STUCK in the MIDDLE

You ever have a situation where you feel like you are just STUCK IN THE MIDDLE with no where to go? That’s what the last week has been like for me!

The week started out fairly well. I finally got the courage TRY again to quilt on the frame, with the Janome-1600P, that has been taking up 12 feet of space in my sewing room. (If the setup is unfamiliar, the frame has rollers for the quilt, the machine moves back and forth and left to right on a platform that glides the length of the frame. You are moving the machine while quilting, not moving the quilt. ) This set up enables you to quilt something large fairly easily using a domestic sewing machine. It is a scaled down version of what long arm quilters use, at a “scaled down” price.

time to practice
Quilt frame and practice piece

Backstory – the frame came from a friend who lacked space, I added the Janome 1600 P machine ….and it sat. I bought the machine used for $500, and it was serviced before it was shipped. This was a great price, as a brand new one was over $1300 at the time.

Two or 3 years ago, two friends came over and helped me “trial load” a practice piece, and then it sat. Things got in my way, mostly fear of screwing up a quilt, so I did nothing. At some point, I “unplugged” the Janome 1600P, maybe during a thunderstorm.

In 2018 I did some quilting on a long arm machine and gained some courage. My sister-in-law, Carolyn, allowed me the opportunity to use her brand new Gammill long arm quilting machine, Greta. Of course, that required a trip to the other side of the country to do that! I had a lot of fun working on my Grandma’s Kitchen quilt.

Quilting at Carolyn's on Greta the Gammill
Quilting at Carolyn’s

Still, the frame at home with the Janome 1600P machine sat. Quilt tops (LARGE) continued to be made, and hung on hangers in my sewing room. I did order some LED lights last year, because my excuse was it was “too dark” to quilt on it. My dearest friend often pokes fun at me for not using it!

I decided in 2020 with all the “extra” time I had due to COVID-19, that I would start finishing things I started. I cleared up a couple of UFO’s and was determined not to create any MORE UFO’s. Small projects got finished, a couple of older things got finished.

I recently put borders on my Autumn Jubilee 2020 quilt https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2020/11/15/autumn-jubilee-2020-quilt-along-update/, and I made the backing for the quilt. I decided last week, I was going to tackle this machine on the frame come one way or another.

I cleared off all the “stuff” that got stored on the top shelf, my husband added two rows of LED lights under the shelf to give me better lighting of the quilt, and I loaded the thread that I intended to use on my quilt top. (I even dusted the machine and vacuumed all around it!). I played with the practice piece for 2 or 3 hours, until I felt comfortable with my stitches, speed, tension etc. Then, I took photos of the “set up” of the practice piece so I could “unload it” and load my quilt.

I have to say, that taking those pictures was a “smart” thing to do. I had to look through the photos two or 3 different times so I did the loading properly. I am sure that experienced long arm quilters will laugh, but this is only the 2nd time I loaded anything.

My hubby was a HUGE help getting this process done. I remembered things Carolyn had told me, and that my friends had explained, and he helped me get the backing on squarely and pinned to the “take up” leader.

loading the backing

Eventually, I got the batting on and anchored, and the quilt top got loaded.

Pinning the top

That process, the practice and the loading took care of Sunday and Monday! That process was NERVE WRACKING to say the least.

By Tuesday, I was convinced I could start quilting and had a joyful time! I was confident with loops and swirls!

Getting started with quilting

The first couple of rows seemed to go along nicely. Then to my horror, I rolled the quilt forward to do the next row and saw this —

tension trouble
TENSION TROUBLE – EYELASHES and more

It seems that I was having a huge tension problem….SIGH….what was going on??? I started trouble shooting and low and behold….somebody forgot to put the pressure foot down……SIGH…..another learning curve. (Am I getting too old to learn new tricks?)

Quick message to Carolyn gave me good advice on how to “rip out those stitches” . It was decided I should carry on, and go back to them after the rest of the quilt was done. Since this is all free hand guided quilting, I should be able to fill in as I need to. Sigh….. I made a mental reminder to LOWER the pressure foot. (Note; whenever I need to advance the quilt, I slide the machine to the far left, off of the quilt. I have to unclip the side clips to move the machine. When I bring the machine back onto the quilt, I have to raise the foot to get the 3 layers from the edge, UNDER the foot.) And, even with a mental note, I did that more than once, and not realize until I advanced the quilt. I think I have about 3 rows to “unstitch”.

With my brain engaged, I continued stitching through Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday afternoon until suddenly the machine absolutely FROZE. I was 3/4 of the way down the length of the quilt, stitching like a happy girl, and it just seized up. The handwheel would not even turn. PANIC ensued. I was grateful that the problem happened when I was at the far end of the row and and inch from the edge.

I looked at everything and could not determine what the heck was going on. On Thursday my husband helped me “disengage” the machine from the frame. He has great mechanical skills, and started taking things apart, looking for where the machine was “bound up”, and looking for the giant ball of thread wrapped around inside of gears etc. NOTHING ….that machine was clean as a whistle.

