Thursday, December 26, 2013

Oh Goodie Lots!

My quiltin daughter, Tracy has set out to make a whole bunch of mini quilts.  Me, I have set out to whittle a whole bunch of Santa ornaments for Christmas 2014.  Since I'm retired and can pick and choose my whittlin time; I've got a huge advantage of folks who have to work for a living.  So I know I'll meet my goals.  I start every day whittling (carve with only a knife) with my morning coffee.  I whittle at least one Santa ornament or pin each day of the year.

Here's my daughters start:
The largest of these is about 16 x 16 inches.
Here's my start: Whittled on December 25th and 26th.
I'll end up with about 360 of these, each one different.  Most of these whittlings will be finished natural or darkened a wee bit, but some will be painted.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

New class project starts!

My maleness (not to mention my skills) will be tested today.  I still co-teach a quilting class, and am the only male in it.  We're doing a purse today.  No, not a man bag, a real honest to goodness female purse.  It will be quilted though.  I just cut fabric, assemble squares, assemble squares into flat quilt tops, and quilt the flat piece.  So, you see the challenge ahead for me.  Today I am a student.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Lesson #3290 - Bent needle!

For a while I thought I was loosing it.  Started putting the binding on a new quilt.  I machine sew one side and use a blind stitch on the other.  When it's done correctly one never sees the stitch.  Well, everything started out fine.  Good progress was being made.  Then I couldn't sew a stitch without the needle going all the way through to the quilt top.  I thought I'd had a stroke or something.  Further checking, and I found that the needle was bent.  This meant that sometimes as a made a stitch the needle was pointed up and sometimes down.  When pointed down, the needle went too deep.....And the needle was not bent all that much....just a wee bit.  New needle, no problem!  Thus the 3290 lesson that I learned this year....

Friday, September 20, 2013

Santa Is Coming!

A sample of some whittlings for the Christmas season....
Tree ornaments, pins, and earrings.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Quilt Class Activity

Some know that I help several others instruct a quilting class at the local Senior Center.  Here's some samples that the class has completed in the last several months;  and some that are in the process.  I am sure that you can see that these ladies are quite talented quilters.  In fact they have far out run my humble talents.

Blocks ready to assemble for a Christmas quilt.

Some blocks for a Halloween wall hanging.

Completed large quilt.

Detail of the machine quilting on the top of large quilt.

Detail of the quilting on the back of the large quilt.

Quilted tote.

Quilted tote.

Demonstration on proper method of assembling long strips of assembled blocks with sashing.

Table topper.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Practice is Over - Now the real Thing

The Voyager 17 and the Hinterberg Stretch Frame are cleaned and reassembled.  I've loaded and unloaded practice non quilted sandwiches, and adjusted the machine for a good machine quilting stitch.  I've practiced and practiced operating the long arm.  All the while, I've been assembling a twin quilt top to put on the long arm.  The quilt top is done and assembled with batting and the back, on the frame.  A new needle and full bobbin has been installed in the Voyager.  I've consulted with an experienced long arm operator, for a list of swear words that are appropriate for quilting on a long arm machine system.  I can't think of anything else - Let's give it a try!

Several hours later.....Long arm machine operating smoothly.  After a minor upper tension adjustment (due to different batting) the machine quilting stitch is fine.  It's working fine as long as the operator does what he is supposed to do.  I need to work on remembering to lower the presser foot when operating.....I have a small sign that reads LOWER THE FOOT.  I'll be making a larger sign....

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Sewing Machine

Just sittin in the shop/quilt work area and assembling a queen size quilt.  The individual blocks are all assembled, and I'm sewing them into the rows.  Kind of a boring step, and my mind some times wanders.  Some times when this happens, the blocks get sewed backwards, upside down, or inside out.  But other times I can't help but marvel at what my little Singer Featherweight does.  My Featherweight is an older model, and I sometimes can't help but think of the original owner using it.  Sooner or later I think about a time before the sewing machine was invented.  When you stop and think about it, the sewing machine hasn't been around all that long.  Think about clothes 220 years ago.  Hand made.  "Hand made" then meant needle and thread.  Fifty years ago I remember asking my grandmother what invention meant the most to her in her life.  Without thinking about it she said the sewing machine, the electric sewing machine. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Multi Functional Space!

My wood shop has now been downsized to eliminate space for any cabinet making.  Long arm quilter is now taking that space.  I still have some stuff to eliminate but I am already "multi tasking".  Currently I am switching back and forth between sewing squares for a large quilt, practicing machine quilting on the long arm quilter,  wood carving, and painting the carvings.

