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.

 

 

Orange merino jersey

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I bought this length of orange merino jersey in Wellington over 2 years ago. I’ve had at least 5 different plans for it. When I got it out recently, I realised that there was less of it than my faulty memory had been telling me. Enough for some sort of long sleeved top and no more. I have need, or at least want, of orange clothing for this coming Saturday, so I settled on making a button necked pullover. I could have just made a skivvy, but that felt too boring. So I added a neck opening and buttons. Not my best design decision ever. Pullover + buttons + long hair = trouble. Oh well, I like the look and I have a long standing fondness for Henley type jersey shirts.

I put a lot of thought into the construction method. The fabric is medium weight and very stretchy. I have a poor history of getting machine top stitching to behave on such fabric, other than my standard twin needle hem. I was right to worry. I got the neck facing sewn down but not as neatly as I would have liked. I tried applying the first button loop by machine but it did so not go well. The rest got applied by hand.

The button loops are made from a simple three element braid of “tapestry” woolen yarn in appropriate colours. I plaited it, then steamed and cooled it to minimise unravelling.

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Here is a close up of the neck. The grey shell buttons have previously done service on another shirt.

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And on, both buttoned and un.

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Not the most flattering shots. I was suffering from tshirt hem build up. I have another skivvy of the same cut, plus a short sleeved cotton T under that. It’s cold!

Shiny sheer/satin striped silk shirt

I felt the need of a few more evening friendly garments. This shirt is a remake of an old favourite I made for a friend’s wedding many years ago, but in a rather different fabric. It’s a silk/cotton sheer ground fabric with silk satin stripes. Rather challenging to work with! It’s floppy, slithery and doesn’t take a crease well.

It’s my basic shirt again, with the wide plain rectangular collar. I thought the frill was a mistake when I’d only just assembled the front bands, but it is behaving better than I feared now I have the whole shirt together.

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Here are a variety of ways one can wear the collar. I won’t be wearing the first version with this shirt. I decided to tackle the too big neck hole issue and overshot. I can do this collar up while wearing it but it’s way too tight for comfort. Never mind, the other two versions are still appealing and in reality, I rarely fasten the top button of a collar except during laundry!

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In the end, my disappointments with this shirt are both about the collar. Aside from it being a bit small, I got confused and used the under collar as the upper collar. This mattered for two reasons: The under collar is pieced down the middle because the was barely enough fabric, and I had carefully cut the upper collar to have a satin stripe on the edge. Oh well, it’s not very noticeable.

The cuffs are gathered to work with the gathered frill. Also, this fabric takes a gather better than a pleat. I used shell buttons as usual.

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Here it is on. When I cut this shirt, I had in mind the new “corporate” pinafore from this blog post so here is a pic showing it on with that. I must say, the fabric feels really nice against the skin. I rather think I shall enjoy wearing this.

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William Morris Shirt

Or “Mama shirt stage three, the real thing”.

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This post is just me showing I did make up that lovely William Morris fabric for Mama, mentioned in my earlier posts Mama shirt: stage two, trial shirt  Mama shirt: stage one, the pattern

Also skiting* about my best ever pattern matching effort across the front.

Thankfully, she likes it, and has even collected a random compliment already.

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*hmm, it turns out this is local slang. Means boasting, showing off.

 

New Nightshirt

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This feels a little like showing pictures of my underwear. It’s quite decent though really. It’s a modest garment and I’m not even modelling it.

Some people like pyjamas, some people prefer nothing. I like voluminous white nightgowns. I find them comfy, and I can pretend I’m a historical figure or a character from a book :-).  I’ve been making them myself for years, because although one can buy the sort of thing I like, they are jolly expensive. My current favourite winter one is just a loose, ankle length shirt. So I decided I’d make another like it. It’s my standard shirt pattern cut a little wider under the arms and with the side seams angled out to use the full (only 112cm wide) fabric width. I’ve learned finally not to put lace on the hem, it ends up too bulky to be comfortable. So this is just a shirt tail hem with the back intentionally a bit longer.

