Tag Archives: vintage

ZOMG Score!

Or, possibly, just a serious failure of judgment.

This is a first. Apparently this past weekend’s taunting envelope was actually a harbinger of things to come, rather than a cruel jest of the universe. Good things. I forgot the kids have no dance classes this week, so since we were already in the car we just had to stop by our friendly neighbourhood thrift store.

&*(&#&$&#!!!

Holy vintage patterns, Batman!

The only question is whether this means I need to go back every day this week and stalk the pattern shelf…

Yes, you saw it. There on the right, there.

Simplicity 2681. The very same pattern that taunted me with its empty envelope condition on the weekend.

Simplicity 2681 from 1958

I feel the need to emphasize, this is *not* the same pattern envelope with pattern magically restored. It is a size 14 (34″ bust), not a size 12 like the envelope-only teaser was. Not to mention the envelope’s considerably more beat-up. I’m going to suggest a new scenario: Mme X, circa 1958 (the year the pattern came out according to Vintage Pattern Wiki), picked up a pattern in her old size, 12. However, due to a slight weight gain, the pattern didn’t fit. In a desperate attempt to alter the pattern, she managed only to butcher it completely (you know we’ve all done it 😉 ) and finally, in defeat, goes out and buys the same pattern in a larger size.

I’m not sure why she held onto the original envelope, but, well, I’d be happy to hear your theories. 🙂

I like this

My fave is this Butterick sundress, though. Aside from the age old blousy-top issue. I really need to come up with a simple, fitted midriff-band-thingy I can add to patterns like these to make them wearable for me.

Simplicity 3400, from 1950

I’m also really loving the neat detail on this 1950 Simplicity blouse.

Lapse in judgment, you’re saying? What on earth are you talking about, you’re saying?

Well, look what else I got:

Oops...

I will point out, my youngest child will be nine in a few months. The largest of these patterns is a size 6 (and she’s tiny but she’s not that tiny. And, they’re so not her style). In my defense I do have littler nieces and my peers are finally moving into their reproductive phase (I’ve only been waiting for them to catch up for a decade or so), so there are likely to be plenty of other opportunities to sew for small people…

Hmm, yeah, sounds kind of hollow to me, too. But they’re soooo cute!

And, well, Strawberry Shortcake. I couldn’t resist. Be happy I didn’t bring home any of the Cabbage Patch doll clothing patterns. I know my mom still has my Cabbage Patch Kid in the basement somewhere…

Of course, then there’s the one, seriously unforgiveable splurge that I would have to agonize over if it had cost more than 49 cents.:

McCall's 4778

Now, that’s a dress that makes me want to forgive the 80s (even though it came out in 1990). It’s got a lot of features I like—princess seaming, sweetheart neckline, dropped-waist with the full skirt. It wouldn’t even be so unforgiveable a purchase, except, if you look, it’s a size-freakin-8. And I’m pretty sure it’s not drafted with typical 80s ease ;). My only hope is that Tyo will want something like it for her gr. 8 grad or something.

Yeah, not so likely.

Oh, and there were books.

Books!!

I could’ve bought at least three or four more, but I was trying to be restrained. And maybe find things that aren’t just a rehash of information I have elsewhere. And if you buy four you get the fifth one free.

So what do you think? Do I need to go back tomorrow?

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Another Thank You

Box!

Ok, this one’s been a LONG time coming.

You see, way back before Christmas, Bernie, a friend of my mom’s (my mom is my blog pimp) stopped by the blog and left me a comment that her mother had  a bunch of patterns she no longer wanted, and would I be interested.

Um.

Hell yeah?

Of course, what with distances and things like that, it made the most sense for her to drop them off at my mom’s. I picked them up over Christmas, and got—well, a little more than I bargained for. 🙂

Magazines

Aside from the patterns (we’ll get to those), there was a bag of fabric—an assortment of wool tartans, one partially assembled into a kilt) and a bunch of 80s sewing magazines—too new to really feel vintage, but too old to just chuck. Hmm.

Patterns!

