May 17, 2010

T-Shirt Quilts for Graduation

This month's project is a Memory Quilt made from t-shirts.  A friend's son is graduating from High School this month, and I volunteered my services.   My friend has gathered 30+ t-shirts, of which we are using backs and  fronts to make the blocks.  It is going to be quite a large quilt.  Egads! The last block has been cut and have lightweight interfacing attached to eliminate stretch.  They are cut 12 1/2" blocks (for 12" finished).   Tomorrow a few of us are gathering to do the layout.

Following the layout session, I went to work putting the blocks and sashing together.  I put the pedal to the medal and zoom zoom zoom I had the quilt together.  I ended up with a larger outer border than planned as the piecing we added was larger than the original 4" border. 

The quilt top, batting and backing are now sandwiched and I am working on the quilting.  Finished photos to be posted shortly.

Congratulations 2010 Graduates!

April 18, 2010

Another Old Singer Acquired - Singer 66 Godzilla Finish

Acquired another old Singer sewing machine locally.  Not yet out of the van, but so excited!  Finally a godzilla (crinkle) finish - 1950's era.  More details to come.

Photos courtesy of Mike H. of Sioux Falls SD.

Stiching up a little dress - literally.

Have picked up a couple of embroidery design sets made for sewing doll clothes.  Picked up the 18" doll clothes pattern (ie American Girl) via internet download, but purchased the 11 1/2" doll clothes pattern (ie Barbie) from Nancy's Notions.  You can find the creators at  Sisters In Stitches

Took on the 18" doll clothes.  It was a breeze.  You stitch out the bodice, collar, sleeves and corresponding facings - stitch them together using a 1/4" seam - hem and gather the skirt - attach the skirt and you're done.  I used my serger to do a rolled hem on the sleeves and skirt. 

Kit is dressed and ready to play.  What a fun project!

March 8, 2010

Reweaving A Sweater : A Lost Art

This week I am doing some alterations and repair work for friends and family.  The usual - hems, zippers, patches, etc.  But one unique project is the reweaving of a worn spot on a friends sweater.  When you have a favorite sweater, it's hard to throw it out, but can't be worn if the elbow is bare.   What to do?  You find someone who has the skills to re-weave your sweater.  Hopefully you have a friend who knits or live in a metropolitan area that stills has weavers for hire (sounds funny doesn't it).   In searching the web, you find the re-weaving is quite expensive and there are not a lot of crafters around still offering this service.  For small re-weaves, I found quotes ranging from $25 - $100.  And be ready to wait - most have at least a month turn around time. 

Here we go:

I began by CAREFULLY cutting out the worn area, being sure to only cut through stitches necessary.  In this instance it is a worn elbow spot.  One of the common wear spots, especially if you are in a desk job and use a mouse most of the day.   With machine made sweaters, each of the stitches are connected to the next. This means a little extra work. My intentional cuts have broken the line or bond.

If your sweater owner didn't keep the extra yarn that came with purchase, here's a tip.   I took the "cut out" with me to the yarn store to find a close match for the repair.  I didn't find a match in my first stop.  Luckily my town has several stores that stock a variety of yarns.  My third stop, I found a close match.   Whew!

So as to not lose the stitches I used a darning needle and thread to hold the lines.  Here is a closeup view for reference.

 In order to re-weave, I need to pull out some more stitches.  I am actually going to make the hole larger.  The "hanging threads" will be woven into the garment at the end to create a seamless patch.

I have used # 4 sock knitting needles to hold the stitches and bobby pins to hold the loose threads. 

Now it is time to knit up a piece to fit into the hole.  Use the sweater gauge as a guide.  You may have to knit up a couple different patches before you have the right gauge.  If you are an advanced knitter you can measure the stitches on the sweater to calculate your gauge.  ie x number of stitches per inch = a certain size needle.


February 27, 2010

Another Vintage Sewing Machine Find: Singer Model 128

Have another vintage sewing machine to add to the herd:  A 1923 Singer 128. a 3/4 size electric sewing machine with knee control.  Found her on Etsy, a great little auction site for crafting and original creations. 

Other than getting the hubby to use Mother's Polish on the "shiny" parts and a small adjustment to the shuttle tension, she was working out of the box.  The before (left) and after (right) picture don't do the pieces justice.  While they were in good condition upon arrival, the liquid wrench and mother's polish have them looking like new.  What shall I sew today?

She came in an original Singer Bentwood Box in fair condition.  The botton veneer has come off due to water damage.   It's on my list of things to fix.  Handle is solid and intact, but no key.  This case takes a Singer Flat Cabinet Key, so will add that to my treasure hunt.

Decals, 'La Vincendora' , are in great condition.  A bit of wear, but still bright and beautiful.  I will be putting on a coat of Turtle Wax to help fill in the lines and keep her looking nice.

