Saturday, 18 January 2020

The Perfect White Shirt

Is there such a thing?  If I were to dream, the fabric would be white and made from natural fibres. It would have long sleeves, a menswear style sleeve placket, enough ease incase there are some sweets that I can't resist, and some sort of interesting design detailing.   

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Something that doesn't overwhelm my petite frame with a design features that look like they're trying to hide my overweight shape.  

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A front drape is nice and I do like an asymmetrical hemline.  

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Oh, and pockets!  

But not breast pockets.  

And not an Audrey Hepburn retro look.  I would like the shoulder seam to sit at the shoulder.  Hmmm, this looks like it might be my latest sewing quest. I'll have to see what I can dig up from the pattern collection.

Happy Sewing!  

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Troubleshooting Thursdays: What to Do When Your Sewing Machine's Lower Thread Breaks

Before you pick up the phone to call the sewing machine repair business, there might be a few things to check beforehand that can solve this issue.  

1.  Check to make sure that your bobbin has been properly wound

You will want to start with a empty bobbin.  Don't wind one colour of thread over another to save time.  It isn't worth the hassle if your bobbin threads unevenly.  You want to have your bobbin filled evenly across and in level layers.  If one end of the bobbin is more dense that the other side this can cause thread break issues.  

2.  Check your thread

When it comes to sewing you want to make sure that your upper thread is identical to the lower thread to achieve smooth stitches.  Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, based on specific machines (embroidery) and sewing techniques.  

Elastic thread is used in the bobbin area only to achieve shirring.  For this technique wind the elastic thread by hand until the bobbin is 2/3 full.  You can wind the bobbin by machine but if you do remember to do so at a very slow speed as not to stretch out the elastic thread.  

3.  Check if your bobbin is bent

Just like a bend needle, a bent bobbin can cause thread breaks as it will interfere with the timing of the other parts of the machine.  If your bobbin is bent, just replace it.  This also goes for any bobbin that is worn, nicked or cracked.  

4.  Check for lint built-up in the bobbin case

I can't advocate enough for frequent cleanings. I learned this lesson the hard way, I'm a convert now.  The $ I could have saved / spent on fabric instead of handing it over to the sewing machine repair shop, don't get me started!  Ideally, I like to do this at the end of a project, just before I start the next. 

Don't use canned air to clean out the lint that has accumulated in your machine.  You don't want it to blow into an area that you won't be able to reach.  Take care and time using the lint brush that came with your machine.  You can even pick up a mini vacuum found in fabric store notion departments.  

5.  Check that the bobbin is inserted correctly

Oy, how many times have I failed to insert a bobbin correctly!  I usually catch this before I start sewing as the needle won't catch the lower thread if this is the case.  In some cases if a bobbin is inserted incorrectly and depending on your bobbin case, it can cause the thread to catch on a spring or latch on the bobbin case.  

6.  Check that it's the correct bobbin for your machine

L to R:  Plastic bobbin for Janome sewing machine, medal bobbin for vintage Brother sewing machine, generic plastic bobbin sold at fabric store, bobbin case for Singer treadle sewing machine, full and empty bobbins for Singer treadle sewing machines.  

Fabric stores often sell generic bobbins that they claim with work in a variety of models but sometimes that may not be the case. If at all possible, pick up your bobbins from the sewing machine dealer.  They will carry specific types designed for your machine.  Vintage bobbins are harder to come by.  These can often be sourced from online dealers or second hand shops.  

Happy Sewing!  

Saturday, 11 January 2020

In Sewing News Today...

Simplicity released their Early Spring pattern line last week, and McCall's dropped their Early Spring pattern line yesterday.  

It's all about rompers, shirtdresses and slits. 

I can't wrap my head around the thought of an Early Spring pattern line.  This is my current reality:  
A period of very cold wind chills is expected.

Overnight low temperatures will drop to near minus 30 tonight. Combined with winds of 10 km/h, extreme wind chill values of minus 40 are expected. Wind chill values will moderate Saturday. However, a longer duration cold spell looks to impact Manitoba starting early next week.
Risks are greater for young children, older adults, people with chronic illnesses, people working or exercising outdoors, and those without proper shelter.

Cover up. Frostbite can develop within minutes on exposed skin, especially with wind chill.

Extreme cold warnings are issued when very cold temperatures or wind chill creates an elevated risk to health such as frost bite and hypothermia.
There was no plug available at work to plug in the car so I took the bus.

Actually three buses.

In the cold.

I can't imagine spring when it's this cold.

Never mind an Early Spring Pattern line.

This is the only sewing pattern that has captivated my thoughts.

Needless to say, it will be a stay indoors and sew kind of weekend.

I can't bring myself to venture out in the cold.

And I'm on a "no more pattern" diet.

I'll just have to borrow the idea from the Kwik Sew pattern and make my own full-back length heating pad to warm myself up.

Spring sewing will have to wait.

Need to get through this season first.

Happy Sewing!  

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Troubleshooting Thursdays: What to Do When Your Sewing Machine Breaks the Upper Thread

Continuing on the Troubleshooting Thursdays series, this week we'll look at possible causes associated with the sewing machine that breaks upper thread.  Sometimes it can be an easy fix that could save us on a repair job.  

