Monday, December 31, 2012

A Comparison of Bernina, Baby Lock, Janome and Juki Mid-Range Sewing Machines

Edited to add: I'll be adding other comparisons as time passes including Viking and Brother.

I'm going to be in the market for a new machine sometime over the next year. I don't have the luxury of going to dealers and all my research has been done online. I will make a trip once I narrow down the possibilities. I thought my research might help others, so here ya go!

I want a mid-level machine that I won't outgrow in the next few years. Prices vary from $1799 to $399. Most of the research has been done at each brand's home page, Pattern Review, and Amazon.

BERNINA'S


330 - MSRP - $1399 Cheapest I've heard of: $1100. 
97 stitch patterns with 1 automatic buttonhole 1 sewing alphabet, 3 quilting stitches, start-stop button, speed control, built in needle threader, 900 stitches per minute, max width 5.5, max length 5. 30 memory locations for stitch patterns.

Included: Reverse pattern foot #1, overlock foot #2, buttonhole foot with slide #3, zipper foot #4, blindstitch foot #5, slide on free arm extension table. Accessory box or bag and dust cover.

350PE - MSRP - $1799 Cheapest I've heard of: $1500. 
191 stitch patterns with 2 automatic buttonholes, 2 sewing alphabets, 11 quilting stitches, start-stop button, speed control, built in needle threader, 900 stitches per minute, max width 5.5, max length 5. 30 memory locations for stitch patterns, bobbin winding while sewing.

Included: Reverse pattern foot #1 overlock foot #2, buttonhole foot with slide #3, zipper foot #4, blindstitch foot #5, open embroidery foot #20, slide on free arm table, accessory box or bag and dust cover.

These are labeled beginning machines by Bernina.

BABY LOCK

Elizabeth - $669.00
178 built in stitches, 10 one step buttonholes, 3 uppercase alphabets, auto needle threader, start/stop button, auto thread cutter, drop feed, pattern repeat, mirror image, hands free pressure foot lift.

Included accessories: buttonhole foot, overcasting foot, zipper foot, zig-zag, blind stitch, button fitting, walking foot, quilting foot, open toe foot, nonstick foot, monogramming foot, adjustable zipper/piping foot, hard case.

Sofia 2 - $749.00 perhaps on sale through Jan. 5.
168 built in stitches, embroidery capability with USB direct connect and embroidery designs built in, 10 styles of 1 step buttonhole, 3 alphabet styles, 6 font styles, 5mm stitch length, 7mm stitch length, automatic needle threader, automatic needle cutter, 12 memory pockets, mirror image, programmable speed control, needle up/down, thread cutter.

Included accessories: Stylus, soft cover, buttonhole foot, embroidery foot, overcasting foot, monogramming foot, zipper foot, zig-zag foot, blind stitch and buttonhole fitting feet, 4 x 4 embroidery hoop.

Grace - $399.99 per Pattern Review

40 built in stitches, 1 built in buttonhole, built in needle threader, thread cutter, top loading bobbin.

Included accessories: Satin stitch foot, buttonhole foot, overcasting foot, blind stitch foot, button fitting foot, zipper foot, zig-zag foot, soft case.

JANOME

DC5100 - $599 at Amazon.com

167 built in stitches, 5 one step buttonholes, drop feed, needle up/down, 50 stitch memory capability, speed control, locking stitch button, built in needle threader.

Accessories included: hard case, Straight stitch foot, Zigzag foot (set on the machine), Satin stitch foot, Zipper foot, Automatic buttonhole foot, Overedge foot, Blind hem foot, Darning foot, 1/4" seam foot, Walking foot, Quilter.

Information on accessories included taken from a Q & A on Amazon regarding this machine. At the time of this writing, Janome didn't have included accessories on their website. The link took you to available accessories vs. included.

DC4030PR - $549 at Amazon.com

30 stitches, 6 one step buttonholes, 820 stitches per minute, auto tension, needle up/down, drop feed, start/stop button, speed control, extra high presser foot, foot pressure adjustment, 5mm stitch length, 7mm stitch width, stitch elongation.

Difficult to find included accessories but the brochure states a walking foot and 1/4" foot is included also a hard plastic cover.

DC3050 $449 at Amazon.com

50 built in stitches with 3 auto buttonholes, auto needle threader, auto stop/start, drop feed, auto tension, extra high presser foot, bi-directional blanket stitch, stitch width and length same as the DC4030.

Included accessories: Zipper foot, satin stitch foot, buttonhole foot.

JUKI

HZL300 - $699 at Amazon.com

106 Stitch Patterns with 3 fonts, 16 auto buttonholes, auto needle threading, auto thread trimming by heel of foot, 900 spm, adjust cutting width of buttonholes, atuo needle stop.

Included: Standard foot, Overcasting foot, Blind hem foot, Auto Buttonhole foot, Manual Buttonhole foot, Zipper foot, quilting foot and quilt guide, Hard Case.

HZL400 - $799 at Amazon.com Computer Sewing/Quilting Machine

157 stitches, 3 font patterns, 16 types of buttonholes, auto needle threader, adjustable presser foot pressure, auto thread cutting by button, auto thread trimming by heel of foot, adjust cutting width of buttonholes.

Accessories included: in addition to the above included with the HLZ300, a patchwork foot and free motion walking foot, a knee lift lever and a quilt guide.

Juki has a unique box feed dog system and the company previously made industrial/commercial machines.

PFAFF

These Pfaff machines have IDT dual feed

Pfaff Ambition 1.5 Sewing and Quilting Machine MSRP $1299 - $855 on Ebay

195 Stitches, 4 alphabets: block, outline, script and cyrillic, 4 memories, large LCD screen, stitch selection through touch screen, 3 LED light sources, needle up/down, programmed tie off, 29 needle positions, 7mm length, needle threader, start/stop button, speed slider, feed drop, mirror image, bobbin thread sensor, extra high pressure foot lift, adjustable pressure foot pressure, stitch elongation, two spool pins for twin needle sewing, larger sewing space to right of needle for quilting.

Accessories included: At the time of this writing, an extra extension table plate is included, standard foot, fancy stitch foot with IDT, fancy stitch foot, blind hem foot, zipper foot, buttonhole foot, hard case.

Doesn't say how many buttonholes but I'll try to find out later.

Pfaff Select 4.0 - MSRP $1150 - $687 on eBay

40 stitches, stitch selection through push button, high pressure foot lift, stitch length 6mm, bobbin winding through the needle, two spool pins for twin needle sewing, free motion sewing position through push button, needle threader,

Accessories included: Darning foot, rolled hem foot, fancy stitch foot, edge guide/quilting foot, zipper foot, clear view foot, buttonhole foot, blind hem foot, hard case.

VIKING

Viking Sapphire 835 - eBay $749

105 stitches with 7 buttonholes, 3 alphabet fonts, dual lights, 10" throat space, needle down, one touch thread cutter, 10 memories, mirror side to side, bobbin winds from needle.

Accessories included: Thread nets, non-stick guide plates, Utility feet A and B, buttonhole foot,, one step sensor buttonhole foot, blind hem foot, zipper foot, edging foot, 1/4" piecing foot, embroidery/darning foot, light bulb remover, hard cover.

Viking Emerald 116 - eBay $299

Mechanical sewing machine, 16 Stitches, one automatic buttonhole, built in needle threader, 4mm stitch length, thread cutter, drop feed, needle up/down, adjustable pressure foot pressure.