The vast majority of the patterns were 80s, as well, and a fair number aren’t in my size range. But, in amidst the dross, there were gems, oh yes. (oh, and do click to see the full-size photo below)

The gems

Isn’t this a cute 50s shirtdress (top right)? Classic. It’s the right size, too—the only issue is that that blousy top and gathered skirt absolutely don’t work on my figure. /sigh. And yes, there’s several simple full-ish skirts in there (one of them twice, now that I look closer… *headdesk*) The Vogue wardrobe pattern (bottom right) I mostly like for the cap-sleeve blouse, by the way. Erm, yeah, basically identical to McCall’s 6288.

But the kicker, oh yes, the one that made my heart go pit-a-pat, was Simplicity 7376. Yeah, I’m a sucker for a sleek 70s suit jacket, but there’s a bit of extra back-story here. I found this exact same Simplicity pattern at Value Village back in the fall, and fell totally in love—and then was crushed to realize it was in a size 20. I nearly bought it anyway, just to look at. But this is so much better—it’s a size 14, a little larger than my usual 12, but much more manageable than the 20!

So thank you very much, Bernie—because that pattern alone totally made my day!

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Experimental design

A finished project for me!

OMG SHE MADE SOMETHING FOR HERSELF!

… okay, now that we’ve got that out of our systems…

I MADE SOMETHING FOR MYSELF!

Erm.

Vintage Patterns

So you may recall that I somewhat wantonly purchased a couple of 50s patterns from New Vintage Lady just before Christmas—a cute dress and a blouse that could’ve been Sencha’s grandmother. Both really adorable, and both a size or two too small.

Well, I was feeling experimental on the weekend (and in the mood for something quick that would use up scrap fabric), and somehow in the digging through of fabric and patterns I settled on this combo: Using the McCall’s 6288 (from 1945, the year my father was born) in combination with the scanty fabric remains from my Birthday Dress.

Despite the size 12 (30″ bust) of my copy of the pattern (I’m more a 14-16 in the old sizing), pattern-measurement suggested there would be enough ease in the bust and even in the waist, especially if I omitted the little tucks from the waist. So, feeling bold, I traced off the pattern and set to.

The best styling (click to see full size)

Careful pattern placement, and a certain amount of fudging, allowed me to fit both sides of the shirt on the .5m or so of actual full-width fabric I had left. I will confess, I did something I have not done, I think, EVER—I fudged the grain-line on the back piece so it would fit. I’m hoping that the fact that it’s a small blouse means the off-grain thing won’t be too noticeable—I certainly don’t notice it, but I’m sure the sewing gods are glaring down in disapproval. In hindsight, I could’ve pieced the fold-over portion of the rear button placket in from the huge LONG, THIN piece of the leftover fabric, but anyway. What’s done is done.

I opted not to be stingy with the interfacing, using it on the neck facings and the rear button placket. Not least because I think it’s a really nice way to finish facings. This is the trick that went ’round the blogosphere a while back, where you stitch interfacing and facings right sides together (right side of the interfacing being the non-fusible side) along the outside edge of the facing, and then flip and fuse them. The seam encloses and finishes the facing edge nicely. This is white Armo-weft, by the way, which is far and away my favourite interfacing—lightweight, fuses well, doesn’t shrink or bubble. I mean, there’s probably better out there, but it’s the best I’ve found from what I have available locally. You do need to use a press-cloth, even though I try to pretend you don’t.

Interfacing

Anyway, at this point I had to break for the night, and took the instructions upstairs to read over before bedtime. Erm. Me being me, they promptly evaporated, and I was left to wing the rest of the construction. A bit of a bummer since half the interest of making up a *really vintage* pattern like this is checking out the instructions. They have since resurfaced, actually just as I sat down to write this post, on the computer desk where they were hiding under my daughter’s laptop. Grr.

So, without benefit of instructions, I set to the next morning, starting with stitching the shoulders (french seam) and then the neck facings into place. I even remembered to stitch the ties in place! Of course, no sooner did I have  everything nicely understitched, but I flipped it around and discovered a) my neck-facing was showing on the outside of my back button placket rather than being sandwiched between the two folded layers (leaving an unsightly raw and flapping edge) and b) the neck was WAY too tight.

Which, I guess, was a good thing, because it motivated me to fix problem (a) before re-stitching.

