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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Modified machine foot

I've been reading Amy's Free Motion Adventures for a while now. She has some wonderful tutorials for free motion quilting, but she also has a wonderful foot for her sewing machine. It's just like the ones you see on long arm machines, but it fits her domestic machine and makes using rulers on that machine much easier. You see, the problem with using rulers on most domestic machines is that the free motion foot will slide far too easily under the ruler, leaving the operator subject to broken needles, machine timing problems, and even injury. Unfortunately, much as I love my Bernina, no similar long arm-style foot is available for it. I've tried doing some ruler work anyway, and it was very stressful as I tightened up all of my muscles in the attempt to keep everything safe and working correctly.  Ouch!

A recent post to a Yahoo group, however, got my mind working. What if I found something I could attach somehow to my #9 foot, which is the one that I'd most likely want to modify? A trip to my local home improvement stores netted me what I hoped would work. I already had a #9 foot, of course. But I bought some rubber O-rings and some Super Glue and then came home and pondered whether I really thought it would work. That took several days. ;)

Finally, though, I decided I'd give it a try. I put a thin ring of glue around the top of the foot and used a wooden skewer to nudge and tap the O-ring into position, letting it dry for about 30 minutes to be very sure it was secure. Hmmm. Not tall enough. I added another O-ring and let that dry. See the result? The angle of the photo makes it look like the O-rings are skewed, but they really aren't, I promise.

Okay, now that it looked to be the right thickness, all that was left was to give it a try with the curved cross-hatching ruler I'd tried to use previously. The ruler is from this site, and I think I will have to get another — straight this time — from them.

I need lots more practice, obviously, but I really think the modified foot is going to be very helpful! I did a quick trial on a diagonal half of the drawn square here, and the added height on the foot really made a difference in how relaxed I was as I stitched.

Here is a series of photos to show the progress on the triangular area:
Doing the first angle of curves

The second angle

Finished — mistakes and all! LOL!
I'm so pleased with the foot I've modified that I'm not even upset at having a bit of Super Glue on a couple of fingertips! ;)

NOTE: Please see another option I found and showed here. This is even better!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Place for Everything

Remember this bag from about a year ago? I used it to take some quilting notions with me on the recent quilting cruise, and I've also used it for more local quilting events. However, it is limited in the size of things it will accommodate, so I decided to make its "big brother", the A Place for Everything Bag. It's a little easier to make than the smaller one, as Annie revised how to do the binding — the only really difficult part on the original. That's a carrying handle on the left (it's on the opposite side from the other bag), and it has double zipper pulls to open the bag.

This photo shows the difference in the size of the two bags. I think both will be really useful!

Opening this bag shows off the pages of pockets, as in the smaller version. However, these pockets, in a variety of sizes, have little gussets. That makes stashing bulkier items easier — think sewing machine feet, spools of thread, and that sort of thing.

Just as in the smaller bag, the pages are removable. There's a difference, though; the pages are constructed in pairs, so two pages come out at a time. See the different kinds of pockets I chose?

The directions for this pattern are clear, as usual with Annie's work, and she does suggest using a teflon-coated foot for the sewing machine. That makes sewing with the vinyl under the foot much easier. I like my #56 foot, since it gives very good visibility and even allows me to move the needle position when stitching the binding; that lets me keep more fabric over the feed dogs and have better control.

Near the end of making the bag, I had a lightbulb moment. ;) There were times when I had to stitch with the vinyl pockets next to the bed of the machine, rather than under the foot. That vinyl really sticks! But I have a silicon "sheet" that I use when doing free-motion quilting — what if I used that under the vinyl? Yes! It really stops the vinyl from sticking to the machine bed! My silicon sheet has a large cutout, allowing the feed dogs to work as intended, but some have only a needle hole. It would be an easy matter to cut out a larger opening, if you wanted to use this idea. :)

Monday, July 14, 2014

What was I thinking?

If you've been reading my blog for any time at all, you know that I really like the patterns I've bought from Annie. I liked her Hold Everything Bag so much that I bought all of the supplies necessary to make her more recent A Place for Everything Bag, This one is supposed to be easier to make, and it has gussets in the pockets to make storing things that aren't flat a little more doable.

The supplies had been sitting around for a little while, and it was time to begin. The first step, of course, is to cut out certain "chunks" of fabric and Soft and Stable. Some of those fabric pieces are then quilted to the Soft and Stable. I usually just do straight lines for this step, but this time I decided to do something else; the flowered motifs are all outlined in gold, so I decided to enhance this by outlining them in gold thread — just some of them, you understand, as there were an awful lot of flowers. I decided to outline only the white ones.

There are three pieces to quilt this way: one 7" x 39" (done!), one 28" x 23" (done!), and one 28" x 16" (still in progress). They take longer than I'd anticipated, and it's really hard to tell that the quilting is done. Drat! But the reverse side, which will show as the lining, does show it, so all is not lost. :) Today's project: finish that last piece! :)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

River cruise — the end

Last year my husband and I visited Amsterdam before taking a cruise to the Norwegian fjords. At that time, I was pretty disappointed not to see any of the "traditional" windmills; these days they are all the modern style, which isn't nearly as picturesque — though I'm sure they're much more efficient. However, our last stop on this river cruise was in Kinderdijk (Netherlands), which has lots of the older windmills! Yay! So this post will be to show you something I'd been waiting for since last year. ;)

One after another, they were lined up for our "inspection". I loved it!

