Swine flu....

It seems to be popular these days you know someone who has contracted swine, ehem, the H1N1 virus.

I was out sick all last week but for anyone wondering it was just regular old sniffles. I'm a little embarrassed to see that my last update here on the blog was weeks ago but I have other excuses..... no I do!

As you know I've been really trying to improve my video quality. Who knew that it would be so complicated to get a video recorded with enough detail to see my eyes? The magic ingredient turned out to be the Microsoft Life Cinema web cam which records in full HD quality.

Unfortunately recording high quality video requires a high powered computer system that I did not have. Well folks, I took it upon myself to built my very first high end computer from individual components. Sparing you the technical details it turned out to be extremely easy/affordable and everyone will reap the rewards from this endeavor with some crystal clear HD video! That's right folks, blow it up to full screen if you like, it's nice and clear.

Sound quality I'm still working on. I did order a lapel mic direct from china at a substantial cost savings and when that arrives we'll see how it goes.

Even though I've been sick I have still been quite busy in the sewing room. This week (more like three weeks) found me making an insulated jacket, some slacks, and of course shopping for fabric. Wait till you see the deal I found on bemberg ambiance.... I know I should recap the whole video but I really want you to watch it!

I decided to make one 10 minute clip and just talk faster and move around a lot more. I'm still experimenting with new equipment so hang in there through the rough spots...

Nancy shows how to make shoulder pads!

In today's edition of Stitch Up! Nancy demonstrates the no sew method of custom shoulder pad construction. Included are the instructions and both pattern sheets so you too can start saving money and building the pads of your dreams today! ;)


Pattern page 1
Pattern page 2

Part 1

Part 2

Faux Fur Jacket, easier then you think!

The last few weeks I've had a zillion projects and what seems like not enough time for everything. My prize for winning the RTW contest on PR was an online class which happened to coincide with Kenneth King offering a faux fur jacket course. Perfect! I like faux fur but it's not something I would ever buy in RTW. I think I might feel a bit ridiculous shelling over the cash. However.... making it myself it's easy to justify the costs and since I'm learning.. My brain works in funny ways sometimes when it comes to things like this.

You have to have the right attitude to wear fur, faux or otherwise.... I don't know I'd do well running to Walmart in it here in the deep South.

Sewing faux fur is easy! There are a few techniques that you have to practice but once you have them down it's a cake walk. Sure, the fur I sewed was a simple zippered jacket with slit pockets. I'm quite sure you could get much more involved if you choose an elaborate jacket design.

Kenneth is all about couture and even though he simplified the techniques for the class I felt it appropriate to take it a step further. Did you know that hot glue will bond fabric quite permanently? In my opinion there is no reason not to use a permanent bonding agent to baste, hold pocket bags in place, or hold hem allowances. Sure, hand stitch if you like but no one will know how much extra work you put into your faux fur. Sewing a $1500 real fur jacket? Maybe I would do the hand stitching too. To me it's all about knowing when to do what.

I learned a lot with this project and I'll be on the lookout for the fur to do my next jacket. The zipper installation is a little iffy as I got the base of the fur a bit too close to the teeth which the zipper pull wants to fight with. All in all though it was a fantastic project and learning experience. I highly recommend it.

electronic vs mechanical sewing machine pedals

So I had a flash of inspiration last week. I love vintage sewing machines, what I don't love is the way the foot pedals work. They're mechanical and usually use carbon or wire wrapped resistors that don't provide consistent power through the travel of the pedal. Excess power that doesn't go to the motor is turned into heat making the pedal hot when you sew slowly. The old ones are always out of adjustment and wear out depending on how much they were used.

I found a used electronic foot pedal at the thrift shop for a few bucks. All I did was cut my mechanical pedal off and splice the electronic one on. This is very easy stuff to do with a wire cutter and some electrical tape. The worse thing you'll likely get if you do it wrong is a sewing machine that runs at full speed without your pressing the pedal. Please take proper safety measures if you do this, unplug the machine first from the wall outlet. The electronic pedal uses a circuit that gives even power through the travel of the pedal and does not generate heat. My old vintage sewing machine is much more precise now with this cheap and easy upgrade.

Please note: You must use an electronic pedal that was designed to be used with a mechanical sewing machine, the gauge of the wire will be thick like the one you're cutting off your machine. A pedal for a computerized sewing machine won't work, it will have much smaller gauge wire. This is very easy, but any electrical work is obviously at your own risk.

Here's a YouTube video where I talk on this subject:

PatternReview Top Pattern Contest Fashion Show!

I filmed the fashion show at the American Sewing Expo. This is the first public event that I've ever filmed and it was a lot harder than I was expecting. There at so many factors you can't control at a public place that I was rather unprepared for. The blonde lady who's head kept getting in my frame, black background making it difficult to see the models, horrible acoustics. Not to mention my arms wanted to fall off from holding the camera in one place for so long.

Unfortunately my battery ran short right at the very end so I missed the judges announcements of the last two winners. In the editing I remedied this by looping back to previous footage for those last two contestants, not perfect but it's the best I could do.

The resulting video is better than I expected and at the very least I learned a lot about what to do next time!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3
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