Hi! I have completed the second video in my 3 part series on Embellished Wool Applique by Machine and it can be found on my YouTube Channel here. This part demonstrates the decorative stitch embellishment that is inspired by hand embroidery on the folk art applique pieces and how to make it work the best.
I prepared this second pdf handout to use with this part 2 video for you to download and print out.
If you haven’t yet downloaded the pattern and part 1 video please go to my blog post here about video 1. There you will find the handouts and the blog itself provides a supply list with links to the products.
So please enjoy this second part video and subscribe to my YouTube if you haven’t yet. It will help me if you do and if you don’t know it is basically the same as “follow” on other sites. I hope you have fun just watching, but it would be really fun if you decided to make a little piece of your own or save this set of blogs, handouts, and videos for a future project.
I would really love to have your comments. This is the first of some exciting planned video studies with accompanying handouts. In the future, I will sell most of my handouts and potential patterns for a small amount from my new website’s store, but the videos will remain free.
I also have every hope of getting better and more relaxed in front of the camera as I present my techniques and projects. It’s decidedly a new set of skills for me.
Also, if you have a question about something related to the project, please put it either in the comments on this blog or on my YouTube video comments section (you have to be logged in to Google/YouTube to be able to do that). I will endeavor to answer them.
Thanks to everyone who has been so encouraging for me on this new adventure.
First of all, I am celebrating today, because my youngest son David just released his latest novel (click on the book to find it)! Congratulations to him.
Setting up for free motion quilting or thread play
While my communiques (blogs, vlogs, and YouTube videos) are intended for everyone who wants to play, regardless of their machines, sometimes I also address some quick specifics for working on Berninas. Please don’t stop reading when you come across those if you are not a Bernina owner, because you might find some of what I say interesting anyway.
I have three Berninas: a Bernina Q20 sitdown longarm, a Bernina 880 Plus, and a Bernina 350. I also have a simple older BabyLock serger. I am truly grateful to have this collection of machines I obtained over the years through trade ups, gifts, and so forth. This is a wonderful set of machines for me to play with here in my studio. It’s like playing inside my own wonderland with favorite toys. But it does require practice, sometimes research, testing tools and techniques, and (gasp!) reading my manuals to get the most from this stable of machines. So I want to share what I have learned from this.
Setting Up For Free Motion
The setup for free motion on these machines is relatively simple.
If you don’t have a Bernina Stitch Regulator (BSR attachment) or want to work without it, simply put on a darning or quilting foot like foot #73, #24, #29 or #9. Drop your feed dogs.
If you have a Bernina stitch regulator attachment that works on your machine, attach it and set it for your chosen BSR mode. BSR1 runs smoothly and constantly, idling with a little stitching, which is great for smooth free motion quilting and free motion embroidery. The idling allows you to stitch several stitches at the corner of a sharp turn in addition, which makes a nice turn. BSR2 stops when you stop and starts when you start, so you may prefer this setting. I find with this attachment I have to use a slightly shorter stitch length and not sew too fast for best results.
One of the interesting things you can do with this BSR attachment, is free motion zig zag with stitch regulation, which can’t be done on a sitdown longarm with a stitch regulator. This can provide some unique thread play opportunities and looks.
For most domestic machines you probably won’t need to make any adjustment in tension from the default for normal threads. For specialty threads, however, you may need to lower or raise the top tension to accommodate specialty thread weights and types. It’s a good idea to do a test using similar fabrics and write down your changes before working on your project piece.
When doing free motion it helps a lot to have a slick supporting surface, so I use a silicone mat, such as a Supreme Slider. I tape mine down with that indispensable studio tool blue painters tape because I have ruined more than one mat by stitching it to the back of my project. I have repaired them a bit with clear packing tape if they aren’t too badly torn. Yes, I know the stickiness returns if you rinse the back, but you have to remember to do that periodically and also the heavier and larger your quilt the more likely it is to dis-attach from the table and get caught in the stitching.
A queen sized Supreme Slider taped down with blue painters tape at my old Bernina 830 LE (I traded it for my 880 Plus last year). This works well and is easy to remove when you need to.
Setting Up the Q20 and the Q16 sitdown longarms
These machines are built for free motion quilting and free motion thread work and truly you can dive right in just as they are. But there are a few things that are helpful to know to make your free motion stitching work better. Note that I have had my Q20 now for nearly five years and I love it.
Free motion is always better when the supporting base is slick and the fabric can slide easily. There are some very large silicone mats available for these machines, where you cut the square carefully around the BSR/Bobbin square area (whatever do you call that?!!!).
Some people like using these extra large silicone mats with their sitdowns, I don’t have one. I spray the table before each project with Sullivan’s silicone spray, and wipe it fully dry with a soft cloth or paper towel. But before I spray it, I cover the BSR/Bobbin area under the needle and the vent area at the back of the machine with blue painter’s tape to prevent the spray from going down into the machine works. Alternatively, you can spray into the cloth and wipe the table but I think you get a little less silicone on the table that way (not scientific, just an opinion). From personal experience I know the spray works very well.