More …

And yet more …

Still more …

Everywhere we looked, there were these wonderful old windmills! The only down side to the day was that the weather, which had been so cooperative all during our cruise, was finally turning. Look at those grey skies! But the ship had umbrellas for us, so we didn't get too wet. :)

The next day was our marathon travel day, as we traveled for 24 hours before arriving home. Naturally, as soon as we'd plopped our luggage inside the front door, we raced to the car and went to get Bisou from where she'd been having the time of her life playing with the other dogs at the sitter's house! LOL! Here she is, recuperating from her playtime with a golden doodle. Our sitter is so good and sends us photos from time to time while we're away. :)

Friday, July 11, 2014

River cruise, part 3

From Rüdesheim, we next traveled to Koblenz, still in Germany. There, my husband and I opted not to take the organized tour, which was apparently excellent, because of the amount of climbing we would have had to do. The cruise director recommended that only those who were experienced climbers attend, so we (and many of the others) went off on our own. Right next to the docking area was a gondola station that went up to Ehrenbreitstein, an old fortress. That fortress is still mostly intact, though it's a little confusing to navigate, but it also offers gorgeous panoramic views of Koblenz. This one was taken from the gondola, since it's more easily viewed online. That's our ship again, on the left.

Here's another. Isn't it a lovely area?

The fortress itself had many displays, but unfortunately they were only captioned in German; either English or French (even Spanish!) would have been helpful to me, but of course we were in Germany and I don't speak German. LOL!

This last photo taken there was of one section of the fortress. You can probably tell that it was a gorgeous day, even rather hot!

From Koblenz, we went to our last German stop, Cologne. This, like so many of the European cities, is truly beautiful. This is a view over the Rhine toward a very busy railway bridge. I was lucky not to be mowed down by the many bicycles and groups of students on outings as I stopped to snap this. ;)

Our tour took us to the cathedral, of course, but we also saw this mosaic floor beneath protective glass. It dates from Roman times and was discovered accidentally during digging to create a museum where an air raid shelter had been. It appears to be in perfect condition!
On to the lovely cathedral! Isn't it gorgeous with its spires against that sky?

Inside was this calendar with all the known planets of the time.

Tomorrow's post will finish this series!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

River cruise, part 2

To continue with our travels, the next stop was in Heidelberg. Like Strasbourg, this is also a very beautiful city, and we began our visit with a trip to a hilltop fortress, which gave us this gorgeous view over the city.

The fortress is mostly ruins these days, but it's very picturesque. This is part of the moat. By the way, the moat apparently never had water in it, as it was used for hunting exhibitions.

One of the sights that everyone loved was the largest wine barrel in the world. It's so large that it never, apparently, held just one kind of wine, instead being filled with whatever combination was handy. ;)

Once we'd left there, we had a quick visit in the city itself, though we didn't have time to go inside the cathedral there or much of anything else. Still, it was pleasant just to stroll around the streets for an hour or so.

That same day we cruised a little farther down the Rhine to Rüdesheim. This is a wonderful smaller city, very picturesque and friendly.

The narrow streets were perfect for strolling and people-watching.

One interesting thing that happened concerned our ship. We had docked where we were supposed to be, but then the Helvetia's sister ship, the Viking Sun, arrived. Where would it find a spot to dock? Why, right next to us, of course! That meant that people from the Sun had to cross through our lobby area in order to get to shore! LOL! This is apparently quite normal on a river cruise, as we did the same thing through another ship as we were disembarking on our last day.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

River cruise — the beginning

Not long after my last post here, my husband and I left for a new-to-us adventure. We've cruised before, but we'd never done a river cruise. It's really a different experience from ocean cruises! In fact, they're so different that I really don't know which I prefer. We chose a cruise that took us mainly to places we'd never been before, and it was thoroughly enjoyable, largely thanks to the people at Viking River Cruises.

We left here on a Saturday morning, though not as early as we'd expected, since our first flight was delayed. Oops! We had a few minutes' worry about whether we'd make our connection, but all went well. Four flights and 21 hours later, we were in Basel, Switzerland, where we boarded the Viking Helvetia to begin our trip. Of course, it was evening by then, so the ship was ready to leave.

The next morning we were to tour the Black Forest near Breisach, Germany, but apparently it is, indeed, possible to get seasick on a river; I spent the day in bed instead. Oh well. I did have visitors, though! Our cabin attendant checked on me regularly, and there were some others who visited via the window. ;)

Luckily for me, I was much better the next day, so I was able to see Strasbourg, France, which is something I've wanted to do for some years. It's a beautiful city! We had the usual city tour, of course, seeing all of the usual sights. Included were the treasured storks, as well as this gorgeous covered bridge.

The city has a canal system, so we also decided to take a canal cruise to see some of the city from a different perspective.

Water transportation meant that many of the buildings are situated right at the water's edge. Lovely, isn't it?

Naturally, we had to visit the magnificent cathedral, Notre Dame de Strasbourg, and I was most impressed by the clock inside. This is one of those that has moving figures at different times of the day, and it's amazing to see it function!

That's enough for one day. ;) I'll add another installment soon!