Sunday, January 29, 2012

New Gadget - Greist Buttonholer

Regular readers will know that I sew using an industrial plain sewer - this only sews a straight stitch, so I'm a bit stuck when it comes to buttonholes.  I usually take my garment along to work and do it on one of these:

Image sourced here
This is an industrial buttonholer, a rather scary machine for the uninitiated!  Push one pedal to clamp the fabric in place, push the other pedal to start sewing, and once the sewing is finished the knife comes down and automatically cuts the buttonhole open.  A single buttonhole only takes about a second to do, but it sounds like a jackhammer and is definitely the noisiest machine in the factory!


I do have my mother's 1955 Elna Supermatic that does manual buttonholes - where you select different stitch widths and stitch lengths and patiently work your way around the buttonhole step-by-step, but it isn't working.

So when I saw a Greist Rotary Buttonholer on TradeMe I was interested.  I first came across these gadgets when Judy posted about one on her blog.  I researched a little online, watched Brian's video, and discovered you could use them on straight stitch machines as long as the shank is the right height or something...


So I put in a bid for $10 and as it turns out, no-one wanted it more than me!  The box is original vintage, and so is the dust:

Yikes!  I was half expecting a spider to crawl out of there!

All five cams were present though:


And the instruction book too, thank goodness:


The fabric clamp was a bit bent, but I managed to bend it back into shape mysteriously easily...


Then I found out it doesn't fit my machine!  It is designed for a low shank and my machine is high shank.  After investigating high to low shank converters without success, I came to the conclusion that there was only one other option - to buy another machine.....

But that's another blog post!

I love my buttonholer now I've given it a good clean-up.  And yes - some of you guessed correctly that was how I did the buttonholes on my Tangerine Tango Top!


Do you have a Greist buttonholer or similar gadget?  What do you think - do you love it or loathe it?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fix-it Friday - A Wonky Cross-over Top

Today's Fix-it Friday is about correcting this wonky cross-over top - spot the fault:


I found this top last year at The Paper Bag Princess for $5, and thought it had good wardrobe potential if I just fixed the drag lines.  Today it finally meets it's fate!

I pinned out the drag lines - well, as best as I could:

The Plan
I unpicked the offending area and pinned things in place, then tried it on again to check:


This photo better shows how much I am taking out:


Then I sewed it up again!  Ta-dah:


It wasn't really that simple!  The first time I stitched it together you could see some of the undyed area (this top was dyed post-make), so I had to unpick and resew.  I must have made a little hole while unpicking so then had to unpick and adjust the top bit slightly to cover the hole.  Then I noticed the horizontal rib was uneven - arrgh - I had to sew it a total of four times!!

Anyway, it is done now.  And like all Fix-it Fridays so far, it feels good to have done it!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

OK, I Do Have a New Year's Resolution...

Despite leaving comments on several blogs that I don't really have a New Year's resolution, and that I chop and change my mind so much that I would never stick to one anyway, I have discovered three weeks into the new year that I actually do have one:

"My New Year's resolution is to save as much money as I can on fabrics"

Well - I am pleased to announce that so far I am very successful in sticking to my resolution!

At the Global Fabrics sale I saved about $160 - yay!
Here's what I bought saved money on:

  • Purple peacock feather print - silk/cotton - future dress
  • Turquoise brush stroke print - silk/cotton - future dress
  • Yellow floral - 100% cotton - future sundress
  • Amythest/black print - silk tafetta - future skirt
  • Rose lace - future shell top
  • Dark brown/pink rose print - 100% cotton - future dress
Mmm...I see a lot of dresses in my future!  I can't wait to get started on the rose print one, but maybe the sundress should come first before summer leaves us.  What do you think?

By the way, I did suffer from some post-purchase guilt, so thought I better get started on something I bought in the last Global sale - here's a sneak preview:



Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ruby Slips Around the World

I love seeing all the Ruby Slips popping up on sewing blogs right around the world, and it gives me a real buzz to see what a great job everyone has done!  Following are some awesome examples, and you can click on the links to read the story behind each one.

