Saturday, October 27, 2012

The 90s called ...

I think the 1990s may be looking for my latest finished garment!   I loved this kind of floral rayon skirt back then, so I am happy to steal this style from back in the day and give it another whirl.

There's not much to say about this one.  it uses the waistband I've been using for my "new moon" skirts, which was originally nabbed from a Burda pattern.  The skirt pieces are a revision of vintage Butterick 6075 (the pattern I used for the dinosaur dress in the last post), including the pockets I stole from a third pattern ... I can't even remember which one!

The floral rayon challis is from Fabric Mart a month or so back, and the skirt is lined with a Bemberg rayon that I got from JoAnn's.  Usually I get my Bemberg from High Fashion Fabrics, but it's a bit of a hike these days, and I was surprised to find that the stuff at JoAnn's is not quite the same -- it's a bit heavier, and for this project at least that's not a bad thing.  The waistband is just some cotton scraps -- not super happy with this combo with the fashion fabric but I couldn't dig out something I like better without a ton of effort so I settled for what was easy to get at.   My sewing stuff is still half packed away, as we are still figuring out how we want things in the new house.

As sewing projects go, this skirt is not so exciting (though the Husband votes it one of his favorites ... he liked the 90s too).    What was a little bit more interesting for me about this skirt is the machine I sewed it on -- a 1950s Japanese-made Dressmaker machine I've had for a few years but haven't been able to use because it needed service to be used safely.   But guess what -- my new 'hood comes complete with a place that fixes sewing machines, so I am cycling my little collection through and getting them all up and running.   I plan to sew each of my upcoming projects with a different machine, and share a few notes on how they compare.

So, without further ado ... welcome the lovely lavender Dressmaker!!

Ain't it a beauty?   This is a straight-stitch "15 clone", which is to say a knock-off of the Singer 15-91.  In reality, these machines can differ quite a bit, both in appearance and mechanical specs.  There are seemingly infinite numbers of 15 clones out there, and lots of old Dressmakers, but I haven't seen another one quite like this!  I love the color, and the overall design.   The machine is not in pristine condition, but it has the kinds of marks that come from regular use, and I think it was loved by someone in the past.  I bought it from a guy here in Houston who was downsizing his sewing machine collection.  Mostly he had Singers (and a ton of Featherweights!) but I had my eye on his two Japanese machines, and bought them both for a very reasonable price.

Now that it's all tuned up this machine was a blast to use!  I was surprised at how effortless it was to control my stitching when I went over seams and multiple layers of fabric.  This machine has a 1.0 amp motor (my usual machine, a four year old Janome 4900QC, has a .5 amp motor) and its metal gears give it more piercing power for sure, but I didn't expect to notice such a difference when I was just sewing rayon challis. What was most amazing was that I put in the best zipper I have ever done, without even having a proper zipper foot!

I thought I would miss my Janome's needle down button, and I did a little at first, but I quickly got used to just rotating the hand wheel to position the needle where I wanted.  I do still have a little trouble controlling things when I go in reverse on this machine, but I think I can master that with just a little more practice.   This machine also lacks seam allowance markings on the face place:  I could easily order a replacement plate with markings, but I found that the edge of the screw was at exactly 5/8 inch, so I didn't have much of a problem.   When I wanted to make an inch deep seam at the hem, I just put down a piece of Scotch tape on the plate to guide me.

I look forward to using the Dressmaker again ... but next I'll be trying out another vintage machine, this one more recently acquired.  Stay tuned!

Before I go, I'd like to share one more change in my sewing room.  The new house has carpet in my sewing area ... suffice it to say, you cannot hear a pin drop.   Like most husbands, mine is not a fan of finding pins with his feet, so he picked out some new pincushion bling for me, as seen here.  I'm actually finding I like the big flat plastic heads (and they show up better on the carpet).   The one drawback is that I can't pin as close to the edge of a pattern piece, or the big head will interfere with cutting.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dinosaur dress

I turned 40 last week.  One of those big "ending-in-zero" birthdays one tends to over-think.  I decided to make a dinosaur dress instead.   I've had this fabric in my stash since dinosaurs walked the earth  I started back to sewing four years ago.  I bought it at Joann's -- quilting cotton, nothing fancy, but it amuses me.  And I am not the only sewist to go for the dino-camo!

I used Butterick 6075 for the fourth time. (Also used here, here and here.  And I think the first one is still my favorite.)  It seems if I really like a dress pattern I make it four times.  This is ... the fourth time I've done that. What do you know.  (The others were Butterick 6074, Butterick 6149, and Serendipity Studios Claire Cami dress, not that there's a pop quiz at the end of this or anything.)

So, goofy dinosaur-dress:

This version's a bit more fitted, and the neckline a bit more scooped out.  Since I have made this four freaking times it came out pretty much like I wanted it to.  It's lined with Bemberg rayon.  I would have preferred a more yellow-based green but I already had this on hand.  

Now, about the hat.  It's a birthday surprise from my husband -- all cute and vintage-y, yet a darned practical sun hat as well!  It's fun to wear and hides the fact that my hair's pretty much never styled.   I may just wear it in all my finished garment photos from now on. Also: this hat makes me feel like Raiden from Mortal Kombat.  I'm not sure why because Raiden's hat is pretty much totally different.  


Anyhow, yay hat!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cambie #2

OK, so in my last post I said I'd show you my other Cambie soon.  Let it be known,  I suck at "soon".   This one I cut out in late June or early July in the old house and finally assembled a month or so ago in the new digs.   It just needed a few fit tweaks to address things that bugged me in the first one.  I think the a-line skirt is more flattering than the fuller skirt on me too.

Heh, awkward-pose.

I think this dress is perfectly suited for a very subdued luau!  The fabric is cotton sateen from JoAnns.

I expect I'll be making this again at some point -- I'd like a solid-colored version.  Probably I'll move the shoulder straps in a smidge next time.  My bra straps are covered, but only barely!  Otherwise, the fit is good enough for me.  Changes from the original version include adding bodice length, and a little extra room at the waist.  I also did the straight-across neckline variation instead of the sweetheart neckline.

The lining is cotton batiste.  Et voila, the insides.  Sorries for the wrinkles and the bad lighting.

And finally, a happy dog shot.  I like photos of me and my dog far more than photos of just me, even when they don't show my sewing efforts to particularly good advantage.  Though perhaps you can tell that there's not much gapping at the neckline even though I am leaning forward, which is a Good Thing.  Also, you probably figured it out already, but my dog is amazing!

In other irrelevant news, we put out our Halloween decorations!  We kept it low-key because that seems to be what the neighbors are doing.  We are new, we want to fit in.  :)   I've actually had the skelemingos for years with nowhere to put them.  Hooray for finally having a yard!  (Next step ... have something growing in the flower beds instead of just mulch, lol.)