sewing on a different level.....

This week a few monumental things happened to sneak into my life...  They certainly didn't seem that way at first but I've become aware of the possibilities.   

The image at right was created by Tim who shares a love of vintage sewing machines.  I think it's pretty cool myself and I'm excited for him to work with other vintage machines.  He actually sent me a signed and FRAMED print of this art which is about the coolest thing ever...  I just realized exactly where I want to hang it.  The sewing room is a little hectic but the office will work out great.  I spend more time here anyway so I think that's fitting.

Oh speaking of fitting....  I sewed up another Burda 7768 in the pants version.  
OH man were they terrible!  Ok first off I had just enough fabric to get them going.  Have you ever cut out a garment and only had this much fabric left for practicing your stitches?  It was rough going to begin with and it didn't get any better.  I was thinking I'd be doing my top stitching on the new Pfaff 260 but it wasn't cooperating with the really heavy thread I wanted to use in the needle AND the bobbin.  Mind you I had done some initial testing when I first got the machine and it seemed like it was fine but when it came down to it the stitches weren't perfect.  So I switched gears. 
 Ok, I have an industrial machine that's made for this type of work.  What exactly is my problem by avoiding using this machine in the first place anyway?  Well I think I know and it's a bit of psychology going on here that I'll explain real quick.  I've always been one to reject the common knowledge, maybe call it a rebel streak.  Everyone knows that industrial machines are the best right?  Exactly.  I will make it my mission to squeeze those perfect stitches with thick thread out of a home machine just because I like a challenge. Ok, now you know...  it's much deeper and more vast than that but we don't need get bogged down in the depths of my brain do we?...  So I threaded up the industrial, took a minute to oil it up since i'm sure it was pretty dry and got sewing.  Oh, wouldn't you know it.  
Big long stitch length and beautiful stitches with the thickest thread I have.  The stitches on the inside are the Pfaff 138 pictured above and the ones along the outside are with thinner thread and the Pfaff 260.  I've got this baby adjusted so it's no harder to sew with than any home machine, perfect control.  I will say that it's so fast it'll break the thread if you're not careful but you don't have to sew that fast with it, just ease off the gas. I can go just as slow as any other machine....  It's like a sports car.  You can drive 20 mph in a school zone but if you stomp on that gas you'll leave tread marks on the road and likely won't even see those people crossing the street.

Ok back on track..  That Burda pattern.  The pants were horrific.  Big huge baggy legs that went out of style oh so very long ago.  I cut the legs off to make them shorts but still hated them even though I made the shorts version before and thought they were ok.  So getting away from what I didn't like which was the fit, let's talk about what I did like.  Or better yet why don't I make a little slide show with commentary to lighten the text load on this entry.  I threw this together fast although really it took longer than I expected since I've never done the picture in picture deal before.  

Gosh I have a few other things to talk about but maybe I should save them for another entry this weekend!  There is a point to this whole issue of yet another ill fitting project but I haven't got there yet.

sister thrift.....!

Whew..  where to start.  It's been a while since I posted yet it doesn't feel that way to me.  Currently I get about 14 blog related emails a day, some are keep up the good work type while others are quite intensive and require some serious communication.  I like both, but that's why I feel like I've been doing a lot of sewing typing lately without anything public to show for it...

Sister Thrift is my new favorite discount spot, it helps that it's a ten minute bike ride from my house!  I stopped by their other location on Saturday while I was in Burlington and picked up something I've been on a serious hunt for.  LOOK how pretty my new iron is!  I love the way the handle fits in my hand, molded so well.
 It has a sweet little indicator light to show when it's warming and an awesome fabric cord in amazing like new condition.  You're asking why...   I know you are.  Well I'll tell you why.  Because I hate fusing things with my regular steam iron.  It's got steam holes and fusing with it just plan sucks because it misses spots where the holes are.   Take a look at this sole plate, smooth.  Yes of course I'd love a clam shell press, wouldn't we all...  but right now this little number fits my budget at an affordable $2.99.  Yeah I need to pick up some steel wool to polish the brown junk off the sole plate but that's actually not even that important if I'm just fusing with it.

I've also had a firestorm of emails about vintage sewing machine!  Wow, people are really getting into them and it's so awesome.  In fact there are people who are REALLY into it, so much so it makes me look like a very casual collector.  Today at my local Sisters I saw a few Kenmore machines worth a photo.  As you might remember I like taking my camera so I don't feel the urge to, as a reader just wrote in an email, "pick them up like puppies and put them in my purse!".  That statement spoke to me for sure.  It goes hand in hand with a comment another friend made to me.  She said something along the lines that I'm like one of those people who has stray pets follow them home, except for me it's sewing machines.  I'd have to agree.

