Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Snowbird Quilt Reveal

I had so much fun making the Infinity quilt, I went straight into making another quilt.  I was looking for something that would use the same fabric as the Infinity quilt. This time, I found a free pattern from the Quilter's Newsletter website. It's called Textured Tweety's Snowflake and is designed by Wendy Butler Burns. It looked like a quick and simple quilt that would look great with the Infinity quilt, and use some of its scraps, even though it did require a dig through the scrap bin for other fabric.

I already had a snowflake on the fusible from a coaster I made using a Patrick Lose pattern, so I used that instead of the one in the Quilter's Newsletter pattern. I used a decorative stitch to quilt it.  I love that it looks like ice crystals, and that it is easy to add since sewing over ice crystals still looks like ice crystals. I really like the border fabric - it is so versatile. It can be used to represent sky or water or ice. The tan background was probably made to represent coffee, but it also has a snowlike quality to it. 

The bird is secured / quilted with a feather stitch and the branch is stitched with a snowflake / asterisk stitch.  The wing is a rose fabric but you can't tell that it is a rose.  Just a little hidden promise of spring and summer.  The border uses a stitch that looks like bird feet (claws) but you can't see it much in the busy fabric. 

I printed the pattern landscape instead of portrait so I lost the branch pattern and decided to cut my own freeform. Surely I can do a branch.  It looks like an alligator to me, or is that a crocodile?  I like the motif quilting stitches in the pattern.  Now that I have a reverse button that works and a fix button which secures the stitches, I can do motifs again.

Here's what it looks like on the bulletin board. The Snowbird Quilt shares the red and white fabrics from the Infinity quilt. The red from the bird, the tan background and the blue border probably also share fabric with other quilts, but unfortunately I can't remember where they were used.  I know I've planned on using them for many different projects, but I'm not sure I actually did use them anywhere else.

The back uses some shiny snowflake fabric.  I had leftover fused fabric, and cut out another bird for the back that is being used for the label. The beak is more of that rose fabric.  The back is pretty enough to be used as a front too.  This quilt was a lot of fun to make.

And the snowbird really did bring snow with her. Once I finished the quilt, I went for a walk, and lo and behold it was snowing - a hard cold snow.  This is today's snow - it is a bit more substantial and softer.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Infinity Reveal

In less than a week, I have finished the red and white Infinity quilt.  I used a faux piped binding tutorial to add a little zing.  I had some difficulty in getting the two end pieces to line up right, and after a few tries I decided it was close enough. I am happy with it, although I probably should take it out the last seam and do a better job of turning over and securing the binding.  I hadn't thought about the binding when making the rounds of the quilt, and hated to lose a whole round with the binding.

It finishes at 9" x 9 3/4".  Here's how it looks on my wall.

I especially like the zing the diagonals make when looking at it from the computer chair.

Here's the label. I was going to make a small courthouse square, but I decided to mimic the "infinity" stripes. I should have used a fabric pen instead of a sharpie, but at least the info is there!

The red and white fabric has been used in this flag quilt which I made in 2010.

It has also been used in this spiderweb quilt, which is still unfinished. I have it pinned to some gray fabric, but I have now decided that red or white would be a better option. Hopefully this quilt will be finished this year.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review of Husqvarna Viking Opal 650

My sewing machine broke earlier this year, and although I did manage to fix it, I didn't have time to sew much to verify that it was indeed back to its normal state.  I haven't been able to do any sewing for a long time due to tight deadlines at work and massive amounts of overtime.  I have been looking at blogs and magazines during my "spare time," like when I am eating breakfast, which has created a pent up demand for sewing.

When the deadline was met and the cleanup started, I brought out my African Crazy quilt, thinking that I could do some handwork on it.  But as the cleanup at work happened, my house was also screaming for cleanup, so the box sat unopened.

Eventually the pent up demand for sewing got too strong, and I rushed out to buy a new sewing machine.  I went to the Viking store that is inside the Joann store. I went straight for the Husqvarna Viking Opal 650  which I had decided I wanted earlier in the year. They had simpler models which had smaller throats and bigger models with more stitches and embroidery features, but this model had what I needed, and a few extra bells and whistles without too much of the stuff I didn't need.   I was able to get it for a great price, and am very happy with my purchase thus far.

