Monday, May 26, 2014

Mrs. Williams' triumphant return

We're all rained in here on this holiday Monday (Memorial Day in the US) -- prefect day for sewing, and that's what I'm up today.   I finished up a dress yesterday (Emery #7) and am currently working on a skirt that I hope to be wearing to work next week.    But today's topic is not those sewing projects, but rather what sewed them.  That would be the Mrs. Williams referenced in the title of this post.  Here she is:

... also a sneak peek at Emery #7
Mrs. Williams is a 1947 Singer Featherweight gifted to me by my Aunt Dora while I was visiting over the Thanksgiving holidays.   (Aunt Dora has about as many vintage sewing machines as I do, but used her formidable "thrifting fu" to acquire her lovely collection for a fraction of what I've paid.)   Mrs. Williams was one of three featherweights in my aunt's collection -- they all have names taken from their previous owners.  This is how we know Mrs. Williams' name:

A service tag, from The Singer Company in the Cumberland Mall in Atlanta.  Wikipedia tells me that the Cumberland Mall opened in 1973, but no luck finding out when Singer was a tenant there.  Since the other information wasn't filled in, it's anyone's guess when the service took place or what was done.

I sewed a few projects with Mrs. Williams around Christmas time, after doing some basic cleaning and oiling, but it became clear that she had some thread stuck under the bobbin case:  periodically the thread would get snarled up and I'd have to stop and pull everything out.   Also, while the tension was "good enough" I couldn't seem to get the perfect balance.   Other than these things, Mrs. Williams was working pretty well, but I decided to get her serviced, rather than try figure out how to fix these issues myself (chicken).  However, I dragged my feet on actually taking her in -- my local service center will work on anything, new or old, but their turnaround time is at least a month.   Even though I have other machines to use (9 of them ...) I hate to leave my machines at the shop for that long.

A "before" shot that attempts to show off her pretty faceplate.
Then I noticed an ad in our local newspaper (as I was putting it in the bottom of the birdcage lol) for "Kimberly's Junk in the Trunk",  a local antiques store specializing in vintage Singer sewing machines, both sales and repair.  I checked the place out the next time I had a chance, and ended up bringing Mrs. Williams back there for service.  They told me the turn-around time is usually two weeks, but they had her ready in one.   And not only did they fix and clean every aspect of the machine (and provided a detailed list of everything that was done ... it was a lot!),  they also cleaned and polished the case, and fixed the original screwdriver that was with the machine (it was bent).   Now I am glad that I was too chicken to take things apart myself: no way would I have done this good a job.

It's nice to have Mrs. Williams back home and in tip-top shape, because she's become one of my favorite sewing machines.  Definitely different to sew with than my modern Janome, or even my 70s Kenmore 1931, which I also use a lot.  Someday I'm going to have to work up a big spreadsheet comparing my collection and what they're like to sew with ... but I wonder, is much of sewing machine enjoyment subjective?

I also gave away my Kenmore 1320 last weekend, to someone who is just getting started with sewing.   So, one machine in, one out, and hopefully good sewing karma for everyone!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

California Houses Pacific Moon

Couldn't resist making another Pacific Moon!  Since the doubled fabric experiment seems to have been a success, I wanted to try it with a quilting fabric.  Because if that works ... the door to whole universes of fabric possibility have been officially thrown open and who knows what might happen.

schmeebot liked the "Mod Houses" fabric I used for Emery #4, and I had barely a yard left over, enough to make a PacMoon and not much else.  I had to cut the pocket back pieces upside down, but the thing got done.  Pattern matching was out of the question, but I think it looks okay.  The print is also slightly off-grain, but that's not too noticeable either.  

To make the skirt the heavier weight that schmee prefers for hiking, I put a layer of white Kona cotton underneath.  Apparently the two fabrics together form a formidable opponent, because it made my serger cry like a little baby.  And by that, I mean both needles broke instantly and the blade couldn't cut it.  (To be fair, I have not changed my blade in ... well, ever. Maybe it's time?)  I ended up finishing the edges with zig-zag stitch on the regular machine, which is clearly made of sterner stuff than the serger since it had no complaints whatsoever.

