An update on my current project and repairing my Bernina gripper rings

Hi everyone!  I am currently working hard to complete my embroidered/appliqued tree of life quilt so it will be available to enter into the Mid Atlantic Quilt Show.  The deadline is January 23rd for the entry.  I have to have it finished in time to get it photographed.

Progressing

Sew I have got the top done, and the quilt is finally sandwiched and basted.  I have figured out how to quilt the centerpiece, which I am very pleased with so far.  The borders are more problematic because I am going to quilt it with flowers and leaves and paint them after quilting.  I have done a couple of samples to see how the borders will look with the centerpiece and concluded that the flowers and leaves are too big and the paint colors are a bit off to complement the centerpiece.

So today and yesterday I have been working on coming up with a new flowers and leaves quilting design that does not overwhelm the beautiful centerpiece.  I came up with two possible designs and will make more samples complete with painting.  I ordered some new paints to try to make the colors work better, and they have not come yet.  So I am going to make some new stencils and new practice squares this coming week.  I am pleased that I have a new video (currently being edited) showing and talking about the advantages of making such samples when you are making a special quilt.  Indeed, my first samples have given me a lot of quilting practice and show clearly that the original designs don’t quite work.  We will see what my new designs look like.  I think they will work since I printed out the designs and laid them by the quilt…the size seems right this time. I hope I can get the painting right this time.I’m waiting on the order of new paints which should come this week too.

Repairing the gripper rings:

I love using my Bernina Gripper Rings, but after years of a lot of use the gripping cork or whatever it is was coming off.  The cork was not torn or anything and the rings were still like new otherwise.  So I asked Bernina, using their contact form on the website, what glue did they suggest for repairing the rings.  Here is what they answered:

“Dear Betty Jo TatumThank you for your inquiry.  We have received the following recommendation from our LongArm staff:I would use the 3M Super 77 adhesive. This is a very good adhesive and is not lumpy but very tacky.  We hope this helps!

So I got the adhesive and successfully repaired the rings.  They are like new.  The adhesive is a spray, so I wore a mask, had my ceiling fan on, and wore disposable plastic gloves.  I totally removed the cork (or whatever it is) that was still slightly attached.  I covered my workspace completely and laid the detached cork flat and upside down and lightly sprayed it.  The adhesive does have a small bit of overspray, especially since the cork pieces are really narrow, but not much.  I managed to get them placed onto the rings without any real problem.  One of my cheap plastic gloves broke while I was working and so I got a little of the adhesive on one of my fingers and it kind of stung and was sticky.  I washed my hands with warm water and put lots of hand cream on them…that worked…in time…after about three tries and some time.  It was just a little spot, but it clearly would have been bad if I had not worn any gloves.  That was a week ago and I have just left the rings alone upside down for days and now they are fine…no sticky anywhere…the cork is smooth, flat, and properly in place.  So I will be able to use them while quilting my next sample for the border decisions and I will have a chance to use them before quilting the quilt itself just in case.

Interestingly when I mentioned this on one of my online groups many people responded that the cork had come off of theirs too, and some had used other adhesives.  The rings are made by Martelli, and the cork comes off of their black ones too.  I’m very glad I got mine fixed and hopefully the cork will stay on.  I have had them for about five years and the cork started coming off (it would stick back on for a little while) about three months ago.

Now I have a can of excellent spray adhesive that claims to work for many other things…even fabric.  I wonder what else I need to glue.  LOL

Sew happy everyone.  Stay safe and have fun in your studios. Wear the appropriate protective gear when working with adhesives.

 

Test Samples Provide Significant Help

Current practice piece

Hi everybody,

For my work, I have found that test samples are indispensable when I am making a significant fabric art project or quilt.

Test and practice piece for my first wool applique by machine project

For my work, test samples are indispensable, especially when I am making an important fabric art or quilting project and I highly recommend them for your work.  I have had some of my students object to the use of the fabric, thread, and time that they take, sew I will tell you how I use mine.

