Quilts, quilts and more quilts!

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Investing in yourself (a/k/a professional development)

One of my professional goals this school year has been to take advantage of professional development seminars offered by the school district.  Yes, the clock starts anew on amassing PLU credits for certificate renewal, but I wanted classes that I could apply to other areas of my life as well.  So much of what is typically offered is geared toward teachers – not library, information and technology folks. This year has been different. I’ve attended sessions on Steven Covey’s 7 Habits through our Leader in Me program and the library/technology department recently offered an all day communications seminar that I found really helpful.

This thirst for knowledge and personal development also extends to my craft business.  It is often said that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.  As a librarian with 15 years of experience under her belt, I often serve as a mentor to new library media specialists (in fact, I have a mentee this semester).  After nearly two years in business, this small business owner found she needed a mentor of her own.  Revenues were up and the business actually turned a profit this year, but the business was going in so many different directions that I needed help focusing. While I do have a business mentor that I chat with on a regular basis, she’s not familiar with the crafts industry.  When Morna at ICAP offered an online coaching course for a reasonable price, I invested my bonus (the school board pays me a small stipend every year for achieving National Board Teacher Certification) in this class.  I think it was meant to be because I cleared just enough on that bonus check after taxes and other deductions to pay for the course.

Weekly conference calls are a part of the class.  My day job means I have to listen to the recorded version after the fact; however, I was able to listen in live on last week’s call.  I really appreciated the knowledge the other members of the group had to share when I posed a question.  I also gleaned some additional insights that gave me food for thought as I worked through the weekly homework assignments.  As much as I enjoy teaching kids how to sew, the bottom line is I will have to quit my day job if I truly want to pursue the after school craft club idea.  While the money would be great for a part-time gig, it’s doubtful I would be able to replace my full-time salary through this line of business alone.  Teaching is an adjunct for most creative arts businesses – not the primary focus.  Probably knew that in the back of my mind going in; however, this provided a much needed reality check.

It’s no secret that my local school district is experiencing extreme financial woes and cutting library media personnel is on the short list of budget cuts for the 2014-15 school year.  I don’t know what the future holds, but I prefer to proactive and make a Plan B and/or Plan C.  If nothing else, I’ll learn about other opportunities in the crafts industry and see how I can match my strengths/talents to meet a need.  My original plan was to run my creative arts business part-time until I retire from the school system (many moons away).  Have a strong suspicion that this will not be the case and that there will be some major changes in the near future.

Why I prefer sewing machines with top loading bobbins…

My 1950 Singer Featherweight aside, all of my machines use top loading bobbins – from Jewel (my Janome 6600) to my vintage Elna Carina. It’s not that I don’t like sewing machines with vertical/front loading bobbins, it’s just that, in my experience,  they can be super finicky and too easy for newbie stitchers to lose the separate bobbin case.

Santa brought my 7 year old niece a Hello Kitty sewing machine for Christmas (the green one that looks like the Janome 3128). Aunt ‘Resa (me) went out and purchased extra feet and accessories for said sewing machine.  I’d had a really positive experience with this machine in the snap bag class I taught this summer, so I thought it would be a good fit for my niece.

Not so fast.

The elves must have had a little too much spiked eggnog, because the machine did nothing but sew eyelashes on the underside of any seam we tried to sew when she came to my house for her first sewing lesson this week.  Little one had trouble loading the bobbin case and could not correctly reassemble the bobbin assembly if a thread got stuck.  After much frustration, I pulled out my Janome 5812 (a top load bobbin) and soon she was stitching merrily away.  She took that machine home with her and Aunt ‘Resa took Hello Kitty to the hospital.  Hello Kitty was deemed to need to need a new tension assembly and after consulting with her Dad, we decided decided the best course of action would be to return the defective Hello Kitty to sender (Target) and purchase a new machine – preferably with a top loading bobbin.

Given our budget of $200 or less and my desire to stick with a Janome product, we narrowed our choices down to the 5812, Jem Gold 660 and the MyStyle 100.  All three machines come with top loading bobbins and were within budget. Hancock’s actually had the 5812 on sale, but unfortunately this model has been discontinued and none of my local stores had one in stock.   The Jem Gold 660 is a sweet little machine, but my desire to have a fully adjustable zig zag stitch for machine applique won out over the automatic needle threader, so this meant I went home with the MyStyle 100.  If you are looking for a lightweight machine for travel or to take to classes and are on a budget, I’d give the MyStyle 100 some serious consideration.  Janome also makes machines for other sewing machine companies.  Baby Lock’s Anna sewing machine is identical to the Janome MyStyle 100.  Just another option in case you don’t have a Janome dealer nearby.

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