Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pull-On Trousers/Pants - Almost Complete

The pull-on pants are almost complete.  The waistband needs to be cut out and attached.  So far, assembly has been straightforward.

I deviated from the Burda instructions by spacing the rows of topstitching a bit further apart and did not topstitch the center front and center back crotch seams.  Also, I changed my mind about adding the zipper.

The top edges of the pockets were reinforced with twill tape.  I used the Bernina satin stitch foot, #30.  It put that tape right where it needed to be.

I tried them on.  Yes, the waist is big, but it is waiting to be drawn in with the elastic.  They fit everywhere else.
I’m not sure what this fabric is made of and the color is actually green, not grey.  It is lightly brushed on the right side and the back is shiny and fluid, sort of like lining fabric.  It would make a beautiful suit or a tailored dress.  I wish I had more of it.

I wasn’t terribly concerned with creating perfectly aligned rows of topstitching.  However, when almost finished with the topstitching, it occurred to me that I could have used the Singer to easily produce parallel rows as it can accommodate two single needles in its needle clamp.

The double stitching could have been done on the Bernina, too.  Unlike the Singer, the Bernina requires a twin needle, which I don't often use.  The reason?  Those twin needles are pricey.  Still, the Bernina would have done a fine job.
Unrelated news:  the Singer has new bottom cushion feet and a zipper foot.  Makin’ progress.  Yep.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pull-On Trousers/Pants - Burda 01-2008-132

The pin fitting for Burda 01-2008-132 has been completed.  This pattern is a pull-on pant with a partial elastic waistband.

The front pockets are what convinced me to give this pattern a try.

Other than the too-large waist, it looks like this pattern should fit. I chose the size based on the hip measurement.  Size 46 matched the hip measurement of a pair of pants that I like to wear.

There isn’t a zipper or some other type of opening.  Therefore, the waist area is loose so the pants can be pulled up over the hips.  When the pattern was traced, I went ahead and added for a fly zipper at the center front.  That way, if I don’t like the waist, darts can be added before the waistband is attached.

For grins, I pinned in some darts at the waist.  This looks better, but the dart decision can be made later.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Austin, Texas

Yesterday, I spent the day in Austin with my daughter.  She was very gracious and indulged me by including some sewing related stops.

We started our morning at La Boite Café, located on South Lamar.  The café is made from a recycled shipping container, hence the name.  We went there to be fortified with fabulous coffee.  Of course, floral and fruit infused macarons had to be included.

On the way there, we passed The Common Thread, also on South Lamar.  We were able to go back later in the day.  If you get a chance to visit – do so!  This is an independent fabric store and is tidy and inviting.  The walls are lined with horizontal rolls of fabric.  Loes Hinse and Collette patterns are offered as well as the current issue of Burda magazine.  The fabrics are exceptional.   I didn’t notice any bargains, but what is there is amazing and merits the price tags.

Close to lunchtime, we ended up at Antonelli’s Cheese Shop.  It is located in Hyde Park, on Duvall.  The shop is fairly new and is stocked with artisan cheeses, charcuterie, olives, and other goodies.  Our focus was the cheese.  After sampling, we purchased some wedges of our favorites.  Truly, the best cheeses I have ever had!
We dropped by Silk Road, another independent fabric store.  It is on North Lamar, across from Central Market.  I have passed that little stone house for years, never taking the time to stop in.  Yesterday, we took the time.  To me, most of the fabrics seem destined for formal wear or sofa pillows.  None of it was tempting, probably because I am not currently in need of embroidered bridal silk.

Now, the buttons are another story.  This is the place to go if you want something unusual.  The majority of the buttons are housed in an old glass display counter, grouped in small, antique baking tins.  Our attention was taken, though, by the 1940's pearl buttons that filled a wooden barrel.  We dug, picked and poked until we found two sets.  I have no idea what they will be used for, but they are a souvenir of our day and will be reserved for something special.
By the way, my daughter loved the little bag.  I had made it in the middle of the night, taking the photos as I sewed. The lighting was awful and produced ghastly photos.  Shameless, I posted them anyway.  Here is a better photo, taken later during the day.  Rest assured, there will be another bag sewn and I will strive for higher quality photos.  After all, that cat fabric is calling my name.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Little Bag

