Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Meet My New BFF Ethel

I got a new friend and I will say she is wonderful! Before I tell you more about her, let me explain the story of how I ended up bringing Ethel home with me.
(photo from Juki no affiliation)

My other BFF is Bobbie and she is a Pfaff gal. I too have a Pfaff and had one 20 years ago too. So Bobbie and I had Pfaff machines in common among other things. Bobbie wanted to try out a certain computerized Juki sewing machine after reading a lot about it, but sadly there are no Juki dealers here in New Mexico. While 2 dealers claim to be Juki dealers, neither of them sell Juki machines, so we couldn't go to those places to try them out. Bobbie had thought about going on a road trip to Colorado where there are Juki dealers (I told her there was Juki dealers in Arizona too), but the travel time would be about the same.

Meanwhile, Bobbie did not want to attend the Rusty Barn Quilt and Sewing show this year that was here in May because she didn't want to buy more stuff. I was okay not going as I had enough stuff myself and didn't want to spend any more money. I got emails about the show coming and wanted to see what vendors would be at the show and found there was going to be a Juki dealer at the show. Well I told Bobbie that I didn't want to enable her to buy anything, but since Juki would be here, it would save her a long trip to our neighboring state. It didn't cost anything to test out a machine or two and satisfy our curiosity about Juki's. I contacted Mulqueen Sewing Center (the Arizona Juki dealer who would attend the show) and asked what Juki machines they were bringing. They hadn't decided for sure other than a few he told me and none of those were the ones Bobbie had wanted to test. We decided to get out of the house and go to the show anyhow. My job was to keep Bobbie from spending too much. (Did that happen???)

We tried all kinds of long arm quilting machines too just for fun from all of the brands and models from the various dealers. I tried a few other sewing machines too. Then we came to the Juki booth. The machine Bobbie wanted to test wasn't there, but they had the next one up from that, the Juki DX-2000QVP. It has more bells and whistles than the one she had researched. We tried sewing on it and oh my! Felt so precision like a Pfaff. I knew by Bobbie's look she wanted it. The machine msrp is $1999, but they had a show special and we got additional savings because we each bought one and paid cash, so we saved a lot more $! This Juki was too good a deal to pass up, considering all you got with the machine. I can say it is the best machine I have ever had or sewn on before. I still love my Pfaff (and Bernina), but the Juki is brand new and the Pfaff and Bernina I have are both about 30 years old, even though I bought them used a few years ago.

Bobbie and I had been joking that we were Lucy and Ethel on a road trip. So of course we had to name our twin machines Lucy and Ethel. That is how she came to have the name Ethel. I had never named my sewing machines before, but Bobbie has.

Ethel came to live with me on May 17. I have been sewing on her and playing each day since and have figured out how to use her pretty well. I love all the decorative and utility stitches she has.

This Juki has what they call a box feed system, which grabs your fabric and pulls it along better than a normal feed dog system. It comes with a lot of presser feet and bonus feet which includes a couching foot for couching yarn. I tried this on a scrap of fabric and it was fun to sew.

(photo from Juki)

You can even push a lever and make the stitch plate sew for a straight stitching only instead of having to change the cover plate. There is a telescoping thread guide and a cone thread holder that sits on the back of the machine which is great! I have a ton of thread on cones and usually need my separate thread stand, but now I don't need the separate stand.

(photo from Juki)

It has an extension table too, but I have Ethel set into a table. There is a pivot function that every time you stop sewing the foot raises up and when you sew again the presser foot drops down again. This can be disabled if you don't want it. The foot pedal comes with the default setting that if you press down on the pedal with your heel it will sew in reverse, however you can change this setting to go other functions instead or no function. I changed it to cut the thread and raise the presser foot when I push on the pedal.

The throat space is 8" wide and 4.4" tall. It has 2 LED lights, one at the needle and one in the center of the tall space.
(Photo from Juki)

There is needle up/down, thread cutter button, a needle threader that works great, a drop in bobbin, separate bobbin winder motor.

Ethel can sew through thick layers too! So for making bags this is a huge plus! When we were at the show, Bobbie sewed through 12 layers of cotton fabric and it sewed it like butter. Even several layers of denim it sewed through without hesitation.

