Monday, July 29, 2013

Ready, Set, Bind!

Joy, for the Queen is ready to bind!
My free motion loops are far from perfect...and yet I am thrilled with the way it came out.  I really wish you could feel this, it seriously feels delicious to touch!  And, I am mad proud of myself for taking the risk to FMQ on such a beautiful piece.  After all, the only way to learn is to Do!
Now it is time to bind...
The voile backing, Anna Maria Horner Coreopsis, is to die for.  So glad this quilt is for me...
Watch this space for the finish!

- rebecca lynne

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sewing Machine Adultery: Bernina 750 QE Review

Sewing Machine Adultery 
I had the pleasure of trying the Bernina 750 QE a few months ago while at a workshop taught by Jacquie Gering and hosted by the Aurora Sewing Center.  As I do with all the machines I try, I wrote down my impressions immediately in anticipation of posting an honest review.  I am going to put my questions in pink, if you know the answer do tell!

First, as I've said in every review post, I am not paid to review machines nor do I have any affiliation with any sewing machine manufacturer or shop.  There is a reason why the first piece of advice anyone gives you when machine shopping is go try them yourself.  Because, no matter this is only my opinion, and please, what the hell do I know anyway?

Secondly, I began this series as I searched for a sewing machine that met my needs.  I have since purchased a dream machine and am very happy!  However, as many of you have demonstrated in the comments left about the Sewing Machine Adultery posts, everyone has an interest in learning about different machines so I've decided to continue the series.

Third, and most importantly, I am looking for information and insight that we can all use when sewing machine shopping.  It is not my intention to offend.  Please leave a comment if I mention something you disagree with, this is about education!  That is the whole purpose behind Sewing Machine Adultery.  Also, I encourage anyone reading this post later to peruse the comments and see what people add to my thoughts.
Bernina 750 QE
Luckily, because I used the 750 at an all day workshop I was really able to use it for the type of sewing I would use it for at home.  I highly recommend utilizing your local workshops to try out new machines!  Contact the sponsoring shop beforehand to see if you can coordinate the use of a machine you'd like to try.  It is such a treat...although it may be frustrating at first to familiarize yourself with a different machine it can really be a great opportunity to try something for a longer period.

As someone who owns a Bernina I was humming with anticipation to be able to try this machine! This baby has all the bells and whistles I could ever want in a machine...  I loved how familiar it felt to me as I recognized all of the Bernina buttons from my own machine and yet there was enough new stuff that it was definitely an upgrade from my Activa 130.

After using the Janome 8900 I have gotten over the shock of all the features available on a computerized machine (you can read about my initial surprise here!).  I had done research on this model before using it so I was more than prepared.  I had decided which features were important for me to try out and that is what I focused on when I was given a tutorial on the machine by Barbara from Aurora Sewing Center.

