Fabric Usage

I first mentioned tracking my fabric usage formally on a V&S post a few months ago. Peg recently asked about it, so I thought I would write more about it.

First, if you are a beginner, stop reading and go sew. You are too young a quiltmaker to be worrying about fabric usage.

Second, if you are prone to anxiety, stop reading. Fabric usage is not something you need to add to your list of anxieties. Go sew and enjoy your quiltmaking.

Everyone else may continue reading with the understanding that this tracking system is not to judge, but to understand how much fabric my projects actually take and my fabric usage over the course of a year.

I have been tracking my fabric usage since 2015. I did it all last year as well. Having more of a handle on how to use the spreadsheet helped me to understand what fabrics I was using and how much. I made much better choices about fabric purchases and continue to do so. I am not perfect, but getting better and fabric is so yummy that sometimes it is hard to resist. 😉

I use a spreadsheet that I originally got from Pam of Hip to Be a Square podcast. I have modified to suit my needs. Pam has a blank copy of her fabric usage spreadsheet available on a post from a few years back. It is a good way to start tracking your usage as long as there is no guilt involved. Cheryl, a BAMer, wrote a great post about her spreadsheet for the BAM blog. She talks about her theories around it, why she does it and how she does it.

While there is no shortage of fabric at my house, this spreadsheet is not intended to keep me from buying fabric. That would be a effort in futility and acknowledging that fact feels like a victory. I started so I would know how much fabric I am using per year as well as how much I am adding to my collection. I have a good idea of how many different fabrics I purchase in a year based on the Fabric of the Year quilts, but quantities were always a mystery.

Knowing that I used:

2015: 107.16 yards
2016: 181.34 yards
2017: 62.48 (YTD)

There is no adjustment for how much fabric I have purchased and that changes the numbers a lot. The numbers above are gross, not net. I have to say that knowing how much fabric I used in 2015 spurred me on to sew more in 2016. Using a 100 yards is not out of the realm of possibility and if I made goals like that, that would be my goal. Less than halfway through the year, I am already well on my way.

I find the statistics interesting, but I don’t think you should track your fabric usage unless there is no guilt involved.

Accuquilt Die v Ruler Smackdown

OK, smackdown might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it sounds impressive, right?

I am working on the Bonnie Hunter En Provence Mystery Quilt, as you know. The second step, which I have partially finished, uses Peaky and Spike* blocks. Peaky and Spike sounds more fun than “weird triangle blocks”, right?

Peaky and Spike
Peaky and Spike

Peaky is the pink part and Spike is the black on white part. For En Provence, I needed to make 100 of these elements. Not rocket science, but not squares either. The bias could be problem. At Sew Day I cut all of the Spikes using the appropriate Tri Recs ruler. This piece has no notches except for the top, which is easy to deal with.

I bought the Peaky and Spike die with a gift card for Christmas, but by the time I was ready to start cutting, it was still on backorder and had not shown up. I began cutting the Peakies from the ruler at Craft Night. SIL told me that she had the Peaky and Spike die and I switched to that. I cut all of the 200 Peakies I needed in about an hour. Much easier than using a rotary cutter.

Die and Ruler
Die and Ruler

The interesting part of this is the sewing. The ruler has a notch at the bottom (photo right bottom) and the die (photo left top) has a notch at the top. In the directions for the quilt, Bonnie admonishes us to be sure and cut the notch at the bottom**. As a result, I placed the ruler on the die cut Peakies and also cut the bottom notch. This got old really fast and I stopped.

Peaky & Spike Annotated
Peaky & Spike Annotated

Once I started sewing, it didn’t matter. The bottom notch (from the ruler) was certainly helpful. You need either the top or bottom notch to sew the pieces together easily and in alignment, however either one will work.  I really didn’t need both.

Tri Recs Ruler
Tri Recs Ruler

The ruler has the advantage of enabling the user to cut multiple sizes. The Peaky ruler has the notch on the bottom because of the different sizes.

The die only cuts pieces for one block size, and, thus, can have the notch more prominently on the top.

