2.14.2015

Spring 6 PAC 2015

 How very timely! Just as I was making my pledge to buy no more fabric until after I had completed six new garments, this post was started at Stitcher's Guild:


From what I can understand, a 6PAC is a 6-piece collection in which the pieces coordinate for a multiple of combinations/options. This is probably just what I need to get me started on warm weather sewing.

The guidelines for this Spring's 6PAC are as follows (I like that these are suggestions rather than rules):

1. Jacket or covering layer in mid-to-dark neutral
2. Jacket or covering layer in another or lighter neutral or favourite colour
3. Bottom in the same mid-to-dark neutral
4. Bottom in second neutral
5. Top in one of the neutrals or a white
6. Top in favourite color or a print that mixes

I think these guidelines are very doable. But, before I decide what I'm going to make this year, I think it would be best to look at what I already have. From last Spring/Summer's abbreviated sewing spree, I now have the following pieces:
I also already had in my closet:
I can see that I have quite a few bottoms. Still, I love skirts-especially when they are easy to wear and go with everything, so I'm game for making more. Although I already have a couple of basic t shirts in my wardrobe,  I prefer a closer fitting (and slightly shorter) top with my skirts and a much looser one with skinny jeans, so the basic t-shirts are only worn with sweatpants and hoodies when the weather is cold. As for jackets, I'm kind of bored with the black sweaters (though they are good basics that I intend to keep), so I am looking forward to adding something else to the mix. I won't attempt pants this year; I'd rather not start working on a pattern for these until I've taken a pant drafting class (still waiting for Craftsy to add one). And, to keep things simple, I'm sticking to the black/white/red palette I worked with last Summer so that what I already have will work with what I will make.


Color palette (all photos Alabama Chanin)
So, here is my tentative plan for a Spring 6PAC:

  1. Alabama Chanin long sleeved bolero in black-I definitely want to applique this one and possibly add some beading (which could be done later, once the other pieces in my 6PAC are finished).


    From Alabama Chanin Studio Sewing & Design
  2. I also want to make an outer layering piece in red jersey. I love this jacket:


    Betsy Blazer
    But I suspect that drafting and fitting a blazer won't fit into the 6PAC schedule, so I'll probably make another Alabama Chanin bolero, or maybe the Carmine jacket from Cake Sewing:


  3. Black skirt. Initially I toyed with the idea of a fuller skirt that can be worn with a crinoline underneath (am I too old for a crinoline? I don't know, but I've always wanted to wear one and I'm not getting any younger). I'm not sure if I would make it with a knit or woven fabric. In the past, Natalie Chanin has shown skirts full enough for a crinoline, so it can be done:


    Source

    Source

  4. I think, though, that a full Alabama Chanin skirt deserves a special surface treatment (love that striped one!), so I think I'll save this for when I have the time to devote to it. I could make a woven full skirt. I like this one and the draft would be easy: 

    Talbot's skirt (looks like it is no longer available)
    Then again, I don't think I have enough appropriate fabric for something this full and I figure, with a full skirt, it's go big or go home. So, I'll probably end up making a simple A line. I don't have a basic black skirt in my closet right now, so this would fill a big hole in my wardrobe, plus I already have the pattern drafted and it's a quick sew: 

    Banana Republic A Line Skirt (no longer available)
  5. Black and white skirt Alabama Chanin Swing Skirt. I'm cheating a bit here, since this is 2 neutrals instead of one, but I already have one cut, stenciled, and ready to sew and I'd really like to finish it this year.

    Source. I'll be using the Facets stencil instead of this one.
  6. Alabama Chanin top in red (corset or fitted top):

    Source

  7. Alabama Chanin top in black (corset or fitted top):
Fitted Top from Alabama Chanin Studio Sewing & Design

With the exception of the black bolero and the black and white skirt, the Alabama Chanin pieces won't be appliqued/embroidered (or at least not very much). I can always go back and add beading and such to finished garments when I have the time and inclination to do so.

