Thimbles

My mom was a seamstress and a very good one.  She could make everything and anything.  She need no pattern, just an idea.  Everything she made was of much better quality than you would find in the stores.  She sewed everything on an old Singer sewing machine.  When she sewed by hand, she always had a thimble on her middle finger.  I loved some of the thimbles in her drawer.  They were all different and some were actually very beautiful.  The thing is, I loved to LOOK at them – NOT wear them. 

I’ve always hated to use a thimble when I sew, as I could never find one that fit good or was comfortable on my finger.  I couldn’t figure out which finger to put the stupid thing on either.  I have a good collection of thimbles of my own.  All just sit in my sewing box, never used or worn.  That is, until I was in my LQS last week picking up my next block for my Stitcher’s Garden Quilt.  There, in a large jar, was a varied collection of pretty colored rubber thimbles.  My curiosity had me.  I just had to open the jar and try a few on.  You see, now that I know how to put a binding on my quilts and have them look nice, I need a good thimble that actually does what it is supposed to.  I am tired of have cuts on my fingers and using a band-aid as a thimble.  The problem is, none of those thimbles worked any better than the ones I had at home.  As the gal was ringing me up she mentioned that they had gotten some new thimbles in a little bit ago and that even though they are a bit pricy, she had fallen in love with them and purchased one herself.  After trying one on myself I was also in love with the fit.  And, yes, I too bought one.  They come in three sizes; small, medium and large.  I bought the pink one, a medium.  It fits perfect on my middle finger.  I’ve used it a few times since I bought it and I still love it!!!  This fabulous thimble is made by Clover.  It is a “flexible” rubber thimble with a metal tip.  It is “a little pricy” at $8.95, but I love it and am so happy to have finally found a thimble that works!!  Happy Sewing!  Kathryn

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Spray Starch ~ Buy or Make

Yesterday I was finishing up my Spring Basket Quilt Blocks by pressing and lightly starching all of the blocks, getting them ready for the next step –  connecting all the blocks together.  I had purchased a small bottle of Mary Ellen’s Best Press from my LQS.  I thought I would give it a try even though I felt it was very expensive.  It was what they recommended over other brands of spray starch.  I was told it didn’t flake or clog up and was a light, natural, acid free alternative to the heavy spray starch I grew up with.  Mary Ellen’s comes in a few difference scents.  I decided on the lavender fields scent.  I guess I picked that one just because it was purple and my sewing room is orange and purple.

As I was pressing and spraying each block with the spray starch I did notice a very light pleasant scent.  I also like the way the pressing was turning out, although I’m not sure it was very “starchy”.  120 blocks is a lot of blocks to press and starch.  The bottle was going down too quickly for the price I paid.  I knew I was going to need more starch soon.  I decided to take a break from pressing, check my email, and look up what other alternatives were out there that weren’t so expensive.

What I found was a few different homemade recipes for making your own natural spray starch.  I already knew I could use corn starch to make my own, but that is too much like the cheap stuff you can buy.  The other alternative I found was toted as the equivalent of Mary Ellen’s Best Press.  The recipe calls for Vodka, distilled water and lavender essential oil.  I guess Vodka is made from potatoes, which is a natural starch.  Who knew.   I thought why not give it a try.  I won’t have to leave my house and I can finish up pressing all of my blocks. 

O.K., maybe my homemade isn’t exactly like the recipe.  I didn’t have any distilled water, so I boiled a pot of water for 20 minutes to get all the sediments out of it.  I didn’t have any essential oil, but I did have a bottle of lavender potpourri.  Close enough.  I did have the Vodka.  It looks like it is the good stuff.  The bottle says premium.  I don’t drink Vodka and it has been in the cupboard quite a while.  It’s there for visitors I guess.  I decided to use it.  It’s probably stale anyway, right?

The recipes all called for 3 ounces Vodka, 24 ounces of distilled water and a few drops of essential oil.  I cut the recipe down to fit in a spray bottle I had on hand.  I used 2 ounces of Vodka, 16 ounces of boiled water and a few drops of lavender potpourri.  Shake well and use.  My homemade had a light scent, very light.  It sprayed out nicely and did leave my blocks lightly starched.  I’m not sure there is too much difference between the homemade and the store-bought.  I’m going to continue using both types and compare.  The homemade is definitely cheaper!  But, I just don’t know.  The jury is still out on it. 

