Gold Waistcoat

I’ve been meaning to make a waistcoat for a while. My old ones don’t fit (sadness). There was a party last night that made a good excuse. I took the fitted bodice pattern from this dress, converted it to princess seams, added length and flare below the waist. Then pin fitted it and proceeded with little more review so I could have one made in time. It has come out a bit too roomy, but it’s wearable. I’ll have a another look at it when I have enough brain to possess the needed critical eye.

The plaid shirt is not the best pairing, but it was hanging to hand. The gold fabric was left over from a waistcoat I made maybe 20yrs ago. Old cabbage! It’s a loose woven cotton with a hand loomed look and lurex thread through it.

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The back and lining is fine linen and has a simple tie belt set into a pair of tucks.

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Here  it is on. I wanted this one as a comfy corset alternative, so I do need to take it some I suppose.

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With the rest of the ensemble. I adore my top hat, any excuse to wear it! The tail coat is well worn but not by me. I bought it cheaply in NZ over 2yrs ago. This is it’s first wearing since. The poor thing needs a bunch of mending. I really must do that and have it cleaned so it can be safely put away for next time. It’ll look tattier with the moth holes mended, but still wearable, at least as fancy dress.

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Possibly the best thing about this project…. it’s the first thing I’ve sewn on the 1230 after it came home from it’s service. She has behaved so far. Fingers very crossed for that to continue as long as possible. Completely ridiculous though if it turns out that I put myself through over six weeks of drama and distress for a machine that just needed a service.

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Shirt for a New Blog Year

I knew I’d started Makkinschtuff about a year ago but I wasn’t sure quite when. Turns out that WordPress tells you, and the answer was yesterday. 113 posts, 2824 views in my first year here. So I’ve been posting about every 3 days on average. Not bad. I never promised or intended to post daily.

Today then is a new blog year. To celebrate, or just because this is where I’m at, I’ll show you the shirt I’ve just made on the new/old Bernina 830.

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The machine came home on Tuesday, running smooth and smelling of machine oil. I had therefore to take her for a spin. This length of fine cotton plaid shirting was washed, pressed and hanging in the corridor waiting. I bought it in a Christchurch opshop back in early February. Now it’s a shirt.

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I thought the neck frill would soften the plaid and the plaid would soften the costumey effect of the frill. I’ll see how I feel about it in the wearing. Instead of a collar stand, the frill is sewn straight onto the shirt neckline and bound with self bias.

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The cuff fullness is gathered to echo the neck frill. Buttons are of course shell, shiny caramel coloured this time to pick up the caramel stripe.

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The machine behaved beautifully. Maybe it was running even better by the end of the shirt? Maybe I was just getting used to it. I like the sound of it better than my 1230 but I sure miss the stepping motor. I’ll be picking up the 1230 later today after nothing more than a thorough service.  I wonder how she will behave? I suspect some of the problems might recur, we will see.

 

Chocolate Velvet Jacket

I’ve been wanting a new evening jacket and a big special birthday party gave me a good excuse to make one. I had a piece of chocolate brown silk velvet in stash that I kept coming back to. It’s sombre but luscious. There was only 2 metres. Not enough for my first design thought that involved a handkerchief type hem. A redesigned version was manageable though. I figured that I needed to work with an existing pattern to get it done in time. So this is my much used shirt pattern, cut short at waist level, with a few pleats for shaping and an eight gore peplum with a high low hem.

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I’m pretty pleased with it. It comes out with a bit of an early 20thC feel. Here are a couple more views:

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The velvet behaved itself better than I expected and consented to be sewn by machine as long as the seam was pile to pile. Any joins that were pile to flat fabric were sewn by hand. The lining is ultra slippery rayon satin. Gorgeous cloth to feel, really frustrating to work with. It wouldn’t stay on the ironing board, on my lap, on the sewing table. It just slithered off! Lovely to wear though now it’s trapped inside the jacket.

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The buttons are shell again but with a difference. Cowrie shell this time, which have a bit of a leopard print look. They also tie in the white dress I was planning to wear on the night. The button loops are done in a lovely vintage silk twist that a friend found a few years back.

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Here is a pic of it on. Of course there are a few mistakes and things I might do differently. Never mind, it’s wearable and rather lovely anyway.

