Friday, May 28, 2010

Clash III - Adjusted Neckbands

The neckband pieces have been redrawn.  They now lay flat on the dress form (and on me).
HP Weekender Sunshine Tops

The Sunshine neckband pieces required significant tweaking. Darts. Small darts. Lots of small darts. No changes were made to the outer edge.  I decided to add ½’ instead of 1” to the inner edge.
HP Weekender Sunshine Tops

The center back upper edge appeared fine and therefore remained intact. Using a French curve, the new line tapered out ½” for the rest of the band.  Though, looking at the photo, it should be raised about 1/4".
Butterick 5219
Like the Sunshine, the Butterick neckband also had ½” added after pinching out the extra on the back piece. The ½” was added to the entire inner edge of the front and back pieces. The outer edge was not changed.
Butterick 5219
Here is a comparison of the two altered bands:
From experience, I know that I will not be happy with a loose neckline.  The neckbands have to be right and it is easy to deal with it now before getting bogged down with armscye issues.  It may take forty seven days to produce something I can actually wear but I am willing to take it on.

Don't worry, the neckbands won’t be alone for long. The front and back bodices will be attached soon.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Clash II - Neckbands

Today, my sewing time focused on the neckbands.  Starting with the Sunshine, I took several small darts in the neckband, stopping at the lower seam allowance. 

Stopping at the seam allowance prevents the outer edge from changing shape.  I am going to redraw the inner edge, adding 1/2" instead of the 1" shown here.
After I modified the neckband, I had a “duh” moment. Since it was too big, why couldn’t I just use a smaller size (16)?   The size 16 front fits.
The back piece, though, doesn't make it to the center back of the dress form.  Next, I tried the size 16 front combined with the size 18 back.  Closer, but like the 16, it still didn't fit.  Overall, I need the size 18 (really, a size 20 or 22 for girth) to have the top fit me.
Out of the envelope, the Butterick neckband fits better than the Sunshine.  The back has a bit taken out of the neck edge.  When I try it on, the front feels too low and wide.  Same with the back.  Yes, on the dressform it looks fine.  But, on me, it just looks silly and more like the beginnings of a nightgown, not a t-shirt.  I will revise (not much) the inner edge on the second round.
The neckband pieces will be redrawn, incorporating these changes, and tested again.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Clash of the Scoop-Neck Tee Patterns

Dearest readers, the time to compare and contrast two very similar t-shirt patterns has finally arrived.  How lucky you are to witness such an event!

Please note that these patterns were purchased ages ago with the intent that they would have a face-off.  First, Butterick 5219, like all of my Big 4 acquisitions, was probably obtained for $.99 at Jo-Ann’s or Hancock’s.  The contender, the HotPatterns Weekender Sunshine Tops pattern, has a fancier pedigree.  It came from at full retail.

Though their roots are different, these patterns are very similar.  However, the hem finishes are distinct.  The hem of the Butterick top is sewn with a folded self-fabric band.  The Sunshine hem is either turned and topstitched or knit ribbing is added.
To me, the center fullness of the Butterick illustration resembles maternity wear.  Though my midsection is ample, I have no desire to walk around looking pregnant.  Comfort, though, is crucial and I am therefore willing to give it a try.
The neckline of the HotPatterns top is wide and low.  I am neither at ease nor flattered by such a large neck opening. Well, a ruler and a Sharpie took care of that.  The solid line on the facing is the original cutting line.
I cut a size 20 for the Butterick and a size 18 (22 for the side seams) for the Sunshine.
Butterick 5219

HotPatterns Weekender Sunshine Tops

Looking at the Sunshine pattern on the dress form, you can see that something is not right with the armhole area.  Besides the ripples at the front armscye, the back armscye looks like it is cut too high.
Both patterns required that darts be added to the front and back neckband pieces in order to lay flat on the dress form.  This did not affect the armscyes.

Because I am not exactly the size of my dress form, I am going to sew the muslins, try them on and adjust as needed.  Any changes will be transferred to the pattern pieces.
The goal is to end up with an easy to construct, comfortable and versatile t-shirt pattern.  They each have potential, don’t you think?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

New Look 6179 - Yet One More!

