Just in to say a quick Hi! and show you what I have been working on. Does anyone remember my pattern drafting attempt from a few years ago? I have been revisiting it and drafting some bras. This is a muslin for my first attempt at a basic block for a soft bra. I also made a pattern for briefs – I made myself some underwear that fits so well and are so comfortable. Details in another post…
Obviously I do… I was debating writing about this, but I figure I should write about failures as well as successes, right?
OK, so since last week I have been obsessed about sewing underwear and bras! I know, crazy! But it seems that everybody is trying and there are so many lovely, gorgeous handmade bras out there, I really really wanted to try it. This is not a bra, I know, but I thought starting with a simpler project that uses same kind of fabrics and involves sewing elastic trim would be good. And who doesn’t need more underwear…
But not this one. Nobody wants this one. And this one is n o longer. Gone. Trash. But I did learn a lot. Which I will share with you.
1. Pattern… I think that’s the only good part of this project. I used a free Rosy Ladyshorts pattern, by Amy of cloth habit (I will refer to her often I’m sure because she makes awesome bras and blogs about it). The pattern is easy, and she had a tutorial which gives you all the details. The only problem is that I did not read everything. Well… So what happened? The crotch width ended up too narrow (you can probably see that in the picture). Not the pattern problem, mind you. The pattern assumes you will be using lace trim of certain width. As I opted for a thin elastic trim – i did not get that extra width. No good.
2. Fabrics… I chose a simple knit cotton. I know I could have used an old t-shirt, but I needed elastic trim so I had a reason to go to the fabric store. This was on sale and the guy called it ‘cotton spandex’ (I have no idea if that’s right). I looked for stretchy cotton, the kind that goes back after you stretch it, even if you stretch it all the way (I always do this test when I buy knit tops, especially long sleeved, because I cannot stand when the they stretch at elbows and they just stay stretched). This one passed the test. But it is on a thicker side, not too think but thicker than any of the other cotton underwear i own).
3. Trim… a disaster! I liked it at the store but when I started sewing it. Everything and anything that could go bad – did. Just look at the picture below. It started disintegrating at the top, where the decorative (or whatever) loops are. I guess this elastic is not meant to be served together (in a loop). I guess you work with it – with the ends – in some other way. And then, because the surface is ribbed (I think more than your generic white elastic), it kept moving while I was sewing it. I was using a very slow speed, but it seemed I cannot sew a straight line. I tried to attach it as described in Amy’s tutorial but it kept slipping from the yellow fabric that I had to rip the seam (not recommended, I almost chugged everything at that point) and actually baste it by hand. Well, that was a problem because now I had to stretch, slightly, but still stretch a bit both fabrics while sewing and that made the edge wavy. Not good (ok, you can’t see that once you have it on, but I want my underwear to look nice on and off). And still I could not keep the seam straight. Argh!
4. And finally… the inside seams. OK, not a disaster, but I really do need to get the wooly nylon treads (Amy wrote about that too). With the thickness of the fabric and the regular thread (I did not even have a fine thread in color close to yellow), the seams were very bulky and stiff. Surprisingly that did not bother me when I wore this pair (oh yes i did, the whole of Friday afternoon. had to test them). Maybe because the fabric was thick anyway. I don;t know, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to use this kind of thread on finer fabric. Which is what I also bought on that trip to the fabric store. Very nice lace and some lace trim (thick trim so no more narrow crotch).
So all in all, bad. But I still want to try again, determined that the second time will be better. And then the third time… well, we all know what happens the third time, right 🙂 Just waiting for the treads to arrive, and I am planning a trip downtown (LA) to look for bra supplies, more lacy fabric, trims and.. ah yes, the foam.
More to come…
First pillow to be gifted this Christmas is finished. I had this piece of dupioni silk for a long time, I picked it up at a sale somewhere. It was finished all around – serged, so it might have been one of those decorator fabric samples…. who knows. It was big enough to fussy-cut the four triangles and have some leftover for the back.
I quilted the front (it is dupioni, so it’s heavier, but still too flimsy for a nice cushion cover, me thinks), but not the back. I did put in a zipper, concealed by a flap (see this tutorial from Sew Mama Sew blog). It was easier than I thought, and I like it much better than the envelope back. It holds in the pillow form better, doesn’t gap in the back. I might do this for all my cushion covers from now on.
