Clockwise? Or Counter-Clockwise?

Lately there has been some… animated discussion… amongst some of my sewing friends about which direction one winds and loads one’s bobbins. The question is whether clockwise or counter-clockwise is the correct way. I guess someone has posted a rather controversial declaration. Well, ‘controversial’ may be a bit overstated – compared with problems outside the sewing world, bobbin direction seems to be a bit First World Problem. But since I can deal better with FWPs than with other things, I decided to do a highly unscientific experiment.

To give you a bit of background, I have three sewing machines: a Pfaff 2130, which is my home workhorse, a Juki DDL8700 industrial straight stitch, which I keep at the office, and Bernie my emergency backup machine, for when I need to use non-straight stitches at the office, and at home when the Pfaff was in the shop. Anyways, when I bought the Juki, the tech at Reliable Sewing gave me a quick run-through of how to operate it. When he showed me how to load the bobbin and I asked, “Should I load it with the thread going over?” (which is clockwise)

He stopped and gave me a look like I had just sprouted a second head, and said, “It doesn’t matter with this machine.” And indeed, it doesn’t. I can load my bobbin with the thread coming off it clockwise or counter-clockwise, and it gives me the same great stitch.

But my Pfaff has distinct instructions to put the bobbin in the case with the thread going over.

They say clockwise…

So I decided to try a little experiment. Like I say, it is highly unscientific, but here goes:

If they say Clockwise…


We’ll give ‘em clockwise.


And we run it under the machine…


…with excellent results, as we would expect. But…


What if one day we wake up feeling rebellious?


Will our eyesight go blurry from loading it Counter-clockwise?


And more importantly – will it give us awful stitches or will it harm our machines? I put my Pfaff on the line to see what would happen and…

I can’t tell a difference.


Can you tell the difference?

To be fair, I ran the counter-clockwise configuration 5 times on muslin pieces just like the one shown. I expected to see degradation in stitch quality, but they all looked the same. It also didn’t seem to harm my machine.

That said

If your sewing machine manual says to do it a certain way, do it that way. I don’t advocate rebelling against what your machine’s manual tells you to do vis a vis threading and loading your bobbin. I don’t know every machine out there and how it is configured, neither do any of the people I know, including many sewing machine technicians. Generally speaking, I trust the manual more than many folks who purport to be experts, unless they have the exact same machine as mine.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Machines, Sewing | Leave a comment

Pattern Review: StyleArc Kate Dress

Wrapapalooza continues! This week’s wrap dress is one of the first StyleArc patterns I ever bought, the Kate Dress.

Pattern Description: (From StyleArc’s website) Fabulous versatile wrap dress – easy to wear, great for any occasion. Try it Royal Blue for that special occasion. Or in pattern to imitate Kate’s Australian wardrobe item.

This is the knockoff of the Issa Dress that Catherine Middleton wore when her engagement to William was first announced.

Sizing: 4-30. I made a 10.

Fabric Used: Sssssssslinky Mama Jersey in Greens/Black from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course). I have to gush for just a second here.

This has been one of the best selling fabrics on Gorgeous Fabrics since I introduced it. I’ve gotten more than a dozen emails from customers who rave about what a great fabric it is: easy to sew, takes a press beautifully, drapes without clinging… the list goes on and on. Well, I believed them, of course, and I was always happy to hear from happy customers. But then I pulled some for this dress and, WOW! They weren’t kidding. This is possibly the best knit I have ever sewn with, and that is saying something!

Okay, end gush. Thanks.

Machines and Tools Used: Juki home serger for the seams, Pfaff 2130 for the hems. Naomoto iron, and this fabulous shoulder stand for pressing:

One of the most useful tools in the Pressinatrix’ arsenal

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needles, ¼ inch elastic, scraps of fusible interfacing, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? Eh. The dress is beautifully drafted, so it goes together readily. The instructions are rather thin. But if you have any knowledge of sewing, this is an easy dress to make.

Construction Notes: There were two omissions on my pattern. The front notch on the sleeve and the corresponding notch on the left front armscye were missing. I put them in using the right front armscye as the guide. As I mentioned earlier, I bought this pattern when it first came out so I sent an email to Chloe asking if that has been fixed. I’ll let you know when I hear back from her.