What a non-sewing week it has been!  Well, not entirely, as I did quickly assemble New Look 6179 for my Frankfurt bound daughter to wear on the flight.  Her top was made from a stretch jersey knit purchased from  Here we are at the airport.  We hadn't been able to sleep much the night before and the photo reflects that.
Going through the pattern envelope, I found that the pattern had previously been traced in three different sizes.  Apparently, I had sewn several versions of this top.  The floodgates were opened when I asked the girls about their tops from this pattern.  A few still exist.
I think this was the go-to pattern when something new was needed in a hurry.  Say, when they realized they wanted (or needed) something new to wear to school the next day but the stores had already closed for the night.  The pattern requires very little fabric and hardly any time.  I remember most the one made from the leftovers of a make-believe princess dress.
However, the all-time favorite is the RV top.  The fabric, emblazoned with various RV models, was a $.25 per yard Wal-Mart find.
One of the Mother’s Day gifts I received was a Fabric Mart gift certificate.  Originally, I was searching for a retro rayon print as I want to sew a dress on the Singer 66.  Not being able to decide, I changed direction and went practical.  What I need most is inexpensive fabric to use for pattern fitting.  I found this 54” wide cotton broadcloth.  After a 20% discount the fabric was $.80 per yard.  Of course, plain muslin allows problem areas and black Sharpie markings to be read trouble-free.  But, at $.80 a yard, I think this is just right!

I have almost finished the Singer biography.  I want to learn more about the sewing machine wars and will be seeking out other books focused on sewing machine history.

May the coming days be more sewing productive!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Singer 66 - Evil Wiring? Maybe not.....

Wanting to know how much it would cost to have the 66 rewired, I called one of the local sewing machine repair places.  I spoke with a knowledgeable man and he told me that they could replace the wiring, though he didn’t sound too excited about it.  After visiting with him, he told me to go ahead and use the machine.  It was probably carbon in the controller and that was to be expected if it hadn’t been used in a long time.

Second opinions can be a good thing, so I also asked my father about the motor controller.  He told me that dust, and other junk, can collect in there if the machine hasn’t been used for awhile.  Using it will burn that stuff off and that is what I was probably hearing.

Other than plugging cords into outlets, I have zero understanding of how electricity works.  However, after these two conversations, I was feeling brave and decided to give the 66 another chance.  It did hiss a few times after I plugged it in.  After that, it behaved very well. No problems at all.  It did not catch on fire nor did it electrocute me.  And, it sewed beautifully.  Still, I will feel more confident if an electricity savvy soul can give it a checkup.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Singer 66 - Pretty Stitches/Evil Wiring

I’ve read through the Singer 66 manual and following the oiling diagrams, have placed a drop of Tri-Flow lubricant into each of the places indicated.
The bobbin winding verbiage in the manual is needlessly complicated so I skipped it and instead looked at the pictures for guidance.  That worked just fine.

While the thread was filling the bobbin, I kept hearing noises - like a hissing and popping iron, only there wasn’t an iron around.  I thought it might be the dog as he occasionally snores while sleeping.  No, it wasn’t the dog.  He was awake and peacefully watching me from a few feet away.  I tuned the noises out as I focused on getting the machine to sew.
The filled bobbin went easily into the bobbin case.  I inserted a new needle and threaded the machine.  Next, I grabbed a fabric scrap and using the knee lever, started sewing.  The machine made stitches.  Lovely stitches!
As I continued to sew, I realized the sounds were coming from inside the cabinet.  The only thing in the cabinet is the motor controller.  It was very hot and I quickly unplugged the cord from the wall.  The hissing and popping stopped.  The problem has been isolated.
I won’t be sewing with this machine again until this has been fixed. Is it as simple as finding a replacement cord and controller?  Looks like I’ve got more reading to do……

In the meantime, I guess I can get it cleaned up and polished and begin to pull together the items needed to refinish the cabinet.  Still, I must tell you that I am charmed by this old machine.  It just has to work!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Simple Top - Finished

The simple top has been finished.  There wasn’t a cord or ribbon in the stash that could be used for a drawstring.  So, I sewed bias fabric ties to the ends of quarter inch elastic and used that instead.  It works.

The construction of this top is about as easy as it gets and I like that it isn’t big and puffy like other peasant-type sewing patterns.  Not bad for a muslin and I’ll be making this one again.  TNT.
Last week, while pulling together information for the Singer 66, I came across Singer and the Sewing Machine, a biography of Isaac Merritt Singer.  Written by Ruth Brandon and originally published in 1977, it has been around for a few years.  Even though I hadn’t searched it out, I am surprised that I hadn’t heard of it before.  Anyway, I bought my copy (paid about four dollars) from
I haven’t started reading it yet, but the back cover has piqued my interest:  "Women, booze, illegitimate children, fraud, bigamy, nineteenth-century capitalism, and the emergence of an empire..."  Ah, Tammy's summer spring reading......

