Category Archives: Featured Machines & Cabinets

BabyLock Partners with Humble Sewing Center to Help Local Safe-House

As you may or may not know, I teach sewing lessons on a weekly basis at a local safe-house for traumatized/exploited kids.  Here’s a link if you’d like to know more:

News from the Safe-House

Lessons have been going strong for about 2 years now, and everything is great, except – we have more kids than ever and not enough quality machines to go around….

Soooooo, I let the President of Baby Lock know what we’ve been up to and our present needs…..  the next thing you know, there are 10, yes, TEN brand new Baby Lock Molly’s arriving at Humble Sewing Center as a donation to the safe-house!!!!

Thank you BabyLock!!!

Thank you Baby Lock!!!

I told the ladies at our monthly Baby Lock Club about the donation and they agreed to be in the picture with me!  This is a wonderful group of ladies who meets with me once a month to share ideas, tips, and sewing techniques for Baby Lock sewing machines, embroidery machines, and sergers.  It’s always fun!  Drop in sometime!  Dates and details are on our calendar.

Today, I was able to deliver the 10 Molly’s to the safe-house!

mollymk

Here’s a photo of a safe-house resident getting familiar with the new machine.

10machines

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, TEN beautiful Molly’s all ready to SEW!!!

I’m SO thankful to get to spend time with these precious girls and help them learn a valuable life skill.

I’m also thankful to work with such a great team and boss at Humble Sewing Center

and

THANK YOU, BABY LOCK!!!!

Thank you for reading!

Jenny Gabriel, alter ego:  StitchinJenny

The History of the Serger

Image

This morning I was using my serger on a project. The serger is a mystery to me. When I use mine I often think to myself that whomever created this complicated piece of machinery must have been a genius. It finishes edges perfectly, trims while it stitches, makes perfect rolled hems a snap and is a life saver when it comes to knits. However, it is usually when I am threading it that I think about how complicated it really is. I lost my fancy tweezers when trying to thread the lower looper and was using facial tweezers. I find when I am frustrated I just need to walk away for a bit and come back. During this morning’s walk away I did some research and found out just who was the mastermind behind the serger. I found my information on Wikipedia, so we’ll take it with a grain of salt, but is still interesting.

Overlock History

Overlock stitching was invented by the Merrow Machine Company in 1881.

J. Makens Merrow and his son Joseph Merrow, who owned a knitting mill established in Connecticut in 1838, developed a number of technological advancements to be used in the mill’s operations. Merrow’s first patent was a machine for crochet stitching. Merrow still produces crochet machines based on this original model. This technology was a starting point for the development of the overlock machine, patented by Joseph Merrow in 1889. Unlike standard lockstitching, which uses a bobbin, overlock sewing machines utilize loopers to create thread loops for the needle to pass through, in a manner similar to crocheting. Merrow’s original three-thread overedge sewing machine is the forerunner of contemporary overlocking machines. Over time, the Merrow Machine Company pioneered the design of new machines to create a variety of overlock stitches, such as two, and four-thread machines, the one-thread butted seam, and the cutterless emblem edger.

A landmark lawsuit between Wilcox & Gibbs and the Merrow Machine Company in 1905 established the ownership and rights to the early mechanical development of overlocking to the Merrow Machine Company.

Throughout the early 19th Century the areas of Connecticut, USA and New York USA were the centers of textile manufacturing and machine production. Consequently many overlock machine companies established themselves in the Northeastern United States.

In 1964 Juki Corporation was formed; a precursor of the modern industrial overlock sewing machine company. Throughout the 1980s Japanese and Chinese sewing machine production came to dominate the industry.

In the United States the term “overlocker” has largely been replaced by “serger” but in other parts of the world (Australia, UK) the term “overlocker” is still in use.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overlock

Joseph M. Merrow

Joseph Millard Merrow (June 24, 1848 – March 27, 1947) was president of the Merrow Machine Company. Merrow was born in the community of Merrow, town of Mansfield in Connecticut. His parents were J. B. Merrow and Harriet Millard Merrow. He was educated at the Munson Mass Academy and Hartford Public High School. At the age of 15 he was employed as a pharmacist and a postmaster, appointed by Abraham Lincoln.

