Sunday, July 24, 2016

Peace Cottage Quilt A Long and a Trip to San Jose to Adopt a Brother

How are you progressing on your Peace Cottage?  Videos are FREE and are released weekly on McCall's website at

If you have been reading my blog you will know that I have completed my quilt top and am ready for the borders. In the pattern she has you cut the first border at a different measurement than I am using. I wanted to use a striped pattern for my border and miter the corners so I will show you how I do this.

I picked out this pretty striped fabric from Moda, Lizzie's Legacy 1850-1860. I determined what part of the stripe I wanted to show in my border and then trimmed 1/4 inch beyond that. You will want to open your fabric out and take your time cutting through one layer at a time to get an accurate cut to work from. 

Cut in one direction then turn your strip and trim the otherside if necessary. This left me with some pretty narrow strips. Don't throw these out! They make great "ribbon" to wrap gifts. I store them in a drawer and when I need something pretty I may take one or several strips and wrap the package or use them to tie a bag shut.

After stitching your border on two opposite sides and pressing them open you are ready to attach the final two sides and miter.  Here's how I do it. There are lots of ways to create a miter, this just works for me. When stitching on your final two border strips, stitch only to the corner intersection where your pieces will cross as shown in the photo below. Don't freak out if you accidently stitched a couple stitches past, you can tease those out with your seam ripper. You want your stitching to come just to that first border strip.

Press the strip open just like you did for your first strips. TIP: make sure that you use your fingers to open out your fabric completely when you are pressing open your border. Your border strips should look like the photo below with your second strip laying across your first strip.

Now take your top strip and fold it to create your miter as shown in the photo below. Take your time and fold carefully until your pattern matches up. Finger press into place and insert a pin to hold it.

Now you are ready to trim off the excess strip fabric. I trim right to the edge of border strip first as shown in the photo below.

Now you have a couple options for sewing your mitered seam. I like to press my seam with the iron first and then I top stitch very close to the edge of the seam to finish my miter. When it's done I turn to the backside and finish trimming the strip 1/4 inch away from the seam. If you don't want to do that, you can press first, then fold out and use the pressed lined as your stitching guidline to stitch your strips together on the backside of the fabric. Or you can hand stitch and using a hidden whip stitch, you can carefully stitch your seam.

On to the Piano Key Border. In her directions in the magazine she has you cutting little pieces and then sewing them together...I'm lazy and don't want to be there forever, so I modified this part and stitched strip sets together and then cut them to the width indicated in the pattern.  

Take a moment and lay out your fabrics to see if you like your colors sequence, maybe you need to add more variety, or more of one color, maybe something is sticking out that you just don't like. This is the time to audition your picks before you cut and sew.

TIP: If you are going to sew strip sets, I would suggest that you make your strips 1/2 the width of your fabric. In other words, if your fabric is 44" wide, make your strip set only 22" wide. 

TIP: Only stitch about 5 or 6 strips together in your set, if you do too many it becomes unwieldy and defeats the purpose.

TIP: Mix up your sequence, having a variety of colors in your strip sets will make it more interesting when you stitch the bits together.

Carefully press open your strip sets, again, finger press them open first to make sure you are getting your strip all the way open. Press all your seams in the same direction. Line up your ruler and make sure that you are squared up before cutting your strips.

Stitch your segments together until you have enough to create your border.  I mitered mine so I used extra lengths of border to be able to create the miter the same as the first border.

My supervisor Sophie and my husband John helping me display the This one is in the stack ready for the longarm. I hope you're having fun making your Peace Cottage! And I would love to see your's when you get it finished!!!

So, a while back I think I shared that I found a sweet little Vintage Pink Brother Sewing Machine on Craig's List. 

These are wonderful machines, powerful enough to sew leather, with an adjustable feed dog that will allow you to shirr the finest fabrics. Straight stitch only, they are wonderful for quilting and will never wear out! This is the same machine at the Atlas, they were simply branded differently. Here is a brief little history you might enjoy.

