Wednesday, 26 February 2014

V8095 Swimsuit and my Walking Foot

I've had some 'Tiger Lily' Australian designer brand lycra bought from The Fabric Store Sydney in my stash for about three years and seeing I am on a catch up sewing rampage last weekend I managed to make a swimsuit from V8095, now out of print. Thankfully it has been warm enough to get to the beach and take some shots. My swimsuits get almost year round use either at the beach or the pool and my previous version of this swimsuit has almost worn out. It was also good to use the beach bag blogged about in the previous post.

The material is beautiful quality, four way stretch but gutsier and firmer than anything I had bought before.  I altered the pattern a bit to update the bra section and extended the body length a bit to compensate for the firmness of the material and then fully lined it front and back with red lycra of a similar weight. This gives a slight girdle effect which I do not mind at all!

I altered the leg line to my natural leg line, going by my experience with the first version and also by looking at some favourite bikini style knickers that sit well on me. I lowered and brought the front leg line in and extended the bum curve out at the back.  I have never sewn underwear, this is as close as I get but half to one centimetre in the right place makes all the difference. 

V8095 now out of print

With the bra section I eliminated the neck pleat on the original, extended the sides and raised the mid front so I ended up with a 2 cm vertical seam instead of coming to a point at the centre fronts. To give a bit more support bra cups were sewn into the lining. My altered pattern piece is on the left.

Making the swimsuit out of two layers of very slippery material also gave me an opportunity to try out my new walking foot. I got it when I bought my new Bernina. It looked daunting in it's box of bits and pieces but it's not so complicated really. 

There are three sole plates - regular, quilting and an edging foot. All screw onto the basic mechanism which has feed dogs that guide  the material from the top in tandem with the normal feed dogs that work from the bottom.

Slippery material suddenly behaves!

Here's the edging/stitch in the ditch foot. I had to move the needle position to the left.

There are of course things you can't do with the walking feet - like zig zag - or stretch as you sew - or apply elastic but there's good old regular feet for that - but it does what it does very well. The other bits in the box are attachments for seam guides for quilting.

I used the walking foot with the regular foot attachment to machine baste my pieces together before I assembled it. The rest of the project was done with my normal sewing machine foot on the sewing machine. The seams were finished off with the serger.

Ciao for now,


Sunday, 16 February 2014

Custom Made Beach Bag

Dear Bloggers,

A few cool rainy days have reminded me that the Sydney summer is almost over. It's still humid and steamy but almost too cold to swim! Time moves on, which brings me to the title of this post and the big beach bag I just managed to finish. I'd been trying to get around to it for months and when my previous bag broke it was time to get all the materials out and do it already.

I could have bought a new beach bag of course but I wanted to make one to my specifications. That's the beauty of sewing. I can have a bag that has the dimensions I want - beach towel x big water bottle..have the number of pockets I want - three..and also have a waterproof nylon lining and chunky webbing straps.

So, better late in the summer than never, here's my beach/gym/overnight bag.


It is made from Outdoor UV resistant material, ripstop nylon lining, black webbing strapping and a black chunky zipper, all from Spotlight.

I drafted two pieces 25" x 13" for the body, two pieces
6 1/2" x 19" for the base and two pieces 6" x 19" for the top pieces. These measurements include 1/2" seams all round. One 22" plastic zip. The excess gets poked inside the bag. Half a metre of ripstop, 2.9 metres of webbing. I bought 0.8 of a metre of the outdoor material. I did not need it all but I wanted to leave room for error!

As  I mentioned,  the bag was designed to take all the stuff I throw in when I go to the beach.

No I won't show you it all! Or what I stuff in there when I go to the gym!

The order of construction went like this.
Sew the sides of the bag. Sew the webbing straps in a loop onto the outside stopping stitching 2cm from the top. Poke an extra 2 cm out the bottoms for stabiity.
Sew the two base pieces together, one on top of another with straight stitches along the seam line. The extra one is just a stabilizer. You can also sandwich a cut to measure piece of plastic into the base at this point. You can buy green eco shopping bags at the supermarkets here that include a piece of plastic, all you do is cut one to measure without seam allowances off and slip it in.

Fold over the top pieces lengthwise. Attach the zipper to the folded edges. Attach to bag along the long sides, matching centres to centres.

                                                     I was figuring it out as I went along!

Stitch the top ends, corner to corner.

Make the lining. BTW for the lining piece I made a pattern that included the base which juts out at at the bottom, instead of using the separate one. Sew the bottom edge, then across the corners in a straight line.

I made three lining pockets, a basic big one for the long side, a narrow one for a phone and a hidden one with a little zipper  for money if I did not want to carry my purse. I put in a little section behind the zip that pouches out at the bottom. This hidden purse idea was the other main reason for making my own bag, apart from the size. Please note that more pockets will require more lining material. This was all I could squeeze from my half metre but luckily it was all I wanted.