She is an electric with a knee control.  She however does have a spoked handwheel so can easily mount and hand crank if desired.   Will sew a bit with the knee control and see what I like.

Now what shall I name her?   Victoria? 

February 21, 2010

Trash to Treasure: Singer Model 66 Treadle Sewing Machine

Came across a listing for a "Vintage Singer Sewing Machine" on Craigslist.   The seller was asking $25, so sent an email.  After a few back and forth questions, we arranged to meet at the local grocery store for the exchange.  We joked about how covert we felt when making the exchange.  Me pulling the heavy old sewing machine from the backseat of the seller's car and her taking the cold cash.

The seller told me the machine belonged to her grandmother, who lived in Mitchell, SD.   She was keeping the cabinet and installing her own new machine and didn't have a use for the old machine head.   Another treasure saved from the dump.  

Once home, I went to work researching the machine.   As is common with many of the Singers, the bobbin cover plate was missing.  A quick email to seller found she had the plate, along with misc feet and bobbins still in the cabinet.   In the meantime, I robbed a bobbin cover plate from another 66 I had and set to work.

I first wanted to date the machine.  In order to find out how old your machine is, as well as what model it is, you can utilize the Singer website.  It  has a wealth of information, as well as manuals for download and/or purchase. Many of them free, so if you are looking for a Singer Manual, check out their website first before forking over $10 or more for a photocopy off the internet.

Based on the serial number for this machine, AB 313591, I found her to be a Model 66 born on October 26, 1926 in Singer's Elizabethport Factory in Elizabeth Town, New Jersey. 

Although she came with a motor, based on the spoked handwheel, I would assume she was originally bought for a treadle.   I removed the motor, power cord and light, installed the reproduction hand crank and went to work.  After a thorough cleaning, setting the frozen bobbin winder assembly  in a pan of Liquid Wrench and a good oiling, she is stitching beautifully.  

But don't worry, the motor, power cord and light won't go to waste.  I have another Model 66 (1950's era) in need of a new motor, power cord, pedal and light.   He is next on my list to refurbish.

Now you've seen the shiney bobbin winder assembly in the photo's what it looked like before I cleaned it up.  Uck!

She's all ready for a new home.  Visit my Etsy Store and take her home today.  She is ready to take her place in a treadle cabinet, have a hand crank attached, or even be motorized. 

February 7, 2010

Super Bowl Mystery Quilt 2010

Today is a me day.  I've signed up for a Super Bowl Mystery Quilt gathering at one of our local quilt shops,   I've chosen three fabrics by Nancy Halvorson.   Completed my preliminary cutting and initial sewing of 32 half-square triangles.   Am packing up the sewing machine, notions, usual tools and will be on my way to the shop shortly.  Can't wait to see what the day brings.   Stop back for a play-by-play of today's project.

Happy Stitching!

January 30, 2010

Make Banana Bread in your Breadmaker

You may be wondering why a sewing blog is talking about baking.  Well, as you know, us crafters need sustanance to make it through long stretches of creativity.  One of my favorites, and my family's too, is banana bread.  I had been tinkering with a recipe in my Zojirushi Breadmaker, and today have found the one - the perfect recipe.  And it was my usual banana bread recipe.  It turned out wonderful.  In fact, half the loaf was gobbled up by my family before I could even get a picture.

The photo is not as clear as I would like, but that's just my phone round I shall photograph it with my SLR, so you can get a better of idea how great it turned out.   Here's my recipe.  Happy stitching!

*  this recipe can be baked in a 9" loaf pan, or alternatively, use the cake setting on your breadmaker **

Banana Bread
1 1/2 cups Bananas - mashed
1 1/4 cup brown sugar (you can use half brown half white)
1/2 cup butter or magarine softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups flour

Mix all ingredients.  Bake in a greased and floured 9 inch loaf pan. 350 degrees for 55 - 60 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Depeding on the moisture content - I occasionally have to bake it longer than 60 minutes.

For the loaf above, I utilized the cake setting (medium crust) on my Zojirushi Breadmaker.  Dumped all the ingredients into the pan and hit start.   I scraped the sides of the pan when the beeper went off and let it do it's thing. 


January 27, 2010

Brother PE-770 Review: From box to embroidery in 45 minutes

My Brother PE-770 embroidery machine arrived over 2 weeks ago, and I am finally getting to opening and testing.   While I had the advantage of having previously owned several embroidery machines, I utilized the quick start guide and manual.   So don't be afraid.  Even the veterans use the manual.

UNPACKING:  The Brother PE-770 arrived via UPS in a well packaged box. The manuals, accessory pack, warranty card, power cord, thread and 5x7 frame were neatly packed into the styrofoam.

With the top removed you can see the machine and embroidery module nestled inside / on another layer of styrofoam.  There were not going anywhere. 

SET UP:   Here we are, blue packing tape still on the machine, ready to put the machine and module together.   Simply slide the module onto the machine, ensuring they "snap" together.   There is a latch that catches on the machine, to secure the module.   You must release to remove the module.  So DON'T tug or pull to separate the module from the machine.  There are great diagrams in the quick start and user's manual.

Next I attached the power cord and turned the unit on. The initial screen requested that I "Please touch the display".  After touching the display, I received the message to raise the presser foot, followed by a notice that the carriage was going to move.   The font was easy to read and the instructions were clear.  

WINDING A BOBBIN:  Now it was time to wind a bobbin.  I utilized the quick start guide and away we flew.   I was proven over-confident in my abilities, as the bobbin winding abruptly stopped and I had to unwind a nest of thread that had gathered under the bobbin as opposed to on the bobbin.  I can't emphasize enough the importance of using your manual, no matter your expertise, and ensureyou have threaded the machine right BEFORE starting to wind your bobbin. 

ACCESSORY KIT:  The accessory kit comes with 4 bobbins (one not shown in the photo as it comes in the machine), a seam ripper, 3 spool caps, netting for thread, extra needles, a small scissors, lint brush and 2 screw drivers.  Adequate for starts, but you will want to purchase additional bobbins as well  additional needles.  It is important to change your needles frequently, especially if doing embroidery on specialty fabrics.  I have found that whenever my thread breaks over and over, simply putting in a new needle and rethreading the machine fixes the issue.   So don't panic, take a deep breath, and go back to the basics.


As my bobbin winding experience has me gun-shy, I utilized the manual for threading the machine.   It went very smooth.  The machine is clearly marked (numerically) for threading.   Step #9 is the needle threader.  What a treat!   I have had several machines with a needle threader, and not a one, EXCEPT THE BROTHER PE-770, came out of the box calibrated and able to thread the needle.   (Hear the chorus of angels singing alleluia in the background).   Kudos to Brother!   I have to credit this to the excellent packing of the machine that limits jostling and allows me to sew right away.


EMBROIDERY:  Time to put the machine to the test. I had prepared a piece of muslin for my initial embroidery design. I chose a stock design loaded on the machine - No 13. They are leaves and I've affectionately named them "falling leaves".   Selecting a design is very easy. If you are new to machine embroidery, utilize the manual and you won't have any issues.

Bobbin wound and in machine. CHECK
Machine threaded with desired thread. CHECK
Design chosen. CHECK
Frame with material loaded properly.  CHECK

The first item is now stitched and it's only been 45 minutes since I opened the box.   In looking at other reviews online, 45 minutes is quick.  The majority are up and running in 1.5 hours.  It took me longer to write this blog and upload the photos than it did to set up the Brother PE-770 and stitch out the design. 

COMING SOON:  Complete review of the Brother PE-770 Embroidery machine.  I will put the Brother PE-770 through the paces.  I'll stitch up some flour sack towels, download a design online and utlize the USB port, perhaps stitch out a sweatshirt or t-shirt and we'll monogram a towel.  Will the Brother PE-770 live up to Stephanie's prior high priced embroidery machines? 

January 17, 2010

Top 10 Sewing Patterns for 2009 on

If you are like me, deciding on a sewing pattern is a tough one.  How many times have you picked up a pattern, started the project and either quit part way through or finished but didn't wear your project?   I find myself saying, "it didn't look like that in the pattern book?" alot.  

That rarely happens to me now, as I utilize a great website for sewing patterns.   The site includes pattern reviews, sewing machine reviews, online classes and even message boards to post that crazy sewing question. 

Recently voted on by sewers, you know you can't go wrong.  Check out their reviews, message boards and more.  Ordinary folks like you and I have posted their pros, cons and even alterations they used with the patterns and then voted on the top 10 patterns. 

Check out the Top 10 Sewing Patterns for 2009 at

January 10, 2010

My new Brother PE770 has arrived.

My most recent sewing purchase has arrived - it is a Brother PE-770. I previously owned a Bernina, sold it, bought another Bernina a year later, sold it and have been without an embroidery machine for nearly 2 years. Now don't get me wrong, I loved my Berninas. I had a 200E and a 185E. Both excellent machines. I would recommend them in a heartbeat.

I have found myself wanting to do some machine embroidery, but wasn't up to spending what the solid Bernina costs. So ... being budget conscious, I did some research and came across the Brother PE770. This is an embroidery only machine. It does not use the Disney Cards, but with my kids in middle school, that wasn't a priority.

My purchase has arrived and I will be opening it shortly. Stop back for a full review - opening to first stitch.