Join Janet on her adventures as a designer, writer, maker, and farmer in montana. no two days are ever the same. you might even see a bear or two.

All Over the Sewing Map

All Over the Sewing Map

The HST sampler quilt blocks are done. I made 20 of them and I am happy with the combination. I just need to make the sashing and cornerstones and put it together. I have a plastic shoebox somewhere with a bunch of 2-1/2” squares in various colors, so before I cut any, I’ll check there and see if I still have dark blue ones that I can use for the cornerstones. I only need about a dozen or so.

One of the blocks I really wanted to include in this quilt, but ultimately decided not to, was this one:


I first saw this block in Gwen Marston’s book Free Range Triangle Quilts. She tells the story about having seen a quilt made up of this block being used as a painter’s drop cloth (!). She rescued the quilt, cleaned it up, and talked a bit about the history of this block in her book. This is an old symbol dating back to ancient Troy and known throughout the world. As a quilt block, Gwen notes, it has gone by the names Virginia Reel, Devil’s Puzzle, Winding Blades, Indian Emblem, Catch Me If You Can, Battle Ax of Thor (my fave), Wind Power of the Osages, and The Symbol of Right Doctrine.

Unfortunately, this symbol now carries a lot of negative connotations. I was torn between not wanting to offend anyone—a slippery slope, in my opinion, which I think is leading us to inappropriate censorship—and wanting to celebrate the history of a quilt block. (This is an interesting article on another quilt incorporating this block.) Someone on one of the sewing lists I belong to on Facebook posted a picture of a shirt she had made that included a six-pointed star. She was subjected to a very nasty dogpile of people condemning her for the use of that symbol. (I think it’s possible to let someone know that they might be using a symbol that could be construed as offensive without being a jerk in the process. Interestingly, she said later that she received a lot of support for the design from the people who might actually have a reason to be offended.)

I still don’t have a good answer to this dilemma. If we continue to avoid everything that might possibly offend someone, somewhere, the world is going to end up being a very bland, vanilla flavor indeed. I just decided I didn't want to start that particular battle on my blog, but I still love the dynamic feeling of that block.

After I finished the last block, I hemmed and hawed about what to work on next. I hate that feeling of being without a clear direction. The only way to deal with it, it seems, is to just pick something and work on it, so I sewed the straps onto the black and white travel bag. It was late in the afternoon when I got that done and didn’t want to go any further—I am cobbling this together from a couple of different patterns and have to do some studying to determine what to do next—so I sat down and installed the Telfon feed dogs and throat plate on the Necchi BV in anticipation of sewing with some vinyl.


It’s green and it looks funny, but the seam marking lines are very handy. A lot of vintage machines—my Necchis included—came with plain throat plates with no seam guide lines.

My friend Cristina, who has the same Necchi BV and makes a lot of purses with vinyl and leather, did some research and discovered that the Telfon throat plate and feed dogs for one of the Juki industrial models fit on the Necchi. We both had tried the Teflon plates and dogs for the Singer 31-15 machines and they didn’t fit properly, which was odd considering the Necchi BV and Singer 31-15 machines are very similar.

A few weeks ago, I had cut the pieces for a Bramble Bag out of some rose gold vinyl that I picked up as a remnant. That project stalled because I couldn’t decide on lining fabric. The rose gold vinyl seemed to want something specific. Last week, I found two coordinating remnants that screamed, “We would make great lining fabric for the Bramble Bag!” so I brought them home. I put them next to the rose gold vinyl and everybody sighed with satisfaction.

[The husband and I had a discussion about “summer purses” and “winter purses” yesterday. He asked—in all sincerity—what the difference was, because a bag is a bag is a bag, right? Its purpose is to hold stuff. I explained that my Fremont Tote isn’t truly a winter purse because it’s made out of canvas. It is made out of waxed canvas, true, but canvas is more of a summer material. And I wouldn’t carry a dark leather purse in the summer, because that’s a material more suited to colder weather.

Yes, women are curious creatures. Some day I may have to explain the “no white after Labor Day” rule.]

I started with the outside pocket and lining. The vinyl went through the machine like butter and the topstitching is gorgeous:


I kept the black Teflon foot on the machine. I tried all of my white Teflon feet and the needle hits them (something Cristina had warned me about). I may try filing one of openings down to make it large enough for the needle, because that black Teflon foot still seems to put some drag on the material. I had my stitch length set to 4, which is the maximum, but I am getting a stitch length closer to what I would expect on setting of 3. It’s still very pretty topstitching.

I am happy to know that sewing vinyl on that Necchi is not going to be an exercise in frustration.

I’ve noticed that I seem to be an outlier when it comes to sewing projects. Sewists seem to fall into distinct categories. Those who like to sew clothes don’t generally want to make quilts, and those who make quilts prefer not to sew clothing. Bagmakers stick to bags. I am all over the map. Apparently, if it can be sewn, I am going to try sewing it.

Planning More Clothing Projects

Planning More Clothing Projects

More Adventures in Mending

More Adventures in Mending