Last week, while visiting on the phone, DD#2 asked me to make her a little bag that would protect a name tag that she carries in her purse.
For inspiration, I used a bag that I had purchased years ago at the Container Store.  It holds the chargers and cords to my phone and camera when I travel.
To make this, two pieces of fabric and one piece of interfacing were cut, each eight inches by sixteen inches. Eight inches was chosen for the width as that was the length of the zipper that best matched the fabric.
Using a zipper foot, I sewed the zipper to the short ends of the fabric, forming a tube.  The side seams were sewn and the bottom corners boxed.  Black twill tape and beads were used for the zipper pull.
It took longer to take the photos that it did to sew the bag.  I couldn’t resist using the cat fabric for the lining. Yes, you will be seeing it again as there is a yard or two of it left.....

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mock Wrap Tunic - Done

As you know, this tunic is not what was planned.  My sewing ego has been bruised and a lesson learned from this pattern and fabric mismatch.  I want to avoid wrapped garments, mock or otherwise, in the near future.

Hmm, but what about that unsewn mock wrap t-shirt?

The sewing that needed to be done to finish the tunic was simple.  It took a little over an hour to complete once I determined that my heavy sighs weren’t going to refashion it. 

Really, I am not sure why I continued.  I have no guilt not finishing a book or a movie that I’m not enjoying.  Why was this any different?  It wasn’t monetary as this fabric was inexpensive.  Pride?  No, because I am showing you this somewhat odd garment…..
If I had tried it on at the store, it would have stayed at the store.  But, it is here, it fits and its ready to be put on a hanger and added to my closet.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Singer 403A - Sewing Machine Attachments

There is still no sewing here.  Nonetheless, the accessories and the replacement felt for the oil drip pan came today!  I have used today’s allotted sewing time playing with my new toys.
Inside this cute box are eight “top hat” cams or “fashion discs”.  Insert one of them into the top of the machine and a decorative stitch will be produced.  The other items in the box are:
  • Ruffler foot
  • Multi-slotted binder foot
  • Button sewing foot
  • Seam guide that attaches to the machine
  • Straight stitching throat plate
  • Straight stitching presser foot
  • Foot hemmer foot (yes, that is correct - a foot hemmer foot)
  • Three screwdrivers
  • Cleaning brush
  • Ruler
  • Old tube of machine grease
A zipper foot wasn’t included.  So, I need to find one.  Also, some type of stitch-in-the-ditch foot.  Other than these two items, I want to postpone any more 403A related purchases until I have had a chance to know what is really useful.
This quest has amused me and there isn't any buyer’s remorse, nor will there be.  I just love the chocolate milk colored paint and can’t help but smile each time I see this dense little machine.
The only thing intimidating is this ruffler foot.  It’s a bit scary, right?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Singer 403A - Oil Drip Pan and Mock Wrap Tunic - Transforming to Wearable

The expected oil drip pan arrived and has been attached to the bottom of the Singer.

Curious to know how the felt pad was attached to the pan, I lifted a corner and it separated into my fingers.  The pad has a slightly damp feel and if you put your nose to it, an unpleasant old oil/grease smell.  It is not noticeable when the cover is attached to the machine.  Even so, first impressions have prompted me to order a new pad.
I also found a boxed accessories set.  It has eight embroidery cams and a few presser feet.  I will show them to you once they arrive.

I haven’t decided yet how to house the Singer.  Yesterday, at Target, one of their plastic sewing machine carrying cases went into and out of my shopping cart several times before I finally left the aisle with the empty cart.  It just didn’t seem sturdy enough.  I have looked online and found a plastic case that would work, but it costs close to what I had paid for the machine.  The vintage ones that I find are in bad shape or ridiculously expensive.  I wish I had room for a vintage cabinet.

Linda in TN – Thank you for your comment!  You are correct – I shouldn’t give up too soon!  I have pulled the tunic from the fabric stack and made a few changes.  Adding ribbing is a great suggestion.  However, I don’t have any ribbing and if I were to trek to the fabric store, they probably don’t either in a color that would match or coordinate.  Besides, I want to revamp this tunic using bits and pieces I already have.
An easy fix would have been to cut out a new front.  The scraps left are small - so that can't be done.

