Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Back to sewing

It's been a while... I haven't touched the sewing machine and haven't really done any projects since we moved countries. So nothing for 3 years. Recently I took my sewing machine out and found that it's broken while not even being used. The feed dog was not moving the fabric. So I found a service center and submitted both my machines there for a check up. There I learned that apparently Husqvarna used to be a good European brand, but it's not good anymore. Now it's made in China. But my serger was made before the dark times, so it's still considered good quality (Huskylock 936). The regular machine is pretty bad, but I got it cheap, so nothing to complain about (except potential spending on repair I guess).

Anyway, the reason I took the machines out is because I wanted to make some baby clothes. After extensively looking around and on Amazon, I concluded that most girl clothes is way too pink or expensive if bought locally. Here in Asia all baby products are ridiculously expensive. I'm talking about the branded stuff that is still probably made in Asia, then shipped to US and then back here.

So, since my skills are probably rusty again, I decided to start easy. I found a pattern of baby pants on the web (from Made by Rae, thank you) and made one. The fabric is just a light woven cotton that I had and brought from US. A side note, the fabric store in Cambridge is super good. I haven't found a discounted fabric store around here yet, even though there must be some. We must be close to the fabric source here! So, color is just alright, nothing special, dark blue with small white flowers, but this is what I had.

So now, I need to make another one just like that since 2 identical babies are coming :)


Thursday, December 2, 2010

New project and bra cups

After a long long time of not sewing anything for real, I've finally started a new project. Good warm weather is over and I'm not inspired to make anything for the normal wear. So, it's time to get back to ballroom. I'm still thinking whether I should stone my black dress which I finished earlier this year, but my coaches are telling me "no black". Which means I have to start a new dress.

In the past several months I've been learning how to make my own patterns. In particular, I've been trying to create a pattern for a bodice such that I can just take and modify for any design I want. I think I have one that I'm happy with and I can change it relatively easily.

What I want to have in a ballroom bodice is the bra cups that are sewn in kind of like in a corset. I found this style of bodice in 2 dresses that I bought from the same designer and I absolutely love this concept. I did this in my first black dress. Of course, it's possible just to attach plain cups to a bodice like most ballroom dresses on the market have. My current dress has it this way, but it's also made such that the bodice below the cup is a separate piece and it's done without darts. Then the cup part has the dart and the plain cups are just sewn in. I guess this is the same concept without enclosing the cups into the fabrics. But I find it much more comfortable and secure to have the cups sewn in.

I've started a new bodice and I started with the covers for the bra cups. I might still tweak the pattern, but this is the result:

One thing I don't quite understand is how to keep the middle seam open. You can see that I'm keeping it by making a big zig-zag stitch on the top, but the original cup from the designer does not have it. The seam seems to open without anything holding it. If the fabric is cotton, then it's possible to just press it with iron. But this is lycra and it's almost impossible to iron it enough to hold any shape. In addition, I sew the pieces together with a zig-zag stitch and it is pretty hard to open it even though the zig-zag I use has very narrow width. The wide zig-zag works fine, but I wonder how it can be done without.

In the process, Marbles was trying to help (very helpful indeed :)

Next, I'm going to cut the rest of the bodice and sew in the cups.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New sewing life

Seems like Marbles is getting used to her new home, so I attempted to sew in her presents. By now, I have learned that it's better to allow her to participate in whatever I do, otherwise she gets anxious and increases her efforts to participate. For example, she now runs in superman fashion into the plant room whenever someone goes into it.

Here is my calm cat sewing:

There are some things I have to be careful of, though:

1. Do not allow the cat near pin cushion.
2. Watch out for the needle of the sewing machine as she wants to play with it.
3. Do not leave the cat alone with the sewing machine or she will eat the thread.

Otherwise, it's all good.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pet proof

The population of our apartment just increased by one pet. More specifically, we got a cat whom we brought from New York this weekend. She is an absolutely gorgeous Scottish fold with very nicely folded ears and humongous eyes.

Meet Marbles, our new cat.

In general, I'm not s cat person because my parents always had dogs. I actually thought I would not be able to have a cat ever. And now, see, I have my own cat.

She likes to sleep on her back.

And she likes to eat plants.

She is very smart and social. She follows me around the house and absolutely has to participate in everything I do. We got her from a Russian family and the woman there told me that Marbles like to "sew". That is, when the woman sews, cat likes to participate. This was a little concerning already then, but now I'm very concerned about the future of my sewing projects. My other concern is my plants as she already attempted to eat them. Sounds like it's time to make the apartment cat proof.

Up till now I didn't really have a dedicated sewing space, so I'm planning to make my own in the plant room. I'm not going to let her in that room anyway. Let's see what I can do.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

What are the chances?

Often, when I sew 2 pieces of fabric together, I pin them so that the pins are perpendicular to the sewing line.

When the machine (not the serger!) approaches the pin, I normally do not take the pin out. What are the chances of the tiny point of the needle to not only hit the pin but also to do it so perfectly that the pin or the needle would break? I always assumed that the chances are so small that it's not worth taking the pins out.

See this little demonstration of how it goes:

This was all nice and true until today. So, what happens when the needle and the pin are perfectly aligned is that one or both of them break. In my case, the needle did not give up, but the pin was completely jammed into the machine. It was a pretty scary scene, worth rethinking the chances and the method. The middle of the pin was completely inside while both ends were sticking out. It took me some strength and help of the pliers to remove the pin out. Look at the great shape of the pin now:

So what are the chances? I think by now I've sewn through thousands of needles like this which does keep the chances pretty small. However, they are not infinitely small and I expect same thing to happen in another year or so. And no, I'm not going to give up on the method as it makes my life so much easier most of the times.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Look who is sewing now!

In the past couple of weeks I have done some sewing, but I didn't finish anything significant to show here. There was the skirt for my new dress, there was also underskirt for my new dress... But most of the time, I've been drawing patterns of the bodysuits and making test garments to check the fit. However, the machine was occupied a lot by Tuan!

It started with the first set of the home made exercise bands we made. Tuan decided to make a bunch for his dance exercise class so I had to show him how to use sewing machine. And he was hooked. He made several more sets of the bands and I could not see my machine during that time at all. I'm not complaining, I was preoccupied with my patterns anyway. The best part is that he made me my own personal set.

Mine feature main part in light blue with dark blue top, pink threads and a logo. Also, see the improved design of the handles and the door piece. Now, it's not as hard on the hands and the door is protected from scratching.

I like the fact the we can make the bands in different colors. The original TRX bands are black/yellow combination which makes me feel like I'm on a construction sight every time I see them. BTW, I saw them this week when my trainer brought them to our session. Oh, they made me sick in my stomach. But it was worth it. Ever since I started using them, Tuan is saying I feel lighter when I dance. I guess those core exercises do help.

My only contribution was to put the DF logo on it (mainly to claim they are mine and not for the class :), which means Dance Fit, and to make a small pouch.

Here is the pouch.

It's made of thin nylon with a zipper on the top.

Besides chiffon, I've never used such thin fabric before. It didn't make sense to use a serger here, because I wanted to make very clean edges so that when the bands are inside, there is no chance of fraying.

It made me appreciate commercially made pouches like that. I didn't think much of them till now, but apparently, it's hard to insert a zipper on the top. I still can not figure out how they make the top stitch at the end of the zipper. I'm going to exercise now, see you later.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hair and dancing

We were at a competition in Connecticut last Sunday. It was a small, but nice one. It was also during the day, so we had to prepare and be there (which is a 2-hour drive) by 1 pm. This means I had a lot of things to do with my hair very early in the morning.

The results:

The close up: