Monday, December 31, 2012

Sewing goals for 2012 - Review

I had done a blog post at the beginning of this year on the sewing related goals I had for 2012. Let's see what has happened to those goals - how many were accomplished, etc.

  1. Conquer my fear of doing a FBA -- I need a FBA. There's no escaping that. I need to conquer this beast first. PASS! I learnt to do the Y dart FBA advocated by Palmer Pletsch. and it's a fantastic technique.

  2. TNT for knit top - I prefer knit tops than woven, so comfy! And very forgiving compared to wovens. PASS! I started out with a Burda pattern..  then tried an Ottobre pattern - while it's not a TNT pattern yet, I have an almost workable one. I have discovered what other alterations, other than a FBA, I need to make... It can only get better from here.

  3. TNT pattern for knit dress - If I get a knit top TNT pattern, then this one would be easy. FAIL!  I got to the fitting of the knit top pattern only in December and didn't have time to work on this one.

  4. TNT pattern for a woven top - I'd like to make an Indian style salwar kameez/kurta for me and  a TNT woven pattern will help. FAIL!  Couldn't get to it. I have traced out a Burda tunic pattern and will be moving this to next year's goals.

  5. Make 12 knit tops this year as a part of TAM (1 top a month) - FAIL!! While I didn't make 12, I did make 1 top.

  6. Fix at least 20 garments - I have a lot of pants waiting to be hemmed, etc that are waiting on my Fix-It pile. 6 so far- while this is not a complete fail, I could have easily done more.

  7. Organize sewing area: Now that I have a place to sew, I would like to arrange / organize my sewing area. PASS! Done! Basement room taken over and found a cutting area, sewing area and a shelf. The stash has found a place in the linen closet upstairs.

  8. Take 2 sewing classes. PASS with flying colors! I took 4 classes - the serger class, the coverstitch machine class, the pants class and the zipper class!

  9. Learn to work on the coverstitch machine and serger (added serger to this list,now that I have one) PASS! I took 2 classes to learn how to use my machines - both CS and serger and have been using the machines as well.

  10. Learn how to do at least one type of zippers (either center zipper or invisible zipper) PASS with flying colors! I learnt to do 4 types of zippers - regular, lapped, invisible and fly front. Now I have to start installing them in my garments! I was so scared of zippers... not anymore!

  11. Learn to make at least 5 type of drafting alterations on a TNT top pattern (say, changes to necklines, etc). I made 2 alterations so far - changed the neckline from boat neck to scooped neckline, changed Ottobre pants pattern for DD from very wide to narrow,

  12. Watch 12 sewing related DVDs - DVDs are so much easier for me to learn than from books. PASS with flying colors! Here's a post I made on the 15 sewing related videos I have watched so far and enjoyed.
Wow!! 7 out of 12 ain't bad at all... So, Did I do anything else that wasn't in the plan? Any accomplishments?  Big purchases? Of course! :)
  1. Sewed my first ever pair of pants! Here's the journey:   part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4 and the final pants! And finding Burda pants pattern fit me well, made me super ecstatic!
  2.  Bought 3 machines - A Janome 644D serger, a Janome 1000 CPX coverstitch machine and a Viking Rose. All 3 were from Craigslist and in great condition. I do have enough machines now!!!
  3. Found a very nice local sewing group which is 25 mins drive from my place and became a member!Love the group!
  4. The very idea that zippers were not as scary as I intended them to be was a revelation. Of course, Almost everything looks impossible until done!
  5. I made a muslin for Mischief, my 6 yr old daughter, for a traditional Indian top that buttons up the back using a Burda pattern as a base. I think she has a broad back and needs a fitting adjustment. Either that, or I might have chosen the wrong size! In that case, I have to go up one size, and reduce her waist as it to 2-3 levels down. 
  6. I used my Burda magazines and Ottobre magazines! And the kicker is that the tracing was not hard at all!- So far a pair of pants for me and Mischief's tops that I mentioned above,
  7. I bought a dressform, again, off Craigslist from a sweet lady, who kept it in great condition, always covered it with a dust cover when not in use. The dressform is of the brand Diana, the smallest sized model which has exactly my shoulder size, neck size etc. I stuffed her up a bit. She's still not exactly my size but close enough.  Maybe someday I'll get to making her my shape. I do like having her around. 
  8. Made leggings (knit) for Mischief in many colors, Cheetah print was her favorite. This was an Ottobre pattern. Pictures to come soon.
  9. Made 3 pairs of flannel pajama pants (woven) for Mischief, 1 in reindeer fabric, red nose et al! :) The other 2 pairs are from a black flannel with rockets, etc. This pajama pattern was another  Ottobre pattern as well. Pictures to come soon.
Even though it felt that I haven't done any sewing and haven't made any progress, Seeing it all written down, makes me see that I have indeed come along way.

