ASG Chicago Reaches Out to Sewing Sisters in Joplin

Five sewing machines, a generous assortment of notions, patterns and sewing magazines are on their way to ASG members in Joplin, Missouri, thanks to the great work of the Palos Heights Neighborhood Group, Flying Needles. These thoughtful ladies collected donations at the ASG Chicago Fashion Show in October and supplemented with their own efforts to help restore the sewing rooms of ASG members who lost so much in last summer’s devastating tornado. Thanks go to Terri and Anna for organizing the project and to Terri’s husband for making it possible to ship all 332 pounds of supplies. To our sewing sisters in Joplin, enjoy getting back to the pastime you love.

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These (Sewing Machine) Boots Weren’t Made For Walking

Yes, I know these aren’t boots, but even if they were, I don’t think they’d go very far or you’d have to have a long extension cord. the late fashion great, Alexander McQueen, designed a series of abstract art using household items. These sewing machine shoes were among them.

Shoes from sewing machines by Alexander McQueen

Image source: switched.com

Coming Up On The Blog This Week: A Giveaway!

One of the¬† exciting things that I’m putting the finishing bits on is our first blog giveaway! I’ve been a bit remiss in acknowledging our @SewChicago Twitter tweeps. We have 259 followers and have been added to 12 Twitter lists! In the Twitterverse, I should have thanked our tweeps with something when we hit 100 or 200 tweeps. And several of the tweeps visit our blog to learn and share their sewing experiences. To honor them and our blog readers, I’m putting together a small giveaway coming…>drumrolll<…soon. ūüôā Wouldn’t be fair to tell ya, yet, would it? So, be on the lookout.


Just in case you can’t the song out of your head, here’s a little nostalgia of Nancy Sinatra singing “These Boots Were Made For Walking.”

Hug Your Sewing Machine Today!

First sewing machine

One of the first sewing machines

June 13, is /was National Sewing Machine Day. It seemed to slip by us, dear readers. But, we’re in luck! There also seems to be another National Sewing Day in August. But, whatever the day, let’s just say we’ll celebrate our sewing machines from today until August! Go ahead, hug your Husqvarna. Snuggle your Singer. Bow to your Bernina. And exalt your Elna!

The First Sewing Machine Patent, Then A Riot

The first patent for a complete sewing machine was issued in 1790 to¬†English inventor and cabinet maker, Thomas Saint. The patent was for an awl that punched a whole in leather and passed a needle through the whole. Although issued a patent, a later reproduction based on Saint’s patent drawings did not work.

First sewing machine from  Barthelemy ThimonnierIt wasn’t until 1830 that the first functional sewing machine was made. And it was met with a mob riot! Inventor and French¬†tailor, Barthelemy Thimonnier¬†was almost killed by an enraged group of French tailors who burnt down his garment factory because they feared unemployment as a result of his new invention. Wow, so much for wanting progress.

“Sewing machines did not go into mass production until the 1850’s, when Isaac Singer built the first commercially successful machine. Singer built the first sewing machine where the needle moved up and down rather than the side-to-side and the needle was powered by a foot treadle. Previous machines were all hand-cranked. However, Isaac Singer’s machine used the same lockstitch that (Elias) Howe had patented.¬†Elias Howe sued Isaac Singer for patent infringement¬†and won in 1854.” Source: Stitches ‚ÄĒ The Birth of the Sewing Machine

Read about the beginnings of Bernina on the Bernina blog.

Birth Of The Serger

“Overlock stitching was invented by the¬†Merrow Machine Company¬†in 1881.

J. Makens Merrow and his son Joseph Merrow, who owned a knitting mill established in¬†Connecticut¬†in 1838, developed a number of technological advancements to be used in the mill‚Äôs operations. Merrow’s first patent was a machine for crochet stitching. Merrow still produces crochet machines based on this original model.” Source: Wikipedia

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby!

If you read our earlier blog post about today’s sewing machines having USB ports and hi-resolution screens, you’ll be just as amazed as we are to think about how far sewing machines have come. So, the saying of “a stitch in time, save nine” might need to be updated with more than saving nine stitches.¬†

Where can sewing machines go from here? Will they ever¬†be able to get a precise 1/4″ seam without tweaking? Will sewing machines of the future be able to self-guide through curves? Or will they get simpler? Ask today’s designers to look into the future and they have pretty unique designs.

