A new gadget!

One evening while my husband perused some of the “deal of the day” sites he follows while I was making dinner, he asked me if I wanted a new sewing machine.

No, I replied. My little faithful, uncomplicated Kenmore had served me well for 30+ years now, and I figured I’d just keep using it until it gave out. Besides, those newfangled computerized ones would probably require a significant learning curve to become comfortable with, whereas I knew my Kenmore so well I could operate it almost without thinking.

But he began to read some of the features of the one on sale, and the more he read, the more attractive it sounded. And, I began to reason, when my machine does give out, there might not be a deal like this readily available. So I said, “Sure, if you want to get it for me.” πŸ™‚ So he did.

It arrived last Saturday, and thankfully he was here to help me get it out of the box and figure out some of the diagrams to get started with it.

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This photograph with the light on isn’t as good, but you can see the screen display:

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Some of the basics like threading it and the bobbin were a little hard to figure out: some of the specialty stitches were easy, and I had fun playing with those a bit.

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It will take a while to feel “at home” with it, but that should come with use. It’s supposed to have an automatic needle threader which I haven’t figure out yet but which should come in really handy: I keep a little magnifying glass in the desk drawer for help with threading now. One feature I really like is that there is a little push button on the side that opens a little drawer for all the extra presser feet, bobbins, etc., thus freeing up crowded drawer space.

And, as an added bonus, the sewing machine cover I made for my old sewing machine last year came out a bit too big for it, but – you guessed it, it fits this one nicely. It’s a bit snug, but it still covers it.

As I moved my old sewing machine and began gathering all its attachments, I felt like I should give it a hug for all its good work through the years and pat it and tell it what a good job it has done. But when I feel sentimental about appliances, this video comes to mind:

So even though I am a little intimidated at figuring out things with the new machine, I am looking forward to it as well, and I am thankful for my husband’s love and generosity.

Finished Projects!

Some of you who have been here for a while may remember some years ago my showing this fabric that I had gotten for curtains and asking advice about them.

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I am ashamed to say how many years that has been, but it was before we moved to this house {blush}. Thankfully the family room here had the same number of windows similarly sized.

My biggest holdup in any kind of project is deciding what to do. My inspiration for using toile and check came from seeing the combination at a friend’s house years ago. I knew I wanted a valance that used both but had trouble deciding how to do it: toile on top, check on top, which pattern to use, trim or not, etc. After thinking about it every which way I possibly could, I finally decided on what I was inclined to do in the first place.

First I’ll show you the valances that were here when we moved in:

BEFORE: Old Valance

BEFORE: Old Valance

BEFORE: Old valance

BEFORE: Old valance

I apologize for the lighting in all of these. It was an overcast day, and even with all the lights on I couldn’t get the lighting right, then my phone camera kept wanting to focus on the window. These valances were all right – in fact, up close they had a lot of nice detail. But it was lost there on the window, and the beige valance on beige walls was pretty blah.

So this is what I came up with for the new valances:

AFTER: New valance

AFTER: New valance

AFTER: New valance

AFTER: New valance

IMG_0008(1)Eventually I want to make curtain panels as well. But I need to make a date with my husband to hang the rods for that. πŸ™‚ This was a good stropping place for now.

I used this McCall pattern. I gave some thought to just adding a strip of the toile to the bottom of the check fabric rather than making the double valance that was called for, and in some ways I wish I had: even though these were attached, it was like making four valances rather than two. I did lengthen them a couple of inches from what the pattern specified.

When my dear husband was helping me hang them, he asked if I had ever thought about making them professionally. I thought to myself, “Oh, my dear, if you only knew….” I make way too many mistakes to sew professionally. I tend to do the dumbest things when I sew. For instance: the pattern called for a 1/2 inch seem. So instead of placing the fabric to the left of the 5/8″ guide mark on my machine, I placed it to the right, and then thought that seemed like an awfully wide seam allowance that was just going to be cut off. Then I realized my mistake, thankfully before I had gotten too far. There is a pretty major mistake with the lining on one, but since it was the lining and not in front and not obvious, I left it. But I did know what to watch for when I made the second one.

Seam ripper

I won’t bore you with all the flaws, but there are plenty. Thankfully they came out looking relatively well for all that.

At one point I wished I had the buffalo check that’s so popular these days, but since I already had this on hand, I felt like I should use it instead. But then, I told myself, if the buffalo check is trendy now, it might not be a few years from now, and the regular toile and check combo is fairly classic. Yet when I got these done I thought they looked more country-ish, which I am trying to get away from, rather than classic. But I am telling myself that’s just my imagination and they do look classic. πŸ™‚

I also wanted to make a couple of pillows, mainly to tie the room together but also because I have a couple of old ones that are about ready to be retired. I got the idea for this one from here as well as instructions for making an envelope pillow.

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I really liked doing an envelope cover rather than stuffingΒ  a pillow! I went back and forth with whether or not I liked this as much as I thought I would, but it does accomplish its purpose in tying the room together, I think.

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I also made the front and back for another one, based on this one seen on Pinterest (I found the other one originally on Pinterest as well). I was originally going to add lace like that one has, but decided I liked this design:

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I’m trying to decide whether I want to put cording around the edges or not. I’m going to see what Hobby Lobby has and then decide from there. But it shouldn’t take to long to finish up either way.

