Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Winner and quick notes

And our winner is LuckyLibbet ... and I'll do the email, find addy, mail out thing soon. Now's time for sleep. Got work done on SWAP coat and bonded wonderfully with my "new" Singer 503 Rocketeer, Jane. And her buttonhole attachment. Must post pictures. Finished (sorta) my sweater tunic/mini dress though my serger did it's best to keep me from it. Seriously, can it not serge one stinkin' seam without a huge drama fest? On that note, can we got TEN MINUTES without a siren here? The traffic can NOT be that bad at three in the morning. Seriously. Oh, well, happy with new sweater top, DH totally enjoyed his presents (we opened them early due to coming travel) and I thoroughly enjoyed mine. Especially the chocolate. :) Now just wondering if I can take the Rocketeer to the in-laws via carry on.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pattern give-away

Trying to thin out my collection so I can fit what I have in my small sewing space. Just leave a comment in the comment area with your email address (" AT gmail" is a good form to keep spam-bots from grabbing it) and this coming Monday I'll having a little drawing and email the winner, work out shipping info, and send out your patterns!

And I'll ship anywhere in the world - it's not hard, surprisingly inexpensive, and I really like the idea of my patterns visiting far-off exotic locals. :)

Both patterns are uncut and for sizes 6-12. Enjoy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Laundry and dreams of big fluffy dresses

Laundry day! So can't wait to have our own washer and dryer. Not such a fan of having to fight my neighbors for laundry time. Or having to continually recharge the laundry card.

But anyway, in between loads I've been working on stuff for my shop and watching youtube videos and ran across this MYSTed jem. It's a short put together by Bell Telephone featuring their booth at the 1962 World Fair. It includes an early pager, touch-pad dialing, auto dialing ... all things that so part of life today. And the dress! The teen girl is wearing a wonderfully fluffy, poofy dress that looks so very, very fun.

Since I don't have nearly enough on my sewing plate (wow, couldn't even type that with a straight face) I suddenly want to make a similar dress for my 2010 Easter dress. Never mind that I've NEVER had a special easter dress ... usually it's whatever's clean that morning. But I want a fluffy dress to sashay around in. Actually what I REALLY want to do is wear it to Disneyland since, for me, early 60 fashion and music are indelibly tied with The Mouse's original home. This is what happens when you raise your kid on old Disney specials. Just warning you parents. But we're not going to be anywhere near southern CA anytime soon (or Florida, for that matter) so church and school are second best. I guess I can wear it when working from home but I'd be afraid of mistaking the skirt for part of the fabric I'm supposed to cut.

Anyway, I've already got a great pattern to use, so no excuses for not at least dreaming a bit!

This was from a box in my friend's mom's neighbor's home ... apparently when the neighbor died I was the first person in that chain that sewed so I got a small collection of these patterns. And they're close to my size so all the better! It even came with a petticoat pattern so I can get the full fluffiness effect. :)

So what do you think? Fun post Christmas project or totally insane? Or (my person vote) a little of both? :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rocketeer #2 is home (temporarily)

So the second Singer 503a arrived yesterday and she's just as beautiful as her sister. Fantastic shape, great packaging, and all the same fun feet with the addition of a bunch of screwdrivers. I really wish I could keep her but I can't justify it at this point with tuition fees and a tiny apartment. And I know there's many people out there without a single working sewing machine in their life so, all things considered, finding someone to adopt her seems the best course of action. So that's this weekend's tasks.

Until then, a preview of all this baby has to offer (in addition to the top tens posted earlier):

- Nine decorative stitch cams, making the stitches shown here:

- Straight stitch plate for ... well, straight stitching. They aren't very creative with these names. But it keeps fabric, especially fine fabric, from getting pulled down into the bobbin area. Very helpful.

- Drop in bobbin. Very easy to insert. This does mean it doesn't have a free arm but it does have a large, flat stitching area. In my opinion it's an even trade.

- Three are pretty standard: A "special" foot with extra clearance for satin stitches, a zipper foot, and a standard foot. There's also a rolled hem foot (very helpful) and two extra fun ones: a gathering foot and a binding foot. I can give a tutorial on using the gathering foot (which is, btw, indespensable for some home dec and most little girl's dresses) and the binding foot, if you'd like.

- Random extras - a few screwdrivers, a brush for cleaning out the machine, and ... more screwdrivers. And (not shown) a couple extra bobbins.

- Foot pedal (not shown) and a clean bill of health from the sewing repair guy.

