Archive for July, 2009

Still Stitching
July 31, 2009

I am learning a lot about sewing decorative stitches. I wish I would have done this earlier. Decorative stitches on the sewing machine do not always stitch like one would expect and that alone has kept me from using them on garments. Here are a few things that I figured out.

#1 The fine tuning knob should be employed to line up stitches as a last resort. First try the stitch with the needle up. I know, I know, it is so much nicer to stitch with the needle down. Just try it. If it makes a difference in the quality of the stitch then putting the needle down manually is the price I am willing to pay.

#2 Instead of trying to re-stitch little mess ups on the machine, it is so much easier just to fix them by hand. A few minutes of hand-embroidery is so much better than ripping out machine stitches that do not line up. I put in a half motif by hand after I ran out of bobbin thread mid-row and had to start again. Also I fixed some places that were slightly off just by pulling the two miss-aligned stitches together. My hand embroidery practice is paying off.

#3 Some stitches need a little guidance through the machine. A few stitches I could never get to look right just letting the machine have its way. Now as they stitch I actually gently guide the fabric along with the machine. Gently, very, very, gently is the best way. It makes the sewing more fun too.

#4 When I go a little off course, which tends to happen to daydreamers like me, single stitched lines in the design are the best place to bend the decorative stitch back into place. Never do it in the middle of a satin stitch part, or a part that will be backstitched over. In a satin stitch part there will be a space between the stitches and with backstitching the two rows won’t line up.

#5 This is obvious, but I messed up doing this. Make sure nothing will stop the fabric out the back of the machine, or that the weight hanging down in front will keep the fabric from moving. I wondered why the ends of my rows always had mistakes. My project was hitting some junk I left on the table in back of the machine. Duh.

I finally found an acceptable red poplin for the lining. I am going to put black piping in the seams so the reds won’t actually touch. The ties will be black grosgrain ribbon.



Carol Taylor Quilt
July 30, 2009

I think this quilt is so pretty, so I wanted to share a photo. The quilt is by Carol Taylor of Beaumont, Texas. She named it “My Happy Quilt”. It is hand quilted. I love the colors and the various fabrics she chose. Each octagon is a work of art. The border is pretty too.


The Sewing Machine
July 29, 2009

Sod House & Sewing Machine

If I had a Series 8 Bernina 830 I probably wouldn’t put it out on the front yard like Mrs. Blair did here with her sewing machine. Instead I would move the love seat from in front of the living room window and put it there. I finally understand the why a woman would pose her family with a sewing machine.

I could love the 830 that much. It has so many wonderful features. I have been lurking in a few Bernina forums and the reasons some of the ladies have given to justify spending so much on a sewing machine are very creative. Some compared it to their husband’s toys such as motorcycles and boats. One even calculated the compound interest on the cost of a top of the line Bernina thirty years ago. Since I didn’t buy one then, I should have that much in the bank. Right?….. The reasons I could comfortably use justify the expense do not exactly apply to me. One is for business, and the second if I were to make quilts for competition. I think many of the award winning quilts are sewn on this type of machine. It would almost be a necessity to compete. I was thinking if I did have one in my living room maybe I could rent out time on it to other seamstresses like me who want to play on it, but also do other crafts. That was one thought going through my head after viewing all the wonderful features this machine offers people who like to sew.

# 1 Dual Feed. It isn’t a walking foot instead the pressure foot actually feeds the fabric through just like the feed dogs. It would be great for slinky fabrics. Those always seem to take forever to sew because of the concentration needed to keep the seam from stretching out. It would be nice to have the extra help.

#2 BSR. The Bernina stitch regulator. Keeps stitches even during free-motion sewing. This is another robotic type feature that uses sensors to gain stitch control. Wow, even stitches moving the fabric around in any direction and at any speed.

#3 Jumbo Bobbin.

#4 360 Degree Sewing. The machine will stitch in any direction in 1 degree increments. Perfect when it would be hard to turn a bulky item. I can think of multiple times when it would have been so great to just be able to sew at a slight angle because the fabric just didn’t want to move the way I wanted it to.

#5 Auto Bobbin Winder. I know other machines have this. My Elna doesn’t and I miss it from my days sewing on industrial machines.

#6 Tassels. There is a stitch that makes little tassels on the edge of the fabric. It is so cute. There are also embroidered tassels that would oh-so-chic adorning my holiday table linen.

#7 All the other stuff I haven’t mentioned. There is so much more, I could go on and on.

As I mentioned yesterday the price for the Bernina 830 at the quilt festival was $10,000. Well, the festival special was a full size quilting frame to go with it for a mere $2,000 more. I think that would look nice where the sofa is, don’t you?