As for scheduling my sewing time, I doubt that I'll finish my 6PAC by the official deadline of April 30, not only because I'm just now starting to plan mine (the date to start sewing was Feb 1st), but also because I'm still working on my dress form. I hope to finish that by the end of next week, because I have a trip planned for the week after that, so I won't be really ready to get started until the middle of March. I will, however, be able to take the black and white skirt with me and will work on the hand applique while I'm away. I may also have time before I leave to cut the red and black tops and those will be quick to sew together while I'm away since I'm not doing a surface treatment on them. Not this time, anyway, though I do want to eventually replicate that black on black corset. I'm not stressing over the schedule, though. I'll finish when I finish and still be way ahead of where I was last year (when I was still planning winter clothes sewing).

If I have any spare time between now and my trip, I'll work on fitting the bolero pattern (both of those will be really quick to sew) and cut out the A line skirt (unless I change my mind about it and decide to make a full one instead), so those would be ready to sew once I get home.

I think this plan is doable and all 6 pieces will work well with each other and the things I already have. Now to finish that dressform cover and stuff the foam form into it!

2.01.2015

Catching Up and Making Plans

With the exception of a few minutes here and there of hand sewing on the Alabama Chanin indigo skirt and a quick hem repair on my husband's athletic shorts, I haven't sewn a stitch since Thanksgiving Day. I have yet to cut into the merino I brought back from LA and since then I have bought even more fabric for winter clothing. I kept busy up until Christmas with gift knitting and I knew that my husband was going to be having minor surgery early in the New Year, so I decided to delay any new sewing projects until after that. 

He has since had his surgery and has recovered, but I've been dealing with an increase in symptoms brought on by the frequent weather changes we've been having. Abnormally warm spells interspersed with cold snaps have kept my trigger-happy immune system very busy, which means I haven't had much energy for making things. I want to get back to my drafting and sewing, though at this point it makes more sense to start working on clothes for Spring, since I suspect it will be here before I've completed much of anything. 

Before I can start to sew I need to fine-tune some patterns, finish up a big project in my sewing room, and make a wardrobe plan.

Since I know that I'll want to make some Alabama Chanin tops to go with my already made Alabama Chanin skirts, I need to finish fitting those patterns. I've already moved the shoulder point (and cross front/back) on the Corset Top, but still  need to take care of the swayback. I think the Corset Top might need a swayback adjustment as well. Once I've done both, I'll machine sew them up in some cheap jersey to make sure that they really are "done".

Then I'd like to take another stab at the Fitted Top. I had issues with it in the past and thought that I had found a workable solution with an added bust dart, but the fit is still a bit off, so I want to revisit that one. I really like the cut of this top, but might need to consider different seam lines to get the fit I want.

Lastly, my self-drafted t-shirt pattern needs to be revised. Maybe it's because I've lost some weight, but the t-shirts I made in the fall seem too big under the arms now. I might need to take out a bit of ease there and perhaps also raise the armhole slightly. These changes would require a new sleeve draft as well, which is okay with me because the first one I drafted didn't include the elbow adjustment Suzy Furrer taught in her Craftsy class and I want to see if it makes much of a difference in a casual knit.

As for the Big Sewing Room Project, I am very close to finally having a custom dress form. I've wanted one for years, and several years ago I even went so far as to buy the My Twin dress form kit, but I never got around to using it. It sat in my closet for  a few more years before I finally concluded that it wasn't going to be a workable solution for me. Because my immune system over-reacts to everything with which I come into contact, wrapping myself in a plastic bag and then several layers of plaster bandages didn't sound like a good idea. In fact, it sounded like an invitation for trouble.

Just when I concluded that the My Twin and I were not going to be friends, I found a custom dress form class on Craftsy and, after consulting with the instructor, decided on a Uniquely You dress form. Nina (yes, I've named my dress form) arrived before Christmas and I'm now ready to get started on it. Uniquely You form consists of a soft, squishy foam that conforms to the shape of a custom-fitted cover. Uniquely You sells covers that come with fitting instructions, but, since I already have a well-fitting moulage, I'm going to use that as a pattern to cut my own cover. In the Craftsy class, the instructor shows how to trim down the foam where needed to make it easier to get it into the cover. I will definitely need to reduce the bust projection as well as the waist and hip (I think the buttock is a bit too high as well) and the arm "nubs" are way too wide too, so those will be lopped off to match my narrower frame. 