I like this pillow – I like the effect from the squares – and all with only 4 pieces of fabric. I quilted in the ditch diagonally – I didn’t want the thread to add any more lines. And then I quilted over all the lines of dark red in the fabric. If I did not have a serger, this might not ever have been finished – dupioni unravels so much – I think I probably lost 1/8 of an inch sewing the triangles together, which was before I realized I really have to serge everything.
One down, a few more to go.
I sat and I sat, thinking what should I name this little quilt. And nothing came to mind. So it’s Baby Quilt #1 (it will soon be clear why #1, hold on). It was inspired by this Low Volume Quilt from Red Pepper Quilts. Rita always had the most beautiful fabrics so this quilt doesn’t really compare to hers, but it was fun choosing the fabrics and easy to stitch it up.
I cheated a bit here, I confess. This was supposed to be a larger quilt, and the top was already pieced…
At 16×21 squares, 3×3 in square, it was quite a large quilt, and I had two little baby boys to make quilts for… AND I was running out of time – really, another quilt top before Christmas, with all the other things I need to do? It wasn’t going to happen. So, I thought, what if I make 2 quilts out of this one quilt top. The width became the length, I added a strip of linen – I thought it was a bit too skinny, and here is #1.
Now, I made this decision before I got the new machine. Maybe, if I had this fabulous new machine a week ago, I would not have opted to split the quilt top. My thinking was – this is way too big and my machine will not like it. But with the new machine, with the walking foot I showed you in one of the previous posts, it was a breeze. Maybe I should tell you a little bit about this machine now, no?
As I mentioned, it is a Janome Memory Craft 6300. It is not a new model, but I didn’t care. I had a budget of about $1000 dollars and I wanted a machine that would be bigger and have more
throat (is that the word?) harp space for my quilts and that it would actually handle free motion quilting better than my previous machine that wasn’t really made for quilting.
I wish I could tell you how much research I have done, and how I went around sewing centers and dealers and tried to work a few models (like everybody suggests) but I didn’t. I read this post by Stitched in Color, and then went searching online for prices and availability. I crossed from the list those that were outside of my budged and then I looked for reviews for those I considered. Soon I found that some machines you cannot order online (you gasp now, I know, order a machine online! what an idea!) you have to go directly to a dealer and most of those do not sell online. Most actually didn’t even have a website to show what they have in stock! In this day and age! I live in LA, and there are so many sewing centers and dealers around – however, LA is big which means everything is far (not necessarily distance, but it takes forever to get anywhere in this city) and did I really want/have time to go around shopping for a machine. No. (Sometimes it’s better if you have less options).
So I chose Janome 6300 because Amazon had it on sale, also Overstock. Then I went and checked the reviews again, and I could not find a single bad thing about it. I was this close to just ordering through Overstock, because then I wouldn’t pay tax. But then I found that Jo Anne had it on sale too, even better than Overstock. So I didn’t know what to do. One more problem was that these websites did not list all the details, or that the details about what accessories were included were not matching. I called Jo Anne – they had no idea. What to do. Then I found through Amazon, that another seller was offering the same machine, plus a bonus pack of several presser feet and some other minor things. Now this seemed like the best deal (and their website claimed free shipping and not sales tax). But again, apart from the bonus pack, it wasn’t clear what basic accessories I am getting. So I called. And I ordered the machine. It came with all the standard thingies, plus the bonus pack, plus I got a $100 off because it turned out I had to pay tax after all (they are in CA too). I got the machine for $1099 plus I bought the extended warranty for 29.99. It turns out I can send the machine for repair/service for free – including shipping – during the warranty period. That was a good deal. I bought it online, but I got the service too.
Now, I might have gotten a better deal if I called/drove around, but I might have not. And I really, really don’t have time or patience for that kind of stuff. This machine seems to have all I need – as I mentioned more harp space (9in), it is supposed to be very good at free motion quilting, it can actually change the foot pressure so it should be better with knits (my old machine cold not do this and it was stretching the fabric terribly), and other things I will talk about in later posts.
I have not played with all bells and whistles: as soon as it got out of the box, I wound the bobbin, tried the basic stitch, hooked up the waking foot (part of the basic accessories, as is the free motion quilt foot) and started quilting this quilt. And let me tell you what I found:
* it actually doesn’t have to be hard to do a straight line of stitching. Wow. I could do it on my old machine but I had to work at it much harder. On this machine, I just lightly lead the fabric, it doesn’t squiggle so much.
