February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Year Day!

Wherever you are, whatever your doing! Have a Happy Leap Year Day!
Happy Leap Year

February 26, 2012

Some Martha Quilts

I finished quilting and binding three donation tops we have been making with some of the Martha fabrics at our Remnant meetings.  The scrappy disappearing nine patch blocks.

I used some favorite pantographs.
"Water World" by Jodi Beamish

I only have a few pantographs by Dave Hudson, but I sure like that he puts directional arrows on his pantographs. Sometimes when I stop and take a break to change a bobbin, or change thread I lose my place or have to retrace where I stopped and which direction I'm going. I've been known to go the wrong direction more than once! :o) With  helpful arrows that can't happen.

I put the bindings on by machine. I've been practicing and using Judy Laquidara's method of machine binding. (See the side bar here under Tutorials.)  I think I'm getting better at it. I found that if I stitch the binding on front with a contrasting thread. Then when it's time to bring the bindings around and over the edge to the back and cover that front line of stitching with the binding edge, the line of stitching really shows up well and I'm sure to pin the binding correctly as Judy describes in her video.

The bindings machine sewn to the quilt backs.
The bindings machine sewn to the quilt fronts.

Practice does help.  I really want to master sewing on bindings with the machine, especially for donation quilts.
I haven't posted any pictures of Sassy lately. This was taken a few minutes ago.

February 23, 2012

The Iron Saga--- a Happy Ending!

It has been an interesting week researching and testing irons. I narrowed my choices down to two brands.

I want to thank all of you for your helpful comments and emails. There were many good suggestions.  The Olisio iron was my first choice.  The pretty yellow model! It arrived on Tuesday. This is Oliso.

Now, there is no pretty Oliso iron in my sewing room. The Olisio has been returned due to the leaking back lifter.

Quote applies: Pretty is as pretty does. (old-fashioned)
something that you say which means that you should judge people by the way they behave, not by their appearance 'She's very pretty.' 'Yes, but pretty is as pretty does. I haven't been terribly impressed by her manners.'

When looking at the first photo. See that wide yellow bar right behind the sole plate? It is one of the "lifting" mechanism that makes the Oliso iron different in a novel-helpful sort of way. I did like that I didn't have to set the iron upright. Clever concept.  I also really liked the 30 min. auto turn off feature. Overall the iron is nice.


I mentioned I had picked two irons to test. My other choice arrived today. Just as the Oliso was leaving. (Bye-bye Oliso.)

Entering the sewing room---The Hamilton Beach Digital Iron. Model #14875 1500 watt wonder! I read all the reviews I could find on this iron. Far better reviews than I have read in the past for any iron. I was however still skeptical. And having just returned two new irons of another brand that failed,  I approached the Hamilton Beach with an attitude. Like, show me your stuff! --or else you are so out of here!

I would not say this is a "pretty" iron. Rather bland in fact. Don't be deceived by it's appearance!  I read all the directions, plugged in the nice long cord, and adjusted the temp setting to Cotton.
The digital read out is easy to see and read and within an amazing 45 seconds the iron was hot and ready to go. It does make a strange little pop sound just as it finishing heating up and the digital read out quits flashing a few seconds later indicating it's heated and ready to go.

I ironed some of the cotton-linen dishtowels in preparation for machine embroidery. If an iron is going to be good at smoothing out wrinkles and creases on yards of quilters cotton, then how well it irons linen is a worthwhile test in my opinion.

The handle and weight of the Hamilton Beach Digital has a nice comfy feeling. Not overly heavy. 3.5 lbs. Not too light either. I adjusted the steam setting at medium and it made a steady steam from the highly polished stainless steel soleplate.

The steam indicator slides from no steam to perking out a lot-lotta steam. The iron uses spring water or tap water. Not distilled. Good, because I didn't have distilled water anyway, and our tap water is hard, I would never use it in an iron. (The Oliso irons also required spring water fyi.)

