Saturday, June 27, 2009

Random tip o' the day

When I edgestitch, sometimes the fabric at the corner gets sucked down into the feed dogs as I pivot around the corner. One solution is to poke a safety pin through the corner to use as a handle. I can hold onto the head of the safety pin and gently pull the fabric to encourage it to feed properly. Just my little low-tech tip of the day!
I'm including this extra shot of my newest favorite project... This shows the heart that I freehand quilted as well as the one of the circles that I quilted around the pigs.


I love the colors even more, now that this is finished!

I pieced the front, to use up every morsel of this fabric! Then, with right sides together,
I sewed the front to the back and turned it right side out.

I edgestitched all the way around and then quilted the two layers together, so that after washing, it won't get poofy. I quilted loops under the cars (like exhaust. Or dust that they're kicking up). And on the top edge I wrote "Soleo, I love you, Love, Mama" by freehand quilting it.

Here he is, trying it out this morning.
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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tutorial for Sew, Mama, Sew

I wrote a buttonhole tutorial for the good folks over at Sew, Mama, Sew.
Check it out here!
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Recycled Jammies

Inspired by Alabama Chanin and an orange event shirt that came home in a size that no one could wear, I recycled the t-shirt into jammies for the wee ones.

For Orion's jammies, I used the bottom hem of the original shirt as the bottom hem of the shorts and I cut down the sleeves of the original shirt to make the sleeves for this shirt. The tractor fabric came from JoAnn Fabrics some time ago.

And then the littlest angel needed a matching shirt. There was just enough fabric left on the original shirt (without using the goofy printed words and logo) to cut sleeves for the little one. You can see in the photo above the recycled hem on the big boy's shirt. I used a zig-zag on the bottom hems, to ensure adaquate stretch and because I was in too much of a hurry to dig out the double ballpoint needle.

Since jammies seem to always come in pairs, and since I had a lot of the tractor fabric, I worked on a second pair for each boy. So far Soleo has his second pair. The blue fabric and ribbing were in my stash, part of the motherload of hand-me-down knits*. I had just enough to make the shirt and shorts. And for those, I did dig out the double needle and you can see I put a proper hem on the sleeves, the shirt, and the shorts. (Well, you'll have to trust me on the hem of the shirt.)

For most shirts, I recommend topstitching around the neck band, to tack down the ribbing and make sure that the seam allowance doesn't curl to the outside after washing. In this instance, I skipped the step because a) my baby has a huge head and I worry about sufficient stretch, even when using the double needle and b) the ribbing is so much wider than the seam allowance that I think the ribbing will prevent the seam allowance from curling and c) these are just jammies!

*My mom's mom used to own a fabric store called The Fabric Lady in Boise, Idaho in the late 70s. We still have old spools of thread, some patterns (they're almost vintage), and a LOT of fabric! I grew up wearing clothes made from some of these knits and now that I have little ones to sew for, some of the fabric is getting passed down to me! Part of the greatness of this is that the knits are 100% cotton and of a quality that is down right hard to find these days!

I guess some families pass down actual clothes. We pass fabric. It always fits.
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Monday, June 22, 2009

Little sewing

For this one:

Some of this:

I get a lot of hand-me-downs from my family. This stack might take the cake! I didn't know that it softened so much when washed, or that it had such wonderful drape! It is Echino by Etsuko Furuya and you can get some here. I'm going to make it into a little blanket for the wee one. A simple blankie that can get tossed onto the grass without worry about staining it!
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Monday, June 01, 2009

Sewing Machine Month

The good folks at Sew, Mama, Sew have declared June to be the month of the Sewing Machine. Here is a chance for all us to get to know our machines a little bit better.

They've started it off with a lovely meme about our machines.

What brand and model do you have?
Bernina Aurora 440QE (Quilter's Edition)

How long have you had it?
2 months

How much does it cost?
MSRP is around $3500, including the optional Bernina Stitch Regulator.

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, etc.)?
All of the above.

I have ongoing quilting projects for babies being born as well as an annual quilt challenge with the women in my family. I posted about it here and here. I love my walking foot and my 1/4" foot for quilting. My machine also has the Bernina Stitch Regulator which is about the coolest thing ever for quilting.

I sew a lot of clothes, but mostly simple things for myself and the kiddos, though I am known to throw in zippers and buttons when I need to!

I sew bags. Lots of bags. See side bar for the Farmer's Market Tote Bag pattern I sell.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?
I try to sew at least twice a week (when my older son is in preschool). The machine gets used, but lovingly. I can really tell a difference when the machine is well oiled and the needle is new, so I clean my machine almost every time I sit down to sew and for sure after each quilt I finish.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?
I loooooooove my machine. Some days even more than I love my husband. She doesn't have a name (yet), but I am passionately in love with her. While my previous machines were really incredibly awesome (see prior post about the one for sale), this one is the first machine that I bought on my own instead of getting as a hand-me-down.

What features does your machine have that work well for you?
Things I love:
-Knee lift for the presser foot
-Needle down (when it comes to a stop and/or at the push of a button)
-Variable presser foot pressure
-Winding a new bobbin while sewing
-Specialty Presser Feet
-Start-stop button (for sewing without the foot pedal)
-A rad needle threader
-Pattern begin button (great when turning corners while zig-zagging or with decorative stitches)
-Speed control (especially with decorative stitches and quilting, to get a consistent speed)
-The Bernina Stitch Regulator. It can be summed up as:
The BSR presser foot reacts to the movement of the fabric under the foot and controls the speed of the sewing [machine] up to the maximum possible speed. The following applies: the faster the fabric is moved, the higher the speed of the machine. A set stitch length is maintained.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?

Would you recommend the machines to others? Why?
Of the Bernina Auroras (430, 440, 450), I chose the 440QE because it came with the walking foot (a $150 value) and the 1/4" foot (a $50 value) and the Bernina Stitch Regulator ($a $900 value). The 430 didn't have those particular bells and whistles. The 450 has a 9mm wide presser foot, which didn't appeal to me. I have the option of adding the embroidery module later.
I think Bernina makes the absolute highest quality machines on the market.
And their manuals are very easy to read, making the machines easy to master.

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?
For me, see above under Things I Love.
For you, see my FAQ at where I address just that question.

Do you have a dream machine?
Yep, the one I have!