Saturday, August 29, 2015

Have you cleaned your machine lately?

Today I realized it had been a while since I'd cleaned my sewing machine, so I opened it up and... oh my god. It looked like a flock of tiny little wooly sheep had taken up residence in the inside of it. Clearly I hadn't cleaned it in a while, so I dug out my little brush and machine oil and got to work. It didn't take long to do and I'm sure my machine is much happier for it.

Whether you work at your machine only occasionally, or like me you're at it every week, it's important to give it a good clean out every so often. How often really depends on how much you use your machine and what you're using it for... some fabrics, quilt battings and even threads will leave more fluff and dust behind than others. There are plenty on-line tutorials (such as Craftsy's Dos and Don'ts and Colette's Machine Maintenance) to walk you through the basics, and of course always check the manual for your particular sewing machine for any important safety/maintenance information.

Another important thing to remember is to put in a fresh sewing needle. I have heard a lot of different theories as to how often you should change your needle ranging from every 4 hours of sewing time to after completing each project. Again, it depends on what sort of work you're doing... personally, I usually change out my needle at the start of a new project.

So just a friendly reminder... keeping your machine fuzz-free and well-oiled with a sharp, straight needle will keep it running smoothly and help to avoid costly repairs; so if you haven't done a little maintenance on it lately, now might be a good time to do it. Happy sewing!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Do you do handwork?

I'll admit, I'm pretty attached to my sewing machine. I never really learned to sew by hand, I learned on a machine and use it for pretty much everything. The one thing I was never 100% happy with, however, was the result I got from doing quilt binding on a machine... no matter how careful I was with my pinning and aligning, it always ended up looking sloppy.

Then, we had a demo done at one of our monthly meetings by fellow member Cinzia on how she does binding on her quilts and it was like someone flipped a switch for me. She combines machine sewing (using it to attach one side of the binding to the front of the quilt) with hand sewing (using it to secure the binding invisibly to the back of the quilt) that gives an impeccable end result and is well within the grasp of even those who are hopeless at hand-sewing, such as myself. Yes, it takes time, but it is the only way I will do a quilt binding now, plus it is a wonderfully relaxing and meditative thing to do at the end of a quilt project.

So in May when the Modern Quilt Guild announced the webinar "Handwork is Fun" by Carolyn Friedlander I knew I wanted to watch it, but as happens life got in the way and I couldn't watch it live. Finally the other day I was able to watch it and I really enjoyed it. She discusses at some length her introduction to and philosophy on handwork and goes over the tools that she recommends. I'll admit, I have not tried any other handwork other than my quilt bindings, but I've come to enjoy the hand binding so much and after listening to her talk on the subject, I think I may just try my hand at something new. Maybe it's time to tackle hexies or some quilting by hand!

What about you... do you enjoy handwork?