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Archive for August, 2010

Batik Blouse

My next project will be for M, since The Year Of A is over now.  M has always been a fan of the Duro-type top and dress, so I am making this top as a muslin for future garments.  I’m using this McCall’s pattern:

I cut out View A.  I got the batik at Fabrix a few years ago when we went there for a fabric shopping jaunt.  I doubt if I will ever go there again, because the parking is horrendous in that neighborhood, but if you can Bart or public transportation your way there, it is worth the trip.  If I lived over there I would haunt the place, but I do not enjoy the SF traffic.  The batik had sections of different patterns including some border strips, so I had to plan the top out to avoid an unfortunate ‘bullseye’ disaster on the bodice and to use the border strips attractively.  Here’s a view of the fabric:

This picture doesn’t show one of the pattern sections that had a more horizontal feel, that I used for the side bodice sections.

The blouse is all cut out and I should start sewing it soon.  Today I am making my dad a bunch of tortillas, so I have to go put in a book-on-tape and start rolling them out.

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I had some leftover fabric from A’s handbag and the cover I made for the sewing room stepstool, so I used it to make a cover for the Elna SU.  Every machine has a different shape and configuration, so you have to tailor the cover to fit the machine.  I had to make the end panels much narrower for this one, and because the cords are not recessed, I had to make a cutout on one end panel.

I didn’t line the cover since it is just to keep the dust off.  I finished some of the edges with bias tape:

I wanted to put a handle on this one, too, but decided on an easier method.  I made a strip across the entire width of the top with an unstitched-down section for the handle.  I measured the handle on my old Singer 301 case and here are the measurements they used:

Of course, theirs was made from leather and plastic, and I was working in fabric, but the concept is the same.  The base measurement of the handle from side to side is 5 1/2″.  The actual length of the handle is 8 1/2″.Much easier to sew and works great too.

I am glad to report that I finished peeling all those thousands of apples, and applesauce making is over for the year.  I think I am going to make some pepper jelly, though.  I’ll do all that when I finish up the plum jam.

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Here’s my old Kenmore machine, recently resurrected and back in action:
So far it is sewing fine and I have made at least two skirts, four blouses, one tote bag and who knows what else since it came back from the shop with a new pedal. The only problem I had with it so far is that it didn’t seem to like my cone thread, the big 6000-yard cones I buy from Atlanta Thread. I fussed around with the threading until I made it work. I needed one more thread holder on the machine to complete my Rube Goldbergian threading. The old machine is missing one of the spool holders, so I needed to invent one. My first effort was made from a Q-tip encased in metal tape and had the top of a cocktail pick stuck to the side for a thread holder. This worked fine but was less than refined looking, and it was also wobbly. Finally I took myself off to the hardware store and got a cotter pin. I filled in the center divide with some silicone adhesive I had and glued on a knitting counter:

It works great! It cost me 23 cents.

I have been covering the machine with an old pillowcase, but that looked sloppy, so today I made a cover for it.

I used some leftover decorator fabric that was in the stash. I decided to add a handle to the top so that I could take it on and off easily:

The rest of my sewing today was utilitarian. I mended six items for the spouse since he happened to ask me when I had the color he needed on the machine. It is very seldom that he gets instant results when asking for mending to be done, but today was the day.

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I pulled out another husband shirt with a worn out collar and remade it into another work shirt for A. I tried a different sleeve with about 1/2″ less cap ease, and it looks a little better, but I think I’ll take out about 1/4″ more from the front only.

Here it is on Betty.  The shirts look much better on A in real life than they do on Betty, thank goodness.

This month has been all about UFOs so far. I finished off the navy blue camp shirt I found in the sewing room, and have even worn it once. Poor shirt had been waiting about 10 years to get finished, so it deserved an airing. Now I have found several cut-out shirts that I will finish up and give to my sister. They were originally supposed to be for A but she is not crazy about the prints anymore now that she has a job and needs more serious clothes. The shirts are all interfaced and ready to sew, and they have short sleeves so there will be no cuffs to bother with. I called my sister to see if the other shirt I gave her years ago made with this same pattern still fits, and yes it does.

I still have one big box of apples to make into applesauce, but this week I was canning more plum jam so am taking today off, listening to another murder mystery, and sewing.

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Sewing For My Dad

In my youth, I was a terrible procrastinator. I’d put off homework until the night before, always studying at the last minute for tests, etc., etc. I was just realizing the other day that somehow I have managed to improve a heck of a lot in that department. I believe I mentioned that I was supposed to hem up three pairs of pants for my dad, and believe it or not, I am actually doing the job. I already had navy thread on my machine, so I decided to go ahead and get the job done before I changed the thread color to light yellow for A’s shirt. The pants are knit, and I used the method I have developed over the years for hemming knits, a method built on many stretched out hems and failed attempts before I finally found one that worked for me. I don’t have a serger or overlocker, so this method is for a regular zigzag machine. Unfortunately, it is not quick.

I used a pair of pants he already has to measure the side seam from the bottom of the band to the crease of the hem. To this measurement I added extra length (1 1/4″) for the hem and turnunder. I subtracted this number from the actual measurement of the side seam on the new pants from the bottom of the band to the crease of the hem, getting the measurement I would need to measure up from the hem. For example, my dad’s side seam measures 35″, so adding the hem allowances, I get 36 1/4″. I measure the new pants and get 40 3/4″, so obviously should measure up 4 1/2″ from the hem crease. I ruthlessly cut the bottom of the pants along the measured line, 4 1/2″ from the bottom of each leg. Then I hand baste a 1/4″ turnunder on each leg. I have tried machine stitching this, but it just stretches the knit out too much. Then I pin up a 1″ hem and get ready to stitch it down. I use a very narrow zigzag (about 1 – 1 1/2 on my machine that has widths from 1 to 5), and use a regular stitch length (about 12 on my old machine). I stitch along the top of the hem. The zigzag will help the hem not to tear when the knit is stretched. I think the added thickness of the turnunder 1/4″ helps minimize the stretch-out hem factor.

I’d better go finish up that last pair of pants.

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