Sunday, February 25, 2018

Knitting and Sewing

Sometimes my interest in crafts spills over into other areas and it all seems to work out for a benefit. I've taken an interest in cleaning up my knitting needle collection and decided it was time to have a nice set of needles and to get this mess of a collection tuned up. Turning to Ebay, I bought an Aero set of needles in a red vinyl case with hints of the 1960's:
Aero case open and back and front of the case
It came in pretty good shape but was missing size 2 and 9 but I already had a size 2 and ordered a size 9 in Susan Bates Quicksilver via Walmart and will pick up later this week. That left my old case with only a few needles worth keeping:
My 1970's knitting needle case with vinyl inside and tapestry exterior
except for my double pointed and circular needle sets. Of course, I could buy a new case but they never seemed to be the right size and configuration so I decided to make my own. Here's the planning process:
Here are the contents I'm trying to store
I picked out a fabric I liked and laid them all out, taking ideas from Pinterest. Trying to get everything in and then some type of closure, I ended up with this:
Final knitting needle case with fold-down flap to hold needles in place
Although I prefer to have a zippered case, keeping them secure and the logistics of sewing in that zipper...I went with a roll:
Snug as a bug in a rug!
There is a decorative fabric, stiff interfacing, cotton batting, and a lining fabric to make up a nice padded, yet firm, surface. I couldn't just sew it together but had to add a touch of decorative sewing:
Flower stitch on pocket edge and trim that hides seam on circular needles pockets
I did most of the sewing on my Viking Designer 1 with a bit of serging with my Bernina 1100 serger. I'm happy with the end result and it got me to sort and weed out needles I had simply collected and didn't use or need. Many of the needles are going to the upcoming Textile Center garage sale but I also made up a nice set with something I picked up at the Goodwill Outlet:
Knitting needle case full of needles and supplies
Although it was a nice zipper case, it was made out of a quilted fabric that was not heavy enough to support all of its contents. I do admire the zipper, though but decided I would let this one go.

I'm still trying to work on my felting skills and have a new knitted slipper pattern I'm trying out. New needles and old yarn, I'm all organized and having fun. With all of the snow we got yesterday that needs to be shoveled, I can rest between stints of shoveling with my knitting.

Next up: a couple who didn't know they had a valuable sewing machine.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

A Pig in a Poke

I try to tell people they need to do their own research before buying a sewing machine to make sure they know the pros and cons of the model they are eyeing. Sometimes I need to take my own advice but I got carried away with the offer of forty spools of serger thread and a thread rack with a serger. It all seemed so easy, maybe too easy?, and I was the owner of a modern Singer serger. Singer? Really? They are not my favorite but I do have a Singer embroidery and sewing machine that is wonderful so maybe this would be an exception, too:
Singer 14CG754 serger
I bring it home in a large tub that holds all of those spools of thread and rack and can't wait to sew with it. First off, the plug end into the machine is wobbly and keeps it from working some of the time so I might have to replace that. It runs but it's fairly loud but then I see it needs a good cleaning and probably has never been oiled. That all helps and it does run much better but it's still loud. I manage to perform a three and four thread stitch without any incident, tension is fair, but not as consistent as I might like. Rolled hem? There are several different types but all are just so-so, not the quality I would want on a napkin or hem. Flatlock? I cannot get it to flatten out no matter how much I adjust the tensions. So we are back to the three and four thread stitches but that's all I ever do with my other sergers so I think it will make a fine beginners serger. Threading the lower looper is a real chore but that can be true with any serger and you do get used to the idiosyncrasies when it is your own.

It needed a dust cover or carrying case like I've picked up for free and have used with other sergers. This time I wanted to make my own and put the serger to use. Measuring out another one as my pattern I gave this one an upholstery type striped fabric cover with a print lining, serging the seams and encasing in bias tape. Adding the zipper was easy but figuring out the straps after it was assembled wasn't quite the right order but I got it done anyway:
Singer serger bag
Serger bag inside
Really, it was so easy I now want to make more! As far as using a sewing machine, the Viking Designer 1 did a nice job on the bias tape but would not sew over the heavier fabric when it came to the zipper ends. With so many machines to choose from, which one did I use for the heavier work? The Singer 66 red eye in the parlor cabinet, of course:
Singer 66 in bird's eye maple treadle cabinet
It was a joy to sew with the treadle again and it put me in a good mood. An ice storm is coming in so we might have to stay home for a bit but that's okay when there is much sewing to be done!

As a bit of a P.S. I forgot to tell you about another serger cover I made out of those free bag that are sent with every charitiable donation these days. You know those bags?
My aunt had a garage full of them with recycling so we brought them home, recycled the paper, and kept the bags in hopes of putting them to a better use. On a Saturday morning I looked at a bag with a Monet print on the front and knew that was the one I would use to make a cover for my own serger, a Bernina 1100DA. There wasn't enough for the sides but I used another bag made out of a mesh type of fabric, sewed it all together for this end product:

My Bernina 1100 serger under its new cover
I left the zipper compartment in the front so now I have the manual right with it. I thought I was pretty clever until I went to move it: no opening for the handle! That was an oversight but I reassure myself that it will stay cleaner this way. Apparently, I'm on a roll with covers and bags these days but it does keep the machines free of dust.

Two more sewing machines left the house this weekend with a Bernina 1006 with a full set of accessories going to Marilyn's sister and the Automatic Deluxe 107 going to a repeat customer who fell in love with it's old car look:
It was sold in a plastic case but was sturdy and with a new motor block and foot control. It was love at first sight!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Going Out On Their Own

The set of Bernina 1006-1008's that I acquired in November and wrote about in Triplets and Speed Demons and Slow Pokes have finally been put together enough to list for sale. At least two of them have good cords and foot controls and one has an accessory box and extra feet. That will make one a very nice machine and the other one a good buy! The third one is going to have to wait on the shelf until more parts come along to be set-to-rights. Here's what happened to the Bernina 1008 that is oh so complete.

