September 17, 2013

Easy Street

My design wall is filled with Easy Street blocks, and I'm still one, possibly two rows short of sewing the blocks together.  I could do the filler half squares and fill in that bottom portion and call it done except for sewing the block together, (that is sooooo---tempting) but I still have so many cut segments and pieces left to assemble into blocks I might as well finish the last few rows.

I have struggled  to finish this quilt because as some of you know that listen to me whine  about it (thank you for listening)  I keep waiting to like/love this quilt. Maybe when it's quilted?

September 13, 2013

Brother DreamWeaver --a Closer Look

I get questions about how I like the Brother DreamWeaver sewing machine. 

The Brother DreamWeaver VQ3000

If you spend hours with a sewing machine every day, you do build a relationship with your machine.  You know all the sounds it makes, what they mean, the good and sometimes the bad.  I have owned this  machine since January of this year and totally enjoy it!  No "bads" to report here!

 The DreamWeaver in my opinion is similar to my old beloved Brother PQ1500---upgraded into everything that was wonderful about  the PQ,  only with a lot more bells & whistles.  When you look at the above picture notice the large colored touch icons on the control screen.  Everything to operate the machine except the additional decorative stitches is visible on this very user friendly opening screen with snippet icons of what other stitches are available on pages 2 and 3 in the smaller icon boxes just to the right of the basic utility stitch screen.

Even a clock is visible in the lower right corner which lets me know it's time to do some of those other mundane jobs around here-----sometimes I think I could do without the clock feature! I can also set the machine to "sleep mode" if I get sidetracked from sewing. I have it  for 20 mins. If I'm not back and using the machine in that time period---it goes to "sleep". I touch the screen and it's back in action where I left off.

There is a large eleven inch wide arm from the needle to the far right of the machine which is also well lit. Note the multiple light reflections on the extension table. No additional lamps are needed around the machine.
The light setting goes up to 5, but  I have it turned down to 3, which seems perfect.

The needle-sewing area with the laser turned on to center position.

In this picture I have the somewhat unusual named "MuVit" foot attached. The red marked foot attachment was offered as an additional purchase last May.  I'm not sure why Brother didn't think to make the original foot attachment with the handy red reference markings.

 This foot rolls. Unlike most regular walking feet attachments or  IDT systems.  It has taken me  a bit of time to get used to this foot, but now I love it.   It sews very precise -even stitches on the thinnest, and thickest fabrics and has 10 adjustable pressure settings. 

Mr. MuVit

 My MuVit Video

 My primary interest in owning this machine started out with wanting a better feed dog system. A narrower feed dog system.  It's what I didn't like about the previous machine I used and over the years I have overlooked the importance of feed dog configurations in favor of brand names and their popularity  with quilters when purchasing a machine. No more.

Here is a 9 mm feed dog system. Note the width and position of the feed dogs between the needle. Look at that wide open space of blank metal just before the hole in the needle plate and the smaller feed dogs are situated way at the back of the needle plate. This type of feed dog system requires the quilter to position the fabrics back and under the foot to make good contact with all the feed dogs and presser foot,  or use what is often referred to as a leader and ender,  which is a small pieces of fabric that you sew onto and off of  prior to sewing onto your actual piece of fabric, or learn special techniques to get good sewing results.

A 5 point  9 mm feed dog system

Below picture is of  the Brother DreamWeaver 7 point 7 mm feed dog system. Even without the single hole needle plate inserted, this feed dog system holds and feeds the fabric evenly and without any special technique required.  So, unless you need a 9 mm feed dog system because you use the wider decorative stitches available on some sewing machines, please consider the narrower more precise 7 mm  feed dog system instead when considering a newer sewing machine.

The DreamWeaver laser light is not a gimmick as one might think and I'm sure the more I use it the more uses I  find for it.  Now,  I primarily use it for referencing a 1/4 inch seaming, and for sewing diagonally. Just for those sewing functions it's been an amazing time saver, and now I wonder how I've sewn with out it! 

Diagonal seaming with the laser turned on center 3.5 position.

Center position with the laser beam.

Quarter inch position with the laser beam.

The Brother DreamWeaver is heavy, and weighs in at approx. 42 lbs.  So it's not a tote around sewing machine although mine did come with a nice wheeled tote I think the only place it will be going is for an annual cleaning.

This machine is about as close to everything "perfect" you may want in a sewing machine. It comes with an excellent users manual and all the basic sewing feet you will need for the most part. The only additional  foot I've purchased is the red line marked MuVit foot attachment.  

This is the Multi Function foot pedal. You can set the pedals to perform various functions in the menu section of the machine.  I have set the larger pedal for sewing forward and if I press my heel down, it reverse sews. The smaller pedal is set to cut the thread. This is really nice if you don't want to move your hands away from holding the fabric to the top function buttons on the machine. The machine also comes with a knee lift and a manual presser foot lifter plus a function button at the top of the machine that raises and lowers the presser foot. So, there are three ways to lift the presser foot. Some of the newer machines no longer have the presser foot lever at the back of the machine. 

Multi Function Foot Pedal

I have taught myself to sew with my left foot, and use the knee lift with my right leg. I credit a very good machine quilting teacher who early on encouraged me to learn this method. Multi task your feet and knee! Not make your right leg and foot do all the work! (grin)

There are many useful well thought out features on the DreamWeaver which make it nearly perfect in todays sewing machine market.  I'm not here to promote this machine, but I've been asked questions about how I like it, and thought this was a good venue for answering some of your inquires. 

PS. I love it!

September 04, 2013

String Quilt---Finished

I've quilted six donation quilts in the past ten days.  I think that's a record!   I attribute this  to the fact that I have a stock pile of (guilt) ---and quilt tops from our Remnants mini group to get finished that have been hanging in my sewing room closet for months, and also that I love my new Leader Grips which making loading the quilt backings onto the long arm so easy-----

I don't spend a lot of time deciding on quilting motifs when it comes to donation quilts. My motto as I've mentioned before is to get them done & delivered.

This twin size string quilt was a joint project with my friend Carolynn. We went to quilt retreat together in April and the last day of retreat she had finished her take along projects. I had bought along the strings of fabric and she offered to make the string blocks.  She did great!

If you want to learn more about making String Quilts please visit Mary Johnson's web pages. This is where I learned about String quilts----how to make them, and also some places to donate them.

Later on I pieced the quilt and added the border and hung it in the closet.

Yesterday I quilted it with the Circle Lord Swirls design and finished the machined binding this a.m.

I love using Judy Laquidara's method for machine applied binding for donation quilts rather than hand stitching the binding to the back of the quilt. This twin size quilt took me about an hour to bind!  The tutorial for Judy's method is also listed here on the side bar of my blog. "Tutorials."

 Our String Quilt (Carolynn & Angie)

  A closer view of the Swirls design

The backing is a piece of fabric from my stash. Not pieced.

This is another Remnants donation quilt top I finished on the long arm  this past weekend.  Swirled! and done! Bless Michael at Circle Lord for inventing and designing this template system!

"Pinwheels in the Garden"