Friday, July 16, 2010

The Machine.

I have posted on various occasions about sewing machines that I use, but with this post I want you to become a little more familiar with the machine itself. I happen to own several machines..... not new ones necessarily, but certainly ones that I have grown to appreciate over the years. Over those same years, I have also taken the time to research some of the history involving the machines that have made their way into my home as well as my heart.
A very small history lesson is needed here, to help you understand the reason that I own the machines that I do. Before the 1900's, not too many women even owned a sewing machine (much less afford one!) and the ones who did were pretty confined to the type of machine that was available. Besides making clothing, women also made the quilts for their families' beds. The log cabin design was one of several popular patterns back then with the center squares being either red (to represent hearth or heart) or yellow (to represent a candle in the window). Two-color quilts were also quite popular, that is, if you could afford the fabric. Crazy quilts were popular due to the irregular pieces of fabric that were used. Once these quilts were sewn together, you could embellish over those worn pieces of scraps. Those who had more money, along with more time, made more elaborate crazy quilts in honor of Queen Victoria. The fabric used on the fancier crazy quilts included, rich satins, wools, velvets, brocades, linen, and more. The main purpose of those crazy quilts was to show off one's hand work and wealth. Most had a spider web embroidered on it somewhere believing it to bring good luck or good fortune. Many of the quilts were made solely by hand back then, but as time marched on, the sewing machine became more popular and much more available. It took far less time to make that valuable addition to one's home and more women were able to purchase them.
The first machine that I'm going to share with you is a Minnesota A treadle sewing machine and it's a beauty! Made in 1910 by the Davis Sewing Machine Company, it was sold exclusively by Sears & Roebuck. My mom first learned to sew on one of these machines and states quite proudly that she could get going pretty fast on one of these. How wonderful it must have been to have the availability of such a fabulous machine!

The second machine that I'm going to share is a Singer hand-crank machine. This machine is a little tricky as you have to crank the machine while maneuvering the fabric through all at the same time. I have a friend who owns a couple of these machines and has made several quilts on them. She does demos all over the country and I myself have had the wonderful privilege of demoing mine as well and have always marveled at how beautifully it sews! This machine was made in 1923 in Clydebank, Scotland and manufactured in Great Britain. It's also in excellent condition!

With the advent of the Depression, Singer took a huge risk and made a lightweight sewing machine that women could take with them when their families had to up and move due to job loss, extended families moving away, financial instability, etc., etc. This 'risk' ended up being a huge winner for the Singer Sewing Machine Company. The machines were inexpensive, light as a feather, (11 lbs.) and they took up hardly any room in those already crowded cars. The tables that you could purchase to go along with those machines served not only as a sewing machine 'cabinet' for the machine but they also became a nice dinner table or card table to boot. And..... those tables could easily collapse making them quite portable... along with the machine. Genius! The Featherweight was known as the perfect portable and they are still popular today due to their precise stitching ability and ease of taking to class. Most women have affectionately named their machines, me included. I wanted you to see a picture of the table, which was constructed out of wood on top and metal legs. The one that I have is in perfect condition. Just like the machines are numbered, the tables have serial numbers as well. When you remove the insert, your machine fits nicely down into the table top. When it is needed for a dinner table, the insert fits just as nicely back into place!

The machine.....

The table.....

The last machine pictured on this post belonged to my aunt Sybil. She made me several dresses on this machine and I am sure that it cost a small 'fortune' when she purchased this baby back in 1952. It's a Pfaff 130 "Dial-a-Stitch". Talk about a heavy duty sewing machine, this is it. It weighs at least 50 lbs. and can sew anything...... even the canvas on a ship's mast. It is known as an industrial powerhouse and I can see why. When I have something incredibly heavy that needs sewn together, this is the machine I head for because of its durability. This machine was made in West Germany.

The Berninas are next!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Quilts for Dad!

