Saturday, November 21, 2015

New Machine Added to My Fleet: Baby Lock Soprano

Me and my new Baby Lock Soprano
Like last year, my Dad generously offered to buy me a new machine as a combination birthday/Christmas present.
My full intention was to get the Baby Lock Cover Stitch, but after thinking about how I would only use the cover stitch with knits, and would use a new, more powerful machine every.single.time I sewed....

I, ahem, found myself on Sunday morning of the ASE in Novi, MI at the Baby Lock booth, asking a saleswoman to show me a machine in Dad's price range without having done any research at all on sewing machines. (If you know me, you know how deeply unusual that behavior is!)  The saleswoman sat me down in front of the Soprano.  I responded, "Is this because I'm from New Jersey?"    The price was significantly reduced because it's a classroom model, and they would ship it to me for free (or I could have checked it with my luggage, but I declined!).
Me and my new Baby Lock Soprano
Honestly, it has many of the same features as my Brother Project Runway PC-420 that was only around $400 3 years ago, but its main outstanding feature, after sewing one costume and one dress, is its sheer power.  It sews through thick junctures pretty effortlessly, and it seems to purr while doing so.  I want to make jeans again and a jean jacket, and I'm pretty hopeful that it will handle denim easily.  Having the right tools for the job and all that.
This is without the extension table.

It also has a ton of buttons, stitches, and like 9 different kinds of buttonholes.  It is also a large machine,  with a wider bed which will make sewing bags easier, and comes with an extension table which I have not set up yet.  Over Christmas vacation (I am taking the week between Christmas and New Year's off again, YES!)  I really want to do a reorg of my sewing room.  Right now there are 5 machines on my desk; I want to reduce the number to 3.  I also want to get all the fabric into the fabric closet.  A girl can dream!

Me and my new Baby Lock Soprano
Decent posture, but forward sloping shoulders, yo!

I'll keep you posted on how it goes.  I can say that more than a year after serging with my Baby Lock Enlighten, it is a total dream machine and handles thick junctures like a hot knife through butter.  My old serger would have gone clunk-snap.  It threads itself and adjusts its own tension.  Love it!!

So thank you Dad for this new addition to my fleet of machines, and for driving over to the Fed Ex facility to pick it up and dragging it back to my place and up the stairs!
Be well!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Vogue 8944 again! What to do about the fabric?

Obligatory twirling shot

Thank you for all your birthday wishes and kind words about my Batgirl birthday outfit!!  I had a blast that day at the gym (I actually did keep the cape on for the whole class, as I liked how it looked swishing around and sort of gave the effect of a fan!)

I have been enjoying wearing my first version of Vogue 8944, so I thought I'd make it again last weekend. Since it was already traced, I was somehow able to cut and sew this dress in about 6 hours, which is somewhat of a record for me for a dress like this.  
Interior shot of the binding

About 3 hours on Halloween (yes, I sewed while dressed as Batgirl!) and 3 hours on Sunday and I was ready to wear it on Monday.

Interior shot of the binding and the serging
Armhole closeup

Interior shot of blind hem

My current method is to baste on my sewing machine, then serge it all together after fitting (since every knit has a different amount of stretch--I always baste before serging).  Then I bound the armholes and neckline, and blind hemmed it.
Amongst some red fall color, with my brown Jalie shrug
This fabric is a very interesting fabric--it's black with creamy colored bits, or at least the inside is black, but it does appear brown when worn, so I paired it with a brown shrug, tights and shoes.

I'm slowly sinking into the ground in this shot...

But when I'm wearing the dress, it's like you can see the outline of my bra.  The fabric is actually pretty thick, so it's not like the fabric is see-through.   I have played around with this (tried different bras, tried wearing it with a full slip with different bras) and come to the conclusion that wherever the dress has to stretch (even if I drape the skirt part over my bust and stretch it), it's like the creamy undertones of the fabric are much more pronounced.  And I don't like I'm thinking of ways to try to remedy using those special sharpie markers for fabric....hrmmmm....I will try it on a scrap of fabric first of course before I totally ruin this.  But I'm up for other suggestions too!
See what I mean?

