Now that machines have hoop driven embroidery, the built in stitches that come on our machines, which used to be considered “embroidery”, are now known as decorative stitches. Whatever you call them, even though they are not, for the most part, as big as hoop driven embroidery designs, they can still make a very big impact on a project. Brother, Husqvarna Viking and Pfaff all have the ability to sew these decorative stitches as borders, and if you use the programming/sequencing feature on these machines you can create your own patterns, but don’t forget the impact that can be made by using just one decorative stitch placed at just the right spot! All three of these machines can produce a one-at-a-time striking decorative stitch; they just go about it in different ways.
My Brother and my Pfaff machine have an icon that allows me to isolate just one decorative stitch out of a border and use it as a stand-alone accent. My Husqvarna Viking goes about the same task a little differently. Let me show you…
I hope this gives you something to consider for your next project, big or small. Remember, it’s the little things that sometimes make the biggest difference! Happy Sewing!
No matter what projects you like to sew, using gathers in material will, at some point, be included in your project. If you are a garment sewer, you will use gathers most on waistbands, sleeves and for embellishment. Home décor sewers will use them on projects such as pillows, curtains and dust ruffles. Quilters will use them for embellishment; to really make their creations pop. Gathering by hand or by pulling draw strings is always an option for smaller areas, but there is a special presser foot for the sewing machine that can make such quick work of this often tedious task when tackling larger projects. With a little knowledge, this Gathering foot can be your new best friend!
There are a few tricks to using the Gathering foot to your greatest advantage. I have included a YouTube video done by Sarah from Heirloom Creations for a complete demonstration. (Even though the demonstration is on a Husqvarna Viking machine, the same information applies to any machine.) The first thing you need to remember with this foot is that once you sew the gathers, you will not be able to adjust them. For this reason, the Gathering foot is best used on larger projects where a lot of gathered fabric is needed in a specific size. Trying to use this foot to gather the material to fit into a sleeve opening, for example, would simply not be practical. (If you are really interested in this foot, you may want to check out the September 2nd Facebook Live post by Husqvarna Viking’s Vanessa Dyson on the difference between the Gathering foot and the Ruffler foot.)
You will need to decide how much material it will take to make the amount of gathers you will need. I usually use a few 10” long pieces of the actual material I will be gathering to test and create all my machine settings. Since gathers look best when they are two to three times greater than what they are attaching to, you will want to use these 10” test pieces to decide your stitch length and upper thread tension. I use 10” long pieces of material for my tests simply because it makes the math really easy. For example, if I gather my 10” long piece of material and, when I’m finished, it is 7” long, I know my machine’s settings are gathering my material by 30%. I can calculate the amount of material I will need for my gathers based on that information and the size of my project. Increasing stitch length creates more gathers and decreasing stitch length creates fewer gathers. Increasing upper thread tension creates more gathers and decreasing the tension creates fewer gathers. You can use a combination of stitch length and thread tension to create the exact gathered effect you want. Once you have created all of the machine’s settings for the perfect gathers for your project, don’t forget to save them to your machine’s memory! I also tend to write down my information so I don’t inadvertently erase my settings in memory by saving over them at a later date (just ask me how that could happen!).
Remember, if you think this accessory might be helpful to you, all machine accessories for Pfaff and Husqvarna Viking machines are on sale for 20% off all during the month of September! Happy Sewing!
P.S. In last week’s blog I was talking about using the Circular Attachment for quilting purposes. Check out this Pfaff Facebook post from September 11th on using the Attachment for another clever piecing use!
This month is National Sewing Month, which got me thinking about new ways to use some of my favorite accessories. Some years ago I purchased the Husqvarna Viking Circular Attachment to help me stitch accurate circle appliques for a project I was working on. It did a great job and the gift was well received, but I must admit, I have not used the accessory much lately. On Facebook, there are a number of videos showing how to use the attachment to make, not only circles, but a four and six petal flower, usually as an applique. As I am planning my fall quilting projects, I’ve decided to explore more of the quilting itself rather than have all the attention on the embroidery, applique or the piecing and this provides a perfect format for that. So… the question becomes, “What if I used the flower template from the circular attachment to simulate ruler work?” This is how I answered that question.
