Look what is happening in our classrooms at both the Surrey/Langley and Abbotsford locations.
We are happy to announce Jean Jones, owner of Sophisticat Fibre Art Studio, has once again returned to teach for us this fall. She has many classes on the agenda, from Rotary Cutting, Beginner Quilting, to Borders, Bindings and using a walking foot. Jean has also added Mini Quilt of the month club, a Sewing mat class as well as her own design “9-4″ Quilt. We thought it would be a fun idea to lend her a new model Babylock, the Babylock Lyric, to use making one of her samples for class. Jean’s review is below and we thank her for stepping out of her comfort zone and use a machine she has never quilted with before and write us this review.
This week I am test-driving a Babylock Lyric. Perfect timing as I was just ready to start a new project, a sample for an upcoming class. So far I am very impressed. It has all the features we quilters love. Needle up/down, thread cutter, great needle threader, slide speed control, start/stop button for sewing without the foot pedal.
One thing I really appreciate is that the needle hole in the 1/4″ piecing foot is large enough to accommodate slight shifts in the needle position, to get a more accurate 1/4″. On most machines this isn’t possible, the needle space is very tight.
The fabric feeds well all the way through, and stitches are beautifully straight and consistent.
Next I’ll be using the walking foot for quilting, let’s see how that performs!
After my little quilt top went together so well on the Babylock Lyric, I wanted to see how it would perform when it came to quilting with the walking foot. Again, I’m impressed!
The feed dogs had a great strong grip on the quilt, top and bottom, and fed the quilt sandwich through with perfect, even, straight stitches. I used a heavier variegated thread on top with a finer thread in the bobbin, but with the automatic tension adjustment this was not a problem.
As with any machine, when you are used to how one performs there are differences to get used to, but there were very little here. There is a button that needs pushing at the right point in the threading process, but this locks the tension to complete the needle threading and bobbin uptake without a problem.
The other thing I had to get used to was a slightly lower clearance under the walking foot than I am used to. Perhaps that is why the feed dogs did such a great job. In any case, the use of the knee lift raised the presser foot extra high, to slide the quilt sandwich in with ease.
All in all, this is a great little machine for a quilter, with all the bells and whistles and accessories you could want included.
We would like to thank Jean for agreeing to use the new Babylock Lyric and writing up this review. We have this machine and many other Babylocks in the stores for you to come and take for a test drive. You will be pleasantly surprised.
Choosing the right needle for your sewing machine can seem like a daunting task for beginner sewists. Fear not! It’s not as difficult a task as it seems at first. The right needle is just as important as the fabric and thread that you choose, so here is a little information to make choosing the right needle a little easier.
Sewing machine needles come in a range of sizes: 8-20 (these are the American sizes) and 60-120 (these are the European sizes). An American 8 is the same as a European 60; 10 is the same as 70; 12 is the same as 80; etc. 8/60 are the smallest and 20/120 are the largest. Generally speaking, the thinner and finer your fabric, the smaller the needle you will choose. The heavier your fabric, the larger the needle size you will need. For instance, when working with a fine chiffon you would choose a small needle such as an 8/60. When working with a heavy upholstery fabric, you would choose a larger needle size like 20/120.
The next step in choosing the right needle is to look at what kind of project you are doing and what kind of fabric you are sewing on.
The thread you are using also affects your needle choice, however, if you choose your needle based on the project you generally don’t have to worry about it. For instance, embroidery needles have a larger eye to make sure that specialty embroidery threads don’t fray. Topstitching needles also have a larger eye to allow for the heavier threads you may use.
For more a more in-depth look at choosing the right needle, have a look at the Schmetz Needles website.
What are your favourite tips for choosing the right needle?
I have a confession to make with this one: I’ve had a Seam Gauge in my sewing basket for years (umm.. almost 7 years to be exact) and I just started using it over the past few months. Truthfully, I didn’t really know what it was for and thought it was just another gadget I didn’t need. I have no problem admitting when I’m wrong, so here it goes: I was wrong.
We carry two different Seam Gauges, both of which essentially do the same thing, though the Project Runway version has a point at one end which can be used to gently push out points on things like collars and cuffs.
1. Project Runway Seam Gauge, $1.59
2. Sewing and Knitting Gauge, $1.19
My hems used to always be a little uneven because when I pressed them, I would usually eyeball it. Turns out, this little guy is easy to use AND it makes my hems look much more uniform and professional. PLUS, it’s well under $2. Now that is a price I can live with!
Here’s me with my seam gauge in action:
To use the Seam Gauge, slide the gauge to the desired measurement. Put the Seam Gauge on your fabric and fold up the hem, as shown in the photo above (though in this photo, I’ve already turned the raw edge in .25″ using the seam gauge). As you press the hem with your iron, move the Seam Gauge over to measure the next bit of your hem and continue ironing the hem. Easy peasy. Depending on the fabric I’m working with, I’ll measure the hem between every cm (if I’m feeling picky) and every few cms or more (if it works well with that fabric).
Check out how nice and even my hems look now:
My verdict: the Seam Gauge is definitely worth the less-than-two-buck investment. Saves time when pressing your hems, and makes them look professional and even. Plus, the gauge easily slides from one length to another (but stays put while I’m pressing) so I can easily switch between hem sizes. I can’t believe I didn’t start using it 7 years ago when it was first given to me…
Let’s have a look at my new favourite Pattern Weights! I love, love, LOVE them! No more pinning your patterns or weighing them down with your stapler… Or is that just me?!? I’ve used pattern weights for years, but have recently started using these little ones made by Dritz. My old ones have “teeth” on the bottom that grip the fabric which is fine for something like a denim, but when I’m working with anything more delicate than that I have to place them upside down so that I don’t snag the fabric. When I do that, however, I inevitably scratch my hands and arms. I’m a
little ok, a lot clutzy… These little guys are great for me: no snags or scuffs from my old pattern weights or pins, and about a tenth of the time of pinning your pattern to the fabric.
