I may be a nerd

But at least I’m an organized nerd.

IMG_1306

With three machines, all different brands, I had to come up with a way to keep up with the feet, bits and pieces for each one of them. So I went to the sporting goods store to find something, and I came up with these boxes. They are shallow, which is perfect for machine feet, screws, and other small pieces. Right now, I’m using Plano series 3600 & 3700 stowaway boxes, and I have to say that I prefer the larger 3700 series for this purpose. Eventually, I’ll switch all of the machines over to the bigger box size, but right now only the Pfaff Creative 4.5 accessories are stored in the 3700.

In other news, I will be starting a new project on Monday. I am going to start the muslin process for this blouse. B5300

My plan is to combine the bodice from view C with the sleeves from view A. I would like it to be slightly fitted, but my primary concern is making sure it fits through the bust apex and the stomach. I have a stomach that’s too large, and it’s a bit of a challenge to find blouses that fit both my upper chest and my stomach and avoiding the gaping apex. I don’t do a lot of shopping because … well, I actually hate shopping for clothing; it’s never been one of my favorite things to do. But I did make a swing through Macy’s women’s department, and noticed that the big color this year is coral. And denim seems to be big, too, but right now I’m focused on the coral thing. I will need to hunt up some coral colored fabric, but I have some time, and I’m not sure that I even want to make this particular top in coral, but I digress. What I really need right now is a good white button down blouse, which seems to be impossible to find.

I will be utilizing Nancy Zieman’s book, Pattern Fitting with Confidence to help me make the adjustments to my pattern. I may also be referring to the Craftsy course , Fitting Solo by Linda Lee. I found it to be very informative when I watched it but I haven’t had a chance to use the knowledge I gained from the course. Fortunately for me, both of these sources follow very similar processes.

I will post photos and information on my progress next week. ūüėÄ

Better late than never

On New Year’s Eve, I posted about making weekly goals that I want to accomplish. While I didn’t accomplish much on that list, I did manage to do a fair amount of sewing during the week. I am happy to be able to report that the binding for the fleece jacket is 3/4 done. I am hoping to get it finished by tomorrow night; I would be working on it right now, but there is a wicked western sun coming through the window right where I would be sitting to sew, so I’m waiting for it to go down. Clearly, I need to replace the non-functional Venetian blinds at that window with something that actually works.

In other news, this followed me home last Tuesday …

My new toy, which somehow managed to just follow me home ...

My new toy, which somehow managed to just follow me home …

It wasn’t in the plan to buy a new machine; I had stopped by to take a look at what they had to offer, because the one year anniversary of my Viking Opal 690Q purchase is approaching, and I had until that date to trade it in and get the full purchase price credited toward another new machine, at MSRP. Now, I’ve been watching the machines since I bought the Opal, and let me tell you that it’s not always the best idea to trade in a machine against MSRP, because many times, new machines are marked down more than the amount the trade would give you. And that would have been no different with this machine. In fact, I got an outstanding deal on this machine, paying about half MSRP. It was a machine used at the Houston Quilt Show back in November for classes, but this machine had almost no time on it. It came with the small embroidery unit, which is still a very generous 10″ x 6″-ish size. Down the road, I might just upgrade to the large unit, which has an embroidery area bigger than 14″ square.

This is the machine I’ve been using the do the binding on the fleece jacket, and I will say that I’m thoroughly impressed with the IDT on this machine. Attaching the binding has been a much easier process than I was anticipating on the other two machines I have, and I am very happy with this purchase. But I have to tell you, that really wasn’t the case when I first brought it home. In fact, I wasn’t sure what I was doing the whole time I was making the purchase. When I got it home, I let it sit in the middle of the studio for a while before I unpacked it. Then I let it sit on the table for a few days before I used it. Oh, I ran a couple of sample lines of stitching on a scrap piece of fabric to be sure it would at least do that, but I didn’t actually use it until Friday. And from that first line of stitching, I knew that I would love this machine. But until then, I was pretty much freaking out, which is why very little was done on my list last week – I just couldn’t keep my mind on anything but trying to figure out what I’d do if this machine turned out to be a mistake (my dealer doesn’t allow returns). I’m very happy to report that it isn’t a mistake. Yay!