This was a interesting learning experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Peaky and Spike is the name given to these blocks by Doreen Speckmann. Doreen was a fantastic teacher, funny, fun loving and a master at helping students understand the structure of block elements. If you don’t have her book, Pattern Play, start haunting used book stores. It is a classic.

 

**The mystery quilt directions focus on the Tri Recs ruler and not on the die, though the die is mentioned as being available.

Yes, Please. I’ll Take One

Janome Labor Day Sale
Janome Labor Day Sale

As usual, Janome sent me an ad for their Labor Day Sale.

Janome Labor Day Sale
Janome Labor Day Sale

I don’t know that this is the machine that I actually want, because I haven’t done any real shopping, but if someone sent me one, I wouldn’t say no.

One of these days they won’t have a sale and that will be the time I decide it is time to buy a new machine.

Wearing Out Feet

Well, from the”you learn something new every day department” comes word that you CAN wear out sewing machine feet.

The 9k has been acting up. Not badly, but like an old lady who wants attention. First, something electrical with the light went wrong pretty soon after I brought it home. I know it wasn’t the bulb, because, for a time, if I tapped on it, the light would come on, stay on for a bit, then go out.

I also noticed that the machine would feed the fabric unevenly. I thought I noticed it because I was used to the DC5100, which uses newer technology.

I could live with these annoyances, but when the machine stopped working completely, I was had to do something. One day, I turned it on, the machine made a horrible noise, so I turned it off. Then it wouldn’t turn on again. I swapped it out for the DC5100 since I needed to progress with the Cargo Duffle prep.

Since the machine not turning on was major, I texted Angie at the Sewing Machine Place, though I had avoided it until then despite noting a few issues. She suggested a few things. A different cord worked for making the machine work but she needed to look at it to see what could be done about the feeding and the light. I continued sewing on the DC5100 since I was on a deadline.

The YM and I took it in on Tuesday. I needed him for lugging the 50 lb beast. We found a parking spot right by the door, so I really could have dealt with it myself. She checked everything while I waited. I may have to buy a new power cord, but the old one worked at the shop. The big news was that the feeding problem comes from 20 year old feet.

Wear on quarter inch foot
Wear on quarter inch foot

I wore out the two feet I use most frequently. I could not believe what I was hearing. Angie told me that the feet are rubbing up against the feeddogs some of the time, especially the quarter inch foot and that, over time, the metal wears through.

In the photo, you can see the discoloration (I know the photo could be better, but with the glare of the metal the camera had a hard time focusing). That is a spot where at least the first layer is gone.

The foot I use for zig zagging (Janome F) had strips of metal on the plastic bottom and had the same problem. Angie had an F foot so I bought it, but had to go to Always Quilting to get the quarter inch foot. I have been using the DC5100 as I work on the Cargo Duffle so I haven’t had a chance to try out the feeding on the 9k with the new feet. I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you are having feeding problems, check the bottom of your feet.

Janome 9k Returns from the Dead

Yes, I thought the Janome 9000, my first machine and one of Janome’s first electronic machines, was dead. All the evidence pointed to it being dead. After talking to the Sewing Machine Place lady when she serviced my DC5100, as I may have mentioned, I decided to take the 9k in again and see if there was any way I could sew with it again.

Janome 9K back from the shop - June 2016
Janome 9K back from the shop – June 2016

Well, the Janome 9k is back and back in action. I sewed on it all day Saturday from the moment I started to sew until I went to watch Ghostbusters with the family. I know that movie is old, but there are some funny lines in it and we wanted to see it again before we go to see the new one. Also, the YM had never seen it, so it is a good excuse to get him to hang out with us.

Ghostbusters was hilarious. There is good and bad with the machine.

Good

  • I don’t have a machine sitting around that doesn’t work
  • It sews pretty well. It has a good stitch.
  • I have a knee lift to use again!
  • It is quieter than the DC5100
  • Embroidery should work fine. It was calibrated, etc, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Bad

  • $$$
  • It is still an older machine and some of the operations are a little smoother on the newer DC5100
  • The decorative stitches are a little squished
  • It doesn’t feed quite evenly, especially when I start out, but I think it did that before
  • I have to get used to it again
  • There is a strange whooshing sound when I sew. Not loud or annoying, just different.

