Monday, March 31, 2014

Vogue 8390

The weather is finally(!) starting to break and so I've started on my sunwear sewing, beginning with Vogue 8390.  I went with the halter version to wear with this green and fuchsia below-knee skirt that I bought in England a few years ago.   As there are already lots of reviews about this pattern on Pattern Review I will limit my comments to the changes I made.

Like many others I decided to leave out the full facings on the front - especially as I was using a ponte knit, I thought four thicknesses of fabric for a summer top would be like wearing a coat.

I noticed that many used a stretch band to finish the neckline.  Instead I folded over the seam allowanced and topstitched with a double needle.  I recommend using a walking foot for this part so as not to stretch out the fabric while sewing.  The IDT system on my Pfaff worked this beautifully.  I used the same method to turn the hems; fold under the seam allowances and topstitch with a double needle.  The secret to avoid tunneling with a double needle is to drop your tension a number or two.  Frankly I'm a little jealous that this top looks better on Gertrude than on me.

This pic shows the detail of the underside of where the strap attaches to the bodice with only one layer of fabric and the seam allowances sewn under. I'm pleased that it still looks neat and tidy.

The other change I made was to eliminate some of the "fluffy" or "frilly" bit from the bottom hem.  I noticed on virtually every pic of this top and on my version as well the bottom hemline seems too wide and tends to frill out.  I wanted it to lay smoothly as it does in the pattern drawings.  I resolved this by taking in the bottom 3 or 4 inches of the sideseams AFTER assembly (this pattern is way to convoluted for me to figure out any adjustments before assembly), from the gathers to the hemline.  I tapered it from zero to about an inch and a half from the original seam line.  Basically it just eliminates the last bit of taper on the side seam to make it come down straight.   I am happy with the results of this as it makes the front lay much smoother.

This side view shows the gathers at the side.  There are two sets - one for the bust and one for the crossband.  And as a reward for reading along this far, I'll let you in on a little (not so little) secret.  If you look very carefully you will see the giant enormous OMG mistake that I made.  Can you find it?

I sewed the back in backwards!  DOH!  That zigzag seam you can see is the backside of the double row of stitching that you are supposed to see as well as the raw edge of the fabric.  Clearly I continued sewing after I should have packed it in for the night.  I didn't even notice it until the top was finished! I contemplated taking it all apart and doing it over but thought A) that in real life it is barely visible and B) that this top probably won't get a whole lot of wear anyway.  What do you think - would you take the time to take it all apart?

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Phoebe's First Project

Well Phoebe has finished her first project. This is New Look 6098. From past experience with New Look patterns I made it one size smaller than what my measurements called for and it is just right size-wise.  I'm still not sold on the kimono sleeves but they are so easy to sew and are very comfortable so they are growing on me.  I love the length of this top - I find it figure-flattering.  And I have shoes to match - who knew!

I had a heck of a time with the hem - it took three times to get it right.  First I serged the edge and then tried to sew a 1 1/2" hem with a double needle.  There is too much flare in the skirt for that deep of a hem and all I did was make a huge mess that had to be picked out.  So next try I folded the serged edge under and did a 3/4" double fold hem, again with the double needle.  This was too much bulk and therefore too stiff for the very soft drapey (is that a word?  Spellcheck says no) knit fabric.  I contemplated using the faux coverstitch but the sample also seemed too stiff for this drapey of a top.  So third time is a charm, right?  I just went and sewed a 5/8" seam with the double needle (great stretch with that!) with no serging and no folding underneath to eliminate any bulk from the hem.  Then I trimmed the extra off with my rotary cutter.  Brave?  Maybe but more likely I was just fed up! lol  Now the top hangs like it should instead of flaring out at the sides.  Whew!

I knew from reading other reviews of this pattern that the neckline is low-cut so although it is hard to see in the above pics I am wearing a camisole under it.

This was also the first time I really used Gertrude for fitting. That is also a learning curve but she is definitely making that job easier.  Now that Phoebe is here I really feel like I'm getting my act together.  I just need lots of practice to improve skills and techniques.  Good thing I've been acquiring stash like it's the zombie apocalypse!

Phoebe's Here!

Yay! Technically she was here two days ago but I haven't had a chance to take some pics until now. So far I have been test driving her with a thin knit fabric I am using to make New Look 6098. This fabric is a pain in the butt to work with because it is a bit slippery but Phoebe is handling it like a pro. As I'm still learning to sew with knits I'm at the low end of the learning curve and had to quit last night when things weren't going so well with the bottom hem. I did the sleeve hems by serging the edges and then using a double needle to turn a 5/8" hem. There were no skipped stitches like I had when Betty did this hem and the stitching was nice and even. Then when I went to do the bottom hem I wasn't really thinking it through. There is an 1 1/2" hem and I tried doing it the same way as the sleeves. This is too deep of a hem to absorb all the curve because the top is quite flared and I just made a big mess that had to be picked out. I'll get back on it tonight folding the hem in for a double 3/4" hem. That is what I have done previously with good results so I'm not sure where my head was at this time. Or maybe I should try a blind hem. I also have another New Look 6735 cut out in the same fabric and I want to try the faux coverlock stitch on that one. The sample piece I tried looks really nice.

