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December 3, 2012

December 3rd, 2012

 Christmas is one week closer. We collect nativity scenes and I want to share a picture of our Jim Shore Nativity, which we have displayed with two of the vintage machines from our personal collection.  At this time they are non-working machines.  Carl has been focusing his spare time from farming on restoring and repairing the 221 featherweights we have been purchasing for resale.  In 2013 we hope to be vendors with our machines at several local quilt shows.  Of course, we are specializing in Jim’s pieces that feature quilting designs.

 

      I am trying a new layered batting look on a very large client quilt this week.  We have first used a layer of Quilter’s Dream Select Cotton then a layer of Quilter’s Dream Wool and finally the quilt top.   Our goal was to increase the loft and definition of the quilting as well as to make the warmest quilt possible.  The quilt is very large 108” x 89”.  We have loaded the quilt on the frame horizontally instead of vertically.  All that batting takes up a lot of room on the take up roller and we needed all the room we could get for a quilting area.  We wanted the design Patricia Ritter’s “Blossom” to be as large as possible so as not to squash down the loft with too much stitching.  We chose this design because it looks similar, whether stitched across the quilt or up and down the quilt.   I will be attaching the binding for the client so the pictures of this quilt will be in our gallery later this week under the king size category with the name Louise.

     I have a piecing hint this week from a video by instructor Sally Collins (www.sallycollins.org).  I watched the segment repeatedly on “The Quilt Show” by Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims.  She frequently used those dreaded things called pins, but in a new way.  The pins she used were also new to me. They are made by Clover and are called “Patchwork Pins Fine”.  I found them on Amazon and several other sites.  They are not inexpensive but are worth their weight in gold.  They are so fine you can stitch over them SLOWLY!!!  If you are a speed demon with your machine and can’t make yourself slowdown these may not be for you.  The next thing she did differently was to put the heads of the pins to the inside (left) of the needle instead of sticking out of the seam. She found she got less distortion this way.  I am planning on purchasing her DVD in hopes I can learn even more Precision Piecing hints.

 

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November 24, 2012

November 24th, 2012

     Well, here we are after Thanksgiving with Christmas just around the corner and I haven’t written a blog in months.  Health problems intervened in my plans to write a weekly blog but things are back on track now and I’m feeling fine.  Therefore, once I again I will get back to the weekly blog.

     Things have really been happening here at Silver Needle Stitching despite my illness.  I took a private 45 hour class through the internet with Suzanne Moreno on using the Intelliquilter.  I can’t believe all I learned.  Now I can use this tool to even better advantage when quilting for you.  I was so pleased with her teaching I signed up for her private class on Digitizing Designs.  This will enable me to edit designs more easily with my computer so that they will be even more specialized just for your quilt. I also am working on developing some of my own designs to sell to other computerized long arm quilters. I will also be able to design something specifically for your quilt. Suzanne also offers some advanced classes which I will be taking advantage of in the near future.  My desire is to use my artistic talents to enhance your quilt tops with designs especially chosen, modified or created just for you.

     My husband Carl has always been a big part of this business behind the scenes by way of support, the loading of the quilts and design suggestions. But now he is branching out into a more public role in a new way. He is purchasing, refurbishing and repairing vintage Singer featherweight 221 and 301 sewing machines for resale. 

     We have both fallen in love with vintage machines in a big way. We now have our own collection of vintage machines all in good working order; three treadle machines, three featherweights, and two 301 machines. A 301 is often referred to as the big sister to the featherweight.  The featherweight weighs in at only 11 lbs which is why it is such a favorite of quilters to take to classes.  The 301 only weighs 16 lbs but it has the advantage of a handle incorporated into the top of machine.  I love my Bernina machines but I have never seen such a beautiful straight stitch as done by these vintage machines.  Which makes sense in that all they do is straight stitch. No multitasking for these machines. Just do one thing and do it well.

     Soon these machines will have their own picture section in our gallery and be offered for sale.  We will also be posting some pictures of our own collection. Some other changes will also be coming to our website so stay tuned for further updates.


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New Additions

March 26th, 2012

     Last week was one of highs and lows.

     THE LOW: The virus I have been battling, with an irritating cough as its main side symptom, reared its ugly head again. As a result, I missed my self determined deadline for posting the blog.

     THE HIGHS:

  • Steven's (our 20 year old grandson) apartment was finished and he was able to move out of the basement and into the apartment.
  • We attended a tag sale and purchased a 1929 Singer Treadle Sewing Machine. Someone had started refinishing the wood cabinet and that will need to be completed. But the belt is in good condition and it still sews! I have wanted one for a long time but I wanted to be able to sew on it, not just look at it. I learned to sew on a treadle at the age of 9. The entire head of the machine needs taken apart and cleaned then it will be ready to use as soon as the cabinet is finished.  Look for pictures on the blog next (no, this week)
  • On Saturday Carl, my husband, saw an electric singer for sale on Craig's list. Steven and I went to see it and brought her back home with us. It was produced in 1924. The power cord is in dangerous condition but the seller plugged it in and the light works and the motor just hums along. Unfortunately the belt had broken but they are still available and easily (I hope) replaced. The main question to be answered will be how to handle getting the wiring repaired. The good news is the wood case with the Logo is in excellent condition and merely needs cleaning. Luckily two of the online forums I participate in have people knowledgeable about antique sewing machines. My next goal will be to purchase a Singer Featherweight. They are very much sought after and will probably be outside my budget for some time to come.