Nina is a bit more zaftig than I. I see an electric carving knife in her future.
So it's time to switch my mindset from cold weather clothes (and all that yummy merino) to warm weather ones and think about what I want/need for Spring this year so that I can come up with a sewing plan. I'll take a look at what I already have in my closet this week, as well as what I have in my fabric stash. I'd like to use fabric that I've already purchased rather than buy any more at this point because, well, I have a lot of it that needs to be used (and there's not much space left for new fabric purchases). I might need to pick up some lining or interfacing, but other than that, I'm pledging to not buy any more fabric until I have made at least 6 new garments. I promise.










11.07.2014

Fabric Shopping in LA (and Online)

I got back from a one week stay in California this past Wednesday evening. I was quite busy yesterday dealing with things like laundry, banking, sorting mail, and thwarting potential identity theft. Just the usual coming home from vacation routine. 

Today I turned a year older. I'm now 52, which really isn't that big of a deal to me. I can't have cake, which, to me, is the best part about having a birthday. I hope someone out there had a slab of something thick and chocolatey and thought of me.

During our vacation-planning phase, my husband had asked me what I wanted to do while we were there. My response (in order of priority)

  1. See our daughter
  2. See my sisters
  3. Go to my home church on Sunday (this was its 50th anniversary)
  4. Spend time on the beach-especially right before sunset
  5. Go to Mood and The Fabric Store Los Angeles
We managed to do all of the above, for which I felt both content and grateful. 

So, about #5:

I was there.
We visited Mood first and, when I initially walked in the door, it felt overwhelming. I quickly discovered, though, that one half of the store is dedicated to home dec fabrics and, since I wasn't looking for any, this eliminated that feeling of not knowing where to look first. A store employee directed me to the boucles and, after that, we just browsed the other aisles until it was time for the parking meter to expire. I decided that I will want a solid black boucle for my first French jacket. It's my best color, the backbone of my wardrobe, and there will be no plaids to match. For the lining, I'm leaning towards either a deep turquoise/teal or rich berry red. The silks were gorgeous; the jewel tones especially simply glowed. I didn't get a picture in the silk aisle, but my husband did snap one with his iPhone while I was examining the novelty wools:


We also looked at the cashmere (I confess there was some fondling) and I quickly eyed the heavily embroidered laces as we walked past. I have no idea what I would use it for (and doubt that I ever will), but a heavy metallic silver one definitely caught my eye.

Then we drove a few blocks to The Fabric Store Los Angeles. This is the first US location of a New Zealand company and, though they carry a lot of beautiful textiles, I was there with one purpose in mind: buy merino! And so I did.



The topmost piece is a medium weight 100% merino jersey with a nice drape. The color is a very rich, deep magenta though it looks more like a hot pink here. (I still need to learn how to use my DSL camera). I plan on using it for a top, though I'm not sure exactly what kind of top yet. Maybe a long sleeved ballet wrap.

The next 2 pieces are solid black. The first is a heavy merino ponte with some lycra in it. I've never used ponte and felt like this was the time to find out what the all the fuss is about. I'm planning to use it for leggings or a skinny pant with some interesting seaming details. The second black piece is a medium weight 100% merino jersey. It's got a nice drape and will be used to make a dress-unless I use the ponte for a dress instead of a pant, in which case I'm going to have a lot of nice black merino tops (I bought 4 yards of it),

The final piece is a gorgeous heavy charcoal gray and I have no idea what type of fabric it is. It was shelved with the jerseys, but that doesn't mean it is one. I can't see a distinctive knit pattern in it, nor a weave. Maybe it's boiled?  It is 100% merino and has some stretch, which makes me think it's a knit. I'll use it for a jacket or a cozy dress or tunic to be worn with leggings or tights.

After The Fabric Store, we went across the street to The Sycamore Kitchen so my husband could pick up some treats for one (or two) final indulgences before our trip ended. He highly recommends the flourless lemon custard almond cake. 