Want to see something that makes me feel luxurious?

Yes folks, I now have two sergers.  A fellow PatternReview member had this Janome sitting around unused since she upgraded machines and she offered it up.  What's interesting is that it's mechanically the same serger I already own in the Kenmore brand.  My Kenmore is from the late 80s and the Janome is newer but they are exactly the same under the hood.  To me this is a testament to a good design that didn't need improvement.  The Janome is running great now with a good cleaning and oiling.  The upper looper tension disk is out of adjustment so this weekend I'll likely tear it down and get it tight again.  I had to do the same thing on the Kenmore when I got it.  What you say do I need two sergers for?  Well how about having one set up for rolled hems and the other for standard serging.  I never do rolled hems because it's sort of a pain to switch the machine all around, now I can roll my hems anytime I want!

Oh gosh what else...  may as well get it all out while I'm sitting here right?  These Burda shorts have been done for a while but they're hard to photograph.  White doesn't have any contrast and when I include the navy accent pockets it's too much contrast and looks creepy.  I also learned that it's really not the best to top stitch on corduroy.  The welts make the stitching look crooked and funny no matter what you do.  Yeah, take a look at that stitching...  nice isn't it...  uggg.  So you see why I'm having trouble getting these posted.

I think I've sewn my last Baja shirt for a while.  I made up at least four or five of these numbers and I can safely say I've sewn it to death.  This last one I made up in this really awesome fabric the Islander folks sent me.  It's the same fabric that I'm pictured in on the pattern envelope.  I made the extra small size this time and it fit my friend Derian really well so he's keeping it.  I sewed this up on my Singer 99 and it was so much fun!
 I've never sewn anything on a straight stitch only machine and it felt so sweet and innocent.  I serged all my seam allowances first so it was just a matter of sewing the pieces together.  I even did some extra top stitching because I was having so much fun!

And...   just in case you haven't had enough yet.  We were out at Cranes Beach this weekend.  It was overcast but I was able to capture some pretty amazing photos.  Here's a slide show:

burda shorts, sort of.....

I had fully intended on doing a review of my new Burda shorts but not feeling very creative the photos just didn't come out the way I wanted them to.  It was cold and rainy today and the idea of wearing shorts even inside the house for a video seemed unlikely.  I will say the shorts turned out very nice indeed even though I made them out of less than lovely fabric.  This pattern has a lot of little details and I figure the entire project probably look around 17 hours.  Yeah, 17...   but I wasn't complaining, instead I took my time and tried to enjoy each little step of the process.  I'll make the video, maybe tomorrow morning...

So instead of a shorts review I did a bit of a video review of the new Pfaff 260.  This video took me a LONG time to shoot with many many takes and retakes.  It's a simple video but for some reason I was stumbling through it, again, it's hard to pump out creative projects when you have to try this hard.  In the end I think it's pretty good.

This brings up another point.  Some people seem to think I have too many sewing machines.  Is this even possible?  I obviously love sewing machines for more than just their function and this is a very hard concept to explain to a regular user.

Machines in general make me happy.  I justified to one friend the other day that I don't know what else in the entire world I could spend $25 and get as much joy and entertainment.  Ok yes I admit...   I do have a few machines that are sitting on the floor and not
being used.  So I'm contemplating selling off one or two.  The $2 Kenmore is one such example.  This is one big ugly machine but man can it sew!  It's got a brand new 1.2 amp motor on it which is almost as strong as it gets in the home machine department.  There's no embroidery or fancy anything going on here.  The feed dogs are nice sharp teeth that will pull anything you got under the foot.  Admittedly the only reason I really keep it is because it's the only machine that my high shank Kenmore buttonholer will fit on AND that motor with foot pedal is worth around $50!

