Tuesday, June 30, 2015

'Tis the Season

It's the season for garage sales! Yet it was not an actual garage sale but an estate sale that was run like a garage sale that kept me busy this weekend. I'm on an email list for estate sales in my area and I take a glance at it but most are not selling sewing machines, I'm working, or they are just too far away to take a chance they might have what I'd be interested in. But this one was only a few blocks down from my house so they had my interest. Too bad I couldn't have been there on the first day when they had a sewing machine for sale but on the second day I find out everything is half price. Now that's my price!

As I work my way through the warren of rooms, I spy a container with new cones of serger thread. Not marked. I continue on my way and see there's a lot of crafty type things so I pick up some ribbon, a few kitchen towels, and make my way downstairs. Here is where the crafting was apparently birthed: bins of fabric, paint, glue, bolts of felt, paper, you just name it. I finally land in the room with most of the fabric piled up high on tables in large blue plastic bins, at least a dozen of them with overflow off to the side at the end of the tables. Pricing? It was $2 per inch but now it's only $1 per inch. What? That doesn't sound like a bargain to me but they explain that the fabric is refolded, stacked, and the depth measurement determines your "inches." So I go through the bins and find what I think I can't live without but there is just so much to look through it is difficult to look and hold on to what you already have in this very tight space. I finally think I have the limit of my cash and she measures my stash at seven inches. I can hardly hold this stack it's so heavy (which one weighs so much?) I make it up the stairs to pay. I remember to ask about the serger thread and they say it was $1 a cone but is now only 50 cents but I've run out of money so I go ahead and pay for what I already have. I'm happy. As I make my way out the door I hear them say "and don't forget, tomorrow it's 65% off" so I make plans to return.

Once home and sorting out all my goodies, I decide which ones need to be washed, sort into piles, and compare to fabric I already have in hopes of making good matches. Anything that gets washed I now serge the cut edges so there is less mess in the laundry and a good result when they come out of the dryer. My co-worker Ann told me about this neat trick as a new way to use my serger and I've been trying my best to do this every time I bring new fabric home. It's pretty slick. As I make my matches I realize I still could use a bright yellow, an interesting white, maybe some other solids...I'm definitely going back.

As Sunday afternoon marches on and I know they will close at 3 pm, I try to figure out how I'm going to go from church to a bridal shower, to the estate sale all before I run out of time. Then a small window of time opens as I find out the shower doesn't start immediately after church but not until 1 pm. I have time! I get back to my neighborhood and bustle into the 65% off sale to find...you can now fill one of the blue tubs (we even get to keep the tub) to the top with fabric for a flat fee of $10. That's right, only $10, and I'm up against the clock. There is still a huge amount of fabric and all of the serger thread (23 cones in all), so I start sorting. Another woman has a blue tub and asks what I'm looking for (fabric for little girl dresses and "other") and she says she's looking for quilting cotton. We proceed to hold up pieces for each other to grab or hand back and this is very helpful. In no time at all my tub is full, I resist the temptation to look anywhere else in the house, find an estate sale worker who gladly just takes my cash and marks my items as sold as I take my goodies back to my car. Not exactly to the car, but to the end of the driveway as I bring my car around. By the time I get to the bridal shower I see they haven't even started yet so my timing was perfect. Here's my tub of fabric:
Tub of fabric = $10
What am I going to do with all of this? I get it sorted and when my husband comes home he helps me decide which colors and prints go together best (he says it's his photographer's eye) and I cut out six dresses that evening until my hand is sore. This is going to keep me busy creating these little bits of wonder and I love the planning as much as the actual sewing.
Dress patterns with stacks of fabric cut out or waiting
Now that I've created one of each of the patterns I'm using for the dresses I know the pitfalls and how I will construct them differently. I used my Bernina Record 730 for the last two dresses but now I think I'm going back to my little Singer 99. Or maybe the Brother Select-o-Matic. I know I'll be using the ruffler foot because of the talk on Facebook about how much easier it is than using pulled threads and there's a lot of ruffling on these little creations. I'm excited just thinking about it: let's get sewing!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Grandma's Lotus