My plastic base piece was an afterthought, put in with superglue..*cough*..will do it properly next time..

I sewed in the completed lining bag to the top pieces along three sides, leaving the zipper tab end free, then turned the bag right side out and hand stitched that part.

Then it was ready to go.

By the way, I am still learning all the ins and outs of my new Bernina, which sewed all this not-so-easy fabric without a hitch. Oh and watch out for a new header...


p.s. To any readers in the south of England I hope the waters recede and life returns to normal soon.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

I bought a Bernina B380

Dear Sewists,

I'd been thinking about buying a new machine for a couple of years. My Janome Excel Pro 5124 was fine but no longer worked well* or  had all the features I wanted. It is a good machine, and one of the last really good mechanical models, in my humble opinion.

If I was going to get a new machine I wanted to treat myself. I trawled the internet. I went to a sewing machine shop that is near a Spotlight that I frequent. I spoke to a saleslady who told me that when she started work in the shop she tested every machine there and ended up buying a Bernina. On various threads and on various blogs Bernina seemed to get rapturous reviews.

* I found out later that part of the problem with the Janome was that I had been using the wrong       needles. Apparently Janome needles have a slightly different length to Schmetz needles or generic machine needles from the supermarket. Shame on me... Let's not even mention generic bobbins...
It all ends well though. The Janome will be going to a grateful friend who wants to get back into sewing.

But back to how I bought the Bernina..I wanted well made, computerised machine that would sew any material from fine silk to multi layers of denim. I wanted a good quality buttonhole and a keyhole buttonhole for jackets and coats. I wanted beautiful engineering and a machine built to last.

My budget was $2000. Electrical goods and cars cost way more in Australia and New Zealand than in America or Europe. We are held to ransom here because of geographical isolation, taxes and such.

Anyway I had narrowed it down to the B350, thinking the B380 was out of my price range. I went back to the previous sewing machine dealer to pick up my Janome which I had put in for servicing thinking I would test drive a Bernina or two.

The saleslady, a different one, was showing a customer how to use a machine but she would not even look up to acknowledge me or speak to me until I stood in front of her to get her attention. She then acted quite brusque and got her nine year old to serve me and get me my Janome. I would have been happy to come back another time but as far as she was concerned I was wasting her time even being there. Needless to say I did not test drive anything but looked up other dealers and went to one on the other side of town a few days later and was treated with a bit more - what shall I say - consideration?

This shop did not have the B350 in stock and when I told the saleslady that $2000 was my absolute limit she offered to sell me the B380 for the B350 price! Both machines had gone up in price by $599 in the new year and she said she could sell me the B380 as previous year's stock at the previous year's price. I tried not to jump up and down in glee but coolly said I would like to try it. I test drove it on a little collection of horror swatches I'd brought with me - silk, fleece, horrible polyester, denim. It sewed everything beautifully, did beautiful buttonholes, had more features than I had budgeted!

Here's Bernie....

I knew from online discussions that the '3' series does not have a foot pressure dial but honestly it does not need it. There are balance and tension dials to use if needed.

Regarding tension, it was not smooth sailing for me at first. I am not used to vertical bobbin cages and found out the hard way that it has to be threaded clockwise and pulled through correctly.
Edit: Make sure you can swing it by the tail of  thread before insertion. That way you know the bobbin is in right. Also make sure your needle is in the highest position. Hold the cage by the little lever and push it in with the little prong upright into the machine. If you are holding the lever too loosely it may not go right. Do it until it Clicks..then all is well.

B380 comes with the box of goodies that include a little set of plastic sticks for hump-jumping...oh and seven feet, a box of needles, screwdriver, oil, spool caps, an unpicker and two metal doodahs that are seam guides (I think!) It also came with an extension table and the knee lift lever. Haven't used those yet. There is a beautiful heavy canvas cover. Little touches that all say 'quality'.

The little card sitting on top of the machine in my photo comes off. It shows the 115 stitches that are programmed in and their corresponding numbers. At first I could not figure out how to make the machine do them! The manual assumes you know more about computerized machine than I did and I also found it hard to follow. How to get to the fancy stitches? I was also stumped when it came to setting up a different size of buttonhole than the 3cm one the machine does if not told where to stop. Thank goodness for the internet. I found this series on You Tube by a woman who explains all the functions step by step. She saved the day.
Heirloom Creations.  She links back to Sewing There are videos on other machines on this site also. They are all very helpful!

the goodie box..

After I had watched the YouTube videos it all made more sense. For the standard buttonhole you have to move the little red slide on the buttonhole foot 3A to the desired length, press 0 (the preset for basic buttonhole) stitch until the red marks match then press the Reverse arrow ONCE and the machine will do a straight stitch reverse to the beginning then finish the buttonhole completely and remember the size of it for as many as you want to do. Nifty.