The other machine I'm considering passing along is the Dressmaker.  This is essentially the same machine as the ugly Kenmore but in a much prettier package, in fact many of the parts are totally interchangeable.  Cool huh!
 It has a much weaker motor than the Kenmore but what it lacks in strength it makes up for in beauty.  This machine is smooth as silk with very little resistance between the motor and the needle.  If you're sewing at full speed and you take your foot of the pedal the machine will continue to sew for quite a few more stitches.  The one disadvantage it shares with the Kenmore, they're both left needle machines.  This means the needle is fixed in the left needle position.  Arguably I prefer this over a fixed center needle machine but at this point I almost require a left, center, right needle position selector.  There is a "fancy" Dressmaker 7000 pictured at right that includes an embroidery function that takes cams AND has the needle position selector.  It's not quite as pretty but to me it would be much more functional.  I think it's because it has more functions that it's not as clean looking.  The Dressmaker label was somewhat generic so it's possible this machine was made by a completely different manufacturer.  However...  I certainly don't need another machine.  What it comes down to is both the Kenmore and Dressmaker are fine examples of Japanese made machines and I appreciate having at least one of them.  Sigh...   ok i'll keep them both for now, see how hard this is?

A German love affair.....

I know it was just a few posts ago that I was professing my love for my new sweet Italian Necchi and justifying my need for two at the same time but I've found a new love.  I'm sure once the newness wears thin I'll reevaluate but for now...

I'd like you to meet Pfaff 260.  

A functional if not beautiful German treasure I picked up yesterday for the bargain basement price of only $25.  You may remember me mentioning that I had briefly owned a Pfaff 360 but that poor machine had so much previous damage it was unrepairable.  The 260 is identical to the 360 but without the free arm.  Some people swear by their free arm machines but I've never owned one and have never seen the need for my own sewing projects.  I've been told that a free arm is indispensable for sewing children's clothing and I can totally understand that.

There's so much to say about this machine!  First off it totally passed my super thick jeans top stitching thread in the bobbin test with flying colors.  Woohoo!!!  Besides my beloved Supernova(s) this is the only home machine that's been able to do this.  It also has a full rotary hook which is indispensable when sewing over elevation changes, simply put, it almost never skips a stitch no matter what.  The embroidery setup on this machine is mechanical and complicated but doesn't produce the same sophisticated designs as the Necchi.  That's ok, how often does one use those stitches anyway?

This machine is a direct drive type, meaning the motor is tied directly to the machine by a metal cogged belt and can't slip.  Personally I don't mind a machine with a regular belt but this is certainly an interesting setup.  I hear these cogged belts are difficult to get and not cheap so hopefully I won't need to replace mine anytime soon.

As always it totally intrigues me how the previous owner had the machine set up.  I have a feeling I might be the third owner of this machine because  to my eye it's obvious it's been used but not by the person who had it before me.  It came loaded with a class 15 bobbin which is not the right bobbin for this machine and the needle was also so blunt I could actually capture it's bluntness, take a look!  Can you imagine trying to sew with that?

What you say, not a class 15 bobbin!  Not a class 66 (L) either.  It uses the same bobbin system as my Pfaff 138 industrial does.  Here's a photo of the three bobbin styles side by side so you can see the differences.  The class 15 on the left, 66 middle and the "M" class bobbin on the right.  I've always found it strange that the industrial uses a smaller bobbin.  Normally I might be a little irritated at having to have another bobbin system to deal with but since I already had this size I got over that irritation a while back.  I use those silicone rubber doughnuts to keep each system tidy and it works out really well.

The machine came with a full set of manuals and supplemental books with some very funny illustrations and projects.  This one with the spools of thread walking around is very...  German?  I also gave it a good cleaning with my favorite machine wax.  This stuff is awesome and easy to use.  I think I picked it up at Walmart.  A bit on a microfiber towel and you'll be amazed how much dirt and grime come off your old vintage machine.

Because you know I love creating these little sewing machine music videos....  I'll also be doing an actual video review where I demonstrate stitching and other functions this weekend.  Which reminds me I have a pair of Burda shorts I need to photograph and show off as well.  It's going to be a busy weekend!

Direct Link

Getting back into stride...

I decided what I really needed to do was make a little video just to show myself I still remembered how.  It's not fancy, just a little sewing room tour and a browse through the fabric stash.

I also found this really awesome chair on the street about a month ago and never got around to posting photos of it.  I love the shape and that there's no cross members between the legs.  It's not a very comfy chair but it certainly is easy on the eyes.  You just don't see really old stuff like this out on the west coast very often and certainly never on the street for trash!  Speaking of free stuff I finally had to shut off my freecycle messages.  I just don't need any more stuff!  Ok sure, I could use a pasta strainer and maybe a bed frame but really, I don't need anything.  What a great feeling!
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