Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Bernina Newbie: Can I stump the Bernina 380?

Let me admit something first off. I've got a bit of an ornery streak. (Okay, maybe more than a bit...)

I'm that person who heard over and over and over how wonderful Berninas are from a huge number of sewing friends over the years, but I had never sewn on one myself. In fact, I hate to say this, but I may have even rolled my eyes when they would talk about how much they adored their machine.

I mean, I love my machines as much as anyone, but come on! Could these machines really be THAT wonderful?

My first machine I owned myself (as opposed to the machines I borrowed or used under watchful grandmother eyes) was a 1969 model Kenmore that shook so violently the neighbors would phone over and ask how we made out in the earthquake. I bought it for $10 at a yard sale and it was mine, so I thought it was quite a bargain and tried to ignore the fact that none of my seams were straight, and after packing tape, duct tape, and a rope tether didn't work, I had to have a friend there to hold the machine while I was sewing...or it'd hop off the table and onto my lap. Seriously.

So, you can imagine when I upgraded to a cheap student Singer machine, it was an amazing feeling. At least it was right up until I burned out the motor after a year. I knew I was sewing a lot, but I didn't imagine I could kill a machine from pure exhaustion. Live and learn. 

My next was a Singer Embroidery, gifted by my in-laws in exchange for providing them an heir to carry on the family name (since I got to keep both the adorable kiddo AND the machine, I felt like I was getting the best end of that deal). And finally, I gifted myself a Pfaff because I decided that sewing for so long and so often meant that I deserved some of those creature comfort features you can't get on a lesser machine. 

And do you know, when I was choosing I didn't even look at a Bernina? Ornery, I told you. Oh, I knew what they all said. The way they'd say the word Bernina was even with a kind of reverence you save for talking about your first kiss or the pet you had as a child.

I only tell you all this so you'll know - I did not become a PNQS team member for love of Bernina. I was Bernina-indifferent. Bernina ornery. My Pfaff has dual feed. For the girl who isn't too far away from a machine that made pictures fall off the walls or wave a white flag from their bobbin cases to give up and beg me to stop sewing, dual feed was the culmination of all my sewing hopes and wishes. (You know, none of that nonsense with two identical pieces of fabric coming together on a straight seam and one's suddenly half an inch longer.) 

So, of course, let's get the ornery girl onto a Bernina, right? I figured "when in Rome..." but didn't expect much.

In fact, I was a little excited to NOT be excited. I'll show them that they're nice machines, but they can't be all that special. 

What is it they say about pride? It goeth before a fall, eh? 

There she is, over there. My pretty Bernina 380 who arrived in the box looking like a million bucks. Everything was so thoughtfully made. The case of feet and accessories, the cover, the way the machine itself was designed - it was like I stepped into a whole new sewing machine world. The world where they still care about craftsmanship, presentation, and little touches that make the sewist's life easier. 
Do you see Pfaff over there glaring at Bernina while we
work on the charm pack? She'll get over it!

And she (I still haven't thought of a suitable name for her - do you name your machines?) was HEAVY. I had gotten used to the plastic machines (the white flag wavers) with flimsy insides that didn't hold up. The Swiss don't make flimsy, because this Bernina is SOLID. I can feel the weight of the bobbin, the precision of the workings.

When she came out of the box, I tried a few stitches. Can I just ask a serious question? Did the Bernina engineer who came up with the hands-free foot-raising lever get a Nobel Prize for that? Because if not, I think we should start a letter writing campaign. Amazing. 

I stitched together an entire 5" charm pack trying to confuse it. I wanted it to mess up. I wanted to see what would go wrong if I just pushed it. 


That flat, non-puckered, non-shifted seam is
not possible, is it? Bernina 380 and the
swimsuit test she nailed.
I was running out of ways to stump the Bernina - it was handling everything so perfectly...and the decorative stitches available were much cuter than the standard ones on most machines. Could all of those people have been right? Is that possible?

And then, it came to me.

A test so difficult, so treacherous, so tricky, so annoying that it would force the Bernina 380 to yield. I'd be the clear winner because no machine can handle the terror that is...

