For many years–okay, for all the years that I’ve been quilting–I’ve wished for a table that was specially made for sewing machines, where my machine would sit down in the table so that the machine bed was level with the table top. I think this can be so much better for machine quilting, though obviously, I’ve been getting along just fine without this table for 20 years! Still, most of the reason that I didn’t ever invest in such a table was because we were living in Germany, and that kind of furniture wasn’t all that readily available there, and what there was seemed a lot more expensive than what you could get here in the US at the time.
As soon as I was partially settled in the new house though, I started thinking about that table, and looking around to see what was available these days. Of course, the first thing I found that I was really excited about was a bit bittersweet.
Awesome table, but when I called the local Horn of America dealer to check on pricing, the conversation went something like this:
Me: Can you tell me the price on the Horn MultiLift 6000 please? Dealer: Sure, just a sec. Hmm, yes, the MSRP on that is five thousand—something something something (she said exactly what the MSRP was, but I quit listening at the five thousand part). Me: Oh, okay. (rather weakly…) Dealer: However, we always sell for 25% off the MSRP so that would actually be three thousand, eight hundred—something something. (yeah, I quit listening again…). Me: Ah, hmmm. Continue reading →
It’s time to part ways with one of my sewing machines, and I’ve decided that the Pfaff Performance 2054/2056/2058 has to go. I’m not selling it because there’s something wrong with it (there isn’t) or because it’s not a good machine (it is) or because I don’t like it (I do), it’s just that I can do everything with the Bernina that I can with this Pfaff, and I just like the Bernina better.
It’s a great machine for piecing and quilting, and general sewing as well. It’s programmable and has all the bells and whistles like a low bobbin warning, stitch memory, decorative stitches, lettering stitches, Continue reading →
I received another titillating email from Bernina about the 8 Series this morning. This one says:
If you think the others have more space… you haven’t seen anything yet.
Hmmm. More work space. Must mean a longer/larger throat area, and that just might be worth having at some point. That would mean much easier machine quilting when working with larger quilts, and would cut down on pain and fatigue caused by muscling a large quilt through the machine. It would also probably mean a larger maximum machine embroidery size right out of the box without purchasing aftermarket oversized hoops.
Damn them anyway, I did not want to be tempted. Though it depends on how high the price is whether I’ll really be tempted, I’m sure. I heard rumors of many thousands of dollars, which might negate any serious temptation they can create for me.
When I was twelve and I asked my mom to teach me to sew, one of the first lessons was how to use her Riccar sewing machine. It was a pretty high-end model, built to last, and as far as I know, still runs great. The only thing I specifically remember from that lesson was my mother’s stern admonition: “Never, NEVER, turn the hand wheel backwards.” She threatened me with death if I did it, and demonstrated how to turn the handwheel properly. She meant that the handwheel on the machine should never be turned away from me as I was seated at the machine, and she explained that that would cause the threads to tangle and possibly break the machine.
Many years later, I was quite surprised by how many people I saw doing just that in classes, and wondering why the threads were all jammed up and they couldn’t get the fabric out of the machine. I guess they missed that part of the lesson? More recently, I’ve (carefully) risked my mother’s wrath by turning the handwheel on my Pfaff backwards just one half of a complete turn, to get the needle to come back up without completing the stitch if I’ve taken just that one stitch too many (or the stitch landed in the wrong place) when I’m machine quilting. (Theoretically my mother wouldn’t care anymore, since it’s not her costly machine I’d be breaking, but do me a favor and keep my malefaction between you and me!)
One half of a complete rotation of the handwheel doesn’t seem to damage the machine, but frequently it will tangle the threads, so sometimes the technique works and other times it doesn’t. If it works, I’ve saved myself taking out a whole line of machine quilting because there’s one wrong stitch at the end. If it doesn’t, sometimes I can keep stitching (and ignore the little jig of the misplaced stitch or try to work it into the design somehow) and other times the threads are so tangled that stopping and restarting is the only option. It’s a 50-50 chance with the Pfaff. Continue reading →
No, I didn’t go on vacation, just been super busy here! Just FYI, busy+notmuchquilting=nofun. Well, maybe not “no fun,” just not as much fun! Anyway, things may be winding down to an acceptable level, so I can just coast through Christmas now. The last party is over, thank goodness, and I finished up my last online programming class for this month yesterday. I’ve been working on a gift for my landlords and I finished it up today:
I made them a set of eight placemats to go with the table runner and the napkin rings that I’ve made in previous years. I was a bit worried as I was making them, since they seemed to be a bit “floofy” and weren’t laying flat after they were quilted. I think I should have used a thinner batting. I decided to toss them in the washer and pray to the quilting goddess for a boon. Since fabric placemats need to be washable anyway, I also figured it would be better to get it over with now in case the machine embroidery didn’t survive.
The embroidery came out fine, and after a bit of judicious steam pressing, the mats are wonderfully flat! I guess the quilting goddess figured it was my turn or something. Whew! I’m probably going to have to think of something else entirely for next year, since I’ve used up most of the green fabric for the embroidery, and I’m not sure what else to make anyway. Napkins?? Hmmmm…
I got a little bored quilting the placemats (okay, really bored!), so I decided to do some Pfaff vs. Bernina experiments with my machines. If I’m going to do machine guided quilting, I usually use the Pfaff because it has the built-in dual feed, so I started quilting the placemats with the Pfaff 2056, my favorite machine until the Bernie came to live here. When the quilting wasn’t turning out so well, I thought I’d see what the Bernina 440 had to offer with the walking foot. Continue reading →
After many years about thirty minutes of thoughtful consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that a good portion of success in quilting is dependent on the shape of your head. If your head is somewhat skinny and tall, and set back a bit, it’s easier to see what you’re doing and your back doesn’t hurt so much when you quilt for long hours. Those with shorter, somewhat wide and angled heads are at a disadvantage. What?? Oh, you thought I meant…no, no, no, not that kind of head! I meant the head of the sewing machine! Let me explain.
For years I was happy (and so was my back) with my Pfaff 1475 machine. Then when I bought the new 2056 model, I noticed I had a harder time seeing the needle without hunching down farther in the chair, and then I had more back pain, especially when machine quilting. Here’s the side by side shape comparison:
On the left is the 1475, and on the right is the 2056. As you can see, the head of the 2056 is wider, and the needle is set back farther from the front of the head. Continue reading →