She couldn’t repair the wear and tear on the machine and I didn’t expect her to. Having this machine back will keep me for awhile. I still want a new machine, though.

More on the Machines

Janome DC5100
Janome DC5100

I decided that being at Grand Parlor was a good time to send my sewing machine to the spa. I wouldn’t have a chance to even think about sewing, which means that it wouldn’t make me crazy to have it gone.

I am not sure it has been serviced since I bought it and I definitely did not buy it with every day use in mind. As you might recall, it was a replacement for the Janome Jem, which I took to classes. Then, I began having irredeemable problems with the Janome 9k and switched to this machine (Janome DC5100) on what I thought was a temporary basis. Here it is a year + later and I am still using it. It was definitely time for a service. I might have had it serviced before, but I don’t think so. Off it went.

No major problems, but when I was on the phone with Angi at the Sewing Machine Place store in Millbrae, she said that she remembered me. I told her about my 9k and she was horrified that she didn’t remember and more horrified that she couldn’t fix it. I didn’t really remember the details, but she asked me to bring it in and see what was up. They don’t charge to look, so I decided I would.

Janome 9000 (9k)
Janome 9000 (9k)

First, I checked the machine myself. It has been sitting since I had problems with it in 2014. Fortunately the cover was on (what do you think I am? A sewing machine torturer?? 😉   ), so there wasn’t much dust. Immediately the problems started. It ran on its own when I tried to thread it using the needle down button. I couldn’t stop it without turning it off. I didn’t do any further testing. I am not be a sewing machine torturer, but I am also not a sewing machine repair person and it has been a long time since I used the 9k. It simply wasn’t familiar to me anymore. 🙁

I finally had some spare time last Wednesday and took it in. I couldn’t find a parking place nearby and had to carry it over a block to get it to the store. I work out, but that baby is heavy.

Angi was selling a machine so her colleague helped me. We went through all the details of the issues I had found and she found that the machine wasn’t feeding either except when it ran by itself. Angi came over when she was done and we had the whole conversation over. She insisted that she would have remembered these problems, but I think I didn’t bring it back, because I thought it was irreparable and I had already been to 3 repair shops. I felt bad because I hadn’t looked up the exact details of what happened last before I went there. I know I took it to three shops including hers, but looked it up by tag later and got some clarity.

Angi looked at the machine and thought that wires had been crossed somewhere along the way, though the problem may stem from something called the step motor. No electronics, which is good since they are hard to come by, if not impossible for a Janome 9k. She thought 2 weeks and ~$300.

Janome 9400
Janome 9400

I really want a new machine and have my eye on the Janome 9400. However, if I get a new machine with a larger throat, I have to get a new table as well and that adds to the cost. There is really no point in hauling out heavy furniture and bringing new heavy furniture in without painting and generally giving my workroom a facelift. New machine, much less a new table and decor are just not in the cards right now. YM is in college, I am building my business. The finances just don’t work. The other thing is that I fall in love with new Janome machines all the time. Since I have been thinking about new machines, there have been at least 2 others I have wanted. If Angi and her team can get the 9k running again, that will keep me for awhile longer. Cross your fingers.

The Sewing Machine Place
239 Broadway
Millbrae, CA 94030
(650) 697-4739
10:00am-5:00pm (call as hours may vary)

Sewing Machine Final

Bulb burned out
Bulb burned out

You probably remember me bringing home the 9k. It worked and I was really happy except that the needle looked out of alignment and the light bulb was burned out.

I called the place that repaired my machine. I felt like an idiot when she, very kindly, told me I could move the needle position.

Oh.

I had never done that before.

Then she explained that she had had to do a factory reset when she re-soldered all of the connections. This meant that the machine was back to what it was like when I bought it. I didn’t remember ever changing the needle position but that was then and this is now. The machine works well. I don’t have to buy a new one; I am happy.

Except for the light bulb. I have an auxiliary bright light over the machine, but it does not shine on the needle. The little sewing I have been doing has been somewhat dark. I asked her about the bulb and she said she would send me one if I told her which one. I was at work; I had no idea.

