Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Something new for my sewing room - a Sew Much More Table

It's still in the box, but I'm really excited to have this new table. 

Last year, when I got my new Juki, I re-arranged my sewing room so that I would have my two main sewing machines set up all the time.   It works, sorta....   Well, maybe it doesn't work.    When I sew on my Pfaff, I have to sit spread eagle because there's a bank of drawers right under the sewing machine.   Not so ergonomically correct.

Tomorrow, I'm taking everything off my long table, and reverting back to a shorter table, and this new Sew Much More table that I got from Joann Fabrics.   My knees should fit under it comfortably.

Watch for the before and after pictures tomorrow.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Another Wonderfil Thread sample. Tutti 50

Here is another sample of Wonderfil thread.  This one is done up with Wonderfil Tutti 50 wt. Like the 12wt, this is Egyptian cotton thread.  I love love love this thread.  It's the perfect weight for me for machine quilting and I think this is my new favorite thread.   Again, I got this at Country Crafts and Curains quilt shop in Fredericton and it was hot off the press.  She just got them in the day before.  Yummy colors that so perfectly with Bali's and batiks. 

To test I first just free motion stitched over my previous sample of the Wonderfil 12wt thread (the heavier thread in the picture).   Within minutes I knew I really enjoyed sewing with the Tutti 50wt, so I made up this 18" square plain sandwich of cottons and batting and drew a gridded circle.. and started to free motion.  Took about an hour.  Yep, I do love this thread.  

I seem to be into the coffee colors lately, so the color I chose was a variegated browns and it shows up very nice on this off white fabric. I think the color is called Box Turtle.   I ran my Juki hard when I was machine quilting to see if the thread would break. It didn't!   I am impressed.
Later this week, I'll use my new spool of Wonderfil Tutti 50wt to quilt one of my Christmas in July projects.   Stay tuned.   

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Brother NX-2000 - My final comments.

Well, I'm sorry to see the Brother NX-2000 go home.  I guess all good things come to an end.  I thought maybe an email might come that says, ahh, Gail...just keep the NX for the year and we'll get it back when-ever.....but sadly, I don't think that's the case.

I really enjoyed working on this evaluation.  Some time ago, I had earmarked the month of November to work on the Nines and Vines queen size quilt that will ultimately be used as a major fundraiser for the Stan Cassidy Foundation (Rehab Center).  So when I was contacted by a representative of Brother, I thought what a perfect opportunity to evaluate a new machine in a way that was exactly how I would use it day to day.   And I did just that.   It turns out that I'm a couple of days short of finishing the Nines and Vines, but the major components are done and I certainly have hours and hours of sewing straight stitch, free motion quilting, and applique.  I think all this gives me an excellent feel for how this machine works.

There are dozens of things that I noted that were really special and I should have kept a little notebook beside the machine because I've probably forgotten some things. I'll share with you the highlights...

As a quilter/sewer I tend to do 99% of the same stitches. That would be straight stitch, free-motion/machine quilting work and applique.

The straight stitch, while not usually notable, I was impressed that this machine came with a single stitch throat plate. I used it. The hours of straight stitch that I did were flawless. I was also impressed with the thread cutter. I had one on my sewing machine, and it never worked like it should..  Also with the straight stitch, I used the specialty twin needle that came with the machine.  It's been a long time since I used the twin needle and I loved how it stitched perfectly and the back side of the twin stitch seam was thin and tidy.  On the topic of straight stitch, I am used to an integrated walking foot and I use this when I do all my quarter inch seams.  While this machine does come with a traditional walking foot, I found that I rather stitch with the quarter inch foot rather than the walking foot and sacrifice the even feed capability.

I really liked how the free motion stitching was very smooth and the stitches were very nice. It was easy to adjust the tension to get the perfect combination of top and bobbin thread. My favorite foot was the open toe free motion foot. Loved it. Didn't even try the others...

I love that there was good light shining directly below the needle. That's a problem on my machines, so it was a delight to have light where I needed it.

The accessory extension table made for a nice large work area. A must for quilters now a days... I left it on the whole time I had it for testing. Now I need one for my other machine :).

