Types of Machine Applique

Hi people!  Happy New Year.  I hope your new year is off to a good start. I was thinking the other day about working out an applique project that provided the opportunity to use multiple types of machine applique and determining which to use for what.  I would of course provide a pattern or worksheet and a YouTube video for you if I did that.  Would you like that?

“Canterbury Silk”. This quilt won several ribbons in national competitions. The flowers and birds are stitched raw edge silk with narrow matching color blanket stitch. They have not frayed.

Sew what would I include if I make this project?  I think it would be something like this:

  1. Prepared turned edge applique stitched in such a way that it approaches the look of fine hand turned-edge applique.
  2. The rest would be stitched raw edge appliques:
    • narrow blanket stitch and/or vari-overlock stitch in matching thread colors
    • double blanket stitch with 40 weight thread
    • broiderie perse applique

Stitching down a broiderie perse cutout from the Hoffman challenge fabric.

    • decorative stitch with heavy weight thread
    • straight stitch leaving a deliberate edge that would eventually fray for texture

wool applique on wool with decorative machine stitched edges. Other fabrics work for this method too.

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studios and enjoy the whole of 2023.

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.

 

 

 

Spirals and Stars

Hi everyone!  Happy Thanksgiving.  This time of year is always my favorite.  I love Christmas that celebrates the birth of my Lord Jesus Christ.  I love the sparkly lights and the over-the-top decorations.  I love the music and everything about it.

In a somewhat related item this year, I am making a deep space quilt which I may not finish before Christmas, but actually, it is inspired by the great beauty and glory of the wonderful space scenes that NASA and others bring to us with their telescopes and photography.  Here is the chosen picture I will be celebrating.  When I see some of these glorious pictures, Haydn’s music “the Heavens Declare the Glory of God”, based on Psalm 19, runs through my head.  It was one of the pieces I sang many times with multiple choruses over my decades of singing.  Haydn had partially been inspired by a friend’s telescope focused on space some time before he wrote that piece.

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captures the spiral galaxy NGC 105, which lies roughly 215 million light-years away in the constellation Pisces. While it looks like NGC 105 is plunging edge-on into a collision with a neighbouring galaxy, this is just the result of the chance alignment of the two objects in the night sky. NGC 105’s elongated neighbor is actually far more distant and remains relatively unknown to astronomers.

I am acutely aware that my quilt can never fully capture the glory of this scene, but it might be beautiful when finished.  I will use a background fabric of Pepper Cory’s “Deep Space 98” peppered cotton, with a lot of crystals, Angelina Fibers, a little paint, black nylon veiling, and beautiful threads to make this.  I don’t have a clue how long it will take me to make it and I am not going to rush it.  I also plan on doing a few other projects during the same time-frame.  Will I be providing a video tutorial on this?  Well,not really.  I am planning to simply show some of the making of it, but not try to teach people the techniques.  If they pick them up from just my videos, that is fine.  I just basically want to share my fun in the making of it in a video or two.  Sew I will need a few other projects that are tutorials with patterns for my subscribers too.

By the way, I am making some short little project tutorials for presentation from time to time over the next few months.

ANNOUNCEMENT:  I will be providing a showing and discussion of some of my work over the years at Suzzie’s Quilt Shop, 10404 Portsmouth Road (Westgate Shopping Center) in Mannassas, Virginia on January 10th at 10:30 am. 

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A little report on my YouTube channel: As of today (Thanksgiving 2022), I have 465 subscribers.  According to the YouTube analytics, that represents about 31 percent of the people who watch my videos.  If I were to reach 500 subscribers, it provides me with a few more tools to add interest to the channel.  I cannot monetize the channel until I reach a minimum of 100o subscribers and lots of viewers.  Monetizing might help pay for some of the fabric, thread, stabilizers, battings, paints, beads, crystals, needles, cameras, lights, machine maintenance, sdcards, batteries, tripods, machine feet, and on and on.  Sew if you want to support my channel, all you need to do is “subscribe” (it’s free and does not require filling anything out) and then “like” my videos.  I would really appreciate it. By the way, I am making some short little project tutorials for presentation from time to time over the next few months.


Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studios (even if that “studio” is closet size or the top of your dining table).

