Me And My Baby Lock

Welcome Home Baby! July 9, 2012

I'm pleased to announce that I am now a Baby Lock ambassador here in Canada. For a year I will be using Baby Lock's Ellismo Gold sewing and embroidery machine and will be posting my experiences here for you to follow. Perhaps you are considering buying a new sewing machine, maybe you have a Baby Lock and have not used it to it's full capacity. Follow and me as I use the machine and learn all about what Baby Lock can do for you!

Here is a picture of the new machine. It's quite a bit larger than what I have been used to in the past (my old Pfaff 2020) and it has all the bells and whistles. I'll be back tomorrow to tell you more...

Click on the Ellisimo picture to get detailed information on the machine and to see a video.

Taking Baby Steps July 11, 2012

This blog follows me as I get to know my new Ellismo Gold sewing machine by Baby Lock.

Today I've been working at making a pattern sample for a quilt using the Baby Lock. I've decided to do some piecing before I tackle learning the embroidery process. Wouldn't you agree, it's always a good idea to learn the basics before delving into the totally unknown? In my case the unknown is the extensive embroidery capabilities of this machine. Yes, I'll admit it I have never used an embroidery machine before. But that's the beauty of this blog - you'll be able to relate if you are a novice too!

After familiarizing myself with the machine by working through the basics in the workbook I've started my piecing. I've got to get a new design out the door for a quilting magazine so this is the perfect opportunity to give the machine a workout.

I'm using a 1/4" piecing foot. This foot is not a part of the machine's accessory kit. I was advised that the standard 'J' foot would give me a 1/4" seam, but I've found that it's about 1/16th of an inch shy. The 1/4" foot I obtained from my Baby Lock rep. Betty works perfectly. I like the slim-line style of this foot and notice that it has markings for pivoting so you can sew a perfect 90 degree corner.

A feature that I've never enjoyed before is the machine's instant threading capability. There is also an extra spool pin so that you can wind a bobbin from another spool without re-threading the machine. I find that very handy. The presser foot automatically detects the thickness of the fabric so that the fabric is fed very smoothly as you sew. The machine has a large well lit work area. At Baby Lock they call it stadium lighting. I've never been in a stadium before but it sure is nice and bright!

Catch up with me tomorrow when I'm going to tell you about all the nifty time saving operation buttons on the front of the Ellismo Gold. You'll be amazed at what they can do for you.

Peerless Piecing July 12, 2012

This blog follows me as I get to know my new Ellismo Gold sewing machine by Baby Lock.

Today I've been piecing a new quilt which must be submitted ASAP to a quilting magazine for photography. The new Ellismo machine has been whirring away all day as I hurriedly try to get it done.

When piecing I always try to do my best by pinning carefully and sewing with great care, but even so every quilt I make has some points that need adjustment and some seams that have to be picked out and lined up properly. I've never thought much about it before today because hey, reverse sewing is just part of the process right?

Well guess what I learned today? Throw away the seam ripper gals because reverse sewing is practically a thing of the past with this machine. I have made 3/4 of a quilt today and have only had to tweak two little seams. And those two areas had been pinned incorrectly.

There are plenty of points, and areas where opposing seams align at 45 degree angles on my quilt. I know that my pinning abilities and sewing skills have not changed since last week, only my machine has. Quite frankly I am happily amazed!

I know I promised to tell you about the operation buttons on the machine today but that will have to wait till my next post. I just can't get over the accuracy of this machine!

Talk soon - Brenda

Beam me aboard Scotty OR Button, button, who’s got the button? July 24, 2012

Today, I’m going to talk about the operation buttons on the Ellisimo Gold machine by Baby Lock. I’m quite intrigued by all the things these buttons can do. In case you are just joining this blog space, I’m a Baby Lock Ambassador, brand new to this machine so join me as I explore all its features.

