Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue.

Posts tagged ‘Bernina’

Let’s Talk Singer

I wonder sometimes, how our grandmothers found the time to make such fantastical hand stitched quilts, when I often find myself, with all the modern conveniences, unable to accomplish much of anything.  Busy with a full time job, grandchildren, and church activities, I just wanted to sit this week out.  I picked up a book to read and surfed through my social media sites.  I do have a head cold, which may be impacting my choices.   But, this week held little chance of accomplishing much stitching.  I only prepared a few pieces for basting and took them on a weekend trip to keep occupied in the car.  That’s the extent of my stitching.

So, in order to entertain my readers, I am highlighting another favorite quilter topic: sewing machines.  Who among us quilters doesn’t love to check out the latest machines or find antiques worth collecting.  Although few in number, my collection is unique.  All of my older machines are Singer brand.

I grew up sewing on a Singer.  When I got married, my husband purchased me a sewing machine for our first Christmas.  It was a portable Singer that now sits inside a sewing machine cabinet; and my eldest granddaughter is learning to sew on it.


sewing the pillow together

My husband also purchased me a Singer Featherweight as a 25th anniversary gift.  It’s a 1951 centennial edition.  It stitches nice, but I haven’t used is so much.


I learned to love sewing from my Grandma Smith.  She sewed clothes and other things; some quilts. My Mom didn’t really have an interest, but my Grandma was very creative.  She taught my older sister to knit and me to crochet.  We both started 4H together and began sewing clothing. I still remember walking through the fabric section of Newberry’s, a local variety store, touching the fabric and dreaming what I would stitch.  The Singer we used at home was an older machine that Grandma gave us to use, while she purchased herself a new one.  Later, she purchased a Singer Athena 2000, the first electronic sewing machine on the market back in 1975.  I acquired the Athena from my Grandma’s estate, along with the beautiful cabinet she purchased with the machine.  Although I’ve only done a little bit of sewing on it, it has a lot of sentimental value.

Athena2000 & case

Several years ago, I came across a Singer treadle at a yard sale.  I had to purchase it to round out my collection.  It sits in a corner of the front room as an ornamental, conversation piece.

Treadle & Cabinet

I know a quilter that likes to refurbish antique machines and sew on them.  I really have no interest in using the treadle.  I may use the other sewing machines from time to time, but I would rather do my sewing on my Bernina virtuosa 155.  I do everything on this machine, including free motion quilting.  Could I afford it, I would upgrade to the latest version.  But, my wish list is to purchase a Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen.

Happy Stitching…on whatever sewing machine you own.



Just Checking In

As Monday rolled around this week, I realized that I wouldn’t have much to say about my quilting progress.  At first, I wanted to rush into my sewing room and complete something, anything, so that I could say something about it.  Then, I realized that part of this process is being real about what I have been able to accomplish.

Just as in life, there are times that our hobbies take a back seat to more important things: God, family, yoga, career, day-to-day tasks.  Really, only those that make a career of quilting should get into their sewing studios every day.  As much as I would like to, I know that there are more important things in life than quilting.  Gasp!  How dare I suggest that we could spend too much time in our sewing rooms.  I do not find true fulfillment in doing just quilting.  In my not so distant past, I’ve immersed myself into my quilting to the detriment of my marriage, family, finances, and friendships.  I find myself much more satisfied with my quilting, when the rest of my life is balanced.

So, checking in today, I completed very little.  I appliqued some stems on my Craftsy class project on Friday night.  Sunday, I hand-quilted two rows of stitching around one of the center blocks of the liberated solids quilt.  Although this isn’t much, it is progress.  I will take it.

Just so I don’t leave you without some eye candy, I’ll share some pictures of my sewing room.  I could call it a studio, but it really is just a bedroom overflowing with sewing and quilting paraphernalia.

Whether your space is at the dining room table, like early in my marriage; a corner space or a well lit studio; your sewing space and mine is a haven, a place to retreat from everyday cares and create.  I hope you find time to relax and sew something this week.  Meet me back next time when I check in with more of my weekly progress on finishing up WIPs and UFOs.

Disclaimer: These photos were taken a few years ago after reorganizing my sewing & quilting space.  The room has overflowed out the door and into the next room.  It will probably never look this organized again.

Until next time…


Progress on Current Projects

With my Bernina home, I was able to make some progress on my current stitching projects. I’m behind on my National Quilting Association Block of the Month. Today, I finished the May star block, a Crazy Star, for the Galaxy quilt. The pattern was designed by Pam Seip, certified NQA teacher.


The pattern is a paper foundation pieced block. Now, paper piecing is not a technique that I enjoy, but I did complete the pattern as designed. Over the years, I figured out a way to make foundation paper pieced blocks, but find paper piecing to be tedious with unnecessary extra steps. The results for this star are not significant compared to a liberated star piecing technique I learned several years ago. Gwen Marston’s liberated piecing techniques produce lovely blocks in less time and without any paper. I would much rather make my stars like this.

Liberated Stars

Liberated Stars

I really like Gwen’s liberated piecing techniques. I have taken several classes from her and made not a few quilts using them. Here are two more liberated quilts – String blocks and Liberated Baskets.

