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Oh Brother!

I don’t know how old Mom’s serger is but I do know that it is really old, old enough to have knob tensions and be extremely difficult to thread. I also know that it has been giving her fits for years. It has a hard time holding its tensions and the lower looper thread keeps breaking. She has had it in for repairs and service many times, but it just never seem to be fixed or to work correctly especially in the last several years. It was another phone call from Mom one week before Christmas, bemoaning that fact that Christmas was just one week away and that her serger would just not behave so she could get her Christmas sewing finished, that finally prompted me to push Mom again to get a new serger.

Years ago when mom’s serger started to act up, I tried to help her replace her serger. When I looked into the available sergers at that time, I found there were two types, the expensive ones, $2000 to $3000, with all the bells and whistles, and the cheap sergers, $200 to $300, with no features and that barely serged. What happened to a nice $500 to $1000 machine that had just a few features but still serged nicely? At the time, Mom was not sewing as much as she use to, so she did not want to spend a large amount of money on a new serger, so a Singer serger from Walmart was purchased.

Big mistake! The machine was horrible!

It rattled and vibrated and did not serge well at all! It was not long before mom had pushed that serger into the corner and went back to fighting with her old, original serger.

Over the years, I have kept an eye on the big expensive sergers, hoping that one might have that special feature that would make it worth the dollar amount it was demanding. But, I never found one that was worth the price. So, as mom complained about her serger, I did not know what to say. Now, I love my serger so I decided to try and help mom by finding a used serger like mine. After some time looking, I did not find a good used serger similar to mine, but I did find a lot of useful information about sergers.

It seemed that most of the newer more expensive sergers that were purchased were hated, with many owners regretting their purchase and they were trying to rid themselves of their new serger’s on eBay. Most said that because there were so many special features that the machine did not serge well or even perform the special features well. It was a bad case of featuritus. On the other hand, almost all the reviews for the cheap sergers could be summed up to one phrase – piece of crap. So once again, where were that middle of the line sergers?

This time though I found one of those great middle of the line serger’s, the Brother 3234DT. This serger had several great special features, but none that took away from it’s main function, serging.

I told Mom what I had learned and she decided to take a chance and to get one of these new Brother 4 thread with differential feed sergers. When it was unpacked and the owner manual read, I helped Mom thread the serger. It threaded very easily with color coded lay in threading, dial tensions, and even auto needle threaders. I then showed Mom the adjustable stitch length and width, and differential feed like my serger has. Mom was very excited about these features. But, Mom’s new serger had some special features that mine did not. One of these features is the auto needle threader. Another feature that this serger has is a free arm. The table portion of the serger can be removed and there is a free arm for serging cuffs and collars. Man, wouldn’t that be handy while sewing baby sleepers? An extended table also came with this serger. Once again the side is removed and replaced with an extended table that would come in very handy when serging heavy or large items. I was so excited about the extra features of this serger that I thought for a moment about replacing my serger with one of these, but then I decided that there was nothing wrong with my serger and it did not need replacing. (But, if and when my serger does need replacing, I know which serger I will look at first.)

Mom seemed very happy with her purchase. She has sewn a couple of things with her new serger so far and says it serged like a dream. No more nightmares from using that old serger. I am happy that she has a good working serger now and that she can enjoy sewing and serging once again. Plus, along the way I learned a lot about sergers that I did not know before.

So until next time, sew forth and serge on!

Plastic Bathrobe

The husband needs a new bathrobe. For years I have made him a new robe when ever he has needed one, but with one catch, I ran right to my mom for help. You see, I don’t have a pattern for his robes and Mom just took his shirt pattern and magically helped to cut him out a new robe that I would then sew together. This time though, Mom is now too far away to work her magic for me and it is high time I figure this out for myself. So, my first step in making the husband a new robe is making a pattern for it.

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I started by spreading out his old robe, covering it with my plastic sheeting and tracing the seams. I traced one front and the back on the fold. I then cut these pieces out of the plastic and laid them together. Oh boy, I was so far off. None of the seams seemed to match. So, the adjusting process began. I measured several places on his old robe and started to make adjustments to the pattern pieces. I then got out his shirt pattern to see if I was even close to a fit. The armscye gave me the most hassle. I then did some more measuring and adjusting. After several revisions, I decided I now have a working pattern.

I got out the fabric for the robe and laid it out to start cutting but then stopped. I just did not trust my pattern. So, I decided to staple my pattern together and see how it fit.  Slipping the plastic on to the husband, I quickly saw where more adjustments needed to be made especially to the armscye. I am so glad I spent the time stapling the plastic together and trying it on him first as a muslin.

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After taking out the staples, I made the adjustments to my pattern and then traced a new final pattern from the test pattern. I am now ready to cut into my fabric. Then we will see if my pattern making process worked out or not.

An Ode to Yarn

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No! No! No! No more fabric!