  • 9 HOOK BOBBIN!!!
    • The bobbin is huge.  It holds almost twice as much as a regular bobbin and I was warned not to fill it completely as I might not use a whole bobbin's worth that during the workshop.  Glad I was forewarned because, sure enough, I did not use all the thread even after piecing all day.
    • It was tricky at first how to load and unload the bobbin but once someone showed me it was very neat with a little metal button to push to pop it out.
    • Magnetic connection so that the bobbin cannot be placed incorrectly
  • Large throat space!  10" (not as big as the Janome 8900 with 11" but still very roomy...)
  • Nice big computer screen
    • Touchscreen and in color - loved how clearly it showed the stitch you were working with
    • Loved that when you lengthened a stitch it actually visually lengthened on the screen!  It was a really cool feature to see those changes as you implemented them.
    • I loved that there were dials instead of just a touch screen or just buttons to make changes.  The dials added speed which is key when scrolling through so many features!
    • This is by far my favorite screen on a computerized sewing machine.
  • Number of stitches
    • 250 decorative stitches.  This was a bit overwhelming but there were definitely stitches I'd like to use.
    • This model has the software ability to create mirror images of designs (not available on Bernina 710)
    • Here are photos of some I tried below:
Here is a closeup of the stitching, the software settings allow you to really tailor your stitch so that it can end up so close to the edge of the fabric.  You can barely see it in the picture below and would be awesome for applique!  Gorgeous!
  • Gorgeous sewing, and I wouldn't expect anything less from a Bernina
    • No thread nests 
    • Can't tell front from back stitching
  • Alphabets - 6 
  • Start/Stop Button
  • Auto Thread Cutter
    • Caveat: I have to say though that the auto thread cutter reminded me every time how computerized this machine was because whenever you cut a thread automatically the computer screen would "think" - you know that little circle demonstrating that the computer was occupied would come up as the thread was cut
    • No thread cutting ability via the foot pedal as available on Juki and Janome
  • Needle down by Foot Pedal.  
    • I have always loved this feature on my own Bernina
  • Sliding speed control
    • speed goes up to 1000 stitches per minute which is awesome
  • Free Hand System (i.e. Knee lift) I'm 5'2" and it worked well for my size 
  • 9mm width stitches
    • After all, there are so many decorative stitch options the 9mm width makes sense 
  • Embroidery can be added on
    • This isn't something I am interested in, but I was warned that I could very well change my mind in the future (it hasn't happened in over 15years of sewing but what do I know)
    • Options are always good right?
  • Bernina Dual Feed
    • For those of you familiar with Pfaff this was similar to that in the way it is built into the machine and can be put into use as needed
    • I had some problems figuring out how to disengage this feature but again, that is something that would be overcome with familiarity in the machines use
    • Because the Dual Feed can be engaged or disengaged right on the machine it can be moved out of the way.  I found it less cumbersome than the Janome AcuFeed, meaning I could see more on the plate of the machine and nothing was in the way.
  • Nice hum, not very noisy
    • Vibrated a bit but I was using it on a fold out table not a solid sewing table so definitely want to get a machine like this a proper table for stability
  • Threading was easy for me but I'm a Bernina owner
  • Place for storage of feet.
  • Needle threader
    • I couldn't get this to work every time, but it probably works once you are more familiar with it?
  • Ability to use on quilting frame
  • And, one more time, that awesome mega sized bobbin!
    These are not really cons so much as considerations.  Every machine has its flaws even if they are minor ones related to how you would prefer a machine to be set up.  I'd love feedback if you have opinions/advice!
    • Only 8 Feet Included
      • 8 feet isn't that much considering what other manufacturers offer at this price point (see Janome and Babylock)  
      • As a Bernina owner I can utilize all of my feet with this machine so it is a consideration if you already own a Bernina as you've put in the investment with feet you might have already bought; however it is also annoying because I already own almost all of the 8 feet offered with this model!
      • If you are trying to figure out Bernina feet and what works with what models, here is a great guide to use.
    • Bernina Stitch Regulator
      • An undecided for me.  I don't really want this...I think I prefer having control over the machine and as a Juki use I am happy without any sort of regulation.
      • I was able to negotiate a price with the Bernina dealer taking this out of the equation, so if it is something you aren't interested in it is worth asking to opt out of.
    • Computerized.  (The debate continues, I've mentioned this previously and received great comments on it.)
      • Fact/Myth?: There is the argument that a non-computerized machine lasts better and is less fussy.  
      • Fact/Myth?: Straight stitch industrial machine is better for free motion quilting.
      • Fact/Myth?: 9mm stitch variable can be problematic for long-term straight stitch performance?  
      • Fact/Myth?: If a high-end computerized machine breaks down then the cost of fixing it probably isn't going to be cheap - anyone had this problem?
        • Specifically with this Model I read that the first models on the market had considerable computer problems.   Has anyone come up against that?  Owners theorized that Bernina would have the kinks worked out by this time.  But worth asking your individual dealer whether they had issues with models they sold.
    • Eating fabric.
      • I think it had to do with the 9mm plate opening...but when I pieced I found that I had to purposely prevent the fabric from being eaten into the stitch plate!  It was pretty annoying when I was in the midst of piecing and at a high speed of 1000 Spm
      • I am sure this problem is rectified with the use of a straight stitch plate, does anyone know if it comes automatically with this Bernina Model?
      • My Bernina has a 5.5mm plate opening and I have never have this problem with it ever!
    • Extension Table.
      • The machine comes with a detachable extension table which I found flimsy.  I just don't know how it would solidly hold a full quilt.  Anyone have experience with using it?
      • You can purchase an additional plexiglass extension table which looks more solid or an even better would be to put this machine in a proper sewing table.  
    • Auto Thread Cutting via Button Only:  No thread cutting ability via the foot pedal as available on Juki and Janome.  I really like the ability to cut via foot pedal and wouldn't live without it now when quilting.
    • Automatic Presser Foot Down.
      • The presser foot down is automated by a button.  Meaning, the presser foot automatically comes down when you press the button and firmly sets down when you begin sewing.  You can't manually put it down via a lever (you can on other models but this series does it auto).
      • I hated it.  I suppose I could live with it eventually but it kind of annoyed me that I had to use this button.  I wanted the security of putting it down myself.  It felt like it wasn't fully down until you began stitching, it would lower itself but not be firmly in place until stitching began.
      • Anyone else have input on this?
    • Price tag.  
      • Approx $5000 machine without embroidery included (and slightly less if you can negotiate having no BSR)
    Bottom line?  This is my dream machine.  It is a brand I love and trust.  I would be thrilled owning a machine like long as I could get over the guilt of the price tag.  It has all of the features I want, throat space, speed, large stitch library, auto cutting, start/stop...   In fact, after trying it I had decided to put some of my savings towards this model machine.  However - soon after using the machine at the workshop I went vacation and the combo of enjoying my family and the time away from the sewing room made me realize I want to use my money on things other than fancy sewing machines, hahaha like Disney World!  I will always have a place in my heart for Bernina, just not always a place in my budget.  