Inside the Janome 1600P
Under the 1600P

I could not understand why it seized up. We “read” the owners manual, and I about fainted when I read the part about OILING it daily.

Oh my goodness, maybe I ruined it. I have had this machine sitting for 3-5 years at least, and had forgotten this MAJOR detail.(My two other Janome machines have NO place for the consumer to oil, and I honestly didn’t think about it when I got started on Sunday.)

I got out the oil, and the lube, and hubby oiled and lubed, and tried to free it up. He went to the computer, and studied parts diagrams that I downloaded, and tried again on Friday. He “isolated” areas that were working and determined it was the bearing on the main shaft of the machine that might be seized up or “galled”. (He tried to explain that but…phew…basically ruined). He was shocked that the oil wicks were completely dry again when he was looking at it on Friday afternoon. More oil went in the appropriate spots. LOTS more oil. The decision finally was made to put it “back together tomorrow” and pray that the “authorized” Janome service center could order parts and get it working. (He could fix it, but Janome won’t sell parts to the consumer). So, sadly, I looked at my unfinished quilt and started thinking about how to move forward.

I called the shop and inquired about business hours next week and talked about the 2 week turn around due to the holiday etc. I decide I would take it up on Monday. I didn’t need to bring the foot pedal or the power cord, which was great by me. We have the foot pedal, but don’t use it on the frame. The power cord is “zip tied” to another cord and a big pain to undo, so we have been “testing” using the power cord from my Janome 8900.

Friday evening I decided to go out to the sewing room and do SOMETHING. I was depressed that this quilt I worked on so hard was stuck on the rails, the machine was dead. I dug out another UFO, and decided to work on something fun. But first, I needed my power cord. I unplugged it from the broken J-1600, and while I was doing that, I thought I would just try to give the handwheel a spin. IT MOVED!!!!! I was in shock!! It had been absolutely seized up early in the day. I plugged it back in, turned it on and it RAN! FAST!!! And didn’t seize. I was amazed to say the least. I messaged my hubby, and knew that since it was apart all over my cutting table, to leave it alone until he could have another look on Saturday. I went ahead and unplugged it, so I could sew on my J-8900. I gave it a parting shot of MORE oil, 5-7 drops more, in every spot.

Fast forward to Saturday night, and this is what happened.

Reassembly time
Reassembly of the Janome-1600P
TECH SKILLS

It seems that this machine forgave me the abuse I rendered, and through the grace of half a bottle of sewing machine oil, it is functional and working again. It took us about half an hour to get it set up again on the frame, get all the poles holding the quilt reattached and straighten the quilt up again!

Ready to stitch again
Ready to resume quilting.

Three quarters of the way finished with this quilt, the machine is functional and I am no longer feeling “stuck in the middle” with no where to go!

Moving forward, I will finish the quilting, and then roll back to the places with the tension problems and do some “unstitching”. Carolyn sent me to You Tube to watch a video on how to “efficiently unstitch” – https://youtu.be/3cmSC0BxsrQ Natalia Bonner, a nationally known quilter & author gives great explanations of the process, and I can tell you, it WORKED for me in a couple of areas I tackled already.

Also on You Tube, LEAH DAY has a great video tutorial on “How to clean and oil the Janome -1600” – https://youtu.be/gXyB1SO-ZJE

So; ready to move forward and get this quilt finished. Hopefully, with all the pitfalls of this week, I will have the courage to “quilt again” on the frame. My hope is that I will improve over time, and graduate from Loops and swirls to more sophisticated looking quilting as I learn. The downfalls of this machine and frame is the very limited space for quilting. The throat of the machine and the space that the take up reel uses limits you to about 6″ for actual quilting. The upside is, you only have to man-handle the quilt to load it, and advance it as a row is complete. The quilting itself is fairly easy with the quality frame moving at the slightest touch while I work my way from left to right across the quilt!

Wish me luck! It’s a new week! (And the optimist that I am, I have the fabric picked out for the binding!) I did that while the machine was off the frame.

I also decided to iron another wide piece (104″) of backing for another quilt while the hubby was tearing things apart. I think this backing will go on my Scrap Happy Stars Quilt. More about that quilt on this post – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2020/07/12/scrap-happy-and-allietare-updates/

(Look for the one with the orange borders!)

IRON to distraction
Do you iron when you are stressed?

And I did get something done on that other UFO I mentioned! I got out my bin of VINTAGE CHRISTMAS QUILT blocks (Book by Lori Holt) and worked on the Candy Cane block –

Candy Cane block
Vintage Christmas Quilt book by Lori Holt.

