Sunday, 20 May 2018

My first 6 months with a computerized machine


I've had a number of questions about my machine, the Designer Jade 35 from Husqvarna Viking, so I thought I'd write a post with my impressions and experience thus far.

First up, let me say that I am a blogger for Husqvarna Viking which I how I came to be the proud owner of this machine.  However, my opinions are honest.  This isn't a sales pitch!

Before owning the Designer Jade 35 (a sewing and embroidery machine) all of my sewing was done on a 1976 Bernina.  When I was taking Textiles and Design in high school, we didn't use computerized machines.  Either they weren't around (it was the late 80's/early 90's) or they would have been WAY too expensive to let a bunch of high school girls loose on!

A computerized machine offers a lot of features that I was a bit skeptical of...
For example, the automatic thread cutter...is it really that hard to snip a thread?  I'd never found it a chore previously!  And the stop start button... again, I'd never found using the peddel controller an issue!

Sure, these features are not necessities but after using them for the last 6 months (and I do use them, although at first I thought I wouldn't!) they are GREAT!  Oh they make life easier and sewing just a little bit more pleasurable.  I equate it to having a car with air conditioning; sure you can get places just as well in a car which doesn't have air conditioning but isn't it so much nicer to ride in air conditioned comfort (especially when stuck in Sydney's airport tunnel or M5 tunnel...or any tunnel really...)!

Here are a few features that I'm totally in love with:

- The fix stitch, with the press of a button (happens automatically when you start sewing, unless you've turned it off).  You can achieve this on a manual machine with a reverse stitch but the fix stitch is just so much neater and easier!

- I've already mentioned the thread cutter & stop/start button (rather than using the peddle controller).

- The built in stitch advisory: you press the button for the type of fabric you have, including leather (!!), and the type of stitch you want (seam, overcast, buttonhole etc) and the machine sets the perfect stitch.  No more digging out the manual or just giving it a good guess!

- Stretch stitch - this is not just a zig zag!  It gives you a much better result when sewing knits.

- Automatic buttonholes.  I feel like I don't need to say anything more here...I mean, automatic buttonhole!!!  With my mechanical machine my buttonholes were always slightly different sizes and I was never 100% happy with them (although, it was still better than stitching them by hand!).  However, automatic buttonholes are a dream!  The Designer Jade 35 sews them SO fast & they are perfect each and every time!

- Moving needle position - you can move the needle incrementally to the left or right which makes a huge difference with zip insertion, top stitching, hemming etc.  I just love it!

- Adjustable speed.  I'm a put my foot down and go kind of person and I love the speed of the Designer Jade 35, however sometimes you need to slow it down!  I was recently making a bowl out of fabric scraps & couldn't understand why my thread kept breaking, however I discovered that when I slowed the speed of the machine the breakage stopped.  I guess I was just sewing faster than the thread could handle!

- Alerts: speaking of broken thread, the machine tells you if your thread breaks & stops sewing!  I've been known to get to the end of the seam & discover that my thread broke somewhere at the beginning, now that doesn't happen!  It also tells you if the machine needs to rest for a moment, which is great.

- Machine embroidery: the Designer Jade 35 also does machine embroidery, which I absolutely LOVE.  Hello monogrammed everything!  I am not going to say too much about the embroidery here, as it will be an endless post, but it is SO easy to switch over to embroider.  You just slide on the module, change your foot, needle & thread and you're away!  Not only is embroidery on clothing really on trend right now, but it makes me feel like I'm designing my own fabric.  I'm taking a piece of cloth and making it uniquely mine, not just by the garment I make but with the embroidery I choose.  I love it!

I could keep raving but don't want this to be an endlessly long post!  I just wanted to highlight my observations and share what I love about this machine.  

If, like me, you are using an older machine and aren't sure if all the bells and whistles of a computerized machine are worth it, let me tell you they are!  Sewing is even easier and more enjoyable with all the features I have available to me on the Designer Jade 35 (and I still haven't even tried them all!!).

I hope this answers some of the questions I was asked on IG, if you have other questions please leave them in comments and I'll get back you to!

