Thursday, March 1, 2012

So excited!! Can't wait!

I apologize for how long it has been since my last post. I have been so busy! Then I got hit with a nasty stomach virus that seemed to go on forever! Bleg! I am feeling much better today though! Yeah!

It is a good thing too since I have so many projects in the works.  I am planning tutorials to post and show you how to make them  for yourself.  I am making quite a few items for my craft/sewing room as well as some items for your home.  You will not believe the beautiful things!  I have been thrift store shopping and have found so many awesome things to restore and re-purpose!  I have also become a regular customer at Hobby Lobby as well as a few of my favorite online stores.

The other wonderful news?  I am FINALLY getting my quilting frame and a Husqvarna Viking Mega Quilter.  I am purchasing them reconditioned but getting a GREAT DEAL!! I am purchasing them from a woman that has upgraded to a AQPS (would LOVE one of those beauties!) and has been storing it for a year. She didn't use it much because using a mid-arm just was not what she needed.  I am going to buy it this weekend (fingers crossed) and take it to my LQS and machine dealer for a tune up.  I want to make sure it is in great working order when I tackle learning to quilt with it.  The best part of this machine is I can take it off the frame and use it to do home dec sewing.  This machine stitches at a whopping 1600 spm! Not to mention it has so many of the features I have longed for but didn't know I needed when I started this journey some 8 months ago.

I would definitely suggest to anyone that is just starting out sewing to get a beginner machine to learn.  The reason for this is you really don't know where the journey will take you.  You may go into it thinking you want to make clothes or something else.  Only to find as you go along your interests take you into a totally different direction.  I began my journey wanting to make some roman shades for my living room.  Then I found I wanted to make pieced shades instead. They had a stained glass look to them.  To make them I needed to learn how to piece.  This took me to quilting tutorials.  The more I read and watched videos, the more I learned I really enjoyed this kind of sewing!  I still want to make home dec items, however I love quilting even more.  Combining them?? Even better!

The thing is, different features on your machine are more important to each line of sewing.  For instance, had I still wanted to make only home dec items, I needed to consider purchasing an embroidery machine and serger.  Not to mention all of the specific feet you need like a zipper foot, invisible zipper foot, ruffler and blind hem foot.  Had I wanted to make clothing, a whole other group of features would be more important to have.

I found that with quilting on a domestic machine you need a large sewing area.  In the pictures I posted of my sewing room's before shots you can see my machine set up.  It is pretty crude actually as well as homemade, but worked for me.  I have 2 6ft folding conference tables placed side by side with the long sides end to end.  I have them placed in the left corner of the room so my quilt has plenty of support and will not go off the end of the table, putting drag and making quilting more difficult as well as difficult to get good tension. My husband built a support frame that sits on the top of these tables and it is placed behind my machine so I have a level area behind my sewing machine also for the purpose of limiting drag. I have an extended table for my machine which goes around the free arm as well.  I put some heavy duty vinyl sheeting purchased for $10.00 at Walmart on top of the plywood.  This is also to allow the quilt to slide around easily.  To the left of my chair and also connecting to my sewing table is a small desk.  This is to support my quilt on my left and keep it up off the floor. It is also to get out of my lap and provide support again to eliminate any drag on my quilt, needle and machine. All of these things help the quilting process immensely.  I found online a set up similar to this done by Marguarita McMannus in her book  Sew and Quilt in Comfort.  I purchased the video and took many of my ideas from there, but added my own twist to it.  She uses insulation sheets in hers.  We already had quite a bit of wood so I used it instead.  I learned my layout design from Leah Day of  You can find her blog on here or you can click on the button below on the left showing Freemotion Quilting Project.  She has tons of Youtube video tutorials and I cannot recommend her enough!!! I have learned so MUCH from her! Please check her sight out.  I purchased many things from her online store and she is the only place I have found Isocord thread.

I asked my DH for a sewing cabinet. I was sticker shocked when looking at the prices! I did get one though for Valentines day!

I simply cannot recommend these enough! It allows my machine to sit inside and have a flat sewing surface. It also has really cut down on the vibration I got using the fold out table my machine surface. I purchased the cabinet pre-owned of course on Craig's list.  By doing this I was able to get a really nice Horn cabinet for only a little over $100.00.  Had I purchased this same cabinet new, it would have cost me approximately $500.00 (guessing here but easily this amount based on my research).  The only thing is it isn't motorized.  I didn't actually need that feature though since I keep my machine up and ready all the time.  I did need it to sit inside with a flat work surface.  Since it was used the insert that came with it was made to fit a different machine.  No problem! I simply purchased a Sew Steady insert here and had it made based on my cabinet's opening dimensions as well as  my sewing machine model.  I plan to have one made to fit my MegaQuilter as well.  You can get them with or without a lip.  Mine required a lip.  Honestly had it not, my DH who is really handy to have around could have made one by cutting a piece of 1/4" Plexiglas the size of the opening and tracing the outline of my machine and cutting the inside to fit. Since the lip was needed, it made purchasing one more sensible.