Beginning from left to right in the photo you’ll see the Start/Stop button. It's lit up in green. I think of this as the LAUNCH button on my supersonic new machine. A quick press and your machine will automatically sew a few stitches very slowly before zooming away at your regular speed. Your speed is set on another button - the 6th from the left. Sliding it to the right gives you more speed, sliding it to the left slows it down. I’ve decided that I like it right about in the middle.

Our second button is the Reverse, or the ‘whoops I better reinforce that seam’ button. When you press this little baby you’ll get 3 stitches sewn, one right on top of the other. This is a great when you don’t want to have reverse stitches showing. If you hold the button down you’ll be sewing stitches in reverse until you take your finger off the button.

Move over to the next button on the right to find the Needle Position button. Now you might think that this button just allows you lower or raise your needle but no, that’s not all folks… Press it a couple of times to make a single stitch. Sometimes you need that kind of control in a tight corner. We’ve all been there so you know exactly what I mean!

Next in the lineup is the Thread Cutter button. Boy have I been missing out not having this. Press this magic button and presto the tail end of thread on your seam has disappeared. Not only will you save vast gobs of thread but you’ll no longer have a floor that looks like you spilled a bowl of multi colored vermicelli noodles all over it.

The Presser Foot button is pretty cool. You’ve got the power with this button to raise, lower, raise and lower, lower and raise your presser foot. I’ll bet you can tell how much I love to raise and lower this foot, right? This machine also has a knee lifter allowing your knee to controls the raising and lowering of the presser foot. That leaves your hands free to move the fabric around any way you like.

Passing over our Sewing Speed Controller, ‘cause we already talked about it, we come to my favorite button of all ----- the Automatic Threading button. Omigosh, this one actually, really and truly, threads your needle. It doesn’t just thread your needle once in a while when it’s feeling up to it, it threads it every time! All of you four eyed, bifocally challenged sewers, and those of us who are just in a hurry will appreciate this button. And remember this button eliminates the need to trim thread at the beginning of your seam. Less vermicelli on the floor again girls!

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Da or Embroidery Step by Step July 25, 2012

The time has come to be brave and try out a bit of embroidery on my new Ellismo™ Gold sewing machine by Baby Lock. In case you are just joining this blog I’ve the use of this machine for a year to try it out. My ultimate goal is to draw my own embroidery designs and to digitize them for quilting patterns. But I’m still a baby on my Baby Lock - just learning to take my first steps!

My husband Rob has his own blog. He’s an amateur whole grain bread baker. His blog is called Exorphin Junkie. Endorphins are the molecules in bread that give you such a sense of satisfaction. Try to give up bread for a while and you’ll feel those enxorphins calling you back to eat bread again! Rob has asked me to embroider his blog name on one of his baker’s aprons.

So, with manual in hand I begin…. My Baby Lock representative Betty spent a couple of hours with me when she dropped off my machine showing me the ropes. I’m not a true fish out of water, although I do feel a little bit of apprehension. I guess that’s normal when you try something new!

Attaching the embroidery foot and the flat bed attachment to the machine is straightforward when using the manual. I notice that it’s recommended that I use a 90/14 needle. I’ve got one of those. I’ve decided to use the largest hoop today. It measures 8" x 12".

Then it’s on to selecting my embroidery pattern. I’m using an alphabet and there are a number of fonts available that are perfect for a masculine look. There are also several floral lettering styles to choose from as well as lots of pretty pictorial designs. Better not go there for this project! I press the key that looks most appropriate. I think it’s the comic sans or architect font but I’m not sure since the font name is not given on the screen.

The next screen that appears gives me a little keyboard to type in the lettering. I type in the word Exorphin. Hmm, the word is too long to fit along the 8" side. A window pops up with a crying baby. Betty has told me this little character is called the sad baby. Sad baby tells me I’m not going to get my way, but will need to rotate my word so that it fits. I press the handy rotate button that has automatically popped up alongside the sad baby. Super, my word fits!