Established in 1838, the family business was the manufacture of knit cotton goods; it was the first of its kind in the country. In 1888 the family’s mills were destroyed by fire related to an incident with gunpowder. J. B. Merrow held a patent on gunpowder. The destruction of the mill allowed the company to further develop a small shop that had previously supported the knitting mill, and the Merrow Mills thus became primarily a manufacturer of crochet sewing machines.

Joseph Merrow was the driving force behind Merrow developing new technology, growing the new business and transforming it from a regional supplier of crochet sewing machines, to the market leader manufacturing hundreds of models of industrial overlock sewing machines. Under his leadership the company achieved a place of prominence in the industrial machine field with sales world-wide, hundreds of patents and the industries first industrial overlock sewing machine.

Merrow was also active in politics. In 1880 he was elected to the House of Representatives of the General Assembly. He was founder and president of the Hartford County Manufacturers association. In addition he founded the Industrial Memorials Inc, a business group that devoted its time to commemorating pioneer manufacturers by funding and locating plaques and statues. He was president from 1939 until 1946.

Merrow traveled the world, taking several dozen trips to europe and asia, while studying the industrial conditions of the countries he visited.

He was a writer and a poet. The Hartford Courant writing his obituary quotes him as having defined war as the ‘history of the human race in a single word, Greed the cause of war and brotherly love the cure for greed and the end of war’.[cite this quote]

Merrow never married, although his great nephews Owen and Charlie Merrow maintain his legacy as the current managers of the Merrow Sewing Machine Company.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_M._Merrow

Merrow Sewing Machine Company History

From gunpowder to knitting mills

In the early 19th Century Mr. Joseph Makens Merrow became interested in the manufacture of gunpowder and established a powder mill 24 miles from Hartford Connecticut. When the Mill was destroyed by explosion in 1837 it was decided to build a knitting factory on the same site using water power from an adjacent river.

At first the knitted goods were made largely of native wool which was sorted, scoured and dyed, picked, carded and spun into yarn and knitted into hosiery. The product was sold through commission merchants in New York and delivered to retail stores throughout New England by two-horse wagons. Following the gold rush of 1849 shipments of goods began to sail to San Francisco. As business increased, a small machine shop was started to support the equipment in the factory.

The first overlock machine

In Conjunction with the knitting business, the first Crochet Machines were constructed for finishing around the tops of men’s socks in place of handwork. The Merrow machine as it is now known, was an invention of Mr. Joseph M. Merrow, who was president of the company until his death in 1947 at age 98.

The Merrow Machines were constructed under his direction prior to 1876 with numerous patents granted. The machines were so useful that business was undertaken to introduce the equipment to other textile manufacturers. In 1887 the knitting mill was destroyed by fire and the company moved to Hartford and reorganized concentrating on the manufacture of overlock sewing machines.

The Merrow Machine Company

In Hartford the company focused on building lines of industrial overlock sewing machines that were used to overedge fabric, add decorative edging and support the fabric processing trade by joining fabrics.

Between 1893 when the company was renamed the Merrow Machine Company, and 1932 when a line of “A Class” machines was introduced, Merrow had a significant impact on the textile industry. The technology and rate of innovation in this time, spearheaded by Joseph M. Merrow was unequaled in the industry. As a consequence there were several high profile legal confrontations, including Merrow v. Wilcox & Gibbs in 1897.

Sales for overlock sewing machines were strong and Merrow grew to employ more than 500 people in Hartford Ct. The company also excelled developing international distribution and by 1905 had agents in 35 countries and printed manuals in at least 12 languages.

In 1955, Merrow patented the Merrow MG-3U Emblem Machine.