I sandwiched two 24 x 25 inch test samples using the fabric on top that I am using in my main project.

Here is a sample test of borders for my quilt Out of Mom’s Workbasket

The point of these samples is to help me with the borders.  I have divided the sandwiches into three sections and then one of the sections on one of the sandwiches into three blocks, since my border has corner stone blocks.  I expect these two sandwiched samplers to help me do the following;

  • Practice my quilting so I am at my best when working on the finished project
  • Decide on the quilt patterns I want to use on the borders and corner blocks
  • Decide on the best way to mark them
  • Decide on the background stitching I want to use
  • Decide on the thread color, weight, and needles I want to quilt with
  • Decide on the stitch settings I want to use
  • Practice painting the designs to polish my painting skills before using it on my finished quilt, determine if I want them painted at all, and what paints to use.
  • Help prevent problems and mistakes on the main quilt.

If you finish the edges with a binding or serging, they make wonderful pet presents, knee guards for working on your knees in various chores, a sitting pad for a rest on an outdoor bench or step outdoors, and reference aids in your studios.

Here is a stitch out sample of the upper left corner of my quilt Pendragon. I digitized the outline of the ancient design, which needed a lot of fixing, so I had to do a stitchout before putting it on the quilt. I also wanted to try the painting to see how that would go. So I just stapled the sample into the book with notes.

Sew happy everyone!  Try using test samples if you don’t already.  They are worth the time and supplies they take. Have fun in your studios!

 

Welcome Fall with Fun Projects

I don’t know about you, but September always seems to be the beginning of the sewing/quilting season to me.  I get kind of excited wondering what I can make and share in my studio.

I was looking at some of my already published YouTube projects, many of which also have workbooks and patterns available on my site store for little or no cost.  There are several there that will make wonderful Fall and Winter celebratory additions to a home or to make as gifts.

Fall Table Runner

Last year, with the help of my family production team, I made a fall table runner, but we did not get it out until mid November, which was clearly too late.  We realized it, but published it anyway for people to enjoy watching at least.  This year, you might want to look at this, purchase the workbook/pattern/digital embroidery (all in one package) and make it for your Fall celebrations.  It has three how-to videos linked below and the downloadable workbook package below that.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Workbook/Pattern Package

Machine Wool Applique Sampler

Here is the finished wool applique by machine sampler.

This is a fun little project that uses mostly circles and decorative stitching to make a little wall hanging using wool.  It is very like what some of you may do by hand, but is all done by machine with some specialty threads.  I had so much fun doing this and I think you would too.  You can choose your own colors.  It does not have a pattern, but if you watch all three videos you really won’t need one.  You can probably tell it was inspired by Sue Spargo’s fabulous hand stitched wool pieces.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Kingfisher wool appliqued pillow (by machine)

 

This project results in a really delightful decorator pillow for your living room or bed room.  It would make a really nice gift for someone.  Truth be told, I made it with mostly the leftovers from the wool sampler above and a pillow I got from Amazon.  It does have two how-to videos on YouTube and a downloadable  FREE workbook/pattern on my website shop. Links of all below.

Part 1

Part 2

Workbook/Pattern

Sew I hope you will take a look at these projects and even make one or more of them.  It would really help me if you subscribed to my YouTube and watched the projects.  I don’t currently get any money from these on YouTube and very few people have gotten the workbooks/patterns.  It would be fabulous if you did watch them all the way through and provided me with comments and suggestions.  I will also answer your questions along the way if you decide to make one or more of these projects.  Together they are like a virtual class where the instruction is free and the patterns are either free or modestly priced.

Some of my videos are simply sharing my work with you and are there for your viewing pleasure.  I am working on one like that now where I am currently making a new show quilt and showing bits and pieces here and there as I do so.

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studio!

