Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I may be a wee bit distracted from crafting this week by the arrival of this little guy:

We rescued a 14-week old lab-mix puppy last week. His name is Augustus (aka August, aka Auggie, aka Auggie Doggie). He is just as cute in real life as in these photos.

So not much crafting is going on at the moment, though I did make him the colorful kerchief seen in this photo. Scrap fabric + trying out my new sewing machine's overlocking stitch = win! He might not like having it around his neck, but I think it makes him look even cuter. Hooray for puppies!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


I am coming to believe that the best part of having a new sewing machine is getting to play around with all of its special features. The free lesson I received on my machine (yet another perk of buying local) really spurred this experimentation because I now have a basic understanding of what all my stitches and accessories do. And let me tell you, I am now in love with all of the feet that come with my Janome DC2013.

I used 3 special feet for my latest project: a patchwork wristlet. This project is from a mini charm pack kit that I bought on a quilt shop hop last summer (and can I say I'm totally sold on charm packs - no cutting and coordinated fabrics? awesome) and was perfect for trying things out on my machine.

Right off, I used the machine's 1/4 inch foot for all of the patchwork seeming. I wasn't convinced that I needed this foot, as I really don't quilt, but the seam guide was amazingly helpful and I will definitely use it again when I need 1/4 inch seams. The other obvious foot to test was the zipper foot for installing the wristlet's zipper. This foot is pretty straightforward but I like that it can be mounted to either the right or left of the needle, depending on what you're sewing.

1/4" foot - zipper foot - ribbon/sequins foot

The third foot to be tested was a ribbon/sequins foot that I purchased separately from my machine. This little foot guides 1/4 ribbon, elastic, and strands of sequins into the sewing area so you can stitch it directly onto your fabric. What is really appealing about this foot is the ability to use decorative stitches on top of ribbon for beautiful trimmings. I still need to play around with this foot more, not only to get ideas but also because my trimmings aren't coming out straight yet.

Besides giving me a chance to test out a few of my new sewing feet, this was a really fun and quick project and I'm very happy with the results. It's got me thinking about more uses for [mini] charm packs and making new plans for experimenting with my new sewing machine. All told, that's the best kind of project.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hat Fail

For all I love sewing hats, they can sometimes be frustrating projects. Often it's an issue of sewing an awkward seam or getting the sizing correct (I have a big head), but my latest hat was an annoyance trifecta: awkward, mis-sized, with a tricky fabric to boot. I haven't entirely given up on laminated cotton, but I'm not particularly happy with my first trial run.

The hat in question is the Raindrop Hat from the book Sewn Hats. While it's a fine pattern, part of my problem with the finished hat was that I decided to get "smart" and modify the pattern to fit my large head. While this mostly turned out okay, the finished hat is too tall in the crown. Bugger.

The challenge of fixing the hat (and honestly sewing the hat) comes down to the properties of laminated cotton. Any holes you make in the fabric stay, meaning limited to no pinning and avoiding ripping out seams whenever possible. Additionally, you have to be careful with seams, as they can actually weaken the fabric and make it more likely to tear. And did I mention that the sewing machine feet like to stick to the laminated cotton?

So yeah, this was a bit of a pain to sew and I need to be a little strategic in how I fix the hat so I don't weaken the fabric. Until that happens, this little hat will be set aside while I can work on happier projects.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Meet The New Machine

The one good thing to come out of the death of my sewing machine is having an excuse to buy a modern sewing machine. And holy wow have sewing machines changed A LOT since my old machine was built almost 50 years ago. It was quite overwhelming to see all of the possible features beyond just the straight and zigzag stitches I had before.

In shopping for a new machine, I spent a lot of time visiting my 3 local sewing machine shops and trying out some of their machines (for all I'm not impressed with Milwaukee's lack of fabric stores, we have some great sewing machine shops!). I tried out Berninas, Brothers, Vikings, Janomes, and a Babylock. If you ever buy a new machine, I highly recommend trying out as many machines as you can get yours hands on - it really helped.

In the end, I settled on a Janome DC2013. I liked this machine for a lot of reasons: it sews beautifully, it's easy to thread and use, it has a nice collection of stitches, it has memory for defaulting to needle down/up, it can automatically stop at a complete repeat of the decorative stitches, and it comes with a large number of feet (though I did also spring for an invisible zipper foot). The DC2013 is just a nice solid, middle of the road machine. Plus, it didn't hurt that I heard a lot of good things about Janomes in the course of my research.

So now I have a new sewing machine! I'm very excited and have already been doing a little sewing on my new machine. One of my first projects has been a royal pain in my behind (fault of the fabric, not the machine) so I'm sure I will have lots more sewing things to talk about in my next post.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

My Beloved Singer

It can be hard to blog when there aren't happy things to write about. And today, I have a particularly sad thing to report: my beloved Singer sewing machine (a Singer Fashionmate 237) died during my recent move.

Not only did the motor break off the machine but the crankshaft that runs the length of the machine broke at the hand wheel. This later damage makes my machine officially unrepairable.

Let's not discuss how upset I was to discover that my sewing machine - purchased new by my mother in the 1960's - had extensive damage. One month later, I'm finally to the point where I have accepted its death and am moving forward with other sewing endeavors.