In other news, I've been on Instagram for a little over 2 months now and I really love it!  I've met more "new-to-me" sewists on IG in these 2 months than I have on 5+ years of Twitter.  I'm participating in #bpsewvember and have been enjoying that too.  I need to add the "follow me on IG" button on my blog sidebar, but you can follow me at vacuumingthelawn, where I posted that I got a new sewing machine, met up with velosewer in NYC recently, and I'm now in Austin for a work trip (but flew out a day early so there will be a sewing component!)

As the sun sets over Austin this evening....
Be well!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Batgirl Birthday Costume Simplicity 1036

Today is my birthday!  And my 40th one at that!   Yay!
When the gym announced that they would be celebrating Halloween 2 days early, on my birthday, I started thinking about birthday costumes.
First I wanted to be Catwoman, i.e. the 1960's Catwoman (think Eartha Kitt and Julie Newmar).   Seemed simple enough: form fitting black shirt and black workout pants, cat ears that I probably have in the closet from a past Halloween outfit, a wide gold belt worn at the hip and a gold chain or two around my neck.  Maybe buy black gloves and hot glue some gold fake nails for extra credit.
But then I saw Simplicity 1036, Batgirl View A and I!!!!  Yes, I actually ventured into Joann's during the month of October to buy the pattern and the materials for this outfit.

Also I want to mention that it is really cool that Simplicity has the official licenses for these costumes, because it means it's the pattern for the real bat symbol and not some fake bat symbol.  :)

The cape

this one
I purchased the black satin and yellow costume satin at Joann's.  This satin is more of the "Snow White" or "Robin cape" color yellow and not Batman yellow, but I am trying to give up my perfectionistic tendencies and decided that no one at the gym will say it's a real shame that the yellow satin does not match the yellow accessories.
Falling off the edge of the table

In progress, when I wonder clipped the lining to the cape exterior
Real cape--real shoulder darts!

Notable cape points:

  • The cape is a real cape!  It has a shoulder seam so that the cape actually sits on the shoulder and snaps to the front of the shirt.   That is so much better (albeit more time consuming) than a rectangle of fabric velcroed on the back!
  • It is fully lined.
  • The cape piece was too large for my cutting table so I brought it downstairs to my dining room table where it was still too large!    
  • Also I never work with shifty fabrics so this satin was sliding around all over.
  • Also the fabric had major wrinkles so I used my Elna Press to press them out, but also wound up getting water marks on the yellow satin after using my spray bottle even though I had tested the technique on a scrap of satin first.  Oh well!
  • The bat points are really, truly defined which is awesome!!!  Though I wound up sewing with 3/4" seam allowances instead of 5/8" because I have a new sewing machine and it is different than my old one.

The shirt
  • I did not use the shirt pattern exactly.  I muslined it but it wasn't what I was looking for so I used my TNT Simplicity 9776 tank pattern (which has darts) and overlaid it with the Batgirl shirt pattern to morph it into something resembling a shirt.  
  • The fabric is Nike Dri-Fit from  
  • I did not bind the armholes, neckline, nor hemmed it because it is just a costume!  
  • Also no sleeves, because I will work out in this and don't need extra fabric on my arms.
  • I cut the bat symbol from sticky yellow felt, and tacked it on to the front since it was not staying in place.

The gloves


  • Ok, I LOLed when the directions said "You have purchased gloves."  You're supposed to unpick the side seam of the purchased gloves and insert the flanges.  
  • Instead, I used some black ponte-ish fabric to make fingerless gloves from the Burda 7287 pattern.  
  • The "glove trims" are cut from two layers of yellow felt.  I had no idea that advances had been made in felt, so I bought felt that already has sticky glue on one side, and adhered it to another piece of felt without sticky glue.
  • I sewed the glove trims into the side seam of the gloves.
  • I did have to rotate the gloves by 180 degrees to get the seam to be on the outside, then cut a hole for my thumb.  
  • By using fingerless gloves, this will make my workout a little less hot.
  • Somehow one is longer than the other, but I am trying to give up perfectionistic tendencies and it is a costume.
This one
The Utility Belt

