Sunday 30 September 2012

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - A Polish Shawl

This gorgeous shawl was being worn by a lady at the harvest festival in Poland.  Too beautiful for words, and perhaps a bit too hot for that particular day, but somehow all the ladies in their shawls looked calm and serene.

Hello again and welcome to Barbara (yes, the maker of yesterday's wonderful landscape quilt) who has joined as a follower.

Saturday 29 September 2012

A Doll Quilt from Barbara in Oregon

Here is the doll quilt that came all the way from Oregon, the longest flight taken by any doll quilt I have received so far.  Before it arrived I found out that Barbara had a blog  so I had a sneaky peep and saw a photo of this wonderful little picture quilt.  As soon as I saw it I had to shut my eyes straight away.  Partly because it felt like cheating, but also because I loved it so much and didn't dare believe it might be on its way to me.  I couldn't even read what Barbara had written about it, because if it wasn't the one coming my way the disappointment might have been too much.  So you can imagine the delight when the big envelope finally arrived and I took out this beauty!

It is definitely an American landscape - look how the converging parallels give the feeling of wide open space.  Not a tree or hedge in sight.  And those farm buildings look totally American.

Thank you Barbara, you did a wonderful job!

Welcome to Mary Ellen - thank you for following!

Friday 28 September 2012

Another Triangles Doll Quilt

Similar to the previous triangles doll quilt shown last week, but with the lights and darks reversed. For both quilts I used the Frister and Rossmann Transverse Shuttle for the piecing and the 1927 Singer 99K for the binding.

Again I did the quilting by hand.  Then I kissed the little quilt goodbye and packed it into an envelope for a rather long journey to my partner.

Welcome to the latest follower, Sharon S - what a lovely cheerful smile on your avatar!

Thursday 27 September 2012

Cleaning the Decals - Jones Family CS

Taking off the bobbin winder meant I could clean the front of the pillar easily, and gave me the opportunity to admire the decals in their full glory.  

The decals on the back of the pillar are equally impressive.  

A gentle rubbing with sewing machine oil on a dab of cotton wool is all it takes to bring up the shine. Any excess oil can be wiped off with a soft cotton cloth afterwards.

Never use any strong or abrasive substances on the decals - they can be damaged beyond repair by over-enthusiastic cleaning.

Hello Mommysue7!  Thank you for following. 

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Cleaning the Bobbin Winder - Before and After

This is the bobbin winder from Maria's Jones Family CS machine before I started attacking it with the metal polish.  The easiest way to clean it was to unscrew it from the machine.

On close inspection you can see the black oily grime clinging around the screws.  After scraping the worst off with a wooden cocktail stick, I used an interdental toothbrush to get the metal polish into all the awkward little corners.

After a good rubbing with cotton wool buds and a soft cotton cloth, the metal began to shine.
There are a few blemishes on the metal where the chrome has begun to lift, but considering the machine dates from about 1931, it is in very good condition.

To get all the rubbish out of the thread and the teeth which engage when the winder is in motion, I used a tiny bit of metal polish on an old toothbrush and rubbed it off with a cloth afterwards.

To clean the black japanned parts of the winder, I used a tiny drop of sewing machine oil on a dab of cotton wool.

Welcome to mdghall - thank you for following!

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Tuesday's Top Tip - Take the bobbin out before you put the machine away

A well kept machine will be oiled.  Gradually the oil will seep down.  If the machine is put away with the bobbin still in, the cotton on the bobbin will soak up the oil like a sponge. 

This is the bobbin that was in Maria's machine.  She has no idea how many years ago her grandmother filled this bobbin, but the machine spent years stored away in a Shropshire farmhouse and had plenty of time to drink up the oil.

So even if you are putting the machine away for ten days or ten years, take the bobbin out.  You don't want a smudgy surprise coming up with the bobbin thread next time you start sewing.

Welcome to Carolyn, Sheila and luv2stamp - thank you for following!

Monday 24 September 2012

A Quilt in Memory of a Great-Grandmother - and Pieced on a Treadle

First and foremost, a big thank you to Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville who posted my video      "How to Treadle" on her blog yesterday.
I have been a big fan of Bonnie's for some time now and have her to thank for inspiring me to get quilting again after a gap of about 25 years.