In the mid 1960s Merrow opened a manufacturing facility in Lavonia GA to reduce costs and maintain proximity to an American textile market that was moving from New York City to the American South East.

In the 1990s Merrow developed a new overlock machine called the Delta Class, but was never able to gain traction with the new model.

In 2004 shareholders of the Merrow Machine Co. agreed to a buyout of the company by Charlie Merrow, and it was renamed the Merrow Sewing Machine Company.

The Merrow Machine Company today

After the reorganization in Massachusetts, the company released notice that it would continue supporting most models of sewing machines manufactured after 1925, and would re-release to market new versions of its most popular models.

The company has capitalized on the trademarks “merrowed” and “merrowing”, working with manufacturers who use Merrow Machines to brand and market “merrow” stitching.

In 2008 Merrow developed a social network for stitching named merrowing.com, and introduced series of rich media web-based tools to help people research and understand the myriad of stitches produced by Merrow Machines.

Present day

The Merrow Machine Company is now based in Fall River, Massachusetts, and is managed by Charlie Merrow and Owen Merrow great great nephews of Joseph M. Merrow. The company continues to build many models of overlock sewing machines. In addition to being one of the most recognized brands of textile equipment in the world, it remains the oldest manufacturer of sewing machines still made in the United States.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merrow_Sewing_Machine_Company

Well, I’m feeling refreshed and ready to get back to that lower looper. Who knew the serger had such a rich history? I did visit the Merrow Company web site. It was a bit complicated to navigate, but it appears they are not targeting sewing hobbyists such as myself. They did have pictures of some of their stitches, and they are very nice. I think it is fantastic that the technology developed so long ago is now available to sewists like myself at an affordable price like my Janome. Sure, I’d like to upgrade to the great ones that thread themselves at some point, but to try it out in my home I took a low-end model. I use my segrer quite a bit and now when I am using it I can think of Joseph Merrow and the innovations he made with fondness.

Babylock Special Financing through 2/27/12

Special Financing on Babylock products now through Monday, February 27.

February Financing Special – 0% For Up To 48 Months

No interest for up to 48 months, with a minimum approved purchase on Baby Lock machines when you use your GE/Home Design card. This offer valid at participating Baby Lock Retailers 2/23/12 through 2/27/12 and applies to 24 months on purchases of $1,000 or more and 48 months on purchases of $5,000 or more. Subject to credit approval. Minimum monthly payments are required during the promotional period when you use your Home Design card. No finance charges will be assessed if (1)promo purchased balance paid in full within 48 months and (2)minimum payments on account are paid when due. Otherwise, promo may be terminated and treated as a non-promo balance. Finance charges accrued at the purchase APR will be assessed from purchase date. Regular rates apply to non-promo balances, including optional charges. Promo purchases on existing accounts may not receive full benefit of promo terms, including reduced APR if applicable, if account is subject to penalty APR. Not valid on previous purchases.

Ruffled & Embroidered Burp Cloth Tutorial

Ruffled & Embroidered Burp Cloth

I’m hoping I will get to see my beautiful sister and her new baby girl over the Christmas holidays.  If so, I’ll have this sweet little burp cloth ready just for her.

Here is a tutorial for making the Ruffled & Embroidered Burp Cloth:

For anyone who is new to machine embroidery, let me take a moment to say that any embroidery machine with a hoop size of 4×4 or larger can do this project.  You will need:  your sewing machine, your embroidery machine, some fabric, self -adhesive tear-away stabilizer, embroidery thread, regular sewing thread, a burp cloth, and an embroidery design that you want to put on the burp cloth.  I chose to do an applique, so you’ll get to see how that works if you read this tutorial.

By the way, feel free to post any questions you have about projects of all kinds.  I’ll do my best to answer you in short order!

#1 Making Ruffles: Cut 2 strips of fabric, 20"x5". Fold one of them with right sides together lengthwise and stitch a 1/2" seam along the short ends. Clip the corners. Repeat for the other strip.