I will do a full review of this machine once I’ve had it for a while and used it, but right now I will say that I foresee this being my go-to machine for difficult fabrics. The IDT is making the fleece a breeze, so I imagine it will have similar results on other difficult fabrics. The Opal didn’t do so hot on the fleece; the Brother did fine, but the Pfaff just sang. I can’t wait to really put this machine through it’s paces and see what she can do!

Stay tuned … ūüôā

Catching Up

I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been working on several things over the last few weeks, and time just got away from me. But it’s been a busy month, even though I don’t have a lot of “progress” to share. In no particular order, here’s what I’ve been up to lately …

  1. Craftsy.com had a promotion for the month of October where you could sign up for a set price and have access to all their classes. Of course, I had to sign up and I’ve been watching classes on cooking, sewing, machine embroidery, baking, and other great subjects. I heard about this on PatternReview.com, and I understood that it was a test environment to see if a subscription service would be viable. I also heard that the people who were invited got an email with one of¬†three price points – $9.99, $14.99 and $19.99. I signed up for the $9.99 price point, but I would have no problem paying $14.99 a month for unlimited access to Craftsy courses. At the $19.99 price, I’d have to give it some thought, but overall, that’s still a great value. With the subscription, you don’t retain access to the courses you take after your subscription lapses, but overall, I think it’s a great way to explore new skills.
  2. I really am getting desperate for some new clothes. Last month, I went through my closet and made a list of the basics that I really need – some blouses (not pull over tops, but real blouses with buttons), a lightweight jacket, a pair of slacks or two, and a few other things. I started pulling together fabrics and patterns to make these items, and the first one is underway – a fleece jacket made from Simplicity 2208, view A. I’ve never worked with fleece, or plaid, and I’ve never made a jacket, but I’ve been told this particular pattern is fairly easy, so I’m hoping to have it done before the cooler weather hits Houston next week (according to Eric Berger at the Houston Chronicle). I finished tracing off the pattern last night and I’m hoping to start laying it out on the fabric tonight.
  3. I’ve been doing some research on sewing cabinets for my Viking Opal 690Q. I know a lot of people really like the Ikea tables for their sewing machines, but I am not one of those people. In fact, I really have an intense dislike for it. My Opal doesn’t get used nearly as often as I want to use it because to me, it’s just an awkward set up. I guess I’m just too used to the Horn of America cabinet I have for the Brother DreamCreator VM5100. Right now, I really like the Kangaroo K8605. I would totally go back to Horn, but they seem to have moved primarily to electric motors for their cabinets instead of hydraulic lift, and the prices have skyrocketed as a result. I don’t NEED an electric motor and it’s just unnecessary cost.
  4. I’ve been doing a little free motion quilting (FMQ) practice, trying to decide between the Brother and the Viking. I think both do a really good job with the FMQ, but the Brother has a much better set up, and the throat is wider, so it makes sense to use it over the Viking. I really want to spend more time doing this, because I would like to finish the Cat in the Hat quilt that’s just sitting here. You may remember, if you’ve been reading for a while, that I started to do FMQ on this quilt back when I still had the Janome. Yes, the Janome that’s been gone for more than a year now … /blush

So, you can see that I’ve not been sitting around eating spoonfuls of whipped cream or peanut butter, watching tv and neglecting the sewing room. There HAS been activity, but nothing that I deemed exciting enough to share. I’m just not one of those people who turns out a new garment every night, or who makes massive leaps in quilting on a daily basis. I am trying to make an effort to get into the studio every day for at least half an hour, and I’ve been surprised by how much actually gets done when you spend thirty minutes in there every day.

Hopefully, I’ll have some photos to share on the jacket construction by the weekend. And I’ve thought about a series that documents my progress by spending at least thirty minutes in the studio each day. Maybe I’ll start that this weekend … hmmm. Watch this space for the beginning of that series!

