shed some (inexpensive) light...

Oh yes, the "new" fabric cutter has produced a LOT of interest!  Well I still need to do the video and gather resources but I promise it's worth the wait.  Until then I was just at IKEA and found some amazing lights that I think you're going to love.

I'm a big proponent of good lighting while sewing and let's face it, as our eyes age they need more light, I've certainly noticed..  If possible I insist my machines are always set up in front of the windows for as much light as possible.  If you've been online in the sewing world I'm sure you're aware of the options for add on LED sewing lights.

I'm sure these are all great products however since I'm always looking for a deal (half Scottish remember) and versatility I'm not into these "expensive" (to me) stick on lights.  I use multiple machines and want to be able to easily move my lighting source around quickly and easily.  Sometimes I also want to use my lights for other applications like macro photography and even (gasp) reading....  This new light I found is just the ticket and at a ridiculously new inexpensive price of $9.99 at IKEA (used to be 39.99!) coming in a variety of colors (including pink) I don't think you can go wrong.  Please take notice how long the flexible goose neck is, no need to get in the way of your work or hands.  Place the light exactly where it's needed and keep the base well out of the way.  The LED is extremely bright!

The advantages of LED lighting is that it's cool, no hand burning if you bump it, it's low wattage, and it's durable.  I used to use halogen spot lights and let me tell you they will not survive being knocked over plus they're hot and use lots of watts!  This awesome little lamp will provide a lifetime of light for very little money.  Get one, you won't be disappointed!

As a side note, they have a wall mounted version for $29 which doesn't make any sense to me, the higher price that is.  I could easily see having a few of the wall mount versions over the ironing table but not at that price.  I use the KVART double at right over my ironing table which is also $9.99 and uses compact florescent instead of LED, it's also a great buy and may work better for ironing with it's less focused yet bright light.

 Gosh my work space is always a bit messy isn't it?  I don't even want to show you the ironing table....  Talk about a catch all!  Will get to work on that cutting tool video ASAP!

built for buttonholes.....

The Kenmore 1410 sewing machine was literally built for making buttonholes.

It's an all metal machine with a metal cam stack.  Having used Kenmore machine built a few years earlier and a few years after this line I'm willing to say these could be the best (vintage) machine to carry the Kenmore brand.
A healthy 1.2 amp  motor and cogged belt make this machine sew with a purpose that easily feels like it could handle most anything you might throw at it.  Standard and reliable class 15 bobbin means you'll have to ability to pick up replacements cheap and easily just about anywhere.  It does all the stitches you need and none of the fluff you may never use.  Instead of cast iron and extremely heavy this machine is made from aluminum and only regular heavy.  I can lift it with one hand and not feel like my arm is being pulled from it's socket.

Someone left a comment on a post I did a while back on buttonholer attachments mentioning that she had a machine that activated the attachment from under the bed instead of using the needle bar like most attachments do.  The problem with the needle bar activating the buttonholer mechanism is that the thickness of the fabric plays a roll in how far the needle bar will move the attachment.  Doing buttonholes in the unevenly thick waistband of a pair of jeans causes all sorts of problems.  I can't even tell you how many waistband buttonholes I've mangled.  Anyway...  her comment jogged my memory and I remembered that we happen to have not one but two of these machines at the school in the closet sitting unused after we switched to computerized machines.  Great!  I'll grab one of those and see how it works!  

You can see the lever on the right side of this photo, this moves back and forth activating the underside of the special bobbin cover plate.  On top of that plate is a gear that turns inside the buttonhole template.  The machine is capable of five sizes of the standard buttonhole.  Simply turn the dial to select which size you're looking for.  The beauty of this setup is that the mechanism works the same no matter the thickness of fabric.  No slipping or binding, just absolutely reliable movement.  The disadvantages are the limited buttonhole styles (no keyhole or eyelets), no ability to make the hole wider in the middle, and no control over stitch length.  The only thing you can control the width of the sides using the machines zigzag control and that's it.

Here's a very short demo of the attachment at work:

I also did a longer more in depth video showing a regular zigzag type attachment with a demo of this attachment after.  It's hard to tell the difference between attachments by comparing the finished stitches.  I don't mind keeping a machine just to do buttonholes.  The Pfaff 2030 does a pretty nice job on two layers of denim such as you'd find in the button fly opening but it creates a total mess of the waistband.  Often times I'll end up just doing them manually with a zigzag stitch.  Yeah, I have other machines I can pull out of storage to do buttonholes with the attachments but it comes down to being too lazy to set them up.

Speaking of having additional machines set up for specific tasks I ran across some videos of a guy who's pretty serious about making jeans.  His brand is Roy Denim and from what I understand he's only been doing it for a short time.  What's remarkable to me about these videos is how many specialized machines he puts into use to make one pair of jeans.  It makes it clear why sewing a pair of authentic jeans at home even with three or four "regular" machines to use still takes upwards of 8 hours.  I'm not sure if he mentions how long the process from start to finish takes him.  It seems really quick.

Roy's Jeans - Video by Self Edge from Self Edge on Vimeo.

Roy jeans sell for $275 but seem to be all sold out (except for really small sizes).  I wonder if the reality of running one's own sweat shop has lost a bit of it's magic.  The truth is that you just can't compete with overseas labor and when you do find success it could very well turn out to be your own private hell.  Do you really want to be sewing 6 pairs of jeans a day?  Granted 6 @ $137 (assuming he's selling wholesale to the retailer) is $825.  Times five days a week is $4125 for a monthly take of $16,500.  Even sewing half that at three pairs a day is pretty darn good business.  If he sold direct he could pocket the same with half the sales.  I suppose my point is that he's able to be productive because of all his specialized equipment.  Notice also that none of which is new.  Industrial equipment will last for a very long time and there are amazing deals to be had on the used market.  If you like the idea of a better way to cut out your fabric stay tuned, I've got a great  tool I'll be introducing soon.  I hardly ever pick up my rotary cutter these days and I don't miss it one bit!

Anyway, here's the longer Kenmore 1410 video bringing me one step closer to my own private sweat shop...

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