 

 

Using Decorative Stitches for Quilted Textures

It is possible to accomplish some amazing quilted textures and designs using a variety of stitches with your feed dogs up.  This is particularly the case if you are blessed with a machine with 9mm wide stitches and even more-so if your machine will do sideways stitching for extra large motifs. I was recently reminded of this in my recent presentation at Suzzie’s Quilt Shop in Manassas Virginia where I showed and talked about my quilts.  For that I pulled out my two architectural quilts where I used decorative stitches and straight line walking foot quilting a lot.

Some machines provide precise information as to the width and length of a decorative stitch, and are somewhat adjustable. Here is a screen shot from my B880 plus simulator with a flower motif that uses sideways motion to achieve a bigger design.  I learned that it is important to keep a flexible clear plastic ruler with both inches and metric for figuring how to use such motifs.  Here you see 41.6 mm wide (about 1.45 inches) by 72.2mm (about 2.85 inches).  Many of these extra large stitch designs are not adjustable, so in this case, I would probably try to accommodate the design by slightly adjusting the size of the fabric I was going to use if at all possible.  Therefore, it helps to plan out the use of such designs before you plunge in.  I am thinking of making a small whole cloth quilt project of some sort just to show off what can be done.

 

This is big enough to be a nice quilting motif in multiple repeats down the middle of a sashing, for instance.

This would make a lovely quilting stitch down a narrow sashing, for instance, or the center of a larger design.

But I have also used more ordinary stitches in rows, even curved rows (such stitches will curve well, and you can even adjust the width while stitching on my Berninas, and probably other brands) to build up the texture of an area to look like stucco or rock face or some such:

For textured areas, choose geometric patterns that would fit together well in rows sewn closely together.

This method was what I used for some of the walls in this architectural quilt.  Note that I had to curve and narrow the decorative stitch design and place them close together. Also it wasn’t perfect, but still looked nice.

From Perspective in Threads, (the colors are off in this picture, but you can see the stitching) entirely done with threads…some decorative stitching, some straight line sewing using a walking foot, and some free motion — stitched in four different thread weights (12, 40, 50, and 100).

 

This is more detail from the same quilt, and is closer to the correct color than the first detail shot. Look at the wall surrounding the back arch that looks kind of like stucco.  That is rows of decorative stitching.  The shadows under the steps are simply well-placed rows of straight stitches.

If you do landscapes or small pictorial renderings and want a nice field with flowers and grass, for instance a stitch design with small flowers stitched with variegated threads might just be what you need. This is just a 9.0 mm width and a 15.7 mm (.62 inches) length design.  Rows of this spaced closely together would work.

This shows stitch 128 choice.

I did something like this (I don’t remember the exact stitch, but it might have been this one) in the yard on the rendering of the house on “Dad’s House Plan”.

Sew it is possible to get some wonderfully appropriate and detailed quilting on your domestic sewing machine if you are not comfortable with free motion stitching, and even if you are.  Sometimes, it is just the right texture that you need and can obtain with those decorative stitches.

Sew happy everyone!  Try something new with decorative stitches and have fun in your studios.  I plan on going back to a blog every couple of weeks again.  Please comment, pay a visit to my YouTube.  Cheers.

Landscape Quilt Techniques: Mountains and Evergreen Trees

Hi everybody!  I cannot believe it is March already!!!  I am currently working on a small landscape wall art quilt with mountains and evergreen trees that includes the writing of a workbook with pattern, hand cutting or svg cutting files for use with a digital cutter, and a set of videos for my YouTube channel.  I am loving this project!  A couple of family members came up with the concept and I knew as soon as I saw it that I would love doing it and how to do it.  It involves prepared turned-edge applique-piecing by machine, stitched raw edge applique, yarn couching and big thread free motion stitching.  It will be a lovely size for wall art in a home or office–somewhere in the neighborhood of 24 x 20 inches.  I hope some of my followers will do this project once it is available and really enjoy it.

