Posts Tagged With: Quilting Tools

Fight the Chaos Friday – March edition

SO the February Challenge list included

  • Clear out your hand sewing basket/box; replenish supplies
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So this time when I grabbed my handwork bag, I actually had what I needed when I opened it up!

  • clear out a drawer or shelf into 3 piles: keep, use or donate (see your Priority One list)
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this is BEFORE – who made this mess?

 

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I found everything from a bag of chalk to misc. leather straps and even some boxes of vintage singer attachments.

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And I found my long lost bag containing my thimble collection

 

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… and AFTER!

  • Pick a UFO to keep working on – Just 1!
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The pieces to this UFO are cut and setting right by my machine so that I stich a little every time I sit down!

  • Clean the floor, window, vents, lights in your sewing room

CHECK, CHECK, CHECK and CHECK!

Now, this is progress! Every single little step is helping me be more productive!

Even if you haven’t checked off all of your goals for February, take another shot at it this month. Just one item per week for March:

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HERE is your free printable.

 

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Fight the Chaos Friday – February edition

The Sister and I have a Challenge going this year. We are going to fight the chaos and conquer the clutter in our sewing studios. I call it “studio” because that sounds more like serious business whereas “sewing room” sounds like an option. It’s a mind game with myself. She has a bit of an advantage since she thinks and even breathes in a more orderly fashion than I do. But, I’m giving it my best shot.

So, we started the year off with a once-a-week list called Fight the Chaos Fridays and last month it focused on:

  • Put away gifts and Clean the work area
  • Clean machine, including a new needle and Put a new blade in the rotary cutter
  • Cut fabric that has accumulated on cutting table into usable sizes
  • List and post projects and due dates

Here are the BEFORE and AFTER shots of my “work area” i.e. cutting table.

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Remember I cropped out the really messy part.

 

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Amazing how this open space motivates me!

You can tell already it is a necessary challenge. And you will be more convinced as the year moves along and you see the other BEFORE pictures I will post – as often as I can stand the embarrassment.

And you’ll agree that it’s a good thing Sister was here for a visit last month to get me off to a strong start. Here’s some more of the work area AFTER we fought through the chaos.

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And an empty ironing board is actually quite handy.

While Sister2 was here we went on a hunt to find creative storage for the “useable pieces” we cut from my accumulated scraps.

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We stuck gold! What a pile of treasures!

 

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The Colorado sister’s creativity tells us that 2 1/2″ squares can be tucked away in so many places – even a little chicken feeder!

 

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My 2 1/2″ squares fit perfectly in the little drawers of the tin space cabinet. Thank you for the gift, sister!

And now, as you can see above, there is a place at the end of my vintage ammo box to hang our Spools for Tools project (get pattern HERE) which holds my favorite rulers – like the skini minis by Martelli with their wonderful non-slip backing.

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A metal vintage film reel box is just the right size for the Colorado sister’s 5″ squares!

 

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And this vintage metal filing drawer is filling up with my 5″ squares. My own “pre-cut” charm square stash!

 

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The 10″ squares (some call them layer cakes) will be tucked away in this portable school desk I just couldn’t resist.

 

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This beautiful spool cabinet, found on her Florida road trip, is just the right size for Sister 2’s 10″ squares. (and some 5″ strips she added to the equation.)

 

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For now my 2 1/2″ strips will nestle in this metal mesh lantern so that I can see them in their light, medium, and dark glory.

The whole cutting process to get control of accumulated scraps has been addictive! Probably because we have been using some templates made by Martelli. The non-slip backing grips through about 8 layers of fabric and you can turn the template without the fabric slipping! If you want a set of non-slip templates to help you cut those “pre-cut” sizes, send me an email (SistersAtHeartMilesApart@gmail.com) and we’ll give you a special Stitching Sisters price. Look HERE under Template for Precuts for details.

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These non-slip templates make cutting your own “pre-cut” sizes so easy!

So, how’s the rest of my Fight the Chaos Friday list?

In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that I still have a little work to do as far as cleaning my machines. And my project To Do list is right on the Notes section of my calendar, although some of the due dates are a little flexible.

Remember, it’s a year-long effort so celebrate the things you check off each week and don’t worry about what is still left to do. Trust me, honey, it’ll still be there when you find it on our challenge list in a few weeks.

We’d love to hear from you if you think of things we have missed. And we’d love to see pictures of your progress!

Here’s the list for February:

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Since it’s the first Friday of the month, you can get your FREE February printable checklist HERE.

Categories: Fight the Chaos Fridays, Inspire Me! | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Stitching with Marci Baker

FL Sister id tag

It all started at the Colorado Quilt Council’s show two years ago when Marci Baker’s booth was across from us. We were both entertained – in fact, the Colorado sister was mesmerized – by the way that Marci manipulated strips into triangles and triangles into dimensional blocks and cubes. We quickly became fans – and that was before we learned about the “unsewing” technique she has!