I watched several of the You Tube videos on the B380.  I am glad I can see them again if I want to. There are also video tutorials and information on various feet on the NZ Bernina website.
Bernina New Zealand B380 Tutorials & Information

The You Tube lady recommended a number of commonsense things, like changing the feet tilted from the right. The feet are not just feet but the shank as well and go on a cone shaped prong and secure with a little lever.

She also recommends doing a swatch of all the decorative stitches to see what they are like. The machine does a lot of them with the basic no1 foot but sometimes another foot is needed. The stretch, keyhole and single straight stitch buttonholes follow the same principle as the 'O' buttonhole in that you tell the machine where to stop then press reverse once.

All the stitches have pre programmed width and length presets but these can be altered.

I only got up to testing the first 30 but oh my there are some interesting things there.

BTW to get to the stitches beyond the ten on the front keypad you have to press # then the number.
For stitches beyond 100 press # twice and '1' appears then put in the other two numbers.

I'd still be trying to figure it out if not for the internet. Maybe I am no good at reading manuals....

There are a lot more gorgeous stitches. Those faint lines showing through is the print of my scrap of curtain material.

This is the beginning of  beautiful friendship.

In the middle of all this when I had no usable sewing machine I mentioned to my daughter that Mum had given me her old Singer. Guess what? My daughter wants it and wants to take up sewing to make her own bags. So when I give her the Singer and give my girl friend the Janome three people will be sewing because of my (mis)adventures..

Edit: Jan 2016   It is almost exactly two years to the day that I wrote this and all I can say is the Bernina is still a pleasure to sew on.

Happy Sewing,


Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Winner of the February giveaway is

Wait for the Fanfare...after feeding the numbers into Random.Org the February winner is...


So, Merche, email me with your postal address and I will mail you the triple pattern package. I am sure you will look great in any of the dresses featured in these patterns. My email is under my profile.

Illustration credit: via Google.

Happy Sewing,

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Get in Vogue! February give away.

Hello Peoples,

My de stashing continues. Interestingly, a few weeks ago I happened upon several 'why shouldn't I have a stash I need it to be creative' posts in blog land. Hey girls, that's fine! To paraphrase Ecclesiastes There is a Time to Stash and a Time to refrain from Stashing.

I feel better paring down. This is totally not a criticism of those who are in a position to acquire a mother load of beautiful stuff. Especially if it comforts you rather than distresses. I just need less stuff around me right now and less stuff to move for when the day comes that I have to move my stuff. Regular readers will know that moving/selling is my ultimate goal. Bigger than thoughts of stash.

Anyway, this month's goodies are Vintage Vogue, daughter's unwanted Vogue and my 'I liked it ten years ago but don't have use for it now' Vogue.

Firstly vintage Edith Head or is that "Oh my head?" in size 12 only. It is complete but the pattern pieces for the dress have been cut out. They are unaltered.

The second is an evening dress in the fifties wiggle or baby doll style. 14-16-18. Uncut, unfolded.

The envelope itself is blurry from age!

The third was bought for my daughter in one of those three for one sales they used to hold here, but was met with 'meh' reaction. Designed for knits. 8-10-12-14. Uncut, unfolded.

So guys if you want this triple package, jump in, leave a comment. 

Draw ends Saturday  8th February. I'll announce it Sunday evening, Sydney time.

Good luck!


Sunday, 2 February 2014

Little Swing Top

Dear Sewists,

January for me was not the sewing production line that the holidays were. Life got busy and I had to make a few hard decisions. I decided not to go back to the UK to work this year. That was hard, but my time will come. I decided to do up my unit properly with the aim of selling it early next year.  Has anyone ever renovated even in a small way? It is more mentally exhausting than I thought, not to mentioned a money pit. I increased my work hours to pay for it all. In the middle of all that I saw the ideal shack-with-a-view down the coast for a very reasonable price. Oh why now? I wished had come on the market when I was ready instead of when I was not. I spent a lot of energy deciding to buy when the agent emailed me with the information that it had been sold. Next year will be better timing..sell up, buy, rent out, go over seas. You can see why sewing went to the back burner.

Also my Janome has just about died, worn out from 15 years of  heavy use. What is 15 in Sewing Machine Years? 110? A servicing revived it but only just, so seeing I am not buying plane tickets or a house in the near future my mind drifts to lovely new sewing machines. Just looking. Stay tuned hehe

My mother bless her, heard my Janome is on the fritz gave me her heavy metal workhorse Singer that she bought in the late sixties. I learnt to sew on that machine. It still stitches better than my now worn out Janome does. My daughter will inherit the Singer, because she loves it too. But at the moment, going from machine to machine I managed to make this top out of pure silk crepe leftovers. The pattern is knock off from one of her tops, a very simple thing that hangs just so.

It folds into an eeny weeny square like this.

I sent her an iPhone photo of the top when finished and she rang back making 'oo oo ah ah' noises. When I turn my daughter into a Chimpanzee I know I've done something good.

Stay tuned. I am sorting out vintage patterns for my February give away!