Thursday, September 24, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Brian also showed using a center needle position buttonholer with a left needle position machine (in his case, a Kenmore). I bought a Kenmore-branded Greist high shank buttonholer that refuses to attach to my Necchi BU (the shape of the needlebar seems incompatible with the groove in the buttonholer?). Inspired by Brian, I decided to test the Kenmore buttonholer with another recent machine acquisition, a left needle position Japanese machine from the 1960s. All went well until we reached the top left edge of the buttonhole, when the needle hit the rim of the buttonhole opening (the rectangular area where the buttonhole is created) and broke. Too bad! Nothing ventured, nothing gained. The real investment in these vintage machines is not the purchase price (small), but the time in researching and testing the various combinations and settings.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
There you go: conflicted.
My son loves yard sales, and they do make for some good entertainment. Yesterday, he came home with a large plastic pipe (for creating a bazooka), while I (the anti-consumer, you know) netted four pieces of fabric and a rolling cart.
The cart comes at a welcome moment. I've been eyeing rolling sewing machine cases. They look handy, well-designed for protecting the machine and very expensive! Not to mention quite glaringly unattractive. I had been turning over in my mind that there are many, many cases and carriers for all manner of baggage in our attic. How could it be that a solution didn't exist there already? I decided that the missing elements were a frame and wheels, in a configuration that could accept a sewing machine in a hard case. This American Tourister cart is sturdy, so I know it is up to the job. And only $2. Shown with the Capitol Deluxe rummage sale find of three weeks ago (ahem), and a divine piece of vintage wool plaid blanketing fabric from yesterday.
Probably the best fabric find was this Viyella. Only 36" wide, but nearly three yards, so enough for a blouse. Viyella is a wool and cotton blend of high quality.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
I would love to say Lace Heaven had every color my heart could desire, but my heart has many, many desires, one of which is stretch lace in a narrow width in chocolate brown. Didn't find that, but there were many jewel tones to compensate. I am excited about giving these a whirl on some fall t-shirts.
In the past week, I've completed a second version of the Ottobre Woman Pigeon Gray dress, this time in a black and white loosely woven sweater knit, as well as a quick pair of yoga pants in black Powerstretch to go with the dress and the other tunics I'm making. Look for them soon.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
To make the blouse-length pattern into a dress, I simply added about twelve inches of length to the lower front panel, tapering out a bit more at the side seams in the hip area. All the pieces can be cut on the straight of grain rather than the bias, since the knit provides the stretch. For the back, I split the single back panel into two pieces at the same level as the empire seam in the front (adding a seam allowance to upper and lower piece). The lower piece I cut with a center seam and a swayback adjustment. I'm not completely convinced that this is the last word in how to best fit the back for me. I like continuing the empire seam around the whole dress, so that it functions like a waistline. On the other hand, using a center seam down the entire length of the back would allow for more control of the swayback curve. I can't see using the empire seam plus a center seam from top to bottom, creating a + motif in the middle of my back.
The hem was finished with a simple serger rolled hem, as I'm thinking of wearing this as a dress until the weather turns decidedly cooler, then shortening it to tunic length to wear over jeans and a long sleeve shirt for winter.
Love the way this turned out! I also made a three-quarter sleeve version in a black colorway of the same print (from fabric.com). Pictures will be forthcoming.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Love it, hate it, or something in between?
Oh, I certainly love it, but that's no great endorsement, since I seem to love all of my machines. I first got interested in trying out a vintage Necchi when the circuit board on my Bernina 160 failed. I surfed the internet reading various reviews and just happened across a couple of glowing accounts of vintage Necchis on Pattern Review. Their enthusiasm led me to the Vintage Necchis Yahoo Group. After reading along on this group for a couple of months, I had to have one. What they said is true, there is a quality to this massive chunk of Italian machinery that is quite unlike any other sewing machine I had used before.
When did you buy this sewing machine?
Summer of 2008. I had to wait until the fall to actually try it out. Read on...
When was it manufactured?
Where did you buy it?
I had been watching eBay for a vintage Necchi for several weeks. This machine was listed by a damaged freight company. As far as I could tell from the very indistinct photo, its spool pins were bent, and the plastic modern case it had been shipped in was cracked, but otherwise things looked okay. It turned out that it came with no power cord or foot pedal, or attachments other than the bobbin case, one bobbin and the all-purpose presser foot. I had ambitions of resolving the power situation myself, but in the end I took it to a local sewing machine mechanic who was backed up for seven weeks! The replacement foot control he provided is okay, but it does have a tendency to race. Since I sew clothing, I like to go slowly much of the time, and I find that I don't have the control I would like. I've heard of others with similar problems with replacement foot pedals. When the perfect treadle table comes along, I plan to convert this machine to treadle operation.
How much did you pay for it?
I paid $55, plus $30 shipping, which was a good deal, but then I spent around $100 for the mechanic's services and the foot pedal, and $40 for a set of attachments belonging to a BU Mira. My total cost was higher, and my gratification much more delayed, than if I had bought a complete outfit to begin with.
How many projects have you done on this machine?
Quite a few, but other machines have happened along since, so it hasn't been my only machine. I pieced a twin quilt top and made my son a pair of jeans as the first pair of projects. I have made a couple of denim skirts for myself, several cotton blouses, a rayon dress with piping and six very wide and long sheer curtain panels.
Describe the kind of work you've done with it. This machine is wonderfully well-suited to a wide variety of woven fabrics. It handles light fabrics just as beautifully as very firm and heavy fabrics. I am not sure, in all honesty, that it pierces heavier fabrics any better than my modern Bernina 160 (which I did have repaired, to the tune of $250!). And I have not had great luck at all using it on lighter weight knits, such as jersey.
The sewing experience on this machine is fantastic. The BU gives me the feeling that together we can push right through nearly any project. It handles thick topstitching or upholstery thread in the needle and the bobbin much, much better than my Bernina. I love that it has an adjustable needle position (left, center and right). My Bernina probably has 10 different positions from left to right, but I love the simplicity of the three, which turns out to be plenty for any need. I like that it has adjustable presser foot pressure, which two older Berninas I used to own did not. I like that the feed dogs can be dropped for free motion work, though I haven't explored that much yet. This machine is a high shank model, so it can use many industrial presser feet. These feet are rugged, very specific to a purpose and cost between $5-$10 per foot. Compare that to between $30-$60 per Bernina foot!
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
I also agree that these shoes look too clunky with the dress. They are my last remaining pair of Danskos, which I used to buy thinking they were a comfort shoe, but finally realized aren't even particularly comfortable for me.
I had to narrow the sweetheart cutout by almost an inch on each side to enable me to wear a bra with straps (very much necessary), and that too detracts from the cuteness of the dress.
In a more cheerful vein, I must recognize the good photography work of my 10 year old son on today's photos. His pictures have so far worked out much better than either my mom's or husband's. I'm impressed!
So it sometimes goes in a sewing life...