Now, for this demonstration, I used only one block that was not attached to anything else. My plan is to piece the project first, leaving 5” plain blocks where the four petal flower stitching will go. (I could even do some free motion quilting inside or outside the flower for a very different effect!) Once the blocks are pieced and the quilt sandwich is basted, I can use the circular attachment to create the four petal flowers in random blocks, filling other blocks with other quilting stitches; either free motion or embroidery. Maybe you’d like to give this new quilting option a try. Accessories for both Husqvarna Viking and Pfaff are on sale for 20% off during the month of September! Happy Sewing!
Last week I used three embroidery hoops in different sizes as examples to demonstrate one of the most obvious reasons why every embroidery hoop will not fit onto every embroidery machine. Each hoop I used was the same in height (360mm or 14”), but they each differed in their width.
In my 5.3.20 blog I talked about the machine embroidery hoop size in terms of the usable area inside the hoop. The discussion today pertains to the outside of the hoop. Specifically how far a hoop can go to the right of the needle and not hit the side of the machine, while still maintaining the allowances needed along the three sides and the top of the inside of every hoop. This space issue is one of the most obvious reasons why a hoop will or will not fit on a particular machine. There are other factors, such as the size of the embroidery unit itself, but this factor of the space to the right of the needle is very clear to see and understand. Remember, each hoop must have enough space to move so it can maintain a ¼” allowance along the bottom of the hoop and the two sides and 1 ¼” along the inside top (see the May blog for pictures and examples of this).
For each hoop, no matter what the size, realize that designs are always going to be a tad smaller. For example, designs for an 8″ x 8″ hoop will only go to 7.90″ x 7.90″. This is to allow for moving the design for precise placement on your project.
Remember, if a particular embroidery hoop is supposed to fit your machine, but your machine will not recognize it, try updating your machine from the website (at the bottom right of the Husqvarna Viking or Pfaff homepage named “Machine Updates”). Just follow the given instructions, or have Bonny’s Sewing and Fabric install the update for you during your next machine service. Happy Sewing!
Buying a sewing machine or sewing/embroidery machine, for most of us, is an emotional as well as intellectual decision. When you create on this machine, you will be giving a piece of yourself to the project, whether or not it is for yourself or for a gift. That’s why we all like as many options as possible to come with our machines, to give us as many choices as possible, and tend to feel a bit disappointed if we don’t have everything we want. On the other hand, sewing machine manufacturers tend to market machines based on features, so they make it very tempting to move up the line of machines to get as much as possible. It’s human nature to want the most!
When it comes to sewing/embroidery machines, we tend to advise the customer to buy the machine you can afford to buy that accommodates the largest hoop size. There are several reasons for this. First, generally, the larger the size of the hoop, the more stitches you can use in your design. Entry level machines usually have a stitch limit of about 50,000 stitches, which sounds like a lot, but in the world of embroidery, is an average amount of stitches. Second, the larger the hoop the less hoopings will be required to complete a design group. This saves you time, both in stitch out and in design placement and composition. Third, who doesn’t love those large, eye-catching designs? Designs are sold by their size, so a small hoop limits what designs you will be able to purchase and use.
So, when a new hoop comes out, why can’t every sewing/embroidery machine use it? There are several reasons a hoop will not be compatible with all machines, but one of the most obvious reasons is the distance between the needle and the inside arm of the machine body. The smaller the distance to the right of the needle, the more hoop size is limited. For example, look at the pictures below. I used three hoops for my demonstration: the 360 X 200mm hoop (14” X 8”) that comes with many machines, the 360 X 260mm hoop (14” X 10”) that fits the Husqvarna Epic and Epic 2 machines and the Pfaff Creative Icon, and the 360 X 350mm turntable hoop (14” X 13”) that fits the top of the line machines. Look for part 2 of my demonstration in photos in next week’s blog.