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Feeling Fortunate

A sewing machine story, but a positive one this time. The 1230 is still in the fixit shop with no diagnosis as yet. Regardless of what happens with it, I decided that another quality machine was needed in my life, preferably one that isn’t subject to circuit board faults. I can’t keep the lovely loaned 1030 forever. So I’ve been looking out for a Bernina 830. I think I wrote before that these are well respected. They are also familiar to me as I did a lot of sewing on my mother’s one in my teens and early 20s. I’d seen several for sale but the location was not ideal or they looked in poor condition. Then this one turned up on ebay. It was local, only a few suburbs away and claimed to be little used. The pictures looked pristine. Wonder of wonders, I won the auction!

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I picked it up this morning. The lady selling it said she had bought it in 1975 but barely used it. I got it home and yes, it’s in outstanding condition. The only problems I could see come from it’s long disuse. The sewing mechanism still runs, though with a bit more resistance than it ought. The presser foot mechanism is all gummed up though. After stuffing up the last machine I tried to work on, I decided such a jewel should be sorted by the professionals. So I took some photos and took it around to my local repair people. That was more fun than I anticipated. It’s always nice to be the source of the good kind of amazement. The chap I spoke to was astonished at both the good condition of the machine and the modest price I’d paid for it. Definitely raised eyebrows and excited voice territory. He confirmed what I had suspected, that if I happened to decide not to keep it, I could easily resell it and probably even make money doing so. He has had several customers looking for this model willing to pay much more than I did.

Look how shiny. I did find a tiny bit of lint right under the feed dogs, but that was it other than the sticky old oil issue.

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and yes, she came with all the bits

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Sewing machine woes: Return and loan

This, for posterity and my non FB audience, is a rewrite of a bunch of short FB posts on progression of my sewing machine dramas. I hope I’ve caught all the necessary tense changes:
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I woke up the morning after this post thinking that clunky feed dog thing was a deal breaker if it couldn’t be fixed. Sproingy clunk every time I touched the knee lever, which is every few seconds of sewing. So I called the shop and told them so. They said to bring it in so they can look at it. I felt better for having got to that point.

Then there was a weekend, during which I thought I’d better check carefully to get the best understanding of the problem I could manage.

So very glad I checked before going back to the sewing machine shop. The knee lever on my old machine *does* drop the feed dogs! I’d never noticed this in all those years! However it does so much more smoothly and quietly than the new machine, and doesn’t grab and shift the work.

A careful comparison of the two machines exposed this: Two main differences were pissing me off.
1. that the feed dogs on the 570 drop with a loud, spring like reverb, whereas the old one is almost silent.
2. the new one drops the feed dogs almost instantly on pushing the lever while the old one lowers them gradually, silently and recoverably for about half the range of lever movement. Only if one pushes past half way do the dogs drop fully and have to spring back when stitching resumes. which means one can partially lift the foot, swivel the work and resume without the feed dogs intefering with fabric position. Yup, got it.

On the following Monday I took the 570 back to the shop: “There is nothing wrong with it, they all do that, no one else has complained, we sell a lot of these, there is no adjustment or fix because it’s not broken”. I was just about in tears after this conversation. I raised the possibility of a return, which they brushed off. I asked them to check two things with Bernina for me.
1. Whether there was any way to adjust the knee lever action on the feed dogs, including deactivating it.
2. If there is a needle plate available for this machine with metric seam markings at the front.
While they did this, I left the machine in the shop. I knew that if I took it with me, I might not have had the nerve to go back. Then I went and visited some friends for a couple of hours.

The answer to both questions was no. Argh. After some angst ridden thought, I decided I’d be miserable if I tried to live with it. I can’t live with such an expensive machine that makes unexpected loud sproingy noises when I use it the way I prefer to, which is supposedly a perfectly fine and recommended way to use it. So back to the shop, and returned it, as in, got my money back. Their tone had changed when I went back, polite and agreed promptly to the return. I do wonder how much of that was due to my (somewhat imposing and male) friend coming with me as back up. Regardless of whether his presence changed their behaviour, I’m grateful to him for the emotional support.

Gah, I didn’t mean, want or expect this to be such a saga. I was relieved but sad, confused and needing to start again with the search. I’m distressed that the obvious option of buying a current model Bernina is off the table.

Replacing my 1230 seems to be a truly difficult task, so putting a bit more effort into trying to keep it going is reasonable. The current state of play is that it’s with a third and recommended fixit man to see what magic he can manage. He had a nice simple theory, which would be so good if that is all the problem. Fingers crossed.

Then, a week later, my longest friend gave me even more reasons to love her. This is her machine, very kindly lent to me. I’d forgotten she even had a Bernina. It turns out to be a 1030, a mechanical version of mine, including the same knee lever action…. and wonder of wonders, it has a stepping motor!!!! AWOOGA, AWOOGA. I want one if I can possibly get one!!. Pity it’s a 30yr old machine. One might come up for sale? Maybe? There are a couple of features lacking, but it’s mechanical nature means it should last many more years. The electronic nature of mine means it will die eventually, even if it can be improved in the short term.

