Two-Finish Friday

These are both gift quilts: one for a friend and her husband and one for a new baby. Here they are all folded up, about to be packed and mailed:


The first quilt I finished was made up of hourglass blocks. I pieced them all over the summer on my Singer 66, and then they sat, and sat, and sat over the fall, because I didn’t have time to finish it until the semester was over. But now it’s done!


The backing is a boat print, because the mother and the grandparents all sail. You can see in this picture that I quilted a simple diagonal grid 1/4″ on each side of the hourglass blocks.


I used a black pezzy print for the binding because I didn’t want to emphasize any particular color from the front. I think it works! I wish I had more of this fabric in stash to do the same in the future — I’ll just have to keep an eye out for similarly useful prints. I attached the binding by stitching it down twice. On the back you see two lines of stitching:

On the front, you only see one, because the other is hidden at the intersection of the binding and the quilt:

The other quilt is for friends of mine, because they live in northern England and it gets coooooold! For this one I used a pattern by Elizabeth Hartmann: her New Wave Quilt.


I cut my fat quarters very, very carefully, and had enough extra pieces to showcase the wave pattern on the back of the quilt as well:

This one I quilted by stitching in the ditch along the edges of the white sashing. I stitched smaller diamonds within the “waves” as well. Then I did some free-motion quilting in the sashing, which I’m really quite proud of.


I did the same kind of binding on this quilt, and also bound it in a pezzy print, though this one was navy, to complement the blues of the quilt.


Not bad for a break that only started on December 23rd!


Linking up to TGIFF!

Sewing on a Singer 66.

I mentioned last week that I’ve been sewing on a Singer 66 foot-treadle sewing machine, so I thought I’d post a little bit about the machine.

My family has it because about thirty years ago one of my father’s co-workers bought a furnished house, and was going to throw this sewing machine away. My dad bought it from them for $10, and since then, it’s lived in my parents’ house in Connecticut. (That house had no electricity when I was a child, thus the mechanical sewing machine rather than an electric one.)

I learned to sew on this machine when I was around ten or twelve, and played with the foot treadle and base of the table before then: it made a great fort if you draped sheets around it and you were very, very small.

These days, it usually looks like a little table right next to the dining room table:

When you remove the candles and runner, you can see that at some point in its history, it wasn’t treated all that well. One of my projects for this summer is to lightly sand off the existing finish and oil the wood, to help it be a little better protected from the sun. I did the same thing to my spinning wheel a couple of years ago: it takes focus, and willingness to do rather tedious, repetitive work, but the end result is completely worth it: the wood just gleams. But that’s in the future. For now, it looks like this:

Then you flip open the tabletop, which folds up to the left, and you see that this little table holds something rather more interesting than a drawer! Other than, of course, the four drawers it has on its sides, which are fabulous for holding thread and pins and needles and scissors and all the other notions you want to put somewhere close at hand. This machine is really well designed.

You flip up the piece of wood closest to you, (which is unfortunately a little hard to tell in this picture):

Then you look in: it’s a sewing machine! Lying on its side!

You pull the machine up, and lift it just high enough that the front piece of wood goes beneath it: the machine rests on it, and stays up and solid. This is a really well-engineered machine, and it all fits together very well.

From a little more of a distance, it looks like this:

Then you make sure the belt goes around the drive wheel, under the table, and check it’s seated properly around the machine’s wheel, and you’re almost ready to go. You can see the drive band in this picture: it’s the red thing that loops around the cast-iron wheel. When you treadle, the large wheel (let’s call it the drive wheel) goes around: the belt connects it to a smaller wheel on the machine, and a series of little gears and belts powers the machine, making the needle go up and down as you treadle.

Now you’re almost ready to sew! You thread the machine (and this is one of the places where looking at the manual I found online was helpful, as I was running the thread just a smidge wrong before:

The biggest difference for me in sewing on this machine, once I’d gotten it oiled properly and the tension adjusted (you turn the large knob on the head of the machine to adjust the top thread tension, and the bobbin thread just sort of does its own thing), is that you have to remember that your feet need to keep moving. Once it’s in the swing of things, this is easy enough: it’s trying to sew while the machine is still waking up (so to speak) that’s a chore. Sometimes I’d have to re-start the wheel by hand on each full rock of the treadle, because it stalled out, which was very annoying.

But I did learn to sew on this machine, so it came back to me — kind of like riding a bicycle, I suppose. It’s the same muscle-memory coming back to help you, after all. I still found that my seams are less precise (I don’t have a quarter-inch foot for this machine, for one thing, thus the masking tape) and that the fabric tends to drag more — I’m going to try buffing the bottom of the foot, to see if getting rid of some of the corrosion will help the fabric move more smoothly. Overall, though, it’s a fun project, and I’m really enjoying myself — I feel very lucky to get the chance to use this, and to also be able to go home and use an electric machine with a simple one-foot-pedal, which always seems so easy in comparison when I first get home!

If there’s anything in particular you’d like to know about the machine, just ask — if I know the answer, I’ll answer to the best of my ability!

I’m not sure when this machine was made: there are a lot of websites about the history of sewing machines, and they mostly seem to suggest that the Singer 66 model was made for a long period of time. I don’t know how to localize it more specifically than that.

Let’s end with a quick reminder about the Lets Get Acquainted Blog Hop on Plum and June. Today is the Monday link up!

Head on over to find out who will be posting this week, and check out their blogs on Tuesday and Thursday — you’ll find some really excellent tutorials and quilters this way.

Half-Square Triangle Block of the Month

Happy belated 4th of July! I hope everyone who celebrated it had a good time. We watched fireworks over the horizon and met up with. neighbors and friends.

But back on topic! Remember this?

Man, do I feel behind! Jeni just posted the July Block, and I haven’t even made up a single June block yet!

Last weekend I was able to trim all of my half-square triangle blocks for my second blocks for January-May, and two sets for June,, but not to sew them together, because I couldn’t figure out how to change the stitch length on the sewing machine. Why? Well, it’s a Singer 66. I don’t have a picture of it just yet, but this will give you an idea.

This is actually the machine I learned to sew on, but when I was learning (oh, twelve or fifteen years ago, now) my grandmother was taking care of my sister and me and she knew how to make the machine dance. In contrast, my approach to it is “Think really hard: maybe I can logic it out!” and my mother’s is “Turn everything that turns, oops, that’s not supposed to come off!” For some reason, these were not the ideal approaches.

So I’ve done a little online research on the Singer 66. That let me figure out how to adjust the tension and stitch length I oiled all of the various joints and hinges. It works more smoothly now, and I’ve been able to see up my second blocks for January through May. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish my June blocks and one of the July blocks: I didn’t bring enough white fabric with me to make two sets of July blocks. I’ll still be closer to caught up than I was before. :)