Saturday, August 21, 2010

Babylock Companion 1550...

Yesterday I added to my stable. Babylock isn't a common brand around here - there is no dealer for probably a couple of hundred miles. But this one was in my sewing tech's shop for a long time, and he knew the history fairly well. Originally this machine had snap on feet and when I bought her she had a screw on zigzag foot on, and was somewhat in need of a cosmetic exterior cleaning. My sewing tech gave me a snap on shank, made sure it fit correctly, and then we tried her out. All the original feet were there in the accessory case, all except the original zigzag foot! She also still has her cover plate for the feed dogs and a couple of the original plastic bobbins. It takes the same bobbins that my Elna 2100 does, as well as the same feet. The Elna is also a vertical front loading machine with snap on low shank feet. It's nice to have them share feet, but I bought a snap on Zigzag foot today at Joann's for $4.99 because you really do need an all purpose foot! And I don't want to mess with the screw on foot it had on when traded in. The manual is good, all in English, nicely done and from that I knew that the machine came with a snap on as standard because all the feet it came with snap on. :) Having a 5mm stitch width max, she makes a nice delicate stitch in all the stitches. Nice straight stitch, very very nice - and the back of the fabric stitching looks as nice as the front, which is nice - or is it that the bottom thread looks as nice as the top?! She sews just fine - not the quietest machine ever, but this machine is a heavy solid machine probably from the early to mid 90s. Probably a lot of metal in there. Some quirks of this Babylock that I am not used to - although it has a one step buttonhole, on the other hand you cannot drop the feed dogs. Odd combo of features. There are about 14 stitches and that one step buttonhole. It is an adequate buttonhole, and the functionality is solid and the foot is better than the Janome-Elna-Kenmore and more auto-buttonhole foot you see everywhere. It does work the same - you put a button it the back and that sizes your buttonhole. It works flawlessly, first the bottom bartac, then the left side, then the top bartac and then the right side, and a finishing stitch.The machine has a bit of a clacky sound which my tech said seemed to be relatively common in these Babylocks. A web friend mentioned this also, and she hadn't heard that my tech had said this. So that is a validation - it certainly isn't a problem in the needle-bobbin area. It makes a nice bobbin with a very solid bobbin winding function. The only odd thing that stands out is the accessory case. On the positive side, it is capacious. It is a long rectangle and has a nice deep storage compartment without any division or anything to be awkward when adding items. On the down side, it fits in under the extension part of the bed which removes for a free arm. It is attached in under the extension part and you must detach it to use it and you have to do that before you start to sew because there is no other way to get at the accessories. Another plus though, the storage is right side up and opens on top so things can't slide out at you like they can on some of the cheaper bottom line Janomes and Kenmores of the last several years (the ones that have the accessories in the tube of the extension, not the ones which open out). She's cream with that pebbled finish on top and on most of the body that was popular back in the 80s and early 90s, and she has pinkish to maroon lettering and trim. All in all a lot of fun to get another machine to play with, and a good solid machine.

December 2013 - added a photo of cleaning out bobbin area from the manual after the comment from Angel in the comment section.
You can see in the picture the various parts of the bobbin area. The shuttle race, the hook and the little door thingies.  I sold this machine last year, so do not have the machine to photograph.  Hope this picture will help. click on it to make it much larger. Thanks for the comment!

Here is a link to the threading diagram and you can see the bobbin area and components in that page.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Brother 1034D cleaning and threading...

The Brother 1034D serger is an inexpensive but tough serger. At the price point it sells for, you cannot go wrong. I bought mine in 2005, and it is working just fine. One of these days I will take it for professional cleaning, but so far I have kept it running well with the occasional oiling and frequent cleaning. For cleaning I use some cheap artists brushes I bought - I think they are just the right size - nice and thick, and I also have a nice makeup brush I use. I thought I would post a picture of the mini-vac attachments and the brushes in case that is a help to anyone. I got my mini-vac at Nancy's Notions online.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Vermont Quilt Festival...

Yesterday was the annual Vermont Quilt Festival in Essex Junction, Vermont. Good friends and I were lucky to be able to attend and to see many lovely quilts.All around the large exhibition halls were vendors who had come from all over the USA and a few from Canada to exhibit and sell their wares. I always enjoy browsing the sewing machine booths, and all the major sewing machine vendors were there. Husqvarna Viking, several long arm quilter sales folks, Bernina, Janome and Pfaff were all there. The new Horizon by Janome seemed to be the crowd favorite, as there was an animated group around that machine for the entire time I was there! It was being happily demoed. Bernina had prices on the machines - the "Big" one at $9,999 and the "Little" one at $649. I get a kick out of $9,999! YEOW. That's my next car or more! Those long arm quilters are quite mesmerizing. Watching them as they follow the programmed patterns illustrates the meshing of old fashioned quality crafting and modern technical and digital tools. There were people there from YLI and other thread manufacturers or importers, and the colors blaze with brilliance, engulfing me in a rainbow of pleasant! It was a lovely day weather-wise with sunshine, light breezes and not too much heat, but the walking around for hours on the concrete flooring and the excitement quite wore me out. Several of us drove into lovely Winooski, Vermont for lunch at the very cool Peking Duck House. I especially noted the book related quilts in the show and on the vendors booths, as of course we library people tend to love book related stuff wherever we see it. I didn't buy fabric, but there was a plethora of it available, even from a shop from North Dakota! One of the long arm quilter booths are folks from Utah, and one fabric and notions store was here from California! So this isn't just a regional show. This is the fourth year we've gone to the Festival, and the last two years we have met with online friends from whom we would never have met without PR!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Janome Elna Tricot Foot

