Friday, March 20, 2009

Design Wall...AKA: Pool Table

When we moved to our current home, there was a large room in the basement that screamed "Sewing Room" to me. Of course, it also was large enough to accomodate Henry's pool table and the air hockey table. After some wrangling where I tried to figure out what other rooms the pool table could go and live, I forfeited "some" space. Of course, the space I had calculated was a corner. However, the only real place for it to go was centered under the lamp/fan in the room. So the pool table moves over to encroach upon "my space." Henry feels a little bad about that and we agree to disagree on the space.

I have to give him a LOT of credit because he has been a great sport about this. Both the pool table and the air hockey table are more often covered with our sewing stuff. Even when we move the stuff off the table, no one growls that the table is sporting errant threads and remnants of our projects. They brush it off and play pool happily.

Now, the TV is on my side of the room and Henry's chairs are on the other side of the room. After years of farming, his hearing has changed a bit. So, I get to be in between him and the TV when we are in the basement together. I am thinking speakers behind HIS chair might be the solution here.

I think it is great that as we age, we decide which battles are worth a battle and which just have a different solution. My goal is that when we get to the nursing home we can still share a room...wonder if the pool table will be coming with us. I know the sewing machine will be there!

All the Best to you.....jill
p.s. I think a pool table makes a great backdrop for spools of thread. YLI Vineyard in the left pocket!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Bad Day Sewing is Better Than...

Therese and I spent the day sewing, actually machine embroidering. We think we can document every mistake in the book from our work yesterday. What I loved about it was that neither of us got discouraged. We just kept saying, "Our customers are going to love knowing we did THAT." "...and THAT" "...and THAT".

The more notable lessons we learned are as follows:

1. When using an embroidery machine, be sure to tighten the embroidery hoop before running the machine. My Bernina 830 is reliable enough to have stitched out most of the design before it finally decided stitching a design that wasn't tightened was quite enough. Funny thing about this error is that I did this twice!! (See how I salvage this one at Embroidery Secrets.)

2. When one leaves the sewing room to go to lunch, consider that your machine might run out of bobbin thread. (Note this design has stopped...all that empty space to the left was supposed to be filled with stitching.) While this seems obvious to most sewers, many of us enjoy the privilege of having a bobbin sensor that stops the machine when the bobbin runs out of thread. However the key to that is to engage the sensor. That would mean that the sensor is located in the DOOR of the bobbin case. To properly engage a bobbin sensor, CLOSE the bobbin case door. Good thing I can walk my stitches backwards to catch up with my brilliance!

3. I have always taken great pride in my grammar and spelling abilities. Having had a grandmother who drilled me on spelling and some of the most rigorous English teachers, poor spelling is a bother to me. After a full stitch out, I proceeded to letter this flap of a handbag without a spell checker! My students in embroidery classes are going to feel so much better about their own sewing experience. Perhaps we should just say we are sewing these mistakes so that our customers can see how to NOT embroider.
4. When operating an embroidery machine, it is very easy to get engrossed in the stitching process. After having gotten our hair caught in a needle bar from getting too close or (my personal favorite) trying to clip jump stitches WHILE the machine is running (good thing we are married to sewing machine technicians), we know how far away to stay away from a performing embroidery machine. Plus, our new Bernina 830 rocks and rolls along so fast and beautifully that we have real respect for her. However, that is not to say that we remember to wind up all our threads properly and keep them away from bobbin winders and fly wheels. Yummy...thread wads! I think we will quit calling it "wasting thread" and start calling it "collecting textures for our art quilting endeavors." To that end, I
think we will start calling fabric cutting "errors" and sewing "boo-boos" by different names..."creative launches"..."opportunities for expression." Rather than see these as shortcomings, we can look at our sewing fiascos as windows of opportunity. Whatever the direction of our sewing journey, Therese and I know we can always count on our faithful pets, Macy and Olive to monitor every step along the way. While the "girls" don't yet sew, we trust they have enough respect to not drag off important parts of our newest ventures into textile collection. And if one of them chews up a sewing project, we could just needle felt it into wool, knowing that the chewing made it a more pliable fiber to be used in a new developing art form.
For those of you who want to know the rest of the story of these poor-fated embroidery experiences, know that Therese and I rescued every one of these sewing experiences and in many cases took our learning and will help our students avoid these mistakes. If we can't get you to avoid our pitfalls, we will surely teach you how to laugh at them and to take yourself a little less seriously. Make sure you check out the calendar at our store and register for the free events such as VIP and Embroidery Secrets.
We are presently getting ready for VIP over the next three days. At lunch Therese admitted that she had little to share that was "finished" and she felt bad about that. However, I reminded her that "finished" is a relative term when it comes to artists. Further, finishing something doesn't mean as much to an artist as "being in process." We are CERTAINLY in process and having a grand time on this journey.
Stay tuned for more antics from my sewing room!
All the Best to You, jill

Monday, March 16, 2009

Grow Some Inspiration!

Whoa....thanks for commenting on my last blog! I didn't realize that I had readers. I thought this was my DEAR DIARY segment. But I also remembered that the real reason I write is because I love to write. I wanted to be a writer from when I was a little kid. I love the innovations in technology that have happened. I can be a writer without having to find a publisher.

This last week I got to experience what I tell my customer friends to experience. I bought myself a Bernina 830 machine. This was like the birthday present that I always wanted...and she is a dream. She makes me happy everytime I see her. I invited my daughter Therese over to play in my sewing room with me. I don't think most of us played enough as children. So, we all need more play days. I love getting older because I live with less obligation and more freedom and give myself permission to play.

My play-date comes over and she takes over my new toy, the Bernina 830. I think I pouted a bit. But, I tried to play nice by finding other things to sew on. I took out my embroidery software and lined up things to sew out...that would be playing with other toys while letting one's playmate play with the prize toy. I even went to my other sewing machine and sewed up some things that I keep nearby. That would be playing nice.

We used the redwork florals and used the Endless Embroidery feature to place several florals. Then we worked with random designs and stitched out the designs onto sateen fabrics for projects that Therese is working on for Embroidery Secrets. That machine stitched fast and clean and beautifully. The Jumbo Hoop is secure and easy to maneuver.

At any rate, I enjoyed the experience of watching Therese play with the 830 and learned so very much. We had a blast. Our puppies (Schnauzers, Macy and Olive) romped around the sewing room with joy. Chewing on scraps of fabric and chasing each other around is their sport. The best part was that we learned all over again how much we love this machine. Not only is embroidery phenomenal but this is a very sleek operating machine. The bobbin system is amazingly clean and strong. I sewed for many years on a Bernina 950, a home industrial and find the new Bernina 830 has a hook system much like my home industrial. Fabulous stitch performance and reliability. Plus, this one carries 40% more thread than standard bobbins.

Over the weekend I had a chance to sew on my new machine. I digitized the Two Hour Tulip Tote in software. I then enlarged the design to fit into the Jumbo Hoop. Talk about amazing. I imported stippling in the bag. I also filled it with lacework stitching. In the next couple days I am going to create some other bases with fill stitches from the Designer Plus software. I am excited to be presenting these topics at our coming Embroidery Secrets and VIP. We love presenting at these sessions because they give us a chance to share our inspiration.

Sewing can be viral because inspiration is so contagious. This is my medium....and writing is my voice. Thanks for joining me on the journey. Hope to see you in coming VIP and Embroidery Secrets.

Be Sew Inspired....jill

p.s. Always seek new ideas and inspiration....keep looking for the sparklers in your day. Be a visionary. There is so much to celebrate!