“Quilt Dancing and the Multi-purpose Tool”

Last week I told you about a family bridal shower I was going to and the quilt (actually a throw) I was making using the quilt-as-you-go technique. One week later, the gift is finished and I wanted to remind you of the role the multi-purpose tool (also called the “Clearance Plate” or “Button Reed”) can play in the application of binding. As you can see from my finished throw, there were several thick seams to get across. Stitch quality is always best when the presser foot is flat against the feed teeth, so I used the multi-purpose tool to help my presser foot stay level as it went over these very fat seams. Just as my foot approached the seam to cross over, I stopped with the needle down and the presser foot in pivot position. I slipped the multi-purpose tool behind and under the presser foot, allowing the foot to stay level, and went across the seam. I didn’t need the tool as I came off the seams, so I allowed my foot to simply sew off the tool. Voila! Perfect stitch quality and no bogging down at the thick seams (each panel has 2 layers of fabric + 2 layers of batting which is seamed to another panel consisting of the same amount. When crossing a seam, there are 2 more layers of material and batting that came into play!) The multi-purpose tool saved me time and frustration as I was “quilt dancing” today (dealing with more material than you have room to work with). If you didn’t have one of these gems included in the accessories of your machine, give Bonny and Frank a call. They usually have these in stock and they are very reasonable in price .

If you are interested in learning more…..

Poinsettia Candle Mat Class – Bonny’s Alexandria – Dec 9 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Need a last-minute, quick and easy, festive centerpiece for your holiday dinner? We’ve got you covered with this candle mat class! Create this “square in a square” quilt block completely in the hoop, featuring a beautiful poinsettia applique and custom quilting. We’ll even demonstrate how to apply mitered binding to finish as a candle mat, or you have the option to leave it unfinished, create more blocks at home, and create a unique table runner or table topper.

Instructor: Juanita Goad
Class fee $19.99
Kit fee $6.99

Difficulty level: Confident beginner (machine embroidery)
Please call 703-451-8480 to register.

Sewing Tip of the Week – Endless Hoop Matching

I have a family bridal shower coming up in two weeks, and the bride-to-be has requested a quilt in all the colors of her everyday place settings from her registry. Given the time constraints, I did not feel piecing was an option, so I decided to make an embroidered quilt-as-you-go project. I am using the 260X150 Mega Endless Hoop and embroidery designs from the “Mega Endless Borders and Corners” by Husqvarna Viking. The Mega Endless Hoop is making the job so much easier than a traditional hoop and I am getting lots of practice using the Design Positioning (Pfaff calls it Precise Positioning) feature of my machine. When using the Mega Endless Hoop, I am finding that I am using all four steps in the expanded positioning feature since hooping completely straight each time I am ready to embroider again is proving to be quite a challenge due to the ever increasing size of my project. If your machine has this expanded positioning feature, I encourage you to take some time to practice with it. Steps 1 and 2 allow you to set a specific point and it’s placement on your project. Steps 3 and 4 allow you to set a second point and rotate the design so it lines up perfectly with your first stitch out.

Sewing Tip of the Week – What’s Old is New Again

As I shared with you last week, there was a baptism in the family last Sunday and I was in charge of making the gown. The gown had an overlay of lace for both the skirt and the bodice, but the crepe back satin underskirt needed to be hemmed. The satin did not like the Serger and a double fold hem was too thick, so I went to my little used box of hem lace and gave it a try. I used the Husqvarna Viking Chenille Stitching Foot along with a four-step zig-zag stitch to attach the hem lace over the raw edge of the skirt hem and it worked like a charm! I haven’t used or even thought about hem lace for over 25 years, but it was a terrific solution to my problem. If you happen to own a Pfaff, there is also a Chenille Foot for your machine. If you find yourself in a similar situation, I hope you’ll give this combination a try. The morale of my story………you never know when you’ll need to use something old in a new way, so be careful when discarding old notions!

Husqvarna Viking Chenille Stitching Foot

Pfaff Chenille Foot

Sewing Tip of the Week – There’s a new needle in town!

Bonny and Frank were kind enough to send me to the “Hands on Sewing School” event this weekend for three days of knowledge overload at the Crowne Plaza in Old Town!  It was great to see so many of our customers there.  We even had some customers walk away from the event with a brand new sewing machine! Congratulations to all those who have a new machine at home tonight!

While there, participants had the opportunity to experience and purchase many of the latest items for the home sewing market.  One of these is the new Schmetz Chrome sewing machine needle.  Those of you who have been in my sewing machine classes know I really love my titanium needles for embroidery!  This weekend I was introduced to the new chrome needles and am eager to try them.

According to the Schmetz website, chrome needles, which have been used in industry for many years, are just coming to the home sewing market.  They are known to resist heat, staying cooler longer with less stitch distortion.  Chrome helps the thread to pass through the needle eye with less friction and less heat build-up.  Since the chrome needles stay cooler and resist heat, they also wear longer and go through the fabric with less resistance.  They come in all types from universals to jeans and everything in between.  They have a slightly rounded point and work well on both wovens and knits.  They are supposed to be great general purpose needles.  They even come in quilting needles!