#2 Turn the long strips of fabric right side out and press.

#3 Set your machine for a 4mm stitch length to baste 2 parallel lines next to the long raw edge of your fabric strip. Leave long thread tails at both ends of the strip.

#4 Anchor one end of the thread tails by winding them around a pin in a figure 8.

#5 Pick up the 2 thread tails on the front of your fabric strip and pull the threads to gather. Ease in the fullness of the ruffle to match the width of your burp cloth.

#6 Pin ruffle to bottom edge of burp cloth, adjusting gathers as needed.

#7 Stitch a 1/2" seam along the raw edge of the ruffle. Remove pins as you go. Then, zig zag the raw edge to prevent unraveling.

#8 Press your ruffle away from the burp cloth. Repeat steps 3-8 for the other strip of fabric at the other end of your burp cloth.

Next, comes the embroidery!  I chose to create a monogrammed applique for this project.  I got to use my new Monogram Works software for this and it was very easy to do!  You can get this software online or locally at Humble Sewing Center.  (Locally tends to cost a little less since most shops will meet or beat online pricing.)

First, find and mark center front of the burp cloth.

Decide where you want the design. I used a placement template from The Perfect Placement Kit. It's an easy way to get things just where you want them.

Once you know where you want the design to end up, you can use the grid template that came with your machine to help you with centering your project in the hoop.

I hooped a piece of self-adhesive, tear-away stabilizer and laid the burp cloth on top of it, placing as needed. Then, I stitched the outline of the circle applique with my embroidery machine.

Next, I laid a piece of fabric on top of the circle outline that I had just stitched and my embroidery machine stitched the circle again. This step tacks down my applique fabric.

Then I used my applique scissors to trim away the excess fabric around the circle. I was careful not to cut the burp cloth.

Lastly, I snapped the hoop back onto my Janome 350E and finished the satin stitch around the circle and stitched the monogram onto the fabric.

I hope my sister likes it!

The baby's name is Mikaelah. This is a font that comes with Monogram Works. LOVE IT!!!

Well, that’s all for now.  Except that since you hung in there and read the whole post, I’ll show you a picture of the 2nd thing I made with my new software…..

A monogrammed towel for my mommy! This font also comes with Monogram Works.... I hope she likes this!

Thanks for reading!

If you haven’t signed up to follow us via email yet, go ahead and do it!  This way you will be the first to know when we launch our next gift give-aways and contests!

Let’s get sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego: StitchinJenny

In the Hoop Wallet & Nifty Gift Wrap Idea

Janome 350E Stitching Out In-the-Hoop Wallet

As I mentioned in an earlier post, in my family, December is a time for back-to-back birthdays.  I have an uncle who’s birthday I just missed, so I stitched out this quick project for his belated gift.  This is the in-the-hoop wallet design collection that we just held a prize drawing for a few days ago.  You can get your own copy of this collection at Humble Sewing Center.

In the Hoop Wallet Close-Up

The wallet collection comes with a blank wallet and also wallets with the alphabet featuring the Curlz font from A-Z.  As you may have noticed, the G I’m using is not the Curlz font.  Since this wallet is for a man, I decided to use the blank wallet and imported a font from my Digitizer Jr software.  Note:  This project requires a 5×7 hoop.

Once, I had his wallet all stitched out, I removed it from the hoop, trimmed and rinsed away the remaining wash-away stabilizer.

Then, I decided to package it up for his gift….

I used a can opener to open the bottom end of a pop-top can of soup. After I ate the soup (LUNCH!), I washed the can and lid. I peeled off the original paper and re-wrapped the can with gift wrap.

I inserted the wallet into the can....

What a nice fit!

I put the bottom of the can back. (You can use a hot glue gun for this.)

All done! It's fun to see the person's reaction when they open the pop-top and your special creation is inside. "How did you get it in the can?" That's for me to know & you to find out!

Thanks for reading!

