Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Another two weeks have passed...

I've been lazy about posting here. My current project is too dull to blog about much so I have been avoiding posting about it. The idea is interesting but the step I am on is really maddening.

White on white

It's all about white stitching on white fabric. Lines upon lines upon lines. The piece is 40"x70" and the stitching runs along the length.

Lines and lines and lines and lines

So many lines of stitching! The closer the lines get the slower I need to sew and the longer it takes to get to the finish.

Art quilt process

That bit on the right? Those lines of stitching are a bit more than a threads distance apart. And I am sewing between those. It really was a good idea at the time. And when I see the piece as a whole I like the look of it.

I have two prototype pieces but I can't decide if I should post them. Since this is for a juried art quilt show I wonder if it is a good idea to show more than a small sample. After I send off the photos and application maybe I will feel better about posting images of the whole quilt.

Anyway... since I needed a bit of a break, yesterday I took out some blocks I'd been working on a couple months ago and started sewing them together.

Fingerprint batik

The bright batik print reminds me of fingerprints. The colors are very intense and fun. I got the fabric from Fabric.Com during one of their big sales. That store will be the death of me. They have such bargains and keep sending me coupons so I order more. They had a big sale last week and sent me a 30% off coupon so I just had to order more fabric. I went with many prints good for binding and even some browns!

Fingerprint batik

So anyway, that is where I got these amazing batiks! And with some diligent sewing, I actually managed to get really good points!

I'd really like to get some sewing in before work but I desperately need to work on getting my headache under control. We're had so many ups and downs in temperature and sunny/rainy days that my headaches have been piling on one after another. And I've had insomnia the past two days so it's like all my headache triggers are ganging up on me. I have about 3 hours to get this under control so I can focus on work.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cross-eyed...

I really have been sewing since my last blog post. I cannot believe it's been 10 days since I left an update here. Betsy is still working wonderfully and nary a broken needle! I was able to finish up my two prototypes for Quilt National and actually get started on the actual piece.

Since my last post I managed to take out my quilt frame and get the front, batting and back pieces pin basted and am in the process of quilting the layers together. It's not really exciting work because it is just white stitching on white broadcloth. Very, very tedious stuff. Eye-crossing work. All I am doing is sewing straight lines down the length of the quilt but since the stitches are soooo close together I need to run the stitching very slowly. It's difficult to explain and even more difficult to get a good photo of it.

What I am finding interesting about the idea is that while what I am doing is at first look very minimalist, the actual work will be very detailed. The white on white is deceiving. And I haven't even gotten to the actual bit of color that will be added. Altogether there are four pieces, the backing, the batting, the whole cloth white top and then one colored strip that will be somehow stitched to the white top. I am pleased with everything so far.

The hand-dyed fabric I purchased from Sew Batik at their booth at the Chicago International Quilt Show is so inspiring! The gradations I have really are incredible and I am having a difficult time making myself cut into them. Luckily what I am using for the Quilt National submission will not need to be cut into. *whew* I have plenty of other pieces I bought from them though that want to be used, if only I could gather come courage to cut them up! Why is it so difficult to use pretty fabric??

And because I have not uploaded the white on white stitching photos, here is a photo of me and my new haircut.

New hair!

It's not the best photo, since I too it with my old cell phone. My hair was down to the middle of my back and for the past 5 years I've been letting it grow with the occasional trimming. But last week I decided it had to go so I made an appointment with the amazing stylist where I go and he bundled up the length into two pieces and chopped it off. Now I have short hair (it is all razored up in the back although it doesn't look like it) and long enough bits to donate to Locks of Love.

I missed my short hair!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Frustrating

I haven't been able to do much sewing this past week. When I was sewing the Suesse Sac a week ago I kept breaking needles. I'd assumed it was because of the thick interfacing and many fabric layers. So when I spent last weekend working on an art quilt idea and the needles kept breaking I was at a loss. I kept resetting my machine and rethreading the spool and adjusting tension and changing needles. Nothing worked! I'd spent hours reading my manual and Googling for an answer.

Last night the boy asked if the problems started after the last time I cleaned my machine. When I thought about it I realized it had. The purse was the first thing I'd sewn after the cleaning. Needles breaking on that project seemed to make sense. Needles breaking two minutes into some straight seams and during free motion quilting, not so much.

Not only was my machine breaking needles, it was skipping stitches. All the time. I couldn't sew one seam without skipping a couple stitches.

I cried.

Seriously, I broke down in tears.

So after the boy asked me when the problems started I decided to once again take apart Betsy and see what I could see. I thought maybe I missed picking out a bit of needle and that was jamming things up.

I found nothing.

I gave Betsy another cleaning and oiled up a couple spots. I spent a couple hours looking into every nook and cranny to see what could be going on. Nothing was screaming "I'm gonna break your needles!" so I carefully put her back together and held my breath as I tried again to do some free motion quilting.

Betsy is behaving! Everything I tried to do before last evening seems to be going smoothly. No skipped stitches, the thread is catching around the bobbin like it should and above all, no broken needles! (Which is a good thing because I've gone through most of my stash of needles and only have a few left before my new order arrives next week.)

It's a mystery as to what was causing all the problems. My only thought is that it has something to do with the plastic bit that sits right over the bobbin area. There is some room for it to shift around when you are replacing it and perhaps it was replaced wonky when I cleaned it last. It can only move about 1/8th inch from the center position, maybe only 1/16th. But it appears to be enough to through the entire machine out of order.

Luckily this week Fabric.Com had a sale on sewing notions because I needed more sewing needles! I stocked up and made a note that should this happen again, I need to check the machine immediately!