Week in Review 2019 – 5/17

It finally happened, that moment I dreaded, but hoped would never happen. My prized Bernina 1260, the machine I’ve had for 23 years with nary a problem, stopped on its own mid stitch. One minute I was stitching. The next moment the lights went out and the machine simply stopped. After checking for the obvious, such as the power cord becoming disconnected, or a circuit blown, I asked my husband to take a look at it.

My husband completely disassembled the machine, checking for signs of an overheated circuit board or blown fuse. He couldn’t determine the problem. So, instead of spending a blissful day in my studio, we brought the machine in for repair. If it can be repaired, depending on whether it can be done in the shop or if parts need to go directly to Bernina headquarters, my machine could be gone for 2 – 6 weeks. If it can’t be repaired, I will be buying a new machine.

For those of you reading who understand the bond between a fiber artist and her machine, what machine would you recommend? What I love about the Bernina and must have in a new machine, are the knee operated presser foot, needle up or down setting that stays where you put it, and easy access for cleaning. What I don’t need is to do embroidery.

Hydrangea as it looked last week

I finished attaching the hydrangea petals to the background last week. Instinct told me it needed a few leaves to finish off the piece.

A detail shot of 3D leaves added to Hydrangea

Can you believe I had a fabric in my stash with the right contrast, image and scale to use as the template for my hydrangea leaves? It is a batik with petals going every which way and often overlapping. I created the leaves using the pillow case method: 3 layers, turned right side out through a narrow opening, and the opening whip stitched closed. Since my Bernina bit the dust, I actually machine quilted these leaves, approximately 3″ long, on my George.

What a difference a few leaves make…

I planned on making five leaves. I might still. What do you think?

I am linking up with Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Fridays.

By Gwyned Trefethen

I am an artist who uses fabric, thread and miscellany to create designs gifted to me by my imagination.


  1. I agree, you need more leaves. Where the 3 are currently, they draw the eye to the center and stays there. More movement is required. Sorry about your Bernina, that’s why I have 3 machines, 6 weeks without I’d go bonkers.

    1. I used to have a back-up Viking and Singer feather weight. When we moved 10 years ago, I sold the Viking, given to me by my mother-in-law. It was great when I was using a sewing machine once a year or so to make our children’s halloween costumes. Once I started quilting, using the machine weekly, I upgraded to the Bernina. Never went to back to the Viking. The feather weight came from my husband’s uncle. We brought it on the move, although I had never even checked to see if it was operational. Sold it before we moved again, last year. So, unfortunately, no back-ups.

      Looks like I will be making a few more leaves. My gut tells me a grouping on the left side, to allow the eye to move in a triangular motion is required. Thanks for you confirmation.

  2. That batik in your stash was the perfect solution. I also think it could use a couple more. You must be so pleased with your results, as you should be.

  3. If you decide to do 2 more leaves, have them just peeking out…not as large/long as the others. I think that would work.

    As for machines…I was a Huqvarna fan (and still have my Lily 555 as my back up machine) till they moved more to haute couture and embroidery. If I want to embroider, I do it by hand! And not having to go back to “university” (in a centre 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours’ drive away) to learn how to use my sewing machine, when I up-graded in September 2018, I chose a Pfaff Performance 2.0. It has a knee lift (which I never use), needle up/down/pivot (very handy) and just enough stitches that I can use my favourites and ignore the rest. I can also program in a ‘scant 1/4 inch’ seam or use a 1/4″ foot that’s a tad wider. There are great online tutorials and I don’t have to travel to learn how to work the machine. No need to buy a walking foot; the Pfaff’s foot just does that. And there are several options for FMQ. I use the “IDT” system that came with the machine. Worth exploring, in my book!

    1. I admit to being a Bernina snob. However, you have me going down the Pfaff rabbit hole. I’ve spent time checking on features, availability, and watching tutorials on the Pfaff Performance 5.2. I couldn’t find a 2.0 version. There is a Pfaff dealer about a 30 minute drive from our home. Looks like I will be heading there for a test drive on Tuesday. They are closed Sundays and Mondays. One thing Pfaff has that I have always missed on my Bernina is a bobbin that drops into the machine with the mechanism visible from above, versus needing to manage it by feel or turning oneself into a pretzel. Thanks for the suggestion, Margaret.

      Your idea to vary the lengths of leaves protruding leaves is genius. I hadn’t thought of that, but now slight variations bring interest to a piece. Great idea.

  4. I recently went through the same anxiety about old faithful machine. Fortunately, this time it could be fixed, but it has started me thinking about looking at something new and it’s hard! Machines seem to have either too much or too little in the way of features I want. Let’s hope we both find something perfect AND that your old faithful can be resuscitated for a bit more service. My opinion on the leaves differs from the others, too, though. Any more and the picture may be of leaves with a few petals instead of the glorious hydrangeas! Perhaps the bottom one could be tucked under the left side blossoms and angled the other direction. Aaaaaand…….it’s your piece!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. So far I am considering a Bernina 770 QE, Janome (I think it is the 550 – anyway it is similar to the Bernina) and now the Pfaff Performance 5.2. I tested the Bernina. Can’t say I fell in love with it. Not quite sure why. It could have been as simple as the craziness of the shop and having to constantly call the representative back to show me how to achieve this or that or get me a different foot. I will be heading to the local Pfaff dealer to test drive the Performance 5.2. The price is half that of the Bernina and the features are similar – so similar I can’t help but wonder who is copying whom. What appeals to me about the Pfaff is the fact that the bobbin is top loaded vs. side loaded. There is also a sensor that lets you know when the bobbin thread is coming to an end.

      Excellent point about not putting in so many leaves that they distract from the hydrangea blossoms. Thanks!

  5. HI Gwyned-
    I recently sold a quilt at IQA and to celebrate, Ron treated me to a new Bernina 770QE. A very dear friend adopted my 1630. I still have an 830 (in granddaughters possession ) as a backup should I ever need one.
    After all my years of driving a Bernina, I couldn’t think of using anything else. This machine does everything but make my lunch!! I LOVE IT!!! Obviously, there has been a learning curve with the needle up and thread cutting features, but I am totally pleased with my decision. The extra arm length is a dream come true for maneuvering the fabric. I’m hooked on the built in walking foot feature. I don’t think that you would be sorry. Also, all the tutorials are on utube. I never need to go to the dealer!!
    As for your Hydrangea piece — it is my absolute FAVORITE of your work to date. Ingenious. Creative. BEAUTIFUL!!!

    1. I am very tempted to purchase the 770QE. Your endorsement certainly puts it in a positive light! However, now that it looks like my 1260 will be resurrected, looks like I don’t “need” the 770QE. I will stick to the 1260. It was a pleasant dream will it lasted.

      Thank you for your enthusiastic thumbs up on Hydrangea. It has surprised me. I never expected it to come together as well as it did. I was just playing with an idea. Sometimes you are gifted with something that works the first time.

  6. G., I got wwaayy behind on your blog when I was ill, so I am finally up to date! I am absolutely blown away by “Hydrangeas.” It is gorgeous! You know my artistic abilities, so with the proverbial grain of thought, I think a bit of leaves on the left hand third of the piece would be a fine addition. You will know what looks best!
    I love the photo of Lola and so good to see a photo of you (!) with your granddaughter!

    1. Your artistic instinct is far better than you give it credit, Cheryl. I’m not just saying that because you are one of the biggest champions of my work. A few leaves, perhaps just peeping out on the left hand side is precisely what is needed. First I need my sewing machine fixed, or at least access to a machine.

      Thank you for following my blog, scrolling through the earlier posts and sharing your enjoyment of Lola and Mikayla.

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