I liked how easy this machine was to thread. It's marked with numbers, so it's "Thread by Number".  The needle threader worked every time. My sight isn't what it used to be, so the threader is welcome. The spring action of the threader does give a big clunk when it threads, but it threads every time which is good. 

I had trouble using my pre-would bobbins. I tried two different kinds without success, but it's not the first time I've had trouble with pre-wounds. I guess it's trial and error with every machine.

The applique worked wonderful for me. I used Sulky invisible thread and adjusted the tension so that the bobbin thread didn't show. I stitched applique for about 12 hours of stitching my vines, so I think I'm an expert on the applique on the Brother. Thank goodness for the pivot function. It's a life-saver because did you know that 5 pointed stars have 10 sides!  Pivoting made this job very easy.   There are many stitches available to do applique and I'm sure that a quilter will use many of these stitches for various works of art. I tested 3 and chose my favorite to use with the invisible thread.

I really enjoyed having this Brother NX-2000 and would feel comfortable recommending this machine to fellow quilters and sewers.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wonderfil - A sample

Have you ever tried 12 wt thread. This is from the Wonderfil Fruitti collection.  It's quite thick, but I was intrigued when I saw this at Country Curtains and Crafts yesterday.    It's a machine quilting thread, and at first, I thought this would never go through the self threading mechanism on the Brother sewing machine I was evaluating, but it did with no problem at all.  I put a simple sandwich together to try this heavy thread.  It definitely makes a statement of its own.   I would use this if I was doing a quick project with big all over quilting.  It definitely shows beautifully.    You should see the colors.... just to die for...   There is a lighter weight coming into the shop this week, and I'm really anxious to try it. 

(Note:   I used a Schmetz large eye needle - size 100/16.  I had one of these in a multipack of needles, and also these are the size of leather needles.)

By the way, are you going to Dianne and Holly's annual Christmas sale at the Heritage Center in Marysville?  It's being held tomorrow, Friday from 1pm - 8pm.   I hear there's going to be a great clear out section as well as great prices on Bali's and many other items.     See you there.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nines and Vines - The Vines are done

Whew, the pressure is off.  My vine borders are done.  While I still have a couple of short days work to put the Nines and Vines together, I really wanted to do the vine borders on the Brother  while I still have it.     So that  means I have the 9 patches done, the borders done so I'll assemble after taking a little break. 

Some of you have asked about where to find this free bonus pattern.  It can be found on the McCalls Quilting website here.  

My evaluation of the Brother NX-2000 will be over this week, and on Friday it'll be packed up to go home, or on to the next evaluator.   Before it goes, I will try some of the utility stitches on the brother because I'm doing some mending on a couple of pieces of clothing.     And I want to do a final small free motion piece.    On Friday, I'll review all the fabulous things I liked about this machine.  There wasn't much that I didn't like about it, but I'll try hard to find a couple of things. (smile)

Monday, November 22, 2010

What was I Thinking?

I'm working on my borders. I do have the vine done on each of the 4 borders, and I'm now adding flowers and leaves on the first border. What was I thinking, thinking that I would have these borders done by the end weekend. It's a ton of work to place and stitch around each star.

I do really like doing applique on the Brother NX2000. I like it because the applique stitch that I'm using takes a 90 degree stitch to the left and then back.  It's not a zig over then back kind of stitch.  It's handling my invisible sulky thread like a charm. The few stars that I have completed are so nice. The time is counting down. My evaluation time for this Brother is almost up.

So my more realistic goal is to get the rest of the applique done in the next few days.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Testing Applique on the Brother NX2000

I'm testing the size of the vine I'll use on the borders of the Nines and Vines.  And I'm also testing the stitching of the applique with invisible thread and deciding on which of the many specialty stitches I'll use on the Brother.

I decided to use my old Bias Bars to make a 3/8" vine.  So the pattern says to cut bias at 1-1/8" and sew a 1/8" seam with wrong sides together.  I wasn't sure how I was going to do that... Is there such a thing as an 1/8" foot?  After looking at a couple of the feet that came with the Brother, I noted red marks on the open foot.  Sure enough it's exactly 1/8" from the center.  I sewed my small seam...