The Sewing Machine Industry In Japan
  Sewing machines were introduced in Japan in 1860. Japan had domestic producers of industrial sewing during the Meiji Period (1868 - 1912) and the Taisho Period (1912-26), but it took some time for them to be manufactured domestically, so the consumer sewing machine market was held by Singer sewing machines imported from the U.S.  After 1931, the high dollar/weak yen weakened the competitiveness of imported sewing machines and more sewing machines began to be produced domestically.  After 1937, trade became restricted, sewing machine imports dramatically decreased, and domestic production increased.
  As sewing machines couldn't be imported due to the World War, Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and Brother Industries Ltd. produced industrial sewing machines for military uniforms, at the request of the Ministry of Clothing.  After the War, the munitions factories were converted, and sewing machines were produced.  Conditions in post-war Japan were conducive to the creation of a domestic and export sewing machine industry:
Sewing machines could be manufactured as parts and subassemblies in separate businesses

A large labor force of machinists looking for work

Idle small-scale machine shops in the Osaka area

Surplus of machine tools from the war industries

The Japanese government was subsidizing up to 50 percent of the cost of imported machine tools.

Greater consumer demand in the U.S. market than Singer could supply

    Singer filed suit against some of the Japanese sewing machine companies for infringement of the Singer patent and the use of the Singer name (Seager), but also pursued the creation of a joint venture, the Pine Machine, with a subsidiary of Nippon Steel. The Japanese government did not give approval to the joint venture Pine Machine until the other domestic sewing machine companies were strong enough to withstand the competition.

    It was difficult for the Japanese sewing machine manufacturers to break into the European markets because Europe applied the same sort of protective tariffs that Japan used to keep out competition. However Japan solicited the aid of European machine tool manufacturers because an expansion of sewing machine manufacture in Japan would increase the demand for European machine tools. The Japanese sewing machine companies got big orders from German sewing machine companies by showing them that Japan was manufacturing parts for their arch-rival Singer.

   Sewing machine manufacture was just about the first major export industry developed in Japan after World War II.  

Well my friend Brenda fell in love with my little pink Brother and she asked if I ever saw another one to let her know.  I spotted one on E-bay and asked the seller to send me some additional information and photos, which she did.  After winning the bid I let Brenda know that we had to take a trip to San Jose to pick up her new little Brother!  So excited, we took off at 10am, forgetting about how far San Jose is and underestimating how long it would take with traffic. It was a fun drive with the song "do you know the way to San Jose" playing in our heads the whole way! 

And Low and Behold, 12 hours later we were home and Brenda got her little Brother! Only thing we need to get for it is a bobbin tire and we are good!  What a gem, not a scratch on it and it is in fine running order having been used by a woman that sewed professionally, it has been well maintained.  The cases on these machines are usually in poor shape, don't let that deter you.  The machine is solid steel, all metal!  Avoid machines that have rust, or are chipped and show signs of abuse.  Check the belts, run the motor, look at the wiring. All of which can be replaced, but don't pay more than you have to.  These machines can be found for very little money, but find them locally, they are VERY HEAVY and will not ship cheaply!

If your machine case has a musty smell, which many of them do. I have several suggestions.  First, take the case outside and spray with a fabric deodorizor like Febreze spray, let it dry in the sun.  If you are putting your machine away in the case for a while, tuck in a couple of Downy Fabric Softner Sheets. Also tuck in those little absorbant packets that come with your electronic equipment, they will help keep any moisture out. Do Not Store your machine in a moist area, like your laundryroom or a damp basement. 

For the bottom of your machine case, often times there are rips or tears on the fabric that was used to cover the box. Hey, after 60 years you might have a few scrapes too! Carefully use some glue on a tooth pick and work the loose fabric bits back into place and secure them. When all the loose bits are secured, use a good shoe polish and polish your base, buff with a soft cloth. You may need to do this several times to build up a good protective coat. If the base has a funky odor you can tuck the fabric softner sheets inside the base under your machine carefully. You will be well rewarded for your efforts!