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So far the borrowed machine has made a pair of jeans and is partway through a silk velvet jacket. The sewing action is a bit different to what I’m used to, but it works well.

Then another friend said that her sewing machine mechanic has a 1030 that he is working on prior to selling it. On the other side of the country, but still. Fingers very crossed!!

Updatery: It turns out that the 1030 is not fully mechanical. It does have a circuit board. So it’s not as age proof as I had hoped. I had been told that stepping motor and fully mechanical were if not totally mutually exclusive, then close to it. So I’m not completely surprised.

bernina 1030 circuit board

Almost Jeans Untwisted

I was really pleased with the last pair of almost jeans, except for the twist in the leg seams. I made pattern alterations pretty much immediately, then lost time to sewing machine dramas and a trip away. I got a pair cut out a few weeks back, but didn’t have a machine to sew them up on, hmm, I haven’t told that story here yet. Now I’ve got a very welcome borrowed machine, I’ve finally got these assembled.

Obligatory pockets shot

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I have managed to banish the leg twist, yay! The pattern pieces look strange, but they work on my curvy, short legged self. Minor argh moment that I didn’t take a pic of the pattern, maybe later. Here are a few small pics of the new troosers on. Of course I hate the pics, but I do like the troosers.

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Note for fit assessment that this is woven denim with no elastane. I’m not totally happy with the fly, either sewing or fit. I am pleased though that I managed to shorten a metal toothed zipper. One can just rip off the unwanted teeth with pliers it seems.

Next step is to have a go at altering the pattern to a proper jeans cut. I have a few other things to make first though.

Fiber to garment

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I’ve done a little drop spindle spinning in years past, but I’d not made my spinning into any finished thing. I first tried the spinning over 20years ago. Then had another go about 10years ago, some chocolate brown alpaca that time. I still have a little of that yarn. I picked it up again a couple of years ago, spinning prepared wool top this time. I decided to spin as much as I could during a week long event in January that event. I took a handful of each type of wool fiber I had, with the intention of alternating types to stave off boredom. This is what I had at the end of the event. I’d spun everything I took, plus a little wool from a friend’s sheep.

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I did some more at the next event in April, and ended up with 7 balls of yarn in varying sizes.

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I had originally thought to make socks, but I didn’t think I had enough yarn. So I made a hat instead. I have some yarn left, so I could probably have managed socks. I do like the hat though so I’m still pleased.

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The dun coloured fibre is three lots of corriedale wool. Easy to spin but quite coarse and prickly. The coloured and white fibre is all merino, fine and soft. I spun some plain corriedale singles, some alternating merino and corriedale in a particular colour order, but random amounts. Then I plied the two together. The rib band is just merino though to minimise prickle on my forehead. I like how it came out and I’m delighted to have spun, designed and knitted a thing.

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First Sewings on the Bernina 570

After getting her set up in the table*, I did some basic stitching and then a few experiments with fancy stuff. Fittingly for a Swiss made machine, the fabric is from a Swiss “national costume” outfit bought for me when a child. Of course the fancy stuff would have worked better with some kind of stabiliser layer. The stitching itself was ok, and that leafy pattern might well get used, but the operation felt clunky, which depressed and upset me.

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I had a bit of a flail, then decided to work on a shirt the next day. That is a familiar task and mostly straight stitching. It would just give me time with the machine to get more of a feel. I knew I could cut and make a basic shirt in a day. Turns out I can do this in a long day, even with an unfamiliar machine and with stupidly sewing one sleeve to the body inside out and having to fix that. I cut this before 9am this morning and sewed the buttons on after dinner. I even took the opportunity of such a plain shirt to rejig the neckline so it is smaller but not too small. This is a lovely yarn dyed cotton check with a pleasingly rustic weave that I got recently in an Albury opshop. There was barely enough to cut the shirt so yoke and cuff linings had to be pieced.

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I forgot to sew a label to the inner yoke at the right stage, so I put one on the left sleeve placket for fun. I will say the new machine makes nice buttonholes. This is the bog standard basic one, sewn with navy blue Gutermann cotton.

