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.


  1. Wow! That is one beautiful machine! Congrats on that acquisition! And I love it that your hubby bought you pins - adorable!

  2. I have a machine that was given to me and I have to take it for it to be service so that I can use it. It is a beautiful color as well. I can't wait to use it.

  3. Do you still have the lavender beauty? I bought one not long ago and have had trouble fining information. I am also in the Houston area.

    1. Quite possibly the one you bought is the one I had! I did a clean-out over Christmas, and finally accepted that I did not need, and could not use 11 sewing machines. (Plus, I found my perfect machine -- a Juki TL-2010.) So I donated it to a store/sewing studio in Katy (they also bought a couple of my Singers, but weren't really interested in other makes). I figured they'd be better able to find it a good home than I -- sounds like they have!

      I don't know much about this machine either. The only other photo I found was taken by the guy I bought it from maybe 10 years ago. He said he had purchased that one for his wife ... but it didn't catch her fancy after all. He sold me the lavender one and a blue 99 clone for something like $40 apiece.

      I had it serviced at McDougal's maybe five years ago, and they couldn't tell me anything about it either. Most folks aren't too interested in the Japanese re-badged machines, which is a shame.