New blocks + new machine quilting technique

I feel like I’ve been working like a crazy-lady behind the scenes around here, but don’t have a lot to share right away. I have been staying caught up on my Bee Blocks though, so I’ll share those. This is the latest block from the 2014 Aurifil Block of the Month, this time designed by Emily Herrick. Here is the tutorial for this specific block.

I am still totally digging this color scheme and I’m having fun watching this quilt start to grow.

 Another Bee block for my friend Nedra from the Bees Knees.

This block was made using Triangles on a Roll papers to piece the flying geese. They were really cool! Nedra has the tutorial for this block here and explains more about Triangles on a Roll.
Basically, it’s another method of machine paper-piecing, but this time you are working and sewing on the same side as the markings, which eliminated that flip and match-step. This kept the same accurate piecing, but there was less fabric waste because you can see where you were sewing. It took me a few minutes to get used to a new method, but then I really loved it. And the results were awesome.

A few more projects in the works behind the scenes that aren’t ready to share yet. This quilt is for an upcoming quilt-along on the We All Sew (BERNINA) blog later this spring. For this quilt, I tried a new quilting technique and I was so happy with how it turned out. I am still not very confident in my free-motion-quilting skills. I know I just need to practice – it’s finding the time to do it that’s my problem, but definitely something I’d like to become more comfortable with in the future.

In the mean time, the only kind of quilting I’ve been comfortable with is straight-line quilting. So, if you’re like me, this was a good step outside my comfort zone, but not TOO scary since I was just using my walking foot, going in straight lines and letting my needle do all the work. I love that it gives the quilting more of a stipple-organic look, without having to free-motion it. I’m not perfect yet, but the overall quilt looks really great. (Full reveal soon.) I have to admit the giant throat space on the BERNINA 710 has also given me more courage to quilt a big quilt myself.
I used stitch #4 on my Bernina 710. I think it’s a pretty standard stitch for all newer Bernina’s. (I think it’s stitch 3 on my old Bernina Sport 801 – it looks like a wavy line.) The width is set to 5.5 and I used a stitch length of 3. I think I’d like to try it with a longer stitch next time and see how that changes things. Chime in if you know what stitch this is on other machines. 

And one last bit of eye-candy because it’s just SO pretty and makes me want spring. A new quilt design in the works with this new Kona solids New Bright Palette roll-up. I’m itching to get started!

Pretty new sewing space

I have always been sheepish about sharing pictures of my sewing space, mainly because it wasn’t very pretty. (I tend to be kind of a messy sewer.) I have a spot in our basement where I keep my crapola stash and supplies, but I prefered to migrate my machine and whatever current project I was working on to the kitchen table so that I could be where the action was. It was never a pretty sight and clearing the table every night so we could eat, resulted in a pile of my stuff on the floor next to the kitchen table. Not a good look. And frequently my children’s friends would comment to my kids that their mom sure sewed A LOT.

This past fall I had one of those clever “a-hah” moments – which tend to be rare, so it was especially exciting. Our house happens to have a dining room open off the front room, which is the one room I try to keep tidy. A dining room was nice in theory, but we rarely use it for dining – even when we have people over. The only thing I consistently used that room for was photography, since it has two windows that face south and west with the best light in our house.

So my “a-hah” moment came when I finally realized that we could hang doors between the front room and the dining room (creating the ability to close-off the back room and thereby, hide my messes) and I could move my sewing machine in there. It has been fantastic! I’m right off the kitchen so I’m still where the action is, but it’s so nice to have a place to keep the machine set up, and to not have to re-clear the kitchen table every night. (I know what some of you are thinking, “Duh! What took you so long?!”)