If you need a manual for your Brother or Atlas here you go!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

McCall's Peace Cottage Quilt Along - Lesson 5 and a #Giveaway!

Lesson 5! We are crusing right along!  I hope you are having fun. Have you figured out that this is a row quilt yet? Row quilts are great, they offer variety. If you are one of those people who get bored easily doing a large quilt with the same blocks over and over and over again, well this type of quilt will be right up your alley!

TIP: Value plays a key roll in keeping this part of the quilt interesting.  Select fabrics that are light, medium and dark. Before you stitch them in place, take a picture and see how they look to you.  Taking a photo will give you a perspective that will help you with your placement.

These blocks will go quick for you, stack them next to your machine and chain piece them.

TIP: Make sure that you finger press your piece open first and then press to get that seam open completely.  Take your time when pressing, don't scrub your piece, press it with an up and down motion.  Doing this will help prevent distortion and will give you a nice accurate block.

If you have been following along, you know that I have raced ahead.  We had a pretty large forest fire going here and sewing kept my mind occupied.  The fire is out now and we are all very grateful to the many men and women that worked so hard in the heat and smoke to take care of us!

Tanker 131 on the Trailhead Fire. Photo July 1, 2016 by Matthew Rhodes
Yesterday my friend Brenda Allen and I took a drive out to Grass Valley and visited one of our favorite little quilt shops, Sugar Pine Quilt Shop. They have a great selection of Civil War Repros and that is just what I needed to finish off my quilt borders  They are wonderful, they have lots of fat quarters pre-cut and if you don't see what you want they will cut you a fat quarter right off the bolt, no problem!

This is such a fun little quilt shop, they have several rooms, each one is chock full of incredible fabrics, notions, patterns, name it, they have it.  There is an eclectic mix here, a little bit of everything for everyone. Their fabrics run the gammit from Civil War Repros to Kaffe Fasset, Neutrals, Solids and Batiks to Modern Prints, Soft Pastels to Bold Colors, Orientials, 1930's Repros, Landscapes, Skys, Childrens Prints everything for everyone! 

I spotted an owl print (Brenda loves owls) and when I pointed it out to her she had to have it. It is so cute and of course, they had the perfect colors to blend with it!

I will be working on the piano key borders today. I was successful in finding the bits I needed to complete this quilt. These were my choices, they will blend with some of the fabrics I have left from my construction.

I'm planning to insert the strip piece in the border where she has the two little pieces and then do the piano keys beyond that...I think it will look nice. You can see my audition below.

OKAY!  I promised you a giveaway!  Right now on our Facebook site we are giving away Moda's All in a Row!  Yes! A book that features 24 different Row-by-Row Quilt Designs. Discover the mix and match possibilities for fabulous quilts with row patterns by your favorite Moda designers including Lissa Alexander of Moda Lissa, Lynne Hagmeier of Kansas Troubles Quilters, Camille Roskelley of Thimbleblossoms, Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts, Pat Sloan and many more.  

To Enter:
LIKE our Facebook Page

COMMENT on the giveaway post which is pinned at the top of the page for you.

SHARE that post with your friends on your Facebook page

That's all, there is nothing ever to purchase. My goal is to inspire a next generation of quilters.

Drawing will be held on July 30th and the winner will be announced on our Facebook page on August 1st.

Good Luck Quilters! 

If you are quilting along with us on the Peace Cottage check back next week and we will have another post for Lesson 6. If you missed the previous lessons, you can visit our older posts or go to McCall's website at

Okay, I'm off to get my borders made! Make something beautiful today!

Friday, July 1, 2016

McCall's Peace Cottage Quilt Along - And A Fire To Boot! Lesson 4

We are moving right along with the Peace Cottage Quilt Along! How is your's coming?  I made a little change on mine, I decided (due to a shortage of the scraps) that I would change the lower right front window dimensions. I'm happy with the results and moving along on this row of the quilt, ahead of the planned weekly guide.

