What A Difference A Foot Makes

two sewing machine feed next to one another

I’ve been working out a whole host of new designs, all around the method of applique and hand guiding machine satin stitching. I call it the Era of Trial and Error. I’ve been pushing myself to screw around and to screw up, and the ‘scratch paper’ shirts that I’ve been trying things out on are wonderful Frankenstein’s of failure.

In the process of working out my hand guided machine stitching skills I finally took a look at some of the other commercially available sewing machine feet, and found that there was one that appeared to solve some of the issue I seemed to have with the foot I was using. And lo! It did make things easier! It turns out that the having a gap in the foot where you can just see through it is far superior to plastic you can only kindof see through. Well!

I also imagine the picture appears to many as about as discernible as a photo of a car engine, and that’s ok. Please sit back and stick around to see the fruits of this recent discovery that will appear ever so shortly.


BIG thread

I have a GIANT box of thread. It’s actually two layers deep, and I have to risk spilling the top layer all over to get at what’s underneath. This is in addition to the Greatest Hits colors that are by the sewing machine or in an additional drawer due to more frequent use.

When starting some new design, there’s no fear of not having the correct color. It has to be in there somewhere, just put my head down and plow through. There’s a comfort in that thinking.

But, it seems to make me almost more finicky?

I have THREE browns but not one that’s right between these shades??


A portion of the Quilted shirts that were purchased showed some shirt tearing at the point of the applique attaching stitches. That really hurt a bit because I want to supply the highest degree of awesome, and also it was long time customers that were affected. I received the shirts back from the buyers who reported tearing and upon examination I couldn’t make sense of it. The shirts clearly teared, this was not in question. But this occurred along bother vertical and horizontal stitches. That is, with and against the grain of the shirt jersey fabric. That seemed strange, but still not as odd as the fact that I had the same shirt and after many wears and washes mine showed no tearing. The first shirt that I made years and years ago that used the same attachment method of an applique showed no tearing.

And I wore the daylights outta that shirt.


I started doing some tests. I tried different fabric appliques, washing them over and over, drying them on high, doing the process again by hand, pulling on stitches a little roughly and all that showed no pattern of how the Quilted might have ripped. One suspicion seemed most likely: that the stitch length being shorter perhaps led to the issue, when a stitching setting on the machine ‘inherited’ the stitch length from a different project that I stitched before working on these. Seemed likely with the combination of that plus a few other suspicions around the feed dogs having trouble feeding the fabric and ended up chewing it a bit. Time to remake these shirts for customer satisfaction!

I set about taking the Quilted applique off the older shirts to try reattach them to new shirts, and noticed how difficult that actually was. Even with the per-existing tearing I had to rip the daylight out of the shirt in order to get them off. This was a great test, showing that even if you wanted to take the applique off, you would have to exhibit hurricane force on it. And with the new shirts made and initial quality checks passed with a GO I’ve sent them back out into the wild with greater confidence.

Beyond knowledge that I will extend a warranty, fix and replace your shirt, I need your trust and to believe that these shirts are of the highest awesome. I cannot allow anything less.

Chicago train in its cross stitch glory

Normally, seeing the etsy listing for this shirt, I’d pass on this Chicago train map shirt. But seeing it in a retail store setting I could get my face all up into it. And also see it against others of its own kind…and the result? Splendid!

Getting in close to it I could see that not only was it a nicely executed shirt, but also that it was done without stabilizer (or that it was an excellent tear away version) and that it had to be done outside of a embroider machine due to the size of the work (though not cross-stiched by hand, I believe, just a cross-stitch stitch on a sewing machine). And the bobbin thread matched the top threads. And as I got more and more into it, I couldn’t discern how they templated the stitches for each shirt, or at least how they based placements of each shirts’ stitchwork because there were discernible differences in each shirt. I’m also pretty sure that the blue line doesn’t go that far out northwest? But it was clearly fed through a sewing machine by hand, with a great amount of detail and care.

I ride the Chicago elevated trains frequently. They are far from perfect and sometimes an excellent chance to mix with other people that you might find uncomfortable, or the trains being ridiculously late. It’s difficult to not forget the bad parts, or at least joke about them, and remember the many colored lines all running to the loop with fondness and nostalgia till your next ride.

Though I paid a slight premium over the etsy store listing price to buy it in the store, I did so gladly for the pleasure of seeing such a shirt in person and getting to put my face all up in it to plumb the details. Shirts are made of details.