Saturday, June 27, 2009

Muslin Afternoon

I'm back to the J Stern jeans pattern. Bet you thought I forgot about it, eh? But the twist for today's muslin is that it was completely sewn on …


Talk about slow-going. LOL! First, there are no seam allowance marks on the needle plate so I had to eyeball it. (I will be adding some marks with a Sharpie, I think. I can always remove them with alcohol.) Next, I had to coordinate my foot motion with my fabric-moving motion. Like trying to pat your head and rub your belly *and* chew gum. Plus I broke the thread 3 times and I'm having a hard time seeing the needle hole to re-thread since the needle is positioned for threading left to right instead of front to back and my eyes ain't what they used to be. A new bright table lamp is high on the shopping list. (Aircraft landing lights anyone??)

So, speaking of the treadle …

As you can see by the pic above, its new red belt is in place, along with a new red felt pad for under the thread spool. Could we be any more color-coordinated? (Said in my best Chandler Bing voice, of course.)

My new bobbins and winder tire arrived yesterday and I actually treadled a bobbin. That contraption sure makes a nicely wound bobbin. It even has an "auto stop" feature, so that you can't overfill it. Cool!

Back to the jeans … I added about 2 inches to the rise and took in the CB seam by changing the back crotch angle. I did that adjustment after comparing the pattern to a new pair of Levi's RTW capris I bought last week that fit great. Yeah, I had to give in and buy some pants because my available sewing time hasn't been allowing me to sew all my own clothes anymore. I was thinking I'd just get something to tide me over, and was pleasantly surprised at the good fit of not just one pair, but two!

I also compared other key measurement points between the pattern and the RTW capris and made some slight adjustments to flatten the hip curve and widen the inside leg width a smidge. I laid my muslin over my RTWs and they seem to be a good match. I'm not going to model the muslin because I can't close them. LOL! The RTWs are stretch denim and the muslin isn't. I'm going to just go ahead and cut real fabric next and hope for the best.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

So, What to Treadle?

I know I'm not going to be ready to sew clothes on my new baby for some time. Plus, I'd still want to use my serger and/or coverstitch machine and they (and all my other sewing stuff) are in the other room. While I can see changing machines during a project, I can't see me going back and forth between *rooms* no matter how close they are to each other.

But, I do want to use my machine for something "real" now that it's clickety-clacking along so nicely. (What a lovely rhythmic sound it makes!) What more appropriate than a quilt, right? I'm not a quilter, really, but I did start two ambitious Fons & Porter quilt projects SIX YEARS AGO (OMG, where did that time go??) and then life took over and I never made myself go back to them.

I saw the "Stars and Stripes" projects on the F&P show and really liked them. I still love the look of the finished quilt and wall hanging and I've already got all the fabrics, with many pieces even cut out and waiting. So, that's what I'll be doing on weeknights when I'm too tired to sew clothing but still want to sew. I can vegetate in my bedroom with the DVR but instead of doing nothing else, I can sit at my treadle and make some progress on getting these two quilting projects done, little by little.

I'll have to sort out what I have and revisit the book/instructions, but I can do that while I'm waiting for my new bobbins and winder wheel.

To see what the finished versions should like and the rest of the blocks I completed in 2003, click here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I Came, I Saw, I Treadled

Or … What Would I Do Without Donna?

The new belt for the treadle came yesterday. Yesterday! I ordered it from California on what? Friday? Anyway … it came. DS#1 and I installed it. That was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. I'll take a photo later, but it's a red leather belt to match my Red Eye treadle. How cool is that?

So, I was all set to SEW! Well, without a needle at first to try things out. I sat down and it felt like I was on the stairstepper. OMG! Both sons were trying it out with me and we all actually got good treadle rhythms going but the needlebar was only moving about a millimeter. At best. Ack!

DonnaH to the rescue. Again. You see, I really don't have any experience with anything other than my current Designer 1, a 1990's Sears Kenmore, and the machine my mom had (still has) while I was growing up, another Viking. I just don't know much about oiling old machines. Especially 93-year old machines. DonnaH advised oil, and plenty of it.

Donna was right. Turns out I was much too stingy with the introductory cocktails. She was quite thirsty after all those years in a drought (the machine, not Donna!). More oil, gentle urging to spin and work in the new oil, and soon she was zipping along as good as 93 years ago. Truly amazing. Thanks Donna!

