Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sewing Machines and the like

I don't feel bad cos I can't own a Lexus, I drive a Sonata. So why do I feel bad I can't own a $10K sewing machine. Simple answer: hype. A sewing machine is designed to sew two pieces of cloth together.  Now  you can get an embroidery machine to sew pre-designed designs to a piece of cloth. Just sewing machines can range in price from $100-$5,000. Embroidery combo sewing machines about $1,000 to $12,000.

I participate on a sewing board where members regularly talk about the machines they have. And they come in all shapes and sizes. But the more expensive machines get talked about the most. By those that have them and by those that want them. Those that have more money, get more expensive machines. Those that don't, buy the lower end. That the fore-mentioned ones wouldn't be caught dead looking at.

My opinion is that what most people are doing on those mega expensive machines could be done on fairly inexpensive machines or as some people love vintage. I personally like machine embroidery. When I got obsessed with it there were no lower end machines worth buying. Had there been I wouldn't have spent $4500 on a embroidery combo machine. Had I not just inherited money I wouldn't have spent $4500 on a embroidery combo machine.

There are some very good lower end machines and use vintage machines to be had and are sought after. Singer makes a very good one the 9960 can be had on Amazon for $319.00. A lot of machine for the money and people who have them love them. I've been lusting after the Pfaff Creative Performance a machine at this time I have no chance of getting. But I've come to realize that you can make beautiful stuff with a basic machine. Think of all the clothing and quilts made years ago on very basic machines. So from now on I'm not going to be sad I can't afford that $5K machine but be happy with the machines that I have and that when they were new they were TOL I just had to wait for them a while. Just cos someone sews on an expensive machine, doesn't necessarily make them a better sewer. Just like someone driving a Lexus doesn't make them a better driver. 

Sewing Rooms and Stuff

 A little off topic here but here goes:

Do you have your own sewing room? Or a shared space? I have an attic bedroom for sewing. Some of my daughter's things are in there but for the most part it's mine. And I've come to realize why this space is so important to me.I am currently reading a rather interesting book.  The book is called

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Gail Steketee and Randy Frost

I'm reading it for several reasons. But mainly to understand it better and understand the effects of living in a hoarded home from my teenage years and early adulthood. And the effect it had on me. It's relation to sewing? Sewer's are set up to collect a lot of things, fabric, buttons, thread, etc. I've seen sewers and quilting collect more fabrics then they could ever sew up in two lifetimes. Also while working at Joanns I saw people buy outrageous amounts of fabric. One lady came in once a month and brought $500 worth a fabric at a time. And this was back in 1994 so that was a LOT of fabric. I waited on her once it took me 4 hours to cut all her fabrics.

Hoarding (I hate that word so will use acquirers from now on) always brings to mind the house filled with newspapers and trash  and a lot of other junk and a lot of time that's the case. But you don't hear about the neat collectors. People have collected more stuff then they could possibly use but because it's kept neatly and organized it doesn't raise any red flags. Case in point I got addicted to watching extreme couponing on Netflix. These people literally save thousands with coupons and on the show anyway, show them walking out of the stores with $700, 1,000 dollars worth of merchandise for pennies on the dollar if not free. What do they do with all this stuff? most of them take it home and neatly put it into organized shelves that invade their living spaces. They often buy stuff they have no use for but because they can get it close to nothing they buy it. A few give it away to charity. That makes sense.

In most cases /Acquiring is brought on by loss, loss of a family member, loss of shelf, shelf esteem issues or traumatic events, abuse of all kinds in early life. That's why no one should judge a acquirer by calling them lazy, stupid, dirty etc. Pretty much in all documented cases the acquirers have above average intelligence. And they see what we don't in objects and appreciate what we don't see in objects. Therefore making them harder to get rid of. Also their minds work a little differently making it very difficult for them to organize their stuff and making decisions. Think of a tree with a lot of normal amount of branches, branches being thought lines, hoarders have many more branches then the rest of us. They have proven this by actual brain scans etc. But enough about  the medical end of it.