The pattern recommends using tearaway vilene to stabilize the neckline. It also suggests optionally using elastic cut to the length of the neckline as a stay. Instead, I decided to cut the elastic to the length of the neckline stays and skip the vilene entirely. That worked really well for me. It snugs the neckline just a bit and keeps it from stretching.

You can just see the edge of the elastic peeking out.

I serged all the seams, and I used tiny, invisible stitches to overcast the opening in the side seam for the sash.

The belt goes through here

Likes/Dislikes: I. Love. This. Dress! It goes together beautifully, and the sash keeps it in place. It’s not too low cut on me and it is really comfortable to wear. The fabric, as mentioned above, is wonderful and it hides a multitude of sins. I like the pleating details on the sleeve and the waistline:

It adds a nice touch just above the wrist

Whoops, gotta go back and pick out the basting threads and trim those little threads at the edge.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Absolutely and Yes! I can see making several of these for different occasions. This is a very flattering dress. I’ll try to get a picture of it on me next week. Meanwhile, here it is on Shelley

Front

Back

And a closeup of the back so you can see the bow

Conclusion: Love love love! I’m going to bring this with me when I go out of town next week. More on that later!

Posted in Fabrics, StyleArc, Wrapapalooza | 7 Comments

Patternreview: StyleArc Tia Wrap Dress

I’m friends with Gigi (who’s given up blogging, but is still sewing up a storm), and she’s made several versions of this dress. I love hers so much that it inspired me to make one of my own for Wrapapalooza.


Pattern Description: From StyleArc’s website – TIA KNIT WRAP DRESS: This is a designer wrap dress that is easy to make and easy to wear. Make it in stripe jersey for an eye popping look or choose a plain jersey for a more understated feel. The all in one sleeve and shaped front overlay gives this wrap dress a point of difference to this timeless style.

Minor correction: This is a mock wrap pullover dress.

Sizing: 4-30. I made a 10
Fabric Used: Abstract Zigs Rayon Jersey – Blues/Multi from Gorgeous Fabrics (natch)

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130, Juki home serger

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needle, ¼ inch elastic, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Trim Your Knit Selvages Before Cutting Your Pattern, Anything from The Pressinatrix.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes, though the print makes it look like your eyeballs are vibrating! :)

How were the instructions? I didn’t use them, and thanks to that I had a major “doh!” moment (more shortly). When I went back and looked at them, they were fine. Typical of StyleArc, they are pretty minimal, but the pattern is beautifully drafted and goes together well.

Construction Notes: The “doh” moment I mentioned? It happened because I wasn’t paying attention, so I ended up reversing the front overlay. The right side is supposed to wrap over the left. As I say I wasn’t paying attention, so I ended up reversing it. And of course I blithely serged my side seams before I realized my mistake. Sigh. Fortunately I caught it before joining the bodice to the skirt, so it was easy to take out the side seams and redo it.

Other than that, StyleArc recommends using ¼ inch clear elastic (or in their parlance, “jelly tape”) at the neckline. I had 3/8 inch clear elastic, and I didn’t feel like running to the store to find narrower elastic. I have a stash of ¼ inch white elastic, so I used that. I also didn’t bother to use StyleArc’s neckline elastic guides. Instead I just cut my elastic about an inch shorter than the overall neckline length and stretched it very slightly as I applied it.

I serged all the seams. StyleArc gives you the option of adding elastic to your waist seam, but this fabric really doesn’t need it, so I skipped that step. I used a very narrow zigzag stitch for all the hems.

Likes/Dislikes: This is an easy dress to make (as long as you pay attention to which bodice side goes over which) and it’s super comfortable to wear. Because it’s a mock-wrap it’s very secure to wear as well. I like the way the bodice is draped. It doesn’t sit too low, and I didn’t need to do a FBA. I don’t have any real dislikes. Here you can see it on Shelley:

I didn’t bother making the self belt, and decided to style it with a leather belt instead.

Here’s the back without the belt

Closeup of the bodice so you can see that it doesn’t sit too low.

And a detail shot of the skirt showing the overlay.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes! This is a great pattern that sews up super fast.

