While I was on holiday, I made another Closet Case Patterns Kalle shirt. It’s
fair to say that this pattern is becoming what sewists refer to as a ‘TNT
(tried ‘n’ true) pattern’. This shirt is now the fourth Kalle I have made.
However, the various pattern variations (length, button placket or tunic, collar
or collarless, and so on), combined with the way that garments made from the
same pattern can look completely different in different fabric means that my
obsession with this pattern is not immediately obvious to the casual observer.
If you follow me over on Micro.blog you may have seen this post a couple of
weekends ago. I had decided to try to make a dress using instructions from one
of the Pattern Magic books by Tomoko Nakamichi. As if that wasn’t daunting
enough, I decided to make it out of a sentimentally special fabric, and for a
special event happening the next weekend. Sewing isn’t (usually) an adrenaline
sport, but it was quite a nerve-wracking experience, but one which happily
worked out well in the end.
I have been looking for a treadle cabinet for my Singer 201K for a while. The
electric motor is perfectly fine, but I was curious to see what it would be like
to power it entirely with my feet. A cabinet or table would also mean that I
could store the machine in the table, and when using it, the bed of the machine
would be flush with the table surface, which is ergonomically much better, and
means you have more control over the fabric as it goes under the presser foot. I
have a dual-purpose machine/cutting table for my modern Janome machine, which
fits in a cutout in the table with a perspex insert. I have found that
flush-mounting the machine in this way has made my sewing more accurate. Anyway,
to cut a long story short, I found a beauty of a cabinet and a lovely vintage
machine into the bargain. Read on for all the details!
I might not have written much about sewing recently, but that doesn’t mean I
haven’t been sewing. I’ve made a few things that I haven’t got around to
blogging about, but a few weeks ago, I finished a pair of Persephone Sailor
Pants (a pattern by Anna Allen) which I’m really pleased with. However, the
making was not without incident. Part of my reason for writing this is so that I
might remember not to be such a blithering idiot in future.
Finding myself in that rare position of having an unspent book token recently, I was browsing around in a bookshop and picked up 19th-Century Fashion in Detail by Lucy Johnston. Now, the idea that I would look twice at any book with the word ‘fashion’ in the title would have made me roar with laughter a few years ago, but since I started sewing, I have become fascinated by construction techniques, and with borrowing ideas from previous periods in which different body shapes were celebrated.
I remember it with great clarity. I was about four years old, my Dad holding me up at the window, as we looked out at the street. I had seen a girl, wearing jeans, walking down the street, and the though suddenly struck me for the first time. When my Dad answered that of course girls could wear trousers, it was like the sun coming out. I really wanted to wear trousers, and had no idea that I could. That was the beginning of my love affair with jeans.
I’ve just come out the other side of a bit of a frantic period of sewing. My brother is getting married next week, and so of course I wanted to make something nice to wear. Naturally, I have known the date of the wedding for ages, so I had plenty of time to plan what I wanted to make, and sew in a relaxed and leisurely way. Did I do that? Reader, I think we both know the answer that that rhetorical question. I did not. I waited until about a month before the wedding before starting my dress, then made some stupid decisions about a top layer, panicked, and ended up going on a three-day sewing bender less than a week before the wedding.
As I make progress with my sewing, I’m trying to be a bit more strategic about what I make. When you start out, the giddy excitement of actually making things means that you flit between patterns, making anything shiny that catches your eye. That’s not necessarily a bad thing (and it’s certainly fun), but I’ve been trying to plan a bit more thoughtfully, and think about what kinds of garments I need to give me maximum flexibility. I’ve also tried to slow down a bit, and make each item as polished as I possibly can.
You might think that one sewing machine should be enough for anyone. I have a very nice, modern, computerised, Janome sewing machine (not to mention an overlocker for finishing seams and sewing stretch fabrics), and I’m very happy with it. It sews all kinds of stitches very competently (including zig-zag stitches), and has some useful features like stopping with the needle down (or up), so that you can easily pivot around corners, pulling the bobbin thread up automatically, and even snipping the threads automatically. And yet, I found myself browsing vintage straight stitch-only machines.