Kristen at K.Line made two!  One in navy silk with the daintiest lace:


And another in rose pink - can you believe this was the test version?!


Yvonne from Handije Handges made one using a pretty print:


A sassy purple Ruby was made by Chris at Cuada Designs:



Melissa at Fehr Trade made a gorgeous seafoam green slip, and even managed to make some cute panties from the remnants too!


Suzy from Suzy Sewing has just posted about her peachy-pink version with black lace:


Raquel from Florida sent me a photo of her sheer version in my new favourite colour:


Elle from It's A Sewing Life is making a grey version - it looks beautiful even half-finished, and Elmo from "Adonising" Dressing for Dinner made a camisole version - what a great way to use up those smaller pieces in the stash!

Would like to make your own Ruby?  Just click on the Sew-Alongs tab above for the free pattern and all the details!

Or have you already made a Ruby Slip?  Do leave a link in the comments so we can admire it too!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tangerine Tango Top

I finished this little button-back shell this week:


You might recognise the orange spot fabric from this post!

It's in that "new" shade of "Tangerine Tango" that according to Pantone is going to be in fashion next year...but quite frankly I thought it was in fashion last year.  Well all the chain stores were full of it the summer before this one - I remember because I went shopping with my sister and tried some things on and that was when I decided I liked orange - the more intense the better!  So either Pantone is a bit behind the times, or New Zealand is still catching up with the last time orange had it's day!

Either way I really don't care or pay attention to these things, I wear whatever takes my fancy when I get up in the morning.  And if you need cheering up, try orange!


I used a pattern from 1964 - Simplicity 5441 - previously owned by Moire McCallum from 3H whatever that is.  She had very kindly and neatly annotated all those perforations for me, so I knew which ones were straight grain and which were buttonholes - I would have rung and thanked her if the phone number had been current!


This is it straight out of the packet.  It is quite boxy, and my modern instinct is to take it in at the waistline, but my vintage instinct is to keep to the authentic 60's silhouette - oh, what to do?!


This fabric is a cotton voile, so I underlined it with Bemberg for opacity.  I also turned under the edges of the facings as per the pattern instructions, a nice finish that I rarely use for fear of creating an impression on the outside, but the voile is lightweight enough to escape this.


I edged the hem with some lightweight lace:


And raided the stash for some buttons, in this case settling for some undyed tagua nut ones:


Do you like my lovely buttonholes?  I haven't told you about my new toy yet have I?  Actually there are two toys.....but that is for another day!


Happy Sewing!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fix-it Friday - Nerdy to Nice Top

I bought this top just for the fabric! 


I've been looking for some Breton stripe in red or blue for ages without success, so I snapped this top up for $6 when I saw it at the Red Cross Shop in Sandringham Village, with a view to reworking it at some stage.  That was three months ago...


It doesn't look like it has ever been worn, in fact I think it is a sample that has been rejected because the front facing doesn't work and the labels are cut off!  It does fit me, but looks a bit nerdy in my opinion.  And it bunches at my back waist too:


I removed the front facing and the armhole binding:


...refitted the shell to me (shortened the back, lowering back armhole and neck):


Then I tried it on and pinned a new neckline and armhole shape:


After chopping off the excess, I bound the edges in the remnants from my 1950's red spot dress:



It still looked a bit boring, so I added a 'corsage' to give it a vaguely nautical feel:


I made the corsage by gathering up a piece of selvedge and whipstitching it in place:



I added an old button, a torn strip of fabric for a ribbon, and secured a safety pin to the reverse:


Then photographed the finished result, because every Fix-it Friday needs a Before and After!


What do you think - better or worse?!

Have you got any things in your wardrobe that you never wear because they are not quite right?  Try Fix-it Friday too!  I've fixed up three things now that I probably would never have got around to doing had I not set a goal to do one every week.  Now I'm on a roll!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Grainline vs. Printline

I'm sewing with this charming spot fabric in the fabulous shade of, ahem, Tangerine Tango this week.  It is a printed cotton voile from Global Fabrics*, and I thought it was an ideal opportunity to demonstrate another thingamajig.

