WIP Wednesday

Well, it’s been quite a while since I did a work in progress (WIP) post, but I really want to start posting more often, so here goes …

Today’s WIP is the quilt I mentioned in my last post that I’m working on for my husband. Unlike most of my projects, this one does have a deadline – I’d like to take it on vacation with us next week! I know it probably seems crazy to take a quilt on vacation, but that’s only because you’ve never spent any time in a vehicle with Chris, who is always warm. Since I’m always cold, and I don’t feel like wearing a parka on a spring vacation in the South, I decided we needed a quilt for the trip. Also, the quilt I made for Chris a while back is way too big to be used in the den as a throw, so this very manly quilt will fill that need, too. 😉

I found this motorcycle fabric online a couple of years ago. It’s part of the “Man Cave” series by Bernartex, and it is really beautiful. If you’re looking for some masculine fabric, I would suggest this series. I believe it’s ongoing, as there are images on the website now of cigars and such. Anyway, I combined that with some fabrics I had in my stash, and some Kona Solids to come up with the quilt top …

Motorcycle quilt top completed

Motorcycle quilt top completed

I guess I wasn’t really paying attention, because I didn’t notice that I had quite the pattern going here. LOL If I were to make this quilt again, I would probably replace the grey fabric with black, but Chris says he likes it just this way, so if he’s happy, I’m thrilled.

By the time you read this post, I will probably have the backing put together and the quilt sandwiched. And with a little luck, I’ll be well along in the quilting process. I mean, I only have a week and a half before I need it to be done. Here is the backing fabric …

Motorcycle quilt backing

Motorcycle quilt backing

Chris is a HUGE Texans fan, so I found this fabric a while back at Hobby Lobby and decided it would make a great backing for the motorcycle quilt – two of his favorite things in one quilt! The black and red will be borders around the Texans fabric, because it’s neither wide nor long enough without it. I haven’t decided if I’ll do two red borders and two black borders, or if I’ll do it like the front and run one and then the other all the way around. At first, I thought I’d do two red and two black, but I’ve been thinking it might look cooler to do the red and black together like the front of the quilt.

I have some ideas on how I’m going to quilt it, but I’ll save that to share once the quilt is completed.

Until next time, happy sewing!

Another addition

Viking Opal 690Q

Viking Opal 690Q

When I posted photos of my new studio, I mentioned that I purchased a Viking Opal 690Q machine. I also sold the Janome 8900 that I purchased two years ago. The truth is, while the 8900 is a perfectly wonderful machine for some people, it just wasn’t the machine for me. I never bonded with it, and while it did fine work, I was never really satisfied with it. So when the Opal caught my eye at the dealership a few months ago, I was really leery for many reasons.

First and foremost, I was concerned about some of the reviews I’ve seen about Viking quality in the last couple of years. They were bought out by a holding group that also purchased Singer and Pfaff. Anyone in the sewing world knows that the Singers of today can not hold a candle to the Singer machines our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers used, and the biggest issue is the lack of quality. Having lived with a mother who sewed extensively, I know that the problems with modern Singer machines started in the late 1970’s. While she was away visiting her family one year, my dad decided to surprise her with a new Singer electronic machine when she came home. He was really trying to do a nice thing, but that machine turned out to be a major lemon. It was constantly in the shop, and it forced my mother to buy a mechanical machine so she could continue to sew while the Singer was unusable. After that, my mom never owned another Singer machine.

I have read some reviews about Viking machines in the last couple of  years that suggested the quality of the machines was about on par with the Singers of the late 1970’s forward. And I am certain that these people have told the truth about their experiences, because what possible reason would they have to lie about things like problems with thread tension, motors burning out, and other mishaps that have been reported? So I had very real concerns about what I might be getting in to if I purchased a Viking machine.

I also was a bit worried that maybe I was so much of a Brother machine junkie, I would never be happy with another sewing machine brand. I mean, there are people who are so in love with their Janomes, they sound like an advertisement when they talk about them, and I clearly just never really liked the Janome. Would I end up in the same place if I were to buy a non-Brother sewing machine again? Well, after owning this machine for more than two months, I can answer that with a resounding, NO!

I know it’s not been very long since I bought the machine, but so far, it’s been a dream to use. And I love it. I have found myself using it more frequently than I do George, because the piecing is just so great on the Viking. It is a bit noisier than George is, but not nearly so loud as the Janome was, and it’s not an unpleasant sound. The stitching on the Viking is just beautiful, and the decorative stitches are adorable. In fact, I already have plans to use some of those decorative stitches on an upcoming quilt I have in the queue. And I’ve had no problems at all with this machine, knock on wood. It’s been lovely to work with ever since I took it out of the box!

I will be doing a full review of the Opal 690Q after I’ve had it and used it a bit more extensively, but I can say that the projects I’ve used it for so far – some quilt piecing, and a knit t-shirt – both turned out lovely, and the machine did a bang up job on everything I’ve used it for so far. It’s quickly becoming my “go to” machine for many things, which is a good thing because I want to put George to work on finishing up quilts by using him to do in the hoop quilting.

Check this space in a few months for a comprehensive review on Opal!

A long absence

Sorry I’ve been quiet the last couple of months. I think the rain and the grey days and the cold weather just got to me this year, in a way it usually doesn’t. But the sun Has been making frequent appearances lately, and I’ve used the time I’ve been away from here to do a few things that will really make sewing more enjoyable, hopefully a little easier, and definitely more likely.

