Summer Begins!

Memorial Day has always signaled the beginning of summer to me, and this year really isn’t any different, even though my son still has two days of school left this week. It’s one of my favorite holidays because it means that from now till the end of the year, there is at least one three day weekend every other month, and who doesn’t like a little extra time away from the job?

I’ve spent this weekend hanging out with Chris, grocery shopping, watching movies and playing EverQuest 2. But what I’ve enjoyed the most is playing with my new Brother Innov-is 2500D sewing machine. I set out with the idea to buy the Innov-is 1250D, which is a very nice machine. It’s not as fancy as the 2500D but it’s nice and it would suit my needs just fine. What changed my mind? The 2500D was a refurbished machine, with the complete factory warranty, and it was only a few hundred more than the Innovis. It made buying the machine a no-brainer. I got the refurbished machine for about $1200 under sticker and about $800 under street price. Not too bad, I say.

And it’s very, very pretty.

Brother Innov-is 2500D

I’ve also been working on the studio a bit over the last few weeks. I moved the closet organizers into the closet (isn’t that where they go, after all?) and put the baskets on the studio floor.

In fact, I put a LOT of the stuff I don’t use often in the closet.

It’s still far from perfect, but I finally feel like I’m moving in the right direction. I think another set of baskets would help a LOT … but those won’t happen for a while now …

I finished the quilt I was making for Chris but neither of us really love the colors. I’ve started a new quilt for him and the one that I made is destined to be a Christmas present for … someone. 🙂 Once I have the new quilt finished I’m going to do a red, white & blue for July 4th … I’ve decided that I’m going to do a “holiday” quilt for each holiday. It may take me two years but that’s my goal. In fact, I would love to do a different quilt for each month for our game room. The one thing we never seem to have enough of is blankets, and the ones we do have are in serious need of the trash! I’ve never kept a quilt I made, so this might be a nice switch …

Today’s question … would you rather receive a handmade gift or something bought from a store? Most people will jump to say “handmade” but I wonder – how many of them are being truthful?

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The latest addition

Today, my really nice sewing/embroidery machine decided it needs a break. So … it took one. It was obviously in need of a vacation because about an hour into my studio time this morning, the thread broke on the machine. I rethreaded the machine and started back to quilting, but it was obvious that there was something wrong – the bobbin thread looks like a two year old tried to draw it in. I’m pretty sure that the machine just needs a good cleaning, but I can’t even get it to the shop till next weekend. And being arm deep in quilts that I need to get finished … what choice did I have but to go buy a cheap machine as a back up?

I looked at different machines on line, but the truth is, these days you’re sort of at the mercy of whatever the department/big box stores have on hand if you need a machine quickly. I headed to Wal-Mart – my least favorite place on earth, but the one I figured most likely to have something that may work. I didn’t want anything fancy – when you’re quilting all you really need is a straight stitch. You don’t even really need reverse, because there is no reverse in quilting – IF you know what you’re doing, that is. A lot of women use the old Singer Featherweight – a machine I would LOVE to have, but cannot currently afford. And I wanted something today – I didn’t want to wait for shipping. But I digress (I will right after you see this beautiful machine, anyway).

Singer Featherweight

So there I was, at my local Wal-Mart, which does not have a fabric department, thinking I would be lucky to find a kiddie machine in the toy department. But as luck would have it, they had the Brother SQ-9000 sewing & quilting machine. My main machine is a Brother, I intend for my next expensive machine to be a Brother, so I couldn’t really see a down-side to buying this machine as a back up. My cousin has had more than one Brother she bought from Wal-Mart over the years, and has always liked them. This machine was $200, and what influenced me to purchase it was the accessories that came with it.

Accessories

The feet alone are worth quite a bit – it came with a walking foot (I paid $45 for the one I bought for my more expensive Brother) and a 1/4″ seam foot ($30). It also came with a foot you use for free-motion quilting (I got that with my other Brother as well) and several other feet. The best thing is, the machine uses the same feet and bobbins as my PC-8500. The one thing the SQ-9000 doesn’t have that I wish it did is a thread cutter. With a press of the button, the PC-8500 cuts the thread at the end of a seam, and I love that thing. It did come with a quilting table – I’m not sure how useful the “large” quilting table would be just sitting on a table, but it comes in handy when used in conjunction with my Horn of America cabinet. The cabinet uses custom inserts to give an even sewing table, fitting around the machine being housed within, and of course the PC-8500’s insert doesn’t fit the SQ-9000. But the quilting table helps even out the surface somewhat, as you can see here.

