My Quilt

New Quilt

It's a very basic basket block throw size quilt. It's my first attempt to use solid white fabric... and the result is not what I wanted. Wish I can do better next time.

The vines are afterthought add-ons. After I finished the quilt top, I found the two white strips too blank and boring, so I used fusible to iron some leaves on, and later in the quilting stage, I used a technique called appliquilt to permanently stitched the stems and leaves onto the quilt. I am very pleased with the result.

My favorite is the feathers + swirls + pebbles + paisleys fmq border. I treated it as a practice piece, so it's ok that the borders are too dark for the stitches and texture to show up. I am now very confident about my free motion skills!

I think I should mention about the binding - it's my favorite scant 3/8" double bias binding, sturdy and supple. I usually cut 2-3/4" wide bias strips, machine stitch with a walking foot on the front side, turn binding to the back and hand-finish it. It's FLAWLESS!

Restoration #1

 While my sample quilt project is on the run, I made a detour - My scrap bag was full, and I wanted to used the pieces up ASAP. It led to the birth of this haphazard medley... Scraps pieced in no order and no plan-ahead. Civil war reproductions, 30s reproductions, modern, pastoral, urban... all mixed up!

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My goal is to make a twin size quilt, using a divide-and-conquer method to assemble the blocks up with my Vintage Singer 15-90.

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She is now sitting happily on the cabinet that I acquired last Sunday. I love the knee pedal! It works much better than before.

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Ahhh... She is gorgeous!

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So gorgeous that I kept taking photos of her! Every penny that I spent on her is totally worth it!

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I can't waiting quilting with her. It will be a test-run for my sampler quilt, and to practice my quilting skills. 

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And I didn't forget my other two vintage machines. I started with the 15-91. I took it out from the cabinet and spent a night to clean and polish it. I didn't touch the wires and motor. Trained as an Engineer and graduated from the reputable Engineering Science program at University of Toronto, I am nevertheless not mechanically and electronically inclined. I hate them! So, it will be the technician's job to restore them.

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The sheen and lustre... can you believe that she was born in 1936! I am sure she is gonna be another gorgeous sewing machine. Her only imperfection is the vanishing decal of the "Eye" in the centre. It is not recoverable.

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And here is the 201-3. He (yeah... I feel obligated to use the masculine "He") is more rectilinear and bony. He looks like a man. Singer 15-90/91 have very feminine curves. Ironically, 201 is a dressmaker's machine, and 15 is a tailor's machine!

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He is still in his original condition...

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I am fortunate that my local Canadian Tire carries all the necessary products for me to recondition my machine. I especially like the Turtle Wax.

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It made a big difference on the Japan black finish as your can see from the photos above.

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Also, I "transformed" the cantilevered condition of the table extension to a simple-supported one. As a structural engineer I don't want to over load the hinges when a whole quilt is put on this tiny table...

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And lastly, today I went back to Canadian Tire again and got this. I heard it is wonderful for cleaning and polishing the metal parts. Gotta try it!

A Tint of Nostalgia...

This week's progress: I have three more blocks done. And beside piecing, I had so much fun hunting for a vintage Singer sewing machine. And I've gotten some luck! Here it is: my first vintage sewing machine treasure: A Singer 15-90, made in Canada in 1948.

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 But look at her! Besides her ostensibly antiquated design, who can tell her age!

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 She is hefty, sturdy and solid. She is made with iron! Yet she looks graceful and elegant. I want to name her Alcmene, mother of Heracles.

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 She is just magnificent! By the way, she is still running and makes beautiful straight stitches. I tried yesterday and was just so surprised! I got it from a lady in Ajax. She said the machine belonged to her grandma, and nobody else had used it for ages! The lady's father is already 84 years old, so I guess the machine might have been idle for about 30 years...

But since I have never used a vintage sewing machine and not very sure about how to oil the mechanical parts, I will bring her to a sewing centre and have an expert perform a thorough body check for her, and clean her parts before engaging her with my daily sewing activities.