I am going bleary eyed here! On into the night with my sort of obsessive examination of the Tricot Foot. Here it is connected to the Janome drop-in bobbin machine, and then the Elna front-load connection. This foot is cleverly designed to hold the fabric down firmly as the needle comes down and pierces the fabric and then let up on the fabric as the feed dogs rise and carry the fabric along for the next stitch. There is a little rubbery plastic blue "stopper" piece that is controlled by the flange on the side of the foot. This flange fits nicely over the needle screw-bar thingy. It moves as the needle bar moves, and there is a little spring that makes it - well - springy! Here are some more photos of the foot at various angles and you can see how this works. The last two pictures are the foot actually sewing a piece of very light knit fabric as I was testing. I think this foot is going to be a lot nicer to use for my purposes than a walking foot because I rarely use the walking foot and it is cumbersome to attach though handy to have. For lightweight knits and very slippery lightweight fabrics of all sorts - this tricot foot will be my choice. The term "tricot" here referes to the process of knitting in the tricot style, and isn't specific to nylon tricot with which Americans are mainly associating the word tricot. You can see in the picture with the needle down in the fabric that the lever is then in the position where the spring pushes the plastic down on the fabric. Then, as the lever rises with the needle bar, it forces the plastic piece up off the fabric and another stitch is on the way!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

More PJs...Fun with KWIK SEW...

Sewing for little boys when I actually had them in front of me to measure was a pleasure. Little rhyme there! I was also fortunate to have a chance to shop at a Hancock's Fabrics store, and there was a nice selection of flannel. Of course that meant more jammies. I am not sure they are on the right way in the pictures because little boys seem not to care about front-to-back jammies! Being away from home, I needed a pattern. I purchased the KWIK SEW Sewing for Children book, and I love it - the patterns are much better than the Big4. The legs aren't voluminous, and the pattern sizes are true to measurements. I wanted to use the directions for the "one seam leg" but the width of the flannel precluded that ploy. I love KWIK SEW for kids. The book is well worth the price because of all the options available - it has patterns for boys and girls and I couldn't think of anything you couldn't make except possible a formal suit or exceptionally ornate party dress, and you could probably do that as well. The pants fit - and the boys differing size was only an inch or so off (2 years apart in age) so one has a little more ease, but that works out fine in PJs. I counted the patterns in the book with some leeway on the side of the lesser number (differing styles) and came up with 14 but could have made it a larger number. There are pattern instructions for new sewers, and master patterns for making shirts, tee-shirts, outerwear, dresses, blouses, sleepwear, pants and many variables within these categories. I hope to make a couple of shirts out of cottons for summer for the boys as well. And maybe some pants - who knows! By the way, I decided to reinstate comments - I miss the good ones! ;)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How do we set off our fashions? WOMANLY DEPORTMENT...

Looking through some posts in my other blog, I came across this one and just couldn't resist posting it over here. Such a good laugh...really....WOMANLY DEPORTMENT..... SO much good advice here, and think how much nicer we will all look in our creations if we just observe these basic lady-like principles.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

About comments...

Lately I have been seeing and moderating odd comments, and this has sadly led me to stop comments on this blog. I would not like to have to quit blogging, but there is a temptation to do just that. Not quite yet though. To my PR friends - so sorry I had to take this step.

UPDATE some time later....comments on but moderated ;)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Quilting adventures

You may well ask where I have been. I have been doing some very small projects, and for me that takes as much time as large ones! Oh I am slow. I think, then plan, then do and do very slowly at small bursts over time. First, before Christmas I did some glasses cases as gifts. Nothing stupendous there, but for me, crafting isn't something undertaken lightly. I wanted to make a few special gifts for folks who had gifted me with this and that last year, so I chose the online pattern for the felt glasses case. I changed it to quilted fabric. I did some of the quilting with scraps I had, and used a few scraps of two sided quilted fabric left over from place mats. They turned out rather well, although not really as nice as some of the gifts I had gotten. I made one for myself as well, and the softness of the fabric really makes them a nice soft glasses case. The next project is a tea cozy.It was going to be tea cozies large and small (one for the teacup) but the small one turned out like a tiny cat's dunce cap, and of course my tiny cat won't wear it. SO - it is now re-cut to a circle and will be a small pin cushion. Just for using right by the sewing machine. For the large tea cozy and the pin cushion, I made a pattern based on my measurements of my large teapot, and sort of pointed so I can just pop it on and off by the top. I found quilting cotton scraps and I have batting, so I made some free motion quilted pieces, and then serged them up.The only thing left is the binding on the bottom of the large tea cozy, and sewing the little pincushion and they are good to go. I used my Elna 2100 for the free motion to see how she would do. After letting off the foot pressure, setting the stitch length to 0 and dropping the feed I attached the darning foot. I found I needed to up the thread tension on top to about 7 or 8 to get a nice even stitch. I am just a beginner at free motion, but I liked the result. I have done it before without knowing what you called it, and by just stitching all over in circles or pattens as I went. I had no clue you weren't supposed to cross already sewed lines! I tried to do it right this time and had a good time doing it. :) The stippling effect, only a larger pattern than some I have seen. I just meandered around. Not strictly a quilter you know.