All in all it's a very dependable and solid machine. It's all metal inside and really designed to last through just about anything. Most repairs can be done at home and parts are still readily available, just in case something happens. If it has a weakness it's in the lack of decorative stitches and buttonholes, though that second one can be fixed by purchasing a nice buttonhole attachment from ebay for less than $10, including shipping and handling. And the buttonholes that attachment makes are supposed to be absolutely gorgeous and nearly foolproof (good for me).

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Heads up on patterns for sale

Just a heads up - I've come to the sad realization that my pattern stash is simply too, too big. It can no longer fit into the boxes I'm storing it in, even after I added an extra two boxes. And I'm out of room for more boxes so (sigh) it's time to find some of these little ones new homes.

To that end I'm sorting. Some of those patterns in need of homes will get sold in my Etsy shop. Mostly the independents, Vogues, and any others that are just a little too valuable to justify giving away at this point in my student life. Others will go in a free pattern box for my students to pick through during classes and Friday sewing nights.

And some will go up here as free give-aways. :) Admittedly I've never done a giveaway before so if you have any tips or ideas on how to make them fun, tell me, please!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

And there was rejoicing

So I've been wondering for a while now what to do with Etsy. My sewing teaching job is ... well, taking off isn't the right word, but at least picking up some speed on the runway. Here's hoping this is a looooong runway or else the metaphor will turn gruesome. But anyway, with the teaching stuff keeping me moderately busy I've been seriously considering just how much time, money, and effort I want to sink into a tiny shop located in the online version of the mall of america. To continue that metaphor, I feel a bit like a kiosk stuck down a back hallway on a fairly dead wing of the mall. So for a while I've just been letting it sit. No new listings, no relistings to push things to the top, no chatting or advertising or anything else.

And, oddities of oddities, today I sold two robes. My first two robes. And I sold them. Two different people. Just a few minutes apart from each other. And (just to continue the oddities) one lives close to my hometown, the other is right near DH's hometown. Both also appear to be men buying for their wives which, IMHO, makes them very, very good husbands. :)

So this doesn't make it definitive that I'll keep up the shop but it does give me the money to sink just a bit more into stock and try out more sizes. Maybe take the time to investigate turning the basic pieces into a well written first sewing pattern. Hey, if nothing else, my sudden popularity has given me new energy for the store!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Tour of the Rocketeer

Loving my new machine so much!

Haven't had a chance to sew too much on her yet, but what I've done so far has been utterly beautiful.

Things I love:

1. Two spool locations. You can perch a spool on a removable pin on top, like in the picture above. Or you can open up the top and two more pins pop up just waiting for spools. The removable pin stores neatly to the left of those two pins - you can just see it in this picture. Little details like that just make my day.

2. Adjustable presser foot. Very, very helpful. My old machine lacks this feature and believe me, I've felt that lack. Plus hidden inside that flip panel is a very clear threading diagram. Great little extra.

3. Lots of room under the presser foot. This picture taken with the presser foot dial on 0 - and see how much room there is under there? And yes, it can (just barely) sew through that large a stack of denim. Not sure how, but it can.

4. Beautiful stitch length lever. It actually twists so that the little metal "wings" clamp onto the machine, keeping the lever from moving as you stitch. Or at least that's how it works in theory. I haven't had any trouble with it slipping without the clamping so not sure how useful it is, but it's a good though. And you can do some very fine adjustments with it. To backstitch? Just move the lever up to above the fine stitching area! Very, very simple.

5. The left/right/middle needle position option. Yes, I know that most people can get through a lifetime of sewing without this option. I, however, learned on a machine with it so I've come to use it in all sorts of ways. Fantastic for edge stitching, flatfelling, and a lot of other things that I'm not remembering right now but I'm sure I've done. :) It's just one of those features I really, really like. I did discover that, when there's no cam in the machine, the stitch width lever moves the needle over to the far right so that's good if I want a bit finer adjusting as an option. Still very happy that the needle position is an option.

7. Feet! From left to right, the feet this machine came with: Binding foot (never used on of those!), zipper foot, mystery foot (i.d. anyone?). rolled hem foot, button foot, and gathering foot. I'm really looking forwards to playing with all of these (and the many others that I'm sure I'll collect over the years). Not shown is the standard zig-zag foot - it's on the machine.

8. The other little extras! Little brush, straight stitch needle plate, and needles. Ok, admittedly I'm NOT loving that this takes different needles from my other machines but those can't be TOO hard to find - after all, there's lots of people who use these older Singers, right?