I just finished making a maxi skirt out of a lightweight knit, and I snagged a few pics for you all of these bad boys in action:
And here’s a few more I took while I was cutting out fabric for the roman shades I recently made (FYI: There’s a tutorial in the works for those of you interested in making your own! It should be posted soon!). I wasn’t using a pattern, but the weights were super helpful at keeping the fabric steady & smooth while I measured and cut.
It’s a grey and drizzly January morning – typical Vancouver winter weather! It seems like a perfect day for sewing, and that’s exactly what I have planned for today. I’m so excited! After a very long time, I’m finally almost finished my Jenny Haskins Moulin Rouge quilt! I’m working on the last couple of borders now, but have the inside of the quilt almost put together – and I love it. There is a ton of embroidery in it, and I’ve used very rich-looking fabrics – velvet and silk dupionni, and it is stunning – just what I was hoping for. And since I started working on it, Jenny and Simon have brought this pattern and it’s designs out on one of their Special Edition CD’s – project instructions and designs just for this one project on one specially priced CD.
I have a couple of other embroidery projects on the go right now as well – and since I’m lucky enough to have two embroidery machines at home, I think I’ll have both of them going today! I’m also working on the Hoopsisters new Embroid-a-Block of the Month, Goose Tracks. This is unlike any of their other projects with lots of variations and new techniques. I’m having lots of fun with it and am also loving the way it is coming out. A totally different look from the Moulin Rouge, but also quilt stunning.
I had a great phone conversation the other day with Linda McGehee of Ghee’s. Linda is coming up to our part of the world in March for one day of classes with us, and she was filling me in on a few more details about the classes. She’s sending me up a few samples, so as soon as they arrive we’ll have them on display in our Surrey store where she’ll be teaching. In the afternoon class, we’ll be making her “Quick Zip Bag”. This is a boxy tote bag that will unzip flat for easy storage, or to pack in a suitcase without taking up extra room. She’s going to share some great zipper ideas with us as well. I’m looking forward to seeing her again – she’s lots of fun to be around.
When I was doing some pressing the other day as I was working on a garment, I thought that now would be a good time to remind you of the difference that proper pressing can make to your finished projects when you sew. I’ve learned that pressing properly is the most important step in sewing as it blends and sets your stitches, and helps to create a garment that will hang properly when you wear it. This seemed to be a good time to pass on my favourite pressing tips:
Practising your pressing skills will go a long way to helping you achieve the professional results we all are aiming for when we sew!
Time for me to get to my sewing room! Talk to you soon,
It seems like spring has finally arrived – and yet I got a call from one of my daughters this morning as they drove from North Bay to London to visit her sister and she tells me it was snowing. And to think that I’ve been envious of the weather in Ontario as I’ve seen temperatures over 20 degrees. It’s quite the country we live in! This morning it’s a lovely sunny day in White Rock and I’m hoping to get a start on my gardening today – but who knows – rain showers are predicted for this afternoon.
Last Saturday we had an exciting day in our Surrey store as we had a “Grand Opening” for the Baby Lock line of sewing machines. Isobel Dunnet, the National Sales and Education Manager for Baby Lock Canada was on hand as we launched this great line-up of sewing & embroidery machines and sergers and we had a lot of fun showing off the machines to all of you who came by for our launch. Congratulations to Lori Peters of Abbotsford. Not only did Lori purchase a brand new Baby Lock Esante that day, her name was also drawn as the prize winner of a beautiful $500 notions basket that we gave away as our grand prize draw.
I thought that I’d like to tell you about one of my favourite products to use when I am piecing half and quarter square triangles. I absolutely love the CD – “Triangulations” by Bear Paw Productions. In the past, I would purchase pre-printed half square triangle papers to use to sew perfect pieces, but now I use this CD and I always have on hand exactly the size that I need. Let me tell you how this works:
Triangulations™ 2.0 is a PC and Mac compatible CD that works on your computer to print out half and quarter square triangle foundations. Half square triangle foundations are available in sizes ½” to 7 ½” in 1/8” increments and quarter square triangle foundations are available in sizes 3/4″ to 7 ½” in 1/8” increments. They are formatted to print out on standard 8½” x 11″ computer paper and you can print as few or as many sheets as you need! The CD also includes four quilt patterns using half and quarter square triangles. With this CD, you don’t have to keep buying more pre-printed papers – just print out what you need, when you need them
Each gridded Triangulations square will yield 2 complete half square triangle units. All you need to do is open the correct page on the CD for the size you need and print the number of triangle foundations necessary for your project. Trim the paper 1/8” from the outside printed line. Then, cut two fabric pieces ¼” larger than the trimmed paper. Place these two pieces right sides together and position a Triangulations paper on one side of this fabric pair. Pin all together. The Triangulations paper is printed with solid and dotted lines. Stitch on all the dotted lines, following the arrows for a continuous seam using a short stitch length. When you’re done stitching, cut apart on all the solid lines using a rotary cutter and ruler. Snip off the points of the triangles on the printed trim lines to remove “dog ears” and you’re almost done! All you need to do now is to open up the fabric triangles and finger press them for perfect half square triangles. When you’re ready to remove the paper foundations, they will pull away easily since the stitching has perforated the paper. It’s an easy and economical method of sewing perfect half and quarter square triangles that I love!
Well, I’m off to the garden! Talk to you soon,