Everything’s New!

A new 1912 pattern, two new skirts finished & a t-shirt embroidered, plus a NEW SEWING MACHINE! But first, 1912. And if you scroll down farther you’ll see pictures of new (modern) skirts.

Janyce has released a challenge pattern, the Ladies Princess Slip. It has oodles of inset lace (it looks like three to four different kinds) that run vertically for some slimming lines and a pleated flounce. When I started the blouse, I was so excited that I jumped right in without looking too closely at the picture and missed a few details, like the pleats only extending halfway down the bodice. From what I can tell from this pattern by looking at the picture & pattern pieces, the slip closes in the back, which is not shown. I’m guessing that it’s fastened with buttons. It’s not cut on the bias, so I can’t see anyone being able to slip it over their head like a modern day slip. The description says that the lace at the armholes & neck is gathered, but it looks more like scalloped lace. As for the different kinds of lace involved, you can see them laid out at the neckline. There’s the scalloped lace and a wider lace with a circular pattern. What I can’t decide is whether the lace farthest out on the side of the neckline & below it are the same or not. The lace on the side looks to be slightly thinner and have a slightly more muted pattern than the lace below the neckline (which is also the lace that runs vertically along the slip). In other pattern drawings from La Mode Illustree I’ve noticed slight flaws in perspective & details. I’m not sure if this is one of those or not. This pattern also means more new things: techniques. I’ve never put in lace inserts before & I’ve never pleated to that extent (last time I did was with a couple of loose pleats in high school). Will that extra fabric be too much weight on the slip? Should a lighter fabric be used on the pleats to help any potential weight issues? What do you more experienced sewists think? Also, will the lace inserts go on top of the pattern pieces or will they go between them? I thought that lace inserts went in between, but last night I measured the pattern pieces (one for the front center & two for the other pieces) at the waist line and came up with a 29-1/8″ circumference. With a 36″ bust, a waist any bigger than about 30″ would seem odd for a model size for that era. Also supporting the lace on top theory is that the front piece has you cut on the fold. I took that to mean that we should only cut out one piece. If the lace were supposed to be inserted between the pieces, then they probably would have had people cut two separate pieces for the front. As for the blouse mock-up I started, I’ve taken a break, but will be getting back to it. Friday night my sewing machine crapped out on me. It’s a beautiful, old, all metal Bernina Record that loves to eat my thread and fabric. I was trying to finish a skirt I had started the night before with a new yard of fabric when the machine went cookie monster on me. I had checked tension, I had tried pretty much everything I could think of and had re-threaded the damned thing more times than I could remember when I gave up in frustration. And I had only been using the thing for a few weeks. Because I had had this problem before, I got a Janome Sew Mini to hold me over. It’s a super basic machine that costs less than a trip to the sewing machine repair shop. I used it off & on for just over two years before it died on me and I must say I’m really impressed with how that little thing held up. I put it through all sorts of challenges, like using waaaay too many layers of fabric & it stood up to them all very well. But anyways, I was out two machines. I went into panic mode: what was I going to do, I had been on a roll with sewing & I couldn’t possibly afford a new machine with a couple of tuition payments coming up.

I have an amazing boyfriend. I really do. He bought me an ipad when my computer started wheezing its last death rattles. He told me he was going to get me a new machine- which was something he warned me I should do weeks ago. But he had just bought me an ipad in the fall & a very nice case for the ipad for my birthday a week ago. I couldn’t let him get me another big ticket item. So I’ll be paying him back. But he was going to do it without any remuneration of any kind, which is why he’s an amazing boyfriend & I’m super lucky.

Yesterday I received my baby: a Brother SE 400. I’ve never before had or used a computerized machine. IT’S AMAZING! The needle threader & thread cutter are revelations. This thing cuts my spool & bobbin thread with the push of a button after I’m done sewing- NO SCISSORS. I gasped every time it did it; it was so magical. When it cuts the thread it automatically raises the needle up, so if you’re changing threads the upper looper thingie is already in a position to accept the new thread- NO TURNING THE HANDWHEEL. I love to sit cross-legged with my feet tucked under- A BUTTON STARTS & STOPS THE MACHINE. And baby is it fast! And quiet relative to my old vintage machine! And a bobbin thread cutter when you’re inserting the bobbin- NO MORE TRYING TO GET THE BOBBIN THREAD UP THROUGH THE FEED DOGS TO START SEWING.

Although, I don’t like that it won’t let you continue sewing when the bobbin is almost out- it beeps a warning at you & sure you can keep going, but you have to keep telling the warning to shut up every few seconds. What can I say? I was partially raised by my immigrant grandmother who taught me to never waste anything (This weekend she got mad at me because I threw out moldy vegetables. She’s from China and she knows how to handle vegetables, thank you very much. Yes grandma, I know you were raised in rural China and starved at times, but you really can’t eat those moldy vegetables that will make you sick & your fridge is brimming with plenty of safe food). So I like to use up all of my thread, but can’t really imagine what I’m going to do with all these leftover bits- I don’t hand sew enough to use them all up. Maybe I need to remind myself that I’m not in rural china and I have a box full of plenty of thread.

Finally, the reason I bought the machine: it embroiders! Sure, it only does a small 4″x4″ section at a time & I have dreams of adorning a poodle skirt with a giant bumble bee instead of a dog (which I might try in applique), but I really couldn’t justify getting a bigger machine as I’d never done machine embroidery before & don’t own some sort of sewing business. I embroidered several things last night and was delighted to learn I could walk away from the machine. I love to multi-task, so while my new baby was embroidering, I was assembling the princess slip pattern. but before I did that I sat down & watched the machine do all the hard work all by itself while I ate a bag of chips & later some chocolate. The only thing missing to make it a wonderfully decadent moment was some molten lava cake.

After my test sewing, I set to work embroidering a hand-me-down black t-shirt. I embroidered a few circles & put some decorative stitches along the edges.

I finished up the night re-doing a skirt that had failed about a month ago. I had tried sewing the fabric directly to the elastic, but had never done so before & was using the only elastic I had on hand- lingerie elastic- and things did not turn out well. This time I made a casing between the fashion fabric & the lining. It works much better.
It’s a simple pattern: two rectangles gathered at the waist with elastic. I hemmed it with bias tape that I attached with decorative edging. The fabric is a light blue with a print of tiny apples & turtles.

A few days earlier I had been able to finish off the skirt (same pattern as the apple & turtles skirt) that my old machine started to eat. My old baby was able to sew a straight line for a few minutes. You do not want to look at the hem. I said screw it, I don’t care about matching up the decorative stitch pattern on the bias tape, spending over 15min trying to sew 1-1/2 inches is way too much. But it’s done & it’s my Flying Foxes Twirl Skirt (the pattern has foxes flying through the air at the end of kite strings & bunnies riding bicycles) & it can be worn three ways. That’s why I love this pattern so much & have done it up in a few skirts. I can wear it belted at the waist with a crinoline underneath.
I can wear it belted at the waist without a crinoline.
And I can wear it low on my waist.
But most importantly, no matter how I wear it I can twirl!


One thought on “Everything’s New!

  1. Pingback: 2012, The Year of Making Things « Disparate Disciplines

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