Interior

I lowered the neckline by a good 1.5 cm all around, which has brought it to the point of being just-barely-wearable, although it also means that there’s not much left of my facing.

I then decided I would do french seams on the side-seams, which was also not my brightest moment ever, since they don’t play at all well with the way the sleeve is supposed to be finished. It doesn’t really show when wearing, since the fudge is all tucked in the armpit, but it’s definitely not smooth and sleek. You can see it clearly on the interior photo.

Buttonliness

I made the buttonholes using my Greist buttonholer on the White, since I wanted to try the buttonholer on a machine with drop-able feed dogs. I must admit I feel a bit daft using a buttonholer on a zig-zag machine, but anyway. The White is really growing on me as a machine—I wasn’t initially thrilled, but it’s a sturdy workhorse. It took a few samples to get the tension and stitch-width right, but once I had that figured out it made my buttonholes quickly and fairly neatly. It’s the first time I’ve used the buttonholer on such a light-weight material, and it made for a rather different experience. They’re not all perfect, especially the fifth one which I added after and of course messed up, but they’re in and functional. Incidentally, the pattern calls for four buttonholes; the location of the fifth, now that I have the instructions in front of me, calls for a snap, presumably because that would be more comfortable than a button under a waistband.

The pattern also calls for small shoulder-pads. I don’t really mind skipping those. I think I look about as square-shouldered as the envelope girls without them, thanks.

More styling

So, verdict?

Well, it fits remarkably well. The bust is a wee bit tight (especially over a padded bra) but not as bad as I had feared—a pinch test suggests there’s just under 2″ of ease, which is pretty minimal for the bust. The waist fits well, although it would be more interesting with the tucks. The darts are a smidgeon high (like maybe 1 cm) but really not bad at all.

I really wasn’t sold when I first tried it on, but after throwing it together with over half my wardrobe in a shotgun approach to styling, I think it’s growing on me. I really like it with the shrug, I think because I like the brighter colour contrast near my face. The mix of colours in the blouse kinda blends into my skin tone from a distance. I also think it might be great in a more drapy fabric—crepe or rayon or (ulp) silk. For most of my wardrobe needs it’s also a bit short. You’ll notice one way you don’t see it styled here—tucked in. I tried, honestly—with my circle skirts and my Kasia skirt. It almost worked with the Kasia, but the colours are wrong. And, well. Blouses. I have Blouse Issues.

So, all in all, it was a fun experiment. Will I wear it? I’m not convinced—but I’m not quite as skeptical as I was a few days ago, so there may be hope. Especially with my cream capris and the vintage shrug.

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Score(?)

Before I get distracted with anything else, thank you all SO much for your very kind words about our poor fish. They helped a lot, each and every one. Thank you.

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Hudson's Bay point blanket

Erm. So, I had thought my weekly thrifting-as-time-killer was a relatively harmless pastime. I mean, aside from the occasional sewing-machine acquisition. Most weeks I might spend $10, often nothing at all.

Well, this last one blew my streak.  I was being so good, too! No sewing books tempted me. The fabric section had been thoroughly re-stocked for the first time in months, but there was nothing I needed. I walked away from two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles curtain-flounce thingies as they were $4 apiece for really not very much fabric. (I gotta say, a TMNT bedsheet dress would be da bomb)

And then, on a whim, I wandered through the blanket section. I don’t usually spend much time in there, if only because it’s always full of fluffy fuzzies and hand-made quilts I’m going to want to take home if I look at, despite not actually liking patchwork very much.

And then I saw red.

Wool.

Felted.

Could it be?

I pulled it open, heart beating quickly. That weight, of heavy wool, scratchy, boiled, and felted. There it was—the wide, black stripe. And where—yes, there were the points, four narrow black lines, and right below them, the label.

I had found a genuine Husdon’s Bay Company point blanket.

