Archive for the ‘Vintage Sewing’ Category

When I was taking care of an older relative a few years ago, I thought the time might come when I would need to stay overnight, so maybe it would be a good idea to have a sewing machine over there to give me something to do during the down times.  I found a nice Singer 404 in a thrift shop in Petaluma for only $35, with a cabinet.  That is a lovely solid metal machine:

DSC00991-001Well, now it is several years later and my sister mentioned wanting a vintage machine, so, since I already have a 301A that is very similar, I gave this one to her.  She lives upstate, so we had a lovely drive up there to take her the machine.  She has much more room for a machine in a cabinet than I have.

I have been thinking about my machines and how I really don’t know how they work, and every time something goes wrong I have to take them into the shop.  Around here the rate for a visit to the shop is at least $130.  That can put a dent in your budget very quickly.  I decided to learn a little more about my machines and how to do proper maintenance, including what lubricants and oils to use where.  I got a book about fixing vintage machines and looked up information on the internet.  I was especially interested in the Singer 401A information because I have one with a frozen cam stack with a cam stuck in it.  I learned that Tri-Flow is what professionals use:

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This is used in places your manual tells you to use sewing machine oil.

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This is used on gears and places where your manual tells you to use lubricant instead of oil.

So I tackled my first sewing machine fix.  I used the Tri-Flow, a hair dryer, and followed the advice of an excellent video I watched (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdaWx1gGZWg), and hurray, I got the stuck cam out, managed to get the stitch selectors working again, and all in all, felt proud of myself.

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Been sewing up a storm here.  Here are the first two husband shirts modeled by the man himself during the cool early morning hours (the thermometer said 110 yesterday afternoon).

DSC00550This is the Victoria Jones Hawaiian shirt 210 pattern.  This pattern has lots of great ready-to-wear features like the folded front bands and french seams.  The side vents are nicely drafted, too.  I changed the seam allowances on the collars and neckline and used the felled seam technique that I mentioned earlier (http://off-the-cuff-style.blogspot.com/2010/10/tutorial-felled-shoulder-seam-technique.html).  He really likes this shirt and has already worn it a lot.


DSC00554This shirt, a Simplicity vintage pattern, is made from a length of Hawaiian cotton fabric I found at a local thrift store a few years ago.  I had barely enough for the shirt, but look how nicely the pattern accidentally matched across the front!  I felled the seams on the sleeves using the regular 5/8 seam allowances the pattern calls for which required a bit of hand basting, but I was pleased at how well it turned out.  These sleeves have a higher sleeve cap than more modern shirt patterns so I wasn’t sure it would work.  I grafted the side vents from the Victoria Jones pattern onto this pattern.

Here’s the vintage Simplicity pattern which will now be a TNT for the spouse’s more casual sport shirts:


Here are the new fabrics we have for future shirts.  Two of them were Father’s Day gifts from A, and the other is the one I found.

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A long time ago when I was in junior high, my grandmother gave me an old coat.  She was always bringing us old stuff when she came to visit us, and this coat dated from the 40’s or 50’s.  The wool in this gray coat was fabulous, thick and warm.  We took the coat apart and I made myself a 6-gore skirt.  I wore that skirt for years, all the way through college.  I saved the scraps and still have the skirt saved somewhere.  I used the scraps to roll up into a bobbin lace cushion when I was teaching myself bobbin lace making, so the coat was eventually all used up in a useful manner.  Because of this, I have always had an interest in remaking outdated clothing.  I picked up this booklet at an antique sale a few years ago:IMG_0003

It has pages of instructions for using old clothing to make new items during the wartime years when it was hard to get fabric and required ration coupons.








In addition to thinking about sewing, we have been working in the garden a bit.  Here in California, Spring is on the way and we will have a week or so of nice sunny weather followed by several nights of frost.  This morning is really frosty.  Over the weekend we drove to the nursery in Sebastopol and bought what we thought were 4 raspberry canes.  When we got them home, though, we saw that they were 5 canes tied together in each packet so we are going to have raspberries all across the back fence.  I’ve never grown berries before except for a few volunteer blackberry plants, so we have been reading the gardening book to see what we are suppposed to do.

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Sunbonnet #2

Well, I had just finished the batik top and had some leftover fabric so hey, presto, a batik sunbonnet.  The back drape has been lengthened to about 9 1/2″ from the base of the brim.  That seems to give good back coverage, and the front ties were cut a little longer and are now 22″ long before sewing.  I really like this one – wearing the bonnets is a lot cooler (temperature-wise) than the straw garden hat, and the ties keep it from blowing or falling off.  The sewing on this one went a lot faster.

