Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Christmas comes early

The thrift store gods continue to smile upon us—look what the Other spotted at our favourite shop this morning!

vintage sewing machine and table

Are those taper legs? Yes! Is the stain a perfect match for this desk? Yes! Is the sewing machine that retro shade of aqua that I find so luscious? A thousand times yes!

While the table's not crucial furniture, I think I can modify the table to fit Gertrude, my more modern sewing machine, which would give me a nice flat surface. Gertrude's no looker, but she probably has to stay my workhorse machine.

vintage sewing machine (closer)

On the other hand, the old Singer seems to work—I need to play with it a bit more—and it has such a big throat that I wonder if it might prove useful as well as lovely. And even if lovely turns out to be the Singer's only real quality, I think she's mighty cute.

So now I'm off to scour the Internet for a manual, clean her up a bit, and see what she can do.

My first quilt show (sort of)

No, I wasn't showing in one, but I went to one. And actually, it was hardly first, as the Mother dragged me pouting and screaming to many as a child. I returned the favour this past Sunday by dragging the (much better behaved) Other to the local quilt guild's show.


I stupidly didn't take any pictures of the impressive quilts there, so you'll have to ogle the fabric I bought instead, most of it secondhand and cheap to counter the expensive tree fabric imported from Japan. Haven't a clue what I'll do with it yet, but I have a friend who'd love something from the hippo fabric.

We didn't know that men got free admission to the show, so that was a nice bonus. The usual surprise at men in quiltland popped up again, with one woman sarcastically saying, "Oh, yeah, I bet you're thrilled" as I dug through a pile of old embroidery. Little did she know that I might as well have been in a candy shop. I may look like a twentysomething man (actually, my hairline adds a few unwarranted years), but really I'm just a little old lady like the rest of them.

Plenty of the women there asked me about my quilting, and a couple even begged me to join their guild. Since the Other and I just (finally) bought a car, extending our mobility past the mailbox on the corner, I could actually go to meetings. But I dunno. I probably won't be bothered with blocks of the month and that sort of thing, as I pretty much know what kind of quilts I like working on, aesthetically speaking. And will they recognize my inner old lady or think I'm just a very strange little man? Anybody out there want to enlighten me on the joys of guild membership?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Transport pillow

Transport pillow

Ah, pillows. A while ago I proclaimed that every quilt should receive a coordinating pillow, but this time I went straight to pillow to test a design inspired by a Swedish train's upholstery (moquette to those in the know), glimpsed in a controversial post here. They were on about the embroidered graffiti, but I was more interested in the pattern underneath. You can add rail upholstery to my list of geeky interests—there was a time when I could identify London Underground lines based on a glimpse of moquette . When I was back in London last summer, one of the saddest things was discovering that some of the Tube trains had been reupholstered, sending my recognition skills the way of Strand Station (ruck, ruck, ruck; pretend you found my obscure Underground humour amusing).

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. I made a quilt design based on the train in EQ6 and scaled it down to pillow size for a test run. Of course, I probably should have practiced half-square triangles before jumping into the strips of equilateral triangles—stretchy, stretchy, stretchy. And somehow my carefully planned dimensions still needed some yanking and pinning under duress when it came to sewing the rows together. So the pattern still needs some perfecting.

All along I had planned to outline quilt the arrows by hand to reinforce their shape, but at the last minute I decided to just stitch in the ditch. The original plan probably would have looked better and been easier to quilt. But as a design test, I think the project worked out nicely. The simple pattern and colour scheme make it both easy and modern, so I'll probably try a larger version with bigger blocks someday.

Since I was just testing things out, I wanted to keep the pillow cheap. The only thing bought new was the pillow form (and that half off). The red fabric was left from Plain Spoken, the pink fabric and thread from my flamingo quilt, the batting from Card Catalog, and the backing from some makeshift curtains I had in my skanky London bedsit. If I showed you pictures of the place, you'd know why I was more interested in the Tube trains.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


In the furor of sewing curtains, pillows, and other household stuff for the new apartment, I forgot to mention that I've got an article in the current issue of Quilter's Home magazine! It's about putting your fabric stash on a diet. Editor Mark Lipinski does a great job with this fun magazine, so check it out if you haven't already.

Also, Natalie at just posted on my Card Catalog Quilt—take a look!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Sewing-room saviour: pegboard!

sewing room pegboard

Having a space to house all my sewing and quilting supplies continues to delight, particularly with the recent addition of a pegboard. Simply getting quilting rulers out from under foot was enough to make me fall in love, and I've always had an affection for modular and reconfigurable storage. Plus, the board's silvery colour was a perfect match for the magnetic panels I have over my desk on the other side of the room. If you're interested, click the photo above for some labels. A few highlights that make me especially giddy:
  • The pencil holder, built specifically for pegboards, has a built-in pencil sharpener! Perfect for fabric-marking pencils, since my sharpener always seems to go walkabout.
  • I've always wanted plug sockets up high on the wall so I don't have to bend down to plug in my iron all the time. Now I've got 'em, and I can use the strip on the pegboard for a lightbox, hot glue gun, or anything else I might need near my cutting table.
  • ReadyMade number 29 had some pegboard ideas, including the curtain-rod rail I've used here. They suggested it for tape, ribbon, and wire, but it's also a great place to keep that perennial quilters' favourite, freezer paper.
And then, of course, there's the more typical pegboard occupants like screwdrivers and a level. OK, enough swooning.

Her Majesty's Stamp Collection

Here's a few pictures from my latest quilting project...

queen stamp quilt fabric sheets

queen stamp quilt blocks

queen stamp quilt rows

The stamp images come from several Commonwealth countries, particularly the UK and Canada. I chose the texture colours based on the common colours of Queen's head stamps.