After removing the side seam stitching, I could see where the needle had left a trail of punctures in the fabric. Steaming would probably remove most of it but some of those holes are large.  That is why I didn’t change the neckline.  Instead, I added a row of stitching, creating a casing, and then inserted ¼” elastic to draw up the extra fabric.

The front bottom layer was removed and its bodice was attached to the upper layer at the casing.  It no longer sags and droops.  The asymmetrical front hemline was leveled and the tunic could be few inches longer.  The removed layer will be used to extend the bottom of the tunic.  I am still deciding if it should have ¾ or short sleeves.

The objective is to end up with a wearable garment.  Well, maybe not wearable in public, but wearable enough for Sunday brunch at home.  I can live with that.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mock Wrap Tunic - Fail

Oh, how I was hoping that this would be the perfect garment to wear for Sunday brunch at my favorite Mexican restaurant.  Sadly, no.  It won’t be.

With this one, I was stepping outside of my trusted boundary of  basics.  The goal was to create a stylish, feminine yet comfortable top.  Fail.
There is nothing that can be done (that I want to do) to salvage this thing.  I didn't bother to cut it down a size as the only differences were the shoulder seams (which had already been shortened) and the armscyes, sleeve caps and side seams.  Those could be adjusted to fit later.  Anyway, making those seams smaller will not correct the sagging and the too-large neckline.

I've tried it on and was unable to get it to hang properly.  I adjusted and smoothed out the fabric, then smiled at myself in the mirror - well, because I do like the fabric.  But, soon as I moved, it drooped again.  I've been told that repetition is the mother of perfection.  Repetition didn't help.  Nor did smiling into the mirror.

Rescue efforts began by pinning the layers together at the front bodice seams.  They were to be joined by topstitching to hopefully minimize the drooping.  A positive move, but once back on the dress form, the tunic didn't cooperate any better than it had on me.  And, that neckline cannot be overcome.  Well, not without a major overhaul.

Usually, I interface and/or insert twill tape into a bias edge. The pattern instructions had it finished only with bias tape.  I have been known to ignore printed pattern instructions and, so far, the pattern police have stayed away.  So, I am not sure what I was thinking when I didn't include a stabilizer here.

Cleary, this edge needs to be stabilized more than what a bias strip offers.  Bias edge plus bias strip equals the promise of stretching and lots of it.  Including a narrow strip of interfacing, hidden by the bias strip, or twill tape, caught in the seam, would have helped.  But I think that the neck edge would still not lay flat.  The fabric isn't stretchy, but it is drapey.  Can I blame the fabric?  Being not so thrilled with the style, I am unwilling to surrender more fabric in order to find out.

It doesn't look so bad from the front.  Turn the dress form sideways, though, and you see the source of my disappointment.  How do you fix this?
To tighten the neckline, a piece of elastic could be run between the outer neckline and the bias binding - and probably cause more ripples and pulls.  Alternatively, small darts or tucks could be sewn around the neckline edge.  But that would, I think, just look ugly.  The neckline could be torn apart, the twill tape stitched on and the neckline pieces then rejoined with the expectation that all will be well.  No.  Don't think so.  If the side didn't look so bad, I would consider getting out the seam ripper.  But, no.  Not gonna happen.

The 403A was not at fault.  It performed well, very well indeed.  I didn’t realize, however, how much I depend on the stitch-in-the-ditch presser foot for understitching and topstitching.  I haven’t seen vintage ones available for slant-footed Singers, though that could mean that I just haven't looked in the right place.  New ones that would fit are offered on various sewing/quilting websites.  I don’t care whether it is old or new – only that it works.

The tunic has joined my other fabrics destined for muslin use.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mock Wrap Tunic - Testing the 403A

This is where I am at with the tunic.  The fabric is a washable cotton/silk blend, just like the Simplicity blouse.  Obviously, I haven’t sewn too many actual seams yet on the Singer.  I've mostly been experimenting with scraps.  This machine is handling the fabric well and I am tickled.

