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Events / The Great Tapestry of Scotland
« on: October 29, 2021, 18:35:08 PM »
Today I visited The Great Tapestry of Scotland at the new exhibition building in Galashiels. Read all about it here

It took me two hours to get round it all and that was despite a realisation halfway round that I needed to move faster to get round before closing time!  A second visit is definitely on the cards.

The tapestry was finished in 2013 and first displayed in Edinburgh, before it went on tour.  The new, permanent home in Galashiels was purpose-built (at huge expense) and only opened in August.  It consists of 160 linen panels, stitched by teams of community stitchers all over Scotland.  The work is stunning. 

A visit is highly recommended!  The Galashiels stop on the Edinburgh-Tweedbank railway is only 5 minutes walk from the exhibition and there are car parks nearby as well.

House Beautiful / Piping cord for trimming cushion covers
« on: August 14, 2021, 17:04:06 PM »
Can anyone advise me what diameter cord I should use in piping for cushion covers?  I haven't a clue, all I know is that my machine piping foot won't take anything wider than 5mm.

Should I use cotton or polyester, or does it make no difference?

Montavilla Sewing

I found this YouTube channel when looking for info on my new(ish) machine. It has machine-specific guides to using various models from a variety of manufacturers and also some generic lessons or tutorials explaining various sewing techniques.

Hope it's of interest!

Technical Help / Boiled wool coat - to line or not to line?
« on: February 05, 2021, 15:31:15 PM »
I'm making the boiled wool coat, no. 9 of Ottobre 5/2020, from a lovely rich purple-coloured boiled wool. The pattern is for an unlined coat and, when I've been looking through my books for tips on sewing boiled wool, they all say that it is usually made-up unlined.

As all the seams are lapped and edgestitched, the inside of the coat will be neat enough, and in any case the fabric does not fray.

I want to add a lining, firstly for warmth, and secondly because it will be easier to wear and put on and take off. That thing of trying to put your arm into the coat sleeve and ending up with your jumper sleeve pushed halfway up your arm and twisted is just horrible!

My question is, is there any good reason not to line the coat?

Courses & Classes / Stitch Sisters
« on: July 27, 2020, 17:27:40 PM »
I came across the Stitch Sisters website after watching a vlog in which their coverstitch class was mentioned. As I've never felt completely confident with using my coverstitch machine, I looked it up. It's good. There's a lot of information there. The whole class is broken down into bitesize videos of around 5 minutes each, which makes it easy to find what you need. I like the style of presentation.

The classes are half-price at the moment and some e.g. Learn to Sew, are free, along with some free patterns. It's worth a look.

Your Favourite Suppliers / Netprinter pattern printing still open
« on: April 29, 2020, 10:09:19 AM »
I hate printing out and sticking together endless A4 sheets of pdf patterns. I had to do it recently for the scrubs pattern, which was 48 sheets of misery.

I've used netprinter in the past for Style Arc and other pdf patterns and found them excellent. As I'd bought a couple of patterns in the recent Style Arc sale, I checked their website and found that they are still open, hurray!

The delivery times are slightly longer as they usually send out the printed pattern immediately and I've had them within a couple of days. At the moment it's just over a week, but at least they are still operating. I hope to have my patterns in the next few days and then I can make a start.

Your Favourite Suppliers / Remnant Kings closes
« on: March 25, 2020, 09:52:05 AM »
Another 'bricks and mortar' fabric shop has gone. Remnant Kings was well known in Edinburgh and Glasgow for decades. I bought fabric from their Newington shop as a student in the late 70s, for my first child in the early 80s and more recently enjoyed fabric shopping trips to their offshoot, The Cloth Shop, in Bonnington Road, Edinburgh. They had a good range of dressmaking, quilting and furnishing fabrics, and haberdashery as well. No more!  :(

Sewing Machines / Sewing on modern computerised machines - advice sought
« on: December 13, 2019, 12:04:23 PM »
All of my sewing has been on mechanical machines.  When I started out, that’s all there was.  I first sewed on my Mum’s Singer 401g, then I was given a machine of my own for my 21st present, a Singer Capri 163.  I had that for decades until I got a Janome Décor Excel II back in 2010.  I had always hankered after another Singer 401g and eventually managed to buy one, so I sold the Capri.