I’d like to include the word Junkie on this same line. But my line is full with the first word. How do I move to the next line so that Junkie appears below Exorphin? After a bit of head scratching and searching I find a button called Set. Pressing this sets the first word Exorphin and allows me to press the Add button to type in the word Junkie. The word Junkie also needs to be rotated because it appears on the screen crossing over the word Exorphin. I press set, press rotate 90 degrees and move the word Junkie down using the arrow button. Now it is under the word Exorphin. I’m feeling like I get it now, actually everything is very intuitive. My lettering layout looks good so I press Reset. Now it’s time to sew the pattern. Pressing the button called Sew I see that the lettering will take 10 minutes to complete.

I have to prepare my fabric before I place it in the hoop. I was given a package of Sulky™Sticky Fabri-Solvy at Quilt Market last fall. I’ll use it. I peel the backing off the 8" x 12" sheet and stick it to the back of my apron. This lettering needs to be centered on my apron so I draw registration lines on the apron with a Frixion™ erasable marker. I will be able to iron these marks off when the project is complete. I use the clear grid sheets included with my machine to center my lines on the apron to the center of the hoop. This is all really easy to do. The hoops get put together, the apron is stretched taut and I’m ready to go. The hoop slips easily onto the flat bed attachment. I slide a large piece of tear away stabilizer between the bottom of the hoop and the bed of the machine.

The machine comes with a package of stickers that look like a snowman in the cross hairs of a rifle. Better watch out snowman! I stick this little sticker at the crossed registration marks I’ve drawn on my apron. Pressing scan causes the machine to center to the snowman sticker. The needle is poised and ready. The sticker is removed - whew the snowman has been saved!

Time to press the start button on the front of my machine - we talked about that button in our last post. And presto after 10 minutes and one re-threading of the needle (no problem at all) I have my finished apron.

I feel like a million bucks, like I climbed Mount Everest, like anything’s possible!

Follow me as I continue my embroidery journey on the Ellismo Baby Lock™. I’m off on a family camping trip for a bit but will be back soon – Brenda

The Ellisimo is Humming! October 9, 2012

It's quilt show time again and that means the push is on for new quilt patterns to take to these events. This month is extremely busy with CreativFestival in Toronto and Quilt Market in Houston.

The Ellisimo has been doing a fabulous job for me and is featured in my new video Piccadilly Piecing. Click on the picture to see the superb work it has done for me and what it can do for you!

New Baby Lock Beginnings at Christmas December 18, 2012

Betty, my Baby Lock representative here in Ontario, has arranged to have a new sewing machine delivered to me. The box arrived yesterday by courier.

The new Unity machine has many unique features including the Baby Lock Designers Gallery embroidery software, creative accessory feet, a multi-function foot controller, the Baby Lock stabilizer, a continuous border hoop plus other hoops, Palette embroidery software and a gold standard comprehensive care program.

Betty is coming over this Friday and we're going to set the new machine up for use.

Talk about a great Baby Lock Christmas!

Click on the photo to find out more.

I'm Cookin' on the Unity December 29, 2012

Christmas was just a few days away when I received the new Unity sewing machine by Baby Lock. My Mom was urging me to make one of my patterns for my sister-in-law Beth. Beth lives in Michigan and is part of a Bunco group that gets together for a ladies night every few weeks. Food is a big part of the get-together and Mom thought Beth could use a Home Cooking Casserole Cover. The cover is made up of two separate quilted sections that fold together to cover a 9" x 13" dish. One of these sections, when open, becomes a table runner. Click on the pic to see more...

Making the casserole cover gave me a great opportunity to try out the new Unity machine using the walking foot. This walking foot is adjustable allowing you to slow down the speed of the upper feed dog, speed the upper feed up or leave the upper and lower feed dog speeds equal. Nifty Doodle!

Here's a picture of the finished Home Cooking Casserole Cover. I really enjoyed the walking foot and Beth is thrilled with her new casserole tote. Happy Bunco Beth!