When I see other accomplished sewists produce some wonderful well fitting tailored garments, I felt 'Oh my, it's going to take me ages to get there'.. What I didn't realize is that it took them ages and tons of practice for them to get there as well. Baby steps, eh! Just one small step at a time..

Besides that, What else did I learnt this year?
As a person who lost her sewing mojo for years and has just found it back this year.. I have learnt
  • that it's okay to cut into fabric.
  • that it's okay to make mistakes
  • that cutting a fabric and making a mistake is much better than fabric aging in stash
  • that while a wearable end garment is good, the real fun is in planning what to make and tracing and cutting and sewing.. it's the journey to get there, not the destination. It's like going on a roller coaster... The fun is not in finishing it, but right when you are going through the ride.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My first ever knit top - Burda pattern

I hit 2 and 1/5th of my yearly goals for this year, with this one top - the FBA, a TNT knit top and altering the neckline :) Yayyy!!!

I looked through my stash of Burda magazines for a scooped neck knit top pattern and couldn't find one. So, I found a knit top pattern from Burda 2004 - a boat neck top with a fancy tie-on back and figured if I could skip the tie-on back and alter the neckline, I'll have a pattern that I could use.



So I traced size 38 based on my upper bust measurements, skipped the ties on the back, extended the shoulder to 2 more inches, towards the neck and scooped out the neck, did a Y dart FBA (after watching this DVD a million times!). It turned out great for a first try and is better than the fit I get with RTW!

For the second muslin, these are the changes I'll be making:
  1. remove the sleeve cap ease a wee bit
  2. increase FBA to another 1/2 inch
  3. turn the sleeves into a sportier style ala polka dot overload 
  4. reduce the small neckline gape at the front by1/4 inch by using this tutorial by Phat Chick Designs.
There is also a 3/4 sleeve option for the same pattern which I might give it a try.


Update after making second muslin:
I removed sleeve cap height and tried the sleeve and didn't like it anyways. This time I also caught the fact that my sleeve was away from the armhole. Maybe sleeves of boatneck tops are made this way? And the fact that I used this as my base pattern is throwing a wrench? Maybe...

For the next round, I'd like to give Ottobre pattern a try. Or find a Burda pattern with armhole of the front bodice well scooped in..I also want to think about forward shoulder alterations...The shoulder seam seems to lie at the right place, but there's extra fabric in the front armhole area and the back armhole doesn't like fine either..

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sewing videos that I've watched this year

I am a very audio-visual person and find it hard to read from books. This is the reason why I had a goal of watching at least 12 sewing videos this year. And I watched much more than 12.

Every time I watched a video from beginning to end and enjoyed/learnt from it, I made a note of it. Here's the list of videos I watched this year.

DVDs: The first two are DVDS, both from Palmer Pletsch.

1. Fit for Real People - Basics 

 
This is a DVD based on the Fit for Real People Book - covering all the basics. Pants are not covered in this and there's a separate DVD for that. I enjoyed Marta Alto explaining FBAs and many more adjustments, without feeling rushed. Very well organized class and I highly recommend it.

2. Full Busted - Palmer Pletsch


This DVD is absolutely fantastic! Again FBA was explained well, but what benefited me the most is the Y dart FBA. This FBA has been there even before Palmer Pletsch advocated it, but these ladies took that and made it even simpler and easier! Shams wrote a great review for this DVD and that made me buy this DVD right away. GREAT buy! Thanks Shams.

Free online videos (Youtube/ Threads)
Most of the videos that I watched this year are from youtube. There's tons of information out there from people who gladly share their knowledge for free. Thank you, awesome people! I have learnt some new skills because of you.

3.Sewing Lining into a Sleeveless Dress by Colleen G Lea 



What I love about this video is that she makes lining a sleeveless dress so easy - so easy that even the beginner me can understand. And no handsewing.

4. Sewing a sleeveless dress with lining: Trena, the slapdash sewist also has explained a similar method in her video. The detailed tutorial can be found here.



The difference between Colleen's method and Trenas is that Trena sews the shoulder seam at the beginning and Colleen sews it at the end. I enjoyed learning about both of these methods.

5. Sandra Betzina's Fly Front Tutorial from Threads. I cannot embed this video here, but clicking on the link will take you there. It's really easy, the way she shows it. This method does not have a fly shield and is a leftie fly like men's pants.

6. Fly front zipper by Trudy  of Hot Patterns



Trudy learnt her technique from Sandra's video and added to it, with a fly shield and moving the zipper off the seamline!  love both these additons.

7. Colleeen G Lea's Fly Front Technique



Colleen's method is similar to Trudy's, by keeping the zipper off the seamline. She does this neatlyby folding the underlap into half. Neat! It is missing the fly shield but I can borrow that bit from Trudy's! Her delivery of the technique seems so simple and easy to remember than Trudy's.

8. Colleen G Lea's Sewing facing to curved necklines



Easy peasy!