There has been some discussion on Pattern Review about the difference between the Ambition 1.5 and the 2.0. The dealer had said that the 2.0 has more stitches and a bigger motor. I have tried to find specs for the motor but there is nothing in the manual. I don't think anything on this plate refers to the motor but I'm not going to open her up to peek inside in case that voids the warranty. I would have been happy with the 1.5 (which is what I originally bought) so if this is a better motor then all the better and if not I'm sure I'll still be very happy with her. I'll know more about whether she has adequate power for my needs once I try my hand at making jeans.

And Mallory says the sleeve roll mom made me makes a great pillow. She likes to live dangerously that girl.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

More Pfaff Video

The countdown is on - Phebe's should be here in the next week or two. Had another call from my dealer the other day just to touch base. Ivana at the Sewing Superstore in London has been such a pleasure to deal with. So to pass some time I found another Pfaff video...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Finally - Signs of Life for the 2.0

While I'm still impatiently waiting for Phoebe to get here, Lynn Rowe from Pattern Review found a link for the new Pfaff. There is a youtube video for it as well. So now, for your viewing pleasure, may I present the Pfaff Ambition 2.0!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Queen Has Chosen

When Jeff is not here Mallory tends to sleep on his side of the bed. Then there is always a problem of cat fur all over his pillow and sheets. Holly prefers the foot of the bed so is not so much of a problem. So in an effort to keep harmony in the house I decided Mallory needs a cat bed to sleep in on the bed. I have a store-bought bed that she lays in next to me on the couch which is the one on the right. The problem is the hole in the middle is too small for her and she ends up half in and half out. So of course I decided to make one.

I used the safari fabric I used to make Sergio's cover for the base and I had scraps of animal print fleece to use for the top and sides. I sandwiched a layer of quilt batting between the base and top and stuffed the sides with craft batting/stuffing. First I basted the quilt sandwich together and then I basted one edge of the sides to it. In hindsight I could have done that in one step rather than two but I was making this up as I went. I then added the stuffing and serged all the layers together.

Although it's not obvious in the pics the base is about 4" bigger in diameter than the original bed. The sides tend to roll into the middle on mine whereas they seem to stay centered on the store-bought one. I'm wondering if this has something to do with the serging. I could try topstitching the seam towards the centre to see if it will work better, but I think the size is ok as it is. I had made the sides smaller to make for a bigger hole. The whole thing is very soft and squishy and should reflect back her body heat.

After all that there is no guarantee that she will even like it. I sat her in it and she immediately got out and walked away. I was ready to write off the whole project when I turned around and saw this.

And then this. Clearly the Queen has chosen.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Renovations

Just a quick post to announce that the home renovations are done and life can get back to normal! Wheee!

I have to say that I've got some amazing family that made this project turn out beautifully.  And it was a short project (three weeks), so I didn't have to go through months of home invasion like when I had my kitchen gutted and remodeled or added the sunroom.

This time around it was just having the nasty carpet removed from the hallway and stairs and having new flooring put down there as well as in the living room.  Then I had all new moldings (white - moving into the 21st century!) and doors and a fresh coat of paint on the walls.

My brother-in-law and my step-son sourced the materials for me from their suppliers (they are both in the home renovation business) and my nephew took on the project for me.  I couldn't be happier with the final results.  I'm especially happy with what he did with the stairs.  Everything looks modern and with pets this will be easier to keep clean.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Phoebe Get's a New Desk

No, the new Pfaff isn't here yet.  But I've been wresting with what to do for my sewing space.  First I had converted the closet in my dressing room (Steve's old room) into a sewing space by installing a countertop at desk height.  It worked ok for shorter sewing sessions but it was a little cramped for longer sessions and was a bit of a pain moving the machines back and forth between sewing and serging.  Then I moved the sewing into Danielle's old room where I could have the tv on and used a 2' x 4' folding table.  The setup was working but the table did tend to vibrate and bounce around a lot when running Sergio.  I've been checking every day to see what's out there with the thought of buying an old desk and working with that - I needed something with some weight.  Then I finally decided to quit being such a cheap b@stard and buy the desk I want!  I'm tired of trying one thing after another and not being happy with it, so I wanted to get it right.

Please ignore the colour of the walls in these pics, I'll be painting a nice soft sage green come the spring - dark blue was my dear daughter's thing when she had possession of the room.  This second pic is of the narrower wing of the table to show how much room (depth) you have to sew.  I wanted to go with an L-shaped desk because I could see myself sewing away on Phoebe and then swivelling in my swivelly office chair (that I still need to buy) to serge away on Sergio.  To be honest I didn't think there was any way I could fit it in the spare bedroom that I am using as a sewing room because of the queen bed in there (not to mention the great big treadmill that I'm doing a really good job of ignoring) but my wonderful partner said of course I could if I moved the chest of drawers that the tv stood on and put the tv on the corner of the desk.  He really pushed me to get what I want.  I think he's scathingly brilliant, don't you?  If the cords look really thick to you that's because every piece of exposed wire in my house has to be covered in sheathing to protect it from becoming kitty chew toys.  That saga will be a post in itself. Also, it's hard to see but the red book under the tv is my Wonderwoman notebook - because sometimes sewing needs a superhero!