While waiting for Part 2 of this blog, check out these chart links based on your sewing/embroidery machine (Husqvarna Viking or Pfaff) to see what fits your specific machine. When buying a new machine, no matter whether or not it has embroidery, the best advice is to buy as much machine as you can afford. Once you have the features, you will use them all! Happy Sewing!
Husqvarna Viking Hoop Chart (the link will not take you to the exact page. You will need to go to page 88 of the flip book. Sorry!)
Pfaff Hoop Chart (the link will not take you to the exact page. You will need to go to page 76 of the flip book. Sorry!)
Each of us has purchased our machine for our own reasons; taking into account what projects we hope to work on most. Every machine sold by Bonny and Frank comes with an accessory tray that can be removed to expose a free arm, making sewing small round areas, such as sleeves, a little easier. We are all able to sew with the machine the way it comes; with the accessory tray and the free arm, but we may want to add something else that can give us more sewing space. A way to extend the area around the needle is very important to almost every type of sewing I know. Having the ability to support your project’s fabric so it does not pull or distort as it leaves the needle gives a much more professional look to the finished project. I have three different types of extensions that I use on my machines. If you have not used an extension before, I hope this helps you decide if this optional purchase may be just what you need to give your sewing that extra bit of ease, enjoyment and professional appearance.
The three types of extensions available as an aftermarket purchase are the extension table made by the machine company, an extension table made by a third party or a sewing machine cabinet. Over the years, I happen to have acquired one of each of these (says the “just in case” instead of the “just in time” buyer!), so let’s give you something to think about if you have none.
In last week’s blog I talked about the Pfaff Patchwork Program and promised this week I would show all you Husqvarna Viking owners how, you too, can create your own patchwork program. It’s easy. It just takes a few more steps and a little more trial and error.
First of all, start to think of your programming capabilities outside the box of just decorative stitches and lettering. You have the ability to save any stitch, be it in a longer program or in a program of one stitch. For example, if you manage to create the perfect blanket stitch in length and width for your project, save it into your machine’s memory so you can recall it time and time again. This is what you will do for your patchwork program. You will create a program made up of straight stitches, the exact length you need for the piecing you are doing and you will save it so it can be accurately repeated any time you want to use it.
You will need to decide what straight stitch length you wish to use for your piecing project. I tend to use a 2.0 stitch length because it’s tight enough to hold my pieces together but long enough to remove easily should I need to. I also tend to use the needle in the center position and create my ¼” or scant ¼” seam using my piecing foot. If you would like to use your needle in another position, a little to the left or right of center, make sure you start your program with that stitch placement. All other stitches in your program will follow suit if you use a duplication feature.
Open your programming feature. If you cannot remember how to do that on your machine, check your owner’s manual. Most machines will have it on the front function buttons, as in the entry level machines in the line like the Jade 35, under the “gem” in the machines such as the Topaz 50, etc. and on the screen on the more top of the line machines. All the Husqvarna Vikings tend to use the PROG abbreviation. Once your program is open you will need to enter one straight stitch, using the stitch length and needle placement you want to use. If your machine has a Duplicate option, this is a great time to use it. You will need to enter the number of stitches needed for your machine to span the distance your piecing requires you to sew. These estimations may help with how many stitches to add to your program:
1 mm stitch length = 24 stitches per inch
2 mm stitch length = 13 stitches per inch
3 mm stitch length = 9 stitches per inch
4 mm stitch length = 6 stitches per inch
5 mm stitch length = 5 stitches per inch
6 mm stitch length = 4 stitches per inch
My piecing is going to span 4” using a 2.0 mm stitch length. I multiply 13 x 4 to get a total of 52 stitches. This is where I start to experiment. I program in 52 stitches and use a Stop at the end of the program. I now have to stitch out the program I just created and see if it’s perfect. If it is, I save it. If it’s not, I make the adjustments needed and test it again. As it turned out, I only needed 42 stitches to create the same length program as I did last week on my Pfaff. Once happy with the program, I save it to my machine and, viola! I now have my own patchwork program I can use any time I am piecing 4” blocks! Each time I stitch out the program it will stitch 4” and then stop. I make sure to use the needle down option so when I’m finished sewing each block it’s easy to align each new block in my piecing and I’m golden. By the way, this programming technique also works on a Brother machine, like the Dream Machine, Luminaire, etc.
