Buying a Sewing Machine from Craig’s List or Facebook

I’ve purchased two of my machines from Craig’s List.  Craig’s List (CL) or a Facebook (FB) Neighborhood for Sale page are great resources for finding used sewing and embroidery machines so I highly encourage you to utilize those if you’re in the market for a new-to-you machine.

The first purchase I made was the Baby Lock Ellegante II (sewing & embroidery combo that uses large hoops) in 2015 which had originally been purchased at a dealer with a full set of Koala furniture. 

Shortly after the original owner purchased the machine, she went into a nursing home.  I saw the ad on CL with an asking price of $2,200.  I dismissed it out-of-hand but several weeks later, I text the seller again to see if they still had it (the ad was no longer on CL).  The seller said she did still have it so hubs and I made the 50 mile trek to go “look” at it.  The seller turned out to be the daughter of the original owner who had recently passed away.  Unfortunately the furniture was already sold (dang it!) but the machine was brand new and the sale included a Sew Steady table that had been custom made for the machine that had not been originally advertised.  And by brand new I mean BRAND NEW – it had a zero stitch count on the display.  I haggled the price down to $2k and felt like I’d won the lottery.  The original selling price of this machine was around $8,500.   This cash sale occurred at the seller’s home and I took my husband with me to make the purchase. This is the machine I use at our other home at the coast.

My second CL purchase in 2017 was a little different.  It was being sold by a gentleman who was the cousin of the lady who owned the machine and she had passed away.  She had a lot of sewing things and he had sold all but the Brother Quattro Innovis 6000D (sewing & embroidery combo) which he was selling for $3,800.

 The ad had been on CL for several weeks.  This was another cash sale so we chose to meet at a local police sub-station that has a couple of parking spaces marked Safe Exchange Zone and there’s a security camera pointing right at the parking spots. 

This machine came with a full set of rolling travel cases, two upgrades already installed in the machine (a $1,500 value), a never-used external Brother PED memory card reader ($90 value), and a digitizing tablet ($1,200 value).   Again, my husband went with me and this time, because our truck has an inverter for 110 power, I brought along some fabric, thread, and a bobbin to do a test to make sure the machine operated as advertised.  I’m SO glad I attempted to make sure the machine at least powered on while the seller was there because it was then that we all discovered that the wrong power cord had been included with the machine.  Fortunately, we were just a few minutes from an Allbrands Creative Sewing Center and I bought a new Brother power cord for just $15.  I never buy after-market for power cords because it’s just too easy to seriously screw up the power center of your machine.   The seller offered to go back and look for the original power cord but it would be an hour wait.  Also, the external card reader is basically useless because the machine takes a standard USB stick so I’d never, ever use the reader.  I told him he could keep it.  We haggled a bit and due to several factors (lengthy ad listing on CL, no power cord, & useless card reader which he didn’t want back) I was able to get the machine for $3,500.  It was a crap shoot that I won not knowing if the machine even powered up or not. 

So from these experiences, here are some tips I have for you when buying a machine on CL or FB.

1.  Do not go to the sale alone.  EVER.  You must ALWAYS, ALWAYS have someone with you for safety:  preferably a large male (…with a gun…hey, this is Texas and that’s how we roll).  You will be carrying a very large amount of cash dollars and people have been robbed, killed and/or car jacked during Craig’s list sales.  This isn’t meant you scare you, but the more aware of the dangers you are, the better prepared and the safer you will be. Also, tell people where you are going, who you will be meeting, and give them the phone number in case you do not return.

2.  Meet in a public location during the daylight – preferably at a police station.  If you can meet at a local quilt or sewing store, that’s all the better.  You’ll want to buy new goodies for your machine anyway.  If they insist on you coming to their home, evaluate the neighborhood and see #1 above. Obviously, someone can’t drag a quilting frame to a meet-up. I went to the lady’s home for my first purchase, but I took my large husband during the daylight hours and she lived in a very nice neighborhood.  I would not have met the 2nd seller at his home. That’s just me.