Accessories: Hard case, 8 feet.

Cost of Feet

I'm going to use a walking foot as the comparison:

Bernina: $150, Baby lock: approx. $60 - with a fast search, I found one for the Essante made by Baby lock and others were $40 or so for the unbranded. Janome: $49.99. Juki: $69.99, Pfaff: not needed, Viking: $95.

Warranties vary but the usual seems to be Labor for one year with the exception of Juki which is 90 days.

All prices were good as of 12/31/12. When I couldn't find the MSRP on the machines, I took prices from Pattern Review, Ebay and Amazon




Saturday, December 29, 2012

Be Still My Heart! Bernina 330 - I want one!



I've been looking for a new (or new to me) sewing machine for a long time. I've looked mostly on eBay because I thought I wouldn't be able to afford a new one but considering all the money I've spent on machines this past year, I'm rethinking it. Granted, it might take a little longer to save for it but I think I might be better off to buy new.

I bought a second hand Viking and liked it well enough I guess but I wasn't in love with it - if one can be "in love" with a thing vs. a person. It felt hefty enough when I was sewing with it but it just wasn't for me.

I was reading blogs and following their blog lists and came upon LLadybird who treated herself to a Bernina 350PE. How immpressive!

I then went to eBay to check for something similiar. Do you know that some of those are selling used, for more than the MSRP at Bernina dealers new? That was a revelation to me!

I don't have the luxury of visiting dealers in my area - there aren't any. I have read online about Baby Lock and Janome. I'm even tempted at the new Singer One's but I'm hesitant about those. I love the older Singer machines but I already have a Singer Stylist that I'm not satisfied with.

This Bernina is my dream. It might take me a while to save for it but I think I would be happy with it.

I think I can...I think I can...I think I can

The gown I made for my DIL
Another view

This is a reminder to me that I can sew! Now I see fit issues and critique it but I hadn't sewn for 10 years when I made it. She wasn't satisfied with the gowns she found locally so we copied one found in Bride's Magazine that month. She wanted no lace or "fru fru" so it's strapless, princess seamed satin. Lace would have covered a multitude of sins but she wanted elegant. 

It was fun and a good reminder that I can sew. I need that right now!

Friday, December 28, 2012

My Attempt at Pamela's Magic Pencil Skirt


I've had this fabric that I simply love but I'm afraid it's printed off grain. I thought I would practice pattern placement and also use it to develop the pattern into a TNT. I aligned the print in the fabric but honestly, I'm not sure how it will wash once put together. That will teach me to buy cheap fabric. We'll see! Have you ever wanted to sew so badly that you'd try anything?

I added width to the pattern at center front and back. Easy to do since the pattern is placed on the fold in front and the center back is a straight seam. (I added a back pattern piece to use with this fabric.) Hopefully it's not too much but the fabric is lightweight and I didn't want it clinging to me. In retrospect, perhaps a larger size would have worked better for this knit fabric.

Now for the sewing and fitting!

I sewed the darts and the side seams. I'm not using Pamela's Fantastic Elastic but I had some waistband elastic in my stash. I adjusted it the way she suggested and it feels too loose. Perhaps it's because it's a different kind but I think I'll take 1/2" off the measurement.

I don't have a full length mirror to check if the side seams hang correctly. I'm going to put the mirror I do have on the floor and adjust it then check in the bathroom mirror. Next month, a full length mirror is on my shopping list. How can I fit muslin's without one? We'll see how this works!

This fabric didn't shine when I pressed it. I used a press cloth on the darts and first seam but pressed the fabric directly for the other. No shine! YES!

WADDER! LOL

How can a simple pattern turn into a wadder? Well, let me tell ya!

I could probably rescue this but I have no desire. I shouldn't have added to the center front - ya live and learn. That totally threw off the line of the skirt - the darts are further on the side than they should be. The darts on this pattern are toward the side anyway and when I added to the center front instead of the side seams - well, just not a good thing.

Not only that, but I didn't slightly stretch the fabric as I was sewing. Even pressing didn't get out the puckers. Oh well - it might be a while before I remember everything about sewing. It's fun anyway.

Next time - another muslin using the pattern piece as is but probably morphing two different sizes. Seems I've gained a tummy through the holidays!

Till next time...




Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Ann T Top Muslin

I'm determined to use this for my TNT pattern for tee shirts. I haven't sewn garments in a long time and I thought these issues might help someone else that hadn't either!

I haven't tried on this muslin yet but I did hold it up to me. I'm sure it's going to be too tight. I'm going to finish it anyway because I need practice inserting the sleeves and also doing the neckline. I'm going to document the stretch factor of this fabric and all to come. I believe each knit will fit differently depending on the percentage of stretch. I'm hoping to save myself time and trouble with each additional muslin.

I pinned the sleeves into the armhole and you wouldn't think they would fit on first glance. I used the flat method. I remember from sewing in the past that if you put the shoulder seam on the bottom then pin to the markings first, keeping your fingertips in the seam allowance, you can ease in the shoulder area on the sleeve without difficulty. The area to be eased is on top. Lots of pins keeps it in place. On this pattern, it fits beautifully. If only they all were this way!



Feels good - if only my body were shaped differently! I can wear it with a layer over it but definitely will not wear it alone. I still need to finish the hems and topstitch the neckline. I could have sworn I have a stretch double needle but it might have gotten lost in the move.

Well, it's a start and I have had practice doing a neckband and putting in the sleeves.

Pardon the marks on the mirror - time to clean that baby!
Now to critique the fit! The seams are scratchy on the inside, it's too tight and certainly can't be worn without an overlayer. I like the way the neckline fits but the rouched waist isn't for me. It's also about an inch longer in the front center than the back. I definitely don't have the bust to take that up so an alteration is in order. I'll need to add an inch or so to the width also - maybe I'll morph a few patterns together!

At least I'll have completed something once the topstitching and hems are done!

Edited to add:



The top is finished. I turned up the hems on the sleeves and bottom and hemmed it using a straight stitch. I cut off the longer front and it does look better. I looked for my stretch double needles but couldn't find them. Rather than wait to finish this, I simply used a single needle, straight stitch.



Friday, December 21, 2012

Thread and Needles - Time for Research

When I first learned to sew, my Mom used 50 weight thread for everything. It was only after sewing for many years that I learned that isn't the rule now. I learned to sew on an old Singer and I suspect that was her reasoning. I have a Singer Stylist sewing machine now and when I was sewing the seams of the Ann T Top yesterday, my stitches went back and forth between straight stitch and zig-zag. I suspect needle size and thread is the problem. At least I'm hoping so - I can't buy a new machine at the moment.

I have a stash of thread that I've been saving for years. Some of it even looks fuzzy while sitting on the spool! Could you imagine what it would do to the tension on my machine? Most of it is Coats and Clark which is going in the trash, by the way. I've read on the boards that they've changed their thread now - I might buy one spool to try it out.

Last summer I bought a Mettler Metrosene Plus multi-pack thinking I would have my basic needs met. Not so! It took one full spool of 109 yards to wind a bobbin on my 15-91. Now I find out a cotton thread might be better for that machine. Do I really need two kinds of thread for my two machines?