So, I'm thinking, "*Now* I can sew, right?" Wrong. … uh, the flat part of the needle must not face backwards like I'm used to. Back downstairs to the computer to check the online manual. Flat side faces right.

Back upstairs and FINALLY, I sewed with my new baby! Woo hoo.

Ok, it's not much, but my 5th try is a fairly straight line with uniform stitches. I adjusted tension and stitch length — without help this time thankyouverymuch! LOL!

Here are the results:

1 - My first attempt and all I could do was 1 stitch forward, 2 backward, etc.
2 - Getting better but tension is still off and those stitches are huge. Still a backward burp in the middle.
3, 4 - Smoother, especially after I got going. Stitch length still too long.
5. Near perfection. Got to work on how to actually start without going backward.

The reverse.

1 - Not enough to tell anything yet.
2 - The thread was tangled in the take-up and I didn't notice until it broke. Oops.
3,4 - Better
5 - Very nice!

I wonder how old this bobbin thread is? There's really no telling. But until my new bobbins and winder tire arrive, I'm stuck with whatever was left on it since I can't wind any more bobbins yet.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Night and Day

On the PR message boards, I joked that halfway into the cleaning process the machine was not yet showing a Night and Day difference, more like Night and Mid-Afternoon. Last night, she reached Night and Day status.

I still need to get further into the bobbin winding area, which will require some disassembly (and a new rubber wheel). But my fingers and hands are sore and I needed to clean up the 2-day mess I had going in kitchen so that will wait for another weekend.

Here are some more comparison shots …

Front After:

Front Before:

Back After. Notice the area near the side plate (on the far right in photo), where the decal is not even faintly visible in the Before pic. I almost missed this decal, it was so covered in gunk.

Back Before. And yes, Dani does have to be right in the middle in both shots. ;-)

Side After:

Side Before:

Before starting the cleaning process, I noticed that it looked like someone had taped something around the neck of the machine, over the Singer logos. DonnaH explained to me that it was very common for women to wrap fabric around this area to use as a pincushion, with the resulting bunch of tiny scratches being called "pin rash." While I was able to get most of the tape (or whatever) residue off, I could not get it all without damaging the decals further. It's just evidence that at some point in her life, this machine was used as more than a side table.

I mentioned this little bit of trivia to DH — whose father is holding my MIL's treadle in his basement for me to have one day — and he confirmed that yep, his mother did the same thing. Funny. But I couldn't imagine sticking pins into my Designer 1. Then again, I also can't imagine it lasting 93 years. I wonder if the original owner of this machine had any idea hers would still be sought after almost a hundred years later.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Treadle Progress

Cleaning up the "new" treadle is slow going, but I'm definitely making progress. Here are some notable Before and After shots. The most remarkable difference to me is how much of the decals I *wasn't* seeing and how much of each one was hidden under grime.

This is the back of the machine:

The back plate:

The side plate:

The thumbscrews that hold on the cover plates:

Soap and water, Brasso, steel wool and lots of elbow grease going on here …

Note to ACorgiHouse: Nope, it came from the Bay To Bay / MacDill area and has been in the seller's family its whole life.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

New To Me

Look what I brought home from Craigslist yesterday! She's a 1916 Singer 66-1 Redeye treadle in the original cabinet. She needs a new belt, a new side-clamping presser bar (she's got her original back-clamping bar at the moment) - both of which have already been ordered - and she needs a lot of cleaning up. But after 93 years, I think I would need some cleaning up too.

The cabinet is in near mint condition. No significant blemishes at all. These pics below are the seller's, which show the cabinet better than mine.

All of this for the amazing bargain price of $60 and a car ride into South Tampa. The machine has been in the seller's family since it was new. No one has actually sewn on it for years and years (attested to by the rusty needle still in place!), and it has spent the last 40 years or so being just a side table. The sellers were downsizing and she had to go. Their loss, my gain.

This is my first antique sewing machine. I don't think I'm going to go nuts with collecting (although you should never say never!), but I've thought for a long time that these old treadles are quite interesting and beautiful and have wanted to grab a bargain on one for years. I think $60 qualifies.

The cabinet will live in my bedroom for now. Our bedroom takes up half of the upper floor so it's pretty big and there's plenty of room for this (and about 6 more!) without blinking. The machine head is already out of the cabinet and back downstairs in my kitchen at the moment, as I start the spiffing-up process. After working on just one coverplate (not finished yet), I can see this will not be instant gratification.