The only thing so far I have found that I am not wild about is that the lever for dropping the feed dogs is not in a convenient location. I have to remove the gizmo that holds the presser feet and tools and slide it off in order to move the lever to drop the feed dogs. I have to do this on my Pfaff too, but on my Pfaff the bobbin is front loading, not top loading, so I need to put a bobbin in anyway and can drop the feed dogs at the same time I put in my bobbin. A little inconvenient on the Juki, but not a deal killer.

I have seen other machine brands that have similar features and they cost several thousand dollars. This Juki also sews quietly too, like my Pfaff. Because Juki is still not as well known as other brands out there I think that is why they aren't as expensive (yet). You are buying the brand name and reputation of machines like Janome and Bernina, etc. and name recognition usually costs more. Juki started out mostly selling industrial machines and sergers. So they are the newest in selling home sewing machines. I am a Juki gal now! (No affiliation). I just love this machine.

Did I do a good job and keep Bobbie from spending money? No! But she loves her Lucy and I did save her a long drive to test one out. Plus she ended up with the upgraded machine at less than she would have paid for the one a step down from this machine. I had no intention of buying another machine, but after sewing on this Juki, I knew I had to have her. I have never felt like that before. Usually I get overwhelmed looking at machines and trying to decide what brand, what model, etc. But since I didn't need a new machine, I knew I wouldn't feel pressured into buying one because I had to have a machine. That made it easier to decide. If this Juki wasn't any better than what I already owned, I wouldn't have bought her. But in my opinion she was heads and tails above the competition and for several hundred if not thousands of dollars less than other brands. All of this is my honest opinion and review. I am not an affiliate of Juki or any other machine and I get paid zero/nothing/nada for my review.

Oh and while we were there we each tested their Juki sit down long arm machine (which was less $ than all the competitors long arms) and the Juki long arm purred like a kitten! It quilted so smooth and was so quiet. I did stop Bobbie from buying that machine, lol! But believe me I was tempted myself! If I had a larger house, I would have considered it. Oh well there is always a road trip to AZ to test those again or the next quilt and sewing show? What am I saying!!!!

Time to sew, here I come Ethel.
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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Rainbow Quilt

This quilt is called Native Rainbow and it's from the book entitled, Batik Beauties by Laurie J. Shifrin. I just call mine Rainbow (although I threw in some brown). It is an easy quilt to make with just squares and rectangles. I made this one using all scraps for the blocks. I had a nice stripe fabric for the border that worked well with this.

I think my friend Susan will like this quilt because she attracted to quilts with boxy blocks, right Susan? You can make either a square quilt like this one or a rectangle quilt. I also made a rectangle quilt in this pattern using fall colors for a lap quilt for Mr. P. I will be posting that one soon. Has a different look in the fall colors.

I used a soft flannel on the back of the quilt.

I had a long arm quilter quilt this quilt using an umbrella quilt design with raindrops. Unfortunately, you really cannot see the pretty quilt design very well on most of the quilt. I love this umbrella quilt design and may need to make another quilt to let the design of the quilting show through more.

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Monday, April 30, 2018

Bountiful Baskets Applique State Flowers

A few years ago I started making P3 Designs Bountiful Baskets, by Pearl P. Pereria. The basket blocks all had the same basket, but each basket contained a state flower that represented each state. The quilt also had one large center block and the basket blocks surrounded it. Well the whole quilt was way too large for me to want to make it, but I really liked the little state flowers in a basket. I didn't want to make all 50 blocks, so decided I would only make the blocks of flowers that I really liked the best and some of those blocks happened to be where I had lived or visited.

I made 16 blocks in total. I machine blanket stitched around the applique pieces and added some hand embroidery touches to each block. Then the blocks sat for a couple of years as I wasn't sure how to set it into a quilt. Recently I had an idea about making each block and backing it with another block so it would look like I had 8 blocks instead of 16, and hanging it like a mobile. I tried to hang them from a round ring, but that didn't work well as it was hard to get it balanced and when it moved all the strings just kept wrapping around one another. So I decided a bamboo rod would be better to hang them from. As they gently move, you can see the back side of each block. This is hanging in my bathroom across from my sink in front of a window. I really like it and since wall space is getting scarce, I needed to start hanging from the ceiling, lol!