I also have chosen needle and thread based solely on the weight of fabric I'm sewing without regard for the two together. If the fabric is lightweight, I would use regular thread and a size 9 or 11 needle. Now I read on the SCHMETZ website that I also have to consider the weight of thread and size of the needle together. The thread should be only 40% of the size of the needle opening. It's a new thought for me to consider the two together instead of just considering the weight of the fabric. Did I explain that right?

About.com had a good comparison of threads under a microscope at 60% magnification. Maxi-lock is also there - just follow the link. I thought at first that the better spun, the better the thread then I read that some of those fibers sticking out might help to grab the fabric and prevent skipped stitches.

Then there is the issue of machine needles. I've always thought stretch needles were used for knits as recommended in almost every book you read. I have a variety of them but on the Schmetz website, it recommends a universal needle. Stretch needles are used for microfiber fabrics according to them. I've also read on boards that Microtex needles might be better to sew knits. Then there is the idea that a size 14 needle isn't the go to size any longer. Perhaps it's because the weight of thread isn't the same as recommended years ago?

Wow! No wonder I'm confused. Are you? Am I making this more complicated than it has to be?

Basically this is what I'm going to do: I'm considering what I sew frequently and have a variety of thread and needles on hand for that purpose. Anything else I'll buy as I need rather than have every possibility in my sewing stash. Can't afford that anyway!

I will be sewing knits, medium weight stretch and regular wovens and hemming jeans. All my jeans need to be hemmed - even the petite length. I swear I think manufacturers have lengthened their petite size in the last few years!

Gutermann thread - I'm going to purchase black, white and jeans top stitch for basic mending and general purpose use. Here is a pdf of their thread with recommended uses.

Mettler Metrosene Plus - I'm going to purchase this thread for apparel projects in colors to match.

Needles: I've used Singer needles for as long as I can remember but it's time for a change! Schmetz are the best I hear and it's time I purchased a variety. I'm going to buy a variety of universal, jersey, topstitching, jeans and stretch needles.

I should have my bases covered, don't you think?


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sewing Style Arc's Ann T Top

It's not too bad if I had to only rip out one sleeve, is it? :)

Laying out the fabric so that it was on grain was the hardest part so far. The ribs or stitches are small enough that it was difficult but I could tell that they weren't at right angles to the selvages, does that make sense? I did my best to make sure it was on grain but to be honest, I probably won't know until it's put together and washed. Next time I sew knits, I'll buy a magnifying glass and run a line of hand stitches from end to end.

I laid out the pattern, transferred the markings and cut it out. The fabric has a very subtle sheen on one side and I've found out I need a little more lighting in my sewing area. Because of the way I had to put it on the fabric, I had to be especially careful to keep the right and wrong side of the fabric correct.

I simply put a piece of scotch tape in the seam allowance on the wrong side of each piece before taking the pins out. I also found that it isn't easy marking knits. I've never been good at tailor's tacks and there aren't darts on this pattern. At first I used pins but decided a pen would be better. I did try my quilt pencils but it didn't show up well enough. So in the seam allowances are little markings!

I've sold a few of my sewing machines and the only one I have left is the Singer 7258. I'm not satisfied with the stitches but until I can get another, it will have to do.

I also used the selvage of another piece of fabric that is almost the same color for the shoulder seams. I then sewed between the markings for the elastic on the sides - although I've decided not to use elastic and only sew little gathers. I then sewed on a sleeve - wrong sides together! LOL

First time I've had to rip a seam in a long time but I didn't mind - at least, I'm sewing!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ha! I can finally sew something!

Did you ever have to just sew something?

No matter how I tried to put together pattern and fabric there was always something that I needed. If I had the fabric, I didn't have the right color of thread, no interfacing or elastic. If I had enough fabric for a pattern,  it was too lightweight or not enough stretch. That will teach me to try to buy ahead!

Some of the fabric I wanted to use for muslins but nothing was appropriate. I don't have a large stash built up yet and evidently building a stash might not work for me anyway. I thought if I had fabric here, sewing would be easier but if the fabric was right, there wasn't enough of it.

I've since moved the back piece up a little to make room for the binding.

I finally found a medium brown ponte knit that I can make Style Arc's Ann T Top out of. I don't have enough for a long sleeve but I frequently push them up anyway. This is a muslin to check for fit and also to practice techniques on but long sleeves would be nice. Not bad though for only one yard of fabric!

I pressed the fabric and ironed the pattern pieces but for the life of me, I can't get the creases out of the paper! It's as flat as I can make it and the fabric no longer has wrinkles but it's frustrating.

I used a with nap layout because I read somewhere that knits need it. It makes sense - otherwise the fabric may show shading, etc.

Wish me luck - it's the first garment I've actually sewn in over 15 years!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Pattern Choices for SWAP 2013

I'm interested in sewing for SWAP 2013 but the choices are endless. I'm having problems limiting the vast array of patterns and fabrics especially considering that I've gained a few pounds. Five pounds doesn't sound like much but it has certainly changed my shape. I feel like I'm five months pregnant. Time for the Lagenlook?

I'm acutely aware of proportion between styles. How I wish there were abundant coordinating wardrobe patterns where every piece works with the other. Wardrobe patterns are few and far between which makes choosing compatible patterns difficult. I've come to the conclusion that skinny bottoms look better with voluminous tops and vice versa. I'm also considering adding overlayers in the form of vests to partially hide the little pouch I've developed. I've never worn vests but I feel better if I dress in sets of three - bottom, underlayer and overlayer. It's "put together", know what I mean?

Consider this vest which is Vogue 8777:

I especially like the grey one in the bottom right corner!
I have Style Arc's Debra Zebra Top which is a funnel neck top pattern:



I feel better in a funnel neck versus a turtleneck. I also have her Linda stretch pant and the Elle pant patterns. Although the differences are minute, the Elle pant is skinnier and would require a larger top in proportion.

Linda Stretch Pant by Style Arc

Elle Pant by Style Arc


I considered this wardrobe pattern which is McCalls 6658:


The pants are elastic and would be comfortable but the overlayer might make me look even broader. There is a horizontal line that goes across the back and I hesitate to visually emphasize this part of my anatomy.


Perhaps I love the colors as much as I love the pattern! The line drawing:


I wonder if anyone at Pattern Review has sewn it? It would fit my lifestyle now and it's versatile. The pants can be made out of a flannel type fabric but also jersey. I'm not sure I would want flannel but the point is it's suitable for wovens as well as knits.

I doubt I will join the SWAP formally but the requirements I find to be helpful when planning sewing projects. This years suggestion is to sew two what I think of as capsules with a bridging piece that would tie the two together.

Decisions, decisions, decisions!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

I'm Researching Interfacing - See What I've Found!

Because I last sewed anything about 15 years ago, I've been researching methods, techniques and products. I have a good start on everything I might need but have yet to understand the new interfacings. I Googled interfacings and what comes up? Threads on Stitchers Guild and Pattern Review of course! No wonder I read them so often. Not a day goes by that I'm not trying to learn what I can from them.

As many of you know, I don't have a fabric store locally. I've found it difficult to buy online - evidently I don't know enough about fabric content and weight to make informed decisions. I thought I would research interfacings before buying so I didn't make another needless purchase.

Fashion Sewing Supply and Sew Exciting are evidently one and the same. On the boards, some call it one and others, the other. At first I was confused and thought they were different sources but alas, they are not.