Conclusion: While this is a short-sleeved version, I will style it with a Jacket that I made 2 years ago and boots to wear it in winter.

Throw a jacket over it for chilly days

So Wrapapalooza dress number two is done! I’m not sure which one is going to be my next victim attempt – the Kate dress from StyleArc or the original DVF. I’ll decide that tomorrow.
Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, StyleArc | 7 Comments

Was Ist Das, “Bra Catcher”?

I’ve gotten that question a lot this week. I believe I first heard of bra catchers from Els, one of the original Sewing Divas, but I can’t seem to find a post about it. I remember thinking they were a great idea, and they are perfect for preserving your modesty when wearing a wrap dress. So what is it? Essentially, it’s a tab that “catches” your bra so the bodice stays close to your body, regardless of whether you are sitting, standing or bending over. I think it’s a pretty cool idea. And on top of it, it’s super easy to make! Here’s how I do it:

First, cut a piece of boning, between 2 and 3 inches long.

I also like to round the edges of the boning with scissors or a nail file

Next make a “pocket” for the boning with a scrap of fabric. I make the pocket’s finished length about 1 inch longer than the boning. This will allow for movement and a little bit of give.

The finished width of the pocket is the same as the boning.

Slip the boning into the pocket, then invisibly stitch the open end of the pocket along the outer layer of the wrap neckline at center front.

I use small hand stitches to affix it to the neckline.

When you wear the dress, just tuck the bra catcher into the center band of your bra. This will keep your wrap dress snugly and comfortably in place.

I padded out the bra to give Shelley a closer approximation of me.


It’s a great and easy addition to a wrap dress that makes it infinitely more wearable. And it’s not only good for wrap dresses. It works for any top or dress that you want to keep from gapping. Give bra catchers a try. I think you’ll really like them, and you might even find yourself wearing more wraps!

And it’s pretty unobtrusive!


Happy sewing!

Posted in Tutorials, Wrapapalooza | 14 Comments

I Wish…

(Originally titled “Setting Up Wishlists in Gorgeous Fabrics”, suddenly I had the opening song from ‘Into the Woods’ in my head, so I changed the name)

I received an email from one of my favorite customers asking if we could implement a popular feature from the old Gorgeous Fabrics site, wishlists. Here’s some good news – we have them already, and they are even better than before!

Here’s how it works. Have you ever looked at a fabric and thought, “That might be nice to use for a dress, but I don’t have the pattern right now”? You can save that fabric in a wishlist on Gorgeous Fabrics. On each fabric’s page, there is an icon for wishlists

If you click on that icon, it will allow you to add the fabric to a wishlist.

You have one wishlist, titled “Wishlist” set up by default, but you can (and here’s a great big advantage over the old site) set up multiple wishlists for different purposes!

You can create multiple wishlists, and share them with friends or the public!

You can view your wishlist, add to or delete from it, and change quantities

You can see how a shared wishlist will look to your viewing public.

You can share your wishlists on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and email.

And you can always view all your wishlists by clicking on your name at the upper left of any screen. That will take you to your account page.

Wishlists are easy to use, and they are so helpful when you are planning a SWAP, wardrobe, or just wanting to keep track of fabrics on Gorgeous Fabrics. I hope this little tutorial helps, and

Happy Sewing!

Posted in Fabrics | 1 Comment

Wrapapalooza Week 1 Pattern Review: Vogue 8646

The first dress is a wrap! Ooo, yeah, my bad. But one week of September has flown by, and I managed to get my first of possibly four wrap dresses done. Voila, Very Easy Vogue 8486


Pattern Description: MISSES’ DRESS: Close-fitting, mid-knee length, wrap dresses A, B have front pleats, back darts and flared skirt. B: three-quarter length sleeves with elbow dart and stitched hem. Purchased belt. Separate pattern pieces provided for A, B, C, D cup sizes.

Sizing: 6-22, with bodice variations for A, B, C and D cups. I made a 12 with a D cup.

Fabric Used: Circle Print ITY jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics (sold out, sorry)

Machines and Tools Used: Home Juki serger, Pfaff 2130 (It’s back from the shop – YAY!!!!). Ham, shoulder stand, sleeveboard and of course, Naomi the Naomoto and my ironing board. The Pressinatrix must be appeased, don’t you know.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needle. Thread. That’s it.

