Happy New Year! Let’s Have Fun in Our Studios in 2023

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I wish you all a wonderful 2023 full of blessings and accomplishments. We had a kind of rough ending to 2022 with the flu for both my youngest son and myself that we are finally over after nearly three weeks with it, and the death of my dear brother in law and other less dramatic difficulties.  Consequently, I did not get a YouTube video out in December, but one is in the works and will be out early in the new year.  We did manage to get our Christmas decorations up and they will stay there through much of January.

Nevertheless, it seems a somewhat wonderful way to start the new year with these difficult things behind us. I have a very long list of interesting projects to choose from for 2023 that I am anxious to dive into and share with you as I make them. My son David just finished a short story for an anthology he was asked to write and he is nearly finished with a new science fiction book which he is likely to get out the door in January.  So there is much to look forward to.

God is with us and there is something refreshing and sparkling about the start of this new year.

Please let me know what you are working on.  I would love for you to share pictures and progress with me both in comments on my blogs and below my YouTube videos and emails to BettyJo@bjfabricartist.com.

Sew happy everyone and have fun in your studios (regardless of its size and equipment).  Hugs all around.

 

Decorative Stitching Fun with Metrics

I don’t know about you, but I love fancy stitching with my machine.  I enjoy having so many beautiful decorative stitches available on my machine. I used to just pick a stitch and went with wherever the machine started it and stopped when I got to the end of where I wanted it without worrying too much about whether it was at a good stopping place in the stitch pattern, thinking I couldn’t do anything much about it.  I just hoped the decorative stitch would finish at a nice spot when I got to the end. It usually looks pretty that way, but it can be better.

Recently it dawned on me that my machine, a Bernina 880 plus, provided me with some interesting tools to get the pattern precisely placed and spaced perfectly. With a little research I found that most Berninas have many (not all) of the same tools I have to work with on this and provide “total stitch control”.  Even my machine doesn’t have all the tools for all the stitches probably because they don’t work well for a particular design.  But they are still adjustable.

Amazingly, I have had Berninas for many years and only just started paying attention to using the metric measurements as a feature because of a little YouTube on Bernina International by Silvain Bergeron about making napkin rings from Cork fabric that highlights this feature. So I thought I would tell you what I learned after playing with this because maybe you haven’t thought much about it either.  Even if you don’t have a Bernina, maybe your machine has something similar, I don’t know what’s available on other brands, so check it out. Now don’t misunderstand, I am not a Bernina rep or ambassador or have any connection to Bernina other than I am simply a lover of the machines and want to share when I find something fun and this is fun. I have had Bernina machines for more than 35 years.

So to illustrate this, I made a few screen captures of the steps using the simulator for my machine.

Step One:  Measure the length you want your decorative stitches to be on your fabric piece using mms rather than inches. I know…I’m an inch person too, but the metrics are easier for this process.  I use this really inexpensive ruler that is clear and flexible (can be bent around a curve on its edge, for instance).  It’s helpful to know that in general, one inch is 25 mm.  I am pretending that I need the length to be 60 mm long. Here’s a link to the ruler:

Ruler

Or if you are figuring for stitching around a circle, here’s a link to a PiDay circumference app you can just fill in the mm of the radius or diameter and it will tell you the circumference. Circumference of a Circle Calculator  If you are doing decorative stitching around a circle that you know the circumference, you may wish to do the adjusting of the size of the stitch set on the sewing side and then save it (only one repeat).  Then move to the embroidery side and pick the shape function.  Maybe I will do that on another blog.  It took me a while to figure that one out.

Step Two:  Pick your decorative stitch.  I’m going to use #406 on my 880 plus,  and I think it is a common stitch that most machines will have.  Then check the information on the screen as to the length of the stitch.  It is 13 mm long.  I need it to be 15 mm long so I can do 4 repeats and come out with my 60 mm length.

Step One:  If I just stitched it as is, my decorative design would stop somewhere in the middle of one of the triangles.  Click on that mm length.

Step Three:

You will now see this dialogue box that allow you to adjust the length. Note that the plus and minus will move it longer or shorter and you need to look at the number on the left of the stitch picture because to get the size, not the number on the button which is in inches.  Here it says “15.2” mm.

Step four:

Now touch the “i” button to bring up this dialogue box. And pick the button with the triangle and the two arrowheads at the top and bottom.

Step five:

Now you have this dialogue box where you can adjust the size by percentage and also balance the stitch density.  This is particularly useful for working with specialty threadweights. First adjust the percentage until you get 15.0 in the design length (or whatever you want for your project).  Then adjust the density.  If you are using a 12 weight thread, for instance, you want to lower the thread density…and if you are using an 80 weight you want to raise the density.  For most threads at 50 weight, leave it at the default until you do a trial stitchout.

Now you have the right length for four designs for every 60 mm length.

You should do a test stitchout on scrap fabric with a good stabilizer to see how this works before stitching on your project.

Sew this all takes more time and effort to describe than it is to do it, but understanding what is available can help you get that decorative stitch just wonderful on your blouse front, placemat, around a wall hanging, a teenager’s snuggle quilt, on a new bag, and on and on.  It makes things much nicer than just stitching out the default size of the decorative stitch and stopping wherever it stops.  People may not figure out why it looks so beautiful, but they will know it does.

Sew happy everyone!  Try a little adjustments using the metrics and the calculator on your phone and have fun in your studio.