Sunday, February 28, 2010

Twin needling for comments...

WOW! Thanks to MaryNanna and debbie for your comments about twin needle stitching.

It totally makes sense that the skipped stitches are from not using a ball point or stretch needle. I used the twin needle that came with the machine, which I assume is not a ball point or stretch needle.

Answering debbie's comment...

Tension issues and breaking/jamming thread- completely pull apart the bobbin area and make sure you don't have a tiny piece of thread stuck in there.

Ok, I opened up the bobbin area and cleaned it out. There wasn't anything in the bobbin area itself. I removed some lint but none of it was in the bobbin compartment itself.

Next when you're threading the needles just above the needle is a thread guide. Only the left needle goes through that guide. That one being your regular spool of thread. The extra spool completely bypasses that guide.

The manual mentioned that and I did that.

If you don't get anywhere with that try changing the direction your thread is coming off the extra spool-clockwise to counter clockwise. Usually thread jamming w/twin needles is all in the threading.

Hrmmm....Honestly I don't remember how I had the thread exit the spool on the extra holder but maybe that's it or part of it?

The only other thing I can think of is are you leaving thread tails? I try to leave them a bit longer and pull them to the right of the needle. My machine has a thread cutter and I know if I've used that it leaves really short tails that will jam with a twin needle.

I left extra long thread tails but pulled them directly to the back, not to the right. Next time I will try moving them to the right.

I did some googling since my "Singer Compete Guide to Sewing" and Built by Wendy's "Sew U Home Stretch" didn't mention twin needles in the detail I require.

I found this tutorial on that talks about how to use twin needles. Pretty awesome. Even some of the comments were helpful, as the author elaborated that the one needle should be threaded first and then the second needle threaded next (which I was doing--I was wondering if I should thread both threads together but now I know I was doing it right) but goes on to say that one thread should be on one side of the tension disk and the other on the other side of the tension disk. I can't see my tension disk but will be sure to try to put the thread through the tension disk that way. I also read somewhere that slowly sewing with a twin needle helps--which I can already confirm--it seemed to go better when I was sewing slower.

I found this Twin Needle Reference chart and this sewing machine needles overview on as well, which clarified that ballpoint needles and stretch needles are two different things (which, an hour ago, I wasn't sure about!)

So I think I will be hitting up Jo-Ann's on Tuesday night after work, looking for a stretch twin needle and buying two spools of thread that are exactly alike! And then I will play around.

Also I've been having tension issues for almost 2 years now. I used to sew wovens at a 6 and knits at a 2 or 3. Now I sew wovens at a 2 and knits usually at a 1. I don't know what happened. I know there is a way to adjust the tension through something on the back of the machine but I haven't tried that. If trying the things above don't fix the problem, then I wonder if it goes back to my ol' tension issues.

I had to do that pesky thing called cleaning my house today so no sewing was accomplished.

Good night!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

McCalls 4664 and 5504 done!

McCall's 5504: DONE!

McCall's 5504 done

I could have made a simple summer dress in the amount of time I spent on the cuffs. To recap, I had cut the sleeves waaaaay too short. I thought about piping but I didn't have any green piping. What I did have, though, was a remnant of green double fold bias tape. So I sewed that on and then added the cactus cuff. Sounds simple, but really it took a lot longer than I care to admit. However, I already can tell this will be one of my favorite shirts to sleep in!!

McCall's 5504 close up of cuff DONE

It counts for the SPR stash contest. I've had the fabric for at least 2 years, and it might actually be 3. The sleeveless Jalie scarf neck top also counts for the SPR stash contest. That fabric is probably 15 years old!!

Now I'm ready for some Mexican food.

I cut out and made McCall's 4664, gym pants. I made the ugly gray muslin on New Year's Eve. The intention then was to make plain brown gym pants.

they start out looking pretty basic:
McCall's 4664: front of workout pants

But there's a surprise I added on the side: reverse applique astericks!!!
McCall's 4664: side of workout pants with astericks

another view
McCall's 4664:back of workout pants

Closeup of the astericks
McCall's 4664: detail of astericks

I did that because the gym had a vendor bring in some clothing and there was a pair of black pants with cut out flowers on the side. The cut outs were edged with white double fold bias tape! They were $94. So I decided to do my own take on that.

