Friday, April 29, 2011

no lights...

I returned home from my crazy week of travel, Monday and Tuesday in Butler, PA then Wednesday evening and Thursday in Dayton, OH and then an all day meeting today in Chicago. I got home from my meeting a couple hours early and the first thing on my mind was ohhhh, I can have a couple hours just to myself in the sewing room. Some time to unwind and get my creative juices flowing, a little me time in the sewing room usually lifts my spirits.

Well, I went to flip the switch for the lights on and the switch was like a wet noodle. It did nothing, no satisfying click of the switch, no lights, nothing. I was so disappointed. After my crazy week I should not have been surprised but damn, I wanted to play.

I decided to clean house a bit and took care of all the vacuuming and straightening up instead. I now have my trusty little handy man book out so I can fix the light switch tomorrow. right... I mean so Rick can fix my light switch. Pretty funny when I think about it, If it was the light switch to any other room in the house I would not have cared at all. I can navigate in the dark! But the sewing room.... Noooooooo!!!

No sewing, No barn, busy week = cranky steph

Monday, April 25, 2011

No time for the sewing room...

so, I brought the sewing room with me on the road to Butler, PA! Well, not literally. I did bring a pattern with me that I needed to cut out and mark up.

I packed the pattern, a small pair of scissors, a marker and an extra measuring tape in a gallon ziploc in my suitcase. After dinner I spent some time double checking my measurements, reading the pattern directions, cutting out my pattern pieces and jotting down any necessary and interesting notes.

The pattern is for a button down shirt with a variety of sleeve designs. I have been looking for a good basic button down shirt. I have a couple different patterns to play with. This one is the easiest of the designs. No back yoke, shaping is done mostly via shaped side seams and darts in the back. I have a similar store bought shirt of this design that I really like except for the fit over my hips. I am hoping to be able to take core of the fitting with this shirt. The neckline is the type of an open 'v' until where the buttons start. So it is a bit more feminine than a traditional button up.

When I get some time at home I will compare the measurements of the shirt I like to the pattern pieces and make any adjustments. I was debating on making a muslin. I have plenty of extra fabric that I think I will use an inexpensive piece of fabric from my stash as the muslin. Worst come to worst I can always use it as a gardening shirt!

This is a good way for me to bring some sewing fun with me on the road, gives me something to do in the hotel room, and keeps me more productive when I get back into my sewing room.

And a great big THANKS to my MOM for all her encouragement. I love you mom :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

sewing clothes

I have been thinking about why I have not really been sewing any clothes lately. Tons of accessories and such, but no clothes. I love sewing my own clothes, I love picking out patterns, playing with lines, changing details, etc... 

I have a pile of patterns that I want to make, and fabric to go along with them. However, after thinking long and hard about it, I have decided that my lack of garment sewing has every thing to do with my current body image. I don't like it. I gained weight and lost shape while recovering from my broken leg.

I need to get over myself. It doesn't really matter what my body looks like because it's mine and I like me. And in all actuality I can make my own clothes to look better on me than what I can buy.

So, time for me to start getting excited over sewing up some new summer clothes!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Place mats for Mel are done

I finished Melissa's new place mats today. They came out so very cute.

I used the Simplicity bias tape maker to make the binding, I think that is one of the best purchases I have made that is not an actual sewing machine. At the sewing expo I picked up this handy tool that is a special ruler thing that is called a binding tool. It allows you to easily figure out how the 2 ends meet. It works pretty well and took some of the headache out of finishing off the binding. Here is a YouTube video that shows how it works.

I also made a matching doggy place mat for Holly. This is just the penguin fabric fused between sheets of fusible vinyl and then cut the edges with a wave blade on the rotary cutter.

Cute place mats, great for everyday use.
The binding tool
The wave blade on my rotary cutter

Fabric fused in Vinyl: makes a great doggy place mat!

Now time to think about the next project :) 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

More Place mats

Once again I am working on a set of place mats.