So, now I have the 401g and the Janome, both of which have a very ‘hands-on’, operator-is-in-charge-at-all-times, nothing-happens-unless-you-make-it-happen, style of use.  I am in the habit of cutting and trimming threads at the beginning and end of each seam, easing the flywheel where necessary (particularly on the 401g, both those machines I have used could be reluctant starters – I was told this is due to the direct drive), using the flywheel for needle up/down as required, raising and lowering the presser foot when I want to.  Using reverse stitching, changing stitch width, length or tension with levers or sliders, changing cams for patterns manually, adjusting presser foot pressure, all these are done manually with knobs and levers.  I was even bowled over by the one-step buttonhole foot on the Janome when I got it.  Automation!

From time to time I look at the modern machines and I am beguiled by their bells and whistles, shiny lights and general all-round cleverness.  At the Harrogate show I saw a very quick demo of some of what the Juki DX5 can do. It cuts the threads and fastens off (in a choice of ways) with a nudge of the foot pedal; it can be set to stop sewing with presser foot up, needle up or down;  there are far more stitch patterns and fonts than I will ever use;  a choice of buttonholes in various widths and styles;  stitch patterns can be pre-programmed and stitches selected at the touch of a button etc. etc.  It has a high quality feed mechanism, a slide-adjust straight stitch plate and has a ‘float’ function for thick and tricksy fabrics.  It runs smoothly and quietly and is no doubt an excellent machine.  It is also very expensive.

Now I know very well that a new machine, no matter how clever or pricey, will not turn me into a better sewer.  It’s operator skill that counts.  Boo.  I can’t buy that.

Putting price considerations to one side for now, a major concern is that if I ever bought a modern machine I wouldn’t like not being in charge.  One of these machines would demand a whole new sewing style.  I would need to learn new ways of doing things.  Reliability is also something I worry about.  Simple things can usually be mended if they break.  Computers, not so much. 

I would love to hear your comments and experiences, good or bad, of using these bossy computerised machines of any make or model, not necessarily the Juki.
What adjustments did you have to make to your way of sewing?  Did you find it easy to change the habits of a lifetime?
Is it the case that you can’t turn the flywheel (forwards or backwards) on these machines? If so what happens if you do so out of force of habit?  Do you damage the machine? 
Is there still a manual lever for the presser foot or do you have to rely on the electronics?
I have read that the threads can form a slight nest at the start of a seam, given that you don’t have to hold a few centimetres of thread to the back when starting to sew.  What happens if you pull out a few centimetres of thread?  I do that to knot off the points of darts, for example.  Does that risk damaging the machine?

I won't be at all upset if you put me off, I think that's what I'm looking for in truth....

In the wardrobe / McCall's M7874 top
« on: December 09, 2019, 10:56:29 AM »
After asking for advice back in November about topstitching the seams on this McCall's top pattern  I did eventually get round to making it up. The fabric is a thick, bouncy synthetic, almost quilted in appearance and with a reasonable amount of stretch, bought from The Textile Centre. 

The thickness and 'bounciness' of the fabric caused some difficulties.  When cutting on the fold, I pinned the fold in place to try to get an accurate cut, but I still had a mismatch between the side front pattern piece, which is cut on the fold to give the backing to the large front pocket, and the centre front.  I did a slight bodge to overcome this, thankfully all on the inside of the garment, not visible in wear and has no effect on function!  What I did was insert a V-shaped wedge in the pocket backing section.

