IF, WHEN YOU think of sewing and embroidery, you envision a Norman Rockwell painting of an old woman in a rocking chair with a
needle and thread, you don’t know needle arts
in the 21st century. Computer technology has
taken over sewing machines, and now anyone—even guys—can do a lot more than
mend a loose button.
Old sewing machines were complicated
pieces of equipment that were difficult and
time-consuming to set up. Today’s electronic
sewing and embroidery machines feature
many automated functions, such as needle
threading, multiple buttonhole settings,
numerous stitch functions, programmable
appliqués and all kinds of other bells and
whistles that make sewing and embroidery a
IMAGES PROVIDED BY BROTHER INDUSTRIES LTD.
simple pleasure, rather than a tedious chore.
“The trend in sewing and embroidery is
toward embellishment and the notion to create something unique that expresses one’s
creativity,” says Dean F. Shulman, senior vice
president of Brother International.
Toward that end, sewing machines now
offer direct Internet connectivity to import
and export designs, software, online tools and
memory cards to help you design and create
your own embroidery motifs from digital
pictures, and libraries of fonts, designs and
licensed characters. On some models, LCD
touch screens allow users to make simple pro-
Do your own décor enhancements with
new sewing and embroidery technology.
gramming selections. Some models allow you
to upload digital photos so you can see the
person, pet, or item for which you’re doing the
project. There is virtually nothing sewers can’t
do to create their own clothes, bags and other
fabric projects, or to customize something
With today’s advances in sewing and
embroidery home technology, there’s no excuse
for not being able to sew … or for not being
able to find anything to wear. —Steve Fisher
Designing a better vacuum cleaner
TO HELP GUIDE you through the many
vacuum cleaners on the market, The
Connection turned to a couple of experts—
Apollo Paredes, industrial and creative design
director for Euro-Pro, makers of Shark vacuums, and Randall Sandlin, director of industrial design for Eureka and Electrolux—for a
look at key new features.
FULL-SIZE VACUUM cleaners are necessary, but at times you need something handy for quick pickups. My
2-year-old has taught me this lesson by
dropping countless crumbs and tracking who-knows-what into the house.
My toddler also leaves me little time or
energy, so my full-size vacuum doesn’t
always make it out for small messes.
Luckily, I found the perfect solution.
The Electrolux Pronto 2-in- 1 Cordless
Vacuum is both a stick and a handheld
vacuum that quickly cleans floors, countertops and other hard-to-reach places.
The sleek design lets you store it in
plain sight on its charging base, making
it easy to grab when messes appear.
Despite its small size, the Pronto
has big power, with cyclonic suction
technology that maintains suction
longer. This bagless vacuum’s no-touch dust cup empties easily while
keeping your hands clean. The 180-
degree swivel head lets you reach
in, around and under anything. Best
of all, the Pronto is cordless, so
there’s nothing for you, or a shadowing 2-year-old, to trip over.
While the features make this vacuum a must-have for any household,
the usual Costco value makes it
even more attractive. I’d say
that’s cleaning up.
better overall experience.
Paredes: There is also a need for vacuums
that are expert on multiple surfaces as homes
are increasingly becoming more diverse with
bare floors, carpeting, stairs, throw rugs, etc.
What is the most important advance in
vacuum cleaner technology today?
Paredes: Vacuums that never lose suction.
They use cyclones that never clog and never
Sandlin: New innovations in filtration
technology, such as the sealed HEPA filter.
They tap directly into concerns about cleaner
environments and cleaner indoor air.
In what feature or features do customers
seem to be the most interested?
Paredes: Lightweight, ergonomic features that make vacuums convenient to use
every day and allow them to be transported
throughout the house easily. Also, pet accessories for superior pet hair cleanup.
Sandlin: We’re hearing consumers really
have trouble cleaning corners and crevices.
They want tools that can tackle these hard-to-reach places easily.
What is the focus on design improvements?
Sandlin: Many people are concerned
about indoor air quality, and there’s a growing demand for features like automatic cord
rewind, fingertip power controls and brush-roll controls, which eliminate the hassle associated with cleaning, so consumers have a
The Costco Connection
Sewing and embroidery machines are available at Costco warehouses and online at
costco.com. Costco warehouses and costco.
com also have a variety of vacuum cleaners,
sweepers and steam cleaners.
What should customers be looking for
Paredes: A specific model designed for
the task at hand. Most manufacturers target the entire universe with every vacuum, so you end up paying for features
you don’t want or need and you end up
with a bulky 25-pound monster.
Sandlin: For the complete cleaner
who tackles the whole house at once, look
for a vacuum with integrated on-board
tools and a large dust bag/cup. If you tend
to do more quick pickups—or spot clean
as messes appear—look for a cordless lightweight vacuum. And consider the
type of flooring in your home.