Sunday, December 11, 2011

FMQ Pfaff in place...

Pfaff in working mode - I decided to make a pattern and make a tree skirt for our small white tree. Although I thought I had fabric, of course I had nothing really perfect, so off we went to Joann's. Finding a holiday patterned fabric in red and white was perfect, as the decorations are also red and white, plus some gold silver, we got a yard and came on home. I grabbed the large roll of pattern paper, and my trusty long quilting ruler, as well as my design ruler with the nicely curved side. I measured the diameter of the circle I would need, added a tidbit for seaming and then drew right angled diameter lines around the starting line until my perfect circle could be completed using the design ruler. Then I cut the two pieces of fabric - turned out the fabric wasn't quite wide enough so I used a side piece to piece two wedges to complete the circle at the back of the tree skirt. I cut my batting. Then I placed my batting on the wrong side of one piece of the fabric (after sewing the pieced pieces on) and then placed the fabric, right sides together and sewed all around the edge, except for one side of the very back. Then I turned it right side out, smoothed it out, smoothing the batting as well, folded it in fourths to cut a perfect middle hole, and pressed it. Pressed the raw edges into the inside at the open back, and after pressing was ready to FMQ this. The quilting works also to close that back opening, so no other sewing needed there. The quilting went very well, if one doesn't use a microscope to examine my very beginning skill. The process was fun from beginning to end!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Free Motion Quilting (3)...the Sew Steady and the threads...

The table came! I ordered from Nancy's Notions on the 5th of November and got the table on the 2d of December. I call that excellent on the part of both Nancy's and Sew Steady Tables. I am pleased. This is the first accessory I have purchased for my Pfaff in all these years. She loves it. I decided to leave on the little leg holder thingies. The table might break if I get rough trying to take off those, and there is a warning against it in the information accompanying the table. SO, yes, I wilted right away and left them. There isn't much problem doing that as the thing now sits only about half an inch up off the Arrow table, so we are good to go. Meanwhile, I have ordered three times from Superior Threads. You almost get your order before you hit the final BUY button - those folks are that fast. I love it. Of course now I have to get on the stick and practice, practice, practice. But now I have these lovely threads to practice with. I bought the Try Me Specials, including a few bobbins pre-wound. I hope they work in the Pfaff [LATER NOTE: They do NOT fit the Pfaff 1222E because the bobbin pin is too large and the bobbins will not turn]. SO adventures are looming. Meanwhile still working on that blue print summer shirt. Maybe by Summer 2012?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Free Motion Quilting (2)...the machine...

Bedeviled with conflicts over how to position the tables in here for optimum FMQ functionality, I decided to arrange the old Pfaff on the Arrow 601 (also known as the Gidget I now). So here is the first deployment. Then while lurking in and around Leah Day's Free motion Quilting Project, I saw her Janome Horizon in its own Gidget II table with a Sew Steady table as it's insert/extension table! A wonderful idea, and one I decided to borrow. I ordered up a custom table from Nancy's Notions, but I ordered the small table because the Gidget I hasn't that huge hole in it, and I did place my Pfaff in the well of the table, found I needed to add some height to add the Pfaff's own little extension table while I await the arrival of my Sew Steady, and there it is - ready to go. For height I took one of my Janome Muffling Mats and cut off about three inches and put it under the Pfaff on the platform in the table. I can still get the bobbin in and out although it isn't the very best task that way. I am never going to have a vast landscape of space upon which to do my quilting, but this is workable, and I kind of like the smaller scale anyway. I am even considering snipping apart my quilt top and rearranging the squares resulting and making it another look altogether. Quilted in pieces it could turn out interesting. I don't say pretty, I say interesting. But, rather than that rather quirky idea, I think I'll just cut it to about twin size of full size and quilt it. Get that thing over with. Update will follow when the Sew Steady table comes. I am excited.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

NOOK cover...

The second cover was too large, and that sort of bugged me for awhile, so yesterday when I spotted the sale at Joann's for 30% off the double sided fabric, I got some in the chartreuse and made the third one. The third time is the charm , as they say. After looking at the Vera Bradley eBook cases, which are $32, I wanted to make this one with the wrap around zipper and make it to fit as snugly as possible without being too tight or too roomy.
Adding a strip of fabric as a sort of "spine" took care of the little bit of room I needed. This is the case that gets to stay! Case #1 holds my chargers, case #2 is awaiting a re-purposing and case #3 happily holds my NOOK!
I whipped up a cover for my NOOK. It's a bit too small, so I whipped up another one. The first will now house my NOOK and mobile phone chargers and cordage. Since I learned to insert a zipper in a bag of any sort, I have just loved to do that, so look out all devices I own....wonder how large the frig cover would have to be...hmm...HUMOR. As long as my hot pink double-sided fabric holds out perhaps my Christmas gift list will be shortened. Who knows. I have also blogged the NOOK specifically on EphemeralWisps.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ukulele Bag with double-sided quilted fabric...

This is a very nice gig bag for which I drafted a pattern by just tracing around the ukulele. Then I cut the pieces, and also cut 2 pieces for a zipped pocket so that when I sewed on the pocket I would have an extra non-zipped pocket on it as well. I happened to have a short turquoise zipper so I used that as a contrast to the hot pink of the fabric and the side zipper.The side zipper was a long invisible zipper I bought at Jo-Ann's to match the double sided quilted fabric. I just sewed in the invisible zipper as I would have a regular one, and I love the look. This was a "wearable muslin" for my own pattern, and it turned out to be the one to keep! Later - very much later - I may make a self-quilted bag from special musical or tropical fabrics, but now this has turned out well, and I like it very much! A couple weeks after I bought the fabric, there wasn't any left at JA's so I am glad to have purchased it when I did! I didn't put a handle on this, so maybe next time I will sew in a handle. I rarely take it anywhere so I don't need a shoulder strap. This case protects it a bit more, and in the end I found that my basic nylon gig bag the ukulele came with will fit inside this hot pink case, so the instrument is now doubly protected. I do leave the uke laying around my den, so it's good to have it now only protected but very visible!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Free Motion Quilting (1)...and the Ukulele...

The two topics are closely related. Both are my new main interests. Yes, they seem disparate. No, they aren't able to be done at the same time. Yet. But I have hopes. :) The Vermont Quilt Festival rolled around again the last week of June,
and as usual I was all excited and looking forward to it with the highest of expectations. It is the one really big event I ever go to, and I love love love it. This year, as a leap into adventure, I chose to register in advance, get the name badge (the prestige don'tcha know) and register for a class. It was worth every penny. I loved getting in without hassle, getting the free tote and book and all that stuff. The class - well, that topped it all off I must say. Sue Nickels is just about the nicest and sharpest lady ever to learn from (AND she has a DVD for sale on her website). She is organized, friendly, knowledgeable and ready to answer questions All this while sticking to her organized syllabus. That isn't easy to do so gracefully as Sue does it. For once, I was good. I listened, I tried everything and strove to really try hard to learn the free motion and straight line quilting. As a very beginner, I had only a tiny bit of experience with free motion before I knew there were rules. I had done a few sets of placemats and I know I like to free motion, but I had no idea of the intricacies I should have known about. Now I have my Pfaff set up for quilting at all times. It is the go-to machine for quilting because it makes the best stitch possible, top and bottom - you cannot tell the difference. The machine we had for class was a Bernina - there was a room full of various models. The one I got was a new B380. Beautiful machine cosmetically and mechanically. Computerized machine with lots of very nice stitches and it too makes a wonderful straight stitch. We learned so many good tips I cannot begin to enumerate them. Sue also has a book out, which I have, and which she signed. Oh to be a quilt celeb! :) So I came home and now I get in some practice, but I have a set of place mats to get done, and then I intend to finally quilt the flying geese quilt I made over the period 1993-2008, but never actually made into a quilt. I am not fast with my sewing projects. There are also a few other quilt tops around the house that need me to make them whole. And of course I will be making a pattern and trying my hand at a nice quilted Ukulele bag. What else would reasonably be next? Here's the story on the ukulele. A friend at work plays, and she brought in her two ukes, and also showed us bits from the film, The Mighty Uke. It is a contagion. We all had the biggest smiles, and right away two or three of us ordered ukuleles from music sites on the web; entry level but decent instruments, and mine showed up with a case and a pitch pipe. I had also ordered plenty of music and instructional materials from AMAZON of course, so here I am with two new interests to add to my already plenty dilettantish life. Keeps the mind from rotting out. I have been practicing the uke since she came on Monday. An hour at least a day. Since I already read music, having been a trumpet player for years and piano as well, and then dabbling in the guitar years back, well, it is a heck of a lot of fun. Getting the hands to move when I need them to and play nicely - well, that will come. I do not hope to reach the virtuoso level of Jake Shimabukuro or even come near, just play for fun. It would be nice to be halfway decent at it. And I have to agree with Jake, "If everyone played the ukulele, the world would be a better place!"