I have levelled the horizontal grain across the piece by cutting along a weft thread, and because my cutting usually wavers a bit no matter how hard I try to follow one thread, I then pulled out any partially cut weft threads until I could pull out a single thread all the way across:


Now look at the print - see how the dots are not aligned with the grain?  This can be a real problem with prints!

For a small all-over spot like this one, the off-grain print is not going to be very noticeable in the finished garment, so I am going to ignore it.  It would be nice if the spots were straight at the hem, but that is only going to happen if it is cut off-grain.

Larger geometric designs that are printed off-grain could create a real issue as it may be noticeable in the finished garment.  Just another thing to watch out for when selecting your fabric!

*in typing that, I just remembered they have a VIP discount week, ah oh...



Monday, January 16, 2012

Take my Patternmaking Class!

I have an exciting announcement - I'm going to be tutoring a patternmaking night class this term!  Well sort of patternmaking - it is titled "Patternmaking from a Garment you Love" and will go through all the techniques to obtain a perfect pattern from a favourite garment, without having to take it all apart!


The classes will be held on Wednesday evenings at Western Springs College in central Auckland, and will run for four weeks starting mid February.   I'll show you all the tricks of the trade for turning a garment into a proper pattern, and tons of practical patternmaking tips along the way.  Plus, you'll be able to ask me anything - you know how I love sharing info!

You can find all the details here at Leisuretime Learning, and there are sewing classes and other hobby classes available too.


I'm so excited to be tutoring as it is something I have always thought I would do eventually.  I thoroughly enjoyed teaching the fashion students who came to me for work experience, and you know I like making tutorials - so I imagine this will be equally fun!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fix-it Friday - Downsizing a Shirt

Yes I'm wearing my 40's floral dress today - I wore it to the supermarket!


For this week's Fix-it Friday I am downsizing a bodyshirt in a printed chain design that I found in an op-shop for about $20.  I purchased it around January 2011 from This is Not a Love Shop in K Rd, so those creases are a year old! The fabric is a nice cotton modal knit, the catch being it is a UK size 20 sized for a 107cm/42" bust - three sizes too big for me!


I did the same thing to this as I did to last week's Fix-it Friday, and since you asked I've done a short tutorial!  This should work for a set-in sleeve, but not one of those drop shoulder shirt sleeves.

I wouldn't recommend downsizing too far, three sizes is about my max.  Even then the collar is large and the bust dart too low.  Just as well I like large 70's collars!

1. Remove the sleeves, and try it on again to pin the side seams - I am going to remove 4.5cm from each piece (18cm total) which is 3.5 sizes.  I'm also extending both darts to a better position for me:


2.  Taking in the side seam also raises the underarm level, which is good.  Ideally you want it about 6mm higher per size.

3. Take in the sleeve seam about 6mm per size, and taper it to zero at the cuff.

4.  Grade the sleeve head down - this is basically 6mm per size off the shoulder cap, and 3mm per size about halfway down the cap, and zero at the underarm.  I chalk this as I undoubtedly alter it a bit later.

5.  Grade the armhole down - this is basically 6mm per size off the shoulder seam to about halfway down the armhole, tapering to zero at the underarm. Chalk this bit too!

6.  Pin the sleeve into the armhole matching the chalk lines - start at underarm point, pin halfway up each side, ease the rest in.  I notch the top of the sleeve cap, and make sure it is placed at the same point on each sleeve relative to the shoulder seam.

7.  Try it on and check.  Fiddle around pinning and repinning until it sits nicely, then sew it in for good, and chop the excess off with the overlocker!

And here it is finished - yay, new cool shirt!


PS - Mmm,  it doesn't look that different does it?  I promise it does in real life - next time I will try and take the photos with the same lens in the same position for better comparison shots!

Are you keen to adopt Fix-it Friday too?  I know lots of you were last week, so I've whipped up a badge to help provide motivation.  Stick it on your blog sidebar and every time you log in you'll be reminded to fix-up some of those botch-ups, hehe!