I inserted the bias bar, rotated a bit so the seam is facing upward.   Then I press it down. Removed the bias bar, and pressed in a curve.   Now I'm ready to applique!

Oops, not quite yet.  Of the many styles of applique stitches, I had to chose which one I'd use.  I tested a few, and chose this fine stitch and practiced with white thread.  It's so hard to see the invisible thread :).  

Stitching down the vine with the invisible gave me good information.  I adjusted the tension so the white bobbin thread didn't poke up through.  I set the pivot function on, and started sewing.  Easy Peasy!!

With my sample done, and all the settings locked in the Brother's memory, I'm ready to stitch - tomorrow that is.  

Friday, November 19, 2010

Nines and VInes - Ready to test the Applique

I'm loving the border work on the Nines and Vines.  I have the stars and leaves prepared and I'm laying the vines on the border now.  The borders should be completed pretty quick  ... by the end of the weekend I hope.   To applique the stars and leaves, I plan on using Sulky poly invisible thread and use the no-show applique stitch on the Brother NX2000.   I've done a few extra stars so that I can do some testing.  I'll show you my test pieces tomorrow.
Meanwhile I had been meaning to make a little gift for our local travel agent.   She's great at searching out great options for our travel, and looking for deals.  We use her services quite a bit even from afar.   She ordered some special travel brochures for us and because I was planning to pick them up today after the Friday girls coffee break, early this morning I made this crystal bracelet for her.   She really liked it and was surprised when I gave it to her. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A beautiful Santa Give-away

Why not drop by my friend Linda H.'s blog.   She's having a give-away to celebrate 300 posts.   Congratulations Linda, and my my, doesn't time fly quickly!

Time for a new Thinkpad

It's time for a new laptop and I spent some time doing research on the weekend.  I had intended to wait for some good Christmas sales, but I got all excited when I was doing the research.  I couldn't wait.  I placed my order on Monday morning and received it yesterday by courier. 

It's so nice and new.  It's a Thinkpad.  I compared similar models from the local stores, and for the same money, I chose my favorite brand of laptop, again. It's got much larger hard drive and 3 years warranty which I like.      So while I should be starting to work on the borders for my nines and vines quilt, I'm distracted.   

I forgot all the little things you need when setting up a new computer.  Looking for printer drivers, re-installing sewing machine and quilting software, setting up Itunes, etc, installing anti-virus, doing a backup, making recovery disks etc.   It's amazing how the time passes when you're tinkering with all the utilities.   I'll get back to the sewing on the weekend.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nines and Vines - The nines are done

While testing out (playing with) the Brother NX2000 machine, I'm getting lots of work done. I've been picking away at making the nine patches for the nines and vines.  I started just over a week ago, so I'm pleased with my progress.    These 9-patches still have to be put into larger nine patch blocks, but before doing that, for a change of scenery, I'm starting to work on the applique and the borders.

I'm really into making this quilt, and while I'm sewing away, I keep thinking that I should try some of the neat features on this Brother.   For example, I've been thinking about trying to make some new stitches, but I can't think of any, can you?

I really like the vines with the stars and leaves applique on this Nines and Vines quilt.  So it was refreshing to get out the light interfacing and use scraps of fabric for the leaves and stars.   There's not that many stars, about 30, so I'm using small variety of fabrics. 

I loved that I saved my the paper shapes from making this quilt two years ago.  It saved me some time. 

Do you applique this way?  

I use very light interfacing, and put my fabric right side down on the interfacing.  I arrange my cut out paper pieces, and then simply pin them on the wrong side of the fabric (the interfacing is under) leaving a bit of room to trim around each shape. 

Using the open toe foot, I stitch around the shape.

After stitching all around the shape, I pull the papers away (I save and reuse).  These shapes are ready to be trimmed between 1/8th and 1/4 inch away from the stitching.  

After trimming,  make a little slit in the middle of the interfacing on the backside and turn them right side out using a straw and BBQ skewer.   

When I get that far (probably tomorrow), I'll take a picture of the using the straw method to turn these. It's a neat trick.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekend Visitors

We had lots of visitors this weekend.  Aurora and her Mom visited.  Caitlin came to stay Saturday night so that she could help me entertain Aurora.  Here is Caitlin reading a book to Aurora.  It was a story about patience.    But not her mother who is named Patience, it was a story about growing a garden.  Aurora loved sitting quietly while being read to.