9. Tiina Keller's Yoke Pants



This is a course taught by an instructor at the West Valley College. Interesting to watch her sew with an industrial machine - the whole pant is done in less than an hour! By yoke pants, they do mean a pair of pants with contour waistband!The Westvalley has other interesting sewing related videos as well.

10. Sewing a contour / curved waistband by Trudy of Hot Patterns

Part 1 



Part 2



Again she makes it very easy.

11. Colleen G Lea's Sewing concave and convex seams



I learnt how to sew curved seams using this tutorial. Clip, clip, clip away.. the more you clip, the easier it will be to sew and the seams won't pucker!

12.  Janome -Sewing invisible zipper / concealed zipper



This is a technique I learnt in my zipper class, but I like to watch this tutorial if only to figure which is the right and wrong side of the zipper!

13. Colleen G Lea's Sewing darts using masking tape



A masking tape to keep the dart line straight is genius! She also shows how to mark the darts using thread tacking.

14. How to fix the crotch wrinkles in pants by Glenda Sparling of SureFit System



I randomly chanced upon this video, without searching for pants fit or how to remove wrinkles.. It just landed on my youtube side bar.. Some might say, it's google invasive nature, but I'd say, Serendipity, just for this instance! As this is the exact fix I need to fix my pants. I do now understand why I get the wrinkles.. The full tummy, eh!  Glenda has a lot of free fitting videos. Her  instructions are so clear and the videos are of good quality and clarity!

15. Peggy Sagers Video on using French curve: 

I cannot embed this video on the blog, clicking on the link ill take you there. This one taught me how to really use the French curve, esp. the measurements on the curves!

Pictures of the Pants I made!

Here are the pictures from the result of my pants construction class. You can read about the classes here: part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4

Sorry for the bad quality of pictures due to poor light! My 6 yr old took it on a gloomy morning and we were in a rush to do it. I have lightened up the pictures to be able to see the fit. I don't wear a top that short, but pulled it up for the pictures to help analyze the fit better. And yes, remember to ignore the tummy flab!  And yes, that's a safety pin instead of a button on the waistband. Like I said, this is just a muslin. ;)

Front:



The problems I see here, by looking at the pictures, are
  • This was supposed to be a pair of straight pants but it ended up looking like a bootcut because during the fitting, we kept taking in a lot of fabric at the seams and the seam line wasn't so straight anymore. I like straight pants or even bootcut pants which break in much above the knees and widen out from there to the floor. Here the bootcut seems to break in at the knee, thereby emphasizing the thighs.
  • Too much circumference - I used size 42, whereas I would have done much better with 40. The crotch seam was too loose at the front and I had to take in a lot and still have lot of fabric left near the crotch. Hence the wrinkles.One size smaller would have helped. 
  • Too much crotch length esp, under fly front - need to take out a wedge right under the fly front and tapering to the side seam.
Good things I can say about this:
  • I had no idea I'd like the slant pockets this much! Love it, love it, love it! It is very convenient to keep the cellphone. I usually put my cellphone in my cabinet, once I reach office.. and no one can ever ever ever reach me after that, as the phone is in silent mode. The pockets changed all that! Plus, the slant pockets are very sleek.
  • I am not as big as I thought I was!

Nope, I am not going to share unflattering pictures of my back! You got to take my word when I say here are the problems I had, with the back fit:
  • When taking in at the front crotch seam line, I ended up taking in some length from the back crotch too just to be able to sew that seam. And this resulted in weird wrinkles. Those wrinkles weren't there until I took the seam in. And it pulls in a bit when I walk. Not liking that part AT ALL! 
  • The crotch seam hangs low.. Next time I would shorten the length of the pants, about an inch, midway or at 3/4rth of the fly front zipper!
Good things I can say about that::
  • The crotch curve fits!  yayy!!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pants making class - part 4

Read about part 1, part 2, and part 3.

Finally done! I'm thrilled with my first ever pair of pants! :) The fit is pretty okay too. No, I still didn't like the straight waistband. After wearing contour waistband for years, straight waistband just feel so wrong. And I can see now, by looking at the pictures where what can be improved.. But overall, the fit was okay. So, It can only get better from here if I move from straight waistband to contoured.

Today's class had me serge the seams and add the waistband and get the hems done. We cut off half an inch from waist area and some from the waistband to be able to get the waistband, a tiny bit below my belly button. So yes, reducing the crotch length like I wanted to, would have worked much better.


When I was stitching in the ditch, on the waistband from the right side, I missed a small area where the seam allowance was peeking outside. That was the area where my stitches were perfectly under the ditch.. yikes! Seam ripper to the rescue and I resewed the seams. And guess what? I made the same mistake again. Quite annoyed with myself, I ripped the seam this time,  undoing the waistband seam as well... Yikes! :( I will not make THIS mistake ever again. Third time was a charm and it worked out well.