For Knits: Pro-Tricot Deluxe Fusible Interfacing: from their website:
"This is a Professional Grade Tricot knit interfacing used by designers and the finest ready-to-wear clothing manufacturers.  PRO-TRICOT Deluxe FUSIBLE INTERFACING gives flexible support to all weights of knits. Now made with a touch of lycra, it has 50% crosswise stretch and 10% lengthwise stretch. Pro-TricotDeluxe Fusible Interfacing can also be fused to leather. DOES NOT SHRINK!"

Pro-Sheer Elegance For sheer or lightweight woven fabrics, ie: think blouses, buttonholes, etc.:

"Pro-Sheer Elegance is The Ultimate in "Lower Temperature" fusible interfacing!This amazing fusible interfacing is suitable for sheer to lightweight woven fabrics...like Silks, Microfibers, Cotton lawns, Fine Broadcloth,  silky polyesters, and all lightweight woven fabrics
(For Stretchy Knits, choose Pro-Tricot Deluxe Interfacing).
This sheer matte interfacing truly is different. Due to its unique weave and fiber content, it has slight crosswise stretch and is totally stable lengthwise. Pro-Sheer Elegance is made from a combination of Polyester and Rayon  and can be fused at  "low-wool to high wool" settings of your iron.  It does NOT shrink.WASHABLE AFTER FUSING TO FABRIC !
It is the the most amazing interfacing that we have ever experienced!Pro-Sheer Elegance *barely* affects the drape of the fabric,yet will add enough support for stable facings, buttonholes, etc.It is sheer, matte, 60-62" wide...absolutely fabulous!"  
They also offer Pro-Stretch Elastic that you can sew through. I have yet to choose between this and Pamela's Patterns Fantastic Elastic

I'll be ordering after the first of the year. Just maybe I'll order both elastics and see which I like better. Maybe both would be a good choice!

Edited to add: I've never used the "quote" option in Blogger. Seems it doesn't want to "unquote"!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bobbins for the 15-91 - I'm Determined!

How long have I been working on this issue? Three days? You do have to admit that I'm determined to get this running. On the other hand, maybe it's just another way to procrastinate actual sewing....

There's something about starting a project and not giving up. I bought this machine in September (I think anyway) and I'd like to finally use it!

Those of you who have read previous posts know that I've had problems with the bobbins or bobbin case. Machine Tech who posts on Stitchers Guild asked me if the metal class 15 bobbins turn freely in the bobbin case. No, they do not. They seem to be too large or are getting caught up on something. I loosened the tension mightily I might add, and it actually sewed for a few inches!

I emailed Jenny from Sew Classic and she offered to send me some plastic bobbins to try. Ummmmm........all the bobbins I have, I might have something that fits!

I tried one and I can actually insert it easily. I did have to adjust the tension screw on the bobbin again and gave it 1/2 turn.

So far, I've sewn about 15" with it. No problem and the stitches are even and appear to be the correct tension. Tomorrow I'm going to sew a seam with it and see how it does. Wish me luck!

Monday, December 10, 2012

She sews! The 15-91 makes stitches!

Catherine, aka my 15-91 sews! I took that bobbin case and adjusted it about 3/4 turn and no more problems. So far. I've only sewn a few inches with it which is nothing like doing a seam but tomorrow I'm going to try her out on the kind of fabric I usually sew on. We'll see how she does!


15-91 Bobbins and Case - Ugh!

How frustrating it can be to attempt to get a 15-91 working! The machine itself is beautiful but it came without bobbins or a case.

I ordered them from Sew Classic but not at the same time. I had bobbins that I thought were a size 15 but they didn't fit on the bobbin winder. Of course, I didn't try them before ordering the case. I just assumed since they were "Singer" they would work. Not so.

When the case came, I tried them and they didn't work. Am I sure it's a 15-91? Yes - it came with the instruction book.

Now I have the bobbins that do work on the winder but there is something wrong with the case or the bobbins. I suspect the case.

When I try to pull thread from it, it only breaks. The bobbins also fit so snugly that it's hard to get them out of the case.

I used Metrosene thread and also tried others I had lying around. I tried to adjust the tension on the case but it still broke. It's almost as if there is a sharp area on the case that the thread gets hung up on and only breaks instead of pulling.

I'm on a budget here - yes, that tight of a budget. So what to do? Any suggestions?

Pardon my absence but I'm back!

I've been away for a few months but I have good news and bad news!

I've moved into a two bedroom apartment and love it! I'm finally getting settled or should I say I'm beginning to get settled? :) I have my sewing stuff almost organized. Now I've decided I want to move it into the spare room in order to finally have a sewing room!

The bad news is that my engagement was broken and it threw me into a tailspin for a few months. I've made a few bad choices but I think I'm back on track again. Watch out world!

I put a bobbin winding tire on my 15-91!

I can't believe I did it! I've put it off for a few days because I was scared to try but I did it! The old one came off easily but I used my nail file to put the new one on. Good thing I'm not a true collector because I scratched the wheel a bit.

So far, I've rewired her, cleaned and oiled her, bought bobbins and that tire thingy. The bobbins I found that worked finally came from Sew-Classic and they fit perfectly. It was a painless order and arrived very fast. You should try them for all your vintage sewing machine needs!

Now if I could just cover those scratches on the bed of the cabinet, I would be happy. I didn't realize when I took it out of the cabinet to rewire it that I had to be so careful. You live and learn! Perhaps some Old English furniture polish would help but I don't want to take the chance of it getting on my fabric.

I bought this machine at an antique store and love it. It came with the Zig-zagger, buttonholer and attachments. It sounds soooo good when running! I just love it and now I get to try it out completely! I'll let you know how that goes!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Move - Not going to move - Move - Geez!

Now again, I'm not going to move. Due to unforeseen circumstances the move is off again. I was so looking forward to my sewing room but it appears it's not to be.

Also received a letter saying my social security is being stopped therefore, not only am I not moving but I'll have no internet among other things. Food? Laundry? Meds? Car insurance - heck, they're only little things!

When will life settle down?

The only thing I can do is to plan, to act instead of react and above all to remain positive. I'm hoping it will prevent another relapse because any kind of stress puts me there.

I felt sorry for myself for a few hours then decided I didn't want to be miserable. I showered, put on my make-up and did my hair. I needed to feel in control and appear put together. Outside appearances can sometimes be deceiving I want you to know.

My house is such a mess that I don't know where to start. Box lying all over - the last few days before a big move and I guess you can expect that but it's sure difficult to think.

Guess I'll just unpack a few things, organize what I can and go from there until I find out what's going on. Wish me luck, please!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

French graphics for my sewing room

Chocolate is one of my favorite food groups! ;) My plan is to put this graphic from the Graphics Fairy DIY blog onto the top of my sewing machine cabinet after painting it white. She explains how to transfer images onto furniture here.

I'm also going to put a few graphics onto other pieces of furniture and linens. She also shows how to put labels onto jars and I thought it would make good notion storage. My sewing room will be all sewing, french graphics, vintage linens and pink polka dots and stripes.

I also plan to sew machine covers which is where the polka dots and stripes come in. I saw covers on a website but can't remember where although the graphics are etched in  my mind.

Leaving is bittersweet - I hate to leave family and friends. There is a touch of melancholy about me lately. I feel this move will be good but I sure hate to leave loved ones. Some are having a difficult time. I'll have to keep busy, that's for sure.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Decisions, decisions, decisions on decor for the sewing room!

