Tulips and Tears

Tulip Pockets

When I could finally pull myself away from stitching random scraps on my new Featherweight, I settled down to start work on my cream capris. Same old pattern (Jalie 2908), hopefully a few new details.  I was SO excited to be able to thread the Featherweight up with topstitching thread and a) not have to re-thread every other seam and b) not have to jolly my Janome along (she will sew topstitching thread… with some careful finagling).

These pants are inspired by a couple of pairs of my kids’ jeans (kids’ jeans get the best little touches!), with piping and what, for lack of a better term, I’ll call tulip pockets. Using some of my japonesque-print fabric for the piping and pocket lining.

While I maintain that the idea is sound, the execution could use a little tweaking. In particular there’s three layers of denim and four layers of cotton at the bottom of the pockets, making folding and topstitching a little, ah, haphazard. I may have to go back and redo some of the topstitching. Bleh. That’s what I get for trying to cram everything in to an evening.

Three pocket pieces

Anyway, aside from the piping, I used three pieces for the pockets—well, two pattern pieces. The overall shape is based on the shield-shaped pocket I used in the bellbottoms; I traced it off, drew in the curve to make a half-piece, and used a slightly shortened version of the original piece for the backing. I was originally going to just overlap the two “petal” pieces and topstitch them together, as in the inspiration pants, but unlike my children I tend to actually stick stuff in my back pockets, and I wanted to make sure it would stay there, so I added the third piece (rightmost in the photo). Really I should just have used a tiny triangle to fill in the top of the tulip a bit, but the full backing piece was really nice for getting the overlap of the tulips (sorta) symmetrical. I say sorta because I think I inverted two of the pieces by accident when I was piping so the curves aren’t identical. Fortunately, I was able to make the two slightly asymmetrical pockets mirror each other, so it worked out.

Stitch in the ditch

I stitched in the ditch at the edge of the piping to attach the various pocket pieces together, using washable glue-stick to hold things in place. I used the adjustable zipper-foot on my Janome set up as a straight-stitch foot (with the needle going down the middle), so I could see the “ditch” to stitch in it. This helps a lot. Although the feed-dogs on the Janome are definitely not well-positioned for use with a foot this narrow when it’s centred.

Swapping machines during the same project is a new experience to me (the serger doesn’t count, that’s an entirely different beast). The Featherweight is so slow (actually a good thing, especially for topstitching!) and quiet, the Janome is much louder and sews much faster. Also it’s taking some adjusting to remember which hand to use to raise the presser foot. As a lefty, I loved the back position of the presser-foot lever on the Grand Old Dame, and it took quite a while when I got the Janome to get used to lifting the presser foot with my right hand, as the lever is tucked on the inside under the harp. Now, of course, it feels weird to use my left again. You can of course reach under the harp and lift the back lever with your right, but my battered inner lefty is determined not to give in to the right-dominated world in this one small thing (I already use scissors and a computer mouse with my right hand, dammit)


I also made little cuffs for the bottom of the jeans, lined with the japonesque fabric, and hopefully they will look cute turned up or down. I picked the pink topstitching thread as it matched some of the pink in the print, but I’m wondering now (of course, too late) if the somewhat darker blue I was also considering would’ve been better (to make the piping seem a little less stark.)

You can see in the very first photo that I piped the outer seam on the leg. This took some deep breathing on my part, as that’s the place I like to twiddle with the fit, which varies from pair to pair based on the stretch of the fabric. With piping, there is no fit twiddling. But it seems to have worked out, anyway.

My poor baby!

Readers, I have sinned. It has been… two days since my last confession, I guess. Tragedy struck while I was topstitching the fly with the Featherweight. I very carefully marked my curve so I would miss the bottom of the zipper underneath. In my (not undeserved) paranoia, I even hand-cranked through that area. Then, being safely past the bottom of the zip, I went to finish the last inch of the topstitching and—I broke the needle. My guess is I was pulling on the fabric and pulled it off centre with the needle in it, hitting the edge of the needle plate instead of its nice little hole. And after I replaced the needle, it wouldn’t stitch! Or, it’ll stitch once or twice, and then skip five, and then catch one… and… and…

I have a feeling I’m going to be stalking the Featherweight forums this weekend.