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Since my dreaded trip to the stash, I have purchased very, very little fabric recently. We even made a trip to see Mom and Dad, where Mom showered me with pieces of fabric she was parting with, and I only took 4 small pieces, not the usual 4 boxes. Mom and I even made a trip to the Walmart fabric department and I did not buy any fabric there at all. I am proud of myself for this but I quickly realized that the pride was in vain, that my habits had not changed, that I was just substituting the purchase of fabric with the purchase of yarn.

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My acquisition of yarn is really not my fault. Well not this time anyway…

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There are really two culprits to blame for the piles of yarn that are now accumulating next to the piles of fabric. The first is Walmart. My local Walmart just went through a remodel. Luckily, the fabric department wasn’t discontinued, but in the process, many skeins of yarn went on clearance. The clearance skein’s were mostly speciality type yarns which saddens my heart as I realized that my local Walmart would only have the basic Red Heart yarn styles and colors from now on. So, with this in mind, I started to buy. I felt that I had to stock up because my Walmart would not be carrying these yarns any longer. When Mom and I went to her local Walmart, I had to check out their yarn too and I found that they were also clearing out selected yarns as well. So, once again, I just HAD to buy it. So, as you can see, it is really not my fault. I had to buy the yarn while I could.

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The second culprit is my mother. Upon arriving at her home, she pulled me aside and said, “Look at this.”  She had purchased 5 skeins of Sensations Boucle pattern yarn at the local thrift store for $3.00 a skein. “You can have this if you want it.” For that price, I could not leave it. I quickly handed Mom the money and ran my new treasure out to the car before she changed her mind. It is now sitting in my pile of yarn, waiting for its turn to be crocheted into something amazing.

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Oh, what have I done?!? I might as well go back to buying fabric if I am going to replace it with yarn.

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Help. Please. Someone.

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Well you know what they say. The first step to solving the problem is admitting that you have a problem.

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So here goes: “Hi, my name is Lanita and I am a Fabriholic and now a Yarnaholic and I need help…”

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Does anyone know any local Yarnaholic chapters I can join?

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Well until next time…

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Flannel Pieces

While digging through the stash for flannel pieces to make blankets, I discovered that I have quite a large supply of flannel pieces that are not big enough for a blanket by themselves, most around 1/2 to 3/4 of a yard. The majority of them are baby/kid prints. Some have been living in the stash for a long time and others for only a short time, but I would like to figure out something to do with them.

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My first thought is just to piece the pieces together and make more blankets, but I hesitate for one reason. Previously, I pieced together some fleece and flannel pieces to make a blanket for a pet. I patch worked the top of the blanket and used a solid piece for the bottom. I was disappointed with the results. Because of the seams, the blanket was lumpy. To me, it seemed like it would be uncomfortable to lie on. I did not add a batting to that blanket. I have often wondered if I had added a batting if that would have solved the problem, but I was trying to keep the blanket as thin as possible. So, I would hate to use these pieces to piece a blanket together only to have it be lumpy and uncomfortable. Perhaps since I will only be using flannel and no fleece, it would not turn out as lumpy. I have also wondered if doing a french seam would make the blanket smoother. I guess I just need to try it and see what I get.

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I have also thought about making a rag blanket with the pieces, but  I have never tried to make one of those before. I don’t know if the rag blankets suffer from the same lumpy problem. My mom has made several rag blankets with denim and flannel and lumpiness does not seem to be an issue with those. I also don’t know if I want to put my washer and dryer through the fraying process. I am probably just over thinking the whole lumpy problem. What do you think?

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Because I am not convinced that I should use the pieces for blankets, I have been trying to think of other ideas. My sister makes sleepers from flannel. I have thought about doing this, but I would sure miss the stretch of the knits while making the sleepers. I also believe that the knit sleepers wear better and the babies do not out grow the knit sleepers as quickly. Since I have an abundance of knits that I can use to make sleepers with I would hate to spend the time to use the flannel. I have also thought about making slippers with the flannel. I have a simple pattern for cloth slippers for infants/toddlers. I have also bought a pattern to make slippers from fleece which I have not tried yet, but I have wondered how flannel would work out, but I guess I had better try the pattern with fleece first.

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Ok, all of you readers out there, what do you think? What should I make with these flannel pieces?

Don’t Mess With A Good Thing

After a long dry run caused by the Christmas holiday and all that entails, I have turned my sewing machine back on and I am loving every minute I spend with it. Although I was told that my next project was to be a new shirt for the husband, there are babies on the way to co-workers and soon. So, I got out the sleeper pattern and started to cut.

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Several years ago, Mom retraced her copy of the sleeper pattern for me because my copy was getting so shaved and sliced from so much use. Although I have used this new copy a couple of times, it is not quite right and you needed to do a little adjusting of the pieces as you sew. So this time, I decided to make the adjustment at the cutting table and make permanent  changes to the pattern. As I sewed the sleeper together, I was pleased with the changes I made to the sleeves and shoulder, but something went terribly wrong with the crotch and the foot with the zipper.