Sewing Machine Review: Brother DreamCreator VM5100

Brother VM 5100 Dream Creator

Brother VM 5100 Dream Creator – AKA George

I’ve been sewing on George, my new Brother DreamCreator VM5100 for almost three months now, and I’m ready to talk about¬†my initial impressions. Keep in mind I still have some things I want to try out with the machine, but I’ve done a fair amount of piecing on it already (I’ve pieced¬†two 70″-ish square top on it in the twelve¬†weeks or so since I’ve had it). What I haven’t really done much of is free motion quilting, though I’ve done a good deal of embroidery on it. So with those disclaimers … here we go.

This is my fourth Brother sewing machine. The first one was my PC-8500 which was purchased used, the second was a Brother SQ-9050 I bought at Walmart and the third one was a “refurbished” 2500D. I still have all but the 2500D, and I’m still kicking myself for selling it in 2012. I would love to have that machine back, but that’s not going to happen. As a matter of disclosure and if you’re uaware, I also have a Janome 8900 that I purchased in February 2013. Up until I purchased George, the Janome (Ricco, by name) was my primary machine. Since I bought George, however, Ricco has seen almost NO sewing time. More on this in another post.

I brought George home and unpacked him almost immediately. Since it had been nearly two years since I’ve had an embroidery machine, I decided to give embroidery a go first. Of course, I first had to buy embroidery thread (I’d let all mine go with the 2500D), and then I found a design to use on the Green Eggs and Ham quilt I’m working on for my friend Julie. This embroidery design is meant to be the quilting. This is actually one design, stacked to be embroidered twice.

Star Overload

 

So far, the embroidery I’ve done with this machine has been wonderful!

But what I’m REALLY thrilled with is the stitching this machine does. It is so nice and pretty! I mentioned earlier that I’ve put together an entire quilt top on the machine in the weeks since I got it, and the machine really sung through the whole thing. I did run into a small problem, as one of the blocks in the quilt was a pinwheel, and George sort of bogged down where all the seams intersect, but I did a little reading, made a few adjustments to the automatic height adjustment (the machine’s default from the factory is to have that feature turned off), and voila! No more problems. In my research, I found that the little black button on the side of the J foot is actually there to be pressed in to help you get over those tougher seams. In more than 10 years of sewing, I never knew that. When I told my mom about it, who’s been sewing for more than 40 years, she didn’t know it either, so I didn’t feel so bad. LOL

The machine comes with a good variety of feet, including a 1/4″ foot with a guide. However, I’ve found that I much prefer the J foot and the use of the 1-29 stitch, which makes the perfect quarter inch seam. The reason why I like the J foot over the 1/4″ foot is that the feed dogs don’t make enough contact with the sole of the 1/4″, whereas the J foot’s sole is making full contact with the feed dogs. It really makes for a much more even feed and a lot fewer problems with fabric shifting.

In the three months I’ve had George, he and I have made a quilt top, made a pair of elastic waist dress pants, a couple of t-shirts, and repairs to a pair of my husband’s jeans. In every case, George has really done a fabulous job. I couldn’t be more happy about his performance.

The only thing I was not really happy about – and this is totally my fault – is that I didn’t do enough research before I bought this machine. If I had been more thorough, I would have chosen the Brother DreamWeaver VM6200D instead of the VM5100 for two reasons. First, when I bought my machine, the difference in price between the two at my particular dealer was about $1100. I thought I didn’t need the laser seam guide nor the V-Sonic pen, which seemed to me to be the primary differences

between the two machines. There were also two other feet included with the 6200D – the MuVit digital dual feed foot, and a droplight embroidery positioning marking foot. I was told the cost of each of these feet were about $150 each. To be clear, this information did NOT come from the dealer where I purchased my machine, but when I actually got my machine home and decided I wanted the MuVit foot, I found the cost is actually $400. The droplight foot is about $250. If I’d known that two features I did want would cost me $650, I would have just paid the extra $1100 and gotten ALL the extra features at once. But overall I am very happy with my machine – so happy, in fact, that I’m considering adding another one next year.

Really, three months isn’t long enough to give a full review, so I’ll post another review in a year or so, once George and I have been able to get even more familiar with each other. But I want to spread the word that this machine is FABULOUS, and if there’s anyone on the fence about buying it, DO IT. You will NOT regret it!

