Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My favorite Storage of the Moment

It's my plastic scrap storage bins! 

When I first started sewing, I was shoving all my scraps into one bin which quickly overflowed since I inherited my Grandma Kelley's knack for saving every little thing (including tiny 1-inch square scraps of fabric).  I then split the bin into two bins - cool colors and warm colors.  This worked for a while, but it was difficult to find specific colors when I needed them.   I would end up dumping the entire bin out on the floor to find what I needed. 

I sew with scraps often enough that this system still wasn't working for me.  I finally found plastic drawer sets at Target that were perfect for this purpose.  The drawers can be removed which makes it easy to move them around the room as needed.  I was able to fit three sets of drawers in the space I had which made 9 drawers for scraps - Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Black/White, Brown/Tan, and Multi-colored. 

Hooray for organization!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Meet: My Machine! Blog Hop Day 1

  The Tilted Quilt meet My Machine Linky Party
Today is officially day one of the Meet My Machine Blog Hop, so it’s time to Meet: My Pfaff!
Taking over the dining room!
I have owned my Pfaff Quilt Expressions 4.0 for almost 2 years now.  For many years I mooched off my various roommates who all happened to have sewing machines.  I was then given an old singer from a coworker who knew I would appreciate it.  I used that little workhorse until two years ago when I decided I wanted to try free motion quilting.
My friend John had purchased a Pfaff for his mother as a gift and then got the same machine for himself.  I had been in the market for a Bernina based solely on their reputation but not ever having tried one, but when I went to the store with John in tow, he convinced me to get the same machine as him – the Pfaff QE 4.0.
Fancy digital display screen!
Some of the features that I was drawn to and still love are:
·      The multitude of fancy stitches including 3 alphabets (which I have yet to use)
·      Pull down needle threader – how did I live without this before?
·      Automatic thread cutter (another how did I live without this?!)
·      Large throat space
·      I can just tap my foot on the foot pedal to control the presser foot! 
·      The beep to let me know my bobbin is almost empty.  How considerate!
Some things I'm not so fond of... well, that convenient beep that tells you when you are almost out of bobbin thread?  It beeps occasionally when there is still plenty of thread left sometimes due to the manner in which the bobbin was wound.  It also automatically STOPS your sewing (Grr..!!!) when it beeps to "help" you out.  But for someone like me who likes to sew right to the end of the bobbin thread so as not to waste any... it's rather annoying.  
Stinky on her perch on the hutch watching me sew
Grandma Kelley's old White sewing machine
Also, I originally bought this machine in order to do some free motion quilting, but didn’t attempt anything until this year.  I ran into lots of issues – skipped stitches, thread breakage, etc.. – and was on the phone several times with the store.  They tried to trouble shoot with me over the phone, but I realized I needed to bring it in.  Turns out I was using the wrong foot with the wrong setting.  That’s what I get for having a high falootin’ machine with two different free motion feet and settings.  At the store, it worked perfectly of course, and then when I had it home this week, I was still experiencing some issues with tension and skipping.  I changed threads and it improved slightly, but I’m still having some issues (see previous post!).   

My second machine was my grandmother’s White table-mounted machine.  It’s cute and blue and I’ve never officially used it although I hear my cousin used it a few times before it came to me a few years ago.  Right now I don’t have the proper space for displaying it so it sits unused.  

I also have a third machine that is packed away somewhere inaccessible.  It is a Hello Kitty Janome from Target I bought just for it's cuteness factor.  I've tried to sew with it a few times, but it has a front loading bobbin which is foreign to me and I quickly defaulted back to my Pfaff. 
My downstairs space
My current space is a small but functional.  We are living in a rental unit so I can't fully adopt the space as my own, but this is one of the few times I have had a dedicated sewing space.  It's on the first floor of our building and it gets rather cold this time of year, so I have taken over the dining room table as well.  I can watch TV while working on a project and the cat keeps me company!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Struggling with FMQ

I've finally started to try out the Free Motion Quilting feature(s) of my machine - after 2 years of ownership!  It's been one headache after another so far.  I think part of the problem was that my machine has two (countem' two!) different free motion settings and two different feet.  The machine came with a plastic free motion/darning foot that works with the Sensormatic free-motion setting and there is another metal foot that can be purchased (and I did) that works with the spring free-motion setting.  Or at least that's what I think... I may have them backwards again.  Too confusing!

Messy Pebbles - First attempt!
After trouble shooting multiple times with Linda Z's (the shop where I bought the machine) I thought I was good to go.  I had changed needles, thread, tension, settings, etc...  I tried it out today and was still having issues.  First it was a tension issue - the thread was too loose on the back.  Then I changed the thread to my new fancy Aurifil thread which helped some, but I was then getting some skipped stitches and thread breakage.

I quilted a portion with various sized pebbles, and kept thinking it would get better or I could hide the super-obvious skipped stitches, but after a bit, I gave up.

Skipped stitches

More skipped stitches

Even MORE skipped stitches!

Pickin' out the stitches...
I ended up picking out all the pebble FMQ (Grrrr....) and decided to straight-line stitch, once again, since that is all that seems to work right now.  And of course this quilting was to finish my Madrona Rd. challenge quilt that I have been putting off for months (and I'm supposed to have it done for my quilt guild meeting tomorrow!).

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Upcoming Meet: My Machine! Blog Hop!

I'm excited to announce that I'll be participating in a super fun blog hop coming up later this month!  Yay!  It's the Meet: My Machine! blog hop sponsored by Erin @ Sew at Home Mummy and Stacey @ The Tilted Quilt.  I'll be talking about my machine and its features - good and bad.  I'll also show you my current sewing space and how I organize some of my supplies.  I'll be blogging on Sunday, March 17 (see full schedule below!) I hope you can join us!







Monday, March 4, 2013

Simply Solids: March

It's just barely March, but I've had this block done for a few weeks now and I finally mailed it off to California, so I figured I'd post about it.  This is the March block for the Simply Solids Bee swap.  Roonquilts wanted a "skyline" block and posted a tutorial on her blog.  She also sent us some navy fabric for the night sky and some gray to use for the buildings if we wanted to.  I liked the bright colors against the navy sky and so used more of those.  I had fun playing with the windows in two of the buildings.  Here's what I came up with: