Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Fun at the Vermont Quilt Festival 2017


Another year rolled on, June came and with it the annual Vermont Quilt Festival. Despite early problems with new website, lengthy delay in getting out information and brochures, and classes cancelled, the actual show itself went on absolutely magnificently. We attended for two days, and had a very very good time. This year the entry was marked by a bracelet that was color coded as to your purchase of a day pass, 2 day pass or 3 day pass. Excellent idea because there was no barrier this year between the food vendors and the outside so one could walk around a lot more when taking a break. The food vendors were located nicely and there was more space to sit under covered tables. All good.  As for the quilts - there were excellent special exhibits and wonderful entries by very talented people.  Vendors were there and as usual I made the rounds of the sewing machine vendors, talking and comparing. Being not in the market myself, it is even more fun to see all the new machines, plus see the really good machines that have been out awhile coming back.  One of our favorite dealers, Bittersweet Fabric, was there with all the Elnas and Janomes, and that is one great bunch of people to visit every year.  Some of the quilts....first the Best in Show up above this on the left....just a lovely piece of work. I was not able to get all the details on these quilts, and the people who made them are so very talented. I wish I could name each one, but I haven't the information at hand.
When taking photos of the quilts, there is no way to do them justice. They are so much nicer looking in person and you can see the textures and the quilting very close up. My photos are nothing compared to the quilts themselves. 
I wanted to post a few pictures of representative types, as in traditional, modern and whimsical. :)
This quilt above was in honor of Canada's 150th Anniversary this year!
This above is just a part of a larger modern quilt, and the quilting and composition are just beautiful.
Here is a lovely little whimsy quilted by a young entrant. All these youngsters get a sewing machine from Bittersweet fabrics just for completing the quilt they enter.  A nice way to increase the ranks of quilters!
Here is where we see the happy faces of the participants! This marks the eighth year at least that my friend and I have attended this show together, and some years other friends join us - all in all it is a highlight of our year.

 And what would the show be if not for the acquisitions from the vendors who come from far and near to demo their wares and sell us the things we need and some we probably don't need but can use for even more fun!



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

32 Piece Foot Set for Low Shank Machines Part 2

Tried all on the Brother SE400.  They fit excellently. Better than on the Audrey and I don't know why. The Brother is a solid and really well made machine and it's almost like these feet were made for it.  A few, as in the case of the Audrey, are too narrow, but the placement is centered and the needle clears the needle area fine. As in all stitching situations, you MUST be aware of the settings for each task or foot and set the needle position accordingly.
Yes, I rehomed the feet into a smaller plastic box.  This is the Janome-Elna accessories box, out of which my Elna 720 has grown.  The Elna required the larger ArtBin box even than the one I had these feet in originally.  I photocopied the feet sheet and taped a small printout version to the top of this small box. Needless to say, the Audrey feet I brought home fit my Brother so well that my feet did a nice tappity happy dance!!

All in all I am happy with these feet....the next agenda item is trying them on a Janome.

