A review of the JUKI TL -2200 QVP mini sewing machine

A review of the JUKI TL -2200 QVP mini sewing machine

For the last four years I have been using a Janome Horizon sewing machine. It’s been a great piece of kit and I love it dearly, but late last year I made the decision to invest in a new sewing machine - the Juki TL-2200 QVP mini. There were a few reasons for this.

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'Stitched with Love'

 'Stitched with Love'

If like me you love anything in the genre of ‘Sewing things’ you’ll know how hard it is to resist when a new pattern comes out that is just perfect for the wall of your sewing space. And so it was when I saw Camille Roskelley’s new little mini quilt pattern ‘Stitched with Love’. I decided immediately that it was on the to do list and ordered the pattern. It arrived last week, along with at the equally irresistible, gorgeous bundle of the ‘Rifle Paper Co’s’ latest bundle of fabric - ‘English Garden’ and an autumn wind that just set the tone for my weekend.

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Tuffets...little and large!

Tuffets...little and large!

So.. the tuffet. Well, this is a project that has been on the back burner, or rather on the top of my cupboard for quite some time. It all started when I was visiting my dear friend Sylvi in Houston last year. She was making tuffets and teaching tuffet making and I went along with her to one of her classes. Of course, I came home with the pattern.

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"Recipe"

"Recipe"

Yorkshire folk are renowned for their plain speaking, no nonsense way of doing things. I am not so good at this! Probably because I like writing and creating and all sorts of chattery nonsense really. But....being a 'recycling' kinda gal who believes 100% in using up and making everything pretty ... AND in order to not feel too bad about the amount of fabric in my sewing room...I decided today, to dig deep and have a go.

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Ruby's first Mini Quilt Kit and a reorganisation in the SewingRoom!

Ruby's first Mini Quilt Kit and a reorganisation in the SewingRoom!

I'm up early this morning, so thought I would blog away with all my news.   First of all, I have had a bit of a reorganisation in the sewing room to accommodate all my plans.    Like most quilters and fabric junkies, I seemed to have endless ikea trays and boxes full of bits and pieces, odd fat quarters, offcuts and precuts, fabrics that have been given to me along the way and fabrics that I have bought with plans in mind, that somehow have never quite come to fruition.  Being organised seems like a small thing, but I know from friends, that quilters are notoriously not so good at this.  Hoarding, stashing and making a mess are bywords for our species.  Trying to start a small business though means addressing this and a little more order is called for. Time to get to grips with this addiction and I have to say...it is totally liberating!!!  

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Something old...something new!

A week or so ago I had quite an extraordinary day.  I took delivery of two wonderful sewing machines, within an hour.

  Oldnnew

Because we have been living abroad, ever since my mum passed away four years ago, I have had a storage unit full of an assortment of furniture and belongings from her house and ultimately from my childhood home.  Now that we are back in England, I was anxious to retrieve all this stuff and when it arrived, despite feeling a little heavy of heart, I was both happy and sad to see so many things from both my parents and grandparents homes.   One of my most favourite things was an original 1950's ercol dressing table that used to belong to my grandparents.  Beautifully made, it was every bit as lovely as I remembered and when I opened the drawers, the smell of that happy holiday seaside house wafted gloriously around the bedroom.  I was a bit concerned about how exactly such a piece that is so much of its time might fit into our 1825 house, but I shouldn't have worried - it looks totally fab!!!  It reminds me of the days of steamer trunks and grand ocean liners, afternoon tea dresses with hats and gloves and pearls and days when people had a little more pride in everything.   I feel like it gives a rather sophisticated look to our room and makes me feel as if I should powder my nose and put my lipstick on every morning.   We are constantly bombarded in magazines with the idea that everything in our homes today should be themed and matched and ultimately disposable when we get bored of it.   However, sometimes its worth to keep these old peices, reuse and give them a new life - recycling at its absolute best, I should think.

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The other things I was especially keen to see again was my mum's Singer sewing machine and my grandmother's sewing table.  I learnt to sew on this machine, my mum made us many things on this, including my sister's wedding dress and a taffeta ballgown for me with a boned bodice.  What struck me most though, was how these 'work horses' were an integral part of the household in a way that I think sewing machines are not anymore.  It was used to repair and remake things, to produce those Oh so lovely grey school uniform tunics and gym bags and so very many mundane things that were so necessary for everyday life.  I wonder what my grandmother and mum would make of the sort of sewing I am doing - patchwork, applique and embroidery - it seems all rather whimsical doesn't it.  I had a few tears when I first saw it - but now every morning it makes me smile.    It weighs an absolute ton, hasn't got a scratch on it and the wheel turns with a contented purr like it is made to last forever.  It is a superb piece of engineering and for sure it will see its newest rival off in the years to come. 

The new intruder in the sewing room is my much hankered after Janome Horizon 8900QCP.   Thank you to my darling, who never batted an eyelid at its arrival, which was announced with squeals of delight!!  I confess, my main motivation in choosing this machine, is the extended 11" arm space which will make quilting those large projects, so much easier.  But.... but.... it does soooooo much more.  It is an absolute dream machine of the first order.  I am still learning about all it can do, but I can say this - it is quiet, high tech and stitches absolutely effortlessly.  Perhaps my very favourite thing is the automatic thread cutter - no more threads all over me and the carpet and the cat!!! not to mention wrapped around the hoover!! 

