Friday, October 22, 2010

A Few Of My Favorite Things

I've been busy getting ready for International Quilt Market in Houston. Normally I am knee deep in fabric scraps of a new fabric collection right about now, but this year things are different. I don't have a new fabric collection.

Last year, about the time I should have been working on the artwork for this Market, we chose to take on a BERNINA sewing machine dealership. It wasn't a decision that I took lightly and the time commitment to new dealer training, staff training, store adjustments, etc. was too important to share or impose on my design time, so I decided to let this Market slide.

Now that the dealership is up and running in full speed, over the last several months I've been contemplating how nice it will be to just go and enjoy the Market atmosphere. No sales side of the aisle, just the buying side of the aisle. Everyone knows buying is much more fun than selling! Buying is good, very good, but in my mind creating is ever so much BETTER!

Without the pressure of Market samples for a new fabric line, I have had time to create. I've still been ankle deep in fabric scraps, they just aren't mine! Along the creative journey I have found a few new items that have made me very happy. I have access to just about anything that I want in the sewing world and I have very discriminating taste. A notion has to really be worth it's weight in gold to make it into my stash or earn a recommendation to my customers. I also like things that work with ease and hopefully do more than one thing. Working on my most recent projects I have discovered a few new favorites.

Sue Hausmann told me about Steady Betty. It may not look like much, but like a tried and true friend, Steady Betty is there when you need her. I have the 15 by 24 inch size. Betty is a foam covered pressing surface that is suitable for ironing but is unbelievably helpful when hooping a project for machine embroidery. If you have ever felt like you needed another set of hands to get a project in a hoop, I suggest Steady Betty. She comes in smaller sizes, but in my opinion, get the big one! Your little hoops won't mind. Naturally we have them in our store, but if you are not local, I would bet the quilt shop in your area could order one for you too.

My sewing moto has always been "It is all in having the right tools" but sometimes I don't take my own advice. When we get the time, most of us are just happy to be sewing. We can figure out how to make do with whatever we have. There are always multiple ways to accomplish a task and if we can do it without having to invest in something special, all the better. The other day I was working on a wall hanging that needed some "in the ditch" quilting. I wasn't looking forward to doing it. I can do it and I can do a good job if I go slowly, but those few stitches that "jump" out of the ditch drive me crazy. I decided to try a specialty foot for my BERNINA. They call it an Edge Stitching Foot, because there is a center fin in the foot that helps you guide your fabric so that you can stitch an even distance from the edge. BUT if you put that same guide in the "ditch" created by your seam, the needle stays right there - in the ditch! Wow that was easy! I have the BERNINA 830, which is why this foot looks so huge. The 830 is a 9mm machine with differential feed, so the foot is wider. You can get a "regular" one for your machine.

As long as I was in fancy feet mode, I decided to give the foot for sewing on buttons a try. I can't honestly remember the last time I stitched a button on by hand. Any machine that zig-zags will sew a button on. Simply set your stitch length to zero. The holes on all buttons are standard, no matter what size the button is. Technically you are zig-zagging in place. Who the heck needs a special foot for sewing on buttons? Any zig-zag foot works just fine. Ok, fine. Occasionally you break a button or a needle. It is rare that one slips out and zings its way across the room. It isn't like I've ever put anyone's eye out. I guess that explains the little rubber grips on the specialty button foot. They hold the slippery little devils in place while you sew. Some genius also thought about adding that little bar in the middle that gives just the right amount of slack to the thread so that if you plan to actually button the button, there is room for the buttonhole to close underneath - what will they think of next......