The overlapped double sections of the collar and the hem band were very awkward.  The thickness was almost too much for my machines.  This caused some stretching out of the fabric in these areas.  The collar doesn't sit right and I might redo it.  When I was fitting it, the pattern notches just didn't seem right and made the collar far too tight, so I fitted it as seemed best.  Then I had the overlap issue to contend with, which stretched out the neckline.  The collar and the hem bands are cut double, sewn together, turned and then overlapped.  That's a lot of layers of thick fabric and neither the collar nor the hem band sit properly.

Fabric clips were my best friend in making this up.  Pins would not stay in the fabric, they dropped straight out.  The clips were brilliant.  They were just cheapies bought off the internet.

The topstitching advice you all gave me was great and I am pleased with the way the topstitching has turned out.  I used a wide three-thread overlock stitch, pressed the seam, then topstitched with a longer than usual stitch length on my sewing machine and all was well.

I followed the pattern instructions for the most part, but I sewed the sleeves in flat and then joined the side and sleeve seams in a one-er.  I couldn't see the point of sewing a set-in sleeve for this pattern and I would do it the same way next time. 

Other changes for next time? I would change the bottom band, either to a single hem band or a coverstitched hem to match the sleeve hems.  The neckline needs to be slightly larger and the collar adjusted accordingly.  The back looks wide still.  I had taken out 2cm at centre back and it needs at least that for me.

If anybody out there wants to give this one a try, do check the sleeve width.  They are narrow.

Final verdict?  I like the lines of this top and it is an everyday winter favourite already. I'll probably make it again in a more co-operative fabric, with adjustments.  I love the big pocket, which holds my phone and glasses, but does make me feel like a large marsupial. With warm paws.

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Technical Help / Topstitching a serged seam - advice needed
« on: October 22, 2019, 10:00:11 AM »
I am about to start on McCall's 7874, a knit top, using a jacquard stretch knit from The Textile Centre.  I've been reading through the pattern instructions and thinking it through before tackling the job.  The main seams will be sewn on the overlocker, with the exception of one tricky right-angled section on the front where I will have to use my sewing machine.  There is a lot of topstitching to emphasise the construction lines of the top.  I usually avoid topstitching, to be honest, but I feel it will work here if I can do it neatly.

My question is, what is the best way to topstitch a serged seam?  Should I even attempt it?  Do you topstitch to catch the 'bound' serged seam allowance or press that to the other side and topstitch on the fabric alone, in which case it would be purely decorative and add nothing to the construction?

Any advice or suggestions will be very welcome! 

Came across this on a random browse.  JL have 20% off a wide selection of sewing machines at present. For instance, the Janome Coverpro 2000CPX is £399.20, Brother Overlocker 734DS £183.99, Janome Excel Decor 5024 (my machine  :loveit: ) £263.20, and loads more.

I haven't been able to find out how long the offers run for and these JL things are often just for a day, but it's worth a look if you're interested in buying.

Jaycotts have Vogue patterns on a half price promotion at the moment, in case anyone has been waiting to buy a particular pattern.

Technical Help / Advice on piecing waistband
« on: October 28, 2018, 10:54:20 AM »
I'm making up Burda 8765 , a simple straight skirt, in a light-checked brown Harris tweed which I got from @Fiona M this time last year. So far, so good, but Harris tweed is woven on a narrow loom and is only 30" wide.

Once upon a time, this wouldn't have been a problem. Now, however, with the passing of the years and enjoyment of the good things in life  :cake:  :toast: I can't cut the waistband out of the width of fabric without piecing it. The lengthwise offcuts from the skirt front and backs aren't long enough or wide enough to get the waistband out either. There is an underlap for the button fastening and a centre back zip.

Presumably I cut the pieces so that the seams match the skirt side seams and the checks match. Is there anything else I need to do? Will there be a problem with having seams in the waistband? I could buy a coordinating fabric to make a one-piece, seamless band if I have to, but that will delay finishing my skirt.

It's a good pattern, BTW, and I'll post pictures and more info when it's done.

