Archive for the ‘long arm’ Category

Tools Change Everything: Zigzag Bobbin Work

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

20u singerI believe in tools! 

Years ago I bought this 20U Singer industrial. It was under protest. I had burned the brushes off a very nice 930 Bernina. If you don’t know any of these numbers, take my word. 930 Berninas were war horses in armor.

So they told me that a 20 U was  a tough enough machine. I had mine calabrated to work with embroidery thread, and did a number of zigzag embroidery images on it. 

For a fast machine, it was still a tedious experience. This machine doesn’t really use a foot. So all the fabric needed to be hooped. And unhooped. And re-hooped. Again and again and again.

I simply stopped working with it at one point. I was considering selling it. 

 

179 The problem with princesBut people have always loved the quilts made through this technique. It allows for so much detail and coloration. 40 weight embroidery thread is ephemerally beautiful, and it shines when it’s laid in color layers.815 butterfly garden detail

Yesterday, I tried it with a felt stabilizer sandwich and a Halo hoop

 

halo hoopl

 

The Halo Hoop has been around for a while. I use them for any larger bit of embroidery I’m working on. It’s a weighted metal hoop with a plastic coating that grips the fabric. Instead of clamping it, you simply slide the hoop along.

My favorite stabilizer sandwich is ( from the back tp the front) a drawing in Totally Stable,  a layer of Decor Bond,a layer of polyester felt, and a layer of hand dyed fabric as my top. Anything that doesn’t iron down, I spray glue with 505 spray.

 

 

frog in process

I took this frog drawing and stated to color. I worked from the back for two reasons. My drawing was there, and I could tie off the ends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

frog in process  f2I didn’t get done, but I got far enough to know that between the stabilizer sandwich and the Halo hoop, the whole technique had been revolutionized for me.

Things I learned

  • My father’s old saying: if it’s too hard, too horrible or too long, you have the wrong tool.
  • You can use a hammer for a saw, but it’ s hard on the hammer and what you’re sawing.

Rethinking how to use your tools makes all the difference.  

You can work without a foot, but you need to use your fingers and a hoop. And hopefully your brain!finger positiona

And most of all, good tools change everything!

264 As Good as it Gets

 

In Praise of Speed

Friday, March 2nd, 2012
Quilting with the Sweet

Quilting with the Sweet

I never cared about fast cars. A little bit about fast guys.  Never about fast bicycles, or the many drugs under that heading. Speed has always just been trouble in a  box.  But fast sewing machines……………….Well, Yes!

One of my pet peeves is sewing machines that are just too slow. There’s a moment for that. The first time you show a five year old how to  do free motion, yes, I do put the machine on slow. Its not likely to happen any other time.

Why? There’s an illusion that if we sew slowly we’ll have more control. Boy, is that an urban legend.

Imagine yourself on a bicycle for the first time. That first time when you are so scared that you pedal slowly. Wobble, wobble,  wobble. Once you really start to pedal faster you find you have so much more control and stability. It’s true of free motion too.

I’m so enjoying my experiments with the HQ Sweet Sixteen. The speed on a long arm/ mid arm machine is what makes the smooth and excellent stitching possible. Slower is wobbling along on my bike.

Nicer than the machine speed is the ability to stop on a dime needle up or down. Fast starts, fast stitches and fast stops make for excellent free motion.

But here’s the really cool thing. I just quilted 7 little quilts in less than one hour. Wahaha!!!!!  My mother would have called that seven in one blow. Take that, Green Giant!

There are things you didn’t know you needed, you really need. 

How Long is your Arm?

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

My studio has a new toy in it!

I’ve worked for years with home machines but this is a brand new day. Why am I working with a mid arm?

Well, it’s not like it’s easier to stuff a big quilt through a little hole, but I’m wildly excited about working with long arms and bobbin work.

Bobbin work? YES,  BOBBIN WORK!

Why? There’s a number of reasons for using a long arm/mid arm machine for bobbin work. The extra big bobbin, the speed and the straight stitch only capabilities are all in your favor.

I’m very excited about the Sweet 16 because of it’s size and its sit down capabilities. I played all yesterday, snow and all at Threadbenders in Michigan City with one and took it home.

Wow said backwards.

The home sewing industry has always made multi-purpose machines. But the sewing industry itself has always considered them silly. For good reason. Most of the time you want the machine that does something excellently. If it does one thing excellently, then that’s better than doing thirty things fairly well.

The mid arm is basically a long arm machine without the large frame. But the thing both of them offer is excellent blazingly fast straight stitching. And room to move. And much bigger needles.  Which is the beginning of all kinds of stitched line art. Can you say, Zen Tangling? Bobbin Work? Lily Guilding? I can’t wait.

View Cart | Check Out