Future Sewing Machine Design

Sewing Machine Design by Brian Kang

Universal Truth of Sewing Machines

Regardless of what new features sewing machines will have or what they will look like or how far we’ve come, I’m pretty sure there will be one constant between the sewing machine and the sewist: Some days the machine just says “ptooey!” to your fabric. Happy Sewing Machine Day…Month…Happy Sewing!

For Better or Worse cartoon

Janome Recalls Elna Sewing Machines

The following is a press release from the
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 1, 2011
Release #11-237
Firm’s Recall Hotline: (800) 631-0183
CPSC Recall Hotline: (800) 638-2772
CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908

Janome America Inc. Recalls Elna Sewing Machines Due to Fire Hazard

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed. It is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.

Name of Product: Sewing machine

Units: About 600

Importer: Janome America Inc. of Mahwah, N.J.

Hazard: The wires inside the sewing machine can short circuit, posing a risk of fire.

Incidents/Injuries: The firm knows of one report of a sewing machine catching fire. No injuries or property damage have been reported.

Description:¬†This recall involves the Elna eXcellence 740 sewing machine. The machine is white and navy with a digital touch panel. ‚ÄúElna‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúeXcellence 740‚ÄĚ are printed on the front of the machine.

Sold at: Sewing machine stores nationwide from September 2010 through April 2011 for about $3,000.

Manufactured in: Japan and Taiwan

Remedy: Consumers should immediately unplug and stop using the machine and return it to the store where it was purchased for a free repair.

Consumer Contact:¬†For additional information, contact Janome America at (800) 631-0183 anytime or visit the firm’s website at http://www.elnausa.com

Janome eXellence 740


New Sewing Machines Have USB Ports, High-Res Screen and Other High-Tech Features

160 years of sewing machines timeline

(Image source: WSJ)

Sewing machines have certainly come a long way. A May 12, 2011¬†Wall Street Journal article¬†highlights the trend of today’s computerized sewing machines.

“New multitasking sewing machines strive to be as accessible as a smartphone. Modern machines have added decorative stitches, automatic threading and touch screens for easier use. There are smartphone apps for matching thread to fabric and software that digitizes embroidery designs. With the USB port on the latest embroidery machines, users can transfer an image from laptop to sewing machine.” Machines can not only sense fabric thickness, but also fabric feed…such as when a new sewist pushes or pulls the fabric ahead of the feed dogs causing uneven stitches.

Viking’s Ruby includes a high-resolution touch screen that not only allows you to select and view your stitch design (embroidery or decorative stitching), but also allows you to manipulate the stitching from the screen on your sewing Viking Ruby.

Brother’s Quattro 6000D has a “camera-like feature built in over the needle that shows what the needle “sees” on the HD display. Users get a detailed image of hard-to-see places, eliminating the need for guessing about where to drop the needle.” Brother compares it to having a GPS on your sewing machine.

All these features are intended to make sewing easier for the experienced sewist, time-saving even and less scary or easier-to-learn for the new sewist. But nonetheless, it still comes down to the sewist and his/her skill at knowing how to use which stitch for which application. Although, some modern sewists are also pushing the envelope on that, too. I just finished a Twitter chat where several participants were discussing machine trapunto in modern designs…less fussy.

There are also computerized sergers that will tell you which thread to lay in first, then visually cue you to the next thread to lay in.

Even if you’re not in the market for a new machine, it would be worth going to your local sewing machine dealer to see what the new machines are offering…just to appreciate how far we’ve come from treadle machines.

Power Tip: Surge Protector For Your Sewing Machine

Power surge

(Image source: greensector-reviews.com)

If you have made the investment for a computerized sewing machine, you should take the extra precaution to plug it into a surge protector. Not just a power strip, so you can plug in your Ottlite and your mini-iron…that won’t help diffuse power surges.

A surge protector will have a green light on the strip to show that the protection is working; some surge protectors have an additional red light to indicate if there is faulty wiring coming into the surge protector. If you don’t have the additional red light, the green light will turn red when there is a fault or disruption. If you ever see a red light on your surge protector, replace the surge protector because at that point it’s no longer working.

APC Surge Protector

Example of a surge protector (Image source: APC)

APC is a well-respected surge protector manufacturer. You can find these in most office supply or computer stores. If you have a sewing or embroidery business, you might want to consider a surge protector with a battery back-up. A battery back-up provides you with an amount of time that you will be provided power, so you can shut down your machine, or you could even continue to sew.

Take a moment to go look and see if you definitely have a surge protector or if you only have a power strip…you would do it for your home computer, so why not for your computerized sewing machine?¬†

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