Reviewing The Diamond Machine

sewing machine Designer Diamond

Husqvarna Viking Designer Diamond

Do you also love machines? My DH is an engineer, and he’s ALL ABOUT machines of every description. I was at one time in my life a mechanical draftsman, and I loved taking things apart and drawing all the parts. I don’t do that with my sewing machine, but I don’t mind talking about the machine, its quirks, and what I like and don’t like about it. So I’m back to participate in Sew Mama Sew’s

Sewing Machine Reviews

What brand and model do you have? I traded my Husqvarna Viking Ruby up for a Designer Diamond near the end of last year (2014).

How long have you had it? I’ve had it since the end of October 2014.

How much does that machine cost (approximately)? Roughly the Kelley Blue Book Value of a 7 year old Cadillac CTS.

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)? Quilting, machine embroidery, apparel, fleece, swimwear, bags, anything I can.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get? At least once a week, sometimes every day

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name? Love it. I learn new things all the time. I started with Husqvarna Viking’s embroidery-capable Topaz model, traded up to a Ruby, now to a Diamond. I think my experiences with the previous models were excellent preparation for my current usability of top-of-the-line Diamond. It has so much more help available online and through the machine’s onboard computer screen. The shop I bought it from offers free, in-depth training classes for buyers of this model and others.

What features does your machine have that work well for you? One big difference is that during machine embroidery, using the Sensor-Q foot is recommended. It’s included with the Diamond purchase, whereas I had bought it separately for my Ruby, but I only used it for quilting, not embroidery. I’ve had great success using it for machine embroidery, although it isn’t compatible with many of the embroidery hoops I already bought separately when I had the Ruby and Topaz, because the Sensor Q-foot has a big area around the needle and can bump into the corners of the hoop and throw off the design.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine? The pre-wound bobbins I had stockpiled when I had my Ruby, don’t work as well on the Diamond. I keep getting a message “Bobbin thread low” and when I check, it’s nowhere near low. I have better luck with cheap pre-wound Coats and Clark bobbins that are wound on paper spools that didn’t work at all on the Ruby, although they are the same size bobbins.

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why? Yes, because it is awesome. It will take me a whole lifetime to discover all the awesome things it can do.

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine? Price, customer reviews, customer service record of the vendor, availability of training if you need it, availability of service/repairs.

Do you have a dream machine? Yes, this one.

Bonus: Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!

I thought about doing the ultimate trade-up but I was worried, considering the much greater cost. Would it be worth it? What about all the negative reviews I’d seen? What about the experience I had with the lesser model, the engine needing to be replaced, the long wait for the parts coming in? Then I got an email saying if I wanted to trade up, I could get a $500 rebate if I acted before the end of October. I thought, well, surely, I could get a decent trade-in value and the purchase price could be defrayed a lot…I did get a very good trade-in value. I checked around with several other dealers, both near and far, and found that while some aspects of the deal were near the same, different dealers can give you very significant discounts over others! I ended up going to the same dealer I bought the first two machines (and a serger) from. It pays to have a good relationship with your local dealer, I think. As for the negative reviews I’ve read, I think that because I’ve worked with the Topaz and Ruby, I am fairly well experienced as a user of Husqvarna Viking sewing machines so many of the quirks aren’t new to me and I’ve probably encountered and fixed many of them prior to owning this machine.

P.S. I thought I was going to add this to the Sewing Machine Review post from Sew Mama Sew; however, the link-ups were closed. If Sew Mama does a new Review for 2015 I’ll add it then.

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So Much to Blog About

Been doing the Blogging 101 Course, trying to do new things for the new year…however, the assignments seem to be just the same as the ones for this course last year. I remember doing the same things…like this one, trying out 3 new themes.

Since I did that last year, I’ll just skip it for 2015. As I recall, during the assignment last year, I accidentally changed to a theme that they wanted me to pay for. I didn’t sign up to blog on a platform that would end up costing me money! Free I like!

Meanwhile, I finished a sewing project (duh, yup, almost forgot, this is a sewing blog!)

