Sunday, April 28, 2013

Welcome home Janome

Woo hoo! I finally bought a serious sewing machine. New! I've always had super cheap machines or used machines. I think they have taught be to be a better stitcher because I have always made do with what I had. My new challenge to learn free motion quilting will now be so much easier with a top quality machine. What did I buy? A super amazing Janome 8900!!

It is so far above my sewing levels that I feel like the poor kid with her nose against the window glass. I'm looking at the rich people with their fancy belongings. Now I have a fancy new toy. I think back to 1985 and sewing my wedding dress on a $100 machine from Sears. I worried the machine would shred the very expensive re-embroidered lace. That lace cost me $125 a yard!! More than the whole machine! I am proud to say that the machine behaved and my dress was beautiful.

I have been saving for a new machine for quite a while. I was expecting to buy used or a lesser Janome model. However when my hubby was making calls to find a Janome 7700 for me to test sew, he found the 8900 and asked the price ... $3000. WHAT?!? This machine retails at $3500. My hubby and I headed out pronto.

The store was over an hour away. There is no dealer close to my home. We met the nice lady on the phone and she showed us the Janome 8900 as well as a 7700 belonging to a friend of hers. Both machines sewed beautifully and had every bell and whistle I could possibly want. I verified the price was $3000 and she said yes, I can call *** to see if that's the best we can do. I said sure.

She walked off to make the call and came back saying she had told us wrong, the machine was $3900.
Argh. I was honest and told her I simply could not pay that price. I drove to the city because she quoted us 3k. I was willing to pay that but not more.
Then the faceless person on the phone told her he could take $3500.
That was retail but I was still unhappy since we were quoted less. I told her thank you but there were other machines out there. We drove the extra distance due to their price quote.
She called the boss back and explained the situation, out of my hearing, LOL. Then she came back bouncing and announced we had a deal at $3k! Yeah!!!

Moral of my too long story ... call around. Know the prices(though I have read 2 retail prices since then of 4k for an 8900). Hold people to their word. Be prepared to walk away. This wasn't my first trip machine shopping. I'm a firm believe that if it is meant to be, it will happen.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Frankenstein Mending

Do you mend garments? I grew up wearing hand-me-downs from my older sister and cousin, so mending and altering was just part of my life. It never really bothered me because I had unique clothes. I loved unique. Nobody was a stickler for strict styles, so I wasn't out of place. Living on a farm tears up clothes, plus we do a lot of shopping at thrift stores, so my daughters have embraced uniqueness too. The boys just suffer through my mending, LOL. 

My youngest daughter has a favorite pair of jeans. They are faded and fit her perfectly. And they had a crisis with the barb wire fence. She kept wearing them and washing them which really frayed the edges. Finally she agreed to let me mend them as it was getting too breezy on her right leg. The kid is slender and chills easy ;) 

I use scrap fabric when mending for the girls, since they don't care if it matches perfectly. It's difficult to pin the fabric to the jean leg, so I slide my 6x24 ruler down the leg. It gives me a hard surface underneath. For this project, I used some flowered flannel left over from my Christmas rice bag presents. It's pretty, feminine and super soft. 

Choosing a thread is usually fun. Match the jeans or the mending fabric? Or something in between? I chose the small spool of blue. It was the happy medium. You can also see my manic pinning, LOL.    

This little slit was on the right side of her knee where the leg was too narrow to rotate on my machine. I pinned the flannel, then stitch forward and back at a slight angle which left a wide zig zag appearance to the mend. It wasn't my first choice of how to mend but it worked.

For the big hole on the thigh, I stitched around the hole twice. Once to attach the flannel to the jeans, then again to secure it all together. I try to leave the frayed edges fluffy as it adds to the country girl appearance. I will trim it shorter if necessary but we really think it looks cutest frayed and with the flowers peeking out. You can use clear tape to make it lay flat out of the way if it bothers you while sewing.

The big T shaped hole I mended in stages. It started on the thigh and ripped down to the narrow knee. The kid has a gift for destruction.

I call this mending 'Frankensteining' because it tends to look ugly and patched together any old way. I take bits and pieces, remix them to make something better. Regardless of appearance, it works. It's imperfect but sturdy. These jeans have already been worn, washed and worn again. My daughter loves her mended jeans because it flaunts her girly side to have flowers peeping out. No matter how much mud and muck covers the rest of her :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spring Renewal

How did life get so crazy busy so fast? One day I was sewing, now I'm deep into spring cleaning - planting - renewal. Tons of trees have been planted. I sold a horse. Changed the name of this blog. Spent afternoons mowing grass and pulling the drag harrow through horse fields (it breaks up the manure clods for faster absorption into the soil). Revamped a bed for strawberries. Painting multiple bedrooms. OK my husband has been the head painter but I praised him a lot. Have you been busy too?

I did stitch up a couple of star quilt blocks but my camera was dead at the time. No pictures as I went through the process :(  But I plan on making more so I will share with you then. I enjoyed the process using fabric from my scraps and reassembling them into something new and beautiful.

Like meatloaf. You take a decent cut of meat, grind it, mix it with egg, bread crumbs and seasonings ... next thing you know you have a delicious dinner. A thing of beauty. Of beautiful yummyness!

I was mixing up a meatloaf and saw a correlation between meatloaf and quilting from my scrap stash. We make something better by taking it apart and putting it together beautifully. Plus it combines my two favorite things, sewing and food. I may be finding my groove here. We'll see.

Have a great day!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Learning curves and broken needles

I'm pushing the learning curve of free motion quilting. Or I'm learning to curve my stitching line in free motion quilting. However you want to look at it, LOL. 

I'm also breaking needles like crazy. I have increased my stitching speed, keeping my hands slow, so I won't be tugging the fabric while the needle is down in the machine or fabric. One issue eliminated. But as I sewed, I still felt a tweaking resistance.

I checked my thread and threading. Made sure nothing was snagging my quilt sandwich. Beat my head against my machine a few times. I was not sure about this issue. Why was I feeling a definite tweak to the fabric sandwich? 

When in doubt, I look issues up. I booted up my laptop and headed to Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Project. I did a search for broken needle and found several blog entries. I knew my needle was fresh and sharp since I had just installed a new needle three times! 

I hit on the presser foot idea and explored. A little comparing and I found my foot is exactly as Leah described, evil! I have the obnoxious little bar that hits the needle lifter making the foot tilt and tweak. She encourages people to try bending the bar back so it will stay steady. She also states to try it on a cheap foot, not the expensive feet that come with your machine. Good thing too, since the foot that came with the machine has a thick bar. 

I will pause in my learning to purchase a reasonably priced darning foot and alter it. And of course, I have to buy more needles, LOL. I have bought more needles this year than ALL the previous years of my sewing life. But that's ok. When I was stitching and making slow soft curves, angels sang and I had a smile on my face. It's all anticipation of the beautiful designs I will one day be able to stitch. I will learn. I will get there. I am sew happy.