It was very difficult for me to live like this when I was a teen. I lived with my sister after losing our parents, one at a time and then losing a brother to suicide. With my sis the hoarding kinda of started after my father died. I was 13 and she was 23. Then after my brother died two years later it when it really started but it exploded when I moved out of the house. I feel in some ways I looked now upon it as an escape. I moved in with then boyfriend, later husband.Her behavior continued up through her death. With the usual cycle of us cleaning up for her and it filling up again.

Which brings me to me. I have been always careful to contain my stuff. As I can see the shopping thing could get out of hand. First it was clothes when I was younger, then it was for house stuff, then things for my daughter, toys, clothes whatever. Never got too far as not enough money for it too. But I will admit I love to shop for whatever I'm into at the moment. But  if not for the  lack of space and money. I might be right up there with the rest of the "neat" acquirers. Books, music, sewing and quilting things and embroidery designs are my downfall. Also the Internet the vast mall in the sky doesn't help either. This is a society thing also. A lot of cheap goods, rental storage spaces make the problem even worst.

So I guess my point is to those of you that are buying stuff for any craft. Don't let you stuff take over your life, space and bank account. Count to ten before you hit that buy button. And think if it's something you will need, will use. I know all of use like retail therapy but it can get out of hand.You can get a lot more "therapy" by working on a project then just buying for it.

Back to the first paragraph. The reason my sewing space is so important to me is it's my space. My space where I can relax and don't have to worry about anyone else's  clutter, acquiring etc.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

It's been a while.............

I see I haven't posted since April. Blogging is like have a diary in a sense and I was never very good at that either. I guess would just rather do then sit and write what I do. But I've been pretty busy quilt wise. I finished this in June, An Edyta Sitar pattern

It was fun to work on but a lot of work. Especially the border/sashing pieces. I then was browsing through various online sites and found Lori Smith I just love her patterns and brought two of the folk art ones to combine. I've traced some the shapes onto fusible web but have put it aside for now as I'm working on this.

The Orchard, I came across Suzanne Marshall work from Pinterest. I love Medieval stuff and this fits the bill. She also have several others I like. If you think Sprouts was work well this is the most ambitious project I've ever worked on. And making headway. A little bit at a time. I'm not doing it exact making some changes to make it mine.

Now for the the one that has haunted me for a year after first seeing it. When I was an applique virgin for lack of a better work. Didn't even see the possibility of doing anything nearly this ambitious. But I got the pattern. I really like things that are made of fantasy, mysterious, haunting. So no question as to why I like this. I'm not an artist can't draw or paint. So I try to pick things the resemble the pieces I do in my mind's eye as they are trapped in there as I have no way to get them out.

So I have put quite a lot on my plate to do. Hopefully I can complete all these projects. As I know a little bit of my heart and soul will be in everyone of them.

One of my favorite bands Queensryche just came out with a great album, speaking of mysterious and haunting.

Peace to you all.



Friday, April 12, 2013

Baltimore Album Quilts

Most quilters have heard of these. The beautiful appliqued quilts done by Baltimore women during the 1840's and beyond. The started in Baltimore and then spread. We know them by their characteristic light backgrounds with beautiful hand applique in various scenes. Flowers were the most popular and sometimes you would see scenes from a particular area. Some examples below.

At first when I saw these quilts they didn't do much for me. But then I got for lack of a better word sucked into Civil war quilts. My grandfather was at the Battle of the Crator at Petersburg July 30 1864. Then I started thinking about the Baltimore Album quilts. I should preface this that I was born and raised in Baltimore. Well Baltimore Album quilts were Civil war era quilts also. So I started to take another look at them. And stared to appreciate them a little more. Then I did an applique table runner. First time I really did applique. And I found I enjoyed it immensely. Sometimes I get tired of the precision of piecing blocks. I am a fair piecer but I have my share of wonky blocks and things that don't go together as they should. Then I did another applique project and found my desire for it hadn't waivered and then started looking at the Baltimore quilts again and they just hit me. As a sense of history, a sense of place since I'm from Baltimore. It's like I have to do one.  

I might think on doing a more up to date one. Maybe iconic things about Maryland and Baltimore. Or things Baltimore are know for, sports teams etc. My daughter suggested doing a Orioles/Raven quilt. But actually they could be just two blocks in a Baltimore album quilt. Something to start thinking about. I'm not an artist so that limits me to some degree. But I can trace with the best of them. That doesn't mean I would takes someone else's work with permission. I respect the art world, namely cos I can't do it and they can. And I don't believe you should steal someone else's work. 

I've seen lots of modern day Baltimore album style quilt patterns and this woman I think does them the best:
Pearl P. Pereira 

I just love her patterns, I've yet to do one but I really love the state ones and the Halloween one.

But this lady is the first lady of traditional Baltimore album quilts
Elly Sienkiewicz

It's nice to have a rich historical quilt history in the area in which you live.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Flowers are taking over

Well it’s been a while. I have been doing a lot of quilting or quilt related activities. I’ve discovered a few new things, and a new designer, that I’ve fallen in love with.

First and foremost thread. A very nice sewing friend sent me a selection of Aurifil thread. People have been raving about this thread for quite a while now. It’s expensive, but it’s totally worth every single penny. I never thought I’d pay $10 for a spool of thread. It just makes piecing a dream and my Janome just loves it. So does my Rocketeer and Bernina.

I had completed my Splash and it’s hanging on the wall

Trees are at work

I’ve been wanting to do a Celtic quilt for quite some time now. So I purchased this book.

Not sure what happen but after making all the blocks for the first project in the book they just didn’t meet up right. Not sure what happened. I was very disappointed. I must have cut something wrong somehow. I think I’m going to check out the Scarlett Rose books when the sewing budget is replenished.

That is more of what I wanted to do in the first place.

And then I discovered Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket quilts

I just love her appliqué patterns and now currently working on this one

It’s going together quite well so far fingers crossed.

I’m thinking of this in my future but that pattern is rather expensive and I may try to do something free style based on it. 

I’m really falling in love with appliqué. At least, the fusible kind. I’m thinking of trying my hand at needle turn but with this bone spur in my left hand, handwork can be painful. But I manage to sew down two bindings ok, so maybe might not be so bad.

Getting warm here now so I will be escaping more and more into my sewing room where I have a/c that’s under my control. Heat and I don’t mix very well. Some people hibernate in the winter I do in the summer. So hopefully a lot of projects will get finished. 

Pfaff just came out with 3 new great looking machines so the sewing machine lust is running rampant. Not that I need or can afford another machine at this point. But a girl can dream. 


Friday, March 15, 2013

Talent Vs. Mechanical Skill and Quilting thru the years

Sometimes at shows, magazines and online I've seen these quilts of wonder. And amazed at the talent and creativity I see in them, knowing I could never produce anything like that. I could probably teach someone to do it. Or figure out a way to do it. And sometimes it just a matter of patience and time. But some people are naturally talented artists and it shows thru in their work. In their sense of design and putting things together. Or their free motioning skills. A person who can draw is going to be a lot more talented at it then someone who can't. And you will find a lot of the popular quilter celebs  have art backgrounds not necessary home economics backgrounds as you would think. Especially today's younger quilters as sewing isn't taught in school anymore.