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Multisnit pants and Burda pants done...after long last...

I finally finished the pants. WOW. It seems that for me there is a huge gap in time between cutting and sewing, and then between sewing and hemming! I have lots of projects and the way I tend to flit from one to another is part of the reason for the time gap. I have come to allow myself to be this way, though! Multisnit pants here from pattern number 8.3, with a nice range of large sizes - all too large for me except the smallest, and a nicely done pattern. I ordered this pattern from Fjolner in Denmark, and I really love the site I ordered from. There are so many lovely fabrics there, as well as interesting notions! However, even though they deduct the VAT from US orders, it is very expensive to buy and ship from there. But I will do it again I think. Here is the Burda pant and the pattern illustration as well. Finally got the two pair of pants hemmed and reviewed on PR. Bot the Burda 8264 and the Multisnit 8.3 are nicely drafted European patterns whose fit is a nicer fit than the usual Big 4 pattern companies. I used a green all cotton luxuriously made double knit for the Burda and a nice soft medium bottom weight cotton twill for the Multisnit. I like both pair and will probably tweak them a bit next time for a bit smaller through the legs.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Seattle Trip 2011...Fabric and Friends...

Great trip to Seattle for a few weeks, and this is my haul from Pacific Fabrics Outlet. A lovely PR member was so nice as to escort my daughter and I shopping for a whole afternoon of Pacific Fabrics, the Asian market Uwajimaya, including
the Japanese bookstore Kinokuniya and lunch. Diana is a fantastic person, and we had such a nice time. As far as fabrics, none caught my eye on this trip, although my DD purchased a couple lengths for dresses. I look forward to seeing the results! Diana tells us that the fabric selection does vary from trip to trip because it is a real outlet. In addition to fabrics and patterns, they also have all sorts of notions, threads (Metrosene too!), and a large section of upholstery fabrics, knitting supplies and yarns, and a lot more interesting things. My patterns all came from a 50cent bargain table, and the selection there included many crafty patterns as well. Lots of cross stitch. Now, don't get me started on Kinokuniya Bookstore. My only regret is not having the ability to read Japanese because I bought two sewing pattern magazines, and gave one to my daughter, and I kept Mrs. Stylebook for myself. After finding the directions for enlarging patterns in the magazine, I was faced with a mathematical quandary out of all proportions, and unless someone comes up with an easy fix I will never make these fit. However, the magazine comes with ten patterns bound in of real size, so that is a project for later this year. The issue I bought is a Winter issue 2010. Lots of lovely things in it! The other book in the photo was purchased at Half-Price Books, another Seattle landmark I love. It's a chain, and there are more than one in the Seattle area. Did I mention Seattle is rampant with bookstores? Several Barnes & Nobles, Borders, Half-Price Books and books at thrift stores, second hand stores, and my personal favorite, Third Place Books in which you find used and new books inter-shelved which I just love! I look forward to the next