Later that night I looked at the bulb, which I had to find first. I never had to change the bulb before. That may have been the original bulb! I took a photo and meant to call and tell her, but was too busy at work. My last days mean that projects are being heaped on my that nobody ever thought important before.

On Friday morning I decided I would drive down to the shop and pick up the bulb so I would be ready for sewing on Saturday. When I got there, I showed the photo. The nice lady, Angie, asked if the bulb had two prongs or a roundy sort of connection. I didn’t know. I just stared at her thinking I’d have to go home with no bulb and sew in the dark on Saturday. She gave me one with prongs.

I slotted it in when I got home and turned on the light. It worked and now everyone is happy(mostly me, but also my DH who is happy that I have stopped muttering to myself about incompetent machine repair people and damn light bulbs).

Update: sad news. The machine is on timeout again. I sewed on and off all day on Saturday with my new light bulb, my newly positioned needle and life was good. Sunday all hell broke loose. The machine started running super fast and then giving me an error message about a bent needle or something caught in the needle area.

I changed the needle. No help.

I rethreaded the machine. No improvement.

I rewound a new bobbin. Same problem.

I took off the sole place and cleaned the whole area. It was pretty clean already. Nothing.

I took out the bobbin case and cleaned out under there. The problem persisted, so I put the machine on timeout and took out the backup machine again (no knee lift- BAH).

I feel like I am in an abusive relationship and this might be the last straw. I am going to look and see if there are any contests at which I can win a new machine.

Good News on the Sewing Machine Front

Wednesday

I have a talked a lot about my sewing machine in the recent past and the news has been all bad. 🙁

Finally, last week I got some GOOD news. Finally!

My mom took my machine to Always Quilting for me. I really had nothing to lose since it had been deemed terminal and, perhaps though hope was slim, I could catch a break. I feel like the machine has been at the shop forever.

Anyway, Wednesday I got a call from the woman who was working on it. She wanted to hear the story of the machine.

Huh?

Why would someone want to know the story of my machine? Good idea, but it sounded weird. I think it just sounded weird, because nobody had ever asked me about that before. I told her my whole long sad tale of woe.

She asked if I had noticed skipped stitches or tension problems. I said that I could never get the tension right to free motion quilt, but other than that I wasn’t having any problems. She said that my needle bar was out of alignment. That was a new one on me! I now have a secret hope that I might be able to free motion quilt again sometime. Maybe? Perhaps?

She said that there had been too many hands on the machine and the connections were a mess. She said that a lot of the electronic connections had to be re-soldered, but no new screen was needed and I should have the 9K back by the weekend. I couldn’t believe it!

She said that the machine was NOT terminal!

I feel like I have won the lottery, a reprieve or something really good. I can’t wait to get my machine back.

Sunday

I went and got the machine today. I normally don’t leave, but I am in a weird place with various projects and needed some exercise.

I got the machine back and set it up. First thing I noticed was that the light doesn’t work. Sigh.

The second thing I noticed was that the screen DOES work. YAY!

The needle bar definitely is different. I hope it is straight, though it doesn’t look straight. The seams seem to be straight if a touch wider than a scant 1/4″.

It sounds better, too. I like the sound of my 9k. It is quieter than my other machine.

I will also have a knee lift available again. I haven’t used it yet, but it is set up and ready to go.

My fingers are crossed.

Sewing Machine Saga Continues

After Grand Parlor, I went back to Serge-a-Lot to get my 9k and brought it home, hopefully to use peacefully for the next 5 years.

Sigh.

I turned it on and it sewed great, but the screen was very faint. This machine uses a touch screen and you might remember that, a few years ago, the touch portion stopped working and I had the touch screen replaced. Looking up the dates made me realize that it was over 6 years ago and while the first screen lasted 14 years, perhaps 6 years isn’t too bad for the second screen.

It doesn’t really matter, though, because a new screen cannot be purchased. They are no longer available from Janome.

I am not sure what I am going to do. What I am not going to do is buy is a Janome 15K, which I covet. I have to face reality that I just don’t use the embroidery module. I admire Katie’s “in the hoop” projects, but just don’t think I will do them enough to justify the expense. After all, I don’t have an Etsy store or anything.

