Saturday, December 17, 2011

Getting to Know My Brother

Today I spent a little time getting to know my new Brother sewing machine. It finally arrived over a week ago but I've been putting off pulling it out of the box and playing with it. I did watch most of the instructional DVD that came with it several days ago, which helped a lot to familiarize me with its setup and functions, but I was still intimidated about actually trying to use the machine itself.

To be completely honest, I've never done very much sewing, so sewing machines are pretty foreign to me. The last time I played with a sewing machine was in Home Economics in high school, and that was thirty years ago. If I remember correctly, there was a lot of tangled thread and muttered cursing going on as I struggled to make a simple wrap-around skirt.

Here's my senior picture, with me wearing that stupid skirt. Dang, I was skinny then!

Now that I've decided that I want to learn about quilting, it made sense to buy a sewing machine and learn how to use it. I chose the Brother SE-400 for its flexibility and its price point: it sews and embroiders, all for under $400. I thought that doing machine embroidery would also be fun....aren't I a glutton for punishment?

Anyway, today I bit the bullet and actually pulled the machine out of the box and set it up on my dining room table. I managed to fill a bobbin, load it into the machine, thread the machine, and do some simple piecing. I also tried out all of the stitches the machine could do with the pre-installed "J" presser foot loaded, just to see what they looked like.

After measuring the seam allowance for the piecework that I tried, I wasn't happy: it was way over the 1/4" that's needed for quilting. So I switched out the "J" presser foot for the optional piecing/quilting presser foot that I bought that has a built-in 1/4" guide for the perfect quilting seam allowance.

And that's when I broke my first needle.

I completely forgot to check the needle's position in relationship to the opening for it in the presser foot, and when I started to sew the needle tried to go through the metal of the presser foot and snapped.

Then I learned how to change a needle...*sigh*.

And decided that was enough sewing for one day.

I've already prewashed and starched and ironed the fabrics for my first two projects: the sampler quilt which is the first project from the Quilter's Academy: Freshman Year, and my first real quilt project, Yellow Brick Road.

Quite by accident I found a blog written by a lady in Australia who is going through the entire Quilters Academy book series and blogging about her experience. Her blog is called Block Head (cute name) and I'll definitely be peeking at her blog as I progress through the series.

Next step: cutting the fabric. As soon as my order arrives from JoAnn's with my long quilting rulers, I'll be ready to get started.



  1. Glad to hear that your machine has arrived and that you are having "fun" playing with it.

  2. sounds like you're making progress. Happy sewing! too bad about the broken needle.
    Can't wait to see your work!

  3. Hi, Pam, I purchased a Brother embroidery machine 2 years ago at Christmas and I've taken it out of the box and watched the DVD. That's it, I'm scared to death of the thing. I'm so intimidated about doing machine embroidery. And I thought it also sewed but it doesn't. Maybe I'll be calling on you for help!
    Congrats on your new machine, I hope you have lots of fun. You'll love sewing.
    Merry Christmas,

  4. Yeah!!!! You are on your way to turning out some beautiful projects!!! Have fun with your new machine. Once you get used to your machine, you will be piecing like a pro. Merry, merry Christmas to you!!

    holiday hugs,


  5. Breaking needles goes with the territory. I've been looking at Joann's site to possibly order some fabric myself. I'm always a little slow to get started, but then I'm up and gone. Yesterday I made one pillow, today two. You'll love quilting. Be easy on yourself. Be patient if you can. Let it come to you. Like riding a bicycle.

  6. Baby steps, baby steps ...... You'll be just fine!

  7. Well, aren't you the cutest little thing? When I first saw that photo, I thought it was a model for a pattern or something...gee - maybe you missed you calling in life. Ahhhh - broken needles - happens to all of us - even after we know how to use the machine (unfortunately!) Have fun...Stay Calm and Play On! Smiles & Hugs ~ Robin

  8. A Brother is a very nice sewing machine. I also love Joanne's fabrics, and was so happy when one opened in my town. 'Looking forward to seeing your quilts :)


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