Tuesday, May 1, 2001

Review: Viking Spanish Hem Foot & Plate



Price: US$35

What is this notion used for? This is a presser foot and plate used for bridge stitching (faggoting). The plate attaches to the machine and keeps the two edges of the fabric spaced and feeding evenly under the needle. My Designer 1 has specialty stitches especially for this type of decorative sewing.

Did you get your money's worth after the purchase? Well, technically not yet, because it's a pricey foot, but that doesn't stop me from buying every foot Viking puts out. ;-)

Is this notion easily available? Yes, from your Viking dealer.

Would you recommend it to others? Yes. Using this foot is a big help when doing this type of decorative stitching.

Below are photos of a pillow I made using the foot/plate. The bridging is along the top and bottom edges.



Review: Dritz My Double Deluxe Dressform



Price: ~US$100.00-$150.00

Many (all?) of the other reviews for these types of dressforms (My Double, Twin Fit, etc.) complain that no amount of turning the dials makes the dressform match the reviewers' measurements. After reading other reviews for My Double (not Deluxe) dressforms, I feel the need to address those complaints.

Dressforms are like patterns. They are standardized to some mysterious "ideal" figure. How many of us have that ideal figure and can fit a pattern right out of the envelope with NO adjustments? The same is true for dressforms. Unless you've had a dressform cast from your own body, you *will* need to make some adjustments. And by adjustments, I mean more than turning the dials.

This link will take you to the photo narrative of how I padded out my dressform. The whole process took a few hours. Not too long, and not at all difficult. The time invested was well worth it as I now have a form very much like me and one which is a tremendous help when adjusting patterns and previewing garments. If you buy this type of form, spend the time to pad it and you'll be much happier.

This thread on the PR message board is extremely helpful and covers many dressforms and the reasons why or why not they were purchased. It also covers the processes and materials some of us have used to pad our dressforms to be just like ourselves.

Also, Kathryn's tip, here, here, is a must-read in how to make your standardized dressform conform to your own shape.

All right, on to the review ...

Features:

• 10 Auto-set dials - Press & turn for easy adjustments

• Adjustments can be made in 1/2" increments

• Foam-backed nylon cover for easy pinning and marking

• Adjustable neck with pin cushion & Adjustable Height

• Hem Leveler

Observations:

I purchased the My Double Deluxe form (MDD) in late-January 2006 from Joann's online. They were on sale for half price (which I think they always are online) and at the time, there was a free shipping offer. I paid approximately $163 with tax. Joann's charges sales tax for internet purchases. The MDD arrived in approximately 2 weeks.

I ordered a Medium because this size could be made significantly *smaller* than my measurements. Since I knew I would be padding it, I knew I needed to start with something smaller than me. I recommend you do the same for any non-customized dressform. It's a lot easier to make a small form bigger than it is to make a big form smaller.

The quality of the form itself is what I expected. It's not the best but it's far from the worst. It's lightweight plastic (shell) and aluminum (stand). Now that I've had it for a while, I can see that it's not really as low-quality as I first thought. It's very lightweight, which is nice because I tend to move her around in my sewing area a lot.

When it arrived, it came in a thin corrugated cardboard box with no interior padding. (The plastic must be sturdy to have survived the UPS ride from J's warehouse to being dropped -- and I do mean dropped -- at my home!) There is some assembly required. Specifically, you must insert the feet of the tripod into the stand and then you must attach the stand pole into the torso pole. It's not hard, requires no tools, and because the form is lightweight, it doesn't require any strength. You just need an area large enough to lay the stand down on the floor or a table.

The dials are fiddly and a bit awkward to adjust. Put on a pair of rubber dishwashing type gloves before you start so you don't scrape up your fingers and then you'll be fine. I didn't do this but in retrospect, I probably should have. I never could quite figure out how to adjust the dials so that the numbers on the metal strips actually meant something. But that didn't matter to me too much because I just used my tape measure and adjusted until it reached the measurement I wanted. There were very generic "instructions" included but they covered more than this specific dressform and were overly simplistic. They were adequate but with much room for immprovement.