SQ-9000

In my opinion, this is an excellent machine for $200. It is very lightweight, but my dad used the same model machine to make boat seat covers using heavy vinyl, so I know it’s got enough horsepower to sew together lightweight cottons. What surprises me most about this machine is the feel of it as it runs – I’ve used a lot of cheap machines before, and I won’t lie to you. Most of them FEEL cheap. But this one feels like a much more expensive machine. It’s a little louder and sounds a little more mechanical than the PC-8500, but then, I paid $2000 for the 8500 …

I can’t say for sure how well this machine will perform over time – yet. But I suspect that if it’s like every other Brother sewing machine I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with, it’s going to be quite the little workhorse. I’ll keep you updated on how it works out. 🙂

Wow, has it really been a month?

I can’t believe it’s been a month since my last post. Sorry about that! I’ve been so tired every evening, and so busy on the weekends, I hardly ever go near the computer when I’m not at work. But I’m back, for better or worse. Have you missed me? 😉

Anyway, not only have I been crazy busy at work, there really hasn’t been much to share with anyone lately. I’ve been adjusting to the new job of course, and the loss of my Fridays off – which has pained me greatly. But most of my off time has been spent in studio, or thinking about the studio or quilting, or looking at fabrics. I don’t have a lot of pictures to share right now, but let’s start with my two newest additions to the studio, and my first true step forward in trying to get it organized.

Neither one is full, obviously, though Chris would tell you I’m making a valiant effort to do just that, but the third drawer of the second set is just about stuffed full of fat quarters. For those of you who don’t know what a fat quarter is – or FQ for short- it’s a cut of fabric that is 18×22 inches. It is taken from a half yard of fabric cut down the middle – a quarter of a yard of fabric. A standard quarter yard is only 9 inches in width, but about 44 inches long. That drawer is plumb full, as my mother would say, of FQs. Each set of drawers has one drawer at the top that is very shallow – perfect for things like threads, rotary cutters, scissors, thimbles and other sewing/quilting paraphernalia that can be difficult to store. I’ve been considering purchasing another set of drawers, this one with all shallow drawers to store just such items.

PLANNED …
Another thing I’ve been doing in the evening as Chris pulls me through every season of Smallville since it’s inception nine years ago is to put together a “project book”. This book is actually a binder I’ve been filling with pages torn from old quilting magazines and placed in sheet protectors. These are quilts I want to make but … I’m tired of storing the magazines. So far, I’ve rid myself of about 50 magazines and I have added about 50 quilts to my project book. Sadly I think I have at least 100 more magazines to go through …

I purchased some fabric that has I Love Lucy printed on it – you know, from the tv show of the … was it 1950s or 1960s? I can’t remember. Anyway, it’s adorable, and the quilt made from it is destined for our game room. I also have ordered – but not yet received – a quilt kit using the Gone With the Wind fabric, which will also go into the game room.

STARTED …
I’ve started a new quilt for my wonderful husband, who has complained more than once that HE doesn’t have a quilt made by me … it took me a long time and a lot of irritation before I found a quilt he likes being made in fabrics and colors of which he approves. What he doesn’t realize is, neither of the kids have quilts made by me either – yet. And they’ve known me MUCH longer than he has! More on his quilt once the top at least is done.

IN PROGRESS …
I’m hoping to post some photos of the latest of my quilts this weekend, which is just about finished. I have about three inches of binding left and it’s done. It’s a baby quilt – a decidedly feminine baby quilt, made for no one in particular, just because I liked the fabric. I think I’ll hang it on my wall in the studio … I completed the top using the fabric I posted a while back. I’m going to take it to my mother’s house this weekend and see what we can do with it on her quilting machine.

FINISHED …
One bottle of Crown Royal, a carton of Dreyer’s ice cream and a cake. Not all at once, and not all by myself. But that’s about all I’ve finished at home recently. LOL