I thought you might like to see the space where Millhouse is set up. The workroom was once a branch of The Bank of South Australia, and it was built around 1875. The building is in the centre of our little town, those big double doors lead out onto the main street. We use a side door for visitors though, we would have no privacy at all with the main doors open. The large windows are wonderful, they let in so much natural light that we seldom need to turn on the lights in the daytime. We have shelves behind Millhouse to hold customer quilts in boxes and bags, and the rolls of batting are stored there too. When we need to cut batting we lay the roll on the table at the back of the machine and slide the scissors along the aluminium channel to make a straight cut. We have several vintage clothes airers that hold the next quilts we want to work on, with their backings prepared. It helps to look at a top and get ideas, while working on whatever is on the machine.
To the right is our sewing area, we have two machines set up, one for binding and one for simple piecing. I collect vintage sewing machines, so there's no lack of machines to sew on.Even our carpet is patchwork; we bought 5 remnants and stuck them together to cover this large area. I love the old floral carpet, it's about 30 years old, and so many of our customers recognise the pattern when they come in. It must have been very popular years ago.
We have zippered leaders on Millhouse, it was a necessity as the two of us share the machine. Mereth works on customer quilts during the day, and I work on our quilts or develop patterns once she stops work for the day. It's great to be able to zip quilts on and off. And if we ever have one of those 'Doh!' moments and pin the backing to the wrong roller it's the work of seconds to zip it off and put it on the right roller.
There's another reason why we like the zippers. One of the first quilts we did was a huge candlewick quilt, heavily embroidered, and with thick poly wadding. We did all the ditch-stitching, and had the quilt on just the two rollers, going back and forth to fill in the blocks. As we got back towards the start of the quilt, there was so much bulk on the backing roller that the embroidery thread caught on the box that hangs off the bottom of the carriage.There's not a lot of space between the roller and the metal box; it was a heart-stopping moment, to realise that we could have ripped a customer quilt. Now, as soon as we have stablised the quilt and it's on two rollers, we zip it off the backing roller and onto the top roller. I don't ever want to risk damaging a quilt again.
And this is how we pin on, taught to us by the legendary Kaye Brown, who is our big sister in quilting. The pins stay in the leaders all the time; when we pin on we just slide the tip of the pin out, lay the material in place and slide the pin right back in. I like doing it this way, as I never have to worry about spacing pins any more, or having a huge pincushion full of pins near at hand. They're right where they need to be.