Monthly Archives: June 2011

Feedsack Quilt as Chemical Weapon

So, last week I bought an unfinished top with what looked like perhaps feedsack fabric in it.  It was 94 inches by 36 inches, and been pieced on newspaper, and was cheap.  Ten bucks, including shipping.  The seller felt it was a “cutter” and so promised no great condition.

I have a long, narrow space where I needed some art, so I bought this with an eye toward that, thinking I’d just back it, pillow case method, to preserve the newspaper it was pieced on and allow it’s patina to just be. The primitive condition of the quilt would add a certain je ne sais qua.

My first clue that it had just a little too much patina was my dogs ecstatically sniffing, and trying to roll on, the unopened envelope it came in.  Opening the envelope unleashed a holy terror of patina, olfactory version.  The kind of smell that makes your eyes water and your nose drip.  I took it out to the porch, optimistically thinking that a little time in the open air would take care of things. After a few days, it seemed better, so I brought it into the house and gingerly pinned it to the place on the wall I was thinking of hanging it.

All seemed well until I left the room, and when I came back, well, it smelled B.A.D. in there, and so back out to the porch it went.  Closer examination showed that, while this poor top was folded, Mrs Mouse had chewed straight through.  And then raised a family in it.  Maybe more than one family.  The newspaper back had been so carefully removed that not one complete word remained, so there went my lofty idea of dating it from the back. I carefully repaired Mrs Mouse’s remodeling efforts.

It seemed too fragile to wash.  But the fabrics were compelling, and the slapdash arrangement of the blocks was interesting.  I decided to quilt it, and then wash the hell out of it.  But a long narrow quilt?  So narrow as to be unusable?  Couldn’t do it.  I dug around in a bag of fabric I had just bought from a gal who had decided she didn’t like quilting.  As I dug, I discovered what her problem might have been.  Every single four patch block that you see above in the completed quilt had a slip of paper pinned to it, with a letter and number for where it should be sewn.  Every block had evidence of having been sewn to a neighbor and then unpicked.  It made me discouraged just looking at it. So, I ripped off all the little notes, sewed them together any old way, and added them to the sides of the top. The four patches are all repros, and sort of fade into the background.  I think that is a good outcome. The only fabric choice I made in this quilt was the little bit of white and black polka dot in the upper left hand corner of the first picture.

I had to pin it outside, on the grass, and quilt with the window WIDE open.  I used a walking foot to make big, all over fans.  It was a race against the obnoxious smell the whole way. I got it done in two days, and I think that is some kind of a record for me.  With a bit of fear, I washed the whole darn thing in a bunch of Oxyclean and Orvus paste today, wondering if I would open the washer to find a lumpy batt, the backing, and shreds of former fabric.  However, my, and the old quilt tops’s luck held.  It smells just fine now, and I think it is happy.  I know I am!

If anyone has any educated guesses on the age of the fabrics, I’d be happy to hear.  None of the plaids are yarn dyed- they are all printed.  All of it is cotton, except one piece that might be linen.
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Franken Machine

This is just…so…wrong.  Including the ‘lets photograph it in the back of the truck, cause it’s the cleanest place we have’ ebay posting.

I found myself oddly fascinated, repelled, and drawn.  It haunted me. I finally emailed the seller and asked if the shuttle was still there, certain that if it was missing, it was too much of a project, and I would be off the hook..  The shuttle was there, and apparently moves when the crank is turned.

Oh, damn.  It was like driving home from work in the grotty neighbor hood the hospital is in, and seeing a stray dog.  I don’t go after dogs.  I’m afraid of being bitten.  But I do stop and call them.  If they come, and they rarely do, they earn a free ride home ( if the have tags) or to the shelter (if they do not).  Last year a big boxer pit mix was sitting on the median of a busy street, looking perplexed and shaking.  Scary dog, and scared, and a scared dog is dangerous.  But I called.  He turned his great, meaty muzzle towards me, trotted across the street, and through the open drivers door, jumped in and sat in the passenger seat.  He licked my ear when I got in, and what could I do?  I drove the giant scary dog to the shelter.  The animal control officers approached the car with a snare pole, I swear he was a big dog. No ears, like he had been used to fight.  He jumped out sat, gave his paw, rolled on his back and then wriggled, waiting for his belly rub. Two big, tough animal control officers knelt down to rub that belly.

So, that’s how this machine was.  I bought it.  I await it’s arrival, to see how the godawful lamp bits were stuck to it, if it has been spray painted, if it is frozen, and what all else.  When I get it, I will take photos of the process, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it is salvageable as a machine and that with a little oil if will flop[ onto it’s back, waiting for a belly rub. If nothing else, I just paid $30 for a blog post or three.

Sewing machine Extension Table

Here is my Necchi Nora in her new, red table.  I didn’t have room for another machine in a cabinet, and so I had to take her out of the one she came in.  However, she looked a little nude, and so I justified the purchase of a new jigsaw.  The worst part was making the pattern.  These machines sometimes came in a kidney shaped table, and so i decided to make her a kidney shaped extension table.  For those of you who don’t sew, basically the more flat surface around a machine, the easier if is to sew.

This what I’ve been sewing lately.  Very utilitarian, using up chinks of red and red containing scraps.  I ve got two big scrap bins, and I’m a little sick of them.  So, i thought it would be interesting to see how many squares came from a bin, No idea what Ill do with them!
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How I store my thread

Posted by Picasaat least some of it.  I also have a box of thread on cones that someone who was moving gave me.  I don’t really fuss about what color I piece quilts with.  I go with what ever, although if it is light colored fabric than I am a little more care ful.  So the cone thread is slowly being used up that way.

I am fussy about what color I quilt with, though. However, I buy almost everything on sale.  So, keeping the thread organized by color allows me to see what I should stock up on.  Clearly, I don’t need any more orange, just now, for example.  This is the storage stool from the Singer sewing cabinet I have. I am a very visual person so this works for me!

Junk? Antiques? Junky Antiques?

I was enjoying an hour of solitude so I decided to stop into a local antiques store.  It has been in business for thousands of years, i think. It is a bit of a tease, because the prices are rather high, and whenever you offer anything lower, the owner, herself an antique, looks at you over her glasses and says ” That is a really OLD (breadbox, sewing machine, doily) I can’t let it go for less”

So, I go and look there when I do not have a small child with me and look, and rarely buy.

This sewing machine tempted me greatly.  It is both a hand crank and an early electric.  The motor is on a pivot.  The wooden flywheel has a crank, but no gears for cranking.  However, I noticed that the size of the hand wheel seemed to make it more than one stitch per crank. I think.  Because first, it was on the floor, and hard to see.  Second, as soon as I started showing interest, the store owner tottered over and started telling me how OLD it was, third, I couldn’t see if it had it’s shuttle/bobbin, and finally, it was marked at $250.  I really suspect that she is happy to not sell anything, and while I was there two pickers came in with loads of stuff.  She really ought to reinforce the foundations, because the whole thing could sink at any moment.

Another shot of the interior.  This is a fairly clear walkway. There are other walkways not as clear.  You could spend about a week in here, and still not really see it all!
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