The Franklin treadle is all finished and Ellen came to pick it up so it could go with the current shipment of sewing machines to Haiti. It turned out quite nice, not in terrific cosmetic shape but the cabinet was nicely restored and everything is in working order. I took the treadle mechanism apart and had trouble getting it adjusted without a high pitched whine, but we both new it would have to be disassembled before shipping and would need to have it all adjust again upon arrival. So the big bulky treadle moved out of the garage...to have another move in. No! I convinced Ellen I only needed the head of the sewing machine since the cabinet was in poor shape and she didn't want me to put any work into it. Why have it at all in my garage? It was a Singer 66 with Lotus, sometimes called Egyptian Green, decals and I could put it into my cabinet that holds a Singer 66 Red Eye if I really needed to test it.

Here she is after removing the pin rag around the throat:
Singer 66 with Lotus decals before cleaning
The chrome pieces had rust spots and the clear coat was missing for the most part, exposing the decals to further wear. But there is a story with this one and why we are spending any time with it. Moving parts were removed for cleaning in an ultrasonic cleaner, other parts are soaked in Evaporust, and I start in on cleaning the body just so I don't have to keep touching the dirty stuff. Notice the bobbin winder? It's an earlier style, more like a vibrating shuttle style with the long bobbins but it's for regular round bobbins. It went into the ultrasonic cleaner and did a real number on the decals but it was just caked with grime. There were even a few scraps of leaves up inside of the pillar so I suspect it had been sitting out in a garage for some period of time. Metal polish was put on those metal parts and they really did come clean and mostly free of the pin sized rust spots. All put back together, I threaded it up for stitching and here's what happened the first few stitches:

Top stitches on Singer 66
Small tension adjustment and they are perfect! Looks like I won't have to put it in a treadle but just run it with my finger in the spokes of the handwheel. Yes, I'm careful! And for the final clean-up photo:

Singer 66 all cleaned up
Okay, so it's not startling but it is better. It just goes to show how great these old Singers really are: this one dates to 1902. Might I look so good at 113. Now to the back story of why I had to do this machine. Ellen depends on donations for her work in Haiti and people drop sewing machines off at her house on a somewhat regular basis. Someone heard about what she does and asked if she would use her grandmother's treadle in Haiti. The cabinet was almost gone but the head is what you see above. It would be a wonderful tribute to her grandmother so Ellen is going to send it down and have a photo taken of it being used. I'm sure this will delight the donor and honor her grandmother. I'm proud to be a part of this mission, too.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Daddy's Little Girl

Today was Father's Day, something of a non-holiday in my life since my own dad has been gone thirty years, almost as long as I knew him. So today as I thought about my dad and went on with projects of my own, I thought I'd share what an eclectic day it was.

After our church service, which is outside in the summer under the oak trees, my husband went off to an assisted living center to conduct a worship service and serve communion. I thought it would be a good chance to get the house ready for summer by a big vacuum job and rolling up rugs, cleaning the hardwood floors, and washing the tile floors. I like the cooler look of fewer rugs in the summer but I hate all the moving of furniture, etc., but now it's done. Then I started making some of the little girl dresses I had cut out and have waiting for me to sew up. Using Simplicity 2828, I made up this little cutie in just a few hours:

Simplicity 2828 size 3
I used the blue fabric left from the dress I was making for myself and found the cotton eyelet panel in my stash. I wasn't sure about how I was going to sew it all together but the pattern lent itself to it so nicely. The bodice was lined with the same fabric and I only had to treat the lace like it was part of the bodice until I sewed the skirt on. Thinking about how it might wash, I made all of the seams flat felled so there would be no raveling to deal with or the seams were all inside, as in the bodice. I got out a serger for the edges of the back seam so they would be extra nice, too. I'm very happy with this version of a "daddy's little girl" dress.

I go from cleaning to sewing to stripping in the garage. That's right, I go out to the garage to strip furniture. Up next is the cabinet from the Phoenix sewing machine, a compact version with a chair that I've already refinished so now I better get the rest done. The old finish came right off and was so quick!

