La Pressinatrix est Desolé

Or is it desolée? Your Pressinatrix is so bereft, she cannot remember her proper French. Why, you may ask, is The Pressinatrix sad? Because my dear friends, Your Pressinatrix has lost the premier tool in her arsenal, her beloved Naomi the Naomoto.

Fare thee well, Naomi, you have served The Pressinatrix in exemplary fashion.
Fare thee well, Naomi, you have served The Pressinatrix in exemplary fashion.

Please pardon The Pressinatrix whilst she stifles a sob and dabs delicately at her eyes. The trouble started earlier this month when The Pressinatrix noticed that Naomi was leaking when powered off. Then two nights ago, when The Pressinatrix was perfectly pressing the seams on her new StyleArc blouse, Naomi stopped emitting steam. This was heartbreaking, and The Pressinatrix was thrown into paroxysms of grief and despair.

But the Pressinatrix is made of sturdy stuff, and following the 5 stages of grief, she ultimately picked herself up, dusted herself off, made sure her clothes were properly pressed and…

Hello, gorgeous. Come to mama.
Hello, gorgeous. Come to mama.

Stole the Reliable Steam Generator Iron from her lesser self’s alter ego’s office. She’s not using it there much anymore, anyway, since she sold her industrial sewing machines and stopped sewing at the office after hours. And The Pressinatrix’ needs outweigh any of those of her lesser self alter ego.

So now The Pressinatrix is able to resume her quest for perfectly pressed seams. On a positive note, The Pressinatrix remembered a trick learned on line (she believes it was from Kenneth King, the marvelous sewing teacher), and left the 5-liter water reservoir in place so she can easily refill the Reliable with filtered water.

Farewell, Naomi. You were a wonderful iron, and you helped bring joy to The Pressinatrix and her legions of followers. You shall be missed.

Beginning of a Season, End of an Era

Happy fall! Or spring, if you are in the southern hemisphere. For me, the autumn equinox feels like the beginning of a new year, far more than January, which has always seemed pretty random to me. With the change of season, I made some big changes in my own life. I think my mother’s passing had something to do with it. I have had a very strong urge in the last month (has it been a month already?) to purge and clean house. On top of that, with both boys off at college, I have more time and space.

So the first thing to go was…
Continue reading Beginning of a Season, End of an Era

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!

The Pressinatrix has NEEDS, Darlings

Kittens, your Pressinatrix is peeved, and has decided to put her well-shod foot down. You see, The Pressinatrix has needs, dears. Not many, and not complex. But she has them. And her lesser self alter ego, Ann, has been saying no for far too long. So The Pressinatrix has decided to take matters into her own hands. Yes, The Pressinatrix is going shopping for equipment that will perform pressing procedures perfectly, peerlessly and paradisiacally.

So here’s what I want:
Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 9.37.31 AM

Along with:
Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 9.39.14 AM

Actually, your Pressinatrix wants the professional vacuum-board, but her lesser self alter ego has firmly said no. Oh boo. Who cares about new web sites and new features? Your Pressinatrix deserves the best, n’est-ce pas? Humph. The Pressinatrix shall now pout prettily in the parlor until she gets what she wants.

(Aside from Ann, the lesser self)
So – anyone have either or both of these? How do you like them?

Happy sewing!

My Christmas Present, or Why I Love That Man

I don’t generally show off my presents. but this one really was special. Let me give you the background. Back in 1991, when I was young and pretty close to dead broke, I took the bonus money from my job and I bought myself a state-of-the-art (for then) Juki serger. It was wonderful! That baby could sew through anything, and it had the then-brand-new feature of differential feed. I can’t remember what I paid for it, but it was a princely sum for me at the time.

Fast forward to 2013. My Juki is now old enough to order a drink at a bar, and it’s still working great. I have to force-feed some things through it but overall it gives a decent stitch. Okay, I have to run some of the seams under the sewing machine to make sure the tensions don’t go wonky, but overall it works great. Then one day as I’m sewing with it, it goes “CLUNK”,  the blades don’t cut the fabric, and it starts shaking the table, which it has never done before. Maybe it’s time to take it to a pro.

I took it to a very good shop in the area. They worked on it and got it running, but it wasn’t the same. I did some home maintenance on it, and even with my loving hands at home, it still didn’t form the stitch the way it used to, and the second needle tension was wonky. So I unplugged it while I figured out what to do, and I bought a cute little Janome serger that was really cheap so I could keep serging. Alas, cheap is as cheap sews. It’s not bad, but it registers on the Richter Scale every time I hit the foot pedal. It doesn’t really like thick seams, and it really doesn’t like crossing over serged seams at places like armholes and such. Let’s face it, other than a Bernette serger, nothing sews like a Juki Serger. BTW, did you know that Bernette sergers are (or at least were) made by Juki?

So with that back story, enter DH the Great! For Christmas this year, he bought me a Juki MO654DE.

Isn't she a beauty?
Isn’t she a beauty?

This is the Millennial generation of my dear old Juki, and it is as good as its progenitor. It has a smooth stitch, a beautiful, non-bouncy motor and a clean cut edge. I LOVE it!!!! It came with all sorts of extra feet, which I haven’t used yet. I’ll try them over the next week or so. But meanwhile, this baby makes a mean stitch with no vibration, and almost no noise. I used it to make my Demi Drape Top, and it did a great job.