A friend had many problems with the Janome 7700 and the reviews have been scalding. That is the type of machine I am looking at, however, if I decide to buy a new machine. I saw a review of the Janome 8900 at Diary of a Sewing Fanatic that got my hopes up for that model. I don’t know if they still make it.

The part of the this whole saga that is really depressing is all the accessories I have for the 9K: Sew Steady table, sewing table insert, hoops, embroidery cards, templates, etc. Bleah!

I have to think about what I want to do.

  • Have you bought a machine recently? What kind?
  • What features do you like on your machine (new or not)
  • What do you really use on your machine?

Sewing Machines….Blergh

There is good and bad in my sewing world lately.

The Good:

  • plenty of fabric
  • good projects on which to work
  • finishes
  • more fabric
  • nice IRL quilt friends
  • #Twilters

The Bad:

  • #$%^&*(@## sewing machine

Yes, my 9K stopped sewing again last week.

“Really?”, you ask.

After a string of curses, not directed at you, “Yes,” I say.

What is the problem? I don’t know. I just stopped zigzagging in the middle of my ATCs a week ago. Since something was stuck under the feed dogs last time I had in the shop, I took off the sole plate and cleaned out everything that looked linty and like it didn’t belong. I didn’t see anything scary looking. I put it all back together and it sewed again.

Hooray, I thought, it was just a recommended stoppage to avoid permanent damage. I was happy.

For about 5 minutes, then it stopped again. I took off the sole plate again and nothing was in there. Well, the area I could see was clean.

I was done.

Backup Machine on top of cabinet
Backup Machine on top of cabinet

I got out the backup machine and put the 9K on the floor in timeout. Saturday I went and picked up the insert. Perfect timing, because I am thinking of quilting the Wonky Nine Patch.

Also, I have been waking up in the morning with tingly fingers and wrists (old injury that flares when I am naughty), which I know is from not having my machine flush with the table. I see a lot of people sewing without their machine flush and I envy them, because it makes for so much more versatility when they sew. They can go anywhere and sew. I can sew for a very limited time without the machine being flush with the table or I suffer.

Why have I been sewing like this, you ask? Denial? No, I MUST sew. I must get the creativity out of my body or I will probably explode.

Backup machine flush in cabinet
Backup machine flush in cabinet

My backup machine is ok. It is a good machine and it is working, which is a bonus, but it doesn’t have a knee lift. I don’t know it as well, so I always have to go hunting for various stitches and feet. It isn’t my 9K, which I do love.

The insert is nice, though it is a little strange to be able to see down under the machine. As of this writing, I haven’t sewn with it yet and I don’t know how that will be.

Raising the backup machine
Raising the backup machine

The bed of the the backup machine isn’t as tall as the 9K, so I had to boost it up to make it flush with the acrylic insert/table. I used the wooden closing insert (see picture above) and a magazine to get it to the right height. I might add some clamps to the whole assemblage if the slickness of the magazine makes the machine move around.

I took the 9K to Serge-a-Lot, my new best friend sewing store, after Sherri invited me to do so. She assured me that her man, Brad, could work on my machine. She came through with the insert and if Brad can’t fix the machine, then I am no worse off. She did see that the feed dogs weren’t advancing when she turned the fly wheel, so I didn’t come across like a complete lunatic. Of course, when we put thread in it in the store, the machine sewed fine.  WTF? I told her to service it if she thought it needed it.

I am thinking that a new machine is in my future sooner than I had hoped. I hope Serge-a-Lot can get it running and that it can give me a few more years of service. I don’t know, though. I better start saving my pennies.

All I can say is BLERGH!!!

Onward HO!

My machine is back from the spa and seems to be running only when I press the foot pedal.

I put on The Girl You Left Behind audiobook and drove down to San Jose to pick up the machine. It is about an hour each way for me, so I want the machine to be right when I go to get it. I know many of you have dealers that are far away and can sympathize.

I have to say that I don’t think they take very good notes at the dealer because they gave me another new foot pedal just in case. They did that last time, too. It makes me wonder how they keep their business in business.