My sweet husband was the first to buy me a sewing machine. With no help from anyone he went out and purchased a brand new, top of the line, Kenmore sewing machine for me, to celebrate our first christmas together as husband and wife. I LOVED it... and him for getting me such a wonderful gift. I sewed many an outfit for my children on that first machine and used every accessory it had to offer. Nearly every spare minute I could scrape together, I used it to sew. With young children, those moments were few and far between, but oh so precious. I knew nothing about quilt making in those days, which was probably a blessing because once the bug bit, I was hooked. The pictures below show the progression of my quilt making abilities, except for the first photo. This is a picture of one of the many t-shirts that I had fun making for my oldest son. I was always making him and my oldest daughter t-shirts to wear. With the left over fabric from my daughter's t-shirts, I made her underwear to match. They had elastic back in those days that looked like frilly lace. It was so sweet looking! When I made this particular t-shirt, I had taken a free-hand embroidery class. It was a great class and I loved moving the fabric all over the machine without any restrictions. With the feed dogs down and no presser foot to hinder me, I could 'draw' any picture that I wanted. I made this lion for James. He wore it every time it came out of the dryer. As you can tell by the many stains, it was one of his favorites. I loved that he loved this shirt.

My dad, bought me my very first Bernina sewing machine. Along with the machine, he bought me a serger, a cutting table and mat, and thread galore. He bought the same for my mom. I still have an ongoing love affair with Bernina to this day. I have upgraded more than once and am still astonished at all that these machines can do. Over the years I have made a few quilts for my dad and these are what I share with you now. The first one can't really be called a quilt. It was just a quick throw that I made for him to take to football games. I know, I know... it is not so attractive, but at the time I thought it was.

The next one was a much smaller quilt and required a little hand-work. My dad happens to like bears a lot, so I thought he would enjoy this one. It has been used and washed more than I can count.... especially by my niece Kathrine.

I got a little more serious about the next quilt that I made for my dad. He had a thing about having his monogram being embroidered on everything back in those days... especially his shirts. Every new shirt he purchased, he had me monogram his initials on the cuff and in the center of the shirt's placket. With this quilt, I not only monogramed his initials, but a few other things that I thought he might like.

He finally let me know that he wanted a much bigger quilt.... one that would completely cover him and one that would keep him warmer than the other quilts had. So I made this quilt out of flannel for not only dad, but for mom as well, and used wool batting between the layers.

And here's the back. As you can see, I ran out of the main fabric that I needed to cover the back. Since none of the shops had any of the fabric left that I was using, I simply pieced all of the fabric that I had left over from the quilt top and made it into one big back. I think it worked out just fine.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fat Quarters.

Every quilter I know has a gigantic collection of fat quarters. I have collected them myself over the years and own a sizeable amount. (Please don't ever ask to see my closet!) I have asked my children to go into quilt shops on their various travels and purchase a fat quarter for me as a souvenir. Whenever Jim and I have gone anywhere, it is a must to visit the local quilt shops so that I can obtain, you guessed it, a fat quarter. I have even had dear friends bring me fat quarters from their many travels all over the world. Pretty pathetic I know, but I do adore my fat quarters! (I'm talking fabric here.) So in my wonderful stash of fat quarters, I have fabric from Amsterdam, Hawaii, Australia,and more. Since it is an addiction for those of us who are quilters, a plethora of books have been written to help us turn that obession into beautiful quilts. Two of my many favorite authors are Lynda Milligan and Nancy Smith from Possibilities. Their books have always been an inspiration and were also best sellers in the quilt shop where I worked and taught. Below, I will share some quilts (some you have already seen) that I made as samples for the shop from one of our favorite books from Possibilities.

Here is a picture of Lynda and Nancy's book, Super Simple Fat Quarter Quilts.

The first quilt pictured is called Sunny Days. I took enough fabric home to not only make this quilt for the shop but enough to kit up for someone else to make the same exact quilt as well. The kit sold instantly.

