Sunday, March 28, 2010

2010 - March - New Machines!

Oh, my goodness gracious, I bought two machines! Each of them came with a 6-hour "machine" introductory class, plus 3 years of 1/month sewing project/classes. (That's 74 classes all together. So it's back to 'school' for me!)

My first computerized sewing machine is a BabyLock Espire (Quilter's Dream Series). It does quite a number of stitches I never knew I needed, plus decorative stitches which look like embroidery. (You can't call it embroidery though--it doesn't have a "hoop"!)

It is FABULOUS! Perfect tension on the stitches, automatic threading and cutting, automatic bobbin winding and stopping, sewing without using the foot or knee pedal, automatic buttonholes, automatic tie-tacks, the list goes on... (and I think it might serve me breakfast if I can figure out how to tell it to do so!)

I have already found very useful a number of those stitches 'I never knew I needed'! yipee!

And a 6-year old, refurbished BabyLock Evolve serger which has automatic threading! (Am I in heaven??? after spending two hours at a whack pouring over diagrams, threading and re-threading my old Bernette, it feels like it!) The Evolve can do everything the new Evolution can do except one decorative "wave" stitch, which I can't imagine ever using anyway.

The Evolve can use up to 8 spools of thread. (I doubt I'll ever do that, but I regularly use 6 spools, even though they tell me 4 is sufficient and 5 is definitely enough. I got used to my 4-spool serger's stitches, and now that I've added the chain stitch for the seam, I prefer to retain the security of the 4-thread overlock stitching. However, on light weight knits I might use only 5 spools to have less potential for stiffness or buckling.)

In class they showed us using just the 4-thread overlock for seams, but my old one pulls apart a little at the seams when you do that. It looks very ugly and makes me think the garment will fall apart, so Miss Nail-it-Down likes 6-spool serging!

I got both my daughters' inexpensive machines (which I had been using) repaired and maintained. I happily gave up my old Singer which hadn't worked for several years, but I was very sad to find that my Singer Featherweight could not be repaired. I was NOT, however, sad to see the departure of my buttonhole attachment!

Of course I had to get cutting boards, rotary cutters, quilting rulers, and all sorts, not to mention they told me NEVER to use Coats and Clarks threads in my Espire (I only have 100-200 spools of it!). I tried to comply, but I've reached a compromise. I will use C&C when I need an EXACT match for top stitching, etc. (I just can't deal with a less than perfect match.) Otherwise, I will stick to my new Aurifil. And I will vacuum EVERYTHING very frequently. So far I'm doing well.

I needed extra feet for the serger, and embroidery threads... you know how it goes! Major investment time!

Of course, each new class is another bunch of $ for patterns, fabric, and supplies...

I prefer to sew mostly "by inspiration", and my inspirations often "hit" when it is not convenient to go to the store, so I like having most of what I could conceivably need on hand so I can do whatever I want whenever I want. Sometimes I simply stand and ponder my inventory, which stimulates my creativity--and sometimes cute things happen!

And I've lost some sleep because I kept waking up with new designs for stuff in my dreams, but it's so much fun!!! Now if I just had time to sew....


P.S.: I really should share the data on the best iron I've EVER owned!

I read a bunch of reviews and the consensus was that an iron needs to weigh at least 4 pounds for good results. I bought the most highly recommended. I found a deal for $89, as I recall. After using this one for maybe 8 years, I absolutely concur!

One also needs great control over the "steam" and "spray" functions of the iron. This one gives the greatest surge of steam I've ever seen, and sprays really well, too.

It is a Rowenta Professional Luxe (DM-80)

Not every Rowenta fills these specs, so do your research on current models.

It automatically shuts off fairly quickly, but re-heats amazingly fast! It has no "off" switch; you unplug it at the wall, which may be a German safety feature. That took a bit of getting used to, but I do think it is safer than a switch. Anytime I walk into the room I can readily see whether or not it is unplugged.

Friday, March 5, 2010

2010 - Play Clothes for Summer

Then I was off! Outfits came flying from the machines. Here are some of them.

Capris (more like pedal pusher length)

Denim shorts with decorative stitching around the bottom

Close-up of 2-spool decorative stitching

More decorative stitching to do two jobs: mark the front so she puts them on the right way around and to stabilize the elastic so it won't roll

This has turned out to be the favorite so far

with matching capris (almost full length, so she can wear them 2 years)

two pairs of capris which match several things

such as this top (made from her great grandma's long-ago top scraps)

and this sundress

Close-up of the puffy pockets I designed for the sundress. I could not find a way to sew them on with a machine, so I tried to nail them down by hand (something I really try to avoid).