Getting caught up

So, it isn’t that I haven’t been sewing, because I have. And it isn’t that I don’t have anything to say, because I do. It’s because I’ve been so blasted busy, I just haven’t had time to post lately. Sorry about that. But now, let’s get caught up. 🙂

First things first – my son in law graduated at the beginning of this month from his AIT class, and is currently at home, working at the recruiting station until the middle of next week. Next week, he and my daughter will be moving to their permanent duty station, and while it’s not too far away from us, it’s still further from “home” than she’s ever lived. Add to that, their baby is due in the first part of July, and it’s been very hectic around here. Oh, and let’s not forget that we’re putting together a baby shower and going away party for them this coming weekend. It’s been CRAZY busy lately! But the baby quilt is finished, and we are ready for the party, so maybe once we get the kids moved to their new home  things will slow down for a few weeks? Yeah, I don’t think it will either.

Last week, I was working on Sarah’s quilt, which I haven’t talked about at all here. While she knows she’s getting a quilt, she doesn’t know anything about what the theme might be, or the colors or anything, because it’s a gift from her husband, Erik. All she does know about it is that there is some machine embroidery involved in the design (duh, what’s the good of having an embroidery machine if you’re not going to make good use of it?!?). And last week, while working on the quilt, I ran a sewing machine needle all the way through my finger. Yes, it hurt. Yeah, it was a stupid accident. Nope, I don’t think I’ll ever do that again. It caused me to head off to the doctor to get a tetanus shot, where I was asked when the last time was I actually got a tetanus shot. Do you know, I couldn’t even remember when that was? I’m figuring maybe as long ago as 25 years … but surely not, right? But then, it could be.

Also on and off the machine is the Green Eggs and Ham quilt. I’m using the time that I am upstairs but not sewing to put stars on it. Today, there should be quite a few stars going on it because I have to do some housework up there.

And finally, I’ve been planning my daughter and son in law’s wedding quilt. Hey, don’t blame me for it not being done yet! They moved the wedding up by a year, so how could I have made it in the three weeks I had between the time they announced their plans in August last year and the September 2013 wedding date?! But my goal is to have it done for them by Christmas this year. It’s a churn dash, using the same pattern as the Ugly Quilt, but with a black background and brightly colored churns. I’ve wanted to make this version of the quilt since I first started Ugly Quilt, and my daughter asked for it, so I cannot wait! I’m so excited about it!

Oh, one other thing – I figure that when my daughter has the baby, I’ll take my sewing machine with me and maybe do some home decorating things for her while the baby sleeps. I think she’ll really like some monogrammed towels, or nice guest hand towels with embroidery. Little home improvement bits that won’t break the bank, but that will make their new house a home.

Next week after the baby shower, I’ll try to post photos of how we set up and everything. 🙂

Shopping for a new machine

Like many large metro areas, Joann’s has started putting the large “super” type stores in my area. I like to go there and buy fabric, though for most other Joann’s purchases, I go to the less crowded store closer to my home. Our big Joann’s store has a space that is rented to a local machine dealer, who sells two major brands of machines in that space.

Yesterday, while in the big store buying fabric and thread to make some t-shirts (a post on that later), I overheard the following exchange in the rented area …

 

Sales lady – As you can see, this is the top of the line machine. You will never need another machine!

Customer – So, if I buy this machine, it won’t be obsolete in 13 years?

Sales lady – Absolutely not! These machines are built to last. And the technology is the latest, so it will still be in top working order in 13 years!  (I got dirty looks from the sales lady when I laughed at that one)

Customer – So, for $9,000 I get all of this? Including the software?

Sales lady – Yes! Isn’t that a great deal?

Customer – Does this price include upgrades?

Sales lady – Yes! You won’t find another deal like this anywhere!

 

Well, let’s hope that’s true.

I really hate it when I overhear conversations like this, because I know the sales person is there to, well, make a sale. But I hate seeing someone taken for a ride, particularly a $9,000 ride. When the customer asked how long the sale would last and the sales lady walked away, I slipped over and suggested that the customer do a little research on the internet, not least because $9,000 for the machine she was looking at was NOT a good deal, and it hasn’t been the top of the line for two generations.

But really, I couldn’t believe it when she asked if the machine would be obsolete in 13 years and the sales lady said with a straight face that it wouldn’t be. Seriously?? Let’s get real here, folks … if you buy a computer today, do you expect it to be obsolete in 13 years? Yes?? Then why in the name of all that is good and holy would you have a different expectation about a sewing machine that is, in fact, a COMPUTER? You may still be able to use it, and it may work just fine. But it will, indeed, be obsolete. Let’s try not to be naive here.