I've given this a lot of thought and was considering using Tiffany blue and brown but finally decided on pale pink, white, french graphics, and lace.


This is as close to the color as I can find.
Do I think I might get tired of it - perhaps but I think like everything else, it will be a work in progress. I might add a little black here and there for punch.

I'm going to paint the furniture white and add graphics from the Graphics Fairy DIY blog. She has a lot of french graphics to put on table tops and linens. I also have some vintage napkins and doilies made out of Battenburg lace.

My living room is going to be green with touches of another color - perhaps natural in muslin, cotton and linen. On the green, I have no choice - it's the color of the carpet. It's not a bright nor dark green but more of a sage plaid or diamond - there are two different types in the apartments and I'm not sure which I'll get. Time will tell.

I'm also going to finish other pieces in white paint and french graphics. I'm considering using chalk paint but I don't know enough about it at the moment to make that decision. More research is in order first.

I thought I would have touches of french graphics everywhere. I've been collecting free printables for different areas of the house. Now that I'll have a garage to work or paint in, it should be fun to redo my house.

Have a great day!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The progress and perils of buying a vintage machine

I learned to sew on my Mother's vintage machine. I'm unsure exactly which machine it was but it was originally a treadle that my Father put a motor on. It was in perfect condition and worked beautifully. I've always thought I was mechanically inclined and still feel that way. I once rewired a lamp and thought that was  evidence enough.

I think I was wrong!

I love vintage machines. I like the heft of them, the stitches they make, the shape - generally everything about them but buying a vintage machine that is missing bobbins, the bobbin case and needs to be rewired isn't for the faint of heart.

I thought it would be a simple thing to purchase a vintage machine and get it running. This machine is in beautiful condition cosmetically. No rust and it looks to have had barely any use. I had it rewired then cleaned and oiled it myself. (I'm listening to Adele do a concert through YouTube and am losing my train of thought at times. Rumor Has It is playing right now.) I've tried two different bobbins on it. The first was suppose to be a class 15 that I bought at Walmart. One end was too small to fit on the bobbin winder. A friend of my son's offered to let me try her vintage bobbins. They also do not work but I have no idea what size they are. They fit on the spindle but they don't wind. The little arm doesn't fit down into the bobbin and I think I remember it fitting differently - as in fitting down into the top of the bobbin. Sometimes I wish my memory was better!

Do yourself a favor if you buy a vintage machine. Buy your parts from somewhere that specializes in vintage machines. Sew Classic has class 15 bobbins that fit the machine. If I would have purchased some, I would have known for sure that they fit, and that something is wrong with the bobbin winder. As it is, I'm wondering if it is the right bobbin or if the bobbin winder is bad. The little "tire" is worn and in addition, I'm wondering if I oiled the bobbin winder and got oil into something that I wasn't suppose to. Does that make sense?

It should be a simple process to get this machine running but at the moment it doesn't seem simple. Do yourself another favor and buy one that is already restored with all parts and ready to go out of the box. Again, one from Sew Classic would probably fit the bill because I'm a bit frustrated right now.


Thoughts for the Snakeskin fabric

I thought it would make a nice skirt but had difficulty thinking about laying it out and getting the stripes even. I want to make a Magic Pencil Skirt out of it but getting the subtle stripe even posed a problem

I decided to trace another copy of the skirt for ease of layout. In some instances I can see where it would also help to have either a back and front or the whole skirt as one piece.

The skirt pattern is only one piece to be used for both front and back. After placing on the fold, you cut two. Considering the layout, you would either need to pick up the piece and cut it again or trace two. I decided to trace two.

It's been a busy week.

I was given two bobbins for my 15-91!

I feel like I've hit the jackpot. I was going to have to wait until the first of the month to order bobbins for it but a friend found two in her jewelry box that she had been saving. Lucky me again!

They are vintage and fit perfectly! Now I get to try the bobbin winder on my "new" machine. I'll let you know how that works out. It's such a pretty machine!

I'd still like to find a monogrammer for it.

I bought an office chair today for $1 at a garage sale. The arms as well as the seat are adjustable. What a find.

Have a good day!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

When, oh when am I going to be able to sew? :)

All I accomplished last week was tracing the Magic Pencil Skirt pattern and placing a few patterns on fabric - not enough in most instances.

The fabric I bought from Fabric Mart for the skirts was too light weight. When I draped it across my body, I didn't like the way it looked. It might be better perhaps with tights or the right undergarments but I don't want to take the chance. Still, each piece is only one yard of fabric and I'm considering using one for a muslin. We'll see.

I'm determined to move within the next month or six weeks. Not a big problem because I live in a small apartment and I've downsized quite a bit. I still have to go through my closet but I don't have too much packing to do other than my sewing paraphernalia! It's going to be so nice to have an actual sewing room! Posts may be a little sporadic until I get settled but it's something I'm really looking forward to.

I saw a Shabby Chic sewing room that I really liked. It was all french and in white and pink. I thought it could satisfy my need for feminine touches in the home and in my garments. Maybe I wouldn't be as likely to sew frivolous pieces. Again - we'll see! :)

I received my bobbin case from Sew Classic - sure was shipped fast. I also bought the marked needle plate. My class 15 bobbins wouldn't fit in the bobbin winder - wonder what's up with that? Could be either I made a mistake and purchased the wrong one or the bobbins are cheaply made. I'll have to do a little research.

Have a great day!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Jazzy (my dog) is here, not doing so bad!




My son brought my dog in from Indiana and she's not doing so bad. She's on pain medicine and she is more active than previously. She doesn't appear to be in pain although I did hear her yelp once when trying to get down from the bed. I don't let her jump - she wiggles around when she needs to get down and whines a little and that's how I know she wants down.

Her walk is crippled but it doesn't stop her from moving a little. She even walks around a little outside. The protrusion from her urethra is getting smaller so I'm hoping it's shrinking. The vet said the medication could do that. Now I'm looking for a vet here in Monroe for her.

I bought Innova puppy food from Pet Supplies Plus for her and she loves it. Evidently her appetite isn't affected yet. Even tho she's over 10 years old, I thought the concentration of puppy food would be good for her for a while. She weighed three pounds at the vet when she use to weigh five. I'll try to fatten her up a bit.

Wish us luck!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Dog is about gone - my God, when are the losses going to stop?

We figure Jazz must be as least 10 years old, I can't remember the exact year we got her. She was only five weeks old and it was January. When we were potty training her, we had to look close for her in the snow. She's white and was tiny her whole life. The vet said she was the smallest toy poodle she ever saw that wasn't a teacup poodle.

At her best, Jazz weighed five pounds. She now weighs three. She's only been ill that we know of since last weekend but by the looks of the tumors throughout her, its been much longer than that. She has been somewhat sluggish the last few years and appeared stiff at times but we still thought of her as a puppy because she was so small and still had that puppy attitude.

My son cares for her because I can't have her here. Last weekend he noticed she appeared painful and her uterus was prolapsing. After many vet calls, they made an appointment for Tuesday to get her fixed. It turned into something far worse.

She's on pain medication but I'm not sure it's working. She's in Indiana and I'm here in Southeastern Michigan. After a brief talk with my son, she's going to be here soon. Hopefully tonight.

Why is it quilts are the first thing that is thought of when someone or something is ill? My favorite robe is pink minky and tonight I cut it up for a quilt for Jazz. It was her favorite too when she visited. Now it will be used as a dying quilt I'm afraid.

