Friday, October 28, 2011

Back to work (x2)

Well, I finally got my machine back on Wednesday, and it's sewing like a dream again!  I say "finally", but it was only three days- it seems like more when you are anxious to finish a project, I guess.

Anyhow, I am back to work on my sister's baby quilt (whirleygig) and finished the top on my mother-in-law quilt.  I am now "auditioning" quilt patterns for the MIL quilt.  As I am so new to the quilting world (and therefore to machine quilting), I am a little paranoid about doing it myself.- especially on a relatively large quilt (twin bed).  After purchasing a darning foot for my machine, it is tempting to dive right in to free-hand, but I might just go the safe route and stitch in the ditch.  Perhaps after some practice with the darning foot this weekend all will become clear.

Why "Back to Work x 2"?  Because like many working opera singers in New York City, I have a second job.  Temporary office jobs (or "temping") are a necessary evil that help us bridge the gap between what our fledgling careers pay and what we need to survive in the Big Apple.  Fortunately, I only need to temp a few weeks a year, and although I call it an evil, it's actually a very interesting diversion, which reminds me that I am so lucky to do what I love.  After a week at a desk, I realize how spoiled I am to spend most every day with my daughter!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Out of Commission!

Started on baby quilt for my sister's new bundle, due to arrive December 23rd (bummer for her- I always felt sorry for people who have Christmas time birthdays).  She is expecting a girl, and I am using a hodge-podge of pinks, purples, and light greens to make a crib sized whirleygig quilt using Linda's tutorial from her blog a maiden hair fern.  She has some beautiful quilts over there, so maybe go have a look-see!  I have been wanting to make a Whirleygig for a while now, and I thought it would be a fun pattern for a baby quilt.  Excited to finally get started on my first baby quilt!

Sadly, about halfway through my first batch of chain piecing on the old Singer 301a, I started having lower bobbin problems, then the Singer stopped singing and started to GRIND!  Opened her up and see some gears on top just aren't lining up properly.  Guess I'm headed to my local repair shop to get charged $100 for an adjustment...Ugh!  Hopefully it won't slow me down (or cost me) too much!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

When am I finished?

It has been a busy week with lots of unquilt goings-on.  Much of it good (like getting a new singing job for the winter), and even a couple of really good things:
1) I finished putting together the top of my mother-in-law quilt (for lack of a better name)
2) My wife became a citizen of the U.S.!

My quilt, which is a twin sized log cabin in fall colors (14 inch blocks), still needs a border, but it feels done when I finish sewing all the blocks together.  The border will be a simple brown 4 inch strip, and that fabric has not arrived yet, so I have a day or so to kick myself for not lining up all my corners perfectly...

I am still trying to get a feel for where I will fall in that spectrum between sloppy and perfect.  How much imperfection am I comfortable with (obviously a lot if I'm ending my sentences with prepositions, right)?  On the final line of stitching in the blocks (two big blocks of 12 log cabins) I was about a quarter inch off, and so I pulled out the stitching and did it again.  Wouldn't you know it?  Somehow they still didn't quite line up.

After pulling stitches once, I just figured it was close enough...especially after I had pinned it and thought it lined up just right.  Is this a feed dog issue?  I know they all lined up when I pinned them and again the second time when I didn't pin.  Oh well, I am not sure how many times you can restitch before the fabric starts to get damaged, so I felt like I had better stop.

In other news, I went with my wife, daughter, and a friend of ours to the Manhattan Court House and sat around for a good hour waiting for the swearing in of 170 new U.S. citizens from 50 different countries this morning.  It was much less ceremonial and inspiring than expected.  I expected teary-eyed folks with their hands over their hearts and lots of oak paneling and a big American flag.  None of that- just a big modern hotel meeting room looking space with a judge reading a canned speech about the benefits of being an American.  They did swear allegiance with hand over heart...OK, maybe my experience was softened a bit because I was holding our baby thru much of it, trying to keep her from crying as the judge read his message (if you just take one step closer to the mic, we could ALL hear you).  In the end, it was an amazing experience, and I am sure that there were many tears and proudly-beaming people.  I was just a little preoccupied.

Hope my fabric arrives tomorrow...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Baby walking and Elephant running.