Monday, June 12, 2017

32 Piece Foot Set for Low Shank Machines Part 1

After reading all sorts of posts about these generic foot sets on PatternReview.com, I decided to see for myself. For on outlay of about $20, I got this set from AMAZON.  Since most name brand feet will be an average of at least 10-20 dollars each, and many are very much more, I wanted to see if I could use a few of these on my Brother SE400.  I was on vacation at the time in another state, so decided to have AMAZON deliver them to me so I could check 'em out on my Babylock Audrey first.  The reason for this clever move was because if they fit the Audrey I was going to take home the four feet the Audrey has that I wanted for my Brother machine.  Babylock feet were rumored to fit brother machines.
To make a long story short, all the feet fit the Audrey.  Some caveats - some feet are very narrow, such as a couple of the hemmer feet. These do not cover the feed dogs but still might be fine as the needle clears the hole well.  The criteria I used to test out each and every foot on the machines I am testing them on are as follows:  1. Does the needle clear the needle hole?  2. Does the foot center properly on the feed dogs and hopefully sit correctly thereon?  3. Can I sew a lone of stitching without problems?   4. There are only three screw on feet in the set:  adjustable zipper foot, gathering foot and hopping springed FM/darning foot.  Do they fit well without needing force?    As you would any foot regularly, you must set your machine to stitch with that foot properly - as in center the needle for straight stitching with the straight stitch foot, zigzag with the fringing foot etc.  I tested them out and all sewed though on the Audrey some were a little teenie bit odd on the dogs. But nothing you couldn't use them with.   SO - indeed I took the four Audrey feet home and left generics in their place, plus I have the rest of the feet in case I need them.  If I had bought those four feet alone it would have cost me about 45-55 dollars easily for Brother or Babylock feet.  So I have the real Babylock feet for my Brother SE400 and the next post will be about how the set and Babylock feet fit that machine.  NOTE: I bought the ArtBin storage box for the feet - it didn't come with a plastic storage box.  Interesting point - there is no Zigzag foot in this set and no buttonhole foot at all. So if you need a regular ZZ sewing foot which is the default foot on most machines, you will not get it in this set. Likewise you will not get a buttonhole foot. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Some Downsizing and decisions about retention...

This is a selection of machines and accoutrements I donated last Winter to a church sponsored sewing class that will rev up this late Spring.  The idea is to give each lady a machine upon finishing a series of classes. The classes will be composed of ladies from a refugee community here, and they have expressed the wish to learn to sew.  This finally catapulted me into parting with four machines, books, accessories and so on.


I waited to post about this because I wanted to see if I had regrets or felt sad to part with any of these machine. I loved them of course, but in the end I have not regretted giving them away because they may be used!  Mostly they sat here.  It also freed me to think about selling a few more! My list is now down to 7 including my serger, one of my DD's Janomes, and one that was my DMIL's machine which we just cannot part with, and which is a lovely old Pfaff 1199 and still works fine.  Donated were the Pfaff 307, Kenmore Blue Mini, Elna 2100, Elna TOP 300. All with accessory boxes, feet, bobbins and assorted other accessories and all with manuals.   All in working order.

I would urge any of you who have multiples sitting around and not being used to donate machines where they can be used. It isn't always easy to find a suitable donation site, but if the occasion arises, give it a thought!  You don't really retrieve much real estate - few square feet, but it is oddly freeing!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Blue Quilt Done...

Blue Quilt is quilted and bound. It's recipient will, I hope, be pleased. :)  I had an inspiration pic which I posted earlier on in the process, and the blocks in mine were 16" blocks. Simple really but took me almost a year. I work slowly. Most of these fabrics are Robert Kaufman Asian fabrics, but some are a line of Batiks I forget the name of. I used OMNI thread from Superior Threads to quilt the quilt and a Superior Threads pre-loaded bobbin for the underside. The back of this is a nice gray small floral pattern flannel from Missouri Star Quilt Company.  I used several of the fabrics from the quilt for binding. :)   I see that the backing is no longer in stock at Missouri Star. Too bad - it is a lovely small floral leaf sort of pattern. It is hard to find nice backing. Now to plan the next quilt! It will be from old cotton plaid men's shirts my son gave me for a quilt. I will add some vibrant red KONA cotton to the quilt for OOOMPH!! Those shirt plaids do not have much in the way of color going for them.  Very subtle!  I do like them though and look forward to making the quilt. Planning on a 9 patch, might be Disappearing 9 Patch - do not know yet. The muse will tell me in about a month or so.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

More Brother SE400 Embroidery Fun...

Some more fun stuff with my machine.  I know nothing I have done is exceptional or new to many of the embroiderers out there but the FUN!  And maybe someone also new to this game will benefit! :)  These above were kitchen towels I just did - two for my daughter's kitchen and one for us.  I love the red work!  And you don't have to change threads. Yes, I am working up to changing thread colors. Soon people, soon.  Meanwhile I have fallen in love with Embroidery Library. SO many designs and such nice freebies every month as well as good sales.  I have purchased a few, but really have to watch myself. My need now is for something to embroider on. I have never really been much for the bling or embellishing, so useful items will be what I look for. :) And with a 4x4 field there are still a lot of things to embroider! Here is a photo of the package of towels I bought at Joann Fabrics.They also have a few more styles and one of these days I am getting more.  I also experimented with the alphabets on the machine. It has four alphabet fonts, upper and lower case and numbers etc., but they are not sewing stitches, they are in the embroidery location.  In addition there is a built in very nice monogramming font which has larger and smaller settings, as do the rest of the embroidery patterns, including the builtin four font sets.  I experimented with my name, and it seemed to come out well. I could position it better.  I expect that to come with practice.  When I have something amazing, I will post the picture! HAHaaa...

Meanwhile I am slowly getting my Blue Quilt quilted.  Pictures will follow when that project is done. After that I am starting on an old fashioned  pieced squares quilt made out of a collection of shirt fabrics my son gave me - it will be a quilt for him.  I will add solids out of my stash and maybe buy some red to set the squares off a bit.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Superior University Fun Again...

Having the time for fun is great!  I revved up my Superior University subscription again, and finally got around to the little hedgehog pincushion. I picked the wrong fabric. I picked a soft flannel, so the deco stitching being a wide stitch was a teenie bit distorted by the fabric stretching as it sewing. Next time stabilizer or a firm fabric. BUT, this was not only a fun piece, but a chance to use the Brother SE400's cache of sewing stitches! On a firmer fabric they are perfect.  My hand sewing skills are not the best at any time, so his little eyes, nose and ears could be much more professional looking, but he is cute anyway! Here you see him sitting on one of my practice pieces for free motion quilting.   

Meanwhile sitting around last night reading the Brother SE400 manual I found out that it stops sewing when the bobbin is too low! How cool is that? Another great feature of it's sewing. You really do have to read manuals on these computerized machines from Brother because they do so many things - you can either just use as all the defaults already there or you can change a great many settings in the machines memory for every use and then cancel them out again later on. Many settings abide after the machine is turned off until you decide to reset and save them again.   This sort of thing is usually found only on the more expensive machines in other brands. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

And Then We Embroider...on the Brother SE400...




Setting up for embroidery is pretty simple, but it took me awhile because I was extremely nervous as it was my first time ever at machine embroidery.  Luckily I had bought a small set of Madeira Polyneon Thread last year from Nancy's Notions for that class on free hand embroidery so I knew I had good thread! I had the one piece of pre-stabilized felt from Brother that came with the machine, so I used that. I wanted the butterfly since I first saw the advertising for this machine. :) It is programmed for blue, but I used a lavender that I love. Blue isn't my favorite color.
Took me awhile to hoop that felt with stabilizer but finally I got it and we started - I followed the directions meticulously and it all worked - it really is fun to watch the machine stitch out a design. Between watching and running out telling the family "Oh you should see THIS!" I was thrilled!!  One son wanted to watch and we were both amazed. Since this was a one color design there were no other colors to add. So - next time it needs to be a multicolor design. The Brother manuals are always so well detailed, but sometimes there is just a little something you should have been told that you cannot find. A few YouTube videos and you are on your way.  They do tell you to hold the thread just for a few stitches when you start, which is rather like quilting, so I did. Then you stop and clip the thread and go on your way. :) Here is a video of the machine - from YouTube - not mine - the loudness is most likely from the closeness of the mic to the machine - yes, the machine makes noise - partly die to heavily stabilized fabric, and then there are the little repositionings the machine makes, but it isn't this noisy - however her video is excellent.
Some videos do not do this, but they should!
All in all I love the machine. I feel I got a machine that turned out far better than I thought it even might!  It is stable, sews a very good stitch, and embroidery turns out to be a lot of fun. I looked on Amazon tonight and there are only third party sellers selling this machine, however Amazon has the embroidery only machine, the 525 which much resembles this machine. And right now it's a really good price! I know as time goes on this information will be old, a quick Google and you should be able to find one of this family of Brother machines near you at a good price. I am so glad I bought it. It will be a lot of fun over the next several years. The next project I am going to do on the Brother will be a quilted greeting card.  It is part of the Superior University Course which is a lot of fun as well! As I move along in those lessons I will post them here because that is another plan for the year - to move along in those Thread classes from Superior University.

Friday, February 17, 2017

More Brother SE400 FUN...Sewing...


Unboxed and waiting for tryouts!  Why do people leave on those stickers that look like ads? I have no idea, but I removed them. 

First up - sewing. Set it up for sewing and the stitches were as good as any machine I have ever used, including the Berninas I used in classes for two days, or Janomes, Pfaffs or Vikings.  Really does a nice stitch without my changing tensions or anything else. Very impressed. The only accessory I need to purchase is the SA187 free motion/darning/quilting foot, and that's on its way to me at the moment.  I will only do small projects on this machine however, as my Elna 720 is much more a quilting and everything else machine. So - the Brother will be a small project/embroidery machine and I hope it lasts as long as my wonderful Brother 1034D serger! The serger just had a spa day and is in excellent shape after owning it for over 11 years now.  Here is a stitch sample of the Brother SE400.  I was a bit sloppy there with the serpentine stitch, but I was so happy to see it has the true serpentine stitch!  The fabric is a little piece of batting within two layers of muslin here. 

For some time I have looked at Brother machines and read good reviews from people who have low end Brothers, and mid range machines as well as those high priced TOL machines. It made me want to experience the Brother machines. Also, having the little Audrey Babylock at my vacation location was fun. It has many differences from Janome machines, and that was fun to assess and use. As Brother and Babylock are siblings and quite alike, I was always on the lookout for a brother bargain, and getting gift cards sealed the deal!  Here is all the manual/CD included help. You get a lot of manual in this deal! My CD was bad, but it copied to another CD well and it is informative!

That's all for this time, but there will be more!

And Now For Some FUN! With the Brother SE400


Yes! Another machine! With gift cards given me by friends and family over time I have added the Brother SE400 to my sewing room. Thought that I may as well toy with a little bit of embroidery. People tell me I could get in the habit! It's kind of fun. First though I needed to check out the machine functions. Got it on Amazon at a really good price, and wanted to check out all functions in the 30 day return period of course.  Turns out it all works! And well! I am amazed at all that is packed into this baby at the price it sells for. Of course it didn't always sell so low. It is years old as a model and was mid range in the beginning and has proven itself over years of use by lots of folks who have gone on to machines with larger hoop areas.  First a shout out to Kamala who has documented this machine so well on her own site!  Her site was so useful to me and many others I am sure. Also here is a good video on how to use the USB facility to get designs to the machine. The manual is very vague on that, even though the USB has it's own little manual. I found the Burley-Sew video excellent and in passing he mentions the saving of the design to the machine. THAT is the part the manual overlooks.  Once you see it it is easy.   I will be posting more on this machine in future, but for now here are more pictures! 



Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Getting there...

It's getting there! Not such a wonderful picture of the quilt top, but I finished it.   Now to pin and quilt - I am going to do walking foot quilting, as I really loved that the last time I quilted.  There is a lot to be said for large scale quilting - even though it has taken me ages to do this one, I think I love the design process and the fabrics so much. Just looking at the fabrics is pleasurable and then taking the time to mull over a design is good therapy. It rests the brain and lets the data process through the tunnels of the mind until something percolates outward.  At the moment the brain is processing a quilt out of old shirts, and maybe that design will spring into consciousness one of these days. That's next.

Meanwhile, retirement is a good thing! I have no trouble with time on my hands, that's for sure. So much to do and think about and read. Read and think. And add this and that to the sewing area and take this and that out.  Next post will cover additions.  I am thinning what I am not going to use or don't want to use, and adding only what I want!   I am in love with Madeira Polyneon.   Glad I took the class last June and had to buy some!