29 May 2008

White: Foot pressure and feed dogs

Not only had I never worked with a bobbin case before (see immediately preceding post), I also never had manual control over the foot pressure and feed dogs of my Babylock either. So here's what I've learned:

Foot Pressure

Presser foot pressure is important to adjust because too little pressure can result in poor feeding of fabric, skipped stitches, or difficulty guiding fabric. Too much pressure can result in presser foot impressions on the fabric.

To release the pressure, push down the outer ring. To increase pressure, push down the inner pin until desired pressure is achieved.

foot pressure

1 = darning
2 = stretch fabrics, multiple thickness, heavy material
3 = regular sewing

Feed Dogs

Feed dogs are metal teeth that emerge from the throat plate. They grip and advance fabric under the presser foot, thereby allowing the regulation of stitch length.

feed dog control

Lower = Button sewing, darning, embroidery/freehand quilting
Raised = Normal sewing

White: All about bobbins

Winding the Bobbin

The hand wheel needs to be released from the machine shaft so that the stitch mechanism is disengaged while winding the bobbin. To do this, hold the hand wheel stationary while turning turn the stop motion knob counterclockwise.


Pull thread from a spool as in photo below and insert through hole in bobbin, and then place bobbin onto bobbin winder spindle. Press downward to engage bobbin winder pulley with hand wheel. Depress knee controller to run machine. Machine will automatically stop when bobbin is filled. Turn clutch clockwise to re-engage the stitch mechanism. Tip: Go slowly! Moving too quickly will heat up and stretch the thread as it winds onto the bobbin, which will result in puckering of fabric when bobbin thread relaxes after being sewn.

winding the bobbin

The Bobbin Case

bobbin case

Threading the case
: Hold case with finger upwards and guide bobbin onto center spindle so that the thread leads from left to right. Pull thread into slot and under the tension spring.

Adjusting the tension: (Note: Adjust upper tension with presser foot down). To adjust lower tension, use the small screw to the side if the bobbin case. Righty tighty, lefty loosey!

Loading in the shuttle
: Hold the bobbin case latch to lock the bobbin in its case and slip case onto center post of the shuttle body so that the bobbin case finger fits into the shuttle race notch. Press firmly and release latch when bobbin case is securely in place.

Drawing up the thread: Hold end of upper thread loosely and turn hand wheel until needle goes down the throat plate and back up again, bringing with it a loop of lower thread. Pull both threads through presser foot slot and toward back of machine.

drawing up the thread

White: Upper threading

My thrift store White came without a manual and it was all new to me because my Babylock has a threading cartridge and a drop in bobbin, not to mention the fact that it's completely computerized. I figured the best way to remember everything I'm learning (via online manuals to similar machines) is to blog about it. So here goes.

1) Place spool onto left peg and hook thread through guide
2) Hook under the tension plate from back to front, continuing upward to catch the notch in the auxiliary spring.
3) Insert through take-up slot (which has been raised to its uppermost position) from back to front
4) Hook into needle clamp thread guide
5) Thread the eye of the needle from front (where the shaft groove is) to back (where the flat side of the body is), or in this case from left to right

upper threading

Tips: Raise the presser foot to release upper thread tension; maintain slight manual tension while threading to take up any slack.

26 May 2008

Here a tweet, there a tweet

Everywhere a tweet tweet!

Spring brings so many birds to this house. A few are outside, like the ones who've nested behind 4 of the 6 porch lights.

bird outside

And a few come inside, like the 3 birds we had to chase out the windows last week. Hmm...maybe it was the same bird over and over again. I'm no ornithologist.

bird inside

Sorry for the crappy shots--those birdies are fast!

25 May 2008

Secondhand finds

Even though I have no particular need for another vintage sewing machine, I search craigslist everyday. A recent search yielded a local garage sale listing. Though I didn't come home with the treadle, here's what $5.50 bought me:

A bunch of hoops (the largest round is a 14" hoop). I think I'll craft some decorative wall hangings for the sewing room with them.


Here is a groovy 12" tall cookie jar with its own winking owlet on top--I just loved all of the sculptural and painted detailing. It's going to house some sewing notions since I'm trying to phase out all of the plastic containers.

owl cookie jar

I got this divided vegetable dish, also for sewing notions, without realizing that Daisy and Dot dinnerware from Mar-crest was collectible. The glaze on this Pennsylvania Dutch-style dish is called Warm Colorado Brown and was produced by Western Stoneware in the 1950s and 1960s. Western was itself a merging of seven different potteries in Monmouth, Illinois in 1907.

mar-crest divided vegetable

And while we're at it, here are a few items from a previous thrifting trip. First up is a simple milk glass mixing bowl (current home to some cut up cantaloupe).

milk glass cantaloupe

When I saw this delicate gold gilded lotus motif bowl, I knew my mother would love to plop in a few frogs and turn it into a beautiful floral arrangement. She's a bargainer extraodinaire so I never tell her what I paid for anything because she would promptly inform me that I had paid too much.

lotus bowl

And here are two skirts. Garage sales and thrift stores markedly dampen my drive to sew clothing because there's no way I would be able to find raw fabric for the same price as a completed item, much less make the time to sew it all together.

thrift skirts

Finally, I picked up a few goodies through the Friends of the Library bookstore.

friends books

A friend, whose husband is also an only child, once asked if I was able to tolerate secondhand items since her husband is not exactly enamored of them. I suppose the same would be true for me if I hadn't grown up with so many hand-me-downs!

