Reviewing Ruby

I read the blog Sew Mama Sew, and decided to participate in Mama’s
Sewing Machine Reviews as currently featured. Good idea, I really like to read sewing machine reviews that are real testimonials that aren’t being presented for purposes of commissioned sales or something like that.

What brand and model do you have? Husqvarna Viking Ruby

How long have you had it? about 3 years

How much does that machine cost (approximately)? about $5K

What types of things do you sew? quilting, machine embroidery, clothing, bags, pillows, home dec, hats, toys

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get? I sew at least one project a week. I sew a lot of fleece things, which generate lots of lint, so she gets some wear and tear.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name? I adored Ruby until I had to put her in the shop, and she stayed in there for more than 90 days, all during November and December; that really put a damper on my holiday sewing plans last year!

What features does your machine have that work well for you? the machine embroidery feature works very well most of the time. I traded up for Ruby; I had a Viking Topaz 20 before, and I didn’t have as good an experience with her and machine embroidery, or maybe I was more of a novice when I had that machine. But Ruby seems definitely more smooth and accomplished than her predecessor Topaz 20. I like the automatic thread cutter button. I have many specialty feet to experiment with; some work better than others.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine? She sometimes shreds thread as it runs from the spool through all those mechanisms down into the needle. The shop employees will say it’s because you used cheap thread, however, it happens with all different brands from time to time. Yes, it’s worse with cheap thread (Coats and Clark), but it has happened with their favorite brands to recommend, too (Robison-Anton rayon and Madeira). Sometimes she produces bird-nesting underneath seams and I can really find no apparent reason. I re-thread the machine and maybe or maybe not will have more bird-nesting. I re-thread again and no bird-nesting. Maybe there is a little burr inside that mysterious thread path. When the repair guy tries it, it doesn’t bird-nest for him, of course.

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why? I don’t think they make this machine anymore, the new model that replaced it is the Ruby Deluxe. When I attended training classes for using my new Ruby, one of the class members had a problem with her machine from Day 1; she asked for a replacement machine and they wouldn’t give her one because she had bought a floor model machine. When mine was in the shop for 90 days, the problem was the motor. I think that if I buy another machine, I will research a lot and not buy a Viking next time, even though I have tons of accessories for a Viking. I bought the Viking from a local shop, so that I could be sure of ongoing maintenance and tech support, but I was disappointed in the customer service during that crisis when she stopped working so soon after purchase. They had promised to keep me updated, but I had to initiate every query. I had to borrow back my old mechanical Janome from someone I’d lent it to for basic sewing during the time Ruby was in the shop, and the Janome was a champ. The next town south of me (an hour’s drive) has a Janome shop. Good customer service means a lot to me.

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine? Cost, reputation of company, tech support, customer service, buttonhole making capability, training opportunities.

Do you have a dream machine? I once dreamed of trading up to a Husqvarna Viking Diamond Deluxe, but I don’t think the features are worth double the cost of my Ruby.

I also have a Brother serger for overlocking seams, a Husqvarna Viking serger that I mostly use for coverstitch, and an old Singer Merrittlock serger that I haven’t been able to get working, plus a little collection of toy sewing machines.

Ruby

Ruby

Quilting and the Wave Stitch

I finally finished my Tossed Nine-Patch quilt, started at the Quilt Expo‘s Crazy For Quilting class taught by “the two Cathies,” Stachowicz and Gandy. You know, the “quilt in a day” that has taken me a little over a month…

finished, bound quilt

I only ran into one real glitch, and it’s my own stupid fault. The pattern sheet says 9 Nine-Patch blocks is a wall hanging, 12 Nine-Patch blocks is a lap quilt. I found that I had plenty enough (and more) 5-inch squares to make the lap quilt (96 squares), so I went ahead with it. Aargh, I later recalled that in class, one of the Cathies told us “Make 9 blocks!” The moment of recall came at the same time I discovered that I didn’t have enough fabric strips in the kit to make the inner border. I added one strip of semi-coordinating fabric remnant from my own stash to stretch the border. That is my non-standard addition to this quilt that makes it not a cookie-cutter commercial item. All of it but that is from the “Modernology” collection of Art Gallery fabrics.

