Monday, September 17, 2018

Taking a Break From Longarm Tension Tantrums -- Because I Needed a Win

I needed a break from playing Sherlock Holmes with the longarm machine over the weekend, and APQS Tech Support was closed anyway, so I dug around my studio looking for a small victory, something I could cross off my list easily without pulling out any of my hair or screaming profanity.

Remember This Quilted Machine Cover for My Bernina?
I started this quilted machine cover for my Bernina 750QEE back in 2014, and you can read about how I made it in this post.  The fabric was heavily free motion quilted on the Bernina (this was before I was even considering purchasing a longarm machine), then the monogram was machine embroidered on the Bernina.  I added some bead bling by hand.  Unlike the (boring gray) cover that came with the machine, my cover was designed to fit the machine when it's recessed into my cabinet, and I incorporated a cutout at the back to slip around my multiple spool holder.  

No, This Is Just Not Cute Enough For Me
But I didn't like the way it gaped at the back opening, so I ordered a vintage 1950s frog closure from an Etsy seller...  and, when it arrived, I realized I had NO IDEA how to attach it to my sewing machine cover!

Well, after four years of not using this machine cover at all because it wasn't finished, I decided to go ahead and just DO IT on Saturday afternoon.  First, I hand basted the edges of the opening together with huge slipstitches, plain old all-purpose polyester thread, and then I basted the two halves of the frog closure in place with the same thread, using big, ugly stitches and trying to keep them away from where the "real" stitches would go.

Tacking the Frog In Place With Embroidery Floss
I found the right shade of turquoise DMC cotton embroidery floss in my stash, and just tacked the frog in place at the inside and outside points.  Two strands of floss at a time, three stitches at each point.  It's not going anywhere.  It sure felt good to FINISH SOMETHING!  

YAY!  I Finished Something!!!
You know, there are so many people who love to sew but shy away from trying any kind of hand stitching because they think it's too hard, it takes too long...  Well, when your machines are throwing tantrums and you're contemplating chucking them out the window just to watch them smash when they hit the lawn, there's nothing like the total control of hand stitching to clear your head and fill your confidence bucket again.  The needle goes exactly where I want it to go, every single stitch.  The tension is perfect, every single stitch.  No thread nests.  The worst thing that can happen in hand stitching is a knot, and the solution to that is simple -- cut a shorter length of thread next time!  

Yes, It Matches My Chair...
I also cut, joined, and pressed binding strips for my Paint Me A Story bear paw quilt over the weekend. 

Binding Ready to Go For My Bear Paw Quilt
After pressing the binding in half lengthwise, I wrapped it around one of my acrylic rulers before sliding it into a zippered plastic storage bag that came with a set of pillowcases.  I also included the binding thread spool and bobbin, because why hunt around for it later?  Now I've got the top pieced and pressed, the backing pieced and pressed, and the binding all ready to go for that project, all hanging neatly together in the guest room closet until I'm ready to quilt it.  That feels pretty good, too.

See How I Label Things Now That I'm Organized?
And remember how I told you all that I've joined the Charlotte Quilters' Guild?  Well, I noticed at the September meeting that everyone was wearing a handmade fabric name tag, so I've been thinking about making one for myself before the October meeting.  I have a few orphaned sawtooth star blocks made from beautiful hand marbled fabric that I was unable to use in my bear paw quilt because the red fabric was bleeding horribly, but I couldn't bear to toss them because I love the fabric so much...  Well, armed with the knowledge I gained from the Victorious Bloodbath of my Jingle Blocks, I decided to try soaking out the excess dye with hot water and Dawn dish washing liquid.  It worked!  

Bloody Orphan Blocks, Rescued and Redeemed
Aren't they cute?  The two larger blocks are 4 1/2" with seam allowances, and the smaller block is 3 1/2" including seam allowances.  Of course I like the baby-sized block the best, but if I'm going to hand embroider my name in the star I'm better off with one of the larger blocks.  Too bad my name is REBECCA instead of ANN or PAM!  

My plan is to baste additional fabric strips around the star block so I can hoop it properly and embroider my name, probably in white perle cotton.  Then, depending on my mood, I may or may not add some bobbinwork, additional hand embroidery, beading or whatever.  There needs to be some kind of batting and stiffener.  And I want to poke around Michael's and see if I can't find those super strong magnets for pinless badges, because I don't want my name tag to hang around my neck on strings like a feed bag.  But at least the blocks are ready to play with now.  Another itty-bitty win!

Pinned and Ready to Sew
Oh, and the other thing I got done over the storm weekend was pinning two more sets of pineapple blocks together, ready for machine stitching.  OH MY GOSH, pinning all those seams is a pain in the arse!  None of the seams nest and it takes me three or four tries to get each pin right through the seam line of both blocks.  I am starting to wonder whether it wouldn't be faster and more accurate to tack those seam intersections together with hand stitches.  What do y'all think?  I only have three out of six rows stitched together, and then there will be just as many seams needing to match when I join rows together.  This top would be done by now if the pinning wasn't so tedious!

Well, it's Monday now, the skies are Carolina blue again and the sun is shining.  APQS Tech Support is open and my APQS dealer has reached out to offer her help as well.  It's time to confront my enemy!  Wish me luck.

Today I'm linking up with:

Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework
Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  
Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts 
Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt 

Moving it Forward at Em’s Scrap Bag: 


Sharon said...

I know the feeling! Sometimes I just have to walk away and find something else to stitch so that I can calm down! Hope your tension is fixed and you are sewing away like you want to.

Preeti said...

The cover is so beautiful!!! Do you realize that your Bernina looks like a Chinese bride dressed in her finery on her way to the altar? Seriously, if you google images of Chinese brides you will see similar closures on the bridal outfits.

chrisknits said...

May the Luck Of The Irish follow you through the journeys at hand! Love the frogs on your sewing machine cover!! I need to get a cover made for mine, but I was just planning to use the same fabrics used in the window treatments. Now I think I have to make a bigger better one! LOL

Cynthia Brunz Designs said...

I too think that cover is very pretty. Your machine probably feels pretty special all bundled up in that finery. Thanks for sharing with Oh Scrap!

LA Paylor said...

Preeti is so funny! Well, if your small machine marries the long arm it could produce something wonderful. The cover is pretty. I have no idea how to match the logs unless you stop really caring if they're perfect. All those lines would really point out bad joins tho.

I saw a beat up long arm at an estate sale this weekend, and someone bought it for $2000 bucks. Wondered if they'd ever get the tension right.

Louise said...

Wow, that is one stunning sewing machine cover! Love the frog closure and that fabric makes me swoon :)

Tracy said...

Have you thought about using basting glue to keep the seams together? A micro dot of glue at the intersection might just do it. I have no patience with pins :)

KaHolly said...

You know how to switch gears and keep busy! Well done! With the seam allowances going in the same direction, don’t they get bulky?

SJSM said...

It does feel good to get little bits and pieces done. They are always at the back of your mind. Putting them one more step further along gives a sense of satisfaction. I do like your machine cover and frog. It adds that nice touch to your cover.

I’m glad to see you are no worse for wear with the storm. Now life can continue as you go about in the world.

Katie said...

Oooooo. If you find the magnets I'd like to know. I hate to hang the nametags around my neck (gives me a migraine) and also don't like pinning through some of my shirts. I never thought of the magnets. How cool! :-) Thank you!

Lynette said...

What a fine break - the cover is super pretty. :)