Posted by Donette littlecottagequilts@gmail.com on

And just like that February is gone ! What a month it was ! This year isn’t turning out to be much better than the last. I apologize for skipping the month of February all together, time just got away from me and before I knew it, that short month was over. As most of you know (I’m pretty sure), we here in Texas have had a terrible weather event, especially in south Texas. We just aren’t prepared for single digit temperatures for 6 days and nights. It was a shocking experience for which we were not prepared. We should have been !! There was plenty of warning, but we were so caught up in the day to day, that it didn't even dawn on us to get ready for the predicted freeze. So, we had some big issues.

It got us to thinking about our priorities. It's been a real struggle over the last 2 weeks trying to figure out where we need to put our time and energy. Over the last 8 years, we have poured everything we have into the quilt shop, time, energy, muscle and resources. It's been a true labor of love and very rewarding. We have met many lovely and interesting people and we truly do appreciate your business and support. That all made the decision even more difficult. We did not take this decision lightly. We are happy to be here for y'all, but we aren't as young as we were and we still have a long bucket list. We both turn 70 this year and the time has come to put our focus on other parts of our life.

No, we are not closing the shop, just modifying how much time and effort we spend here. Summer is our slow season and a good time to make the transition. We have decided to be open just one day a week. Starting April 1, we will be open on Saturdays ONLY from 10 am to 4 pm. You can still pick up or drop off your quilts to be quilted, sewing machines to be serviced and shop. Our online shop will continue to be fully operational and available 24/7 for your convenience.

With reduced hours, we have also slowed ordering fabrics down to a trickle. We had some very pretty blenders come in right before the freeze. Two of them are metallics (on the left), very special.

Also, don't forget, we have our Christmas and Holiday fabrics out all year long and we have the largest selection of panels in our surrounding area.

Sad news on the new house front. ☹️ There was a glitch with my new computer with the Valentine's weekend freeze. Somehow, all the plans and layouts for the new house were rendered inactive. AAAACCCCKKKKK !! Years worth of designing and refining inaccessible. I'm praying that they are still in the computer, I can see the file, but it's greyed out and won't open. It means more time on the phone with the computer people trying to sort out what happened. I can't open any of my files in my computer. So frustrating! Just another monkey wrench in the project of life. Hopefully by next blog post, it will be all sorted out and useable. 🤞🏻

We really hope that all of you are OK and doing well in your lives and that your families are doing well also. It's been a very hard year and we are optimistically looking forward with hopeful hearts. Stay well my friends !!

Stay safe, be smart and Keep sewing!

Tip of the Month
March 2021 Tip:
If you are having trouble understanding or picking out fabrics that go well together, paint chip brochures from a paint department are a great guide for coordinating colors. Enjoy 😉

NEW hours starting April 1, 2021:
Saturdays – 10 am to 4 pm
Safety protocols are still in effect, PLEASE, honor these:
Face masks must be worn at all times while you are in the shop
Hand sanitizer must be used before entering the shop (provided by door)
Social distancing - a minimum of 6 feet apart
If you don’t feel well, PLEASE stay home

Thank you so much for your respect and cooperation.
for further information call 830-589-2502
email : littlecottagequilts@gmail.com
web orders: littlecottagequiltshop.com
We are here to help you as much as we possibly can.

Warriors Heart Quilt project. We are thrilled to announce that we have another big load of quilts to deliver. Thank you so much for all y’all who have contributed to this amazing cause. More are always needed, as the population at Warriors Heart increases, so if you are looking for a new project, please consider making a quilt to donate to this project, it is a truly fantastic cause. Use up some of your stash, or you can purchase a kit from the Cottage. Thank you so much for your participation.

“Warriors Heart” is a treatment center for physiologically wounded active military, veterans and 1st responders. Sometimes these wounds are the most long lasting because they are unseen. You can check out Warriors Heart on their website. www.WarriorsHeart.com

It’s easy and simple to do. You may choose any pattern you wish. Quilts must be no smaller than 44” X 58” or larger than 60” X 72”. Each snuggle quilt must be finished completely, (quilted, bound & preferably have a label about the person who made it) and returned to Little Cottage Quilt Shop. Once turned in, all finished quilts become the property of Little Cottage Quilt Shop and will be donated to Warriors Heart in Bandera, Texas.

Valuable Info

Keeping You & Your Sewing Machine Happy
By Donette Backlund

Does this look familiar? When was the last time you looked at your bobbin case?

I have taught a class in this subject many times. It’s such important information for any sewing machine owner or user.