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My big complaint was that the machine felt clunky and awkward, especially on raising the presser foot. An audible clunky click and the work was often jerked out of place. It took me ages to work out that this was connected with the fact that I had been using the knee lift for the presser foot from the get go. I’m used to this from the old machine and vastly prefer using it over having to raise the presser foot by hand.  Eventually I figured out that the knee lever not only raises the presser foot, but lowers the feed dogs as well. It’s the feed dogs that cause the audible clunk and jerk of the work. If one only uses the hand operated presser foot lever, things remain quiet and peaceful. Argh. I’ll be complaining about this and requesting a fix!

Other things I don’t like thus far:
-It’s going to take me a while to learn how to drive the selection screen. I keep getting stuck just on how to get back to basics. The home icon doesn’t take one to the home screen and there is no back button.
-Setting changes are slower to assess than the button and dial system that I’m used to. Even allowing for the fact that I’m not used to the screen interface, there is no pictorial indication of stitch length, just a number on the screen. Somehow, turning the dial and reading a number isn’t as quickly comprehended as having a visible position on a scale.
-Max speed feels sloooowwww.  Similar to my old machine I suppose but I think I’ve been anticipating an increase in speed. I wanna go faster dammit. Maybe I need to keep an eye open for a quality industrial straight stitcher, and figure out where I would put one if I get one.
-The most visible seam width markings on the needle plate are *%$&$ imperial!!! I want metric and it’s a ruddy Swiss machine dammit!
-They have yet again changed the foot design so I have to shell out to replace the special feet I use. This has to be deliberate. Angry making it is at least.

Things I do like:
-It might sound petty, but I love the aesthetics of the overall design. Shiny and businesslike.
-It runs well (as long as one is not using my beloved knee lifter)
-there are a lot of cool buttonhole options I’m looking forward to trying
-The great Bernina front loading, easy clean and oil bobbin race.
-Lots of useful stuff for plain stitching. Adaptive tension (copes with a very wide range of fabric weights), easy upper tension dial. Good power for thick fabrics or many layers. Foot pressure adjustment (new to me).

 

*I’m proud of myself that I took the time to make up the right sized blocks of wood to put the new sewing machine at the correct height in the table. The old one sat on a book for 20+yrs. Prompted partly by the presser foot knee lift lever sitting at a different height on the new machine. The table is from a ~60’s Singer that had a knee lever instead of a foot pedal. It has a drop down section for the machine and an appropriate hole for the lever. See previous post for a picture.

 

 

Sewing machine woes: purchase with some regret

This post is a couple of days late. I’ve been too mentally and emotionally exhausted to write. I’ve been suffering considerably from not having a functional sewing machine in the place there should be one. Pathetic maybe, but this is a really big thing for me. My house was wrong, my world was wrong, so I’ve been pushing hard to fix that!

I went out on Tuesday to a shop that sells both domestic and industrial machines. This seems to be a rare combination. Most place sell only one or the other. I wanted their input on whether anything existed in the borderlands between. I also wanted to have a look at the domestic Juki machines, also a rare thing locally.

I did learn a bunch of things. According to these people:

The machine I really want doesn’t exist. Wahhh. Ideally I want a machine that does basic dressmaking functions. as listed previously, with a stepping motor and all the good needle control things that come with that, solidly built and faster than a standard domestic. Nup. Apparently nobody builds such a thing. If you know differently, for goodness sake, please speak up. What is available are domestic machines with all the features I want, plus a bunch I don’t, but all slow. Or, industrial machines, well built and really fast but with basically only one function per machine. Botheration.

They gave a different diagnosis for the 1230 fix. They say it’s the stepping motor that needs replacing. I think that makes sense, but I reckon there is a good chance that the stitch panel circuit board indicated by the other fixit people needs doing too. Both are quoted in the $700+ range. Weep.

The Juki domestic machines seem really good. The also have all metal innards for strength and longevity. They run really nicely and are significantly cheaper than the Berninas. They have a drop in bobbin though. I really like the front loading, easy clean Bernina bobbin race. Also, despite not liking having a screen at all, to get the quality of machine I want, one has to have that. Given that, I much preferred the Bernina version. I will also say, these people had no hesitation at all in letting me at the machines. Hurrah.

Basically, I found myself unable to step away from Bernina quality and familiarity. This shop had a 570 model on special. $2999, down from $3800. It has a wider space right of the needle than the 350, and most of the exciting buttonhole options that I had liked on the 720. I lost my nerve and bought one.

Here she is straight out of the box:

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The new 570 and 24yr old 1230 side by side. Sniff. I mourn the degradation of my faithful worker:

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So there is now a good machine back where there should be one even if I don’t know how to drive her yet:

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Stand by for the initial testing report. In the meantime, the crowded and eclectic picture above makes me think of this 🙂