The July Civil War Block

On Sunday, Barbara Brackman released the next Civil War block.  I have to say, I was intimidated by the curves.  The four corners are drunkard’s path blocks.  But, it went together pretty easy.  I should have been more careful with the brown quarter square triangles.  The green tips were supposed to line up with the drunkard’s path blocks, and I didn’t work hard enough on that.  But, I’m still satisfied with the block.  If you don’t read Barbara’s instructions, you won’t know it’s wrong. 


Here they are, all together.  Needs more blue.  The next block will be either blue or pink to balance out some of the green and brown.


Sorry if the above link doesn’t get you to Barbara’s post.  I always have the devil of a time linking her stuff in, and this month was particularly difficult. 

If you’ve been around a while, you’re probably used to me griping about the Kodak software that came with my camera.  I hate it.  But, I wasn’t doing anything about it.  This week, I’ve started abandoning it; moving my pictures out of it.  But, it’s like it knows I’m trying to kill it and it keeps making it difficult.  But, I’m persevering.  In the meantime, I get to look at old pictures and marvel at how things have changed. 

Quilting proceeds on the show quilts.  I just keep plugging away at it, and like The Little Engine That Could, I keep seeing progress.  Right now, I’m pulling out quilting that was put in with bad tension.  Monofilament thread is very unforgiving of tension problems.  You can’t see them, but if you run your hand over a place with bad tension, it feels like sandpaper.  So, the seam ripper and I are getting re-acquainted.  The worst part is having to draw more tissue paper templates of the quilting design.  I’m not so fond of prep work.

Be well.  Have a great Thursday.  It’s supposed to rain here.  Whoooeeeee!  Rain at the end of July.  Free Water!



Sample from a quilt show

I started trying to pick quilts from the New Braunfels show we attended on Saturday.  It was such a great show, I can’t pick quilts to feature.  So, I picked just a few to show here. 

First is the best of show quilt.  Okay, so it deserved it. 

Look at the quilting.


The one below was the first quilt we saw when we entered the room.  You know it’s going to be a good show if this is the first one.


I love feathered star quilts. 


Not sure you can see it, but they’ve outlined every county in the state of Texas with quilting in this one.  It was really cool.  I saw this repeated in a couple other quilts in the show. 


Normally, I’m not drawn to grey combinations…

But, look at the phenomenal quilting!


Of course there was a Roll, Roll Cotton Boll from Bonnie Hunter.


Love the colors in this next quilt.  Such a country look and feel.

Flag bargello. 


City skyline…


made with all shirt plaids…true masculine love for this one. 


Did I mention I love feathered star quilts?


This was a stunning quilt…

And fabulous quilting.


Okay, enough.  I could just keep posting beautiful pictures, but that should be enough to give you incentive to get to next year’s show for this guild if you’re anywhere near the area.  They are a talented bunch of quilters, indeed!

Everybody have a great Wednesday. 



A new sewing box

I’ve been using a variety of containers to haul all my sewing paraphernalia back and forth.  I’ve used baskets and boxes and bins.  But, nothing permanent.  Nothing that quite fit the bill.  Like Goldilocks, it was too big or too small or too fragile.

Rob and I collected train cases for a short time.  We like them to store photos in.  They make a great little photo box, filled with memories.  Rob picked up this green case at a goodwill or an antique shop for a song. 


The outside looks great and is sturdy, but it was very dusty.  It’s made of wood, and is very structurally sound.  But, the inside was wrecked.  At some point, it got wet on the inside and was allowed to mold in one corner.  That was pretty gross.  And, the cheap lining was stained all around and, basically, it was junk on the inside. 

So, I pulled all that out and let the wood breathe for a few days.  I didn’t take pictures.  If I’d taken pics before I ripped out the lining, you’d be asking why I didn’t toss this case in the trash.  And, after the lining was gone, it was just rough on the inside.  So, I saved my picture taking for after the work was done and I was sure of my success.


I bought a yard of this tape measure fabric.  It has a green similar to the outside and just seemed the perfect fabric for a sewing box. 

