Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bring On the Bling! 750 QE Sewing Machine Cover, Part Deux

Almost Finished: Sewing Machine Cover for my Bernina 750 QE
So, this is what my in-progress sewing machine cover looks like today.  I think it looks like a mailbox.  Anyway, if you missed my Part One post about this project, you can catch up with that here.  Moving right along...

After spending a good chunk of eternity free-motion quilting my Kaffe Fassett Millefiore fabric, I used the muslin mockup pieces as a pattern to cut the sewing machine cover pieces out of my quilted yardage, like so:

If I hadn't needed to precisely position a cutout at the back of the cover for my thread stand, I probably could have skipped that whole muslin mockup.  It took WAY too long to custom-quilt my project fabric for me to risk messing it up with a cutting error, so it was worth the extra effort in this situation. See how much quilting I did to get the stiffness I wanted?

Quilted Yardage, Back Side View

I had some leftover covered cording lying around that I had made for my master bedroom throw pillows last month, and I decided to use it up on my sewing machine cover:

The cord fabric is F. Schumacher's pattern 62613 Betwixt in Peacock/Seaglass, a VERY loosely woven, 100% cotton fabric that is flexible and soft, but bulky and thick.  The piping is 5/32" diameter, the largest size that I can make on the serger, which allowed me to contain the fraying fabric edges and maintain a perfectly even seam allowance.  Making the cording on the serger like this has the added benefit of compressing and flattening the seam allowance, which makes the cording as easy to use in the project as a readymade lip cord trim.  The fabric strips were cut on the bias to follow the weave pattern.

As you can see in the photos, I offset the piping from the edge of the red fabric pieces by about 1/8" -- that's because the widest setting on my serger was still not quite 1/2" and my sewing machine cover would have finished too big if I had just attached the piping with raw edges and serged edges aligned.  I used my 4D zipper foot with dual feed engaged to attach the piping on my 750 QE sewing machine. 

To finish off the raw edges of my sewing machine cover along the bottom edge and around the thread stand cutout, I wanted to bind it in the same Schumacher fabric, but it was way too bulky to double up and wrap it around the way you would do with a lightweight cotton quilt binding.  What I ended up doing is this: I measured and cut bias fabric strips that were wide enough to be doubled on the front side of the machine cover, but only a single thickness wraps around to the inside.  I overcast one raw edge of the fabric strip on the serger first, then serged the other raw edge of the contrast fabric strip directly to the right side of my sewing machine cover (lots of fun driving around the inside of the cutout shape on the serger, let me tell you, but I managed!):

Binding Fabric Serged to Right Side of Machine Cover Along Bottom, Top Edge is Free
Now I had both raveling raw edges controlled and the binding strip was attached to the right side of the machine cover with an approximately 1/4" serged seam.  I then wrapped the loose binding edge to the inside and pinned it in place, making sure I covered the serged stitching with the binding fabric:
Pinning the Binding Prior to Stitching

Then I used Edgestitch Foot #10 to stitch in the ditch next to the binding from the right side of the project, and that secured the loose binding neatly to the inside of the cover.

After finishing the binding, I popped the cover over my sewing machine, and it was not exciting enough.  It needed something...  a monogram!  I briefly considered embroidering "Bernina 750 QE" on the machine, but then I decided that it's MY machine, MY dust cover, and it should be MY initials.

I chose the Gothic 4 monogram style from Embroidery Arts, my hands-down, all-time favorite source for machine embroidered monogram designs.  This monogram collection includes one fat and one skinny version of each letter, designed to be stacked rather than side by side.  My first and last initials are both R, and I thought that stacking two different R designs would be more interesting than positioning two identical Rs side by side.  I combined and enlarged the two monogram designs in my Bernina v6 Designer Plus embroidery digitizing software until it just filled the maximum stitching area of my medium embroidery hoop, experimented with thread colors a bit, and came up with this:

Pretty cool, right?  Then I stitched out a sample of the altered embroidery design onto a leftover unquilted scrap of Millefiore fabric, layered with batting and muslin backing to approximate my project fabric as closely as possible.  I got this:
Sample Stitch Out of Altered Design on Project Fabric

See why they tell you to always do that sample stitch out, especially when you're using a design from a new supplier or after you've done extensive editing to the design?  The first thing I decided from my sample stitch out was that the fat R needed to be a darker thread color to stand out better against the busy background fabric.  But then I noticed additional issues upon closer inspection:


My satin stitches aren't close enough together to give good coverage.  Also, when I stretched, distorted, and resized the monogram letters in my embroidery software, evidently the software did not recognize that the outline stitching was in fact outline stitching -- since I stretched the letters to be taller, all of the vertical outline stitches just got longer instead of the software adding more stitches to maintain a consistent stitch length.  If you look at the stitches that go horizontally and around the small curves, those stitches are all much shorter.  So I went back into my design software and ungrouped the design so that I had four separate elements: the fat R, the outline of the fat R, the skinny R, and the outline of the skinny R.  Then I selected each satin stitched letter, went into Object Properties, and changed satin stitch spacing from Manual to Automatic.  That increased the number of total stitches in the combined monogram from about 10,000 to about 12,000.  Then I selected each outline and clicked on "Outline Stitch" at the bottom of my screen, which automatically redigitized those stitches so that they would be nice and even.  I COULD have done another sample stitch out at that point to make sure I was happy with the results, but I am impatient so I hooped up my sewing machine cover instead.  I like to live dangerously:

Still loving all of the extra throat space on this machine, by the way.  Even though I'm using the medium embroidery hoop, the stiffly quilted sewing machine cover is bulky and takes up a lot of space.  On a smaller sewing machine, all of that bulk might have interfered with the operation of the embroidery module.  I drew chalk lines to help me position the monogram so that it was perfectly straight and centered on one of the red circle blobs of my fabric print.  Ta da:


Now, if I HAD stitched this as a second test drive sample, I would have seen that I like having those outline stitches evenly spaced, but that the stitching showed up better when they were longer -- and I would have gone back into my digitizing software to change that before proceeding.  But I didn't, so this is what I've got.  I'm happy with the thread colors I chose for both letters, but I'm a little sad that I don't see the contrasting outline thread as much as I wanted to.  Also, the positioning of the monogram is kind of high on the sewing machine cover, the lettering is still disappearing into the busy quilted background more than I wanted it to, and I'm not in love with it yet. 

Monogram Embroidered, Still Not in Love
So I asked my husband, "Bernie, do you think this needs some beads?"

And he answered, "No-it-does-not-need-beads" the way he would rattle off a phone number or the make and model of some hot rod we passed on the interstate.  And this is how I knew that it DEFINITELY needed beads.

This is not the first time I have added hand stitched beads to machine embroidery.  I've done it with decorative machine stitches, too -- it gives the machine stitching more of an individualized, hand crafted look.  It's much easier to execute than hand embroidery, too, because you can use the perfectly-spaced machine stitching as a guide for perfectly spacing your beads.  In this case, I decided to place one seed bead every two outline stitches around each of the monogram letters.  It didn't take as long as it would have taken to embroider the monogram by hand (assuming I had the skill and ability to do that, which I don't).  But, as with most of my bright ideas, it took much, MUCH LONGER THAN I EXPECTED IT TO!  :-)

Machine Embroidery Plus Beads
After I had blinged up the monogram with seed beads, I had to outline the red circle with alternating iridescent peacock colored bugle beads and cobalt blue seed beads.  As you can see, that beaded circle is a bit wobbly in places, because I followed the fabric print and the circle was designed a little wobbly.  I think it's okay.  And then, finally, I put the cover on my sewing machine and felt like it looked done.

Enough Beads?
I had a fleeting temptation to decorate the rest of the cover with an assortment of beads and/or sequins to embellish and play up the fabric print, but then I remembered that this was supposed to be a QUICK AND EASY project and I do want to get back to the quilts I'm working on.  I can always add more beads later if I decide it needs more.

