Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wish I were hopping along... Meet My Machine Blog Hop

I've been following the Meet My Machine Blog Hop this week. Oh how I wish I had seen this one in time to sign up.  But there is a linky party, so I can still participate. 
  • Please tell us about your current machine - make, model, etc. (and if there's any story behind you obtaining it, etc.)
 When I decided to teach myself to quilt, I knew that I needed to upgrade my sewing machine or the hobby would be more of a misery.  In the mid-90's I tried to abscond with my mothers 1960's green metal Singer. Not because it was a pretty machine (it isn't) but because it is reliable and easy to use. So rather than give up her machine, she gifted me with a Singer. After all, isn't Singer the "gold standard" by which other machines are measured.  As it turned out, not so much, at least based on the plastic parts and tendency to pull to the left.  A few dog beds and curtains later, the Singer and I never bonded.

I turned to messaged boards and the internet to research machines. WOW! It is overwhelming.  Knowing myself, I quickly ruled out the electronic, 600,000 different stitch machines. Too complicated and I would pay for things I would rarely ever use.  What I need is a straight stitch and a zigzag, on a reliable machine.

Enter Penny.  Penny is a Bernina 801 that I found on eBay for a steal. She sat in storage for 8 years, before her previous owner's mother decided she deserved a home where she would be used.  She arrived with a bit of a lint build-up, but also just in time for the "get to know your machine" class that is offered at my local quilt store, and is a per-requisite for many of their quilting/sewing classes.  As a part of the class, I learned how to thoroughly clean her, and to not be afraid to open doors and remove panels to get at every last piece of lint.

About a year later, I decided it would be nice to have a few more decorative stitches available. Penny has 7.  So back to the internet I went.  This time Craigslist yielded a treasure in the form of Bernadette.

Bernadette is a Bernina 830 Record. She has 20 stitches. Also mechanical, and easy to care for. I had intended to drop her off to be cleaned on the way home from picking her up (she is another who spent some time in storage) but while finishing the mini-quilt for a swap, Penny seized up, so I had to do a quick switch. Bernadette is a bit longer than Penny, perhaps with a little more throat space. She did not come with her extension table or carrying case. The extension table I was able to find on eBay (Penny's doesn't fit her), the carry case I haven't bothered to find yet. They tend to be ridiculously overpriced, so for now, Bernadette lives happily on my sewing table. (I thought I had a better picture of her, but apparently not).

I'm considering adding a serger to the family (she will be Amy Farah Fowler, just in case you are following my naming convention).  The table that Penny and Bernadette share is also a find from Craigslist.

The most recent addition to my sewing room is Mollie.

Mollie is a Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen.  I purchased her new this month and we are still learning about one another. I am most excited by the possibilities her large harp offers and am looking forward to years of quilting with her.  
  • What's your favorite machine accessory/doo-dad?
 My favorite accessory at this time for Penny and Bernadette is my walking foot.  It has made a huge difference in the quality of my quilting.  I basted the Irish Chain Fire Truck quilt and realized after the fact that I'd forgotten to change feet. I ended up spritzing all the water soluble seams away and starting over as the layers had completely shifted. I do with that it was easier to install that foot as it does take some fiddling.

With Mollie, I'm really enjoying the Needle Up/Down feature - one that Penny and Bernadette do not have. 
  • Tell us a little about your first sewing machine - is that the one you still use today?
My first sewing machine, of my own, was a child's Singer. I have no idea where that machine is now. I have a feeling she went the way of a garage sale.  My favorite machine to use as a child is Mom's green singer. 
  • How many machines do you own (don't be shy, fess up) & tell us a bit about them - domestic, serger, embroidery, long arm, vintage, antique? Do you use your vintage/antique machines, or are they eye-candy only? 
I currently own the four machines described above, though the hapless Singer will be rehomed. I thought about letting Gus use that, but I'd like him to enjoy sewing, and he prefers Penny and Bernadette.  My father has my grandmothers vintage Singer which he uses periodically, and I hope that she will join my group one day.
  • Would you recommend this machine to a friend (be diplomatic here, lol)
Yes, I would definitely recommend the older Berninas and the HQ Sweet Sixteen to friends. I'm very pleased with all of them.
  • If you could have any machine (let's say you win one for FREE tomorrow...) what would it be??
Truthfully, had I answered this last month, it would be the HQ Sweet Sixteen. So I have to say there isn't one out there that I'm pining for. Perhaps one of the newer Bernina's with an embroidery module - but the only time I've wished I had embroidery capability was while making the fleece hats for the hockey team recently.  I'm quite happy with my machines. I really like playing with the longarms, but have no space for one and my back cannot handle standing for long periods of time, so they are not ideally suited to my lifestyle or this point in my quilting journey.
  • Show us your sewing space - what are your favorite parts of that space and what do you want to change? 
I am in the midst of reorganizing my sewing space/craft room.  My favorite part is my cutting/pressing station and my ruler wall.  I do not have a fear of holes in the wall (and a patient husband), so I set the wall up such that I can easily find each ruler by grouping. I do need to add another nail soon to accommodate the recent additions to my ruler collection.