Confessions of a Quiltaholic

I am a stasher. Yes, that’s a little like a hoarder. I buy fabric even when I have no definite plans for it, to be used at some “future time.” I’ve done this since I first started quilting about 10 years ago, and I can’t see myself stopping now. Last month, I added more than twenty yards to my stash. Some of the fabrics, I’ve been coveting for MONTHS. I fell in love with one piece in particular,¬†the first time I saw it, but I was practicing “restraint.” I don’t know why, really, but I thought I should limit my fabric purchasing. Silly girl! Don’t you know you can’t forget a fabric love? Well, I know that now, so when I headed to that shop for something else, I had my fingers crossed that they might still have some. They did!

I have more pairs of scissors than one girl should be allowed to have (last count, 10), and more rotary cutters than I could ever use (eight). I have one Craftsman tool chest drawer half filled with thread, and boxes of thread on my storage shelf.

I currently have six¬†machines – the Janome 8900, a Brother PC-8500, a Viking #1+ (that is technically my mom’s machine, but … ) and a Brother SQ-9050 I bought from Walmart a few years ago. I also have a White serger They all get used. I¬†added¬†a new machine in March, the Brother DreamCreator VM5100, which is seeing a LOT of use. I love it already.

I have two cutting tables – one for actual cutting, and one I use for various other things – pinning quilts, sorting fabrics, and other quilty type things.

I have one sewing cabinet where the DreamCreator hangs out, and a small Ikea table for the Janome. I’m considering buying a new cabinet next year …

My studio is actually part of my master bedroom. Since the master is H U G E, it isn’t crowded or in any way difficult to work or sleep in. However, I still dream of a dedicated studio that’s at least the size of my current bedroom. Right now, I have a king size bed, a dresser, two end tables, a love seat, a 40″ tv with stand, an ironing board, a set of Elfa wire drawers, a Horn of America 3180 cabinet, a Craftsman tool chest, and a set of nine cubbies in the room. I could put another 3180 cabinet and set up the second cutting table in the room and still have space to move around and not feel too crowded.

I keep trying to convince my husband that we should move our bed into the spare bedroom and let me use the master as the studio. He’s reluctantly agreed, but I really think that’s something I will wait to do once my son is out on his own in a few years.

I sew more days than I don’t, even if it’s just to do a couple of small things. I would sew more, but I like spending time with my husband and he likes being in the living room where he’s more comfortable. I tried to get him to let me move my studio downstairs and he didn’t like that idea either. And truthfully, as loudly as he has the surround sound sometimes, I’m not sure I would want to be down here either.

There’s lots more I could confess, but a woman can’t give away all her secrets! Well, not all at one time, anyway. ūüėČ

March Update

It’s been a crazy month in the studio. First off, I bought a new machine, a Brother DreamCreator VM 5100 which I named George. He’s a beauty. I’m really happy with the stitch quality, and the extra space in the harp is just so great. That makes two machines that I now have with a harp that’s at least 11″ and I doubt that I can ever go back to a “regular” sized machine because they all seem so small.

Secondly, I am still working on the Green Eggs & Ham quilt, and there is progress. The top is completely put together, the quilt is sandwiched and I started the “quilting” late last week. I’m using George to put stars on the quilt, both in the blocks and on the sashing.

Star Overload

Quilting detail

Green Eggs and Hame 1

 

I’ve also started another quilt, one that cannot currently be discussed because it’s a gift for someone. I wasn’t really pleased with it at first, but I’ve worked out a better plan for it, so I’ll get that going this evening.

The great thing about having George and Ricco (my Janome 8900) is that I can have George putting stars on the GE&H quilt and I can piece on Ricco. I’m VERY happy with this set up, though Ricco needs to go into the shop for a cleaning. When that happens, I’ll use either the Viking #1+ or one of the other Brother machines I have. See, having multiple machines is a great thing, and progress doesn’t stop when one has to go to the shop!

George

In March, I was able to add a new member to my family. I am so excited to introduce George, a Brother DreamCreator VM5100.

 

Brother VM 5100 Dream Creator

Brother VM 5100 Dream Creator

I am soooooo happy to have an embroidery machine back on the active list, I could just dance. I have been putting him through his paces, so I’ll be posting a full review at some point in the future. For now, my initial impressions are that I love this machine! It sews beautifully, and the embroidery is awesome.