Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Vacation First, Sewing Second.

First, I must write about where I have been.  Joe and I flew to Juneau Alaska to visit his mom.  We haven't been on an actual vacation since we flew to Arkansas for a camping trip in 2004.  We have been on short trips a few hours away, like Reno and San Francisco, but nothing as long as this trip.  Also, we stayed with our friends in Sequim Washington for a few days before taking the train back home to California.  This was our version of The Amazing Race!
Joe, Judy, Me, and Mendenhall Glacier

with Karen and Larry

We were gone ten days and have been home a while, but still recouping from all the fun.  Now back to my sewing.

I wear polo shirts most of the time.  However, until now I have not found a pattern and material to make one.

Simplicity 1286 is what I made my skinny khaki pants with, and this pattern also has a polo shirt. I also found some stretch-knit material at the thrift store which is perfect for this project.

After measuring the pattern I decided to use size small and not to lengthen the body or the arms.  Since Joann's had Simplicity patterns for $1, I cut out size small and started cutting the material.


A reviewer on pattern mentioned the left placket was too small.  After looking at the drawing which called for cutting out two left plackets,  but only showing the one being used, I figured the step of sewing the two together was forgotten.  Thus I sewed the two together and folded to make a nice looking placket.

Inside view of left-placket before folding to finish

Inside view of finished placket


I used my Singer Quantum CXL to sew the seams with a straight stretch-stitch.  Then I used my Singer 7470 with dual-thread and a twin needle to sew the hems.  This gives a little stretch to the fabric and a dual stitch for a store-bought look.  I sewed standard hems, not the two-inch hem in the directions.

I like this shirt and I am sure I will make it again.

Thanks for stopping.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Embroidery Time!

I enjoy using my embroidery machines.  It is fun to see designs come to life on fabric.  This time  I am making two tote bags and also embroidering some towels to donate to the Amador County Artists Association for their annual art auction fundraiser.

The main theme of my donation is wine because the Artists are holding a Wine Fest in which people wander through town tasting wine, then once they are feeling happy they get to bid on donated items to raise money for the arts.

I purchased some hand towels from the local box store. After washing them I embroidered wine themed art on them using my Brother SE270D.  This was a mixing of free designs from the internet and text I added.

My next design was a floral motif on a towel to try to appeal to all bidders at the auction.  This embroidery was done with my Elna 8300 (same as Janome 350) because it has a large hoop to handle bigger designs.

I added my tag to the towels.

I also made a large tote bag and a small one using some blue duck canvas fabric from JoAnn's. I followed instructions from Emblibrary and used some designs from the internet.

Side one

Side two

I followed the tote bag directions exactly for the larger bag because I made it first.  It used serged seams.  Fot the smaller bag  I flat fell the seams to give it a cleaner look.

Interior seam large bag

Interior seam small bag

It has been busy here,  hopefully my donation makes some money and my bags get good use.

Thanks for stopping.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Skinny Khaki Pants Redo, Part Two

I finally became motivated to finish my skinny khaki pants redo.  I only had the waistband and hem to finish, but somehow I couldn't look at these pants.  I like to sew, but adjusting patterns takes patience and know-how.  I have patience,  just short on know-how. Then I realized after looking at my blog it had been a month since I worked on them, so I decided I better get going.

If you remember, I am trying to make Simplicity 1286 pants more wearable for me by using some techniques in Singer, Sewing Pants that Fit.
Original pattern

The pants were way too skinny for me, so using my Singer book and suggestions from my readers, I made some adjustments to the pattern.  I like the results.  However, a little more tweaking is needed.

I used a size 38 with a size 36 waist, I shortened the darts, I made a real welt pocket, and I lined-up the belt loops better.  These were tips from my readers.

I also lengthened the rise, lengthened the legs, and adjusted the seat.  These were tips from my Singer book.

Lengthen rise

Lengthen pant legs

Tighten Seat

Here is what my redo looks like.

The pants are comfortable and getting closer to my liking, but a little more adjustment in the crotch length is needed.  Since I bought this material for $1 a yard, it is very affordable to work with.  I was only able to get enough for two pants because it was a closeout.  Hopefully I get the fit wanted with my next try.

I have been sewing these with my White 305 sewing machine.  It is a semi-industrial machine.  It uses round-shank industrial needles and industrial style bobbin and case.  The 1.3 amp motor will plow through anything and still have a beautiful stitch.  Also the length goes to 7.  This is a great basting stitch.

White 305

Thanks for stopping.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Eighties Vikings

I haven't blogged about sewing machines in a while, so I guess it is time.  My Khaki pants from my last blog are still under construction, I just needed a little break from them.

This blog is called Eighties Vikings because it is about my mechanical Vikings made in the Eighties.   I already had two,  then Joe and I found a 150 in the thrift store, with the feet, extra bobbins, the cover, and  everything except the foot control.  Foot controls can be found on eBay for $25 and up.  This wasn't a problem because I had an extra.  I took it home and  it ran great but the reverse wouldn't work.  This is common with older Vikings.  I oiled where it needed and took my blow dryer to the reverse mechanism to heat it up and free up the hardened grease and grime.  Finally with some patience the reverse button started moving.  Success!  Another working Viking added to my collection.