So far, I am about half way through the construction and filming but I am not sure when it will be published.  The workbook and pattern set are also nearly finished and that will be available in my shop on my website.

Way back in May of 2021, I presented the first of my landscape quilting techniques sampler piece and promised more.  I was astonished to realize it has been so long since that was published!!!  Here’s the link for the first of two videos for this project:  Landscape Quilting Deciduous Trees Skillbuilder.  Yes, it was early in my adventure in my YouTube channel and that shows, but the techniques are solid and fun, and the promise was  real.  I believe we (me and my family production crew) have come a long ways in our production of such projects and videos in this time.  This project included stitched raw edge applique, broiderie perse, and free-motion quilting with 40 weight and 12 weight decorative threads. The quilting and decorative stitching is found in the second video:  http://Landscape Art Quilting Part 2  So this will be the second in my Landscape Skill-building series.  I hope to have a few more in the future.

Overall, I am trying to get faster and better in the videoing and the production of patterns and workbooks.  It’s a stretch but I enjoy having a creative challenge as I reach my 76th birthday this Friday, March 3rd!!!!  I anticipate many years still in this creative endeavor, and am increasingly employing the high tech tools in my studio to help overcome some of my aging factors that make hand sewing, for instance, and other things involved in fabric art more difficult.  Age should not be a limiting factor in creative pursuits.  Here’s an amazing performance of a 100 year old ballerina that highlights my point:

Ballet video:

I have also started making a new deep space show quilt based on a fabulous NASA photo.  At least I hope it will come out good enough to be a show quilt.  This will be my fourth space show quilt.  I am filming some of that as I work through it, but it is not intended for a tutorial, just some fun videos.  This type of quilt is almost entirely made at my sit down Bernina Q20 longarm in free motion.  The galaxy is made from Angelina Fibers and nylon veiling.  I really like this kind of quilting.  It’s like playing and dancing to me!  Here is my third deep space quilt, which won a couple of ribbons in its show life, although these are difficult to photograph:

I am hopeful I will get some good ideas from my “production crew” on how to best video my new space project.  Cameras have a hard time dealing with such reflective sparklies.

And no, that’s not all I am working on, in case you are wondering, but we will chat about these later in the year when I am closer to getting them up and running for you to see.

Sew happy everyone!! Young, old, and in between, have fun in your studios!

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Mild Frustrations but Still Fun in the Studio

A video studio (not mine) from stock photos. Where’s the sewing machine?!!!

This has been one of those days that are both fun and frustrating.

I am making several versions of a quick little project for Christmas presents and simultaneously using the making of them for a short video project. It had gone very well until today with a pretty good overhead scene and one at the machine showing the start of the project I did yesterday.  I had a whole scene worked out at the machine that took about an hour and a half to film. It actually took me more than two hours by the time I did the preparations filming things and so forth. It went so well at the machine. I was so happy with what I thought was an interesting video showing some special stitching techniques and how to do them at my Bernina 880 plus. And JUST as I came to the end of the scene, the camera ran out of battery power. I didn’t see it happen because I was concentrating on the stitching. The camera did what it has only done once before and gave me a warning that it hadn’t completed the file and did I want it to repair it. Sigh.

Practice Stitch Library showing extra wide multi-directional special stitching

Now the last time it did that on a previous project, I said yes and it reformatted the whole card and wiped out all the files on that card. So instead, I turned off the camera and removed it. I took the card to the computer to see. The two previous scenes were fine (phew!), but today’s was corrupted and unable to play!   Oh fiddlesticks! The item itself, however, was beautiful.  I’ll tell you later what it is.

Fortunately it’s a small project, I had leftover fabric, and I was able to prepare the next piece to redo today’s filming and am now ready to redo today’s work tomorrow. It will at least result in two of these small presents, and I was planning on making several anyway. So in essence, I did not lose much time. That is, if tomorrow’s filming goes better. Plus, I think my demonstration will go better because I have done a full run-through now.  Hahaha.