Knit bathing suit fabric.

Yes, folks, I cut a corner off of what will be my next bathing suit,  chopped it in half(ish), and I slapped them right sides together and sewed. I laughed the whole time because I was going to win this one. It was going to pull and bunch and undoubtedly one side would shorten while the other lengthened, and then what a mess. 

Except it didn't. My new Bernina 380 took those two pieces of swimsuit material and put them together as if they were pressed and starched quilting cotton. With no dual feed. I just assumed because it didn't have dual feed, I wouldn't like it as much, but it's actually that this Bernina DOESN'T NEED IT. This is one of those moments where I have to question everything I once assumed. Ever have those? 

I'm still ornery, but I suppose I have to admit I'm one of those Bernina people now. I've only been sewing with it a short time, but I keep finding things I love.

Not only is it a dream to sew on, the features are unheard of. The hands-free presser foot lever is potentially the best thing ever invented, and whatever inner Swiss workings are making the sewing come out so perfectly, it's so far beyond wonderful.

I get it now! I get why you all told me that your Berninas were so far superior to anything I was looking at. I understand now, and you can say I told you so. I'm sure I deserve it. I won't be listening, though, because I'm heading back into the sewing room to, you know, finish that bathing suit...

Join me every month right here for my adventures as a Bernina Newbie. I'm not kidding when I say this machine is rocking my world, so I'm going to make a new and exciting project each month to really show you (and myself) what it can do. 

 It's extremely rare for something to live up to its hype, but Bernina does. I can hardly believe it myself, but I'm not going to lie...I love it! See you soon! 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday Traditions

Holiday Seasons... a wonderful time to reminisce in all that is steeped in tradition.

It can also be filled with hustle and bustle, setting expectations a bit too high (ask me how I know this...) rushing to get everything in, getting everything done, then all too soon it is over... you may have not taken a minute of time to really ENJOY the season with all that accompanies this festive time of year.

I encourage you to remember holiday traditions you cherish.   Try to steal a bit of time to do the things that make your holiday sparkle...

The cookies - always a favorite tradition...

Stockings on the mantle are a must at our gatherings...  and they must be stuffed with many small wrapped packages (even if they KNOW they will get a new toothbrush, ink pens, socks, lip balm and other the usual practicalities, year after year, these are as much the tradition as are the stockings!).

The sound of the season makes hearts sing and calms the soul...

There are those of us that like to make the quilts on the beds match the season!

As well as our walls..

And the tables...
Many decorate a tree and watch the magic of twinkling lights and sparkling decorations...

Elf on the Shelf is a favorite for my grandchildren and now we have Mensch on a Bench for our Jewish friends...

There are so many, many more....
....hands down the best tradition of all is the blessing of FAMILY....

It is important too, during this season to remember.....

for many.... the holidays are not always a joy filled time....  some have lost a loved one, some folks are alone, some are ill or caring for terminally ill....  some families may not have food or even proper winter shelter not to mention a gift.....

Sadly, for many this may be a Blue Christmas... 

Please, take a moment to drop donations in the Red Kettles, offer goods to food pantries, give to various efforts in your community to gather toys, food and gifts for folks and families that are struggling...

In the spirit of the season, let tradition take you to a place of peace.

In the spirit of giving let's do our part to help others.


To you and yours, our wish is blessings galore plus good health, happiness and abundance... this season and every season...

Friday, November 28, 2014

I love a good mystery...

Several years ago another shop owner introduced me to Bonnie Hunter - a quilter extraordinaire who specializes in scrappy quilts and using up scraps.

Her annual mysteries have been going on for several years - last year was the first time I gave it a whirl.  

It was fun and I worked hard to keep up with the "clues" each week.

Of course the holidays got in the way of some of my sewing...

I did get "most" of everything made week after week.

Then the big reveal....  so much excitement!  

I had to put together the two blocks just to see how mine would look!

And here it is still....

Will I finish this??   Absolutely!

When will I finish???   TBD

None the less, I am again ready for the game to begin again - our first clue came out this morning.

Printed copy in hand and ready to cut....