As written about earlier, these machines came to me a cast-offs from a school and needed some TLC and did they get it. All cleaned up, tuned up, and ready to run, they still were missing the accessory box, extension table, and a nice set of feet. There are not many accessory boxes out there for sale and I needed to be sure they would fit the models I had. Over the past six weeks there have been three or four on Ebay and included fairly large sets of feet but they also came with large price tags, out of my reach. I finally did find one and managed to outbid everyone and it came in the mail in great shape:

Bernina 1000-1008 accessory box

Bernina accessory box on back of the machine extends the work space
and it fit! Quite impressed, I now needed to add some of the Bernina presser feet but that proved to be a bit of a challenge, too. There is a whole evolution of presser feet from Bernina and this style was considered the "old style" in contrast to the "new style" but are not the "old, old style" that I had so many extras lying around. Here's the difference:
Old version on left with small prongs, old-old version on right with thicker prongs
The newer feet had narrow prongs/fittings; that means they can be used on the older sewing machines but the old, old style cannot be used on this newer model because they are too thick. Pretty tricky on their part, huh? As with so many of these items for sale, there are more of the old, old style and not so many of the old style so they seem to sell at a higher cost. I even found some large sets but they had mixed up the different types and had old, old with old. Yes, I could buy them all and save those I didn't need yet but it's still fairly expensive! A small set finally did come my way:
Three came together and I found a fourth in my stash
and they will go to the 1008. Feeling a bit successful yet still knowing these sewing machines were incomplete, I decided to pursue the larger, more expensive sets. I wrote to the seller asking if I could get a deal if I bought two of them. Yes, not a huge deal but $20 less for each one so I took the offer. They were delivered in record time and, boy, was I excited: they were not only perfect but complete:
Wow: does it get any more complete than a rack of feet AND accessories?

Top of box opens for easy access
Although they cost more I ended up getting so much more. I feel confident when selling these lovely Bernina sewing machines that the new owner will have everything they need. In fact, I'm even going to purchase a new foot control and power cord so they are all working perfectly because they are worth it. What's the big deal about this particular sewing machine? It is not only excellent quality, they are easy to use, have a better quality of stitches, portable, and good for a beginner as well as someone wanting/needing to upgrade their beginner sewing machine.

While waiting for all of these different parts to arrive and Super Bowl LII to start (and in Minnesota it was a pretty big deal, even if we weren't playing) I made up another sewing machine cover with those quilt blocks from my sister. This time I tried out my own designs for the free motion work on the front and sides:
Pin cushion motif

Scissor outline
discovering you do have to pad the work with batting so it will have the dimension necessary to show it off.  The sewing machine outline had to be done twice so not that great but I was very happy with the pincushion, something I simply drew put and stitched. Sometimes simple is better.
Sewing machine outline before stitching (no padding)
All sewn together, I like how it turned out. I would try the free motion again but I'm not into the quilt piecing as much as I would like and it just isn't necessary when making a sewing machine cover. But who ever said it was about necessity?
Quilt block sewing machine cover with free motion embellishment

Friday, February 2, 2018

Lots of Blocks

When my sister Mindy came to visit in November we finished her quilt tops, sorted through bins of fabric and clothes, and just had fun together. In the end I took several of her "extra" sewing machines, quilt blocks, and cut squares of fabric from one of the quilt tops. I fully planned on donating them to the Textile Center Garage Sale in April but when I needed something to sew on to test out the Singer 66 with lotus decals, I thought about the extra blocks and what I could do with them. It seems I always need sewing machine covers and tote bags so I laid out some of the blocks to see what I could come up with:
Block arrangement: what's up, Meg?
Okay, something was wrong with this and even my cat, Meg, knew it, but my husband got into the act and here's a better arrangement:
This looks better and ready for quilting
Just like a tote bag, the wasn't going to be seen as a whole like you would see it as a quilt, so I wasn't too concerned with the lights and darks of the fabrics. After basting the top, batting, and bottom layers together, I only stitched it in a few places over the plaids so it would hold it in place but not show. Then I had the dilemma of what to do with those large beige centers. I kept coming back to free motion embroidery so I found a pattern and traced it in one of the centers with old fashioned dressmakers tracing paper. Boy, this was harder than I thought but the results are okay if you don't look too close:
Next up, I tried a wash out pen that I could see better but it still was a lot of tiny stitches:
For the final one I used a pen that would fade over time and it still was not as smooth stitching or longer length.: this is going to take much more practice!
As I said, don't look too close but over all a nice first try:
Now I had to figure out how to actually get this to fit over the machine but that turned out to be easy by making a large box as I have done with tote bags except the opening faces down, not up. All of the inside seams were bound in bias tape, boxed at the top and bound, with the same binding around the bottom edge. Since this was to fit over a Bernina 730, I used one of their decorative stitches along the bottom edge, too:

Front (or is that the back? I can't tell!)

Top: this I'm sure of!
When I put it all back together I decided it needed a bag for the accessories so I got out some of the cut squares and made up a lined bag and put a zipper in the top so nothing is going to go sailing out:
Zippered bag for the accessories
It was a nice way to use up those really nice blocks, practice a new skill of free motion embroidery, and get another very nice sewing machine ready to be sold:
Bernina Record 730 ready for its new cover
A classic cover for a classic Bernina Record 730 sewing machine, complete with knee control, Bernina bobbins, and a nice set of feet. Thank you, Mindy, for your donation of the quilt squares now put to use. There's that old saying "Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without" and I think this project hit on almost all of those, don't you?