Kim’s Second Sewing Machine Convention

20140908_165150Convention #2!! This week we were off to the 2014 Husqvarna Viking Convention in Milwaukee, WI. I have also been looking forward to this trip ever since I became manager! I was definitely not disappointed!!

Monday evening was the opening ceremonies with lots of presentations from the top level of Husqvarna Viking, and a great dinner. There was so much excitement about all the great new products that Viking is launching this year! Don’t worry, we ordered a little bit of everything!! The keynote speaker was amazing! He was funny and enlightening at the same time.

Classes started Tuesday morning and there were so many to choose from! The educators were very knowledgeable and excited about the new machines, so we were too! The new Ruby Royale has many new features, and I can’t wait to get one in the store to explore all the fun stuff we can do with it! ( I loved the Topaz 40, too.)

The food was really good, and being surrounded by all the great people and products has definitely got me excited all over again! (Those who know me, know this isn’t really new.)  I’m looking forward to bringing some of this excitement back to the store.20140908_184308I took a couple of classes using the new Felting Foot and Yarn Embellishing Foot, so look for some fun new projects and new classes using these great feet!20140909_143853I also got to see the new Inspira Studio line of organizational stuff, and let me tell you, this is very nice furniture! If you’re looking to get your sewing room organized, this is for you! They worked with ClosetMaid and came up with some great solutions for organizing not only sewing stuff, but all kinds of crafting supplies.20140908_174658Well, now I’ve been to both Husqvarna Viking and Baby Lock conventions, and I have to say, I can’t wait until next year to go back! They were so much fun! The exchanging of ideas and talking with other dealers was great. I love learning new things, and I was not disappointed in anything. But, I must say, I’m looking forward to being in the store for a little while to use some of these new things!!

My next adventure is the Fall Bus Shop Hop where I get to be the “Bus Mom” for our store again.  This time we go to 8 stores in Indiana and Ilinois.  I love traveling with the fun ladies who go on these trips with us, and of course seeing all the stores, but I’m always glad to get back to the greatest store, Erica’s!!  There are still a few spots left on the bus, so if you want to join us, sign up!

Editor’s note:  Seems like Kim was excited about the food, too, seeing that she added food photos to both her convention blog posts!

Kim’s First Sewing Machine Convention

Where do I start about Baby Lock Tech?? 20140825_143952I have been looking forward to this since I became Manager of the Sewing Department almost a year ago. The time finally came, and we headed to St. Louis, Missouri, last Monday morning. I had heard stories about all the food and couldn’t believe them. Then we got there, and oh my goodness, the food!! I have eaten so much chocolate I may never slow down!IMG_3931 IMG_8571The opening night celebration was very energizing! There was so much excitement and so many people. They did a lot of fun skits and threw T-shirts out into the audience.  (I caught one!!!) The heads of various departments at the corporate level gave some really uplifting speeches and it was all very exciting.

The classes started the next morning and they were great!  We all learned so much to bring back to the store! Of course we got to play with the new Destiny sewing and embroidery top of the line, and let me tell you, this machine is amazing!!  It should be in the store soon, but in the meantime, click here to see a video!BLDY-lrgBaby Lock is also launching new mid-line machines that I like really well, too.  They’re easy to use and have a ton of great features. They’ll come to the store later this year.

After classes we got to see all of the new and exciting products. We’ll be getting some really great new things that I’m sure you’re all going to love. Some of my favorites are the new Kimberbell mug rug embroidery designs, and some new really cute sewing machine bags! Of course we ordered some of the new machine feet to help make your projects easier.

Thursday night was the banquet, and we headed home Friday morning. My first convention has been so amazing. I have learned so much, and had a really good time. Being surrounded by all the great people and great machines makes me glad that we’re a Baby Lock dealer. These are truly great machines!!

I had such a wonderful experience at my first convention, I can’t wait for the next one! I don’t have long to wait long, because our Viking Convention is in September. I’ll tell you all about that one, too.

The extremely excited contributor of this post is Kim Wilson, our Sewing Department Manager,  Thanks, Kim, it was fun to have you with us!

Fabulous Find!

