Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pace Yourself

Pfaff Creative Vision 5.0I've owned a number of sewing machines over the years and enjoyed sewing on every one of them. My first was a $99 straight stitch/zig zag White around my senior year of high school. It was all I could afford at the time and still have money to buy some fabric. Later as I got older, married and had kids I purchased another one that had more decorative stitches. I can remember wanting so badly to get a machine that had alphabets for the longest time. Eventually I purchased one that had more decorative stitches and was thrilled that it also had alphabet letters and a memory. After sewing tiny (6mm-9mm letters) onto everything I could work it into I began to day dream about the possibility of getting an embroidery machine. At the time there was no way I could swing it financially so made do with what I had for a long time. Then many more years down the road when I started working at a local sewing machine dealership I was in heaven to finally get an opportunity to own a Husqvarna Viking sewing/embroidery machine combination. I've since then graduated to the top-of-the-line Pfaff with all the bells and whistles and huge embroidery frame size.

I've been sewing for a long, long time. Through the years I've picked up many new techniques and added new ones whenever the sewing industry introduced new features and functions on machine. The products including the machines, the patterns and books, classes on VHS, CD, DVD and now on-line have all become more affordable and more sophisticated.

While working in the sewing machine industry I've met lots of wonderful people. Many new sewers starting out would love to purchase upper-line machines but can only afford to start with a hobby type machine.

I categorize machines in one of these two designations. Hobby machines usually come with a one year (or less) warranty, are made of mostly plastic parts, have smaller motors, smaller stitch size (4.5mm-6mm) and typical 10 year average life span as a home sewing machine. Keep in mind a lot of home sewers sew only occasionally and usually with light weight fabric like cotton. You'll find hobby machines at big box retail stores as well as many sewing machine dealerships.

On the other side of the spectrum are upper-line machines. Upper-lines usually come with 2 or more years warranty through a sewing machine dealership, have the major components made from metal rather than plastic, have bigger motors, bigger and wider stitches (9mm-40mm or more), can sew through heavier, multiple layers of fabric (such as 12 layers of denim and garment weight leather), have many more features and typical life expectancy of 20 years of home sewing.

For the first three-fourths of my life I sewed on a hobby type machine. Lots of sewing! These machines are good, but upper-line is so much better. I didn't realize this until I actually sat down and did some real sewing on an upper-line. Now I would never go back to a hobby, unless that was all that was left in the world - I certainly wouldn't give up sewing for lack of an upper-line machine!

When it comes to machines, my theory is: "You can get anything you want, you just have to pace yourself." Many dealerships have trade-up programs that allow you to move up to the next level in a manner that's a little easier on the pocketbook. It's worth checking out. In the meantime, no matter what machine you are currently working with . . . treat it well. Give it a good cleaning on a regular basis. Oil it every 8-10 hours or as called for in the manual. Don't sew over pins, and change your needle often. You'll enjoy sewing more when things are running smoothly. You can plan to trade-up to the next level when you make the opportunity happen. Your machine will reward you with many pleasurable sewing hours ahead.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pressing Scraps

Scraps for a future scrap quilt project.I've been spending some of my time pressing scraps found in a huge box during the de-cluttering. There were actually quite a few larger pieces taken out of the box and pressed first. What's left is mostly small strips and pieces. I'll be cutting them up over the weekend and store them for a future scrap quilt project. It will be nice to finally get these off my cutting table and pressing board. I'm beginning to feel it's an endless task. Thankfully I can see light at the end of this tunnel. :)

Tiki Guy TimeWhile I was pressing those scraps I thought it prudent to get two things going at once. I started up my Husquvarna Viking Designer 1 to work on an embroidery design. This Tiki guy will be made into a pillow once the embroidery portion is complete. I plan on adding some of the floral embroideries to either side. The designs are from the Anita Goodesign brand. This design package is called Man Pack. This will be going up for sale on my Etsy site just as soon as it is finished. I'm planning on making up several pillows and other stuff to post on Etsy over the next couple weeks. Check back for more details on the finished pillow.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Re-Vamping My Sewing Studio

I've made some great strides on re-vamping my sewing studio. The bulk of it is in place, now just to fine-tune some of the rest. I've got way more stuff than I need at this time. I managed to get rid of lots of excess 'stuff' that had been accumulating over the years. My last reorganization a year ago was more a matter of 'leveling' rather than 'purging' the old stuff. This time I threw out or gave away a lot of stuff that was taking up room. I want to get it down even more, so will continue to sort and purge as the summer months progress.

The last several days I've been taking a break from any sorting, purging and organizing. I've been fishing, boating, motorcycle riding, visiting with friends, etc. Now I'm refreshed and ready to tackle more of the clutter again. It's amazing what I've managed to stuff into these rooms and forget all about it over time. Lot's of stuff had not seen the light of day in years. Of course it was all stuff I felt I needed to save at the time, or just didn't want to make the decision at that time to get rid of it. Postponing that kind of decision has brought me to this major chore now. My thoughts now are more on simplifying and not hanging onto everything so much like has been my habit. I have to ask myself what am I saving this stuff for? I guess I'm ready to move on from so much of it now. Still . . . there's lots more to go through!

I've been working on sorting a huge box of scraps. I'm ironing and sorting by size and shape an accumulation of scraps in a wide variety of colors and patterns. These will all be cut up into 5 1/2" charm squares, 2 1/2" strips, or 3" and 4" squares. I'll just cut it all up for the time being so I'll have lots of color and pattern choices for another scrap quilt. I love scrap quilts! I've already amassed a variety of strips in different sizes to make up a string quilt or one of those stitch and flip scrappy quilts. It will take some serious sewing to get through the piles.

My quilting frame is set up in my new "Golden Yellow Room" that is freshly painted and carpeted. I have not loaded a quilt top onto it yet. I was looking through my collection of quilt tops and have several I figure I can practice on for my first attempts at quilting on the frame. I need to measure and prepare some backing fabric in order to do that. I also want to make up some frame leaders from canvas or some other sturdy fabric. I could purchase this, but since I have so much fabric on hand I think it would be more cost effective to look through my stash. That would also help wittle down on some of the excess. I know there is some heavier, sturdy fabric in the stash. It's just a matter of locating it. That will be one of my next projects once this box of scraps is taken care of and out of the way.