Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Giverny Teleidoscope Quilt Progress + Custom Sewing Cabinet Modifications

I'm still chugging along with my son's high school graduation quilt, in fits and snatches!  The real challenge is coming up with new pictures for each post about it, because it looks pretty much the same up on the design wall regardless of whether seams have been sewn together yet!  

Giverny Teleidoscope In Progress

You can't see the whole thing in the photo above, but the top six rows have corners attached and blocks sewn together into rows.  I have three more rows to go with attaching corners and joining blocks into rows.  There are no borders planned for this quilt, so once the top has been sewn together, it will be ready for quilting.

Rows Coming Together...

One thing that is helping me tremendously, now that I'm dealing with larger pieces of fabric under the needle of my machine, is that my husband cut a hole out of the maple butcher block surface of my sewing cabinet so we could recess my machine again.  The butcher block top was so beautiful when we brought it home a couple months ago that I was reluctant to cut into it and wanted to see whether I really, really needed to have my machine recessed first.

My Sweetie Cut a Hole In My Butcher Block Top for Me!

So I tried it for awhile with my my machine sitting on top of the butcher block, with the extension bed attached.  Two things: I found that this put the bed of my sewing machine a little too high for me to be comfortable for long periods, and if I raised the height of my sewing chair or stool, then I had to reach too much with my right foot to reach the pedal that operates the machine, and that was making my lower back twist at an angle.  I persevered, partly because clearing off the sewing machine cabinet and bringing power tools into the studio would disrupt my work flow.  But as soon as it was time to sew the binding on a finished quilt, I realized that yes, I really DO need my machine to be recessed into the cabinet, because having the machine surface flush with the tabletop drastically -- DRASTICALLY!! -- reduces the gravity problem whereby the weight of a large, heavy quilt pulls it away from the needle and makes it difficult to keep your seam perfectly straight and even when sewing on binding.  Having the machine surface flush with your cabinet top makes seaming large sections of a quilt top together easier and makes free motion quilting on a domestic machine much easier, too.  So we carefully traced the clear acrylic Horn insert onto my butcher block top, making sure that my machine's needle would be centered in front of me when I'm seated at the cabinet, and then out came the saw...

Stationary Shelf Inspired by Vintage Featherweight Cabinet Design

One thing we did differently this time was to skip the machine lift altogether and build a stationary shelf for my sewing machine instead, modeled after the vintage card tables and oval cabinets that Singer produced for their Featherweight sewing machines.  I've had two different types of lifts on my cabinets in the past and never loved either of them.  I take this machine out of its hole so rarely, only when I want to use the embroidery module, and I'll just move it to the back of the table for that from now on.

I know I'm a day late for the To-Do on Tuesday linky, but that's because I was still finishing up Row 6 last night and I was too close to the finish line to stop and write a blog post about missing it!

Last Week's Personal Sewing Goals:

  • Seam kaleidoscope backing & set aside
  • ✅  Attach corners to kaleidoscope blocks & assemble rows 4-6
  •  Begin hand stitching the bear paw binding

This Week's Goals:

  • Attach corners to kaleidoscope blocks & assemble rows 7-8
  • Finish hand stitching bear paw binding
  • Two E2E quilts for clients, one of which I'm binding as well

I'm linking up today's post with my favorite linky parties:


To-Do Tuesday at ChrisKnits


Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter


Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  


Cheree @ The Morning Latte said...

When I had my Bernina, I had a cabinet that was made specifically for it. My new machine didn't fit (and the cabinet was out of style) so I went with an Ikea desk (amazingly sturdy for Ikea) that I have loved from day one but I do miss that lower machine. I know that a higher chair would cause the same issue with not reaching the pedal but I'm still on the hunt for a good one and when I find it, I think I'm going to have hubs make some sort of stand for the foot pedal. Anyhoo, I do like that you gave in and cut into that butcher block top--totally understand the hesitation--but it's so important to be comfortable when we sit there for so long.

LA Paylor said...

good job on the table!

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

that cut out for your machine is wonderful! I don't have one and always have to have my chair at the highest level and my table at the lowest level - it works as I don't machine quilt but can see how this would help so much with your sewing - we might not be able to see the progress on the quilt but it looks good.

Jennifer Fulton Inquiring Quilter said...

Congratulations! I know you'll love having your sewing machine recessed. That butcher block table looks gorgeous! What a pretty place to sew. Thanks for sharing your progress on Wednesday Wait Loss.

MissPat said...

I bought a large sectional sewing table with a lift for my machine many years ago (I think it was Koala and I bought it from Connecting Threads. I can't imagine free motion quilting without it. Will your husband turn the butcher block cut out into a cutting board? You're making great progress on the quilt.

piecefulwendy said...

The quilt is looking fantastic! That change to your butcher block looks really great, but I can certainly understand the hesitation to cut into it. We've debated doing the same for the table I sit at, which is definitely not the right height for me (hubs made it for himself, he's 6'6" and I'm 5'4" on a good day), but my machine has storage that wraps around the bed, so I'd have to figure out how to be able to access that. Guess I could remove it, though. Hmm.

Michele in Harrisburg said...

I have a Horn table with the recessed shelf and clear acrylic insert for my machine and I love it. It actually feels awkward to sew without the machine bed being level with the table top. It is definitely easier to deal with larger pieces of fabric with less pulling and dragging. A blessing for my back, shoulders, etc. And we replaced the hydraulic base if my sewing chair when it went kaput. Every 10 minutes I had to raise myself back up to a comfortable height, before slowly sinking again. Being comfortable allows you to concentrate on the work and takes care of your body at the same time. Your butcher block top is beautiful. Enjoy!

Marti said...

I love that pattern and yours is a beauty. I had to laugh when you said you have to come up with new ways to show it; I have the same problem with every quilt I make because it takes me so long to show any changes.

Kate said...

The graduation quilt is coming together beautifully. Lots of fun fabrics in those blocks. I bought a new sewing table with the recessed machine slot, it's done wonders for improving the ergonomics. Now I can sew all day and not hurt for a couple of days afterwards. Enjoy your new set up. Good luck with this week's to do list.

Jenny K. Lyon said...

I can't imagine sewing long periods without my machine being set in. Lucky you to have a handy Hubby! Why didn't you like the lifts? I've always wanted one - good to know that it's not all that it's cracked up to be!

Vicki in MN said...

I too thought of having hubby cut out and lower my machine, but like Wendy said as we have the same machine! You guys did a great job!

Carole @ From My Carolina Home said...

What a great solution, your sweetie did a fabulous job!

DonnaleeQ said...

Wow, that is wonderful. What a great idea and sure does make life wonderful. Husband did a great job.

The Joyful Quilter said...

My husband did the same for my "quilting" machine. I wasn't taking that beast ANYWHERE!! A stationery shelf worked just tine for me.

chrisknits said...

I love your progress on the top! Such a striking combo of prints and solid. I have a cabinet that won't allow us to recess my machine because the width of the machine would cut into the right side cabinet wall. When I bought the cabinet 2nd hand I didn't even think about that! I have an Ikea table we have considered doing that with, but then I would lose the work surface it provides. So I just muddle on and move the machine to the kitchen table if I need a larger surface.

Susan said...

I'm all for recessing the machine in the table top. There's nothing like having it even with the table.

dq said...

You are looking fantastic on your goals. You are setting them high yet achievable!
I just love the rich colors in this quilt as well as a peek inside your sewing space.