Making it work

Well, the big, fancy sewing machine will be in residence a while longer. The fact is, I haven’t really found a machine in a similar price range that I like sewing on as much as I do this one. The cost to purchase the “dream” replacement machine is not in the budget either. So, I’m making it work.

Backstory: The issue was never really with the machine. It was with the manufacturer bringing politics into my sewing room, uninvited, when it decided to partner with a particular individual whose passion is to push their own personal political agenda at every opportunity. This person, who is not a Georgia resident, even held a fundraiser for one of the PACs here in Georgia. The senate run-off elections were ugly. There was no getting away from the ads – internet, television, radio, mail, newspaper, billboard, podcast. Every time I looked at my sewing machine I was reminded of the nastiest Georgia political campaign of my lifetime. I literally didn’t touch the machine for six months.

My local dealer is the one who suggested I “tattoo” the machine and give it a name like I did my Featherweights. I covered the logo with a piece of tape. It worked well enough to allow me to complete a quilt on it. I upgraded the tape to cute sewing “tattoos” and named the machine Gretchen. Hubs also wisely pointed out that I’d had the machine long before the company partnered with this person and that association was likely to end before I needed to purchase a new machine. Hubs totally understands why I won’t buy another machine from this particular brand, though.

So Gretchen and I got reacquainted this evening. I pieced a quilt block with her. I forgot how much I appreciate (1) scissors function, (2) needle down and (3) ability to move the needle position to fine-tune my scan 1/4″ seam. We’ll be experimenting with some ruler work tomorrow.

Here’s to making it work!

Invisible machine applique

Yarn Block

Love the look of appliqué quilt projects but don’t have the time, patience or hand strength to stitch all of the individual appliqué pieces down by hand?

Invisible machine appliqué to the rescue! This technique uses a tiny zigzag or appliqué stitch of your choice to stitch down the appliqué pieces using a monofilament polyester thread. There are any number of ways to prepare your appliqué shapes for this method; however, the actual sewing process is the same. Sharon Schamber is probably the best known quilter associated with this method of appliqu

1) Mono-poly thread from Superior Threads (or clear thread of your choice)
2) 50-60 wt thread in the bobbin to match/blend with background fabric
3) Topstitch/microtex needle size 70/10 or 80/12
4) Gift tissue paper or tear away stabilizer to support more delicate appliqué pieces (optional)
5) Purple thang, wooden chopstick or sewing awl to help hold appliqué pieces in position as you sew (optional)

I prepare my appliqué shapes using turned edge and/or the Lori Holt interfacing method. Small circles are my nemesis. I discovered Applipops at the Kansas City Quilt Show. Any circles 2″ or smaller can be made using the metal Applipop rings. They work well! Karen K. Buckley also offers Perfect Circle templates that are a similar concept, but have a different construction method. See if either method might make small circles easier for you!

I glue baste my appliqué shapes using Elmer’s school glue with a tiny applicator tip I purchased at a local quilt shop. I allow everything to dry overnight. Multilayer designs are often placed under a stack of books while drying.

Machine settings:
1) My preferred stitch is a zigzag stitch with the length and width settings somewhere between 1.0 and 1.5. With my Baby Lock Jubilant, I use L= 1.2 and W = 1.0. On my Elna Star, it’s L = 1.5 and W = 1.5.
2) I use an open toe foot.
3) I reduce the top tension to 2.5.
4) Mono-Poly is a stacked spool, so it needs to be in a vertical position for best results. I use the auxiliary spool pin that came with my machine.

Thread considerations:
I use Mono-Poly thread in clear from Superior Threads. I have used this thread to sew patches on scout uniforms and to attach trims to projects. It is a very fine polyester thread with more of a matte finish than most other clear polyester threads. It is also the thread recommended by Sharon Schamber.

A friend of mine likes the Aurifil invisible thread and others like Invisafil from Wonderfil Threads. YLI Wonder Thread is another option, but it is nylon, so you have to be a little more careful when using an iron on projects made with this thread. Here’s an article I found helpful when choosing invisible thread. Buy a spool of each and experiment to see which product gives the look you prefer.

Many folks, including myself, find handwork relaxing. However, invisible machine appliqué is another tool in your quilty tool box that can help you make projects you may not have otherwise considered due to time and amount of handwork involved.

Fried Bay Scallops

My husband grew up in the Florida Panhandle and spent many weekends scalloping (hunting for scallops) in Port St. Joe. Homemade scallops, fries and cole slaw followed by a boiled chocolate icing yellow cake were a big treat in his family. After many years, I finally mastered the cake recipe.

This summer I finally hit a home run with the scallops – so much that hubby now asks for them on a regular basis!

Greenwise Patagonian Scallops from Publix (or fresh bay scallops if you can find them)
Plain flour (about 1 cup, may need a bit more)
Salt & pepper (season to taste)
About 2 tbsp+ Old Bay seasoning
About 1 tsp paprika
1 egg
1/4 c. milk
Homemade breadcrumbs (4-5 slices day old butter bread run through the blender and crushed very fine)
Cooking oil

The bag of Publix scallops weighs 24 ounces. It’s enough for 3 meals for the two of us – so 8 oz of scallops for this recipe. Thaw scallops, rinse in cold water and pat dry on a paper towel.

Heat oil to 350 degrees (I cook fries first, then scallops)

Set up 4 stations:
(1) flour/spice mix in bowl (adjust as necessary to suit your taste)
(2) egg wash (beat egg and combine with milk in a bowl)
(3) bread crumbs in a shallow pan
(4) platter with several layers of paper towels

Roll a handful of scallops in flour mixture to coat scallops completely; dip in egg wash, shake off excess; roll in breadcrumbs, shake off excess. Place on platter. Repeat process until all scallops are coated.

Drop scallops in oil in small batches. Allow to cook 3-5 minutes until desired doneness is achieved. Stir occasionally while cooking. Scoop out scallops and allow to drain on platter lined with paper towels. Serve immediately. (Fries can hold in a 200 degree oven while scallops are cooking.)

Enjoy with ketchup, cocktail sauce or tartar sauce.

You’re welcome!

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