DonnaH has already been a great help to me in dating the machine and pointing me to sellers of parts. Donna has quite an impressive collection of her own, as you'll see when you follow the link to her blog, here.

Here are some more "Before" pics of mine. One day in the near future, I hope to have her ready for the "After" shots and for actually sewing. Treadling ought to be an adventure!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Happy Ending

This has nothing to do with sewing but I want to share it anyway.

Last night, DH and I decided to go out for dinner to a local Chinese buffet-style restaurant. Both DS's and their girlfriends joined us. We were all set for a fun dinner with our largish group. We all piled into the car and headed out.

As we were making our way to the highway, we traveled up one of the through streets in surburbia-land and were slowed down by other cars ahead of us dodging something in the middle of our lane. When it was our turn to dodge, we saw exactly what the roadblock was — a big yellow lab Old Yeller kind of dog laying on his side, head away from us, and his "buddy" standing next to him. Oh no!!

There was NO WAY we could just drive on and not look back … and WHAT were those other people who did just that thinking anyway? Not to mention the creep who had hit him and kept going.

We stopped the car and turned on the hazard flashers. The "buddy" dog had already taken off down the road and we couldn't get him. From the car, we could immediately see the dog on the road was still alive as his paws were moving slightly. DH and I got out to investigate. DH walked around to the dog's head and all looked fine there. There were some bloody wounds on the dog's front foreleg, but his legs all looked to be in normal position. There was a collar about 10 feet away (I don't even want to think about how that happened), but there were no tags on it.

I called 911 and asked that they send an Animal Control unit to pick up the dog and another officer to direct traffic, which was starting to get a little out of hand with all the rubberneckers and us "parked" in the middle of the road. I really wanted to put the dog in our car and take him to an emergency vet but I was afraid of hurting him worse by the movement and effort it would take to get this big guy into the back of our car.

An older couple came out from their yard and stood with us next to the dog, telling us they had just heard a loud THUMP! and were out to investigate. We all were talking sweet nothings to the dog to keep him calm and the good boy started wagging his tail. Poor guy.

While we were waiting for Animal Control to show up, another man stopped his pick-up truck on the side of the road, got out and started walking to the group next to the injured dog. (I was trying to direct traffic at this point, since it was badly needed.) It turned out this man is a vet!! A brand new one, who had just opened his office nearby not even 3 months ago.

The vet said he would load the dog into his truck and take him back to his office to check him out. Another man had also stopped at this point and joined us. He volunteered to leave his car so he could go with the vet to keep the dog calm and as comfortable as possible during the ride. Fearing internal injuries (the dog was still laying flat on its side with no effort to get up after the 15 or so minutes we had been there), we all thought that at the very least, this dog could be helped to go peacefully with a trained vet instead of just dying on the road, scared and in pain, with cars zooming past. We quickly made a makeshift "gurney" with a tarp so we could lift the dog in one motion into the vet's truck.

Before the vet and other kind stranger left with the dog, I jotted down the vet's name and number, introduced myself and told him I'd call him in the morning. We called 911 back and updated the operator on the situation, and then got back into the car and went on our way, sad for the dog but happy that fate had sent the vet past us when we needed him.

We went to dinner and after we got back home, I had already decided that IF the dog had made it through the night and the vet needed a foster volunteer, I would take him in. My sons kidded me, of course, knowing that we might end up with dog #4, and a big one at that. I fell asleep thinking about the dog.

This morning, I called the vet's office. The dog was OK!! They had cleaned and stitched up his external leg wounds but had found no internal injuries. His owner had found out what had happened and picked him up last night, so the big guy didn't even have to spend a night away in a strange place. (The dog had gotten out of their yard and they were out looking for him when all this was taking place.)

I even got a call from the Sheriff's Department this morning, following up to see what had happened to the dog.

I love a happy ending! And I know which new local vet is going to get three new poochie patients, who are due for their vaccines this month.

Monday, June 8, 2009


That's the random number.

Comment number 82 is from Patti/Fourkid. Congratulations Patti! Send me your mailing info to djc @ and the Full Busted DVD will be on its way to you.

