Category Archives: Sewing Machines

S2311 muslin

There are two things I want to discuss today folks.  So, buckle up! 

First, my Simplicity 2311 muslin for the sewalong.  Here’s a refresher on what the finished coat looks like (top left, the short camel version).  


I cut a straight sz 14 in heavy weight muslin (think of it as almost like painting canvas).  I found this weight to be extremely helpful to give an accurate read of how the coating would drape if a bit ravelly.  It took me forever last night to get to a point where I could try on the muslin (more on why later).  Essentially I got to the point where you attach the sleeves.  I believe they instruct you to sew them on in the flat as opposed to in the round.  But it was late and I wanted to see the fit, so I skipped that and basted the side seams.   

The verdict?  I.  LOVE.  THIS.  COAT.  I love the wide lapels.  I love the princess seams in front.  The back needs some fitting but luckily enough there’s a CB seam to play with.  I think I might take some bulk out of the shoulder blade area through to the waist, but that’s about it. This coat is going to rock!!!  I was scared of the princess seams, but they were really easy to sew.  I didn’t need to clip anything to get them to lay flat.  Weird!  The collar and lapel have a great shape and lie around my neck and shoulders beautifully.  And I didn’t even do the inside facing/over collar yet.  This is a really well-drafted pattern.   

I’ve decided that I won’t interline this coat.  I’m intending it to be a fall coat, something transitional and more like an accessory rather than true outerwear.  So, even though I bought cotton flannel for it, I am just going to use the purple wool coating and silk charmeuse lining for this coat.  But I could totally see myself making the longer version for a more substantial winter coat next year.   

I wish I had a picture of me wearing the muslin, but I was too tired and not camera ready last night, so here’s a totally craptastic shot with my iphone to tide you over.  


Thea is coming over tonight to help me fit the back and show me how to sew the back to the front better.  I had major problems sewing that part last night and just did a down and dirty job of it in the muslin to see how it looked on.   

And speaking of problems…  I had an awful time using my Featherweight last night.  AWFUL!!!  I almost dragged out my Emerald 183 from retirement.  I couldn’t get the bobbin to wind correctly and smoothly so my bobbin thread kept getting stuck and then breaking.  I have no idea what I’m doing wrong.  One time when it broke, something jolted the needle thread tension discs and now they are really loose.  I hope I didn’t break my “new” Featherweight.  I guess the honeymoon is over.  😦   As a matter of fact, I am probably going to un-retire the Emerald 183 to sew my final coat.  I don’t want to slow down the making of this coat due to machine temperamentality.  

Happy sewing everyone.



 Hoo boy!  Lots to talk about today.  I hope you don’t mind, but I might have to do a pseudo power point prez here because to write all that prose is overwhelming me and I will end up just not writing anything.

  • Thank you to Robin and Karen who nominated me for the Beautiful Blogger award!  I will address this award and it’s attendant responsibilities in a later post.  But for now, a heartfelt thank you to both for their compliments and for the award.
  • I’ve been playing with my “new” Singer Featherweight 221 and it’s been fun and frustrating at the same time.  I love how fast it sews, how evenly the feed dogs feed (compared to my Emerald 183), and how good the stitches are (when the tension’s right), BUT, I am having serious problems with the bobbin and needle thread tensions.  I have to fiddle with it for about an hour each time I use it.    My current theory is that I need a new bobbin case because the one that came with the machine might not have the ability to maintain tension.  Anyone with some ideas, please give me a shout in the comments.  Here are some pretty pictures of what I’ve been doing with my FW:

Testing thread tension settings

Playing with the binding foot

I made a new tote bag!!!

close up of fabric and topstitching

My lining fabric -- recognize it?


  • I wanted to do a simple project on my FW to test run it.  I needed a new tote bag, so that’s what I made last night.  It’s a really simple bag, based on the one I made from the PURL class I took a lifetime ago.  The most complicated thing about it is that it’s lined.  No fancy interior pockets or nuthin’!  But it really fits the bill and I love it so.  🙂  
  • I think I am going to use the FW to make my fall coat.  How exciting is that?!?!
  • Confession: In order to actually sew the bag last night, I had to clean off my dining room table, I mean my sewing table.  Folks, it was do or die.  You couldn’t see the table.  It was piled at least 1 foot high with sewing detritus, months of mail, and random stuff.  I was ruthless with throwing out UFO’s (pregnant clown shirt muslin anyone?).  I put all of my patterns away, cleaned up all my notions, etc.  It took me 4 hours, but I can see my table again and I know where everything is.  Phew!!!  I wish I had taken some before pictures, but trust me when I say it was not pretty.  Here’s how it looks now…

  • Now, isn’t that sewing nirvana?  Hey, I could actually eat there too now.  😉   Oh and did you notice anything?  Do you see my Emerald 183 on the table at all?  No?  Well that’s because my Singer FW is taking precedence right now.  I put the Viking under the table.  We’ll see what happens to it after I play with my FW for a while longer.  If I get the tension issues worked out, I might have to “make arrangements.”
  • Oh, and I can’t forget to tell you of an impromptu coffee I had with Marji this morning before work.  Her boat is docked across the river which she posted on FB last night.  I told her I was a ferry ride away and we made plans to have coffee.  I have to say it was minor miracle that I got out of the house before 8:30am much less arrive at a destination by 8:10am WITH TODDLER IN TOW, I might add.  I am impressed with myself.  We talked for what seemed like 5 minutes, but 40 minutes later, I had to go to work sadly.  I could have talked with Marji for hours!  I hope we meet again.

Marjorie and me!

  • I hope to start my coat muslin tonight.  I bought heavy muslin so I would have a more accurate idea re: fitting issues.  Wish me luck!

Happy sewing everyone!

Lots to Show and Tell

I’m back from the wilds of the Midwest and have lots to report.  I met my new niece Chloe who’s cute as a button.  Jack fell in love with her and was so sweet with her.  He loved caressing her little head.  So cute to see him be so tender.  🙂 

As for those of you asking for pictures of the dress in action at the wedding (ahem, Karen), sorry but no actions shots were taken.  I just was not in a dancing mood I guess, and I felt shy about asking anyone to take a picture.  Here’s my take on how the dress “wore” though.  I’m stealing the interview idea from Tasia

How did the dress look?  It looked pretty good standing still and as I was running. 

What do you mean by “standing still” and “running”?  Well, when I stood talking to people it looked great.  It was also fine as I was running to the wedding after the taxi driver dropped me off at the opposite end of the pier.  I had to sprint about two football lengths in 7 minutes with another wedding attendee.  Both of us looked mahvelous!  😉  

So how did it look sitting?  Funny you should ask actually, as that was the part with which I was most dissatisfied.  When I sat down at the wedding ceremony, my dress rode up so high pooling at my waist and thighs, almost 3 inches of my lining was left exposed for all to see.

Why on earth did it ride up so high???  Well, I suspect the underlining was the culprit.  I used silk organza because I was being all fancy.  The last time I underlined (the Christian LaCroix skirt), all I had on hand was cotton batiste, which worked, but this time I was prepared with yards and yards of silk organza.  As most of you know, silk organza has a stiff hand, which helps enormously with preventing SBS (Saggy Bottom Syndrome otherwise known as bagging out) and wrinkling.  It also has the added effect of giving the fashion fabric more body.  In the case of my Vera Wang fabric, too much body, as the brocade had body already, just needed the protection against SBS.  I should have used cotton batiste in retrospect.  *sigh*   Live and learn I guess…

Any other things you liked or disliked about this version of B5147?  I’m so glad you asked.  Dislikes: If you’ll recall, I altered the armscye to cut in towards the chest.  Boy was that a big oops and I will be putting that back in.  Now everyone has the viewing pleasure of the fleshy area between my arm and chest.  Isn’t that a great visual?  Bet you didn’t know that area could even be fat.  Likes: Love the scoop neck.  Not too deep but just deep enough.  I also pegged the skirt near the knees and really like that silhouette.  And I loved the sheathier look of widening the fisheye darts in the front of the dress; they were much more figure flattering.  I will definitely keep those changes for future iterations if there are any.