And a surprise visit from my sister and husband on Sunday morning.  They were travelling back from Ottawa.  Because it was going to be just a short visit before heading to Nova Scotia, we made a nice breakfast that featured Montreal style bagels, fresh fruit and quiche.   

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Wave Take Aong Bag

On the Brother NX2000 I'm making great headway on sewing the strips for the nine patches in my Nines and Vines.   I have finished about two thirds of the 235 nine patches that I require.   I'm liking many of the features of the Brother.  It tells me when my bobbin is low.  I also winds a lovely bobbin... smooth and even.

But today, I needed a break from sewing strips, sub cutting, and making the 9-patches.  I decided to have a little fun with the Brother and make a small project.  

I was going through all the accessories, and discovered that a twin needle comes with this Brother.  I haven't used a twin needle in years.  It put a smile on my face and I had t try it out.  I stitched a little sample swatch and decided I had to make something because it was so nice. 

After rummaging through my stash for just the right colors, I decided to make a Lazy Girl Take along bag.  Are you surprised?  It's like a comfort project to me.  It's one of  favorite small projects. (See my previous take along bags here, here and here and here)  For this bag, I decided to use plain black fabric and use lines of twin needle stitching to embellish the black.  I picked thread colors that were in the accent fabric that would frame the zipper.

I started stitching waves of twin stitching.  I used twin needle and embellished just the top layer and the batting.  Then when it was time to add the backing and turn the sides of the bag right side out, I used single lines of wavy stitching to hold the three layers together.  I omitted the pockets so this bag was done in a flash... well, ok... a couple of hours.   

Ta Da... finished, buttons and all.

Sew here it is.  This WAVE inspired take along bag will be for a friend who invited us for an oriental dinner party next month.  She'll be going on a cruise with her husband after Christmas and I think this will be a perfect hostess gift for her to take on her ocean voyage, don't you?     

Now that I've had  a bit of a break, tomorrow I continue with my Nines and Vines.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesday afternoon guests

There's no school at elementary school on Wednesday afternoons.   So, guess who I had for company this afternoon.  Yep, we picked up the triplets from school just before noon and they came for lunch  and they visited for the afternoon.  We had a full afternoon planned.   After turkey soup and home made rolls for lunch, popcorn and a movie was the perfect way to wind down after a busy morning.  After the movie, each of the kids did a craft/activity of their choice.

First, Mitchell chose to make chocolate cookies, all by himself.  He read the directions on the box and do you know what the best part was besides eating the cookies?    (see the answer below)

 The recipe said it would make 16 cookies.  Well, there was dough for about 20 cookies, so, yep, lots of left over dough to eat, and then of course licking the scoop and the bowl clean.   

Grace chose to make jewelery.  She's a real fashionista.  Here you can see she's stringing beads to make a bracelet for herself.  She chose green and clear crystals with spacers in between. It's beautiful.

Caitlin is a mini-me quilter.  She sews almost every time she comes over now.  She doesn't need any help any more using the iron or using fabric scissors or using the sewing machine.  She just disappears and if I don't see her right around, she's likely to be busy in my sewing room.  Today, she had fun trying out different stitches.    I asked if she wanted to try some fancy stitches on the new Brother machine that is sitting in my dining room, but she was more comfortable using my old faithful Pfaff.

We had a fun afternoon. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

This Brother's feet

The other day I posted about getting my Special Delivery of a new high end Brother sewing machine.  I should have given a better explanation as to why I have this machine for only two weeks.   Through my blog, I was contacted by a representative of Brother Canada to if I'd like to try out their new Brother NX-2000 model.   I love opportunities like this so I was quick to reply back confirming my participation in the evaluation.  No strings attached.

I knew it would be a few weeks before getting it, so in the meantime I decided to cut a Nines and Vines quilt kit to have ready.  I decided early on that much of my evaluation would be while sewing this kit.   

I'm working away and have a few hours in on the nines and vines.  But, since there's a ton of straight stitching in the Nines and Vines, I've decided to do a few other small projects too so that I can try out some of the other neat features.  IE:  design your own stitch... etc.