Cabinet for Phoenix 283
I only did the top lid (both sides) and the top opening where the machine sits, but might do the sides, too. It's going to look pretty stunning when it's done, all for that marvelous Phoenix.
I tie this all together because my dad was handy and I think he would approve of my sewing machine hobby/business and did support my learning to sew. I might have spent the majority of my day quietly working, but I was thinking about my dad, too. Thanks, Dad, for being my dad, all those years ago.

Feeling a Little Foolish

I was pretty excited to get another Singer 201-2 this week and made a foolish mistake. No cost involved but my time yet that is getting more and more precious. I had been watching a Craigslist ad for this machine but it was located a bit farther away than I was willing to travel so I just kept it as a possibility. Then it was listed at a price I couldn't resist so I emailed the seller. No response. I emailed again the next day. No response. One more time (you know I don't like to give up) and I got an email and text back: she forgot to check her spam box and all of the responses were sent there. Phew! She not only still had the machine but was going to be in my town at 5 pm and could meet me at their doctor's office parking lot. No extra driving!  I got to meet her whole family of 3 kids and a happy husband because a bulky item was moving out. We got the head out of the small cabinet and as it was laid on its back she noticed the light bulb was burnt out. That didn't bother me but she had listed it was having electrical problems: maybe it wasn't electrical but just a burnt out bulb? Maybe. The bobbin slide plate was missing but she had it at home and could drop it off on Friday. That was good because they are pricey: $20-30.
Singer 201-2 all cleaned up
When I got it home and started to clean it up, it was almost full of a brown "dust" even up inside the pillar. It wasn't in the best of shape cosmetically speaking, but when a new bulb was inserted and all was plugged in it sewed great! Then it wouldn't turn on. I tried the power cord from another 201 and it worked so now I knew the cord needed to be replaced. As I went about cleaning and adjusting everything all of a sudden it would not work: the handwheel would only turn about a quarter of the way and back but would not sew. What had I done? I took the bobbin apart again, put everything back together but no improvement. I sat back and thought about when it last worked and what had I done after that. The handwheel came off, I checked the grease cups, the metal gears, nothing. I laid another 201 right next to it to see what might be out of alignment: nothing. Time to go to bed and sleep on it; you know that sometimes solutions have to have time to rise to the top.
She's been well used, no?

Next day arrives and I'm going to figure this out. I get out a strong light that I can further explore both 201's, take out the bobbin holder again (I'm getting pretty good at it by now), try different power cords but no difference. Then I look and see exactly where in the rotation it seems to stop and I can see it's when the needle goes only partway down, the same spot every time. Then I remember I have removed a small thread guide that was broken off. I didn't have another one so I just put the small screw back in. Now I backed that screw out a little bit because when it had the thread guide in it it wouldn't have been screwed all of the way into the opening. The handwheel moved! It was a tiny screw that stopped the movement of the needlebar and everything else. Success! It was at least 24 hours since I had cleaned that screw and put it in too far. Yes, I'm feeling a little foolish.
See that screw above the needle? That's the one!
The power cord works intermittently so it's getting replaced but other than that, it just needs a box of extra feet and other accessories before it can find another home. She doesn't look too beautiful anymore with so much of her decals worn away but if you know sewing machines, this is one of the finest and simple to maintain. It will be reduced in price but still full of valuable years of sewing. We can't all look like movie stars but we each have a purpose in life. Let's hope this Singer 201-2 finds someone who will appreciate her, even love her just as she is.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Testing, Testing

A sewing machine came back to me on Saturday, something that doesn't happen very often. It was a nice basic machine that had some wear and tear so it didn't look as pretty, weighed a ton so I sold it  in a cabinet, and had one of the lowest prices ever. The problem was when it was used by its new owner it broke needles, two to be exact. Hummm. I said to bring it back and we would see what could be done. It came back with the head out, saying it had "fallen" out. What? We couldn't get it to break needles so weren't sure what was going on but this time she wanted a portable with a drop in bobbin. I didn't have a portable with a drop in bobbin for the price point she was hoping for. In fact, for that low price there were only a few others that were nice but also very basic. One that "would do" was finally found and I hoped it would perform well.

I took the returned sewing machine out for a ride. Well, not exactly a ride, but I did need to test it out by sewing with it for an extended period of time. Since it was a nice day, I moved the cabinet and machine out to the back yard into the bell tower, A.K.A. gazebo, so I could sew with the gentle afternoon breeze all around me. What a nice experience!