I worked on some uniforms for my favorite non-profit organization, Plenitud PR. The uniforms consist of shirts that have the staff workers’ names embroidered on the fronts and a mandala-shaped logo patch sewn on the backs.

logo patch

logo patch

Once I got used to my new machine and lined up all the shirts and their 3 different tasks to do in assembly-line fashion, it got better and better. I got great directions and suggestions from some of the staff, which helped a lot. Among us, we decided that black would be a good thread color for the text embroidery on the fronts, except for a couple of shirts that were very dark-colored. Carson liked the Clarendon font best of the 3 text fonts that were right on the sewing machine without having to download anything extra, so we went with that. All the shirts were different, so I hooped most of them with a 100 x 100 cm hoop (a few had large pockets that were tricky to hoop around: a 150 x 150 hoop worked for them). In some of the practice runs, a few problems cropped up, like major bird-nesting underneath, causing some of the text letters to come out crooked or stunted in shape. So when starting the embroidery directly onto the shirts, I took every precaution. One or two tear-away stabilizer sheets went underneath, and water-soluble stabilizer (Sulky Solvy) went on top of each embroidery. I made sure to use the recommended sensor Q-foot that really bears down and flattens the area all around the needle, rather than the simpler R-foot I always used with my previous machines. The hoops for Husqvarna Viking sewing machines have marks inside at north, south, east and west (former mapper; for all others think up, down, right, left) so you can mark on the fabric with chalk or a temporary marking pen where they intersect, and that’s where you want the center point of your finished embroidery to fall. Some hoops have a plastic insert that has a little hole in the center, making it even more easy to line up the position of your embroidery. The machine comes with a bunch of little metal clips to put on the hoops, but I hate to use them; they tend to pop off and fly through the sewing room and get lost.

One shirt had a very large sectioned and zippered pocket right under where I wanted to embroider the name. At this point in the project, I felt like I’d seen every monkey wrench that could have possibly been thrown, so to head off any trouble, my idea was to fold down the top of the inner pocket and secure it with sticky-backed stabilizer so it wouldn’t flip up during embroidery and get trapped in the domain of an out-of-control bird-nest jungle.

machine embroidery sticky stabilizer

Sticky stabilizing possible bird-nest area

I tried this first with some Pellon sticky-back stabilizer. Unfortunately, this had been in my stash for a few years and the sticky back wasn’t very sticky at all. Luckily enough, some Sulky sticky-back stabilizer, also in my stash for a few years, worked like a charm.

machine embroidery stabilizer

Sulky is the superior sticky-back

How about you, do you have any new projects for the new year so far?

Life and Times, with Remnants

Life, I’ve lately realized, is fleeting.

We’ve been celebrating the life of my mother, the mortal phase of which ended two weeks ago.

 

Mom

Me and Mom 2014

Mom

Mom (1929)

 

I’m seeing some similarities in more than just the hair styles in these photos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With lots of family things going on, and getting back into the flow of daily events again, I haven’t finished many sewing projects, except for this one, a shopper I started last year.

Shopping bag

Kwik Sew Shopping bag with steam punk embroidery motif

The embroidery motif is from a collection of steampunk Christmas designs at Urban Threads. Notice how the bag makes exemplary use of small pieces of remnant fabric? I hope to make more of these lovelies, but I can’t guarantee that I will have time now, the holidays being almost here!  Distractions abound!

Time, that fleeting thing that life is made out of, has been taken up with associations, both usual and unusual. Relationships have been both renewed and undone. Motives have been questioned. Long-standing resentments have been acknowledged and tolerated. Prayers have been issued. Cold hands have been held, then relinquished and folded together in repose.

Do I feel bereft? No. I believe the dead are still with us partly, in spirit. I am one of those who believes that the Spirit World is the Earth’s spirit. Just like our spirit is attached to our physical body, so is the Spirit World attached to the Earth’s body. I believe in eternal life and in the Resurrection, when spirit and physique will be reunited. I don’t feel swimming in denial, but full of hope and faith that God is in charge of this whole scenario, and that His plan will prevail. It’s going to be good, all good.

Surprisingly, my recent post about a video-game themed wedding has been scrutinized. Some folks have been wondering just what I may have been alluding to in the post, asking to whom I was referring, because of course, I surely could not have attributed abusive behavior to them!

