Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fall Frenzy: S.M.A.D.

This fall has seen the full impact of S.M.A.D. on my life.  That's Sewing Machine Acquisition Disorder.

Personally, I blame Helen.  She gave me her mother's treadle and I had lots of fun restoring it.  That got me started reading the TreadleOn bulletin board, and I started lusting after other vintage sewing machines.  It also lead me to the Vintage Singers yahoo group, which includes electric machines through the early 1960's.  More machines to lust over.

Or maybe I should blame Jan.  After all, she found the first in what became a long line of machine acquisitions this fall.  A lovely 301 from the Habitat store.

But I was determined not to fall victim to the most serious form of the disease.  Some of the other sufferers on the boards have more than 50 machines.  I already had 9 before all of this started (embroidery, industrial, several sergers, decorative stitch, straight stitch, etc.).  I had to have a strategy.

This was it:  every machine I own has a specific purpose, something it does exclusively or better than any of the others.  I had to stick with this.

Surely you can see where this is going.  It became an exercise in creative thinking:  how many reasons can I think of for buying a sewing machine?

Obviously I need a sewing machine that is perfect for teaching children to sew.  Never mind that I don't currently have any children around clamoring to learn to sew.  That's irrelevant.  When one shows up, I MUST BE READY.
This is the answer:  A Singer 128.  It did not look like this when I bought it.  It was covered in grunge, had no foot pedal, and the insulation on the motor wires was shot.  I did a motorectomy, cleaned and polished it (many, many, hours) and replaced the missing bobbin cover with clear plastic and added a hand crank (hand crank not shown in photo).

The 128 is a 3/4 size machine, which makes it more appealing to smaller folk.  People on the boards say that children prefer a hand crank.  I still remember that terrifying moment, age 12, when I first put pedal to the metal on my Mom's 1939 singer.

$22.50 and about that much again in parts (hand crank and some extra bobbins).

That was my first venture into the world of CraigsList.  Uh Oh!  SO many sewing machines, many in my $25-or-less price range.  And on CraigsList in another town I found a version of myself with a more advanced stage of the disease.  In her living/dining room area she had 6 treadles.  She had 8 portables on display on her dining room table (those were the ones for sale).  She made reference to at least 2 more treadles and several other portables lurking in other corners of her apartment.  I drooled over all the ones for sale but left with only two.
 Singer 401a.  According to many on the boards, this is the finest sewing machine that Singer ever made.

The previous owner had dis-assembled it for cleaning and what I bought was the pieces in a box.  No foot pedal but the one from my 301 worked on it.  I gave it a thorough cleaning, oil and lube.  It is running smoothly and I have sewn a few minor things on it.

$10, plus 2-3x that in parts:  foot pedal of its own, miscellaneous small parts including new thread pins.  Shown in the photo are bamboo skewers used as thread pins. 

The price does not factor in the fact that now I have an excuse to search out and buy slant-shank attachments. And I have done so.

Fully assembled but missing some vital parts, a Singer 500.  This also has its proponents for the title best-Singer-ever.  Do I need TWO best-Singer-evers?  Obviously not.  So what is the justification for this machine?  Someone else in my family might want one some day.  The three of the next generation who sew all have their own machines, but those machines might (will) break down someday.  And I WILL BE READY.  So I probably need two more extras, right?

I replaced the missing parts, oiled and lubed it, but haven't done any cleaning on it yet.

$25 + about that in parts (power cord/foot pedal, presser foot screw, bobbin cover).  The hinge on the light cover is broken at the top but it works fine that way.

306 partially disassembled
The last one was just a mistake.  I saw a machine on CraigsList and the photo looked like a 319.  To me the 319 looks very steampunk, with levers coming out of the top, and I really, really want one.  Keep in mind that 6 months ago I had never heard of any of these machines!  I misidentified it.  By the time I discovered this I had gotten my DH to drive me an hour away from home.  It was a 306, very dirty and completely frozen, but in a dirty but sturdy cabinet with drawers.  He wanted $40, I said I could only pay $20 for a machine that was not working, and I got it for that.