This thing makes a beautiful seam.

Thanks to DH for a lovely, lovely gift!

And of course, Happy Sewing!

Guess What Followed Me Home?

Meet Bernie:

Thanks to Phyllis, about once a month I trawl the local Craigslist listings. I look for industrial machines, hoping against hope that someone in Massachusetts will want to get rid of a Reece buttonholer for less than $100. No luck so far, but today, I saw a listing for a very well-priced Bernina Activa 125. Gigi, Phyllis and Leslie all rave about their Berninas, and everyone I know says the Bernina buttonhole is second to none, so I contacted the lady who was selling and arranged to go see it.

Now here’s the fun thing. It turns out that she and her husband grew up in my town, and they know a bunch of our neighbors. She works for the hospital in my town, and probably drives by my street on a regular basis. Once we all realized none of us was CL serial killers, we had a great time talking. And score! I got a gorgeous, barely used Bernina for a killer price.

Top it off with the fact that the Pats won, and it’s been a pretty good day around Ann-land.

Happy sewing!

First Project Hemmed with My New Toy Machine

Presenting New Look 6632, straight skirt. I really only wanted to make it so I could try out my new blind hemmer. It took me a few tries, but I think I’m getting the hang of it. I’m not going to bother doing a full review; it’s just a straight skirt with a yoke. Here’s the end result:
Sorry for the crappy pictures – I only had my phone with me.

A couple of notes about construction and the pattern
First up, this pattern runs Huge! I’m talking humongous. Gigantic. Vanity sizing run amok. I cut between a 12 and 14, and it swims on me. It’s more like an 18. I could go down to a 10 with room to spare. Don’t pay attention to the numbers printed on the pattern. If you’re going to make this, do a quick muslin first and be prepared to go down at least two sizes from your norm.

I made this from an Italian Designer Bouclé from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course). Since the bouclé has a fair amount of loft to it, I decided to use a poly charmeuse (since sold out, sorry) as the waistband facing to eliminate bulk. And while I was there, I figured I’d line the skirt, too. To do this, I just used the same front and back skirt pieces and basted them to the outer shell at the upper seam. Then I attached the waistband.

I used an invisible zipper and I interfaced the waistband with fusible tricot from Fashion Sewing Supply. Construction was super easy. I used my new blind hemmer. I love it! It turned out great. I can’t wait to try it on other fabrics now. I’ll donate this skirt to a thrift store near my house, but the hemmer will get lots of use on future projects.

Now I want to get back to work on my Chanel jacket. Happy sewing!

My New Toy Machine

Oh boy oh boy oh boy!

Lookit what followed me home the other day!

It’s a Consew blind hemmer. A new industrial machine dealer opened up recently. Jim had been working with my other dealer until last year. He sent around an email to the local chapter of ASDP, letting us know he had opened his shop. So I called him. I’ve been looking for a blind hemmer for a while. After talking with Gigi, I decided that a table-set industrial was overkill for my needs. Jim had this little beauty (new!) at a great price, so I bought myself an early anniversary (Gorgeous Fabrics will be 4 in a couple of weeks – can you believe it???) present. This baby will see a lot of use. DS the elder has hit his growth spurt, and it seems like every week I’m re-hemming pants and jackets. Or I would be if I had a blind hemmer. And now I do! DS the younger isn’t too far behind. I can’t wait to try Gigi’s method of padstitching with it!

Hey Gigi, want to come up to Boston and play in the snow and teach me how to use this baby?

Happy sewing!

Clean Up!

Before I could start on the Burda, I needed to clean up after the dance dresses. Honestly, it looked like a bomb filled with sequins had exploded in my sewing studio, and in my sewing room at home. Today I spent the afternoon packing away the extra dance fabric for the next time (next time?), and once I got started, it was hard to stop.

So for readers in the Boston area, I have a couple of goodies to give away over the next few days. First up is this Consew Coverstitch/Serger:

It runs and has all the accessories except the itty bitty screwdriver for the needles. My son used that for a science project and I haven’t seen it since. I think I used it four times and decided I needed an industrial. I don’t need two CS machines, but I do need space. It’s not a great machine, but it’s worth every penny. Because it’s free! Yep, free to a good home. Heck, free to a mediocre or rotten home. I just need the space. The caveat is that you have to pick it up. So if you would like it and can pick it up this week, send me an email (ann “at” gorgeousfabrics “dot” com) and it’s yours.

Over the next day or so I’ll put up a bunch of stash fabrics (they’re fabulous, trust me) and notions, so keep an eye out.

Happy sewing!

Gone Kittens, sorry, and thanks!

Lookee What I'm Getting!

I blame Gigi for this. I have been lusting after a coverstitch machine (a real one – I have a cheap home one) for quite some time. Last week I called Reliable, my industrial sewing machine dealer, and asked Bill if they had any in. As a matter of fact, they had just finished working on a Kansai 3 needle upper/lower CS machine, and they were readying it to put on the floor. I went down and looked at it, and tomorrow I will pick it up and bring it home! Woo hoo!

Actually, since that puppy, with table and motor, is so bloody heavy, and since I had two moles removed from the back of my thigh yesterday (it sucks to have a family history of melanoma, let me tell you), I’m kind of tempted to have them deliver it. I think I’ll give a call and see how much that would be.

I see a whole lotta knit sewing and binding in my future. Thanks Gigi!

Happy hemming!