What I loved about the Pants making class: Agnes has a very lively (but certainly not over the top) personality and works with each student one on one. That's the best part of the class. There was no session in which all of us were asked to crowd around the table for her to explain a technique. That would have made us feel very hurried as each one of us were in different levels and doing different things. I'm glad she explained the construction techniques to each one of us separately based on what we were doing at the time. In spite of missing the part 1 class, I was able to easily catch up with the rest of the classmates, The class never felt hurried. And every one of us took home a finished pair of pants.


If you are interesting in learning construction techniques, this is a good class. If you need some social sewing time or need a structured class to get you off your butt and start sewing, this is a good class. But if you already know your pants sewing basics and want to improve fit,  this is not it! Look elsewhere.

Monday, November 26, 2012

I am a wannabe Stashbuster

I had recently joined the Stash busting Sewalong at SG!

Fabric from stash used up - ever since I joined this sew-along:

First draft Pants muslin - 1.5 yards

Pants fabric for the class - 1.5 yards

Cheetah leggings - 1 yard

So far the count of yards used up : 4. Yayyy!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pants making class - Part 3

I wrote about the pants making class earlier in Part 1 and Part 2. This week was part 3 of the same class. We did front fly zipper and the fitting.

The front fly was so easy to put on, based on the method Agnes taught us and we also added a fly shield. While it was very easy to put in the zipper, I am not very enamoured with the finish of the fly - there are more chances for the zipper teeth or the zipper pull, to show on the outside using this method. And I hate it when zipper pulls show on the fly. Some of my RTW lined wool trousers that cost a pretty penny, also have this problem and I don't like it at all. While this method works for no, I'm more inclined to try and learn Trudy's Fly front zipper on Youtube.



Sandra Betzina also has a fail-proof method for the fly front zipper on the Threads website, but that one doesn't have a fly shield. While Sandra's Pants Construction class on Craftsy has a video of her, demonstrating a fly front with the fly shield, I think Trudy's Flyfront has a cleaner finish. And Sandra attaches the fly shield at the very end, whereas Trudy attaches it at the very beginning.


Debbie Cook also has an easy fly front tutorial based on the ideas she got from Sandra Betzina and other sources.  She also uses double sided tape to hold the zipper in place, which I think is brilliant.

Colleen G Lea from FashionSewingBlog also has a neat flyfront tutorial - one that's easy to follow. Her method is very smilar to Sandra and Trudy's in the sense that the zipper is further away from seam line, but does not have a fly shield. However if I start out like Trudy's where she first attached the zipper tape to the fly shield, I can then proceed with Colleen's method, I think.



So yes, I'll be using one or a combination of these methods instead of the one taught in class, for a cleaner fly front zipper.

The fitting:  This was fun! I had used size 42 of Burda. We ended up taking in 1/4 inch on the side seams and on the inner leg seams. The crotch part, below the fly front zipper, had to be taken in 1/4 inch as well.  But even without taking all these fabric, the fit was surprisingly good! I was super thrilled! :) And yes, I do have a Burda butt! :) And I'm glad that I went with my idea of using Burda pattern instead of the Kwiksew one used in the class. Remember I mentioned that I got some fabric pooling much below the butt, in my muslin. None of that happened this time. :) The fabric I used for the muslin, was not right at all, next time I will be sticking to bottom weight fabric for pants or skirts. And since it as 1/4 inch that was taken in at the crotch and side seams, this makes me wonder, maybe I should go down a size, to 40, but use 42 for back crotch seam alone?

Agnes also taught me a method to fit myself when trying to take some fabric out of the seams. First you pin the extra fabric, from outside (right side of the pants) while wearing it. Then after getting out of the pants, remove each pin, one at a time, carefully and place it on the same location (again on the outside), but catching one fabric only (either front or back piece of the pants, but use the same one for all pins). Repeat this for all pins one by one. Now if you turn the pants inside out, on the wrong side of the fabric, you see the pin basting showing new seam line. You can use a marker (chalk marker or a fabric pen) to mark the new seam on the wrong side. After marking the seam, remove all the pins and baste the new seam line over the mark, again from the wrong side, catching both front and back parts of the pants.

You can use this method to pin side seams, crotch seam, or even back seam. For Darts, you can pin both fabric from outside, open the pants inside out, mark with chalk on the new seamline before removing pins, then remove pins and pin them from inside and sew away the new dart.

Now I have some homework of sewing the newly marked seam line and we'll be attaching the waistband in the next class. Can't wait!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pants making class - Part 2

For the second class, I pre-washed 1.5 yards of pants weight twill fabric in olive green, again, one that I would never ever wear in real life. So, pressure was off, right there!  I hauled all my traced out pattern pieces, the Burda book, my notions, the fabric and entered the class with so much excitement.

The class teacher Agnes, turned out to be such a delight! She was excited to okay my Burda pattern as she has sewn with Burda patterns before and she find those pants fit her well!! Right after she confirmed with me if I had chosen the right size, she proceeded to show me how to cut the fabric, etc. All the pre-work I had done, had surely got me upto speed with the other class participants! Woohoo!

