Sunday, November 19, 2017

Bernina bobbins branded and otherwise

I seem to have a new Bernina in my future, and it came without a bobbin case. So I went online on Amazon and Ebay to shop.
The same companies sell on both, the prices are the same.
The one on the left came with my original 140 Activa machine.
The one on the right was the unbranded online purchase.

Unbranded has a thinner arm for thread, and a tension screw of same metal as case (original has a darker metal screw)

There are more metal working marks, but that's immaterial.

 Hole is at about the same angle from the body.

The thread hole in the arm is a little bigger. Since many bobbin cases don't have that hole, that's fine.

This is where my issues come in. The side opening on the metal spring on the side (which is how you are adjusting the thread tension) is kinda outta whack.


This is the original. All lined up nice

And this is the online purchase. The opening between the prongs is smaller, the 'tension spring'  isn't lined up in the middle. 

I could test it, and I probably will, but I've got a stack of real sewing to do and not a lot of play time.

It was about ten dollars, but I could have spent between 5 and 20 for the same model from various sellers.

So I'm glad the repair shop talked me into buying a branded one. I mean, I'm cheap thrifty, but dang.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Collection: Bernina Feet

This post is full of first world problems. I bought too many overpriced things and I have come onto an internet platform to complain about them. I get it. Nobody made me do any of this stuff, I paid for them with my own damn money, I  have a lot of them and I don't know what they all do anymore and I think some of them do the same damn thing and the manufacturer just repeated them for obscure but potentially monetary reasons.

As I understand it, if I had taken the classes that came with the purchase of the Beast, I would have been introduced to new presser feet that would enhance my sewing experience (lower my bank account by additional discount purchases). I was in dire need of a machine to finish the black out curtains for the screaming baby's room. I didn't do much shopping (or I would have bought another Elna) and I didn't take the classes.

The baby now sleeps through the night just fine. And I still have the machine.


The Number One. It does precisely what it should, given it's pole position.

It has a wide enough opening for a zig zag stitch, but short enough to not let the fabric get too sucked into the bobbin. Mostly not sucked in.
Unless you're sewing chiffon.
In all and every event, you grab the threads from the back as you start a seam, because they will make a nice nest on the bottom if you don't.
The thread slash is at just the right angle to grab pins as you sew over them, and break them or bend them or shred the seam.

 I know, you don't sew over pins. 

Number Four (two and three? If I don't have one, it's not for lack of trying) is the zipper foot, which announces "HEY, this machine can move it's needle position! Like several places!" Because of the close position of the notch holes for the needle, I can use this instead of an invisible foot and be very happy with the results.

My Elna had a wider stitch width....oh shaddup.

Though that doesn't mean I didn't buy one anyway.  Number 14, the invisible zipper foot, does not really improve the invisible zipper experience. The 'outriggers' kinda push stuff that sticks up to the side, which has a 'bushwacking' kind of satisfaction to it. Also get snagged in loose threads and cross seams, which stops everything in it's tracks. I kinda forgot I had this one; I had pulled out the Kenmore to use the plastic snap on feet to put in the invisible zip recently. They don't snag stuff.


Number Five is a blind hem foot. Also doubles as an edgestitch foot, which I seem to have sold off. The fence in the center should be paid attention to if you're edgestitching, as you can hit it and bend your needle or break it. Either one is a less than compelling afternoon of resolution. 
This also applies to the zipper feet.

I had to look up Number 37. I am not sure why a foot with a 1/8 - 1/4th variable width gap made sense to me. It likes to catch thread with it's sled runner prongs. It would have been perfect for sewing the quilt last winter, if I hadn't done all of that heirloom sewing by hand.

It would make an excellent sled. And like the zipper foot, misjudging the compatibility of the foot and stitch can have less than optimal results.

Number 20 is an open embroidery foot. So you can see what you're doing in front of the needle. Tends to make things pucker unless it's one of those ornamental stitches Bernina is so fond of; I confess I do enjoy them when I'm mending.
I call #15 the Sound of Music stitch.
You'll note there is no stretch stitch. Stay tuned for the second edition of this story, in about two weeks or when the New Beast comes back from the shop (if it comes back).

Stitch 19, for your amusement.
I do love the throttle up ability of the Beast, thus it's nickname.


Clearly, it has its charms, but it's been superseded by #56

Number 56 was the Teflon foot I could afford (it was onsale at SewExpo, unlike the other Teflon feet).

I could not part with the large stack of cash for a walking foot (the Holy Grail of the Bernina - I see several listings on Amazon for new models for over $200, which is INSANE and I assume a cash grab on someone's part. I paid $20 for mine at Value Village and cried real tears of happiness that day. I also bought a Viking model walking foot and sold it for half the usual asking price for $20 on Ebay, to thank the thrift store god of Karma, and felt all warm and fuzzy inside. If I have any religion, it's that one. Leave something for the next person. Am I violating that trust by telling you this story? If so, pretend we didn't discuss this)

I have clearly worn it down, but it was worth it. One of the features of the Beast is that it still has variable pressure on the presser foot. I back off a couple of ticks, use this foot, and I'm sliding along. I am about one project short of putting 'magic'* tape on the bottom.
  
Number 29 is a spring loaded quilting foot, and this is the second time I've put it on the machine. It came with the machine (to be precise, the Beast is the Activa 140 'Patchwork') as a part of the deal. It seems it should be for mending, but it's not and it doesn't. It gets stuck.

Oh wait, I do have number 3. This is a buttonhole foot.

The grooves are for holding thin cord in place as you stitch over with the automatic buttonhole setting.. 

