My machine – blogging challenge day 3

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For the 31 Day Blogging challenge the topic is “My machine”. I have finally narrowed down my sewing machines to three, but I’ll mostly talk about the main one I use.

My main sewing machine, the one I love and helps get me though my day, is the Brother PQ1500SL high speed machine, Yes, it is basically an industrial type machine, It is very similar to the JUKI TL-2010Q. In fact, I was going to buy the Juki, but went with the Brother.

I had researched new sewing machines and new I wanted an industrial or high speed machine and no fancy stitches. As it happened, we were going to Ottawa for a conference, and there was a Juki dealer in Ottawa. We had an extra day and went to the Ottawa Sewing Center. They didn’t have the Juki in stock, but the owner showed me the Brother and explained how it was very similar to the Juki, which I knew from Internet research.

It was also $400 cheaper.

Sold! And he would ship it home for me too, because there was no way we were taking it back on the plane with us.

This machine is SUPER FAST. And I love it because I sew very fast. It has a side load for the bobbin and the needle is pointed to the side, so those are the only things that I’m still not quite used to. It seems a little picky when I load a new bobbin and I have to test my stitches whenever I load a new bobbin. The tension is good and a rarely need to adjust it, unless I am having bobbin issues.

It does one stitch – a straight stitch. It does go in reverse, and I have used the walking foot for quilting, and also the free motion foot for quilting, It did not like my generic ruler foot and would not form stitches properly whenever I tried with the ruler foot.

It has a knee lift that I never use, the extension table is on it more than not, and the built in thread cutter is a new thing to me that I am loving.

I definitely recommend this to anyone who does a lot of volume sewing.

My second machine is a Bernina 440QE, at least ten years old. This is the one I did most of the FMQ learning on with the stitch regulator attachment,. Unfortunately, I was too hard on this machine sewing some very thick fabrics and wound up getting a shaft replaced. It hasn’t been the same since, despite being to various repair people. It skips a stitch every so often, and no one can figure out why – despite being retimed and everything. I can live with it though.

My last machine is a Brother SC9500 Computerized Sewing & Quilting Machine which I bought from Fabricville the first time the Bernina went kaput and I had customers I needed to sew for. It is an inexpensive machine with plastic parts inside, even if it does sell for around $400. When I sew with it, it feels like I am using a toy. It’s the machine I use to take to classes because it is lightweight. Unfortunately, I took it to a class in the backseat of my car without anchoring it and it fell over into the foot are and the bobbin winder post broke off. Ooops.

Otherwise, I just use it as a spare or for when the husband wants to sew something in another room. Given the skipping stitches issues with my Bernina, and my main machine is straight stitch only, I also use this one for the rare times I need to zig zag or any other fancy stitch. It is adequate, and I would recommend machines in this price range and build for people who aren’t sure if they will stick with sewing or quilting. I can FMQ on this machine as well, but I definitely feel the difference over the above machines.

Because I can’t not quilt

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Last night I was at yet another guild meeting, being in two guilds and it being the holiday season, and we were once again talking about all things quilting.

It is slowly dawning on me that maybe other people who enjoy the same hobby as I do haven’t been doing it as long as I assumed and maybe don’t even partake as often. Challenging my own assumptions here as I too insist I am not the fuddy duddy old grandmother traditional muddy fabric quilter.

Talking to other ladies who do not have dedicated sewing rooms and who do not sew almost every day but maybe get a couple hours in once a week, if they’re lucky.

Talking to other ladies who make maybe six quilts a year, slowly and with a purpose – for  a son’s wedding, a new baby, an older child off to college. A reason, a means to an end.

How do you do it, they ask, and I see half the question in their eye of “why?” as well. “You’re so… driven,” they remark. I make light sometimes, saying I don’t really clean my house, who likes cleaning right? I’d rather sew.

Sometimes, if I think we have time, I tell them a small story.

Do you know any writers, I ask? I work with some writers, I know some writers and a musician. The thing is, they have to write. The words, the music, it is there – in them – and it has to come out. There’s no reason, no reasoning,  it just is. The music wants to come to life, the story needs to be written.

That’s how I quilt, that’s how I sew. I have to.

In every house we’ve lived in, no matter the state of renovation. In any stage of life – babies underfoot, teenagers borrowing the machine, no room dedicated and yet there I was, sewing in a corner because I had to.

I look at a scrap of fabric and get ideas. I see the garment, I see the quilt block.

I look at quilt tops unfinished, and see the quilting.

I close my eyes and there it is – yet another design. I try and record it somewhere, a scrap of paper, notebook, sticky notes at the side of the bed on the nightstand full of half asleep scrawls and rustic sketches I look at sideways with awake eyes.

I moved my work desk and laptop to our sewing room / future office, to make room for the Christmas tree. Only temporary for the holidays, I said. The busy holidays where less sewing happens. But I’m here, surrounded by piles of fabric in various stages of design and completion.

It’s been four days since I’ve sewn anything. I’m feeling the pull.

Four days, and I tell myself if I just swing my chair across the room and sew for ten minutes on a work break, I’l be fiiiine and hope I don’t forget I have a day job.

Because I can’t not quilt.

The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting

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Recently I received a copy of the Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting for review. I’m not sure if you noticed but I really like to machine quilt! That is my favourite part of quilting . So not only was I super excited to have a chance to read this book, it was written by two of my favourite quilting authors.

I have known Angela Walters online for what seems like a long time. I first met her when helping her out with her blog way back in the early days before she even had any books. I soon became a fan. I now own most of the books she has written. Christa Watson came on my radar in the last year or so, but I quickly became a fan of her style as well.