Also, a big welcome to all the new followers who arrived yesterday - Rhonda D, JudyBL, Not Lucy, Marianne, Leeanne, bmoubray, sharon bull and Shena Boes. 

Now that so many of you have seen the video of the Serata treadle, here are photos of the quilt that I made as my first project using that machine.  I bought the machine in May last year, and once I had cleaned and oiled it I was ready to set to work.

The quilt top was made using material left by my sister-in-law's mother, who died nearly two years ago.  Pat was 89, a great-grandmother, and originally from Wisconsin.  She left the States in the late 1940's.  She married an Englishman and lived at various times in the Middle East and Africa because he worked for an oil company.  Eventually they settled in England, but she would visit her relatives in the States fairly regularly.  She was a tiny little lady, and never lost her big Wisconsin accent.

When Pat died my sister-in-law and I sorted through bags full of material that she had squirrelled away.  Some of the fabrics had come from the States - in fact I have recognised some of them on the slide shows on Bonnie's blog being used in her classes.  Pat loved green, so I had the challenge of making a quilt in her colours.  Fortunately she had yards of the neutral print that I used for the background, and I added a few matching colours from my own stash where needed.

All the piecing was done in strips, an ideal method with a treadle, and a great way to give the machine a good workout after years of lying idle.  To add length to the blocks, so I could get nine houses to fit the top of the bed with an even border all round, I hit on the idea of adding hedges.

The quilting was done on a long-arm machine at the quilt shop, Midsomer Quilting  They did a fabulous job, I was really pleased.  Then all I needed to do was the binding, which again I did on the treadle.

This was my fastest project ever - two months from start to finish - because I wanted to make sure it was ready for the next time I visited my brother and sister-in-law.  It looked perfect on their bed, and my sister-in-law was slightly emotional.  My brother liked it too, but he had to be told that it was a houses design.  He couldn't see them.  He thought it was just random patchwork.  Blokes.

Sunday 23 September 2012

A Pretty Picture For Sunday - Scabious

We took a walk up a hill in Poland and these beautiful scabious flowers were growing at the edge of the woods.

Saturday 22 September 2012

A Doll Quilt from Penny in Ohio

This is the doll quilt I received from Penny in Ohio.  The triangle quilt I sent to her just flew in the post and was with her long before this little quilt arrived here.  Somewhere between here and there it was held up with all the other presents in the post.  Poor Penny was worried that it had been lost.  In the end it turned up on Christmas Eve, so I put it under the tree and opened it on Christmas Day.

In the middle she sewed a snowflake button, which matches the silver snowflakes on the pink material.  All the materials have a Christmas design, not in the usual red and bright green, but in lovely soft rose pink and a muted silvery green, which is much prettier.

Thank you Penny for a lovely Christmas present!

Friday 21 September 2012

Triangles Doll Quilt

For this quilt I made half-square triangles in dress-weight cotton poplin and had fun arranging the colours for the best effect.

After all the trouble I had with machine quilting on the teapot quilt, I decided I had to try hand quilting this time.  Using a variegated thread in matching shades made it more interesting, and it didn't turn out too badly at all.

Thursday 20 September 2012

A Shuttle from an Older Transverse Shuttle Machine

This is a boat shuttle from a much older machine.  On this side is the tension spring.

On the other side there is a thin bar that protrudes slightly at the end of the shuttle.  

The flat side is open, so the shuttle looks like a little boat.

This shuttle belongs to a Stoewer Transverse Shuttle machine which I have yet to clean up.  When I have done that, if I can work out how to explain how to thread this shuttle, I will post more pictures.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

A Shuttle for a Late Transverse Shuttle Machine

This shuttle belongs to a 1930s Frister and Rossmann Transverse Shuttle machine.  Viewed from this side it looks just like the shuttle for a vibrating shuttle machine.

However, the other side is flat, so it can fit in the narrow shuttle carriage.

This type of shuttle is a hybrid shuttle.  It  fits into the same sized space as the open sided boat shuttle which was used on older TS machines, but the flat side is closed.  Loading the bobbin and threading the shuttle is done in exactly the same way as with the bullet shaped shuttles for Vibrating Shuttle machines. 

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Tuesday's Top Tip - Machine Storage

It can be awkward getting machines in or out of a cupboard - they are heavy and difficult to slide into place when their little rubber feet start resisting.  You will find the answer at the greengrocer's.  The flat boxes used for vegetables are the ideal size.  Cut down one end and make it into a flap at the front, and slide the whole box with the machine on top.  Now you can get the machine in and out of its cubby hole without pulling a muscle.  