We also did some painting before we made all the switcheroo and hauling fabric into the dining room. Our walls were a really brown-ish taupe and ready for an update. We ended up painting them blue and it is SO pretty and refreshing. It took me forever to pick the paint and then, I’ll admit, a little while longer to feel at peace about the shade of blue. (Sherwin-Williams Tidewater) I am the WORST about making those kind of decisions.
One other thing happened to spur me on to finally just make a commitment and paint. We had a leak in the bathroom above our front room which resulted in water dripping through the front-room ceiling. Which, ironically started happening the day I was leaving to teach at the Riley Blake fabric fest in Las Vegas. Of course. Ugh. I had no choice but to walk out the door to catch my flight with water dripping through a hole in my ceiling! (Ahh, such a glamorous life…) The one good thing about having to rip out part of your ceiling and repair it, is that it forces you to finally make a decision about paint…

So, three cheers for a fresh paint job and a simple fix like hanging some doors so that I could shut off this room and make it a usable space. We kept the refurbished china hutch in the room as it provides good storage and the table in the room so that things can be easily cleared and the room could be used for actual dining, if needed. But it’s sure getting a lot more use now and not just with my sewing. I put the kids craft supplies in another corner in the room opposite the china cabinet (not pretty at the moment, therefore, not photographed) and I love it when they come in and sit at the table while I sew and work on Perler beads or homework and doing things like sing songs from the Frozen soundtrack. I also LOVE having my design wall right next to my machine! It’s so handy.

To increase storage, I added an Ikea Hemnes Dresser which looks pretty and can hold projects while I’m working on them, helping to decrease the clutter. I love it! (And I’m proud to say, I even assembled it myself one weekend while my husband was out of town. Thank you.) Finishing the modern colorwheel dresden wall hanging was the perfect finish for this room. I’m so excited about how things turned out! Plus, it’s fun to have a pretty place to set up Big Bertha (the Bernina 710) and give her the space she needs.

I’d like to make a few more mini’s to hang on the walls. Right now I just have this little scrap-bag mini. Here’s a close up. (This scrappy little mini-quilt project is in the latest issue of Fat Quarterly online magazine – issue 16.)

I may take forever to finally get there, but it sure feels good to get this far. Now on to the rest of the house…could someone please come hold my hand and help me make decisions? Hopefully without a leaky upstairs bathroom to finally get me to take action.

New Bernina Sewing Machine

Hello friends. Meet Big Bertha. To say that I am excited about this bad boy coming to stay with me is a huge understatement. 
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The reason for all this hoopla is that I am partnering with Bernina USA to review this beautiful Bernina 710 machine and as a contributor to the We All Sew Blog. If you haven’t been to the We All Sew blog, you should stop by for a visit. It is a great resource full of all kinds of sewing tutorials and projects.
 
I couldn’t be more thrilled. I have been sewing on a Bernina – mainly this one – my whole sewing life. From the time I took sewing lessons in my neighbor’s basement when I was a kid where I made things like corduroy burmuda shorts or boxy Hawaiian print shirts that looked like something Magnum PI would wear, I’ve been sewing on a Bernina. My machine my whole adult life has been this Bernina Sport 801, ca 1979. This has been a hardworking, heavy-duty little machine and I’ll keep it forever. But I’ve been ready for sometime for an upgrade – especially something with more throat space and a nice table-workspace.  The throat on the 710 feels HUGE compared to what I’ve been using for years.
Since I’ve been sewing old-school for so long, it’s going to take me a little while to learn all the bells and whistles on a 21st century, up-to-date sewing machine model. I’m taking classes at my local Bernina dealer (highly recommended no matter what sewing machine model you have). Already I’m loving the fancy features like the button that clips my threads (I feel so tidy!), and the giant bobbin! It’s huge – holds twice as much thread as my old bobbins. 
I’m also looking forward to trying out the Stitch Regulator and hopefully get over my fear of free-motion-quilting. The size alone of my old machine has been prohibitive for me in terms of trying to free-motion quilt. Now I won’t have that excuse any more. I need to get practicing. I’ll share my journey and any helpful tips along the way.

In other fun stuff, in preparation for this state-of-the-art machine to come live with us, I’ve also been updating our house to create a welcoming space. I am converting a rarely-used dining space as a place to keep my sewing set up. We’ve hung doors to close off the space, built an Ikea dresser to hold all my mess supplies out of sight, and even painted the walls. I’ll give a little more of an update and before-and-after shots of the transformation when it’s all done. Already I’m loving it. And then I’ll be ready to just sit and SEW.

Disclosure: as part of this partnership, Bernina USA has sent me a sewing machine to review and use for a year. No other financial compensation was given. All thoughts and reviews are always my own.