Amazingly Versatile Machine January 10, 2013

I've been giving my new Unity sewing machine by Baby Lock a good workout this week making a fairly large and bulky bag. If you've ever changed from an old familiar machine to a new one you'll know all about that uncomfortable adjustment period as you discover the limitations or the new horizons that your machine offers,

I always wonder how the new machine is going to perform on the bulky things, like bags, that I sew. So when I put my foot to the pedal for the first time I've got lots of angst.

My new bag has multiple layers but sewing through 4 layers of fabric,2 layers of interfacing and foam batting proved no problem for the Unity. And that's WITHOUT USING THE WALKING FOOT!!! Another test of a sewing machines mettle is sewing through that dreaded Velcro hook and loop tape. I'm happy to report Velcro was no match for the Unity which stitched through it without a hitch.

I'm really, really impressed with this machine and am looking forward to lots of happy hours breezing through my projects!

P.S. Excuse the clutter around the machine - the creative process can by very messy!

Blown Away By Baby Lock February 2, 2013

Not only am I blown away by the capabilities of my new Unity sewing machine I am literally going to be blown down Highway 403 this coming weekend to demonstrate at Ma Cherie Fabrics in Burlington, Ontario. I've had Unity machine since December and have lots to share with fashion sewists at Ma Cherie. Demonstrations will take place at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturday, February 9th.

I'll be working with two of my patterns to show you what this amazing cross-over machine can do. Using the Making Waves place mat and runner pattern I'll show basic functions, Laser Pinpoint technology and embroidery stitching. We'll move on to my Bag-ette pattern. It's a trendy little bag where we'll look at free motion quilting, simple embroidery using the hoop and the Smart Sensor feature.

Come on over for a visit, my demos and lunch with Linda Blake and I - you'll be glad you did!

Click on the picture and you'll go directly to Ma Cherie. Follow the newsletter button to find out more!

Sew Wonderful February 13, 2013

I'm a Baby Lock Ambassador in Canada and just before Christmas I took delivery of a brand new Unity Sewing Machine. Although it is impossible to become an expert in the time I have had the machine I must say that I have become an enthusiast.

The name of the machine says it all. The Unity is an all purpose workhorse for fashion sewing, embroidery, free motion quilting, quilt piecing and every other use you might have in the course of your sewing day. I am especially impressed with the machines ability to sew heavier seams with ease without the use of the included even feed foot.

Free motion quilting used to be a stressful experience but not with the Unity. Embroidery setup is quick and easy. There are so many extra features on the machine to enjoy like the laser Sensor Pen feature. This machine even sews sideways!

So if you are new to sewing and looking for a machine that will help you though all your creative projects I recommend the Unity. If you are a gal, who like me, had one machine for embroidery, one for piecing, and one for heavy work why not do a spring clean. Sell those old machines and free up your space by investing in the amazing Unity by Baby Lock.

The Baby Travels! March 9, 2013

a class picture with the Unity

Yesterday I was pleased to show off the Unity to some members of my quilting guild at a paper piecing class in Kirkton, Ontario.

The girls wondered if the Unity was heavy when I wandered in with it. The Unity actually weighs about as much as my young nephew but it doesn't squirm. I wouldn't want to carry him or the Unity too far but it's doable! Weight aside it was great to have the machine in class. With features like the stadium lighting, large needle bed, superb accuracy and self cutting thread I didn't want to take along any other machine.

I was chatting away and sewing at the same time when my neighbor suggested I answer my phone. Of course it wasn't my phone, it was the Unity talking to me. Did you know that the Unity can be programmed in 13 languages? Too cool, way too cool!

Click on the picture to learn why my guild friends refer to my machine as the Mercedes of sewing machines!

Go to my Facebook page at to see how the paper piecing turned out. P.S. be sure to 'Like' my page while you're there!