     If you have any suggestions for names for these two machines be sure to reply to this blog and we'll pick some to go along with Matilda.  Maybe I should think about naming my other machines. I have 1 for sale but three of the others could use names. One is already fondly referred to as the Little White Pearl. It is one of a numbered edition of hand painted Bernina machines. Just the right size to take to classes and sewing group.


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Exciting Project Continues

March 18th, 2012

     The wall hanging project continues. I completed the one of the four Mexican girls this week and am really excited about the result. I used echo quilting around the dolls. The borders received groupings of Jalapeno peppers and simple leaves in the sashings all done in a shiny variegated thread with colors that were in the girls dresses. The preliminary samples have been tried out and the grouping of 5 dolls in what I would call a more county setting are on the long arm frame and Matlida is ready to start quilting.

     Pictures of the Mexican girls will go up in the gallery in a couple of days. We ordered some specialty bulbs from a place called 1000 bulbs online. They are supposed to mimic natural sunlight. I think the quality of our pictures improved dramatically, especially the closeups of the dresses from last week. The background quilting on them was done with a very light colored, very fine thread and I was pleased with how much it showed.

     Unfortunately, Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard and it was bare. Sooo a trip to Cedar Rapids and the grocery store are the order of the day for tomorrow. Maybe I can sneak in a little quilting before we leave. With gas prices the way they are we try to get as much done as possible during each trip to town.

     One of Carl's cows had twins. It seems like we usually get one set every year. Its sad because usually the mother will only claim one of the calves. This time it was the heifer. Her little boy was sold to a local 4-H member who will raise the calf on a bottle and show him at the county fair in Tipton.

     Still no robins out in the yard to tell us spring is really here and it seems like we always get one or two snow storms while the cows are calving. It is not unheard of for a calf to spend some time in the basement getting warm. This may not happen much in the future as Carl's heated shop is almost complete as well as Steven's apartment. I already have plans of how much quilting stuff I can put in that room. Trouble is we will still need to use it as a spare room when family comes to visit so I think I will need to be a little conservative.

     I received a request to quilt another wall hanging late last week. This one will be really fun. It is a little larger 41x48 and is of chickens wearing hats, carrying purses and going shopping. I'm planning using a different backgound filler in each of the sections and designing a border with hats and shoes. Should be really cute when finished. 

     


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Spring is coming!

March 8th, 2012

     It’s only 10:30 pm here in Iowa so technically I get to pat myself on the back for writing the blog on time and getting it posted. I’m so happy the first of the Paper Doll Wall Hangings is finished and I am really pleased with the result.  The client was also very pleased and that’s what really counts. You will need to look in the Galllery under Custom Quilts to see our results. I think one thing she liked was that the quilting enhanced her original applique design rather than over powering it.

     Another big hurdle was crossed this week, tonight actually. I completed the hand quilting and binding on the quilt for the elderly woman in the nursing home I told you about it in February. I will deliver it to her next week. I also began my work the quilt our daughter in California had pieced and started hand quilting for us (also mentioned in the February Blog). I was pleasantly surprised that after hand quilting on the client quilt my hand quilting didn’t compare tooooo unfavorably with that of my daughter.  

     I did a practice version of the Mexican Paper Doll wall hanging today. I wanted to confirm the appropriateness and scale of the designs I had chosen. We discussed them when she picked up the Doll Dress one the night before. The plan is to finish it tomorrow in time for her demonstration and class on Saturday.

     The first sign of spring arrived here on the farm this week. We have had our first calf. And for a change it didn’t arrive in the middle of a snow storm. Mother and baby are both doing well and we anticipate the arrival of 84 more during the next couple of months. It is always so much fun to see them playing tag in the fresh green grass of the pasture. I will attempt to get some pictures of them posted.

     Next week looks to be pretty busy. I want to finish the other two Paper Doll wall hangings. I’d also like to get a start on quilting the quilt Silver Needle Stitching is donating to Mechanicsville Volunteer Fire and Rescue for a raffle at their fall pancake breakfast. Another big thing will be the first IQ class to deal with actually stitching out something. There will be 6 hours of class on each of four different quilting styles. I will also try to get a picture of Trixie and Annie, the puppy. taken so I can add it to the next post. I look forward to posting again next week. If I keep this up it could get to be a habit!


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