String blocks - quilt on top

String blocks – quilt on top

Liberated Baskets - challenge quilt with Michigan Quilt Network

Liberated Baskets – challenge quilt with Michigan Quilt Network

I also pieced the back for the baby quilt, Dresdan Zoo, that my sister and I have been making for a great-niece. My sister had an orange and yellow leopard print fabric in her stash. She added a small print yellow that reads well as a solid. I had completed a  free Craftsy class by Elizabeth Hartman on pieced backs and used the information to put this backing together. Neither piece of fabric was large enough for the backing and just seaming them together would have placed a seam too close to one edge. I measured the necessary dimensions and determined an appropriate place to add in a strip of the yellow fabric. I also added a piece the same distance down from the top, to give an offset cross shape.

Pieced Backing

If you’re wondering how my Bernina looks, here are a couple of pics.

Bernina virtuosa 155

Bernina virtuosa 155

Repaired machine base

The stainless steel base of the machine had been damaged and was separated about 3/16-inch above the machine base on the front, left corner. The area was raised just enough to make an uneven surface, causing minor issues with piecing and free-motion quilting. I am so glad that I finally got it fixed. I was concerned that the part would be expensive and it was only $23 plus labor. I understand that the repairman had a difficult time removing the damaged part, but was able to get it done and glue down the new piece. The machine looks new again.

Now, I need to get back to my Rose of Sharon applique blocks. My deadline for the quilt study is fast approaching and with limited stitching time, I need to spend as much on this quilt as I can.

Happy Stitching!

My Bernina has Come Home

My Bernina finally came home after a three week stint for a cleaning and repair. In the past, three weeks without my machine would have been devastating, but I managed this time without any problems. It seems that I have been doing a lot of hand sewing. See my posts about my Rose of Sharon study quilt HERE and HERE.

The quilt shop had five other machines ahead of mine to clean and repair, so I had to leave mine knowing that they wouldn’t get to it for a few days. I also knew that they would need to repair the throat plate area, so a wait for the part delayed the work further. I picked up my baby on Saturday and brought her home. She looks so much better and I expect she sews fine. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to take her for a spin. Our granddaughter had a sleepover at Grandma & Grandpas house and today was a BBQ with family for Father’s Day. The weather is lovely outside and I am enjoying the warm, breezy afternoon as I write this blog post on my deck.

I always find it interesting to note the amount of time I spent sewing on my Bernina since the last cleaning. However, I was surprised to find that I hadn’t done as much machine stitching as in previous years. I purchased my Bernina virtuosa 155  March 27, 2004 at the International Quilt Festival in Chicago. My first cleaning was completed 11/24/06 and I had put 55 hours of sewtime on the machine. The next cleaning was 7/23/08 and I had 83 hours of sewtime. This was followed by a cleaning 9/9/09 with 27 hours of sewtime. I was averaging 33 hours of sewing annually. This time, I hadn’t had my machine in for a cleaning in five years. I really thought it had been less time. I was surprised that there was only 48 hours of sewtime on the machine, which averages less than 10 hours sewtime annually. What’s up with that!

I know that I have been doing a lot of sewing, so I wonder what it is that has shortened my sewtime. Some of this is the type of sewing I am doing. As I said earlier, I am doing a lot more hand sewing. As you can see in several of my recent posts, I am doing a lot of hand applique. I started an Applique Club with my local guild three years ago and made two of these projects by hand applique. I also have several other hand projects in the works – applique, redwork, and hand quilting. But, I still thought that I had done more sewing on my machine than 10 hours.

I began thinking it over and realized that there has been a lot going on in the last five years that has kept me from my Bernina. In these five years, three grandchildren have been born and they take precedence in my life. I haven’t been attending retreats, preferring to stay at home and do stitching with my sisters. We’ve been getting together every month or so for a sewing day. We travel to each other’s house and I usually take a cutting project or hand sewing when I travel, so I don’t have to pack up my machine. You can read about many of these sister sewing days at Modern Sue’s Previous Musings under the Sisters tag. I also started blogging four years ago and that certainly takes away from sewtime. My husband also reminded me that I have had many physical limitations over the last couple of years that has interfered with my ability to sew. I put my Bernina aside last March to undergo a shoulder repair and only began doing my machine sewing  again at Christmas time. I’ve also had surgery on my thyroid gland in 2012 and my right great toe in 2009. Maybe not as limiting as the shoulder repair, but certainly cutting into sewtime.

So, what does all this mean. Well, probably that I need to find more time to sew. Or, maybe I’ve discovered that sewing and quilting aren’t the most important aspects of my life. Relationships are more important than a piece of cloth, thread and a needle. Sewing and quilting are what I do to create things for my family and friends. It is an extension of me, but not all that I am. I may not be the fastest stitcher at a retreat, or the guild member that makes the most quilts to show & tell, or the family member that always has a homemade gift-wait, that one is me! I want to be remembered for being a loving and caring wife, mom, grandma, sister, aunt, friend, or you fill in the blank. My quilts are just an extension of that love and care.

Hopefully everyone had a wonderful Father’s Day. I enjoyed a BBQ dinner with my family. But, tonight is sewtime!


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