The moral of the story is to have extra supplies and fabrics, and try to not get too upset when these things happen in this combination video work and sewing adventure and look on the bright side.  I think you are going to like this project.  I have several shorter projects lined up for the next few videos and then I will launch into quilted fabric art for 2023.  Yes, I have a list much longer than I can possibly do already worked out for next year, which, to my delight, includes a couple of show quilts!!!  Perhaps my biggest challenge will be choosing which project to do first and so on.  But I am anticipating having some fun my studio.

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studio even when things don’t always work out like you want.  Cheers everyone!

Tools from Tailoring and Building World for Quilt Artists

Hi everybody!

Recently I was reminded of some of the great tools tailors use.  I have many of them since I used to do couture tailoring as part of my own business and family clothes making decades ago.  I was watching the amazing fashion historian Bernadette Banner’s YouTube where she had master tailor Barbara of Royal Black as a guest to demonstrate how important ironing is in tailoring.  It made me want to tailor something and maybe I will, but I’m here to tell you that it is equally as important in the quilting world and some of the tools they use can help a lot too.  So I purchased a new 100% silk pressing cloth and a new wood clapper. I used these two things a lot in the making of the Thanksgiving table runner that you will be able to see soon on my YouTube channel.  I even managed to easily press out a slight wave the border had developed with a little seam and the clapper.  It’s now nice and flat.

Over the quilting part of my career I have used multiple tailoring and fashion sewing tools I had accumulated, and some of them are so old that they are worn and need replacing.  These include things like Nancy Zieman’s Sliding Sewing Gauge that not only is a helpful measuring device, but also provides a circle marker for up to a 10 inch circle.  I am thinking of replacing the expanding button placement guide thingy I used to have but no longer do.  It would be very helpful in placement of quilting designs in a border, for instance as well as button placement and other evenly spaced items…no math!…Always a good thing.  LOL.

In making my Kingfisher pillow project, I used the pointy edge tracing wheel from the above set to make a freezer paper stencil for use with a Pounce marker  to help me mark the design placement.  To make this work, I iron two layers of freezer paper together (one shiny side to one paper side), print the design on the paper, and while it is on a wool ironing pad, run the marking wheel that is designed for leather work along the design.  This punches a line of holes in the stencil.  Then iron on the freezer paper stencil in place and pounce mark the design, remove the stencil and place it in the next position and iron it there.  It is normally reusable enough times to have a quilting design go around a small quilt’s border.  You may need to make a second one for a larger quilt.  This is handy DIY stencil making.

Sew what from the building world, you ask?  I use my late father’s T-square and a laser square to square up some of my quilts, especially the larger ones.  And even occasionally, when I remember how, I use my father’s slide rule for a quick bit of math.  LOL

Sew look around and see what you may have or may want to buy to help you in your studio.  Have fun in your studio everyone!

***********************************

NOTE:  Some of you may be waiting for my Thanksgiving project to show up on my YouTube Channel, and indeed it is late but is on the way very soon.  I have completed the making of the project which I captured in videos along the way and my video editor (a talented family member) is working on the videos as we speak.  There is a short bit of intro video to do and that will be accomplished today.  I think you will enjoy seeing the videos and purchasing the pattern that will come complete with embroidery and digital cutting files as well as things to help if you don’t have a digital cutter.

 

A Quick Wardrobe Update for Fall and Winter

This is a nice jacket pattern I have. I plan to make this one and do the embroidery too.

