Saturday, July 24, 2010

A tale of two sewing machines

Okay, I finished the crochet for my sturt desert pea cushion cover last week. July 14th to be exact. I then jumped out into the void that is my sewing knowledge...and fell in a hole.

I have two sewing machines residing at my house, neither of them are mine as they belong to my Sis (they were my late grandmother's) and I haven't touched them either beyond moving them from room to room and eventually into the shed as our family expanded by two little girls. However, finding the need to finish this project, I bravely dug up the most recent model (think 80s) and with help from my Sis (who has the ability to actually sew), set it up beside my art table in our hobby room (yes, we have a hobby room, a big one jammed with art equipment, modelling equipment, books and computers...its getting more and more jampacked as time goes by).  After much fussing over it, we get it going...and going and going and going...the foot pedal has a burnt out capacitor in it and the machine won't stop running at full bolt. The room smelt rather pleasant after that.

Hubby, the electrical technician, pulls it apart and declares he will go in search of a replacement part. Sewing machine number one down for the count.

Sewing machine number two is an antique deadly treadly. Again, my Sis has experience using it and amply gets it up and running (no capacitors in it to blow). Two things cause problems. Sis says she can't get the right tension going (I just nod, assuming she knows what she's talking about as I certainly don't) and the only way to do zig zag is to literally zig zag the cloth while sewing. Since the operation of the machine requires some skill in simply keeping it going in a straight line, I don't think I'll be doing any zig zagging in the near future (and besides it's an antique, I'm scared my noviceness will demolish it and my grandmother is hovering over me in the afterlife asking me 'What the hell do you think you are doing?????').

So there are three remaining options. Hubby gets the part for the first sewing machine (he's hit a stumbling block, but he should still be able to get it), I hand sew the hemming (patience, Nutty, patience), or I go and spend some money on a small basic sewing machine.  I only want to hem and I can get a nice little Elna for around $130. Updates down the track on that.

So the crochet part is complete, but I thought I should also mention how I got there, because that is half the fun. I am rather new to crochet and a stubborn student who likes to go her own way, usually the hard way.

I had designed this project in my head with crochet embroidery both to emphasize the random curves and give the surface some texture. I have never done any crochet embroidery before (or any other embroidery for that matter), but I had an idea in my head and could see no reason why it wouldn't work, so I set off to do it.

This was the result:

I had not considered the possibility that hooking single crochet into each stitch would draw the fabric so tight, so I had to pull it all out and design a stitch that didn't pull so hard or at least pulled more evenly. I came up with a single crochet-chain-chain combination that had me hooking into the fabric only every second stitch, hence reducing the 'drag'. And besides, I found myself liking the new texture it gave to the piece with its 'stitchy' appearance rather than the smooth line of the previous attempt.

Here, to the left, you can see the two stitches. The red, blue and green at the bottom are the straight single crochet (I use the US terms, despite being Australian, because they make more sense to me) and the white and red at the top are the new stitch I cobbled together. The right is a close up.

That problem sorted out, I completed all the crochet embroidery.  But as I did that, a new problem began rearing its head. 

My square was no longer square.

So there was much unravelling as I brought the design back three colours from the right to resquare it up.

I slapped on a black border of three rows of single black crochet along with a raised line of black crochet embroidery all around the edge to complete the embroidery part of the design and conveniently hide the rough edges at the top and bottom of the rows.  Here it is all pinned and blocked.

So now it sits waiting on a desk in my hobby room for me to either hand stitch the back (which I'm thinking of doing because I just want to get it done), or Hubby comes through with the goods and I can learn how to use that sewing machine.

Either way, I have other projects brewing in my brain and I want to jump on to them.

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