Month: January 2016

Marfy Coat-Here Goes…

Marfy Coat-Here Goes…

Over the past week, I have started collecting the necessary supplies to begin F3212.  I have been contemplating marking issues for several weeks, after being unhappy with the tracing paper available at my local Hancocks. After doing some research on what else might be available, I determined to try a pencil on my organza, and augment it with traditional tailor tacks on the actual wool. At this point I’m going to try my method on one pattern peice, and see how well the results work. Ideas are welcome!

imageWarmth was a second concern. After much searching, I located some lambs wool from Bergen Tailor and Supply in New Jersey for the interlining, which has arrived. It is so light weight and thin, but the loft is still incredible! I’m hoping this makes my Pendleton herringbone toasty warm.



I ordered the silk organza from Susan Khalje for my underlining, and it arrived over the weekend! The final supplies needed will be hair canvas and lining which I have selected from B. Black & Sons, but haven’t ordered yet. I can work on cutting, marking and making bound buttonholes while I wait. Finally, I have to select some buttons. I haven’t decided whether to go with the non descript serviceable style or something fancier….

I wish my wool photographed better, it is a dark charcoal herringbone tweed, and it seems to go toward green or blue depending upon what it is next to. A very interesting peice of fabric to be sure.

Now I just need a real weekend to get started! (My job includes lots of weekend special events so it can be a little tough to get things moving.) I will get my final yard goods ordered this week, so that will be some progress.


Mini Quilt Lessons

Mini Quilt Lessons

After my “learn by doing” quilting marathon last spring, I decided to try working on some mini quilts as a way to improve my basic skills. I learned several important things…the obvious ones were that mini quilts don’t require the same time commitment as full size quilts and mini quilts allow you to experiment without expending much cash, because they are easily pieced from odds and ends. The not-so-obvious lessons are what I think really needs to be shared!

Lesson 1: Small pieces have no forgiveness for cutting mistakes. A two thread error on a 6 inch block might cause a frown here and there, but two threads on a two-inch block seem to grow measuring toolexponentially in magnitude. My first attempt pieced like a dream, the second not so much. I believe part of my problem was the lighting as I cut my second mini…or my trifocals, but probably both. I was shocked to re-measure pieces (after several days break) and find them up to 1/8 inch off. I know how to use my ruler, so I think that lighting was partly to blame, possibly magnified by the odd curvature on trifocal lenses.

Solution:  Make sure you have excellent lighting when you cut and make sure that all the measuring devices you will be using match up. Check your rulers and squares against your 1/4 seam marker or foot, etc. I purchased this little device at my local quilt shop, and I think it will be wonderful for both quilting and garment construction. I hope it will improve my consistency.

Lesson 2: Because of lesson 1, mini quilts can not be fudged! The area is just too small to absorb the “corrections” andimage the quilt will show its troubles. While this is a lesson learned, I must remind myself of the purpose in constructing these little gems, and not allow my inner 4-H’er to go crazy. That being said, you can see for yourself the results of fudging gone astray! All of those happy bumps and ripples are caused by the “fudging.” This little darling is definitely NOT square!

Solution:  See lesson 1, above and measure EVERY seam–be ruthless! It’s much easier to rip out a 2 inch seam that to attempt to piece an entire row that is off.  Shortcuts don’t work very well with minis.

Lesson 3: While the stitch in the ditch attachment sounds fabulous in principle, it may not be all it’s cracked up to be! I thought using this attachment would speed the quilting process and increase my accuracy-NOT! stitchintheditch

Solution:  I should have reminded myself that none of my machine’s attachments have actually been “snap on” ready. I had to figure each one out, and work through some little adjustments before achieving the desired results. Practice is definitely a prerequisite, at least until you have some experience with each one.

I used the stitch in the ditch attachment on the first mini, and went back to my clear general purpose foot for the green. If you compare the two, you can see that the quilting on the green mini isn’t as obvious, especially around the edges as compared to the blue, where I was relying on the stitch in the ditch, and ended up at least 1/16 inch off the actual seam. After a few days to process, I would say that the stitch in the ditch is not ugly, but it would definitely require a specific plan maintain continuity, and there are places and potentially patterns where it should probably not be utilized.