Since I have a cabinet now and my machine is inside, I have removed the wood elevation and one of the 6ft tables (I am using the wood for another purpose and will share that project with you in a future post.  You will just LOVE what I make with it! You will love how I re-purpose it and make something beautiful for my home!

So,  I began not really knowing what I needed.  Since I started, I learned I needed a higher surface for my cutting and pressing.  I would get a back ache after bending over for so long cutting and pressing all the fabric at the beginning of my project.  Since building my cutting/pressing table shown below (ignore the mess, I was in the middle of moving things around to reorganize the room), no more backaches! woohoo! I can now get all my cutting done at one time instead of intervals with resting in between.  I also made a pressing pad that is much more firm and larger!

When I purchased my beginner machine ( a Singer 7426), I did not know some of the important features I would want, much less need.  For instance a needle up/down feature is worth its weight in gold! No more having to hand turn the wheel to get your needle down so you can lift your pressure foot and pivot.  When applique work is being done, I can't tell you how much I longed for this feature.  The knee lift is another feature that is great to have, keeping your hands free to manipulate or hold the fabric while lifting the pressure foot.  The only other feature that I have been seriously yearning to have is the thread cutting feature.  Having a machine that cuts the top and bottom thread is a serious time saver and a thread saver when you are free motion quilting and trying to get to the bottom thread to cut it.  You end up using a lot of bobbin thread just because you must pull so far before you can get to the thread and cut it!  I longed for it even more since the little thread cutter on the side of my singer was missing.  I purchased it refurbished as well.  I got a great deal on it AND the shop even gave me a 6 month warranty.  It was only a couple of years old.  I am a firm believer in buying things gently used.  You get a relatively new item, still in great condition (if you make sure to have it thoroughly checked out) without the big "new" price tag.  Also, I have found your item will have the kinks usually worked out of them.  I purchased my cars used most of my life for this very reason.  Never old, usually only a couple of years old.  The only reason I purchased a few new cars was due to my choice to lease instead and you couldn't do that with a used car.

I would highly recommend purchasing a lower cost machine.  Not necessarily a cheap one.  You want a good machine to learn to sew since you are still learning how to get that almighty tension working just right for you and a machine that isn't in good working order can be a nightmare in that area.  If you do purchase a used machine, I can't stress enough the importance of taking it to a reputable sew & vac shop and have it serviced.  This way you will get anything in need of repair done and it will have the timing adjusted as well as a good cleaning and oiling before you sit down and try to learn to sew on it.

Then only after you have been at it for a while, you should have a pretty good idea of the kind of investment you need to put in this hobby.  You will know the features you really want in your machine as well as just how much you really enjoy sewing.  Some may find it is just not for them and you will be really glad you didn't fork over the big bucks on a new sewing machine with all the bells and whistles.  Especially since that can come with an enormous price tag, only to sit and collect dust.  You will also know if you need to invest in an actual cabinet or if having it sit on top of a table or desk is sufficient for the type of sewing you do.  You will know how much time you have to invest in sewing but mostly the type of sewing you really enjoy. It again will help you with the type of machine you need.  How much throat space you will need is also a factor.

A perfect example is me!  While the machine I have now has many stitches at the touch of a button, I have found I never even use them.  The only stitch I use for the most part is the straight stitch.  The only other is a zig zag which you can get in pretty much any machine other than a "straight stitch" machine.  Ironically, the straight stitch machine I am purchasing is the one that has all the features I need so much!  While I plan to use it on my frame, I will also be taking it off and piecing with it a lot.  Not to mention using it for a lot of my home dec sewing as well since it will be able to take on the heavier fabrics much easier than the Singer I use now.  The only other thing I wish for in a machine is that it be much quieter than my Singer. I am hoping it will be quieter once I am able to put it inside the cabinet like it is suppose to be instead of having it on blocks to get it at the correct level so I can use the extended table.

I won't know how I did on that end till I go and pick up the machine and put it to work. The Viking will also let me do more upholstery sewing, another area I enjoy.

I hope this helps.  As I said, keep reading as I will have many tutorials for you. Also, I am making lots of progress on my sewing room.  You will just love what I have done with the room! I am so excited!  I just love how it is coming! It will be functional as well as beautiful! I am also excited about making new curtains for my room since the leopard print really doesn't go with the new decor.  So many exciting things!!!

Take care! Can't wait to come back and show you all the neat things! I am also putting together a giveaway for you! Busy, Busy, Busy!


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