Putter, putter, putter

I'm puttering along on the Story Time Stars quilt. I make a bit of progress every day. This morning, I was sewing the stars into pairs, preparing to get my rows together and my seams kept flipping over as they'd approach the sewing machine foot. I hate that.

It was just because I was trying to squeeze in a last few minutes of sewing time before I had to leave for work and I was rushing and skipping steps. That never works well. I'm the turtle, not the hare and I don't rush well. (Just ask Rob when he's trying to get me out the door to go do something fun. If he rushes me, we'll only get one block before I have to go back home to get something important...like my wallet.)

I spent a bunch of my morning starching and pressing and trimming wedges for the Dresden Plate quilt. And, when I was done, I decided I could not keep putting wedges together without a master plan or I was going to end up with some really ugly plates at the end when I try to force a bunch of leftover stuff together. Or I'll get to the end and waste wedges because I can't force them into pleasing combinations. I still have enough loose pieces that if I'll just slow down and finish taking the last of the plates apart, and get all the wedges together, I can figure out what goes best with what to optimize what I have to work with.

Really in truly, this is where I'd rather be. As Cinderella sang "In my own little corner of my own little house, I can be whatever I'd like to beeeeee." This is one of my favorite places and as much as I am challenged by my work, I know that when I'm at one of my machines, the challenges are the ones I choose for myself. This is Ken Moore, my main piecing machine, in his normal state of disarray.

Okay, so I'm posting my little tips that I use to sew. The bad pins bottle seemed to be popular, so how about a toothbrush holder?

Okay, so don't look to the right of the toothbrush holder. That area is still being organized after my last cleaning binge. Everything that didn't have a place went there. And, what's up with my oil looking so brown? I promise I only use clear oil on my machines. Anyway, back to the toothbrush holder. First, this is next to my quilting machine, but I have a similar holder next to my piecing machine. I keep five tools next to my quilting machine all the time (but now that I look, one was missing when I took this pic).

I need a stilletto. Do you use a stilletto? I had no idea how useful they'd be for piecing, especially for making sure those pesky seam allowances don't fold over as they approach the presser foot (which was the problem I was having this morning). But, they're also great for grabbing the bobbin thread loop to pull it out of the throat plate when I replace a bobbin or to grab the loop and pull it to the top of the quilt sandwich when I'm starting a line of quilting.

Next tool is scissors. I need a pair of real scissors nearby. Not a pair of thread snips, which I'll cover later, but a pair of scissors that will cut fabric. So, I keep a pair of small embroidery scissors that are knife sharp in this holder.

My marking pencils. I use ceramic lead in a mechanical pencil and I keep it handy so I can mark anything I need to while I'm quilting. I normally keep a green lead and a white lead pencil in there all the time. One of those colors seems to mark on any color fabric.

And, the last tool is a seamripper. Some people won't rip quilting out. Not me. I've probably pulled a few miles of thread out and tossed it away over the 12 years I've been quilting. Seamrippers are like good friends; they keep your mistakes secret.

So, the toothbrush holder is just a 59 cent one that I picked up in goodwill. I added a half a bag of dry lima beans to the bottom. That serves two purposes. It makes the holder bottom-heavy so it doesn't tip over and it gives a soft bottom for my tools to hit when I drop them in. I've chipped the bottoms of a lot of containers and broken more than one by dropping a pair of scissors in and letting them hit the bottom. And, the beans hold the tools perfectly upright.

And, yes, that is one of my quilting trolls peaking out from behind the toothbrush holder. He and his girlfriend watch me quilt.

Okay, so I contracted to buy the Singer 401 this morning. Sight unseen. We arrived at what I think is a good price. I should get it next month. The good news is that if there's anything wrong, I'm buying it from a friend and we can work out any differences, so it seemed like a pretty low risk purchase to me. And, it was her Mom's machine, so I know it's been taken good care of. And, my friend has memories of hanging on the side of it watching her Mom sew. That's good mojo.



Bubbles said...

You inspire me, because you have found a way for quilting to really fit in your life.

I love the idea of the toothbrush holder. Thank you for sharing it. I never thought of that, and I threw mine out, because I am never going to use it for toothbrushes. How closed minded of me, lol.

Have a great day.

Becky said...

You are the doodle, Lane! I love your little tips. When I get my sewing room set up in a few weeks I'll probably use them!

regan said...

Oh sure.....thanks, Lane.....now I have Leslie Ann Warren in my head singing away! lol

Great idea for the toothbrush holder.....and especially the beans!

qltmom9 said...

Yes, I use bamboo sticks sharpened WELL for stilletos because they "grab" better than metal and I lose them (and seam rippers) by the hundreds, so I need something cheap. I like your set-up. Did you see Bonnie's table for her featherweight? Wouldn't one for
Alba be cute?
Can we see your pencils, please? I can't get satisfied with pencils I've tried.


lw said...

I use both skewers and stilettos, boy, do they make it easier to piece, especially curved pieces.

Churn Dash said...

I was bemused at my last sew day with friends. They told me that seam rippers need replacing every so often because they become blunt! It never occurred to me. I would still be using the one I bought when we lived in France over 20 years ago except the ball bearing fell out and I could never get it lock in place after that.

I have another friend who is considered The Seam Ripper Queen. At retreat it was said that manufacturers send her any new designs for testing. Tee hee.

When I was growing up we called the seam ripper a Quick Unpick. Every so often I forget to use "seam ripper" and people look at me oddly, "What?".