Oh no, not another Ruby.

In my pricing of sewing machines yesterday I saw a mention of a Husqvarna RubyRuby sewing machine, those of you who know me know I love Saab Ruby Classic 900 cars and after years of wanting finally bought  myself one two years ago. The Saab Ruby is all I could have hoped for and I love driving it. I love the colour ruby and if I was keen on gemstones would like rubies in jewellery too. The Husqvarna Ruby was a new one for me though, how did I miss its launch a couple of years ago? It has just been updated to the Designer Ruby De Luxe version so the original Ruby machines are being discounted, the new one is £3679 whereas a Ruby mark 1 seems to be available for about £2800. Not exactly a snip but infinitely better than the higher figure. I’ve also seen Ruby machines that have been used as shop demonstrators for around £2000. I’m tempted, very tempted by a demo model, can I justify spending that much on a sewing/embroidery machine when I have one already? Probably not which is why it is a good job it is Sunday and the shops are closed. However looking back through my records I see that I bought my machine over ten years ago, it has certainly had a hard life as when I got it I was doing a lot of both home sewing (curtains, bedding etc) and sewing for school plays (costumes, including cows, camels, chickens etc, scenery and curtains) and making drawstring bags and aprons and dressing up clothes for the children. It’s technology is outdated – floppy disks- and it no longer reads new patterns, it’s received some damage over the years and has a broken top cover, its resale value is probably around £50 but in its favour it still sews well, I have a collection of accessories for it and I enjoy every minute of sewing with it. Over the years I have bought a lot of accessories for it, would they fit the Ruby? The feet certainly would but how about the hoops, the quilting table and the flat bed accessory case? The demo Ruby would come with the basic 5D software package – not as complete as the 3D Professional version but apparently I could import designs from the older one to the other rather than having to upgrade. On the other hand what real benefits will it give me? Other than the wider embroidery field – useful but hardly a necessity, there is a touch screen display (full colour) and a lot of scope for accurate positioning of designs using that, there are a few more stitches though I’d be hard pressed to use all the stitches I’ve got now, a few more buttonholes, ditto, and more memory, again I have yet to fill the current memory, connection to computer is via USB or cable – oh so convenient and less likely to have problems than my ageing collection of floppy disks, udating via the Internet is possible though as the machine has been superseded by the Ruby De Luxe the updating may cease as it did when the Designer was replaced by the Designer SE, Diamond and now the Diamond De Luxe but as the new cost of those is about £5500 that isn’t even worth dreaming about.
Oh well, time to go and enjoy the machine I already have and ponder the possibilities a bit more.

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A beautiful blouse and at snip at …

Cutwork-Finesse-202-Emb-ChjMy recent experiences of machine embroidery encouraged me to have a look around the Husqvarna Viking embroidery website at some of the new designs. I saw this blouse and skirt combination and loved the blouse, I have reservations about the skirt but it’s pretty too. A bit of digging around found that the designs Cutwork Finesse are the work of Helene Koch a designer whose work I have admired since the 1990s when she was featured in the Husqvarna magazine ZigZag (which is sadly out of production now). To buy the disk is £70 plus VAT – not cheap but there are over 20 different designs on the disk and the embroidery design is good quality.  Then we come up against the problem of machine/ software versions. I have an early Husqvarna Designer sewing and embroidery machine. I also have Husqvarna 3D Professional software. The machine does not read newer versions of the software and the software does not support the newer and bigger embroidery hoops.The designs are intended for use in some of the larger hoops e.g. the Royal hoop (360 x 200mm) or Crown Hoop (260 x 200mm) neither of which fit my machine. I could split the designs to make them suitable for the narrower Mega Hoop (350 x 150mm) but splitting cutwork designs is fraught with difficulty, not so much with the splitting but the putting back together neatly afterwards. So I began a little research into the cost of upgrading – ha!

The cheapest machine suitable for the size of the embroidery would be £1939, the newest version of the software I already have is another £1099 so lets add that up Total cost for machine, software and design disk £3115 and as the computer I use in the sewing room is older than either machine or software a new laptop would add another couple of hundred pounds to that.

I would have to have plans to embroider an awful lot of cutwork blouses to justify that! In the meantime maybe I should brush up my buttonhole and satin stitches and embroider the blouse by hand instead.

The flat felled seam foot.