I also ordered some more fabric from Alabama Chanin last week. There was a discount code available on Halloween and, since I buy from the site quite regularly, I never pass up one of their sales. I picked up a couple yards each of the black and dark gray organic cotton jersey. I'm still working on fitting the AC top and dress patterns and am almost the point where I can start making them. I  hope to have quite a few tops made by next spring so that I have something to wear with my hand sewn AC skirts. I'm also going to work on some boleros and shrugs to layer over them. I'm always happy to see that stenciled box on my porch with a neatly tied bundle of yardage inside.


11.06.2014

Cotton Jersey & Indigo Dye: My Most Ambitious Alabama Chanin Project So Far

I mentioned in my previous post that I am currently working on a couple of Alabama Chanin skirts. The first was started during the Summer months, but was set aside while I fiddled with slopers and shirt and dress patterns for awhile. By the time I thought about getting back to it, Fall was here and I figured there was no rush to work on it because I don't plan wearing it until the weather is warm again.



This is the Swing Skirt from Alabama Stitch Book. I cut a size large and plan on taking deeper seam allowances if I haven't gained weight by the time the applique is done.




The top layer is black and the bottom layer is white. I applied the Facets stencil with white paint and will use reverse applique throughout.

The white backing will show when the top (black) layer is cut away within the stenciled shapes
As for the second skirt, I have always admired the indigo clothes from Alabama Chanin. I've been thinking about making something in indigo and recently decided it was time, but first I needed to choose which garment to make. I really like the AC jackets and coats, but I have yet to use my sloper to draft a jacket pattern and am waiting to start working on one until the newest Alabama Chanin book is published in April (it's going to include a coat pattern!)


Alabama Chanin Fitted Jacket (no longer available)

Anna's Garden Dolman Coat

I also love the long dresses and skirts made up in the indigo jersey.


Source
Annas Garden Long Skirt

I decided on the long skirt from Alabama Chanin Studio Sewing + Design. Now all I needed was the fabric. Unfortunately, indigo dyed cotton jersey isn't cheap-understandably so, considering the labor intensive process required to produce it-and a long skirt would require a lot more yardage than the short ones I've previously made. I was on the fence about this for awhile, wondering if maybe I should just forget about the indigo project altogether. Then, while searching for some dye for another sewing project, I found a reduced indigo dye that was reasonably priced. A few weeks after that, Alabama Chanin had a sale, so I was able to get enough yardage for the skirt without breaking my budget.

I dyed the jersey on a mid-October day when I was feeling particularly brave. Here is one of the pieces right after it came out of the vat following its second dunking. The fabric was green when it came out of the vat, but was already beginning to change to blue before I got it on the clothesline:




The piece on the left had just had its second dunk, while the one on the right had been dunked 3 times at this point:




And here are the same two pieces again after the one on the left had hung on the line for 15 minutes or so. I dunked it one more time to get it as dark as the other piece. Both pieces faded a shade or two after rinsing and laundering (this was expected):




After the fabric was rinsed, laundered, and dried, I cut out the skirt and transferred the stencil design. I chose the Angie's Fall stencil and used ultra fine Sharpie markers to transfer it to the fabric. I was inspired by this inked indigo tunic (swoon):



Alabama Chanin Inked and Quilted Magdalena Tunic (no longer available)
Indigo skirt panel, inked and basted
On the following day I layered the top and bottom layers of each skirt panel and basted them together. Then all of it was bundled up to await my return from a 1 week trip to California. I got home last night and am ready to get started on this later today. (Progress photos to come in a future post!)

My fabric has some mottled areas where the dye didn't take evenly, but I rather like the effect. I would think that the Alabama Chanin indigo jersey is more consistent since this is something they have done for quite some time now. My final verdict on dyeing with indigo: totally doable, very economical, quicker than I expected but a bit tricky when handling long pieces of yardage without a helper. I'll definitely dye with indigo again (the dye vat can be kept for a few months). I'm going to experiment with dyeing some completed garments next.

10.28.2014

Alabama Chanin Pattern Fitting: Using My Slopers Again

Alabama Chanin Corset Dress


A few years ago a fell down a rabbit hole into a wonderland. I discovered a collection of beautiful handmade clothing from a designer who generously chose to share her techniques and patterns with home sewers.