The picture above shows the buttonhole in the center back at the bottom of the hood portion (top of the drape) with the adjusting ties .

When I was looking up prairie bonnets online, I found some utilitarian ones which I might try to duplicate.  On these bonnets, the drape comes around to the front and shields the neck and chin:

A bonnet like this should be easy to sew, since I can use the  measurements from the other bonnets.  I would love to have a pink bonnet with ruffles, too.

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Usually, when I work in the garden, I wear a large garden hat.  It falls off sometimes, blows off in the wind, and doesn’t really cover the back of my neck.  I’ve always wanted a sunbonnet and have been acquiring patterns for that future project.  Yesterday I finally decided to go for it.  There are some pretty sunbonnets pictured on the internet, though some places call them prairie bonnets.  I found a few pictures I liked and altered a pattern I had to fit me.  The out-of-print pattern is for a child, so I made it a little bigger.  The pattern is Size Large, so I added 1 1/4″ at center back and to the center of the front brim piece.

The front brim needs interfacing, so I used Peltex Ultra-Firm Sew-In which is sometimes on sale at JoAnns when they have 50% off the notions wall.  Such a firm interfacing is difficult to sew, so next time I’m going to cut the brim interfacing piece without seam allowances and slide the interfacing into place after I partially sew the brim.  I topstitch the brim so the interfacing will be held in place.

Some of the old bonnets I looked at had a casing in the back with ties to adjust the width of the back.  The pattern calls for elastic in the casing, but I went with the ties.  I just put in a buttonhole in the center back of the bonnet back before I sewed the casing, then I put the ties in.  Both the ties for the back and the front ties are sewn into the brim seam.

Next time I’m going to make the front ties a little longer and make the back neck drape longer.  Otherwise, a success, and I’m going to use it for the first time today.

Note on my model:  This funny papier mache head was a craft I did with my girls one day when they were little.  You blow up a balloon and cover it with newspaper strips soaked in a flour/water paste.  I think I remember taping the balloon to an empty toilet paper tube for the neck before the papier mache was applied.  It’s really interesting and funny to see the way kids paint the faces.

I gave the batik blouse to my daughter when it was finished and forgot to get a picture of it.  Maybe I can get her to give it back for a few minutes to be photographed some day.

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We went from cold spring to hot 90 degree weather in 12 hours.  Meanwhile, my new rose bush, Joseph’s Coat, bloomed for the first time:

I love everything about this rose and hope it climbs all over the fence.

One thing about trying to clean up your act is that you find stuff you had forgotten you had. Here’s a few old patterns that turned up while I was going through my pattern stash:

Look at that fashion artwork in McCall’s 4003!  Those girls are easily 8 heads high and would look a bit freaky in real life so out of realistic proportion are they.  It does make the clothes look nice though.

I also found the pack of missing crochet hooks that I have been looking for.

Not much happened today in the sewing room because we went into Oakland for the bead show.  There is still stuff all over the living room waiting to go into storage, so maybe tomorrow I can start culling the fabrics.  Like I said, it will be a long process.

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The little embroidery machine is out of the shop and back home.  The problem was with the thread sensor, apparently.  I tried it out this morning and it seems to be fine:

My camera is still going crazy, though.  At least I can get a few pictures out of it while scraping up the $$ for a new one.  It keeps switching to video mode and uses up the battery charge quickly.  I have had it for 6 or 7 years, which I guess is extreme old age for a tech gadget.

I made my usual trip to Sebastopol a week or so ago and came back with lots of vintage needlecraft pamphlets and a few vintage patterns.

This pattern above might make an OK house dress and dates to the 70’s. The dress shown below is either ugly or not too bad depending on the fabric choice.  I’ll have to think about it.

My mom had a pattern like this (now in my collection somewhere) and I always wanted to sew a textured corduroy pillow or pillows.  The small wale fabric looks pretty smocked or tufted but haven’t seen it quilted before, and that looks great, too.

This one dates back to the 20’s so is in very good shape considering its age.

Still no action on the serger front, but I hope to tackle that machine soon.  Yesterday I was making a huge cake for the spouse’s office for Valentine’s Day and covering it with some heart and glitter sprinkles I got from the seasonal section at the Walmart.  I often make treats for the office staff, especially during tax season.

Still haven’t started a new sewing project yet because I’ve been tracing patterns, but maybe today is the day.

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