OK, this is not quilt-related, but my 11 month old daughter took her first steps yesterday!  Yay!  We were at our local indoor playspace in the neighborhood, and she must have been inspired by the slightly older kids walking around, and boldly took six or seven steps!  Exciting day!

In other news, I got some new fabric which I absolutely LOVE, from Tina Givens' line called Pernilla's Journey.  This particular design is called Elephant Run.  Since our little one is being gently encouraged to love elephants, it's perfect!

It's whimsical, but a BIG print.  Either going to make a crib sheet or a quilt using it (probably both).  I purchased several different prints from the collection (from the wonderful Intrepid Thread Etsy shop), and they are all big designs...I guess I'll have to start looking for a quilt design that will give these big animals room to breathe!  Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Thanks Quilt Dad!

Thanks to Quilt Dad for showing me some love on Twitter!  Thanks also to those who are visiting my fledgling blog for the first time and giving me such a warm welcome to the Blogosphere!. 

My wife and I are headed to a concert today, leaving our 11 month old with a friend, and reveling in our first "date" sans baby since she was born!  Some anxiety with mom, but I will be focused on encouraging her to enjoy the concert and dispel visions of disaster at home.  Everything will be fine (right?).

I am now halfway thru my log cabin quilt top for my in-laws.  The colors are warm and the patterns are nature-themed, which is perfect for a cold, bleak midwinter in Russia.  Actually it's not really bleak (I am being dramatic), but you do spend lots of time inside, and hopefully this quilt will warm them and cheer them!  Here's another sneak peek at a block.

As you can tell, I love orange.  My first big quilt was in these same fall colors, and I can't seem to stop using them.  My next one will definitely be cooler colors, I promise!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Here we go!

Well, I finally gave in...  After 7 months of resisting, I finally gave in and bought a sewing machine.  Actually, my wife bought it for me for my birthday.  I was admiring the quilts I had made while we spent a month in Anchorage, Alaska (where I learned the fine art of quilting from the generous and talented master quilter Elise Rose), and caved!

I kept telling myself that our little New York City apartment was too small for a machine, a cutting space, and (especially) a stash!  In reality, IT IS!!!  Yet somehow we are finding space.  I bought a Singer 301a (straight-stitching Singer) on Craigslist.  The guy was selling it for his mom's friend (the proverbial little old lady who only sewed on Sundays...), came with the original table, and was delivered to my door (which is a big deal, since I dont have a car, and he saved me the hassle of renting a car and driving to Queens to pick it up).  When it arrived, the bobbin case was missing, so I bargained him down from $100 to $60 (I think the case cost me about $36 from Jenny at Sew-Classic).  Some of you might be thinking that I could probably find an old machine at a thrift store or garage sale for next to nothing...I was thinking the same thing.  However, in Manhattan, buried treasure is much harder to find, and when I went to the local sewing machine repair shop, I asked the owner what I should pay for a 301a, he said he regularly sells them for $400-$500!  Needless to say, I jumped on this machine.  I also decided to save some cash and do the tuneup myself.  Given the reputation of this model as an indestructable dream machine, I dove in with the manual and some online advice.  Runs like a top now!

Since I have no dedicated workspace (wife, baby, and I live in a 1br apt in Manhattan), it was essential to have a stow-away machine.  It sits quietly in the corner during the day, and once the baby is down, the living room is converted into a workroom- machine pops out of its hideaway, coffee table becomes cutting table, ironing board and iron are set up by the window, and I dive in!

Before I even found a machine, I had compiled a list of quilt recipients.  I love the quilting process- it's a creative and artistic outlet that, unlike singing opera, yields a physical and tangible result that I can enjoy too!  But how many quilts can you own?  Well, in my small pad, not very many, so I already see the gift-giving potential.  My mother-in-law will be first.  She and my father-in-law live in St. Petersburg, Russia, and as you might imagine, a quilt will get used!  I am making a wonky log cabin quilt for them in fall colors.  I had eight blocks done, but my wife doesnt like one of them (and I guess I have too agree), so it's actually only seven.  Here's one that we both like:

They are coming to visit next month for my daughter's 1 year birthday, so I am anxious to get finished.  Others on my list include...hmmm...I guess I shouldn't say who, right?  If they read this it spoils the surprise.  On the other hand, now every family member who reads this is hoping it's them.  Well, if you are a family member and reading this, rest assured that I will eventually get around to you.