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Hello from the High Desert Burner

Hello from the High Desert Burner

Old 05-29-2020, 08:40 AM
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Hi Everyone. I'm Caley, and live in 29 Palms, California. That means that for most of the year, we are living in scorching weather. I think our Winter lasts a couple of months.

I am really new to any kind of crafts thing. I spent 24 years in the US Air Force, and as a consequence, couldn't tote a lot around with me. So my sewing experience is either send things to a seamstress, or carefully use needle and thread to do my own sewing.

I dabbled in a few crocheted Afghans. But again, they weighed a lot, and had to give them as gifts, or sell them.

After the Air Force, I spent 10 years in civilian work, but again, didn't accumulate much, as I was just barely making ends meet, while trying to pay for my first house. Then I got disabled on the job. Apparently my hands didn't like the repetitive aspect of my last job, and I got a nasty type or arthritis in my hands.

And so, nearly 20 years after leaving my last job, I, for some reason, want to try my hands at a craft, quilting.

So I am starting from scratch. Based on what I have seen on YouTube videos, the main item needed is a sewing machine that is capable of handling the quilting material. I haven't a clue as to what I will need for a machine.
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I purchased a 45 mm rotary cutter. I already have a cutting pad.

And I have absolutely no threads or other things not mentioned above that will get me started. I'd appreciate any help given. Just to let Everyone know, I live in a very small house, 750 square feet, so I don't have a lot of room. My sewing corner will probably be in my living room. So I need to keep the amount of stuff to the basics.
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Old 05-29-2020, 09:47 AM
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Welcome to the board and to the wide world of quilting. I hope you enjoy your time with us.

You don't need much really for a sewing machine. Many of us love our vintage machines with a good steady straight stitch. For the last couple of months with Covid going on both my vintage and my expensive machines were down, and I was sewing on a bottom of the line Brother, probably cost less than $100 or close new. It did just fine to keep me going with masks and such but I'm glad to go up in power. I was surprised that my machine was so low end, there was on minimal ability to change the stitch length -- so I now know to mention that in addition to however many stitches they say you can make, look to see how short/long or wide/narrow they can go.

On the other hand, for several years I sewed on about a $300 Brother I got from Costco and it was a pretty good plastic machine. They aren't designed or meant for heavy lifetime use. My expensive machine is a Bernina, and it was given to me after about 10 years and 2 previous owners -- it retailed for closer to $10k, and still sells for $2-3k, the repair bill was $250 which is closer to what I'd usually be looking at to buy a machine, not repair it. But heck, this machine cost about as much as my car did and was definitely worth the repair. So there is no real answer except to start with get something you are comfortable with, both in price and operating features.

As far as the quilting, I am self taught, took me 40 years to get me to where I am today. Today we have the internet and videos even! But basically it boils down to we put two pieces of fabric together at a time and go from there. Eleanor Burns Quilt in a Day books are a good way to get started. Keep in mind that there is hand/eye coordination as well as design sense and physical material issues, so we don't usually start out with a marathon but some small baby steps.

If you were my beginning quilter, I'd start by turning over your mat so you cut on the side with no lines from the beginning. You use your ruler, not your mat lines!

And then I'd make you do what I call "driving lessons" sewing lots of boring strips together until you get a consistent 1/4" seam allowance (or whatever allowance you use, 1/4" is standard for directions and patterns).

Something like a "jelly roll race" would be driving lessons and result in an actual project. You can buy the precut strips even.
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Old 05-29-2020, 10:03 AM
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Welcome from Ontario, Canada. You already have the most important ingredient....A will to create! You will need your sewing machine, rotary cutter and mat that you already have and a few other things....thread, scissors, pins, fabric and at some point, batt and quilt batting. The YouTube videos from the Missouri Star Quilt co. are good tutorials on learning to piece. Have fun!
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Old 05-29-2020, 10:20 AM
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Welcome from Texas. I'm so glad you decided to join this board because it has lots of very helpful quilters who are full of ideas, knowledge, & encouragement.
You really don't need a lot to get started in the quilting world. A machine that sews a straight line (you don't need one with a lot of fancy stitches or bells & whistles) is a must if you don't plan to hand piece the fabric & hand quilt it. Garage sales are a good place for fabric purchases, machines (make sure it runs good), etc. If you have access to a thrift shop or Goodwill or Salvation Army store you might find fabric there. Recently one of our board members was making a denim quilt & went to the thrift shop & bought up a lot of men's jeans for her quilt. When buying clothing to cut up for use in your quilt remember to always buy the very largest sizes you can find. You get more bang for your bucks that way. You probably will be able to find thread at the thrift shops also but check it for strength. If you can easily break the thread with your hands it is probably on the way to being rotten. Don't buy it if it breaks easily.
Ask us questions....we love to help!

