“Sewing Nerd”

I freely admit that I am a sewing nerd.  I enjoy reading technical information on sewing related topics, just for fun.  I have multiple books discussing a wide range of sewing topics.  Some of the information I have learned I use all the time.  Other information I have never used, but I find others have needed the information and I just happened to know it.  Anyway, today I was reading the education section of the website for the Superior Thread Company.  If you have never been to the site, you may want to visit.  Bonny got me started using Superior Thread’s “Bottom Line” 60 weight thread  for my embroidery bobbin thread and I love it, but this is the first time I have visited the site.  Using a thread of high quality really does make a difference in the appearance and in the overall quality of your project.  I still use inexpensive thread for projects, such as my charity sewing of walker bags for my local nursing and rehabilitation center, but even my machine seems to know when I am not using “the good stuff”!  Anyway, go to the site and look at the right side of your screen where you will find the “Education” button.  Click to find articles on everything from thread to needles to quilting as well as videos and other fun stuff.  Happy reading!

“A Follow Up”

During May and June, Bonny’s  Sewing and Fabric ran a special pre-sale on the new quilt binder attachment for both Husqvarna Viking and Pfaff machines.  Many of you took advantage of that sale, so I thought you would like a follow up on that attachment with some recent videos posted to YouTube.  I wasn’t able to find videos using Pfaff machines so all of the videos I found are using a Husqvarna Viking, but the process is identical.  The only thing you will find a bit different between the attachments for the two machines is the included special foot.  The videos from “Mira Stitch and Post” use the special foot that comes with the attachment.  The videos from “B BLTWear” makes a different decision you might find interesting.  Of special interest might be instruction on how to turn corners!  I hope these videos are helpful to you.

“Mira Stitch and Post” Unboxing the attachment, attaching the binder to the sewing machine, another video attaching the binder, the binder in action, turning the corner

“B BLTWear” attaching the binder to the machine, turning the corner

“An Important Review”

If you have taken a machine class with me, you know we cover a lot of material in a fairly short amount of time.  In fact, there is so much information coming at you that it is understandable if things are forgotten over time.  If you have not been there lately, I would like to suggest you visit the website Sewing Mastery. Sara Snuggerud, the instructor, owns an independent dealership of her own in Sioux Falls, South Dakota named Heirloom Creations.  She is an excellent online instructor and has all of her machine videos indexed to make viewing time efficient and informative.  Some of you may have visited her site when you took your machine class, but I would encourage you to revisit the site to refresh your memory.  She has instruction on the following Pfaff and Husqvarna Viking machines, with more videos in the planning and production stages as new machines come into the lines.

Husqvarna Viking: Designer Series:   Epic, Diamond Royale, Ruby Royale, Topaz 20, 25, 30, 40 and 50, and the Jade 35.  She also has instruction for the Sapphire 960Q and 930, the Opal 690Q, 670 and 650, the Jade 20, the H 100Q, the Emerald 118 and 116, and the HClass E20 and E10.

Pfaff: Creative 4.5, 3.0, and 1.5, the Performance 5.2, Quilt Expression 4.2 and the Expression 3.5, the Quilt Ambition 2.0 and the Ambition 1.0, the Ambition Essential, the Passport 3.0, the Select 4.2 and the Smarter 260C.

On the site you will also find videos for machines from other manufacturers as well as videos on the operation of selected sergers from various companies.  You can also view a wider range of video topics by going to Sara’s YouTube channel. There you will find presser feet and accessory demonstrations, quilting rulers and techniques as well as videos of her store’s events.  Happy viewing!

“Buttonhole Tips”

Each time I teach one of the machine classes, I have a customer tell me they never use their machine’s ability to make buttonholes.  I personally use them in home décor (custom shower curtains, throw pillows, etc), quilting, garment construction; in other words, all the time!  In case you would like to add some buttonholes to your next project, here’s a quick review.

Since my Designer Diamond and my Creative Icon are both currently set for embroidery, I’m sewing on my Brother Luminaire today.  I tell you that because the buttonhole foot might look a bit different, but close enough to the one you probably have with your machine for you to follow along.  If you are making buttonholes for shower curtains, pillows or garments, start by marking the center buttonhole and work your way out from there.  Generally, you will find it pleasing and useful to make your buttonholes about 3 inches apart.  If you are making buttonholes on the front of a blouse, mark where the garment falls on the bust.  Making a buttonhole on this stress point will prevent a gap from developing in the middle of your garment.