While walking around the store the other day, I found these Thermal Thimbles. (A13069) They really do come in handy! I first used them when I wanted to hold a tricky piece of fabric as I pressed it. Then I discovered that opening up a seam allowance was much easier! Now I find I’m using them a lot. 2014-07-13 14.41.232014-07-13 14.30.02I wonder what other valuable things I might have missed! I guess I’ll just have to take another walk around our store.

I’ve asked staff members to tell me their favorite tools, and I’m getting their responses in now.  I’ll be sharing those with you in weeks to come, but Thermal Thimbles are right up there on my list!

(To find an item or event on our web page after clicking on the underlined words, hold down the “Ctrl” key and touch F. Enter the item number in the box, press enter, and you’ll be taken to that item.)

You can see what’s new at Erica’s almost every day!  Any page of our website has a column on the left that tells you where to find things, and all you have to do is look for “What’s New” in purple, and click to find out. 

Do You Know Valdani?

I like to do handwork, especially wool applique projects, and I have discovered that Valdani over-dyed floss is my favorite fiber to use for stitching.

valdani blog 1I’ve been using the “Scent of Flowers” set of nine balls of floss (A15413). I have worked on several projects since I got it, and this little box of floss ALWAYS has the perfect colors for whatever I am working on. I have since gotten a boxed set of size 12 pearl cotton and can’t wait to use it!

The Valdani products we carry are over-dyed floss and pearl cotton. We have individual colors as well as sets in both the floss and pearl size 12. All Valdani products are hand dyed and guaranteed to be colorfast. They offer solids, but it’s the over-dyed colors that really excite me.

Beautiful shades that flow from one into the next create subtle effects in your handwork. I like being able to choose one shade of green, for example, for all the colors of wool leaves that I am stitching. As the floss changes colors, the stitches appear and disappear on each fabric depending on its color. This is an easy way to add visual interest to any project.valdani blog 3

The balls of floss are three strands, rather than the six we are used to, and the ball seems to last forever! I find I have no tangles when unwinding floss from the ball (versus a skein). I most often use two strands for my work, going to a single strand when I’m stitching very small pieces. Valdani started doing three strand floss for punch needle projects, so you wouldn’t have to separate strands for your tool. The floss is great for so many handwork projects!

The Valdani pearl cotton gives another option, and is useful when your applique pieces are medium size or larger. You can’t separate strands like you can with floss, so you don’t have that versatility, but then again you don’t have to worry about the strands separating while you stitch. The pearl stands out a bit more, so if you are doing decorative stitching that you want to be seen, the pearl is great for that.valdani blog pearl

The Valdani fibers may cost a bit more, but they are SO worth it! Give them a try, I’m guessing you’ll love them as much as I do!

Thanks to Cathy Mark for this post!

(To find an item on our web page after clicking on the highlighted words, hold down the “Ctrl” key and touch F.  Enter the item number in the box, press enter, and you’ll be taken to that item.)

Remember, you can see What’s New at Erica’s almost every day! Any page of our website has a column on the left that tells you where to find things, and all you have to do is look for “New Items” in purple, and click to find out.

Your Sewing Machine Might NOT Need Repair!

Kimmy smallerOur master tech, Kimmy, is ready to help you here at Erica’s!

However, she may not need to.

Many of us look to ourselves as the problem if something goes wrong while we’re sewing. And a lot of the time, we’re actually right. Here are some things to check before you bring your machine in for service.

• Check your manual’s “troubleshooting” pages.

• Put in a new needle. Make sure it’s inserted correctly – all the way up, flat side to the back. Use the correct size and point for the fabric and thread you’re using.

• Completely re-thread the machine. With the presser foot up to make sure the tension disks are open, hold the spool on the spindle and pull the thread down into the tension disks and continue.

• Check the take-up lever. When beginning and ending, the take-up lever should be in the highest position (on computerized models, this is automatic). Be sure the thread is in the take-up lever.

• Re-thread the bobbin – be sure it’s evenly wound, not over-filled, or one color wound over another, and that it spins the right way in the bobbin case. Be sure it’s in the bobbin tension.

• Test all plugs and any extension cords.

• Use the correct presser foot for the job. A flat bottomed all-purpose foot will not ride over the raised, dense stitches of a satin stitch or buttonhole.

• Clean your machine thoroughly, and oil it if your manual says to.