I have 3 more blocks cut out and ready to stitch. This has been languishing since MAY! More about the project here – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2020/05/09/a-little-bit-of-fun-with-the-twist-and-vintage-christmas-quilt-along/

Autumn Jubilee 2020 Quilt Along update

Last time I posted about the Autumn Jubilee Quilt Along was when I was working on the pumpkin row (https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2020/10/24/pumpkins-and-fall-fun/ ) . About a week later, Carole published the assembly information on her blog From My Carolina Home, and I got busy assembling my rows in the specified order, with sashing in between the rows and a surrounding border.

Row quilt for #Autumn Jubilee 2020
First round of borders on

At this point with the project, the only “yardage” cut was the fabric I used for the TREE row, and for the sashing/borders. The sashing has a wonderful little golden dot, which went nicely with the fall colors. I do get inspired by nature when picking fabrics for projects.

Fall in Delaware
November 10, 2020

Nature was slow to show me the colors this year on my favorite tree. We had some lovely warm days (and lots of bike riding) so it was hard to focus on the “next step” on the Autumn Jubilee quilt. I decided that I wanted to do something a bit different than what the pattern called for so I measured the quilt, and contacted my sister in law, Carolyn. She makes the BEST borders!! So, I sent along details and this is what she suggested –

test block
Square in a Square block, using the JODI BARROWS tool.

I did a “test block” and then got busy sewing. The fabric for the 4 patches came right out of my scrap saver baskets, already cut to size. The outer fabric, is the same as the border and sashing fabric. I knew I did not have enough to do all the blocks I would need for the border, so I went with scrappy neutrals, cutting strips from my bin of neutral fabrics.

I spent an afternoon making a stack of 4 patches first, then working in small batches to turn them into Square in a Square blocks.

units for the border

We had several days of rain where I did not even go to the sewing room, but when I finally got back out there, I trimmed my blocks and made 4 strips for borders.

Making the border units

Making sense of trying to fit my blocks to an existing project, I followed the steps Carolyn outlined in her blog – https://oneblockwonderwoman.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/camping-quilt.jpg

Carolyn was kind to work with me on the “quilt math” on Saturday, and we came up with similar numbers for the border that goes on between the dot border and the square in a square blocks. At one point I confused myself, and resorted to drawing out the picture of what was going where, and that helped my little brain. Turns out, I do this all the time, as I flipped back through the little 5×7 notebook I keep in the sewing room. I am a visual person and the numbers have to make sense.

drawing it out

She reminded me to “dry fit” everything before stitching. That was great advice.

I settled in to work on these borders yesterday afternoon and was quite pleased with the results.

Side borders going on

So far, everything was fitting well. By the end of the afternoon I had the pieced border on and everything fit as Carolyn had predicted.

Autumn Jubilee 2020 row quilt

At this point, the quilt is 67 x 74. Oversized throw I think. And, for the moment, I am “DONE”. I have to think about it for a bit and decide if it gets another border or not. (It is a bit “odd sized” at this point….and I never answered the question Carolyn asked about “how big” was I planning to make this or what what I planning to do with it?)

I really enjoyed this project working on a weekly basis making a row quilt.

What’s happening in your sewing room? Are you inspired by nature in your color selections? How big is “big enough” for a throw size quilt? Would you scale this up for a queen size quilt? Inquiring minds want to know.

Autumn at the pond

Hubby suggested a bike ride on Thursday, and how could I resist? We have had a few days of wonderful fall temperatures, getting up in the 70’s during the day. Bikes seem to stay loaded on the rack on the SUV, so all we had to do is fill water bottles and GO.

There were very few people out on the BOB Trail where we usually ride at Trap Pond State Park on a weekday. This is an ‘inland” park, away from the tourist crowds at the parks near the beaches. During our ride I think we encountered less than 20 people total on the trail, with the majority being on bikes, and as OLD as us. I guess with kids back in school, and people back to work, the only people really out are the senior citizens. (We did see one young ‘courting’ couple though). As we were leaving the park around 4 pm, we did see some younger families arriving, so it must have been ‘after school’ activities for them.

After our ride, we sat for a while on the east side of the pond, just enjoying the view. There was little boat activity, so the water was very smooth. The honking of the geese was about the only sound. There is a blue heron that makes the pond his home and is usually out on a point watching his domain. Someone was fishing in that area, and the heron moved off to the area where we were sitting. My husband enjoyed watching the bird as it went through it’s motions stalking for food. I enjoyed watching the reflections on the water. Enjoy the photos below by using the left / right arrows to flip through.

I usually post the ride map. I use an app called STRAVA to map my rides.

November on the Bob trail

We take it easy on the ride, and just enjoy being out in the woods. Sometimes we stop along the way and enjoy the view of the pond along the road.

We’ve been riding an extra trail (The American Holly Trail) that starts just past the nature center & garden that is really narrow and nice. It gives a little extra mileage. I thought you might like to see a map of the available trails, which are ALL very well marked with posts/signs. https://destateparks.com/wwwroot/maps/trails/TrapPond2015.pdf

Trail map at Trap Pond.

Panoramic view of the pond
panoramic view after the ride

Sitting after the ride, munching a granola bar, snuggling with the hubby in the shade and just watching the water are highlights for both of us.