3.  Do some homework to make sure you’re getting a good deal.  If what they are asking is the same as an eBay sale, be sure to haggle them down.  Tell them it’s for “X amount” on eBay and you’re willing to wait for shipping for a less expensive price.  Nine times out of 10, they want the sale as much as you do so they will come down.

4.  Find the manual online for the model you want to buy.  Figure out how to find the stitch count to see how much the machine has really been used.  If you have a portable power inverter that can produce 110 power, take it with you to plug in the machine if you’re meeting in a parking lot. If the machine has millions and millions of stitches, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but can be a haggling point to bring down the price. It’s an even better haggling point if the seller does not know the maintenance history.

5.  Ask for the maintenance records or at the very least, ask where the machine has been serviced.  You may be able to gain some insight into the health of the machine.  Then call the shop if possible. If it’s been in the shop for the same thing several times or has made frequent trips into the shop, it might be a lemon someone is trying to unload.   Along those lines, do some online research for frequent maintenance issues with that particular machine.  If you see a lot of problems, keep shopping.  

6. If software is included in the deal, like digitizing software for embroidery, check to see if there is a fob (sounds like “job”) that’s required for the software to work. Many pieces of software can only operate on one machine at a time, and while selling the software in a personal sale is perfectly legal, software manufacturers ensure the software can only be used on one machine at a time by use of a special USB stick that’s called a fob. It has a license key on it that allows the software to work. Without it, the software is completely useless and you cannot get another one from the company. If you’re not sure if a fob is required for the software, do a quick Google search prior to finalizing the deal. If one is needed and it’s not there, haggle down the price. Here’s the software that came with our Janome multi-needle. The USB stick is the fob and the software won’t launch without it in the computer. Along that line, ask the seller how many times the software has been installed on another computer. Many pieces of software, especially the expensive ones, have a limited number of installs that can be done whether you have the fob or not. Most will allow 1 to 3 installations because manufacturers understand that users buy new computers.. If it has been installed on the previous owner’s computer ask the seller if it was uninstalled. If they don’t know, you might be buying software that cannot be installed on your system. If the software does not have a fob, then the seller may not be authorized to sell the software. Buyer beware.

7. Get your new-to-you purchase into the shop as soon as possible for a once-over checkup. You don’t want to ruin a project or run up against a deadline only to have a machine that won’t operate properly when all it needed was a tune up. It’s worth it for peace of mind.

So I hope I’ve provided some helpful tips. There are a lot of great deals out there and if you’re in the market for a new-to-you machine, I highly encourage you to look for a used machine first if possible.

#DIME Embroider-along Trapunto Seashell Table Runner

Hi everyone! As promised, here is the post with the instructions and link to the machine embroidery design files to make the runner. I want to thank Eileen Roche from Designs in Machine Embrodiery (DIME) magazine for graciously allowing me to share this with you. And a special thank you to Christine from Amelie Scott Designs who designed this beautiful embroidery pattern. I first learned about Amelie Scott Designs when I was experimenting using an embroidery machine to quilt my quilts. This was long before I took the plunge on my longarm. I have many of her quilting packs and I love them! Note: You will need a machine than uses hoops larger than 5×7 to make this runner. Those of you with hoops that are 4×4 or 5×7, don’t worry, we’ll do another Embroider-along just for you soon. 🙂

CORRECTION: The measurements in the .pdf are off and you need to use the measurements provided below. You can click here to see the page with the correct measurements. http://www.ameliescott.com/dime.html Hey, look at it this way – we let others work out the kinks for us! LOL

CORRECTION: When you are ready to make the quilt sandwich, lay the backing fabric FACE DOWN.

1 – Fabric measurementsThe fabric and Pellon measurements should be 6.5 x 8.5 and 2.5 x 6.5 inches. 

2 – Download link — Click on the link below to download the zip file that contains the free embroidery files for our Sea Shell Table Runner.

Link to free embroidery files – http://www.ameliescott.com/dime.html

The link will allow a direct download of a ZIP file that contains the 3 embroidery files you will use. Most web browsers can use that just fine. Remember, after the file has downloaded, be sure to right click on it and choose Extract All from the menu. Otherwise the files won’t work.