The Sewing Machines
July 28, 2009

First off, I am not buying a $10,000 sewing machine. Do I want one? Yes, Yes, and Yes. Do I need one? No…. The technology is amazing. I explored the Brother Quattro, the BabyLock Ellisimo, and the new Bernina 830. There is an old Bernina by the same number, which is a little confusing when searching through forum posts. I didn’t get to sew on any machine, just watch. I think it is because the machines are so complicated that at least a mini lesson is needed. Also the dealers wanted to show off the features which is easier to show by doing. I asked tons of questions, though I still have more.

The Quattro and Ellisimo are basically the same machine, being manufactured in the same factory. See the photos below. Each comes with different embroidery designs. The biggest draw to the Brother machine is the Disney designs, and the Ellisimo because it is a BabyLock. Babylock makes the best sergers, so it has a reputation for quality. I am not saying that the Brother machines are not the same quality, just the reputation of the company name isn’t the same.

Here are the things I noticed that these 2 machines have that the Bernina 830 does not: (if I am wrong please let me know, I could easily have missed something)

#1 Needle camera. This is a robotic feature, at least that is what I am calling it. It will keep the stitching a set distance from the cut edge. It is really cool to watch the machine sew automatically around a curvy edge. It will also look for a sticker to place embroidery. After finding the sticker the computer orients the design to sew exactly the way the sticker is placed in any direction. So hooping doesn’t have to be straight.  You can also magnify the view and make sure your needle is exactly where you want to start stitching. Great for matching seam lines.

#2 There is a manual pressure foot lifter along with the pushbutton lifter and a knee lift. Bernina eliminated the manual lift.

#3 Drop in bobbin.

#4 Print and Stitch. I think this is only on the Quattro. You can design things where the background is printed on fabric in a printer and then stitch the rest of the design on the sewing machine. The whole composition is visible on the LCD screen. This would be great for fabric Art Journals and ATC cards.

#5 Ability to design stitches in the machine. There are 3 USB ports to use. One can be used to hook up a computer mouse to the machine. I think you can use the mouse to choose stitches too, though I am not sure about that.

#6 Price. The Quattro was $8,000 at the festival, the Ellisimo was closer to $9000, and the Bernina 830 was $10,000. The reason I call all these machines $10,000 machines is the optional, necessary, design software adds another $1000 to the price. Then there are all the other little notions, like bigger hoops and novelty feet for special effects.

#7 Border hoop option. I do not think the Bernina has one. This makes it easy to embroider close to the edge, especially for nice quilting. Might be nice for jacket fronts too.

I liked both of these machines, it would be hard to pick one over the other. The Ellisimo had some really pretty embroidery designs but we are a Disney family. I think the Quattro is being advertised as a multi-craft machine. The web site shows how to do paper punching for scrapbooks and card making on the machine. I don’t know it the other machines can de-select the thread awareness and stitch without thread to do that.

My 2 quibbles with both machines are a 7mm utility stitch width, I think the Bernina is 9mm, and that the right (10″) “harp” area is 2 inches shorter than the Bernina (12″).

I didn’t really talk to the Viking dealers, since I will be working with our local dealer. I did ask the festival price on the Viking Diamond and was told it was $6500. Quite a bit less than these 3 top of the line machines. It is a great machine too. If I was only looking to replace my Elna I would look at the Vikings also. I was more interested in these 3 particular machines.  I was curious why they are so expensive.

Here are the photos. They are just snapshots, but you can see how similar these two machines look. The Quattro is dark blue on top and the Ellisimo is gold. I think I will call it a day and write about the what I loved about the Bernina 830 tomorrow.


This post is a bit long and I feel it is a little more incoherent than usual. I am excited to see all the advancements since the last time I shopped for a sewing machine.

The Vendors
July 27, 2009

There were about 250 vendors at the Quilt Festival. I saw so many lovely fabrics, patterns, notions, yarns, ribbons, beads and $10,000 sewing machines. Those I will write about tomorrow. I set a hundred dollar limit on myself and it was easy to stick to since I was trying to figure out a way to afford one of those sewing machines. I stayed within budget even with our exorbitant LA County sales tax. A few clover sewing notions, one bag pattern, and batik fabric strips to make it with were enough to satisfy my shopping appetite.


For the knitters there were yarns. Novelty yarns are also used in quilting for decorative embellishment. So one could buy whole skeins or even just a few yards of some of the more expensive yarns. I really thought hard about buying a box of the novelty yarns badly photographed below. I thought it would be fun to knit something with lots of little bits of coordinated yarns. Each box was over a hundred dollars so I passed on it. I felt a little funny photographing in the vendors booths. Maybe by next year I wont be so self conscious. The prettier sweaters are around the corner where I thought I would be too obvious.


I have seen the recycled silk fabric yarns in catalogs. I didn’t realize how soft the yarn would be. Just like a worn cotton shirt is softer than a new one, worn silk has the same comfy softness. Those skeins were tempting too.