We have 4 or 5 days of good weather ahead, so I am anticipating a few more bike rides! My quilting will take a back seat in favor of an afternoon at the pond.

The weather was so nice on Saturday, that we had another ride at the state park. We were somewhat surprised by how many people were there! I guess with this great weather, we should have expected it. For this outing we parked a bit away from the general population…out in the “horse trailer” parking /sports fields area. We decided that was the safest way.

We went “exploring” a bit , starting on the American Holly Trail and then turning into the Huckleberry trail, which is marked for horses. We didn’t see any horse trailers or horses, so we rode the Huckleberry down from the Am. Holly. We didn’t cross over the road at that point, but in hindsight, I wish we had. We returned to the American Holly trail and continued on it until it joined the BOB trail. The first part of the BOB trail is very wide (think “drive an SUV” wide). There were LOTS of people walking and bike riding. We were shocked to be overtaken by 5 young men on powered – electric bikes (think mini-motorcycyles). They were moving FAST compared to our leisurely (with sweat) 6.5 mph. The came up behind us and passed with no indication, bell, call out, hello or go to he**. Because the trail was so ‘active’ with people walking in large groups, the were zipping in between people and the regular bicycles. It was a bit nerve wracking. Hubby said later they had off road tires and were more like motor cycles than bicycles. I am familiar with “power assist” bikes, and these were nothing like the ones I have seen in the past. The folks I have seen use them are usually seniors who need a little assist but they mostly pedal. Anyway, once we recovered from that shock, we carried on and road our normal route on the Bob trail, until we came across the “unnamed multi use trail” on the North side of the pond. We ventured off on it, and rode it along the water and to the next Horse Trailer parking area, on the north side of the pond. We found our way back to and through the campground and back on the Bob trail, giving us a little over 6 miles on this outing. The unnamed multi use trail was too rugged for our hybrid bikes and much more suited to mountain bikes with big tires and shock absorbers in the handle bars etc. A few too many tree roots and a bit sandy for our tires. Hubby definitely needs better tires. We managed, but I don’t think we will venture of the beaten path again, and I think we will stick to “weekdays” for the next little bit. It was much too crowded this weekend, with COVID -19 on the rise in our area.

We had fun taking pictures on Saturday as well, and hope you enjoy the view.

bike ride on Saturday
Saturday in the park

I’m sure they all start to look the same, but I see the changes each time we visit during the fall. I just love the reflection of the trees on the water.

Are you enjoying Autumn in your area? What kind of activities are you doing outdoors?

Inspiration – At Just the RIGHT time

I want to share a post that I read at “just the right time” in my life.

BACKSTORY – Last week somehow ripped the top cuff on my bedsheet in the middle of the night. Looking it over the next morning, I recognized that the cuff was attached using an heirloom stitch which essentially was an “invitation to perforation”. Nothing like a set of pretty stitches that is akin to having perforations across the width of the sheet. I suggested to my husband that perhaps I could do better than “mend” a perfectly fine set of sheets. (Make do and repair before you buy new was my thought). Really, the rest of the sheet was in fine shape, no pilling, no wear.

(Am I turning into my grandma here…..mending sheets ??? )

You know the price of king size sheets is quite high, and as the sheets were washing, I did give some thought to how a quilter might repair the sheets. I thought about that as I was shopping on line for new sheets and placing an order.

Not long after ordering the new set, I tripped over the blog post below from Moda Fabrics. DIVINE INSPIRATION STRUCK!!! Pretty-fied sheets. Thanks Moda Fabrics ! Do go look, but come back for the rest of my story! https://modafabrics.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/pretty-fied-sheet-set/

A couple of days later, out in my quilt room, I was pondering borders for an autumn quilt, and had my baskets of 2″, 2 1/2″ squares out, plus a container of four-patches made from 2″ squares. While I was looking through those baskets, the hubby came up to the sewing room and matter of factly stated that those 4 patches look like they came from our Allietare quilt.

Clue 3 complete
I always seem to make “extra” when working on a mystery quilt.

When I emptied my Allietare project box the leftover 4 patches got stored in my 4 patch box! I had about 12 left from that quilt and LOTS of other autumn colored 4 patches. I just needed enough to span the width of the sheet, 104″.

New cuff on the sheets

In the Moda Fabric blog post, the writer used charm squares and yardage. I had a piece of yardage that had the greys of the sheet and the burgundy in my strip and prints, so I thought it would work well. It was a nice feeling fabric too. The burgundy was a piece of wide backing in the scrap pile.

The “end” of the project didn’t turn out quite like I had intended, but it did turn out ok. I had intended to do something quite different with that burgundy strip, but my execution was slightly off. Oh well….no sheet inspectors in my bedroom!!! I wouldn’t say it is “wedding gift quality” but it turned out well enough to be functionally pretty, and much better looking than a mending job on the edge of the original sheet cuff.

