In the Heart of America…

Over the weekend, I’ve gotten more familiar with my recent purchase of an $80 secondhand Singer sewing machine.  So much so, that I’ve actually purchased empty bobbins to load with cotton thread (this machine takes something called a #66 bobbin, whatever that means), and I special-ordered a “walking foot” that fit this sewing machine’s working mechanism.

Now for the next test.  Can I make a quilting square with this machine without completely messing everything up?

Ah, the wonder of Internet research, YouTube clips and asking questions from my helpful Jo-Ann Fabric sewing machine salesperson.

I figure that since this sewing machine is really too small to handle a big quilting project, it would be more suitable for creating a small series of quilting squares, which I can stitch together at a later time (i.e., when I get comfortable enough to purchase a more powerful sewing machine).

With that in mind, I purchased some old cotton seed and flour sacks – the kind that were often re-used for homemade dresses and frocks.  I also purchased some cotton batting, as I planned to make enough squares to create this quilt.

I have very simple guidelines regarding the flour sacks I purchase online.  They must be less than $25 apiece, I’m okay if they have holes or rips, the sacks must contain farm-related content – either seeds or feed or other farm-related contents – and the artwork on the bag must not be considered offensive.  Oh, and the bags have to be cotton.  No burlap.  I’ve been through the burlap phase already. 😀

Mind you, I know I have no chance of entering this quilt in anything that resembles a competition.  Quilting is for experts and those who are talented.  I am neither.  But it would be nice to create something home-made and home-crafted.

So … here’s an example of a seed sack that I started with.

As you can see, this stained old alfalfa seed bag has seen better days.  I can probably make three or four different “artistic” quilting squares from this one side, and several plain quilting squares from the back side.

With a 4 1/2″ plastic square on top and a swath of cotton backing on the bottom, I used my pizza cutter to trim around the plastic square.

Yes, I say it’s a pizza cutter, you can call it a rotary cutter if you want, but that’s you.

Here’s what happened after I finished cutting the cotton square.

Not bad for 4 1/2″ square, amirite?  Actually, this square will eventually lose 1/4″ all around due to stitching the square to other squares, something I learned was called “quilting-as-you-go.”

A few safety pins to hold the fabric and batting together, and then two passes in the sewing machine.

Oh yeah, and when you’re using a “walking foot” on a sewing machine, go slow on the stitches.  You’re not racing here.

And eventually … after re-threading the sewing machine a couple of times …

Here’s a quilting square.

I know the X’s aren’t perfect … but this is my first try at this.

And if I make enough quilting squares, I can stitch them together and maybe lose some of the ragged edges in the seams.

Plus, once I get everything stitched together AND add the full-length backing to this, it should make for a nice insulated bed cover.  You know, something that the farmer’s wife might make in her spare time.

So this will keep me busy for a while, I will say.  If I can keep getting the cotton bags, and keep stitching here and there when I get a few moments here and there …

Maybe by this time next year I will have made my own personal quilt.

Hey look, if I’m going to spend $80 on a sewing machine, I better damn well learn how to use it, agreed?