I purchased a couple packs and will be reporting back to you with my opinion.  Bonny and Frank will be carrying them in their store starting Monday, so when you come by, pick up a pack and see what you think.

Sewing Tip of the Week – Fun finds at “The Learning Center”

Many times while I’m teaching the machine classes, customers ask me about different presser feet and how to use them.  I’m a real “foot girl”, so I am happy to go on and on about all the different presser feet and their uses.  If you have not checked out the Husqvarna Viking website, please do and take a look under “Be Inspired: Learning Center”.  There you will find quite a few technique lessons for different machines, but as you scroll down the page, click on the “Show More” link.  You will start to see different feet displayed with the link “View Project”.  When you click on that link, you will be taken to You Tube to watch a video on how to use the foot!  For example, I clicked on the Open Toe Free Motion Spring Foot and the link took me directly to the You Tube video of the use demonstration.  I do want to warn you about this, however.  Once I started watching the video on the Spring Foot, I stayed on the channel and began enjoying all kinds of videos on free motion quilting!  Happy viewing!

Sewing Tip of the Week – Quilting Gems of America

Several years ago a friend, who was aware I was a sewing enthusiast, asked me if I would like to go with her to the Smithsonian Museum of American History to take a back stage tour of their curated collection of historical American quilts.  There was only one answer to give….”When do we leave?”  I had seen the collection that was on public display and I was so fascinated by the handwork, that I jumped at the chance to see more of the collection.  The back stage tour is a small organized group that you can join by contacting the museum.  The video that is on the website is shot in the room where this tour takes place.  Your tour is in a very nondescript room with drawers and drawers of some of the most beautiful handmade quilts I have ever seen.  These quilts are all American and date back to the early 1700’s.  I have included the Smithsonian’s web address and encourage you to look around the site, see the video and check into going on the back stage tour.  If you are looking for inspiration, you will not be disappointed!

Sewing Tip of the Week – Why Change Needle Position?

Every time I teach a “Sewing Machine Basics” class, I teach customers how to change the needle position for a straight stitch.  Almost every class has someone in it that asks “When would I ever use this?”  The short answer is “Well, I use it every time I sit down to sew”, but that might not really help you understand the reasoning behind my constant use of the feature.  The feed teeth on your machine (picture #1) are in a particular placement under the presser foot to allow the most amount of fabric to come in contact with the feed teeth and the presser foot.  This allows the fabric to be fed through the machine evenly and gives you nice flat seams.  When the fabric is not coming into contact with the all the feed teeth and foot, your fabric will tend to skew off to one side, giving your seam a puckered appearance.  Picture #2 shows the fabric placement to get a 1/8” seam, with the fabric under some of the feed teeth and some of the presser foot.  Picture #3 shows the resulting, puckered 1/8” seam.  Picture #4 shows the fabric placement to get a 1/8” seam, but this time the fabric is covering all the feed teeth, the presser foot is in contact with the larger amount of fabric:  I have simply moved the needle position all the way to the right.  Picture #5 shows the resulting flat 1/8” seam.  (Both seams were sewn on cotton with cotton batting underneath).  Next time you are trying to sew a very small seam, try keeping as much fabric under the presser foot and on top of the feed teeth as possible and just move the needle position (using the width adjustment) to create your seam width.

Sewing Tip of the Week – A New Trick for an Old Dog

I was helping a friend sew something for a special occasion and as a “thank you” she gave me a gift.  For years I have been using the “Little Wooden Iron” to press open seams while I am sitting at my sewing machine.  This has always worked extremely well, except that sometimes, I have had a little fabric distortion, probably due to my enthusiasm while pressing the seam (in other words, I am pressing way too hard)!   If you have not tried the “Clover Roll and Press” you may want to add it to your collection of notions.  I am making an “In-the-hoop” table runner so I have been embroidering on the fabric and batting sandwich, then pressing the seams open to add the backing and add the quilting stitches.  Before pressing the seams open and using heat to press them, I have been rolling the seams open with this little gem.  I have had no fabric distortion and the seams have stayed open while I put the press cloth over them to steam (my batting is exposed on the back side, so I cannot press directly on the seams with the iron).  I always find it fun, after so many years of sewing, when I find something that is so simple but works so well.  Best of luck with all your projects this week!

Sewing Tip of the Week – It’s in the Wind…

I am always looking for a quick and easy project to insert in between my more substantial ones.  Sometimes I just want to start something and finish it in one afternoon instead of creating a long term project where instant gratification will not be achieved easily.  As I was looking around the net recently, I came across the October project for the Husqvarna Viking and Pfaff sites.  Though there is a free design download available for hoop driven embroidery machines, you can make this wind sock on any machine.  This will be the perfect project to try out some of those terrific presser feet you have purchased:  for instance the open toe foot.  The download for the project includes the free design in vp3 for both the PC and the Mac, as well as a pdf of the directions (that includes specific pictures) and an applique template.  I hope a fall wind sock will be in the wind at your house!