My hope is that I can have at least a few days with her before the end. It would be nice to have many more but it isn't going to happen.

My God this hurts. I knew it would come someday and that it would probably be soon because of her age. I didn't expect it to come this soon or this fast.

Lord, help me!

I suppose one of the reasons I'm taking it so hard is that I bought her after my Mother died. My husband and a sister had died recently also and she was my way of still giving and getting love.

Perhaps there is a little unresolved grief here for family as well.


My 15-91 Rewired! Geez, I love this machine!


That didn't take long, did it? The light and the motor works. The guy that fixed it said the motor might be a little weak. I can't try to sew with it because I don't have a bobbin yet.

The cheapest place I've found is at Sew Classic for bobbins, the bobbin holder and many more things I want from there.



I cleaned it while it was apart although I didn't find much dust and dirt. You can see the old wires lying here.

There is a small area of crackling on the inner side where the badge is.

The the way, did you see the  badge? I can only think this is a true centennial. I'm sure it's not as important as on a Featherweight but it's pretty neat to me!



Looks like I better clean this up a bit huh? I just think the color is fantastic too. I'd like to get a monogrammer for it, does anyone know if they made them for this model?

Another cool thing is the Simanco name stamped on the foot.

Can you tell I just love this machine? :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New sewing machine! 15-91

I'm on an old computer without very many keys ! I justg had to tell you about a sewing machine I bought. It's a 15-91 with what appears to be a potted motor. It came with a buttonholer, attachments and zigzagger. It does need to be rewired but a friend has offered. Lucky me!

I thought only 201''s came with a potted motor but will let you know what I found out! Sorry about the typo but this isn't easy to type on! It looks better than the pics!

Now I just have to restore it and the cabinet! :)

Did I tell you it's a centennial?


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pamela's Magic Pencil Skirt - Post 2 - tracing the pattern

I have always used the Big 4 patterns when sewing before. It was before the popularity of the internet and the ease of access to Independent pattern makers. Now that I'm using indy patterns, I need to trace the patterns instead of cutting on the tissue. I don't want to ruin the original pattern. I've never done it before and thought others might also benefit from how I did it. If you know of a better way, please leave comments and I'll change my method!

I have a cardboard mat that I bought at Walmarts for cutting patterns out on. I also used my Styling design ruler and as you can see, the curve fits the hip curve perfectly. It was necessary to trace the lines and adjust the ruler along the way but it was much easier than trying to freehand those curves.

I love the hip curve on this pattern. No wonder it's such a popular pattern. I can see myself making many of these in different colors and fabrics. The pattern is made for knit fabrics and will be much easier to fit because of this I believe.

I used a pen with blue ink but next time, I'm going to use a permanent marker I believe. The pen had a tendency to smear and I didn't care for that but I didn't think of it before I started. I also used Reynold's Freezer Paper. It's cheap and comes in a big roll. The two sides are different and if you write on the paper side, the wax side stay's put fairly well. I can see where that would be helpful when laying out your pattern.

As you can see, I used straight pins to secure the pattern paper to the mat. I could have used tape but I didn't want to mar the original pattern. I used eight pins placing them at each corner and along the sides.

I then laid the Reynold's Freezer paper over it and you can see the lines through it fairly well. Pamela's Patterns are darkly marked and if they weren't perhaps there would be a little difficulty tracing them the way I did it here because the freezer paper is somewhat thick.

You can see where I forgot the second line of the waist tracing. I had to go back and repin the pieces and trace it. I thought it came out pretty good.












As you can see along the bottom edge of the skirt, this is the only area that I had to true up. As I've said, I've never done this before and when I was moving the ruler to trace the hip curve, I didn't line the ruler up exactly. It was a fairly easy fix and not bad for my first try.








Next will be laying out the fabric and fitting the skirt and I can't wait. I'm going to my son's for a cookout today otherwise, I would be on this immediately! 

Have a great day!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

My Magic Pencil Skirt - Post 1 - Preparation

This picture is actually lighter than the fabric but without the flash, you couldn't see the print. It's a bit more subtle than this would appear.

You can barely see the darker "stripes" but I'm wondering where to place them when cutting this out. I'm thinking if I place them so that the darker is on the outer part of the skirt that it would give the illusion of a smaller silhouette. What do you think?

The knit is actually a nice piece from Fabric Mart. It washes and dries nicely - and I can also drip dry the fabric and it looks as nice as drying it.

The first thing the directions has you do is measure your high hip - mine 39", your hip - mine 38" and your thighs - mine 36". That puts me into a size small. My goodness - I've not worn a size small in a few years. I knew there was a reason I liked her patterns! :)

I choose the natural waist because I have a little fluff above the waistline and it's not something I care to emphasize by using a high waist design.

Rut row Rodger! It has you lay the fabric with two folds and selvages in the middle. Wonder how this is going to work out considering this fabric?

To be honest, not so well! The fabric is very drapey and it's difficult to lay out. What to do? Remain flexible! I do have to say that I am more and more impressed with Fabric Mart. I've tried to lay out a few different fabrics that I ordered from them and they have sent me an extra 3/4 of a yard of fabric on two lengths that I ordered. Now I'm not one to waste fabric and with the difficulty of laying this out, I have to think this would make up better in an overlayer.

I just happened to have ordered a nice black ponte knit that I think will make a wonderful Magic Pencil Skirt.

Did I mention that I forgot to trace the size small? :)

To be continued!

A new sewing room for me! Yippee! LOL

My messy sewing area now!
This is my sewing area now and it's tight I'll tell ya! It's in my bedroom and I would guess the whole room isn't over 18 feet long. Probably 12 to 14 wide. By the time I get two bookshelves, a queen size bed, a large dresser, a bed side table and a cedar chest - you got it! Not hardly enough room to walk let alone sew! It's better than not having a place at all and I wasn't complaining but still...
I'm just looking at the poor serger LOL. I didn't want to take down the thread holders and I tried to cover it with the original plastic and a doily! I should have tidied up a a bit before snapping this pic but what the heck!
Over the next few months I'll be moving into a two bedroom apartment. It's absolutely lovely and I'm excited about many things but definitely having a sewing room takes the cake!

If I see my grandkids visit often, just maybe I would put a day bed in there - but I'll have to think about that! I'm chuckling - of course I would put one in there for them! They come first after all! On second thought, the couch might be comfortable, you just never know! :)

So, sewing, serging, pressing and cutting. Perhaps someday draping but that won't be until I get a dressform. Then I get to decide on decor! As you can see, right now it's a hodge podge of different colors. Whatever I decide on, I thought I could cover the containers in coordinating fabric, make a chair cover, paint the table and buy another one also then sew machine covers.

I absolutely love Tiffany blue, but also black and pink. More decisions but this will be the most fun!

Another personal revelation!

Many of you know I've been ill for quite a few years. I've had many tests done and nothing has shown up through the years until recently. I've spent quite a few weeks in the hospital this summer. When you've seen a lack of posting, I've been in the hospital. As a matter of fact, most of my summer I've spent either ill or recuperating. I also had quit smoking during this time because I was so scared.