Points and label

For those of you for whom what I just wrote is complete gibberish, here’s the Cliff Notes. (I’ve also touched on this topic before.) The Hudson’s Bay Company was originally a fur-trading company, founded in the late 1600s, that traded across much of the territory that is now Canada. Trading posts were the front-line of European colonization, long before anyone was farming out west; and, perhaps unusually in colonial history, the native people actually had something the Europeans wanted other than land—skilled hunters and trappers, they could produce fur, especially beaver, which was in huge demand in the European hat trade. My own husband is Métis, a group descended primarily from white fur traders who married native women during their long deployments for the fur-trade companies. Since the late 1700s, one of their signature products has been the point blanket, so-named for the black bars woven into one edge, which denote the size of the blanket (my four-point blanket is a standard double size; more points=bigger). These points were important in the weaving process, since the blankets are boiled and felted after weaving, which considerably changes the size. The blankets are top quality and very thick—almost 1cm thick. Aside from their use as blankets, one of the most popular things to do with a point blanket was to make it into a coat. At some point during their transition from fur-trade company to modern deparment store, HBC hit on the idea of manufacturing their own blanket coats.

Label closeup

Which brings in my own personal connection. Early in their marriage, my father bought my mother a professionally-manufactured Hudson’s Bay blanket coat. Which I presume left my mom tickled pink, as one of her favourite jobs at that time had been excavating Fort Carlton, an HBC fur-trading post in Saskatchwan which burnt to the ground in the late 1800s. However, it was a dress-coat, and she never wore it very much, saving it for best.

I wish I had a better picture of this coat...

Unfortunately for her (and the coat), I had no such qualms when I got my hands on it as a teenager. I wore the crap out of that coat. I wore it until it cried uncle. I wore out (and patched!) the lining. I ripped the armpits. All of which might have been fixable, but my backpacks have worn the fabric so thin in the back that it’s probably beyond saving. I’m sorry, Mom. I loved that coat. Even though it was shapeless with a waist belt (not a good look for me) and the sleeves were too short (like every other storebought coat I’ve ever owned). It was the direct inspiration for my Czarina Coat.

So, it was only natural that, when I began sewing, I should price out some Hudson’s Bay blankets, just, y’know, for someday.

Ulp.

Um.

Let’s just say the price for a new HBC blanket is, um, a LOTTA beaver pelts.

Which brings me back to my thrift store moment. My heart sank as I fumbled for the price-tag. Value Village may be a thrift store, but they know what they can charge for the good stuff, and there’s no way they’d missed how good this was. Sure enough, $69.99.

WAY more than I was planning to spend that night.

But still about a quarter of the price new.

So now I have an HBC blanket, in my favourite red and black colours.

All I need now is the perfect pattern…

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Some presents for myself…

New Pretties

I know, but if I don’t buy them, who will? (Osiris is not noted for his adherence to any Christmas list but the one inside his own head.)

So I splurged a bit in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Although not enough ahead of time to have anything arrive in time to stuff in my stocking…

Anyway, I am now the proud owner of:

The Colette Sewing Handbook, the Negroni men’s shirt pattern, and the Clover pants.

AND,

Vintage Patterns

McCall 6288, a kimono-sleeve blouse pattern from 1945, and “Progressive Farmer” 2953, a 1950s dress from a mail-order pattern company. Both of these were ordered on a whim from New Vintage Lady‘s etsy shop. Both are a size 12; unfortunately it’s the “old sizing” size 12, which is the one where I’m a 14 or 16. These are made for a 30″ bust. My ribcage (underbust) is 29″. Happy grading fun.

McCall 6288 could be the Colette Sencha’s grandmother. It’s a cute, simple blouse pattern with an optional keyhole cutout and tucks at the waist, buttoning up the back. It’s also designed to be tucked in, which is an iffy look for me. We’ll see how that goes. I have a feeling I’ll be dropping the waist tucks… that also strikes me as an iffy look for me. Nothing like pushing your comfort barrier ;). Sherry of Pattern Scissors Cloth recently posted about finding “your decade” style-wise. And let’s face it, pretty as it is, 50s isn’t mine.

The mail-order pattern is a dress, with a neat front yoke/sleeve thingy going on and a yoke below the waist that creates a nice dropped-waist line. There is a waist-seam, but seeing as I’m going to be grading to make any use out of these, I can try to eliminate it at the same time. Depends on what the darts are doing (and how much I need to reduce them), anyway.