Tips Used during Construction: There are No Hard and Fast Rules in Sewing…, Anything by The Pressinatrix, Tips and Tricks for Sewing with Knits.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? Vogue, Vogue, Vogue. I love you dearly, but… Can we please at least approach the 21st century? What is with the continued use of bias tape to finish the edges of knits? It’s not like sewing machines can’t handle sewing knits. It’s not like there aren’t oodles of videos and Tutorials on the Internet for better ways to finish edges. Let’s make a deal – you take that file from 1972 that contains the instructions for finishing necklines with purchased bias tape, and I (and the rest of the interwebs) will stop lambasting you for it. Deal?

Other than that they were fine.

Construction Notes: I used a narrow hem to finish all the edges except the sleeves, which I just finished with the hem treatment suggested in the instructions (2 inch hem with ¼ inch turned under). I do find that, when I tried on the dress, there is a bit of gaposis at the shoulders. It’s not a forward-shoulder alteration. It needs some fabric taken out evenly from the front and back at the shoulder/neckline intersection point.

Likes/Dislikes: Dislikes – Well, there’s the whole bias tape thing. Also, the armhole on this is LOW. I am really glad I didn’t make it sleeveless. I was tempted, but some pretty amazing storms blew through while I was working on this dress, and they ushered in beautiful fall-like weather so I opted to make the sleeved version. I’m glad I did. If you make the sleeveless version (or the sleeved, for that matter) I’d make a muslin of the bodice and check the armhole before you sew.

What I like? The shape. This is a very pretty silhouette. The neckline fix is easy to do and I’ll do that tomorrow. I also like the fact that this wrap sits reasonably high and doesn’t show a lot of cleavage. I’m going to sew a bra-catcher so I can wear it without ever worrying about gaping when I bend over. More on that later. I like the shoulder pleat detail:

I also just like the lines of this pattern. It’s quite flattering to a number of different figures. Here are pictures of it on Shelley. Please note that she doesn’t fill it out like I do. I stuffed a bra to try to approximate me a little better, but I’m not as skinny as she is. I’ll try to get a picture on me at some point.

The sleeves are the same length, I just didn’t set it on the shoulders correctly and I’m too tired to go upstairs and retake the picture.


Pretty good pattern matching, if I do say!

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I might, though I have 3 others in the queue to make first. I recommend it, with the caveats mentioned about the armhole and the hem and neckline finishing.

Conclusion: A good dress with nice lines. And it goes together quickly.

Happy Wrapapalooza!

Posted in Vogue, Wrapapalooza | 5 Comments

Wrapapalooza Week 1 Progress

Hi everybody! This week has been a little bit crazy. Getting kids back to school, seeing DS the oldest perform in the first football game of the season, seeing DS the younger lead the band as drum major, and in between that, going on a buying trip left not a lot of time to work on Wrapapalooza. But I did manage to get the first dress cut out and mostly sewn. I’m making Vogue 8486 in a circle print ITY as the first dress. It’s close to being done, but not quite there. Here’s the bodice on Shelley:

Made from a sold out ITY jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics

The skirt is done and hemmed. All that remains is to attach the skirt to the bodice and hem the sleeves. Hopefully that will be done tomorrow. Til then…
Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Vogue | 2 Comments

Can You Recommend a Good Dry Cleaner for my Gorgeous Fabrics?

That’s a question I get fairly frequently. I’m in the Boston area, so I know some good ones nearby, but for those not near Beantown, not so much. But here’s a hopefully helpful hint. There’s an association called America’s Best Cleaners that certifies dry cleaners for quality. The cleaner to whom I take all my really good garments is a member, and I can’t say enough good things about them – Holly Cleaners in Newton, MA. They are a half-hour drive in no traffic, and the fact that I’m willing to do that is a testament to their quality and service. The members are all over the country, so if you need a dry cleaner for your couture-quality garments, check this website out:

America’s Best Cleaners

I have no affiliation with any of the cleaners or the association, I’ve just had very good experience as a customer of Holly.

HTH and Happy sewing!

Posted in Plugs | 5 Comments

Wrapapalooza!