Also, don’t forget, through July 31, 2019, users who use the link below will receive two entire years of DIME Magazine for the price of one for $19.95. No coupon code is required. You will LOVE this magazine – or at least I hope you love it as much as I do. 🙂

http://www.dzgns.com/magazine/BT142/

When you are finished, share your project with me on Instagram and tag me @powertoolswiththread I’d love to see your work!

Tomorrow we leave for the coast to celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary and will be home on Sunday. See you then!

A Better Hour Glass Block

A friend asked me to go to her house this past week for a quilting lesson.  She is in a BOM (Block of the Month) club with our local quilt store, Scrappy Quilter.  She had her fabrics all laid out, cutting mat, ruler, rotary cutter, and pattern book.  All was good.  She said she was really struggling and ripping out more than she was sewing so I had to see what the problem was.  Well, I tell you what.  It wasn’t all her.

The first step on this month’s block had her make an hourglass block by cutting two larger squares into eight triangles and then sewing them all back together on the bias.  ACK!!  The odds of getting a nice finish using this method is down around zero. Three seams must be sewn and everything has to be just exactly right.

I’m in the middle of a BOM myself and had to make some hour glass blocks for the most recent installment.  However, the method in my pattern had me put two of the large squares – a print and a solid – RST (Right Sides Together) and draw a diagonal line down the middle point-to-point.  Then I sewed ¼” away down each side of the line.

You cut on the line to create two HSTs (Half Square Triangles) so the HST is half print and half solid.  Open them up and finger press.  

Pin the blocks together, RST, and nest the seams so that they sandwich nice and tight. You want color on the top on one side and on the bottom on the other. They must be nested in opposite directions for this to work. Mark the center line on the other diagonal and sew down both sides of the line as before.  Then cut on the line.

The result is not only the same, it is BETTER!  You get a perfect center of the hourglass every time, your block isn’t all stretched out, and you still have hair left in your head when you’re finished! Oh, and no ripping involved!

If you ever come across a pattern that calls for the first method, stop.  Life is hard enough as it is and this crazy hobby is supposed to be fun.   No change of fabric cutting measurement is required to do this alternate method.  My friend was ecstatic at how pretty hers turned out and she thanked me profusely.  Totally not necessary my friend.  🙂

Do you have any favorite block short cuts? Let me know in a comment below!

#RowByRow Taste the Experience

During the Sizzlin’ Summer Shop Hop that I went on a couple of weeks ago, many of you commented on wanting to get the pattern and the kits for the quilt that was designed by Julie from #2ChicksQuilting in Ganado,Texas.

Here is a list of shops in Southeast Texas that are participating in the Row by Row Experience and they will all have a kit to make a block of this beautiful quilt.

  1. Beefore It’s a Quilt in Port Lavaca https://beeforeitsaquilt.com
  2. Quilter’s Cottage in Richmond http://www.quilterscottagefabrics.com
  3. Quilter’s Patch in Victoria http://www.quilterspatch.com
  4. Two Chick’s Quilting in Ganado http://www.twochicksquilting.com
  5. It Seams to be Sew in Sugar Land http://www.itseamstobesew.com
  6. Seams Like Home in Yorktown http://www.alittlefabricstore.com
  7. The Square Quilter in Shiner http://www.thesquarequilter.com

Here is the video that shows the quilt that Julie designed.

Contact info for all the stores is on their websites. Get the kits before they’re gone!

DIME Trapunto Seashell Table Runner – Supplies

Designs in Machine Embroidery (DIME) has been so gracious to allow me to do an Embroider-along with you featuring a free table runner pattern that is featured in the May/June 2019 issue of the DIME magazine. The only catch was I had to wait until July 1st to share with you how to get the freebie machine embroidery patterns. The embroider-along will be like Embroidery 101. We will go slow with learning how to thread your machine and getting familiar with the parts of it. I want you to go dig around and find the manual for your machine. Yes, you have to take the machine OUT of the box! Then I want you to read that manual like you would a book. I guarantee you’re going to learn something. You spent a ton of money on this thing and it deserves better than remaining in a box. You have powerful tool in your hands and it’s time to learn how to use it.