Here's the label on the back.

Hyde Park was a favorite with our customers due to the fact that the middle of the quilt required one large piece of fabric. Those of us who own a piece of fabric that we hate to cut up, made several of these quilts.

Since so many of us knew someone who was going to have a baby, I decided to downsize Hyde Park and called it, Hyde Park Had A Baby. A lot of our customers made this quilt for the new little one that had been added to their lives and hearts.

The label on the back.

Still more to come....

Friday, July 9, 2010

A New Look!

As you all know, I began this blog due to my love of quilting and my joy in making children's clothing. If I weren't so busy, it would become a complete obsession.

I was starting to get really tired of the old comforter on my bed and knew that the time had finally come to make a new one. But did I stop there? Noooooo I had to make new pillows, new pillow shams, new dust ruffle, new curtains... you name it, I made it. I now share it with you.... the bed. (I'm apologizing before hand about the darkness of my pictures. It truly looks better in person.)

I added a few more pillows than I had before due to the fact that I simply adore pillows! Jim, on the other hand, hates them. He especially dislikes taking them off the bed every night and promptly throws them off to the side before crawling into bed. That's alright with me... I promptly put them back on each morning after I get up. ;-) Because I had so many triangles left over after making the quilt, I used them to make a couple of pillow cases.... which I thought went perfect on the bed. I still had some triangles left and they came in quite handy on the borders of my curtains.

Here's a close up of the smaller pillow that I hand-embroidered. I designed a pillow pattern that fit the size of the design that I embroidered plus fit the size of the pillow form that I had on hand. (The embroidery design says, "Let's be sweethearts forever.")

Here's a side view of the quilt with the triangle borders. I love the look of scalloped edges so I made sure that I added that look on this particular quilt. I also needed a new dust ruffle, so I purchased enough of the green fabric to complete my desired look. If you look closely, you'll notice that I made and used a lot of piping using that same green fabric. I used it in everything! But I felt that it tied everything together quite nicely.

More quilts to come....

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Yellville VI

I thought I'd share just a few more pictures of Yellville before I finished posting about my last visit. There are always a plethora of memories that are made each and every time that I go back that way. Good conversation, drives into town, (at least you don't have far to go, and the town itself is only a couple of blocks long.) going to church, (love it!!) and being surrounded by the only thing that really matters.... family. Yellville has hit big time these days though.... a Sonic burger came to town..... now that was big! My uncle Kenny fears that a stoplight might be next. Drat! I don't think I would recognize the place! The Sonic Burger alone threw me for a loop.

Below are a few pics of sights that one can't miss when in Yellville.

Aunt Betty's chicken coop. (The kids love to feed the chickens the scraps from the dinner table... and anything else that's available.) These babies are needed for the eggs that they provide and for the good meals that they make.

Uncle Kenny's guineas. I'm still not sure why they are so special to him, but they certainly are... and you better leave them alone. It took me forever to find these birds to at least get their picture.... they are so loud!! I think they're pretty and the best thing I think, in regards to their existence, is that they eat bugs.. lots of bugs, and back in Yellville, there's a ton of bugs! They've got chiggers, ticks, etc.. Yuck! I say go to it little birdies.

Okay.. okay.. I know that you can't see this very well, but these are lightning bugs. I took a ton of pictures trying to capture their pretty little lights, but no such luck.... Just pretend that you see them. These little guys remind me of being at Disneyland. They are everywhere once the sun goes down. It's simply stunning to see these little 'lights' all through the woods at night time. I know it's nothing special to those who live back there, but I really enjoy watching these little guys put on a show once the sun sets. Beautiful!

(Click on the picture... you'll see them better.)

Saturday night dinner is where everyone meets. Yippee! Good food, good company, good times. Here's Marla, her granddaughter, and my daughter, Nicole.

And last, but certainly not least, is Marla on one of her trusty machines mowing. She can turn that thing on a dime. Amazing!!