The fabric is a flannelly cotton/linen blend (or so I presume, it’s certainly cellulose fibre and feels very much like some cotton/linen I had years ago). It feels a little heavy initially but goes beautifully soft on working.  I have a bolt of it from a warehouse closing sale. So if I like it, I have a lifetime supply of winter nightgown fabric.

If I’d thought more about the lace placement before I made the button placket, I’d have done a matching point. Oh well. Ah yes, the placket is a different fabric, a plain shirt weight linen. I was concerned that the flannel would come out too bulky with all the folds that this sort of placket generates.

I must say, applying that lace at the end of the cuff, enclosed in the seam was a rather more complicated affair than I expected. I’m happy I made it work though there was a bit of unpicking and changes of plan needed before we got there.

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Collar Issues

Sometimes it is brought home to me that I’m not as good at this game as I’d like to be.

This poor shirt has been lying part made, crunkled into a ball, since early January. The fabric is vintage Liberty Tana, bought from a shirt making firm closing down their Melbourne city workshop. I had wanted to make a fully classic shirt, including two part collar. I didn’t have such a collar to match my current shirt pattern, so I used one from my previous shirt pattern. I thought I’d checked the seam lengths, but it still ended up a couple of centimetres short. Boo. Once I’d convinced myself I couldn’t make it work, I threw a minor hissy fit, unpinned the failed collar and put the shirt bits aside. For months as it turned out.

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Today, I decided that I would at least drape the constructed body/yoke on me to try to see what was going on. Aha. The neckhole is way too big. Why did I not see that before? It doesn’t look too bad in this pic, but that is the cut edge, not where the seam will end up lying.

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Given the neck edge was already clipped, I decided to revert to a narrow straight cut collar. Sad. Not what I wanted, but I’ve learned something.

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See, too big. Pretty colours though:

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I did at least make my first set of proper cuffs for ages, narrowed to better go with the narrow band collar. Also, my theory about making one of the wrist pleats a continuation of the sleeve crease seems to work. Hurrah. I thought that would make neat ironing easier.

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Here is the whole thing:

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and a sexier, more insouciant pose

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Ho Hum

Yet another chemise. Now I can do Festival in 14thC with a clean chemise each day.

It doesn’t look like much hanging. White on white.

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It’s linen. Of course. Or at least what we believe to be linen (some of the Job warehouse haul). Sewn mostly by machine in cotton thread. All seams are neatly flat felled, even if only by machine. My uber authenticity friends will think ill of me for that. I’d claim to not have enough arm to do it by hand. Actually I suppose I could, over quite a long period.  It seems I’d rather spend that capacity on my patchwork.  Some medievalist I am eh?

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Neckline is faced with straight grain double fold tape of the same fabric. Handsewn down, though I had a brain spasm and went with a less than wonderful stitch choice. I realised partway, but chose at that point to just continue.

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The wrists and hem are done by hand in a prettier stitch, which the camera really didn’t want to focus on.

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Here she is having a rest on the little sofa :-). Nope I’m not pressing it.

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Ticks all the boxes

Long time no post. I hurt my back and I’ve only just managed to set up my computer for standing use.

I decided I wanted a shirt for sun protection while travelling and that none of my existing shirts quite fit the bill. I wanted plain weave, light weight cotton with minimal construction and no trim, so it would dry quickly. A print for preference, to help in not showing dirt and creases. A fabric that dries relatively crease free without ironing would be a bonus. So I made one, in only a few hours. Hurrah. Cut it this morning. Finished without rushing before dinner and with several hours off for a visitor in between.

