Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

The voting is done in the Make It Perfect Show Your Stuff competition and my wrap skirt didn’t come in the top two places. On the plus side I did get a handful of votes, which means a handful of people really liked my skirt, so that’s pretty cool. Thanks again to Toni at Make It Perfect for running the competition and picking my skirt in her top 10.

While you can’t necessarily resolve to win a competition or giveaway, you’ve got to be in it to win it so this year I figure why not give it a go. I’ve been trying to leave more comments on my favourite blogs and say thanks to the generous people who share their stories and projects, and have been interacting with the crafty community a bit more. Along the way I’ve entered a few giveaways and I actually won one!

A big thank you to Rita at Red Pepper Quilts who hosted this particular giveaway, she has a wonderful blog showcasing her work with beautiful bright, clean photos and regularly hosts some really great giveaways.

A bigger thank you goes to Clare at Fabric 2 Go who sponsored the giveaway with a $50 voucher for their online store.

Fabric 2 Go Gift Certificate $50

I’m thinking I might have to put the voucher towards some flannel (and cute mini pom pom trim) to make some comfy PJ pants now that the weather has cooled off. Paired with the Sweet Dreams pattern from Make It Perfect, we’ll definitely have a winner.

I’m a Finalist! Make it Perfect: Show Your Stuff Competition

Toni over at Make It Perfect is running a competition – Show Your Stuff!

Make It Perfect - Show Your Stuff Competition

Participants have shared their creations from Make It Perfect patterns, you can see all of the awesome entries in the Show Your Stuff Flickr Group

Toni has now picked her Top 10 and my Versatile Wrap skirt has made it in!

The Versatile Wrap skirt in Aviary 2 fabricsThe Versatile Wrap skirt in Aviary 2 fabrics

I really do love this skirt, it’s so comfy and was quite easy for me as a beginner sewist to make. I’ve got my pattern pieces saved so it should be really quick to make some more, I’ve even got the fabric picked out for my next one, time to get cracking I think.

Go check out the entries in Toni’s Top 10 over on her blog and vote for your favourite, if that just happens to be entry A – The Versatile Wrap #1 thanks for your support!

And just for the sake of a giggle, this is what I now think of whenever I see this skirt – Portlandia, Put A Bird On It

I Love Binding Clips!

Do people really use pins to hold on their binding? Really? I stab myself often enough during the piecing & basting stages and I knew it would only get worse if I tried pinning my binding. Luckily I haven’t had to try it.

Clover Wonder Clips

I came across a few reviews of Clover Wonder Clips while researching the various stages of making a quilt and it just seemed like a no brainer, I bought a box of 50 clips (10 weren’t going to go very far without constant rotation). Granted, I’m a sucker for a good task-specific gadget but I’m also quite realistic about my abilities.

Given I’m only just starting out, I knew it would take me a while to get through binding a quilt. Could you imagine all that time with a quilt draped over me, with pins sticking into me, or falling out into the lounge for a nasty surprise later on. The standard binding clips wouldn’t last long either, it doesn’t take much to pop them open and I have trouble keeping them in my hair for a day, how would they hold onto the thickness of a quilt sandwich?

Clover Wonder Clips

The Clover Wonder Clips were perfect. They’re really strong (try holding one open for more than a few seconds) but they grab onto your quilt and there’s no way they’re coming off. They’re also really quick and easy to reposition, open them just enough and slide along or pop them on somewhere else. I used them to hold the binding all the way around the quilt to make sure my joins weren’t going to fall awkwardly on a corner, then in place of pins while machine stitching the binding to the front, and again to help hold the binding, and particular the mitred corners when hand stitching to the back. The pack of 50 also comes in it’s own neat little box.

Binding seems to be one of those love or hate things, it’s your favourite part or your most dreaded part of making a quilt. If you’ve been having trouble holding or positioning your binding, or have just been thinking of trying these clips, I would definitely recommend them. There are enough blood spots on my quilts as it is.

Introducing Suki: My Juki TL-98P

I love my new(ish) Juki! Her name is Suki, I bought her second hand about a month ago after debating for some time about upgrading my current machine, a Brother NS50. She’s now my main machine and gets to sit out on the dining table all the time. It’s a long story but with a happy ending, if you’re keen to find out more about the Juki and my experience, you might want to grab a cup of tea and get comfy.

Yesterday was the first time in a month that I’ve needed to zig zag stitch, I’d taken in a top and wanted to tidy up the seams, and wanted to experiement with making frankenbatting (which was awesome by the way) so I had the two out together, below you can see them side by side.

