekend in October. The teacher was Jo Lynn O’Neil and she was excellent! I learned a lot.

One thing I learned was I needed to buy a mustache trimmer! There are “electric seam rippers” out there, but they are expensive. My battery operated mustache trimmer cost $6! Just watch that video where I rip out a 2-inch seam in 11 seconds! The photo shows an ad for a seam ripper with a cord for over 10 times what I paid. Mine is a brand name and uses 2 AA batteries. What a great tip! Thanks, Jo Lynn!

                         

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I was asked to take a Dr. Seuss fabric and make an all-over quilting design, then bind for a baby shower gift.

First I had to prepare the back because the front and back are really the same fabric. They are the same width.

First I removed the selvedges. This is easiest done by cutting a notch parallel to the selvedge and right next to it. Then rip the fabric. It should tear in a straight line right along the selvedge (that thicker woven part that on one side often has the fabric maker’s name, copyright information and color dots on it). There is a selvedge on both sides.


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The next thing I did was create 4″ strips to sew on the sides. I cut the back 8″ longer than the front and stitched the sides on.

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In this photo you can see the 4″ strip against the roll bar of the longarm. I am able to put the batting up against that seam and can get the machine head right to the edge to quilt.

When I got home (my apartment is smoke free and pet free, by the way) I attatched binding to the edges. See quilted fabric below.


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 The blue swatch above is actually NOT quilt binding. It is bias tape. This can be used as a binding, but the polyester batting in this quilt is thicker than the available width of the bias tape. This narrowness makes it more difficult to work with. Quilt binding is double folded and wider. It will be labeled “Quilt Binding” on the package. I can also create binding for either hand or machine application.

The customer had a brilliant idea! She asked me to cut 8″ off the quilt, cut the strip in half and bind the pieces to make burp rags. They worked out beautifully as you can see.

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Do you have quilt blocks or a quilt top in your closet? It might look like this…

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This mysterious package was found in an elderly lady’s closet. It was passed down to her nephew, and he didn’t really know what to do with it. That is how I ended up with it.

I took the package to a quilt shop and had them look at the pieces. I knew it was a set of Dresden Plate quilt blocks, but not much more than that. It turns out that the pieces are fabrics from the 1930s and they are quite lovely.

I will be placing each block on a muslin background like this:

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The muslin is actually a square, but it is mounted in a hoop while I hand stitch it in place.

 

Once the Dresden Plate piece is firmly secured all the way around, the block will have borders placed on two sides. The borders are called sashing. When I have a row of four blocks all attached, I will create a second row. Each row will have sashing across the entire row. I will then join the rows to form a quilt top that is 4 blocks wide and 5 blocks long.

I will keep you posted as the project grows. When the top is complete I will layer the batting and backing and quilt three layers together.

Keep your eyes open – you may find such a treasure in your closet or the closet of a relative one of these days. You can learn to convert pieces like this into a quilt or you can have someone make a quilt for you. Either way, don’t lose out on the chance to preserve someone’s hard work and enjoy a “new” heirloom of your very own.

Don’t forget – If you’re in Fort Worth – I teach quilting. I also have smooth-sewing vintage sewing machines available at very reasonable prices. Prices start at $40. If you aren’t into sewing yourself, I can take your closet find and turn it into a quilt for you. You just can’t have too many family heirloom quilts!

 

I just love this green two-tone machine. She sews like a dream and she is so darn Pretty! This Singer is gear driven, so there is no belt. The motor is housed in a cute little box on the back of the machine. They call it a potted motor.

Straight stitching is just gorgeous on this machine, and I almost wish it wouldn’t sell! Its on Craig’s list at 125.00 with the cabinet, buttonhole attachment and instruction manual.

What a beauty!

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At an estate sale southwest of Fort Worth, I recently acquired a Lenco Sewing Machine.

There were many sewing machines produced by Japan post WWII. They had machinists and manufacturing facilities, and they needed to turn their resources to non-military activities. They acquired either an actual Singer sewing machine or plan details for manufacturing them, and they produced many machines that were inexpensive and were shipped to the U.S. for sale. These machines were made very well and were very sturdy. Sold under many name brands, and even branded for department stores to sell as their own, these were very popular machines. They were so well made and so sturdy that we still have many of them available today.

This Lenco was in good working order, and I have cleaned and oiled it.  This machine is available in my Etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/irishroseneedlearts.

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After trekking to North Dallas by 6:30 a.m. and waiting for the estate sale to open at 9, I was disappointed in the look of the Bernina sewing machine. It looked old… Really old. I found the manual though, and thumbing through it I realized that the previous owner had followed each of the instructions and made a sample of each stitch design covered. The samples were stapled into the book and notes were made in the margins. The stitching was beautiful and the samples sold me on the 1980 model 831.

I had no luck talking the price down, so I went ahead and paid the full asking price. When I got the Bernina home, the zigzag knob wouldn’t turn. I applied some WD-40, but still no movement. I was resigned to the concept of a trip to be serviced.

Meanwhile I proceeded to clean and oil the machine. Later in the day my friend Don came over and I was showing him the stuck zigzag knob. He managed to open a compartment I had not been able to move, and then directed me to apply more lubricant to a few specific areas.

Now the 33-year old baby purrs like a kitten, and the stitching is beautiful. The tension is perfect and the seams are so smooth I just want to feel them to make sure I’m not dreaming!

I can’t wait to get creative with this great machine! I’ve already whipped out two valances and curtain tie-backs for my April grandbaby’s arrival.

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After years struggling with my old student model Singer machine, I have located a Bernina 831 at an estate sale. I will be blasting off at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow to be one of the first arrivals to view and hopefully purchase this machine.

I will be ecstatic if I am able to acquire the Bernina because I will be able to sew things again – the Singer only works when it feels like it, which is rarely when I feel like sewing.

Since I have my first grandaughter due in April, this is especially exciting. I will be first sewing a valance for her curtains, and then the sky is the limit on little pink baby projects!

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