Furthermore, before buying anything that costs so much, be sure you do all your research on the internet. Look at the company’s website to ensure that you’re getting what the dealer is telling you the product actually is supposed to do and be (in this case, the whole top of the line thing). Read reviews and comments about the product you’re interested in buying. Take into consideration how many complaints there are about it, as well as the satisfied customers, and then try to balance the two. If there are problems, read about the customer service the person received – how long did repairs take, did they fix the problem and did that resolution satisfy the customer.

Educate yourself on every aspect of your purchase. In this particular case, the sales lady told the customer that the embroidery/digitizing software costs $2500 and that future upgrades are included. I know the software is expensive, but I am positive from my own experiences that the upgrades are not free. And, there are other options that are considerably less expensive that will do the same thing – and the upgrades for them ARE free, or nearly so.

And finally, don’t rely on brand name to tell you “all you need to know” because in this day and age, brand name means almost nothing. In every single category, consumers are finding that brand names they trusted 20, 30, 50 years ago are not the same quality they’ve been in the past. From slow cookers to sewing machines to cars, there are few products that haven’t seen changes in their quality – both good and bad. Take the time to become familiar with the current quality of a product before buying it.

I have two sewing machines that cost me several thousand dollars and I’m satisfied with both, but I did my homework and made sure I was getting not only a good product, but companies that would stand behind the purchases. I’ve not been disappointed, though had I gone with the brand the woman in Joann’s was considering, I surely would have been, based on the reports from customers around the world. Do the research, and THEN make your decision. Don’t be blinded by the fancy looks, the bright colors or the claims of a sales person. Decide on the features you need and avoid impulse purchases. But once you do make a decision and you get that nice new machine home, send me photos so I can drool with you!

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.

 

Football and Sewing Machines

I just watched the pre-season opener between the Houston Texans and the Carolina Jaguars, and I have to say I’m pretty happy with the outcome – the Texans took it, 26 to 13. And they were pretty classy about it too. At the end, when they could have easily scored again, they took a knee twice to run out the clock. Good game, guys! Can’t wait for the regular season to start, but next weekend there’s another pre-season game between the 49ers and the Texans. I’ll definitely be watching!

In other news, I went to look at some sewing machines today. First of all, let me say that I am definitely NOT a fan of the Pfaff machines. While it may seem silly to some, I don’t like the looks of the machines – all angular and it looks as if you could cut yourself on the sharp edges (you can’t, I tried). I also took a look at the Viking machines, but since they are no longer made in Sweden, they don’t have the same feel as they did five years ago. The guy I talked to suggested either the Brother (my personal favorite) or the Janome brand. He showed me the Brother Quattro2 6700, which was phenomenal. I mean, this thing can SCAN to find the location where you want to embroider on the hooped fabric, thanks to some handy little stickers that come with the machine. And if you put the sticker on off center, or tilted, or whatever … the machine will modify the design to fit however you want it to go on the fabric. It also has this really cool pen pad – you can write, draw or trace anything on it, and the machine digitizes it! This is a HUGE step up from the old days of having to use a computer and expensive software and a box to do such a thing. He had two or three of the refurbished 6700’s, and they cost $6700. Or, he was happy to sell me “last year’s model,” the 6000, for “just $6000.” [insert green sick smilie here]. Ugh … $6000 for a machine?!? I don’t think so!

He also showed me the 2800D, which is the upgraded version of the 2500D I sold a few weeks ago. It’s a really nice machine, and it is very much like the 2500D. It’s also $4300 … and I’m not really sure I am that into embroidery to pay that much for a machine. I mean, it’s nice and all, but I mostly do quilting, and the embroidery I do usually do isn’t all that big. So I came home to brood about it, and to talk it over with my husband. I mean, I’m not ready to buy a machine right now anyway, and I want to buy a machine that isn’t more than I actually need (you know, like I did the last time). Before I buy anything these days, I do a lot of research online. I mean, isn’t that what’s so great about the internet? You can find all sorts of information without ever leaving home. That doesn’t mean I make a decision before I leave home … well, not always … but it does give me the chance to know what I want to see when I go to look at something like a sewing machine. And this is what led me to the Brother Laura Ashley Innov-Is NX-2000. It is actually tailored to quilting, which is great, since that’s what I do the most. It has a look I like (if it had a color screen instead of monochrome I would be even happier), and it has something approaching 500 stitches included. Not only does it have a bazillion stitches, Brother claims it can stitch in multiple directions and it comes with all sorts of cool accessories – like a circular sewing attachment. I didn’t even know such a thing EXISTED, and now I feel like I have to have it. Yeah, I don’t know why either, but it sounds super cool.