I lined the bottom with quilt batting.  That’s what it had in it before.  I glued that down, and then glued a layer of fabric to it, trimming the corners to get it to lay flat and rise up the sides part way.  Then, I took a piece of very stiff canvas and I layed a piece of fabric on it and folded the fabric edge to the back and sewed a quarter inch seam all the way around, and then glued the canvas to the sides of the case. 


For the top, I didn’t need the batting layer, so I glued canvas directly to the top to give me a flat surface, and then glued fabric over it, trimming the corners.  I took a narrow strip of the canvas and covered it with fabric and glued it around the sides of the lid. 


Works perfect.  My only regret is that I didn’t add any fabric covered elastic strips that could hold tools.  But, I was worried that if I hung anything off the sides or lid, it would pull the fabric away.  So, my alternative is to use the last of the fabric, or something coordinating, and some canvas to make a couple of free standing fabric boxes to put inside.  The plan is to keep my sewing machine mat/caddy and my matching sewing kit inside, along with my small rotary cutter and a small mat and my sewing notebook and a box of bobbins for all the portable machines and a couple spools of extra, neutral colored thread.  And, that will leave room to toss in whatever I need for whatever project I’m working on.  I think it’s going to work great. 

So, that’s my gift I made myself over the weekend.  Easy-peasy.  And, hopefully practical.  Total cost was $12 of fabric and some canvas scraps, a $3 bottle of sobo fabric glue, and a $5 train case that was destined for the landfill.

Everybody have a great Tuesday.  This morning, the Prius goes in for it’s last covered maintenance visit.  The warranty was 2 years or 25k miles, whichever came first.  Well, the 2 years is nearly up and there’s only 15k miles on the car.  I feel like I wasted the warranty.  But, I just don’t drive that much.  I can’t sew in the car. 


Be well.  Lane


Another enabler…ugh, I mean, inspirer

Who else follows Tim Latimer at Timquilts?  If you’re not, you should.  He does totally inspirational hand quilting.  And, he loves to buy that awful quilt top and take it apart and put it back together and turn it into a beauty.  Ya gotta enjoy somebody that can see the beauty in the folds and wrinkles.

Well, we went to a quilt show on Saturday and I’m not ready to show quilt pics yet, but we also did some antique shopping before the show.  And, a couple fun things came home with me.

One was this quilt top.  It was the cheapest one in the store.  There were lots of beautiful, vintage quilts, but they were very, very expensive. 

And, when we unfolded this, we saw why.


This is one end.  Two scallops maybe?  The top of a heart?  I don’t know.  But, it’s a weird shape and it’s got to go.


And, this is the other end.


What???  A point?

Anyway, there’s way too much pink border sewn around the edges…like several inches too much, so that will need to be removed and then I can square up the top and put some of that border back on.  (It gives a new meaning to easing extra fabric in)  Then, I’ll likely add another fun, wider border around that and I’d like to hand quilt it.  It’s a large lap size; maybe a twin, but with those weird ends, who can tell.  Not sure why the quilter cut all those blocks off to make the side edges.  That seems wasteful.  Maybe two quilters made this.  We will never know.

I also picked up these birds in the air blocks.  At least 13 of them are birds in the air.  I’ll take the 14th apart and turn it into a birds in the air. 


I love birds in the air blocks.  These were filthy and had to be washed and that’s when I noticed that some could use significant re-work, so now that they’re clean, I’m taking a few apart and recutting and remaking them. 

I also picked up two bags of scraps at the guild boutique. 

Homespun scraps:


And, these triangles.  These aren’t square.  Maybe that’s why they were only fifty cents for a whole bag of them.  Sewn together, they will make half triangle rectangles, otherwise known as a border for a good sized quilt. 


Okay, so that’s it for me today.  I’m off to work.  While I’m doing hand work on the silk quilt, I pulled out the Indian Orange Peel quilt.  I don’t know what I was thinking last time I worked on it, but significant sections of it need re-quilting.  (I musta lost my mind!)  Anyway, the pressure is on to be ready for the quilt show in mid September.  Tonight, I need to put the orange peel in the floor and do a hard assessment.  So far, I’ve just found blocks that had to be ripped and re-done, but I need to know just how much work I’m looking at before I do any more of that. 