So for my cowl neck shirt with twin needle stitching: I looked up zig zag presser foot, and it turns out that is what my machine has. The instructions say to use cotton thread or "polyester span thread". I'm guessing they mean "polyester spun thread" which is what I'm using. So maybe it's a tension issue? I tried the twin needle again with the hem on my gym pants and had to rip it out. It only works for a few inches and then it gets jammed up. I don't know how to fix that. So tmw I might hem the cowl neck shirt with my standard zig zag stitch. Hrm. It's too bad because I love the way the twin needle stitching looks.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Snow day! Burda! Twin needles!

Snow day today! Woo! 3 day weekend! I was thinking, maybe a delayed opening, and was shocked by SNOW DAY! I was grateful since I stayed up til 12:10am last night to watch the women's figure skating finals and medal ceremony.

I did a little bit of work from home, and rested the most of today, then sewed tonight.

Here's the sunset over the new fallen snow (it was already melting when I took these photos):

Sunset over snow 2/26/10

I like the shadows on the snow:
Sunset over snow 2/26/10

I finally cracked open Burda October 2005 to work on the cowl neck shirt. Holy roadmaps, Batman! This is my first Burda. Antoinette told me the pattern lines all run over each other but I hadn't envisioned this. The pattern paper is double sided so there's even more on the back.

Burda world of roadmaps

It's chaos.

My pattern is in blue and is only 4 pieces. Phew.

I had some "I don't know what I'm doing" moments (no seam allowances? what size am I? wait, the size isn't printed on the pattern? how do I know what size is the dashed line with the dots? is this piece the shirt front or shirt back?) Also Burda doesn't have drawings for step by step instructions. I forgot to add seam allowances for the cowl neck (oops) but it seems ok.

The pattern called for twin needle stitching. I've never used a twin needle before. I still had the one that came with my sewing machine. I got out my machine instructions. It says to use a twin needle with a zigzag foot, which didn't come with the machine. Oh well. I forged ahead anyway.

It sort of worked. I didn't have two spools the same color thread. I have skipped stitches. Sometimes the thread would shred in the needle and I had to start again. That happened a lot on the hem for the cowl, but happened only once while hemming the sleeves. WHY?

twin needle stitching--woo!

The cowl neck can be arranged in a few different ways. I think I like the cowl neck the best here, with a drapey, flowy look.
cowl neck?

Though it can be stretched out and look very sci-fi spacey:
closeup of outerspace collar.

It's still in progress. I need to fix the sleeve caps, curve in the sides more, decide on the length, and hem it.

Longer version:
vaguely outerspace, right?  shorter length

Shorter version:
a model's pose

I also need to decide if I'm going to rip out the twin needle stitching on the collar and try again?
I'm probably the only person who would notice the crummy stitching, but I think it might annoy me.

Again, here's the Selfish Seamstress version of this shirt.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

No sewing. Just cookies.

Faithful readers will remember my Christmas cookie containers, which were nut containers with a fun label I created and slapped over them.

Tonight I made cookies to say thanks to my neighbors for taking care of the snow for me. The one set of neighbors has had my cookies before, and the wife was especially excited for them. The other set of neighbors looked completely shocked. Wasn't at all the reaction I was expecting. Like I showed up at their door with a dead fish or something. "You did what?"

And I decided to make a batch for my coworkers who are currently helping me test for our software upgrade. I used the same template I made last time, changed "Merry Christmas!" to "Fuel for Testing!", cut them out (a real rush job) and slapped 'em on.

I assure you, the cookies were made with more care than the labels.

cookie containers again!

And here's a random assortment of things on my desk. I actually lit up my Bryn Mawr lantern tonight. My dad electrified it so I don't have to play with candles. It's pretty sweet. The owl lantern on the right is from the Philly flower show, circa 1996 or 1997. I'm not sure which year as I can't recall which dorm I was living in when we went to the show, but my parents drove and parked on campus, we took the train in to the show. I distinctly remember a woman standing on a street corner yelling out Bible verses outside of Market East. But I don't remember which year that was.

My Bryn Mawr lantern, all electrified
The thing in the middle is sushi that is on wheels from Japan, 2001.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Jalie 2921 sleeveless done. McCall's 5504 in progress.

Decided to give another stab at Jalie 2921. This time I made size V instead of X.

I was going to go for the nautical look with a white scarf and navy blue shirt.