First I checked out the cabinet and how the machine had fallen out. The screws that held the hinges in place from the underside were loose so I replaced them with bigger screws. The top opening was a bit saggy so I tried the trick of putting toothpicks into the hole where the screw goes in and then screwing it down. This puts new wood into that too large hole and now the screws will fit tight. Sounds a bit like old age and a skin firming product but it works.

Next I tried out the sewing machine only to find I could not break a needle. The tension is a bit tight but seams were not puckered and the end results is quite good. It does have a tendency to need a fairly long tail of thread when starting out or it will unthread itself at the needle. If you pull the thread right from the needle, not a very good habit but seems to be the quickest way, it will pull the needle and break it off. It wasn't going to be my new favorite sewing machine but it did work just fine.

I'm making an interesting dress but it's a little on the plain side so I thought I'd try a technique I read about in The Encyclopedia of Sewing Machine Techniques where you stitch a scallop stitch off the edge and then go back and remove the interfacing you used as a backing. I had read it over and bought water soluble interfacing just for this project. Here it is stitched onto the interfacing and a mock edge of a sleeve:

Scallop stitch off the edge with water soluble paper
Looked pretty good but when I put it under water here's the result:
After water is applied: where did the scallops go?
Of course! The interfacing was giving it all of the shape and support. I went back to the book and checked out the instructions again. Water soluble pen and tear-away interfacing. I already had tear-away interfacing so I stitched it again with the following results:
Another test piece with tear-away paper
I'm not sure I like the size and spacing of this scallop, done on my Viking 1100, but will try a Kenmore next to see if I get results that are in better proportion. The moral of this story? We all make mistakes. Get over it. Move on. Learn from those mistakes. You will be a better person for it.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Paint Removal

It's wonderful when I think I'm too late for an ad only to find out I'm the first one! It happened again this week when I answered an ad for a Necchi whose ad was up about two hours when I found it. Add another two hours before she got back to me to ask if I could come before 10 AM the next day because she had an appointment. You bet I could! Due to my own mistakes in writing down the address, I ended up at a wrong address, driving back and forth in the rain, but we finally connected. The sewing machine head was sitting in the garage and looked very clean with no nicks on the edges, very smooth bed, so I was excited to go see the blond wood cabinet that looked very mid-century modern. Here's what the ad showed:
Necchi in Craigslist ad
Take a closer look at the top of the cabinet when it is folded up. It's on the underside in the photo so you can't see it clearly but keep looking and you can see it has been painted. Painted white. Oh boy. This is not good news but you can't have everything. We take the drawers out, and I take them downstairs while the mister and misses each take an end to bring the cabinet downstairs. When it gets to the outside door and discussion about how to get it out, I wave them aside and pick it up by myself to get it out the door. They make some comments about how strong I am (ha!) but without the head or drawers it might be only 20 pounds. The mister and I get it out to my car and he guesses that I am young, maybe only 40? We all have a good laugh as I point to my gray hair and say they need to add a couple of decades onto that. It makes my day.

Once it is home and installed into one of the few places left in the garage, I take the folding leaves off and apply paint stripper to the larger one. Under the white paint is whatever process was used to make the wood look like a blond finish, some kind of thick beige paint or maybe they had painted it beige at one time. Under that is real wood but it is not in very good shape, as I had feared. Rats.
Stripped on left, painted on right (Yea, I know you could tell)
While I'm thinking about how to refinish the top I set up the sewing machine head in the desk part (screws are missing so I scrounge for some) and get it threaded up to sew. This Necchi is a BF Mira, dated 1954 according to the original manual. It's a straight stitch only but has two speeds, a low and high, so that can give it extra power. Right out of the gate it sews very nice, comes with extra bobbins, a few accessories, and a Greist buttonhole attachment. Very nice. I had asked why they were selling, maybe she was no longer going to sew? But, no, they were moving to California to be near family in their retirement and would not be taking some of their things. Lucky me!
Necchi BF Mira at home (lounging?)
I had another straight stitch Necchi that made her final destination to Haiti in a beautiful desk cabinet back when I was desperate to get the cabinets out of the garage so my car could get in before the snow came:
Necchi Leila
Although their shape and color are different, they are essentially the same machine for function. I love a great straight stitcher but there will be times a zigzag stitch comes in handy so I only sell these to serious quilters or someone who just insists this is "the one" for them. To each his own but these old Necchi's are really beautiful. I don't know what's going to happen to the cabinet and I have my work cut out for me on this one, but it's a moment to celebrate Sewing Machine Day 2015 with a classic. Stay tuned: this might be a two post day!

