Monday, October 29, 2012

Sewing Machine Needle: Change Your Needle

How long have you been sewing with the same needle?  How many quilts have you made using the same needle?  Have you experienced these dull needle symptoms?

Shredded or Broken Threads
Skipped Stitches
Puckered Fabrics
Damaged Fabrics
Uneven Seams
Popping Sound by Sewing Machine

Guess what?  These are clues - clues that you can see and hear - that you need to change your needle. 
The general rule of thumb is to change your needle after 8 hours of sewing.  Depending on the project, some sewists change needles once and sometimes twice insuring a quality stitch.  Others start every new project with a fresh out of the pack needle.  No, we are not trying to sell you more needles.  We are trying to help you sew better . . .  with better stitch quality. 

Change your needle!
It's the easiest way to improve your stitches.

Tune in next week and get a close-up view of a dull needle.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sewing Machine Needle: Does SCHMETZ Work With My Machine?

Wondering if SCHMETZ needles work with your home sewing machine?

SCHMETZ works with all these machine brands!  SCHMETZ 130/705 H - see the October 8th post if you need a refresher on the meaning of 130/705 H -  is compatible with all these home sewing machine brands in the marketplace.  That's a relief!  There are a few older Singer machines that require a different needle system, plus a few specialty machines such as needle felting and sashiko machines that do not use SCHMETZ 130/705 H needles.  SCHMETZ engineers work with sewing machine manufacturers around the world to ensure that the SCHMETZ needle performs properly in your home sewing, embroidery and quilting machines. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Becca Asks "Needle, Needle, Which Needle?"

2012 State and county fairs are warm summer memories.  Kids worked hard under the watchful eyes of 4-H leaders hoping for those special blue and purple ribbons.  Meet Becca from Oregon State.  Becca loves to sew and decided to learn more about sewing machine needles. 

Becca first contacted us in July asking for permission to use the SCHMETZ logo for a 4-H project.  We were happy to help and sent her the SCHMETZ ABC Pocket Guide.  We were thrilled to see the ABC's incorporated into her informational board Needle, Needle, Which Needle highlighting needle anatomy, importance of using a new needle and the benefits of using the correct needle.  We even learned a thing or two from her project. There was an area called Sewing-Machine Needle in Antarctica that was named by whalers.  What a terrific trivia question!

Becca certainly did her homework resulting in all these trophies.  Bigger yet is the smile on her face.  I imagine her parents and 4-H leaders are smiling too.

More than all the learning is the chance to share knowledge and friendship with other 4-H Club members.  Becca with Bethany and Nicole.   I just wonder what sewing projects Becca has in mind for next year.  It is never too early to plan for next year. 

Thanks Becca for sharing your 4-H sewing story with us!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sewing Machine Needle: Types

Need a needle?  How many times have you rushed into a store for needles, only to stop in awe -confounded by all the needle choices?  Really how many needles are there?  Does needle type really matter?  Because you are thinking, I just want a needle to finish my project.    I hear you, so let's first get an overview of all the types of needles available for your home sewing machine.
Yes, you have choices, not only in needle type, but needle size.  Many times, but not always, the needle name also suggests project usage too.  So what is YOUR favorite needle?

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Night Circus, Sewing and Black & White

This posting is going to be my own three ring circus tying these topics together:  The Night Circus, sewing and black and white.  Here's how it all started.  At the suggestion of Nancy, our local librarian, my husband brought home a magical book The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  Little did I know how enchanting this good read would be. 

Visual reading is how I describe the story lines in this book.  The descriptions of the characters and the circus with all its unusual and magnetic tents were wonderfully refreshing and real.  I was especially thrilled to find out that . . .

Yes last night the author, Erin Morgenstern, was in my neighborhood to talk about her debut book The Night Circus.  So I grabbed a red scarf - I could not convenience my husband to wear a red scarf, but was happy that he wore a red bow tie - because I am now a "serious" fan of The Night Circus.  Yes, the red scarf has meaning from the story line.  What I learned is that Erin is an artist that writes AND is a writer that is an artist depending on how her creative energies need to express themselves.   The writing of this book started in a November -  sorry don't remember the year - National Novel Writing Month.  In 30 days the challenge was to write 50,000 words - some call this binge writing.  She wrote many vignettes that eventually all wove together especially after 2 years of editing and rewriting.  2 years of rewrites!  What tenacity!   

Years ago as an artist Erin designed tarot cards and challenged herself to using a black and white color scheme which also carried over into the menagerie of circus tents and even some of the characters in her book.   I love the poignancy of black and white and thought you may enjoy a few sewing pics I have taken from various trips:

Let's Go To The Zoo! 
Great Lakes Heritage Quilters Special Exhibit 
American Sewing Expo 2012

Baby Lock Love of Fashion by Designer Joi Mahon
Special Exhibit of Joi's Off-Beat Bridal and Formal Wear
American Sewing Expo 2012

Diane Kroll, Special Exhibit Coordinator
Standing in Front of California Dreaming Exhibit
By Lakes "Sew"Ciety Members
American Sewing Expo 2012

Rita Farro
With Her Newly Treasured Black and White Zebra Corduroy Stash
Nancy Zieman's Quilt Expo 2012

AnyWear Shoe
Comfortable Shoes Worn by Sewist Attending American Sewing Expo 2012

Just like The Night Circus, the inspiration to sew makes no announcement.  We simply must sew, collect fabrics and share our passion.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sewing Machine Needle: How To Read The Needle Package

Baffled by the needle package?  What do all those all those numbers mean on the needle package?Well, let's first review the essential needle information printed on that tiny 5 pack of SCHMETZ needles.  Information that will make your needle purchase so much easier. 

