Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Trial and Error Tuesday - Oh, Brother!



Despite taking her apart, cleaning, oiling, adjusting, etc., I haven't been able to fix Ms. Kitty's issues.  She will need to be taken in to the doctor.  I fear that it may be the tension disks, because every time I adjusted them, she would be better for a line or two, but then the problem would return.  On to Plan B....



This was the sewing machine that I actually learned to quilt on.  Ever so practical, I didn't want to buy a machine until I knew I liked it, so I borrowed this machine from my neighbor.  As you can see, it is very basic.  I think she told me she paid $50 for it brand new!  I managed to piece 3 baby quilts together with this machine with no difficulty.  I mean, I shouldn't have had any problems, right?  I just needed a straight stitch!  It is when I took my first machine quilting class that I began to have doubts about it.

You cannot drop the feed dogs on this machine, and to a beginner that seemed like a huge deal.  It also didn't have a speed regulator for the pedal and I really had difficulty controlling my sewing speed on it (which is important with machine quilting).  You also can't adjust the pressure of the presser foot, so with the darning foot, I felt like I was really having to pull and push the fabric around.  I definitely got a workout!

This is my Plan B machine.  Luckily, my bobbins fit it, my feet fit it, I can even figure out a configuration for my quilting table (not a perfect fit, but it will do), and I have learned a few tricks and have a few more tools since then.

The SewSlip manages to eliminate the arm and hand workout.  These things really are worth the money!  Now that I've been sewing a while, I am better at regulating my speed too.  But, if I wasn't, I learned that you can actually put a few pieces of tape along the sides of the pedal in the "too fast" spot.  Of course, you will still be able to push past that if needed, but just a little resistance helps your brain realize that you are at that point.

I know, you are thinking to yourself, "Whatever, a $50 machine can't do what you need it to in order to finish a quilt".  Wanna bet?  Remember how my Free Motion Challenge piece wasn't quite finished?  Well......


I did all the filler quilting on the Brother.  I used a walking foot to put the binding on.  And, because Ms. Kitty won't be back from the doctor/spa for a while.  I plan on piecing my next project on it too!  I WILL show YOU!  Granted, I am not sure how large that project will be at the moment, but I am determined!

Now, of course, because it doesn't have any fancy stitches, I would be rather limited if I wanted to do a quilt with blanket stitched machine applique, or if I wanted to get fancy with my machine binding.  I can still do machine applique with a zigzag stitch though!  And, I used a straight stitch to machine bind this placemat.

Yes, yes, Jen, but why is this on Trial and Error Tuesday?  I just want you beginners out there to realize that you don't NEED a $10,000 sewing machine in order to quilt.  I think it is very easy to be intimidated by opinionated quilters that you run into that claim you need this machine or that machine (those opinionated types seem to be everywhere, oh wait, I am giving my opinion here).  Yes, there are some features of Ms. Kitty that I miss a little, but do I NEED them?  No.  With a little more practice, I could have continued with this machine and probably would have created the same things.

I picked up an American Quilters magazine today which had an article "Great Finds: Home Sewing Machines".   All the machines featured were about $2,000 or more.  I was a little disappointed in the article, to say the least.  They might be the newest on the market, but do you need to spend that much to get what you need?  No.  You need a machine that can stitch a straight stitch nicely and either a walking foot or darning foot.  You could finish an entire quilt with just a straight stitch, including the quilting.  If you want to do machine applique, you need at least a zigzag stitch.  Those are the bare minimums.

Just like fabric, you want to buy the best machine you can afford, but you don't necessarily have to spend ALL your money.  A $50 machine, a Sewslip, a darning foot, and a walking foot = still cheaper than a even a $1000 machine - what some dealers will call a basic set up.  Think of it this way, you can spend that extra money on fabric!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jen, You are 100% correct you do not need an expensive sewing machine to sew beautiful quilts. I collect vintage sewing machines, there are several sewing machines from the 1950s and 60s that are all metal parts, sew zig zag and even decorative stitches using cams. Some machines from this time period have built in specialty stitches. Often times these machines are for sale for less than a $100 and sometimes they are free. I purchased a treadle machine in a cabinet for $20 and rescued a Singer 15-91 from a premature trip to the dump. Michelle at http://lifewithlou.blogspot.ca/2012/04/necchi-lelia-515.html collects all kinds of gorgeous sewing machines.

    By the way.. what kind of machine is Miss Kitty?

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