Last week, I made a quick trip to St. Louis, where I could see the arch from the front of my hotel. I was there for the Baby Lock convention, but also got to see my sister Angie for a couple of hours and my good, good friend, Sara Gallegos. She writes for several sewing magazines, and her husband Zac works for Baby Lock .
The highlight of the convention was the introduction of the new Baby Lock sewing and embroidery machines. They are really exciting. One of the sewing features I love is the Guide Beam. It is a narrow beam of light that can be adjusted to show needle position or a guideline to follow. I always tell my students not to watch where the needle is. It’s too late to make corrections if that is where you are watching. Watch where the needle will be in a few stitches. You’ll find you sew much straighter and you won’t do nearly as much unsewing. Now there is a feature on the new Baby Lock machines that makes it much easier to do just that – watch where the needle will be. Think of the applications that can have in your quilting and sewing. I can’t wait to sit down and sew on one.
Speaking of sewing, I’ve spent a couple of hours this past week doing just that. As I was sewing, I worked at paying attention to the things I do to make the actual sewing process go faster. We’ve talked about tools and the cutting process. Now we’ll talk about actual sewing.
There are no big hints that will save you hours and hours, but if we can save a few seconds per step on every block in the process, the time adds up nicely.
I always make one or two blocks to be sure that everything goes together the way I want it to. If not I can make the adjustments needed before I have a whole lot of sewing done.
Once I am happy with the block, I start assembly line style chain piecing. In other words, I sew all the A patches to the B patches for all the blocks. This has a couple of advantages. First, when you do assembly line sewing, you’ll be faster since you know exactly what to do and you can get in a rhythm. The second advantage is that you don’t have a lot of threads to trim. One snip and you have the thread for one side of two blocks taken care of.
When I cut the chain pieced blocks apart, I let one block hang over each side of the scissors blade. The fabric will usually be out of the way so you can quickly snip the thread. I then stack them all in the same direction to be ready for the next step.
I never stitch over a seam that I haven’t pressed. As I press, I stack the pieces so each piece is laying the same direction. When I start on the next seam, I can turn the whole stack so it lines up in the easiest way for that step.
I seldom pin. I press my seams so they can be nested in the next step in assembly; then I just hold them in position with my fingers. No pins to put in, no pins to take back out.
The last hint for the actual sewing process will probably make some of you smile. If I am not at work, I sew barefoot. The foot pedal can’t get away from me when I am barefoot. When it starts to scoot away, I can pull it back into position with my foot. I don’t even have to look at what I am doing.
Before I go, I want to thank all of you who followed our 12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour. It was lots of fun to see how many of you were visiting the other sites.
Have you been checking out Quilters Newsletter TV? We are having so much fun with it and hope you are enjoying it as well. This week ZJ Humbach talks about solving long arm quilting challenges.