Sew I recently purchased three nice cotton blend oxford shirts on a very good sale that fit me perfectly 😮 (!) to replace some in my closet that are decidedly worn. Well, they are 15 or more years old, I think!!  I plan on embellishing the new ones with in-the -hoop embroidery and decorative stitching. 🌺

I also have a nice light suede cloth jacket I no longer wear very much but is in great shape and I thought I would alter that down a little bit and embroider that too.  Maybe I will do some yarn couching on it (inspired by Bethanne Nemesh, but different).  This is  all so I can dress in keeping with my fabric artist lifestyle and go out from time to time. 🙃  I might also change the buttons to something more decorative. These will be nice additions to my wardrobe and are a nice fit (my old shirts are a size larger). I seem to be ok with most of my jeans and slacks, though a new pair of dress slacks might be in order.

My current fall and winter work “uniform” is usually a shirt and black jeans plus a sweater when needed. I suddenly realized how surprisingly old my whole wardrobe is, and it looks it too. So I also have plans to make a nice black suede jacket, a denim one, and a light wool slacks suit out of some of the fabulous fabrics I have in my fashion stash under my bed. I have a few beautiful silk blouses I made some time back in good shape.  I think they look nice even a little looser than I used to wear them.  We’ll see how much, if any of this that I will get done.

If only I had a fairy godmother with her magic wand.  LOL

This all, however, must wait for me to finish the Thanksgiving project and a few other things. Are you doing any fall and winter fashion sewing? Are you embellishing it?

Sew happy everyone! Have fun in your studio!

Advancing One’s Fabric Artistry

Hi everyone!  I got to thinking a lot this week about what is needed to advance one’s fabric artistry abilities.  This was brought on because one of my best friends is getting a new sewing machine next week.  It’s already in, she just has to go pick it up and has scheduled a class for learning to use it.

For several years now I have been helping Anita learn how to add fabric as a new medium to her already wonderful art and basic sewing skills. She has made amazing progress.  In return, she has helped me reorganize my fabric and thread stash, assembled kits when I made them for classes, worked with me to make church banners (we go to the same church), willingly tested some of my ideas, and generally encouraged me in my current projects. We enjoy our sewing and chatting time together.

Her wonderful old Bernina 1230, which was nearly 25 years old and was originally mine, had the mother board die and they don’t make or have replacements anymore, so she bought a new Bernina 480.  This is a great choice for her because it has a 9mm stitch width with lots of decorative stitches and the harp space is one inch wider than her 1230.  It will advance her work.  Over the next year or so she plans to add some of the accessories that don’t come with it to stretch the usefulness of the already fabulous machine for her kind of work. It will take a Bernina Stitch Regulator, but I think she probably won’t get this for a while. The others include:

  1. The Gold ocher color bobbin case that gives a tighter bobbin tension than the black one that comes with it and is particularly useful for decorative stitching, free motion embroidery, and quilting. I think they should have included this in the initial machine package (do you hear me Bernina?).
  2. A single hole stitch plate for straight stitch accuracy and free motion stitching.
  3. The walking foot which is extremely helpful for a quilter/bagmaker
  4. Multi-Spool Holder: Attaches to the back of the machine and allows the use of threads on cones (cheaper by the yard) and has a telescopic threading rod that also helps manage the threads from metallics and other difficult threads.
  5. Bernina Thread Lubrication Unit: Helps handle metallics and other difficult threads (Rayons, for instance)
  6. Additional Feet:
    1. A quarter inch foot number 96 C with guide or #37 which enables really accurate quarter inch and eighth inch seams to piece things together.
    2. 20c open toed embroidery foot A definite necessity for any fabric artist.
    3. Narrow hemstitch foot (there are five of them of various types which make different kinds of narrow hems. Probably #63 would be my choice. She wants to make some scarves among other things that need narrow hems.
    4. Free Motion Couching foot #43: couch heavy threads, cords, and yarns to the surface of the fabric.  I have also used this as a free motion stitch foot for stitching over uneven surfaces before I got the cup foot.
    5. 39C clear embroidery foot: It is a great foot for decorative stitching and has a small hole for threading cordonet thread or other light cording through to stitch over with decorative stitching.

