Sunday, July 17, 2016

I love when packages come!

Which may be fairly frequent these days, I have to admit.  This one came in less than 48 hours entirely across the country, Washington state to the Delaware shore.  I've actually been waiting more than a year for it though, because it had to be developed and machined and produced, etc, etc.

This is the brand new "Fine Line Clarity Ruler Foot" from Accents in Design and as of this writing isn't even up on their website yet.  This is the low shank and retails for $24. or about half of what it's cheapest competitor is charging.  Additionally, it's the only clear one that I know of, made out of some of that super tough poly-carb kind of plastic that lasts for years and years but allows you to get a clear view of where you are stitching.  It is designed for using rulers for free motion quilting on domestic machines, something only long arm machines could do until just the past couple of years.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about and think it might be interesting, I'd recommend looking at some videos on You tube. If you'd like some in-depth information about most of the many brands of rulers and feet as well as tips on how to do this kind of quilting, I'd send you over to Amy's blog.  I don't get any free stuff or money from the people at Accents, but I'm very happy with their stuff  and can't imagine liking any other products better.

I've used some kind of darning foot for free motion quilting and embroidery a couple of decades now.  When I first started playing I tried it with a hoop and no foot as well as using this strange cone shaped spring that sprung up and down to "hoop" the fabric.  I have had minor success with the hoop (and if you want to see some amazing stuff, look at  "machine thread painting" on You tube. The entire reason for the darning foot was to be able to move the fabric in any direction, sideways and diagonal included, without using a hoop.  I've read books by people who said it could be done without a foot, hoop, or any holding the fabric but if it weren't for (last link this post!)(and this guy is AMAZING!!!) P. Nosa I just wouldn't believe it.  For most of us, it is required to have enough tension held on the fabric by a hoop or a foot to allow the needle to pierce, pick up the bobbin thread, and come back up through the fabric without getting a snarly, ugly mess.  So, while I respect that it worked for some quilters to modify their darning foot to kind of skim rather than hop-

Presser foot down, needle down, the foot goes all the way to the needle plate and holds the fabric taut for stitch formation.  The spring covered bar has a lever sticking out, waiting for the needle screw to come back up when the needle rises...
and the needle rising will lift that lever up, causing the foot to lift, enabling the fabric to be moved in any direction in that fraction of time before the needle comes back down.  Feed dogs are lowered or covered for this operation. And the foot hops hops hops, requiring the operator to develop smooth  movements to get even stitch formation.

This ruler foot- no spring or lever. When foot is down it's a scant 1/8th inch from the bed and "skims" the quilt.  With feed dogs down, it allows for the "free motion" of fabric to be guided in any direction.  The smooth round sides allow it to butt against thick rulers, giving the quilter the ability to mix in smooth geometric designs with curvy free form without changing feet

My free motion improved dramatically the first time I used a darning foot and I was very leery of using a foot that didn't provide that taut hold for the stitch.  I also wear gloves enough at work nursing and REFUSE to wear them sewing, and I bought the supreme slider and it ate some Japan finish off two of my vintage machines so I don't want to use that.  I worried that a skimming, non hopping foot would not release the fabric as well in the movement/needle up phase as well as holding it down in the down phase. And that I'd have to put on the stinkin' gloves and saran wrap my machine beds or something.  I was just hatin' the idea of change.  Alas, the Accents folks went and made their foot non-hopping. So I bought two, in case I had to do some cutting and welding.

The first stitches were not a complete snarly mess, and there was some glide going on.  Not real pretty, but

with some upper tension adjustment and a little relaxation, the skipped stitches were resolved.  I couldn't play long, it's the middle of my work week and it took me an hour to find batteries for the camera (never did find the blasted charger and rechargables) and then I started loosing eye glasses and washers and feet and proceeded to dumping drinks of lemonade and coffee

Of course, some of this was happening...

All in all, I'm confident that the foot will be very useful in helping me keep a uniform distance in quilting lines with the ruler. The round shape is going to make movement smoother than the oval of my hopper.  I don't think all brands of rulers play nice with all kinds of feet- see how thick the ruler above is- that's why I could use that generic darning foot with it without it sliding on top. For a couple of years.  A GENERIC HOPING DARNING FOOT DID NOT COST ME EXPENSIVE REPAIR, because I have the previous confidence free motion quilting that I wasn't going to try and stitch through a ruler, and if somehow I did manage to shove that ruler under the foot and cause the needle to slam onto it- some shove indeed- I can repair my own timing on my 201, without needing any parts or tools I don't have.  If you have a $4000. machine, get the brand specific hunert dollar foot.  If you have a vintage singer, kenmore, etc, an all metal tank and know you can read how to do repairs, try one ruler with your hopping foot to see if you like it.  OK, moving on to -

As far as garment sewing- I should have known better than challenge myself with a marathon.  I have made progress, but kind of sewed backwards.  The shorts I wanted the most are the only ones not done because I still haven't drafted and cut out the pocket bags. I put in the invisible zipper and then jumped over to a tank for some reason, probably because it was all cut out and looking like a fast and easy.  I'm still new to the serger and it was nice sewing those slinky, thin jersey seams on it.  The seam binding bogged me down.  I ripped and sewed again, ripped again and starched, then tried paper under the fabric.  No go.  It is a wobbly, sad looking thing awaiting some stretch lace to come along and cover raw edges that I will cut. Honestly I should chunk it now, as I tried it on and that fabric loves every lump, bump, and bulge on me, yikes! It's pj's though, so it can stay a while.

I finished drawstring shorts and this racer back tank out of this more stable 100% cotton knit with ribbing used for edging.  It fits well and is sewn nicely enough.  I bullied my daughter into taking pics at the end of the day indoors and they are 100% not publishable.  Just wow.  I have a tripod, I'm going to have to set up some where to take photos of myself because she is not going to work out as a blog photographer.  She is fired. She wanted to be.

So I hope you can imagine this  cute, crisp cotton as a well sewn pair of drawstring with pocket jammie shorts. If you can't, they were only drawstring jammie shorts. I am itching to get on to some swimsuit sewing, last time I tried that was 1979! I also promised a bee-keeper lady at the farmer's market an apron sewn from bee fabric in trade for some honey, because I'm an idiot.  Oh, let me! 

I'm thinking I have 2 machines and a serger set up in my room- why can't I quilt and garment sew at the same time?