the innermost part of the brown floral strip is not like the others

This blog is all about using remnants, so a project of all designer fabrics, planned and purchased, is not really my aim. I ended up with the coordinating art gallery fabrics because they were pre-packaged in a kit I purchased with the Expo class. I understand how the commercial quilters must go with designer, matchy-matchy fabrics because interdependence on notions, fabric and machines along with imagination makes the whole sewing business world go round. The real aim of my blog and work is to use up fabric that I already own or that I can get cheap, as a remnant.

I did have enough fabric in the kit for the outer border–go figure! But I didn’t get fabric in the kit to use for the backing or the binding. I pondered the choices I had in my stash, and discussed it with DH. Should I try to go with the art gallery fabric for the back and binding, or just use any old fabric, maybe even a solid color? One, I discovered there are no stores within a million miles of me that stock art gallery fabrics, and two, if I buy that fabric from an online venue, it’s going to add about $50 to the cost of this little lap quilt. I (we) decided to spring for the matching fabric just this once, and I ordered it from Hawthorne Threads. It came in the mail, like, immediately.

Now the wave-stitched sashing along the inner border was not part of the Eleanor Burns Tossed Nine-Patch pattern. It was an added little perk that showed what a Babylock serger can do, and BTW Babylock sponsored this particular Crazy About Quilting workshop at the Expo. Oh, what a beautiful little accent that wave stitching provided. One would draw a conclusion that to achieve this lovely effect, one would have to shell out $2500 for the machine that produces it. However, a recent blog entry from Sew Fun! the Husqvarna Viking blog, mentioned a wavy-edge serging technique that I can try. May not be the exact same wave but still a cute accent. After a lot of nail-biting and soul-searching, I decided to machine quilt it in the stipple motif. I can’t say I’m enthralled with the results, but it’s ok. I used more cotton thread for the machine quilting than I ever imagined. I had to wind about 10 bobbins.

Wave-stitched sashing (chartreuse fabric with turquoise stitching)

My moniker

This is the first quilt like this I’ve ever done. It is about 62″ by 48,” lap quilt size. Now I can say that I like the fabrics together, I like the randomness of the tossed blocks, and I like that IT IS FINISHED!

just before binding

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…

Take Yo-yo Baby Quilt and Go!

Continuing with the projects in Simple Serger Sewing edited by Julie Johnson, I went to the next in sequence, the Yo-yo Baby Quilt, for this week’s remnant re-do.  The blurb said “Fast and easy are the buzz words used in creating this delightful baby quilt…” You know me, fast and easy, and I’m there…except I did not find this project fast or easy.

I had some gator fabric remnants left over from a project, so I cut all the pieces required, according to the directions.

5 yards, MOL, fabric pieces

Then I proceeded to SERGE (since this is a serger project) the blocks to the border strips, as directed, referring to the assembly diagram. Well, the diagram showed 25 7″ x 7″ blocks, 5 7″ x 4″ blocks, and 10 3″ x 45″ border strips. So why did the directions say to cut 11 3″ x 45″ border strips? I never could figure out where the 11th border strip was supposed to go.  And when I serged the blocks to the border strips, of course, the border strips were cut off each time. The directions never warned me that was going to happen. It was a bit unnerving. Also, I didn’t realize it, but somehow I had cut a few blocks 6 1/2″ by 7″, so that on the way, my quilt top started looking like this:

Aaargh! Measure twice, cut once forgotten!