Will you make any more B5147’s?  Hmmm… Not sure.  My teacher Thea thinks that I can get a much more flattering fit with less fiddling around with a princess seamed sheath dress, so I am going to try another dress soon.  I’m considering the Simplicity Amazing Fit sheath dress, S2648.

What’s next in your project queue?  I am finally getting to my Fall coat for the Trench Sew Along.  I am making another Simplicity pattern, S5380.  I already have my purple wool, bought the purple charmeuse at the PR Shopping day a couple of weeks ago, and today I ran out to buy cotton flannel with which to interline the coat.  Not sure how much tailoring I am going to end up doing.  We’ll see how in depth I’m willing to go later.


Ok, enough with the pseudo interview.  Do you want to see pictures of my new baby up close and personal like?  I’m talking about the Singer Featherweight 221 from 1938 that received this past weekend.  Oh boy am I excited and yet a little intimidated.  The directions on how to just thread the machine don’t make any sense to me.  It came with a bunch of feet, most of which I have no idea what they are for.  Can any of you deduce their purposes?

Original manual!!!

My very own buttonholer!!!

Slightly broken zigzagger with inscrutable manual

Here are the feet for which I have no idea of their purposes:

I think this might be a quilting guide but a slightly bent one

a ruffler perchance?

some kind of binder? if so, what kind?

Let me know if you know what feet I actually have.  Can’t wait to start playing with them all.  I am super excited about the Singer Buttonholer!!!

Happy sewing everyone!

Wish List

First of all, thank you all for putting up with my pity party yesterday.  I appreciate all of your support.  It was just shocking to find out, after adding significant width to a skirt, that it was still too small.  *big sigh*  But I am putting on my big girl pants and putting all that nastiness behind me. 

Yesterday, I fantasized about feet.  No, I am not a fetishist.  I was daydreaming about sewing machine feet.  I have a Husqvarna Emerald 183 machine which actually came with several feet, but I have been envious of other people’s feet of late.  You know…  like narrow hem feet.

image from Viking Husqvarna

If money were no object, here’s the list I’ve come up with to buy.  Check them out here:

  • 1/2 in bias binder
  • 1/4 in bias binder
  • Piping foot
  • Spanish hemstitch foot
  • 5 or 7 groove pin tuck foot
  • Edge stitching foot (actually, I might have this one already, but have to check when I get home)
  • 3mm shell rolled hem foot (love this one!)
  • 5mm narrow hem foot
  • 2mm narrow hem foot

I have no idea how much any of these feet cost, nor do I know if they will work on my machine, because in their infinite wisdom, Viking does not make all of their accessories compatible with all of their machines.  Go figure!  So I guess my next step is to call my dealership and find out all that information and then decide which I will really get.

Do you have any of these feet?  If so, which do you love and cannot live without?  I love the gathering foot (aka my boyfriend) which came with my machine.  LOVE IT!  It beats the heck out of sewing two lines of stitches and then trying to pull them into even gathers. 

Happy feet people!

My first at home lesson…

Well, my first at home lesson was great!  Thea came over and she was very patient with all my questions.  We went right to work on Simplicity 3678, view A (lower right).

Simplicity 3678

Simplicity 3678

I asked her my torrent of questions and she calmly answered them one by one.  As I mentioned before, I want to be able to read these stupid patterns on my own.  So our “syllabus” will be to go through a couple of commercial patterns together from beginning to end, make some pants from my pant sloper, learn a lot of basic but new to me techniques like gathering, pleating, adding a lining, drafting a waistband for my pant sloper, etc.  Just to name a few.  😉  Sounds like she’ll be spending more than 2 nights a week for a few weeks, right?  Well, hopefully I will get speedier and also do a lot of my own “homework” when I’m able to do so (i.e., when I’m not stumped by the stupid pattern directions!).

Last night we worked on steps 1-5 of the pattern instructions: attaching the back waist band to the back bodice, attaching the shoulders of the back to the shoulders of the two front bodice pieces and sewing the front and back facings together and then onto the bodice.  We finished the evening “lesson” with me pinning the facing to the bodice.  FYI: the “facing” for the bodice seemed suspiciously similar to single fold bias tape (except for the bias part).  Why not just call it binding?  Weird.