trip and another day with Diana! It's great to meet PR members in other places, and so far all I have met are such nice people! Since I spent several weeks in the Seattle area, family time was good as well! Seeing grandkids is always a great joy, and I visiting my son and his Julie is always a lot of fun and a good family time. A few days after our visit to downtown Seattle, we prevailed upon my DDIL to take us to the Uwajimaya store in Bellevue as well, so we went and had another nice shop. Of course there is no Kinokuniya store there, although there are many colorful packages of goodies, lots of teas, Asian cookware, dishes, kitchen supplies (more rice cookers than I have ever seen, and I LOVE rice cookers), and Julie's name on a whole line of cookie of goodies! The fresh seafood was impressive! the cleanest tanks I have ever seen. Even one beautiful tank full of fish that looked more like a lovely permanent fish tank than a fish-for-sale-to-eat tank should! As far as sewing, I was able to make two pair of cute jammies from the KWIK SEW Sewing for Children book, but the largest size is now going to be too small in about 6 months! Anyway the two pair fit well, with some room to spare for the boys, and they are happy as clams in their jammies! The KWIK SEW patterns are so nice - they don't have all the extra voluminous room that the bog 4 put in their kids wear. The fabric is from Hancock's and is a Seattle print with the Space Needle, coffee, trees and water, a large Ferry and so on, very Seattle and environs. It seems to be gone from the website at Hancock's now! Glad I got it when I did. It handled and ironed very well, the weight is a little heavier than a routine quilting cotton, and it sewed up marvelously. I did the sew-turn-sew thing for the elastic waists because there is no need to allow for growth because the boys will be bigger all over by the time that is a factor! Layout is always better with a KWIK SEW pattern as well. Love them.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tiny comparison of mechanical, electronic and computerized machine function...

Here's the circuit board that controls a computerized machine - one whose stitches are controlled by this array.

This is how Computerized machines are controlled.

An "electronic" machine is one with a few electronic FEATURES, and there are a lot of mechanicals with a few electronic features - the foot pedal being the most common, and auto buttonhole, needle up/down etc. There is a small circuit board or two for a few special features, but the stitches are produced with mechanical cams built into the machine, and some machines even have cams available to insert into a place on the machine for special stitches. This is a simplistic overview of the differences.

An all mechanical machine has no circuitry and also uses built in and/or added cams. So a mechanical machine can be electronic or not, but a computerized machine is all circuit boards connected to step motors that control the various innards of the machine.

Here is a camstack which controls the stitches on a mechanical Pfaff. Most mechanicals have a similar internal cam stack, and they could be larger or smaller with less stitches. The cams move into place as you turn the external dial or push an external button, and control the needle bar which gives you your stitch of choice.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Long in the making...Lutterloh princess top