These machines have two BSRs built in which provide excellent stitch regulation.
BSR1 constantly runs and has a speed setting to make it cruise along easily at the pace you like. I use it for most of my free motion quilting and all of my free motion embroidery. I like to start off with a relatively slow “idle” speed of 250 to 300 and will raise that if I need to. The machine will run very fast if you want it to.
BSR2 stops when you stop and starts when you start. I use this mostly for ruler work.
BSR3 is a basting stitch with multiple stitch lengths to choose from. I use it a lot for larger quilts. I will spray baste the sandwich and then do some large segments of thread basting. This is especially good for your masterpiece or show quilting that will take a long time just to keep everything in good placement.
Then there is manual setting that does not engage the BSR, of course, but it does have a speed control on it so you can set it at a comfortable pace for you. I like this for micro-quilting, but I don’t use it for much else. It is smooth running and quieter and makes it easy to do those tiny bubbles for instance, but I still prefer the BSRs for most of my quilting. It’s a personal preference. Some people prefer this mode for everything, but if you are new to the machine, I urge you to try the BSRs first. They are wonderful.
I often get the question about what thread will the Berninas use. All my Berninas will work well with almost any good quality thread. I just have to be sure I have the right needle, tensions, stitch length, and the speeds set up right for that.
Keeping notes on how you set things up is always helpful, but these machines have four savable programs for various thread settings, which is really nice. Once you set it all up like you like it, you can save it and even tell it what thread and needle it is for in the naming of the programs.
I like to use the kickstart feature, which allows me to free motion stitch/quilt with a very steady power feed. This helps me relax while stitching and eliminates most stitch skips and the like, without my foot on the pedal. This is because the pedal is basically on/off and if you don’t keep your foot fully down it might skip a stitch, though not usually.
For using the kickstart, get your BSR mode chosen and make sure you are all set up, then kick the pedal at the heel and the machine will sew until you press the pedal at the front to stop it. I love it. You don’t have to concentrate on anything other then where you place your stitching once you get used to it. Here’s a youtube with cute fluffy slippers on using it:
And last, but not least be sure to set your bobbin tension to match your thread in the bobbin. I use mostly Superior Bottom Line in my bobbin…even mostly their prewound M sized bobbins, which are Bottom Line…and set my tension to 180 using the Towa Guage that comes with the machine. The Bernina default setting is 220, but I find you really need to adjust per thread size. If you somehow didn’t get one, be sure your dealer gives you one. It’s not like a domestic…it’s a real longarm.
Sew happy everyone! Have fun in your studio. I hope you found this helpful. I will be posting my next video probably this weekend. Cheers.
My youngest son David, the author who shares my home with me and helps me in so many ways, will release a brand new book within a few days. It’s the third book in his Law of Swords fantasy series. I have read it and it’s terrific. Truly, I think each book he writes is better than the last one and this one is no exception.
I am so proud and excited about this because David had to overcome a series of major difficulties (starting with a computer crash that somehow took both his regular data and all his backups in one event that included years of research, databases, and even bunches of writing. Even the very skilled professional data recoverers were unable to get the data back. He now has a new and better computer setup with all kinds of backups so it is unlikely to happen again. This and a handful of other obstacles has delayed his books for several years beyond the expected.
Now, though, he is rapidly producing what I am sure are wonderful writings right and left. There is this book, as well as a requested short story for an anthology are written and nearly out the door, and he is diligently working hard on the second book in his sci-fi space series too with plans of completing that one by the end of the year. Please wish him well on these endeavors. He is now a full time author without a secondary job so success is imperative. I’ll let you know when the new one is actually available for purchase.
With a great deal of assistance from my oldest son Ken, the second in my video series about embellished wool applique by machine, is likely to be published early next week (there will be a blog for that one with a second downloadable handout).
I ask you please to subscribe to my YouTube channel if you haven’t already. This is a great help to me with YouTube. I need a minimum of 1000 subscribers and lots and lots of views before I can sign up for the small monetary return to support this work. If you don’t know, “subscribe” is like “follow” on other sites and doesn’t sign you up for anything more than letting you know the videos are there. You have to be logged on to Google or YouTube to subscribe and then to make a comment there or ask a question.
Ken is doing the video editing at least until I get my new computer (which has been delayed “because of Covid”). I hope it gets shipped within a day or so, but in the meantime Ken is editing and publishing my videos for me. He is so professional at this. I will have to try really hard to match that level when I finally get my computer and take back a lot of this work. The third video will probably be out about two weeks later. It is my plan to publish a video about once every two or three weeks for now.
In case you are wondering, all on my own I “film” the parts where I am at the machine and you only see my hands, and Ken helps with the part where you see my face. Ken has, in fact, set it up so I can eventually do that part of the filming too, but I really like having his directing and filming with his fancy camera. He does, however, have a job and a family. LOL But he came to my rescue with microphones and brackets and lights and instructions and editing.