Agnes suggested not to reduce the crotch length as mine seemed too small and that we could cut up the length from the waist later if we find that it's too long.. I'm 5 ft and needed it. My half-assed tissue fitting and my muslin said that I was right to have shortened the crotch length, but hey, she's the teacher and has been teaching this class for years. So, I followed her instructions. And we can always cut it back later, so no, big deal! We also left extra width of fabric on the side seams and in the back seam as some fit insurance.

And then we jumped right into the class. So far, we've sewn the back darts , back seams, sewed the fly-front zipper seam closed, interfaced the waistband and folded into half, borrowed from one of the other class participants, as my pattern didn't have a fly shield, sewed the fly shield, sewn the pocket facing and serged the ends, then interfaced the pocket facing and under-stitched it. I think something was lost in translation when she asked me to top-stitch the seam allowance with the pocket facing.. I later realized that she really meant under-stitch. :) Live and learn! I also have a homework to serge the ends of the main pocket piece and sew it with the facing.

The teacher is also a big proponent of pressing every seam!

Thoughts about the class - Love it! Instructor is fast paced and fun! Can't wait to finish my homework and can't wait for the next class. :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pants making class - Part 1

I had signed up for the Pants making class recently. The pants pattern chosen for the class was Kwiksew 3363 - Slant pockets and straight waistband.


Even though the Kwik sew instructions are really good and suggested for newbies, I didn't want to make this one, The tapered style is so not my type or one that would sit my body shape. The other crucial factor was that a Burda crotch curve was much suggested for my ample booty! I did some research on the crotch curve of Kwiksew vs Burda. That pretty much sealed the deal that I am so not going to make the Kwiksew pants. So I called up the sewing centre and after a quick talk, I was okayed to bring in the Burda pattern. If suppose it wouldn't work, then the instructor would let me know anyway. ;)

And this is the pattern I had in mind. It is from Burda magazine 10/2009 with slant pocket-straight waistband pants (#125). I prefer contour waistbands as they fit me better, since I am very curvy. But for the sake of not deviating much from the class, I found a very similar pattern from Burda that had straight waistband and slant pockets with a front fly.


Based on my measurements, I was a 42 in Burda. That 42 depended on where I thought my waist was. :)

So to confirm if I've got the right size, I made up a muslin in cheap fabric. I also reduced the length halfway between the fly front zipper and some length from the knee as I'm 5 ft tall, skipped the pockets, etc.

The first draft muslin seemed okay to my untrained eye, just for some extra fabric pooling much below the butt. It also surprised me!! Really? Making a muslin is this easy? And using a fabric that you'd never ever wear means absolutely no pressure. Oooh, It was an eye opener!

I was all set for my first class and then my little daughter fell sick with the flu :( and I gladly gave up my class to be with her. Called the class to let them know that I couldn't make it, but they told me if I don't mind putting in some extra work, I was still welcome to the class, from part 2 onwards. Okay, that's good news! Now the wait begins for the next class.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Yesss, I made it to the Sewing group

 I had written earlier how bad I felt not being able to go to the local sewing group because like an idiot, I had arranged the schedule my daughter M's swimming classes on the same day of my sewing group meet up.

Turned out, I could make it to the sewing group after all!

M's swimming coach suggested we pull her out of the swimming class and bring her later when she's ready.  She had no motivation to learn to swim. It makes me wonder if it is a matter of student-coach incompatibility. She is really into dancing and wants to go for ballet class! So, this time, I smartened up and like the brilliant person I could be, arranged it on a Monday.

Voila! The car available on Tuesday evenings from then on, so I could go to the sewing group at last! I went yesterday and it was nice to see local sewers who were passionate about sewing and also watch the show-n-tell. There was also a demonstration on how to make flowers with zippers. Who knew!! And the flower looked so darn beautiful.

I loved the show n tell the most of all, as I feel inspired to sew something to bring and share at the table.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Zippers with a difference - Class review



 

I took a class 'Zippers with a difference' yesterday at the Brampton Sew N Serge. This class was taught by Jean. What an amazing teacher! She made zippers very, very easy. I loved her and her teaching style! Who would have thought that the lovely teacher with so much zest for life, who looked not more than a day over 50, was in fact 72 yrs old! So much to learn from her and it's not just sewing.

Now, about the class, We made centered zipper, lapped zipper and an invisible zipper. She showed us how to use 1/4 inch quilters tape as a sewing guide, which made the zipper insertions as easy as 1-2-3. She also showed us how to use the invisible zipper foot for the invisible zipper.

The class was a total bargain at $20 + $7 kit + HST.

Highly recommend it!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Oh no!