I wanted to do number 48 on this Lutterloh sheet because I loved the princess lines and had not made a top with princess seaming probably since I was a teenager, except for the Lutterloh shirt I made a few years ago from the much heavier cotton Lycra poplin, and that was altogether different. Since I had drafted this pattern last year, and then cut it last Fall, I was happy it got a review on sometime in the same few months. As with all Lutterloh patterns, you use your bust and hip measurement to then enlarge the small pattern from the pattern sheet, using a special measuring tape. After the first few times, you can do this pretty quickly. You use the bust measurement for all above the waist and the hip for the waist and below, unless you have a small waist, and then some people prefer to use the bust measure there as well. If this works - do it, there is nothing set in cement. I use my hip measurement and then have to make the waist larger anyway. I make shoulders smaller and waist larger. At any rate, then my cut out fabric sat there and waited for me to get to it after I had made a cotton broadcloth muslin. It has taken me awhile - sewing sporadically - but it is finished. Interestingly, others have found that this pattern runs large, and I am no exception. My top is too large, yet I wore it yesterday and people loved it, so that means a lot. I will make the pattern smaller, which will pull the seaming somewhat farther into the bodice front because it could use that and at the same time make it all over somewhat smaller. It is drafted for knit fabric, and I used a very light cotton knit print with Lycra in it. The fabric was difficult to say the least, as far as sewing on it. I used several feet trying to get one that worked best, and ended up with the regular Viking foot B. Top stitching around the collar I used the left-edge-stitching foot. I didn't want the neckline of this pattern, nor did I want the low loose cowl collar on the on the other view because I wanted it to be a transitional wear garment, and I wanted to wear it now in the winter as well as the Summer, so I drafted a loose T-neck collar. Finding a book with directions for sewing a T-neck was interesting, as none of my books really address this in a knit. Online there is a wonderful video by Sarah Veblen at the threads site which is just what I wanted. I am thinking of getting rid of almost all my sewing books because they haven't been of much use with modern fabrics, whereas the web is full of videos now! So, using that video I sewed on that collar. I used a Burda pattern for a turtleneck to use as a guide to cutting and assembling the collar, and it all worked out very well. I see I could have made it even smaller, and then it would be a regular T-neck. I am happy with the outcome, and the topstitching around the collar. For a free brochure and instructions, see the Lutterloh New Zealand site and sign up for the Newsletter. Also at the New Zealand site Sonja gives sewing classes online and is available certain periods of time each year to answer your email questions. Wonderful classes, and Sonja and Andre are terrific about customer service and wanting you to become a really good Lutterloh sewer!

Sunday, February 13, 2011 complex...

This first photo shows another thing I love on the 8050. The markings on the machine bed. All the way out on the side. Very handy. Now a shank that fits. Janome seems to have the two types of shanks because the bars they fit on have different shapes. The ones with the beveled out bar that thins toward the shank (as in the Kenmore 19110, the Janome 2010, the Janome 115110) and the full bar without the narrow part as in the 8050 and some others that I don't have a clue at this point. BUT this is the shank that fits the 8050 in case anyone wants to switch to a metal snap on foot shank as in the picture. The shank with the red button fits the J2010, the Kenmore 19110, etc. interesting. O.K...pretty picky posting here, but maybe someone will want to know. It isn't easy to get this information from the website, and even in the listings of these shanks for sale, they repeat the same machines, so how is one to tell without trying them. The Janome website is vague about this sort of thing. And now the low blow of only allowing partial downloads of manuals from the Janome site. Too bad. The Janome DC1050 looks to be the same machine as the 8050, with different cosmetics, and the stitch panel arranged horizontally rather than vertically - same stitch patterns as the 8050. Same other features as well. Downloading the manual would be very handy.

Monday, February 7, 2011

More on the 8050...

Last post I said that it had the same stitches as the 115110/19110. However, that's not the case. I began to compare the stitch patterns and just gave up - there are some the same and rather more than a few that are not the same. After making a detailed comparison, there are 15 stitches on the 8050 that aren't on the 115110 or it's fellow machines. So that is a cumulative Janome stitch count at my house of 65 available stitches! :) One example is one has the heart satin stitch and one doesn't and one has different blanket type stitches than the other, and the 8050 has a meandering stitch and the 115110 doesn't. Now the stitch patterns on the 115110/19110 is the same as the Janomes: 2008,2010 and 2011. So my two machines complement each other well. I sewed on a pair of fleece slippers this past weekend, and the 8050 toughed her way right through. I am used to the Start/Stop button now and LOVE it. :) Oddly, the shank for the 19110/115110 doesn't align the feet properly on the 8050, although they both use the same feet - the newer synthetic shank is a differently machined shank. So I contacted SVC and they are sending me one that is supposed to fit and align the feet properly. Not that I NEED another shank, but I thought it would be good as a spare part - you just never know! I will report back on the fit. Since I have the pictures here, you can see that the display areas are not the same, and the buttons to use the display differ as well. Both machines are nice, and I think I would love to have one of just about every model if that were possible! :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Janome 8050