Making the sheets pretty

If you have ever done one of those pillow cases where you turn it “burrito style”, you will know how much fun it was to do the same to the king size sheet.

(check out the Missouri Star Pillow case tutorial )

Really, wasn’t too hard to turn it out. And now, the sheet can go back in rotation, and will last a bit longer.

The new set I had ordered, arrived on Friday as I was finishing this up. They are washed and dried and folded.

Note; not an advertisement or a negative to any company. The repaired sheet is about 6 years old, purchased at BJ’s warehouse store and was 1200 thread count Egyptian Cotton. The added trim is all from my quilting scrap box.

The new sheets I ordered I got at a reasonable price from My Pillow.Com, using every discount and coupon offer. They are also Egyptian cotton, and feel rather nice. The only negative I can say is that they are only 400 thread count, and I am disappointed, because I had expected them to be much higher. They feel REALLY good, even after washing. I am now concerned about how they will do over time. They came with a 10 year warranty and the following was proclaimed on the website –

  • Made with the world’s best cotton called Giza. Grown only in a region between the Sahara Desert, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Nile River. Its long staple cotton makes it ultra-soft and breathable.
  • Its sateen weave gives them a luxurious finish.
  • Available in multiple colors, styles, and sizes.
  • Machine washable and durable – 10-year warranty
  • 60-day money back guarantee

So, watch for a report in a month or so after the new sheets make the rotation and the newly repaired sheet has it’s week on the bed. In all the advertising Mike says ““The first night you sleep on my sheets, you’ll never want to sleep on anything else.” Mike Lindell. I’ll let you know! I’m pretty good with warranty claims, as you may remember in my recent post about my FISKARS rotating mat!

I will also report back if the hubby has any complaints about the 4 patches on the cuff of the sheet.

Are you a “mender” or a “make do” or would you toss the old sheets in the rag bag or trash can?

Edit – updated to include a link back to http://quiltingismorefunthanhousework.blogspot.com/ OH SCRAP !

Costume FUN!

Sometimes I take the Grandma role seriously. Like in late September, when my youngest granddaughter, age 4, wanted to “come and sew”. Her mommy came along and talked about Halloween and the costume the kiddo had in mind. The young one has a one track mind, and she is not likely to forget the “GREAT IDEA” that she had 2 or 3 weeks prior. She had mentioned her planned costume at least twice previously! She was going to be TINKERBELL for Halloween and needed some Grandma Moofie help.

As they explained to me what the costume would look like, they asked me for help with one aspect. They wanted to drape a garland of leaves around the shoulders & neckline of the top she would wear. A quick search on Google gave us lots of images to look at, and one that stuck with me was something on Pinterest —https://www.pinterest.com/pin/720646377865548172/ , and that took the “GREAT IDEA” into a reality.

We picked through a stack of green fat quarters, and made a template, and I put my daughter to work with a rotary cutter. She cut the leaves out, and cut batting scraps and my granddaughter and I got busy sewing. Grandma guided the machine on slow speed, and the 4 year old used the stop/start button to do the stitching.

I decided we needed a few more after they left to go home, so I stitched up another batch and brought them into the kitchen to turn after dinner. (They still needed pressing and top stitching.)

making leaves

I measured the “drape” around her shoulders and came up with a length that I thought would work. I cut a 2″ wide strip of fabric the length I wanted, then folded and pressed, first in half, then folding the edges to the middle and pressing again. (Much like you do when making apron ties or mask ties.) I inserted each leaf in the gap, overlapping a bit. This is where that basket of little clips came in SO handy. I put matching thread in my machine, and stitched a narrow zig-zag along the edge to catch the leaf in the layers of the strip. When it was all finished and pressed again, this is what it looks like.

Leaves attached
leaf drape

I used snaps to attach to the collar ribbing on the shirt at the shoulders. Just one snap at each shoulder on the shirt. I draped the leaves on the shirt and picked a point that would be right for the drape and attached the other half of the snap to the leaf garland. At the back of the garland, where the tails come together, I put one set of snaps on the edges of the tie section. This makes it completely removable, and the shirt just has 2 little snap sections left in the neck ribbing at the shoulder. The shirt is from a set of pajamas ordered for just this occasion, but will be well worn this winter after Halloween is over. Costumes out of pajama base make for little waste at Halloween.

Costume

I love helping with the kids and their costumes, especially with a lot of lead time. This costume was helped along by Auntie Moose, who found the perfect set of Tinkerbell wings at the Dollar Tree. Not sure where the wonderful tulle tutu came from, but it will be glorious in the dress up bin for the year ahead. Grandpa has ideas that the color of the green is perfect for a Christmas garland and a St Patrick’s day garland! He is SO helpful!

The 4 year old and her friends from pre-school will gather for a little “distantly social” Halloween party “out in the countryside” at a friends home, and do “TRUNK OR TREAT”. The idea is to limit exposure and contact with strangers going house to house, but still have a fun celebration.

