Monday, 3 July 2017

Joining the Featherweight Fan Club

The Singer Featherweight 221K

Featherweight - not!

 Cute - definitely!

This pretty little sewing machine was given
to me a year ago by an old friend down-sizing from a 
huge Victorian semi to a small bungalow. 

A few months before her wedding in the 1990s,
my friend's fiancee moved into their new home
with all his stuff, dumping several surplus-to-requirements
items in a damp garden shed at the bottom of the garden
- including his mother's precious little Featherweight.

(I'm carefully not mentioning any names here in case the 
Featherweight Fan Club seeks vengeance.)

When my friend moved in the following Spring and found the
sewing machine mouldering in the shed, the damage was done.
It was completely seized up, and for the next 25 years 
it was only good for propping doors open.

When it came to me, I cleaned and oiled it as best I could
but it remained stubbornly stuck -
and though people might service a Janome or Bernina, 
no-one seemed interested in tackling a vintage machine.  
So back in the cupboard it went.

Twelve months later, I hauled it out again, 
hoping that my neighbour, a restorer of vintage
 motorbikes, might take a look and tell me to stop
flogging a long-dead horse.

Just one last check on the internet before popping next door...
and that's when I discovered

Carmon and April Henry 

Carmon and April have created a brilliant website
with all the FAQs, advice, and video tutorials needed to
begin restoring and using a Singer Featherweight, 
from threading the needle to 
taking the machine apart, piece by piece.
With free downloads of the instruction manuals
and a list of spares available to buy from the website,
it's a really comprehensive service.

 With Carmon's video assistance, I've removed and cleaned
loads of fiddly little bits and, importantly, put them all back together!
And though I still don't know whether some of the attachments
are for sewing or for taking out someone's appendix, 
and it did take two of us twenty minutes to get one 
teeny-weeny screw back into its tiny hole, 
my lovely little Featherweight is now working well.

Not bad for a machine that's nearly 60 years old -
and not bad for an owner who can give it at least a decade!

Many thanks, Carmon and April! 

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Hexagons - with a twist

Hexagons are not my thing - 

but here we are, ankle-deep in the little blighters,and loving them!

It's taken a while to fall in love with paper-piecing,
but the penny finally dropped when I saw this lovely
little twisted hexagon block in the internet

Now I know why so many people love hexies -
they're the ultimate stitch-on-the-go, stash busters
- and there's so much more to them than Grandmother's Garden!

Cutting papers was very easy with Coler's 37.5mm metal hexagon  

Take a sharp pencil and some thick paper
and simply run the pencil round the inside of the hexagon frame,
moving the template round the paper until it's filled.
You'll need one whole hexagon for the centre of the block,
and three more hexagons cut in half to make your
scrappy half-hexie 'twists'

A helpful tip...

For the centre hexagon I cut my calico
into 3.5 inch squares, not hexagons.
This made them so much easier to handle,
and any excess fabric was easily trimmed down later

Pin and tack, keeping the corners neat

Helpful tip 2...

The sharp corners of half-hexies can be tricky to fold, 
so try cutting your fabric with a slightly wider
seam allowance - it really helps!

With right sides together, pin the long edge of a half-hexie twist
to one edge of the centre hexagon, as shown below.  

Don't worry! Only half of your first half-hexie will
fit on the edge of the centre patch
 - and that's how it should be.
It looks odd now, but all comes clear in a minute...

Sew the patches together with tiny stitches,
catching just a few threads at a time. 
Pull the thread tight enough to help the stitches disappear,
but not so tight that it puckers the fabric.

This is how your patch will look when it's opened out

Looks odd, doesn't it - but that gap will be filled!

Now to add the next half-hexagon...

See how the pink patch fits neatly onto
the side of the previous blue block and the calico centre?
With right sides together, stitch as before,
making sure the points line up.
After that it's easy to see where the next patch will go.

Fig.1. In progress

Continue to add 'twists' to the side until
the calico centre is surrounded, and the
last piece tucks its tail neatly into the little gap left at the start.
Just stitch that little tail in place
and - voila! - your first twisted hexagon block.

Fig.2. Finished block
Just to say...

You'll notice from the picture above that the twists
flow round the block clockwise, 
but in the one before the pieces are being added

How did that happen?

In fig.2 I lined up the LEFT corner of my first half-hexie twist
with the LEFT corner of the calico patch.
As a result, all the twists were added to the left, clockwise. 

In fig.1. I lined up the RIGHT corner of the calico hexie
and the RIGHT point of the twist, forcing all the other pieces
to be added to the right, sending the flow anti-clockwise

In a scrappy quilt I don't mind mixing the two,
because it gives the pattern movement,
but it may make a difference if you're
using a smaller range of fabric.
If in doubt, make them all turn the same way.

Coming soon - an easy border for a small hexie quilt 

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Quilt fabrics and cupcakes in Saltaire - oh dear!


Oscar Wilde famously said

 'I can resist everything except temptation' 

Not sure he was talking about quilt fabric or cupcakes,
 but I know exactly what he means...
Just spent a very happy Saturday in Saltaire
helping Lesley O'Brien get 
ready for its grand opening on
Monday June 3rd
Stash-wise, this is very bad news . . .
Lesley has several lovely things that are sure to end up
in my over-stuffed fabric drawer -
but the prices are too good to miss.
Priced from £3.50 to £10.95 a metre,
There are patterns, plains, children's fabrics, jelly rolls,
fat quarter bundles, and a variety of 
60-inch wide fabrics just right for backing quilts
Oh, and buttons, braids and batiks . . .

You'll find Barleycraft Fabrics just behind
KFC on Bingley Road, Saltaire.
It's open 9 to 5 every day except
Wednesday and Sunday.
There's parking just behind the Co-op.
The first 20 minutes is free, but it's very cheap
if you need more time - and you
will need more time, cos
is just round the corner.
This tiny tea-room is a gem, and the Wurlitzer in the corner
takes you straight back to the '50's
- church fetes, felt skirts, ankle socks,
Tennessee Ernie Ford, Summertime Blues . . . 
All the staff, and even some of the customers dress the part
China cups, real tea, great coffee (won an award for it!),
cucumber sandwiches, cupcakes - oh dear . . .
Add Salt's Mill and other delights and you have
the makings of a really fun day out,
and of course, the makings of another lovely quilt!