Be well.  Lane


The big boy buttonholer

I did get to take yesterday off.  And, I did take Sydney out shopping.  And, she did wear me out.  But, she didn’t buy much.  We had lunch and we talked and we came home.  It was a nice way for me to thank her for taking all those pictures.  And, she got to try on more shoes that I would never let her wear.

I spent part of my day finishing the union suit I started before vacation.  The last step was the seven buttons and button holes.  Yikes! 

But, I pulled out the big boy buttonholer for low shank, straight stitch machines, and in about 15 minutes, had all the buttonholes in, and soon after, the buttons were sewn on. 


This buttonholer doesn’t take cams.  It’s manually adjusted.  You can change the length of the buttonhole, the width of the zig-zag used in the sides of the buttonhole, and the width of the cutting area between the two columns of zig-zag stitches. 

Now, all that manual adjusting can take time, but I happened to have used this buttonholer not too long ago and it was already set up.  And, the last time I used it was also the first time I’d ever used it.  But, as I remember, it only took about a half hour of sewing test buttonholes and reading the manual to get it set right.


I connected it to the featherweight yesterday and did one test and re-read the instructions, and I was ready to go.  The wing nut in the very back controls the buttonhole length and the wing nut just in front of that one manually advances the controls so you can uniformly start at the same part of the buttonhole on each one.


The two wingnuts on the other side control the width of the zig-zag and the width of the cutting area. 


You can barely see that buttonhole in the union suit, but it’s there and it’s a good one. 

Here’s the finished garment.  Not sure it’s going to fit Rob.  I might need to add some more torso length for him.  But, it fits me fine.  It was fun to go backward in time and experiment with a vintage garment. 


And, I know it sounds strange, but I’d really wear this.  And, I might.  Oh, not for everyday, but it would be a fun winter undergarment.  Except the whole opening up the rear end part.  That could get cumbersome.

Everybody have a great Saturday.  I was informed yesterday that the term Daddy/Daughter day is reserved for Rob and Syd.  Yesterday was a Man-mom/Daughter day. 

Okay, I can live with that.

Today, we’re headed to the New Braunfels quilt show.  We’ve been once before and I remember it as a very nice show, so hopefully, tomorrow, there will be some pictures of pretty quilts. 



My blog as a conversation

I’m realizing, now that I’ve printed and handed out a bunch of calling cards, that I’m not using my blog as just a place to write about my feelings.  I’m using it as if it were a website.  I don’t give people my email address to contact me.  I give them my blog address.  And, it’s working for me, I guess. 

It’s an easy way to contact me.  It always has the most current stuff going on.  And, just yesterday, I set it up for email subscription, so any of you that want to get an email can sign up and get an email whenever I add a new post. 

It’s also a way for me to get my ideas out there and keep a record, and it’s a way for me to share information with other people.  And, for them to tell me what they think about what I’m thinking.  I get good advice from my readers and it can start email conversations and online friendships. 

And, it’s a running log of what the heck I’m up to.  I expect, in my dotage, to sit down and read the whole thing as if it were a story, and remember my life through it. 

If an apocalypse doesn’t get me first. 

Have I told you lately how much I enjoy science fiction?  I do love a good blow up the planet movie.  I guess it’s a guy thing.  Keeps me from worrying about some government posturing and blowing up the planet.

Anyway, I’ve been buying books about garment sewing.  From reading the blogs of other guys that sew, they are too.  Peter has gone and done it again and inspired a couple of us to make a suit jacket.  Not sure if I will get that far, but I at least want a new pair of pants and maybe a couple of shirts out of all this inspiration. 

I’ve also been reading TaylorTailor’s blog.  He’s pretty garment inspirational, too.  And, I just found SeamRipper Joe and, from the couple of posts I’ve had time to read, he makes sewing for men look much easier than what I do.  I’ve still got a lot to learn.

I satisfied some of my sewing need by putting the four sections of Rob’s Holiday quilt together. 


This has been such a fun little project.  Very quick and easy.  It looks deceptively complex.  Just a few more borders and it will be ready to…probably add to the UFO pile until after I finish the quilts for the show.  Lots of quilting needs to be done.  I have lots of available vacation time on the books at work.  Somehow, I see that coming in handy. 

