Friday 31 August 2012

Doll Quilts

What is a doll quilt?  Well, it is just a miniature quilt.  Here is the first one I ever made, and you will recognise it as the project I had on the go when I did the demonstration video to show the use of the seam guide.

Until I made one I never saw the point of making a miniature quilt.  Perhaps I had been scarred by my experience in needlework classes at school, where we were expected to make a miniature skirt, complete with darts, zip, waistband, finished seams etc etc.  What a complete waste of time, all that work on a fiddly scale on a skirt designed to fit someone 14 inches tall.  Needless to say I did a total skive on that one.  My time was fully occupied with a Spanish blackwork tablecloth, French verbs and drawing cross-sections of buttercups.

Anyway, I had a whale of a time making this little quilt.  The top was made in dress-weight cotton poplins on the Frister and Rossmann TS, and the quilting and binding was done on the 1927 Singer 99K hand machine.  Once I had finished the binding I was pleased with the passable mitred corners, then looked again at the quilt and saw that all the black around the border made the middle look empty.

The solution was a bit of decoration in the middle, with black ribbon, tiny beads and pearl buttons.  A bit of hand sewing saved the day.

Thursday 30 August 2012

Using the Seam Guide

The seam guide is a marvellous little gadget.  I wish I had known about them earlier.  My mum never had one, and they were unheard of at school, so I never tried one out until I started acquiring old sewing machines and finding extras in the compartments or drawers.  

Now I'm totally hooked.  If you are doing patchwork and need to a quarter inch seam allowance, the seam guide is ideal.  It is a lot more reliable than the method I used before, which was to stick a piece of white tape on the bed of the machine and run the material along the edge of the tape.  The seam turned out fine, but getting the adhesive wiped off the machine afterwards was a bit of a bore. 

The machine is a 1937 (more or less) Frister and Rossmann transverse shuttle.  It sews beautifully and weighs a ton.  I love it.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

A Quick and Easy Project in a Polish Book

We were rummaging around Bogusia's bookshelf and my husband pulled out a paperback for me.  It was filled with line drawings showing dressmaking techniques, embroidery stitches, crochet, knitting, macramé and everything else you might expect to see.

Then on page 201 I stumbled on the project so many people have been searching for - How to Make a Car Cosy.  

Well it can't be that hard, can it?  Just two little illustrations and a page of explanation packed to bursting with zeds, you can just work it our for yourself.  It's a loose cover for a settee only a slightly different shape.  Just think of the possibilities.  Why stick to a boring olive green waterproof fabric? Go for the English country house look in floral chintz with a ruffled valance, or be sophisticated and use a regency stripe with box pleats and piped seams.  Otherwise, try a more updated version in 1970s oranges and pinks, or a children's special with appliquéd passengers waving from the windows.

We told Bogusia she and I had to get busy on her machine the very next day.  I still can't understand why we never got started.

Next time you are scouring second hand bookshops, look out for Roboty i Robotki na Zimowe Wieczory by Stanislawa Podgorska, published in Warsaw in 1979.  A must for your vintage bookshelf.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

A Polish Sewing Machine - The Hidden Surprise

Here is the view inside the cabinet of the Lucznik machine.  I expected to find the treadle wheel - seeing the treadle cable lying idle at the right hand side of the machine was a bit of a give away.  

But once I opened the cabinet door, the hunt was on.  Where was the treadle pedal?  Totally puzzled, I got my head down to the floor and looked underneath the cabinet.  No, nothing there.  My husband thought I was being exceptionally dense.  He could see straight away that the entire panel at the bottom of the cabinet was in fact the pedal.  I didn't think there was enough clearance at the sides and the back for it to move freely.  I was wrong, of course.  A quick try with my feet soon proved that it had a lovely smooth movement.

Perhaps next time we visit I might persuade cousin Bogusia to try sewing with the treadle, but I think she is a confirmed electric girl.

