My sewing machines and projects:
After some early years with a mediocre machine that caused me no end of trouble, I finally took the plunge on a truly high-quality sewing machine, a Bernina Activa 240, and I haven’t looked back. I’ve made nearly every bag for bag classes on this little machine, and even a set of quilted slipcovers for some large wingback chairs and a loveseat with cushions and also some very heavy, lined drapes – which should tell you a good deal about how tough a Bernina machine is! Here’s a pic of my little workhorse:
I bought this in 2007 at my local Bernina dealer, The Presser Foot (www.thepresserfoot.com) , in Longmont Colorado. I love everybody who works there and sews there – the staff are helpful and friendly, and have taught me so much! Between the reliability and sturdiness of my 240 and the incredible staff at my local Bernina sewing machine store, I have become a loyal Bernina-only sewing machine enthusiast!
In 2015 I decided to up my game and bought a second, larger machine, both for its expanded sewing abilities and for its embroidery function. Here’s the Bernina 880 (the pic is slightly tilted because I was trying to keep my reflection out of the photo):
And here’s the embroidery module (in this pic I have it set on a shelf, safe and out of the way, since I last used the big machine for sewing only):
The 240 is the machine I take to sewing classes, and is my go-to machine for many quick sew jobs. It is computerized, but is mostly mechanical, goes up to a standard 5 mm width stitch, and takes a standard-size bobbin. The 880 is the “Big Machine”, able to work up to a 9 mm width stitch, uses a specialty-sized bobbin, and is considerably more computerized (so I can create and save custom stitches, for example), and more powerful. The embroidery module hooks into the end of the sewing base on the 880, and is fully computerized. I do take the 880 and its embroidery module to embroidery classes, but I’ll admit it’s all a beast to haul around. I can load designs directly onto the big machine from a USB stick, or I can hook it up to a computer to load designs, and I can modify design sizes and proportions to fit different projects by manipulating them directly in the machine or in software on a computer. Purchased designs and most free designs (embroidery or in-the-hoop quilting) are copyrighted by the companies that make them, and so none of those will be on any products I make for my store, but I might talk about them here on personal use projects. Using software, I can also make my own designs (or digitize my own artwork) to use on personal projects or on for my products for sale. Now in 2019, I have to admit, now that I’ve had my big 880 machine for some years, I’ve been thinking about adding yet another machine to my studio, one with more sewing space and capabilities than my little 240, but a little easier to pack up and haul around to classes than my 880 – plus, I frequently have multiple projects going, and if I have my 880 stitching out an embroidery or quilting project, I like to also be working on a sewing project, but sometimes my trusty little 240 doesn’t have the full features or throat space that I’d like.
Speaking of my projects, in my sewing blog I’ll write about bags I’ve made in classes, embroidery and/or quilting projects I’m working on, my newest venture into garment sewing and repurposing, or other assorted projects that I’ve made for personal use. Though I haven’t spent much time writing up blog posts about what I do in my studio, I actually regularly take bag-making classes and machine embroidery classes at The Presser Foot, as well as other classes here and there on new (to me) techniques or on using different equipment. I also make sure to attend every major sewing workshop offered through The Presser Foot as I can, because I always learn so much and gain more confidence using the many fantastic features on my sewing machines. None of the projects I feature in this learning blog are for sale, as they mostly use both copyrighted patterns or designs and (usually) copyrighted fabrics. For projects using published patterns, I’ll include pattern info so those interested can track down the patterns to purchase if they want to make their own. I have come up with a couple of my own very simple bag patterns, which I’ve gradually been refining and might include in my blogging at some point.
I consider myself to be always in a state of learning, and am grateful to all the highly accomplished, highly experienced sewists out there who have taught me sewing tips and tricks and skills, introduced me to various handy tools and equipment, and who have inspired me to take risks with my projects. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!