Monday, 8 September 2014

Around the World

Last week France Nadeau in Canada took part in the Round the World Blog hop, showing pictures of her beautiful work, and very kindly nominated me to follow on.  Thank you France!

The idea is to answer four questions.  The easiest question comes first...

What am I working on?

This morning I did a bit of hand stitching to finish the Jubilee Rose wall hanging.  I still need to sort out a rod and some cord to hang it with.

I am slowly building up a collection of free motion quilted panels so I can put together a FMQ sampler quilt.  Here they are, arranged on the settee in no particular order.  These are the pieces that I have shown in many of the recent weekend posts for the Free Motion Mavericks weekly link up.

And this is a sleeveless blouse that I am making, having cut up my old gardening shirt to make a pattern.  It is slow progress because I thought the summer was about to end.  Suddenly we are having really warm weather again, so perhaps if I made the effort I could wear it this year.

How does my work differ from others in this genre?

I have never owned an electric sewing machine, and apart from about ten minutes at school in the 1960s, I have never used one.  Therefore I make everything using vintage sewing machines.  My newest machine is a 1949 Singer 15K hand machine, which I am using regularly at the moment.

For free motion quilting I use my 1945 Singer 15K treadle, which features on miniature videos on blog posts and also on Youtube

When using attachments such as the ruffler or the buttonholer I like to use my 1936 201K treadle.

As for the fabrics I use, for clothes I like cotton poplin prints.  For quilts, the more I do free motion quilting, the more I enjoy using the plain strong colours and shot cottons from Oakshott.  I tend not to use prints that are up to the minute hot and trendy because they can date a piece of work to within five years or so.  

Somehow I think that using vintage machines with carefully chosen fabric, the finished work can take on a timeless quality.  At least, that's what I like to tell myself.

Why do I write/create what I do?

The obvious reason is that I love sewing and sewing machines.  The children are grown up, I no longer have to go to work, and I can't think of a better way to fill my time.

Secondly, I want to show that old sewing machines are easy to clean up and use, so with my husband we set up a Youtube channel.  My son said noboby would be interested.  He was a student at the time and rather more taken with beer than his mother's hobbies.  I stopped teasing him for saying that quite a while ago - my forecast is that in about five weeks we will reach a million views.

Just for fun, here is a video of my prettiest machine, with music specially composed by my son.

How does my writing/creative process work?

It is perhaps easier to list the things I lack or never use to highlight the limits within which I work:-

Using vintage machines with straight stitch only, I have no zigzag, no backstitching, no overlocking (or serging, as it is known to Americans).

I have no studio or design wall - I use the dining room table and clear things away afterwards when we need to eat.  The settee doubles up as a design wall.  I would use the floor, but it's too mucky.

The grandly named sewing room is in fact a corner of the dining room.

Lack of space means I have to use the quilt as you go method, doing all the stitching by machine. 

I use no glue, spray cans (starch, glue etc), fabric markers, iron-on interfacing, non-woven interfacing, synthetic threads etc. etc - all the sort of products I see recommended in books and magazines, online and in shops, in short, everywhere.  My reasoning is that if people could make fabulous clothes and quilts, say, in the 1930s, with just straight stitch machines and plenty of knowhow, then so can I.

Fortunately, I was well taught at school, learning French seams, felled seams, bound seams and other similar techniques in the late 1960s and early 1970s, so it is second nature for me leave no raw edges in sight.

Quilting is a more recent adventure...  

Appliqué was a challenge, but I worked out how to do it using the sewing machine.  First I make a paper stencil from the pattern, then with the machine I follow the lines of the stencil to stitch the material to be applied to the background material, and only at the end do I actually cut out the shape as I stitch around it by hand in blanket stitch.  For want of a better name, I called this method Vintage Machine Appliqué, and if you click on the heading on the sidebar you will find posts showing how I add stitched decoration with the machine, and how I quilt around it. 

My methods paid off when I entered my Queen's Diamond Jubilee Quilt into the quilt show at Malvern last year and gained my first ever ribbon.

I was delighted at being awarded a Judges' Merit.

Since then I have been working hard at free motion quilting, having taken the cue to get started about two and a half years ago from Leah Day's videos, and this wonderful lady on Youtube.

Leah gave the guidance for the hands, and this lady showed the foot action.  I shall be forever grateful to Leah and the Laga Lady.

My hope now is that by blogging and posting the occasional video on Youtube I can pass on ideas, techniques and inspiration.

Thank you to everyone who has read this far and followed all the links!

Now I have to nominate a blogger to follow on...

Linda at Linda's Landscapes makes wonderful quilted landscapes using a great big scary modern machine, gallons of glue and lots of other things I am frightened of.  She can even make bushes and trees out of thread with her sewing machine by sewing over nothing.  At times I think she and I inhabit different dimensions, but then I see she uses an old electric machine that cost eight dollars (about a tenner in our money, I suppose) and runs up lovely QAYG quilts that she makes up as she goes along.  She is a girl after my own heart and I love her work.  