 So my sewing room is filling up and yesterday another wonderful addition - a design wall.  Previously I had one of those 'Clover' design sheets pinned up with drawing pins and it worked well enough in our house in Sweden.   However, I felt a more tidy solution was called for now we have a permanent home and after wandering around the DIY store, I wasn't at all sure what it could be.  Then out of nowhere, I had the idea to use an artists canvas.  I found that I could actually buy two 140 x 70cm canvasses - the perfect size for my 150cm square sheet and with some small metal brackets to fix the two sheets together, it was done.

Designwall
Then I simply cut a large piece of batting to lay on the surface and put my design sheet over the top and tacked it to the underside of the canvas so that it was tight.  Although its large, its light and plenty strong enough for me to pop up all the patchwork blocks that I am working on.  It's a relatively cheap solution to something that is crucial if you are a quilting nut!!!  Its totally perfect!

  Designwall2

So things are shaping up in the sewing room.... a tour of which will be forthcoming, but I am not quite ready to show you yet.   Just before I go, a word in your ear if you are looking for a new project - there is a quilt along going down at Sara Lawson's blog www.sewsweetness.com - it's Alison Glass' Tessellation quilt, which in my opinion is rather like a peice of modern art.  I saw the buzz about it on Instagram and actually I liked the word 'Tessellation' so much that I went to have a look (I confess I had to look up the word to see what it actually meant).  I have decided that its the perfect 'University' quilt for my William - but whizz along there and see what you think - its modern and funky and .....paper pieced - Ouch I hear you cry!! not at all - there are clear and easy to follow instructions and if you have never done foundation paper peicing before, I promise you, it's a revelation.  Stitch along with me and everyone else and watch it all come together on instagram, Sara's blog, my blog and well.... everyone's talking about it.

Tesselations
Hope you'll join me, this is going to be something completely different for a vintage gal like me.  See you guys soon - Ruby x

Inspiration, Experimentation and Sorting out Saturday!

Yesterday was a bit of a sort out day in my sewing room.  How nice it feels to be organised!  Last week when the removals company came to assess what was needed for our 'move' back to England in June, I was suddenly hit with sense of mild uneasiness at the task ahead.  Although I might think I am an old hand at this moving lark, I can say this with absolute clarity - THIS IS THE LAST TIME!!!  So, when I heard the guy sigh at the sight of my sewing space, I was galvanised into action...well sort of....   I think its easy to forget when you are happy just to sit all day, every day in a pile of wonderful fabrics and threads and colour, knowing exactly what you are going to do with it all, that to somebody else, it simply looks like chaos.    When I spotted these wonderful storage boxes in our local department store, I bought their entire stock and having filled them fairly quickly, may have to go back next week to see if they have got any more in.  Aren't they pretty? They are actually quite sturdy and are made from recycled material, so that eases my conscience at indulging my passion for red and turquiose.  I think they will look fab in my new sewing room when we get home and so much nicer than plastic boxes.  So what d'ya'think? I think super cool!

06.04.14
 Meanwhile, back amidst the pile of chaos I have alittle sewing to share with you.  I  love historical costumes and books about historical costumes and am always lamenting the style of dress we call fashion today.  When I was a little girl, my very favourite book was the Ladybird Story of Clothes and Costumes.  Do you remember these?  I cannot tell you how many times I copied and coloured the pictures in this book. 

06.04.14d
 It still sits reassuringly on the shelf in my sewing space, but I have moved up in the book stakes to something a little more sophisticated these days, although essentially the idea for me is the same as when I was 8 years old.  My two most drooled over books are V&A publications and I can sit quite happily and while away the time with these. 

P1020857

It's a bit like watching those lavish costume dramas on TV - you just oooh and ahhh and wonder what it is that we have lost in our search for easy wash, easy wear garments.   No doubt mass production is the culprit here, but what if we just take a little time to look at what's involved in making a simple garment beautiful. 

One of my favourite photographs in the book is this:

06.04.14a
The book plate lists it as 'Dress of Muslin embroidered with wool circa 1808',  It's fair to say you couldn't go shopping in Tesco's in such a garment - but you could take some inspiration from this and put it on an everyday shirt that I reckon would sit quite nicely with jeans.  I am not so good at dressmaking as I may have mentioned before, but this is something I intend to work on.   I cut up an old piece of sheeting and using a very simple sleeveless shirt pattern, I cut out a bodice.  Before attempting to stitch it together, I copied some of the motifs from the photograph onto the neckline. It turned out pretty well, I think...

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The embroidered flowers were simple, but I did learn a thing or two.  First of all you need to stabilise the fabric before you stitch.    If its a pretty sheer fabric to begin with and you don't want to spoil this look, perhaps 'stictch and tear'  is a good option. I just put a band of iron on interfacing around the neckline and it seemed to be ok.  Obviously the fabric I used was not really suitable and when I make another one that intend to actually wear,  I shall probably opt for something a bit more substantial like Liberty Tana Lawn or just 100% patchwork weight cotton.   I might also add in some of that beautiful pintuck detail on the bodice, which again is something much overlooked these days.  I used ordinary DMC embroidery floss as the idea of 'wool' like the original didn't seem a very 'washable' choice to me -but then again, I don't suppose they really 'washed' dresses like that.  It was an interesting experiment and something to work on further - just a beginning on a journey that has been a long time coming....... Ruby x