My sewing chair is actually a bit of a disappointment, though it does work better in front of Molly than it did at Penny and Bernadette's table.  The problem lies in the arms... but let me step back a bit. I was supposed to go to my first quilt retreat and ended up backing out due to conflicts with Gus's ice hockey schedule - so I took myself, and the money I would have spent on a hotel room and meals, to Staples to sit in office chairs.  I spent a long time testing around 20 chairs. Some I eliminated quickly, but I kept coming back to this one - the seat and back provide excellent support and are easily adjustable. What I did not consider (or notice) is that the arms cannot be lowered.  Ideally, I would like to find this chair with NO arms, but I've not been able to find the mesh seat without arms. As you can see, Penny and Bernadette's table is 'bent' so the inability to adjust the arms puts me quite a distance from the table. I tried using the exercise disk to lower the chair and maintain my body height, but I can't lower the chair enough to get the arm under the table and the shelf that is set in to the left.

Now that I have the basic sewing room set up, I'm working on amenities to make the room more fun and useful.  We've lived in our house for nearly 10 years, and for nine of them we had one bedroom serve as a general storage room (it called itself a guest room, but no guests would actually fit in it). Now we are actually utilizing all our rooms (and purging lots of stuff!).  I've hung my framed cross stitch pieces done over the years and will add at least one oil painting from my grandmother's house when it arrives - and then all available wall space will likely be taken.
Gus likes my media center. The shelves need to be better organized and some of the craft items can probably be donated.  This should be a go-to spot for tools as it sits just to the left of the brown sewing table.  This does put the TV at my back, but as there is not cable hookup, just a DVD player, I usually put movies in for the noise factor, not to watch them.  I can easily move the TV to the cutting station if I want to watch quilting techniques while quilting.

I have another set of shelves which is not ready to be photographed as they are too disorganized where the stamping and scrapbook supplies live. And I have my design closet - not ideal as I need to remove it nightly so that Mike can reach his wardrobe.  If I can generate the willpower to purge clothing from my closet, I will eventually move him back to the master bedroom closet and then take over this closet for fabric storage. Gus has discovered this is a great place to procrastinate...


Stacey Napier said...

Thanks for the fantastic post and for linking up with us tonight!! I love your Sweet Sixteen and am GREEN with envy ;) I just posted my day's post along with a little giveaway if you are also an embroiderer, so please stop by. Thanks!

Sewing Mom said...

LOL...that last picture is a riot. =) Love seeing your machines and reading your story through the link up. I think that table you use is very nice...hopefully you'll find a nice chair too.

Kirsten said...

Thanks for stopping by. Gus is a riot in many ways. He also has a great eye for color and is hoping to learn how to quilt on Mollie when I'm ready to let him take a turn.

I have a feeling the next chair that gets auditioned in the sewing room will be from my grandmother's set. We are awaiting the arrival of a dining room table and 11 chairs (several of which will likely live in the craft room). They are more comfortable than the current dining room chair that I'm using.

Erin @ Sew at Home Mummy said...

Ooh! I love Mollie! I wish I had a Mollie! :D
Thank you so much for linking up with Stacey and I for the machine hop!

Dawn said...

Now that you have had Mollie for a couple years, do you LOVE her? I'm on the hunt for a sit down long arm, and HQ 16 seems to be the machine of choice. Can you tell me how you like her? Thanks!