I didn’t see a way that I could remedy this, so perhaps in a future remnant redo, you may see this familiar fabric…

Back to the drawing and cutting board. The next ordeal was the box-pleated ruffles on the sides. Although they look kind of cool, what a pain it was to put them on. And the directions gave a bogus amount of material which meant I ended up piecing together some ruffles on the edges. At this point, I didn’t have enough fabric left that was 45″ long, so I had to make do.

”]I had to go back and cut way more than it called for, to get ruffles down both sides. Oh, the pinning and ironing, offering both stabbing and burning to the occupational hazards of this project. Like I don’t already have enough cuts and burns from cooking! And Sheila the serger was not unscathed either; due to my neglect she ran over a big pin and her needles were badly misaligned, so I was forced to change needles and went through all the bad times of re-threading like I used to do.

Next came the STOO-PID yo-yo’s. I never have liked yo-yo’s. I almost inadvertently roll my eyes at the making of yo-yo’s in any context.  But, this called for yo-yo’s so I got out my heretofore unused Clover yo-yo making gizmo and made the 16 that the directions called for. It said to sew a yo-yo at the intersection of the border strips (however, when I looked at the assembly diagram there were 24 intersections, not 16.  I thought it might look even stupider with only 16–like, where would I decide to put the 16?)  And, since this is a tie-quilt, the yo-yo junctions serving as the ties that keep the batting, top, and bottom together, I thought it needed those extra 8 to keep the layers from separating. I used high-loft crib-size batting (the only thing I broke down and bought for the project, with a 40% off coupon, of course) so it would have a comforter-like feel and weight to it.

serging edges of yo-yo

copius amount of lint piled up

And, did I mention how messy this project was? Piles of lint, scraps, thread, seam allowances, wisps of batting everywhere.

The whole room needs a good cleaning now.

And the STOOPID yo-yo’s had to be hand-stitched through

all layers, or course. I used heavy hand-quilting thread. With

such a large surface to negotiate, I poked the needle through

my fingertips A LOT! That’s why I keep YELLING in this post,

because it hurts to type!

finished (whew!) quilt

backing and box-pleat ruffle

This is the finished (whew!) quilt.

The design was by Lorine Mason. Pretty design, really, but fast and easy? Not really!

If only it had the original blue border strips; however, it now looks much more girlie than I had envisioned. Especially with the flowery-looking yo-yo’s.

But this is my postaweek2011 remnant project of the week!

Fleecy Remnants

I am a magnet for fleece remnants. Why? Because remnants at JoAnn’s are half the price of off-the-bolt fabric. Normally a remnant, to JoAnn personnel, is less than a yard. But for fleece and home dec fabric, a remnant can be more than a yard. A yard of fleece can make a pretty decent size little blanket. Or a number of other things! I see these on the remnant rack and somehow they follow me home.

This remnant project is a girl’s poncho, size medium (7 – 8), which calls for a yard and a half of fabric. Woo hoo! I had a blue piece that was 1.33 yards and TWO remnants of the pink fleece fabric, which has embroidered and sequinned butterfly motifs all over it, and is very soft and cuddly, but not really appropriate for a baby outfit–because of the sequins. If you wonder about the fabric amounts (required 1.5 vs 1.33); yes, I did cut the collars on the cross-grain but they seem to have adequate stretch and look ok.

embroidered and sequinned butterfly

Just so happened, I had purchased some corduroy from JoAnn in whimsical prints to make jumpers for the girls. These ponchos will coordinate beautifully (I think) with the jumpers and give them a different, warm but not confining like a snow suit, cover-up.

The pattern was Easy McCall’s M6196 and boy was it easy! It included some variations and hand warmers.

It only gets really cold here in Florida a few days a year, so we don’t need tons of heavy winter duds to wear.

These ponchos were cut and sewn in a matter of minutes, actually.  I did both of them in a day, with a lot of lollygagging around in between.

pink poncho

blue poncho

embellished with groovy felt buttons!