Anyway, it’s all given me very itchy fingers.  I want to sew, sew, sew.  So, I’m taking some hand work for a four hour conference call this afternoon.  Heavens.  How did I get myself into a four hour conference call?  The only thing I know of that I can do for four consecutive hours is sleep.  

And, I better not be caught doing that today.

Be well and have a great Thursday.  Unless something really spectacular happens, I’m taking tomorrow off. 

I think I’m going to take the girl shopping for clothes as a thanks for taking pictures for me.  Nothing crazy.  Just a little daddy/daughter day. 

Or, maybe I’ll stay home and sew.  What can I do to get her to do something I can be mad at her about so I don’t have to take her anywhere or feel guilty about it?

Don’t say you never thought about it.



Something new for the resume

I can add public speaker to my resume.  I’m pretty much glowing today.  The reviews were good.  People enjoyed themselves. 

We had a technical glitch.  The slides wouldn’t advance.  It would take almost a minute for a slide to load.  That threw off my timing in the beginning, but I soon got used to having to switch the slide a bit before I wanted to talk about the machine.

I talked for 5 minutes too long.  If you’ve ever been to a talk where the speaker wasn’t in tune with the audience and talks for 30 or more minutes too long, then you know how painful it can be.  I saw myself lose part of my audience, just before the last slide.  Good timing.

I did not forget the information I wanted to present and I didn’t forget how to be funny.  One piece of feedback was that there was a good balance of serious information and humor.  I did a couple of really good punch lines.  One was during a video of me free motion quilting on the treadle.  I let the video run while they watched my hands making leaves in a denim quilt.  And, as the camera panned downward, I said “This is me free motion quilting on my treadle machine” and the crowd went Ooooohhhhhhh.  Wonderful moment.

There were a couple of presentation notes from the end.  I had taken pictures of many feet…like 5 piecing feet and two seam guides in one picture and 7 or 8 darning feet in another picture.  Subsequently, Rob pointed out that you couldn’t see any detail of the feet.  So, I’ll be culling the examples down to feet that are appreciably different and photographing each one by itself so you can see the detail.  I’m also going to talk about feet at the beginning of the presentation because I refer to them throughout, but waited to show them at the end. 

I’ll also stack my quilts in a better order, so that when I show the machine that made it, I can grab the quilt and show the quilt.  I’ve seen other presenters that stacked well and some that rummaged, trying to find what they were looking for.  I rummaged.

Rob did film it.  It’s an hour long talk and he broke it into 15 minute increments so it can be uploaded.  I haven’t seen it yet, but we’re going to try to get it on youtube for you to see. 

I’ve looked around the sewing room for something to show you this morning.  There isn’t anything exciting.  I spent all my time this morning putting away quilts and sewing machines.  So, I’m going to show a picture of one that hasn’t danced on the internet in a while.

This is called Apple Pie.  We pulled it out to show it last night.  I made it in the first class I ever took.  I signed up because i wanted to learn to machine piece drunkard’s path blocks and this quilt contains 8 of them.  It was just a few years ago, maybe 2009 or 2010.  It is beautifully quilted, with apples and apple leaves and apple branches; things I drew free hand on paper and then quilted in.  But because I was afraid my skills weren’t up to it, I matched the thread color to the quilt pieces, no contrast.  So, I have a beautifully quilted quilt, but you can only tell it if you’re standing right on top of it. 


The moral of the story is, don’t be afraid to be bold!  Let yourself shine….actually, I should say, let myself shine! 

Because when I do, I do pretty good stuff. 

I handed out a bunch of cards last night, and I’m hoping that some of the attendees will see this post.  I forgot to thank Sydney for taking all the pictures I showed last night.  I had it written on my notes in big blue letters and I still forgot.  I’m not sure what’s worse; feeling bad for forgetting, or her riding me about forgetting.  And, it was my first talk like that, so if you have any feedback, please let me know. 

Everybody have a great Wednesday.  I’m going to try to keep my ego in check. 

Because I’m pretty much rockin’ the proud thing right now.



Overpacking – a genetic defect?

I come from a line of overpackers.  When I was a kid and we went on vacation, we took everything we owned in case we needed it.  It was like Mr Hobbs takes a Vacation.

But, we always had whatever we needed. 