I called a couple of shops, and found one that not only carries the machine and has one I can actually test drive, but the machine retails for around $2000. I couldn’t get an exact price, because you know, they aren’t supposed to tell you that stuff over the phone because it violates their dealer agreement (which I think it totally bogus, but whatever). But knowing that it’s around $2000 is helpful enough, because I think we can all agree that “around $2000″ is a heck of a lot less than $4300. And since it’s primarily meant to be used by quilters, I think it’s a good choice. I’ll go check it out next weekend and let you all know what I think.

And I’ve decided that if I do decide to go with the quilting machine, at some point I might decide to purchase an embroidery machine. If I do, I definitely won’t go for the $6000+ machines, but Brother makes several machines that are lower level with embroidery sizes up to 5″ x 7” that are less than $1000. I can live with that for sure.

I had planned to get out and shoot some photos this morning, but I didn’t get to bed until 4 am, and I wasn’t getting up at 6 am to go out. I’m going to try again tomorrow … we’ll see how that works. Hopefully I’ll be able to sleep tonight and I’ll have some photos to post tomorrow or Monday.

Until the next time … keep on doing whatever it is that makes you happy, so long as it isn’t illegal, immoral or unethical! 😉

It’s a girl’s perogative to change her mind … or is it?

A while back, I decided I was tired of sewing & quilting and that I was going to get rid of everything I owned that has anything to do with the hobby. I listed my Janome serger (which never got used after I bought it) and my Brother Innov-is 2500D (which didn’t get nearly enough use) on Craigslist in a moment of complete clarity … or was it total insanity? The world may never know … sadly, I may never know either because both sold pretty quickly and are gone from my life forever.

This weekend, I began to feel the twinge. Anyone who sews will know exactly what I mean … that moment when you feel a sewing machine calling your name, ever so softly at first, almost like a whisper. Then, it progresses to a low voice, and then before you know it, the sewing machine is DEMANDING your time, making you it’s slave. I’ve seen it happen to others – my mom, for instance – and I’ve experienced it first hand. In the end, it’s a feeling that cannot be denied. But, what’s a girl to do when she’s sold her machines and feels that calling? Well, she pulls out the stand by machine she hung onto … or the machine that doesn’t seem to work quite right, in an attempt to figure out what might be wrong with it. I am a trailblazer – I did both.

I am a big fan of Brother machines, and I have been ever since I bought my PC-8500, used, from a dealer. Before I bought it, I had a Viking Rose, which was nice, but with which I had no chemistry. Yes, I said chemistry. I believe that, like people, we can have a chemistry with sewing machines. No, I’m not kidding. I had the Rose for a year, and rarely ever used it. It was a very nice machine, to be sure, but I didn’t care much for it once I got it home. I can’t tell you what specifically about it I didn’t like, I can only tell you that I didn’t like to use it. When I bought the PC-8500, though, I fell in love. It was like a musical instrument in my hands – I could make that baby sing! We created beautiful music … errr, quilts … together. I have photos to prove it. Don’t believe me? Let me show you one example …

 

Now, you may not agree, but I think it was a beautiful quilt (I gave it to my grandmother, by the way).

Anyway, I had taken it (the machine, not the quilt) to be cleaned a few years ago, and the guy who cleaned it a) was someone I had once dated once or twice; b) didn’t act like he recognized me; and c) totally screwed up my beloved machine! It took him AGES to get it ready for me to pick up, claiming this issue and that. When I finally got it home, it sewed beautifully for a while, then it was a mess. Really, that’s about all I remember of it, primarily because it’s been like four years, and also because I was so mad, and so disappointed, I wanted to go back and beat the guy up. Anyway, I put it in the closet, pulled out my $200 Walmart Brother machine and went on. A few weeks later, I found the Innov-is 2500D and had to have it – I got a really good deal on a refurbished one, and I brought it home and loved it. But I digress …

Anyway, I pulled out the 8500 yesterday and did some testing on it, and what I discovered was that if I don’t use the thread cutter, the machine is fine. It sews beautifully until I try to use the thread cutter, then something horrible happens and it goes all to hell. For now, I will use it without the thread cutter – I have about a bazillion pairs of small scissors anyway and I’m sure they would enjoy the workout.

Tonight I used the 8500 to fix a blanket that has special significance to my husband, and it did great. I have several quilts that need to be put together, and a few that need to be finished … and I still hear that machine calling my name, and it’s getting louder and louder. The real question is … shouldn’t I start researching which sewing machine to buy in March, when I get my bonus? 😀