I added a narrow inner border and recently decided on the outer border when I knew this is what I wanted to create. All the fabric that I used for the outer borders was fabric I had painted one day when I was playing around. They were 2 different painted fabrics I used and the colors were painted differently. The painted fabric looks so much better in smaller pieces like this.

Here are 8 of the blocks. The very last photo I have turned the blocks so the other 8 show. It was hard to photograph as a mobile without having the blocks moving around, so the wall kept them still for their photo shoot.

I am showing each block and then a closer look at each so you can see the machine and hand stitching. This is the Sego Lily from Utah.

Sunflower from Kansas. I just liked this flower, so I made it. I never lived there or visited, but I love sunflowers!

Oregon Grape Flower from Oregon. I lived in Portland, Oregon as a young child for a few years. My younger sister was born there. These also grew well in Washington and we had some there.

This is the California Poppy from California. I remember seeing lots of these growing wild as I grew up in California.

This is the Rhododendron from West Virginia. Never lived or visited there, but just liked this flower. Having lived in Washington, I saw lots of Rhodies.

This is the Wild Prairie Rose from North Dakota (as well as from Iowa). Never lived or visited either of these places, but I like the flower. Plus I have a friend who has the last name of Prairie.

The Black-Eyed Susan from Maryland. Never lived or visited here either, but I had a grandfather who was born in Maryland. I have a friend named Susan too, lol. Love these flowers.

This is the Yucca Flower from New Mexico where I have lived for the past 20 years.

The Hawthorn Flower from Missouri, my birth state.

This is another Wild Prairie Rose from Iowa. (I showed the one form North Dakota earlier above). 

This is the Violet from Rhode Island. New Jersey also has the Violet. I have been to NJ once, but never to RI. I like this flower.

This if the Columbine from Colorado. I have visited Colorado several times.

The Orange Blossom from Florida. I have never been to Florida, but growing up surrounded by orange groves in Southern California, I saw and smelled the wonderful sweet scent of the orange blossoms! All those orange groves slowly were made into housing developments, many while I lived there in the 60's.

This is the passion Flower from Tennessee. I simplified this applique by not adding a lot of hand embroidery in the center of the flower. So that is why it may not loo so much like the passion Flower. I have never been there before.

Apple Blossom from Arkansas. I have never been to Arkansas before, but have seen many apple blossoms when I lived in Washington.

The Coast Rhododendron from Washington, where I lived for 17 years and where both of my children were born. 

These are the flowers on the flip side of the ones in the very first photo.
On some of the white background fabric I had used a glow-in-the-dark fabric and since this is hanging in my bathroom, it acts like a night light with some of the backgrounds glowing.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tropical Flowers Lap Quilt

My daughter loves tropical flowers (so do I!), so when I saw this panel, I asked her if she would like me to make her a lap quilt using the panel. She said yes she would like a lap quilt (I have to ask first, because sometimes she doesn't like what I make for her and I end up getting it back)! I thought of how I would cut apart the flower blocks and what I would do to create the top using the blocks. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. The panel had 16 flowers with black separating each flower. That black didn't look good and was too harsh looking. But since I thought I would cut apart the flower blocks, I wasn't concerned with the black because in the end it wouldn't show. Well since nothing really came to me as to how to create this quilt and the size of it was about right as it was once a border was added, I decided to fuse the orange/yellow batik fabric over the black that was in between the flowers and blanket stitch the new sashing in place. It looked so much better with the orange/yellow batik fabric as it really picked up those colors in the flowers. Then I added turquoise batik border and had a long arm quilter quilt the quilt in a Plumeria pantograph. I really like how this turned out and so does my daughter. (Thank goodness)!!!

Ah, Plumeria flowers (known as Frangipani in some places of the world); I can almost smell their sweet scent. I loved seeing the trees covered in these beautiful flowers when I was in Hawaii years ago. I love the pink flowers as well as the yellow flowers.

Hibiscus flowers are so pretty too.

I think this is and orchid of some kind. 

Bird of Paradise. I remember we had these growing in our yard when I lived in California.

The quilting pattern is called Plumeria and was a perfect choice for this quilt.

Plumeria quilting design.

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