Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Today, I probably did something never done in the history of quilting. Now...can you guess just where I am doing a little piecing on Wilhemina?? I'm doing some multi-tasking...a little scrappy string piecing Bonnie Hunter style and a little something else. I'll add a clue each day to see who can guess the second task I am doing while piecing. ;-)


The girls finally finished up the Tillie's Treasure quilt! Yay!!! Wilhemina and Gibbson Girl did a great job! This quilt ended up being pieced and quilted entirely with these two W&G machines. Piecing was done with the 1885 hand-crank W&G and ALL the quilting was done on the 1892 treadle W&G.

1885 Hand-Crank W&G (Wilhemina) and 1892 Treadle W&G (Gibbson Girl) with their finished
Tillie's Treasure Queen-Size Quilt.

The binding was sewn on the front side with my 1909 Davis Vertical Feed treadle, which is a
needle-feed/walking foot machine I use for all my bindings. Then it was turned and hand-stitched to the back side of the quilt.

I spent months trying to decide on how to quilt the borders. I was thinking of doing some free-motion quilting, but just couldn't bring myself to do it. No matter what I came up with, the main top quilting seemed to insist on straight lines done with the W&G treadle. So, I gave in and made it simple. I think it was the right thing to do and the continued geometric quilting was the best.
This will be Tillie's new home on the queen-size bed in the guest room.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Traveling Laptop Sewing Machine

I recently discovered another nice feature of my W&G hand-crank machine. It makes a GREAT laptop sewing machine in the car! In the bad photo below, I have it comfortably sitting on my lap while sewing a few half-square triangles.

I was able to sew easily while the car was parked, but also while moving. FUN!! I don't think I could do this with any of my other much heavier larger hand-crank machines.

1886 Willcox & Gibbs chainstitcher as a traveling laptop sewing machine

Monday, April 15, 2013

Progress Report on Tillie's Treasure Quilt

With the arrival of Spring, my time became split between inside and outside, so the time I've been able to spend on this quilt was cut in half. However, I've continued to make progress that I thought I'd post today after finishing the main top.

I just finished combining the two halves of this queen-size quilt into the one 12X12 block main top. Every inch of the quilting, sewing blocks together and sewing the two halves together was done on my W&G treadle. I'll have to do some hand work on the back side to further secure the quilting tails and joined seams, but that can wait until I get the borders on and finished.

Here's a photo of the completed quilted top...
Main top of quilt. Has been completely quilted at this point.
Only the borders and binding remain to be done

I am so far very pleased with how this quilt is turning out. It is FAR from perfect in terms of my quilting skills. I'm a beginner and not much of a perfectionist. I'm making this quilt to be used. I feel very satisfied that this is a very sturdy quilt and will hold up to daily use well. I double stitched the joined seam blocks and halves to add strength.

What I have learned up to this point:
  • I WILL piece, join and quilt with the W&G machine as often as I can.
  • I WILL NOT quilt a large project on a W&G again, because the "harp" opening is just too small to wrestle a large project through to quilt in straight lines. The halves were not too bad, but finishing the quilting down the center seam with the whole top together was quite a battle
  • I WILL straight-stitch quilt a small project with the W&G's.
  • I WILL use my W&G's to sew just about anything and as often as I can. LOVE THEM!!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

OK! Which is which??

People keep saying they avoid using their chain stitchers for piecing because of the "BULK" the chain loops put in the seam. One of the experiments I'm conducting, within this large quilting experiment, is to compare the look and durabilty of lock-stitch blocks and chain-stitch blocks. I have two lock-stitch blocks in this quilt with 142 chain-stitch blocks.

Soooooo...you tell me...can you see a difference?? I'm not going to tell you which block is which. You tell me!!! Which is which, green or pink, chain or lock? Please comment below with your guess.

I took two blocks to my husband and asked him if he could feel, or see, a difference between the chain-stitch and lock-stitch examples. I asked him to pick the chain-stitch block. Guess which he picked! OF COURSE...he picked the lock-stitch block!! LOL!! He spent a lot of time, at first, saying he couldn't tell the differnce. The guess was just to "make a guess" and probably had a 50/50 chance.




Thanks!! I'll reveal which is which in a week or so!

