Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My New Sewing Machine

My Brother LX-2500 has served me well over the past 2 1/2 years as I dipped my toe into the world of sewing and quilting, but the more I worked on it, the more I started to notice its flaws. The thread tension would sometimes change for no good reason, leaving me with trails of loose or tight stitches I would have to pull out and redo. There's not a lot of space to push a large quilt through. The presser foot stopped lifting as high as it should, so I'd have to hold it in place when I needed it in the "up" position. And finally, it was very, very loud. 

As a beginner's machine, I could not recommend it highly enough. It has everything you need without any frills, and for occasional sewing or mending, it would be perfect. But this past fall, I knew I wanted to step up to a better machine. So, come Christmas, I knew what I would be asking for.

I did quite a bit of research. All of the sewing bloggers I read use Janomes, Berninas, or Jukis, it seems. But those are expensive (in the $1000-2000 range), and they also have a different layout than what I'm used to. I don't sew every day, and sometimes I even let a few weeks go by without sewing, so spending more than a few hundred dollars on a machine seemed excessive -- even if it would be a gift! 

Since I had a good experience with Brother, I set my sights on one of their computerized models, the CS6000i. It has the same layout as my old machine, but much more space to work with. There's even a snap-on table that extends your workspace. The digital display is easy to use and there are 60-some stitches. (I've only tried a handful, so far.) The automatic needle-threader was a selling point for me. It also came with a cover and several feet. Best of all, I found it on sale on Amazon in the range of $150, so I keep reminding my dad that I saved him a bunch money on my Christmas gift.

(A bonus peek at my Liberty quilt in progress!)
So far, it's been great. The tension is much more consistent, and so is the stitch length. It runs the fabric through much more smoothly than it's predecessor. And it's quiet! 

My first project was a pillow for my college friend Ryan's new son, Arthur. I used some Michael Miller fabric I had on hand and I machine-appliqued an "A" on the front. It came together in just a couple of hours. I hope the little man likes it!
(Ignore the rogue thread...)

Then, I made an apron for myself with some of the Joel Dewberry's Bungalow fabric my mom got me for Christmas. I used an apron of my dad's as a template, then I pretty much winged it! I mentally split the apron into a top and bottom, then I arranged the fat quarters to fit the separate parts. I lined the top piece and the bottom piece to give it some weight. For each piece, I pinned reverse sides of the outer fabric and lining fabric together, stitched around three sides (leaving the bottom of the top and the top of the bottom open), then flipped the piece right-side out. As I attached the lining for the top, I also attached the neck strap (whose fabric is from the very first quilt I made!). I added a pocket to the bottom. Then I connected everything with the middle band, and topstitched around each of the fabric pieces to give it more of a finished look. 

I decided to extend the ties at the last minute and had run out of that fabric, so I improvised. I wasn't 100% pleased with the top, so I added the extra strip of fabric, which I think brings it all together. When you look at the back, you can see how piecemeal it is, but I figure it doesn't really matter, since it's just for me.

It's big -- the sides wrap around my back, so they're almost touching. However, I'm a messy cook, so that's probably a good thing. I'm very happy with it. I like how crazy it looks with so may fabrics and colors. Maybe it will make me want to cook more often! 

Next up: Laundry Bags, Take 2