Ironing the Swiss Way

I had the opportunity, recently, to spend a little time at Bernina’s Creative Center in Aurora IL. During that time, Phillip Ueltschi, who is the fifth generation of family ownership of Bernina, came in to demonstrate the new line of LauraStar irons and ironing systems.

I thought I would share this with you. I have not had any time to play with these irons although in hearing and reading about them, they sound intriguing. Apparently they use something referred to as “dry steam” which doesn’t leave your clothes or fabrics damp.

The steam also does not burn your fingers or hands. It’s really kind of impressive.

LauraStar is designed in Switzerland (same place that Bernina is headquartered.) They are environmentally conscious and the irons are built to be supported and serviced for a minimum of ten years. Their steam purifies the fibers by killing 99% of germs and bacteria or mold, dust, etc. that can show up in textiles. So while you iron, you are also freshening and purifying your fabric.

As I said, I have not had any time to review these myself, from the perspective of a sewist. A new dawn in pressing and ironing? I don’t know, but it seems to me that the technology for irons hasn’t advanced all that much in the last 25 years. Seems like they’d be able to take advantage of thoughtful engineering and technology, just like every other industry.

I’m including the two brief videos of Phillip demonstrating the system. He did give me permission to put this on the blog…why wouldn’t he?

Have a look. The LauraStar systems will be available at participating Bernina dealerships across the U.S. soon. What do you think?

Mini Bags in Machine Embroidery

I love to make these mini bags in-the-hoop of my embroidery machine. The file I designed (in embroidery software), includes 3 bags in each hooping. So I make these like candy.


Three is never enough, though. I had a friend order twenty of them from me recently. She has Christmas and graduations coming up this year, so she plans to use them to hold gift cards for her kids and their friends. Since they are coin-purse-sized, they are perfect for gift cards, business cards, loose change, USB sticks, ear buds and just about anything else that’s small and floats around in your handbag.

The first stitch in the design is a placement for the zippers. I use OESD Stabilstick tearaway embroidery stabilizer. Tearaway is important. This holds the zippers in place. The second stitch is the seam that holds the top part of the bag in place over the zipper. I use a triple stitch.

For fabrics, I designed the bags to be perfectly sized for charm packs, those 5 in. x 5 in. packs you know you have stored everywhere. Don’t know what to do with them but loved the fabric? Make a bunch of these.

The next step is to stitch the bottoms of the bags into place.

Finally, the back and lining are added. Batting is used in every layer, so that gives them a comfortable heft. Once I reach this stage I usually just toss the bags with stabilizer aside and re-hoop and build more of them.

Later, when I’m watching TV or relaxing in the evening, I’ll sit down and remove the stabilizer and turn them inside out. A quick press and you have the cutest little functional bags you’ve ever seen.

This embroidery file is set up for a Bernina Maxi hoop, but will easily work in the Jumbo hoop and I’ve made revisions so that someone can use the Midi hoop, the large oval and even the medium hoop.

I’ll be teaching a class in November so that folks can make their own in time for the holidays. Wouldn’t they be cute in holiday fabrics?

I keep a stack of these on hand all the time. You just never know when a perfect time to use them will come up. The more fun the fabric, the more people exclaim when they see them. Don’t be afraid to mix and match. My next batch, (now I’m thinking of them as cookies) I’m going to try different textures. What about cork? Flannel? Wool? A mixture?

Always something new to think about. Hope your fall stitching is inspiring you, too!

Machine Embroidery by the Book

Through the years, I’ve come across a lot of machine embroidery books. Most of the time, I find they are complex, stuck in the weeds, focused on things that are not important, or are just plain hard to get through.

But this new book from Bernina really works. Because it is written and edited by Bernina educators, I thought it might simply be a hard sell for Bernina products. And make no mistake, it has no shortage of Bernina machine specifics.

However, it really gives a good breakdown of everything you need to know about machine embroidery, including tips and tricks that make life easier.

The images, graphics, tables and info in this book are all really easy to read. And the spiral binding is helpful. Nothing worse than anything step-by-step that won’t stay open.

Don’t get me wrong.

Wherever you purchase your machine, you should be sure to take the free classes they offer so you become comfortable with your machine (and all good dealers do that.). I don’t care how many books you read, you will not learn to hoop your fabric properly by reading. You can only learn that by doing.

When I teach classes, I tell my students that there are 3 variables in embroidery:

  1. Stabilizer.
  2. Your fabric.
  3. The density and size of the design

Any of these could and should change based on the others.

The book addresses all of these right up front. But more than that, it gets into techniques, and stitching on different types of fabric. Want to learn about minkee? It’s in there. In-the-hoop projects? Free-standing lace? No problem.

I’ve done all of these things, so I read with a critical eye. And I have to admit, all the categories are thorough and succinct.

Here’s a link to many of the techniques I have written about.

Will you read the book and be an expert? No. I tell my students that they will only become experts after making their own mistakes. No book can tell you what to do when your machine is acting up. Or if your thread is breaking or you haven’t cleaned your machine in awhile. These things come from experience and the only way to get that is to stitch.

But I’m putting this one on my top shelf and keeping it handy. It’s new this summer and is available anywhere Bernina machines are sold. It’s a solid resource for any machine embroiderer.