Girlie Baby Gator Funsie Onesie

I’ve been wanting to make this for a long time, but I was afraid of my serger! The project instructions can be found in Simple Serger Sewing , edited by Julie Johnson, published by House of White Birches, page 21 article “Funsie Onesie” by Lorine Mason. The same author, Lorine Mason, did a Valentine version of it, published in the magazine Sewing Savvy, January 2009, entitled “Baby Valentine.”

The remnant and other components

 

My take on this project started with a yard of pink and white girlie-gator collegiate fabric, leftover from another project. Add to that a onesie (I made three for this project) and a package of bias tape in a color coordinated with the fabric. I had a package I had gotten from a yard sale, with a date of 1978 on the back! It says on the back: “Does your child sew? Send 3 labels and $1.00 for a generous package of clippings of Wright’s Trimmings for doll’s clothes. Allow about 4-6 weeks for delivery. Include zip code with address.” Love it!!!! Those were the good old days, huh?

I used about half a yard to make the skirts for 3 onesies, so I have a little bit of the pink gator fabric left for a future project. I made two  size 6 months and one 24 months. For the older baby’s outfit, I sewed on a rosebud at the neckline in lieu of the three buttons along the tummy. Reasons: I only had 6 buttons, and I figured the older baby would be more likely to wrench off the buttons than the young baby, who is still struggling with how to use her various appendages.

6 month size, with buttons

24-month size, with rosette

A word for the penny pincher: I bought a litter of onesies on a collective hanger when I visited Lakeland, at the Burlington Coat Factory. The off brand, SpaSilk, onesies are less than half the price of Carter’s onesies, tag price $9.99 for five vs $24.00 for four. And the SpaSilk ones even came in colors and patterns, and were very soft. No word on the durability of each after the usual use and abuse. Hey, where can I find a baby model?

I think, upon studying the larger one, that the skirt could be made longer and attached further down on the garment. This finished onesie, with the 5″ wide ruffle (the engineer spouse refers to it as a flap),  would be cute with a pair of pink trousers. Perhaps if the ruffle was 10″ wide, it would look more like a skirt.  So this is my first remnant redo of 2011 and my first postaweek project!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick gift

“Nana, will you make me a gator blanket?”

Returning to the subject of serging with Sheila the serger, I just did not know how easy and amazing it is to do things with this machine. Another project in the book Quick and Easy Sewing with your Serger by Becky Hanson, I saw the Cozy Blanket with Overlock Binding and decided to just serge the edges of a collegiate-pattern fleece remnant I had, that would be just the size for a little munchkin to cover up with on these cold nights. Voila, it was just minutes from thought to reality.

Gator blanket ready for snuggling

The project in the book had rounded corners, but I serged straight ones. I didn’t even have to cut the selvages, the machine cut off the seam allowances as I sewed.

Of course, to everyone who has a serger and knows how to use it, this is so elementary I feel like Forrest Gump blogging about it. I guess, like him, I’m not smart. I should change the inflection of my name to Jen-nay.

Had the opportunity to go with a group and help serve lunch at a homeless shelter that is run by the Catholic church.  We went on a tour and saw the main lobby area, which was full of bedding piled up. It’s so cold, they put up cots in the lobby and hand out pillows and blankets, which are piled up the next morning and washed, every day. There’s a tremendous amount of work to be done in that place. They serve one meal a day to about 160 people, and breakfast to those who have stayed overnight in the shelter. Lots of restaurants and stores donate food but it all has to be prepared and then cleaned up. If volunteers don’t show up, sometimes all the meal prep, serving, and clean up is done by four people. I think of our sweet grandkids snuggling up with a fleecy, warm gator blankie, perhaps smiling angelically about clever Nana and her quick gift :).  Then I think about those folks out on the street bundled up in hand-me-downs, hoping that someone’s cast-off charity items will help them stay warm til the cold snap eases off for a little while. You can look in their eyes, they all have a story somewhere in there.

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