See the built in needle threader, the clear bobbin cover and the supply box in the back. The organizer (sold separately) does make it easier to find things.

The many stitches available, the needle up and down button, the fix button, the cover that keeps your thread clean and out of the way.

The guide tells you what pressure foot to use, what stitch you are using, and lets you adjust your stitch length and move your needle over.

What I like About the Husqvarna Viking Opal 650

  • It feels like a nice sturdy machine.  It has metal parts!
  • The machine has many, many more stitches than my Kenmore 16, which has 16 stitches. It has 160. I haven't tried them all yet, but don't worry, I will use all of them at one point or another.  I  like using them for quilting.
  • Larger storage space means more space to put those odds and ends supplies.
  • Larger throat means more space to quilt big quilts.
  • The reverse button works!
  • It has a needle down position.
  • You can see when you are running out of bobbin thread.
  • You can wind the bobbin with the needle still threaded.
  • It secures the stitches when it starts - they call it "fix"  and you can also secure the stitches at the end without reversing.
  • The nice big storage space is behind the needle, so there is lots of place to put all your feet. 
  • You can move your needle over to get a scant quarter inch seam. 

Negative Features of the Husqvarna Viking Opal 650

  • The biggest negative is that it doesn't come with quilting feet.  You have to buy the quarter inch foot, the walking foot, and the darning foot separately.  They do have a quilter's package that has these three feet for less than the price of buying them individually, but I'm waiting for the sale.
  • The feet don't work with other machines, so I can't mix and match and use the ones I already have.
  • The big storage space is behind the needle so you have to reach around to find things.  On my Kenmore, it is in front of the needle and much easier to access.  The big space also means that things get lost in there.  There is an organizer (pictured) that is sold separately separate that will help make things easier.
  • Since the machine is bigger than the Kenmore, it doesn't fit in my sewing table.  I am going to have to find another arrangement, which may finding someone to make the space bigger, or buying an extension so I can have a flat bed.
  • The accessories are expensive! 

Overall, I am really happy with the machine so far. 

2021 Update

I wrote this review in 2013 and have owned the Opal for a long while now. Here are my updated thoughts on the machine.
  • I stand by my opinion about the positive and negative features listed above.
  • I don't have to change anything, but I do have information to add.
  • My store offered free classes to help you learn how to use the machine. This was helpful, but it depended greatly on the knowledge of the instructor.
  • The company recommends annual servicing and cleaning to maintain the warranty. This costs about $100 per year, maybe a little less. This type of servicing is probably recommended for all sewing machines, so it isn't specific to the Opal, but it is something for new sewing machine owners to know and keep in mind.
  • I bought a flat bed extension. It has been a life changer. Having a flat bed makes quilting so much easier since it helps reduce drag. The flat bed also had a cling which had guiding marks so I no longer have to mark sewing lines for half square triangles.
  • Last year, I had a problem with the machine. I found out something about the servicing and maintenance of the machine. I, Shasta Matova at High Road Quilter, live in Ohio, and the servicing is done in Michigan. The dealer (the Viking store that is inside a Joann store) couldn't find anyone they liked in Ohio to do the servicing, so they ship to Michigan. They repair it there and then ship it back. This means it will take more than a week to get your machine back.  If there is a problem with the repair, it will have to be sent back to Michigan for a second look. Your takeaway is to ask your dealer about where the servicing will take place and the timing when considering buying a machine. 

Overall, I am still happy with the machine. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Red and White Infinity Quilt Continued

The Liberated Quilters yahoogroup were having an at-home quilting retreat this weekend. It was nice to think about other people quilting along with me while I continued to work on my Infinity red and white reproduction quilt.