A Good Yarn / Spring into summer baby blanket
« on: September 21, 2018, 14:48:49 PM »
Another grandchild is due any day now and I've just finished a second baby blanket.  I'd made a granny square blanket for number 1 gallery pic and wanted to do something different for the new baby. Before starting the first blanket, I'd asked in TSF for pattern suggestions and this Spring into Summer pattern was one suggestion.  This was the result. Pic here It's worked diagonally from random dye yarn.

The last one had taken a lot of making up, so I thought this pattern would at least avoid that.  Yes, it did, but no, I don't think it was any easier!  The worked fabric becomes heavy towards the end and the long rows in the middle are hard going.  I like the result though and am happy now it's done.  The finished blanket is 28 inches square.  The granny square blanket needed lining with cream fleece to give a winter weight pram blanket.  This one is thicker and heavier, so no lining was needed.

Comments on the pattern:  I needed an extra ball of yarn to complete the blanket, so 4 skeins not 3 as the pattern states.  The yarn (Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable, 100% acrylic) is soft and makes up nicely to a cosy weight, but it does split when working with it.  There were many sweary-words as the evenings wore on!  The yarn is quite fuzzy and the ends of the balls got into a snarled up tangle which took time to sort out.  I like the random-dye effect, though.  The diagonal working means that the pattern would be easily adapted either to a triangular shawl or to a smaller or larger square.

Sorry about the shots of my shoes, I'm a hopeless photographer!

In the wardrobe / Burda 6779 navy lace dress
« on: September 09, 2018, 12:55:29 PM »
Several weeks ago the postie brought us an invitation  0_0 to a 21st party  :toast: .....but... dress code - black tie  :o

All very lovely, but I haven't done black tie for years and wouldn't have anything to wear.  Then I remembered that I had bought a Burda pattern for a lace dress in one of the half price promotions, Burda 6779.  It is a simple style and the scalloped edges are used as the hems for sleeve and dress, so no hemming required.

I set to preparing the pattern and did my usual 2cm FBA on the bodice while I waited for the ebay fabric to arrive, navy lace from one seller and two colours (royal and navy blue) of satin lining from another, so I could decide which I preferred.  Both fabrics were very cheap.  £5 for the 2m of lace and about the same for my 2 x 2m of lining.  When the lace arrived, they'd sent the wrong fabric, but the seller put it right immediately and didn't ask for the 'wrong' one to be returned, so the stash has grown again.

 I used the lining as a toile to check the fit, using the chainstitch on the coverstitch machine, then adjusted as necessary and french seamed the lining. It was a pig, light and slippy, and took a lot of patience, particularly with the narrow machined hem.  There has been a lace dress thread on TSP recently which was helpful and also I have Claire Shaeffer's 'Fabric Sewing Guide' which also had tips for sewing lace.  As I needed a quick make, I used a narrow zigzag to sew the seams on the lace, then trimmed the seam allowances together with the overlocker when I was happy with the fit.

There were moments of mild panic and despair (often a feature of my dressmaking!) when I thought that the lining was going to be far too light and I would have problems with static.  I had seen a much heavier satin locally and wondered whether I should go for that, but figured it would be far too warm.

It turned out well and I'm pleased with the finished dress, pics below. [Having a nightmare trying to insert pics for some reason, going to try the gallery instead]. As always, it was a learning experience.  I'd worked out that the finished length would be decided at the cutting out stage and lengthened accordingly. That could have been avoided by choosing view A, which would have allowed for some adjustment when attaching the lower section. I hadn't allowed for the stretch of the lace, so the outer is slightly longer than I would have chosen and hangs a bit too far below the lining.  There are a few drag lines where I haven't managed to secure the two layers correctly (that slippy lining again, the zip was a fiend to insert), but again not too noticeable in wear and nothing as bad as wrinkles and tugs to be seen on RTW dresses on the night. I got compliments!  Way-hay!

Next time I might make the top, view C, which won't be so 'black tie'.

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