Wow Bernina!

I’ve recently acquired an “antique” Bernina. It is a model 830, built in Switzerland, so it’s the “real thing!” It is sturdily built, and it has a metal casing. It is a beaut.

The old 830

A friend had it and never used it, didn’t even know if it worked, but it was supposed to have a problem with skipped stitches (never verified). I recently gave it a test drive and found no problems or issues with it. It sewed like butter!

I’m very glad I got it, not because I need a new sewing machine–I don’t!–but because I wanted to own a truly quality machine, one that would be the workhorse that it’s been built to be, one that could be my backup if my spiffier 530 model (seen here)

The spiffy 530

which I love, ever goes down, or is out for maintenance, or just plain doesn’t work. Computerized machines are a lot more susceptible to glitches and problems, they are much more delicate and “prissy.” True, my computerized friend has a ton of bells & whistles, it sews like a dream, has umpteen different stitches–which I hardly ever use–many different settings, etc. etc. I do love it. But I think the old “Bernie” will work just fine as well, and I can’t wait to set it up in my studio and start sewing in it regularly.

Now all I need are a few accessories for, so I’m on the hunt for a slide table and a few feet, also some bobbins.

Cindy’s Quilt Top

I have been very haphazard about posting lately, unfortunately. Between quilt guild committments and random travel plans, I have lost the orderly habit of posting at times I wished to when I first set up a quilt blogging committment.

So I find myself talking about a quilt my dance teacher Cindy commissioned me to finish a good two weeks after I had stamped, sealed, and delivered it!

This project was fairly easy. I received a finished quilt top which she had wanted made into a finished quilt for ages but had not known who to go to for quilting assistance (until I showed up for her line dancing class). Cindy’s mother in law had finished this quilt top ages ago, but for reasons that I do not know she had not succeeded in finishing the entire quilt.

When she first gave it to me, it had been sitting in her closet for a number of years. At first she’d wanted it done for no particular purpose, but it so happens that one of her nieces had recently become pregnant, which made Cindy decide that a true-blue grandma-made quilt would be a great gift.

I decided that some blocks had to be fixed and some had to be resown, but besides that, it was all finished. Basically all I had to do was fix these and put on the batting, backing, et voila.

The material the quilt top was made of discouraged any actual quilting, which is why I opted to tie it instead. After all, when the fabric is stretchy, or thick, quilting becomes quite a challenge. Also, the seams of the pieced blocks were wider than normal, which added unnecessary bulk. But the ties looked nice, and Cindy was thrilled with it.

here are the ties that hold the quilt together in lieu of quilting

The only challenge tying presented was in preventing puckers and unevenness. I was having a huge problem with this issue until my neighbor saved my life by lending me her quilt frame! I was super thrilled to use this tool, since it made the quilting surface super easy to work with, and prevented said naughty puckers.

useful frame that turns into a table

So, once again, an old abandoned castoff becomes, with just a little TLC, a lovely gift for a new addition to the world. And thus, “the quilt whisperer” strikes again!

Fit to Be Tied – Another Memorabilia Quilt

A lady contacted me a while ago, referred by a member of my Guild (Asheville Quilt Guild) whom she approached at an expo, looking for a brave and conscientious quilter who could turn her husband’s 12-lb bucketful of discarded neckties into a quilt. She had been trying to find someone who would do the project, and when my Guild colleague informed her that I was sort of known in the Guild for successfully completing these types of projects, she gave me a ring. We met, discussed pattern, size, etc. and I was off and running. Next, I received the most outrageously large and diverse quantity of ties, of every material, texture, and color imaginable, plus a large package containing 5 lbs of Campbell tartan that I was to integrate into the quilt as well. As can be seen in the image on the left, that’s quite a lot of fabric to make into a quilt!

Sample of Crazy Quilting

She wants it done using a “crazy quilt” technique, which will include some embroidering, with her family tartan pattern to be the center of each block.

Detail of my earlier attempt

I myself undertook a similar project of making a quilt using ties a couple of years ago. It’s amazing how many neckties men can acquire in just a few years, so I also had a huge pile of raw materials to work with, as it were!

I wasn’t too happy with that first attempt, but I also didn’t have a lot of experience working with unconventional materials. I took that first project apart in the hopes of attempting it again someday. The big pile of ties is still in a box somewhere.

Here is a photo of that earlier project, however:

As can be seen from a recent posting, people are very fond of commemorating their cast-off garments into quilts. Whether baby clothes, T Shirts, or ties, folks don’t really want to let go of their old things, especially when they belong or have belonged to a loved one! That was of course part of my reason for attempting my very own tie quilt to begin with, but it also is the reason why one of my earliest quilts consisted of my husband’s old T shirts.

So I am really not surprised at this woman’s request, and I also feel grateful that I have successfully made a niche market for myself as the Quilting Upcycler of Memorabilia. Not only is this in some business-y way a useful thing, but in terms of always having fun and interesting challenges, I enjoy the work.

I guess I’ve developed a knack for making cohesive quilts out of disparate elements and ideas, plus I have a philosophical interest in breathing new life into things. I also have trouble “coloring within the lines,” as it were, much preferring to do my own thing when it comes to following specific patterns. It is also, I suspect, why I do so love the Modern Quilting Movement, which is firmly based on improvisational quilting (or I should say, piecing).

So here is my second attempt at making a quilt out of ties, and I do hope that I am happy with this one, so that the client will be as well. The Tartan is a nice unifying theme that might help where the previous tie quilt fell short due to too much going on.