Some of the adjustments require that you reach up inside the form. You might want to make your adjustments before you put it on the pole as it's probably easier to wrestle with it standing and laying on a table than on the form. But that's a personal preference thing. I made all the adjustments with it on the stand and just knelt on the floor and reached up.

I chose this form after seeing a Medium MDD on display in a brick and mortar Joann's. It looked more like a "middle-aged" (ugh!) figure than the perkier Twin Fit or Simplicity forms. The bust is a B cup but the bust points sit a bit lower than those perkier forms and the waist curve is more gradual, thus matching me better before I ever started padding it out.

The most noticeable difference between the MDD and the My Double (not Deluxe) and other "cheapie" forms is that the MDD has a lower section with thighs for fitting pants. Before purchasing the MDD, I thought this would be a great feature. It probably is, but I haven't used it yet, mostly because you have to completely separate the center pole from the torso in order to slide a pair of pants on or off. I can just see me wrestling on the floor and it's not a pretty picture! I do think that if you've padded the lower body to match yours and you use it to fit *before* you sew the last sideseam, that pants fitting can be accomplished without taking apart the form. But once both sideseams are sewn, there's no other way to slide the pants on without a wrestling match (or without rigging up some way to hang the dressform so it doesn't need the pole for support).

Likes:

1. The overall quality. It may be mostly plastic, but it seems like it will hold up for as long as I need it. (Four years going strong so far.)

2. Price. I wasn't sure if I would actually use a dressform so I didn't want to break the bank to find out, especially if it turned out I didn't like it. $150 is still significant money, but it's a LOT cheaper than many other dressforms available so I felt I got a good deal. (Turns out I use it a lot!)

3. Now having a dressform that matches me!

Dislikes:

1. The tripod stand. It works fine, but I would prefer a dressform on wheels. But since it is lightweight, it's not a burden at all to move it. Just that my personal preference would be wheels.

2. The difficulty in getting pants on/off as mentioned above.

3. The fiddly dials. They work, but they definitely feel/act cheap. There is a reason this is NOT a $600 dressform. Don't expect it to be gold plated and you won't be disappointed. :)

Review: Button Sewing Foot



Price: ~US$25.00

I'm the first to admit I have a serious addiction to presser feet. I own 99% of the feet Viking makes for my machine and a few others Viking doesn't make. I'm sure I'll have them all one of these days. Most of the feet work wonderfully. Many I can't live without anymore and some others mostly collect dust, and yet I still can't bear to part with them. The button sewing-on foot is one of the gems.

Before Viking came out with this foot I would still sew buttons on by machine, using the hump-jumper thingie and a piece of tape. It was fiddly and I'm not really sure if it was actually easier or faster than sewing them by hand but at least it wasn't sewing on by hand! ;-)

The Viking foot comes with this little button grabbing tool. You squeeze it slightly and insert the prongs into the holes in the button. The tool expands a bit and the button is "stuck" on it until you squeeze the tool again to release it. This removes all the fiddly-ness from placing the buttons into the foot and in position over the fabric.

The foot itself has a "shelf" where you rest the button. When the presser foot is in the full down position, the button is sandwiched securely between the two layers of the foot. There is also a finger that can be moved in and out for creating thread shanks of varying height.



Here's the grabber tool still holding the button after I've put the button into the foot. I leave the tool in place until I put the foot down.





Here the foot is down and I'm ready to stitch. Pardon all the lint on my machine. It was cleaning day today and the machines all got a thorough going over, but not until after this photo was taken.



My machine has a specific button sewing stitch, which is basically a zigzag stitch set for the width between most button thread holes. I say "most" although I've not yet had a button for which this stitch wasn't perfect so maybe I should amend that to "all." It's a handy stitch and coupled with this foot, it's the answer for sewers like me who prefer not to sew on buttons by hand.

If you have a Viking, you must get this foot! If you don't have a Viking, other brands do have a similar foot and there are generics, but I don't think any of those come with the little grabber tool. (Please correct me if I'm wrong about that.)

You've now been enabled. Again. ;-)

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