On Sunday, I added a few more rows. I will spare you the photos as I added each row.  I continued to sew until I ran out of the red fabric I had cut. I could have cut more if I wanted it to be bigger, but it was also the same time that the small ruler I was using wouldn't have worked.  I didn't have a plan for how big the quilt would be, and wasn't thinking of limiting it to the size of the ruler, but it seemed like as good a stopping point as any.

I then had to make the decision of whether to add white after the red. In the original quilt, the round is not finished.  I really liked the liberated aspect of it, but I also like the symmetry of completing the round. Since I was joining the Liberated Quilters retreat, I had to try to figure out whether it would be more liberated to copy the liberated aspect of the quilt or to liberate myself from the pattern to make a more conventional courthouse square.  At the end, I decided I wanted to make the quilt more rectangular, so I added the white at the top and the bottom.

I wanted to make sure that I kept the quilting simple on this quilt.  I got out a book of quilting patterns, Helen's Copy and Use Quilting Patterns (Dear Helen, Book 6) and found a simple grid.  I think curves may have worked better on this quilt, but I didn't want to distract from the pattern.  I simply made a copy of the grid (it was just the right size) and pinned it to the quilt sandwich.  (I used a fusible spray).  It was a simple continuous line so it was very easy to quilt.  I tore off the paper and trimmed the quilt. I'm not sure I chose the best quilting pattern - since the grid is square and the block is rectangular. It is just slightly off center, but because of the small size, it looks more off center than it is. But I am liberated, and it is staying the way it is.

All that is left is the binding, the hanging sleeve and the label.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Reproduction Quilt from Red and White Exhibition

I have been wanting to do some quilting for so long this year, but it just seemed like I was too busy. I finally decided I was going to have to make some time to do it.  I spent too much time on Pinterest, looking at quilts. Each day, I would find one or two quilts that made me want to drop everything and start that quilt.  I didn't, of course, I wouldn't have had the time to make all those quilts. I don't make a quilt in a day, no matter how simple it is.

Sometimes, I even put the quilt as a desktop image.  This is the quilt that is on my desktop image now:

It is a red and white quilt from the Infinite Variety exhibit from the American Folk Art Museum.  I've been wanting to make a red and white quilt after seeing all those gorgeous photos of all those red and white quilts.  It only has two fabrics and is a simple courthouse square.  And as a bonus, I have solid red and white fabrics.

I decided to go ahead and make it. Yes, quilting has occurred here on the High Road.  There are only two pieces of fabric, so I don't have to rummage through all my fabric scraps and be reminded of all the unfinished projects I have in the quilt room.  And I can quickly get out before I realize that I really need to finish cleaning the quilt room.
Here's the progress thus far:

I decided that instead of making a square, I would prefer a rectangle. I trimmed off just a bit from the center to make it rectangular. My daughter said it looks like an "O". I like that. It looks like the Ohio State University symbol. Go Bucks!

I am happy that it still looks like an O for Ohio State. I really like the red on the outside and plan to end with a red round and red binding.  Since all the rounds are being added to one piece, this quilt would work well with another quilt as a Leader and Ender.  Unfortunately, I don't have another quilt set up, and I don't want to go through the sewing room again. I am trying to reduce the number of times I have to run my scrap through the machine though.

The original has more rounds, and there is plenty of fabric left. They were big pieces and I chopped off a little bit to use - about a quarter yard's worth. While taking a break from this quilt, I came across a Quilt Cam that Bonnie Hunter had recorded.  She answered a question from one of her viewers about the backing fabric.  She recommended not starting in the center and working around and around, saying that it would require measuring again and again after each round.  Yes, Bonnie I know exactly what you mean. I am cutting one round at a time to make it easier to keep track of the pieces.

Even though it is tempting to stop after a few rounds, the zing that happens at the diagonals doesn't really happen until quite a few rows have been made. I don't like the pulling that is happening, but hopefully it will be fine after it has been quilted down.

That's all the progress from yesterday.  I still have to decide how many rounds I want to add.  I want a small quilt, but one with impact. Writing this post, I looked up where I got the original quilt, and since it is from the Infinite Variety exhibit, I am going to call this quilt Infinite, because of the number of rows.