My Idea for the Next Project
Ok. The wool applique set will be done soon, so what am I going to do next? Well, I have a long list of techniques and projects that I am considering on presenting in 2021. Only a few are wool based. The videos on my YouTube site are and will be continuously free. However, I am planning on offering downloadable workbooks and sometimes patterns to go with them for a reasonably low price (on my new website shop) that you can purchase to use with the videos. This will hopefully help underpin the video work, which so far has required considerable investment.
Sew I have given it a lot of thought and decided the next subject will be “Trees”. This will be really fun, but I leave it to you to wonder…what will BJ do with trees? Later…I’ll tell you later.
Sew happy everyone! Have fun in your studio and try making/learning something new that makes you stretch every now and then.
This sewing machine is like the one I remember Mom having when I started to sew.
For me, sewing and quilting is and has been for most of my life far more than a hobby.
My earliest memories of sewing are from when my family lived in Paducah, Kentucky (interesting considering Paducah’s position in the quilt world today!). My Dad was working with Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) on their power plant there. I clearly remember sitting beside my mother at her pretty black Singer sewing machine when I was very young. She was telling me how important it was to clean and oil your machine and keep a good fresh needle in it. That was my first lesson that I never forgot. She was a true expert “seamstress” and we shared the love of sewing throughout her life.
Mom and me in May 1967. We are both wearing clothes we made.
We made most of our own clothes together for as long as I lived at home. With her guidance, I made some of my more complex clothing like tailored wool suits, overcoats, and stylish clothing of all types. She made my prom dresses and accompanying gorgeous wraps and I made the bags.
We never did quilt together. I don’t know if she ever quilted. She made some lovely stuffed dolls and stuffed toys..not just rag dolls, sails for the sailboat, tents, in addition to the gorgeous clothes at couture level. I still have the Victorian doll that she made and I dressed so long ago. The jacket and skirt satin fabric is sun faded, but I love it. I miss her.
Throughout my life, it has been a key skill for me to be able to sew. It enabled me to make not only my own work clothes when I went out to work, but my husband’s too. I made Marvin suits and a gorgeous Harris Tweed jacket he loved. I even made him a tuxedo from tropical wool with silk satin lapels using a stylish Bill Blass pattern from Vogue that required substantial resizing (he was a big tall guy). It turned out well and he wore that for years especially when he sang. He got many compliments on it. I, of course, made things for my boys too…clothes, overcoats, backpacks, pup tents, bedroom curtains, and so forth.
Until I went out to work and got so busy I had little time to sew, I never had to wear anything that wasn’t stylish and well fitted when I went out because I could make what I wanted and alter what I bought to fit right. Even then, I was able to make things fit better. It is my hope to keep on sewing to the end of my life, Mostly, however, that will probably be making quilted fabric art with the occasional clothing item.
I still do a small amount of clothes sewing, but I work from home now as a fabric artist, and don’t sing with semi-professional choral groups anymore or even often go to concerts. So my work uniform is jeans and a simple shirt or sweater. I have a closet full of nice clothes that are timeless in style and I mostly manage to keep well maintained so they fit me. I have been slowly loosing weight so I do need to do some altering now. I made myself a new overcoat from my stash last year with a faux fur collar. It’s wonderful. I also made my youngest son a rather nice faux leather jacket.
Making quilted art seemed a natural progression for me towards the end of my government career and I decided to retire a little earlier than I might have otherwise to be a full time fabric artist. I started quilting about a year after Marvin died at my sweet daughter-in-law’s suggestion. It helped me cope a lot and still does.
I have occasionally made a cuddle quilt, but creating quilted art for the wall or the occasional piece of wearable art, is really exciting for me. I took multiple art classes in both high school and college, and have taken private art lessons in addition, practiced on my own, and have my fourth year certificate in Japanese Ikebana I obtained in Japan. Ikebana is also an art form that inspires some of my wall quilts.
I particularly love to see how far I can push the sewing boundaries working with the power of my machines, the great advances in threads, notions, and fabrics, and even working with leather or fur (mostly faux unless it is recycled), cork, fibers, trims, and beads.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I have launched my YouTube video channel and am also writing workbooks and patterns to go along with them. I want you to know that what I am teaching is based on a solid background of study and experience and hope you will join me in many of the projects I will be presenting.
Fabric art is a great way to decorate your home or cheer up your office–wherever it is–celebrate the seasons or family landmark events, help you deal with the more difficult times of life, and fill you with joy and peace. You can express things through fabric art…praise, thanksgiving, love…This is true even if you get a little frustrated over problems you will encounter and sometimes have to walk away, or throw the project in the back of your storage area for a “time out.”
The fact is, though, that figuring out how to overcome problems you encounter in your projects can help you keep a sharp mind and give you a real satisfaction when done. Experimenting with new techniques, materials, and designs adds to the whole enjoyment.
Sew happy everyone! Have fun in your studios. Subscribe to my YouTube channel so you will know when a new video arrives.