* the stitch length actually remains the same regardless of the speed of sewing or the thickness of (layers of) fabric. On my old machine I had to really pull the quilt through if I sewed across a thick seam. And the stitch length would always, always decrease. Not a problem for piecing, but it doesn’t look good while quilting.
* no skipped stitches. To be fair my old machine didn’t skip so much, especially when sewing clothes, but it seemed to have problems when I was quilting a top made with (some) vintage sheets. It just didn’t like the crispier ones, with a tighter weave, I guess. It drove me crazy. It would be fine going over other fabric, but as soon as I sewed onto a vintage sheet piece, it would skip. I tried everything, including different needles, cleaning the machine, etc. But nothing worked. This machine went through everything equally.
I really enjoyed quilting this quilt, and I even did not use the extension table that comes standard with this machine. It is pretty big, but I promised my son he would help me set it up. We did not have time last night, and this needed to be finished today. Also working with the walking foot – I never knew you could actually quilt without fabric puckering and folding over crossing a perpendicular quilting line. A regular foot pushes the top layer a bit, while a walking foot feeds at the same rate as the bottom layer.
I can see using this machine for almost all sewing I do from now on, except when I use my serger. However, there is one problem wit it… the bottom part under the needle, where the bobbin goes, is wide. There is no way you could, for example, finish a sleeve or a cuff or anything narrow. My old machine had a part, actually a box holding accessories that could be removed and that made the lower part (there is probably a name for it?) narrow for exactly those situations. So, the old machine will go for service and then it will be stored. To be honest, my old machine was not made for quilting and it worked perfectly fine for sewing clothes (except knits). And it was reliable. In all the years I had it it never stopped, or broke down. Not even when I was on a deadline. Very reliable.
When I try other features I will let you know. Hope this helps anyone who is looking for a new machine…
Two new projects are in the works…
This one is for my son. I had the fabrics for a while but I wasn’t sure about the design. I never start with fabrics, I always start with an idea for a design and then I find the fabrics for it. For this one I sketched two designs already but I wasn’t feeling either. The third one, I like. I am just about to make a block…
I think this is the first quilt that I photographed right after it came out of the dryer.I am glad that I decided to finish it – I really like how it came out! And my kids already wanted to cuddle up with it. Nice.
I quilted this one pretty densely, free motion, your basic all over swirls. I wanted it to be densely quilted because of all the seam, a lot of which could not be pressed open. I prefer pressing my seam open because than the seams lay flat, if I press them to the side – there is always that tiny little “step” on the front, which I don’t like.
I was lucky that my machine didn’t give me any problems. The whole quilting process went pretty smoothly, with the thread breaking only once. Last quilt – the dash-dot – I just could not free motion quilt. Skipped stitches, breaking thread – you name it. It just would not work. I tried everything. This time – Not one problem.
I think my machine has a problem free motion quilting vintage sheets (dash – dot was 100% repurposed sheets) – The only place I did have a problem with this quilt was in a place where I used vintage sheets. I can’t really explain it. Is it the fact that vintage sheets are 50/50, not 100% cotton? But why would that be? (I did try different needles – no luck)
I was a little worried about using all the colors – but I think it worked out.
I don’t have a good binding picture – you can sort of see it below. It’s an orange stripey vintage sheet.
The back is another thrifted find. It’s from an Ikea comforter cover. Cotton, a little stretchy, so I had a few snags – but when I washed and dried it – you can barely see it.
I liked how it looked against light, so I had to take a picture of it…. See all the seams?
I always liked hexagons, and one of those days I will attempt to do those tiny little ones. But for now, the big hexagons will have to do. Cutting for this quilt was very easy – each of the hexagons is made out of six rectangles in different colors. Two by two rectangles are sewn together and then cut apart – same as half square triangles – except that the end result is a little kite shaped piece, not a rectangle. Then you combine those into hexagons. And the white – simply strips. So there was no triangle cutting (I am not very good at that), or sewing on a bias (even worse at that). There is a bit more trimming maybe, but for me, that beats cutting and sewing triangles any time.
I think my next quilt will be quite different but will use the same technique…
Do you remember this quilt I finished recently?
I just learned from a commenter to my post that the striped block is called the Bright Hopes block. Well, if I had know that, it would have been much easier. I saw a vintage Vera shawl with this design, and then tried to figure out how to make it. Well, if you didn’t know about this block and are interested how to make it see this tutorial by A Girl in Paradise.