1.  Check the threading of the machine.  

Start with the spool of thread that you're using and see if the thread is stuck in the slit cut into the side of the spool top.  

Some sewing machines allow you to thread the machine with the spool sitting tall.  Other machines might be designed for the spools to be inserted sideways.  In this case use a thread cap large enough to allow the thread easily unwind from the spool.  

2.  Check the needle.  

If the needle is in backwards this can also cause your sewing machine's upper thread to break.  The flat side of the needle should face the back.  Another needle issue that can cause concern is if the needle is bend.  To check, roll the needle on a flat surface.  If the needle is bent it will need to be replaced.  

3.  Check the upper tension.  

Your sewing machine manual will have a section on checking and adjusting the amount of pull the thread as it feeds through your sewing machine.  

4.  Is there lint lingering?  

Remove the throat plate and check the bobbin case area for excess lint or fragments of old threads that need to be cleaned out.

The upper thread can get tangled and break in this area. Ideally, after finishing a project, that is when I like to clear out any lint and broken threads that might be lingering in this area to keep things running smoothly.   

5.  Cheap thread is not worth it.  

Knotty, cheap and even old thread could be your culprit.  I can't stress enough that trying to save a few cents on thread might not be worth the headaches and could cost you in the end via a sewing machine repair bill.  I discovered this little fact the hard way with my serger.  Take the time to check the quality of your thread before making a selection.  Most spools of thread can be examined in the store before you purchase it.  Take this time to check if the strand of thread is knotty or has a fuzzy surface when held up to a light.  Now compare it to a higher quality thread, it shouldn't share these characteristics.  

Happy Sewing!  

Sunday, 5 January 2020

The Tulip Dress by The Assembly Line

The Assembly Line is a new-to-me pattern line out of Sweden. I stumbled across the Tulip dress pattern one day over at Etsy and it is was then that I researched this pattern line. They have some nice designs. I do recommend that you take a look if you're not familiar with this line.  This is my wearable toile.

The Pattern: 

I have to say, this is an extremely well drafted pattern. I had no problem with finding my size according to the pattern measurements. I will admit that I was worried for a moment about the fullness of the skirt, it was all for nothing. Everything came together without any issues.  

I cut a size medium for the sleeves and the upper portion of the bodice and dart placements.  The sides were graded from a medium at the underarm point / upper side of the bodice to a large at the waistline.  The skirt pieces were cut as a size large.  I shortened the length by four inches only to wish that I had another inch to an inch and a half. The length is still nice, just a personal preference and note for next time.  

The pockets were raised so that they sat two inches below the waistline seam. If I sewed them where they were marked to be sewn I wouldn't be able to reach the pockets. 

The instructions are well written and suitable for a beginner. I did, however, change how I constructed the dress from that of the instructions.  I preferred sewing the sleeve flat, used bias tape to finish the hems and neckline.  It is suggested to use interfacing stripes for the pockets and at the zipper opening but I passed that suggestion up and used basting tape for installing the zipper. This came in handy when negotiating the curves on the skirt back.  

This is my first pattern where the seam allowances were in metric and much narrower than North American commercial patterns.  The instructions suggest serging the edges before sewing the seams and this is why.  

Let me finish by saying this pattern is worth every penny spent. It's comfortable, so comfortable, love the look of those darts from the neckline in the front and any dress pattern that comes with pockets is a win. I'll be prepping my good fabric soon for the next version, in the meantime, I'll be wearing this toile.  

The Fabric & Notions: 

This 100% cotton fabric was found in the fabric stash, a home décor find when it made it's way to the discounted section. It's a medium weight cotton that was pretreated with a tumble in the washing machine, followed by the dryer and then a steam pressing before hitting the cutting table.  

I mentioned that the neckline and hems were finished with seam binding. The skirt hem alone took a package! This was sourced from the stash, left over from this project. The 22" (55 cm) invisible zipper and all the thread used were also found in the stash.   

The Stats:

Fabric:  3 metres

Basting tape:  1.10 metres

Seam Binding:  2 packages

Zipper:  22" invisible

Pattern:  D:105 The Tulip Dress

Additional Tools and Supplies:  Scissors, pins, cutting table, thread clippers, iron, ironing board, sleeve ham, pin cushions, sewing machine, walking foot, regular presser foot, invisible zipper foot, regular zipper foot, threads for the sewing machine and serger, serger, new sewing machine needle (don't sew over pins!), screwdriver, tailor's chalk, tracing paper, felt markers, measuring tape, measuring gauge, ruler, and chai tea.  

Happy Sewing!

Friday, 3 January 2020

Shirtdress: Vogues 1503, 8934 and McCall's 7546

The first project to be completed this year is a revisit of two shirt patterns, out-of-print (OOP) McCall's 7546, Vogue 1503 and a coat pattern, Vogue 8934, used to create a shirtdress.

The Patterns:  

Vogue 1503 was previously made as it was designed and it is the sleeve with the placket that has since become a go-to pattern piece.

