Thursday, June 30, 2016

History + Sewing = Fun Job

I haven't posted much lately because I've been so busy finishing up my degree in American History and my Public History Certificate.  This involves heavy reading and writing - including a 34-page Senior Thesis - so sewing is an indulgence I've had to forego until now.

Everyone asks me, "what are you going to do with a history degree?"  My answer:  "I dunno..."

But this summer I found an internship that might set me on an interesting free-lance career path. Working at the local history center, I am making costumes for historical interpretation sketches and reproduction garments for living history exhibits.  These are made from patterns that are drafted from extant garments for authenticity.

For example, here is one of the patterns I will be making for the 1820's era:
I have started out this project by making a mock-up just to see how it all goes together and how it fits. This was clearance fabric, not the color or style I would choose for the real dress, but it gives an idea of the fit which is even better than I expected (although I came up a little short on fabric so it isn't as long as the real dress will be.)  In this mock-up, I just ran it up on the machine but the actual working garment will be at least partly hand sewn - maybe entirely, I'm not sure yet.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

My New Toy - Singer Deluxe Monogrammer

There is nothing that relieves the stresses of hectic everyday life like a little time out to play with my sewing toys.  For some reason I decided I must get a Singer Deluxe Monogrammer.  Then I decided I must collect as many of the letter cams as possible.

Then, of course, I had to justify buying these new toys by using them on a project.  :)

I will preface this by saying that I am using the monogrammer on my "new" old Singer 503.  And by that I mean that I bought a second 503 on CL for $20 and it was beat up and shabby but actually sewed better than my shiny, perfect 503.  I have a post about those machines HERE.

So I bought this attachment on eBay along with all the letter cams I could find.  Usually the attachments listed come with the three letters that the original user was given when they bought it back in the early 1970s, I guess.  So my fellow collectors will totally understand that I bought TWO of these attachments in order to get the different cams I wanted!

           And here it is attached to the machine.  Just like you'd attach the automatic buttonholer.

(You can see how nicked and dinged up this 503 is, but you know it sews great if I was willing to swap it for the cosmetically perfect model)

I bought a cheap denim jacket at Target, and my Rocketeer quickly stitched up a perfect monogram and flower motif.

If you zoom in on these, you can see just how perfect the stitching is.

Yes I know there are embroidery machines out there that  can download multiple fonts, all the letters and designs you want, and stitch them up with no attachments. But honestly, what is the fun in that?  :)

I also experimented with an old hand towel just to see how it would do.  The machine stitched this easily as well.  I'd probably choose a wider stitch next time (like the one I used on the jacket) so it would stand out more against the textured terry cloth.  But even so, how cool is this.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Singer Cabinet Addiction (Is There a 12 Step Program?)

Well, I bought another cabinet.  Every time I buy another cabinet or another machine, I am convinced that THIS is "the one."  But really and truly, this is the one.  I promise.  

Three or four years ago I sold a Singer #42 cabinet that I had bought at an estate sale and I regretted it ever since.  It was so beautiful!  Now there are two different versions of this cabinet.  The one I sold is the earlier model which looks just like this except it has three separate drawers on the right rather than the curved panel that swings out.  And in the top left drawer it has a built-in ink well and pencil tray which is just the coolest thing ever. 

This one has a spool rack in the left hand drawer rather than the ink well.  

Swinging panel opens to reveal two drawers and a shelf for storing patterns.  

Like all mid-century Singer cabinets, this is actually a fine piece of furniture.  Look at the back!  This isn't cheap particle board facing the wall, it is all solid wood.

But the best part is that this version of the #42 cabinet can take my Singer 301 - my favorite machine.  They look great together because they both have similar Art Deco styling. 
(The earlier version of this cabinet cannot accept the 301)
(PS...after taking this photo, I installed the controller in the cabinet to use with the knee lever)

So I have a new card table for my Featherweight.  I have the "ultimate" cabinet for my 301.  I put my Rocketeer in the cabinet previously occupied by the 301.  All is well in my Vintage Singer Sewing World.  :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Some Catching Up To Do!

Wow, I haven't been here in forever (I have been chained to my books).  But now I have a few weeks to catch up and putter around with my sewing machines again.

This week I answered a Craigslist ad:  "Two machines for $40".  One was a Singer 503 Rocketeer.
It is slightly more dinged up than my own 503, but once I took it apart, cleaned and oiled it, it actually runs faster and smoother and makes a nicer stitch.

Singer 503 Rocketeer rescued from a filthy garage and coaxed back into working order.  It does really beautiful stitching!

One of the little "goodies" that came along for the ride was this zigzagger that isn't like any I've ever seen before - a no name "Made in Japan" attachment for low shank.
Each cam is about the size of a quarter and has TWO stitch patterns. Compare to the Singer Automatic zigzagger and its ginormous cams!

