Sunday, 8 July 2012

Every 39 Years ...

Back in 1973, after my first year of university, I bought a used White sewing machine at Al's Sewing Machine Sales and Service on Mitton St. in Sarnia.
I used my income tax refund and paid $43, if I recall correctly. I also bought a used Filter Queen vacuum cleaner there in 1986. Al's is still in business today.
The White weighed a ton. It had forward, reverse and zigzag stitches and came with a regular presser foot and a zipper foot. It was a real workhorse machine and could do pretty much anything I needed it to do. I only had to have it repaired once (the bobbin wasn't winding properly) and only had it serviced a couple of times in the intervening years.

I went through sewing phases on and off over the next 39 years. I did some quilting, sewed some of my own clothes while I was in university, made gifts, etc. In the last few years,  I have used it mostly to repair garments and shorten Skip's pants.

Recently, however, I have become rather interested in sewing again. Mo inspired me when she bought a new sewing machine and started building a fabric stash and I've been building a stash of my own. I had some intermittent tension issues with the White but got them solved by re-threading the machine and bobbin on the advice of my friend, Dianne. Where I hit an impasse was in contemplation of machine quilting the houndstooth baby quilt. I didn't have a walking foot for the White and frankly, I wanted to get a newer machine with a few more features.

I've been pricing Janome, Baby Lock and Bernina machines. Last week I spoke to a Bernina repairer and he recommended the Bernina B 215. It's an entry level to the higher end machines. But the price was several hundred dollars more than I wanted to pay. In my usual fashion, I went in search of a 'deal'. Then, fortuitously, I received an email from The Quilt Store (and The Yarn Store) in Newmarket that they were having a sale on their Bernina sewing machines.

Dianne and I went up there yesterday and when I inquired about the B 215, they didn't have any in stock but they did have the 220 AND it was $600 less than listed on their website and $400 less than the lowest price I was quoted for the B 215. So I bought it! It is practically the same machine as the 230 and 240. The reason it is so affordable is that many of the accessories are extra and they come with the more expensive machines in the series. I purchased a 1/4" foot but once I got the machine home, I realized I could just move the needle over a bit and get a 1/4" seam using the regular presser foot. I'm going to keep the 1/4" foot, though. I really do need a walking foot, though and bought one on online which should arrive sometime in the next couple of weeks. I'm also going to have to buy a quilting table and I haven't been able to find one online so will have to go to the local Bernina dealer to get one.
The 220 has 60 stitches plus a basic alphabet, needle up and down feature, metal hook bobbin like my old White, and a needle threader. That last feature is a godsend for my  middle-aging eyes.

It also weighs significantly less than the old machine and would definitely be portable enough to take on say, an extended winter holiday.

Hopefully it'll be 39 more years before I need another one.

While I wait for the walking foot to come in, I cut out and started piecing the Falling into Autumn quilt that I bought from Connecting Threads a few months back.
Today I started sewing the strips together to make the blocks. They're then trimmed 8 1/2" square.
The stem is appliqued on before the blocks are sewn together.

I'm really liking the new (much quieter!)  machine.

In weaving news, I finished warping the loom at Windreach Farm last Wednesday in the blistering heat. Karen helped me move the loom out onto the deck where at least a breeze was apparent from time to time.
I'm pretty slow but methodically got the warp threaded through the heddles and then sleyed the reed.
I discovered a couple of mistakes which I was able to fix without too much trouble before I tied the ends onto the front beam.We then set up the outer two pedals for plain weaving and the inner 4 pedals for twill.
This is only the second time I've warped a loom like this (not rigid heddle) so I was pretty stoked that it all worked out OK. Now that I've shared the thimbleful of knowledge that I have gleaned from my two weaving lessons, the volunteers can demonstrate weaving, thus completing the sheep to shawl cycle right there at the farm.

Last night, I finished my dishcloth sampler project on the loom I have borrowed from Paula. I hemstitched the ends and cut it off the loom. I then folded each end over and sewed it down, thus securing the warp threads.I'm all set for Show and Tell on Monday at spinning.
In addition to the three that I finished on Friday night, I used a basketweave stitch on the fourth one. Basically, I did a plain weave but ran the warp through twice before changing shafts. I  made sure to enter over the floating end and exit under it.My edges are getting a lot more even and smooth.
I had enough on the warp left to do one more so I just finished up the remainder of the weft yarn (Bernat Cottontots) with lightly beaten plain weave.
Once the loom is warped, the weaving goes very quickly. I really like the fabric created by the worsted weight cotton. The warp only took about 112 yards (2 yd x 56 ends) and the weft only took about 90 yards (8.5" wide x 9 picks per inch, 42.5" long all divided by 36).

It seems that a lot of yarn is used for the warp and there is some waste but the weft doesn't use nearly as much yarn as one would think. 

This cotton worsted would  make a really nice bathmat using the plain weave or basketweave and a nice thick one using the twill weave. Unless I want to piece squares together for a bath mat, I'll just have to get a wider loom.

1 comment:

  1. You are amazing Geri.......quilting, weaving, knitting!