Love and hugs to you all. Smooches, Debbie

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Yellville V

Those of you who are unfamiliar with Yellville, have no idea what names these people come up with back there to name their towns. At first, I thought Yellville was rather odd, but then when I heard some of the names of the surrounding towns, Yellville no longer sounded so weird. No, no..... how does Gasville grab you? Or how about Toad Suck, Tightwad, Pickle's Gap or Flippin? My parent's purchased all of their prescriptions at the Flippin Pharmacy. Nice....

But I have to say, Gasville trumps all of the surrounding towns. It is home to the number one pizza restaurant in the nation... number two in the world. I must admit, I thought it was a joke.... but it wasn't. Nima's Pizza was voted number one in making the best traditional pizza at the Pizza Challenge held in Las Vegas, NV. Talk about good pizza. When I show you the place, you're going to think I'm kidding, but you'll just have to trust me on this one. And to all of you pizza lovers out there, eat your heart out.... Gasville, Arkansas makes the best pizza ever. Here are the pics. (Ya gotta love that backward 'n'.)

Here are the signs they proudly display inside their restaurant.

Not to be outdone..... here is the best pizza in Yellville... served at my aunt Betty's on Saturday night. Now there's some good pizza!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Yellville IV

My cousin Tom, and his wife Brenda, live next door to my aunt Betty back in Yellville. Now 'next door' back in Yellville is a lot different than 'next door' out here in San Diego.... there's a lot of space between their homes. Tom retired from the fire department out here in Lakeside and now lives quite contentedly back in Yellville. He and Brenda have a beautiful home, which they shared generously with me on my last few days before leaving Yellville. Thank you so much!!

Here's Tom and Brenda posing for me in my aunt's living room. (Notice... he still has that firefighter mustache!)

Here's the incredible view from their front room window. Who wouldn't be contented with that??

Tom built himself a large garage/workshop, where he can do just about anything he wants. It is amazing on the inside!

Brenda loves to work outside in the yard... boy, does it ever show!! I don't think Tom has ever become so acquainted with the great outdoors as he has now that he is married to Brenda. She's the best thing that ever happened to him. Here's her 'workshop'... a cute little garden shop. Their home was a delight.

Still more to come.............

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Yellville III

Aunt Betty and Uncle Kenny moved to Yellville, Arkansas about 46 years ago. California was just not the place they could call home for themselves or their family. Once there, Uncle Kenny began working at Ranger boats. Anyone out there who fishes for bass knows all about Ranger boats. I'm told that it's one of the best boats out there for any serious fisherman. Uncle Kenny became one of their best craftsmen when it came to building those boats... in fact they placed his sweet face on the cover of one of their catalogs as they thought him to be an invaluable employee. The girls, Marla and Marilyn, worked for Ranger alongside their dad. That company lost a lot when they all eventually moved on.

Speaking of Uncle Kenny, here he is resting in his chair after putting in yet another hard day of work out in the fields. Most of us think he's working harder now that he's retired, than he did when he was working at Ranger. ;-)

Not to be out done, I would never even attempt to keep up with my aunt Betty. She plants and takes care of a huge garden, cans nearly everyday, works the hay fields with uncle Kenny when needed, takes care of the chickens, butchers them, etc. etc.. She never seems to stop. She loves to cook and makes the most fantastic desserts you've ever seen or tasted. If an elderly neighbor (or any neighbor for that matter!) is in need, this family of mine, is always ready to lend a helping hand. They are generous, kind, humble, and hard working. Their Godly example is much to be desired. Here is aunt Betty and my mom enjoying each other's company.

And about that garden.... here is a small glimpse. It's as huge as it is beautiful. I think it's pretty cool that my uncle Kenny helps my aunt Betty out not only in the garden, but also in the canning of their incredible bounty.

And here's home for my uncle Kenny and aunt Betty. Looks pretty peaceful doesn't it?

To be continued........