Let’s get sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego: StitchinJenny

In the Hoop Coasters

Coaster Front (Matches those Place Mats from the video tutorial…)

Coaster Back 

If some of you are new to machine embroidery and the term “In-the-Hoop” is a mystery to you, here’s a brief explanation and a photographic tutorial/demo of an “in-the-hoop” project.

“In the hoop” is a phrase that usually means the entire project is done within the embroidery hoop and does not require any sewing machine steps at all.  However, sometimes, the majority of an “in the hoop” project will be done in the hoop and just the last steps will be done with your sewing machine.  Either way, I think these types of projects are FUN!

Coaster Tutorial:

Supplies:

  • front & back coaster fabrics
  • embroidery thread (use matching embroidery thread in bobbin, too)
  • Fusible Stabilizer
  • Self-Adhesive Wash Away Stabilizer
  • 1 Can of Temporary Spray Adhesive

Cut a piece of fusible stabilizer to fit your hoop and fuse it to the wrong side of front coaster fabric.

Hoop the stabilized fabric. Attach hoop to embroidery machine. Stitch the coaster outline onto fabric.

Un-hoop the fabric and cut out the circle. Use this template to cut our your remaining coaster pieces – fronts & backs.

Peel off paper backing and then hoop the adhesive sew & wash stabilizer with the sticky side face up. Attach the hoop to the machine and stitch the coaster outline just as you did before.

Place your pre-cut coaster front onto the coaster outline that you just stitched. Press gently with fingertips to stick in place.

Stitch the next step of your coaster. It will be a zigzag outline around the coaster. Next it will stitch your monogram or any design you choose to insert in the coaster.

I chose to stitch out our family monogram for this one.

Spray the wrong side of your coaster backing fabric with temporary spray adhesive. Remove the hoop from the machine.

Don’t un-hoop your coaster! Turn the hoop over and lay your sprayed coaster backing onto the back of your hooped coaster.

Make sure the coaster backing is aligned with coaster’s front and gently finger press into place.

Then, you’ll put the hoop onto your machine again and finish stitching out the design.

First it will be a zig zag outline.  Last it will be a satin stitch border around the entire coaster.

Once the stitching is completed, remove coaster from the hoop. Trim away excess stabilizer. Lightly rinse the edges of the coaster to dissolve the wash away stabilizer. Let dry and enjoy!

If you would like to try this project, I have digitized the coasters with a single letter from A-Z on each.  I have uploaded the files to my StitchinJenny Yahoo group.  All you have to do to access the designs is click the link and  join the group.  Once you’ve joined the group you will be able to access and download the files.

Thanks for reading!

Let’s get Sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego:  StitchinJenny

Place Mat Love Part 1 of 2 – Stitch ‘n Turn Quilting Technique

Part 1 of 2

Is my virtual sewing mentor, Nancy Zieman,  following my blog posts and copying my projects?  Not likely, but, creative minds must track on the same wave lengths or something because, the same day I posted my patchwork place mat tutorial, she posted a clever method of quilting a place mat.

Nancy’s video clip was so helpful, I just had to show it here.  I’m calling this post “Part 1” because, in “Part 2”, I’m going to show you a nifty way to make and apply the binding for the place mats that are featured in Nancy’s video clip.

Nancy’s Tips Summarized:

  • Cut 2 fabric layers and 1 batting layer 20″ x 14″.
  • Use chalk to mark bias lines on placemat.
  • Pin layers together.
  • Stitch along one marked bias line. Turn the placemat 1/4 turn, stitch along next marked bias line. Repeat until all marked lines are sewn.
  • Trim placemat to desired size.
  • Use your favorite binding technique to apply binding around edges.

(The binding of the place mats is where I come in!  Keep a look out for Place Mat Love Part 2 of 2!  The binding method I’m going to share works great on quilts, too!)

Let’s Get Sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego:  StitchinJenny

P.S.  Click Photo Below to  find out how to Enter our Current Gift Give-Away:

(Drawing will be held on Dec. 16, 2011)