However, this time it is a MUCH easier project! Melissa moved into her new apartment this past weekend and asked if I would make some everyday place mats for her table. I asked her what they wanted and she replied 'penguins' and Dorian replied 'dinosaurs'. Big sigh...

penguins and dinos and zany black and white for binding.
So, I took dinosaurs and penguins, sandwiched them with some fusible batting that I bought by mistake some time ago. Fused them and using one of the cool new stitches on my machine, quilted away!

close up of each side, showing the 'wave' stitch
This was the first time I have played with the decorative stitching on this machine and I was very happy. I played a bit on these place mats, figuring out placing with the stitch. It was also a very good test of the balance because I used green in the bobbin and aqua blue in the needle and no show through of colors to the other side.

Now I just need to bind them, roll them up and stick them in their Easter basket.

The wallets, hanging in the sewing room. Only 4 left! I sure do love making great gifts :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A good week in the sewing room

This week has been a good week in my sewing room :) Other than Monday when I was traveling, I spent some time in there everyday! That doesn't happen too often.
I have tried to make it a priority to get in there everyday and do something productive.

Even if it is only for 15 5or 20 mins. Mostly I have been getting in there in hour blocks of time. I sure can get a lot done in an hour, as long as I am both motivated and well organized.

I continue to LOVE my new sewing machine. I have not received a call back from the dealer yet, although I also have not called them back. At this point I am feeling confident with the basics and have not yet run into any questions. Maybe once I get some more time to play with some of the advanced features then I will have questions and then call them back.

I did manage to break my first needle! and boy oh boy does that machine have some force to it. It snapped the needle into 3 pieces. It was totally user error that caused the snapped needle. It was late, I was tired, I was sewing though a very thick sandwich of fabric and stiff interfacing and instead of being patient... I pulled to much on the fabric and whamo, snapped needle.

It was very easy to replace the needle and I once again got to use the magical auto threader. Ha! I am so easily amused!

Current project in progress... the fabric wallets. As you can see I am making several of these and 1 is for me and the others are for gifts.

The snapped needle

The fabric sandwich that I broke the needle on... It was sewing through this just fine until user error... duh.

This weekend there is so much happening! Which translates into no time for the sewing room.

I am going away for the weekend with the 'girls' to the Midwest Horse Fair. Horses and girls and it is gonna be a great time!
The other thing going on is that Melissa is moving into her new apartment. I'm happy and excited for her and I sure am not too upset about missing the moving day. :D She is already giving me a 'list' of all the great things she wants me to whip up for her in the sewing room.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Fabric Addiction

At the start of every year I make a vow to myself not to buy anymore fabric until I use up at least some of what I already have.

But no... I never last. I step into a fabric store and the fabric calls to me, it begs me to peruse all the wonderful sights, my eyes fill with stars of all the great things I can make. All the wonderful fabric begs to be touched, felt, rubbed between my fingers. ahhhh, I just love fabric.

Somehow, I don't ever make a dent in reducing my stash. At least I keep it rotating!

The closet is FULL of fabric

Those bins are full of fabric... from my mom's house. I just could not say no!

There is fabric, on rolls, in the corner...

 Maybe someday I will use up all my fabric or maybe not! Either way, it makes me happy to have it :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My 100th post! I LOVE my new machine

I woke up this morning insanely early and could not go back to sleep... I had showered, eaten breakfast, done my 45 mins of PT exercises and spent 45 mins in the sewing room all before 8am!

It was a darn productive morning! Too bad I don't have the energy to make that happen everyday :)

IN that 45 mins in the sewing room I was able to figure out how to wind the bobbin, thread the bobbin and the machine and sew with the coolest pivot feature. OK, actually my first day of sewing on the machine and I had several seriously cool to me things.

  1. The Bobbin, you don't have to pull up the thread. You just pop it in, pull it through a slot where it cuts it at the end and done.
  2. Threading the needle... OK, soooo cool. you thread it through the upper guides like normal, everything is very well marked, you get down by the needle and pull the thread across this little slot, pull down a lever on the side and the needle is threaded. no more licking the thread, squinting my eyes and getting close and personal with the machine. It was so cool and easy that I had to do it a couple times!
  3. The pivot feature: there is a setting that allows you to sew and when you stop it lifts the foot automatically so you can pivot your fabric then you just press on the pedal and the foot automatically lowers and sews on. You don't have to reach through the machine and lift the presser foot at every corner. I was amazed at how much time this saved.
  4. the last thing is also mighty nice. you push a button and it automatically cuts your threads so all you have to do is pull your fabric out from the machine. NO more pulling the threads out and snipping with snips or the side cutter.
  5. Oh and it sews like a dream... can't wait to put in the zippers!
I think all of those cool features, plus the gazillions more that I have not yet even gotten to are just great time savers. They all add up to make your sewing more efficient plus they are just cool.

