Monthly Archives: September, 2013

All good on the sewing machine front

As you all know, I’ve been having issues with my sewing machine ever since Mr Boy and Mimi Bubba decided to chew their way through my foot pedal cable. I can still sew, using the stop/start button, but this is tricky when I need both hands to guide fabric, and in any case all this button pressing was starting to drive me a bit nuts.

Then RR had the genius idea of taking my machine into the little electric shop in town, to see if they could fix it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I thought, so off I toddled to see what they could do.

The shop is actually a little bit scary. It only appears to be open about 3 hours a day, and has shelves covered with things like old kettles and toasters, teddy bears, and (bizarrely) a very furry, slightly worn dog bed. It smells a bit like cabbage and old peoples’ homes, with a faint whiff of indoor cat thrown in. And the man who owns it is rather odd, and has a strong accent. A very strong accent. I may be pretty much fluent in French, but even so it was rather tricky to understand him. Especially as he went all technical on me. Now I’m not really the technical type – according to RR, I believe that everything is powered by friendly little electricity pixies who live in the plug sockets in the walls, and he’s probably not too far from the truth there! But the slightly-odd-strongly-accented shop owner seemed to be saying that he would do what he could, leave the pedal with him and come back tomorrow.

Tomorrow duly dawned and I went to collect my pedal. He’d stripped it back to the wire, soldered it, and taped it back up again, for the princely sum of 10 CHF.

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So I took it home, plugged it in and started sewing a test piece of fabric. It worked! Woo hoo! My jubilation lasted only a few seconds, though, until I took my foot off the pedal, at which point I realised that it wouldn’t stop sewing. It just kept on going. I pumped the pedal – nothing. Panic set in, as I frantically tried to unplug the foot pedal from the machine. Sadly it appeared I was Back To Square One and Sewing-By-Pressing The Stop/Start Button, whilst Mr Boy stretched out unconcernedly behind my machine, dreaming of what else he can destroy…

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It was at this point that I did what I should have done right at the beginning, I rang up the incredibly helpful Monsieur Stecker at Ets Stecker in Belgium, and ordered a shiny new foot pedal. Apparently it will be delivered in time for Patchwork in the Peaks next weekend, this means I will actually be able to sew properly whilst on my quilt retreat, which is always a bonus…

Whilst I was on the phone, though, I did happen to make some enquiries about the brand spanking new Janome 15000, and a possible trade-in of my current machine.  And I was delighted to learn that, contrary to what I had always believed, my 11000 SE has an automatic dual voltage function built in. So I can plug in a standard Swiss or European cable and it will work just fine. What’s more, M. Stecker refused to sell me the specific Janome European cable on the grounds that I could pick one up in any electrical store for a couple of euros, rather than paying over the odds for him to send me a branded one …

So good news all round! I’m getting a new foot pedal. It looks like it’s going to be easier than I’d originally thought to sell or trade in my current machine. I no longer need to lug the blasted transformer around with me. And with such great customer service, I’m pretty sure I know where I’ll be going when it’s time to upgrade my machine…

All’s good on the sewing machine front. Thanks, Monsieur Stecker, for making my day 🙂

Some finishes – and some works in progress

Well, after last week’s quilting frenzy, and with my sewing activities now somewhat curtailed by my non-working foot pedal, as well as a romantic weekend away in Prague, I have very little to report for WIP Wednesday this week. Like next to nothing, actually…

But before the dastardly kitties crunched, munched and gnawed their way through the foot pedal cable, and in between packing, travelling, sightseeing and drinking yummy Czech beer, I did manage to get a few things done.

Firstly, I cut strips for the last of my Broken Herringbone blocks for the QAL, and started to piece them. When I manage to get them finished, I will have 16 blocks of loveliness to make a very colourful quilt top 🙂 Watch this space!

I finished binding my pink and purple quilt for the quilt show – and I’ve been busy trying to think up a name for it. It’s mainly stars, so I think I might call it Stargazing, but I don’t have to label it and hand it in for another week, so this may well change before then! The quilt’s so big that I don’t have enough room on the floor to lay it out and photograph, so a proper photo will have to wait until the quilt show when it will be hanging up, but here it is, draped over the back of a chair, to give an idea of the colours and fabrics.

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And finally, I finished up the binding on my red and pink triangles quilt. But before I managed to finish it, this happened…

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… And it happened because my calculations for the binding length were wrong (I was never any good at maths…) Fortunately I had just enough fabric left over to plug the gap, but I did say some Very Bad Words at the time. Mr Boy and Mimi Bubba were quite shocked!

I made this quilt because a friend of mine asked me to show her how. She wanted to make a quilt for her baby, and she fell in love with this pattern. Of course I had to try it out first, to make sure I showed her properly (any excuse to make a new quilt, huh?!) Once her’s is finished, I’ll be posting some photos of her fabulous work – it’s utterly beautiful! She may never have quilted before, but she seems to be a natural!

In the meantime, mine is now finished, quilted and bound – here it is in all its girly pinky-red glory. I hope you like it as much as I do!

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So that’s it for another week’s sewing – hopefully next week will be a little more productive!

Linking up to Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday… why not hop on over too to take a look?

Oh dear, this could be expensive….

Last week a mini-catastrophe befell me. Or rather, it befell my lovely sewing machine. And I have a horrible feeling that it might turn out to be rather expensive…

I’d been having problems with my foot pedal for a while. Sometimes it wouldn’t stop sewing when I lifted my foot up, sometimes it wouldn’t start sewing when I pressed it down. But as it would invariably work on the second attempt, I just thought this was down to me, and all the problems I have with my feet. Maybe I wasn’t pressing down hard enough on the pedal to get started, or maybe my foot wasn’t lifted up enough to stop sewing. In any case, it still worked.

