This week we celebrated Star Wars day on May the 4th (be with you). You have to understand, my youngest son is a sci-fi/fantasy writer and my oldest son and his family are all really interested in science fiction, so they probably got it from me. It made me think…what would it be like to have a sewing droid. Then I began to wonder if I already have one. Hahahah. After all, working with droids appears to be both wonderful and frustrating at times, just as today’s advanced machines are. And I don’t think they HAVE to be able to walk or roll from their location. They just have to do what they are dedicated and programed to do with efficiency.
When I first got my Bernina 880 plus, I thought it was “just” an advanced sewing machine. I named her Odette, after Odette Uettschi-Gegauf, who was in charge of Bernina from 1959 to 1988, during the time so many major advances were made in Bernina machines. I have had it now for just about two years and have recently taken some time to learn more about what it can do in preparation for a project I am planning. This project involves testing the limits of making exquisite hand-look embroidery (inspired by antique, highly skilled, and royal hand embroidery) to come out of my machines using both in-the-hoop and out-of-the hoop stitching, and stitching with my other two machines as well. I knew it had a lot of power and a lot of functionality, but I hadn’t really learned how to use all the advanced special functions with real confidence. Sew I have been exploring and experimenting with Odette when I had time.
To me, the most important thing any sewing tool or machine should do well is to make a beautiful stitch, sew with enough power to be able to make bags, jeans, and even sails, as well as handle the most delicate fabrics in a single layer. It is well if it will do both straight stitches and zig-zag stitches, and drop the feed dogs for free motion stitching. With these functions alone, you can make nearly anything and do a vast array of embellishment work as well. Odette has really beautiful stitches in every capacity I have used so far.
I have a little Bernina 350 that I bought as a travel machine, but I find it very useful for other things as well…it does piecing exceedingly accurately in particular, and serves as a back up if I need to take Odette to the spa. I also use it to do needle punch with that attachment. It does have an extremely small harp space, though, but I did manage to make a few quilts with it nevertheless. Sew if this is all you want, you probably don’t need, or may not even want, one of the multi-thousand dollar advanced machines on the market today and should put good money in a solid functional machine. I would say one of the biggies are very nice to have, though, but if you have one, you need to spend the time to learn how to use it no matter how many years you have used a sewing machine. That is imperative.
For any machine, especially the droids (LOL), you need to keep it cleaned and oiled, carefully threaded, and make sure to use the right needles, the right tension settings, the best threads, and the right feet for your project or you can get really frustrated, and your machine (or droid) will fuss at you by breaking your threads, making a thread nest in the bobbin area, or refusing to sew at all. I would guess that about 97 or greater percent of the problems a person has with their machine is brought about by not paying attention to these golden rules. All of us, at times, break these rules because we are tired, or in a hurry, or just not thinking about it. So don’t! (I’m talking to myself here).
Earlier today I was watching YouTube videos on multi-directional stitching that Odette will do. It uses the feed dogs to move not only back and forth, but side to side. I knew it has that function, but I haven’t used it much. Mostly I have used the decorative stitches that require its use because they are very wide, but I haven’t really used the ability to take nearly any of its stitches and have it sew them in any direction around the hole plate. Some of the videos on YouTube make it seem extremely interesting. Plus you can set up some of these stitches in concert with other stitches and sew a highly-interesting wide border that would be beautiful on quilt or a table cloth, or a little girl’s pretty dress. Then, you can move such a set of stitches into the embroidery side and use them in the hoop, if you want. I think I will have to try these things for a more practical use than just play.
Odette has a function that enables you to design your own decorative stitch. I played around with it a little, but not used it much. This function seems extremely possible for my “near hand embroidery” projects. All these things take time, of course, and testing. Testing is so important. You can even move these designs into the embroidery side for in-the-hoop accuracy. Then you can take any decorative stitch and have it stitch around a shape!
One of the most amazing things I learned recently in Bernina’s set of four “Embrace the Rhythm of Your 880” webinars they put out a few months back, is that the B880 dual feed mechanism has its own motor that allows you to set the speed slower or faster than the regular feed dog. It is the only Berninas that have this advantage, by the way. So if you are working on two kinds of fabric, for instance, like a fluffy fabric on one side and a plain cotton on the other, you can set it to move the fluffy fabric at a different speed to account for the differences. Together with the presser foot pressure adjustment, it allows you to sew your minky-lined jacket together without stretching, unwanted gathering, or other problems. I’m not sure how I will use this function, since I am not planning on a minky-backed quilt anytime soon, but perhaps it will come into play in some of my ideas of stuffed embroidery…not sure, but worth some experimentation.
Sew, do you have a sewing droid and not know it? I suspect most of the major brands top of the line have many functions that might make it qualify. This is why it is important to talk to your machines, since it may make them happier. LOL
Sew happy everyone and have fun in your studio!