I was sooooo excited to start participating in a new sewing group as of this month. The sewing group is in Oakville and they meet every 2nd and 3rd Tuesdays. I had been to one of their meetings as a guest and liked the group as they were very welcoming and warm people. Many had brought the clothes they had made for a show-n-tell. I was hoping that meeting other sewers in real life would bring back my mojo.

And then this weekend, I just realized that I had very carefully planned and arranged for my daughter's swimming classes to fall on the same day as the sewing meetup - DARN!!! While my husband is the one who takes her to her swimming class, we are a one-car household for now and I have no means to get to the sewers forum!

What a bummer!! :(

Friday, September 28, 2012

Sewing machine 911 class on Craftsy to the rescue!!

A couple of days ago, my 6 yo daughter wanted to wear her new glitterati pink tiered skirt..  and it was too loose on the hips. I tell her smugly  I have 2 sewing machines and I can fix it in a sec. and I run to my basement only to realize that my Kenmore 16321 isn't working... the first few stitches were fine.. and then I back-stitched.. oh boy! the clunkiest of clunky sound ever.. I thought my machine was dying! Took bobbin out, re inserted...same sound.. okay, I think to myself  no worries, I still have the other machine.. The Viking Rose should work.... No, it didn't work!! The fabric doesn't move at all... I tell myself [i]Come on, this cannot be true. This fabric can't be that bad that it killed 2 machines at one go!!  I literally kept pulling the fabric from back and made the machine do the tiniest stitches ever.. My daughter wore the skirt the bad stitches et al and went to school while I went in panic mode..

I have a zipper class coming up soon and none of my machines work??? Maybe I need to find a sewing machine repair shop to fix my machines... Yikes!! Who would fix my machine that fast and give it to me before my class?

I turned to Google looking for sewing machine clunky sound[.. not much help other than advice to clean the machine and re-thread. I did all that and it didn't work.. The bobbin holder moves in a strange way that I haven't noticed before.. What do I do now?  ???

Today, I remembered the free sewing machine 911 class from Craftsy and wondered if that lady had a solution for this clunking issue. And yes, she did!!! :D


Picture courtesy: Craftsy


(Clicking on above image will take you to the free class 'Sewing Machine 911' on Craftsy)

 Her chart showed that the clunky sound is because the bobbin holder is not in correct position and she shows in her video how to clean that area and asks the viewer to check the manual on how to put it back..  Oh, the manual!! Turns out my manual had same trouble shooting information  what she said, but in hard-to-understand language, that I would have never figured it out on my own.

And now, my machine is back in action! Yippeee!!

With the new-found confidence, I moved on to the Viking Rose to try my luck.. And found that the feed dogs have been disengaged. Aha! That's why the fabric never moved. I engage them back and that's working too.. Phew!!

I feel like a superwoman! :) And yes, I'm all set for my zipper class.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The pink leggings that never were

Unlike me, my almost 6 yr old daughter is very girly - loves all things pink and purple, shiny and sparkly, loves glitter and sequins ... well, you get the picture! So I wanted to surprise her with a pair of bright pink leggings. I used this free leggings pattern from Stella-Lily's.

Before cutting into the pink fabric, I made a pair of trial leggings in an off white fabric.. the fit was a bit snug so I modified the pattern to increase the width and was finally ready to cut into the pink fabric.. So, a couple of weeks ago, when she was having a nap, I snuck into the basement to cut and sew that pair of leggings.

I cut, I serged and was ready to put the two legs together.

And then I found out that I couldn't.

How do you put 2 left legs together?

In between my trial leggings and the pink one, a month had elapsed and I forgot that I need to cut the 2 legs - one from each side of the fabric!

Lesson learnt: Read instructions every time. Stick to the darn cutting layout until you know what you are doing.

Update: The pink leggings turned out fine after all; I re-cut the waist a  little lower and  added a type of elastic I found in my stash, that looked very much like the elastic used in men's briefs. That was the same one used in my coverstitch m/c class and I used that technique here. It worked!! My daughter got her pink leggings after all! Next time I'd make it a smidgen wider to fit her.

I also sewed a pair of brown leggings as well - refashioning from my soft brown cotton/Lycra tshirt. This turned out great as well.

NOW, There more leggings in my DD's wardrobe!  :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Coverstitch machine Class

I just got back from a class for Cover-stitch machine @ Brampton Sew N Serge. What a wonderful class taught by John. Here's what I learnt on how to work this beauty..

  • We learned how to thread our respective machines - which I already knew how to do mine, but it had taken me 30 mins to do it the first time.. and I was dreading to do it again So it was a wonderful refresher and now it's easy peasy!

  • How to use the needle threader (The pointy thing was bent, no wonder I wasn't able to use it. John fixed it and showed me how to use it and had me try it again and again until I got it.)

