Thursday, January 20, 2011

New blouse and no thread issues

I sanded down the throat plate, held my breath and started sewing. It worked! I made a complete blouse without the thread breaking once. I feel a little embarrassed, having ranted so long about it being the needle hitting the bobbin case. I even heard back from Singer, who wrote that they thought it might be a timing issue. But that was after I finished the blouse, so I'm off to the races, I suppose.
I've had this pattern for a little while but never made it. It's cute. I rummaged through my stash and hauled out this white stuff that I had bought at Darrell's years ago. It is a weave but it feels a little like a knit (it is textured), and it has a fine silver thread that you can glimpse occasionally. It also ravels quite a bit and is one of those fabrics for which you keep your lint brush always at the ready on the ironing board.
I think it might have been a remnant because it was only through clever cutting that I managed to get short sleeves out of the piece I had.
I decided on French seams for the shoulders and side seams, to keep the ravelly ends in. Around the armholes, I trimmed one side (the shirt side) and folded the sleeve-side-seam allowance over to contain the ravelly bits and then sewed that down with a zigzag stitch. Yes, it would be easier if I had a serger! But I don't.
The front bands are sewn across the bottom, right sides together, to make a nice square finish. But instead of hand sewing the band to the wrong or inside, I sewed it first by machine, wrong side to right side, then I sewed the square bottom, right sides together, THEN I folded it over to the RIGHT side of the blouse (the outside) and sewed it by machine with a topstitch.
It's a bit faster that way -- no hand sewing -- and it gives it a professional or maybe commercial look. Anyway, I like it and since I learned to do this with all the jean jacket bands I have sewed, I now do it with all the other bands I sew.
I also used the same technique on the bands that hem the slightly puffy sleeves.
Here is the puffy part of the short sleeve being sewn to the band and you can see how much the fabric ravels. The green thread is there to gather up the puffy part.
I have yet to go get buttons. This is a single button I have in my button box. It has no mates -- too bad because it is just like what I think would go best with this blouse. The silver thread makes the blouse sparkle a tiny bit but silver buttons would be way over the top. This one is a clear plastic button with a flower motif embossed on it and so it "sparkles" just a little bit. Plus, it is a bit bigger around than most of the shirt buttons I normally use and I think that would suit this fabric, since it is textured and not sleek.
Here is the blouse, awaiting my trip to the button store. Cute!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Tunic shirt done!

Whoosh. Well, it wasn't difficult.
I usually flat fell my seams to finish them but I didn't want to do that on the light weight silk, so I thought I would use a French seam finish. I did that on the shoulders but zigzagged around the armholes. Then, I was going to French seam the underarm/side seams when I realized that wouldn't work with having vents on the sides. Instead, I sewed a "normal" right-sides-together seam and then ironed the seam allowance under, thus also making the vent edge finished.

It was at this point that I decided to re-examine my sewing machine for why it was breaking threads. I have a follower who also works where I shop for groceries and we had a nice long talk this week, about threads breaking and people who fix sewing machines. She said something like, "of course, you have checked the throat plate for snags" and I said "of course". But when I was sitting there, this afternoon, staring at my machine, I realized that I had not looked at the throat plate (the plate with the lines on it for 5/8 seam allowances, where the needle goes through the hole into the bobbin area). So I took it out and looked at it and sure enough! There were tiny metal snags where needles have broken over the years. Well. I thought that the sewing machine guy might have said something to me, especially as when I took the machine in, I said "it is breaking the top thread". So I got a tiny piece of very fine emery paper for sanding metal and spent 10 minutes buffing the snags. Then I proceeded to sew rapidly, using straight and zigzag stitches and the thread didn't break once! I did not allow myself to feel elated yet. Then I made six buttonholes and the thread broke twice! Grr. I am going to sand the heck out of the throat plate again and make sure there is nothing snaggy on it and then start a new project and see what happens. I suppose I could also buy a new one.
Anyway, here it is, a tunic length shirt with 3/4 sleeves. It fits and I am happy with the way it turned out. I'll want to wear it once to be sure but I think I have found the pattern for my gold silk. Now, for the sand paper...

Friday, January 07, 2011

A shirt muslin

Yes, I am still hanging in here. :) Last time I was here, I had made a shirt. I have now worn it and it fits and wears very well, so that's gratifying. But Christmas was approaching and I wanted to make a few little things for the family, as we were all getting together for two whole days over the holidays. I rooted through my stash and came up with fabric for nine different shoe bags. In Canada, in the winter, you are always carrying your shoes when visiting other people's places (unless you just take off your boots and go around in socks, which is also acceptable). So that was fun and I hope well received.
I had thought I wanted to try out a new suit pattern, a nice Badgley Mischka Chanel looking thing, so I hauled out some navy fabric and stared at that for a few days. The jacket pattern is only lined in the sleeves, which is interesting. I had thought I might use this pattern for that raw silk I found years ago and which is still hanging about my sewing room. But it is kind of scratchy (with a metallic thread) and I am not convinced any part of it should be unlined.

So I stewed some more. Then I put the navy stuff away and folded up the suit pattern pieces and thought some more about the gold silk. If you go back to the August 3, 2010 entry (which isn't that far down because I have hardly been blogging), you will see that silk.
I got some helpful comments about making a tunic length shirt and so I took out my Vogue pattern 2634 and thought about it. I had made some sleeveless shirts with it and discovered that it was too small because it was a size 10 and not my usual 12. However, over the last little while, my husband has been losing weight by eating vegan and I have benefitted by losing a few pounds too and now the size 10 almost fits across the chest. I added one centimetre to the centre back fold (adding 2 centimetres to the total width) and am hopeful this will work.
It is crazy busy fabric but it has an interesting provenance. I went to Darrell Thomas to see what he had in his annual "cat rescue" fund raising sale and found this piece of polyester for only $3. It is the same weight and feel as the gold silk, so I determined I would use it as a muslin for the tunic length shirt in the Vogue 2634. I may not wear it but if it fits and works, I will have made my decision about what to make with the gold silk.

In the meantime, my Singer has been breaking the top thread again. It did this some years ago and I took it to the sewing machine hospital and he fixed it. I took it back in October and he gave it a tune up but it was still breaking threads - most aggravating. I hate it when things don't work according to their nature. Then I changed the threads and bobbins and am sewing very slowly and the last few metres of sewing have been okay. But I wrote Singer anyway and will see what they say, if anything. I promise to report, if anything happens.