 

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!

Online Fabric Shopping

Hi everyone!  Earlier this week Fabric.com closed suddenly.  This was difficult for me because even though I have access to three more or less local quilt fabric shops that cover my quilting fabric needs, none of them carry things I use for abnormal quilting fabrics, clothing, very little for bag making and other assorted giftable-type items.  Fabric.com was my go to for these things that I must order online if I am going to get them at all.  It was an adjunct Amazon business and had a fabulous supply of fabrics at reasonable prices and great search engine to find them with.  So this set me on a mission to find replacement resources.  Here is what I have found so far, but I am still hunting:

  1. I have yet to find a supplier that has everything they had and no company’s search engine is a good, though some have reasonably good ones.
  2. Hancock’s of Paducah has a nice selection of about half of the non-quilt cotton fabrics, so it is a good place to start if you are on the hunt for certain fabrics.  Besides, I have bought things from them for years and they are in my “trusted” category.  I know from past purchases that they are a little slow in getting your order to you and aren’t particularly good about letting you know if they have something on back order until after you have ordered it.  But besides that, I like them.
  3. Farmhouse Fabrics fills in a lot of places when you are trying to get the supplies for something special like a Christening gown or a Victorian heirloom sewing by machine dress or blouse, for instance.  They have exquisite fabrics, trims, and laces, though I think they are a little pricey.  After this month’s Threads Magazine where they have cotton velveteen on the cover, and one of my best friend’s passion for velveteen I found that fabric almost impossible to find until I found it a Farmouse.  I have used them in the past and they are fast and efficient.
  4. Then there is Fashion Fabrics Club where one can often find a great bargain piece and they have a lot of fabrics.  I have also used them for many years, and have sometimes gotten a great piece for a bargain price.  The fabrics are normally wonderful, but occasionally, the quality is not quite as high as it should be, though this is rarely the case. The prices in general make up for that rare time though I think.  I did not like some silk dupioni I once got there, and ended up using it only for practice pieces, but the wools I bought there are fabulous, and I have bought a lot over the years.
  5. I have found that if you want a good quality denim, cotton twill, or something for draperies for instance you may want to take a look at sellfabric.com.  I found this by getting in touch with Carr Textiles that manufactures a particularly nice brushed denim I sometimes want and used to get through Fabric.com.  They directed me there for their fabrics.  The shipping cost is a little pricey but since I was unable to find the brushed denim I wanted anywhere else after much looking, I think it is the only option at this point.
  6. I did take a look at Mood Fabrics, and saw they have fabulous fabrics, though I thought the prices were a little high.  I’ve never used them, but they seem to have some of the things I will miss from Fabric.com.
  7. Then there is my good old friend G Street Fabrics, which I have used for decades, have some close friends who work there, and it is where I bought my Berninas.  I love the store, even in its lesser version after it moved to the current place in Rockville, MD.  It used to be so magnificent, but it is still the best fabric store around in my humble opinion.  The problem for me has become getting there, because I have gotten a little older and the trip from here to there takes about an hour through rough dense traffic and I find it stressful, so I don’t go anymore.  Nevertheless, they are offering a lot online of their exquisite, often out of my budget, fabrics.  But take a look.  You will enjoy seeing some of what they offer I suspect.  Hint:  One yard of something expensive but magnificent can go a long ways when carefully used or make you happy just to have it to pet in your stash.  They also still have gorgeous buttons.
  8. Amazon still has some of the fabrics and especially notions I like, but often precut into links or sizes you may not want. It says to me that it is likely someone who doesn’t understand our industry is now in charge of the fabric offers from or through there.  It’s likely someone who is not aware how this is a living, growing industry with lots of interest by young and old alike.
  9. And of course there is Joann Fabrics we all know.  I have found they have the best prices on interfacings, especially Pellon brand.  There are a few other things I like, but I am not a particular fan of their fabrics, which are quite frequently a lesser quality.  You can still get some nice fabric there with careful shopping.

I am quite sure there are other places that some of you have found that are great I haven’t mentioned, or maybe you are one of the lucky sewers who have a great fabric store nearby or live within reach of a fabric district.  But I think I know know where I can find most of the things I will be missing from Fabric.com.