Bonnie says it is a quicker, easier one this year....

Maybe I can finish both :)

Grand Illusions Quiltville Winter Mystery Quilt

Ready or not......

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Reclaimed West | Blog Hop

Good morning & welcome to our stop on the Timeless Treasures and Judy & Judel Niemeyer blog hop celebrating their new fabric collection, The Reclaimed West! We are so excited to have been asked to take part in the blog hop and even more excited to be carrying the complete collection in our store, too. 

Pine Needles Quilt & Sew is owned by mother-daughter team, Marcia Nagel and Suzie Diemer. We are located in Rochester, Minnesota and are the area's leading BERNINA dealer and we carry quilting, sewing, and embroidery supplies to fit your every need. Our own Marcia & Connie just returned from Quiltworx Training from Judy Niemeyer herself -- you can read all about it here!

Enough about us, let's take a look at our project! We chose to make a stunning version of 60 Degree quilt from the book Fresh From the Prairie using our favorite Kaye England Nifty Notions ruler. The simple design really showcases each of the fabulous prints from the collection!

You can now shop all things Quiltworx right from our online shop -- check it out here!

GIVEAWAY! Enter the giveaway HERE at SewTimeless starting November 17 – it will be open for entries throughout all five days of the blog tour. THREE WINNERS will be selected on Monday, November 24th. 

EACH OF THE THREE WINNERS WILL RECEIVE: one fat eighth bundle of the entire Reclaimed West collection (24 pcs), one 52-pc charm pack of the Reclaimed West collection, oneBraided Table Runner pattern by Quiltworx/Judy Niemeyer, one Geese in the West pattern by Cindi McCracken, one Reclaimed West bookmark & bag tag set from Quilt Dots, one spool of coordinating thread from the Reclaimed West designer thread set available from Aurifil.

Be sure to stop by and take a look at all of the other wonderful participants! 

November 17
Carla Klop, Kits by Carla -
Catherine Wilson, Queenie Quilts -
Lisa McCarthy, Compass Point Quilts -

November 18
Deborah Brizendine, Just Stitchin with Deborah -
Denise Green, HollyDee Quilts -
Sandy Lueth, Totes by Sandy -

November 19
Cathy McKillip, Wish Upon A Quilt -
Marcia Nagel, Pine Needles Quilt & Sew - <-- you are HERE! :) 
Stacey Day, Stacey in Stitches -

November 20
Barb Linares, Crafty Threads -
Jennifer Eubank, Archipelago Quilting -
Konda Luckau, Moose on the Porch Quilts -
Susan Nelson, Prairie Sky Quilts -

November 21
Jackie Kunkel, Canton Village Quilt Works -
Lauren Rogers, Backdoor Quilt Shoppe -
Osie Lebowitz, From Needle and Thread -
Timeless Treasures, SewTimeless (Giveaways!) -

Saturday, November 1, 2014

We certainly did FALL into Fall....

November 1st already....

Fall is flying by, on the way to work this morning Suzie and I heard our first Christmas music on the radio station we listen to on our commute back and forth.  We could not believe it.  While I do not advocate any kind of Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving, it it all too true that December 25, will come all too quickly....

The shop has been bustling with customers, new fabrics, new notions, new sewing machines, classes and events. We can hardly catch our breath, but that is the way we like it, lots of smiling faces and each day just whizzes by!  

We have a few photos to share of some of the activities. 

Connie & Marcia spent a week in Kalispell, Montana at Quiltworx with Judy Neimeyer.  We had a blast, met some great new friends and are so proud to now be a certified Quiltworx shop!

 Fall retreat is always a highlight - beautiful place to be in the fall with all of our wonderful friends.  Made some great memories!

Last week we hosted Sewapalooza - tons of sewing, embroidery, serger, and Designworx fun!  Plus we have lots of happy Bernina owners! This event even made it into KKTC news! (and I am so sorry I missed taking a photo of one of our tables of gals...I'll get you three twice next time!)

Next up was International Quilt Market in Houston, Texas - it was awesome and deserves a post all of its own!  Stay tuned right here!