Thursday, January 20, 2011

When the sewing gets tough, the tough go shopping

Sewing progress has been slow the past few weeks, though I'm hoping for a burst of productivity this weekend.  I do have a dress meandering along, but I have made so many bone-headed mistakes it'll be a miracle if the thing's wearable.  I think it's karmic punishment for saying that I hardly ever have to rip out stitches anymore a few posts back ... yep, it's "my words sandwich" time!

Anyhow, while I was busy not sewing, I did some shopping.   Quilt Home lured me in with a 25 percent off coupon for some new shirting-weight fabrics designed by Patty Young.   I love it when designers of quilting prints allow their work to grace apparel-weight fabric, and I hope it starts to happen more.

Here they be, three yard cuts straight out of the packaging.  They hardly look like fabric when they're so perfectly smooth. Putting them in the washer fixed that -- yep, they're 100 percent cotton, not that there was any doubt.

I also finally took a deep breath, gritted my teeth, and bought an iron.   I've wanted a new iron for a long time, but there is no type of appliance on earth that gets more dismal reviews.   It seems that the average lifespan of a modern iron is around two months, at which point they spit rust on fabrics, or begin shutting off on a whim.  I actually bought a Rowenta iron about two years ago, and after two months, it kacked and I went back to the no-frills Proctor Silex iron my parents sent me off to college with 20 years ago.  (Actually, it has one frill: you can attach the cord on either the left or the right, which is nice for us lefties.) That iron had a pretty cushy life up until I started sewing, but I don't think it was made for the use it sees these days.  The steam feature died over a decade ago, but the reservoir was so tiny it hardly mattered.  It's easier to use a spray bottle.  However, I've noticed that it now takes the heat setting as more of a gentle suggestion.   It's still well-versed in super hot and barely warm, but those subtle distinctions in between are lost on it.

After sighing over the reviews, I ended up buying an iron made, strangely enough, by Singer.  It was around $50, from Amazon.  The beast arrived yesterday.  I haven't had a chance to give it a whirl yet, but here's a side-by-side glamour shot:

Night shot, from the camera phone, but you get the idea.  My old iron is the little whippersnapper on the left.  Only 1000 watts -- the new guy is 1700 watts.   Now that will really be able to put the meltdown on unsuspecting synthetics!   I know, I know, with great power comes great responsibility.  And, unfortunately, the auto-off feature.

In other shopping news, I also went on what my husband termed a "shoe rampage".  No incriminating photographic evidence to share, but if you're interested, Zappo's has a bunch of Clarks (my favorite shoe brand these days -- Indigo by Clarks in particular) on sale, and I left a couple of pairs for the rest of you.


  1. I have an iron (also an off-to-college gift), but I mostly sew at my mom's (she has the big sewing table and the Singer that I like best) and we're still using the iron that she must have had in college. I'm not kidding. No automatic shut-off or anything, of course; we always unplug it when we're not using it, just in case.

    You wouldn't think that an appliance with so few moving parts would croak so easily.

  2. Hi from another lefty! :) I'm on the look out for an iron, I'm going to look into the Singer version. Thanks!

  3. I admit I have the same iron that my mom sent me off to college with... in 1995. It's what I presume is a pretty straight-forward Sunbeam. The handle that holds the water cracked a number of years back and I taped it with packaging tape. It's still, apparently, going strong!

    How do you like those Patty Young fabrics? I have had several bookmarked for blouses for awhile, and I was planning to do a little fabric shopping later today and get a few. I'm having a struggle matching my love of cute and fun patterns with lightweight fabric so these seemed perfect.

  4. It does seem like at some point, iron technology took a giant leap backward.

    Tasha -- I haven't sewn with any of my Patty Young fabrics, so I can't give a full evaluation, but the fabric seems to be similar in drape to regular quilting fabric, which I was kind of disappointed to find. I was hoping for something more like the Anna Maria Horner voile (which is really more of a lawn). I think I'll really need to sew with it to understand how it behaves, though. I think it would definitely work for a structured blouse, like a traditional button-down, but not for a more feminine style that needed some drape.