One observation worth sharing is that the language one may use when accidentally cutting the nose off a carving, and when quilting squares do not match up is virtually the same.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Whittling vs Quilting

I enjoy quilting and whittling equally.  However, there are some HUGE differences.  Take set-up time!  If I want to do some machine/long arm quilting I have to have the quilt nearly done, and on the frame.  This is fine if you have a quilt ready to put on the machine.  Well, it is and it isn't.  It takes some time to load the long arm with the quilt top, batting, and back.  But when whittling, just grab a piece of wood and your pocket knife.  My pieces of wood have been cut into shape on the scroll saw, and are usually in my pocket with my pocket knife.  I think you get my drift.....

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Quilting Class Display

I am fortunate to be one of the instructors of a quilting class at the local Senior Center.  Several years ago the class started as a beginner class.  The class members had all at one time or the other used a sewing machine, but the actual quilting was new to most.  The class is still together since they all get along so well, and they put up with me.  Most have advanced well beyond my best efforts.  This is a display of the classes work over and beyond quilts.  We still make regular sizes of quilts, but for the display cabinets, the smaller projects were selected.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Intervention Dream!

This is too funny not to post.  You all now know why I haven't posted any thing lately.  I am in the process of kind of converting my wood shop into a quilting studio. with a long arm quilter as the main feature.  This morning my wife told me that she had a dream about my wood shop last night.  In her dream all of my buddies had stopped by and staged an intervention, to convince me not to convert the wood shop to a quilting studio.  She went on to say that her only concern was, what was she going to feed them all.  I asked her if my buddies were successful.   She replied, "I don't know, I woke up."

I am, however putting together a step-by-step on whittling a pair of Christmas earrings....This will be up soon.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Voyager 17 Quilting stitches

Those who have set up, adjusted, and used a long arm quilting machine will understand when I say that I am happy to achieve this much on this machine.  This longarm quilter has been in storage in a garage for a number of years.  The parts were not covered and various spiders and rodents regularly visited.  And as I remember, it was always a tempermental machine.  After cleaning, lubricating, reassembling, and adjusting the system it's operational.  What remains is for me to spend lots of time practicing and getting to know this machine.  Here's a sample of what I am so happy about.  The print side is the top, and the plain side the bottom.

The stitches are there!  I'll next load some plain dark fabric so the top stitches will stand out.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

First efforts!

The first attempts at sewing a series of tests stitches, was a mixed bag.  Everything seemed to work as well as I thought they would, until I looked at the back of the quilt.  OK, maybe not so well.  Then I noticed that the first stitches were fairly okay when moving up and down, but not okay when going side to side I replaced the needle, after it was suggested by Lisa, a member of the HINTERBERG QUILTERS Yahoo Group.  This helped, however, I will check the rollers on the machine carriage to make sure they are well lubricated and in contact with the rails that the carriage ride on.

So far, the problems encountered seem solvable by me.  However, many questions still need answered.  Here's a few:

1.  The needle seems to "stick" when coming up through the quilt.
2.  The back rail that through the sewing machine, and takes up the quilted quilt seems way to low to take up much quilt.
3.  The "tightness" of the stitches seems too loose.

Tomorrow, when the temperature is under 90 degrees I'll re thread the machine and add more tension on the top thread.  I'll also check the rollers on the carriage. 

I am also trying to find better instructions that explain the position of the  quilt "take-up" Rail.

Maybe I'll also get a book on brain surgery and give it a try.......

Monday, July 15, 2013

Maybe Tommorow!

Loaded up a test quilt sandwich.  This I will use to see what problems there might be that I must identify and over come.  Then I'll adjust the machine.  This activity will wait until after a good nights sleep.  Being the pessimist that I am, I must be ready for some problems...


Sunday, July 14, 2013

SLR Attached

Finally attached the Stitch Length Regulator (SLR).  This is the control that lets you move the sewing machine in all directions and at any speed, while the length of the quilt stitches remain the same.  The manufacturer of the SLR states that this attachment "Helps" maintain the same stitch length....We'll soon see whether the gizmo does, doesn't, or just helps......

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Long Arm Quilting System Reassembled

After surviving disassembling, moving, and storage in a garage. and transport across the country; only a few bolts were missing.  But it looks like it is supposed to look - I think.  I've cleaned and oiled the machine, and tomorrow will clean the rails and wax the frame.  Next will be the purchase of some batting, so I can "load" the system and begin to adjust the machine.

