Friday, October 4, 2013

And Baby Makes 3 - well, uh okay, 4

 I have a new sewing machine! 

It's the Janome Jem Gold 660.  Isn't it cute?  It weights just 12 lbs.!  I'm so excited to begin using this machine after combing the web and reading several great reviews about it. 

So, why do I need a new sewing machine when I already own 3?  My husband is definitely wondering about this one.  Well, I travel extensively for my job - this week I'll be gone starting Sunday morning and won't be back until next Friday.  Then I repeat that schedule for the next week, etc.  That's just too long to be away from my sewing projects.  In planing my fall travel schedule I thought to myself, why not bring my sewing projects with me? 

My usual workhorse, which I love dearly, is my Bernina Virtuosa 150.  It works like a dream.  However, I took it with me on my last business trip, and it was quite heavy to lug around and to put into the overhead bin.  Plus, I was a bit nervous about it getting damaged as the only case I have to carry it in doesn't have any padding.

My second sewing machine is actually my first, that wasn't a hand-me-down, the Bernina 1001.  While not a computerized machine, this little cutie is a strong performer.  It's all metal and has never given me any issues.  However, this machine does not live with me in New York.  Since I have a second home in San Francisco (which used to be my first home), and I spend a fair amount of time there during the calendar year, I decided to leave it there (in the hands of a great friend, of course) to use when I'm visiting.

That brings us up to machine number three, my Elna 945 serger.

Again, another fabulous machine, but also not very transportable. 

Research on the web suggested the Janome Gem Gold 660 would be a good choice for those needing to transport machines and with an 8 stitch capability (including 2 stretch stitches) plus a buttonhole stitch, I doubt I'll be lacking stitch variety while I'm on the road.  Plus, it only weighs 12 lbs., did I mention that already?  12 lbs!  I can definitely lift that into an overhead or sling it on top of my suitcase and roll the two together.

I'm so excited to start using this little machine on my fall projects!  I'll post my own assessment of it after I've used it a bit, so stay tuned.

What machine do you use for sewing?  Do you have a machine you use specifically for travel?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October is here! ¡Ay Caramba!

Happy October!  I can't believe we're in the 3rd to the last month of 2013.  Even though we should be well into fall, we hit a high of 80 degrees here in NYC today.  Coincidentally, I finished my last summer project this past weekend - my ¡Ay Caramba! skirt made from Vogue 8908.

¡Ay Caramba! - Vogue 8908

This is definitely a statement skirt!  We have a 3 day Mexican cruise coming up in November, so it's a natural for this trip.  However, my husband thinks the other passengers may mistake me for one of the cruise ship workers and will try to order Margaritas from me.

When I first saw the pattern on the Vogue website, my entire Latina being was shaking with excitement.  Once I picked myself up off the floor, I pressed "Add to bag" and purchased.  I'm pleased with how it turned out and incorporated a construction method to limit hand sewing in attaching the lining to the skirt, which I've outlined below. 

The fabric is a lovely mid-weight Alexander Henry cotton from Jones and Vandermeer (they have lovely fabrics and lots of other fun goodies too - check them out!) named, Sloane Persimmon.  It was a marvel to sew.

I deviated from the pattern instructions in two ways.  First, I interfaced the front yoke.  The instructions didn't call for it, but I feel it's necessary for the fabric I was using and for the weight that the two ruffles would add to the yoke.

Secondly, I didn't follow the instructions for the lining.  The pattern calls for a full lining of the entire skirt, including the skirt body and bottom ruffle.  However, the instructions tell you to sew the skirt as one piece (yoke, skirt body and bottom ruffle) and the lining (inside yoke, skirt body lining and bottom ruffle lining) as another piece.  You then attach the two yokes and you have a lined version, leaving the skirt and the lining, including bottom ruffle, to shift around of their own volition.  Well, en mi otra otra vida, I am a flamenco dancer; and I know my ruffles.  Lined ruffles, where the lining is attached directly to the fashion fabric, behave much better than unlined ones.  Additionally, I thought that the lining, if unattached to the outside fashion fabric might poke out at weird angles when sitting, standing and dancing (of course, I'll most likely be dancing in this on my cruise).  Ay, no, no, no - we can't have that.  So, I decided to sew the skirt and lining ruffles together, attach to the skirt and then join the skirt and lining yokes together.

I borrowed the technique for "bagging the lining" and left a bit of one of the lining skirt seams open so I could pull in the ruffle and sew the skirt lining to the bottom lined ruffle by machine.  The only hand sewing was securing the lining to the inside back of the zipper!  ¡Que bueno!

My construction process was then (roughly) as follows:

1. Sew the skirt seams, interface and sew the outer yoke
2. Sew the fashion fabric ruffle to the lining ruffle and understitch
3. Attach the ruffle to the skirt body, then attach the skirt body and ruffle to the skirt yoke
4. Sew the lining yoke
5. Sew the lining skirt body seams leaving one seam open about 4"
6. Attach the outer skirt to the lining at the top of both yokes and understitch
7. Insert the zipper
8. Pull the ruffle and lining through the 4" slit in the skirt body
9. Sew the bottom of the skirt lining to the ruffle just inside the seam allowance
10. Push the lining and ruffle back through the opening
11. Pin the 4" slit together and topstitch closed (it's on the inside, so it's not noticeable - stick you arm through one of the sleeves of any of your ready-to-wear blazers and you'll see a seam closed in this manner).
12. On the inside, hand stitch the lining to the zipper tape.
13. Put on your skirt and give it a twirl!

Here are some photos to illustrate my construction process:

Construction of Bottom ruffle: fashion fabric and lining sew right sides together then understitched

Lining: lining seams sewn together but with a 4" slit left open for turning

Pulling the ruffle through to pin and sew it to the bottom of the skirt lining
Turning the lining and skirt right-side out through the 4" slit

Final seam: the 4" slit sewn shut

A look at the inside lining all done by machine and ruffle and lining are secured - We're ready for dancing!

Even if you don't sew this skirt, perhaps this technique will help you in constructing one of of your own projects.

Now, it's on to fall sewing - after I serve my husband a margarita!

¡Hasta pronto!

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