I have since made several Alabama Chanin garments, mostly skirts because fitting a skirt has always been much easier for me than fitting a garment for my upper body. Up until this year, I knew very little about pattern fitting and even less about pattern making. In the past I have tried to adapt Ms Chanin's patterns for tops and dresses, but was never quite satisfied with the results. Looking back, I realize that I was on the right track, but just didn't have the skills to produce a final piece with which I was happy. Since that time, however, I've learned how to draft my own slopers and patterns and so decided that it was time to work with the patterns from. Alabama Stitch Book, Alabama Studio Style, and Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.


Since I was able to get a good fit with my woven princess seam shirt, I decided to start with the Alabama Chanin pattern that uses these same seams: the Camisole/Tank top/tunic/dress from Alabama Studio Style.  Since the skirt of this garment is quite flared, I knew it would accommodate my hips with no issues, so I focused my attention on fitting from the waist up.


Since a princess seam draft starts with darts, I traced a copy of my woven bodice sloper, then removed the ease along the side seams to give me a zero ease bodice. I also sliced the shoulder dart off of the back bodice piece at the end of shoulder, since I knew it would not be transferred to the new princess lines. I did not, however, bring in the end of shoulder point, nor the cross front and cross back. I decided to wait on that until I knew how wide I wanted my shoulder straps to be. Also, because I knew that I initially had some armhole gaping in my woven princess seam pattern, I increased the armhole dart by 1/2" (it was a huge dart!) and also drew in a 1/2" dart on the back of the armhole at the level of the cross back. This new dart would be incorporated into the princess seam line where it curves to meet the edge of the armhole.


So now I had what was essentially a darted sloper for knit fabrics. From there, I moved the shoulder and armhole darts and drafted my princess lines following the instructions in Suzy Furrer's Creative Darts and Seamlines class on Craftsy.  Then I drafted my neckline, decided how wide I wanted the straps to be, and drew those in as well. This particular pattern has 2 necklines and strap widths; the Camisole version's neckline is lower and wider than the Tank version, which means the camisole straps are narrower. After that, it was rather simple to add the skirt portion to it by tracing the pattern in the book and adding it to my bodice.



Completed pattern for Alabama Chanin Camisole and Tank Dress/Tunic

At this point I was ready to sew a sample to check the fit. I have been saving scraps of black Alabama Chanin cotton jersey for just this purpose; I think some of my earlier attempts to fit these patterns were thwarted by using different (cheaper) jersey to test my pattern changes. I wanted to be accurate this time and had enough scraps to sew the sample more than once if necessary.




I was pleased to find that I was already close to a good fit. The apex, bottom of armhole, and waist are in their proper places. The neck isn't so wide that the straps fall off of my shoulders-though I think it needs to come in just a bit more. I have already adjusted my pattern by taking 1/4" off the end of shoulder and 1/8" from the cross front and cross back. I also felt that the apex point on the side front pattern piece needs a bit of smoothing; the angles created by my armhole dart as well as the deepened dart under the bust created a bit of a peak there that looks weird, so I used my curve to draw in a softer, less pointed shape there. 




The slightly too-wide neck and cross back are more noticeable here, but I think I can get away with wearing this as is-maybe with a bolero. I also decided to scoop about 1/4" from the back armhole where it's hanging up and causing some rippling below. I'm not sure if it's just the way I'm standing or if the skirt got hung up on my jeans (I used a camera with a timer on a tripod and so there was quite a bit of running back and forth during this photo shoot), but it appears that I have some fabric pooling at the lower back and will need to take a bit more waist shaping there to correct it.

Overall, the fit could be a bit snugger, but I decided to leave it as is for two reasons: First, I've been losing weight (again) lately but know that this trend could suddenly reverse itself at any time. Secondly, the appliqued and beaded garments I plan to make won't stretch as much as this unadorned one. This "fit insurance" reduces the odds that I'll labor on an intricate piece only to find it too small. A loose garment can always be taken up with a slightly wider side seam allowance if necessary.

I"m looking forward to making something more intricate with this pattern soon-maybe a dress? I've already used my sloper to draft the Corset top pattern; all it needs is some fine tuning before it's ready to be sewn. Then, on to the Fitted top, which I think will be the most challenging because it has no darts, though I may end up using some anyway. And I definitely want to draft the Bolero as well.