“If the shoe fits, wear it.”  Put it on, fasten it up, take a practice step in it, see how it feels, and wear it. Abuse is abuse, whether it is physical, mental, emotional, or whatever.  How exhilarating to wake up to the prospect of living life without fear, without the dull ache of having been put in your place, a place of inferiority and submission to another person who is supposed to “love” you. Exhilarating to reclaim one’s self-esteem, which has been systematically beaten back time after time after time.  Hmmm, there may be some sense in living through miserable times, if you can learn to appreciate the good times.

Meanwhile, DH is closer to completing his table.  Lots of months of hard work!

walnut table

DH’s natural-edge walnut table

ebony plugs

Breadboard edge of table with ebony accents

SHHHH! a remnant Quiet Book!

Fabric remnants: what do you do with all of them?

I made some Quiet Books for three of the youngest grandkids.

cloth books

Quiet Books

I did happen to find a pattern in the pattern stash.

Rather generic-lookin', isn't it?

Rather generic-lookin’, isn’t it?

I decided to change mine up from the one in the pattern. I made the pages out of a big length of muslin I had on hand. I used some of the ideas, changed some of them, and added some completely off-beat ones. [Hi Bob! 🐱 ]

cloth book

Tying and buttoning

cloth book

Pages from a book

cloth book

Zip up the corn

cloth book

One finished

cloth book

Walk the dog

cloth books

(Velcro bird sitting on candy eggs)

Hmmm, Cadbury eggs and it can be sort of an Easter treat…

Using up remnants, not just of fabric but remnants of notions, too: ribbon, zippers, buttons, fibers. They look a little bit goofy, but I had fun. I hope the little ones have some fun with them!

Remnants With Heart

I wanted to treat my new rubbery yoga mat better than the old one, so it will last longer. The insert with it suggested keeping it in a bag when not in use, not out in the car in extreme heat or cold, with the sun bearing down on it through the windshield.

 

I thought I remembered seeing an article in a recent Easy Quilts mag for a quilted yoga bag. Ah, yes! There it is.

Oh, wait a minute, I think I have a Sewing for Dummies pattern for a yoga bag. Here it is.

Easy Quilts yoga bag pattern

Easy Quilts bag

Sewing for Dummies yoga bag pattern

Dummies bags pattern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So which one should I make? And what remnants should I use to make it?

fabric

possibility for the mag bag

outdoor fabric

I like this outdoor fabric

pre-quilted fabric remnant

this quilted remnant is just what the Dummies ordered

pre-quilted fabric

other pre-quilted possibilities

 

 

I could have used the lavender and blue and quilted my own, like the magazine pattern showed….or I could use some pre-quilted fabric and save time and effort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had 3 remnants to choose from: the blue and yellow patterned piece looked just like the Dummies pattern, and rather passé if you ask me. I spent at least a day mulling it over. Could I actually show up anywhere in public with that? Er, no.

 

 

 

 

 

The others: ho-hum solid brown and ho-hum solid off-white. The off-white would certainly get dog-dirty in a little while. So I guess I’ll go with the brown.

yoga bag fabrics

the chosen fabrics

 

Just to make it a little matchy-matchy with the green mat, I added a green remnant fabric strap (the pattern wants you to use 1 1/8 yards of webbing for the strap) and some green embroidery. This is a heart chakra symbol, traditionally in the color green. Embroidery from Urban Threads.

yoga mat bag

a little length of brown twill tape made a great tie

yoga bag

finished yoga bag

Now for the Zero to Hero Day 18 post, about connecting with social networks. I do connect with a few of them, but I must confess that I’m not comfortable connecting with them all. For instance, Twitter. I found that I’d been hacked in some fashion and the connection may have possibly been facilitated through a Twitter encounter. Facebook friends are alerted on FB when I post, but I prefer that unscreened people who view my blog through search terms don’t have access to my FB page. I think I’m as connected as I want to be. 🙂

Sew Happy

hologram

szdt – szdt – szdt hologram

I didn’t get much done today, and what I did do is of questionable importance. I worked on Zero to Hero Day 14, Blogger’s Choice. My choice was to add another element of new, a marked-up photo, see below…

Been planning to finish the holiday sewing but the Ruby had to go in the shop again: an error message came up over and over again like an old phonograph record with a scratch on it. “Clear out thread under throat plate, szdt szdt szdt” (the word szdt wasn’t printed out in the message but that was the sound it made).