My last trip was interesting. They've checked my thyroid before. Considering I'm a nurse, you would think I would have asked more questions but I was just too ill to be my own patient advocate. Finally I became so ill I couldn't shower or stand to wash more than one dish. Reluctantly again, I called the ambulance. My heart rate was between 40 and 50 and blood pressure was low. I couldn't think, stand nor even rest I was so uncomfortable with neck and chest pressure. I'm sure they thought nothing would show again and asked if I  would consider going into in-patient mental health. As uncomfortable as I was and considering nothing was showing up, of course I would. I desperately want to get well. I was transferred to that unit in short order. One psychiatrist was sure this was a somatic illness. Being a proponent of mind-body interaction, I tended to agree at that time. They started me on Abilify as an adjunct to Zoloft for depression.

After another battery of tests, they checked my TSH and found it to be abnormal. Within two days of taking synthroid, I was almost back to normal. Almost being the key word there. I still have problems with stamina although nothing like the previous months. In the meantime, I was taken over by another psychiatrist after my admitting psych went on vacation.

All the while, I was being worked up yet again physically and added to in-patient treatment it was quite a busy week. The new psychiatrist took me off Zoloft and tried a trial of Cymbalta. I so desperately wanted that drug to work! It would have taken care of every symptom I had I thought and so did my psych. All this time I was hopeful because of the synthroid but keeping in mind what the original psychiatrist had told me about  somatic illnesses.

I had researched Chronic Fatigue Syndrome when I first became ill six years ago - my goodness, it's been almost seven years now since I've worked. I used pacing and graded exercise therapy to rehab myself from spending a year and a half in bed to using a wheelchair. After another year, I could walk short distances and it increased from there until late last winter when I had another crash. It was almost as bad as the original one.

When you're inpatient mental health, you have a meeting with the people who are taking care of you. Social workers, nurses, activities and your psychiatrist meet to tell you your diagnosis and plan of care.

I started talking of somatic illnesses. He said he wasn't sure that was it and asked me if I had ever heard of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Of course I had! I still can't believe I have someone who doesn't believe this is all in my head. I knew in the beginning it wasn't but as time went on, it seemed possible to me.

Instead, I have my ideas confirmed. Sure, I have been depressed. Who wouldn't be after going from a vital, energetic person to someone who could barely walk all within the course of a month? I also have some anxiety that I didn't have before this all happened. I know when I am stressed, I get worse and when I have emotional upheaval it's even worse.

I'm now on sybthroid, Abilify, and Effexor XR and I can walk, am doing my dishes, colored my hair, am cleaning my apartment and know what else?

I have hope. First time in a long time.

I'm also making some major life changes - as if this wasn't enough! LOL But they will be good for me.

I want to publicly thank Mercy Memorial Health System in Monroe, Michigan, Dr. Koloff, Monroe Community Mental Health, all the nurses in the Emergency Department, the observation unit and In Patient Mental Health. I have no insurance but to them it didn't matter and they are the first hospital I've visited that took such care and did tests to find out what was wrong.

A big thank you. I swear I'll pay you back if it takes me the rest of my life - and it probably will!

Now what do I do with the fabric I've prewashed?

Style Arc's Marita Knit Dress












I love the lines of this dress and also love the leopard print fabric I bought from Fabric Mart. It's rather heavy but with very good drape and recovery. I thought it would be perfect for winter with black tights and boots. 

It would be nice if I had enough left over for a funnel neck top also from Style Arc. It mimics my favorite top that is made out of a tissue thin jersey with cap sleeves. My neck is short in proportion to the rest of my body and the funnel neck is the perfect alternative to a turtleneck for me. I could pair it with black pants or Pamela's Magic Pencil skirt. I could also sew it into a funnel neck top and their cardi for my own version of a sweater set. Separates would give me more options in my wardrobe but again, would that be too much leopard for me? 

I have camel crepe and stone colored gabardine that I was going to make into a skirt and pants respectively. With a black cardi, that would give me quite a few options with the items already in my wardrobe. 

A burnout fabric I bought from Fabric Mart that  would need a lining
I could make the Marita Knit Dress out of this black and white burnout also from Fabric Mart. It's beautiful fabric but I'm not sure that's what I'd like to do with it. I'd have to line the dress or wear a slip with it. The fabric would also be pretty being made into a top and cardi.

Did I mention that I've done quite a bit of shopping from Style Arc? Even considering the shipping costs, I felt it was worth it for the quality of the drafting, paper and styles. If I could, I would order more. Perhaps next month!

I'm still looking for one more overlayer pattern and am undecided. I like Silhouette Patterns but I would have to reduce the hips about 3" on each pattern. I'm not sure I'm up to that but considering the multi-size patterns it might not be too difficult. Have any of you done that? I'm not pear shaped, I'm more of a rectangle although if I keep eating, I may end up an apple.

Regardless, as soon as I finish my chores, I'm going to start either on a skirt or pants pattern. Might be better to start with the skirt! :)

Have a good day!







New inspiration and perhaps even a skirt or two!

I regularly read Stitcher's Guild and glean more than I give. Hopefully someday that will change but don't count on it anytime soon! I have so much to learn even though I'm not a beginning sewist in most terms.

I was reading "Sewing for Perfection" in a thread and something hit home. How can I actually gain experience and technique if I never start? I have been in awe of some of the clothes they turn out and am sure I won't be able to make anything comparable. Of course not! I don't have the experience with new fabrics and machines. I do have a basic understanding of sewing and in fact have sewn for most of my life on and off.

I prepared my fabric by washing it in a color setting which on my machine is warm water, permanent press cycle. I dried them on delicate and the fabric is nice. I'm amazed. I bought most of it at Fabric Mart sight unseen and I couldn't be more pleased.

I'll update this post with pictures and patterns when I figure out how to set the color value on my camera. Yea for me! LOL

Friday, August 17, 2012

Still Looking for Jacket or Overlayer Pattern

As I stated before, I need one more overlayer pattern. It's not easy to coordinate different patterns to work together when you consider length, proportion and style. I've had difficulty finding wardrobe patterns because I might like one piece but not the others. I've also found far fewer wardrobe patterns than in past years - what's up with that? :)

I'm considering K3841 from Kwik Sew:
K3841 from Kwik Sew

It appears it would be versatile and I like the idea that one jacket pattern could give so many different looks. I admire those who can take one pattern and change the look of it so it's not cookie cutter but I'm not there yet. I could make this in a sweater knit, fleece, wool or linen and each would give different looks, especially when combined with different neckline treatments.

Another factor to consider is that I'm planning on being more health conscious which includes losing weight. The recent patterns I've bought from Style Arc will be a problem because they aren't multi-sized. I want to purchase patterns that will see me through different sizes - I've gone up and down the scales my entire life, what would make me think my older years would be any different?

I'm sewing a SWAP and planning on minimizing my wardrobe. I need clothes for church as well as around the house and more dressy, shopping, appointment, outside the house clothes. My "around the house" clothes also includes the need for more versatile "sick-in-and-out-of-bed" clothes. At times I have difficulty walking because of a lack of strength and spend a good amount of time lying down. I don't want to look rumpled during those times.

I'm going to concentrate on black pencil skirts with tights and flats as my dressier, go to church pieces, easy-to-care for fabric for my Linda pants from Style Arc then various knit tops to layer with. The Abby cardi will be one of my overlayers then this jacket would be another overlayer.

What do you think of my plan? I'll be buying fabric at the beginning of the month and could use suggestions. Buying fabric on the net is difficult I've found and my stash is growing because fabric I've bought isn't suitable after all for what I've planned.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Can I Be Personal for a Moment?

