Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I'm Sew In Love With Craig's List!! Check Out My New Serger/Featherweight Desk!

Craig's List Score!
I'm not just excited, folks -- I'm GIDDY.  But let me back up: Unless you're brand-new to my little corner of the Internet, you know that an APQS Millenium longarm quilting machine on a 12' frame followed me home last month, and I've been working on purging and reorganizing my studio not just to make room for the longarm machine but to create a new setup that works for me both visually and functionally.  I need to maximize space without piling up so much furniture that I feel like I'm working in a storage closet.

In addition to my new longarm machine, I've got 'Nina the Diva (the Bernina 750QEE that is my main machine for sewing, piecing, and machine embroidery; predecessor to the current B 770QEE), a Bernina 1300MDC serger named Sergei, and a Juki MCS1500 coverstitch machine named... Juki.  The coverstitch machine is just for garment sewing, but I use my serger for garments, home dec sewing, finishing the edges of applique blocks so they don't fray while I'm stitching them, and serging the edges of my Minky backed baby quilts to make it easier to attach satin binding (and to help the quilt survive the inevitable satin binding replacement once the baby becomes a toddler who drags the quilt everywhere he or she goes).  I've also got two vintage Singer Featherweight 221 sewing machines, the 1951 machine named Judy that Anders uses occasionally as well as the 1935 machine named Bette that I like to use for really fiddly piecing, like the tight curves on my Rose Dream sampler block, or for Y-seams, partial seams, and things like that.  If I'm going to do any patchwork sewing away from home, I'll grab one of the Featherweights because they are so much lighter and easier to schlepp around than the Big 'Nina.

My Studio Back in February.  Green Chair was my Secondary Workstation.
So I don't need to have ALL of my machines out at once, but most of my projects do involve switching back and forth between two machines.  The problem is that the ugly but serviceable desk I was previously using for my "secondary machines" (see above photo) had to move to make room for the longarm frame, and it really didn't fit anywhere else in my studio.  I've only got 51" of wall space to the right of the window where I want to be able to use these machines (one at a time, not all at once), and the yucky desk that probably came from Staples was 60" long with zero storage. 

Old Desk Moved to Wall, Blocking Window, NOT Working!
Yet my "handy" husband, who built my red sewing cabinet for 'Nina and my giant cutting table, is recovering from a recent heart surgery and will not be doing heavy carpentry for awhile, so I knew that no custom Featherweight/Serger cabinet was going to materialize in our garage any time soon. 

I looked at Ikea first, because I know a lot of crafty folk have found great options for sewing rooms and craft spaces at reasonable prices by way of "Ikea hacks."  But I just didn't LOVE anything I found there that was the right size, primarily because their desks looked so flimsy and sewing machines working at high speed create a lot of vibration.  I don't want to put them on a dainty little desk that turns into a trampoline when I switch the machine on and sends my sewbabies bouncing off the desk and onto the floor!

Briefly Considered IKEA Alex Desk
I though of looking at the Habitat Restore and Goodwill for a used desk in the right size with a drawer or two, but I drive a little convertible now (VROOM!) and Bernie's car is a sedan -- even if I found something, I'd have to rent a truck to get it home.  Big hunt, big hassle, and no instant gratification.

Same deal with Craig's list, right?  Except not this time!  Something compelled me to check Craig's list anyway, and the second listing that came up was this lovely solid wood desk that the seller described as "early 19th century." 

Bette the Featherweight is On the New Desk, Sergei the Serger is on the Cutting Table...
It looks more early 20th century to me, but I could really care less what year it was made.  It fits perfectly against the wall where my ironing board used to live, and I can keep all my Featherweight accessories, serger accessories, and all kinds of other goodies in those fabulous DRAWERS!  I didn't even bother to go look at the desk in person.  I could tell from the photo that it was heavy, sturdy, and that any rough edges that might have snagged a delicate fabric have long since been worn smooth by the passage of time.  Best of all, the nice man selling it offered to DELIVER it to me tomorrow for an extra $25! 

...And Judy the Featherweight and Juki the Coverstitch Machine are Over Here
The drawers are the best part:
Paper Pantograph Patterns for Longarm Machine Go in This Drawer

Accessories for Serger and Coverstitch Machines Go in this Drawer

Featherweight Accessories Go in This Drawer

Temporary Fabric Markers, Tailor's Chalk, etc. in This Drawer

Accuquilt GO! Baby Cutter and Dies Go in This Drawer
Reworking my studio for the longarm machine was a much bigger project than I originally realized, but I'm so glad now that it's done.  My new setup makes much more efficient use of space, with tools and supplies stored neatly out of sight near the locations where they are used most often.  The smaller desk and elimination of clutter has actually made my creative workspace feel larger and more spacious than it did before the longarm machine arrived!

