Merry Christmas (well, Boxing Day anyway)!

I hope you're all having a great time. I thought I'd show you what I got for Christmas. Well, I say show, my camera ran out of power just as I was about to take the first photo so I will just add links to pictures on the web. : )

Present No. 1
The main thing is the Janome Rotary Even Feed Foot Set. As you know, I have a Brother sewing machine, but the Janome website said that it is made to fit all sewing machines.

Anyway, it has three hemmer attachments, an adjustable binder attachment, and an adjustable bind hem attachment. It is good for sewing awkward fabrics. It would have done a better job on my plaid if the fabric had been on grain.

The hemmer takes a little practise, but I'm getting the hang of it. I find that if you hand baste the beginning, wrap the hem around the curl of the attachment, bring it towards you and then arrange it so that the start is under the needle, it is a lot easier and so gives better results. When you get to the end you have to leave long thread trails and then hand sew the last 4cm or so with a backstitch, otherwise the bit you are sewing uncurls and you end up with a rather uneven hem.

The binder takes a bit of practise too. It helps if you press (even finger press) the tape in half lengthways first, because it has a tendency to slide out of position.

You can't sew satin stitches with this foot because there isn't the room underneath. There are white bits on the underside which I think could be Teflon to help go over vinyls etc. but I can't be sure.

The screw that you use to attach the attachments is very tough. In fact I had to get my pliers to turn it all the way at first. Now I sometimes have to use a cloth or something to help me to grip it and not hurt my fingers. The kit comes with a nice clear plastic box. It's good quality and nice a smooth.

Presents No.s 2,3 and 4
I also got three pressing cushions: a tailors ham, a seam roll, and a pressing mitt. I was going to buy them myself but now thankfully I don't have to and I can save that money. : ) I haven't had cause to use them yet, since I only got them yesterday, but I shall be using them in the future.

Present No. 5
 My brother kindly bought me a diary that fits in my handbag. Again, I was going to buy one, but now I don't have to. : )

Present No. 6
This one hasn't arrived yet. Mum has bought me a ruffler attachment for my sewing machine. To save money, I picked one from America to take advantage of the currency rate. The last we know of it at the moment, the courier picked it up in Wichita on the (I think)8th December.
I've yet to find out if it's really that golden colour, or if that was just the light in the photography studio.

Now, I didn't just receive presents, I gave them as well. I gave Mum some André Rieu DVDs and I gave my brother Rayman Origins for the PS3.

On another subject...
Having saved up for years and having been thinking of starting a children's dressmaking business, I was thinking of upgrading my sewing machine to a top of the line model that does embroidery and alphabets. But before I decided I thought I would have a go with my Brother XR6600 and see just how much it can do.

I have begun doing more free-motion embroidery. I don't have the foot for it but you don't really need one. I think their main purpose is free-motion quilting, i.e. on layers of fabric. On regular fabric you don't need one. Sometimes you don't even need to use a hoop. It depends how stable the fabric is. Anyway, yesterday I made myself a personalised coaster with a butterfly on it and my name above the butterfly. It helps if you draw the picture or letters onto the fabric first and then sort of trace them with your needle and thread. Mine isn't perfect, but it isn't bad either.

Something else I had a go at was appliqué. My sewing machine has an appliqué stitch, which some may call a buttonhole stitch. Doesn't it look lovely?

I also tried it with a satin stitch pearl scallop. It isn't quite as good, but I only had one go.

You can also see that I free-motioned my initials, and my name, the latter being only about 1/4" tall. I wrote onto the fabric first for the smaller lettering that says "Sabrina" but I winged it on the "WB".

Along the top are some scallops from the in-built stitch, and an early attempt at binding the edge using my new attachment.

Using a stitch that looks like a buttonhole stitch mirrored, and having the upper tension set at 8, you can make a picot edge. I did this on some very drapey viscose knit (it only works on soft or thin fabrics). I tried to scan it in but the image never looked right. The fabric is grey. Maybe that has something to do with it?

Here is a sample of my hemming using the 1/2" hemmer attachment that I got for Christmas. In the photo above, you can just see where I stitched a wavy stitch along a hemmed edge. It's a nice touch and you could easily whip up some napkins or place-mats etc. like this. Think what a great gift that would make if you have a wedding coming up! Why! You could even monogram them or add a picture. Don't you just love sewing?! : )

I am so pleased with the buttonholes on this sewing machine. They are so much easier and more professional looking than the 4-step buttonholes on the Toyota 21-DES. I stitched some two of the buttonholes, decreasing the stitch length to 0.2.. and the width to 4mm (which refers to the width of the buttonhole, not the stitches along the sides of it). The buttonholes look better in real life than they do on the photo. The top one is a round-ended buttonhole and the other is a regular buttonhole. The bottom one is a regular buttonhole without any buttons pace in the back of the foot. It's only 1/4" long from start to end. You could even use it as a squarish eyelet! The little thing near it is a bar tack that my sewing machine makes automatically.

You know, I think some people think that the Brother XR6600 and it's twins-in-different-casings (like the CSi6000) do less than perfect topstitching. That is largely down to the needle they use and the fabric they are sewing on. Linen is determined to have wobbly top-stitching, but just look at the lovely zigzag stitching on this bias binding! I defy anyone to find a better-looking stitch quality! The same for the straight-stitch. Please ignore the less-than-perfect binding. I haven't quite got the hang of the attachment yet.

So that is what I have been doing this Christmas, that and watching television with Mum and Joe, and cooking Christmas dinner. What have you been doing? I heard that Italian-Americans eat fish at Christmas time. Do you have any unusual traditions (eating more than is sensible aside?).

What about your new year's resolutions? One of mine is to keep accounts of my money and be more economically-minded. I shall put a certain amount aside for each expense and also save a certain amount. For example, £8 or so per month will go to my sewing funds. If I don't use it, it gets carried over to the next month and so on. And I don't borrow anything from my other "accounts" either! I may however dip into my savings to buy Mum a Kindle for her birthday in January.

Until the new year (2012 -- where did 2011 go?), happy sewing and festivities. : )
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner Haberdashery, 41 Market Place, Hornsea, HU18 1AP, United Kingdom.

P.S. We watched the Queen's message yesterday and while our National Anthem was playing, I found myself singing The Star Spangled Banner! Well, the tunes are the same, and I don't know our lyrics. I only heard the American ones on the cartoons I grew up watching. I believe the words "God save the Queen" are somewhere in ours, but they are all I know. Shameful, I know.


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