Sunday, September 10, 2017

Free as in Free-Motion

We are having another busy weekend with continued home repairs during this mild weather but I have managed to spend some evening hours sewing and getting ready for the River Rat TOGA in Lake City. Cindy put out a request for new pot holders for the church kitchen and you would think I could whip them out in record time since I sell quilted pot holders but not so. I wanted to bring standard sized pot holders that anyone could grab and use for the oven and to set something hot on. My hot mitts are great but can cause some people to pause and ask how-do-these-work? While I was contemplating this I was also getting ready for another session with the quilt group in Cambridge, Friends First Quilters. I combined those activities by demonstrating free-motion sewing with making pot holders for a fruitful demonstration.

Friends First Quilters are a great group of women who love to quilt and set aside one Saturday morning each month to sew. They also have guest speakers and I've been privileged to talk to them about vintage sewing machines, sewing machine attachments, and specialty feet. This time I focused on free-motion sewing, bias tape binders, and circle stitchers. The free motion was the most fun and everyone who wanted to try it out could step up to the machine and give it a try. So many times we don't try things out because we don't have all of the equipment and don't know how to get started. I cut all of that out by having it all ready to go. What did we practice on? A pot holder, of course:
Free motion practice on a quilting sandwich
We started out on two layers of cotton but once they tried it we quickly graduated to something closer to the thickness you would use on a typical quilt.This one was two layers of cotton batting with an Insulbright layer between. It wasn't too bad for a first try, so I brought it home and added bias tape and made up another one:
Pot holders quilted with a free-motion technique
Next up was a circular stitcher I wrote about in Going in Circles. I finally got my flower stitcher and it has been fun to play around with:
Flower stitcher attachment with sample circles/flowers
I'm still practicing with this one and have to admit I need to read the instructions more carefully. We also looked at my set of 32 presser feet and tried out the bias tape binder and concluded it worked best when your edges were all neatly cut. I had a great time and even had a book give away for The Sewing Machine Accessory Bible, a great book with good instructions on how to use the various sewing machine attachments.

Just as the title says but it's not THE holy book
Now which sewing machine did I bring to try out all of these items? Why, a Kenmore, of course. One of my new ones, the Kenmore 158-1320, came to me running great and it's such a good basic machine:
Kenmore 158-1320
All of the attachments worked fine, taking into consideration user error (my error), and it was a standard low shank machine. It doesn't have a wide variety of stitches:
Kenmore 158-1320 stitch dial
but all of the basic utility stitches plus one stretch stitch. I really like these old Kenmore's and knew it would be reliable, too. It is also nice to demonstrate n a non-fancy sewing machine so there is no excuse for demoing on a high end model that can do everything but wash your dishes. There's more to tell about my trip to Cambridge but I'll save that for next time when I show you the Singer 401A and what's happening with it and if I decide to make it a parts machine or not. But that's for another day...

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