Friday, May 7, 2010

Simple Top - New Look 6179

This quilting cotton has been on the shelf so long that I don’t remember purchasing it.  I bet it was bought due to its bargain price and not for a specific project.

I know, if only I kept a fabric log I would have that information.  Responsible sewing people maintain logs, including the purchase date, cost, yardage, fiber content, cleaning instructions and a swatch of each new piece purchased.  I have deliberately chosen to not be so structured by adhering to the KISS method (Keep It Simple, Stupid!).  I purchase only (mostly) machine washable fabrics and thereby eliminate the need to record special cleaning requirements.  And, tell me, how much skill does it take to differentiate between cotton denim and polyester crinkled chiffon?  My fabric storage area is fairly small.  One can simply look at the shelf and know what is in my inventory.  Easy.  The goal is garment creation, not fabric collecting.  Granted, there must always be various fabric choices on hand but I have no intention of ending up on A&E’s Hoarders.

That being said, I have pretty much run out of reject fabric to use for muslins.  I am aware that quilting cotton is for quilts, not clothes.  In spite of this, quilting cotton is the testing choice for New Look 6179,  view C.
I see this simple top as an alternative to a t-shirt.   The pattern was purchased years ago and was used to make several versions for my daughters to wear with jeans.

Luckily, I had traced the pattern when I had used it before and was able to use a much larger different size for me (size 22).
For this muslin, I skipped the front facing piece and inserted wrong-side-out rectangles instead.  They were sewn together at the bottom and the center seam allowances were turned under and topstitched.  Bias rectangles were sewn to the outer edges and a large rectangle added for the bottom portion.  The front was then cut out and sewn to the other pieces.
The neckline casing needs to be attached and a drawstring of some type inserted.  The pattern instructions finish this edge with double fold bias tape.  I am not going to use that as I don’t have any that matches this fabric plus it would add needless bulk.  There is enough of the quilting cotton left to cut a bias casing. I'll see what I have that can be used for a drawstring.  The drawstring will dictate what type and size of casing to make.
The slide plate and the manual (DVD) for the Singer 66 have arrived.  The slide plate fits and the manual has been printed.  Hopefully, it will be sewing soon.
Since bringing the 66 home, much of my sewing time has been spent looking at vintage sewing patterns.  This eighty year old machine is influencing me.  I now want to sew a dress using a 1930’s or 1940’s pattern.  The dress should be wearable in public, but not as a Halloween costume!  I haven’t found a pattern in my size range that I like.  I could do some pattern grading, but I think it will be challenge enough sewing on this unfamiliar machine.  There is no hurry or deadline.  Eventually, a suitable pattern will come my way.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Pull-on Trousers/Pants - Complete; Say Hello to Singer 66!

The Burda pants are complete.  They are purposefully a bit loose-fitting, giving them a casual look.  As a result, they won’t become office garb but will be perfect to wear while running weekend errands or whenever I don’t feel like wearing jeans.  I’ll postpone adding this pattern to the TNT collection until I have worn them a few times.
On Friday, I convinced my daughter (#2) to visit a few thrift stores with me.  She was traumatized by the experience although she became my enabler.  We walked out of the last store carrying a 1930 Singer 66 in a “DeLuxe Library Table” (No. 40).
This setup is in rough shape.  However, the light works and the needle goes up and down normally.  The motor is quiet and sounds beautiful.  I haven’t threaded and sewn yet because of the missing slide plate.  Will the bobbin function without it?  I do not know.  An appropriately aged Singer 66 slide plate is on its way via eBay.
One of the cords is wound with some electrical tape.  That means the wiring needs to be looked at.  So far, the extent of the restoration has consisted of vacuuming the dust from everywhere the nozzle would fit followed up with a slightly damp cloth.  It already looks better.
The machine is worn.  I accept that.  Nonetheless, the wood must be refinished if it is going to stay in the house.  I haven’t done any furniture finishing in years.  My next step is researching the best way to tackle this.

I’ll keep you posted as it progresses.  In the meantime, where am I going to put it?