  • 3 thread coverstitch (on 3 samples - woven, knit and fleece)

  • 2 thread coverstitch, wide (3 samples - woven,knit and fleece)

  • 2 thread coverstitch narrow (2 samples - woven and knit )

  • gathering on woven fabric (1 sample)

  • puffing on woven fabric (simple idea, great results! wow!) (1 sample)

  • sewing elastic on lycra (1 sample)

  • how to do coverstitch on polar fleece (1 sample)  put it right under the needle

  • chain stitch(1 sample)

  • how to use decorative thread and how to use double thread on looper to make the stitch pop

  • how to double duty the coverstitch to finish the hem allowance plus do the hem in one step (1 sample, which I tried it on my own based on John's instructions)

  • got to see plenty of samples to get an idea what all we could do with the CS machine

  • what kind of needles to use, what size needle for what fabric, how a CS needle differs from other needles and why and that CS needles on sergers, but not vice versa

  • what kind of thread to use and why

  • how to remove the needle (there's a trick in there, just unscrew one full rotation and no more.. the more we unscrew, and tighten, the more chances of losing the thread in the screw, and even changing the timing of the machine which is $$$ to fix as the whole neck has to be replaced). Also that it is good to leave the screw where it originally was, so it doesn't lost.

  • got a lot of tips and tricks

  • Where to look for gorgeous fabrics in GTA (Ann's Fabrics in Hamilton)

  • how to lock a thread using an industry method - on circular hems

It was fantastic!! The class was really inexpensive! with tax, it only came to $23 and the kit was included. :o The other 2 people in the class had bought machine from John and it was free for them. I still am amazed by the cost of the class considering how much I got out of it.

Great class! Highly recommend it! I will take more classes from this place.

What I'm interested in next are to practice doing a neck binding without a specialty feet (for now) by serging first and then doing regular coverstitch.

And I plan to make a 'nice' workbook out of all the samples we did and write my notes next to it. I took a look at the workbook they make in serger class and I think I can do a similar one for Cover-stitch machine and even one my serger.

So what happened to my summer plans, you ask??

Hey, summer doesn't end until August! And my class was to help me get that list checked off. Eventually! ;)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What I did about my hobby or lack thereof

I kept breaking my head and analyzing why my sewing is not taking off...

The problem was that I really love knits and I didn't like the way the sewing machine sewed knits..  I was planning for a serger sometime later in a year, but if my sewing was going nowhere without a serger, then I realized I better do something about it. . I looked around and found a hardly used Janome 644D in Kijiji (It's like Craigslist) This machine was barely used once or twice.. The lady who sold it to me had bought it with the best of intentions (She reminded so much of my own self! Oh boy!)  used it once and packed it away for playing with it later. And it is now, mine. And I had spent money on a used machine and bought it home without even testing it. :o The reason being I picked it up from her office where I couldn't have tested it and she did seem like a genuine person in her email.



Now, If I know myself very clearly, I know if I wait any longer to try the machine, the fear will take over. So, I promptly booked a one on one 'Serger class' at Ruti's Needlebed took my machine there. Ruti tested my machine first and made sure it worked! (What a relief!) Since the machine was practically never used, she made me exercise the serger by doing a standard 4 thread overlock stitch on a scrap about 20 times to loosen up the machine and warm the oil inside.  After an hour and half of the class, I now can thread the serger from scratch, do a 4 thread overlock, do a Rolled hem, a picot.

I've read that a serger can do so much more  lettuce edging, gathering, ruffling, attaching elastic etc... I just have to keep playing with it and figure it out.

I also had ordered a couple of patterns and they are home.


Valerie's Top by Silhoutte patterns


Simplicity 4076 (OOP - Gosh! With its huge popularity, I did not think this would become oop, but it did. Ebay to the rescue!)

Can't wait to play.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Leaving on a jetplane...

I love that song... Yes, I'm leaving for a looong trip to India to visit family and friends - the whole of February - which means busy planning, shopping gifts and pretending to pack. I also have been very busy at work pretty much the whole of January. So I couldn't find the time to sew or explore the coverstitch any further.






I plan to explore a couple of new places this time and yes,  I promise to come back with tons of yummy "colorful" fabrics (gosh! I miss all those colors...) and hopefully when I come back, I'll get sewing much! :) A girl can hope, can't she?



Sunday, January 8, 2012

Janome 1000cpx


(Picture: Website of Janome Canada)

I am a proud owner of a Coverstitch machine as of yesterday. :) Wooohooo!

Tabatha was selling her Coverstitch machine as her she has moved from garment sewing to making gorgeous quilts! Check out her gorgeous quilts here. After talking on emails and taking a trip to Durham region yesterday, the 1 yr old machine which has never been used for more than an hour, is mine for $450. Tabatha was also very kind and showed me  a few things like how to thread the top thread, how to lock a coverstitch, etc.