Linda will be doing her Round the World post in a fortnight's time.

Linking up with Marelize's blog Stitch by Stitch for Anything Goes Monday
and to Caroline's blog SewCanShe for Show Off Saturday 
and Connie's blog Freemotion by the River for Linky Tuesday
and Kelly's blog My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday


  1. Just watched your YouTube entry about the Vesta so that should help boost your numbers. Great stuff. Thanks.

    1. Thanks Annie! When we reach 1,000,001 I shall think of you.

  2. I read your post with pleasure. I knew you are using vintage sewing machine but I didn't know that you only use those. Wow! That gives an other dimension to your work and, most of all, to your quilting. I never fully realised that this implies making the machine work with your hand or feet. Good for increasing one's coordination, I guess. ;-)
    I know hand quilting--I do everything by hands, from start to finish. I know machine quilting--I only have to push a button to start or stop stitching and all I have to do is move the fabric around with my hands. Your method is in between and I just didn't realise (before discovering your blog, months ago) that it was still used. I'm starting to think that it's one I should try, someday!
    Using mostly solids really makes your quilting designs stand out and that's what I love about your pieces. I'm really looking forward to seeing the various quilted pieces (that I have observed attentively) all assembled together.

    1. Thank you France!

      Glad you enjoyed this post, and thank you again for nominating me.

      It is really interesting seeing the different ways people work. I love the individuality of your work. Hand stitching is almost like handwriting, and your work is so definitely your own. I would be daunted at the prospect doing a large long term project by hand and really admire your patience.

      Love, Muv

  3. Love love love your video, your gorgeous Vesta machine, and your stunning quilt. And thanks so much for the shout-out for my upcoming post. I only hope I can make it even half as interesting as yours is! Did not know you had a Youtube channel. It will be the first thing I check out when it comes time for a break this afternoon.

    1. Thanks Linda!

      It's a beautiful machine, that Vesta, but such a primadonna. It is the one machine which plays up and will not give me a consistent stitch.

      I'm really looking forward to your post. Are you scribbling notes to yourself on the backs of envelopes yet?

      Love, Muv

  4. Wow Muv, I am so glad you visited my blog and commented on it so I could find you here. I think it is wonderful that our blog titles relate back to a wonderful ancestor who inspires our work. I think that many other quilters might find the same in their past if they dig a little bit.
    I am impressed with your skills on vintage sewing machines. I love antiques but don't collect them - small budget I suppose. I admire that you can sew beautiful things without the needle up/needle down feature. I do most of my work on a Juki which is a straight stitch ONLY machine, but I like how the needle always stops down. Yes, I like being spoiled. Anyway, I intend to browse and read your blog as well as watch more videos. Thank you!

    1. Thank you for returning the visit!

      Budget?? Old machines here are much cheaper than in America, and the servicing costs are nil because you can do it yourself.

      I had never heard of needle up/needle down until you just told me. I am so entrenched in my time warp...

      Love, Muv

  5. Your Vesta is lovely! I do have some electric machines, and I have put the motor back on a few times, when I need to get something done more quickly. I've not tried much with my treadles. I really need to use them more. I didn't grow up with a mother who sewed. I've learned everything by trial and error.

    1. Hello Cheryl,

      You must try treadling! This is the ideal time of year to start, when the weather is getting cooler.

      My mum didn't sew either. I'm a trial and error girl too, and doing needlework at school has set me up for all the work I have done since.

      It has only occurred to me recently that the fact that my mum wasn't a great one for sewing is the reason that I have stuck with old machines. She never saw the need to replace the machine she had bought in the early 1950s, which was the 1897 Singer 28K hand machine that I still have.

      Love, Muv

  6. What a great post and what you do with the vintage machines is wonderful! I use my 15-91 vintage Singer for everything, mine is electric but only a straight stitch and like you I love it!

    1. Thank you Connie.

      Yes, I have seen how you have your Singer 15 rigged up for quilting - a great arrangement!

      Love, Muv

  7. It was so interesting to learn about you in this post! I liked both videos, your beautiful machine as well as Laga lady FMQ with the treadle. Am I seeing that correctly, that she doesn't use a quilting foot and the presser foot is in the up position? I will enjoy exploring your posts and links. I use a 1960s Singer for most of my piecing, although I have a Singer 301A that I use from time to time as well. I quilt on a Juki. All electric though!

    1. Hello P.,

      It is a while since I tried to work out exactly what Laga Lady is doing. It was the speed of her feet in relation to the movement of her hands that I was most interested in.

      I think she is doing free motion embroidery rather than quilting. There appears to be no foot, but some sort of finger guard to prevent ghastly things happening. She would need to have the presser foot lever down, otherwise the tension wouldn't be there, but when there is no foot at all it seems as though it is up.

      Hope you enjoy your excursion through the blog!

      Love, Muv



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