Last edited by osewme; 05-29-2020 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 05-29-2020, 10:44 AM
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Thanks so much for the nice welcomes.

The sewing machine is the most difficult thing for me to figure out. I don't see that well now that I am 70 and climbing. So, seeing machines that can thread the needle for you is something that is attractive. I've read that Singer has a problem with quality. Not sure what to think. My Mom had a Singer she loved,k but of course, the machine was made in the 50's, and built like a tank. I found this on Amazon: Brother XR9550PRW, which has that threading feature, and is computerized. It seems to have fairly good features, though I am not familiar with Brother Quality and reliability.

Is there a machine that doesn't use a bobbin for the thread under the base plate, but uses a normal thread roll? I find removing and installing the little bobbins very difficult on machines I have had a chance to use. It would be nice to just insert the thread in a hole and have the machine take it in and be ready to use. I guess they haven't done something like this. Don't know.

Guess I am really just wanting something easy for my bad eyes and arthritic hands.
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Old 05-29-2020, 11:02 AM
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I don't know of a machine that does not use a bobbin under the base plate. However, they do make Self Threading Machine needles...https://www.independentliving.com/pr...SABEgJCAfD_BwE
I'm not sure how they work but someone may come along that can tell you. You can also buy self threading hand sewing needles which I know nothing about...https://www.amazon.com/Singer-Self-T.../dp/B000YZAPXS
I would suggest using a neutral color of thread (same color for all projects) & get lots of bobbins & wind them up with that neutral thread. That way you don't have to constantly be stopping to refill a bobbin. Maybe a friend could wind your bobbins for you when you need.
Also, I would suggest starting with a small project like a table runner or small wall hanging so you can get the hang of all the steps in the quilting procedure.
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Old 05-29-2020, 11:32 AM
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Thanks so much for the reply on my musings. Seems that I probably should take a chance, and purchase that Brother unit. Hopefully it will be sturdy enough to last a few years.

I definitely will take your advice, and stock up on a lot of bobbins. Spending a morning filling bobbins probably is a good time saver in the long run..

I also guess purchasing a lot of extra machine needles would be a good thing also. What type of needle is best for the machine quilting?
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Old 05-29-2020, 11:45 AM
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I'm not the one to ask about machine needles as I generally use a universal needle (for everything). I like this lady's take on needles & may try the topstitch needle next time I buy some.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fh1okmc4gL4
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Old 05-29-2020, 12:00 PM
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I think that machine can do everything you want Caley, the Project Runway is about one step up from the one I was happy with.

I have vision issues myself, and the the threading assist on even my bottom of the line Brother helps tremendously.

There are a couple different variations but for threading machines, I love the "hummingbird" style needle threaders.

Bobbins are the standard, I find the way Brother designs their machines to help with putting in the bobbin correctly. Again, with my low end one, it is very difficult to put it in wrong. When you are buying your supplies, buy some extra bobbins to go with your machine. Not all bobbins fit all machines!

We have a couple of things called quilting feet that are a little different. Some people are referring to a walking foot, but it looks like your model comes with what I call a quilting foot, which has your 1/4" markings left/right/front and back. I was very pleased with the accuracy of mine, which I had to buy separately from my machine.

For thread I work mostly with scrap quilts and can't match my thread to my fabrics. Plus I can't see it when I do so. I typically use a light beige and a light grey, one on top and one on bottom. They blend well and I can see them. I don't like running out of bobbin thread and typically I prewind a number of them at a time. I've happily used Dual Duty for years but have recently started switching to Aurifil on top and a lighter weight thread on the bottom. But that's after 30 years of using the same thread top and bottom.

Cotton "Quilting" threads are usually meant for the quilting and not the piecing. Some of us find some of the store brands rather linty.

For modern quilting techniques, we use a pretty small stitch. If/when you sew a seam you should never be able to easily pull apart any stitches. That means your stitch length is too long. Most modern machines with a preset size is too long for quilting, I think mine defaults at 2.25 but I sew around 1.85. Vintage machines we talk in terms of stitches per inch, you want to be starting around 12 stitches and not 10, and certainly not less than 10. Some machines (like mine) are sneaky and start a little smaller than they actually sew, so you cut through your seam and pull gently on either side to see if it moves or comes out. A little loosening or a V is acceptable.

Last edited by Iceblossom; 05-29-2020 at 12:03 PM.
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Old 05-29-2020, 12:01 PM
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Looks like I have a long learning curve. Seems needles are more complex than I thought. The lady in the video seems to think the top stitch needle is a good choice, so I will try that. I just need to understand thread size, and which is used for quilting, so I can choose the correct sized machine needle.
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