  • The utility belt was cut using the pattern, but eliminating the seam allowances.  This means it's 2" wide
  • as I did not have a continuous piece of felt (I had only purchased the felt rectangles), the belt is actually 4 lengths of felt sewn together to make a "continuous" pieced strip.
  • The bat symbol was cut from the felt with the sticky glue on the back, then tacked on in key places.
  • I made the "belt capsules" as per the directions; though they are not interfaced, I did faithfully zig zag the black "rings" onto the capsules.
  • I hand sewed the capsules on to the utility belt
  • I wish I had interfaced the capsules and pressed it because they do tend to get squished, but again, time to release some perfectionistic tendencies!!
  • The closure is black velcro, sewn on with yellow thread in the bobbin.  Originally black thread was in the bobbin but that showed on the outside and I couldn't let that one I ripped it out and redid it.
The mask/bat ears

My ham models the face mask and ears
  • it's actually supposed to be a hood, but that would be too hot for working out
  • I cut the eye mask away from the rest of the face pattern
  • I cut it out of black sticky felt and adhered it to a layer of non-sticky felt
  • I used bra strapping to make the band, which is stitched in between the layers of felt

  • 20151028_205102
  • The ears are cut from black crafting foam, with the seam allowances cut away
  • I used a headband as a guide and cut a headband from 2 layers of black felt, stitched them together and used the bra strapping as the band.
  • The band has velcro sewn on
  • The ears have velcro hot glued on.  This way I can adjust the position of the ears
The pants
  • I decided to not re-invent the wheel and use my standard RTW workout pants instead of sewing ones from scratch.

The bootcovers

  • I'm not making the shoe covers as that would make this outfit too hot to workout in, but do you see the bat ears on the pattern?  Adorable!

Overall I am quite pleased with this outfit and can't wait to wear it to class tonight!  I'm pretty sure I won't be able to do the whole class with the cape on, but maybe half of it??
Be well!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Handstitched Heidi Boyd Fox Whimsy Stitches Kit

Soooo.....back on August 2, I was checking out at the City Quilter in NYC before sprinting to get the bus home, and saw this kit, all stitched up, on the wall.

As I was already forking over my credit card, I decided I would buy the kit online. I was disappointed to find that CQ didn't sell it online, and couldn't remember the name of the company. I did a google image search for fox embroidery kit to find it is by Heidi Boyd. There was free shipping that day on her etsy site, and when it arrived it was wrapped like a present, with a turquoise bow, felt flower and little fox pin, and even a handwritten note with a little fox drawn on the note. Sooooo cute.
I stitched this up one afternoon during my week-long vacation waaaay back in early September, the day after I stitched up the Mollie Makes foxes.  Remember these cuties???
Unlike the MM kit, this kit came with a high quality needle, yay!

It was awesome to be in my sewing room on a weekday afternoon, just stitching in a sunbeam.

I had never done anything like this before, but it has some parallels to garment sewing:

  • Iron your fabric (the embroidery cloth)!  
  • Cut out your pattern pieces!  
  • Cut your fabric pieces (the felt)!

Pop the fabric into the hoop, and start arranging the pieces.   Pin some of them on. bI was dying to use Wonder Tape, but I restrained myself.
Start hand stitching.
And stitching
And then, a few (was it 4?) hours later, it's done!  I didn't give my fox whiskers; somehow I didn't like how they looked.  I added my initials and the year.
I really liked the clever way to finish off the cloth.  The directions say to cut the fabric about an inch away from the hoop.  I went the extra mile and serged that part off (if you do that, take extra care around the metal part of the hoop, as far as its "interaction" with your metal presser foot!)
Then I made a running stitch by hand to pull it together, as per the instructions.  How neat and tidy is that??  I cross stitched as a teenager and had no idea that's how you're supposed to finish the back!
YAY!  I bought this kit again as I'd like to have a fox with me at work and a fox at home too.  Why not???  I may have bought a few other kits as well, uhmmmmm.....

Overall I enjoyed the slow, meditative stitching and the lack of fitting.  I did rip out here and there and started again, but that is par for the course for me.  And since I didn't know what I was doing, I really appreciated the clear instructions.    It is very straightforward.    Foxy!

Here's a lineup of 5 of the 9 pumpkinettes I grew this year.  The printer ran out of ink....(silly joke I borrowed from the know, where they line up kittens...)

Be well!!!  (After having norovirus this weekend, I feel that takes on special significance!  Tonight was the first time I really felt like eating again, hurrah!)