Saturday, December 5, 2015

Making clothes

I've been focused on knitting myself tops this year, rather successfully (although there are a few unfinished tops I should get back to).  Last night and this morning I thought it was time to try sewing clothes again. Starting simple with doll clothes using some fabric scraps I inherited.  I found quite a few free, simple patterns for 18" dolls online.  For my first attempt I have used this adaptable pattern from The Craft Patch blog.

For the back I thought I'd be "smart" and avoid a hook & loop closure by sewing most of it up and leaving a little open at the top for a snap. It is a bit snug to get on. I'm glad I happened to cut the fabric so that it stretches sideways - because I forgot to consider that.
Yes, I also managed to match up the plaid - somewhat by luck since I was working with scraps.

Next up I thought I'd be adventurous and try this pattern as a coat. I made the back into the front, made sides a little wider, and went for the full sleeve. The full length sleeves are a little short for this doll (I understand not all 18" dolls have the same measurements.) These sleeves were not hemmed because I decided to skip hemming by sewing on 1" ribbon folded in half and used the finished edge of fabric at the bottom hem. Since I want to put snaps along the front, I reinforced with ribbon, which also functioned to hide the fold-over. Alas, I did not think about which way the fabric stretches when I cut and it doesn't stretch sideways. Granted, if I'd gone that way I wouldn't have the bottom finished. I did make sure the arms stretched sideways when I noticed.  Pretty cute. Could be a bit bigger. I also think I'll decorate the front a little more, or see if the buttons do that for me. A couple little spots to hand sew/tack closed better.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with these and may try a different pattern next.
I may also conceded and buy some hook & loop tape.  I still have to find my snap closures (or buy some).

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Stitches with a machine

I don't sew a lot. In the past few years I've conceded to some hand-sewing when necessary.  I own a sewing machine. I inherited it from my mother-in-law when she passed and it may have been her mother's. It is a Kenmore from the 1970s (model 1774).  It's always been finicky for me. For example, it never adjusted stitch length... needless to say, I didn't enjoy using it. But hey, sometimes having a very limited sewing machine is better than no sewing machine.  Since I wasn't using it, I was trapped in that ever familiar excuse - if I don't really use a sewing machine, why would I get a new one?
Skip forward several more years and the mending pile has grown. There are piles of fabric (recently inherited) that I'd love to sew up and ideas galore for simple projects. I begin to harass my dear hubby more frequently about the sewing machine which has now seized up entirely. We try oiling it, but the machine is too far gone for a simple oiling. Has it even ever been serviced? (Is that a thing we actually are supposed to do with sewing machines? I had no idea before. Now I know better.)  Hubby discovered there is a machine repair shop 3 blocks away, which left us with no more excuses.

Machine is now home. After paying the cost of a cheap machine (in maintenance/repairs) this old Kenmore works again! It does things it never did for me before - such as change stitch length!  All the reviews I've read or watched on this machine by seamstresses praise it, so I don't mind the cost to get her back in working order.  Sure, a girl can dream of a fancy new machine or of finding the pattern cams to fit it - but let's be honest, I just need basic stitches.  If I want fancy embroidery, I'd be much happier with proper embroidery.
I cleared off space on the "dumping ground" craft room counter in the basement (hence poor lighting) and set her up. But before I moved her downstairs, I did whip up a few items to test. (Note, I do not claim to have great sewing talent.)

First a few nose cloths - two squares of flannel with zig-zag edging. I'd serger them if I could, but I can't. I've had a couple dozen of these cloths for 8 years or so. They've withstood frequent hot washes (still in use), so I guess a serger isn't necessary.

Then I was on a roll, so I mended a shirt for kiddo and made some scrap-fabric sleeping sacks for the kids favourite toys (per their request).  Eldest has been handsewing pillows with felt, so I left some of the sleep sack pillows as cases rather than stuffing them.

Have no fear. The sewing machine will not be taking over from other stitches or spinning. I also spent many hours in the past couple of weeks combing and carding All The Fleeces. Here's the most current batch on the wheel.