So far, she has developed fine skills and used them for free motion embroidery, hand embroidered baby quilts, appliqued bed runners, quilts for her grand children with free motion quilting, bags, a lovely drapey jacket, table toppers, and a beautiful Victorian ball gown for her grand daughter complete with a perfect fluffy petticoat for it.  I would say she has clearly graduated from a basic sewer to advanced intermediate sewer and intermediate quilter, and is hovering on the edge of tipping the scale into an advanced fabric artist and quilter.  While it is unfortunate her old machine died, this new machine will be a blessing for her.

 

Anita’s lovely granddaughter modeling her beautiful satin jacquard ball gown Anita made for her.

Sew in addition to a good sewing machine, what, in my humble opinion, does it take to become a master sewing artist? It definitely does NOT mean that everything you make is a masterpiece.  Sometimes the pieces are, frankly, not very good. It does, however, mean that you are capable of making a masterpiece and do from time to time and are willing to take the leap to try. Since I am an incorrigible list maker, I have a list of what I think is needed to reach for advanced fabric artist and quilter. It’s an ongoing endeavor and lots of fun to do.

  1. It takes a good understanding of your machine (or machines) and a number of interesting things you can do with it beyond make a seam or a buttonhole and kind of constant testing and trying out of possibilities with it.  Never stop learning.  I am constantly working on this myself. Indeed, I have spent the last six months or so learning things I didn’t know or needed to improve in using my Bernina 880 plus.  I’m sure my sons and daughter-in-law are tired of hearing “wow! Did you know I can do such and such with my machine?”  But I have to tell someone!
  2. Handwork, even if you are, like me, primarily a machine person.  You can turn your understanding of handwork into using your machine for about 90 percent of the time.
  3. It really helps to gain a solid understanding of interfacings, stabilizers, and battings; fibers and their properties; thread types and weights and what they are for; what needles you need for which threads and kind of sewing; markers; and tools available beyond the obvious.
  4. There are always new developments in sewing tools and I am often surprised by what’s available now. The struggle is figuring out what tools are really needed or at least would help speed or improve a frequently needed process and which can be passed over.  I am sort of a gadget/tool fan, so I often have to tell myself “no” firmly when confronted with the purchase of a new tool.  Hahaha. I do have a large collection, but I have been sewing since I was five and am now 75. Plus I inherited both my mother’s and my mother-in-law’s sewing supplies. So the vast majority of my sewing tools have been around for a long while.
  5. But chiefly, it takes allowing yourself to have confidence in your abilities, and a certain amount of willingness for risk taking that comes with realization that one will sometimes fail and have to spend a lot of time unstitching or remaking pieces of a project or start all over using a different direction. It’s part of the adventure.  Also, sometimes, you just have to abandon a project and realize it is ok to do so.  I constantly work on this.
  6. Where I personally need to work the hardest is in my designs.  That is the hardest thing for me because I almost never use someone else’s designs and often have a vision in my mind that may be difficult to get down into a workable pattern or guide either on paper or on my computer.
  7. Piecing accurately.  Even an art quilter needs to piece from time to time. I think I am just fair intermediate piecer.
  8. Speaking of patterns, I am working on improving my professional pattern-making skills to a higher level for use by people who would like to try the projects I present on my YouTube channel, in my blog here, and in books.  I no longer have classes since Covid shut them down and I switched to videos and writing permanently, but I still teach by these methods and one-on-one in person.
  9. There are other things that may add a lot to a project, especially in the embellishment arena, but are not required.  These might include crystals and beads, fabric paints, found objects, charms, 3 dimensional sewing (like butterflies and flowers for instance), machine embroidery–both in-the-hoop if you have an embroidery machine and out of the hoop (even if you do have an embroidery machine).
  10. I’m sure I have forgotten something. Do you have any ideas?

The thing to know is that you probably already have most of these things in your virtual tool belt and, like me, mainly just need to learn more in each of these categories.  I find it fun.  Do you?

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studio and let me know what your fabric adventures are.