Things I learned from Thea:

  • How to correctly pin knit fabric (who knew there were right and not so right ways?): I was not lining up the pieces correctly and I didn’t use enough pins.
  • Being left handed is a handicap in sewing: Pinning is hard to do correctly for me as my left hand wants to pin the other direction.  😦  Not to mention that the sewing machine is set up for right handed people.  I keep wanting to flip the presser foot up with my left hand.  Awkward.
  • That I can’t use my serger to completely “sew” a knit garment.  I actually used the sewing machine for most of this project so far.  So tell me, why did I buy a serger?  I was using a three thread serging stitch.  I didn’t like how you could see the thread from the right side when you pull at the seam.  Would that happen if I used both needles for a four thread serged stitch?  Must remember to ask Thea that.
  • We experimented with the different stitch options on my Viking to see which one would work best.  I had a lots of settings from which to choose for zig zags, but my Emerald 183 has a great little stretch stitch which I will use from now on.  It seems much sturdier than a plain ole zig zag.  And it was stretchier than the zig zag!  I also liked how it looked from the right side, just like a regular straight stitch seam.  Perfecto!
  • How to correctly use a ribbon to stabilize the shoulder seam.  I have never done this before and placed it too far away from the seam allowance so that when I serged after stitching it on, it wasn’t enclosed in the finished  part of the SA (see pic below).  This was after I had sewed it on using a straight stitch on my sewing machine.  We left it as is since this is just my muslin.
  • Thea confirmed my previous error lesson learned that I should not have cut my fabric from 3 yds to 2 yds before seeing how the pattern pieces layed out on it.  Reminder to self, this is just my muslin and this is a learning process (i.e., I’m going to make mistakes – lots of them).

I learned a lot in one evening, don’t you think?  And the fabric I’m using for my muslin?  It was an on line purchase fail with the fault being entirely my own.  I completely ignored the word dots in the name of the fabric.  I’m not sure why I ignored it since you could see the dots in the picture, but I did and I regret it.  While the print itself is pretty and Pucci-esque, the dots just ruin it for me.  Also, I don’t like the hand very much, it feels very synthetic, almost rubbery.  But at least I am using it for a good purpose.  So it’s all good. 

Here’s some shots of the dress in progress…  You can see the fabric in all its dotty glory.

Waist band attached to back bodice -- do you see the dots?

Waist band attached to back bodice -- do you see the dots?


Stretch stitch used for waist band

Stretch stitch used for waist band


Shoulder seam with ribbon too far away from the serged finish - oops!

Shoulder seam with ribbon too far away from the serged finish - oops!


Facing attached with top stitching (I already removed the basting)

Facing attached with top stitching (I already removed the basting)

So the facing the bodice step is fully completed and tonight it’s on to pleating the front of the bodice with Thea.  I thought I might attempt that on my own last night, but, again, I was flummoxed by the directions.  *big sigh* 

Happy sewing!

ETA: I forgot to mention that I draped the bodice on me last night and have a sneaking suspicion that it may be too short.  It rides up a little on the girls if you know what I mean.  Uh oh….  good thing this is a muslin.

Sewing Machine Meme

Sew Mama Sew is doing a series on sewing machines and started a meme.   Here’s mine….

What brand and model do you have?  Viking Husqvarna Emerald 183

How long have you had it?  2 months

How much does that machine cost (approximately)?  about $600

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?  I bought it to primarily sew clothing, but have made one quilt as well.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?  I don’t sew as much as I’d like, I hope to get up to about 3-5 hours a week (but first have to get over my pattern intimidation feelings).  This is my primary machine (I also have a serger), but since I’m a beginner it’s not getting as much use as I’d like.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?  I like my machine.  I haven’t used it enough to know if I love it yet.  I have not used all of it’s functions yet and have not made a complicated project yet, so it’s hard to know.  At first I was ambivalent, because I had not researched Vikings at all when I was shopping for a new machine, but so far it’s done great.  I love knowing that I don’t have to futz around every time I sit down to use it (like I had to each and every time I used my old Singer).  So my frustration level has been cut down to zero.  So far.  My machine does not have a name.  Maybe she will sometime down the road, but not now. 