Then a few days later down the street from my parent's house were some items on the curb.  I immediately yelled "stop the car, I see a Viking!"  I jumped out and scooped up a machine with a case that I knew was a Viking while a man looking at the TV in the pile told me "it just needs batteries"  I thanked him, jumped in the car and lifted the cover to find a 180E without a  pedal.  I tried it with one of my other pedals and it worked, except for the reverse being non-operative.  The blow dryer and oil to the rescue again.

 I decided after acquiring two Vikings in a matter of days I better take inventory of my Eighties Vikings.

Here they are:
Viking 150 from thrift store
Viking 180E from sidewalk

Viking 190

Viking 630

The 630 is the oldest of the bunch and has an adjustable stitch width.  The 150 uses a different foot control because it is not electronic.  Otherwise the machines are similar.  Also, the 630 and the 190 have an automatic needle up/down.
Group Photo

I think these are fine machines.  They are smooth, quiet, powerful, and make a nice stitch.  The downside is the foot controls are hard to find and the bobbins can't be purchased locally.  But I can handle a few downsides with all the upsides these machines offer.

I have videos of the 630 and the 190  on youtube.

Thanks for stopping.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Skinny Pants Redo, Part One

My skinny khaki pants I reviewed in my last blog are wearable, but not quite to my liking.  I decided to try to tweak the pattern a little to make a more comfortable pair of pants.  Since I haven't really tweaked pants before, except for lengthening, this has been a learning experience.

Simplicity 1286 will have a longer rise, looser hips and backside, and a real double-welt rear pocket.  I am using Singer, Sewing Pants That Fit to help me with the tweaking.  This book is written for women's pants, but I am using the techniques for my pants.

The book guides you through all the adjustments for tight seat, loose seat, big stomach, small stomach, and all other conceivable fitting problems.

The main thing I took from this book is after making adjustments to the pattern, you baste together a pair of pants using a 1" seam allowance.  Then without the waistband, model the pants and start adjusting where needed.  Once you get the pants to your liking mark all adjustments on the pattern so you can remake the pants again.

Since I knew the waist was right on this pattern, I made a size 38 pants with a size 36 waist.  This made the legs a little wider and more room in the hips.

After some adjustments here is what I ended with.

Front looks good.

A little more final adjustments needed on rear.

Then I tore them apart to make the pattern for use next time.  Once torn apart I made the rear double welt pocket with help from Duane at The Japanese Pattern Challenge and a youtube video.

With sewing marks.

Ready to go.

Now I am going to assemble the front pockets and the fly.

Thanks for stopping.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Skinny Khaki Pants

I decided to make Simplicity 1286 with some twill material I bought from  Also, I decided to move straight on to the final product without making a muslin.  I did this because none of the reviews online mentioned sizing issues.  I did add four inches to the length.  This is normal for me.

Simplicity 1286

I have been almost following the directions.  I finished the pockets with french seams, used flat-fell seams on the inside leg, and finished the fly to my liking.

I tried them on without the waistband to see if the size needed tweaking.  They fit, but more like a skinny-pant than a relaxed fit.  I continued to finish them.

The finished project could use some tweaks, but they are comfortable.  Just more like a skinny pair of pants.  I know this is the style, but my measureents are 35x29x37 and  6'2".   I don't think I need to look any skinnier.

I will say, there is no vanity sizing with these pants.  A 29 waist is a 29 waist.  I have made pants where the 29 is more like a 32.  This is usually confirmed by reviewers on

A little quirk to this pattern is a faux back pocket.  A flap is there, but no pocket.  I would have tried a welt pocket, but there is a dart, so I am not sure.  Duane from The Japanese Pattern Challenge sent me some wonderful directions for welt pockets I will have to try on my next pair of pants.  Thanks Duane!

So, the jury is still out if I will try to remake these and add some material to the backside and the legs, plus a real back pocket, or move on to another pattern.  I am not comfortable with tweaking patterns too much.

A few pictures:
I like the front pockets

Comfortable. But a little more room needed!

Faux back pocket

Inside view
While writing this I ordered a book on pants fitting.  So I might tweak these yet.

Thanks for stopping.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Summer Mystery Project Update

It is hard to believe it is already week six of an eight week project.  Where is Summer going?

San Francisco Stitch Co. has been doing a great job supplying these weekly embroidery designs. They have been stitching out extremely nice.

I have been using my Simplicity SE3 with the regular and the extended hoops to embroider the designs.  This has been my first time using Sew What Pro software to make the larger designs.  This is accomplished by splitting a large design into two separate ones.  With the multi-position hoop,  the machine does one part, then I put the hoop on position two and embroider the second part.  It all comes out perfect.

The software does have a learning curve, but it is so much cheaper than any other I have seen.

Here are weeks one through six:

Looking good so far.  I wonder where we are going next?

Thanks for stopping.