I told the repair guy/owner of the shop that I would demand he come and pick up the machine if it didn’t work. Clearly, I can’t force him to do anything, but it sounded good.

This whole machine drama has made me think about opening a sewing machine repair shop in the City. It would be so nice if there were one closer. The place I bought my machine from closed a few years after I bought my machine after a number of family tragedies. Of course, I know nothing about repairing sewing machines, but why should that stop me? 😉

Obviously, if I were really going to do something like that, I would need to do a lot of research.The quiet of the drive down to the shop was good for me. I am a little impatient with people these days and I am pretty sure my work colleagues were glad to see the back of me at the end of the week. Listening to the book made me not have to think too much. My brain is tired.

Now I am going to put on Still Life by Louise Penny (yes, I am listening to it a second time, as I think I missed half the story in the drama of last week) and figure out if I remember how to sew.

What are you working on?

Loaner Machine

It is kind of funny how we come to feel about our tools. As I mentioned, I have a loaner machine. It is  also a Janome, so my feet fit. It is a smaller model with a fewer number of stitches and no knee lift. I don’t know the model; there doesn’t seem to be a number or anything on it.

Loaner Janome
Loaner Janome

This is, generally, a nice machine. It sews quietly, the stitch is nice. It fits my 1/4″ foot, is easy to thread, has the needle up/down feature.

It isn’t my machine, though and it buzzes. It makes a loud-ish, electrical buzzing sound all the time. It sounds weird, but that might be part of why I felt out of sorts on Saturday. The machine was off most of the day on Sunday and I felt fine.

It also doesn’t fit well into my table, so I moved the pneumatic lift platform up to table top height and put the machine on top of it. I worried that my hands were going to hurt , but that didn’t happen.

Why You Should Care: It is always good to have information about different machines when you are going to buy a new one.

Happy Face Sad Face

The Happy Face signifies me not being insane.

Where the Sewing Machine Should Be
Where the Sewing Machine Should Be

The Sad Face is because of the ‘missing’ machine. Again.

I posted something similar on Twitter a few weeks ago. I wasn’t worried, because I was planning on being out of town and I could get the machine back relatively soon after I returned.

When I dropped the machine off, I clearly articulated that the machine was running by itself. In the imaginary universe a machine running by itself would be a good thing. You could line up a bunch of patches and go iron fabric while the machine sewed away. I am imagining household management a la Molly Weasley. Sadly, this is not the imaginary universe and, besides, I get a lot of pleasure out of feeding patches through the machine.

I always think it is important to tell the people working on my device or gadget what the problem is. I always thought they might want to know since I was asking them to fix it and they were taking my money for fixing the machine.

When I picked up the machine, the repair person was there and said that had told him about my machine running by itself. He gave me a new foot, assuring me that that would solve the problem. Famous last words, but you knew that was coming, right?

I got the machine home and it still ran by itself. I really thought I was losing my mind. I had a stressful week prior and thought that that may be contributing to my obvious insanity.

In reality, the intake person didn’t write any notes on my ticket, so the repair people just did a service on it. Service is great. The machine, you have to know, needed to be serviced in the worst way, but I don’t want the machine running by itself.

As you saw, the problem didn’t prevent me from sewing, but I couldn’t use the needle down function, because that had something to do with creating the problem. It also meant that I had to drive back to the shop, which is 50 miles from my house.

I had yesterday off work, so after a few fun things, I drove the machine down to the shop, then went out to lunch with friend Maureen. I called on Tuesday to tell them I wanted them to look at it right away so I could take it back home with me after lunch. As much as I enjoy having lunch with M, I’d really like to stay home and sew once in a while.

I called again late in the day. They said they couldn’t find anything wrong with it, so I went to pick it up feeling quite discouraged. The repair guy suggested I test the machine in the shop, so we set it up, he showed me how beautiful it was running and invited me to sew on it.

Immediately, I pressed the needle down button and it was like touching the ‘never stop’ switch. The repair guy’s mouth practically dropped open as he watched the machine run by itself. He looked at me and said that he had never seen the needle down sensor affect the running of the machine that way. He said he would have to call the company, so I would have to leave the machine again. Sigh.