We moved in to this house about three and a half years ago, and one of the things that I never really adjusted to was having my studio area in the master bedroom, where we also sleep (obviously). I felt isolated up there, often alone, and it was, frankly, a bit of a pain in the backside to be constantly up and down the stairs. A typical weekend sewing day would go something like this:

7:30 am – Wake up, have some caffeine, catch up on internet stuff (Facebook, blogs, forums)

8:30 am – Housework

9:30 am – Start thinking about sewing, but DH isn’t awake yet, so wait a little longer to see if he comes downstairs soon

10:15 am – Start getting antsy and ready to start sewing; go upstairs and find DH either in bed or on the couch, but almost always awake. Get a little irritated that I’ve wasted time waiting on him

10:30 am – Run DH out of room and start getting ready to sew; start project

11:30 am – Realize I haven’t eaten anything and I’m starving, so head downstairs to get some lunch

12:15 pm – After spending the last 45 minutes talking to DH, get ready to go out for lunch and to run errands.

I know it’s hard to believe, but it just goes downhill from there. By the time I get back to the studio, it’s dinner time, or even later! So on an average weekend day, I was getting about an hour a day in sewing time. So I decided it was time to make a change, and although it wasn’t a very popular idea at first, after trying out the new sewing space for a while, I finally made the switch last month. And it is truly a BIG change for all of us!

This house has a nice, open layout downstairs, with a formal living & dining room, and separated by a wall, a kitchen, den and breakfast area. There is also an office that’s tucked out of the way. The formal living/dining area previously housed a pool table I bought before I ever met my DH, primarily in the hopes of giving the kids a place to hang out back when we had a massive game room upstairs in our old house. More recently, my DH was the only one who used it, and that was rare, so we decided to sell it and clear out that space to be used as my new studio.

I spent the last several weeks cleaning and getting things organized. What I haven’t done yet is to add some art to the little wall space I have, but I’ve waited long enough to share photos of the space, so here it is …

Here’s what it looked like before we sold the pool table …

IMG_3889

Before we sold the pool table, this is what the room looked like.

Before we sold the pool table, this is what the room looked like.

And here’s some of the transformation …

Decisions, decisions. Where will I put everything?

Decisions, decisions. Where will I put everything?

Starting to get things set up ...

Starting to get things set up …

Two of these Ikea Hermes dressers, back to back, form the new cutting table. It gives me TONS of storage.

Two of these Ikea Hermes dressers, back to back, form the new cutting table. It gives me TONS of storage.

This new cutting table is probably my favorite thing in the room!

This new cutting table is probably my favorite thing in the room!

Then, once I got the main storage ideas worked out, I needed to figure out how to store things like thread.

This is just a small sample of the thread that I've managed to collect over the last few months.

This is just a small sample of the thread that I’ve managed to collect over the last few months.

I had been keeping it in the big blue Craftsman toolbox I bought a few years ago, but I was quickly running out of room. I mean, that toolbox IS used for other things. So I went to The Container Store. Chris cringes every time I go in there, because he knows it’s going to be an “investment.” LOL I have long been a fan of the Elfa basket system (I had two from there, and one cheaper one from Home Depot or Lowe’s), so I was thrilled to find these solid drawers, which have available lids. The single runner baskets are perfect for embroidery thread. So of course I added another set of baskets …

Elfa Smoke Solid Drawers are perfect for storing thread.

Elfa Smoke Solid Drawers are perfect for storing thread.

Then there is the wall of Billy Bookcases from Ikea

These bookcases are sturdier and maybe a little taller than the ones you can buy from Walmart.

These bookcases are sturdier and maybe a little taller than the ones you can buy from Walmart.

You can see my fabric stash on the far right, and below that are some ArtBin cases that I use for “works in progress.” The ArtBin cases on the top of that bookcase are empty and waiting for projects. I also bought two cases of 10 men’s shoe boxes from The Container Store to store things like old sewing machine pieces (bottom right), fat quarters (top left) and other things that aren’t pictured here, like scraps and bias tape, zippers, and the like. I left out one of the shelves in the middle bookcase so I could store fabric bolts. In this photo, you can see my new Viking Opal 690Q, which I’ve not talked about here, but I will write about it soon. To the left of that machine is another set of Elfa baskets that contain things like hand embroidery, patterns, and other things I don’t have another place to store.

Another machine I’ve added recently is this Brother 1034D serger, which I love.

Brother 1034D Serger

Brother 1034D Serger and more baskets, of course!

George is living down here at the end of the room next to the big window.

 

George, the Brother DreamCreator VM5100

George, the Brother DreamCreator VM5100

This is where the Elfa for thread storage lives, and the Craftsman toolbox that I love so much. That toolbox is awesome, and if I had to move into a super small space and could only keep one storage element, this is what I’d choose.

Behind George, at the end of the cutting table, I have this ClosetMaid Cubeical shelf that’s really useful for small-ish things.

ClosetMaid Cubeical

ClosetMaid Cubeical

This is where my miscellaneous stuff, and my fabric dyeing supplies, are stored.

And last but not least, here is my design wall, which currently features a small throw I’m making for Chris.

Design Wall

Design Wall

I’m sure I’ll make a few tweaks as I go along, but so far, I really love the layout of the new studio space, and it’s incredibly functional. I no longer feel isolated, and I can sew when I want, how I want without worrying about anyone else’s schedule. I really hope that you’ve enjoyed seeing the space, and I’d love to know what others think!

Happy sewing!