Here in this photo you can see only a few of the many many presser feet that come with this machine.   I love that it comes with three free motion feet.  I tried the open toe foot and I love it.  I will try the others later this week.   There's even a couple of odd items that I will definitely have to read the book for.   One of the presser feet, I call it a sharkhead is a complete mystery to me although I can think of a couple of good uses for it.  And the weird skrew driver tool that has a hole in it.    Any guesses as to what that could be used for? 
I'll dig out the manual and let you know tomorrow.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Special Delivery

I've just received a special delivery.. It's a brand new Brother NX-2000 Laura Ashley Sewing Machine.  It's only mine for a couple of weeks while I use it and test it out.  

Last evening, I unpacked it and set up in the kitchen where I'll be using it for the 2 weeks.  I first noticed how large it was. It has a large throat which is great for machine quilting.  It comes with the large extension table which I really like.    This sewing machine is so nice and as you can imagine, it has tons of
features, feet, and stitches.   
I was looking over all the specialty feet (I'm sure there were a dozen) and absolutely fell in love with the free motion foot.  I think because it's an open foot and I can see where I'm going.  So I decided I had to try it right away.  I got out my halo and  I free motioned for about an hour.  I worked on the table runner that I made earlier this week.    It was great to practice my feathers once again since I hadn't done any machine quilting since the spring.  Anyway the bottom line is that this machine is great for free motion quilting, and I love that foot.   

Can you see my feathers?  They're wonky but the stitches are very nice, both front and back.   You can see the quilting better from the back in the next photo.

Sew, so far so good.  Now that my practice is done, next on my list is to test out the quarter inch foot and get to work on making a full size quilt with this Brother NX-2000.  My kit is cut and I'm raring to go... but more about it next week once I've made some headway.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A is for Annabelle

While I was away on vacation, one of the Friday girls became a grandmother for the first time.  That makes two of us grandmothers now in the Friday Girl group.   Her little granddaughter's name is Annabelle and when she's old enough to talk, she'll call her grandmother "Gran".   My grandkids call me Grammie. 

A little while back, when I was collecting fabrics for my I spy quilt for Aurora, my friend found me a fabulous "A" that I was so glad to get.  Now we both will be collecting all things "A".   

As a special gift, from one Grandmother to another, I bought this darling little book to give to my friend.  I can just imagine when Annabelle is a little older, she'll really enjoy reading this little "A is for Annabelle"ABC book with her Gran.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Border/Striped Tablerunners

What would you do with a meter of striped fabric?    Here's what I did in an hour...

I ironed my 1 meter of striped fabric.   This fabric had 5 repeats of the same striped pattern.    I folded my striped fabric, so that all the stripes were lined up perfectly (not selvage to selvage in this case).   Using my rotary cutter, I  found where the repeat started, and cut 5 strips. 

Using one of the strips, I unfolded it and laid it out on my cutting table.  I lined up the 60 degree mark on my ruler and went on to cut 8 triangles.  Because I was cutting from both sides of the strip, I had 2 sets of 4 triangles... each set different from the other.   

I then took two of the other 4 strips and laid them on my ironing board, positioning them so that they were a mirror image of each other.  With right sides together, I placed the matching triangles on the ends of the strips.  I made sure that both strips were matching.  After sewing the outside seem on the triangle, I pressed and trimmed away the excess.   The triangles need to be pressed outwards.   Then simply match up the two long halves of the runner and pin and and sew that long center seam.   That's it - 5 seams.

Then repeat with the other 2 strips, and 4 triangles, and voila, you have 2 table runners to practice your machine quilting on.

Post Note:  I just realized that on the Jinny Beyer website, she has a placemat using this same technique. It would be easy to make the runner using the same templates. Sew Easy!! Check it out here.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween 2010

It's hard to believe, another Halloween has come and gone.  Here you can see our first set of trick or treaters yesterday.   Look familiar?...A Blackbird, a Poodle, an Angel, and a Wrestler.   With Grampie looking on, they're about to go visit my next door neighbor.  Do you suppose she'll guess who they are?