In yesterday's Journal entry, Natalie Chanin wrote that the presale for her next book, Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, begins on Thursday. I found this brief description of a class that incorporates the book here. Although I might be done fitting the patterns from the first 3 books by then, I'm sure it will be a valuable and inspiring reference. I'm definitely buying a copy. And that class? Sounds like a dream come true. Speaking of dreams, here's my dream dress:


The Dress
Updated to add: The new Alabama Chanin book will include a coat pattern!!!!! I've already pre-ordered my copy.









10.25.2014

Final Verdict on Those Sloper Classes: Worth Every Penny (I Made Some Clothes and They Fit)

Aunt Nina finally made some clothes! 
It's been several months now since I detailed my sewing plans for Spring/Summer 2014. In fact, it's been an entire season since I posted it. This was not the first time that I had written a long list of clothes that I wanted to make. This was the first time, however, that I actually made some of them and liked them enough to actually wear them. So, I'm a bit of procrastinator, but hey, I'm making progress.

The biggest difference between this and my previous sewing experiences has been the fact that I now own personalized slopers. I can't believe how much easier they have made the process of making my clothes. Because the creation of the slopers (and the creation of each pattern) took longer than I had expected, I didn't end up completing as many warm weather garments as I had hoped. On the plus side, all of the clothes that I did make fit really well and are pieces that I'll be glad to wear again next Spring.

First, I made a simple v neck t shirt in red (my favorite color).  I had already made a few samples (from icky fabric) while I was finalizing the fit of the pattern, but still felt it necessary to test out the basic t in some nicer fabric because I knew I would be using it as the base for several other knit garments. I didn't get a decent photo of the t shirt (red is so hard to photograph), but it does sneakily make an appearance further down the page. (And speaking of photos, I know that I'm a terrible photographer. Getting better is on my to-do list.)

After I made sure that I was happy with the fit of my basic t shirt pattern, I used it to adapt a couple of commercial patterns that I wanted to try. Below are my first and second versions of the Plantain T-Shirt from Deer and Doe (with quite a few modifications). Both fabrics are medium weight stretch jersey. The gray is made up in a cotton/lycra and the black in rayon/lycra. I gave both of them elbow-length sleeves and the black one has a slight high-low hem:

That is actually a true black, though it looks faded out in the photo. I had enough of the fabric left to cut a pair of capri length leggings, but didn't take a photo of those.

This next t-shirt is my adaption of Megan Neilsen's Briar. I have no idea where I bought this fabric, but it's a lightweight cotton/lycra jersey and I love it and wish I had more. I also made this pattern in solid black, but forgot to photograph it:



This one is another Plantain adaptation in lightweight cotton stretch jersey. By the time I cut it, Fall weather was here, so I decided it should have long sleeves:


And then, since I was happy with the fit of my sleeve pattern, I went ahead and adapted Vogue 8817 to make a tunic dress. It hits me around mid-thigh and will be worn with leggings or tights. I made it from the same fabric that I used for my gray Plantain t shirt:


For all of the above garments, I used the same process: First, I traced off my self-drafted basic t shirt pattern from the top of the shoulders down to the bottom of the armholes. Then, I found the size on the commercial pattern sheet that most closely matched the width of my t shirt pattern straight across at the base of the armhole and traced the commercial pattern from that point down. I discovered that there is a huge discrepancy between my pattern and the commercial patterns through the neck, shoulders, and upper chest, which explains all of the gaping necklines/armholes, and shoulders that slid down my arms on the clothes I made before I had slopers. Because I used my self-drafted t shirt pattern through this area, I was able to also use my self-drafted sleeves, which saved a lot of time.

I also made a couple of summery pieces to test my woven slopers. First, I made an A Line skirt in some stretch cotton twill I found at Mood.com:


I added some black poplin corded piping and lined the front of the pocket bag with white poplin. The lining was cut from stretch silk charmeuse (from Dharma Trading). I used French seams for all but the center back seams, which were machine overcast for the twill and finished with rayon binding for the silk. This garment represents many firsts for me: first self-drafted pattern, first insertion of an invisible zipper, first use of French tacks (to secure the lining to the skirt near the hem). It fits beautifully and I'm so happy with it (the front hem looks higher than the back because of the waist shaping I needed and it hangs straight when worn).

