Sewing machine essentials that I didn't know I needed!

It's the usual story - you take things for granted until you have to do without them!

My Bernina sewing machine is still not back home! Three weeks without her is an eternity when you do as much sewing as I do! The bobbin winder was being a bit temperamental, quite often waiting till the machine had warmed up before it would work, so I mentioned this when I put the machine in for its service. The technician has ordered a new part, but - and here's the catch - he won't know whether this solves the problem until he's installed it! I am picturing this dragging on for quite a few weeks!

Meanwhile my little baby Brother $85 machine came out of its box and is taking pride of place in the sewing room. It has been working hard because I had project deadlines to meet. That's when I discovered all the sewing machine essentials that I didn't know I needed.

I've realised I can't do without a 1/4 inch foot with a guide. I have had a 1/4 inch foot for a long time and many moons ago it lost its self-levelling spring. Eventually I got sick of having to manually lift it up to put fabric under the foot so recently upgraded to one with a guide which makes accuracy very attainable.  Unable to use that Bernina foot on the Brother and without any other 1/4 inch foot, I measured carefully and placed a piece of tape on the machine as a guide and proceeded to align my fabric with the tape. 

That's when I discovered the next essential - good lighting. You see, the light comes from the left so casts a shadow and it is really difficult, well virtually impossible, to work out where the tape begins and ends to align the fabric with it.

Next solution was to draw a line 1/4 inch in on the fabric edge to follow. Discovery three came into operation - I absolutely can't sew on a line without an open toe foot. It is impossible to see the line under 1/2 inch of metal and it is all guesswork and hoping that you are close!

My other essential is a bit of a luxury, but oh how I miss it when I don't have it - the needle up/down function. How many hundreds of times has that jolly needle finished in the fabric when I wanted it out, or out of the fabric when I wanted it in.

I got my calculator out and discovered that my Bernina cost 28 times more than the little baby that is keeping me company at the moment. I guess I can't complain! However, next time someone asks me what they should look for when buying a sewing machine, I am a bit more aware now of the essentials!

In case my worst fears realise and Bernina and I are separated for more long weeks, I hopped online and ordered an open toe foot and a 1/4 foot with a guide for the baby Brother. At least that will go some of the way to helping me sew more accurately in the meantime.

You can see from the above photos that I've been doing lots of hand-stitching, since machine sewing isn't all that pleasurable at the moment.

I've also had time to put a couple more patterns in my store:

Sweet Nothings combining Hardanger and Silk Ribbon embroidery which you can find here.

and Cherished Letters - the cutest coin purse - here

I guess I might catch up on the backlog of paperwork at this rate!

Happy stitching!


Ice Creams and hot weather

I'm dreading receiving my next electricity bill! We've had a run of hot humid weather and have had the air-conditioning on for 12 hours or so each day. It's part of the bargain I made with my husband when we moved back to Queensland! 

We were living in South Australia in a beautiful country town on the Murray River, but there was nothing between us and the South Pole. Consequently for most of the year I found it freezing cold and we certainly used the aircon for heating the house to a liveable temperature. My lovely hubby brought me back home to our sub-tropical birth-State five years ago and the deal is that we now cool the house down to a liveable temperature for him! I have to admit I've needed the aircon too lately as the humidity is quite draining.

So it really is ice cream weather ... and ice cream surely deserves a quilt in its honour: 

The Icecream Parlour:

Lots of flavours and toppings:

and a lovely place to sit and enjoy it:

I called on my grandson to do the drawings for me again and then had fun choosing the applique colours and doing the stitching. Country Threads magazine Vol 17 No 3 has the pattern:

I still haven't been reunited with my sewing machine so I'm getting quite a collection of bits and pieces ready for the happy reunion. I have a small quilt basted ready for some straight line quilting, two cushions cut out ready to piece, and on another I am doing the stitchery. Then I've been developing a website for a friend, so I guess the time hasn't been wasted.

It also gave me an opportunity to upload the Spending Time Cushion pattern into my Craftsy Store:

The pattern is available for purchase here.

Perspiration is starting to drip, so I think I might need to go and sit in front of the airconditioning again!


Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt - Pattern 2

It's time to give you Pattern 2 of the free BOM quilt

I love that the Bible is so practical and so up to date for 2016. This month's blessing is:

You are blessed when you’re at the end of
your rope. With less of you there is more of
God and his rule.Matthew 5:3

I never really understood what the old version of that verse meant, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, but this modern way of putting it really resonates. I know there have been a number of times in my life when I felt I was at the end of my rope! I've discovered that when you are out of options and at the end of your tether, that is when the blessings come! That’s when God can take over - when you have nothing left of yourself!  

I hope that this verse will be a blessing to you as you stitch this block.

You can download Pattern 2 in my Craftsy Store here.

I don't feel as though I've done much this week. Surviving without my lovely sewing machine is not easy. I seem to have frittered away the time, browsing the internet or just sitting staring into space, or unpicking my stitches (both hand and machine) for the tenth time!  Inspiration doesn't seem to happen when my machine isn't in its space!

 My little standby machine is OK for doing the odd jobs, but I miss my trusty 1/4 inch foot for sewing accurate seams. Hopefully only one more week and it will be back from its service and we will be up and running again! 

I did manage to complete some silk ribbon and thread embroidery. I love working with the beautiful Kacoonda products. What I've been working on is a secret at the moment, but I can show you another of my silk ribbon designs - a beautiful door hanger.

It's called Friendship Garden.

Delphiniums and Roses ...

French Knots ...

and Ruffles ....

 and Wisteria

If you want to make it yourself, the pattern is in Embroidery & Cross Stitch Magazine, Vol 23 No 9.

I love that I have a wide variety of interests. When patchwork doesn't turn me on, I can go work on a stitchery. If I am finding that a bit tedious, I can play around with a quilt design. This week it was embroidery's turn to shine. Sometimes it's just good to do some SLOW stitching! I wrote a blog post about this once and the hankering for real embroidery is still often there!

Happy stitching!

French Braid and left-overs

Following on from my post about Fabric Ranges last week, I should talk about what I do with those fabric left-overs! I purchased some Autumn Lily fabric last year and I still had some layer cake bits and pieces left after I had made a cushion and a table runner. Ten inch layer cakes are my preference for the smaller projects that I design. They are big enough to cut plenty of appliques and small enough not to have a lot of fabric left over, in contrast to a fat quarter.

 I often turn to French Braid as a very pretty and simple way to use up small pieces.  It's a great technique too for left-over Jelly Roll Strips. I used 2 x 6 inch strips to create the braid for this bag front and back centrepiece:

The bag ended up 9½ inch high to accommodate the 10 inch limit I had for cutting the strips for the stitchery panels and the bag sides. It's still a good size bag because it is 12½ inches wide. The handles have been in the cupboard for a few years, waiting for just the right project. 

The pattern is available in the gorgeous Country Threads magazine, Vol 17 No 2.

I hope you'll try some French Braid next time you want to use up lots of left-overs.

 I had been asked as to when I was going to make available the pattern of last year's block of the month project, Keys to Contentment, so decided it was time to put it all together into one file.

The pattern can be purchased in my Craftsy Store here.

While I was at it, I also put up the children's interactive wall-hanging "My Kitchen" which includes a bonus child's apron pattern.

Then again, why should kids have all the fun? Maybe this would look great in your kitchen?

The pattern can be found here.

My sewing machine is in for its annual service - two weeks without her! I am happy to say that this year I have my baby Brother machine to keep my sanity! I wonder how good it is at sewing ¼ inch seams?!!

Happy stitching!