Sew happy everyone! Have fun in your studio and have fun shopping.

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!

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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.

 

Thread Notes

My friend Anita is working through learning how to get the best out of her new Bernina 480.  She is doing really well making a charity quilt using quilt-as-you-go blocks with sashing joining and some really pretty bits of Japanese prints.  Her free motion quilting is really beautiful, but she was trying to use up her leftover threads and kept having problems with it breaking with one kind of thread and leaving fluff behind in her machine for another.  So we talked about it.

She told me she is using 40 weight rayon Sulky threads for the quilting and that it was breaking and shredding frequently.  She thought it was her machine.  Well no, almost certainly not.  Even high-end quality rayon threads are a specialty thread that I use only when I take particular care to pass it through my thread lubricant device on my machine.  She doesn’t have this for hers yet.  There is one for it, however, that is easy to install.  So I recommend that she put aside the rayon thread, which makes beautiful decorative stitching, but require special attention and turn to the other threads in her stash for now.  But here is what one should know about using threads:

  • Rayon thread is very prone to breaking, but it is really beautiful.  I never use it for construction sewing, except I have on rare occasions used it for quilting when I wanted a particular look.  It must be lubricated in some manner, stitched using a topstitch needle andwith a little lighter top tension to make it work well.   Her B480 needs this thread lubrication unit (not expensive) for sewing with both rayons and metallics.  If your machine doesn’t have this option, use a silicone thread lubricant by running a line of it down the side of your spool and rubbing it into the spool with your hands.
  • Cotton is what many traditional quilters think should be used when quilting.  A high quality cotton thread is good, although one must realize that even high end cottons tend to leave behind fluff in the bobbin area, especially, and requires more frequent cleaning.  It’s just the way it is.  Some brands are less fluffy than others.  I like Wonderfil in all their cotton weight threads, in particular, because they treat it so it has less fluff than most and it’s beautiful.  I also like Sulky 12 weight, but not other Sulky threads as much.  Aurifil is considered a high quality thread, and it is, but it does fluff more than some others.
  • High quality polyester threads give the least problems in sewing, quilting, and embroidery.  I particularly like Wonderfil, Superior, and Isacord 40 weight polyesters and have a lot of all three brands.  They don’t fluff as much, break as much, or shrink or bleed when washed (and yes, thread can bleed, just like fabrics).
  • Silk thread is so lovely, works really well, but is more expensive than other threads.  I particularly like Superior 100 weight Kimono silk thread for micro-stippling and other delicate quilting.
  • Metallic threads are a specific challenge, but are worth it.  Treat them much like rayon threads, but if you use them, try to have a way of feeding the thread that gives it a path to relax before entering the thread path…my Bernina 880 plus and my Q20 both have tall telescopic thread feeding that makes the metallics work well.  Anita’s B480 needs the Multi-Spool Holder that 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 metallics and other difficult threads (like rayon).  If your machine doesn’t have these options, an independent thread holder can do the job both for metallics and for using cones (which seem expensive  to buy but are really cheaper by the yard).
  • 50 weight thread is what most machines are set for at the manufacturer, and consequently there may be some need to adjust the top tension for different weights, though 40 weights seem mostly ok with the default settings.  If you want to sew clothing, both 50 and 40 weight threads in either polyeter, cotton, or a combination thereof, work well with an 80/12 universal needle.

Sew, I know that threads seem expensive.  The initial investment to establish a thread stash can be a bit of an outlay, but if one picks out six or eight basic colors of 40 weight polyester cones and 100 weight cones of threads of either silk or polyester, then they can usually answer the needs for the most part, and other colors can be added a little at a time.  Just be sure to store them out of the sun and in a dry location.  If they are good quality to start off, these will last for years through lots of projects.  Cones do need an accomodating thread stand or holder if your machine doesn’t come with that.

My best advice is, don’t buy cheap threads!!! And don’t try to use up your stash for inappropriate uses even if you are making charity quilts. But do build a nice little stash of threads and replace the colors when they go empty.  Also use the right needles.  All of this will help preserve your machines and keep down your sewing frustration.  In the long run, it also saves you money in machine repairs, thread nests, and valuable time.

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studio!!!

 

 

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.