Monday 27 August 2012

A Polish Sewing Machine - Lucznik Predom 415

When we were staying with my husband's cousin we were installed in the same room as her sewing machine.  She bought it in 1980, and it is made by Lucznik - not a make I have come across before. I couldn't resist taking pictures of it.  The motor is attached at the back rather than being inbuilt, as you can see in the second photo.  However, that was not the most fascinating feature of it for me. All shall be revealed tomorrow...  

Sunday 26 August 2012

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - Harvest Festival in Poland

Don't these ladies look wonderful in all their finery!  

Just eight days ago we were at a harvest festival in southern Poland, just a stone's throw from the Czech border.  These ladies passed by on a float in the parade, giving a cheerful wave and looking totally unbothered by the heat.  I have never seen so many beautiful shawls in one place at a time. And the fruit and vegetables!... after such a shocking summer in England, I have to confess to being envious at the sight of all the huge outdoor-grown tomatoes. 

A big welcome to Lisa!

Saturday 25 August 2012

The Finished Pine Cones

Here they are, back from their travels, edged in a rather daring shade of lime green.  The idea was to give a hint of the greenness that you see in young immature cones.  Also, I didn't want them to look too heavy, which wouldn't be in keeping with the rest of the quilt, where I have used lighter, fresher colours rather than the autumnal tints of this particular panel.

Friday 24 August 2012

A Safe Landing

We dropped through the clouds today and found ourselves back on home ground, feeling that familiar chill and trying to be philosophical about the fact that it is still raining.

The pine cones have enjoyed their holiday and are looking much better for it.

Sunday 12 August 2012

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - Flying the Flag

Look what came sailing past on Friday evening.  The wind brought a great flight of balloons over our house.  All I had to do was grab the camera and run upstairs and hang out of the attic window.  It was very obliging of the Team GB balloon to fly past over the fields and beyond the neighbours' roofs, dangling over a sunlit slice of English landscape.  Far less scary than the two balloons that flew directly over us within scraping distance of the chimneys. 

There will now be a slight interruption to this blog.  We are going away for a couple of weeks to stay with my husband's relatives.  If the technology (ie. a cousin's computer) allows it, I may be able to put up some posts while we are away.  The sewing machines will lie idle today while I pack the underwear, toothbrush and hand sewing.  The pine cones are travelling with me. 

Saturday 11 August 2012

Blanket Stitch - Joining in a New Thread

To demonstrate this little trick I have used green for the new thread.

On the back of the work, pass the needle through the loop of the new thread...

... then bring the old thread to the back of the work with the next stitch. 

Now take the needle off the old thread and put it on the new thread, and carry on sewing.

Welcome to JeanInMaine - thank you for following!

Friday 10 August 2012

Blanket Stitch - Starting Off

For the blanket stitch around appliqué I always use four strands of stranded embroidery cotton. It has to be an even number of strands because I start it off with a loop.  Leave the loop showing at the the top of the stitch on the right side and pass the needle through the loop to make the first stitch.

The fun starts when you need to start a new thread. 

Thursday 9 August 2012

Vintage Machine Appliqué - Adding Detail with a Stencil

If you want to add detail and keep the result accurate, then make a stencil of the pattern and pin it to the back so that the bobbin thread shows on the right side.  With so many lines of stitching there are bound to be tiny shreds of paper which can be difficult to remove.  Because the stencil is on the back it does not matter so much about little shreds being left behind, because they will not show.

I have now nearly finished these pine cones - just the blanket stitch is left to do.

Hello Raghuvansh - thank you for joining as a follower!

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Vintage Machine Appliqué - Adding Detail

A bit of machine stitched detail can liven up the appliqué.  These veins on shamrock leaves were added from the right side, so it is the top thread showing.  A bit of uncomplicated detail can be added without a pattern - just make it up as you go along.

Hello Linda!  Thank you for following.

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Tuesday's Top Tip - Rubber Feet

Old sewing machines with worn out feet have a nasty habit of sliding around the table and scratching it.  For this reason I strolled into our local hardware shop a couple of years ago and said I wanted rubber feet for sewing machines.  The assistant hesitated all of two and a half seconds and said "You need seat stoppers."

"What?" I asked, following him as he beetled around the corner inside the shop.  I didn't have a clue what he was talking about, and had strange images of moving armchairs in my head.