For many years now, Pfaff sewing machines have had a wonderful feature called the “Patchwork Program”. Some of you who own a Pfaff may have purchased it because you were shown this feature and knew immediately how valuable it would be to a sewer who enjoys piecing quilt tops. It works much the same way as creating a sequence, just with fewer steps. Husqvarna Viking machines have traditionally not had this feature. In order to emulate this on an HV machine, you need to go through multiple steps. We’ll talk about that next week. If you are a Pfaff owner, follow the pictures below to create your own patchwork program. You may find this Sewing Mastery Video helpful if you are new to this feature. Upon arriving at the URL, go to page 3, video #53. Once you get the hang of using this feature, you will find so many instances where it comes in handy! Your next piecing project will be done in a snap.
If you think you would like to use this same Patchwork Program for future or continuing projects, you may save it into your machine’s memory! This allows you to turn your machine off and still have the exact program to use the next time you turn on the machine. Happy Sewing!
There are so many really great features on modern sewing machines that it’s sometimes hard to remember to use them all. For me, the stitch re-start feature is one of the most useful. When I was teaching the “Sewing Machine Basics” course, I would always make a point of making sure customers knew where to find this since I myself, use it so much. This is a feature that has been on Husqvarna Viking and Pfaff machines for a very long time, so if you have an older machine, the feature might be on your machine’s model. Each machine is a bit different, but check your owner’s manual for the symbol and see if your machine has it. Essentially, this feature allows you to re-start a decorative stitch or a sequence of stitches, so you can precisely line up these stitches however your project demands. I use it when creating rows of stitches that I want to line up or match. I also use it when I want to make sure my stitch is starting at the very beginning of the stitch after I have been sewing said stitch and want to start it again. I have done this, for example, when using the machine’s stippling stitch on a quilt. As I have come to the end of a row of stippling stitches, I have used the stitch re-start feature to begin the stitch exactly the same way I did on my first pass of stitches. This way, everything lines up and looks more professional and less like “bless your heart, you made this yourself, didn’t you?” See if you have this feature and think about how you might use this to your best advantage. Happy Sewing!
Machine sewers are used to stitches that move forward and backward as well as side to side, as in a zig-zag stitch. Just about every sewing machine can do these directional stitches. As you move up the line in the Husqvarna Viking and Pfaff machines, the ability to go in even more directions becomes an option. On both my HV Designer Diamond Royale and my Pfaff Creative Icon, there is a stitch menu that allows the machine to sew in four directions: forward, backward, left and right, without pivoting the material. Each machine gives a number of stitch options for this feature, but I have chosen the satin stitch for this explanation since I felt it was easiest to see in the photos. If your machine has this feature, there is probably one of two ways to make this stitch work. If your machine is like my Designer Diamond Royale, there is an icon at the bottom of the display screen that, when pressed, changes the stitch direction without you having to change the orientation of the fabric in the machine. Keep the fabric still and the machine will stitch a square for you. You just need to decide how big that square will be. My Pfaff Creative Icon does not use an icon on the screen to press but uses the reverse button on the front of the machine. Each time the reverse button is pushed once and released the stitch changes direction. This feature allows you to sew in awkward areas where moving the base fabric would be difficult; say sewing a patch on the top of a sleeve. I use this feature most often when sewing the handles onto the walker bags I make for my local rehabilitation center. I’m able to insert the bag into the machine and sew on the handles without having to turn the bag. This is not only more convenient, but is also much faster that pivoting the fabric. I just choose the straight stitch for this operation and I can go through 20 bags in no time! If your machine has this feature and you have not tried it, give it a try and see what you think. Happy Sewing!