I am working on making a bunch of fabric wallets and one of the first steps is sewing the rectangle box for the zipper. You sew the 2 pieces of fabric right sides together, then carefully slit down the center of the rectangle with an exacto knife and into the corners and pull one side through and you have the zipper window. The pivot feature made this go so fast.

I had to just add one more picture of my new machine! I think it may be about time I make some fancy covers for my machines. My serger looks disheveled in it's old plastic cover...
The only down side that I have had so far is that the machine came with free lifetime lessons. When I bought the machine I was told to call on Monday and with whom to leave a message for to set up the appointments. It is now Wednesday evening and I have not heard anything back. I will give them the benefit of the doubt that things just got missed and call them back again tomorrow. If not I will just have to show up at the store and smile sweetly :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

BabyLock Symphony

My new BabyLock Symphony set up on my main sewing desk. The included extension table is to the left.

I had several hours Sunday afternoon/evening to set up my new Baby Lock Symphony, give it a try and to go through my other expo loot. I am amazed at how much larger it is compared to my NewHome machine, easily 30% bigger.

Looking at the picture above makes me realize that I really could use a new sewing desk! I'll have to keep an eye out at garage sales and antique/re-sale shops. Maybe I can find a desk made from real wood and re-finish it for my sewing room. My 15+ year old pressed fiber desk is looking a bit shabby and it is starting to sag in the middle.

It was nice to have several hours uninterrupted to just play around in my sewing room. The rest of the family were busy on the couch watching movies and I was just not interested.

The new Symphony and the Old New Home. The New Home will be going to a new home!

The new machine was easy to set-up. The first thing I did was to go through all the included parts and make sure that everything was there and that I knew what everything was. With 17 included machine feet/attachments there were lots of little pieces. It also came with an extension table which is great, it means I don't have to order one separately. I must point out though that the bed of the machine is so much bigger than any machine I have ever used.

I then sat with the instruction manual and spent a good hour or more just navigating the touch screen and getting an idea of the layouts and where everything can be found. Of course I then pulled out some fabric from the scrap bin and played around a bit with some stitches. The machine was already threaded with pink thread so I left that for playing with.

Maybe this evening I will get some time and can play some more. Figure out the threading and bobbin. It is super fancy! You don't have to pull up the bobbin thread, it cuts your threads when your done so no having to pull threads out to the side cutter, unless you have an actual reason to!
The threading has an advanced automatic threader which they showed to me at the expo, it was like magic... I'll have to try it out and see if it really is.

Sew much fun!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tha place mats are done! and a new Toy :)

The place mats and table runner are done! They turned out really. really nice... despite them not being my favorite project.
The table set.

Reversible to a solid wine colored batik backing. The 1inch diamond quilting pattern looks great from both sides.

We used them last night for a little dinner party with friends.

On Friday I attended the Sewing and Quilt Expo in Schaumburg, IL , a suburb of Chicago. I planned in spending the day this way I could take my time and have lots of breaks for my leg. I also wanted to take the opportunity to try out sewing machines. I have been researching a new machine and had some good ideas what I wanted and the Expo is a great place to try them all out.

I also took some time to watch the fashion show of the independent pattern makers at the Expo. 

Of course, I left with a bunch of fabric and patterns and various other items... I'll share with you later.

 But... the biggest thing I left with was a Brand Spanking New 'Advanced Sewing and Quilting' sewing machine. The Babylock Symphony.
I can't wait to unpack the box!

I am sooooo darn excited!! The dealer who I ended up buying it from is about 35 mins from me. I was hoping to go with one of the dealers closer to me but this dealer is top notch and hands down beat her competitors with not only price and personality but also in offering free lifetime lessons on the machine and excellent customer service and has a full sewing shop with fabric, notions, classes, etc. The 'other'  dealer that is 5 mins from me is a sew and vac shop and while they have been fine for tuneups of my basic machines they always seemed to lack something. 

Anyway... I hope to get my new machine unpacked and set-up. I can't wait to play!!! Monday, I call to set up some lessons.