What features does your machine have that work well for you?  I love the fluidity of the motion.  The stitches are even and the fabric just glides through.  So far I haven’t had any problems with feeding through thick or difficult fabrics, but I also bought a walking foot to avoid that.  I love the automatic threading feature.  Oh and let’s not forget that it comes with tons of feet.  Love that!

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?  Not really, but I haven’t really put it through it’s paces yet.  The only thing that I might mention is that it is not as quiet as I thought it would be and there is a high pitched whine when you wind the bobbin.  But that is a small complaint.

Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!  No great stories yet, but I hope to have some to share in the future!

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?  I would recommend it, but with the caveat that I haven’t used it a whole lot yet, so not sure if it’s a workhorse or not.

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?  I think it’s important to consider what things you will primarily make with the machine and then research which machines are great for that purpose.  I wanted great service, a workhorse, automatic up/down needle,  great fluidity, and a needle threader function.  And that’s what I got.  🙂 

Do you have a dream machine?  No, I don’t know enough yet to have a dream machine.

Not much progress, but some success…

Apologies for leaving you hanging after the last post.  I have used my new Emerald 183 only 3 times for 3 lines of stitching only so far.  I know you’re sitting there in disbelief, but honestly, I have been stuck on a certain part of my top for awhile now.  The single fold bias tape was kicking my butt.  Actually, I was all ready to quit on sewing altogether after 2 hours of struggling to get the elastic through the bias tape casing unsuccessfully.  Seriously.

But PatternReview came to my rescue yet again!  I love this site.  I always get fast answers to my questions, no one is ever condescending about my dumb questions, and there are tons of pattern reviews to look up and be inspired by. 

So to catch you up:  I had cut out the pattern and muslin weeks ago.  I had to run out to buy the elastic and single fold bias tape.  Then in trying to attach the bias tape to the neckline to create the casing for the elastic, my Singer 5160 failed me in a very dramatic way.  The hunt for a new machine was on.  This past weekend, I bought my new machine, the shiny Emerald 183, and returned to the single fold bias tape.  I sewed one side on with no problems.  I sewed the other side of the tape no problems.  My new Emerald 183 is great!  That took all of 10 minutes at the most.  The next two long and frustrating hours were spent trying to get 1/4 inch elastic through a less than 1/4 inch bias tape opening.  I tried sewing the elastic to a sewing needle to feed it through; it kept escaping the needle.  I tried a large safety pin; too big.  I tried a small safety pin which worked until about 2 inches from the end when it broke inside the casing; too flimsy.  I couldn’t get it any farther and I couldn’t remove it.  It took me two hours to do absolutely nothing!  I was not a happy camper.  It was day two of owning my Emerald 183 and I was only able to use it on two lines of stitching.  That’s it!

I posted my woes on PatternReview and had a workaround within hours.  One of my rescuers said: “You can *Not* fold under the second edge of the bias tape, leaving a raw edge (since bias doesn’t ravel, you can do this without anything more than a slightly messy inside of your garment that no one else will care about), and this will give you extra room through which to thread the elastic.”

I tried that last night.  I unpicked one of the seams of the bias tape, opened up the fold and stitched it down unfolded to the wrong side of the muslin.  When I was done, I threaded the elastic into a tapestry needle and had that neck band elasticized in about 3 minutes.  OMG was that easy!!!  Of course my muslin is a little beat up now.  Too beat up in fact to use.  I am actually considering ditching the muslin and going straight to my fashion fabric.  Am I crazy?  Should I stay with making up the muslin first?  I really want to finish this top this week to participate in the sewalong.  Am I being too impatient?  Let’s ooh and aah over the pretty fabric again, shall we?cotton-brown-dots-with-flocking2

Ugh.  I can’t decide.  I think I’ll make a game time decision tonight when I get home and get cracking, I mean, sewing. 

I’m so excited again.  I don’t know why I became so discouraged right away.  I just have to ask the gods at PatternReview and I receive.  It’s awesome!!!

Till next time, happy sewing everyone!