Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Black Work Skirt - Simplicity 2451

I loved this pattern when making my Plum Wool Skirt so I made another in black. This will get a lot of wear at work!

The zipper's not wonky even though it looks wonky here.

I'm not exactly sure what the fabric is. It feels cotton based but it's quite heavy like a blanket? I chose it to make a warmer skirt anyway so I like that it's heavy and warm.

Pattern: $1
Fabric: $10
Zipper: $2
Total: $13

This is a great little basic skirt pattern that's really easy to follow. The second time around with it I think I had it done in about 2 hours!

And since I made my Plum Wool Skirt from the same pattern but I didn't get a decent shot with it on I've put one below.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Black Peplum Top

Peplums. Peplums. Peplums. They're everywhere and I want one.

I decided to try and make a peplum top based on the Burdastyle Book Dress Pattern. I love the princess seams on the bodice and thought it would sit quite nicely with a little peplum on the bottom.

As it happens I measured it wrong and it doesn't quite fit me around the waist but it was such a nice looking top I thought I'd share it with you.

I'm not sure what the fabric is but it drapes beautifully and it has this nice sheen to it.

I'm usually pretty good with making a muslin but I kind of got excited to sew on my new machine so I decided to wing it.  Now I've learnt my lesson. Always make a muslin before cutting up your fabric!

Luckily for me it was only $10 a metre so on my next trip to the fabric store I'll get some more of this fabric and do a bit of a show and tell once it's done properly.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Foldover Clutch

I love clutches and I keep seeing these type of clutches all around the internet so it was time to make one for myself! Whilst doing some research into making one I found a ton of tutorials online. I don't want to simply copy and paste their hard work on my blog so I thought I'd just share some photos - so here goes!

It's not perfect but I love it!

Monday, June 11, 2012

My new machine - Singer 6180

Here she is, my new sewing machine. She's been a little shy since I got her, not wanting to be blogged about until we had truly connected and become friends (she's right it was a little rocky to start with). But now it's time to reveal her to the world.

I'd like to preface this whole post by telling you that my previous sewing machine was a Brother 2600. She was lovely. She really was (and still is - for my mum who intends to use her for pillowslips and curtains and such). But we reached a point together where I wanted more. She tried to step up. She tried to sew through multiple layers of fabric. She tried to sew leather and faux leather but sadly we were both kidding ourselves. I was asking too much and it was hurting her. So we parted ways.

I'd been searching for a machine I could grow into. Something with a whizzbang motor, auto tension, lots of stitches and the ability to sew through anything. Originally I was dreaming about looking at machines around the $1000 mark thinking I could save for a while and get something really spiffy. As it happens just shortly after looking at said expensive machines I saw that Lincraft were having a one day sale on the Singer 6180 which reduced it from $700 to just $200! I read countless reviews online and reviewed all the specs. I was a bit worried about some of the reviews because people tended to whinge a lot about the fact that the bobbin was hard to get to, they had lots of C4 errors where the thread got stuck and the machine became unusable and all sorts of catastrophes. Although a nagging little voice kept saying perhaps the only people who seek out review boards online might be the very people who have something quite negative to say and just need to get it out to the world. Honestly for the amount of these machines there would be in the world there must have been thousands of happy seamstresses who were just too busy sewing to comment on a review board. So I bought the machine.

She came with everything you see here. Yes those are new, sharp dressmaking scissors you see there - included!

I started by watching the DVD before I even attempted to turn her on. It meant I had some vague idea of what the buttons were before I went breaking anything on my first try. I also skimmed through the manual for the essentials before flicking the switch and being greeted by her little light and her electronic screen.

She was pretty easy to thread up and inserting the bobbin was not nearly as hard as everyone had whinged about. The tension took me ages to get right but that's never been my strong suit. So I spent a while adjusting the tension until I had something I was vaguely happy with before whipping out some scrap cotton and sewing my way through a whole lot of her (80!) stitches.

So what's the verdict?

She is an absolute dream to sew with. Having a proper motor makes all the difference to sew with. She feels so sturdy and so my clothes feel sturdier. She can sew through multiples layers of fabric with ease. She found it really easy to sew through the wool skirt I just made which, on the yoke, had 6 layers of wool as well as bias tape. No problems!

Yes you do have to take the accessory tray off each time you want to rethread the bobbin but I really don't see this as the major catastrophe that others seem to make it out to be. And the bobbin itself seems sturdier than my last drop in one with plastic bobbins. Sorry Brother 2600 this one beats you on that one too!

Sewing reverse is different on this machine. Instead of having a lever to hold down to sew in reverse this one has a little button above the needle that you press to sew in reverse. This took a bit of getting used to (habit!) but then I realised that this reverse button was niftier than I had at first thought. You don't have to have your foot on the pedal to sew in reverse! You just press this button and it will sew 4 stitches in reverse for you. Unless you hold it down, in which case, it will just keep sewing in reverse. Love it!