The fun is in the fixing, and there has been plenty of fixing to do on this machine.  It was filthy, the photos don't convey the degree of grime.  It is just as grungy inside.  It had not been oiled in decades, best guess.  There was a thread jam that was not accessible--I had to take the bobbin mechanism apart to get it out.  It is now clean on the outside, oiled and lubed (but not de-grunged on the inside) and it is sewing a beautiful stitch--by handwheel only at this point.  The insulation is completely gone off of the wires in many places and more of it shatters and falls to the floor every time you touch it.  I bought replacement wire for it but the rewiring is a task for after Thanksgiving, if not even later.  After all, it's not like I don't have other machines to sew on.

So what is the justification for this machine?  Uh, wait a moment, I'm sure I will think of something.... 
  • The cabinet was worth the $20.
  • It kind of looks like a 319, which I still want
  • It came with a box of attachments in pristine condition, which I could sell on eBay.  Except I won't.
  • It has a straight stitch throat plate, which means that I could get rid of my vintage Japanese straight stitch machine, which I love for piecing.  Except I won't.
Did you notice that all of those are reasons to BUY the machine but not reasons to OWN one.  I did and I have no answer for it!
    And in the end I have only myself to blame.  And the folks on the TreadleOn board.  And the folks on the Vintage Singers board.  And even my DH, who turned out to be an enabler.  After I told him my strategy he "got" it right away.  "Oh," he said.  "It's just like guitars."

    Yep.  But MUCH cheaper.

      Monday, October 18, 2010

      Jan's Clothespin Apron

      This was DragonPoodle Studio’s first commission.
      Back in the spring I took an armful of my aprons over to show Mary Bob.  She is a terrific audience because she used to sew and we can tech-talk.  She thought that Jan might like one of the clothespin aprons and asked me to make one, for which she would pay me.  We discussed fabrics and decided on denim.
      I couldn’t just leave it at that (just denim).   Using a heavy ticking on the back lets the ticking show through at the pockets.  I had a great red calico bias tape with tiny tiny yellow and dark blue flowers and tiny tiny green leaves.  I had a free embroidery design (thanks, gonesewing at cuties.com) of a simple floral wreath that I thought would look good peeking out of the pocket.  I was going for a classic traditional look with a DragonPoodle twist.

      Some embroidery projects take a million years to come together.  You never know what it is REALLY going to look like until it is stitched out.  I usually end up with at least a couple of not-quite right samples.  This one came together in about a minute.  I knew that the embroidery needed to match the colors in the calico, bright primaries for the flowers and a darker forest green for the swirls and leaves.  As each color stitched out I breathed a deep sigh of satisfaction.  They were all just right, even the lime green for the flower centers.

      The design is circular and I could have just used the same version on both pockets, but I only recently learned how to reverse and flip designs so I had to do this.

      At this point I pulled out all the rick rack that coordinated with the calico and embroidery and took everything over to Mary Bob’s.  We had a great old time playing with the design features.  She chose a giant red rick-rack for the waistband which surprised me.  I had taken that spool over just as a joke; I thought it was way too big.  But it does look good—it is the full width of the waistband.  In fact, I like this apron so much that I’ll probably make another one exactly like it for myself someday.

      We’ve got a running joke between us about how nobody can afford me.  Because she used to sew she has a very good idea of how long things take.  We had a scuffle over payment:  she wanted to pay me, I didn’t want her to.  I suggested that she put in an extra donation the next time her church is helping someone in need, and tell God that it’s from me.  We both know that I am no church-goer, so I told her she could help get me right with God.  This tickled her and she finally agreed.
      By the time the apron was finished she had already put a generous donation into the church plate.  She told me how much she enjoyed doing that.  I call this a win-win-win-win situation!