Janome Loaner
Janome Loaner

He offered me a loaner, which I almost declined, but took at the last second. I don’t know what model this is, but it has a needle down function and uses the same feet as I have. I might just use my Jem. We’ll see if I can get along with this machine over the weekend. Who knows how long it will take to get my machine fixed and I hope it isn’t a $500 repair like it was when I had to have the screen replaced.

Why You Should Care: This is a reminder that you make sure the intake person writes down the specific problem. This is definitely a #firstworldproblem. I know that I am fortunate to have a machine, fortunate to have a backup and fortunate to have been offered a loaner. I am also fortunate not to have to take my machine by donkey to be repaired.

Russian Rubix Templates

You might think that because I teach how to use templates that I think templates are great.

Russian Rubix templates
Russian Rubix templates

Templates are not great, but they are useful. I think it is useful to know how to make and use templates, especially for weirdly shaped pieces where adding a quarter inch seam allowance isn’t as straightforward as plopping down a ruler  in the right position and drawing a line. BUT give me a plastic rotary ruler or template and my rotary cutter any time.

I recently talked about Richard and his mini-business making templates for the Russian Rubix pattern. I still don’t have my pattern (long story, but it should be here soon), but I was able to try out the templates over the weekend.

Cutting roundish shapes, e.g. the octagon means that you have to carefully cut one side depending on whether you are right or left handed (I am right-handed and needed to take care cutting over my left hand and arm, which were holding the template in place, when I went to cut the left 3 cuts of the template).

These templates are a smidge thinner than a Creative Grids ruler, but it was an unfamiliar enough feeling to make me notice. These templates are not so thin as to be dangerous.

There is a lot of trimming of pieces in the pattern and the house shape is used for part of the trimming, which is a really nice option. Also, in the pattern, you cut a bunch of squares and then you trim them using the octagon template. Having a rotary template means that you can skip the 1) template making; 2) square cutting; and 3) trimming down to an octagon. Using the rotary template, you can go straight to the cutting of the octagons.

Cutting squares and trimming is not terrible and might make for a good rote sewing task. There might even be an Accuquilt die for the right size of the square that would make the cutting go very fast. Still, I like the rotary template idea and think that it will be useful for cutting from scraps. Again, I am thinking of using all different blues, though not too dark, with a grey background.

And…in other News

Bali Cracker Macaron (test photo)
Bali Cracker Macaron (test photo)

My camera seems to be working again. I bought a new, smaller SD card and the camera is now saving photos to the SD card again. If only I had known (remembered? this is ringing a bell) to not try and cram 4GB of memory into my poor 10 year old camera, I probably would have been fine.

What do you think? I took the picture of the Bali Cracker (crazy name, BTW!) and only cropped. I didn’t adjust the color or anything.

Yes, retail therapy was my prescription on Monday after work and this Cracker came today with sister, Pop. I think I will make another Stepping Stones quilt from these. I just have to find some yardage, though I think I could find some turquoise in my fabric closet that would work just fine.

I don’t want to get into a fight with people about the right and wrong of Boy Scouts, especially after the latest scandal to follow the most recent scandal. Sigh. The Young Man is a scout, as you might have guessed. I find it to be a good program for boys who are not sports oriented. The national organizational leadership, IMO, needs some attitude adjusting, shall we say.

Moving on.

This group has come out with the new merit badges for the year. They are:

  • Welding
  • Search & Rescue

Take a look at the merit badge requirements at: http://usscouts.org/advancementTOC.asp#merit

Both are useful skills, but I think that sewing would be much more useful than welding. The BSA needs to, SERIOUSLY, consider a sewing merit badge. Sewing on a button is a useful skill, don’t you think? Running a sewing machine? Reading a pattern to make a fanny pack or a sleeping bag?  Dealing with denim, Gortex and ripstop nylon fabric? I know that many artists weld and it is a sign of power, but really, welding over sewing? Sheesh.

Also, I painted my toenails purple. Now I keep getting startled every time I see them.

Have a great weekend!