Here we are at the last day of August. Ay yi yi, where has the summer gone? Tomorrow, September 1, is Labor Day here in the US, and, along with the holiday, it is the start of National Sewing Month! I thought it would be fun to do a very loose sew along to mark the month. So I looked through my pattern stash and I realized I have at least 4 different wrap dress patterns. That’s when I had a lightbulb moment: let’s make wrap dresses for September! And I shall call it…

Wrapapalooza!

Here are the four patterns I pulled from my stash:

4 Weeks, 4 Wrap Dresses? We’ll see.


Clockwise from bottom left: StyleArc’s Kate, the ever-elusive Vogue 1549 by Diane Von Furstenberg, Very Easy Vogue 8646 and StyleArc’s Tia.

I have two fabrics in my stash that I will use for two of the dresses: one is a sold-out black/white print, the other is Abstract Zigs Rayon Jersey – Blues/Multi. Both are, of course, from Gorgeous Fabrics.

Whether I will make all four dresses in September is up in the air. But I think I’ll start with Vogue 8646 and the black/white ITY jersey. Today it’s really hot, so I am tempted to make the sleeveless version. That should see me through September and into cooler weather under a jacket. I am leaning toward using the Abstract Zigs with the Kate pattern, but I might use it for the DVF. I can make that decision later.

In the meantime, who wants to join me? Leave a comment and let me know if you are in, and what you’re planning to make. What other patterns for wrap dresses do you like? It can include mock-wrap, if you prefer. You don’t have to use Gorgeous Fabrics, though of course that is always appreciated. :)

Let’s have a Wrap-dacious, Wrapapalooza September! It will be fun, it will be fashionable and it will be fabulous! Okay, I’m off to check my pattern measurements and pre-wash my fabric so I can get going tomorrow.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fashion, Sewalong | 9 Comments

Pattern Review: StyleArc Tamara Top

In a continuation of One-Yard Winners, I made a StyleArc Tamara Top yesterday.

Pattern Description: “TAMARA KNIT TOP: “T” Top with interesting design lines allowing you to create your own look – colour block or use a lace or a sheer fabric to dress it up. A great basic “T” a must have wardrobe builder.”

Sizing: 4-30. I made a 10.

Fabric Used: The same as the Ursula Skirt: Novelty Bows Matellassé Knit in Off-White, and Novelty Bows Matellassé Knit in Black.

I’ll say here that these are not the optimal fabrics for this top. I wanted to try an experiment using what was left of the one yard of each fabric from the skirt. This fit the bill nicely, showing that you can use less than a yard in a size 10. But they are heavier and less stretchy than you really want for this pattern. StyleArc recommends a jersey, and I agree completely.

Machines and Tools Used: My home Juki serger to sew all the seams, Bernie the Bernina to sew the hems and topstitching.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 70/10 needle. Pro Sheer Elegance interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply (the pattern calls for Vilene to stay the neckline and corners at the shoulders, but I don’t have any. Can you even get Vilene in the US?) Thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Sew From Wide to Narrow. Just about anything by The Pressinatrix.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? Very minimal, but I didn’t need them, because this pattern is beautifully drafted and goes together without any trouble. The only tricky part is the acute corners at the shoulder insets, but even there it went effortlessly. The only thing is that the corners are not as sharp as they should be. That’s because I used a double-knit with texture rather than a jersey.

Those corners would be sharper in a lighter jersey

Construction Notes: I made a FBA. I used fusible interfacing to stay the edges that would otherwise stretch.

The inside view


I serged all the seams, and I changed the thread on the sewing machine when the hems crossed seams. I remember that was something I saw in an article about Norman Norell when I was young and it left an impression:

White in front, switching to black


I used a narrow zigzag for the hems and topstitching around the collar.

Likes/Dislikes: This is a sharp looking pattern. It even looks pretty good in a heavier fabric than intended. The sleeve length as published is a great length for going from summer into fall and winter.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I’m going to do it again! I have a black and white ITY jersey that will be perfect with plain black ITY.

Conclusion: Another one-yard winner! Here are the front and back views on Shelley:

Front…


…and back. Sorry for the lousy resolution. My good camera is at the office.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Reviews, StyleArc | 10 Comments