Monday 17 September 2012

Cleaning Maria's Jones CS - Stage 1

Last Friday my friend Jo and I had tea and cake at Cordial and Grace followed by more tea and chat downstairs in the sewing parlour while we did some serious polishing on Maria's machine.  So far the effort has gone on the metalwork, so the machine is beginning to shine.

There is still plenty of work to do.  I haven't cleaned underneath yet, and the bobbin winder hasn't been polished.  Once that has been done it will be time to oil it and try it out. 

Sunday 16 September 2012

A Pretty Picture For Sunday - Damselfly

Just basking in the sun on a nettle leaf.  Just the sort of picture Kailacat likes to take!

I have seen some gorgeous damselflies this week, and have done my homework to find out what they are.

This is a banded demoiselle, calopteryx splendens.  Handsome as he is, another species has the edge, the beautiful demoiselle, calopteryx virgo, but the photos I took of those weren't quite up to scratch.  Next week perhaps, weather permitting...

Saturday 15 September 2012

A Doll Quilt From Barbara in Tennessee

This close up shows the detail of Barbara's work of art.  Isn't it amazing!  

Barbara worked from a photograph of my 1934 Singer 128K that I had posted on Quilting Board. She looked hard at every detail and reproduced it in appliqué, with machine embroidery for the decals, hand stitching for the spool of thread, with the thread then following through the hooks and tension discs to the needle and a bobbin thread popping up from underneath.  For detail on the metal she used fabric marker pen, and even put the serial number at the base of the pillar.

As you can guess, I was thrilled and excited to receive such a wonderful quilt.  It soon went on the wall, and I took some photos with the machine in front of it.  We happened to have two bunches of roses in the house at the time, and they matched the border fabric perfectly.  I posted photographs on Quilting Board as a special thank you to Barbara, and as you can imagine her quilt caused quite a stir!

Thank you again , Barbara, it is an absolute treasure!

Friday 14 September 2012

Doll Quilt - A Nice Pot of Tea

This was the next quilt I made for the Quilting Board doll quilt swap.  I checked first whether my partner liked tea, because so many Americans just drink coffee and don't touch tea.  Thank goodness she gave me the right answer, because I was dying to do a teapot.

This was the first appliqué shape I did using a paper stencil.  Getting the angle of the handle and spout was tricky until I hit on the idea of drawing around the teapot.  

All told, I was fairly pleased with the result.  The quilting gave me grief, and I think it shows, but the less said about that the better.  A doll quilt swap is all about taking part, trying things out  and learning, and for your efforts your partner sends you a present in a big squashy envelope..  

Thursday 13 September 2012

What's in the Wallace and Gromit Tea Caddy?

It's the sewing machine cleaning kit, of course!  I'm sure Wallace would approve, but I'm not so sure what PG Tips might have to say.

Packed inside there are cotton rags, sewing machine oil, crochet cotton, cotton wool, cotton wool buds, wooden cocktail sticks, two little ramekins, screwdrivers (three sizes), round ended pliers, an old toothbrush, interdental toothbrushes, pointed tweezers, ordinary tweezers and a tube of metal polish.

The other vital ingredient when cleaning a machine is tea, so I'm off for a quick cup now.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

My First Needlecase

It is a bit grubby and frayed, because, like its maker, it is getting on a bit.  This is how it all began, in Miss Bennett's class when I was six.  We were given pieces of binca, big fat blunt needles, lengths of soft embroidery cotton in jolly colours, and shown samples of different stitches we could try out.  The choice of colours and stitches was up to us.

When we were finished Miss Bennett made them up into needlecases with four felt pages inside.

I look at this needlecase and am filled with respect for Miss Bennett for what she could achieve with a class of fidgety infants.  She didn't just limit us to running stitch and cross stitch, but took us further into the realms of alternating running stitch, and blanket stitch with a second colour woven through it.

Them was the days, as they say where I come from.

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Tuesday's Top Tip - To Stop Bobbins Unravelling

There is nothing more irritating than opening a tin of bobbins and finding that they have tangled themselves up with each other by the threads.  They do it all by themselves during the night when the lid is on just to annoy you next morning.  An easy way to scotch them is to go to the kitchen and find some of those covered wire fasteners that come with a packet of food bags, and wrap fasteners around each bobbin to keep the end of the thread in place.