When making buttonholes in garments, start from the stress point.
I usually put a small dot at the top of the buttonhole so the buttonhole covers the stress point of the bust line.

Once you have marked the buttonhole placement, select the buttonhole you wish to sew, make any length or width adjustments you’d like, line up your buttonhole foot and sew.  That’s all there is to it! 

Choose the buttonhole and then adjust the length and width.
Line up the buttonhole foot over the mark you made on the fabric. Remember, if you are using the automatic buttonhole foot, the buttonhole will usually begin by sewing backwards.

Once all the buttonholes are sewn, it’s time to mark and sew on the buttons, unless you are making a shower curtain.  Buttonholes on this home décor item are for the shower rings.

Sewing on buttons is really easy with a button sew on foot!
Line up the button’s holes with the red marks on the foot and you’re golden!

Whether you are using buttonholes as a construction component or as a decorative finish, I hope you will take advantage of your machine’s capabilities and the ease of use.

The finished product…a new summer cotton shirt.

“Blind Hem Option”

As a part of the “Sewing Machine Basics” classes, I go over a number of different sewing techniques that we feel are the most commonly used by our customers.  One of those techniques is the blind hem.  Who hasn’t needed to have something hemmed and have had to take it to the cleaners or some other professional, paying to have the adjustment made because you didn’t know how to do it with your machine?  It’s probably the most useful technique I teach!  During class, we use the blind hem foot that comes with your machine, but did you ever wonder why there is an optional foot for this technique for Husqvarna Viking machines?  Positioning the stitch correctly to form the blind hem is so important to make the hem’s stitching truly “blind”.  Line up the fabric too far to the right of the foot and your hem is anything but blind whereas too far to the left of the foot means you do not catch the fold of the fabric at all; thus no hem.

Pfaff’s included accessory foot allows you to precisely line up the folded edge of the fabric along the moveable guide, allowing you to stitch exactly where you want the stitches to fall. 

Turning the metal screw on the right of the foot moves the red guide to the left or to the right for exact stitch placement along the fold of the blind hem.

The Husqvarna Viking included accessory foot D, a fixed position foot, also allows you to line up the edge of the foot along the edge of the hem’s fold, but the optional foot allows more accuracy with that alignment.

The fold of the blind hem runs along the inside right of the foot.
By turning the red dial on the right of this foot, you can adjust the entire foot to the left or to the right.

This is accomplished by turning a dial to move the entire foot to the left or the right without needing to move the fabric.  I purchased this Husqvarna Viking optional foot when I was hemming drapery.  It saved me time by allowing me to set the foot exactly where I needed it, maintaining that same setting through the yards and yards of material for each drapery panel.  If you own a Husqvarna Viking machine and will be doing a lot of blind hems, you may want to consider this optional foot for your accessory box.

“Open Toe Stitching”

Today I am working on finishing a quilt for a bridal shower happening later this month.  I will be adding embroidered quilting designs but before I do, I am stitching in the ditch to secure all my layers together.  I have a number of options in terms of feet I usually use for stitch-in-the ditch, but today I decided to try something new and thought I would share that with you.

Usually I choose one of these feet for my stitch-in-the-ditch. All of them have a metal guide to help me stay in the “ditch”.

I decided to try using my Clear Open Toe foot.  It worked great!  I could see every single “ditch” so well and therefore was able to sew much faster than I usually can with the bonus of excellent accuracy. 

Husqvarna Viking Clear Open Toe Foot

I did make some adjustments to use this foot.  I set my machine for “needle down” to make sure each time I stopped my fabric would not unexpectedly move.  This was important especially at intersections where I needed to pivot.  Since the toe of this foot is open, I clearly saw where my “ditch” was ending and so did not overshoot at the intersections! 

Since I could see so well I was able to stop with accuracy at each intersection. I didn’t overshoot one!
All this visibility allowed me to stay in the “ditch” and sew with more speed and confidence.

I also lowered my presser foot pressure from its normal 6.0 to 3.0 (remember, some machines adjust this pressure with a knob either on the top or the left hand side of the machine while some machines let you adjust this in the Set Menu).  Lastly, I changed the straight stitch from a 2.5 length to a 3.0.  Now that my stitch-in-the-ditch is finished, it’s on to the embroidery!

“Specialty Embroidery Hoops and Quilting, Part 2”

Last week I talked about the Endless Hoops and their quilting uses.  This week I want to focus on the other specialty hoops made for quilting. These hoops are for quilting but have multiple uses for all kinds of projects that don’t involve quilting at all.  This is a case of “size matters”.  It is most advisable to use the smallest hoop practical for each embroidery to allow for the most amount of fabric support during stitching.