Baby Quilting & the New Modern Convenience Pattern March 14, 2013

I've been working on a new table runner and place mat pattern (click on the pic.) and decided to throw caution to the wind and machine quilt it myself. I'm not talking about straight line quilting - I mean the real thing, wavy, crazy, free flowing free motion quilting.

I never really took to free motion quilting on my old machine. The process was fraught with problems. None of us wants to do a crumby job when free motion quilting but birds nests of thread under my work, threads breaking, choppy looking stitching and other unsightly messes were all I had been able to achieve in the past.

Well, I can finally do it! Not only can I do it, but I can do a very respectable job of it! And I suspect that you'd be able to do it really well too on the Unity by Baby Lock. See the result of my work in the picture. Consider that I have not done free motion quilting in years. The only practice I had before starting this place mat was scribbling the design on paper with a pencil.

That's how easy it can be girls. Try this machine out the next time you visit your Baby Lock dealer. You are going to blow your own socks off!

"We Still Make Things By Hand" April 22, 2013

“We still make things by hand.” That’s the slogan I came across today in an ad for the John C. Campbell Folk School in the latest edition of the Mother Earth News Magazine. Funny thing is that just today I had been considering why so many of us still do make things by hand, especially things that are sewn. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about making things entirely by hand. Not many of us have the spare time in our lives to do that. Even craft schools use tools and modern mechanization. I have the Baby Lock Unity in my sewing studio and it can do practically everything but the dishes.

Think of all the sewers you know. There are the quilters and the bag makers and those interested in embroidery by machine. How about the fashion sewers and sewists who have taken their skills to the next level and make a living with a sewing machine. What keeps them going back to their spare bedrooms or that corner set aside in the basement to sew their hearts out? What’s the motivation behind the need you feel to make your own things? After all it’s so easy to drive to the store and buy what you need or just click on the 'Add to Cart' button.

I know why I get up each morning and head to my studio to sew. I just love it - period. I love the colors of the fabric, the quiet whir of the Baby Lock sewing machine, the fun of figuring things out. I love planning my next project. I love showing my friends what I’ve made. I really love it when you send me pictures of what you’ve made with my Among Brenda's Quilts patterns. And I am absolutely over the moon when you take one of my patterns and tweak it so it is perfect for you. That’s what I call a pattern with purr-sonality – your personality.

Personality could be the catch word for those of us who love to sew and create. Nothing that’s been purchased can ooze personality like something you have sewn yourself. You’ve picked out the pattern that suits your style, the fabric that suits your look and the accessories that say – “Hey this is me and I love the way I look.”

Are you the kind of crafter or sewer who totally ‘zones out’ when you make something? I know I am. Apparently our brainwaves change when we are creating. Sewing is a simple activity that encourages your mind to meditate. Your mind empties and while all this mental housecleaning is taking place there is space to come up with some fantastic new ideas. You’ll see the result of all these ideas at your next fashion or quilt show. Maybe this creative glow is what keeps you hooked on sewing.

Not sewing isn't an option for the likes of you and me. Not only does making things by hand promote mental health, a sharp mind, and a relaxed state of being it’s also a way to provide pleasure to yourself and to those around you. You can connect with others through sewing, you can look fabulous in your new dress with its matching trendy bag, you can provide some little one with a snuggly blankie, or offer comfort with a donated quilt. Or if you are like me you’ll keep on sewing because you just love it.

Quilt As Desired July 5, 2013

"Quilt as desired", those are scary words, words that send the most stout hearted of us looking for the car keys so we can safely deliver our quilt tops, runners and the like to the nearest long arm quilter. That was me until I got my Unity sewing machine from Baby Lock.

Nothing used to terrify me more than doing free motion quilting. Snarly birds nests under my work, poor tension and breaking thread were the norm rather than the exception. My Mantra with machine quilting was 'As Ye Sew, Sew Shall Ye Rip."