Later, we bought a travel trailer to make it easier to take all our stuff with us.  In fact, it meant we got to buy a second set of stuff, but it all had to be lightweight so it didn’t create a burden to tow.

Rob and I are also overpackers.  We fill every bit of space we can squeeze out of the bed of his truck when we go on vacation.  We take one of everything we own.

And, we always have whatever we need.

In addition to my powerpoint for tonight’s presentation at the Main Street Quilt and Thread Guild, I’m taking a few quilts to show that you can quilt on an older machine. 


With all this stuff in the car, Sydney may have to ride, strapped to the hood. 

Everybody have a great Tuesday.  I’ll let you know how my first speaking gig goes. 

I’m no longer worried about not being funny.  Now, I’m worried about forgetting everything I want to say, and being finished in seven and a half minutes. 



Weekend projects

I spent most of the weekend at the sewing machine.  But, not doing what I wanted to do. 

Remember the baby quilt?  It has to be finished by Thursday morning.  I spent all day on Saturday a couple weeks ago piecing the quilt.  I got it all done, except one seam of the backing. 


I spent all day yesterday quilting it.  By bedtime, I was so sore, I could barely move.  But, I got it done.  And, this morning, I trimmed the batting and back and am starting the foldover binding.  That won’t take long.  Maybe a couple hours, total, including the trimming. 

Here is the pieced back.


You can’t see it, but I quilted a spiral of vine with leaves growing on it, starting in the center.  Then, in the border, just simple straight lines, an inch apart. 

We also took the last pictures for tomorrow night’s talk. 

These are some golden oldies that don’t see the light much anymore. 

First is the quilt that my Great-grandmother made me.  I was a young teen.  The quilt is made of double knit, with a heavy batting.  Sydney couldn’t believe how heavy it is.  Look at all the clothespins it took to secure it to the line.  It’s definitely not made for central heating.  You need a drafty wood house to get any use out of this one.


My Mom made this quilt for me.  It’s 12 pointed stars, pieced and satin stitched to a muslin background.  I can look at some of the fabrics and remember clothes that my Mom and sister wore made from them.


And, finally, my first quilt.  It was supposed to be a log cabin, but I lost the pattern between cutting and piecing.  I knew I needed to alternate the strips, but didn’t know it was adjoining sides, so I alternated dark and light around the square, so there is no dominant side.  And, then I sashed it together, which is another Log Cabin no-no. 


But, I love it.  It’s machine pieced and hand quilted.  Queen size.  And, still warm. 

Remember on Friday that the two-spool was free motion quilting wonderfully?  And, I was going to adjust the tension? 

It hasn’t sewn a decent quilt stitch since.  Holy-moly, when will I learn to leave stuff alone?????

Okay, so that’s it for me today.  Hope you all had a great weekend.  Lane


Teaching the two spool to free motion quilt

I know.  It’s really about teaching me to quilt on a new machine, but it sounds better when I say I’m teaching the machine something, right?  Because I know everything.  Right?

First, I had to figure out how to get the machine to stitch.  Here is the post where I talked about that.  And, my thoughts were confirmed by reader, Cari. 

Now that it is making stitches, it was time to try a project. 

I had this little quilt, ready to go.  It’s maybe 12x9”, so the perfect size. 

When I bought a motor for the machine, I wasn’t sure this was going to work out, so I didn’t want to spend a lot.  I bought a relatively cheap AlphaSew motor.  The motor itself is fine.  But, the foot control had two speeds, stop and flying fast.  I didn’t have much direction control because the machine was going so fast.  Tiny mistakes got big before my mind realized it was a mistake and could stop.  It was so fast that the thread was breaking from the friction of sewing that fast.  And, the controller got hot.  I mean really hot.  In a little FMQ work this morning, it got too hot for me to set my bare foot on it. 

That’s not going to work, so this morning, I pulled that controller off (and threw it away) and put a spare controller I had on.  That gave me much better speed control.  And, it doesn’t seem to be getting hot, tho I confess that I didn’t get to sew long this morning, after that work was done. 