First of all, both Husqvarna Viking and Pfaff make versions of each of these hoops.  The hoops I have were all purchased for my Designer Diamond Royale, thus the Husqvarna Viking boxes.  I have included links for both brands for your convenience. 

When deciding which hoop to use, choose the one that is the smallest practical size for your embroidery.

The three square hoops; the Texture Hoop (HV) (Pfaff), the Do-All Quilter’s Hoop/ All Fabric Hoop and the 200x200mm Quilter’s Hoop/Creative Quilter’s Hoop each have differences that allow them to be good general hoops but with a task at which they each shine.

Left to right: Texture Hoop, Do All Quilter’s Hoop, 200x200mm Quilter’s Hoop. The middle hoop comes with two inserts to handle different thicknesses of fabric or batting.

The largest square hoop, the Quilter’s Hoop/Creative Quilter’s Hoop, 200x200mm or 8”x8”, has size on its side.  The only hoop larger that is almost square is the 360x350mm turntable hoop.  Making a quilt with the 200x200mm or 8”x8” hoop allows you to bring together projects quickly due to block size.  This hoop paired with blocks made using the standard square 100x100mm or 4”x4” hoop let you create quilts with blocks of proportional sizing with very little effort.

The 150x150mm Texture Hoop inside the 200x200mm Quilter’s Hoop for size comparison purposes.

The Texture Hoop is in a class all its own.  At a size of 150x150mm or 6”x6”, it allows you to create quilt blocks that use texture such as yarns and ribbons running through the embroidery designs. 

After finishing the textured block, the yarn or ribbon ends simply get sewn into the seams of the next block.

The other 150x150mm hoop is the Quilter’s Do-All Hoop/All Fabric Hoop.  This is another 150x150mm or 6”x6” hoop that comes with two inner hoops:  one for thinner fabrics or batting and one for heavy or thicker fabric or batting.  With the quick release lever you can set the hoop for the first block, no matter the batting size, and simply re-hoop over and over again with very little hoop adjustment needed.  I love this hoop for quilting after all my quilt layers are together.  The “heavy” inner hoop allows me to put the hoop anywhere and I don’t have to worry about thickness.

The difference between the “light” insert and the “heavy” insert is how much room is left between the inner and outer hoop when hooping fabric. The “heavy” insert gives more room between the inner and outer hoop.

Lastly, I love my metal hoops.  Only the smallest one is square at 100x100mm or 4”x4”, but I find all three of them invaluable for stitching random quilting designs all over the finished quilt.  I use them for borders, hard to hoop areas, areas where I think hoop burn might be a problem, anywhere!

My metal hoops are usually my first choice, no matter what the job! The small hoop (HV) (Pfaff), the medium hoop (HV) (Pfaff) and the large hoop (HV) (Pfaff)

 For me, my metal hoops work best when stitching designs that are not very dense.  This makes them perfect for my quilting designs.  My only advice with these hoops is you purchase an extra pack of magnets.  It comes with four, but I really think you need at least eight to securely hold your project while embroidering.

Both Husqvarna Viking and Pfaff have these Inspira extra magnets
The usual placement for the magnets on each metal hoop.

Well, that’s it!  I hope the information and all the links have been of some help.

“Specialty Embroidery Hoops and Quilting”

Those of you who have taken a class with me know I am definitely a “just in case” rather than a “just in time” type of customer at Bonny’s.  Over the years that philosophy has led me to buy a variety of specialty hoops “just in case” I might have a project that needed that very accessory!  Honestly, time and time again I have used every one of the hoops and accessories I have purchased because I had them waiting for me in my sewing room.  For the next two weeks I want to share with you the different specialty hoops and how I have used them in my quilting projects in the hopes this might help you should you decide to add any of these specialty hoops to your collection.

A sampling of my hoop collection!

This week I want to talk about the Endless hoops.  These hoops come in two sizes:  260 x 150mm (10.25” x 6”) and the 180 x 100mm (7” x 4”).

Both Husqvarna Viking and Pfaff have the Endless Hoops in the 10.25″ x 6″ and in the 7″ x 4″.
The hoop opens like an alligator’s mouth allowing you to move your fabric without having to remove the hoop from your machine.