Monday, June 8, 2015


When I've repaired, restored, or reconditioned a sewing machine there are times when I feel like I need to sew with it to make sure things are working well. I've done that before and written about it and today I have to very reluctantly relate how I made an entire dress and jacket on a sewing machine that I would like to throw away. That's right: throw it away. That is a very harsh statement from someone who has a whole business centered around restoration of vintage sewing machines but there are some that just are not worth the effort. Enter the Featherweight:
Singer 132Q Featherweight
No this is not the much coveted Singer 221, but a Singer 132Q, an effort by Singer to remake the much beloved Featherweight. Someone was sleeping on the job when this one was designed: the Q must stand for quit because you will want to quit sewing after using it. Here is my review but to make it more palatable I will show photos of my  lovely dress and matching jacket, a success despite the poor performance with the tools.

To begin with, it is nice and cute with a built-in handle, seeming to be a portable machine to take to a friends house or for a quilting class. It uses dials for all of its adjustments but even when you have adjusted the tension, stitch length, presser foot pressure, etc. it behaved as if I had never changed anything. The dial for the variety of stitches is a bit confusing, trying to give you stretch stitches as well as needle positioning (left or center).
Who wants those weird stretch stitches?

But who cares when you cannot get a straight stitch? Okay, I tell myself, most work is on the inside and no one can see it so maybe it will be okay. Maybe it will perform better the more I sew on it. Can you see that I'm an optimist? But I'm sure you can hear my frustration, too. The dress and jacket pattern was from New Look 6553 and the fabric was from my stash, including the lining. The first real test was when I had to sew in the long zipper down the back of the dress. I had to take it out once because I didn't use a zipper foot (but many machines can still sew in a zipper without a zipper foot). I tried again to have the row of stitches placed properly but they looked...off? Some would slant left, some right, some very short and somewhat twisted looking: anything but a decent row of stitches. I plowed through until I came to the neckline and armholes where I was supposed to use facings but instead I like to use bias tape. Because I was making a matching jacket, I decided to line the jacket with a brightly printed silky fabric and use some of that print to make custom bias tape. But now I realized I needed to top stitch this into place:

Colorful bias edge with top-stitching
The only saving grace was the slub weave of the fabric that can hide imperfections. The neckline and armholes were the only places top-stitching was used besides the zipper so maybe that was going to be okay. Onto the jacket! It went together well but it seemed to be calling out for the same top-stitching that I used on the bias tape edges used on the dress. By this time I had altered my expectations and think it looked okay when I gave it a good pressing. I would not even attempt buttonholes with this sewing machines and used my Viking 1100 instead, not a total success so maybe I'm just an attachment kind of a sewer for buttonholes.
Jacket with lining, buttonholes on Viking 1100
All in all, I finished the outfit, got the dress hemmed using the blind hem stitch, and waited for an occasion to wear it. My husband looked at it and declared it looked a bit "old fashioned." What does that mean? He explained it was the fabric that looked a bit old and I had to agree because this was one of my $2 per bag finds from the Textile Center Garage Sale. The whole outfit cost about $1.50 so I could afford to be "old fashioned" when I wore it.
New Look 6553 dress with princess seaming
Our church celebrated its 60th anniversary last week and I had the brainstorm to wear something that might look like 1955. Enter the old fashioned dress with a hat that was from the 1940's or 1950's. I have to say,the princess seamed dress was comfortable (I helped serve the meal after the service), washable, and I loved the hat! I got compliments on my 1955 attire that wasn't lost on the vintage loving women but the men kept their comments to themselves (why was she wearing an old hat?). Running errands afterwards found me at a store where the clerk looked at me but didn't make any comments so I had to speak up and tell her I was wearing the hat due to the 60th anniversary. She said she did notice and thought it looked good so I was affirmed in my selection. But maybe she was just polite.
With jacket and hat (too bad you can't see it!)
But I'm not going to be polite with my review of the Singer 132Q Featherweight: do not buy this poorly performing sewing machine. It was only $2 and I invested $5 in a spool pin, but the biggest cost was the donated power cord/foot control. I'm not sure I want to give that up! Who would want this sewing machine? Someone who only has an occasional repair and doesn't require any kind of quality? This would not be a good first sewing machine because you would not learn to sew very well and it would be the tool, not your own developing skills. It will languish on the shelf, waiting for someone who begs me for it.

