29 August 2018

Hand Work. The Pleasure and the Pain.

Looking at the image above can you tell me which stitching is hand done?

My favorite kind of sewing is hand work. Hand appliqué, hand embroidery, hand quilting. The problem is that my hands are just not as strong as they used to be. Arthritis is taking a bit of a toll. Hand quilting through layers (the very definition of hand 'quilting'!) causes me the most pain. Several projects have languished because of the pain. Which brings me to my first playtime with the Babylock Sashiko 2. I began this small bag with plans to finish it in a weekend.....that was a long ago weekend!

Since this was a rather "slap-stitch" kind of project I decided that it be perfect for my first use of the machine. I had dithered about the BL Sashiko since they first came out...thinking that was way too much money for a "one stitch wonder sewing machine". That was before my hands began to balk at hand quilting.

It was fun experimenting with stitch length, spacing and various thread weights. The bag was finished quickly even with "experimenting time".

Would I have splurged on this machine if I could still hand quilt easily? Maybe. Maybe not. What I do know is that this machine is a boon to hands like mine. It saves times, produces a very nice looking result, and causes no pain. I am very happy that my Babylock Sashiko 2 is living with me! It will not replace the pride and pleasure that hand quilting brought me, but I am still able to enjoy those feelings through my hand embroidery and hand appliqué. They don't seem to stress my hands the same way that hand quilting does. So I still get the pleasure of hand work without the pain.



19 August 2018

Pattern Perseverance & A New Machine


The front

This is my new "wearable muslin" (yes, I did make a r e a l muslin too) of the "Painted Portrait Dress". It's a pattern by Anna Maria Horner and it almost got to me! I am a fan of Anna Maria Horner fabrics for quilts although I have not used her patterns. The written directions for this pattern were frustrating in some ways.

"Sew Hungry Hippie" must have realized that a few videos would be helpful and she graciously shares them with the world on her blog....and in a Facebook group as well. Because age has made me busty I seem to always choose to me a size large...and almost always it is....well....way too large. My muslin was too large and so I cut the pattern down and went ahead o use some very thin Indian cotton gauze that I had gotten more than a year ago. Because the bodice yoke, back yoke and side panels are two layers I did not have enough of any one of these two fabrics, but was not yet willing to commit to "good" fabric. When It was all said and done the dress still was way too large! Ugh! I took it apart and had to make some seriously odd alterations so that it look and fit correctly...took me forever! Now I have corrected the pattern and should finally be able to make another from "good" cloth...which oddly enough is from the "Loominous" line from ...who else...Anna Maria Horner! It came close to being put in a pile and forgotten for another day a long time in the future. When was said and done I Happy that I powered through, because now I like it a lot. It is a comfortable, versatile dress and will see much use I think.

the back is the image below
I eliminated the button closure and added a small inverted pleat to try to manage how large the bodice came out rather than stressing the thin fabric by taking it all apart for a second time!
Although the image below is poor it does show the side panels of this dress. The pockets are rather perfect and the dress, once you get your fit the way you like it, is a winner I think!
I was bound and determined to finish the dress this weekend because I had promised myself that I would not begin to enjoy my new machine until I did! It arrived two weeks ago, but this week, aside from wanting to finish the dress I also came down with a virus that caused me to miss going to our County fair for the first time in almost 30 years!


What is my new machine? This:



I have been interested in this machine since it first came out, but I thought that is was very overpriced and could not have afforded it anyway. What made me begin to consider one is that as much as hand work is truly "my thing" my hands just are not up to as much quilting through many layers any more. I want to preserve my hand power for embroidery, appliqué and other sewing that is not as hard on my hands...and so I began to consider the Babylock Sashiko 2 again. The MSRP on this machine $3999., although who would pay that for what is essentially a one stitch wonder I don't know. It was on sale locally, and I had saved some down payment and went ahead with buying it. A day later I got an email from Babylock for an August through September special for an even Lowe price and Quality Sewing honored that price for me. I was a happy sewer!

I played around with some possibilities at first. This machine used the bobbin only and I think that it is a mechanical marvel in how it forms the stitch.
In the photo bElow you can see the guide-wire mechanism behind the speciality needle.
The guide wire is essential to stitch formation. The specialty needles are a size 80 and have no eye. They are very expensive but last for some time I thin
I picked up a small project that I had put away b cause of my hands and have the machine a try. It's just one side of a zippered bag that hold something to protect it from scratches...so I felt it was "experiment worthy". It was so much fun! So easy and no throbbing hands ! Yes!

A year or so ago I was gifted with my serger. It too is a Babylock product (I got the Imagine serger). I am impressed with Babylock quality. I had never even test-drive a Babylock machine before buying that serger, but now I thunk I am "sold" in the company. I chose the serger because Babylock has been the in the forefront of "jet-air" threading or sergers and I figured that after all of this time they had the process down...and they do. Unlike my old Pfaff serger that I struggled with for 25+ years to the point of not using it, the Babylock is a dream and a pleasure to use.

Babylock seems to be innovative in their machines and designs. I mean who else would develop a one stitch wonder machine. It seemed expensive and superfluous to me for years, but now that my hands get so sore I saw/see the value in it. What's more I can also see being able to quilt some of my own, smaller sized, quilts with it as well as making the quilts bags that I enjoy making.. the machine is seriously heavy...as heavy as my Janome MC8900 or a full sized Bernina. I had thought that it might be lighter like my Embellisher....but it is a full on quality machine. It is very well made, well designed and easy to use, although making sure that I get the bobbin threaded right will take a few uses to sink in well.

I feel so lucky to be able to enjoy this new experience. I am glad that waited until I found a great price, and even happier that I hit the Babylock special sale which made it even easier for me. I am also happy that I buckled down and got my dress pattern done right...now, it will please rather than continue to puzzle!

How can we be so close to Labor Day?! Wasn't it just the beginning of summer