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The bentwood case that came together with the machine is stunning, too!

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 Also, I was given a box of attachments and accessories. I have only a limited selection of presser feet for my Pfaff 2027, so these fancy feet are so exotic to me!

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Look how fancy they are!

When I went to pick it up, I didn't know the difference between 15-90 and 15-91, and mistakenly thought it was a 15-91model because the seller printed a 15-91 user manual for her machine! It was only after I came home and did a more thorough study about vintage Singer that I found 15-90 is different from 15-91. The former is less appealing because they are belt-driven, whereas 15-91, as well as the famous 201 model, is gear-driven. Beside this, I have no complain about the price I paid for her. My husband said: if she doesn't work, she can alternatively be a piece of antique for display.

Well, I guess she is still to "young" to be a piece of antique.

Accolade for old patterns

Flipping through some worn-out books from the library and my collection of used books, those nostalgic quilts really worn my heart! There is no fancy composition nor dazzling colours in traditional patterns yet I think they have all the spirits and essence of a heirloom, warm and cozy coverlet!

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At the very end of American Heritage Quilts there is a section devoted to profiles prolific quilters in the late 1980s. I was curious if they are still active today so I did a Google search...

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Vicky Haider... Her profile and her quilts are now very limited on the world wide web. 

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Suzanne Marshall

 is a renowned quiltmaker whose works have won several major quilt awards. It seams she is still happily busy with quilting, and as shown on her website her most recent accolades include two AQS awards won in 2010.

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School house quilt is one of my favourites...

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How creative this is! Barn raising + school house!

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And Red + White always looks fresh and folky. Adorable!

And lastly, photos of my latest blocks, and my scrape trays. They look so yummy!

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Lazy Weekend Afternoon

The lawn hasn't been mowed, the laundry baskets are full, and the floors haven't been vacuumed... but I am sitting in front of my cutting table, and chilling out! How nice this is after a week of diligently working at the office! I just picked up Sally Collins Teaches You Precision Piecing

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from the library together with some quilting books, including Marsha McCloskey's Quick Classic Quilts and Block Party, and American's Heritage Quilts from Better Homes and Gardens. These are kinda old-fashioned, out-of-prints books; but I really enjoy the contents and are inspired by many of the designs featured in those books - I have a penchant towards scrappy and traditional designs. Many of the newer quilting books, although also feature delightful projects and they are published by my favourite bloggers, the number of projects and level of technical details provided are scarce (maybe due to market- and profit- driven reasons?). I feel like, for the same amount of investment, I do not obtain as bounteous amount of contents as I would from the older generation of quilting books. And so, I have recently ordered quite a number of used, out-of-print quilting books from Amazon marketplace and had them mailed to Boston where my sister works in. Oh yeah, I feel so disadvantaged to be a Canadian! How can postage be so cheap in the US? She shipped the books to me yesterday (very expensive!) and I just can't wait to open the parcel next week!

Anyways, with my coffee on the table, my knitting work in my hands (idle hands make me feel itchy...) and my husband sitting beside playing his favourite video game which I absolutely detest, I started streaming the DVD. Mrs. Collins approached the subject so meticulously! Looking back, I feel so ashamed of my inadvertence and lightheartedness. Quilting as a hobby is supposed to be fun and enjoyable, but I know the joy will be doubled if the finished product is looking great.

So eager to improve my level of workmanship, I have a list of items in mind that I believe is worthwhile to get:

1. A straight stitch throat plate for my Phaff

2. A small, rotating rotary cutting mat

3. fine machine sewing needles

4. 50/3 sewing threads

in the past week I had some time each night to sew a bit, and three more blocks were done. However, there will be an interruption to my quilting adventure. My former thesis supervisor called me up two days ago for his plan of publishing my research works. That means I will have lesser spare time for my sewing for the rest of the summer. How boring it will be to write up a paper, comparing to quilting, right?

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Last but not least, I went to the Workroom yesterday, and here is what I grabbed. I will blend in these blue tone fabrics to my up-coming blocks. So excited!

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