Now that I’ve documented my issues for future reference, and purchased a nifty tool to use as the regulator, I want to apply my solutions and see whether I get the desired result.

Next time, I’ll be measuring each and every piece and seam to better learn what my trouble spots are, and we’ll see how the next mini turns out. I think the flying geese on this kit from Connecting Threads will be a good test. (see it here)



My Needle Arts Heritage

The new year always brings with it a time of reflection, and this year was no different. I spent some time considering my love of sewing and the accompanying needle arts, and the rich heritage that I am fortunate to be a part of.

I’ll start with my Grandma Reim who had the most direct influence on me, though it was from a distance. She lived in Nebraska, and I was either in Minnesota or Colorado, so we only had the occasional week of time visiting that growing up on a dairy farm allowed. However, my Grandma made her presence and love known on a daily basis with her gifts. imageI have the first apron that she made for me, in red, because it was my favorite color, and my orange hair did not allow for a red dress! There was also a blue corduroy jumper with ducks on it that was my “best” as a toddler that my Emily wore too. When I got my first Barbie doll in kindergarten, it was accompanied by a full wardrode constructed by my Grandma Reim. I had a raspberry corduroy coat, short dresses (one was green gingham) and a pink strapless ballgown with netting over and under the skirt. My dolly was dressed to the nines. Who cares that she had no shoes!

Grandma also knit a cape for me and crocheted a vest. About the time Iimage reached upper elementary school, the annual gifts stopped because she was working on her legacy project, hand quilting our high school graduation quilts. She made one for each of the seven grand children, and also managed to pull off a Grand Champion quilting prize at the Nebraska State Fair in her 80’s. She also made me a chicken scratch patterned pillow for my college room, which actually wore out. My  legacy quilt arrived just after my graduation, and it is well used, gathering some stains and holes in it, just like our lives do. Grandma wanted these quilts to be used, not put away, and though the holes make me a little sad, I’m glad that I followed her advice. image

Grandma Reim did everything that a young lady of the teens and 20’s was supposed to in the way of needle arts. She had a hope chest made of wicker (sitting in my spare bedroom) and I’m certain it was filled with linens for her  future home. She married my Grandpa in 1922 at the age of 26, a spinster in those days! No doubt, pillow cases similar to these were included in her hope chest. The embroidered pillowcase was done by my grandma, but the quilt and pillowcase with knitted (!) trim were made by my Great Grandma Hennig, who was born in 1876 and lived to be 90 years old. There’s an old picture in a family album of her doing some type of needlework the winter before she passed!

image image image

Great Grandma’s star quilt is in excellent condition. It is a twin size and every stitch was done by hand, even the peicing. It deserves one more close up. I feel so very fortunate to have it! I believe that she was in her 70’s or 80’s when she completed this one, using scraps left over from dresses and pajamas constructed over the years.image

My final legacy from my Grandma Reim is her 1951 Necchi BF Nova sewing machine. It still runs, and I used it extensively for a few years imagewhen my Singer (high school graduation gift) died. Its motor needs to be cleaned, and it had some serious tension issues, but when it is happy, there is no lovelier straight stitch in the world I think! Several years ago I discovered the vintage Necchi group on Yahoo. They have many experts in tinkering with these machines, and it was there that I learned how to clean the tension screw area and get my machine working again. The motor still makes it hard to run the machine very long, but I am contemplating using it for at least some of my Marfy coat, because the straight stitch is so amazing. This is not my machine, but a picture of one exactly like it. Someday I will get very brave and follow the Yahoo instructions to clean and refurbish the motor….

I know that my love of fabric, fiber and the arts that go with them came from a legacy passed to me by my Reim and Jacobson foremothers. At another time I’ll introduce you to the Norwegian side of the family, and the legacy they infused into me!