Doing it the hard way

I love to treadle.  I know what some people think of it.  I know what they say about my vintage machines and I know what they say about my hand quilting.  Not everybody.  Not even the majority.  But some people.  I was telling someone yesterday about enjoying the challenge sometimes.  When I shop, I'm out for the bargain.  Finding a bargain is half the fun.  It's no fun to pay full price for anything.  The fact it's gotten harder to find a bargain on ebay just makes the ones I find all the more exciting. 

Quilting is the same way.  Half the fun of putting that double wedding ring quilt together was doing it on a Singer 15-91 from 1952.  She ain't perfect.  It's a challenge to sew with her.  It's fun to solve the challenges. 

And, it's the same with the treadle. 

This is the National Two Spool in a treadle cabinet.  I'm lucky enough to own two of these, one in a treadle and one converted to electric. 

This is the bobbin and bobbin case.  It's a second spool of thread.  That's where the name two spool comes from, a spool in the top and a spool in the bottom.  Because it's a spool, the bobbin case is called a spool case and a spool case is more valuable than a complete machine.  It's weird pricing.    It won't hold a modern size, so I can't buy a spool, but it has a spool winder that works wonderfully, after you practice for a few spools.  If you have one of these machines, be patient.  It will not help to be frustrated.  Just accept that your first few spools are not going to be full, and they're going to be lumpy.  But, after a few, it gets better.

I'm using a foot I made from a paper clip to free motion quilt.  It presses down on the fabric while the stitch is forming, but then the needle set screw lifts it when the needle rises, just a tiny bit so the fabric can move.  It's still a work in progress.  But, getting better.  Unfortunately, so far, I can't get it to reliably sew in a full circle.  Sometimes it will...and sometimes it skips stitches.  I checked the timing and don't think that's it.  So, I'm fiddling with the foot.  The only drawback to the machine is that the hook is huge so it can make it all the way around that big spool case.  It's at least 2.5 inches in diameter.  That means it takes a long length of thread to make that loop.  That thread bounces around in front of me when it's skipping stitches, so I've learned to watch for it.  But, it would be much better if I could make it stop. 

This is the little quilt I'm working on.  Curvy lines that I can quilt in a pretty much forward direction.  There's very little going backward, so it's worked great.  And, it's given me a chance to work on coordinating my footwork.  It's hard to start the machine with one hand, hold the quilt with both hands, and move both feet at the same time.  Best advice I can give there is don't think about it.  Soon as you can start to do it unconsciously, it all comes together.  But, while you're focused on it, it's going to be clumsy.  Just takes practice. 

This is what else I'm working on.  It's being rather frustrating.  You can imagine what that translates to in real life.  There are serious mistakes in the piecing.  And, I've never noticed them before.  But, now that I'm quilting it and focusing on spaces about three inches square, I see them.  And, it's hard to keep my focus and my desire to work on it.  I need to set it aside right now and work on something else until my motivation comes back.  Unfortunately, this one has me doing that pretty frequently.  But, I have to respect my process.  I mean, what's the point of all that therapy to understand my process if I'm not going to respect it now, right? 

Everybody have a great Tuesday.  Things are looking up around here.  And, when they're not looking up, I sit and sew.  It's the only thing to do. 

Today, I'm going to an awards ceremony for Syd.  She's earned a cord to wear with her cap and gown on graduation day. 



Rebecca Grace said...

Congratulations to Sydney!! Your description of free motion quilting on your 2-spool treadle machine sounds like trying to quilt while driving a stick shift car... But I can see why you enjoy the challenge of adapting your vintage machines to more modern quilting purposes. I think those older machines are fascinating, and sewing with them feels a bit like time travel. Who needs a TARDIS when there are antique and vintage sewing machines in the house? :-)

Anonymous said...

Interesting to hear about your trials and tribulations while mastering the ancient art of treadle-free-motion quilting.
For those outside the USA education system, can you please explain the 'earned a cord to wear with her cap' thing? Is it for doing something special or getting good grades or what?

Donna T said...

You have so much patience! I have a Singer featherweight but prefer my Janome! I learned something new today from your blog; never heard of the two spool machines! Congrats to Sydney on earning a cord!