Better get on an update to this machine or time will stand in my way! I did two projects on her in the last several weeks. The cover she looks so cute in, and a pair of pillowcases. She sews very well. I am using her without the foot pedal to make myself learn to control the machine with the Start/Stop button. So far so good. I have only run off the edge once! It looks like a person could use a few more hands or maybe just a few extra fingers using the S/S button, but it is fun, and it rids me of finding a place for the foot pedal in my small space. One less cord is a great help sometimes. The feet that slip in like my Viking feet are a nice touch. No problems so far, and using the same top loading Janome feet as other Janomes, the machine is very versatile. Since it only comes with the few feet it came with I ordered a few more Janome feet. I will need the Overcast foot and the 1/4" foot and an embroidery foot, so she needs her own. Of course I ordered them from Sew Vac Direct in Texas, my favorite online dealer. The machine has a nice array of stitches, as far as I have been able to tell, the same as my Kenmore 19110/Janome 115110. I have checked out several stitches and they stitch out just as nicely as Janomes should! The display is a personal favorite of mine and one major reason to buy this machine. You can use a two digit method of stitch choice, rather than keying up all the way to your stitch of choice. Very handy. Nice bright display as well, which is really a fine thing. The brighter the better. As I think I already mentioned in my previous post, the light could be brighter, but it is placed in the best position of any sewing machine light I have worked with. So additional lighting will be nice, but not essential as it is on so many machines. All in all, a nice machine, and a lot of fun, and a finished preliminary report!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

1,000 Clever Sewing Shortcuts & Tips

The book came out last year, and I didn't think to blog it. Deepika Prakash gathered up the tips and did the hard work of crafting the book. I am on p.11, Tip 7. There are so many great tips in the book, as well as articles by master sewers on sewing knits, sewing lace, sewing special fabrics, doing a rolled hem on a serger, and bead embroidery. But the wealth of the book is in the tips rounded up from members of, which, as of this writing, is over 244,000 strong! On the very same page as my tip (p.11) there is a suggestion to buy a 54 beverage cooler on wheels to use as a machine rolling tote - inspired! I don't need one, but if rolling ever becomes a sewing necessity for me, this idea widens the prospective pool of merchandise. I love the Brother Universal case I bought - fits sergers and sewing machines. The huge embroidery machines won't fit though, so if you have one of these this case won't do. But I digress. Get the book, you won't be sorry!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Sew many things...

Blogging should be fun, not a task, and lately it is a task I feel. But, this is a new year. Last year was a struggle in lots of ways, but I thought an update on the Babylock a nice idea, and then I thought I'd mention the Christmas present! Having nabbed a Janome 8050 on cyber-Monday, I thanked my husband for getting it for me for Christmas and put it under the tree. :) Now that I have tried her out - she's a sweet ride! So to speak. Very light, very capable, nice stitches, new slip on feet. Not the quietest Janome ever, but not loud either.I will write a review on in a few months. Now for an update on the Babylock. This is a nice workhorse sort of machine. Very noisy by my standards after my Pfaff 1222E, and my Janomes and Elna, but she means business. I have done a few projects on the Babylock, and am satisfied. A great mechanical backup. This is a heavy machine. I'd say she weighs only 5 pounds less than my Pfaff, and the Pfaff is one heavy machine.The thread tension on top has to be rather high - around 5-6 most of the time, and this is probably due to wear on the tension disks over the years. As I suspected, the machine is from the early 90s, and had an owner who actually used the machine! So I feel lucky to have her. As far as sewing goes, I have finished a couple of easy valances for my kitchen and one bath, and have made a sewing machine cover for the Janome and two pillowcases. I am still working on my Lutterloh princess top, but that will be finished this weekend! WOW. After only about 5 months.