Because she had way more hot tips than we could gather while we were working at that show, Cindy arranged to have Marci come to lead a workshop at the Calico Quilters in Brush, CO. And, due to her organizational skills, I was there for a visit at just the right time. So, we got to do that class together.

When I got home with the news of the fun we had and the great stuff we learned, the Pensacola Quilters guild invited Marci to visit Florida and I got my guest room ready to host her. (It also motivated me to clean my studio!) That is the story that leads up to my week Stitching with Marci Baker!

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Here’s the proof: Marci at my cutting table!

Some of the guild officers and workshop leaders came for lunch to start the week off right and then Marci gave a presentation on foundation paper piecing for the evening guild meeting.

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Her techniques are available in print as well.

Then she taught an all day class from her book ABC 3-D Tumbling blocks.

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Looks difficult – but’s it’s done in strips so it’s not hard!

The next day I offered her several field trip options but her response was, “If you wouldn’t mind, could we just spend the day in your studio sewing?” Are you kidding me!?!?! Don’t you just dream of company that will make that request? And that’s what we did.

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It really works! More on this later!

In the process of working on a project for her next book, I gleaned some great tips on sewing strips together, using that wonderful little purple strip (Sewing Edge) to sew a consistent 1/4″ seam, and … you can get some good stuff HERE.

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Sewing on her top secret project! My lips are sealed!

Then she gave a color workshop which was wonderfully interactive and informative.

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Her color exercises were fun and nurtured friendship as well as knowledge.

As we sorted the fabric samples we each brought, we learned that a black and white photo can help you determine which fabrics fit into different categories. It is so much easier when you aren’t distracted by the colors!

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Here’s the full colored version. Can you pick out the pieces that are out of order?

 

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See how much easier it is in the black & white version?

Her last presentation, at the Thursday morning guild meeting, included some of her quilts.

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This Honeycomb Waffle is sewn together in strips! No set-in seams!

We celebrated the completion of a full week with dinner at the beach – including a view of the sunset. (Thank you, Dietz, for being such a good sport during a week so saturated with all things fabric!)

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A new friend – the best find of the week!

Marci is such an easy guest to have and such an easy teacher to learn from. We recommend her and appreciate her personally and professionally. You can contact her for workshops and presentations HERE.

PS -The greatest achievement of the week was that I was finally convinced of the benefits of “starties and stoppies” (you may call them spiders or tags or …). She had 25 reasons to use those little fabric pieces but the reason that finally got through to me was the fewer times I will replace the bobbin!

Thanks for coming, Marci! Come again!

 

 

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Singer Featherweight Class

Tutorial Tuesdays header

 

Learn to fix a featherweight? Well ….

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Featherweights have an interesting history and have not diminished in popularity.

I freely confess that I am not the mechanically inclined sister. Matter of fact I’m not sure either of us would be classified as a master mechanic. But we both do have a very robust “Can Do!” gene that sits alongside a hearty “Why Not Try It!” gene. So, when I heard that Nancy Troyer of Long Arm Machine Quilting was coming to Pensacola to teach a class on maintaining your Singer featherweight machine, I thought that even if I didn’t master the process I would at least be better off than if I didn’t even go. (low expectations for myself)

 

Nancy is a wonderful teacher – she goes step by step and gives clear instructions so that everyone in the class feels like conquering  the challenge is possible. Even her class supply list is eye opening:

  • A towel – spreading it under the machine while you work means that if you drop a screw or other small piece it won’t go bouncing along the floor.
  • A magnetic pin holder – a great place to stash screws or bolts or other small pieces so they don’t get misplaced.
  • Paper towels – these are a must have since the gunk that accumulates inside a machine is surprising.
  • Old toothbrush – for cleaning gears with kerosene
  • Tweezers – for reaching small pieces of lint and grime
  • Screwdriver – for removing various plates and covers
  • etc.
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Hot tip for making a lint brush: straw and pipe cleaner

We started the cleaning and rejuvenating process by removing the bottom panel, cleaning the inside and replacing the pad. Then we opened every nook and cranny, cleaning and lubricating as we went. Nancy stressed the difference between oils and lubricants – lubricate gears and put oil in the oil ports.

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The hook assembly – especially the tiny, minute screw – is to be treated with care. Expensive to replace and absolutely vital!

Next we took off the throat plate to clean by the hook assembly. Special care has to be given to the hook assembly which houses the bobbin case. It’s better to use a wooden cuticle stick instead of a screwdriver if you need to remove it. Even the smallest scratch can cause the thread to snag and break when the machine begins to stitch. The vital piece of information about cleaning this part of the machine is that the positioning finger must be in place before you replace and tighten the throat plate. The timing of the machine will be fine as long as the hook assembly and positioning finger is placed correctly.