Forgive me, Sewing Gods! I have damaged my beautiful, new, vintage machine.

In penance, I shall do five pieces of mending and one full unselfish garment.

I guess that’s one upside of new machines. I wouldn’t be nearly so distressed if I had screwed up my Janome. Of course, I’ve broken probably a dozen needles in her in the exact same way. She puts up with my crap marvelously. Obviously I need to be a little more careful of the Featherweight. She is even older than my mother, after all.

And to make things worse, I have to finish the pants ALL on the Janome.

I’m going to go cry now. And put some belt-loops on the capris.

But mostly cry.



Filed under Sewing

34 responses to “Tulips and Tears

  1. #1. LOVE that piping & the tulip pockets!!! Seriously, maybe I need to look more closely at kids’ clothes for inspiration 😉
    #2. Are you done crying now? I know how it feels, believe me, but your Feather is probably just fine (did you see my response to you post at my blog?) Have you oiled her at all yet? Even if it was serviced fairly recently, a good oiling after it’s been sitting for awhile is a good thing.
    #3. Don’t forget that these puppies have been used & abused for, in some cases, over a hundred years, and they’re still sewing! You & yours will be fine, honest!

    • Yes, I saw your wonderful answer to my plea! I was a good girl and did oil her, at all the points in the manual (which I downloaded and printed out 🙂 ) on Sunday when I first really got a chance to play with her. The bobbin housing LOOKS fine (as in, just the same as it did before. Next step is taking off the needle plate, I think?

  2. Oh no, hope you get her going soon! I have no handy advice but I’m sure someone will pipe up soon. Maybe check the needle is inserted right? I know the machine my sister and I learnt to sew on has a ton of burrs in the base plate, and it still goes!
    Nice details on the jeans – the cuffs sound cool!

    • Yeah, I’ve screwed things up with the needle before. But I’ve had it in or out (a couple different needles) several times now. I’ll be really mad at myself if that’s all it turns out to be, though… 😉

  3. So sorry about your machine, good luck getting it fixed. I think your pockets look great and you don’t need to redo anything.

  4. Don’t cry! Your tulip pockets look beautiful. And as my cousin always says, “Sometimes old things get tired.” So let the Featherweight rest for a day or so, clean everything that can be cleaned out, oil, change needle, try again?

    Every once in a while they do go out of whack. I seem to remember that the tension requires a screwdriver to adjust — have you tried that?

    • The bobbin tension requires a screwdriver. The upper thread has a fairly normal dial. I’ve twiddled with both, but no improvement, so I’ve put them back to where they were before I messed it up. 😦
      *breath* *breath*

      Thanks re. the pockets! 🙂

  5. I’m about to embark on sewing my first pair of jeans and have been following your blog for tips. I couldn’t even imagine being able to sew piping as you have on these. It looks fabulous!

    • Oh, good luck! Give me a shout if you have any questions :). I love making my own jeans, but it is a bit of a roller-coaster (and i am often convinced nothing’s going to work right up until the moment I can button them on.)

  6. Tenshi

    I hope you get the Featherweight in running order again very soon! I bet she’s taken more abuse in her life already than what you can throw at her now, so I’M sure she’ll be fine. These machines are made to be sturdy, aren’t they?

    And wow, these pockets look a-mah-zing! I love the piping, too. Such a creative, wonderful touch.

  7. WOW! you are definitely having some sewing machine adventures. Thanks for the sewing machine lesson, I didn’t know what a featherweight was and now I do! I love the tulip pockets… I am currently completing a refashion with some jeans and might just have to have a go at the tulip pockets. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Nice work on the pockets. And poo re: your machine 😦
    As said above I’m sure she’ll recover and you’ll regret saying”In penance, I shall do five pieces of mending and one full unselfish garment.” LOL!

    • The mending… we’ll see.

      As for the unselfish garment, well, a friend of mine has a commission (and even paid me!) so really I’d be doing that anyway ;).

      • Nice one :)! Mind you I bet you’ll be even more worried about getting it “just so” when it’s a paid for item destined for someone else, as opposed to making for yourself (I know there’s stuff for me I’d not like if it went a bit squiffy – but could live with, but when it’s for other people I’d be more paranoid that they’ll like everything I’ve done!!)