It works just as well on long bobbins too.

Monday 10 September 2012

Cordial and Grace

A little while ago I strolled into a wonderful tea shop.  Tea and cake are always a draw, but when they come with a sewing room attached the pull is irresistible.  Especially if there is an interesting machine to look at.

Look at this beauty! A Jones Family CS, which sits in the sewing parlour watching all the modern machines get on with the work.   It belongs to Maria, who tells me that it used to be her grandmother's.  Maria has never used a hand machine because she learnt to sew on an electric machine.

On my next trip the Cordial and Grace I will have my machine cleaning kit with me.  I am looking forward to seeing Maria trying out her grandmother's machine - let's hope all goes according to plan.

If you live too far away to visit Cordial and Grace in real life, at the very least visit the website at

Welcome to Kailacat!  It is nice having a follower who goes on walks and comes back with photos of insects.  Your dragonfly is fantastic!

Sunday 9 September 2012

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - Raindrops on a Feather

It was lying on the ground and was far too beautiful to tread on.  To make it even more delightful, one of the raindrops has a smiley face.

Saturday 8 September 2012

A Doll Quilt from Linda in Ohio

How 1960s is this!  Again there was a bit of quilters' telepathy going on, Linda put in lots of spots. And stripes.  And swirls.  And then set them all dancing in a pinwheel pattern to give an amazing effect, and held it all together with a lovely shade of turquoise.  How she could see what she was doing when she did the free motion quilting is beyond me... or did she do it from the back?

Thank you Linda!  It is a great design and beautifully made!

Friday 7 September 2012

Doll Quilt - Brighton Pavilion

This is the second doll quilt I made for a swap on Quilting Board.  The theme was black and white and one other colour.  Following the theme for the month is always optional, and I nearly didn't, but when I walked into a shop and saw the black with white and pink spots, and the spotty buttons, the whole idea fell into place.  All the other materials were already lurking in my cupboard.

I had just finished  making a 60s style top in the scribble print, but because the quilt was destined for America I knew the design would be a bit of a puzzle.  Is it a mosque?  Is it the Kremlin?  So it was time to work out how to do handwriting on the sewing machine.  The solution was to use greaseproof paper for a tracing and then make a stencil.

All told, I was quite pleased with the result, even though the corners of the binding were pretty rough - the material was a touch too thick for me to manage mitres.  It looked very 60s, which was a bit of a surprise because I'm not a great 60s fan - all a bit brash for my staid taste.

Thursday 6 September 2012

Man's Bulky Cardigan

Somehow I was sucked into a charity shop this morning and I fell straight for the 1970s sales pitch. Or did I fall for the pictures in the pattern book?  Who can resist a pattern for a man's bulky cardigan?  Is it a bulky man's cardigan in disguise?

I have never learnt to crochet, but the day may yet come.  However I have been able to knit since I was at infants' school.  So when I see a box for a bit of plastic (sorry, unbreakable nylon) describing the contents as The Original Betty Ann Knitter (knits and crochets with one needle!) I am a little bit cautious.  

However, in a charity shop one can throw caution to the wind.  The moths fluttered out of my purse as I parted with £1.50.  The PDSA now have enough for a few chewy doggie bones and some cat crunchies, and I am the proud owner of an item which the manufacturers claimed could do almost everything I ever wanted with wool, but with which I will probably do nothing.

In truth, it was the pictures in the book and the newspaper cutting hidden in the box that hooked me. There is more to show.  No surprise to find that it came from the States, so, as they say there, stay tooned...

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Nan's Needlecase

This sweet little needlecase belonged to my grandmother.  I wish I knew who made it and when, but I will never know.  It has that definite 1920s or 30s look about it.  It is so wonderfully simple, showing what you can do with a few tiny pieces of felt.  Perhaps it was a child's sewing project.

Here is the inside, with ancient bent and discoloured needles and pins, to give it the authentic vintage look.  Nothing at all to do with me being Mrs. Disorganised.

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Tuesday's Top Tip - Padding the Handle

Have you ever been busy sewing with a hand machine and realised that your thumb is aching from the pressure against the wood of the handle?

Here is the answer.  A short length of foam pipe lagging held in place with an elastic band.


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