Thursday, July 24, 2014


When I took Mama B in for my second class on using it, I compared the sound of my machine to the sound of other machines in the class. I wasn't happy. Mama B sounded like she was clattering along, and the other machines just purred. The instructor also stated that she felt my machine needed oil. I oiled Mama B, but she still clattered along.

Home after class, I found a You Tube video on how to clean and oil my machine. Sara sounds like she's had a bit too much coffee, but the directions are good. I cleaned Mama B carefully and applied a drop of oil. Then I did a lot of boring straight sewing, and I oiled her frequently. Gradually, the clatter went away and Mama B began purring.

The 830's need regular oiling- only one drop at a time- but frequently. As instructed, I only use the official Bernina oil. The applicator doesn't leak, and for that alone, I would prefer it. As far as cost, I could care less. The oil came with the machine. By the time I use it up, I might have a new machine. A little goes a long way.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mama B and the Bobbin

I broke a needle while trying out Big Mama B's embroidery. While cleaning the bobbin area of metal fragments, I popped out the spring that helps to keep the bobbin in place. When I replaced it, I didn't do it right and the bobbin thread tension was far too tight.

Much frustration ensued. I knew it was something to do with how the bobbin was spinning, or not spinning, and I kept cleaning non-existent metal fragments out, removing, and replacing the bobbin. Sometimes, the spring would pop out again, I'd put it back, and the problem would not go away.

This is the (slightly dusty) spring. It is not in the bobbin case where it should be.

In this picture, the tip of the stylus is touching the spring. The spring is in place and works correctly.

It all ended when I finally popped the spring into the correct place by accident, as I was cleaning. Thank goodness, I was paying attention and noticed that my finger nudged it 'just so' and it popped into place. I then removed and replaced it a couple times more, to learn exactly what it was that I'd done. It must be lined up correctly, pointing in the right direction, and it doesn't take a lot of pressure to put it in place. It really just pops right in if you know the trick. Tension problem solved!

FWIW, checking how the bobbin is threaded in an 830 is, how shall I say it? Annoying. That's it, I'll call it annoying. After lots and lots of practice, several you-tube videos, one-on-one training from a Bernina tech, and a minor hissy fit I got it down to a mirror in one hand and the thread in the other. Why Bernina didn't attach a mirror to the inside of the door, I'll never know.

The arrow is pointing to the white thread from the bobbin. It's coming out from under the spring that applies the right tension that is to the right of the thread. Even getting down on the floor under the machine, there is no view of the bobbin. Trust me on that, OK? If you have exceptional hearing and/or sensitive fingertips, you can hear and/or feel the thread pop into place. Then the mirror is not needed.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Big Mama Bernina

That's what I named my Bernina 830LE. I even programmed it into the start up screen.

When I brought Big Mama home, I put her on top of my sewing table. I raised my sewing chair to the highest position and it worked. But I prefer to have my sewing machines recessed in the table, to give me a huge, flat working surface. (My son and his girlfriend gave me the "Frozen" poster. It makes us smile, and that is a very valuable thing.)

When I took off the embroidery attachment and tried to lower Mama B into the table, I discovered that she is so heavy, the lift won't support her. She slid right down, out of sight. Rather like the wicked witch melting in 'The Wizard of Oz'. So, Mama B stayed up top. I wanted to sew, not solve engineering issues.

Using the slide on table, I was able to get a lot of progress made on the free motion quilting project I had going. I tried the BSR (Bernina Stitch Regulator), but it blocks my view while sewing in one direction. Sigh.  If I can't see where I'm going, I can't get there.

I went to my tried and true #15 foot. I have used that foot for other quilts and I'm familiar with it. I use the sides of the foot to help me make lines that are evenly spaced.

I know, it doesn't look like there's a lot of difference compared to the BSR foot, but it makes a difference to me.

Monday, July 21, 2014

I Refuse!

I'm reading through the directions for my Mariner's Compass quilt. I'm going to add stripes of color to accent some of the shapes. In order to do this, I just cut off a strip from the finished pieces and replace what I cut off with a strip of the accent fabric. In theory, it makes a great deal of sense.

In practice, it wastes even more fabric. Did you catch the word 'finished' in the above paragraph? Why am I finishing a section, only to hack a chunk of it off? My plan is to make the section smaller in the first place, and then add my accent fabric. This will reduce the wasted fabric to a seam allowance, not several inches. 

My mother didn't raise a fool.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How A Musing

The muse has returned (she never really left) and I've been working on finishing up the sashing on Bud's quilt. I've only got two more rows to do. I'll probably be done with the sashing tomorrow. Then I need to decide on what I'm going to do for the borders. The ideal pattern will be a 3" by 4" repeat with a specific corner design. Not feathers, as they are not masculine, according to the spousal unit.

Yesterday, I took a class on making my sewing machine do some of the fun things that it can do. I learned how to calibrate the buttonhole foot after doing a software update. On the 830, I can change things that require a visit to the repair shop for other machines. On the more expensive machines, the owners can do more and on the lesser models, tech intervention is required. I like having more control over my machine.

Monday, I started reverse engineering a pattern for a liner to go into a tote bag. It will have pockets and will button to the handles, so things don't get lost in the bottom of the tote. This is the kind of thing that could be printed up as a pattern and sold. If I were so inclined, which I am not. I simply enjoy creating things like that.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Now What?

After setting out on a contract, they hired my replacement after I'd worked there for 6.5 days. Just lucky, I guess. Anyway, I'm back at home, waiting for the offers to come pouring in again. My resume is out there, but it's a holiday weekend.

My Bernina is idle for the moment. I spent time working on Bud's quilt, I've set William's quilt aside for a while, and Ashley's tote bag is finished. I'm not in the mood to trace off the pattern for Josh's pajamas. My current list of projects does not include things for me. I did throw a small snit and embroidered a set of 6 napkins for the house. Not specifically for me, but nobody else in the house seems to take notice of things like that.

I've been creating order in my studio, since I don't feel like creating things. Eventually, I'll feel like creating things again. I'm not off on a quest to track down my muse. My muse isn't hiding, lost, or fled. I suppose she's on holiday weekend, too.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Speed Piecing

Quality takes time. I mentioned to one of the instructors that I know that I don't actually care for any 'speed piecing' techniques. She agreed that she didn't care for them either. I gave myself a mental high five. When it gets right down to it, most of the speed techniques are either a variation of chain sewing, or they are a stack and whack technique for cutting a whole lot of fabric just a bit crooked in one pass.

Chain sewing is supposed to save time and thread. I use up about 3-4" of thread each time I stop and start a seam. 4" of thread out of an 875 yard spool? That I got on sale for 40% off? Even the best quality cotton thread degrades when stored and should not be kept for years and years. I use it or toss it out.  Save time?  I'm not running my sewing machine any faster. In theory, I'm saving time by not stopping to clip threads. They don't clip themselves. I just spend time after I sew, clipping threads.

And 'stack and whack' cutting? I've never done it. The name alone made me shudder and stay away. What part of 'whack' leads anyone to think about accuracy? 'Nuff said.

There is the final, Zen consideration. If I like to sew and enjoy spending my time sewing, why would I want to seek out ways to spend less time sewing?