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It’s my current standard shirt pattern in it’s simplest version. Sleeves are just hemmed rather than cuffed. Sleeve hems and button bands are self faced and interfaced, or could be described as simple double fold hems. The collar is interfaced with the same openweave linen I used for the ramie shirt. I’ve cut it a bit shorter than usual so it doesn’t get so sat on and ends up less crushed as a consequence. I’ve also cut the armholes a little deeper (and sleeves wider to match) to minimise sweat transfer (I’ll mostly wear it over a tshirt). With luck I might get a couple days wear out of it between washes? Perhaps. The fabric came from a Clegs boxing day remnant sale. I grabbed it thinking it was Liberty Tana. It’s not, but it’s still very good shirting. Selvage details below. It is beautiful stuff to work with and the tiny scale print is delicate and whimsical. “London Calling” seems to be the name of the print? Makes me smile.

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Here’s another close up of the fabric, plus the pretty engraved shell buttons that I felt worked with it.

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Indigo Shibori Shirt #1

A few weeks ago I had a marvellous time having my first go at dyeing with indigo at a workshop run by Opendrawer. I dyed a bunch of short lengths of fabric, but all from two types of fabric. Below are the results hung to dry straight from the workshop. A few days later I washed them and lost a bit of the contrast. The dark sections are now lighter and the white has gone pale blue. The narrower solid pieces at the front of this pic started as white cotton poplin. Yet again, this is from a friend’s cast off stash. I was concerned about not having enough of this to make a shirt, so I threw a plain undyed piece in when I washed the dyed fabric so it wouldn’t look too stark. That thought worked, the plain piece came out matching the paler sections of the dyed cloth.

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Yesterday I cut a shirt from the poplin pieces. It’s a while since I made a patchwork shirt. I used to make them in my student days, free clothing from Mama’s leftovers :-).

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I used the plain piece to line/face the collar, yoke, button bands and hem. For fun I made a little self piped edge on the buttonhole band

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Due to concern about sufficient yardage, and because the poplin is a bit stiff, I made the shirt shorter and a bit jacketty. The cuffs and collar are deep and interlined with linen. The hem too is deeper and more robust than is usual for a shirt. Definitely meant to be worn over top, not tucked in.

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Here is a back view. I took care to place the starburst on the yoke, but the nice central placement on the upper left back piece is a very happy accident, I was just trying to maximise the used of the darkest and most interesting sections. I really enjoy the different patterns pieced together. I know some of my friends prefer a much more ordered aesthetic, but they don’t get to or have to wear this shirt.

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From the front. I’m aware that the picture that gets picked up by FB is the last one in a post, so I like to select which that will be. Sometimes that messes with the natural order of the WP post.

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Ramie voile experiment

A couple of years ago, I found what I thought was linen voile at a very cheap price and bought silly amounts of it. Well, silly amounts given it turned out to be ramie rather than linen.  I’d done nothing with it, partly due to the disappointment, mostly due to my very large stash.

Ramie is rather like linen, but more brittle, has very little stretch and can be scratchy. I read that it is also good at resisting bacteria and mould. So some good, some bad, and some people find it too scratchy to tolerate. I don’t know whether I can wear it or not. The only other experience I have sewing ramie was many years ago and disastrous. The fabric was so brittle it was breaking apart as I worked and that project went in the bin. I was very sad, partly to lose the work and the cost of the fabric, partly because it was a beautiful jaquard weave in shiny black.

So to get a feel for how it behaves, I decided to put a simple shirt together, then get through a few cycles of wear and launder. The main fabric is very fine but with much more body than cotton voile. So fine that I wondered what I would use for interfacing. The plain linen I’ve been using lately seemed too heavy, as did the lightest white iron on in stash. So I decided to try strips of what I  think is a linen gauze, that also hasn’t yet been used. Thankfully, it has worked well (to be reviewed after first wash), which is great and lets me be less concerned that there is no cotton organdy in the stash at the moment.

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and the obligatory button shot. I do so love shell buttons, especially when they are shiny, and even opalescent.

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Well, it is a simple shirt* except that I had an idea for a bold but stealthy self detail.

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Any excuse to put trefoils on things. At least one friend would call this an ermine spot though.

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*This is of course my original pattern that I adapted for Mama