Juki TL-98P (right) and Brother NS50 (left)

The Brother NS50 is a great machine, it was simple enough to get started on with a few fun features for me to grow into from when I first began sewing. It does all the utility things I might need (button holes, overcast, zigzag, fancy stitches, has a free arm) so I’ll be holding on to it for some time still. I should probably name him to…

After quilting my first lap sized quilt and getting a really sore wrist while doing it I thought there’s no way I’m going to get anything bigger under here or have enough space to be able to free-motion quilt comfortably. I’m not saying it wasn’t possible, it just wasn’t easy. I want to be able to enjoy quilting and I know that sewing and quilting are going to be something I’ll do for a long time so about 2 years after I started on the Brother I was ready to invest in a machine that would make things a bit easier for me.

I’ll admit, I’d been sucked into the hype about Bernina’s and started investigating those after trying out a 440 during a free motion quilting class. It was as if the quilt was floating over the surface. I knew they would be expensive but I was prepared to make an investment so I started looking around. Turns out, the larger machines that would meet my number one request of more throat/harp space were beyond what I was ready to invest, and I didn’t see it as good value, I didn’t need more stitches and all the other nice-to-have features that were only a bit of an improvement on what my Brother could already do.

That lead me to put together the wishlist below of the things I really wanted/needed to make a new machine worthwhile.

  1. More throat space for machine quilting
  2. Needle down on stopping
  3. Knee lift for the presser foot, so I could keep my hands on what I was sewing
  4. Nice straight stitch
  5. Walking foot, 1/4″ foot and free motion feet included would be a bonus
  6. Extension table would be nice to have while I sort out my furniture situation (I hope to eventually have a drop in table, but don’t think I’ll be cutting a hole in my dining table any time soon).

Juki TL-98P

I’ve been seeing and hearing so many good things about the Juki TL98 machines, and the newer TL2010 machines, mostly from my favourite bloggers and while reading reviews. It’s pretty hard to find someone who doesn’t love their Juki or who has had issues with it.

It ticked all the boxes, and then some. It has a thread cutter with a button on the foot pedal, I didn’t think I needed that but now I’ve used it a bit it sure does come in handy. It’s got a reverse lever and feed dog up/down switch on the front where it’s easy to access. Foot and thread tensions will take some getting used to but surely can only improve my stitches. It also came with a knee lift, extension table and quilting related feet as standard. While it has all these great, relevant, features, it’s a really simple machine, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that I didn’t need or want, another huge plus for me.

It wasn’t long before I was convinced this was the machine I wanted, and I didn’t look any further. It’s a mechanical, semi-industrial machine (Juki make a lot of industrial sewing machines) it also goes really, really fast. I would have liked a speed limiter, I use that a bit on my Brother, but that was only introduced on the 2010 model which is not available here, so I’ll just have to learn to control my foot pressure, not a bad skill to develop.

My biggest issue is they’re not easy to find here in Australia. Over here we only have the TL-98P (Perfection), which I believe is the equivalent to the TL-98Q feature wise, but it’s built for 240v power supplies, used here and also in Europe. There aren’t any local dealers, when I contacted Juki there were only 2 authorised sellers listed and they were in different states. I have since found a couple places in Sydney that stock Juki and I didn’t get around to arranging a trip up to test drive any when I came across the listing for mine.

I ended up purchasing Suki from Sewing Machine Warehouse via eBay. She was a trade in from another customer who had a frame setup for quilting, tried it out for a little while and then decided to upgrade to a table top mid arm machine instead. I have to say, I was hesitant about buying a machine, particularly a second hand one, online without getting to try it out first, not even a new one of the same model. I asked questions about the machines history and saw a lot of good reviews for the seller, being a physical store as well gave some reassurance and ultimately the price was too good to pass up. They were easy to deal with and took extra care when packing the machine for delivery.

I bought my current machine new from my local sewing machine shop Vera’s Machine Center and couldn’t have been happier with the help I received in choosing a machine, learning to use it, and when taking it in for servicing. I’d absolutely recommend finding a good local dealer and buying from them if you can. In this case I couldn’t find the machine I wanted locally, but I’m hoping I can get my machine serviced through them and hope to continue that relationship.

So far, I’m really happy with my Juki. I’m still figuring out a few things and looking at a few additional accessories, extra bobbins etc and hope to share more as I get to know her better. If you have any questions about the Juki TL-98P ask away and I’ll try to answer them as best I can. It wasn’t easy to find a lot of information about the machine and how to purchase one in Australia so I’m happy to share what I know and hope it will help someone else.