I dreaded taking her in to the shop. Who knows when I would ever see her again? So I dramatically threw my head back, descended onto the nearest facsimile of a fainting couch, and meekly begged and pleaded with my DH to do it. He did! The silver-tongued, country-gentleman, good-ol’-boy, you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, lovely man did it! And because he did, my Ruby was fixed and waiting in an hour, while 30 other machines allegedly languished in the bottomless repair pit.

sewing machine repair receipt

this was the receipt for the repair.

Would you believe they will sell your machine for the cost of the repair, if you left it over 30 days? That’s why it does pay to suck up to your local sewing machine repair shop. This shop also sells sewing machines that cost thousands of $$’s so they know if a machine is actually worth the cost of the repair or not.

Would you believe that my sewing machine review post, the one I linked with Sew Mama Sew’s blog, is one of my all- time most-viewed posts?

So I was able to finish a couple of dish towels.

embroidered kitchen towel

embroidered kitchen towel

This particular one, and its twin, are not fashioned from remnants but are finished, unembellished towels straight from the package, that I bought from JoAnn Fabric. You must use a coupon, because these are a bit pricey otherwise. I’ve got some Kokka remnants of cotton and linen that I plan to make more dish towels with.

Kokka linen fabric

Kokka fabric

Kokka fabric

Kokka

cotton linen fabric

dish towel fabric

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Word to the wise: if you don’t want trouble with your machine, clean out from under the thread plate with a vacuum, not canned air.

vacuum thread plate

Do

canned air

Don’t.

 

 

Even though I bought the canned air on Nancy’s Notions web site for cleaning lint out of small crevices, apparently it blows lint onto a sensitive sensor and then there is szdt! to pay.

Holiday Gifting Damage Control

Are you like I am? Do you like to make things for people and give them as gifts for a holiday occasion? But do you sometimes fall short of your projected gift list goals?

When the holiday got really close, I narrowed my to-do list down to 2 basic things: shopping bags and dish towels. I still fell short…

Mostly because of this little number…which by the way, is a fabric remnant project. Another Kwik Sew shopping bag.

Snow White shopping bag

the diabolical Snow White bag

In retrospect, I can see where the red flags should have driven me back, but I was very distracted. A lot of things happened that I didn’t expect.

Red flag #1: the embroidery was too big for the pattern piece.
Red flag #2: the embroidery was too complicated for the design and function of the item.
Red flag #3: my available time was cut short when people dropped by and I was asked to do things I hadn’t planned, so I set the embroidery going and left it to go and do other things…

So that I ended up with a finished embroidery that is a poster child for what NOT to do.

Snow White machine embroidery

the puckered and distorted embroidery

The complex, busy, heavy embroidery was no match for the thin cotton center panel of the shopping bag, even with a sturdy tear-away stabilizer underneath. When finished, the shopping bag fabric was considerably drawn-up and needed some adjustments if the pattern pieces were ever going to fit together. I had to add extra fabric and cobble it together with some stitching. The straps went on a little crooked and covered some of the thick embroidered flowers, but what else was there to do? Aargh, some of the fabric ended up not exactly on the straight of the grain. I was in a hurry and it shows. Sigh. But the recipient will still get it (in January!) and she can decide whether or not she thinks it is too shoddy to use! I think she can use it for something though, as she loves anything Snow White.

Here are some shots of other holiday things that (in retrospect) seem a bit weird or short of their mark:

deflated Santa

Bad Santa, lying on the neighbor’s lawn sleeping

under the Christmas tree pic

Grayzie, hiding from Psycho Granny Claus, who’s holding her candle upside-down

Nativity set

tiny crystal Nativity Scene overseen by a giant cardinal that is the wrong color

religious decoration

Madonna and Child with large turtle over a brass buddha

A little eccentric, perhaps, but I have room for all.

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