      She was disappointed that I hadn’t included an embroidered label, so I made one and added it to the back.
      Of course she couldn’t wait for Christmas and gave it to Jan right away!  They both seem very pleased with it, and so am I (she says, modestly).  Jan modeled it during a Saturday coffee morning.  She had on a blue and white dress and the whole outfit (dress + apron) was absolutely adorable.  She refused to let me take her picture, so you will just have to imagine it.

      Thursday, September 16, 2010

      More Joy

      Look what Jan found at the Habitat store!  and since she does not sew, it is now MINE, MNE, ALL MINE, mwahahahahah!

      We were in there together, and I ALWAYS look at all the sewing machines, because I have had such good luck in there before.  But this one was tucked away on the building supplies side of the store (maybe hidden over there by someone who meant to come back and claim it?).  Anyhow, I totally missed it.  We were back in the car and on the way to Torero's when she said "you saw the Singer, didn't you?"  After a few questions (was it a new one?  no, looked like 1950's.  what color was it?  beige) we did a U-turn on 15-501 and went back for it.

      Reading the vintage sewing machine bulletin boards over the last several months has alerted me to the desirable models to look for, and they don't get much more desirable than a Singer 301. 

      This has its fair share of grunge, but everything works.  Once I get some gear lubricant I will give it a good clean, oil and lube job and get her on the road.  There is no carrying case or any attachments, but it does have the straight stitch presser foot, the bobbin case and one bobbin.  I'll only use it for quilting, so I really don't  need anything other than that one foot, and a few extra bobbins.  The truly awesome manual was available online for free, so we are good to go.

      Thanks, Jan!  It's great to have a friend who "gets it" (my SMAD, Sewing Machine Acquisition Disorder*) and who is willing to humor me!

      *I think it was Carma Sue on the treadleon bulletin board who came up with this diagnosis.

      Thursday, September 9, 2010

      O! The Joy! The Joy!

      Why the exultation?  Because I have finally conquered the basics of quilting on a frame with a sewing machine.

      There are 3 ways to quilt (quilting attaches the 3 layers of quilt top, batting/stuffing inside, and back of the quilt)
      • by hand.  been there, done that, takes me YEARS to finish one quilt.
      • by sewing machine.  the machine sits on the table and you shove the quilt through it.  Big quilt + little sewing machine = massive pain in the tukhus. Takes me WEEKS to finish a quilt.  been there, done that, never going back again.
      • by sewing machine on a frame.  You pin the quilt top and back to rollers, the sewing machine sits on a platform on wheels.  You push the sewing machine around on the quilt, rather than pushing the quilt through a sewing machine.  Takes a few DAYS to finish a quilt.
      So it's that last one I have recently conquered.  By halfway through the quilt I had worked out all the technical kinks and was able to quilt without stopping every couple of minutes to re-thread the machine, or to replace a broken sewing machine needle.

      Will It Go Round In Circles?
      I found the frame years ago at the Habitat for Humanity store in Burlington, NC.  Luck played a big role here.  I visit that store no more than once a month.  The frame had arrived the day before and had just been put out in the store.  It's a Pennywinkle frame designed for use with a home sewing machine (there ARE bigger frames and bigger machines available and if I ever see such at a thrift shop I'll be all over it.)

      It sat in my studio for years while my so-called career sputtered and finally died.  THEN and only then I had time to play with it.  I quilted a small practice quilt on it, then Greg and Amber's "will it go round in circles" quilt, then Patty and Len's Stargate quilt, and finally three baby quilts.  The system was cantankerous.  It worked, but very slowly as I had to pause often to replace broken threads or needles. The last baby quilt almost broke my spirit.  I had to walk away from it and take a fairly long break after that, but kept on reading about the process on sewing and quilting blogs and boards.