Woodshop Nearly Transformed

This is the space where the long arm quilting system will be set up.  I still have quite a bit of sorting and disposal to accomplish.  But 20+ years of accumulating stuff is not all that easy to dispose off, in a few days.
There will be lots of natural light, from windows and French doors that face the east.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Woodshop transition to Quilt Studio

This job has become more work than I thought it would be.   You see, woodworkers are a lot like quilters.  Both keep and build a stash of materials.  The real difference is that wood and scraps of wood are dusty - very dusty.  I knew I would have a hard time throwing out lots of stuff.   I started by developing a strategy that involved giving my large dust collector system to a friend who has a large dump trailer.  My idea was that without the dust collector system I would not start any wood projects,  Plus, I could borrow the dump trailer to take stuff to the dump.  Everything got off to a good start.  However, there exists a predetermined order of what happens when one decides to clean and get rid of stuff.  This is that order, as I have discovered:

1.  As you sort you want to keep everything.
2.  After deciding that you cannot keep everything you do start selecting some things to get rid of.
3.  As time goes by, you decide on more and more stuff to dispose of.
4.  Lunch time, and you loose the "groove" by the time you return to the clean up.
5.  The worse case scenario is that after lunch you begin to go through the throw away pile and return stuff to the keep pile.

Oh well! Back to get into the groove again......I keep telling myself that it will be worth it.  You have to visualize that "shop" area becoming a quilt making area.

Friday, June 28, 2013

More Fun To Come!

Where the heck have I been?  Traveling that's where.  5500 Miles on van in three weeks.  Went to California to see granddaughter graduate from HS and visit.  Brought back my daughters longarm system.  The quilter is a VOYAGER 17 married to the HINTERBURG long frame.  This system has all the bells and whistles.  When my daughter moved she had the movers take the quilter apart and move it to storage.  I brought it home and will reassemble the system, get it going and put it to use.  I am still co-instructing a quilting class at the senior center, and plan to have the quilter available for the class members if they wish to quilt their work themselves.  To accomplish this, I am cleaning out my wood shop and will transform it into a quilting "workshop".

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Veterans Quilt

Some veterans at our local senior center organized an effort to recognize all veterans by designing and making a quilt.  This quilt will be on display at the senior center.  Any veteran or anyone wishing to honor a veteran could have a square in the quilt.  A quilting class that I co-teach assembled and will finish this quilt.  Both myself, co-instructors, and the class proud to be involved in this project.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Returned from Florida!  Now must get motivated to get to work.  Still with the quilting group at the local senior center, and carving too.  Just not much lately.  Here's some photos of the neighbor girls chickens. 

The grave is for a "loyal" chicken who passed on.  Chickens name was HI.  Notice the Gnomes that are in mourning.....

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Whittling For St. Patricks Day

I am usually in Florida for St. Patricks Day, so I try to have some whittled Leprechaun pins and such ready before I travel.  The pins make great little gifts to waitresses when we eat out.  They even work with bartenders; and I've been known to trade for beer....

Here's an array of projects that have made the trip in the past.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Summer Quilt Finally Getting Finished.

This "summer quilt" measures 90 inches by 90 inches.  It is made of 30's look fabric, with lots of white.  The binding is from the same 30's fabric as the quilt, and is almost half way done.  360 inches is a lot on hand work - for me.  But I do like the look of this quilt.  Reminds me of the old quilts that I grew up with.
Since I'm still helping teach a quilting class at the senior center, I have to make a quilt every now and then just to show the new ladies that I can.  Little story about this.  This just happened last week.  The class just enrolled a new member, and she was very suspicious of a male being able to sew and make a quilt.  In fact, I don't think she thought I could.  After I showed her how to assemble her squares so that the corners matched, and how to make up her binding and attach it she must have rethought her position.  I overheard her talking to herself as she sewed.  This is what I heard:  "I can't believe it! a man just showed me how to sew.  Wait till I tell Mary, she won't believe it either".

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Beginners No More!

A few years ago we started a beginners quilting class at the local senior center.  We started with about 10 ladies.  They all had at one time or another used a sewing machine, but few had ever completed a quilt.  The group bonded immediately.  The two class instructors (myself and a very experienced quilter) lead the class the first year, and were supplemented with another experienced quilter after the first year.  Here are some random photos of some of the projects that the class is working on.  The "beginners" are still basically together, but as you can see, are no longer beginners.