So, problems one and two are solved…time for problem three.  Tension.  And, if you’ve ever set the tension on a machine, you know that can be tedious.  I’m sure a professional can do it in 90 seconds flat.  But, for me, it takes time.  I’m going to pick out the feathers that I started in this  little quilt because I can do better.  And, I’ll pull out a throw away to work on the tension.  I keep lots of throw aways, just for that.  A throw away is a sandwich made from two pieces of ugly fabric and a batting scrap.  They’re great for trying a new pattern before you work on the actual quilt and they’re great for practice and warm up.  And, I never throw one away…I just keep quilting on it in different colors of thread.

Everybody have a great Friday.  If I can set the tension on the two spool, I plan to quilt the baby quilt on it.  Rob is going to video that, so there will be a movie.  Yay!!



Pulling the presentation together

Last night, we did more photo shoot.  I didn’t take pictures, so you’ll just have to envision it.  We had to re-take the two that were “lost” by the photographer…uh-uhmmmm.  And, there was a machine that got skipped on Sunday.  All that had to be pulled out, set up, broken down and put back away.  Going forward, any new machines will be photographed, with an appropriate background, for identification purposes upon their arrival.  Trying to take pictures of them all in one go has been a tribulation.

And, then, we got down to the hard part.  Feet.  Fortunately, I pretty much knew what I wanted, but you have to envision Sydney and I sitting crosslegged in the floor, taking pictures of these staged sets of feet, Rob standing over us with a light.  About as professional as a family photo shoot can get. 

First, there were all the piecing feet and tools I use to help me get the right seam allowance.  Then, there were all the quilting feet…I own a LOT of feet.  And, then there was a staged photo of tools that make it easier to use vintage machines, like my Supreme Slider and and Grip & Stitch pads and gloves and all the accoutrement.  These were close up shots.  Sydney’s camera was an inch or two from some of the shots to get something clear.  And, sometimes, she’d take the shot and then I’d move stuff around after a preview and she’d have to take it again.

It was all very tedious for a 16 year old that just wants to be done, but she was a real trooper.  And, today, I’m paying her to put the preliminary slide show together.  I gave her good instructions, but she keeps insisting she did lots of presentations last year and got A’s and B’s on them.  I ended by reminding her I would want to make changes at the end, I’m sure, and that isn’t a bad thing.  It’s a collaborative effort.

I’ll leave you with a link to a video.  It’s a drive into downtown Eureka Springs that we filmed while we were there.  It’s kind of fun.  We’re just being us. 

Have a great Thursday.  Rob brought home a Lemon Pie last night.  I’ve been very good at dieting since vacation.  But he’s not helping.



Closing up the quilt

It’s time for an update on A Place for Life to Happen (fondly known as this year’s silk quilt).  I’m out to the final border section, and I want to quilt all the way to the edge, without adding a binding fabric.


I call this a knife edge, because that’s how it’s described in pillow making.  In quilting, a knife edge is usually gotten by “birthing” the quilt.  (got that from Eleanor Burns and she didn’t know why it’s called that).  Birthing a quilt is putting right sides together, with the batting on the outside, sewing around three edges, and then turning it right side out.  Then, close up the last edge and quilt.

Well, if I’d done that and then quilted this quilt, I would have had no control over the straightness of the edges.  The quilting itself would have distorted the fabric and pulled it inward and changed the shape.  So, I waited until near the end. 

I did this by putting the quilt on the cutting table and cutting a straight line, 4 1/2” from the edge of the quilting.  (btw, only one of my quilted corners was not square…whoohooo)  Then, I folded back both layers of fabric and cut the batting 4” from the quilted edge.  I folded a half inch of the backing over the batting and basted it down.  Then, I folded a half inch of the front over and basted that down. 


Next step is to baste those two folded edges together, and then sew around the edge with tiny stitches. 

This morning, I was looking at it and wondering if I am going to too much trouble.  And, I decided no, not really.  I can go to as much trouble as I want, even if it means I’m up all night a few nights before the show. 

And, then I came up on the first corner and it wasn’t basted quite square and it was soooooo easy to fix that and get the edge just right.

And, I knew.  It’s not too much trouble at all.

Have a great Wednesday.  We had a very nice rain last night.  Free WATER!  I don’t think it rained once in the whole month of July last year.  Maybe our drought is nearing an end, even if the climate is still all messed up.