Wasteful? Possibly. Whimsical? Definitely. The only thing I’m in any real danger of making up in the near future is the Clover pants, for which I already have some fabric picked out. There are plans for the Negroni, too, of course, but not until I’ve recovered from the Hubs’ Jacket. Which I finally have the pattern all done. Yup, that’s right, it’s not even cut out. (In my defense, the pattern work—I’m following Sherry’s RTW Tailoring sewalong posts from last spring—is fairly substantial, as was the fitting.). But I think I’ll try to jump on the Clovers first. I was going through my projects the other day and realized the only things I’ve made for myself all fall are knit tops. Quick, satisfying, practical, and useful? Absolutely. But it’s definitely time for something a little more… more. Y’know.

Now, I must hunt down posts about the Clovers for those of us with a more rectangular shape…

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Splurge

Not so vintage...

While visiting my mom post-Xmas we traipsed down to the trusty local Mennonite thrift shop. I just happened to be wearing the dress from Simplicity 6023 , made from fabric purchased at this same store during my last visit.

I was good about the fabrics—there was nothing screamingly spectacular. It helped that it was New Year’s Eve and they were closing early so I only had half an hour; just time enough for a good rummage through the chest of patterns.

I was not so good about the patterns.

Moreso vintage

I must now pause at this moment to say a sincere thank you to Darlene Ratzlaff (or her heirs), as nine or so of the sixteen patterns I nabbed bear her name (click through to see the full size). Whether or not she is any relation to my high school drama teacher of the same surname, she had good taste in patterns (and was close to my size). The Ratzlaff Collection all date from the latest 60s to mid 70s. I think my fave is the Style 3060 with the Wednesday Addams look in the middle.

Jalie Potpourri

My mom, (who, as I have mentioned before, is a bit of an enabler) had some other goodies to contribute: she was gracious enough to lend me several Jalie patterns: the famous twist-neck and sweetheart-neckline patterns, a really cute jacket, and the slit-neck sweatery thing. I really like the jacket pattern. Because, y’know, I need another jacket project…

Patternmaking in 1908

She had also acquired several vintage sewing books which I have absconded with, and which we shall have to discuss more as I have the leisure to peruse them adequately (how’s that for some excessive verbiage?). The niftiest, perhaps, is a 1908 book on pattern drafting. Sadly the curves and rulers that originally accompanied it (kit price $5) have long since wandered away. Still, pretty neat. I am really curious to find out how it compares with the “Modern block” method of Harriet Pepin and all the more recent pattern-drafting books I’ve read. Unlike some of the other early 1900s sewing books I’ve found online, this one has illustrations, which means I may actually have some idea what they’re talking about.

Butterick Sewing

There’s also a Butterick sewing book, of 50s vintage, which I shall have to compare and contrast with the 70s Simplicity one I nabbed a while back. /sigh. I’m so behind on my sewing-related reading. Someday, over the thesis…

Tailoring

My favourite, though, is the blue-covered book simply titled “Tailoring”. It claims to want to be “an advanced tailoring text that even a beginner can use”, and from my reading of the first few chapters it’s doing a pretty good job. It’s got a REALLY comprehensive section on pattern measurement and ease calculations, too, including a chart I will have to scan and upload…

Oh, and I suppose I should be doing some kind of New Year wrap up/retrospective, but I don’t really feel like it. Maybe if I’m bored later this week, or sometime in the next month when I have nothing actually sewn. I’d rather spend what precious free time I have actually sewing, though. Speaking of which, coming soon: machine darning! (It may be a sign of sewing withdrawal that this was actually really, really fun.)

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My mother is many things…

Not least of which is an enabler.

"New" Pfaff 360

Thank you, Mom. Merry Christmas.

This is a Pfaff 360. Some time in the 60s, it was a top of the line embroidery machine—that little colourful wheel thingy gives you the settings for the various stitches. My mom bought hers in the early 70s, second-hand, for about $250; this is still what a lot of them go for, from some quick googling. It’s the machine I learned on,  and measure every other machine against.

When I saw the case with the ribbon tied to the handle, I nearly had a heart attack, and had to open it up right away and check the attachments to make sure it wasn’t her machine. Fortunately, no. This is the machine a friend of my mom’s has been sitting on, but not actually using, for a while now.

