Monday, November 23, 2015

I'm so fancy

I decided to quilt feathers on this eBay quilt top. It is taking longer than expected, I have more than 5 hours of quilting in it and am maybe halfway done. I've never done feathers before, but these are turning out well. I haven't decided how to quilt the borders of this one yet. I call it the Q-bert quilt. I was experimenting with using wool batting in it. I like the soft, poofy feel of it. It seems to remain soft despite some fairly dense quilting.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Vintage Singer 99

Sometimes when your friends find out you sew, they gift you with sewing machines. This is a Singer 99 that a friend of mine inherited and gave to me (thanks Brad!). We converted it to hand crank a couple of years ago because it was missing the knee control (this one was operated with a knee lever rather than a foot pedal) and the wiring was scary (original cloth-wrapped cords). This machine dates to 1926. The machine is actually in reasonably good condition, despite a few nicks the decals and paint are in good shape, there is minimal rust, and the needle goes up and down when you turn the wheel. However, life got in the way, and the machine got put in a closet for a couple of years. But I wanted to play with the sewing machine again, so I pulled her out for a good cleaning and oiling.

And boy, did this machine need cleaning! Years of lint had collected in all sorts of spots. Apparently, we forgot to clean the machine before putting it away, and so did the previous owner. I've been taking everything apart, clearing out as much lint as I can, and dribbling oil everywhere two moving metal parts meet up. The machine is now reasonably clean, and I tested the stitch and it is perfect. The only issue is the bobbin winder, which does not work. The rubber tire on it that rests against the hand wheel doesn't actually touch the hand wheel, so it can't operate. I located the adjustment screw and tried adjusting it, but it won't adjust far enough to work. My husband can't remember if he changed the hand wheel when he converted it to hand crank, but I think he must have, and the replacement hand wheel must be a slightly different size. I have ordered a set of 3 replacement tires in 3 different sizes. With luck, one will fit. In the meantime, I successfully wound a bobbin for the machine on the Megasaurus (my MegaQuilter), which takes a different bobbin, but one of a similar size.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Riding the Pony

I've been getting used to the Pony, my HQ Sweet 16 sit-down quilting machine. The only way to get comfortable with a new machine is to use it, so I quilted two quilts on it during the past month. I've been saving up quilt tops to finish on the machine for the past several months. I also purchased a couple of quilt tops on eBay to practice on--a nice low-risk place to start. I started with a scrappy vintage bow-tie quilt top that probably dates from the 1930s-1950s. I quilted diagonal lines of flowers on it using beige/gold Aurifil cotton thread.

What I didn't fully realize when I got the Pony was that it only takes cone thread. You have to order a horizontal spool pin separately in order to use spools of thread on the machine. What I also realized, after reading info on the internet, is that a lot of long-arm quilters don't like to use cotton thread. They prefer poly thread because it is less linty and stronger. I've never used poly thread before, but after using cotton on the first quilt, I understand what they mean when they say cotton is linty. I did have one thread break incident, so I reduced the tension a bit and had no more problems after that. Anyhow, I've ordered cones of a variety of different poly threads to experiment with, as well as some extra bobbins and an extra bobbin case. I'm going to hold off on getting a horizontal spool pin for now.

The bow-tie quilt is nearly finished. Here it is, quilted and trimmed and with the binding pinned on prior to sewing it down. I also prepared a hanging sleeve for it.

The second quilt I finished using the Pony is one of my scrappy 1/4-log cabins. I used a smoky gray Superior SoFine 50wt poly thread. It seemed to slide through the machine easier than the cotton thread. I quilted this using an overall maze pattern.

I call this layout 'dragon scales.' I sewed the first half of the binding down this morning and prepared a hanging sleeve for it.

Overall, the Pony is working well. After finishing one or two more quilts, I'll post a review of the quilting machine.