At this point, the white scarf was pinned on and I decided it was too "cub scout den mother".
Too cub scout den mother

So I cut the scarf again, this time from the same navy blue fabric as the shirt.

This is what step 10 looks like. The front and back are sewn together at the shoulder. Then you sew the scarf to the neckline. Here in step 10, you roll up the front and back of the shirt, and then pin the scarf AROUND that roll. It's pretty amazing and clever.

What Jalie 2921 step 10 looks like (yes the ENTIRE front and back are in the tube of the scarf)

I decided to go with sleeveless. It's my first piece for my spring conference wardrobe (ha ha).
Front of Jalie 2921 finished

It has issues still with the back of the scarf looking all funny. I'm just going to let it be. It all sort of blends into my hair anyway. I didn't cut a center back seam this time. And I didn't do anything about the sway back.

Back of Jalie 2921 finished

Tonight's ooops shot
Ooops shot

Then I started work on McCall's 5504, a raglan pajama top. I cut it out on New Year's Eve, ironed on interfacing shortly after, and it's been forlornly sitting around waiting to be sewn. I felt it was in danger of becoming a UFO. So I tackled it.

I cut the sleeves too short somehow. I'm thinking "opportunity knocks with piping and a cuff". But am I going to answer? Piping will just get lost in that fabric.

McCalls 5504 front; sleeve unfinished

This is to show the lines on the sleeve line up with the bodice. That took some effort during the cut-out phase. But what it means is the lines don't line up where the raglan sleeve is sewn to the front and back. Oh well.
McCalls 5504  see the stripes line up; sleeve unfinished

It's a bit large but I have plenty of room for layers!

McCalls 5504:  blurry side shot

Good night!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Temp office and Burda Oct 2005

I have a temporary office now!
my new office, with my two big monitors

With a door!

My temporary office door

and a view!!
Looking onto campus

To compare, here's my old cube:
My old cube
In a few months, I'll be back in the hallway in a (different) cube, but til then I'm enjoying my office.

In other news, I finally found the Oct 2005 issue of Burda World of Fashion on ebay last weekend. It arrived today! I've never looked through an issue of Burda before...
Burda 10/2005

So I can make the cowl neck top! I might make it this weekend. Looks like tracing this pattern is going to be an adventure. It's my first BWOF. The top is very simple so I think it's a good choice for my first Burda.
I was inspired by the Selfish Seamstress version of it.

Just watched last week's Project's the Tim Gunn quote of the episode: "You should feel so proud of what you've achieved here."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Not my facebook...

I have Flickr photos. I have a blog. That's enough for me currently, though twitter might happen. and I might start freecycling too.

So 24 hours ago, someone signed up for facebook and used my email address??? Their last name is the same as mine; their first name is Kate.

And now I'm getting all these "facebook friend requests"???? I thought I'd do nothing and just let it sort itself out. So far, it hasn't.

Had acupuncture tonight. New weird place to feel the twitching: the front of my right shin. Most painful needle: outside of my left ankle. Karen said that's my lower back. Their space has been renovated. It's pretty cool. The music is now piped through the office via a computer, and I could hear all the Windows system noises (like the "you can't do that" "no, not that" and "shutting down for the night".) She also has these heat-lamp type devices now, so I had one over my knees, one over my feet, and the mylar wrap over my torso. I felt like take out food at MickyD's or something. I feel better though. :)

It's only Wednesday but I'm already looking forward to the weekend: sewing and cookie baking. And more cleaning out of the den/sewing area! BIG pattern giveaway coming soon!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Snow on the Beach!!

Enjoy these pix of the snow on the boardwalk in Sea Girt, NJ today.

Do you see the seagull?
Seagull in Sea Girt, NJ 2/13/2010

snow covered beach  in Sea Girt, NJ 2/13/2010

Welcome to the boardwalk
welcome to the boardwalk  in Sea Girt, NJ 2/13/2010

Snow pile:
snow pile  in Sea Girt, NJ 2/13/2010

Path plowed through snow:

plowed path  in Sea Girt, NJ 2/13/2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

Surgery on Hal; snow pix

Upstairs Hal was suddenly losing arms from his sidebrush. Downstairs Hal has just 3 arms but Upstairs had 6. And then 5. And then 4. And then 3. Sometimes I found them in his collection tray; other times they were forlorn on the floor.
Hal before surgery

Last weekend I bought replacement sidebrushes on the web site. They arrived this week and I did a little, simple, minor outpatient surgery on Hal. All better:
Hal after surgery

It took less than a minute, and it has actually made a big difference with how the carpets look!! MUCH better.