      Last week I fired 'er up again.  I had pieced a twin bargello top on my 1922 Singer treadle, and I loaded it on the frame.  Here's what is different this time:
      • all Pfaff bobbins are not created equal.  the ones with the groove work.  the others do not.  I discovered that a warped bobbin was probably the sole cause of anguish over the last baby quilt.
      • cotton batting instead of polyester
      • polyester thread, top and bobbin, instead of cotton machine quilting thread.  Cotton has very little "give" to it, poly has a bit of stretch.  I used Gutermann's basic poly all purpose thread, and will try Coats & Clarks Dual Duty Plus the next time.
      • a bigger (size 16) needle.  No more broken needles, amazing.  Size really DOES matter after all. 
      Among all that reading and learning I was also considering whether to get a new machine to go on the frame.  In short, no.  I have a Pfaff 1221, which was a top of the line machine back in the early 1970's and decades ahead of its time.  I love this machine, and it would be my basic go-to machine IF I hadn't splurged on a new Janome when I retired and IF this one wasn't perfect for frame quilting.  Why, you ask, is it perfect?
      • it has a vertical rather than horizontal bobbin.  the advice on the boards is that this works better.
      • it has an 8" harp, which is the opening between the needle and the vertical arm of the machine.  The bigger the harp, the more quilt you can shove around.  My other machines have 6" harps.
      The Pfaff was also a Habitat find, this one from their Durham store.  It cost $15, and is a better machine than a modern one costing 100X as much, which is NOT an exaggeration.  It was frozen in thread tangles when I bought it, and not running, which explains the price.  I de-tangled and oiled it and it runs like a champ.  It came with the carrying case, the manual, an extension table and ALL of the original feet.  This machine regularly sells on eBay in the $300-$400 range. 

      The down side to using a regular sewing machine on a frame is that you can only quilt a very narrow path at a time.  I can quilt about a 4" wide path.  If I were willing to spend thousands of dollars I could get a midarm or even longarm machine (with much bigger harps) and a bigger frame to carry it, and quilt much wider paths.  Since this is not an option I have decided to be happy about my system which cost $240 total (the frame was $225).

      And there is something cool about exploring all that you can within limitations (the 4" quilting path).  Now that the system is working for me I can build my skills and design quilting patterns that will work within that narrow path. And believe me, there is PLENTY of room for skill building.  Being able to do it and being able to do it well are entirely different.

      I think I should stop at two double entendres and call it a day!

      Thursday, September 2, 2010

      Introducing the girls

      You met Sophie in the last post.  It took me a year of watching on eBay to find the right sized wire dress form at a reasonable price.  If you are thinking about a dress form to use, rather than just to for display or decoration, think wire.  It conforms perfectly to your body, which in my case means one shoulder a couple of inches lower than the other.  Any dress form that didn't follow my exact lines would be useless as a fit model.

      On the other hand, there she stands, a mute yet irrefutable testament to my true and exact shape.  The fact that she is transparent helps, but not much.

      I'm not usually one to give names to inanimate objects.  None of my sewing machines have names.  Sophie named herself.  Don't ask me to explain this, you either get it or you don't.  I thought I could come up with a better name for her, and I tried to think of one.  She stubbornly remained Sophie.  Eventually I just quit thinking about it.  Sophie she is.

      Scissor Girl was the first to join Sophie.  She organizes the work-a-day scissors, including
      • Some awesome 14 inch shears that I found at Harbor Freight
      • Tiny double curved scissors for cutting embroidery threads in the hoop
      • Cheap aluminum scissors for cutting paper
      • Cheap titanium scissors for everyday fabric cutting  (the Ginghers are in a case in a drawer)
      • Two pairs of small scissors that I use as thread snips.  I would probably like thread snips if I could ever remember to buy some.

      The Pin Girls arrived next.  One of them hosts flower-headed pins and T-pins, and another has glass-headed silk pins.  One is just hanging around waiting to be given some work to do.

      Wire Girl was pretty adorable just the way she came in the door, but she has to work for a living just like the other girls do.

      Colorful sharpies form the front of her skirt.  Her back holds black sharpies of all sizes, mechanical pencils, ballpoint and gel pens, chalk pen, and a clip on led light.