Being a designer my samples needed to look pretty good. Not having much luck with my quilting at home I took my projects to the machine quilters in the area. After all, nobody likes the quilt police giving them a citation for messy work!

Enter the Baby Lock. Now I'm having fun with my small projects. I'm breezing through my work making bed runners, table runners, large and small quilted pillow tops. My friends are amazed - even the picky ones. Here's a photo of a pillow top that's part of my new "Crazy Love" bed runner and pillow set. I look forward to showing you the whole pattern soon.

A Sneak Peek January 8, 2014

I'm designing a new bag for you and creating it on my Baby Lock sewing machine.

Winter gets me thinking about travel so I'm designing a gorgeous bag to take along when you visit your next destination. Use it as a carry on or a weekender bag or take it along to the gym.

Have a look at the fabric I'm using. These colorful strips are part of packages of forty 2 1/2" strips that are distributed in Canada by Trend Tex Fabrics. They've hand picked 40 different Hoffman California batiks in each package. The pink color way I'm using is called Electric Lemonade as well as a bit of brown batik for the accent, zippers and for the swirl that is raw edge appliqued to the front of the bag.

Stay tuned for another sneak peak update!

Trying out the Tiara April 16, 2014

I invited myself over to my friend Linda Peters home this past week to try out her new Baby Lock Tiara quilting machine. Linda's husband Paul had it all set up and ready to sew. I love instruction booklets so Linda passed me her manual and left me to figure it out on my own.

The manual is very clearly written with large pictures to illustrate threading and the various machine parts. It's easy to understand the machine since it is basically a large scale variation of a straight stitch sewing machine with a wide arm. I quickly figured out threading. The touch screen was straightforward and it was easy to set the variable speed control with saved settings and the stitches per inch. I liked the amount of light the machine cast over the work area below the needle.

Linda had been using a 60 weight polyester thread in the bobbin and a 50 weight Mettler thread in the top of the machine. I wanted to use my spool of 50 weight Signature thread for both so I played with the top tension for a spell before tightening the bobbin tension ever so slightly to achieve perfect tension.

Now it was time to tackle the Tru Stitch manual. Tru stitch is a stitch regulating unit that can be purchased separately for the Tiara. It took me a moment to understand that the mouse like unit that plugged into the Tiara had to lie underneath the quilting I was doing. The mouse detects the speed at which the quilt is moved over it during quilting. It then adjusts the speed of the machine. I tried holding the mouse under my left palm as I quilted but found that it did a fine job just lying free under the quilt. The cruise feature offered on the touch screen with Tru Stitch worked well but I still preferred to use the foot pedal. I think I'm just foot pedal oriented.

The Tiara was created for quilters looking for a smaller alternative to long arm quilting machines. The table is about card table sized with two wings that open to either side - making it the right size for the typical spare bedroom sewing space that most quilters have. I also liked the fact that I could sit while qulting.

I'm looking forward to visiting Linda again soon. Sure I'll be visiting my friend but I'll also want to get more acquainted with her Tiara!

New Sewing Machines January 23, 2015

I'm expecting delivery of two new Baby Lock sewing machines to my studio this year. The first will be the Tiara 2 coming in January.

You might be seeing me soon at your local quilting or sewing store as I travel about as a Baby Lock Ambassador to Canada. I'll be sharing sewing machine demos and my Trunk Show at shops all across Ontario and beyond in 2015. I hope to see you soon!

The Tiara II Arrives! February 18, 2015

What an exciting week this is going to be. The Tiara II Quilting Machine arrived on my doorstep and I've been assembling and trying it out. Click on the picture to read the full blog post!

Video - Quilting with the Tiara March 16, 2015

Follow me as a quilt my first project, a table runner, on the Tiara II by Baby Lock. I'll show you how I pin my layers before quilting, explain how the machine is threaded, show you how I prepared my quilting design and finally how I quilted the project. See how easy it is to quilt using the Tiara by clicking the picture!