Endless hoops are meant to allow you to easily embroider along the borders of your quilt before you apply your binding.  Since they do not open the way a traditional hoop does, you are able to complete your embroidery pattern, open the hoop, move and line up the fabric, close the hoop and resume your embroidering without ever removing the hoop from the machine.  (These hoops also work beautifully for non-quilting tasks too, such as making lengths of free standing lace.)  As long as you have a fabric edge to guide off of along the edge of the hoop, you are golden!  Endless embroidery designs all have registration stitches at the beginning and at the end of the design to help you line up design after design so you cannot tell where you opened the hoop and advanced the fabric. Since you do not have to use specially digitized designs in the endless hoop though, your possibilities for the use of these types of hoops really opens up.

The larger hoop works great on larger borders and on “quilt as you go” projects like this.
The smaller hoop works beautifully on smaller borders or on smaller projects.

Once you practice with one of these hoops, you will be hooked!

Husqvarna Viking 7″ x 4″ hoop 10.25″ x 6″ hoop

Pfaff 7″x 4″ hoop 10.25″ x 6″ hoop

The Endless Hoop in action

“Fabric Tips”

Because my sewing is so eclectic, I sew on many different fabrics.  I sew garment fabrics of all kinds, upholstery fabrics, drapery fabrics, linings, quilting fabrics:  you name it, I’ve probably sewn it.  Today I ran across a fabric I have never sewn before; Outdoor fabric.  This has become quite a popular fabric in the last year or two.   It is used for making pillows, cushions, etc. for use on decks, boats or any other outdoor applications.  I came across this fabric at the request of my local nursing facility, for which I make walker bags as an ongoing charity sewing project.   They provide the fabric and I provide the sewing!  Anyway, some of the fabric they provided this time was Outdoor fabric.  If you are planning to work with this fabric, here are a few tips that might prove helpful.

The Outdoor fabric has vivid colors and has great prints but is a little tricky to sew!

First of all, this fabric is completely synthetic.  It is quite stiff to handle and it seems to fray just by looking at it!  It also doesn’t particularly like the iron so I am not pressing after sewing the way I usually do when sewing a project. All Purpose construction thread seems to work just fine and an 80/12 universal needle has performed beautifully; not too light and not too heavy.

The size 80/12 needle did a great job!

I highly recommend that all raw edges of the project be overcast before sewing together, even if the seam will be enclosed.  If you fail to overcast every edge you may find the project will last only a very short time.  The woven “threads” of the material are slippery against one another and have a hard time holding together.  I would not recommend using pins with this fabric.  I am just holding the pieces together as I sew or am using clips to secure my pieces.  Needle holes will not “heal” with this fabric.  Lastly, I would not recommend using a straight stitch on any seams that will have stress.  I used a seam/overcast stitch on all construction areas to spread out the stress along multiple points in the seams.  A straight stitch works just fine for top stitching, though you will find the thread does not sink into the fabric, but lies on top of the fabric.  This is due to the nature of the fabric and is not necessarily helped by adjusting the machine’s tension.  I hope these tips help you should you decide to sew Outdoor fabric.

“Piping and Welting”

Sewing terms sometimes change depending on the type of sewing being discussed.  For instance, piping and welting are two names for the same thing; one name for the world of garment construction and one name for the world of home décor.  I was at a family gathering today in honor of Mother’s Day and I was talking to a relative about making a head board for the bed in her son’s room.  She was asking me about the process of construction and as I was explaining the sequence of steps, I mentioned she would probably want to use welt around the edges of the headboard to reduce the wear that might occur on the edges of the fabric as it wrapped around the board.  She wasn’t familiar with the term “welt” but when I said it was the same thing as piping, she immediately knew what I was talking about.  The difference between welting and piping is its use and the size of the cording that is encased inside the fabric.

From left to right: Cording for piping, cording for welt and cording for extra large welt. You will recognize the extra large welting as an accent found on many throw pillows.

Piping is for garments and usually uses a cording that is quite small in diameter.   This makes sense since it is found as an accent around sleeves, princess seams, the edges of linings, necklines, etc. where a larger cording might be uncomfortable to wear.  Welt, on the other hand, is found around the edges of throw pillows, the boxing of cushions and the outlines of furniture.  It is decorative, but also has a functional use.  Welting extends the life of an upholstered piece, cushion or pillow by taking the constant wear away from the seam.  It usually takes longer to wear out the welting than it would the cushion seam, so the item lasts longer.  No matter what you are using it for, remember that the piping or welting, if it is going to be going around curves or rounded edges, must be made from material cut on the bias.  If you neglect this important step you will be very unhappy with your final results.