I love the trim, which I learned is called gimp, and thought it would be the easiest part to deal with, but I found it’s a little hard to keep in place – it kept wanting to pull over while I was sewing. And I did learn not to stretch it while sewing! I did that in a couple of places on one pillow, which made the fabric look a little puckered, but thankfully it evened out with pressing.

There’s one more I’d like to do, as well as the longer curtain panels, but this is a good stopping place for a week or so. My oldest son is coming in this weekend, and a very special grandson is having his first birthday next week, so I need to turn my attention to other pursuits just now. πŸ™‚ With trying to get these done I haven’t been to visit you all like I normally would, and I hope to catch up soon.

Finished Project: Sewing Machine Cover

Whew! I don’t think I have ever been away from the blog this long before. My oldest son, Jeremy, was here all last week and my husband was off as well. Jason and Mittu and Timothy came over a number of times as well as Mittu’s mother, who was also in town visiting for a few days. Jesse’s girlfriend also came over a couple of times to meet the rest of the family. Between visiting, a few outings, keeping up with groceries and cooking, and then after everyone left recuperating, catching up on laundry, running errands, and more grocery shopping – well, you can see why I haven’t been around much lately. πŸ™‚ It was a wonderful time, though – I’ll probably say more about it on my weekly Friday’s Fave Five.

My sewing/craft room doubles as a guest room. Jeremy would be staying there this visit, and though the room has been a continual work in progress ever since we lived here, I pretty much have it about like I want it with just a couple more touches to finish. One project I’ve been wanting to get to for some months was to make a new cover for my sewing machine. My old one was red (which I don’t care for or use in my decorating any more), Holly Hobbie (which I got over a long time ago), and looked like something had been spilled on it. It was about 30 years old, so I felt a new one was overdue.

Old Sewing Machine Cover

Old Sewing Machine Cover

I’ve been looking up ideas online for some time and gathered them into a Pinterest board for Sewing Machine Covers. Deciding what to do is the hardest, usually longest part of any project for me.Β This one was my main inspiration, but I didn’t want to do it exactly like that (and I couldn’t get to the original post about it – all I had was the photo).

I finally came up with a plan and got it in my head that I wanted to get it done before Jeremy came – not that he would notice or care about it, but you know how someone coming over is the impetus to get some things done. I didn’t get it completely finished before he got here, but it was far enough along that I could toss it over the sewing machine. I just finished it, or as much as I am going to do with it for now, this morning.

I knew I wanted a sewing machine on front, andΒ this mug rug gave me the idea to add some sewing accessories. I was going to try to just wing it drawing the shapes I wanted, and then decided that the couple of dollars for that pattern as well asΒ this one for the sewing machine would be money well spent. I enlarged the sewing machine pattern by 150% on my printer, but the other pieces are the same size as the pattern except that I cut the pincushion down a bit.

I had never appliqued before, except for one vague memory of an attempt at trying to use the satin stitch on my machine and having thread pile up in a lump at the beginning. So I don’t know why I decided to try to do that on a project like this that needed so much of it, and on a deadline. Glutton for punishment, I guess. πŸ™‚ I did use Wonder Under to fuse the pieces on, but needed to cover the outside edges in stitching so they wouldn’t ravel. Much of the satin stitch actually came out looking like a zigzag stitch. You do have to help guide/push the fabric through while sewing, and it’s hard to get a feel for how much to do that without the stitches spacing too far apart. That really bugged me until one of the patterns I was looking at this morning said a zigzag stitch could be used – so I can just pretend I meant it to be that way. πŸ™‚ It wasn’t until the last item I stitched that it began to look more like a satin/applique stitch.

Anyway – here it is:

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I was going to put a ruffle at the bottom out of the same fabric that I used for the sewing machine applique – but I didn’t leave myself enough room. That is one of my favorite fabrics – it’s from a maternity dress I made during my first pregnancy. πŸ™‚ You can’t really find those shades of pink and blue together on fabric much these days.

I used a fabric that was already quilted for the base because I didn’t want to have to deal with quilting the background fabric (sorry Wendy — maybe next time. πŸ™‚ Wendy is an expert at free-motion quilting on the machine and has been encouraging me to try it).

This was the last item I appliqued where it was just starting to look like I knew what I was doing.

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No, I’m not going to show you a close-up of the zig-zaggy ones! πŸ™‚ Though you can see a bit of it to the right of the pin cushion there.

It might’ve helped to use a slightly wider stitch to be more sure of catching the fabric edge, but some of the pieces were so small I didn’t want the outline stitching to take up too much of it. There were a couple of places I strayed off the path a bit, especially with some of the pinks that were lighter and harder to see. At some point it occurred to me that I could use a washable fabric marking pen to outline where I needed to stitch on those hard-to-see places.

I’ve thought about adding some stitching like that inΒ this piece to kind of tie everything together. I may also come back at some point and embroider some pins in the pin cushion. I was originally going to do another design on the back so I could change it around as desired – but I got to a point where I just felt like I needed to get it done. It’s usable now, and I can think about the other touches and add them later if I decide I want to.

It’s not perfect – but I like it, and it is much better than what I had.

Here’s my little sewing corner:

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No, my desk isn’t usually that clean, and yes, I did clear it off just for the picture. πŸ™‚

It was nice to get behind the sewing machine again and especially nice to get a project done that has been on my mind for ages.