Please note that the green towel has been replaced with a Silpat mat from the kitchen.  It keeps the machine from sliding around and also serves as an improvised oil drip pan.

A fitting issue is slowing me down. I cut a size 22 tunic based on the pin fitting.  After sewing the darts and shoulder seams, I put it on the dress form and it was a sad sight.  The bust darts were too low and the front neck was a baggy, wrinkly mess.
Pinning out the additional fabric at the shoulders puts the darts where they belong and also causes the neck droops to disappear.  Still, it seems too large in the armscye and side seam areas.  The style of the garment is loose, but I'm thinking that it is just too big.  I may cut it down to a size 20.  That wouldn’t be hard to do.  Any size changes would be easier if done now as the front wrap pieces meet, but aren't sewn into, the side seams.  Don't be alarmed - I will try it on before anything drastic is done.

I am ready to shop for 403A accessories.  Really, a zipper foot is what I am after.  Anything else is a bonus.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mock Wrap Tunic - Vogue 8402

The next project, Vogue 8402, will be sewn on the Singer.  This is a pattern that I have had for awhile, though I think it is still in the catalog.  Eventually, I need to show up here with a current, of the moment pattern.  I'm not sure what to tell you, but it seems that after acquiring them, I inadvertently age my patterns before use.

The tunic is a pullover mock wrap with no buttons or zippers.  Ideal for a machine that doesn’t yet have a buttonhole attachment or a zipper foot.  I didn’t bother to trace the pattern as the different size lines don't intersect on the tissue.  If it needs to be smaller, which is doubtful, I will just trim the appropriate area.
I did a pin fitting of the tunic on the dress form. Seems a bit short on the back, but there is a narrow hem.  I am going to leave it as is. Hard to tell about the armscye, though.  The pattern has enough room girth-wise for the dress form.  Just to be sure that it will fit me, a bit will be added to the side seams.
This week, I will sew a muslin of the #132 pants from the January, 2008 Burda.  This pattern has been at the top of the list for months now and keeps getting bumped.  This is the week.....

Also, the Kwik Sew mock wrap t-shirt has been cut out but is still pathetically sitting by the Bernina.  I am not sure what my deal is with that project.  It would take but an hour or so to complete. It will be finished (or trashed) this week, too.  Takin' charge of my sewing.  Aren't you impressed?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Singer 403A - Ready to Sew

While sitting in front of the new-to-me Singer, I debated whether to do the initial inspecton, cleaning and the oiling/greasing myself or take it to someone with mechanical experience.  Part of me felt that I could (and should) take care of it myself.  It merely needed to be wiped with a damp cloth and have a little oil added here and there.  The only thing obviously amiss was a loose bobbin cover plate.  However, the other part was thinking, “What if there is something wrong with it that I don’t notice and I end up ruining it?" and, better yet, "What if it catches the house on fire?”  Therefore, I didn't even plug it in.  It sat while I decided what to do.
In the end, I took it to the Bernina shop.  Yes, I know that it is a Singer, not a Bernina, but they service non-Bernina's there, too. 

Besides being inspected, cleaned, oiled and greased, the upper and lower tensions have been adjusted and the bobbin cover plate re-attached.  There was nothing mechanically wrong with this machine.  Get this - the shop visit was more expensive than the purchase price of the machine!  I could have skipped the visit and spent the money on accessories instead.  Still, no regrets as it has received the blessing of the service technician.
Once home, it was plugged in and stitches were made.  I like this machine.  A lot!  The sound of the motor is wonderful!  It makes a beautiful straight stitch and the zigzag stitches are just as nice. 

If I want the 403A to make decorative stitches, it will need more cams.  It should have a zipper foot and a few others.  Maybe a carrying case, too.  A case would make it easier to transport - this thing is heavy!

The machine is supposed to have a bottom cover. It is missing.  Performance is not affected by not having a bottom cover, but having one keeps any oil drops from damaging the table below. So, if I can find one, and it is reasonably priced, I will get it.

Even without the bottom cover plate and the extra accessories, this supasses my expectations for a sturdy back-up machine.  I now understand how people become obsessed with old sewing machines.

It needs to be taken on a test drive.  What should the first project be?