Sunday, March 18, 2012

Try Something New

In one of my first posts, I wrote about how my husband bought me my original sewing machine when he misunderstood a joke I had made about wanting to sew.  Now, 10 years later, he again surprised me over the holidays with a new sewing machine (one that I had been not so secretly coveting.)  My old one was doing just okay - it wasn't working so well and it was very basic - so I was very excited to get the new machine (and my daughters are so happy to no longer have to share the old one with ME!)  My new machine has many great features - the auto thread cutter alone has revolutionized my quilting - but I've yet to use many of those features.  A few weeks ago (after using the machine for over 2 months), I read somewhere online that many machines have the ability to change the needle position - seriously?!?  I got out my manual and, lo and behold, my machine has the feature - wow did that make a difference in sewing on bindings!   So, to motivate myself to start learning the ins and outs of the sewing machine, I've decided to commit myself to trying something new at least once a week.

Up first - free motion quilting.  Well, free motion quilting drawing, is it called?  Or free motion machine embroidery?  Freestyle quilting?  I don't know the official name but I love the look of the quilts I've been seeing around blogland of mini quilts created by drawing with thread.

I really liked making these quilts - which is good because I agree with everyone who says that free motion quilting takes lots of practice!  I've made three so far and have improved tremendously with each but I still have a long way to go.  In trying to find a good rhythm between the speed of my hands and the speed of the stitch, I found that keeping my maximum stitch speed set to medium fast was best so that I can can press the pedal all the way down without the needle going crazy.  This also enables me to move my hands a little slower without getting super long stitches (which happened a lot during my first try.)  I don't have any other tips yet but I'll blog about it as I figure out what works for me.

In honor of my first Try Something New (TBD day), I tried a few other new things as well.  As you can see on my quilts, I machine stitched the binding.  I've always had a hard time doing so and as I wrote about in an earlier post, once I tried hand-stitching the binding, I realized how much I preferred both the process and the end result.  This was partly because I could never quite get machine binding to work - I tried several tutorials but it never took.  However, I recently stumbled upon this tutorial from Stitched in Color and it finally clicked (I realized after I finished that she uses a 3/8" seam - not sure how I missed that but I'll try next time.)  My first attempt didn't work well at all - I think it was because I am not usually very careful about attaching the binding with the 1/4 inch seam to the quilt top since it is easy to make up for this when hand-stitching.  But for the second and third try, I went with the premise that slow and steady wins the race and indeed, it did (I'm not posting any pics of my third try because I actually think I am satisfied enough with it that I'll be giving it as a gift.)  I was very careful to evenly stitch 1/4 inch from the edge all around and then carefully pressed the binding to the other side.  And then went slow and steady again when using the zigzag stitch.  I'm not saying that I am going to abandon hand-stitching but even going slowly, this still was super quick - leaving me time to make more quilts!

My third new thing of the day was learning how to make a blog button but I'm still working on it so I'll save that for another day.

And lastly, my 6 year old was busy drawing and decorating a few days ago but I just noticed how much I love this - not just for the obvious reasons but because we apparently share a color palette aesthetic - so lovin' aqua and red right now.

Actually, one more thing to add.  I finished the binding on my wonky, log cabin, improv mini/doll quilt.  I really love how the binding just brings it all together.  This one I did handstitch.


  1. haha .. you make it sound as if I just needed to get a husband to get a new sewing machine ... did whoever got the mini quilt find the T too? and if you zig-zag (or is it zick-zack?) stich the binding down are you doing both sides in one go?

  2. That's pretty funny about the husband - I hadn't even thought about when I was writing! I haven't gifted the T quilt yet but I'll let you know and as for the zigzag, I attach raw edge to raw edge and then pull it over to one side and stitch the zigzag. I'm publishing another post about this tonight.


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