Halloween Tinkerbell 2020
Tinkerbell at Trunk or Treat party

I’d say the costume was a success and I was happy to play a small part. (You know I used those quilting skills, even if it is NOT a quilt!)

Do you enjoy sewing costumes for kids?? Or adults?

More Fall Fun with Machine Embroidery

Last post I shared my fun with the Acorn Table Runner I was working on. I got it finished Friday afternoon, and it is presently “on the table”.

What a fun project!

Table setting with Acorn Table Runner
Acorn Table Runner

The pattern from Sweet Pea Designs gives great directions. I think it looks cute with all those vintage candles around it on the table. The lighting in the sewing room was a little better right after I finished it.

acorn table runner finished
Acorn Table Runner

I used the 150 mm block, just a bit larger than the 6×6, with pellon fusible fleece instead of batting. I also used cut away stabilizer in the project, which is left in the block when it was sew into the project. The runner lays really flat on the table. It is not as thick as warm and natural batting. Because the applique pattern has all that stitching, when I joined the blocks and added the backing according to the instructions, I only top stitched around the edges and in the ditch around the blocks. The fusible side of the batting was against the stabilizer. (No taking that cut away off!!)

My next FUN Fall Project is my #AutumnJubilee2020 wall hanging. You might remember those blocks I made earlier in the month –https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2020/10/14/trees-and-leaves-autumn-jubilee-2020/

The instructions for finishing up the wall hanging came out on a few days ago on https://frommycarolinahome.com/2020/10/26/autumn-jubilee-embroidered-mini-quilt-finish/ . I wanted to finish my Acorn Table Runner before I went on to the ‘next’ thing. So, once I did, I worked on the #AutumnJubilee2020 mini quilt. Not quite finished, still needs binding and hanging sleeve, but darn close. First thing I had to do is decide on block size, and I went with an 8×8 block. (I used much larger fabric and did a lot of trimming).

Trimming the squares
Made sure the embroidery was somewhat centered

Oh; while I am at it….DO YOU SEE that new grey FISKARS rotary mat??? I am so happy that it has arrived. Honestly, (no, I am not getting paid by FISKARS) – they have the BEST warranty of anybody in the quilting notions world!!! Do you remember THIS picture with the yellow cutting surface ?

Acorn Table Runner
WORN OUT FISKARS CUTTING MAT

That yellow Fiskars rotating cutting mat is something I bought around 2009/2010. I have cut/trimmed thousands of half square triangles on that rotating mat. I wore the lines off, and I wore off half the surface. I took a photo and filed a “warranty claim” on the FISKARS website, and in less than 2 weeks, they shipped me a brand spanking shiny new mat!! Absolutely no questions asked! (I did notice the new grey one has some cautionary wording about not cutting in the same place all the time. OOOPS….most of the blocks I trimmed were fairly small and ended near the center of the mat.)

Back to the embroidery – I played around with the sashing strips and arrangements of my #AutumnJubilee2020 mini quilt/wall hanging blocks and this is what I came up with.

Falling Leaves wall hanging
Embroidery pattern by Sew Sweetly.com

The blocks are 8″, the sashing & borders were cut at 2″. I did some quilting in the sashing. I might do a little “in the blocks” with a very neutral thread, but I am not sure yet what I might do. A quilted leaf or two in and around perhaps.

falling leaves bottom half
Falling Leaves wall hanging
Finishes up around 38″ long and 11″ wide approximately.

So, maybe a bit more quilting in the actual blocks, and then on to binding. I will use the leaf fabric for the binding with a pop of color for the flange. (Always use my favorite Susie’s Magic Binding which is totally done by machine. )

Finishing up Falling Leaves Mini Quilt/Wall hanging won’t take too long. i am almost ready for the final step in the #AutumnJubilee2020 Quilt Along. The instruction for finishing the row quilt just came out on the From My Carolina Home blog . Finishing up these small projects make it easier to tackle one that will take a little bit longer. (I’m well known for making tops and leaving them hang around waiting on borders!)

Our leaves are being blown off the trees before they have had a chance to turn their usual pretty colors. How are you spending these blustery Autumn days?

Machine Embroidery Fall Fun

Off and on I show machine embroidery projects I have been working on. The month of October has been fun working on the Autumn Jubilee projects that Carole on From My Carolina Home blog has posted. She inspired me to do some stitching out of “leaves” on my machine which I showed in a previous blog post. When I was searching some of my favorite digitizing websites in September for inspiration, I came across this fun pattern for an ACORN Table Runner. I wasn’t certain how the leaves would be used in the Autumn Jubilee in October, but I thought I would possibly find a use for this pattern.

Since I was “all caught up” with #AutumnJubilee2020 with my quilt along row blocks and my sew along tote back, I decided to work on a few blocks.

Acorn Table Runner
pattern from https://swpea.com//

I started working on it Saturday. I had my choice on block sizes and choose the 150 mm block, which I stitched out using my 8×8 hoop.