So now, FINALLY, I'm ready for some sewing again.  I'm all caught up on my clients' interior design projects and business paperwork and the laundry is done, so I'm headed up to the studio for at least a couple of hours today.  My goals for today are:
  • Piece together a King sized practice quilt and load it onto the longarm frame
  • Add borders to Butterfly Bear Paw quilt and set aside
  • Start a new pineapple log cabin block
  • Pin the last two petals on my hand applique project

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Revised Plans for Tabby Road Quilt: Giant Clam Shells!

So I'm still mulling those Tula Pink Tabby Road fabrics and what to do with them.  I posted several options that I was kicking around here about a week ago, but I wasn't 100% in love with any of them.  My newest plan is to forget my Accuquilt GO! dies and go old school, cutting REALLY BIG 9 1/2" clam shells with a rotary cutter and an acrylic template. 

57" x 57" Quilt Using 9 1/2" Clam Shells
See how much better the larger patch size showcases the large scale prints in this collection?  Here's what the quilt would look like if I did 8" clam shells, the size of the larger Accuquilt die that doesn't work with my GO! Baby cutter anyway:

48" x 72 1/2" Quilt Using 8" Accuquilt Die
It's a good size for the prints, but it doesn't make sense to buy another, more expensive die cutter just for this project.  This is what it would look like (eventually, if I lived long enough to finish it!) if I made a throw-sized quilt with the 4" clam shell Accuquilt die that I already own:

48 1/2" x 60" Quilt Using 4" Accuquilt Die
Not only do we lose the effect of the large scale prints with 4" clam shells, but it also takes over 300 of them to make just a throw sized quilt.  That is a LOT of futzy curved piecing, people!!  Not that I'm averse to time-consuming projects.  I just have too many of those projects in my current rotation.  I want the Tabby Road Kitties quilt to piece fairly quickly so I can get it onto my longarm quilt frame and quilt it with a fun, allover pantograph design.  Mama needs a FINISH!

This is the acrylic template I ordered from Australian Etsy seller Sunset Seams:

9 1/2" Finished Acrylic Clam Shell Template from Sunset Seams
What I really like about this template is that it's transparent, so I can fussy cut my clam shells (precisely centering the portion of each quilt that I want to showcase) and there are little holes along the seam line of all three curved seams, so I can mark with a Chacopel pen to align my convex and concave curves precisely for hand or machine piecing.  (Probably machine piecing, since I'm still working on my needle turned applique project and am nowhere near finished with that!)  And see that little hole in the center of the template?  Using the center markings at the top, middle, and bottom point of the clamshell, I'll be able to add 1/4" with my see-through ruler and easily trim some of my clam shells into half units for the side edges of my quilt.  That same hole will let me draw a straight seam line from the left to right edges of the clam shells that need to be cut down for the partial shells at the top and bottom edges of the quilt.  You can't just cut the clamshells right in half and use both pieces, since you still need seam allowances beyond the stitching line.

The other part of my plan that has evolved is that my newest iteration of the quilt design incorporates other fabrics along with those from the Tabby Road collection.  I snuck some solid gray patches and a couple of rogue prints and batiks into the most recent EQ7 version of this quilt (that first picture at the top of my post), and then I took a quick poke through my stash and found several fabrics that would be lovely with the Disco Kitties:

Tabby Road Fabrics Plus A Few Other Prints and Kona Solids
I've got my Kona Cotton Solids color chart out, too, because it's going to need to be the EXACTLY RIGHT shade of gray.  Maybe even a solid blue and/or magenta pink as well.  I've got this independent streak that prevents me from making a quilt entirely with someone else's palette of color-coordinated prints.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  :-)  But the design process is my favorite part of any quilt and it's not something I'm willing to completely delegate to anyone else, not even to someone as fabulous as Tula Pink!  Also, there's something spiritually satisfying about incorporating at least a couple fabrics from previous quilts into each new quilt.  That way every quilt is connected to all of the others.

And another thing I'm not sure about is whether to include ALL of the fabrics from the collection in this quilt.  I know that the friend for whom I'm planning to make this quilt is a fan of pinks, blues, and purples, but I'm not so sure the bright, nearly fluorescent orange is a good fit for her.  Although it looks great with these little orphan blocks that I pulled out of a scrap bin:

Orange Tabby Road Fabrics Plus Leftovers From My Amish Baby Quilt
See?  How much fun is THAT?!  Those are leftover units from the Amish Baby 54-40 Or Fight quilt that I gifted to my cousin Allison two years ago.  Maybe the orange Tabby Road fabrics will go into an entirely different quilt.  And so nothing comes completely out of nowhere, and everything has some connection to something that came before.  Just like history, art, genealogy, science, and everything else in this marvelous Universe -- Everything is connected to everything else.

Happy stitching, everyone!  Today I'm linking up with:

·       Let’s Bee Social at http://sewfreshquilts.blogspot.ca/

·       Midweek Makers at http://quiltfabrication.blogspot.com/

·       WOW WIP on Wednesday at www.estheraliu.blogspot.com

... and with Design Wall Monday, newly hosted over at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts

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