I'm thinking of getting the Scooba next.

My backyard on Thursday morning before going to work, taken through the window:

2/11/10 before going to work

I like the light here. I also realize my duck is dressed for Easter. Poor neglected duck. Well, Easter isn't that far off.
2/11/10 my living room

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Jalie 2921: Done? I think? Maybe?

There was indeed a snow day today and work was closed, but I worked most of today anyway in front of the fireplace, uninterrupted.

I watched No Impact Man tonight on DVD. I highly recommend. The pacing could have been better, but I think the overall message is important. I started reading the book last night. I like his sense of humor, which comes out a lot more in the book as compared to the documentary.

Tonight I decided to take another stab at Jalie 2921. Next time I will cut out a smaller size for the bodice and scarf, while cutting out the largest for the arms. We'll see how it all goes. Next time I'm going to base the fit on one of my favorite shirts.

I decided to slice the shirt up the back. But first I wanted to make sure there was plenty of room to do so. My latest trick is using binder clips. I think I look like a dinosaur here.
Jalie 2921 in progress: dinosaur!

I cut out a chunk of the back, curved it in for my sway back (following a New Look pattern I have where the back is two pieces and curved inward at the lower back), and played with the scarf band at the top a bit. Here's what I wound up with:
Jalie 2921 done?  front

Here's the side:
Jalie 2921 done?  side

There are still some arm issues. I actually have a 3/8 seam allowance and then sewed something more like 1/4. So I could rip out the 3/8 seam allowance and gain a quarter inch. Maybe it would make a difference? Another idea is to make it sleeveless, or cut out the sleeves again but larger this time.
Jalie 2921 done?  bent arm

This back shot is rather unflattering but I don't think it looks so bad in real life? Besides if this were a print, all that shadowing would blend in.

Jalie 2921 done?  back

So I'm thinking of making this again soon with a navy bodice/arms and a white scarf for a sailor-style look. By making it in the right size, I don't think I'd have so many fitting issues.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

They can't all be winners...and other random stuff

I lost another Sewing Pattern Review contest. I had 10 votes, though. Made my way to the double digits this time! The winner had 59 votes.

I'm overly excited for the possibility of a snow day tmw!!! Feeling vaguely like a little kid, checking every few hours...I brought home work and am envisioning getting a whole day's worth of work done in a few hours in front of my fireplace....and then maybe making cookies!

My back is acting up again but I realized that I stopped doing my piriformis stretches recently (any time) and my hip flexor stretches (morning and during work) though I've been doing all my nighttime stretching (hip flexor, hamstring, quads, calves). I just did all my piriformis stretches and my back already seems to feel better.

Last night I tried my novacaine patches for the first time. It really didn't seem to make a difference--until I removed them 14 hours later. The surface of my skin was definitely numb, but it didn't seem to make its way into my muscle. Peeling the patches off just felt so weird since the skin was definitely numb there.

I have a temporary office at work now (probably for the next 5 months until I'm back in the hallway again). Having a door is AMAZING! I will have to post pix of the view from my office. It's pretty cool. I need to adjust the height of my ergonomic chair for the new desk, though. That might be part of my back issues, though I think not doing the piriformis stretches is more to blame.

Here's hoping you're pain free!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

looking for more recommendations...

....for the following...
  • new dryer
  • new dishwasher
  • a charity that will come to my house and remove the love seat (upstairs) and couch (downstairs) from my house


I looked into Ikea last week and didn't see what I was looking for, but I will look again based on Antoinette and Lisa's recommendations, thanks!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cutting table suggestions??

Thanks everyone for your comments on the Jalie shirt. I didn't work on it at all today but maybe I will a bit tmw night? I have forward shoulders and a slight sway back (according to my physical therapist and chiropractor). I've never made a forward shoulder or neck adjustment, but maybe that is where the problem is, as 6 out 7 reviewers on SPR did not have trouble with the back of the scarf?

