Tag Archive | table

The Sewing Studio – Part One of Sew It Begins

It’s Ready!” That’s what I declared the other day as I looked around my new sewing studio. The machines were in place and plugged in, the notions boxes were empty with the all the notions stored in their appropriate baskets, and the stash was organized. It was now time to sew. After almost a year of not sewing anything, both the husband and myself are in need of new shirts so that is where I decided to start sewing.

You may have noticed that I did not say that the new sewing room was ready for sewing to start. That is because I now have a sewing studio. Now, it is not as glamorous as it sounds. Since my sewing and crafting has now taken up three rooms in my new home, instead on just the one and one-half as in my previous home, I am calling my sewing space a studio. Plus a sewing studio sounds bigger and better and more exotic. Who wouldn’t want a whole studio for their sewing and crafting over just a room.

I started my first sewing project in my new sewing studio by going into the stash room where I found just the right fabric for me and the husband a new shirt and retrieved our basic sloper patterns for the pattern stash in the stash room. After laundering the fabric, I took the fabric to the prep and cutting room, which is also the crafting and amigurumi assembly room. Here, the fabric was ironed and the patterns cut out. Next, the pieces were carried into the sewing room where the sewing machines and notions reside and the sewing of the shirts began.

It took longer than expected to get to the point of sewing again because I decided to unpack the stash from the many boxes it has lived in for so many years. I placed the contents of all those boxes on wire racks so that the stash is fully visable and readily accessible. I gave the “unpacking of the stash boxes” a lot of thought before I started. I had my picture organizing method in place and it had served me well for many years, but as I organized the boxes in the stash room and opening some to see just exactly what was in each one, I realized that having the stash on the racks was a better way of organizing and using the fabric than the pictures. The husband helped be picked the correct size, weigh and style of racks and helped me assemble the racks. It was then my job to unpack the boxes. I had mixed emotions as I unpacked the stash boxes. My emotions ranged from glee and excitement to see all the precious pieces of fabric I possessed, to terror and fear that I might actually be a true fabric hoarder.

It is great fun to be sewing again. Sadly, I feel that my sewing skills had diminished with the time off, but happily, they seem to be coming back quickly. I am super excited to be sewing and crafting again.

Stay tune for details on the new shirts.

Until then, sew forth and sew on!

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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!

From the top of the Charts!

circularchartsThe patterns that come in my Crochet Today magazine have both written text instructions and a chart using symbols to show you how to crochet the pattern. In the past I have always promptly ignored the charts, and instead chose to follow the written text instructions to crochet my projects. That was about to change though. A few days back while I was searching for crochet patterns on the internet, I found a great Japanese web site with several great free patterns to crochet, P1020718but the patterns were all in the chart form. The instructions for each part of the amigurumi’s are in two charts. The first is a table with the count of each row and how many stitches are in each row, and the second is a chart with symbols. Great, I don’t know how to read those! And so I quickly decided that I wouldn’t be making any of those patterns anytime soon. But after I had thought about it awhile, I decided that the teddy bear pattern was so cute, that it was time to learn how to read and follow the symbols of the charts.

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P1020720At first, I only followed the table in the patterns. Because I have made enough amigurumis in the past I know how to increase from 6 to 12 to 18 to 24 and so on per row without really reading the instructions or, in this case, without following the chart. But, as soon as the pattern became more complicated, I had to finally learn what the symbols meant and how to follow the chart. To my surprise, it was very easy to follow the symbols of each row, and soon I found that I was no longer watching the table with the stitch counts, and I was just following along with the symbols on the chart. It was great! A whole new batch of patterns were now available for me to download and try out. I don’t know that I am ready for a really complicated chart pattern yet, but I am willing to try some more pattern that are just charts.

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P1020726As for the pattern I chose to start with, I was very unsure about the resulting pieces of this teddy bear while crocheting it up. I knew that I had followed the table and chart correctly, but I did not like the looks of the finished pieces. First came the head. When I was done crocheting the head, it was very flat and fat. I felt like I needed to add at least three more rows in the middle to make it taller. Then I studied the photo of the bear very closely and decided not to add the extra rows and just see what I got after I stuffed the head. Next came the feet. The feet came out huge and even much larger than I expected even though I knew I followed the table and chart correctly. But I didn’t know how to fix them, so I left them the way they were.

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After finishing the crocheting of the pieces of this bear and after stuffing the head and adding the muzzle and eyes, I felt a lot better about this look of this bear. Stuffing the head, helped to make it look taller, and made it look less fat. Stuffing the feet, made the feet look even bigger but I liked the big feet better after they were stuffed for some reason. And after stitching the legs and arms to the body and adding the head, I sat the bear down and fell in love with it. I really like the variegated yarn that makes it look like the bear has a sweater on and especially the white strip on the top and bottom and around the arms that encases the variegated yarn to give it a even more of a sweater look.

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P1020729P1020724As the bear sat on my table waiting for pictures, he fell over. When I picked him up, I noticed just how ugly he really was especially his big feet. Where had the cute bear I was in love with gone? I sat the bear up and there he was. The cute bear had returned. It did not take long for me to figure out that I really like the bear sitting upright but not laying down flat. I picked the bear up by his ears and folded his feet up to his body, cute. I let his feet drop, not cute. Folded the feet back up, cute. Let them drop again, not cute. The husband says I am crazy, that the bear is just as cute sitting or standing, but I have to disagree.

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I have named this teddy bear Sebastian and he is currently SITTING on my sewing table, but he will have to find a new home soon. Hopefully some one will want to love him even with those big feet.

Let’s Make A Deal

Remember the old game show with Monty Hall called Let’s Make A Deal? I  loved that show! Remember how the contestants were offered either what was in the box, what was behind door number two, or what was in Monty’s pocket? That is how I felt the other day as I opened the three mystery boxes of fabric hidden in the bottom of the sewing room closet.

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When we moved into our current home, most of the fabric made its way from the sewing room into the spare bedroom closet except for three boxes that were tucked at the the bottom of the sewing room closet. These three boxes were quickly covered with everything else, patterns, fabric scraps, UFO’s, mending, ironing, and so on. At this point, they were more of a table in the closet than boxes of fabric. After the devastating trip to the stash a couple of months ago, I knew it was time to pull these three boxes out and see what surprises they held.

On the day of the opening of the boxes, I had to start by clearing off the boxes to get down to them. This proved to be a big job in itself. After I pulled the three boxes from the closet, I opened them one at a time, and found gorgeous pieces of fabric that I forgot I even owned. I piled all the fabric into neat stacks around the sewing room, and then the hard part started. I really did not want to just poke the fabric back into the boxes and the boxes back into the closet, so, I decided to part with some of the pieces. After much touching of fabric and debating its possible uses, I had one third, one box, of the fabric put in the donation pile.

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As I sorted through the remaining pieces of fabric to keep, I ran across 4 pieces that really caught my eye and I decided that they would not be returning to the boxes at all. Instead they would be sewn up next. There was one piece for me a shirt, one piece for the husband a shirt and two scrap pieces of fleece, enough to make a couple of kid’s sweatshirts. The remaining pieces were placed back in the two boxes and moved to the spare bedroom to be counted among the rest of the stash.

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Although I am missing the table they had made, I am loving the extra space in the sewing room closet. Plus I am excited to get sewing on the beautiful pieces of fabric that I had found hidden in the boxes.