    For me these questions remain, and in this order:
    1. Does this model still have computer problems?  Has Bernina resolved them.
    2. Does the cost of repairing a computerized machine rasie the cost of repairs considerably?
    3. Are the features and brand worth the $5000 for a sewing machine?
    4. What do I NEED?  i.e. Are these features necessary? (I know that is Sewing Machine 101 when you look for a sewing machine but my needs keep changing.  I don't just quilt, I don't just make clothes, I don't just do home dec - I do a little of everything!  So what, I need an everything machine?)
    Comments or questions on this review and the Bernina 750 are greatly encouraged.  If you are a Bernina owner insight, advice, criticism is greatly appreciated!

    Please check out the other installments of Sewing Machine Adultery.

    - rebecca lynne


    Thursday, July 18, 2013

    Matryoshka Zipper Pouch

    Say hello to the Matroshka Zipper Pouch!  
    Learn more about the matryoshkas here and the mega zipper pouch pattern here.
    Here is the back which I couldn't help but do a bit of FMQ practice on!
    You can see more shots of the FMQ on this post.
    This was my first inner zip pouch!  I had to rip it out a few times and broke three needles...but it was worth the result.  Hopefully next time won't be so tough.
    Here is a shot of the Matryoshka Pouch alongside my original Mega Zipper Pouch.  They are cousins!

    I love this pattern because it is very roomy but also flexible enough to stuff into a larger suitcase for travel.  I use mine for sewing and it usual contains lots of little pouches for sewing notions, pincushion, and fabric for hand-sewing on the go.  I think my mom plans on using hers for make up and bathroom items when she travels.

    You can find the pattern for the Matryoshka's here and the Free Zipper Pouch Pattern here.

    Linking up!
    AND -- This is my first finished project for FQ3!  Whew hew!
    she can quilt
    - rebecca lynne

    Tuesday, July 16, 2013

    FMQ & Linen Peep Show

    Amidst my orderly straight line quilting, my Juki creates straight lines that stand like perfectly disciplined rows of soldiers, I decided to free motion quilt the one yellow strip sandwiched by the osnaburg.  I started out relaxed, going for some crazy thick thread texture...
    I was loving the layers upon layers of thread circles, like the doodles I create within the margins of a notepad.  But, then I went wider with my circles and began making bubbles...Untitled
    I loved that too!  The fabric bubbling up made me think blub blub blub and took me back to this in the midst of my sewing...hahahahahaaa... Untitled
    Isn't it the best when your making is effortless and just flat out fun?

    Linking up to Show and Tell Tuesday!

    - rebecca lynne

    Sunday, July 14, 2013

    2013 FAL Q3

    she can quilt

    Be afraid, be very afraid...I recently pulled out all of my WIPs and realized I really really really have to step it up here and finish some things.  Just to prove it to myself?  I have pulled a small portion of what I have actually begun and haven't finished to remind myself of how serious this problem is.  [This is the tip of the iceberg!]