Super nice zigzag, satin stitching and decorative stitching on my Featherweight and super easy

Its much "daintier" than the big Singer attachment - better for the Featherweight

Here it is stitching on my Featherweight.  Its not something I'll probably ever actually use, but it is cool just to have it.  And it will fit in my FW case along with all 14 stitch patterns!

PS  ....
(The other machine was a Kenmore 158.13200 that isn't working at all and not something I really want to fool with. I will recycle it.)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Featherweight Card Table - my newest acquisition!

Well there is very little left that I covet for my sewing room but this was something I was always on the lookout for.  I never actively searched for it, but I knew if I found one at the right price I'd get it.

In five years of keeping an eye out for a Featherweight card table this is only the second one I've ever seen.  I decided I might as well get it because it just doesn't seem like there are that many of them around.  Even on eBay, there may be one or two for sale at any given time and that is it.  My theory is that they were just absorbed into households as an every day table because unlike a regular sewing cabinet they were a useful piece of furniture with or without the machine.

The nice thing is that like all Singer products made before about 1965 or so, it is very high quality.  This thing weighs a ton!  It is solid wood, not cheap particle board. The hardware is high quality and heavy duty - nothing flimsy here.  This is a very nice table by any standard and it is the perfect complement to a lovely little Featherweight.

I was thrilled to find a cabinet for my 301 (it has a slightly different configuration from the standard Singer cabinets so I was lucky to find it) and now my Featherweight is tucked away in her own custom table. 

If I have to justify this further (I don't, do I?) I can tell myself that this is a great extra table for the kids for big family meals or even for a party.  It is pretty enough to use for any occasion.

Also, DH and I are looking to downsize sometime in the next couple of years and this will be a great all purpose table for when we need to save space.  We can do jigsaw puzzles on it or play cards on it in addition to using it for an extra dining table.

Score!  I love it!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Accessories for my Apple Devices - a How-To

My very first "How-To"

I don't know how helpful this will be, and I'm not great at photos, but I wanted to demonstrate how I made a sleeve for my iPad Air.

And also show the sleeve I made for his big brother, the MacBook Pro

I started with an end-of-the-bolt yard of fabric I bought one day just because I liked it.  Then added in some remnants from my stash plus some trims and notions I had on hand.  I didn't buy anything specifically for this project.
Main fabric, contrasting fabric, rick-rack (or other trim), button

Fusible fleece, velcro, thin elastic cord

This is my "pattern".  For the iPad Air + the folio (Zagg keyboard), a piece of regular notebook paper is actually the perfect size.  For any other size device, wrap a tape measure around it in both directions (lengthwise and widthwise).  Divide each number in half then add one inch.

Example:  if the device measures 15" around the width and 24" around the length, then the pattern measurement would be 15/2 + 1 = 8.5" x  24/2 + 1 = 13"

The flap is cut 1/4" narrower on EACH side (see above) and then can be drawn using the lined notebook paper as a reference.

These are all the pieces needed for the project.  There is 1/2" seam allowance

1.  Two main pieces each from the main and contrasting (lining) fabric.  Mine is 8.5" x 11"

2.  One flap each from the main and contrasting fabric

3.  One pocket each from the main and contrasting fabric.  The width of the main piece plus a little more than half as long.  Mine is 8.5" x 7"

4. One piece of contrasting fabric the width of the main pattern piece x 4" for pocket band

5.  Fusible fleece: two main pieces + one flap piece.  Cut away seam allowances before fusing to avoid bulky seams.  Like this:

On pocket band, fold lengthwise edges into meet middle then fold again and press

Open up, and use glue stick to apply hook side of velcro to back of band, to hold it in place while you sew it on

Put pocket sections wrong side together, fold band over top, and stitch in place close to folded edge

Sew soft velcro strip to front

Pin rick-rack to front flap, 3/4" from edge and sew in place

Cut 4" piece of elastic cord, tie a loop with a large knot.  Position knot at seam line, baste into place.

Pin flap lining to flap, right sides together.  Mark knot with pin.  When sewing seam, be sure knot is INSIDE the seam allowance.

Turn flap right side out and press

Mark position for button on pocket and sew into place.  Baste pocket onto front.

With right sides together, sew one lining section to front along top seam, press open.  

Position flap and back sections right sides together then put back lining section over these right side down.  Pin and stitch all three pieces together at top seam, then press open as shown.

Pin these two sections right side together, and stitch all the way around beginning at corner shown on top right and ending at corner shown on top left. 

Leave a 3"-4" opening at bottom of lining as shown in order to turn work.

Turn right side out

and press

Press under seam allowance at open edge on bottom of lining

Sew this opening closed with an overedge stitch

Push lining to inside, insert device

Button it up and DONE!