Working on the acorns
Set up to run on my Janome 11000
Acorn patch first
First block waiting to be trimmed.

The fun of these patterns is choosing fabrics and threads. I used the same gold fabric for all the tops of the acorns. The block design had a meander stitch for quilting and I made the error of choosing a variegated thread. No fixing it after I took it out of the hoop. I even tried doing my own meander on the sewing machine ‘after the fact’ and it looked so bad I ripped it all out. The variegated threads looked great on those open leaves in the corners though. Oh well, lesson learnt. Thread choice is as important as fabric choice.

After I got the second block done, I decided I better be serious about my fabric and thread choices. I chose 2 fabrics for background and a wide variety for the acorns and leaves.

Of course, on Sunday, the instructions came out for the Autumn Jubilee wall hanging that has the leaves. I played around with those leaf blocks and the first couple of acorn blocks, and decided NOT to intermix them. The scale was so different, I decided I would carry on making acorn blocks, make the table runner, and work on the wall hanging later.

Now that I have all 10 blocks embroidered, I have found a layout with them that I think works for me.

Ten blocks completed
ready to put together

The fun of working on these blocks is that ALL of the fabrics for the acorns and leaves came from my “scraps”. Ever since I did that Knitting bag last fall, I have kept 8 small baskets with fabrics sorted by color, just for embroidery machine applique projects. It was handy to reach in and pull out little bits of fabrics for these machine applique pieces.

Next up is to stitch the rows together and figure out what to use as a backing. Pattern calls for you to “turn” this project and top stitch to finish it off. It should finish quickly as there is no binding required. Sweet Pea designs has a Facebook group, and I chatted with someone this week who had just finished her table runner and asked about how easily it turned. The secret is leaving a good opening, clipping the corners and chopsticks for poking out the corners after turning. I usually employ a long knitting needle for that job so keep your fingers crossed. I’ll post a finished picture in a few days.

Another interesting project I did this month was to stitch using my embroidery machine on card stock. Embroidery Library has lots of designs, especially digitized for card stock. I read though the tutorials and purchased one design. The design I selected has just over 8500 stitches of a 5×7 card.

EL for cardstock
First card
inside
I used a package of “quilting papers” I had to cover the inside back of the card, and my stamps to add a message of care to the inside the card. This was a fun card to stitch out, and I think I would another card again. The designs are specially digitized for cardstock and Embroidery Library has quite a few.

I have enjoyed really getting to know my embroidery machine in the last year. I have to say this is so much more fun than making COVID-19 masks!

What is happening this week in your sewing room? Do you have a favorite place to download designs? Do you like projects that incorporate machine embroidery with your quilting projects?

Virtual Quilt Show

I don’t often “cross post” other peoples pages or blogs, but today I make the exception. Back story – My sister in law, Carolyn, also known as the “One Block Wonderwoman” on her blog, often shows her quilting talents at her local “community hall” where she quilts with others. They have an annual Quilt show and her wonderful quilts along with others inspire new quilters. This year, of course, there are -19 reasons for ‘no physical show’. Someone (unknown to me) organized a VIRTUAL Quilt Show.

So; I invite you to pop over to that show and take a look. I don’t know how long it will remain on the website, but I hope the link will stay active for a while – http://www.hesperiahall.com/2020/10/18/online-quilt-show/

Note; I found that if I clicked on the first photo, I could make it full screen and tab to the right to see each of the quilts. There are some detail remarks with many of the photos.

Enjoy the show and congratulations to Carolyn on her beautiful work this past year, and overcoming serious injuries and still quilting!

Let me know if you enjoyed the show! Be sure to leave a comment on the Hesperia Hall page and let them know you visited, and where you are from!

Pumpkins and fall fun

Friday was the final row for the #AutumnJubilee2020 quilt along. The block was a pumpkin block. Pattern can be found at https://frommycarolinahome.com/2020/10/23/autumn-jubilee-quilt-along-week-4-updated/

If you read the pattern, then look at my pumpkins, you will see I went my own way with the block. I had LOTS of great oranges and golds in my scraps in varying widths, so I just went for an alternate look. These were pretty fast to assemble. Hubby and I went out to the sewing/train room after supper, and these were done in a couple of hours.

pumpkin row
Pumpkin row – click the photo for a close up view of the fabrics

While I was sewing, I had an audio book running on my phone, plugged into my computer speakers. Hubby, sitting ’round the corner’ at his model train work bench was listening to the book and I had to stop to give him the highlights of the previous 50 chapters…..Apparently he likes the writing style of David Baldacci. The book was called “Simple Truth” and was downloaded from our local library using the LIBBY app to my phone. Hubby enjoyed the last 12 chapters while he worked on his two passenger trains that needed lots of “interior” detail. He raided my scraps and found bits of fabric that he could use for wall paper and carpet inside this passenger train. This is an HO scale train.

on the workbench
click on the photo for a close up

It was a fun way to round out a nice fall day. We had an outing in the afternoon to a state park about 12 miles away. It is our “go to” place to bike ride since there is “sighno where closer we can safely ride. (That’s a long story and I spent my morning advocating for permission for bikes to be allowed at a new sports complex in town – a battle that meets with as much community support as with busy know it all’s telling me off.) I needed a break from the computer and FRESH AIR to clear my head. Hubby is a good sport, and agreed to go along.