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Flustered, I returned back to the pattern but I could not see what had went so wrong. I decided I needed a fresh look and so I got out my original copy of the pattern. Now, not the one I adjusted years ago for stripes. It is still working well. As I cut this sleeper out, I made adjustments for missing seam allowances and cut off toe pieces and as I sewed this sleeper together, the pieces fit as they should. I still can not figure out where the re-traced copy is off or where my adjustments are off on the first sleeper, but I did decide that my time was too valuable to spend working on this problem, and that I should just switch back to my original pattern. I am going to go back and re-trace my older copy especially with my new adjustments and make another new pattern. Something just is not right with that other copy and is just not worth figuring out what.

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Now I just have to figure out if I can save the first sleeper at the sewing machine, or if I need just start again at the cutting table and make a new one. Wish me luck!

It’s In the Mail

I received a package in the mail the other day from my mom. The husband rolled his eyes and sighed as I revealed it’s contents. Mom had sent me a package full of fabric scraps. The husband exclaimed, “Don’t you already have enough fabric scraps that you don’t need Mom to send you more?” But Mom had a specific reason for sending me these scraps. The scraps are a white interlock knit with tiny black poka-dots. With some creative cutting, there is just enough scraps for a baby sleeper. Mom could see so many different designs embroidered on this fabric and just knew I would have fun picking a design and finding ribbing and a zipper to match.

I was very excited to receive the scraps as I too could see so many different designs embroidered on this fabric. As I cut the sleeper out, I had  to put a seam in the center of the back or I would not have had enough fabric. I have sewn the sleeper to the point that it is time to embroider a design on it. I started to look for a design, but I’m having a difficult time picking just one. It is definitely a little girl sleeper, and I have some very cute baby girl designs that I can stitch on it. I have several projects that are in the middle of being sewn up, and are now just waiting for an embroidery day for me to get some designs stitched on them. So I am hopeful that I can find the time soon to get them embroidered on and finished up and posted for everyone to see.

It has been a very busy summer for me this year. Much busier than I normally am and I just haven’t had very much time for sewing lately. Luckily I have been crocheting my amigurumi creatures in the few minutes of downtime I’ve had and while traveling or I probably wouldn’t have anything to post at all.

Almost

Mom called several weeks ago, very excited, because she thought she had found the original pattern to the sleepers we have been making for years. Unfortunately upon further study of the pattern, it was not the original sleeper pattern that I had used to make mine with all the time. But it was a very close match. I was still very excited to know of this pattern because of its design and the fact that it is a size 3.

Since it is a ‘vintage pattern’ and not made any longer, my husband tracked it down and bought me the pattern on e-bay. It it Simplicity Pattern Number 8326. I have some fabric ready to make all the little nephews matching sleepers this summer, and this pattern will be of great help to me. Instead of having to increase my 18 month old pattern I have to fit the two years olds, it will be much easier to cut down the size 3 pattern and possibly give them some growing room, and if I make one for the 3 year old too, well, you get the idea.

With the pattern only being one size, I considered just cutting the pattern apart and using it, but since it is a ‘vintage pattern’, I decided to trace the pieces and keep the original pattern whole. That way if it does not work out, my husband can sell it, and if it does work, out I will have a pristine pattern to make another copy from when my copy dies.

I closed my eyes and stuck my hand into the stash. Then I pulled out this yellow and white stripe knit fabric that looked as good as any of the fabrics in the stash to use as a ‘muslin’ to try out this pattern. Although in hind site, a striped fabric was probably not my best choice to try with a new pattern, but it worked out and I got the stripes matched up ok.

I traced and cut out the pattern paying strict attention to all the details. I cut all the notches and markings which I rarely do with a pattern, but I wanted to see it this pattern held any new information about sleeper making that my old, smaller pattern did not have. I also followed the pattern guide step by step for the same reason. What I learned was that I like the order I sew the original sleeper pattern together better than the pattern guide’s instructions, especially for the zipper and the collar. On my original pattern, the zipper is exposed and is used as a design element for the sleeper. On this pattern, you try to hide the zipper which was not easy with the soft, thin fabric I had chosen. I like the zipper exposed. I can then match collar, cuffs, and embroidery designs with the zipper.  The guide for this pattern instructed you to sew the zipper in before the collar, leaving the edges of the collar exposed. In my original sleeper pattern, the collar is sewn in first and the edges are hid in the turn of the zipper. It is a much cleaner look I think. I also feel that the ribbing of the collar and cuffs are too loose, so I will cut them just a little smaller next time. I did like the way the pattern did the elastic around the ankles. It gave it a nice look.

I have not embroidered anything on this sleeper yet. I usually do any sleeper embroidering during the construction because it is easier to get it hooped up that way. I don’t have to fight the zipper during the hooping of the fabric. I was anxious to finish this sleeper and see how it turned out so I did not take the time to embroidery on it while making it. Now that it is done, I may go back and add something to it. I don’t think I will have any problems sewing a design on it where it is the bigger size sleeper. My supply of rubberized sole fabric is very limited, so I did not use any on this ‘muslin’ but I did double the fabric on the soles for better wear.

All of these things are pretty minor changes to the pattern. I am thrilled to have this pattern in my collection and I believe I will be making it many more times in the future.