Now, I CAN give you the list of supplies you will need. This particular pattern is for hoops larger than 5×7 however, I’m going to search for some free designs that can work in smaller hoops. No promises, but I’ll do what I can. I will post where you can get the free designs on July 1st and I’ll also post a .pdf of the directions on my blog then.

Here’s the supply list from the article. The links below are Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase from Amazon using these links, I make a few pennies. Don’t feel obligated; the legal beagles make me tell you this. If the specific product name isn’t mentioned (like the painter’s tape, needles, and thread) those are my Amazon choices vs. coming from DIME).

  1. Floriani Wet & Gone or OESD Aqua Mesh Water Soluble Stabilizer
  2. 1 yard Pellon Shape Flex
  3. Six 6″ squares of batting (I’m using 80/20 White & Natural)
  4. Six 6″ squares of different pastel fabrics for the seashell applique
  5. Six 2.5″ x 6″ different pastel fabrics for accent rectangles
  6. 1/4 yard background fabric (42″)
  7. 1/2 yard backing fabric
  8. Quilter’s Dream Blend Batting (craft size)
  9. 1/4 yard binding fabric
  10. Painter’s tape
  11. Mark-B-Gone water soluble pen
  12. 75 embroidery needle
  13. Embroidery thread

Now, if you don’t have those special battings or that particular brand of WSS (water soluble stablizer), use what you have on-hand. I will be using my Sulky Solvy for my WSS. This is a learning exercise for newbies and I don’t want you to feel like you have to rush out and spend scads of cash on specialized products. However, for the best results or if you’re not sure, use what DIME recommends.

A note on the thread linked above. That thread is recommended for many machines and used to be called Embroidex. I have a couple of boxes of it and I’ve had good results and it gets good Amazon reviews. I originally bought it because name-brand thread is so expensive and I wasn’t sure if I would like this whole machine embroidery thing so I bought it to keep my initial investment to a minimum. Yes, I’ve had thread breaks, but I’ve also had thread breaks with Madiera. I’ve not had any thread breaks with Isacord but my quilt shop carries that for about $6 per spool. You use or buy what you have on hand or can afford.

OK, this should be fun! Again, I’ll post where you can get the free designs on July 1st! You have homework:

  1. Take your machine out of the box.
  2. Read your manual.
  3. Find fabrics you want to use.
  4. Choose your thread colors. You will need 3-4 per shell (see below) and one that disappears on the background fabrics to create the trapunto effect.
  5. Take a deep breath…YOU CAN DO THIS!! If you have questions or get stuck, comment on the post in this blog for that part, and I’ll respond. I’ll write it out and give a video demo if need be.

Also, DIME has provided a discount to my subscribers if you want to subscribe to the magazine so you can get TWO years for the price of ONE! YAY!! Here’s the link. No coupon code required. It is only good until July 31, 2019. http://www.dzgns.com/magazine/BT142

So excited!! We start in 2 weeks. This will be fun!

Villa Rosa Designs “Peace” Pattern Quilt Top Finish

I was in Ganado, Texas at Two Chicks Quilting and found the most lovely Sunny Side Up fabric by Corey Yoder for Moda, and thought that the Villa Rosa Designs Peace pattern would be perfect for it.

It’s a simple square-in-a-square design with lattice (sashing) in between the rows. Blocks are made up of 4 square-in-a-square sets.

I used a Jelly Roll and yardage for the yellow centers and 4″ outer border.

The pattern calls for 42 2.5″ strips which is exactly what was in the Jelly Roll. Two of the strips wouldn’t work: a yellow that matched the center and a white-on-white that wouldn’t work with the lattice. So by removing those two strips, I had to alter the block count. I figured I could have either just dropped a whole row of blocks, but I thought it would be more interesting to make a single row of blocks of two at the top and bottom. I love how it turned out!

The backing and binding are on the way! Can’t wait to get this on the longarm. 🙂