I associate this style of house with California, perhaps because they look so darn good with the landscape.  Also, schmee is a structural engineer.  So clearly this fabric needed to be a Pacific Moon.  Anyhow, long story short (since this is PacMoon #26, after all) I really like the way this came out.   

On an unrelated note, the jasmine on my backyard fence is blooming and it smells awesome.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Emery #4: Deer Dreaming

Still no photos taken of Emery #2 ... it's deep undercover on a secret mission and cannot be recalled.   Uh, or maybe it's in my closet, but kind of wrinkled and I'm not in the mood for press and photograph it.  Not when I could be sewing Emery #7 instead!

Meanwhile, here is Emery the fourth, which is a rather psychedelic number featuring deer.  The fabric is "Oh Deer!" by MoMo.

The fit of this one is the same as for Emery #3, Mod Houses, but somehow this one looks a bit loose in the lower bodice.  It is actually, if anything, slightly tighter, and I'm not sure I want form-fitting anyhow:  I like taking deep breaths, eating, etc.    Perhaps the problem is that the front bodice is slightly too long?

Check out my awesome totally accidental pattern matching on the back.  I cut the back bodice pieces along the selvedges and it just worked out.  Hooray blind chance.  Too bad that in real life it will always be under a cardigan!

I promised (threatened?) to list the modifications I made to the bodice pieces.  (I used the skirt from another pattern.)  Here goes:

  • Increased bodice length 1 1/4"
  • Doubled width of back upper darts, and made them about 1/2" longer
  • Made the front and back lower bodice darts 1/4" longer
  • Used the size 0 bust darts, but shortened them about 3/8" (I made the size 4 otherwise)
  • took a 1/8" deeper seam allowance on the shoulder seam at the neck, tapering to nothing at the shoulder
  • Pinched out about an inch or so from the front upper bodice, tapering to nothing at the bottom
  • Took out 1/4" at the armhole on the side of the front bodice, tapering to nothing at the bottom
  • Adjusted armholes for a sleeveless version by making them 1/2" shallower, like so:

Cribbed this adjustment from vintage Butterick 6570.

... and probably some other stuff that I forgot.  I'm also sewing the side seams at 3/4" rather than 5/8".  All this for a pattern that had a pretty promising fit out of the envelope!  This may be why I like to stick with a good pattern once I find it.

OK final gratuitous shot with dog (though it's not his best).  Emerys (Emeries?)  5 and 6 have been completed in the time it's taken to get around to posting this, and #7 is on the horizon.   My photo editing situation has also improved, so expect to see photos taken with something other than iPhone and lots of gratuitous post-processing in future posts.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Double trouble Pacific Moon

schmeebot has received her Pacific Moons, so it's safe to reveal the "surprise" entry in the collection!  It's challenging to find good PacMoon fabric:  schmee wears these skirts hiking on windy Southern California hillsides (Or are they mountainsides?  Living in Houston I would hardly know the difference!)  Anyhow, we all know that wind + skirt = danger, so heavier materials are best.  Ikea always delivers, but it's nice to have other options.  

Hancock's had a 50 percent off sale on this super-bright-and-cheerful twill.  I spotted it, got excited ... and realized it wasn't quite beefy enough.  Bummer.  But I didn't want to give it up, and decided it was time to try a double-layered skirt.

This first attempt is orange with pink inside. Yep, the pockets are nice and deep:  schmee puts water bottles and such into them while hiking.  The cotton twill layers "grab" each other well, and behave as one.  I cut them separately, but otherwise treated them the same as I would have a single layer.  I didn't double the pockets and waistband, and I think that worked.  If it washes and wears well, expect to see more fun color combos in the near future!

The yoke facing was some leftover fabric from Emery #4.  Which I guess I still need to post ... soon!   I had to cut pieces sideways and upside down to get them to fit, but I did manage to get a deer with a bird on his butt on the back yoke.  Sometimes it's the little things.