      She lives on the giant lazy susan/rotating cutting mat, so all the pens are right at hand.  And I can just pull the a sharpie off of
      Wire Girl, leaving the top attached and then just shove the pen back in the same spot.  This works for me.

      Tuesday, August 24, 2010

      Apron Quest: The Final (?) Adventure

      the ultimate apron
      I have made a whole bunch of aprons in my quest for the ultimate apron.  I tinkered with several patterns until I either decided that they weren't right for me, or until I got them to fit properly.  I have given away 3 of these aprons to family: Helen, Rachel, and most recently Aurora, and that's not counting the cafe aprons that I made for Emily.

      The one I gave to Aurora was one I liked and had planned to keep, but it was more thrilling to me that Aurora wanted it.  Serendipitously, the previous week I had found the exact same fabric at the thrift shop, and plenty of it.  Looked like someone had started to make curtains and quit halfway through.  In addition to the curtain pieces, there were 3.5 yards of new yardage (and the curtain panels still new too, only partly finished). This lot worked out to about 25 cents per yard, probably an all-time-low.  Love the thrift shops!

      Aurora said something about expressing her inner girliness by wearing the apron while baking, and I decided to take that idea and run with it as I made another bias apron from the paisley fabric.  I recently scored a big bunch of rick rack on eBay and I went all out with the rick rack.

      FOUR kinds of rick rack

      I also tweaked the pattern a bit more:   more coverage through the bust and 4 darts for shaping, and a bit more reach around the back.  I lengthened it and tried a scalloped edge again.  This one is definitely a keeper. I love the girliness of the heart pockets and all the rick rack, and the black paisley is just right.  For the pockets I used, for the first time, a bit of a beautiful pink paisley that I bought at Liberty's in London back in 1986.  One of my post-retirement resolutions is to use things and not hoard them.  After 24 years I think it was time to dip into the Liberty lawn.

      Other recent projects:
      A little bib for baby Carla

      sweetness for a sweetie pie
      Emily's cafe aprons

      Each apron is reversible, with a plain side and an embroidered side.
      The design is her own.
      embroidered dragon
      gold thread
      bleach-resist dragon

      I made two reversible aprons and practiced machine embroidery. 
      Learned how to reverse a design (easy:  select and drag it through to the other side.  everything is easy once you figure it out!)

      I liked the pattern and the reversible construction was very interesting, but I don't like the finished product.  They look fine, but the pockets are all wrong.  I had to enlarge the pattern, one size definitely does NOT fit all! and that put the pockets too far around the back side.  I added a small cell phone/iPod pocket toward the front, and it looked cute but that still didn't fix the problem.  Not keepers.

      And finally, Sophie got a pair of wings.   Just because.  I think she deserves them, don't you?

      Saturday, August 7, 2010

      Printing on Fabric: an idea whose time has NOT YET come!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      I've been enjoying puttering in the studio this summer, working on a variety of small projects.  Many of these will become gifts, so I'm not talking about them yet.  I like doing things slowly and letting the ideas mature as the work progresses, so even the things I am working on are not ready for publication here yet.

      I just finished a course at Quilt University titled Printing on Fabric.  I've been very impressed by most of the Quilt U courses, but not this one, which seemed to be light on content.  It did provide the impetus for me to experiment with this technique and use up the supplies that I bought when I took the OTHER Quilt U course on this topic, which also did not ring my chimes.

      I'm going to sound like a cranky old lady here (oh wait!  I AM a cranky old lady!) but most of the quilts I see with photos on them leave me cold.  I'm sure they have meaning to the people who produce them, and that's really all that matters.  But aesthetically most of them look pretty crappy to me.  I'd rather have my photos in frames or scrapbooks, thank you very much.

      So I decided to print topographic maps and aerial photos on to fabric.  I'm searching for a less cheesy title for this project, but the working title is "places of the heart".  I had a wonderful time selecting maps and images, and editing them down to the places I love:  McGonigle and Reily and Oxford in Ohio especially, and several of the places I have lived.  I mourn the loss of topozone.com which used to have free topos of good quality.  Google is wonderful for the aerial images but somehow I can't seem to find decent topos anywhere online, at least not for free.