As I have put in the newsletter several times, we have a fabulous sewing machine technician that does a great job of fixing problems & doing yearly servicing of your machine. But what happens the rest of the year? You are the one responsible for knowing and caring for your machine. If you use your machine regularly, and I hope you do because they like to be used, you need to know the basics on how to maintain it and how to remedy minor problems.

The last few weeks, I have had several customers who were surprised that they needed to clean their sewing machine bobbin casing or change the needle until it broke. I’d like to address what that entails and how to get the most out of your precious investment.

You have a manual that came with your machine. If you purchased your machine used, and didn’t get a manual, you can find them on line for just about any machine. It’s well worth the effort! http://www.sewing-machine-manuals.com

You will find lots of good information in your manual. Refer to it often, read it and understand how your machine works. Most problems with any machine stem from incorrect threading (top & bobbin) or inadequate cleaning.

Know and understand your sewing machines parts & what each parts function is. Knowing what each part is for will help you know where and when to clean what. Keeping your machine clean is one of the most important tasks you can perform on your machine. A clean machine runs so much better and stays problem free longer. Clean often! I can’t emphasize that enough. Clean out the bobbin casing area with the equivalent use of a full bobbin.

Here is a list of tools that make cleaning your bobbin casing area easier:
Lint brush, Cotton Swabs, Long tweezers, small vacuum, an old tooth brush, canned air (compressed air in a can).

Remove all dust bunnies and thread pieces that may be caught in the rotary hook from a thread jam. Look for other debris that might have fallen in there, like a broken needle etc.. Use a sewing machine cleaning brush to “sweep” the bobbin case clean. Use canned air carefully. The air must have some place to exit. You don’t what to drive dust or debris into another part of the machine. Check the bobbin case for cleaning every time your machine isn’t sewing correctly.

On some machines, you can remove the bottom plate with a screw and clean the underside of the machine. Not all machines have this feature. Check the bottom of your machine for a bottom plate. The older manual machines almost always have that. It’s about knowing your machine. Don’t be afraid to explore every part of your machine for regular maintenance.

Also check the area of the take up arm. That is the arm that goes up and down as you sew, where the thread goes through after the tension spring. Dust can build up there too.

Once you have cleaned the bobbin case area well, a small drop of oil where the rotary hook rubs against the casing is generally a good idea. (Always use ONLY a fine sewing machine oil). It depends on the age of your machine. The older machines have oiling diagrams in the manuals. But even the newer machines can benefit from little lubrication on the rotary hook. You will be able to see where the two pieces of metal spin against each other. One tiny drop in that space with help your machine operate easier. DO NOT OVER DO IT. A little drop goes a long way.

[A quick comment on older machines];
I love the older machines. They were built to last and to sew just about anything. The are tried and true work horses. They are heavy for a reason, they are built with metal, not plastic. So if you have an older machine, maybe one that belonged to your mom or grandma, be proud of it and take good care of it. They truly don’t make them like they use to. If you are looking to buy a machine for yourself or a beginner in your family, consider an old machine. You can get them for a great price and have them serviced for much less than the price of a new one.

Correct threading is always a must. If you are getting “birds nests” of thread in the bobbin casing and jamming up the machine, clean it all out and carefully rethread, including the bobbin. Sometimes during sewing, if you have broken a needle or hit a thick spot, it can mess up the threading.

I have discovered that using a thread conditioner, makes the thread “flow” through the machine smoother. It reduces the friction on the needle and the machine doesn’t have to work as hard. It can prevent a lot of twisting & tangling of thread. And it’s way easier to thread the needle.

Speaking about needles, I am always surprised at how few people know that you need to change the needle in your machine with every project. A dull needle makes your machine work harder than it needs to. If you hit a pin, change the needle. Sewing with a dull or burred needle microscopically tears the fabric as well as being hard on the motor and gears. Chose the right size and type of needle for the project at hand. You will be happy you did.

Use quality threads in your machine. Not only do they make your project look and feel better, but they are better for your machine. If you were to look at thread through a microscope, you would see that cheap threads have lots of “burrs” along the shaft of the thread. These burrs cause excessive wear along the thread path and in the tension springs. They also produce excessive dust and lint in the machine. Good quality thread cost more, but in the long run it’s actually cheaper when you consider long term effects on your machine. Plus, quality threads are smoother and easier to work with. Pick the right size and type of thread for your project for less frustration as you work and a better final product.

Keep the outside of your machine clean too. Have your machine service at least once every couple of years, more often if you use it a lot. The technician can get into the workings inside your machine and clean out the just that accumulates that you can’t get to and lubricate parts that need it. Your sewing machine is a beautiful friend and deserves the best treatment and your TLC. Your machine will thank you by serving you well.

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