  9. Being relatively new to sewing garments I only managed to understand 50% of what you were saying but I think the pockets look very sweet. Hope your machine is well on the way to recovery now x

  10. Your work is just beautiful and so creative! I love your pockets and the japonesque print just adds that extra *wow* factor. I’m sorry for your broken needle, but don’t be distressed! I learned to sew on a Singer treadle that was probably 100 yrs old when I first used it as a 9 yr old. You can imagine the abuse it took, and it was still happily sewing along when my aunt inherited it (I moved across the continent and couldn’t bring it with me). Your Singer is probably in heaven because it’s actually SEWING again instead of languishing in storage.

    • I hope so! It seems like such a minor thing to have made such a big problem… /sigh.

      My Grandma is hoarding not one but two family treadles… she’s lucky I’m not living closer to home these days…

  11. Love the tulip pockets!!! I hope your new featherweight gets better quick!!!

  12. Oh dear, tears are a much worse sign than profanity. The upside is that those old machines are tough and I’m sure it will work again soon. I bet you put a little nick on the bobbin case and the top thread is catching on it. Maybe a smoothing out with emory cloth would fix it ?? Good luck !

  13. As sewists I think we’re such DIY people that it’s extra frustrating when we can’t figure out how to fix things ourselves! Especially when sewing machine service is so expensive. I hope it turns out to be an easy and inexpensive fix!

    • thank you! Me, too. There’s so much info on the Featherweights out there, I’m hoping once i have a chance to really have a go at it I’ll be able to figure it out. At least nothing’s obviously broken or frozen.

  14. Love the tulip pockets! And piping on jeans, amazing 🙂

    I often have a sewing machine issue that resolves itself overnight :p If checking needle position, etc, doesn’t work you might have knocked the timing out, depends how hard the needle breaking ‘thunk’ was. That wasn’t hard to fix on my 66, probably similar on a 221.

    • That’s good to know. I didn’t think it was a terribly hard thunk… but the stitching is SO not happening now. 😦

      I wish I could take credit for either of the ideas, but like I said, stolen from kids’ jeans…

  15. Oh, that sucks! I’m sure you’ll get it straightened out and working in no time. The tulip pockets are genius!

    • Thanks! I’m thinking if I perfect them (so that there’s not five layers of fabric making it impossible to stitch neatly!) I’ll throw up a tutorial and pattern. If people are interested, anyway 🙂

  16. I love the creativity on your jeans! I can’t wait to see them on you. I’m just starting to make jeans and love seeing what you come up with.

  17. Those tulip pockets are just totally gorgeous!! Love the piping, and the orange topstitching. These capris are going to be a knockout!

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  19. flurg. i left a comment on your first tragedy and my internet went out.

    i should’ve circled the needle threading in red!!! i’ve done that so many times and thought i’d ruined the machine. but also, the needle orientation is different, the flat side of the needle faces to the left and not the back; and the direction of the bobbin thread is crazy important too. you might want to triple check those.

    and your bobbin case; is that the original case? i think it should say “simanco” on it if it is. mine had a knock off case on it and the timing or tension or whatever didn’t quite fit the machine, which caused stitching problems. i found out that the original bobbin cases are coveted, they run 40-70 bucks, and featherweight owners will often take their bobbin case out of the machine if they’re walking away from it in public. scandalous.

    there’s an amazing yahoo group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/wefixit/
    and they will surely have the answer. just, whatever you do, don’t cross post, a lot of them belong to various yahoo sewing groups and they HATE that. i said “hello” on two groups at once and it was like i started WW3.

  20. Rethread the FW with regular thread according to the manual and check to make sure the needle is in right. The needle threads different too than other machines. I really don’t think you could have knocked out the timing. I had problems when I first got mine because I threaded the needle the wrong direction. Also, check the bobbin that it’s threaded correctly too. I should get mine out and play with it. Good luck!

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  22. Joyce

    I know this is far after the fact and you have gotten her up and going…but just remember NFL….needle flat left. There is a wonderful featherweight yahoo group and I have been embarked with a wealth of knowledge from it.

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