I came home feeling elated and with a huge grin and a new machine! She's also selling her Viking 905 serger, but after mulling over it for a couple of hours and trying to thread the coverstitch machine in the mean time,  I finally decided that I'm not ready for 2 new machines and the coverstitch alone was enough to give my brain cells a big workout this year. What can I say? Threading the coverstitch was a humbling experience indeed. :) I made myself familiar with all the parts of the machine and threaded the top thread on my own. I could do it all the way to the needle, but couldn't get the needle-threader to work as per the instructions from the manual. I slept through it and then, tried the needle threader again this morning again. It took DH 10 seconds to do it, and that too without looking at the manual. He came up with his own way of using the needle threader and it worked!! No, this method didn't work for me! Having an in-house needle threader is fantastic, but just to be on the safer side, I'm going to get a floss threader and learn to thread the needle with that.

So far I've learnt

  • how to thread the top thread

  • how to do a 3 needle coverstitch

  • how to adjust the pressure adjusting screw

  • that the coverstitch is sewn with the fabric right side up and hem underneath it (It baffled me a sec!)

Next up, I need to work on learning

  • how to use a floss threader to thread the needle

  • how to thread the lower looper

  • how to remove a needle

  • how to do a coverstitch with 2 needles

  • adjusting the thread tensions to try different stitches

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sewing goals for 2012

If I know me right, I'd say if I don't push myself into something, I'd never get it done. So, here's my sewing goals for this year.  I plan to re-visit this list often and see where I am.



    1. Conquer my fear of doing a FBA -  I need a FBA. There's no escaping that. I need to conquer this beast first.

    2. TNT for knit top - I prefer knit tops than woven, so comfy! And very forgiving compared to wovens

    3. TNT pattern for knit dress - If I get a knit top TNT pattern, then this one would be easy

    4. TNT pattern for a woven top - I'd like to make an Indian style salwar kameez/kurta for me and  a TNT woven pattern will help.

    5. Make 12 knit tops this year as a part of TAM (1 top a month)

    6. Fix at least 20 garments - I have a lot of pants waiting to be hemmed, etc that are waiting on my Fix-It pile

    7. Organize sewing area: Now that I have a place to sew, I would like to arrange / organize my sewing area.

    8. Take 2 sewing classes 

    9. Learn to work on the coverstitch machine and serger (added serger to this list,now that I have one)

    10. Learn how to do at least one type of zippers (either center zipper or invisible zipper)

    11. Learn to make at least 5 type of drafting alterations on a TNT top pattern (say, changes to necklines, etc)

    12. Watch 12 sewing related DVDs - DVDs are so much easier for me to learn than from books.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My history with sewing and some more about me

The Sewing girl Seamstress with Tuxedo Cat by Tascha Parkinson

In a small town in Southern India, my Mom got me started on hand embroidery when I expressed interested at 7. For a while, I had the most interesting slips (chemises) in my school, lol, all hand embroidered by moi! Then came making doll clothes with mom's scraps. I even figured out how to make a vest by making 2 holes in a rectangular fabric!

And at 15, I took a class from my neighbor who was a sewing instructor and sewed a few clothes  (underskirt/petticoat, saree blouse etc) with her hand-holding. Then I had to give up sewing and focus on my education for quite a while... Then at 26, I took up sewing again - this time a month's worth of sewing classes, this time, while I didn't have a machine at home, I used the machine at the class  I made a kurti (just another name for tunic), a nice salwar-kameez outfit (again Indian style tunic and pants), a nice pair of Capri pants... LOVED sewing again but didn't pursue sewing after that.

After this, I pretty much didn't sew for the next 7 yrs. I bought a sewing machine (Kenmore 16231 from Sears), built a good sized stash and I remember making an apron, a small pillow and then years later, I made a pair of knit pants and a sleeveless tunic - both for my then 1 yr old daughter. Took some online sewing classes through sites like PR, but didn't really sew anything after those. What else? Oh yeah, I did sew a bra from an in person bra class in Hamilton (ON), which ended up as the most expensive UFO (Unfinished Object!) ever. More about it on another day.

Now that I want to get back into sewing, This time around, I plan to take it s.l.o.w. - start from small easy pieces with easy techniques and slowly work my way up from there. I live in one of the suburbs around Toronto, Canada with my little daughter Mischief, who is naturally artsy/crafty (unlike me) and my husband who doesn't mind my growing stash and encourages me.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

We all start somewhere...

Have a decent stash, but overwhelmed to cut into it and start sewing...

Have been reading about sewing for a couple of years now, still stuck through...

Have great books to help me, still not ready to jump in...

Wonderful blogs, forums, articles on the internet for inspiration & education,  still no...

What has been holding me back? I have no clue.




Once a friend and I wear talking about the principle of Inertia and I was telling him how I feel stuck in a rut and unhappy without a job but I'm not able to jump head first into the job search, due to inertia.... He commented - 'There's another side to Inertia; Once you start moving, you don't stop. Maybe you should just focus on getting to that side.' Those words made a big difference! I got started on working on the issue at hand, worked very hard at that and landed a fantastic job... It's more than a year now and I'm ready to apply the same idea to sewing.