This one has had a bit of a rougher life than my mom’s, I think. It’s a bit dinged up and the automatic threader is missing (not that I even knew it had one before Mom mentioned it.) The tension is giving me a bit of grief, although I think it’s just a little sticky and probably needs cleaning. I already messed around with some free motion satin-stitch embroidery and it sucked considerably less than I thought it would.

Every sewing machine feels a little different to “drive”, y’know? Some are zippy and light, some are sluggish, some are powerful. The Pfaff 360 isn’t as fast as my new Janome (or, for that matter, the old Army Machine, which when it’s going, goes like crazy), but it’s solid, powerful, and can chew through anything you can fit under the presser foot. And most importantly, it feels right.

The accessory box isn’t as extensive as my mom’s, (and in fact is missing some key pieces, like a zipper foot) but it does have a few that were missing from my collection—there’s a funny little keel that fits over the regular zigzag foot to work as a stitch-in-the-ditch foot and a buttonhole-measuring foot that had me thoroughly puzzled until Mom told me what it was. And it’s another low-shank machine, so the bits should be interchangeable with everyone else except the Army Machine.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I’m thoroughly overflowing with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, so I’m off to bed. Have a great night!

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All Machines All the Time (Part 2)

Domestic. Army.

(I promise more sewing posts, fewer machine posts, in the future!)

The Domestic Special—AKA the Army Machine

In breaking news, she sews! Yay! And my gawd, what a beautiful stitch it is, too. Nothing like the wannabe zig-zag of the White*. And fast. The only limit to the power is that the motor turns a rubber wheel which turns the flywheel, and this rubber wheel is old and hard and a bit worn down, so sometimes you need to give the flywheel a nudge to get it started. Presumably it’s possible to replace the little rubber wheel at some point. (Incidentally, the belt on my Featherweight slips similarly, so it should be adjusted or possibly replaced as well. Someday when I’m a little more secure about this vintage machine thing ;).)

Fortunately, she uses a standard needle, that goes in sideways, exactly the same as my Featherweight.

Except that the Featherweight threads right to left, and this one threads left to right. Which was a bit of a WTF moment, but we got past it.

In terms of functionality, it’s similar to the Featherweight. There’s a lever for the stitch-length/reverse, just like on the Featherweight (this one’s very stiff, though. I need to figure out if it’s possible to oil it.) The tension/threading apparatus is quite different, though—it has a lever, too, and there’s no disc to wrap it around. I figured it out, though! The system of threading is fairly sketchy—there’s a lot of places the thread is kinda left to do its own thing, and it rubs against the case of the machine in a number of places. On the other hand, the up-and-down-arm-part (the manual calls this the take-up) has a hole with a covered slot you can kind of floss the thread into, rather than just a plain hole like most vintage machines (of my acquaintance, which is admittedly limited). (My new Janome has kind of a slot in this as well, but the way the slot opens occasionally the thread slips out of it which can be a pain in the butt.)

I want to thank both Peter and Claire for suggestions of manuals and comparable machines. I actually tracked down a teensy bit of information about Domestic sewing machines here, and they have three different manuals. This is the one closest to my machine, although I think it’s a slightly newer (or perhaps just more expensive) version than mine as it has a tension dial rather than lever, and a slightly more advanced-looking stitch length mechanism. There’s no date on the manual, but the font looks sort of 50s to me (I know, so precise). I’m guessing late 40s or 50s for this machine—I’d be surprised if it was as late as 60s (but then, they were still making Featherweights through the 60s). Vintage aficionados care to weigh in?

Also, just because I’m obsessive that way, here’s more photos (in no particular order) of the various feet and attachments than you can shake a stick at. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Fortunately, most of these are covered in the manual…

*Toodling around on the yahoo wefixit group led me to this post about sewing machine stitch formation, which basically advocates stitch acceptance. I still think something’s up with the White, though, as the stitch is WAY more zig-looking than my other machines, even with the straight-stitch needle plate in place. That being said, it does a mean zigzag, so I’m not really complaining.

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All Machines All The Time!!! (Part 1)

Are you bored yet?