I also finally got rid of the coffee can table risers for the 6' folding table I am using as my cutting table and made new risers out of pvc piping.  They are very sturdy.  I tried to put wheels in the ends but version 1.0 (involving foam wrap stuffed in the ends around the wheel swivel pins) crashed and burned.  I was going to try version 2.0 with doweling inside the pvc with drilled holes for the wheel pins but that would have to wait until the snow melts for me to get Sally out of the garage so I can get to my tools.  The pvc legs are working fine in the meantime and I may just leave well enough alone.  The table slides easily across the floor and doesn't leave any scratches or marks.  Although the table is the same height as it was on the coffee cans it is 3" shorter than I planned (I'm 5'7" and wanted it a little higher) because I accounted for the size of the wheels when I cut them.  If I decide to stick with leaving the wheels off I can always just cut 4 new longer ones as I have lots of stock left.

Incidentally that's my knitting machine hiding behind the table.  And it's not your imagination, you ARE being watched.  That's my eyeball jammie fabric in the wheelie cart.  Ok Phebes, we're ready for you!

Monday, February 03, 2014

New Machine Update

My dealer spoke with Pfaff last week and was told the 2.0's will be in North America for distribution the first week of March. Apparently my name is at the top of the list.  I feel like a little kid waiting for Santa lol

There is a very indepth review that does a comparison between the Ambition line and the Expression line. When I was test driving the Ambition at the store I asked the dealer what the difference is between the two lines and one of the things was the Expression line has a bigger motor. The review linked above discusses how well both lines deal with a heavy load such as six layers of denim without missing stitches, although the Ambition made more noise about it.

With the 2.0 having a bigger motor I wonder if it then puts it closer to the Expression line. Obviously there are other differences such as having a wider bed and doing extra tricks but as I am (at least for now) simply a garment sewer I LOVE the idea of a bigger motor to tackle denim and corduroy jeans. The fact that other reviews have mentioned it is a good basic quilting machine also will mean that I won't need to upgrade right away if I decide to go down that road. I've had my current Betty for more than 25 years so I am super excited. I think I've found a really good fit AND some really good luck.

So of course I have been stockpiling fabric and patterns in anticipation of the new baby's arrival.  I am still trying to decide whether to MacGyver a set-in sewing machine cabinet out of a table or a desk or whether to buy the extension table in anticipation of future quilting or even just to tackle the blinds for the sunroom.  I just called the dealer to ask about it and she said that she had already spoken with Pfaff about how long I have been waiting and how nice I have been about it, and can they throw in an extension table at no extra charge.  Pfaff agreed.  Have I mentioned how much I heart this dealer?  lol Woohoo!  I guess that means more $$ for fabric! 

But I can't blame the lack of sewing progress entirely on the machine situation.  I have been having renovations done in my house for the last few weeks and my sewing room is off limits.  In an act of desperation I brought the serger downstairs last week to try my hand at rolled hems on some napkins.  I am so pleased with how they turned out!  My fingers are crossed that I get the sewing room back by next weekend.  One can only hope.

Friday, January 17, 2014

It's Alive! It's Alive!

You may remember my Rosie tee that I tried to frankenstitch last month. Well I picked up the sad remains again last week and literally had it wadded up holding it over the garbage pail when I had a change of heart. At first I thought maybe I could salvage a tank top out of it. There was not enough fabric left for sleeves or even to be long enough. It would be great if I were 30 years younger and could get away with a shorty top. Once I brought it back to the sewing room I had an epiphany - what if I could match a colour from the pic and make sleeves in that!

Off to the fabric store I went. I had my heart set on the yellow but couldn't find a good match in a solid when I ran across this yellow camo. It was perfect! I used New Look 6735 again and had literally just enough fabric for the bodice as long as I was ok with using the camo to get the length. There wasn't even anything to cut off on the sides in a couple of places as I laid out the pattern. This would have been so much easier if I had just used a pattern from the get-go rather than just pinning and serging at will as I originally did. Ah well - lesson learned.

I spent a crazy amount of time on this top, mainly because I am really trying to improve my techniques. I sewed and then serged the camo to the bottom. Then I was at a loss as to how to hem it to look appropriate. I tried using Sergio to do a blind hem, but it looked terrible. Then I unpicked that and tried using a test piece of fabric to try a blind hem with Betty. The generic blind hem foot I recently bought kept pushing the fabric just out of the way of the needle (not the adjustable part of the foot but the actual metal base) so that wasn't going to work either. I suppose I could have tried to carefully do a blind hem with a regular presser foot but frankly that didn't occur to me until today. So I decided to hand-hem the bottom and sleeves. This was a long process using a tiny catch stitch. This turned out to be a really good choice because it leaves me with a nice tidy hem with a lot of stretch and no popped stitches when I pull the top over my head.

The verdict? I've ended up with a one-of-a-kind tee that I will proudly wear again and again. One win for me!