You can’t sew with ’em, you can’t sew without ’em

When I wrote yesterday that there “was no machine that would be simple to bring downstairs,”  I was thinking of modern machines capable of zig zags and buttonholes.  Unfortunately I had to rethink that shortly after I typed it.

When I got ready to stitch down my waistband facing, the leather treadle belt broke and the only store in town that might have one was closed for the holiday.


I could have opened up the Spartan’s cabinet, but I had already made an end table of it–behind the sofa squeezed into the corner next to the coffee table.  (As I said, we are keep the floor space clear these days.)  I really didn’t want to pull all that out again.

What to do?  Short of hand stitching, I would have to go back upstairs and look around to see what my options were.  My eyes fell on the Featherweight.

Ah!  why didn’t I think of that before?

Featherweight in action.

It sits nicely atop the ironing board, has a light, electricity and even a reverse!  There’s a buttonholer that fits this (somewhere), too.  What a delight!

I did slip-stitch the waistband in place, but I’ll top-stitch with the Featherweight this evening.  I took a hanger photo of the nearly-complete pants, but it looked awful in it’s unpressed, untop-stitched state.

You deserve better.

Happy Labor Day, y’all!

Saturday the Mr and I found ourselves headed over toward Atlanta on an errand.  I took the opportunity to cart the sewing computer (aka my Bernina 155) over to Atlanta Sewing Center for service.

On the way home it occurred to me that I had planned to sew this weekend.  Aaar-g-hhh!  How’s that for shooting yourself in the foot??

No worries, though.  I have a few machines at my house just waiting for the chance to exercise.  Of course I’m not working upstairs right now, and it would take the entire weekend to clear the sewing room enough to work on one of the machines in there.

(I’m an unrepentant slob, in case you didn’t know.)

My c. 1975 Kenmore (a 40 pound “portable”)  is living with the Sprout now, so there was no machine that would be simple to bring downstairs.  Downstairs I had two choices:  a bare bones Singer Spartan which once belonged to my Aunt, or a fancy c.1900 Standard Treadle.  Fancy only refers to the decals and the cabinet.  As far as stitching, the Standard had even less to recommend it than the Spartan–no electricity.

Neither had a light, a buttonholer, or a zig zag stitch.  The Spartan is a 3/4 machine in a 3/4-machine-sized cabinet, so it feels cramped, although it sews beautifully.  The Standard is in the deluxe cabinet, which is spacious and provides plenty of room to spread out.

The Standard it was.

Standard Rotary Treadle, still fabulous after 100+ years

It took me a while to get my treadlin’ rhythm back.  I don’t suppose I’ve sewed with this one in 8 or 9 years.  I couldn’t even remember how to thread the thing at first.  I managed to wind a bobbin, but I didn’t have that threaded right.  I know I didn’t because I had to use my index finger the keep the thread going right.

Nevertheless, I’ve almost got a test run of the Ottobre 05/08 Every woman’s plaid pants done.  They fit great, too.  I don’t know what I’ll do about the button at the waistband.  I could sew on trouser hooks, or I could pound on some snaps.  I could even go upstairs and search for a buttonholer that will fit on the Spartan, but that would require my walking into the sewing room and wading through all the fabric on the floor.  The Standard is a top-clamper, so I don’t even own a buttonholer that will fit it.

Snaps will be faster.

Ottobre Woman 05/09

Earlier this week I mentioned that I had received the Autumn/Winter 2009 issue of Ottobre Woman in the mail.Ottobre Woman 05/09 cover Now that I’ve spent some time with it,  I have to say I am utterly charmed by it.

I don’t know what it is exactly.  The past issues have been mostly ok, but they haven’t blown me away like this one.  It may have something to do with my recent Ottobre sewing successes or it may be that I think the girl on the cover is the cutest thing I’ve seen in a long time.  All  the models seem a bit more polished than they have in the past.  Perhaps it’s because all the models look happy in this issue.  Sometimes the models look like  they’re thinking “See all these kids I’ve got to look after, and another one on the way? After I go to class lugging this backpack, I work at the library.  You’d look miserable, too, if you were me.”

