A Trying Day, with Twin Needles and a Demented Cat

I saw a sewing blog post this morning with this leading question as the title: What is your Achilles Heel of sewing? But when I read the post, the content had nothing to do with the title, as far as I could see. But that’s the way these last couple of days have been for me. I checked, and Mercury is not in retrograde at the moment. Nevertheless, things are going slow, not at all, or incredibly botched-up.

I wanted to do something new in the sewing category, so I dragged out a twin needle from the stash to do some topstitching and hemming on this pair of Jalie yoga shorts, as the pattern directs. Turned out to be quite a learning curve. The fabrics used are two-way stretch performance remnants.

thread bird-nesting

thread bird-nesting

I looked in the manual that came with the machine, and threaded the two spools as directed. One spool had red Gutermann thread, the other had a brick-red color polyester thread, a pricey thread that I ordered online from Superior Threads. Got the double-thread seam going for a while, then the Superior thread kept disappearing. Upon investigation, it was apparently shredding up into a fuzzy ball inside the thread path of the machine. Changed to a red rayon Robison-Anton thread. That’s when the bird-nesting marathon began. Needle-less to say, I had to re-thread every time an undesirable seam was sewn, and go through lots of picking and clipping. Grrrr. I switched to an extra-wide twin needle. Bad idea! The seam pulled the two rows of stitching together with a big loopy pucker in between. More seam-ripping ensued. So finally I got an inkling: maybe there’s a setting for twin-needle sewing on this machine, even though I didn’t see a word about it in the manual.

Et voilá! There was.

Twin-needle sewing

Twin-needle setting under Tools

Even so, with machine on the special setting, it didn’t go completely well forever after. I still had to thread and re-thread, and there were other glitches as well.

The poor cat had his thyroid burned out with radioactive iodine, and he hasn’t been himself. Or maybe he’s been a crazed, geriatric version of himself, with advanced dementia. He’s been staggering around the house moaning and wailing LOUDLY at every door, and he will only lap broth from cat food and ignore the solid food completely. We got him some meat-flavored baby food, like the vet suggested, and he took a few slurps of that and then he was done. Next try: canned fish stock at $3.50 a pop. I hope we don’t end up having to give it to him through an IV!

Finally finished the shorts, but I feel I must make another pair that is better. Not sure how the fabric will hold up with so many needle holes in it from stitching and restitching with double the number of needle!

Jalie yoga shorts

Jalie yoga shorts



Grayzie in his new favorite place to nap.

Blankets from Very EZ to Somewhat EZ

Ahhh blankets! How great it is to cover up with a soft and fluffy one.

This one is the easiest possible: get a piece of fleece and just serge around the edge. You don’t even really have to finish a fleece blanket; it won’t ravel, but the serged edge makes it look nice and done.

Serged-edge fleece blanket

It’s possible to find a remnant of fleece that is a yard or more, which will give it to you for 1/2 price! Cheap and good!

This one is adapted from my go-to receiving blanket, see the free pattern on youcanmakethis.com. This one is made without an edging at all. I used flannel for one side and minky for the other, which made for a little uneven seaming. To compensate, I used a roller foot for the machine, and pinned the edges together prior to sewing. Sew with the minky layer on top, keeping the pinned edges aligned until you get right up to removing the pins: the roller foot will not let the fabric stretch. Once turned inside out, I like to top-stitch the edges with the flannel side on top: I like the triple-stitch in a 4.5 or longer stitch length for a nice prominent top-stitch. I added a little embroidery motif on the plain but fluffy side to go with the flannel fabric.

minky-flannel receiving blanket

This one is my second attempt at free-motion quilting, another baby quilt of a non-standard size similar to the one I made in a November Post, Epic Remnants.

embroidering a lotus on the plain block

I started with some cotton collegiate sport fabric (which caused my husband to question my allegiance. I hope another trip to genuflect before the bull gator in front of Ben Hill Griffin stadium is not on the agenda) for the backing. I wanted large blocks for the front, like my previous project, so most of them ended up 12″ square, except for a shorter row. It’s ok. It’s ok. I ended up with some pretty uneven cutting lines so a lot of it had to end up getting sheared off anyway. It’s not a standard size project. I chose a shade of yellow flannel from JoAnn’s and some Wilderness Tan flannel from fabric.com for the contrasting blocks. To embellish the plain yellow, I added a machine embroidery lotus motif, symbolizing peace as in “please go to sleep now so I can get some things done” and the baby’s name. I used a layer of Warm & Natural Needled cotton batting in between the top and backing. I love it; the fabric sort of adheres to this batting like static cling.

The difference between this project and Epic Remnants, is that I used a new free-motion foot this time.

left: spring-action foot, right: free-motion open-toed foot

The spring-action free motion foot has a spring on it and you don’t have to manually set the + and – on the machine settings to do free-motion sewing; the foot just bounces over the fabric. It made for a much less labor-intensive sewing session. Although I did find a cheap set of 8 Dritz Quilting finger grips to wear while machine-quilting. They are sticky plastic finger cots with grips on the finger pad side and holes for ventilation on the top, fingernail side, to keep your hands from getting sweaty with them on. All pinned together, I started machine quilting from the middle, rolling the side that would come in contact with the inside of the sewing machine.

Machine quilting with spring-action free motion foot

I used the stipple motif, which is just stitching around and moving the fabric sandwich here and there, pivoting and turning where you feel like it. It’s possible to find errors in this but I hope that cuteness will more than make up for them.

finished little free-mo quilt

I used extra-wide double-folded bias tape in goldenrod for the binding, and finished it with a hearty top-stitching. This blanket had a few more steps than the first one, but it wasn’t a gargantuan task like say, a Queen-size pieced quilt would be. Maybe I’ll tackle a bigger one some day…

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