9. The decorative cams. I love the idea of having a bunch of decorative stitches that you can switch in and out like disks. There's something so wonderfully tactile about it. This machine came with 9 - standard zig-zag, three step zig-zag, icicles, blind hem, arrows, jagged line, swags, sound-waves, and ribbon. And yes, those are my names for them, not the technical names. I need to get a nice sampler made with the different stitches ... I had the beginnings of one and it got thrown out in the race to clean up for company last night. Oops.

10. The sleek, sleek looks!

Some of her features I'm still adjusting to, like her drop-in bobbin (I've always had vertical before this), her lack of a free arm (but that's what the other two machines are for), and the odd foot pedal with it's heal button for speed control. So far I'm proficient at off and full speed. Getting between the two is hard with a foot that's more used to precision control with the toe-end. Oh, well, just gives me a little room to grow with this new machine!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Rocketeer: preliminary report

Rocketeer #1 (code name Judy) arrived today! Beautifully packaged - actually there was enough of those staticy, get-everywhere little foam chips to make a small beanbag chair out of. And bubble wrap. DH is seriously happy.

I still have two more chapters to read in my book (due tomorrow - dratted schoolwork getting in the way of life!) before I can do the pictures thing and play with her as fully as I'd like but did test her out a little - really, how could I resist?

And, for the record, 12 layers of denim without slowing down. :) 16 (!!!) was a little much for it - every few stitches it would jam a little until coaxed along with the handwheel. The biggest problem, though, is that the stack of denim was so high the needle bar kept hitting the top. Seriously. That's the sort of stuff this machine can sew through without problems. Mental note- be extra careful about where I put fingers while sewing!

Monday, December 01, 2008

It's mine! Singer Rocketeer

Mine! Mine! Mine!!

So my mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Well, that's easy. A sewing machine that works consistantly, can be easily tuned here at home, makes a beautiful stitch, and has a few specific perks like an adjustable presser foot, three needle positions, and the ability to sew a beautiful buttonhole either on it's own or with an attachment.

So any of the Singer slant-o-matics (besides the straight-stitch-only ones) would make me happy. But, if I could ask Santa (or, more specifically, my mom) for just one more thing, it would be that that Singer not be any old slant-o-matic but that it'd be a Rocketeer. I like the artistry of an old black treadle-era machine, the bubbly cuteness of many modern machines, but in my book they can't hold a candle to the chic steampunkishness of the rocketeer.

So mom gave me a price limit and told me to go forth and buy my own present to make sure it was exactly what I wanted. I love my mom. :) So I bid on a machine, nearly have it, then out of nowhere another bidder emerged. Oh nos! A fierce bidding war errupted but, in the end, I lost.


So I turned to another machine. It had a hidden reserve price and a buy-it-now of $275. Worth it, but well above the limit I had. So I passed it by. Found another machine and bid on it. But then, on a hunch, put a lower bid on the machine with a reserve. And, amazingly enough, it was just enough! A few hours of nervous refreshing no other bidders had emerged and I now own a beautiful Singer 503 Rocketeer and a small box of cams, feet, and straight-stitch needle plate. So very, very exciting!

Pretty goodies...

The one mistake I made? Remember that I said I went over and bid on another machine before bidding on this one? Well, that action ends in four hours. And I'm still the highest bidder. For a machine I really don't need any longer.

Oops. See, this is why I don't Ebay. Stupid beginner mistake. So, say, if anyone wants a singer rocketeer can I just hint that any machine with a listing ending right around 6pm eastern time today will sell with only a very slight contest? Unfortunately my max bid is just a couple dollars higher than the current so there will be a bit of bidding ... but very little. Just, you know, in case you're interested.

Fingers crossed that another buyer will show up. But, well, not crossed too tightly. We could just barely afford the second machine (DH's christmas present to me? Mine to him?) and worst case I can always pick out the best feet, cams, and all from the two and resell the other. So we'll see.

Until then I'll be dreaming up projects for my new little wonder machine!

I'm so not a gambler

I'm being forcefully reminded why I don't Ebay. Forget the fact that Ebay seems to be run by a bunch of soulless indivduals that don't mind earning their pay over the bodies of cheated sellers or that they've done very little to crack down on scams and such. No, I don't Ebay because I simply can't handle the uncertainty. I'd very happily pay more for a buy-now item just to know that I've bought it and not find myself compulsively refreshing every five minutes to see if I've been outbid when I SHOULD be working on homework. Sigh.

Oh, well. One more hour and it's over for item #1. Eight and it's over for item #2. Hopefully one will work out and I can put this whole ebayish thing behind me for a long, long while, sticking with feet being sold through buy-now and forgoing any more auctions.