I switched these along with the cuff pattern pieces to be used with the shirt front, back, facing and collar pieces from McCall's 7546.  McCall's 7546 has never been used as a shirt pattern as designed but it is the forth time that I've extended view D to create a shirtdress. One day I do plan on making the shirt. I threw in the pocket pattern piece from OOP Vogue 8934 for some inseam pockets. The only change from the last version was that the hemline is an inch shorter due to the yardage available. Even though I presently have two versions of this shirtdress in my closet, this is a welcome addition. It's comfortable and I know I'll wear it often.

The Materials:  

The fabric is a fabulous stretch denim from the stash (previously from Mitchell Fabrics). I originally picked up 2.5 metres years ago with the intention of using it for OOP McCall's 7352 but when the toile didn't work out for the jumper I abandoned that plan.  It wasn't until I thought it might work for The Assembly Line's Tulip dress that I searched for it only to realize after pre-treating the fabric that I didn't have quite enough yardage to make it work. But there was enough for this project and that is how another shirtdress came to be.

The denim was pre-treated with a tumble in the washing machine, followed by the dryer.  There was no need for pressing before cutting the fabric.  And for this reason, it will likely become my favourite. All of the notions used for this project came from the stash including the buttons.  

The Stats:  

Fabric:  2.5 metres stretch denim

Interfacing:  1.5 metres fusible

Buttons:  11 - 12 mm (1/2") 

Patterns:  McCall's 7546, Vogue 1503 and Vogue 8934

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Cutting table, iron, ironing board, seam ripper, measuring tape, rulers, measuring gauge, tailor's chalk, pins, sewing machine, walking foot, buttonhole foot, scissors, thread clippers, cotton thread for the sewing machine, serger, polyester threads for the serger, buttonhole cutter, cutting board, hammer, hand sewing needle, thimble, wrist brace, tailor's wax and tea.  

Happy Sewing!  

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Troubleshooting Thursdays: Skipped Stitches

What do you do if your sewing machine has been skipping stitches?  Do you call up your local sewing machine dealer to book an appointment to get your machine serviced?  Or do you get to work at solving the problem yourself?  There are hundreds of models of sewing machines out there all with different bells and whistles.  Essentially, sewing machines, no matter their differences, are basically similar with a precisely timed movement of the needle and shuttle hook to manipulate the top and bottom thread therefore creating a stitch.  Sometimes, when skipped stitches occur, it can be a simple fix.  Here are a few things to check before you reach out to your sewing machine repair person.  

1.  Check to see that the sewing machine needle has been correctly inserted.  

If you look closely at your sewing machine needle, generally speaking, you will notice that there is a flat side and a side that has a groove.  The flat side of the needle will always face the back.  If you have a round needle, the groove of the needle will face the front of the machine.  Make sure that you push the needle up until it stops before tightening the screw to hold the needle in place.  A needle that is not all the way up in the holder can also result in skipped stitches.  

2.  Check if the needle is bent. 

Have you ever heard that you should never sew over pins?  This is one of the reasons why.  A needle that is bent it can be the reason behind those skipped stitches.  To test if this might be the issue, remove the needle and lay it on a flat surface and roll the needle over.  If the needle doesn't roll true this may be the issue and it's time to change it.

Of course, there are other situations that could cause a needle to bend.  A presser foot that struggles over a increased or decrease in bulk can cause a needle to bend.  Using a Jean-a-ma-Jig can aid with getting over the bulk without putting stress on the needle.  

3.  Check if the needle point is blunt.

Does the needle make a popping sound when it goes through the fabric?   This is a sign that the needle point is blunt and requires changing.  

4.  Compatibility of the needle and thread.  

If your needle eye is too small and the thread you plan to use is thicker this could be the cause of your skipped stitches.  If you are sewing denim, look for a sewing machine needle designed for this type of thread and fabric. Test your needle and thread on a small sample of fabric to make sure they are compatible.  Just like quality of fabric can influence the quality of your project, same goes for thread.  

5.  Check for proper threading of the machine.  

It can only take one missed step in the threading order to cause skipped stitching.  Sewing machine manuals come with an illustrated order of threading your machine.  As a general rule, exception being sewing with denim or embroidery stitching, it is best to use the same thread in the upper and bobbin threading systems.  Make sure your bobbin is inserted correctly, 

6.  Check the sewing machine manual for recommended needles.  

With all the fancy bells and whistles that sewing machines come equipped with, a specialized sewing machine may require a specific needle to work at optimal performance.  Even though most machines can use a generic needle, keep in mind that not all needles are created equal.  Pick your sewing machine needle according to the fabric you will be sewing.  Check your sewing machine manual for this type of information.   

7.  It could be time for a needle change.  

Over time a sewing machine needle can dull even if it hasn't reached the point of becoming blunt or bent.  As a rule, I change my sewing machine needles after about eight hours of actual sewing, the time when I clean out the lint that eventually accumulates under the plate.  An accumulation of lint can also play a role in skipped stitches.

Happy Sewing!

The Perfect White Shirt

Is there such a thing?  If I were to dream, the fabric would be white and made from natural fibres. It would have long sleeves, a menswear ...