The Hamilton Beach Digital has an auto off feature of 15 mins. in upright position, and if you leave it unattended or it does not sense any movement on the fabric when flat, it will turn off in 30 seconds. Both  settings are good for me. I did not want an iron with no auto off setting as I have in the past (not often, thank goodness)---forgot to turn the iron off.

 While I would like the constant on function. I'm forgetful, and I'm actually willing to deal with jiggling an iron or turning a dial (or with this iron pushing button)--- to have it come back on rather than risk setting something on fire!

And the Hamilton Beach Digital come back to full heat in 45 seconds!  when left flat unattended (oh-yes, I mentioned that) which is amazing to me compared to other irons I have owned that can take 3 mins. or longer to reach full ironing heat.

I'm not going to forget the best part. How does it iron fabric? Really wonderful! The linen dishtowels were very flat and creaseless in minutes. Smooth and dry feeling! No residual dampness left in the fabric which was one of my requirements for a new iron.

Be still my heart!--Could it be I have found thee Perfect Iron! Time will tell.
When I say that I mean will it be perfect weeks, months or even a year from now?
I will keep you posted in the future. In the meantime for me, right now,  this is an Awesome iron!

Edit: As Colleen reminded me; Only a Quilter could get this excited about a new Iron!!!

February 21, 2012

Vintage Sunbonnet Girl

Another day of the week set completed.  A cute vintage Sunbonnet girl!

February 19, 2012

Where is the Long Arm?

Where is your long arm machine?

 I frequently get asked this question as some quilters wonder where they can put a long arm. Where did I put mine? Should they build a separate studio? Add a room to their house? Rent a building?  It's a difficult decision.

I've done it both ways. Away from the house. Which did not work for me. I didn't like being out and away from the comforts of home. Even just a short distance.

Here is "Polly".  10' long.  Machine quilting is solitary hobby for the most part.

Given a choice I  would chose to add a room to the house if necessary. Not only for the comfort it adds (no walking from a separate studio in the rain, wind or darkness to the main house)---and, it could add future resale value to a home. As it turns out we have a fairly large living room which we don't use very often. "Polly" is set up on the side of this room. We also have a small family room at the opposite end of the house where we sit and read and where we have our computers.  This is still my favorite room in the house! :o)
I  planned the length of the long arm frame so I could place it here.  

I love the perks of being in the house, and not out in a building on the property. I can start meals, (quilt) put in a load of laundry, (quilt) catch up on all the (junk) mail! (quilt) talk to hubby, (quilt) play with the dog, (quilt) water the plants, (quilt) put up my feet, (quilt) and enjoy the comforts of home!  Visitors also enjoy seeing the long arm and the quilts. They can sit and chat while I load a quilt or chose a quilting pattern. The kitchen is right through the doorway.
The coffee's always on!

February 18, 2012


Once again I'm thinking about a new iron. Quilters do spend a great deal of time ironing. So, irons are important. Most irons don't last long at my house. And few meet my expectations. My absolute favorite irons are Rowentas and once upon a time I had a Bernina ISO 80 iron that I really liked. I've sort of given up on new Rowenta irons as they last about a year, and are expensive. However, I'm still drawn to Rowenta irons because of the ratio of heat & steam they produce and no one makes a soleplate like Rowenta either.

Presently (after my last Rowenta lasted 4 months) I have this older Reliable iron I bought on eBay. It makes a lot of "steam"----but, not equal to the heat it produces. So, I have to iron back and forth many times with the steam setting turned off after I have ironed with it on in order to rid the fabric of the dampness the steam has produced. In other words, the wrinkles are gone, but the fabric is soaked with steam! I've noticed "steam" is news with a lot of products nowadays. Washers, dryers, home humidifiers, curling irons, pressure cookers, bagged steamer veggies and of course---irons.
This is an older Reliable iron (pun intended). that does  have auto off, but not the option to stay on longer like the newer model Reliable irons. So, consequently it stays on about 3 mins. in the upright position and then turns off. This feature can drive you bonkers if you are pressing quilt blocks, pressing and cutting, or have to spend any time walking from the ironing table, to the cutting table and etc.