      I have experimented with 2 different commercial fabric sheets (EQ Printables and Printed Treasures) and also made my own with Bubble Jet Set.  I have two different printers, one with pigment inks and one with dye  inks.  I included information about the printers, inks, date of printing as text below each image and I'll leave this info visible in the quilt I create so that I can track the performance as the quilt gets washed.  I plan to include a label on the back with a spot where I can write the date of each washing.

      Even though I am not finished, I have come to one huge conclusion:  Printing on fabric is a BAD IDEA. 
      • Printers were not meant to do this.  They don't like it.  Fabric leaves lint down in their little bellies.  LOTS of lint, at least compared to paper.  I have run the head cleaning cycle on both printers DOZENS of times during this project, and one of them has still not recovered.
      • Fabric is not the ideal medium for photos or other images, at least not where printers are concerned.  They are NEVER going to look decent no matter what you do.
      So for anyone contemplating printing on fabric, keep this in mind:  the quilting industry has one goal and one goal only:  TO SELL PRODUCTS.  All those magazine articles about printing on fabric are meant to get you to buy fabric sheets or the chemicals to produce your own.

      You COULD ride your riding lawnmower to work, but just because you could does not mean that it would be a good idea.  You can print photos on fabric, too.   But I wouldn't if I were you.  And when this project is finished you can bet that I will never do it again.  I'm just hoping that I haven't permanently ruined the heads on my continuous ink systems.

      Rant over.

      Friday, June 25, 2010

      Small Projects

      Upstairs in "Studio North" I have been treadling away on two twin bargello scrap quilts.  One top is finished and ready to go on the frame.

      Downstairs in the main studio I have been working on smaller projects.  I made removable covers for two tabletop ironing boards (one for each branch of the studio).

      I also made a quilted shopping bag that hangs on the back of my electric scooter.  Useful at Trader Joes, Costco, etc.  I can't remember the name of the pattern but the geometry of it was fascinating.

      The apron fest has continued with a cafe apron in black cotton duck for Emily.  It's her own design, with pockets on both sides so that it is reversible. I also made a European clothespin apron, pattern free at the Mother Earth News site.  The clothespin apron is one giant pocket that you can reach into from either side. It was copied from an apron from Europe, but growing up in the Midwest I saw plenty of these, usually in a white canvas.  This one is in a denim weight cotton with a fine metallic stripe.

      I will make more of the cafe aprons and embellish some of them.  To prepare for this I tested monograms and my wide variety of metallic threads.  Now I know which threads work and which don't in my embroidery machine.  The most expensive thread performed poorly (Madeira) while the mid-range Coats and Clarks did just fine.  The cheapest cone threads did as badly as the Madeira.  I'll try those later in the serger loopers.

      Helen liked one of the earlier aprons but she is petite and the fit was not right on her.  So I made her one and custom-fit it to her and I'm much happier with it. She wore it on Father's Day but of course I forgot the camera so here it is on the worktable. 

      This time I figured out how to add pockets without ruining the lines--a line of bias trim down the center of a pocket makes it visually disappear.

      Amber mentioned that she is just about ready to start the twins on solid food, so I decided to whip up some baby bibs.  I made some smaller ones for now, and a larger version with an arm opening for the toddler age. 

      The flying zebras were from a pre-quilted panel (thrift shop find).

      For the next set I quilted a map fabric with a coordinating geometric for the back (back not shown).  I wanted black and white stripes for the bias tape so I made some, a project that I have had in mind for years.  I love making bias tape but it does take a while.

      22 yards of black and white 1/2" double-fold bias tape!

      and here are the cartographic baby bibs in their black-and-white-stripey glory!  I quilted the fabric along the latitude and longitude lines, naturally.

      and if this wasn't enough, I also have two Christmas presents completed, but I'm not saying what or for whom.