Relationships I don’t understand

No, I’m not talking about the dentist and his biker chick.  I don’t get that one, but I absolutely respect their feelings for one another. 

No, I’m talking about a new relationship that I’m just starting to recognize.  It’s the relationship between the amount of downward pressure exerted on fabric when the needle pierces it and forms a stitch. 

I have machines that will not free motion quilt.  They do beautiful work when there’s a stitching foot on them.  But, they WILL NOT free motion quilt.  The only difference between piecing and free motion quilting, if you can’t drop the feed dogs, which most of my machines won’t do, is basically the foot.  Hmmm.  Something about changing the foot prevents the stitch from forming.  And, I haven’t been able to figure it out. 

I was having the same problem on the National Two Spool sewing machine.  Stitches just wouldn’t form without the sewing foot.


Okay, so let’s talk for a second about free motion feet for machines that take Griest feet.  Griest feet don’t attach like regular sewing feet, so modern darning feet won’t fit them.  But, I found this very smart lady who has made a Griest foot out of a paperclip.  Brilliant!  There is an official darning foot for the machine and it works nicely, but it’s kind of impractical. 


It’s a piece of copper wire.  The spring side to the left goes over the needle and the hook on the right goes over the needle set screw.  It works well, but it has a limited shelf life as that copper wire is only going to spring up and down so many times before it breaks.  So, I don’t use it often, but it’s a nice attachment to have.

But, my paperclip foot was easy to make and it’s more practical. And, if I break it, it won’t cost $15 to replace. When I loaded it on the machine, it kind of floated above the fabric.  And, stitches wouldn’t form.  The fabric would grasp the needle and as the needle rose, the fabric would rise just a tiny bit and the stitch would not form.  So, I bent the foot so that it presses down on the fabric hard.  Stitches immediately started to form, but it caught on every seam.  Can’t have that.  So, I straightened it out just a bit so that it applies just a little less downward pressure on the fabric and stitches kept forming and the foot glided over the fabric seams without any trouble.  A delicate balance based on just fiddling with it.


Okay, so I don’t yet fully understand the relationship between the pressure exerted downward on the fabric and the formation of a stitch, but I suspect that if the fabric can lift up with the needle when the needle rises, that causes the thread loop being formed by the upper thread to rise as well, and prevents the hook from being able to grasp the thread and pull it around for the stitch. Normally the fabric would grasp that thread that’s forming the loop and keep it from rising back up at the same rate as the needle.  But, if the fabric itself is moving, then that loop is going to rise with it.  

That makes sense when I think of the machines that won’t FMQ.  There is that little lift in the fabric because the foot doesn’t hold it down securely.  I’m excited to try this theory on other machines; especially machines where I’m not using the darning foot that was provided with the machine.  I want to try the manufacturer supplied darning feet and see if that makes a difference.  I’ll let you know if it holds true.  I also have other Griest machines that I’d like to try this on. 

Everybody have a great Tuesday.  I’m so busy with Quilt Guild business this week that I haven’t had time to sew a stitch.



The photo shoot

Yesterday, my whole family got involved in the photo shoot for my talk at Main Street Quilt and Thread Guild.  We needed to photograph all my machines. 


Every machine got staged against a quilt and Syd took the photos. 


We made a real mess in the house.


This was not the easy activity I thought it would be.  And, it took all day.  We somehow managed to miss a machine and I was just going to accept that, then Syd accidentally deleted two photos, so there will be a mini-shoot sometime soon. 

I spent most of Saturday piecing this baby quilt. 


The pattern is called little spinners.  Okay, so it isn’t my most beautiful quilt and I didn’t notice those two green blocks so near one another in the bottom row until I took the picture, but for what it’s supposed to be, it’s fine. 

It’s a baby gift for a couple I don’t know very well.  It’s so fine for that.  I pieced it out of 2.5” strips from my scrap bin.  Worked great and went together very fast.  I put the last border on, just before bedtime.

Okay, so that was our weekend.  The third quilt got entered in the show.  Today is the deadline for that.  I take my first official minutes at the guild meeting tonight and I have a show and tell that is also a donation to the Red, White and Blue quilt effort. 

Everybody have a great Monday.