Clearly I’m not the demographic they’re going for.

But I digress.  I love almost everything in the magazine this go-round.  In fact, I began selecting a few styles to show you, and there were so many that I had to stop myself posting every design.

Not that I’ll sew every design–many don’t suit my body type–but there are some that I’ll sew.

And to start that list, I’ll show you the Greta shiny satin pants.  Some might say they don’t suit my body type–what with my scrawny ankles and all, but they are my number 1 favorite of all the styles.  The cropped pants (about 32 inches from the waist, if my math is right)  are simply darted in back with no waistband.  The front is pleated from a yoke.  I won’t be making these in shiny satin (maybe), but I will be making these as soon as I figure out what fabric from my stash they’d play nice with. The magazine says “stretchy satin suitable for pants or similar lightweight pants fabric.”

Greta shiny satin pants.

Another one that I’ll be sewing is the Cozy Pinnie pinafore dress.  This jumper is about 37.5 inches, which puts it just above my knee.  That ain’t hapnin’, so I’ll have to work out where to lengthen it a few inches.  The line drawing makes it look pretty shapely, and there is already a back neck dart.  Can’t you just see this in red corduroy??

Cozy Pinnie pinafore dress

And the list goes on.  I’ll leave most of them for later, but there is one pair of cropped pants that is used twice in this issue that was actually in last Fall/Winter’s issue:  Every-woman’s plaid pants.

Every-woman's plaid pants

I’ve already got those partially traced.  Just waitin’ for a day off.  Now that I’m able to compare my last Ottobre capris (size 40) with these (size 40), I can see that they did not use less ease for the pants that wanted stretch fabric.

Just so you know.

Disaster averted!

Burda 11/08 #125 line drawingYou’ll be relieved to hear, I’m sure, that I finished the top that was threatening to become a UFO.  It was #125 from Burda World of Fashion November, 2008. (Click on the image at left to go to the archive page at Burda.)

I raised the neckline on my version, but otherwise left it pretty-much as-drafted in the magazine.  The neckline is lower on me than it appears to be on Bruhilde, but nowhere near the chest-baring lowness of Burda’s draft.

One thing you can’t see in the magazine is the yoke treatment in the back.   That appealed to me, of course, and probably is the whole reason I chose to make the top.  Now that I have finished, however, I don’t like that seam so much.  I can’t really say it’s tight, or stiff, but when I’m wearing the top I notice it.  When I pull my arms forward, I can feel it.  I sewed the seam with a very narrow zig-zag so that it would stretch, but perhaps it doesn’t stretch enough.

Front of finished top Back of finished top

This fabric is a remnant of Cool Max that I’ve had for several years now.  I’ve made a couple of tops and two or three pairs of shorts from it. This is the last of it, and I’m glad.  The shorts worked out great, but I haven’t really liked either top due to it’s lack of stretch.

OK, perhaps I should reserve judgment on this one until I actually *wear* it.  ;-)

UFO-free zone

UFO-free Zone

It takes a lot to keep your sewy space free of them, doesn’t it?

Thankfully I’m working in a tiny corner of my breakfast area these days and all my “working storage” is on the coffee table–which is jammed behind the sofa to keep the floor clear for wheelchairs and walking practice.  That kind of space limitation will make you stay on top of what’s waiting to be sewn, I can assure you.

Still there’s one nagging project that I can’t seem to work up the will to finish.  It’s an exercise top made from some Cool-max remnants.  It only needs some minor adjustments to be completed.  The rule is that I can’t start anything new until the preceding project is either trashed, in the closet, or in the Goodwill bag.

I’ve already broken the rule with everything I sewed last month.

I deserve 40 lashes with a worn out tape measure, cause that’s how entire bags of UFOs get started.

So why haven’t I finished the thing?  There’s nothing really wrong with it.  I suppose it’s because I don’t particularly like the color, and it doesn’t match any of my other gym-wear.

After church tonight I plan to put some resolution to that top.  By this time tomorrow, it’ll be off the coffee table by one means or another.