Then he thrust a little packet of four rubber feet at me, and the penny dropped.  Evidently I don't spend enough time gazing at the underneath of a toilet seat to have thought of the solution earlier.

The feet came with their own screws, but I had to buy some tiny washers to go inside.  If you slide the machine a fraction sideways the feet come off their screws if there isn't a washer in place to prevent it.  And then you end up with a scratch bigger than the one you were trying to avoid.

Hello Ellie - thank you for following!

Monday 6 August 2012

Mitred Corners

About a year ago I did my first ever doll quilt swap on an internet quilting forum.  I no longer had any excuses to fudge my corners, which up until then had been messy.  I just wish I had discovered hair grips earlier.

Some people like to fold over a double thickness strip instead of doing a single thickness strip as I show on the video.  I have always been a bit wary of ending up with too much bulk, which is why I have always stuck to my method.  Either way, the method of folding at the corners to get the mitre is the same.

As for the doll quilts... yes I will show you the quilts I made and received.  You can expect a little miniature quilt show, starting in the autumn! 

Sunday 5 August 2012

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - Red Rose

This was a perfect velvety red rose.

Hello Shelley - thank you for signing up as a follower!

Saturday 4 August 2012

Vintage Machine Appliqué - Stage 3

The purple is now trimmed approximately an eighth of an inch from the stitching  and the edge finished with blanket stitch.  It is best to trim a little at a time to reduce the risk of fraying.  For the blanket stitch I have been using four strands of stranded embroidery cotton.  With the blanket stitch you can either use a contrasting colour for decorative effect, as I have here, or a colour to blend in with the appliqué shape. 

So there it is - easy!  If anyone gives this method a try, please let me know how you get on!

Friday 3 August 2012

Vintage Machine Appliqué - Stage 2

Once all the machine stitching is finished, tear all the paper away.  The paper is surprisingly strong, so put your finger over the stitching as you tear the paper to prevent it pulling the stitches.

It's good fun taking away the paper from outside the design first, so the design shows up with the paper that is left.  It's nice to see the whole thing taking shape.

Third and last stage tomorrow!

Thursday 2 August 2012

Vintage Machine Appliqué - Stage 1

First you need to prepare a stencil of your design.  I use ordinary greaseproof paper as tracing paper to trace the design.

Next, using the sewing machine, transfer the design onto a stencil.  I use brown greaseproof paper for the stencil.  Put a thick needle in the machine, an old blunt one is ideal.  Put the tracing on top of the stencil paper and follow the line of the tracing so that the design appears as a line of perforations on the stencil.

The reason I don't use the actual tracing as the stencil is that I don't want to risk transferring traces of pencil onto my work.

The top picture shows the stencil with the dates that appear at the bottom of the wall hanging that I lent to the pub for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee party.  It is pinned into position on top of the purple, which is laid over the cream background.

Then it is time to machine sew through all three layers. 

Stage 2 coming tomorrow...

NB  Note for our transatlantic friends.  For some strange reason you know greaseproof paper as parchment.

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Vintage Machine Appliqué

Old appliqué quilts always look so beautiful, especially the ones lovingly stitched by hand.  Anyone who sits down to do endless hours of needleturn has my boundless admiration.

Off and on over the years I have scoured books looking for a method of appliqué that wouldn't take me several decades to complete, and which wouldn't end up looking modern.  Any method that involved spray-on starch, iron-on backing or zigzag were automatically out as being contrary to my vintage principles.  What I wanted was a reasonably quick and easy method using straight stitch machines, where I could do fairly complex shapes and not have the horror of turning under tiny weeny hems.  I never found a book that gave me the answer.

Eventually I thought up my own method.  I won't claim that it is original, because the result at times looks so 1930s I can't believe that sooner or later I won't find an old book or magazine that shows how to do it.

So here is the result.  The photo shows the top part of the Diamond Jubilee wall hanging.  Over the next few posts I will show how it was done...

Hello to Jessica Bohannon! - Jessica has her grandmother's treadle, a Singer 66 redeye treadle.  Go to her blog and admire it!


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