Friday, August 14, 2009

Pre-wash or Not?

I generally pre-wash all my fabrics before I use them in a project. Above you see a pillowcase made from a Connecting Threads kit last fall and the one I completed recently. I pre-washed the fabrics in the rose and green version. Since they shifted some in the process, I had to square up and trim off the serged edges. As you can see, there was a considerable amount lost to the prep process.

I will take measurements and see what happens to the more recent pillowcase made from a Connecting Threads kit. Stay tuned.

Note: Test results are in. I washed and dried the pillowcase with a load of laundry. There was no shrinkage. The pillowcase was and is 30 inches long and 21.75 inches wide.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I splurged last week and bought kits from Fabric Depot and Connecting Threads. The kits from Connecting Threads arrived on Tuesday. I should have been cleaning house but the lovely fabric was too tempting. I made up one of the pillowcases. The fabric is just wonderful!! It is going to be hard to be satisfied with fabric from the local chain store!

he pillowcase is from the Backyard Friends kit and it is pictured with some pins that I wore in the '60's and a mug a friend gave me in college.

Connecting Threads sent enough that I could interchange the brown with the lime green. The green is now the narrow trim for both versions and I have a pillowcase reminiscent of my favorite colors in high school along with my favorite flower. I think this is going to be mine. I am always giving away the pillowcases that I make but not this one.

Midori, the Japanese New Home head in my Singer cabinet, did the honors. She has to earn her keep if she lives on the main floor. I wanted to enter her in the Sustainable Living recycling contest on Saturday but DH won't be home to help me take her down to the farmers' market to display her. :(

If you are looking for instructions for the pillowcase, you will find a great tutorial for the same method in the Connecting Threads kit at With Heart and Hands. It is known as the magic or burrito style/technique. The seam for the band and accent strip are encased inside the band and then French seams are use to finish the rest. If you don't have a serger or just like professional looking construction methods, this is for you.

The band is cut 1/4 yard wide, the narrow trim is 1.5 inches wide, and the main body of the pillow case is 3/4 yard. I used 1/8 seams inside the French seams and 1/4 inch to encase them. Also, the seam allowance inside the band is 1/4 inch. I like to attach my narrow trim to the front side of the main body with a 1/8 inch seam first, then I fold the band to quarter mark it. I use the quarter marks to match the band when I attach it to the body with the attached narrow trim. Matching the quarter folds and pinning carefully prevents ripples and shifting.

Instructions for a pillowcase with serger finished seams can be found in the Tutorial Links in the right side bar of this blog. Have fun sewing and remember, pillowcases don't have to match your sheets. Make them for holidays, in honor of personal special occasions, and change them to suit your whims.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

More Lessons from the New Home 443

The 5 dollar lesson machine, a Janome 443 straight stitch machine with drop feed, a cool bobbin winder, and a cord and plug to the light was a pesky little beast. I thought after I got the machine cleaned up and lubricated, it would treadle nicely. Well, it did, silently and smoothly. BUT, it would not pick up the bobbin thread easily and if it did, it made birds' nests with the needle thread as if there were no tension on it. The tension worked perfectly, though.

Well, I went over to Yahoo on the Vintage Japanese list and asked what was the problem. Bill Holman suspected a bent cushion spring. Well, he was right but I never succeeded in getting both screws loose to change the cushion spring. Even after Bill suggested swiveling the cushion spring to help turn the screw. But, after swiveling the cushion spring out twice, I made two attempts to reshape it. On the second try, it was a good fit and the machine is now back together and sewing beautifully!! Considering the time I have in on this machine, it has become very pricey. ;)

I will treadle it for awhile in the Singer cabinet with a borrowed bobbin case. I might even make a quilt top on it. Since the machine is short shank side clamper, it will use common feet and accessories, then I will bring it down to the Portland TOGA where it goes to Emily if she can supply the correct bobbin case and a Singer cabinet.

Now, a name for this pleasant stitching machine. Since the machine is a Japanese New Home, two tone green in color, and now a "green" environmentally friendly treadler, she is Midori (Japanese in origin and meaning green).

Hmm, Midori Ito was a figure skater. Maybe this machine will become a graceful free motion quilter. But probably not in my house. But just to show you I can free motion, I free handed my name on a test strip of fabric I used for testing the stitch quality. I must admit, Midori is a charmer and she will be hard to give up.

The $5 Lesson Machine

On Saturday, DH and I went on an excursion down into eastern Oregon to ride the Wallowa Union Railroad tourist train. Of course I had to work in a junk store, yard sale, and antique store to check for machines. However, I don't seem blessed with the knack of finding machines easily so it becomes work, especially when it is over 100 degrees in the afternoon sun.

Driving through Imbler, OR. We spotted a church yard sale. It was pretty late in the day and there was an over abundance of clothing but I had hopes there was a SM that I could make into a hand crank for one of he 4-H families that would like one for their 6 year old.

Well, towards the end of my perusing, I was surprised to find a two-tone green Janome Streamliner model. I just recently converted one to a hand crank and it made a lovely one so I was excited. A guy overseeing the sale apologized for no foot controller but I just brushed it off and checked it out. It had heavy splotches of dust in places but it did turn reluctantly and the finish looked like it would clean up without any evidence of its past. Without the missing FC and the bobbin case (a pretty standard class 15), I figured I would offer 5 dollars. The guy was pleased and I carried my prize back to the car.

My efforts to locate another SM were not rewarded. I stopped in an antique store in LaGrande. I was pleased to find an older desk-top Boston pencil sharpener. DS wants one. This one is in excellent shape. The suction grip is still very strong and the blades are sharp. He will be pleased. For 8 dollars, it was only one third the cost of a new table-top model.

When I paid for the pencil sharpener, I asked the lady if she had any SM's. She said no but the thrift store a couple blocks over had just gotten one in. She described a Lotus or Singer Genie from the sounds of the case and warned me the shop closed in 20 minutes. We headed over and were disappointed to find that they had closed early. The store was locked and the sign in the window said closed but the hours on annother on the door indicated they should be open. Well, that was a bit of a downer to say the least.

On that note, we called it a day, got some gas and headed home. Feeling still a bit sorry for myself, we ate dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Milton-Freewater, OR, on our way into Walla Walla.

Well, now you want to know what the 5 dollar lesson is? Check the clutch knob on the handwheel!!! I easily noticed the motor mount but didn't even bother really looking at the handwheel, I just turned it. The shaft is totally different. I will take some pictures later. To say the least, I have a very nice class 15 head that will probably make a very nice free motion quilter and it has a nice little cord and plug that will work the light. I am intending on putting the head in my Singer cabinet for a bit and then maybe I will bring it down to the Portland TOGA. If I don't find a class 15 bobbin case, the person who wants it will have to supply it. All of my orphan cases have found very nice new homes. Pun intended because I have a couple of New Home Janome machines in the fleet. ;)

Oh, now my Sew Green activity needs to be edited. I need to add specific info on indicators for a standard Singer type shaft.