Then there is my Panasonic iron. It has the opposite features of the Reliable iron in that it does not make a lot of steam. However, it also does not get very hot either. It's cordless which adds another element to what is good or bad about this iron. In order to keep it hot enough for pressing fabrics I have to place in the base frequently as it starts cooling down almost immediately while your ironing. I can iron about 3 mins. and the soleplate is starting to cool down already. It's a neat looking iron. Very compact, nice weight, and it comes with it's own carrying case. I don't know why, but the fact that it has a carrying case fascinates people when they see it. Even me, which is probably why I bought it. A novel advertising ploy by Panasonic I'm sure. However, I've never known a quilter who puts their iron away on a regular basis.
Isn't it cute in it's turquoise plastic carrying case!

In my arsenal of irons there is this one.  My absolute favorite small iron!

 A small white portable Rowenta. It has endured the test of time as it's been near my sewing machine and pressed countless seams, embroideries, quilt blocks and bindings over the years. Perfect heat setting! (still)  It will make a just the right amount of steam for a short time if you fill the small built in water compartment.  The stainless steel soleplate is small scale compared to the larger irons which does not make it ideal for pressing yardage. Rowenta does not make or sell this small white model any longer. Instead they replaced it with this model.

The Small Purple Portable Rowenta Iron.

I keep this one in my tote bag to take to retreat, take to mini group and classes. In my opinion it does not compare to the small original white Rowenta. The handle is not as comfortable, and compared side by side, the newer model does not get as hot either. Somewhat of a disappointment, but for a small portable, it's o.k. So, if you come across the smaller white portable Rowenta, grab it up.

I am looking for a new iron, but haven't found that perfect one ---yet. I wish I could find a large Rowenta, like my small white Rowenta. Now wouldn't that be great!

EDIT:  Recommendations accepted: Things I Like: A heavy iron.  I would rather the iron pressed the fabric than my arm or shoulder! Very hot stainless steel soleplate. Steam. I like steam, but the iron must be hot enough to dry out the steam from the fabric as I iron. Auto shut off preferred, with a lengthy time before it shuts off.  My memory is not as good as it used to be, and I will forget to turn off the iron once in awhile and dash back home or from wherever I am to reassure myself I turned it off!  Please give model or number if you have a great iron!

February 15, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Spring has Sprung! Now!

February 14, 2012


Bill, Sassy and I wishing you a Happy Valentine's Day!

Water World Off the Long Arm

These are a few pictures of the completed quilt.

February 13, 2012

Water World

This is on the long arm today----half finished. It is a customer quilt.  Many of the pretty and colorful fabrics have a tropical island feel. Ocean blues and greens. Palm trees and warm sunshine! Ahhh---makes me want to lay out on the lounge chair and collect some rays! Nope, not today. No sun here, and I need to get this finished before the end of the day.  Jodi Beamish's  "Water World" pantograph seemed like good choice.

Water World is a double row 15" wide pantograph. Each row is approx. 7" inches and because there are many wavy lines and swirls so it takes awhile to complete one pass over a large quilt. This is one of my favorite pantographs for water or under sea themed quilts. This panto also works well on scrappy type quilts. But, I tend to forget how much time it takes complete quilts when I use it. I'm using Superior So-Fine in a bright Lime Green thread on the top, and Fil-Tec Magna Glide bobbins in the same Lime color. I'm not sure what the batting is as the customer sent it along with the quilt. It's a nice soft feeling cotton blend. Maybe Dream Cotton? Whatever, it has a cozy feeling!

February 10, 2012

Raggedy Ann Day of the Week

It's Friday, and I've finished another set of day of the week dishtowels. My goal is to do a set a week. These stitched out faster as there are not many fill stitches, just outlines.

Cute Raggedy Ann doing her daily chores!

(sorry, but I can't recall where I found these designs)