Okay...only had two guesses; one was right, the other was wrong, which is what I expected. The block stitched with the lock-stitch machine is the PINK one. The chain-stitch block is the GREEN one. I have to assume that I received only two guesses is because people could not tell the difference. The person that actually guessed correctly told me it was just a guess and that she really couldn't tell the difference. Thanks to the two that made guesses!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Closing Back and Latest Experiment

I've been closing the back of the Tillie's Treasure quilt using the W&G treadle and it's going fairly well. Not perfect, but it's not due to using the chainstitcher...it's the operator...ha! I'm sewing down both sides of the seam where the edges come together.

This is what the closing seams look like on the back. At this point in the photo, 4 block-set edges/corners can be seen sewn closed.

Since the W&G has the raised stitching plate, I thought I'd experiment with trying to create a large flat sewing surface to improve the ease of quilting with the W&G. I took the basic idea of using large foam sheeting to make a quilting table. Below are some photos of how this is set up. I used 2" styrofoam insulation sheeting with a smooth aluminum foil covering. The 2" thickness was just right to nestle the edge just under the sewing plate.

This is the foam insulation on top of the W&G treadle cabinet
and folding table behind the treadle. Make a nice flat sewing surface.

Shows how I sew down the closing seam on the top of the quilt.

I've sewed a couple of the long seams with this table in place now and it works very well. The aluminum top of the table is smooth enough to allow the quilt to slide across it easily. I think I like this set up.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Treadle Willcox & Gibbs Chain Stitcher 1892

I thought I better add a few photos of my W&G, since this blog is dedicated to them. This post shows the treadle W&G. I also made a video of the treadle W&G showing some of the nice features it has.
This is my 1892 Willcox & Gibb Chain Stitcher in its lovely treadle cabinet.

Closeup of 1892 W&G...all original.

Decal on the 1892 cover...love it!

The 1892 W&G all closed up.

Of course...the W&G's lead to domestic bliss!!
So quiet and "No Risk to Health!!" LOL!! Love the old ads!

Have to laugh at how they advertised these machines
as having health benefits!

This is a video I made showing my 1892 W&G treadle.
Shows how to thread, treadle brake and ending a stichline.

I always love to imagine how these old machines have "watched" generations and changes through time. Makes me think of the movie "Time Machine". Wouldn't you just love to sit in a time machine that follows this machine through its life!

Friday, March 15, 2013

My All W&G Chain-Stitched Quilt

The question was: "Can a quilt be successfully pieced, quilted and joined using a Willcox & Gibbs chain-stitch machine?" I'm here to say that yes, and not only can it be done, it is an absolute delight to use the chain stitcher for this project!!

This was done using an 1885 Willcox & Gibbs to piece
and an 1892 Willcox & Gibbs treadle to quilt and join "quilt-as-you-go" blocks.

This video shows how I pieced these blocks using the W&G hand crank
and how to end a stitch line correctly to had it lock and not unravel in a chain stitcher.

This quilt has been sewn entirely, so far, using the two chain stitchers, except for two test blocks I made using a Singer 201K treadle as a comparison test for durability of this quilt. ALL of the quilting has been done on the W&G treadle using the "quilt-as-you-go" method forming 2X2 joined blocks seen in the top two rows below.
These are the 2X2 blocks that are quilted and will be joined into
12X2 strips as seen in the bottom row of this photo.

After I joined the 2X2 block sets into 12X2 rows, I joined 3 rows to make half of the quilt top, so each half is 12X6 blocks.

Two halves of the queen-size quilt (actually laid out on a king-size bed--yes she's a big 'un)

 At this point, I've sewn together two sets of three 12x2 rows into (basically 2 halves). I am going to partially finish the back of each set while they are still half size and quilt the inner joined locations, as well. After I get the two halves partially finished, I will join the two sets (halves) to complete the main pieced portion of this quilt. It will still need a 3-band border consisting of two single fabric strips with one pieced band in between. I still have a ways to go to finish this very large quilt, but I plan on doing it all on the W&G's, except the binding, which will be done on my Davis vertical-feed walking-foot machine (best binder in the business ;-).
Unfinished back of one half of the top.
This is the unfinished back on one half, showing the backing edges that still need to be sewn closed. I'll iron and sew these back seams using the W&G treadle and the "stitch-in-the-ditch" method on the front side. I love the look of the chain stitch on the back of this quilt.
To be continued as I make progress--wish me luck, but I don't think I'll need it with my trusty W&G's by my side!!