Monthly Archives: August 2015

Climbing out of the shambles

Since finishing my Fade to What Now? quilt, I’ve been restless. I’d been working on it for a long time and once I was done, I wanted to sew all the things, but couldn’t quite settle on one thing. I don’t tend to work on more than one or two projects at a time, so even though I had lots of free time, I’ve not been able to settle into any kind of useful sewing.

It didn’t help that my studio was a shambles. I’ve stopped calling it the living room. Since two of the cats live in it and the Germ has cat allergies, we rarely spend any time in there together, and we certainly never entertain in it, so it’s now officially my sewing studio. My 450 square feet “studio.”

Keeping it real, y'all

Keeping it real, y’all

That box on the floor is one of the places where the cats like to hang out, so it’s staying for now, but I’ll probably move it behind something. There is certainly no lack of furniture to stick it behind, that’s for sure.

The table behind the ironing board is a sewing table with a built-in Singer machine dating back to the mid-seventies. The machine isn’t working but it’s a workhorse so I’ll try to get it fixed at some point. I’ve moved it into a spare room for now.

The glass-front shop cabinet is where I store the bulk of my fabric and notions, but it too is a bit of a mess. (This photo is from when we moved in over a year ago and so nothing is where it was in the first photo.)

Vintage shop cabinet, scored an eBay from a fabric store that had closed.

Vintage shop cabinet, scored an eBay from a fabric store that had closed.

The other glass-front cabinet behind the shop cabinet is where I keep all of my Thomas Knauer fabrics, my sewing books, and some odds and ends. You can see it hiding in the far back corner of the first photo, next to the Singer table. I’d like to move those fabrics into my main collection in the shop cabinet, and use the empty cabinet for my notions. This cabinet sits in a bit of a nook (see next photo), and I’d like to move it to build shelves across the nook for my scrap boxes, which currently sit on the floor along the design wall. I have an idea of where I want the cabinet but will have to test it out before I commit to anything.

The teak cabinet next to the shop cabinet is a sewing cabinet with a sliding shelf to lower a sewing machine, but it’s for a standard-size machine so my Janome won’t fit in it. With the machine on top of it it’s way too high to use comfortably, plus I sew on another surface now. I’ll either find somewhere else in the house for it or *gasp* sell it.

SO – THAT NEW SEWING SURFACE? In April, my lovely carpenter brought over my new, custom sewing table. (Yes, that is how much light I have in my sewing room. Does this explain why my photos are such crap? Anyway.) In the photo, it is in its fully extended state, but the back legs fold up so that it’s usually about a meter wide. I think it’s about three meters long. It’s typically up against the window and it is mostly a dream to sew on, because I can pretty much have everything I need on the table as I sew, including scrap boxes, cutting mat, tools, etc. That said, the table top gets messy while I’m working, so I’ll either need a tool organizer to sit on top of it, or some sort of sliding drawer unit under the table where I can keep my tools while I’m working and when I’m done.

Table

Dreamy sewing table.

There are a couple of bugs with the table, but nothing that can’t eventually be fixed. The weight of the table has turned out to be too much for the back wheels, so they bent. I’ve removed all wheels until we can sort out a solution, which means I can’t extend the back  since the legs holding up the extension are now too long. The surface of my Janome isn’t entirely flat, so it’s not fully flush against the surface of the table, meaning that if I’m piecing, things jam up at the back end of the machine surface. This one isn’t a biggie since I’m aware of it so I know to hold things up until they’re over the bump. There’s also no hole for the knee lift, so I can’t use it at the moment, but that’s a small fix and I don’t use the knee lift enough for it to be troublesome.

Not pictured is a huge sideboard where I keep magazines and such, but I’d like to move them elsewhere so I can make better use of it. Maybe they could go on the planned book shelves. Or maybe I’ll get a Kallax from Ikea to stick in that nook instead? Ideas, ideas.

All this, and a longarm coming into the space in the next few months.

Can you maybe see why I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by the space?

This past weekend I got a start on sorting out the space. We moved the sofa to the front room so we can now sit on it with our feet up while having a coffee and watching the planes go by. In summer we do this outside, but winter is coming (Har har! I don’t even watch that show.) I’ll keep the armchair in place for cat cuddling, but I’m not entirely sure what to do with the coffee table. It’s a gorgeous mid-century teak table, but I don’t really have much use for it, nor anywhere else in the house to put it. I’ll think of something. Definitely *not* selling it.