Both ladies are wonderfully engaging and friendly. This comes across very well in their book. I love how they both tackle the same quilt top in different ways. I always wonder when I see a longarm quilt design how I might adapt it to domestic machine quilting, and this book can help with that. I really enjoyed reading their thought processes on why they both chose to quilt certain designs in certain areas.

There is an extensive section at the front of the book about tools and rulers, plus how and why to use them. There is also a section on the advantages of quilting on either a long arm or a domestic machine. I really appreciated this section, since I have been thinking about a long arm purchase in the future.

While this book does have quilt patterns, they are light on directions (two pages each quilt) for piecing and assume you have a knowledge of the basics. That was fine with me, because I need to get down to the quilting part! They go over how to do any markings needed and where they started on each particular quilt.

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They even include a design for a wholecloth quilt. I was excited to see this, as a wholecloth quilt is on my bucket list. I will probably do this project from the book first, and combine techniques from both quilters to make it my own.

I would probably not recommend this book for a real beginner, only if you had some fmq under your belt and were very confident. I would recommend this for anyone who has been machine quilting and is bored with the same old thing. If you are wondering how to get those drool worthy designs on your quilt that you see everywhere online this book will help get you started.

I was provided an e-book copy of this book entirely free for the purposes of review. I like this book enough that I’m going to buy the print version so I can reference it more easily.

When I quilt

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Here I go, making sure I blog. I had two quilt guild meetings earlier this week, and I still mean to write about those, but they may be long. So of course I put it off.

And because I promised Amy I have to blog something right? 😉

I think a lot about the process of quilting and actually quilting (and sewing and pressing and fabric pulling and layout), and I would do it all day every day if I could.

I did learn by doing the Year of Making that I totally go in cycles, especially in a week. I work from home doing tech support for a WordPress company, and my work week starts on Sundays.

I also get up early and consequently go to bed early, so my evenings for anything productive don’t run later than 8 or 8:30, usually. I make way too many mistakes later than that.

So, diving in to my work Sunday, a mid morning weekly call from my mother, afternoon lull where maybe I can finish something else but it usually turns to housework, and post dinner I go visit my son, his wife and our three adorable monkey granddaughters.

By Monday evenings, it’s usually another run to the grocery store, maybe Tuesday.

By Wednesdays, if I haven’t sewn since Saturday I make sure to go do something, or my husband makes sure I do because it is an instant mood improver. Thursday is the last day of my work week, so by then, it is all Thursday evening in the sewing room, maybe even a grocery trip again, but by then I feel I can stay up later.

Friday – Friday is the BEST day because I almost always spend the entire day quilting. And I attack it like it was my job. I have lists, I have project bags and I have a clean workspace. Okay only sometimes, but you get my drift.

Usually I am down in my basement sewing room by 9:30am, iPad in hand to listen to shows on Netflix and I go straight through to lunch. After lunch, I’m back again till maybe 3pm-ish for snacktime and then done by 5 for dinner.

Friday night I spend time with the hubby, for a date night.

Saturday is errands, housework, working on our new/old house we bought, and some sewing if I can. About half the time it’s another sewing day, but if it is I’m pretty tired by the end. Bath, movie in bed after that, sleep, then I get up and start my week all over again.

By some standards, I get LOADS of sewing time in there – two whole days! And then some nights! So I’m pretty lucky there.

When do you sew?

Welcome Blogathon visitors!

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Hi! I’m Andrea! Feel free to poke around, leave comments, have a party.

I live in fredericton NB and just bought a house in Keswick, so if you are in either area and a quilter, PLEASE leave a link to your blog so I can stalk you.. er, I mean so we can be new quilting Best Friends!

I really love modern quilting so if there’s anything in the area for that, I’d love to know!

There’s 3 quilt guilds around here I have yet to visit, but that is on my list for the new year. If you see me there, I’ll be the one with the colorful hair. Usually it’s pink, right now it’s purple. At least, so far this week!

For more on me and creativity, I recently did an interview with a long time online friend, so go visit her podcast here Episode 6 : Me Being Crafty

Also stop by the Christmas Crab quiltery – our local quilt store. I do tech support for them, if you’ve seen me around. Yep, that’s me!

I have a UFO problem

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No, not aliens! 😀 I tallied up all the quilt tops I have in progress, including ones that were partially cut or partially pieced, and a couple that are for now just a pile of selected fabric and an idea.

There’s NINE of those.

Then I counted up all the quilt tops I have finished, including ones with back slected, all the way up to ones that are quilted (see previous entry), or basted, or I really need to get batting and/or backing for. Yeesh. Sometimes backing is the hard part!

There’s 10 or 12, I started to loose count., And yes, I KNOW! That’s a terrible problem.

This also does not count two baby quilts I have to make, and the fabric is literally on the way here. Oops? I jst did not really have any baby boy fabrics and both of them are for baby boys. Thankfully not born yet, so I still have, what – a year or so? 😉

Do you have a problem like this or is it just me?

p.s. – I’m trying really hard not to count the quilts I want to make but just have not pulled fabric for yet. Or a pile of fabrics that need to decide on a pattern. Easily a half dozen or two. *sigh* I DO have a problem don’t I?


More weekend stuff.

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I uploaded a bunch of pictures to my flickr. I seem to do them in batches.

And I’m annoyed at ebay buyers. I sold a small pile of stuff, answered a HECK of a lot of questions about shipping (yes, I’ll combine) and then after they won, I sent combined shipping charges, no payment. I sent a reminder. No payment.

If it was one person, that would make sense, but out of 4 buyers, two have neglected to pay after a week. Both for multiple items. One won two auctions, the other won 4.

I may have to threaten them with neutral or even negative feedback.

But! I sold an item on etsy! I was pretty happy ’bout that.