Then I moved on to my bodice sloper and drafted a sleeveless shirt with princess seams:

Fact: Fitted shirts for full busts look rather odd when laid flat.
The fabric is a Michael Miller clip dot, which was sheer enough to require an underlining, for which I used a soft cotton voile. I used tiny French seams throughout (instead of flat felling) and bound the armholes with bias strips cut from white poplin. I followed most of the instructions in Pam Howard's The Classic Tailored Shirt class for the order of construction and, again, this shirt represents many firsts for me: first collar with stand, first time using my vintage Singer buttonholer (love!), first time to use underlining, and first time ever to make a sleeveless garment that didn't gape at both the front and back armholes. There were some serious darts involved with the drafting of this one. I had to increase the front armhole dart as well as add one to the back armhole to properly fit my shallow upper chest/narrow shoulders/full bust. There was one error in my draft that I didn't catch until the shirt was finished: the front placket facing is 1/4" too wide. This isn't enough of an issue to keep me from wearing the shirt and the pattern has already been corrected.

My basic t shirt (in red) totally photobombed this picture
Now that I've had some (long-awaited, hard-won) success with pattern drafting/alteration, I've decided to use my new skills to revisit some patterns from my favorite designer, Natalie Chanin. I'll be putting the finishing touches on the first garment resulting from this endeavor within the next few days and will report here on the process once it's finished.

9.08.2014

Oh Boy.

I'm beginning to think I may have a problem.
Another Singer 66 made it's way to my house last month. It has the same Red Eye decals as the first one. I bought it for parts and it was cheap. After it arrived, I realized that the decals were in pretty good shape. Since the other 66  (which I have dubbed "Nicky" because of its nicotine coating) is still waiting to be repainted, why not clean this one up and put it in the treadle cabinet?

Here it is, straight out of the box:



Like the first one, this machine appears to have been stored in a sewing cabinet that doubled as a plant stand for many years. The back especially was rusted and caked with something that so obscured some of the decals that I initially believed them to be gone.

Fortunately, this time there was no nicotine and, though there was all of that rust as well as a rather large quantity of oily old lint, it didn't take much time to clean this machine. Maybe I'm getting faster? After cleaning, the decals looked even better:



The finish isn't in great shape and I'm thinking about trying this method to refresh it (using, of course, my protective gear and working outdoors or at least in the garage with all of the doors open). Since this is just my parts machine, I figure it can't hurt anything. And, because the cover plates were in really bad shape, I decided to use some nicer ones I picked up on Ebay when I started working on Nicky (those plates were deeply corroded as well). When the paint job on Nicky is done, I'll transfer the shiniest, prettiest parts over to it (her?).

This machine is a few years younger than Nicky and has a somewhat different bobbin winder and the spoked wheel is slightly smaller. It also has what looks like a motor mount on the side of the column, which seems to indicate that it was originally a belt-driven electric model (though I could be wrong). No problem. I can still put a treadle belt on it. 

I learned a new trick while working on this machine. On both of the Red Eyes I removed the stitch length mechanism (following this tutorial) in order to thoroughly clean it and, after several failed attempts, I finally managed to re-install it. I probably should have taken pictures, but since both of my hands were inside the machine (and I felt like I was standing on my head), that wasn't possible. Perhaps when I finish old Nicky I'll take notes on how I did it.

The only part that this machine was missing was the slide plate but I already had one of those. The bobbin winder tire was ancient, so I replaced that as well, though it might not be necessary once the treadle belt is in place. I've noticed some of the machines in the Singer 66 bobbin winding videos on youtube have a tire and some don't. 

Last night I finished putting everything back together and threaded the machine to see what it could do. I haven't put it in the treadle cabinet yet, so just turned the wheel by hand and found that it produced a very nice stitch after a few minor tension adjustments. Now all it needs is some TLC to the painted areas and a couple coats of wax. 

In between working on this machine, I've been sewing t shirts from my self-drafted pattern. I now have 3 of them-as well as a completed A line skirt-to photograph and plan on doing that soon.