Let's start from the bottom of the package and work our way up:
  • Size:  Needle size is always found at the bottom of the package.  Both the metric and the Singer or international size designation will always be shown.  This package has assorted sizes - 70/10, 80/12, 90/14.
  • Needle System:  130/705 H is the needle system used by nearly all home sewing machines.  130/705 refers to a needle with a flat shank.  The H refers to a German word, Hohlkehle,  that translates to scarf.  So 130/705 H is a flat shank needle with a scarf.  All brands of home sewing machines use system 130/705 H - Baby Lock, Bernina, Brother, Elna, Husqvarna Viking, Janome, Juki, Pfaff, White and more.
  • Needle System:  15x1 H is a cross-reference to needle system 130/705 H.  The two needle systems - 130/705 H and 15x1 H are equivalent, same needle anatomy- a flat shank with a scarf.  Same needle, different manufacturer. 
  • Needle Type:  There are 16 needle types for your home sewing machine.  The above needle pack contains Universal needles.
  • SCHMETZ:  The preferred needle used by sewists around the world.  SCHMETZ is high quality.
Next week we will review the different needle types for our home sewing machine.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Chanel and That Jacket, American Sewing Expo 2012

Claire Shaeffer describes herself as a "garment engineer".  Visiting Parisian couture workooms, dissecting haute couture garments, interviewing Savile Row workers and collecting Chanel - owns over a 1,000 Chanel and couture garments, Claire knows couture techniques and gleefully shares them.  Admiring students - and recently I was one - hung on every word and technique Claire shared.

A Chanel Jacket from Claire's Collection
Along with Chanel Inspired Jackets
Last week at the American Sewing Expo in Novi, MI, I had the pleasure of taking Claire's class.  I consider myself a quilter, but my sewing started with garments and I find myself increasingly enjoying garment construction.  At first I thought I might be in over my head taking this intense hands-on couture level class, Chanel and That Jacket.  However as the class progressed I learned I already knew and already use many basic techniques such as quilting and many hand stitches.  The difference - huge differences - in couture is fit, time, patience and thoughtfulness that goes into the garment construction, or in one word, craftsmanship.  Oh, yes . . . money is a huge difference too.

Juliette Shows Her Couture Techniques
Including the Quilted Jacket Body
The class had 30 students.  Through a drawing we buddied up to use Pfaff machines.  Juliette was my new sewing buddy from Austin, TX.  Juliette is an avid sewist and already made Claire's Chanel inspired Vogue Pattern #8804.  Her sewing techniques, quilting and use of chain weight on the hem were skillful and no wonder, Juliette along with half the class were members of The Association of Sewing and Design Professionals. 

The primary focus of our class were the intricacies of couture techniques applied to a three piece sleeve that Chanel avidly used.  I learned about generous seam allowances, thread tracing and quilting techniques.  We did lots of hand work.  When we machine stitched Claire said she uses SCHMETZ, so of course I had to make a video.  Find our which three SCHMETZ needles are Claire's favorites.  She also prefers to use the Swiss Iris Super Fine Pins - the ones in the adorable little blue Klip-Klap tin.
Claire is An Avid Writer and Educator

Except for this American Sewing Expo class, Claire has cut back on her traveling and now teaches an intensive 5 day workshop in Palm Springs only twice a year.  Lucky for us her knowledge is easily available in books, magazine articles including Threads and Vogue Patterns, and DVDs.  In February 2013 Claire's new book will be released,  Couture Sewing Tailoring Techniques.  I can hardly wait to get my copy. 

Rhonda Pierce and Claire Shaeffer
Thanks Claire for a terrific class.  Learning about thread tracing, easy bound buttonholes, creating trims and the importance of hand basting, you inspired me to sew for better fit and mostly . . . . craftsmenship.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Sewing Machine Needle: Anatomy

The SCHMETZ needle, that little 2" piece of steel, is one of the most important parts to your home sewing machine.  Your machine cannot operate without a needle, right?  Insert it wrong, and your machine will not work.  Use an incorrect needle and your stitches will be less than desirable.  Use a dull or bent needle and you risk damaging your machine, fabric and thread.  In other words the SCHMETZ needle is an essential work horse. Over the next few weeks, let's Get To The Point with SCHMETZ needle facts.

When was the last time you looked at, I mean really looked closely at your sewing machine needle?  There are eight parts to needle anatomy:

From top to bottom, let's review needle parts and their important functions:
  • Butt:  The very top of your needle has a beveled edge for easier insertion into your machine.
  • Shank:  Home sewing needles have a flat shank for perfect positioning in the needle bar in relation to the hook. 
  • Shoulder:  The transitioning area between the shank and the blade.  SCHMETZ color codes 5 needle types on the shoulder for easier identification.
  • Blade:  The length of the needle.  Needle size is determined by measuring the blade diameter.
  • Groove:  Cradles and guides thread to the eye of the needle.
  • Scarf:  The indentation above the eye that allows the bobbin hook to smoothly grab the thread under the throat plate to create a stitch.
  • Eye:  The hole through which thread passes. 
  • Point and Tip: The first area to penetrate fabric in stitch creation.  The point and tip length, shape and size vary according to needle types.

Next week we will review How to Read A Needle Package.