Then, last week, it kind of stopped working. And then worked only intermittently. Oh dear 😦

Upon closer investigation, I discovered this…

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Of course, given Mr Boy’s penchant for gnawing everything in sight, and Mimi Bubba’s habit of hiding herself away in the bottom of my sewing cabinet, I immediately suspected dastardly feline involvement and called them lots of Very Bad Names Indeed. However, expert opinion (RR) now has it that it was Actually My Fault and that the problem with the wire was caused by me Shutting It In The Sewing Cabinet Door… Hmmm, I remain to be convinced, but in any case by the time I had unplugged it, examined it closely, cursed out the kitties and plugged it in again, it had stopped working entirely.

Fortunately, my machine also has a start/stop button, so I can still sew at a pinch, but it’s not ideal, and it’s absolutely no good for free motion quilting. And I do have rather a lot of quilt tops to finish…

So I went online to search for a new footpedal. And discovered that Janome are about to release a brand new machine, the Memory Craft 15000. Now, I truly love my machine. She has always done everything I ever asked of her, and more besides. Until last week, I’d never once thought about replacing her. But OMG the spec of the new one!!! Bigger! Faster! Shinier! Oh my!!!! And you can control it remotely from an iPad! And if the kitties hadn’t munched their way through my foot pedal cable (yes, I’m still blaming them…), I would never have known about it!

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Of course, there’s no information anywhere about pricing (it’s not released until next week) – but you can bet your bottom dollar that it won’t come cheap… And it is, of course, a given that if I ever get to try it out I will Absolutely 100% Need One, and that to even be in with a shot at affording one I will have to sell or part exchange my current machine.

Which brings me to my little problem. We live in Switzerland (220V). My current machine (a beautiful Janome 11000SE) was bought when we lived in America (110V). Now, I don’t have a problem with running her off a little transformer, but I’m guessing that some people might, so I may well have a problem trading up for a zoomy new machine….

So here’s my dilemna – do I dare go in to look at one of the new 15000s, in the hope that I either win the lottery, or can find a (European) dealer who is happy to part-exchange against my wonderful (American) 11000? Or should I just resign myself to daydreaming about what might have been???

I think we all know the answer to that one 🙂

Mr. Boy and Mimi Bubba – you may well have a lot to answer for….

In a bit of a sewing frenzy

Gosh, what a busy couple of weeks! The summer seems (finally!) to be over (hooray!), and it’s been rather cold and rainy over here, so I’ve taken full advantage of the Englishness of the weather to finally knuckle down and work on some quilts. And boy, have I been doing some full-on sewing!

First up – block 3 of my Fat Quarter Shop Mystery Sampler quilt – I’m really trying to stay on top of this one! I love the fabric and I find myself loving the blocks too, even if baskets aren’t really my cup of tea. Here’s block 3 – now that it’s finished, I’m a quarter of the way through the quilt. Block 4 is now on its way, so watch this space!

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Next, I started putting together some blocks for the Molli Sparkles Broken Herringbone Quilt Along. I rummaged around in my stash and came across these Stonehenge 2 1/2″ strips, along with some textured black yardage.

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I can remember buying them on sale a while back, with some grand plan for them, but I’ve totally forgotten what it was, so they have now been re-allocated to this new project! And very beautiful they look too – a little like stained glass windows. I’ve put photos of all the blocks so far onto my brand-spanking-new Flickr page, but here are a few of my favourites,

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So far I’ve made 10 blocks – and I’m hoping to make at least another 6, which should get me a good sized lap quilt. They are scarily addictive! I’ve also been drooling over other peoples’ photos of their blocks, and am already planning this quilt in about another 10 colourways, if I ever find the time…

I even have some finishes to report! Firstly, I finally got round to quilting and binding my Ricky Tims Convergence quilt for the quilt show. I made this quilt top at the last Patchwork in the Peaks Quilt Retreat, and it’s been sitting in my cupboard for the past 6 months, waiting for me to pluck up the nerve to quilt it. And now it’s not only finished, but also the proud recipient of my first ever hanging sleeve (thanks to a great tutorial from Blue Moon River Quilts, and to the lovely Marianne who sent me the link!)

I’m calling the quilt Sakura, which is Japanese for cherry blossom. I love the way it turned out, and although it’s not perfect, my free motion quilting is getting better every quilt I make – maybe I’m deceiving myself, but by the end of this one, some of the flowers even started to look a bit like the cherry blossoms they were meant to be, rather than the mutant clover leaves they looked like at the beginning 🙂 All I need to do now is add the obligatory label, haul myself down to the DIY store to buy a wooden hanging rod – et voilà!

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While I was at it, I also whipped up a baby quilt for Mad Cousin Jude’s new baby boy, did some more work on my Challenge Quilt, started binding my mahoosive purple and pink stars quilt for the quilt show, made a stack more hexie flowers, and quilted my red triangles quilt. I even managed to fit in a weekend away at the Ste. Marie aux Mines quilt show, including a class with the wonderful Marti Michell, where I made this beauty… But more of that in a future post…

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Phew! What a lot of sewing! I have been busy, haven’t I?! Makes me quite exhausted just thinking about it all! Time for a cuppa, methinks, before getting back to the machine – 2 more new babies arrived this week, so no rest for the wicked, and all that 🙂

Linking up to Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.