Archive for October, 2008

As with the season, a shift is occurring.

I recently purchased a new serger, to replace my 20 something year old Bernina, which is just about retired. The decision to get this new machine was based around my feeling to do some more exploratory, creative sewing and to branch out a bit from the focus I have been so steadily on. My sewing skills and steadiness of focus and of hand, have improved dramatically over the last few months. And while I love what I am doing,  perhaps I am ready for a new challenge.

In my search for a new machine, I knew I wanted a few specific stitch capabilities – first and foremost. I also had a sense, from reading many many reviews and looking at many many machines, that I wanted a certain level of solidity and quality, as well as ease of use – meaning not a lot of arduous foot changing and adjusting for the functions I thought I would use a lot. I decided on a Juki 654. Juki is a brand which I am familiar with, and I have been impressed with the quality. I went for a newer (though not the newest) model, even though it was a couple hundred dollars more than similar older models. The newest model did not seem as though it would make sewing more fun or functional to justify the extra cost.

I spent some time today learning it’s different stitches and was able to master a number of them. All of the ones shown below were done with the standard foot and with only a few simple changes of tension and threading. I am very impressed with this machine so far, and have only just started to explore it’s capabilities. It is relatively very quiet and runs very smooth and sound. It creates beautiful stitches and is built very well.

I know it was a supreme challenge to choose a sewing machine and an equally supreme challenge to choose a serger, so if any sewers out there have any questions, feel free to ask!

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I bought a new cutting mat a few months ago. This mat is the mat of mats… the green kind – you know – self-healing, 3×4 feet, gridded to the max. I read up on this beforehand, as I am somewhat chemical sensitive. A number of people mentioned “the smell” but most said it was either no big deal or if it was, it off-gassed in a while and it was fine.

I spent days, and maybe weeks, researching and deciding before ordering. I took a chance. This seemed like “the best mat.” I spent about $100… It arrived… I was excited… and it was so stinky it sat out in the rain for 3 days. Being that it was a $100 investment, I was unhappy to leave it out there, but it was totally intolerable to have it in the house.

When I finally brought it in, that little hanger hole they provide came in very handy. I hung it on a screw my boyfriend put up in the closet for another week or so – setting it outside now and then for further airing. Then, at last, I finally went to use it… it was amazing, cutting is efficient, edges are so clean and precision straight. My rotary cutter is set up to cut many layers at a time and less fabric is wasted if you plan well. …By 10 minutes or so, my glands are swelling. 20 minutes or so and my cheeks and ears are getting hot and my neck is sore. 30-40 minutes and I have a headache for the rest of the night and most of the following day. Long story short….. I really really just need to ditch it.

Now that I needed to re-think this… I recalled this other kind of mat, which I had seen in the local quilt store. The mat was whitish in color and was used on the cutting counter at the quilt store (which somehow, for some unknown reason, seemed inferior to the green mat). This mat also gave me the feeling of being more inert (which I somehow IGNORED amongst the excitement of “the mat of mats”). I started to investigate the white mat further… Interestingly enough, somewhere in the midst of all this, the quilt store owner got rid of her white mat (it was old) and bought one of these heinous green mats! which on my first visit following it’s arrival, made my eardrums itch and I could barely breathe.

After talking with the quilt store owner again, on a later visit, she said she felt neither mat was either better or worse in function (they do a LOT of cutting in that store). In a way, she almost seemed to miss that white mat… she even mentioned “the smell” of the new green mat.

Anyway, this white one, which is semi-translucent and sort of milky white, is not branded and looks to be the material they make those flexible food cutting boards with. It seems pretty much inert and has no smell that I have noticed (except the smell of the store itself, which should air off in a day or so I hope!). We drove 40 miles to get it and it happened to be on sale for $39.95 : ) It does it’s job well, cost less than half the price and is not making me ill. It is like a breath of fresh air.

What I really want to share is, efficient sewing does not have to mean getting totally toxed out. It is just not worth it. This green mat is awful. Awful awful awful. And I would offer you a deal on it because I need to get rid of mine, but that wouldn’t be right, now would it. If I can find an online link of where to find this white mat, I will add it to this post…

My next step is to get in touch with Alvin, the manufacturer. I hope to return this. This kind of toxic waste should not even be on the market.

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What is it:

The EcoEtsy team (of which I am happily a part of!) is putting on a non-profit, benefit auction in support of The Nature Conservancy. There will be 60 individual items, each of which are handmade and are eco friendly in some way – whether they be made from recycled, upcycled, repurposed, organic or otherwise eco friendly materials.

When is it:

Auction Start Date: October 20th, 2008
Auction End Date: October 30th, 2008

How to participate: Bids can be placed by sending an email to promo@ecoetsy.com with your bid amount. Regular updates will be posted here as well as here.

Get the full details of this event here.

Learn more about The Nature Conservancy and what this incredible organization is up to.

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This is a favorite in our house. This hemp silk blend fabric is luxuriously soft and quite substantial. Pure and simple. It is undyed, unbleached and goes with everything. The textured cream and earthy beige herringbone weave is sophisticated, yet neutral and friendly. It is warm and touchable. Very rarely do you find a fabric of such fine quality.

We think it’s perfect for winter, so we thought we would re-introduce you : )

Available in the shop. Expect to see it come forth in new forms, very soon.

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I have been busy busy completing an order for a store in New York. If any of you are near Hudson, in upstate New York, visit KOSA! You will find a nice selection of infusion bags in some great fall/winter colors. And, it just so happens that this store is just a few hops south of where my mom grew up. I still have a few relatives up there (everyone else came out west!). I am hoping they will visit and even take some photos for me… (yes, this is a hint Mark and Colleen : )

I wish the lighting had been better as I did have fun photographing this, but not as much fun editing the images. They seem a bit muddy, to me. We have a big tropical storm making it’s way here. Balmy, cloudy, rainy and with wind to come. I’m getting off topic though…

Throughout the week I will be posting new items in my shop, including some new Pintucked bags, if all goes well.

(PS For those of you who have been patiently waiting, yes there WILL be a choosing of the name for this bag. I promise!)

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