Thursday, September 19, 2013

Summer Solstice Quilt: Evening Star

I was finally able to get back to my sewing machine this week. It felt so good to add another block to my Summer Solstice Quilt, this time the Evening Star.

This block led me to this quilt's color scheme, so I'm really happy that it turned out just as I imagined. The color transition from yellow to grey makes me smile every time I look at it. But then again, I'm a sucker for rainbows, no matter the color palette :)

The most difficult blocks in my Summer Solstice Quilt are behind me now. In fact, here are just three blocks left and only one of them involves paper piecing. It feels especially good to be making progress since this one has been in  the works for awhile.

My next star is appropriately titled "Another Star." I've spent hours agonizing over the color selection. I even stole the toddler's crayons and experimented with the blocks, but I still can't decide. Hopefully I can pick a direction and work up the courage to cut the fabric soon!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Fussy Cut Hexagons

If you had asked me a year ago about sewing together hexagons by hand, I would have laughed... or used some colorful language. Probably both.

Except little hexagons are actually adorable. And fussy cut hexagons are even more adorable. And what a perfectly non-boring way to use scraps... and cutting them up is easy with, say, a Sizzix die-cutter. I mean they practically make themselves, right? Right?

It really is the perfect project for sewing on the go. Two weekends hosting old friends and then a wonderful weekend at a "summer camp themed wedding" took me away from my sewing machine, but my trusty little English paper piecing kit was able to come right along with me. Stitching during a long car ride? Yes. Paper piecing by the lake? Double yes.

In all honesty I started this project months ago, but I've never blogged about it. My plan is to make a coordinating pillow for my Good Fortune Quilt and Rainbow Window Pillow. It sure is slow going, but I am making progress. The only problem? It looks great, until I zoom out and see how much more I have left to do!

Ah well.  Slow and steady, right?

Linking up with WIP Wednesdays at Freshly Pieced ... because this one is sure to be in progress for quite some time!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Introducing Little Red: Janome 18750

As much as I love my big red Janome Horizon, she isn't very travel friendly. And I've missed out on some really fun events because I don't like hauling her around. So, I've definitely been hankering  for a second machine for travel. I knew I wanted either a standard sized Janome or a really great Singer Featherweight. I wasn't able to find a good Featherweight at a reasonable price, so I chose to go with a new Janome. I still hope to add a Featherweight to my collection at some point, but I'm happy waiting for the right one to come along. (And when I do, I fully intend to get a snazzy custom paint job! Eggplant purple Featherweight? Yes. Yes indeed)

After a lot of research on smaller Janomes, I decided to go with either a 3/4 size Janome Jem Platinum or a full size Janome DC1050. Both models have functions that I've become entirely too reliant on like needle up-down, a start/stop button, and a speed control slider. But once I noticed the Hello Kitty 18750 (which as far as I can tell is an exact clone of the DC1050) my search was over. Baby Bee is utterly obsessed with Hello Kitty (daughter of a toy-maker? No irony lost there!), and I thought this might be a good machine for her to learn on eventually.

I've spent some time with Little Red over the past two weeks, and she's a good little machine. She can't compete with Big Red on any front, but she is totally functional. She runs quietly and has handled everything I've thrown at her with ease. She is very smooth to piece on, and is pretty accurate as well. One of my girlfriends is learning to sew on Little Red and has really enjoyed sewing on her, too.

I will say that there is more plastic on this machine than I would like. I know it isn't a thousand dollar machine, but the ankle, needle plate, and rotary hook are all plastic. Sure, it seems like good quality plastic, but even my sad little beginner Singer had more metal. At any rate, I replaced the plastic "slide-on" style ankle right away with a metal "snap on" style ankle. Not only did that get rid of some plastic, but now I can use my Horizon feet on Little Red. Having that compatibility is great. (FYI - The part number for the metal ankle adapter is Janome #804509000. I found mine at Ken's Sewing Center here for the bargain price of $13.)  I've tried searching for replacement needle plates, but haven't had any success. If anyone out there has a tip there, I'm all ears!

Replacement metal ankle (left) vs. plastic ankle that comes standard (right)
Overall, I certainly prefer sewing on my Janome Horizon. No surprise there. If the machines were actually comparable I would be pretty ticked off for having paid so much for the Horizon. Even so, I definitely look forward to hitting the road with Little Red in full Hello Kitty style. I just need a certain red and aqua quilt-as-you-go carry case for her first :)