All shined up

Sorry to witter on (I LOVE that word, it’s not part of my native vocabularly but I am totally stealing it) about my new/old machines. I’ll get back to the actual, y’know, making stuff pretty soon.

With its very own bobbin case!

I swung by Sewing World a day or two after I brought the White home, and they did indeed have the kind of bobbin case I needed. For the low, low price of $14. Yup, half again what I paid for the bloody machine, and two to three times the online prices (although those would’ve had shipping added on. Thanks to everyone who made suggestions!). But it was in my paws instantly (as opposed to some random time in the next month) and supports my local sewing stores, yadda yadda. The manual is available for a download for another $10, which I may get around to shelling out at some point.

Anyway, with bobbin in hand I sat down to give her a basic clean. I’m no JillyBe with the full sewing-machine spa, although I wish I was. I just pulled the machine off her base, took toothbrush and kleenex and cleaned out the dust, broken needle bits, pins, and chunk of waistband elastic that were inhabiting it. Then I set to de-fuzzing all the bits of machinery I could easily reach. There was a moderate amount of lint, but not terrifyingly so (I’m sure my Janome was worse off when I took her in for her tune-up last summer). I oiled the moving bits—the previous owner(s) seems to have been fairly heavy on the oil, so there’s a fair bit of sticky residue, but that’s probably better than the alternative, right? More fuzz came out when I swapped the needle-plates to try out the straight-stitch, so I now feel like I have a pretty well-cleaned, well-oiled machine. That and a bit of judicious adjustment of the bobbin tension, and the stitches have improved to the point where the straight and plain zig-zags are almost as good as my Janome’s, although the straight stitch still has a bit of zig or twist to it or something, even using the straight-stitch plate. This is why people love their straight-stitch machines, folks.

Stitches and zigzags and buttonholes, oh my!

While playing with the various fancy stitches and figuring out how to do a 4-step buttonhole (not so hard as I’d feared, especially on plain cotton 😉 ), I determined that the main issue she has is that the reverse stitches aren’t the same length as the forward stitches. The reverse (left) leg of the buttonhole is a long, loose zig-zag if I let the feed dogs do as they will, while the forward leg makes a perfect satin-stitch. (My Janome has a similar issue, although not this extreme) In a buttonhole you can compensate for that by man-handling your fabric, but it also affects the neatness of the fancy stitches. I’m not sure if this is something a tune-up would fix (I’m not super keen to give my $10 machine a $100 tune-up…) or if it’s just something I have to live with. Further sleuthing around the sewing-machine-repair sites/groups may be in order.

The feet that came with her are fairly basic—straight stitch, narrow hemmer, standard zig-zagger, wide-toed zig-zagger. There is this adjustable zipper foot with quilting guide (I’m as confused as you)

zipper foot with quilting guide

And this teensy little guy. I thought it was some kind of quilting foot, but the plastic bit on the bottom is textured and makes it really hard for fabric to move underneath it, so I’m kinda at a loss about how it should work.

Weird little foot

bottom of weird little foot

So that’s where she stands, folks. I’m going to be trying my hand at (ulp) applique again fairly shortly here, and I think I’ll use this machine as the zig-zags seem a little nicer than my Janome’s.

I'm scared. Are you?

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Yup, I officially have a problem

Look what followed me home...

Hello, my name is Tanit-Isis, and I have a thrift-store sewing machine problem. I made it one whole week without buying a machine.

The evil masterminds at Value Village had this out to tempt me. What really put it over the top is the little box of accessories—hemmers! binders! RUFFLERS! not shown in the picture because it was in my hot little hands waiting to be pawed through. Also, it has its bobbin-case and everything in place.

Wish me luck. The motor runs and things go up and down, but I’m not convinced I can even thread this one. I’ve found threading diagrams for older Domestic models but none exactly like this.

Tyo has dubbed it the “Army Sewing Machine,” and despite giving me well-deserved crap when I showed it to her, spent the rest of the evening opening it up and cleaning it out. Perhaps I can train her to be my very own personal sewing machine mechanic?

I got a new bobbin case for the White, as well. I’ll give an update on her pretty soon.

This has to stop. Now.

Unless a nearly-new, fully-functional serger or coverstitch shows up, anyway…

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