And here’s a hot tip about vintage bobbin cases: they are stamped with SIMANCO. New replacement bobbin cases often do not fit well so guard your vintage case as if it were gold.

When we got to the place that the motor needed to be cared for, we learned that carbon brushes are what makes the motor run. There needs to be at least ¼” of carbon on the brush or the machine motor will not work.

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In fact running it without adequate carbon can ruin the motor. Checking the carbon brushes should be done with great caution and care. Success depends on the pressure you use to remove the screw as the carbon brush is on a spring. And the screw is brittle, aged plastic which can break easily.

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Remove the screw carefully as it is under pressure from the attached screw.

We did not open the housing around the motor but we did lubricate it using the techniques she taught us.

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A belt in good condition makes a difference in the efficiency of the machine. We learned some great tricks including the use of vinyl tubing over screwdrivers when changing the belt to allow for leverage without scratching the machine. The motor can be raised a bit if the belt needs to be loosened.

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Note the vinyl around the screwdriver!

 

Last but not least, the front panel needs to be removed so that the parts there can be cleaned and oiled.

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Singer machine manuals are a great resource.

 

The five hour class was filled with valuable information and expertise. So, this is just a summary to let you know that it can be done. Remember Singer originally advertised that the machine was constructed so that “the average housewife” would be capable of caring for it and maintaining it.

If a class is offered close to where you are, I recommend that you take advantage of it. Or contact Nancy and see if she is available to travel to your area to give the class. It is worth every penny!

 

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For class information, you can get in touch with Nancy HERE.

PS – Just a couple of weeks after the class Dietz and I were on a vacation/business trip in Tennessee and we stopped at Pickers Paradise where I saw a small black case stashed under a table behind some other things. I knew without looking inside that it was going home with me when I saw the price tag. When I opened the lid the first thing I saw was a tray holding a box of attachments! And the 1934 featherweight will give me a great chance to practice all I’ve learned.  

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Now I need to apply what I learned from Nancy to this little prize!

Come on, Sister, we can do this!

(NOTE: This is not a comprehensive guide to maintaining your machine, but rather a summary. Contact Nancy for expert advice or research the process via YouTube videos.)

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Tools to make stitches bloom

FL Sister id tagI’ll never be a master gardener. I have faced that reality and I’m really okay with that. Proof of that is easy to find.

For instance, there is the one out of three survival rate in my lavender planting attempts.

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Is that the surviving one or the dead one?

And the fact that I lovingly wrapped a ‘ grapevine’ around our creek side swing only to be told it was in fact a noxious briar vine.

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It really would look better with a vine wrapped around it.

Not to be forgotten is the result of my attempt to root a rose bush by sticking it in a potato.

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(I followed the Pinkest directions very, very carefully)

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Technically, something I planted DID grow!

The rose stalk died and the potato flourished.

I truly think I’m on the National Horticultural Watch List.

So, you can see that as far as gardening goes, it’s a matter of wisdom to keep my tools and my expectations on the same level-simple and few.

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In the quilting studio I have a different approach. I want my tools to exceed my current level of activity and expertise. I need tools that pull me to the next level. I crave tools that expand my abilities.

Applecore_Template_Simple_W600 I value tools that inspire me to try new techniques and explore new avenues of creativity. Nothing raises the fun meter like discovering a tool that makes me look better than I really am!

Hexagon_Set-no fussy cut cropped

 

You’ll find some of our favorite tools on the Tools tab.

 

 

 

 

And we’d love to hear from you when you find a tool that excites you, too. Especially those that bring more success than my roses attempt.

PS – You can be sure I’d welcome any tips you want to leave about gardening in North Florida especially tips about plants that are “neglect tolerant” or have been successfully grown by small children.

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Great tools make life easier!

FL Sister id tagThe words The Dietz most dreads to hear are “Honey, you could totally make that!” And because my confidence in his many abilities comes to the surface so often, he has developed a sure fire, safe guard response. “I would LOVE to do that but I just don’t have the right tools. You need great tools to do something like that.”

However, I have noticed that he is really good at finding great tools for the projects that spring from his own priority list. Tools like:

tools1mowerchain saw

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Now, least you think I such got some random photos off the internet, I want to tell you that I am currently at the end of a two week trip west and while I’ve been traveling The Dietz has been sending me photos of his treasure hunting at garage sales (except for the lawn mover). He is accumulating quite a stash! I’m thinking I need to get home quickly.

However, the up side is that I have learned to use that same rationale in the quilting studio.

Great tools make great things happen!

Whenever some great tools come through our lives, we Sisters will pass along a recommendation on our Tools page.

45R-thumb $25Ergo Cutters

Martelli MinMiter SETMinute Miters

FMHoop%20pairTHMQuilting Hoops

Be sure to click on over to that TOOLS page to find some tools that will ease your stitching life!

(You can get these from us by sending an email  – SistersAtHeartMilesApart@gmail.com – to place an order.)

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