I'm going to revamp my sewing room. The grand idea is to keep all sewing stuff in my sewing room so that it doesn't spread to other parts of the house (mainly the dining room table) as it currently does. I'm dumping the loveseat and ironing board, and possibly a bookcase, to make room for a cutting table and dressform. Right now I'm on the search for a cutting table (the dressform search will come later).

I had imagined the table search would go something like this:
Look at tables on the JoAnn's web site, pick one out, order it, done.

Jo-Ann's didn't have what I was looking for...I want a table that meets the following criteria:
  • at least 36 inches tall
  • around 70 inches long
  • 30 inches or wider
  • preferably on wheels
  • stable
  • don't really care if it's wood or metal. I just don't want it to be ugly (and not cardboard)
  • I don't care if it folds away or not as it won't be "put away" somewhere.
The plan is to have the cutting table in the corner where the loveseat currently is. The idea of the wheels was that I could easily move it so that I could get to the other side of the table, and then move it back. I wanted it at least 70 inches long as that is the length of my dining room table and my cutting mat is 3 panels, when combined make 72 inches. The idea behind the 36 inches or taller is to save my back.

I've googled around (dining room table, bar table, craft table, drafting table, etc) and found this table which meets a lot of the criteria above, but I don't know if it's really stable. I kind of prefer the idea of 4 legs instead of what it has....

Any suggestions???

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Jalie scarf top 2921 in progress

just a little bit of snow the other day (not like today)
Snow from the other day. The snow today was taller than that.
My neighbors completely took care of it for me, woo!

Tonight I decided to trace and cut out Jalie 2921. This is my first time working with Jalie. There are only 4 pattern pieces (3 if you go sleeveless) so it wasn't a big deal to trace it. I looked at the size based on my measurements. It seemed too small so I went up two sizes. I was assuming 5/8 seam allowances. After cutting out the fabric, I looked at the pattern and saw the seam allowances are 1/4. Ohhhh....

Ok, I wound up sewing quite a bit of it.
Here's what it looks like so far:
Jalie 2921 in progress
So from the front, it's pretty good. It's actually a bright pink color, but looks more red in the picture/on my monitor. I don't like how wide and long the ties are, but there's not much that can be done there. The construction of the scarf, like many have noted, is very clever. Once you get that puppy on, there's really no going back.

The back of the shirt is not as good. The reason the front looks good is because I used a binder clip to clip a big wedge out of the back collar. Talk about gaposis! Someone on SPR talked about this and basically sewed that wedge from about 2 inches out, tapering down to nothing at the collar. Otherwise the collar does not sit flat around the neck.

Jalie 2921 in progress:  back scarf needs a wedge taken out of it (right now there's a binder clip back there)

There's also some swayback pulling going on. I think I might sew a center back seam.

I also need to hem.

And I need to do something about the sleeves. Folks on SPR raved about how the sleeves "weren't too tight" or "had to be taken in". Had to be taken in?? I guess I have big biceps because they need some more room.
So I'm thinking of trying the sleeves again, this time with larger sized sleeves (I have enough fabric to cut another set of sleeves), or just making it sleeveless or short sleeved.

Also I'm totally envisioning this in a blue with a white scarf, or white with a blue scarf, for a sailor-style effect. I think that would be pretty rockin'.

I've been awake since 4:30am and actually did work work for a while today. I should go to bed but I'm thinking of watching Project Runway from this week online....

Good night!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Jalie vs Big 4: compare and contrast

look at the size of that pattern!
The jacket pattern I just made (left); Jalie scarf top I'm thinking of making (right)

Hello, cupcakes!

Thank you all for your comments on my Project Run(a)way jacket. I can't wait to wear it (at this rate, in March or April).

I've only made patterns from the Big 4. I lean heavy on the Simplicity and New Look patterns.

I really want to make this Jalie scarf top pattern 2921. It has arrived in the mail.

Just curious to hear from folks who have made Simplicity / New Look *and* Jalie before, for a little compare / contrast.

Anything I should look out for or be aware of?

First off, the pattern paper is one giant piece of paper (thick paper, not tissue paper, which I wasn't expecting. A gazillion sizes are in one envelope (little girl to adult). Should I trace the pattern onto tissue paper? Should I just cut it directly out of the paper?

It's sure to be an adventure. But I might make another jacket first. Hrrrmmmmm..

If you haven't read Deepika's blog posting about the Jalie pattern--go on over there and read it now. It's a real hoot!!