A lot of us older quilters who went to high school pre 1985 probably took sewing in school whether we wanted to or not. We learned the technical skills for making clothing, for the most part and the only people that quilted were our grandmothers. But then we also had the woman's movement and more women were encourage to start business of any sort and the the "women's"  related industries really took off quilting and sewing included. So more younger women were encouraged to follow their interests instead of becoming housewives, secretaries and the like. Not of course there is anything at all wrong with that. We just had more options. So the quilting stars were born. And a good thing for a lot of us what I call the technical quilters. We have learned more to quilt by trial and error and learning skills, then by natural talents. I can't draw, paint, draw a straight line and as much as I wish I could, I can't. Same way I can't sing but does that stop me from listening to music? Of course not. I'm not saying we haven't become talented by doing what we've learned. Of course we have. I make stuff today I would have never dreamed of back when I started or wouldn't have even attempted. Honestly these days I might not try a particular quilt cos I simply lack the funds for the fabrics needed not so much cos the technique or difficulty. I'm a very frugal quilter these days. But now I can judge how much effort something is going to take and I pick projects I can do in certain amounts of time. I do some of my own designs but use other people's artwork in the form of embroidery designs, quilting patterns, stippling patterns and the like.

But the main point of this rambling post is to say THAT'S OK. Just like I can't digitize a machine embroidery design, I can put them together nicely. I can't design fabric but I can take what's out them and match and mix and come up with something original. So if you ever get down on yourself cos you don't feel you can do something or attempt something. Think about what you have done and in this hobby you never stop growing as it's every changing. And don't get down if you aren't producing work that everyone is oh and awing over. If you had fun doing it that's all that counts.

I was looking at well know quilt celeb who can free motion like I've never seen. And all free hand, she creates patterns but still does it free hand. She has an art background and can sketch and draw. She's got that special wire between her brain and hands. I use to follow her blog but then stopped as I will probably never be able to do that and started following people who did things I could. It did make me feel much better about my quilting and not aspiring to be something I'm not. And I'm very ok with that now.I can spend time working on projects that I feel will have a pretty good outcome. And that give me joy working on. Not spending time trying to beat some unbeatable standard I set for myself cos someone can do it.

To Thine Own Shelf be True.

And the most exciting news today I won a Contest!

From Katie, from Katie's Quilting Corner. A quilting celeb in the making

Katie's Quilting Corner 

Check her blog and podcast out they are fun!


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wandering down the Meandering path

I've spent the last weekend studying up on free motion quilting. I could never do this before so didn't bother much with it. Not sure why but it seemed I was under the impression that all these greatly quilted quilts have been done free hand and I couldn't be more wrong. It would seem that quilt stencils and quilt paper stencils are big business. There are several ways to go about this. You can print the design out onto newsprint as I did. I was using free designs and just free motioning around the designs. I do need  more practice that's for sure. 

You can use stencils and mark you quilt top with chalk using a pounce with loose chalk.  Or you can use a number of pencils, with markings that can be removed in a variety of ways. Or if you are artistic can do it free hand. I'm not. I meandering fairly well. But still struggling to get my stitches the same length. I've notice that faster I go within reason it's easier to accomplish this. So to me that is the key to successful free motioning. And not all machines are created equal in this area. I can free motion fairly well on my $200 used Bernina 1630, However on my once new Janome 10001 at quite a bit more money I can't. To be fair to the Janome if I had it embedded in a table and had a flat surface it might be better.

An update on my last post. A dear sweet person sent me some Aurifil to try. OMG. What great thread. My machine the Janome thought it had died and gone to heaven. That thread went through that machine like butter. I think the difference being it's only 2 ply whereas the thread it's compared to is 3 ply and it seems like string compared to it. There is a nice explanation from Pat Sloane, quilting gruru and she also has a weekly podcast,  check her out:

Pat Sloane 

There is a lot of other useful information there also. I rather enjoy her podcast as she has a lot of different people in the quilting and sewing fields and you are exposed to a lot of different things.

Below are some links to the things I mentioned in the beginning to help you with free motion quilting. 

Linda Matthews free quilting patterns 
free patterns 
Golden Threads
Forest Quilting free patterns

I'm not promoting or advertising these sites, just some I've found to be helpful or to me, have interesting products. 

Don't be afraid to try new things. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and this is so true in any kind of crafting or artwork. 

Still working out camera issues so hope to have more pictures in the future.

And remember all those that wander, not all are lost