Sunday, 13 September 2015

Special Request Quilt - Featuring Machine Embroidery and Appliqué

It happens every now and then, a good friend calls with a special request. Mine came last month in the form of a gift quilt for a lady who's family was in the midst of much turmoil. My friend lived far away and thought a quilt would be a nice way of sending them a warm hug. I agreed and got to work.

It's times like these that a good fabric stash comes in real handy. Some graph paper and a brainstorm later, and we were running. The 'client' has two young girls but my friend wanted a more timeless quilt that would grow with the children and appeal to the mother too. I decided to do a simple patchwork design accented with some designs done on my Bernina Embroidery Attachment. It took AGES to stitch out the 9 different designs (Ecco from Embroidery Online) but the result was well worth it. 

The quilt features 6"squares with 2" borders. In hindsight, I think the 6:2 ratio is a little unbalanced, I would have preferred a smaller border. Never the less, the quilt still looks great. The fabric is 'Weekends' by Erin McMorris for Freespirit Fabrics and I used some Kona Solids for the embroidery backgrounds. Once the embroidery squares were done the sewing of the quilt top didn't take so long and I used strips of the fabrics to make the backing colourful and interesting in its own right. 

The only real difficulty I found with this quilt was when it came to sandwiching. The quilt was about 62" square and I really struggled to find a surface big enough to get all the layers placed right. Check the photo for my creative table enlarger. 

To finish of the project I used Westalee Rulers to make a beautiful continuous rope on all the 2" strips. It really didn't take so long and once I got in the groove the rulers really made the process quite quick. The squares feature a combination of ruler designs and free motion quilting to highlight the beautiful fabrics. 

In my haste to get the quilt off to its new owners I forgot to take a proper photo - drat! But hopefully I can get one later down the track. What's most important is that the quilt was made with lots of love for people who need a little extra support right now. This is why I love quilting. I get to make unique and beautiful creations to bring joy to others. 

Friday, 11 September 2015

Simple Sewing Machine Maintenance for Quilters

Sewing Machine maintenance is critically important for the long-term health of your machine. If you are sewing pretty much every day, especially with batting, you really must get that fluff out from the workings of the machine every day. Simple maintenance means less trips to the service centre, less expenditure (more money for buying fabric) and more time sewing!

One of the best pieces of advice I've received about sewing machine maintenance, is not to wait for the machine to tell you it needs oil. I don't usually sew every day, but I sew most days. A tiny drop of oil once every week or two is great. Do NOT over oil. Wipe excess away and always wipe off excess with a fabric scrap.

Basic Process

Step 2
1. Remove bobbin, bobbin casing, foot and thread. You can remove the needle too if you think you may get into trouble.

2. Take off stitch plate. For mine, you just push in the corner and it pops up.

Step 3
3. Open bobbin housing and remove parts.

4. Get your nifty little cleaning brush that comes with every machine and go crazy.

5. Add a tiny bit of oil (when required).

6. Put everything back in the right spot! This is important. If not, the machine won't work. ;)

I'm always amazed what gunk comes out of my machine even if I had only cleaned it a day before. Push the bush into as many nooks and crannies you can.

Don't blow in your machine. Sewing machines don't like moisture (oil is not moisture). Most important thing to remember is that any sewing creates lint build up in the machine but batting, of any sort, is particularly messy. It takes no time to quickly open the machine up and clear out the lint. Well made machines really do last a lifetime and this simple maintenance will ensure smoother sewing for all.

NB: Your individual sewing machine manual should explain how to strip down your machine for cleaning.