I would love to hear from any of you that have tried both store-bought and homemade or any other alternative to the expensive Mary Ellen’s Best Press.  Happy Sewing.

My New Sewing Machine

I am the proud new owner of a Janome Memory Craft Horizon 7700 QCP!  This is my dream machine.  I spent all day yesterday “playing”.  With all the bells and whistles this machine has, I think one of my favorite features on it is the automatic thread cutter.  I also love the knee lifter.  Although I’m finding myself forgetting that it only lifts the foot.  It doesn’t run the machine.  I grew up with a Singer where the knee lifter was used instead of a foot pedal.  Another cool thing, is that there is 11″ between the needle and the machine.  All that wonderful space to fit a quilt. I could go on and on with all of the features this machine has to offer, but I think I’ll save some for another day. 

I’m going back with my machine tomorrow for a free lesson in using all the features.  I’m not sure how much I will remember, but every little bit of information is very welcome.  The machine is extremely heavy and large, which will make it difficult for me to tote around.  I’ve ordered the tote that Janome made especially for this machine and it should be in shortly.  For now I will use a small rolling luggage dolly we have.

I really want to take advantage of their free monthly classes for Memory Craft owners.  I wouldn’t mind taking a few other classes they offer either.  Who knows I may even look into joining a  quilting group!  I guess you can figure out where I will be today!   Yep, in my sewing room – playing.   Happy Sewing!

Summer Cable Slippers using Red Heart Yarn

I decided to make up a couple more pairs of Summer Cable slippers for the other granddaughters and I didn’t have any cotton or cotton-mix yarn left in “girlie” colors, but I did have some Red Heart Super Saver yarn (100% acrylic) that I thought would work up nicely. 

The 1st pair I made was the Monet (pictured left).  I really liked the look and feel of these slippers.  Although they are not as soft or as “summery” as the ones previously made using TLC Cotton Plus, they are a nice pair of slippers.  I then made the pair to the right, using Red Heart Super Saver in Watercolor.  The yarn itself before working up was stiffer and not as supple as the Monet yarn – same name, same brand, same weight.  When I was finished with the 2nd pair I found them to work up slightly larger (same size needles too). 

I then decided to compare them by weight.  So, I took out the food scale and weighed each pair individually.  I like to weigh my projects anyway so that I will know how much yarn I used incase I would like to make another project and use leftover stash yarn.  The Monet pair weighed 1 3/8 oz. compared to the Watercolor which weighed 1 5/8 oz.  Again –  same name, same brand & same weight of yarn, but a 2/8 oz. difference in the amount of yarn used.  I know it isn’t any big deal – I just find that interesting and thought you might too.

Magnifier Craft Light

What a beautiful day it was yesterday for my trip to JoVusion Craft LightAnn’s for my stitching supplies.  JoAnn’s does not carry the recommended Jobelan cloth, so I purchased M.C.G. Textiles; 28 ct., 100% cotton, evenweave (linen).

My, is that hard to see!  I set my pole lamp next to my chair and got out the magnifier I have that is attached to a cord around my neck.  I was told it looked wierd.  Not only did it look wierd, it wasn’t comfortable.  It didn’t stay put either.  Hence, my quest for something better.

Aminca, a Ravelry knitter, recommended the Light Bright Vusion.  It is an adjustable arm clip on 2X magnifier with an LED light.  It comes in three colors; purple, teal, & silver.  I googled for other options and kept coming back to this one.  I love my adjustable arm clip on reading light I got for Christmas and this is similar.  The price is also very reasonable. 

 I have linked you to the manufactures web-site, but if you do a google search you will find different prices and shipping charges.  The manufactures web-site was the only one I found that also offers an L.E.D. AC adapter for an additional charge.

I would love to hear from others on their experience with this product or if any of you have found one they like better.  I am thinking about purchasing this one.