The fact that everything is permanent in the blogosphere hopefully will work to my advantage in this instance. Perhaps if I tell you what I'm facing and my plans to overcome it, I'll not waver on my self control.

I had my first cigarette when I was fourteen years old. I was probably seventeen when I developed a habit I found difficult to overcome. When I was in my twenties I quit for three years and why I started again, I can't imagine.

I quit again three years ago for six months. I'll be 59 next month and I've smoked long enough. I can't help but think my stamina would increase if I quit again. There are so many reasons I want to quit with my health being just one of them. I have a very personal reason for quitting that I won't go into here but there are other reasons as well. I hate the smell in my hair, my clothes and my apartment. I hate the fact that my teeth aren't white. No matter how hard I try, cigarette ashes just sort of drift under my ashtray.

Not good.

It's 3:36 am here in southeastern Michigan, I can't sleep and have few cigarettes left. Decaf coffee is brewing and I'll drink my coffee and have my last cigarettes. I need to quit, I have to quit and I want to quit. Let's see if I still feel the same way in a few days when the most difficult part of withdrawal hits.

I'm considering spending the rest of my money so I can't buy more. Perhaps a few patterns or more fabric? Sounds like a good idea to me! LOL


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Received Fabric Mart Fabrics

Edited: I had a gentle reminder (on Communing with Fabric) that what you post is here...forever. Perhaps I'll do a little cleaning up on other areas of this site also. 

I'm at a loss. It's difficult to order fabrics online without that tactile sensation that I love! As much as I hate how RTW fits, I do like the fabrics they have access to. I like silky knits, baby soft cottons and drapey linens for lack of a better word.

It's so difficult to choose fabrics for patterns. Out of five fabrics that I received, I can see a purpose for one of them. I wouldn't say that I dislike the others, I just haven't found a garment for them yet.

Most of the fabric I've bought since returning to sewing is turning into stash. My first pieces were of a camel crepe, a stone colored something, a coral linen/rayon blend with the same fabric in off white, and now I've received these.

One is a tone on tone blue that I'm just not ready to tackle yet. I would have to match the stripes which would be okay if this were not a slinky type fabric. Can't imagine that yet! The fabric pictured is a knit that doesn't stretch? Okay, maybe 5-10% stretch if that.

Two other pieces are in a pique knit. I know what that is now and again, it has very little stretch and also attracts lint like the devil.

I think I'm going to ramp up my buying by asking for advice from some of the better sources. Less purchases and better quality may be the answer.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Looking for an Overlayer or Jacket Pattern

I love the Style Arc Abbey pattern but it's so distinctive that I can't use it as my only overlayer. I've looked at all the big four, Style Arc, Cutting Line Designs, Silhouettes, Hot Patterns and others I can't remember. I'm not having any luck.

I'm not in need of a professional capsule any longer. What am I talking about? As a nurse I spent most of my time in scrubs but there was a need at times to look professional. That's no longer the case and I'm still redefining my style.

I've thought of a Chanel type jacket but I'm not up to that much detail at the moment. I love the look of some of the more artful jackets on others but I'm not there yet. I had a tendency to be a bit of a rebel or activist when I was younger and still admire the whole style that goes with that attitude. At that time you wouldn't have known it by looking at me - I was conservative in dress. I dare say I've mellowed since in attitude but now want to crank my style up a notch.

I keep coming back to this jacket for autumn or early winter:

Vogue 8430


I like the black one, complete with the design details. Unfortunately, the top of it comes over just a little too far for my taste. I wouldn't wear it open because my shoulders are wide in comparison to the rest of my body and I don't need to call more attention to them.

I like this one from The Sewing Workshop but am unsure of the fit and construction. Couldn't I work that out with a muslin?

Tribeca Shirt from The Sewing Workshop
The ones I've seen reviewed on Pattern Review doesn't really look like this. I may try it anyway after I do a little more research. I like the coverage in the hip area and it is casual with a little style thrown in for good measure. I'm thinking a wool blend.

Decisions, decisions, decisions!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

...and a little shopping I have done!

Style Arc has their new free pattern out for August. It's called the Ann T-top and I love it:


I ordered the Marita Jersey Dress to get this free pattern. They are a bit expensive but I'm planning on making them into TNT patterns. By the time you consider how many times you can make this up, it's cost per use is affordable.

There are still quite a few that I want from their website but I am on a budget and will have to order one or two per month.

I also recently ordered the Magic Pencil Skirt from Pamela's Patterns along with her tee. Can't have too many tee patterns, right? One of them is bound to be my TNT pattern.

I also ordered some fabrics from Fabric Mart during their sale. I have pics of some but not all:





I had nothing resembling an animal print in my little bit of stash. I also ordered black, brown and blue solid colors for bottoms. I didn't get a pic of the blue knit for another top or outer layer.

I ordered grey serger cones from an eBay source. I plan to use sewing thread for the seam stitches. One last purchase was Fray Block and I think I should be pretty well set except for interfacing and elastic.

I'll probably be eating beans and rice this month but it will be worth it!

Brother 1034d Serger Arrival from Amazon

I've never had a problem with anything from Amazon but I was amazed at the condition of this machine on arrival. The package arrived a few days late and after thinking about this, I believe there was a problem during shipment.

This is how the machine arrived after unpacking it:


Another view:



These aren't very good pictures but it's difficult to take pictures of thread. The threads are crossing over each other instead of lining up above the thread spools. I attempted to untangle a few spools and didn't think to take pictures until I had unwrapped a few threads but this is what remains after that failed attempt. At first, I didn't realize anything was wrong because I had never used a serger. After looking at my instruction book and following the thread path I knew something was up.

I'm not sure how it happened but I doubt it came from the factory this way. Nor can I imagine it could sew without breaking the thread yet under the presser foot was a sample sewn. Regardless, I had to rethread it before I could test that all was working correctly.




This is what it looks like threaded correctly. It didn't take over a half hour of reading and following the directions. I took pictures of the inside before unthreading it.

I didn't mention that the first thing I did was to oil the machine. It only tells you that on page 57 of the instructions - after it has you try a test sample. Interesting! After the first few minutes of confusion over the instructions to be honest, they aren't bad. If I could do this in just 30 minutes, others could probably do it faster. I hadn't slept the night before and I'm sure it would have been easier if I were well rested.

This is a sample of the first stitches:


Nice that it arrives with four different colors of thread. It makes the threading and stitches easier to recognize. This was sewn on a cotton/lycra jersey with the out of the box settings. Not bad, huh?

The next thing I did was to start documenting the fabric and settings in a notebook:


Sorry for the shadows but I have terrible lighting as I discovered when attempting to thread it. I'll have to get another general light for my sewing area. The machine's lighting is good for the stitch area but these older eyes need something more! BTW - the stitching along the lower edge was from my sewing machine while I was testing out a new stretch stitch. This was just a scrap of fabric.

I next labeled all the dials because I know I'll have trouble remembering which is which:



The illustrations on the machine are color coordinated and you can tell which thread belongs to each part of the serge. Helpful in tension adjustments. Did I say that right? Is there an actual word named "serge" as a nown rather than a verb? What would you call the collective group of stitches? I'm sure there is something proper, it just evades my memory at the moment.

I also labeled the areas for the width, length and differential:


I can't wait for my patterns from Style Arc to arrive and the fabric I ordered from Fabric Mart during their sale!