Despite the fact that I have a cold, and therefore really wanted to spend the day in bed or on the sofa with a blanket and a hot water bottle, I wanted to try my jeans foot out and get my second jeans skirt sewn today. viking footThe foot is easy to snap on to the shank and makes a neat seam with precisely folded edges. You do need to remember to sew the seam on the outside of the garment to get the typical jeans style two row stitched finish on the right side of your fabric. I practiced on scrap fabric first but of course forgot when I sewed the first seam on my skirt! By the time I’d finished the skirt I felt quite confident using the foot and will happily use it again for my next skirt … or even a pair of jeans!
So why no photos of the skirt, you may be wondering, well the skirt is navy blue, the thread is navy blue and does not photograph well enough to show the seams clearly. McCalls jeans skirt

Madeira work, part 2

The bolster case is finished and is on the bed and in use.sewing april2013 004 The blue edging is not a very good match for the duvet cover, trying to carry colours in my head is never a good plan – I should have taken a pillowcase with me. The duvet cover is a V & A design from an embroidered jacket, it is very pretty but the

pillow cases can only be arranged with thesewing april2013 003

patterned edging to the left as the design

looks wrong upside down so I have put the

bolster on top of the pillows instead,

and can see my handiwork better.

I had great plans to continue the heirloom sewing today with a new blouse but woke in the night feeling sick and have spent today feeling generally out of sorts, shivery and nauseous. I decided that would not be a good omen to start using a pattern I haven’t tried before so played around with some shadow work embroidery instead. The following are all made using the same design on white handkerchief linen but the applique fabrics are different. sewing april2013 009The first one uses the pale blue fabric from the Madeira applique but I made the mistake of using a non-soluble stabilizer so the colour looks more muted than I’d intended. Apologies for the black dog-hairs on the linen, Skye is moulting and the hair is very fine but sticks to everything!

Sample 2 is the same fabric but with a pink satin used for the applique, sewing april2013 010the colour is better but the fabric was slippery and more difficult to trim to the stitching line neatly. Finally I tried using a second layer of linen and white thread – this is my favourite version sewing april2013 011but doesn’t show up as well in the photograph as when it is held up to the light. The design is from a larger arrangement called Shadow Work Tulips by Snez Babic intended to be the decoration on the bodice of a nightdress.

My Jeans foot has arrived so I’ll have to have a play with that next!

A little linen dress.

Still on the theme of “heirloom sewing” I made this little dress for the new baby of one of our knitting group recently but didn’t want to post the pictures until I’d given the present to its new owner. march 2013 018The dress is made from white handkerchief linen.

It is made from a vintage McCall’s sewing pattern. I embroidered the cherry blossom on the machine and added a pinstitch hem to give the skirt a bit of weight.march 2013 021

This is sewn on the machine using a wing needle to make the little holes in the linen.

I added flower shaped buttons on the back and used the same buttons on the front of the little cardigan I knitted to go with it. They aren’t shown on the photos because I took the photos before I sewed the buttons on!

The cardigan is the Little Margot Wrap from one of the Sirdar Sublime Baby Cashmerino books, knitted in Piglet Pink.march 2013 020 It is knitted in the six month size as hopefully by the time the young lady grows into it we will have some nice warm weather suitable for linen dresses and short sleeved cardigans!

Here is the dress and cardigan together.march 2013 017

Madeira, my dear?

In the hunt through the floppy disks I came upon a Madeira applique design. I’ve recently replaced some of our duvet covers and pillowcases with smart new ones but could not find any bolster cases that I liked. I have one whitework bolster cover that I’m very fond of but the others are plain polycotton and are useful rather than decorative. What better way to test out the Madeira design than to make a bolster cover. A quick trip to the fabric shop to get some 100% cotton in white and pale blue and some embroidery stabilizer and I was ready to start.march 2013 024 The design uses the Mega Hoop – the largest embroidery hoop that fits my machine, a wing needle and a plain micro-sharp needle and tear away stabilizer to support the fine cotton fabric. I used rayon machine embroidery thread throughout  the design as I could not find cotton machine embroidery thread locally and didn’t want to wait to order some online.

march 2013 025

The design isn’t quite wide enough for the bolster covers so I added two more scallops using a wing needle and zig-zag stitch. I still need to embroider two more roses to make the pattern complete.

The central motif has a border sewn using the wing needle too.march 2013 027  Tomorrow I plan to sew the same design at the other end of the fabric so that both ends of the bolster cover are the same, it will then be sewn onto the backing to make a double ended pillowcase .