Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Blues (and the Yellows)

One of my favorite color combinations is blue and yellow.  I went to a quilt store recently to make a specific purchase for sashings and borders for a quilt that is not blue and not yellow and yet this pack of 10 inch blue and yellow squares managed to get purchased as well.

blue yellow squares

I don’t have a plan for them right now, but they followed me home like a stray puppy follows a little boy.

A favorite project that I did once with blue and yellow was this String quilt:
Borders at last

If you’ve never made a string quilt, consider trying one.  They are quick and easy (some might even call them “mindless”) to create.  They are great for using up long “strings” of fabrics and the sky is the limit. In my blue and yellow quilt pictured above, I just made sure that the center string was blue.

Pictured below is another string quilt I made using every color of scrap I had and just arranging them by Lights and Darks.
Finished string quilt

There are many websites with detailed instructions for going about making a string quilt.  Here is one by Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville.  Here is another.  And here is a third one.

String quilts make great group quilts because the blocks are trimmed to size after they are made. Many individuals can contribute blocks and they all fit together nicely into one quilt.

There is a wonderful group of quilters on the Internet who  make  Heartstring quilts and donate them to charities.   They have a donation system designed so that quilters can donate blocks, tops or fabrics for backings.  There is a photo gallery filled with inspiration, and a yahoo group for discussion and help.

Think “String”!

Monday, April 26, 2010

The long and winding road to sewing

 I was a late bloomer when it came to sewing.  In fact, when I was a kid I hated was not fond of sewing at all.  The only instruction I had ever had was in Home Economics classes which were taught by starchy old ladies using ancient, public school sewing machines.  No wonder I didn't like it!  In fact, I actually told my friends who liked to sew that they were crazy. (Linda, If you are reading this, I apologize....again!)

It was during my first few years of married life when the domestic side of me suddenly appeared and I decided to take a sewing class.  Well, to be honest, a friend and I decided to take a photography class at Community Education but the class was full, so we signed up for the sewing class instead. (It was her suggestion).  What a difference it made to be taking a sewing class because I wanted to, not because I had to! 

Fast forward to today. Now that my parents have downsized to a smaller home, my Mom passed down her sewing machine to me.  I told my husband "I now own the machine I learned to hate sewing on!"  Of course, I don't feel that way anymore.  In fact, I'm quite sentimental about it.

So shiny and pretty with it's mint green color.  It's been waiting patiently for me to come around, I can just tell.

Look!  It's welcoming me with open arms.

It's actually a pretty nice machine for it's time.  It was made in 1969, which was way before computerized machines of course, and yet it could do several decorative stitches.  It uses a mechancial cam system.  For each different stitch, you place a cam into the top of the machine and it guides the needle to making the stitch.

There are enough cams to make 24 different stitches. 

It also has this niftly needle threader gizmo that I never even took out of the box as a kid, but is sure to be one of the most useful items now.  Ahem.

It will need a good cleaning and oiling since Mom hasn't used it in a while, but I'm looking forward to taking it for a test drive.  I'm sure it will come in handy if my daily machine has to go in the shop.  Besides, the closed sewing cabinet is a great place to stack fabric!

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sewing Box facelift

In my last post I showed you this sewing box and the vintage buttons it contained:
Sewing box
After the buttons and notions were removed, I found that the satin lining of the box had ripped away from the bottom in a few places.
Sewing box damage

You can see that behind the satin lining is actual wood which is something you don’t see in a modern sewing box.
Damage detail

I didn’t think I could repair the existing satin, so I went to my local JoAnn’s and bought some co-ordinating ribbon and fabric:
ribbon and fabric

With a lot of patience,  a challenge to my dexterity and some ribbon and glue, I managed to connect the sides of the satin lining to the bottom.  Then I created a new bottom by covering some cardboard with lightweight batting and the fabric.  Voila!

My Great Aunt Florence's vintage sewing box lives on  to carry the sewing notions of a new generation.   Granted, I will be very careful not to overload it with buttons this time around.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Sewing Box

I’m happy  to say that my parent’s move is over and that they are now settling into their new home.  The downsizing that we had to do was a fairly huge task, but we managed to have some fun along the way.

One of the things that turned up was this vintage sewing box:
Sewing box
It belonged to my great aunt Florence who passed away over 30 years ago.  When I opened it up, I found lots of fun old buttons.  There was a collection of metallics:
and an assortment of cloth covered ones:
Cloth covered
There was an entire set of 6 large and 6 small silver buttons that were probably intended for a jacket.  These babies were surprisingly heavy for buttons.
  There were little fancies:
And lots of buttons that were obviously cut from previous garments.  Great Aunt Florence was way ahead of the game with recycling.  ;-)
Don’t these pink plastic buttons just scream 1960’s?
1960 Pink
Of course, there were the usual bits and bobs that find themselves in the button collection:
There were also a few travel sewing kits.  We’ve all seen the ones that hotels give out to guests, right?  It’s good advertising.
hotel sewing kits
But, I can’t imagine what the connection was between this advertiser and sewing:
Seagrams sewing kit 
If you’ve had a little Seagram’s VO, I suggest you step away from sharp objects.

The box also had a few complimentary tape measures from various sources:
measuring tapes
Oddly enough, the red one with the tape wrapped around and held with an elastic because it no longer would retract had this slogan:
In case you can’t see it, it says “proven reliability”.  Ummmmm, no.

Last but not least were some wooden spools of thread.  Apparently it was very important for thread to be “boil fast” back in the day.  That’s what it says on the top of each spool.
Boil fast
I had to admire my aunt’s frugality.  The brown and purple spools had less than a yard of thread left on them. barely even enough to sew on a button.
I plan on keeping the spools in a glass container somewhere in my sewing room where I can see them, but the buttons are going to be joining up with all the other buttons I already have in my own collection.  I imagine that one day  my own descendents can look at them and decide what to do with them.
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