Thank you everyone for all the comments ... whew ... 109 of them before I turned them off for that post early this morning.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sneak Peak

The dress is coming along, but I should've made a muslin. ;-)

1. The bodice is too wide across my shoulders.

2. My slicing and dicing to copy the inspiration isn't lining up the way I planned — for two reasons. First, I realized too late that the inspiration has a higher back yoke than what I drew, and second, where I had planned for the upper front and back to meet at the sideseams doesn't. Oops.

Problem #1 I can fix with blunt force by making a CB seam through the neckband and bodice, tapering to nothing by the skirt section. It will be a PITA to rip and restitch, but it can be done. And while the CB seam wouldn't have to exist if I made a muslin, I can live with it. Especially since I'll never see it while I'm wearing it!

Problem #2 I can't really fix mostly because I'm out of this fabric. Since it's a sideseam, it's not going to be glaringly obvious. I'm also thinking I can do some "creative" topstitching to make it look like it's a design element. We'll see on that one. I'm still thinking about it.

So overall this will be a wearable muslin. Very wearable, just not as near-perfect as I had hoped for. But it's not like I'm going to be meeting the Queen in this dress or pointing out any errors in real life, so I'm fine with it. I'm sure no one (besides all of you out there in blogdom) will even notice the fixes and after a week or two in the Magic Wardrobe, they probably won't even bother me anymore.

But if I make it again, I definitely know what NOT to do. ;-)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mojo, Inspiration, Diving In & Giveaway

So, no, I haven't done another thing with the J Stern jeans yet. The mojo for them seems to be fleeting at the moment. I still want to work out the alterations and make them, but I've had something else nagging at me that just would not shut up.

Backing up a bit …

About a month ago, curiosity made me order the Palmer/Pletsch Full Busted DVD. It promptly arrived a week later. And sat. And sat. Well, because I could not motivate myself to work on the jeans this weekend (but I did at least finish the "chore" sewing of two valances for the bath and a "body" pillowcase for DS!), I decided to finally plop it into the DVD player and have a look. It's another winner from Palmer/Pletsch. (More below.)

While I did not personally learn anything new from the DVD, it did motivate me to start working on a knock-off of a dress I've had in a still-open browser window for at least 5 weeks now. (No, I don't turn off the computer.) Every few days, I remember it's there and look at it again. And wish it was in my closet.

Click here to look at it on the website.

It's a pretty simple but non-frumpy denim A-line dress, and I can see myself living in it over the summer. Especially on the 4th of July with some cute new white or red flip-flops.

So, I've silenced the screaming mojo and have begun making one. I'm using this pattern (B5131), which I searched for, found, and ordered right after I first saw the dress:

Watching Marta Alto in the video motivated me to actually try tissue fitting the pattern instead of muslining it. Foolish? Maybe. Especially since I am a strong proponent of muslins and I usually think pattern tissue is evil. But fabric is cheap, my time is limited, and the worst thing that could happen is that the dress becomes the muslin/prototype. Right? ;-)

The pattern is a pretty good match, isn't it? Slice and dice a couple of seams here and there, morph the sleeve into a slight puff, pin the tissue, try it on, and it's good to go. Or in theory anyway. But that's what I'm doing. Fabric is cut and I've started sewing it up.

Wish me luck!


So, back to the DVD (and the Giveaway). It's very basic at the beginning and most, if not all, of that info is covered in the book and the original companion video (FFRP Basics), which is understandable or else the DVD wouldn't stand on its own. But the rest, the "meat" of it, is new to P/P. Highlights include Marta Alto demonstrating FBAs on twist tops, empire seams, strapless tops, princess seams, a jacket, the "Y Dart," 3 live models of all sizes, and I'm sure more that I'm now forgetting. Marta's style is very homey, a bit grandmotherly but in a good way. But she's direct, a good teacher who knows her stuff, and if you have any reservations about doing FBAs, you WILL learn from this video.

However, since as I mentioned above, I personally didn't learn any new tricks and I have a tendency to never watch a DVD twice, I've decided to offer this up as a giveaway so someone else can benefit from the great info. Just leave a comment on this blog entry telling me to enter you into the drawing. I'll find one of those random number generator thingies and next Monday I'll "draw" a number to match up with the order in which comments are posted. I'll ship this anywhere, but please note it's in U.S. DVD format, so you've got to have a player that can play it or it won't do you much good. Unless you need a shiny plastic coaster with a hole in the middle. ;-)