24 May 2008

Warmer days

I can't believe how dreary it is outside, when it was practically 100 degrees just last week. Here are photos from those warmer times, including a shot of the boys at a community park...


...and of The Pax playing a very wet game of fetch.

Pax swimming

22 May 2008

Daylilies (Hemerocallis) aren't lilies at all.

(True lilies are in the family Liliaceae of the order Liliales. But daylilies are from the family Hemerocallidaceae of the order Asparagales.)

The front flowerbed used to overflow with gorgeous clusters of annuals. And then I had kids. So now it's full of hardy perennials, five different cultivars of daylily to be specific, that require far less attention. They're so pretty in the flowering season, but while the right half is semi-evergreen, the left half is herbaceous and its dormancy makes for sad empty spots in the winter.


Here you can clearly see the 3 sepals of the calyx and 3 petals with their contrasting midribs.


And this is a good view of the stamen with the pollen-carrying anthers.


They're aptly called daylilies because they often bloom at sunrise but wither by sunset. Fortunately, there is usually at least a bud or two from the same stem that's ready to replace yesterday's bloom.


This one is my favorite because of the dramatic contrast of the throat color.


13 May 2008

Rainbow cupcakes

I saw these on craftster and HAD to bake them! All I did was mix the batter as usual, but divided it in quarters to add food coloring and dollop the batter one color at a time.

rainbow batter

I have really got to learn how to finish off baked goods. In this case, I just plopped frosting on top and hoped for the best.

rainbow frost

Here is a half eaten cupcake to show the inside.

rainbow eat

10 May 2008

Free FQ

A little while ago, I got a free fat quarter during a promotion from my local quilt shop. I arrived pretty late in the day so there weren't many prints available and I picked a floral that isn't quite my usual style. But now that it's a completed project, it's really grown on me.

The only reason I dare to call this a tute is because I have an in-progress shot of how I stiffened the bottom so that the bag doesn't sag when filled.


The bottom and sides of the exterior as well as the entire interior are made of baby wale cord. So velvety soft! I used the entire FQ without a single scrap to spare.


09 May 2008


This is an amazing dragon for A1 that was, unfortunately for me, beautifully sewn by a friend (oh, how I LOVE handmade gifts!). Now A1 has the notion that it's possible for me to bring to life his own fantastic menagerie. I haven't the heart to tell him my sewing talents fall well short of his imagination.


And here are 2 views of the boys' new playhouse. It makes the old one look kind of sad!


07 May 2008

Solarveil pouch

In deciding whether to show the kids on this blog, I've leaned toward the affirmative. But in doing so, I can't help it but wonder if it a small indicator of resignation about the possibility of ever returning to my chosen profession.

So here is a shot of A2 in a pouch that I finished some time ago, but never photographed.


I'm still not as proficient with ringslings and I've found mei tais, particularly ones with hoods like my old Solarveil OMT, are too cumbersome in the pool and difficult to put on at the beach. So this carrier is never leaving the stash because not only do I love the streamlined nature of pouches, I also love the sun-protective qualities of this fabric which is no longer being manufactured.

06 May 2008

Dietes iridioides

Called fortnight lilies because of their 2-week intervals of bloom, these hardy and low maintenance (bordering on weed-like) southern African natives are all over the yard. It's mostly because they readily self-sow and I've been too lazy to deadhead them. This volunteer popped up under the pomegranates and while I think the flower is so pretty, I'm probably going to have to yank it out or else I will end up with a whole hillside of these invasive clumps.

fortnight lily

05 May 2008

Felt pizza

Here are some photos of the lopsided dough (just like my real life crusts!), with sauce and cheese on top, followed by toppings. I'm pretty happy with the red and green bell pepper slivers and the mushroom and olive slices, but I'm not so sure about the pepperoni. When James saw it, his first question was why the meat was brown. A nice maroon scrap of felt would have been useful for this project.

Not that either of our opinions matter because A1 had fun playing regardless of the inappropriately colored meat.

04 May 2008

Garage sale chicken

For 50 cents, this avian delight came home to us. You're jealous.

wicker chicken

01 May 2008

Pound cake

We made 8 mini-loaves. I ate 6 all by myself. How is this possible? I must be stopped.

pound cake