      Jean mentioned my aprons on the Quilted Cupcake podcast, which was a thrill for me.  and later the same month I won a drawing at her site also.  I should mention that the ironing board covers that began this post were also inspired by her.  I  have certainly made ironing board covers before for utilitarian purposes, but she mentioned making some with bright fabrics and I liked the idea.

      If you have actually read this far, please leave a comment!  I love hearing from folks.

      update:  babies in bibs.  ADORABLE babies in bibs!  Good job on the procreation, Amber and Greg!

      Wednesday, May 12, 2010

      1922 Singer "Red Eye" Treadle

      Some time ago my mother-in-law gave me her mother's 1922 Singer "Red Eye" treadle sewing machine.  I did some basic cleaning, then replaced the belt.  For a couple of months I puttered around with cleaning it up a little bit at a time, then discovered the treadleon.net site, which has a wealth of information about all things treadle-y, including very specific and useful info about what to do (and even more importantly what NOT to do) when cleaning them up.  Thanks to all the onions who have contributed to the site!

      I kept quiet about this project, wanting to surprise Helen when it was finished.  About a month before Mother's Day my friend Jan asked me if I was planning to have it done for Mother's Day, and a useful deadline was born! I moved this project to the front burner, but miraculously still managed to hold on to the no-stress-I'm-just-puttering frame of mind.

      Here's what I did:
      • Replaced the belt and the bobbin winder tire
      • Opened up the access ports and bobbin housing and cleaned 88 years of lint from the interior
      • Oiled it thoroughly several times, each oiling probably removing more of the accumulated crud inside the moving parts
      • Cleaned the irons (the cast iron bottom part), revealing the gold paint that I thought was gone!
      • Cleaned the head (the sewing machine part).  This took the longest time as I removed one molecular layer at a time with Turtle Wax Bug and Tar Remover.  It had to be done slowly so that there would be no additional damage to the beautiful decals.
      • Cleaned the chrome parts with metal polish
      • Waxed the head with auto wax
      • Reglued the loose veneer
      • Restored the finish of the oak cabinet.  This isn't as dramatic a process as stripping the old finish, it just removes a bit of the old finish and removes the water rings.  I had to chip off some paint also.  This all worked much better than I expected.  You can still see the age of the finish and where some of the old problem areas were, but it is now a uniform color and looks great, but retains the look of age.  I didn't want to strip it to make it look new.
      • Waxed the cabinet.

      Before and after on the top of the cabinet

      Once it was finished I used it to make a tote bag for Helen for Mother's Day.  She loves my "Lush Life" luggage and has been borrowing it when she and her friends travel together.  I had enough of the tapestry fabric left to make a tote bag.  Except for the embroidered monogram I made the whole thing on the treadle.  I would NOT recommend a tote bag with multiple layers of upholstery, quilted lining, and trims as a learning exercise for a new machine ;)   But I managed to keep the un-sewing to a minimum.

      I did get everything finished for Mother's Day.  Helen was happy to see the restoration of the sewing machine, happy that it still works, and happy with the tote bag.  She told stories about her mother and the machine, and about learning to sew on it.

      Saturday, May 8, 2010

      Painting, dyeing, and some dragon t-shirts

      I've been taking more fabric painting and dyeing classes from Quilt University.  These photos are from Lyric Kinard's Playing With Paint class.  The class included more techniques for getting paint onto fabric than I had time to complete, and here are some of the results.  Lots of fun!

      Right now I am taking the second in a series of fabric dyeing classes from Marjie McWilliams.  I'll post the results after the end of the class, which is called Quilter's Palette.

      I used some of what I learned in the painting class to stencil dragons on to some t-shirts.  The black and maroon shirts were done with a Clorox bleach pen, and the red one with black Jacquard textile paint.

      Don't worry, apron fans, more aprons are on the way!  But the next post will reveal a secret project that I DID complete in time for Mother's Day....