He loaded up the bikes on the SUV and we drove the 12 miles on country farm roads to the state park and had a beautiful outing.

Bikes at the pond
Relaxing at the end of the ride

The trails we ride are mostly in the woods with a few peeks at the water, but we like to stop and enjoy the view periodically during the ride. It’s not a race, every pedal turn is towards better health and fun!

fall view at the pond
Leaves are starting to turn in Sussex Co Delaware

There is a wonderful spot almost at the end of the ride to stop and just take in the view of the water. There is a spillway close by so you get some wonderful sound effects.

Missing the water
Trap Pond State Park Delaware

I use an app to track my mileage when riding, and apparently I have ridden here enough in the last 90 days to be the “local legend” for a segment of the trail! ‘that’s so funny….this ol’ fat grandma, a legend!!!” I laugh every time I look at that. My ride times in the last 90 days are widely variable, depending if I am riding with my daughter, or with the grandkids, or with grandpa, as I did today. My daughter is a regular rider and she has no problem taking the trails at speeds up to 10 mph pulling her toddler in a pull behind trailer. When I take grandkids, the younger one has a hard time keeping up with the bigger kids on their bigger bikes. (They have much bigger wheels and she has to pedal twice as much!) Hubby is patient about going with me and I like to stop for his benefit periodically. We need to get his handlebars adjusted slightly, but seem to forget by the time we get home.

Seriously though, the “local legend” is something new in the app and it is a rolling 90 day “count” for the number of times you have ridden the same route. I like to keep track of the distance for the ride, but the rest doesn’t really matter. I was there, I know I enjoyed the fresh air, and the bugs didn’t bother us in the woods if we kept moving. Good fun for both of us. We won’t earn any medals for speed or time, but we do enjoy just being out on the bikes.

So, between the beautiful trails, the changing leaves and the pumpkin quilt blocks, I would call it a wonderful Autumn day.

What’s on your sewing table or work bench this weekend?

More placemat fun

In my never ending “clean up” I tripped over those batik placemats a month or so ago while picking things up and putting things away. Rather then shuffle them off to a new stack of UFO’s I decided to FINISH them. (The clean up is NOT finished I must report!)

In between all the Autumn Jubilee fun I worked on quilting the placemats with a variety of stitches available to my Janome 8900 sewing machine. I used my wonderful Superior Fantastico thread. It is a variegated blue and purple # 5021. You can see some of the stitches better on the BACK of the placemats.

back of placemats

The backing for 4 out of 6 was that deep indigo blue, almost looks black. I ran out of that fabric and switched over to this wonderful orange for the last 2 placemats.

back of 2 placemats
Hubby’s favorite color!

We now have a total of 12 placemats in this collection all done in a similar style with batik. I made 6 last year for me, and 6 for each of my daughters. https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2019/05/25/a-week-of-finishes-and-fun/

These will come out during the summer and go on the table with my batik “Fire and Ice ” table runner. https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2018/08/27/fire-and-ice-batik-table-runner/

Six finished placemats

The binding is a very pale yellow green, and I used a burgundy for the flange strip.

binding strips

I used my typical “Susie’s Magic Binding”. I think I made about 400″ for these 6 placemats. It is easy to finish them when it is all done by machine.

I’m sure there is more in the basket of batiks that could be made into table runners or placemats, but I think I can justify to myself that I am “finished” and can easily sort the basket out, putting the smaller pieces into my scrap storage and yardage back into the color appropriate containers. It will be nice to get that off the table so I can proceed to digging out what ever is next on my table.

I did a couple of little projects the other day after I finished my #AutumnJubilee tote bag. I got busy with that red polka dot fabric and made a 30″ square, hemmed on the sides, bandana. I could not get that hem foot to work for me and gave up. I quickly pressed a 1/4″ fold on each side, and then folded it in a second time. I have to say that CLOVER ironing ruler is a very handy tool when you are trying to get something close to straight !

bandana is done

One of my granddaughters is planning her Halloween costume and Rosie the Riveter needs this on her head.

I had some extra fabric left and I made a couple of headbands for the granddaughters. Marie Bostwick had given some instructions for https://mariebostwick.com/easy-diy-scrunchies/ on her blog recently and I just “expanded” the size a bit. I have one granddaughter who likes my headbands, and I hope she will enjoy this and share the other with her big sister.

headbands

That’s it for now. I am awaiting the next row for the #AutumnJubilee2020 quilt along which comes out on Friday morning and I have space on my table to work. I’ve “saved the whole day” for me to work on the next row !!

Anything fun on your sewing table ??