This machine came with some awesome feet! Before purchasing this machine I had no idea that an overcasting foot even existed and yet now I couldn't live without it. So in love with this foot am I that I shall dedicate an entire post to it so you know what I mean.

So on my road to finding the perfect tension I had many a C4 message as well as some pretty scary mechanical sounds which made me think my machine would go bang. Every time it did that I took off the accessory tray cleaned out the bobbin, fully reathreaded the machine, turned it off and back on again and voila it was talking to me again.

Although it took me a while to get the tension right it is now perfect every time on cotton, jersey and faux leather. I never really noticed how inconsistent the tension was on my previous machine until sewing with the Singer. It seems to have reliable, sturdy stitches regardless of what you're sewing with or the thickness. The tension on this machine singlehandedly convinced me that it's the sewing machine for me. Everything else I'm impressed by is just a bonus.

In short I love my new machine and I can't wait to make my entire wardrobe with her!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

365 : 2012 : 21 | 365 : 2012 : 22 | 365 : 2012 : 23

3 weeks ago...my week in pictures:

- Monday - sunny lunch break
- Tuesday - autumn leaves
- Wednesday - signing mortgage paperwork for a house we fell in love with
- Thursday - long bath - we got gazumped and had to walk away from the house
- Friday - got caught in a historic fire brigade procession
- Saturday - date night! we treated ourselves to see Dark Shadows in Gold Class and had a nice dinner
- Sunday - my niece turned the big 4

2 weeks ago...my week in pictures:

- In love with my overcasting foot that came with my machine
- Playing with jersey fabric
- Playing with knit fabric
- Folding napkins at work for a function
- Handsewing buttons on Boyfriend's shirt for a night out in the city
- A pot of peppermint tea
- Attempting a black peplum top from the Burdastyle Book Dress Pattern

This week in pictures:

- Beautiful flowers at work (hayfever!)
- I asked Boyfriend to buy chocolate he came back with a tub of m&m's - he's a keeper.
- Progress on the Plum Wool Skirt
- Stylin in my polka dot pj's - it's so cold!
- Pizza night!
- A walk in the sunshine and fresh air surrounded by the remnants of Autumn
- Made a foldover clutch today! I'll put it up on the blog soon.

Phew! Got a bit behind there, I'll try and keep this as a weekly thing again. Saves me scratching my head wondering what I did the other day?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Plum Wool Skirt

For quite a while now I've been battling with the question of whether my sewing wasn't progressing because I needed lessons or because I had outgrown my basic sewing machine. As it happened I enrolled in sewing lessons at about the same time as buying myself a much better machine (more on that later!). I happily went along to my first sewing class excited that I might meet other people that sew or who at least had a desire to make one thing in their life.

The class was structured so that we would learn about all types of patterns, how to read the back of a pattern envelope to identify our size and the amount and type of fabric needed to make something. We were to buy ourselves a pattern we liked and some fabric that suited the pattern as well as our notions. Then we would spend the next 7 weeks of the term being guided through our particular pattern so that everyone in the class made a skirt perfectly fitted to them by the end of term.

The first two lessons were quite helpful while the teacher explained each type of fabric, how it was made, how much of the fabric was natural or man made etc. She also watched quite closely as we chose the style of skirt from our pattern and literally measured everyone's pattern placements on the fabric to make sure everything was precisely on grain.

That was the point at which I stopped wanting to go to class. The point at which we would sit down at a machine and sew something up ourselves. I'm sure there are still lots of things I need to learn about sewing patterns but it was becoming apparent that no-one in the class had even touched a sewing machine much less owned one and used it. So I dropped out.

This happened the same week as buying a shiny, new machine (and it's glorious!!). I had spent some time adjusting the tension and trying out as many stitches as I could be patient enough to try (it has 80). And in that one weekend of playing with a new machine, using an overcasting foot and a zipper foot for the first time taught me more about sewing than I had ever learnt, or anticipated learning, in class.

So I made a promise to myself. If I walked away from my sewing classes I had to do justice to my skirt pattern. I had to measure it precisely and give it the best stitching I had ever done. In short I had to create it with my sewing teacher looking over my shoulder. And that's what I did.

I created this skirt from Simplicity 2451 using View D. It's made with a Plum coloured wool, black bias tape and a black zipper. I made it exactly to the pattern except for the length. I made it a little shorter than suggested because I'm a little on the short side.

I managed to sew up three quarters of it one night after work and I finished off the rest of it this morning so it's quite an easy little pattern to make.

So how much did it cost me?
Pattern: $17
Fabric: $15
Zipper: $2
Bias Tape: $2

Total : $36

I love this pattern and I already have some black fabric to make myself a skirt for work.

So I guess the answer to my original question was that I really did need a machine that was more suited to dressmaking than sewing up pillowslips and cushions (although I really did love my little machine!). Perhaps I needed a bit of what I learnt in my sewing class and a part of me wonders what more I might have learnt but after inspecting the finished product of this skirt I can say with confidence that it's the best sewing I've ever done.