• Check the hook and hook race (where the bobbin goes) for thread particles, bits of broken needles, scratches, and other damage.

• If fabric is not traveling under the presser foot, be sure the feed teeth are up.

• Tighten the handwheel release if there is one.

• Some machines will not sew if there’s a bobbin on the bobbin winder, so if you hear a whirring, check that out.

If none of this works, and you’re in our area, come in and let us help you!

Wooly Bits

Some of my favorite wool applique projects require lots of small bits of   35766different color wools. That’s what makes them so special – the variety of colors and textures. It can be expensive to collect all those wools, but we have better ways for you to build your stash!  (Shown here is the beautiful Geranium Baskets pattern, 35766.

We have 100% wool on the bolt, so you can get whatever size you need for a background.  We also carry wool felt on the bolt, again giving you the option of purchasing larger pieces. When it comes to all those little pieces though, we have several options.

Here at Erica’s, we cut those 100% wools into fat quarters (approximately 18” x 27”) or half yards (appropriately 18” x 54”). We also cut all those colorful wool felts into what we call “squares.”  These pieces measure approximately 9”x 12”, large enough for lots of uses, yet small enough to not break the bank.

When it comes to those fabulous over-dyed wools that we all long for, we have several possible ways to satisfy our needs. We have a series of 5”charm square packages that offer a variety of textures in one color.A17471We also have small bundles, again in a single shade with 8 different textures, in 7” x 8” pieces.48223

We create “squares” (appropriately 8”  x 12”) of Weeks Dye Works wools, in their “solid,” houndstooth, and herringbone.combined

Obviously, texture is key when it comes to wool, and the more the better!

One more choice – Wool Chunks – are packages of five different colors in a single texture.pileIf you’re like me, every scrap from a project gets saved. Sometimes thosewools little bits are just enough for something, but of course, we all crave more.  When that urge hits, I go for our smaller options, so I can get a bit crazy with color and texture and rationalize my purchases because they are small.  (Kind of like eating four little cookies, rather than just one big one ~ isn’t it more fun that way?)

Thanks to Cathy Mark for this post!

(To find an item on our web page after clicking on the highlighted words, hold down the “Ctrl” key and touch F.  Enter the item number in the box, press enter, and you’ll be taken to that item.)

Remember, you can see What’s New at Erica’s almost every day! Any page of our website has a column on the left that tells you where to find things, and all you have to do is look for “New Items” in purple, and click to find out.

Matching Border Strips or “Cagney Did It! “

If for some reason, you cut your border too short, you can piece it to make it the length you need. I did this with my Mystery Quilt border. What happened? Combination of working on it when I was too tired, not paying attention, and having feline help, I guess.  Anyway, I cut it too short.

So I got out my Wonder Tape. (A16848)A16848 It’s a double-sided tape that will dissolve with the first washing. It has a paper protecting strip on one side. I had cut my border strips at a 45 degree angle so they would fit together.

I put a strip of Wonder Tape on the edge of the piece I’m adding, on the right side. You can see the white paper on top of the strip in this photo.20140726_154332

I turned under that edge, and since it’s ¼” tape, it’s easy to use as a guide. I first removed the paper from the part that’s most critical, as you see here, 20140726_154844 reversedand laid it on top of the other piece, matching up the stripes and leaving ¼” seam allowance on both pieces. 20140726 reversed

Once that part was done, I could remove the rest of the tape and smooth out the seam. Turning it over, the fold is visible, and that’s where the stitching goes to make the actual seam.     20140726_195552

If it isn’t clearly visible, I use my Frixion Pen (it disappears with the heat of an iron) A20672 and/or my Sewline Ceramic Fabric Pencil 40605 (removable with its eraser or a damp cloth).A20672b 40605b

Stitch on the line and you have a beautiful join and no one knows the better.Cagney rotatedDoes Cagney look guilty?

(To find an item on our web page after clicking on the highlighted words, hold down the “Ctrl” key and touch F.  Enter the item number in the box, press enter, and you’ll be taken to that item.)

Remember, you can see What’s New at Erica’s almost every day! Any page of our website has a column on the left that tells you where to find things, and all you have to do is look for “New Items” in purple, and click to find out.