Like that's going to happen.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Treadling to Haiti

From an earlier neighborhood garage sale, I bought a Franklin treadle in a cabinet that needed work. It needed to be further stripped and sanded (one drawer still had its finish on?), then got a coat of stain. I wasn't sure what kind of a finish it would need since it was going to Haiti to live in a climate much different than ours. My son-in-law, Eric, directed me to Woodcraft of Minneapolis where I would get good advice. He was right: a very knowledgeable man explained why shellac would be hard to apply due to fast drying, antique oil finish would not be hard enough and take maintenance,  and regular polyurethane would alligator (those fine lines and cracks in the finish) over time due to commonly used wax in the formula. Then he recommended a water-based polyurethane that did not have wax in it so it would be easy for clean up, less odor, and none of the alligatoring on this fine old piece of wood furniture. I went home with a can of General Finishes Semi-Gloss for the best finish ever. It was easy to use with a foam brush, soap and water clean-up can't be beat, and the product looked great. The first coat was so smooth I didn't want to sand before adding a second coat but it was recommended so I did. I also gave it three coats just to be sure it was well sealed and would last a long time. Here it is finished:

Now to install the Franklin head back into the treadle cabinet. From the time I took it out of the cabinet until now I have forgotten exactly how it was in there. Did I take photos? That would have been smart; I did not. The more I fiddled with it the more parts came off in my hands until I finally had to call in the troops: my husband came out to help and help he did. The cable was disengaged and he found where it should be hooked:
Photo of cable on top: you will have to trust me on where it attaches underneath
Then there was the problem of the front panel that is supposed to pull up as the sewing machine moves into the upright position. We could see where a strap of metal had been attached but that spot was shot so we repositioned it lower (this is all up under where no one can see it or work on it):
Note missing top layer of wood on right
All looked good so I placed the head back into the cabinet:

Franklin treadle all ready to go
At the sale
This gives me great satisfaction, to see it go from almost non-functional to a completed sewing machine that will be used daily in Haiti. Ellen: it's all ready!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Ain't She Sweet?

Sometimes straightening thing up gives an added bonus: you find projects you had forgotten about. While searching for fabric I was sure I had, I found a set of little girl dresses that were preprinted on fabric. They are like the simple cut-around -the-edges kits for pillows and stuffed animals but someone gave me this set of panels awhile back and I put them away for "later". They are sundresses from Jelly Bean Junction called "Sunny Faces" so June seemed like a good time to look at them again:
Here's the only likeness I have
 As I read over the directions and tried to put it together in my mind, I could see that I needed lining for the bodice and buttons:
Here's the only directions (without illustrations)
Printed on pieces with lines for size adjustments
The straps had been sewn and the back seam of one...wait a minute. One is marked "6" and then I see there are more fronts, backs, long stretches for the skirt..there are three of these dresses and I can choose size 2,4,6, or 8! Since I'm missing some of the shoulder straps, I decide I'll replace the straps on the smallest one with ribbon that has picots on the edge so it will tie and also have a bit of grip to stay tied. Now that I get one cut out and ready to sew I need to decide which sewing machine I'll use. That's easy: my newest Singer 99:
Singer 99 in bentwood case all cleaned up and ready to sew
This is a great way to test a sewing machine to see if I have everything adjusted correctly. I sew up the first parts only to find the back seam that I've decided to make into a flat felled seam (no raveling) doesn't look good at all:
Stitches not smooth!
The white thread was not good and neither were the stitches so I adjusted the bobbin tension and resewed it with blue thread:
Much better tension and resulting stitches
After adding the skirt to the bodice I didn't like the raw edges so I added bias binding for a smooth finish:
Bias binding added in two steps
Here it is mostly done (this is the photo I text to my sisters who were my "advisory panel"):
Full length, too long for a size 2
Now to add the three buttons to the back bodice. I love buttonhole attachments and had several for this low shank straight stitch Singer:
She's been well used but all of the parts are there!
I make two practice buttonholes and then added them to the dress:
Pretty good huh?
So now I hem the dress with just a straight stitch so it can be let down in case the size 2 girl who wears it is tall.
 Jelly Bean Junction "Sunny Faces" Dress Size 2
I got to finish up one part of a three dress project and test out a sewing machine to boot. I love the way the buttonholes turned out and the only thing I might have missed was using a blind hem stitch for the hem. There is an attachment for it but that seems a bit like overkill when I have other sewing machines that can make a blind hem easily. If it were my only sewing machine? Maybe. But I'm still not sure I'm cut out to be an only straight stitch kind of a sewer but just some of those machines are so sweet!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Getting Crafty