TIP:  Audition your fabic and make sure it is looking the way you want before you stitch it all together...

First I thought I would like this little stone pattern for the cottage but after assembling the first two sections of the cottage, I decided not so much and started over with a small brick.

Did not like the way the roof looked, unstitched it and started over.

Still not content with this either, I started over...

Finally happy, I settle on this little Cottage.

The next steps were ahead of plan. Stitched up the little stars and the trees.

Well, I got a little excited about putting this row together so I proceeded and stitched up the forest blocks and the silo. 

Now, you may be thinking this all looks very complicated. It's not. This is basically a row quilt, everything is broken down into nice little rows for you to stitch. Just keep that in mind as you go along.

Sunday, I took a little break from the action and headed up to Tahoe Donner to visit my son and see his new home. Imagine my excitement when he showed me his sewing room! Now mind you, I bought him a little Singer sewing machine about three years ago and he fell in love with sewing. He has a very high stress technical consulting career and he says this is his therapy. That apple didn't fall

So let me help you with this photo, because I needed help. The Juki in the front is an industrial coverstitcher. Yes, it's kind of like a serger but no blades and it does really cool stuff, like if you wanted to bind your quilt, it would do that for you...both sides at the same time, perfect.  If you wanted to hem something, it would do a two or three needle hem, perfect...oh the list goes on. AND IT'S FAST, don't get your fingers in the way!

Right beyond the Juki is another Juki serger.  And at the far end of the room is his Bernina 530 sewing machine. It was a fun day, he showed me all the tricks it could do and shared his stash with me, oh yes, he already as a stash. Below is some of the thread stash.

The closet was stacked with bolts of fabric! I love my son. And as he was unpacking things, there was the little Singer in the bottom of the  Then he pulled out a big box and proceeded to unpack another machine. This one is a Janome Coverstitcher he says. I want you to have it because I have the Juki now. So I was gifted with this brand new Janome!

Yup, that is my little Singer Featherweight 221 in the back. It was a sewing day, what can I say, I brought my machine too! So here is my plan, I'm going to finish up the quilt I have on my longarm this weekend, then I'm going to put some fabric on there and quilt it up randomly, take it off and cut out some placemats. Then I can practice using the coverstitcher and perfect my technique before tackling a quilt binding!

This week, started out rather uneventful and then a fire started in the canyon below us. You may have seen it on the TV. It's called the Trailhead Fire. We are located in Todd Valley, right above the north line of the fire. Driving home from work, this is what I saw.

As I got to the turn off for our home, the road was blocked by police and the little firehouse near us had about 20 fire trucks parked out front. So I flipped a U and drove in the back way to our home.  This was the view from our front porch.

Way too close for comfort. My husband is home during the day with our kitties and has been keeping me informed but it has been difficult to go to work this week, especially since I can see the fire from our office which is 17 miles from the house. I'm thankful for the firemen who are on the front lines, the airmen who are flying the huge DC 10's, the helicopters and all the other folks that are manning bulldozers and who knows what else to fight this fire for us. Our community and those across the canyon from us are grateful.

Our little Todd Valley is directly north of the fire which is down in the American River Canyon on the Middle Fork of the American River so we are on pins and needles around here. The fire is down in the canyon and the winds change in the mountains all the time so with that and the difficult teraine, the very dry conditions after several years of drought and 97 years without a major fire, it can be very difficult to fight these fires. 

This is the same view as that which is at the top of my masthead on this blog. Looking east toward the backside of Squaw Valley, you cannot even see the mountains.  This second view is looking down the canyon from Wartons' early this morning before the inversion layer lifted. 

A local photographer, Joe Dondelinger took this photo below from Mosquito Ridge Road June 29th. 

So to keep my mind off the fire, to stay focused and not worry, I am sewing ahead on the Peace Cottage and it is giving me peace.

I hope you are enjoying the sew along, if you haven't started yet, jump in anywhere, it won't matter! It's a row quilt that's fun with lots of easy and fun little blocks to put together. Take your time and find your Peace Cottage!