This cover may or may not be finished at this point for one more reason.  The cutout for the thread stand could probably use a button or two:
Does It Need Buttons?  Hooks and Eyes?

It wants to sag down at the opening, which makes for a less-than-tidy fit.  However, if I put buttons or ribbon ties or whatever, that will just be annoying when I take the cover on and off.  If I do decide to add buttons, I'd love to make some turquoise Chinese ball knot buttons or maybe add a funky frog closure...

[At this point, Rebecca opens up another browser window and pokes around on Etsy...]

-- Eureka!  Check out this vintage 1950s frog closure that I just found on Etsy from seller Duchess General!  Doesn't that just look like it was MADE for my sewing machine cover?  It's the exact blues and greens that I used for my monogram, and I scored it for only $7.49 including shipping.  Perfection!
Vintage Frog Closure, Coming Soon to My Mailbox

So when that comes in the mail, I'll figure out how to attach it and THEN my sewing machine cover will FINALLY be done!

I'm linking up with Lee's WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced, Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts, and with Esther's WOW WIP Wednesday linky party.  I'm also linking up with Finish It Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts, Whoop Whoop Friday at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday which is hosted by Quilting Mod this week.  I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else has been working on this week! 

13 comments:

Ann said...

This is such a lovely project! I've never seen one so beautifully elaborate. You must have had a blast working all this out. Congratulations.

Anonymous said...

This is absolutely GORGEOUS, Rebecca. I would have stopped with just the quilted fabric, but the monogram and bling take it over the top fabulous! Claudia W

marie bartels said...

It is very beautiful! I love it! Thanks for this fantastic post!

Jenny K. Lyon said...

I don't know where to start! Your writing is just as lovely as your project for starters! I LOL at your interaction with hubby.

This project is absolutely exquisite-your attention to detail and patient is amazing. You don't think you obsess over details or anything do you?? It is so beautiful and I want one but would not have the patience.

And when that last set of embellishments come that will be the perfect touch.

I do think the cover will survive a nuclear holocaust!

Debbie said...

How I REALLY feel: (I think I've said that before on your comments!) I agree with everything Jenny K said, but I have to just add. You asked your HUBBY if it needed beads? How funny is that? Mine would say something like, what are beads, or, um'um, or grunt, or something. At least he answered you! Ha!

Mari said...

It does kind of look like a mailbox! But a really, really pretty one! Such beautiful quilting. Great work!

Green Carlson said...

Wow! That is really something! Great job. I love how you just embellished thecheck out of it.

Gemini Jen NZ said...

Oh my! That is spectacular! What a lot of work you have put into it - and all totally worth it, a fantastic result!

Lorna McMahon said...

An incredible piece and a work of art! Thank you so much for sharing all the little details. This is the most beautiful sewing machine cover I have ever seen!

Afton Warrick said...

I think you may have just created the most elaborate, fancy sewing machine cover ever to exist amongst the entirety of mankind. I haven't seen all the covers out there, but I think it's safe to say. (And Lorna agrees.) You did a lovely job, except that it's so nice it'll be a shame to actually have to take it off the machine!

colleen said...

Oh I was going to suggest you sew 'boneing' on the inside of the back opening to prevent the 'gap-o-sis'
Easier to take off ..... But if you could sew your fancey closure on and just add magnets to hold it closed
LoL .....what ever you do will be lovely and your ideas are far better than any of mine
Love your cover I guess with the custome cover you are keeping this machine for ever

Chaka said...

I love this cover. What did you use to make the muslim?

Rebecca Grace said...

Thanks, Chakra. The muslin is LITERALLY made of muslin -- I had some unbleached 100% cotton muslin shoved in a corner of my studio from who-knows-what-project-how-many-years-ago, and that's what I used to make my pattern. It's cheap, and easy to write on with pencil. You can get it at a store like JoAnn's, or just use whatever they have on sale.

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