Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Goodbye Old Friend, Hello New Friend!

When I got married, I borrowed my mom's sewing machine to make curtains and pillows for our new home. That's about when I got hooked on sewing. My sweet husband bought me a sewing machine for Christmas the year we got married so I could return my borrowed machine to my mom. I loved that machine! It was a mid-range Kenmore. Soon after I had my first daughter, I started Turtle Taylor and started sewing pretty much every day. That machine was a workhorse! My Kenmore machine kept up with me for 10 years. I finally wore it out this year. The cost to fix it was far more expensive than the machine was originally, so it was time to go shopping for a new machine.

I did quite a bit of research before finally picking a new machine. For the amount that I sew, I knew I needed a good quality machine that would be able to match my pace. Since my sewing skills have significantly improved over the last 12 years, I wanted a machine with more features. I looked at all the machines: Janome, Elna, Pfaff, BabyLock, Husqvarna Viking and Bernina. After looking at the machines online, reading online reviews and talking to people in quilt shops, I had pretty much decided I was going to buy a Husqvarna Viking Sapphire. Then, I met them in person. It wasn't love at first sight as I thought it would be. I had convinced myself that was what I was going to buy it, but test driving it in the store I knew this wasn't the machine for me. We didn't "click". It wasn't love at first sight. I was so disappointed!

During my online research I'd seen good reviews for Bernina's, but didn't think that it was the type of machine that I wanted. I went to a local quilt shop that sells them, looked at a couple myself, and then walked out. I sat in my car for a couple of minutes arguing with myself and finally decided to go back in and have someone talk to me about them. I fell in love! I took home the B380 and had a blast sewing with it for about 6 weeks.

Isn't it cute? It was such a different experience sewing with a computerized machine. I loved my mechanical Kenmore, but sewing with this Bernina was a totally different experience! When I was taking my machine mastery classes, the instructor mentioned that if we wanted to upgrade our machine, we'd get the full purchase price back if we traded in our machines for a higher model. She had my attention! While I loved this machine, I did wish that I could add the embroidery module to it, or use the Bernina Stitch Regulator with it. (The Bernina Stitch Regulator is a genius invention that lets you free motion quilt with ease. The stitch regulator keeps all stitches uniform, regardless of the speed in which you sew!)

So, a couple of weeks later Bernina had a trade in event. You got very nice credit toward a new machine if you traded in an old machine (that didn't even have to work!). So back to the store I went with my old Kenmore and my new 380. I came home with the Bernina 440 Quilters Edition. It's got many more stitches and features, has the stitch regulator and eventually I can add embroidery! Even though I was sad to say goodbye to my old friend, I was anxious to get started on all kinds of fabulous new projects with my new sewing buddy!

If you are looking for a new machine and want a great place to find sewing machine reviews, head to Sewing Pattern Review. It's a great site that has the reviews categorized by manufacturer and model. Of course, if you have any questions about my machines, I'd be happy to answer them!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Quick and Easy T-Shirt Embellisment Tutorial

It's the first week of summer vacation here and that means Vacation Bible School! We always get a t-shirt as part of our VBS. They're cute, but plain. Because I'm one of those annoying people that can't leave things plain, I always jazz them up a bit. They turned out really cute, and I'm considering making one with a plain tee for myself. Plus, it was quick and easy (it took about 20 minutes per shirt!) Here's how I made this year's version:

fabric scraps that are long enough to go around the front neckline of your shirt (I used a white muslin)
rotary cutter and mat (optional)
sewing machine
beads (optional)
needle and thread (optional)

First, take your scissors and cut off the neck of the t-shirt. You'll end up with something that looks like this:

I cut 1/2" strips of my muslin and pinned them around the neck of the shirt. I started and stopped each muslin strip at the shoulder seam. Then, I sewed straight down the middle of each strip. I did a total of 3 strips around the neckline. (I have a thing for odd numbers)

Once I had the strips sewn on, I added some beads. I sewed these on by hand. I did a total of three groups of beads. One between the first and second strip on the left side, one between the first and second strip on the right side and one between the second and third strip smack in the center. Here's a close up that shows the beads:

Once I was done with the neckline, I decided to use my scraps and do the sleeves, too. (Seriously, I can't leave well enough alone!) So, I folded the edges of the sleeves up one time (so the underside showed) and sewed my fabric strip right over the top of the stitching.

There you have it: a quick and easy way to dress up a t-shirt!