    Project 1: Matryoshka Mega Pouch A
    My mother is coming to visit - I best get this done before she gets here or you may never hear from me again...
    Matryoshkas on Linen detail

    Project 2: Matryoshka Mega Pouch B
    It wouldn't be fair to finish my mother's pouch without then finishing my mother-in-law's!
    Matryoshkas on White

    Project 3(+): Twin Quilts
    I've made progress on this since last time...but still no FINISHES!

    Again, progress since last time.  But I have to iron the backing and decide if I am adding to it...then QUILT, LABEL, BIND, FINISH!!!  How can I let that little cutie down?

    Project 5: Something Soft and Pink
    This has been on my design wall for months.  I'd like to use my wall again so I need to get this little piece done!
    Working on something soft

    Project 6: Foldover Tote
    Just waiting for the handles...this really just requires an afternoon of no interruptions.
    because starting something new seemed like a good idea?  I need a sanity check...

    Project 7: Shelburne Falls Strip Quilt
    This is a random project I've been sewing/ironing on and off in between other things.  Shrug, I should just pull the trigger and see it through...
    Shelburne Falls Jellyroll

    Project 8: Peaches & Cream
    Now that my squishiest tush is walking (sigh) I think I have been subconsciously avoiding this beautiful stack of fabrics.  I already started cutting and kind of abandoned it for other shiny brighter things - specifically brighter colors because that seems to suit my mood these days.  But, I'd like to have this done before Miss O is completely independent and then I'll really need it to cuddle with!
    Peaches & Cream Revised Palette

    Project 9: Family Tree
    With the new Juki I am thinking this quilting is actually possible.  I know what I want to do but as I hope this quilt to be a family heirloom for future generations I am hesitant to just rush into it.  Need to do a few practice runs with my FMQ to be sure I can execute what is in my head!

    Project 10: Joy, for the Queen
    As I said before --- Who am I kidding, this is never going to happen...but what the hell I'll add it to the list anyway.  I can dream can't I?  Since this quilt is for moi I doubt I'll push it to the head of the line, but you never know.

    - rebecca lynne

    Thursday, July 11, 2013

    Triple-Zip Pouch Swap

    Triple Zip Pouch Mosaic MRL Style!

    There was something that really touched me deeply by this gesture.  It made me realize I have to keep doing things to stay involved in our virtual community.  I have met such amazing friends online and I really could not do without them now.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to join a bee, I need a break from coordinating a fabric swap, so instead when the Triple-Zip Pouch Swap popped up I realized this would be a great opportunity to do something fun with a group of other sewers...

    It is a secret swap so if my Partner happens to be reading this don't worry these are just some bright, summery, fun things I am feeling right now!  My mood changes pretty frequently so I am sure I will be happy with whatever you have a passion for making...

    - rebecca lynne

    Tuesday, July 9, 2013

    Purple People Pleaser

    Meet the Purple People Pleaser!  (the top at least...)
    This top was a play on the traditional Rail Fence block like the example in Denyse Schmidt's book Modern Quilts Traditional Inspiration.  Clearly I deviated quite a bit, actually now that I look at it I deviated much much more than I ever intended.  Whoops!
    This was a huge break away from my comfort zone by using  1) some of my favorite stash that I've been saving forever (i.e. all the AMH Innocent Crush fabrics) 2) a combination of different collections 3) using my least favorite color - purple!
    I waffle between loving it and being unsure of whether I like it.  I think it is mostly because I was aiming for the rail fence layout and in the end abandoned it for what looked right to me.  
    However, my opinion is mostly irrelevant as this quilt is not intended for me but for the little people pleaser in my household...and of course her favorite color?  Purple.Untitled
    And based on this reaction she had once she spied me taking these photos I think the Purple People Pleaser is a hit!  Here she is sneaking in for a closer look...before I knew it she was hugging "her blanket."
    Complete with the purple bracelet, necklace, and skirt.  I couldn't have planned it better!

    The backing is going to be a lime green.  It will play off of the green in the AMH fabric and yellow bees in Patti Young's fabric in the photo above.  I am thinking straight line quilting possibly using a hot pink thread?  My thought is to create a subtle pattern with the straight line quilting, almost like a plaid.

    Is that crazy?

    - rebecca lynne