Then I picked up all the scrap bins and piled them up in a corner and gave the room a very deep cleaning. I took almost everything off of the various surfaces so I don’t have to keep shuffling things from side to side to find things. I’ll spend this week plus next weekend moving things around an reorganizing, and then show you some after pictures.

As for sewing, there’s a different kind of sewing going on in the studio right now.

Garments

I want to sew all the clothes. When did that happen?! This book has amazing (if sparsely written) patterns.

The Whine and Cheese Quilt

“The colour of their  bedroom? Uh… sort of yellow? And wine?” said the 16-year-old son of our friends, for whom I was making a surprise silver anniversary quilt.

  1. Are you sure?
  2. Ugh, really?

This quilt was already starting out from the very far corner of the depths of the dog house, because the combination of yellow and wine has never even entered my resolution.

But off I went, rummaging through my stash to find yellow- and wine-coloured fabrics that actually went together. There wasn’t much there, I didn’t think, so off I went to the Dutch fabric market in Freising in the hopes of finding something to go with what little I could find, and found nothing except for background fabric, of which, it would transpire, I bought a questionably small amount.

I was planning to make Tula Pink’s Fade to Pink quilt, except for it needing to be yellow. AND wine. Have I mentioned? About the yellow and the wine? Ugh.

But off I went, reassessing what I had in the stash and buying a massive amount of fabric from Doughty’s Online (great shop), partly for the front and mostly for the back, of which, it would transpire, I would use very little, because the yellow? It was brown. Which I now have in my stash, a stash in which it has no brown to keep it company, because, as lazy daisy says, brown is not a colour.

So I started cutting, and things were looking pretty awful. I had to rearrange a few times and to replace some of the fabrics that just didn’t seem to work together.

The first try was just wrong. The brown. No.

The second try was getting there in terms of the colours, but the darks seemed to overwhelm the lights and the whole thing looked unbalanced. Still the brown’s fault.

The third try had all my bells ringing.

And then I started piecing, and though I wasn’t wholly convinced, it was kind of, sort of looking not terrible.

And then I pieced the top together, and huh. It was kind of okay!

basic top

That’s not terrible at all!

The original pattern is for an 80″x80″ quilt, which would be a little too small, so I had to come up with some creative expansion—I should say this right now: I don’t like quilts with borders—at which point the background fabric shortage reared its ugly head. Luckily there was another Dutch fabric market in Munich, so I rushed off to get some more fabric from the same vendor, only to discover he no longer had it. I wept. Then I bought three meters of a fabric with a different pattern, but the same colours.

When we moved into this house a year and a half ago, I popped into Ikea one day to get some shelving, and found a single yellow duvet set in their returns room. I didn’t have a plan for it but it seemed a good pattern and a good colour so I’d kept it in my stash and thought no more of it. The yellow seemed to work so I popped it out of the packaging, only to find out that it had a yellow-on-white pattern on the reverse! KISMET! I took it all apart and cut a few stripes of the yellow-on-white to make the border strip, then surrounded it by another wide strip of the background fabric, for a finished quilt top of around 95″x95″. In the end the original purchase ended up sufficing. It’s still a border and I’m still not a fan, but it’s subtle enough.

Then I went on holiday and tried to rouse some inspiration for what I would do with the back. I looked for inspiration all over Sweden!

And then we came home and I found it right there, where I had apparently left it!

From there it was a race to the finish. I had less than a week to finish putting together the back, quilting, and binding before the anniversary party. The back took nearly an entire Saturday, and I basted it that same day. I spent the entire Sunday plus three more evenings during the week quilting straight lines in the sashing. I attached the binding on the Wednesday night and started hand sewing the binding the next night. Four episodes of The Good Wife (Hey! SpyDaddy was on The Good Wife!) later, at 1:30am, I was halfway through. The next day we drove up to the party (five hours away) and I sat in the back of the car and did most of the rest. Things you discover when you sit in the back seat sewing: appalling shocks. I did the last meter of binding late into the night once we’d arrived. The next day I sprayed out the water-soluble markings and took it out for a bit of a photo shoot. (Tip from a champ: photographing yellow things outdoors is like one of those Facebook party invites that go viral and a thousand people turn up at your three-bedroom suburban house for the party your parents didn’t know you were having, except they’re bugs.)

But I finished in time for the party and you can add this one to the list of quilts that I didn’t much enjoy making but ended up not wanting to give away.

Finished top

Finished back

Finished back

Quilting detail

 

(They just called – they loved it!)