One of my crafty daughters (they are both crafty!) hosts a monthly craft group in her home where she picks a craft to teach and you can come to try it out and maybe take home a finished product. We have made jewelry together, painted glass, and this month we stenciled words on t-shirts. What does this have to do with sewing machines? In my case, I stenciled on fabric and went home to finish making my shirt on a serger but it's just a fun craft that I thought you might like to read about.

After dropping off a hand crank sewing machine to a happy quilter, I made my way over to Kelly's house to find out there were only going to be two of us that afternoon. Liz was already there and had prior experience so the focus all of their attention was on my project. I decided I would like to have my company name on a shirt that I would wear at craft fairs. I brought a stack of flat knit fabrics and they chose a great bright pink and we thought black paint would show up nice. I could accent the shirt in black and wear black pants. I cut out the front of the shirt with a t-shirt pattern I had previously used and that's going to be where I would apply my stencil. We used the same font that I used to machine embroider the name "In Stitches" on a Gridwall backdrop, sized and printed out the words. Next, I traced it onto freezer paper and then went back over it with a razor blade knife to create the stencil. Now here's the fun part: it was ironed onto the knit fabric because apparently freezer paper has one side that is adhesive.
Stencil cut out of the freezer paper and ironed on
 Using a round foam brush, I sponged the black paint onto the stencil, going back over it as it absorbed and revealed spots not fully covered.
Black paint sponged on

Drying time: stencils are not reusable!

While it was drying I cut out the back and long sleeves of the shirt so I would be ready to sew it together when I got home. I was working on mine and Liz was making her stencil on a ready-made shirt:
Liz's shirt with stencil ironed on
Due to the two coats of paint she didn't get to the last part because she had to wait for it to dry but you get the idea of how it was going to turn out.
Looks weird with centers of letters still in place
Yup, Liz is a runner
When dry, I put mine on the ironing board, placed 2 layers of paper towels over the design and pressed with a hot dry iron. I love the way it turned out!
Modeling the to-be-shirt
 Once I got home, I sewed the pieces together using my Huskylock 1000L serger but I had all kinds of problems when I thought it would look better with black ribbing around the neckline instead of pink. It was a combination of factors: ribbing that was too heavy and not using enough stretch. I used my Viking 1100 sewing machine to do a zigzag stretch stitch only to find it looked terrible. I was resigned to pick it out one stitch at a time because I wanted to preserve that nice front piece with the "In Stitches" words; have you ever taken stretch stitches out? It took three hours but it's done and over, a new black neckband with different fabric sewn in to look like this:

I still have to go back and restitch the neckline with the serger (I only put it on with a basting stitch this time) and finish the side seams plus hems but I like it. It's bright, looks professional, and will be warm enough for the craft fairs this fall where I display and sell my sewing and other crafts. Will I try this kind of fabric stenciling again? I'm sure of it and even have some thoughts about a shirt for my husband. Now should it say "I'm along for the ride" as a nod to my sewing machine business or should it be something about hunting deer or with a springer spaniel, his favorite dog? We shall see!