I have acquired some optional extra feet for the Designer Jade 35 so will write a post shortly about those.

Happy Sewing!

Image from Husqvarna Viking...my sewing space isn't this cool!

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Bondi Top with sleeves

I recently lost my sew-jo, so to help get it back I started looking at patterns and then reading blog reviews of those patterns for inspiration.  

Which reminded me that that was why I started blogging in the first place! To contribute to sewing knowledge & inspiration.  I've not been good about that lately, and I'm sorry.  Instagram just makes it SO quick & easy to share makes, but it isn't the detailed resource that a blog post can be. I'm going to try to share more on my blog!

I have more questions on IG about my hacks of The Bondi Top by Sew To Grow than any other pattern (probably because I make it so often!).  It's a very popular pattern because of its inclusive sizing (xs - 4x), simple design lines and it's just a really easy make!  Perfect for a beginner or a fast satisfying make for a more experienced sewist.

I first added 3/4 sleeves to my French Terry version as I didn't want to waste the leftover fabric (I'm thrifty!) & also because it made sense to have sleeves for this thicker fabric. I simply hacked the sleeves by making a rectangle that was the same width as the sleeve opening, then tapering it slightly to the opening.  I added a cuff for a bit of fun!

The great news is that Lindsey, the designer of Sew To Grow patterns has now created a sleeve extension pack you can buy for your Bondi Top.  So you're spared my dodgy hand drawn instructions!!  Also, her version fits perfectly whereas my hack was a bit of trial & error! As hacks tend to be!

I also hacked the stripped top into a tunic length to wear over leggings.  How much length you add is dependent on your height.  Obviously, I (at 183cm) add a lot more length that someone who is 153cm!

My red gingham version was again hacked to have sleeves, but this time I cropped it slightly.  The original pattern has a curved hem that is lower in the back (great butt coverage) but I raised the back hem to match the front.

The Bondi Top is one of those great staples that can be hacked so many ways!  I've made it into a dress, added pockets and made it in knits and wovens.

The extension pack you can buy gives you instructions for adding a casing for a waistband, or you can just add some elastic to the waistline (my dodgy hack).

Next up I'm planning a chambray version with sleeves & waistband casing which I can layer for winter or wear alone in the warmer months.  Hmmm...I may also add some patch pockets because pockets make everything better!!

If you have any questions on my Bondi Top  hacks or hack suggestions of your own, let me know!

Over on the Husqvarna Viking Australia blog you can see my Bondi Top which I added embroidery to.  I love this version & plan on adding embroidery to more!

Happy Sewing!

Friday, 6 April 2018

Library Bag with Monogram

One of my favourite things to do with my girls in the school holidays is to make frequent trips to the library.  This year I decided to make them each a special library bag (so I'm not lugging all the books!).  To be honest, I am SO thrilled that I can now do embroidery (monogram EVERYTHING!) with the Designer Jade 35 that I am looking for things to embroider! 
The construction of the bag is really simple.  This bag is based on the larger sized picture books my girls like to borrow from the library, but you can size yours to meet your needs!

Head over to Husqvarna Viking Australia's blog to get the details on how to make this bag!

Because I am SO in love with the embroidery features of the Designer Jade 35 I added a personalized embroidery for each of my daughters. 

We had so much fun sitting at the computer together, looking at all the designs and fonts they could choose from (free software that comes with the Designer Jade 35).  You simply save your design to the included USB and then plug it into the machine (SO easy!).

Being girly girls they both wanted heart designs!  They then selected their own thread colours for the embroidery. 

I really love involving my girls in the creative process and it makes them love what I make even more because they have contributed.  I wish I had filmed the excitement of them watching the Designer Jade 35 create their selected embroidery & the shrieks of delight as "their" design came together (seriously, who needs TV?!!) 

A little tip for my fellow newbies to machine embroidery: embroider the bag before you sew it together!  You may roll your eyes and give me a big "well duh!"...but hey, I'm just learning!  And having SO much fun in the process!

Happy Sewing!
xox Allison