I can actually do a corded buttonhole by hand. And only by hand. The buttonhole on the Beast is not reliable,  it won't do anything the same way twice. It's about.....20 years old, so I understand how the all over timing of this machine and it's computerized settings might not match the timing of the feed dogs. But there is nothing automatic about the buttonhole anymore. I just do the foursided one with a satin stitch and call it a day.

As weird as this is going to seem, the enormous groove of Number  64 is easier for me to use for basting piping. It is a rolled hem foot (they sell several sizes of these, none of which i have ever gotten the knack of) 

What is does have is the small round stitch hole, which is very good for teeny hems in flimsy fabric. So even if my rolling skills stink (I can get about three inches right and then I lose it), it's still handy enough.

This group photo gives you an idea of the open space for the needle. Also the thread slot angle. Why are all the slots open to the right, when the harp space opens to the left?  The threading action is counterintuitive to my brain (remembering that I'm holding the threads to the back when I'm starting the stitching. 
Number Three grabs pins less often than the others, which seems wrong to me, but it skips more (less metal to hold the fabric down while the needle pulls up). 

yes, I know, you don't sew over pins.
I do. 
Very very carefully.


I have more feet. I have a walking foot in the drawer under the manuals. I have used it a couple of times. I will use it again. 
I have to go hang my head in shame for the rest of the week. As often as I mock the Bernina, I am a slave to the Bernina. 
Because vroooooooooom.

I am in the process of cleaning up the sewing room and maybe we have a new Beast in the laboratory. One with a stretch stitch.

It took a lickin' getting here, so we'll see.
It slipped in the case and the bobbin spindle took a whack; it's not broken, but it sure isn't aligned. It's at the shop getting attended to. Hopefully any parts they need are still available. Because that is how they sold me a Bernina instead of tuning up the Elna. And maybe I've just bought a organ donor for the future.



*it's not magic or scottish. it's trademarked by 3M.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

One project completed, one to go

I find this oddly soothing. This post is just an excuse to get this onto the blog. That and I am so tired.
Four more dresses to go.

Son made Eagle Scout

See you next week.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Hemming 2017 choir dresses I misuse a new tool


They're back. As much as I think I know them cold, I learn something new every year.
Note how the side seams flare out. They are double layered (taffeta with a chiffon overlayer) and the skirts are slightly flared on the side seams. Some more than others.

The tiniest hem on one of them. Literally just turning the serged edge over and sewing.

Not nearly enough. I take thread out. I put thread in.





Their nasty disposition has not changed. God, was I drunk when I did this last year?
No. It hung out for another year on the bias seam (to the right of the safety pin).
They keep sagging and growing. Seven, eight years of sagging.


I do alter those side seams as they come in. I straighten and even them out (the skirts were cut from different sized flats and mismatched when sewn together. There were 80 of them, so I can understand the mayhem potential).

Bias seams grow.
I'd like to thank the Understanding the  Bias/tAming the Bias class I took on Pattern Review years ago for helping me understand how to deal with this.

The seams on the sides that are on the bias will stretch out with time because there's no strong warp thread holding them up (the grey rectangle area will remain the same length.

You can hang them out until they reach maximum growth, and then hem.

Ideally, you match the angle of bias (an incorrect term, but I'm kinda skimming the topic for the moment) to itself so it grows out evenly. 

But let's say you're making a lot of dresses and you're doing it all on the flat. And let's say you miscounted the sizes you were cutting, so at the end, you're sewing different sizes together to get your quota.



A fair number of these dresses have skirt A and B sewn together, and are trimmed to the shorter hem.

The two different skirt sizes sewn together (and hemmed the same) will not have the same bias angle cut on the seams and will twist. The blue line on the right will twist more because it has a greater angle difference. And will never ever ever hang straight and make me curse and rue the day I took this job until I cut that seam open, recut the angle to attempt a match and try to true them up to each other. As big a pain as that can be, it has paid off over the years I've spent with them. 

After I've cut and resewn, the inch in seam length difference isn't unusual. That's been fighting to drop, stuck against the other seam. It had to go somewhere. So yes, one side will grow more than the other, but it will happen anyway and when it's done, it will stay done.



I've been hanging these to get the chiffon layer even. Not effective on an adult flat hanger.


Using this child display half-front torso hanger has helped. As creepy as it is, it's effective. These are dresses for ten year old girls, who range in height but mostly are 24/25" around with narrow shoulders.


As for chiffon, the poly is easy to burn while I'm taking out last year's creases and putting in new ones.

Steam it up, and weigh it down to set it with the tailor board. Man, it took me a couple years to use this technique, and I cannot recommend it enough.

I hem them up, I let them down. Like the tide. An 5 or 8" hem is not unusual.

And then there's the new toy.


The line is actually red, but shows up pink in all these photos. 











So we have a new tool to add


A new alteration is to bring that right (wearer's left) shoulder and sleeve forward (this is the after photo)


I reduce the seam allowance on the back of the armsceye


And I widen it at the front
Which does turn that sleeve to the front
It's not enough to match her shoulder's inward curve, but it is as much as I can carve out of the present seam allowances to allow it to be altered BACK at the end of the season.
Because we'll be reusing these dresses again next year I'm sure.
Unless we really aren't. No promises.

I'm 34 in, 13 to go. A little behind my own deadline, but well in front of the official one. This does not even touch the new iron (wore out the steam button on the old one) or the usual back to school hubbub. Someone may be an Eagle Scout this time next week. But why not run that down to the wire? 
Isn't that what we do here?
And pardon me, but HALLOWEEN!!!!!!!
The first autumn not sewing costumes for anyone.
(cue the sad trombone).

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Instructions are the hardest part

The pattern is easy. 

Think about it: telling someone how to do something and assuming they have no prior knowledge of a thing is tough. It's very hard to assume they don't know what you already know.

This is a video from the reboot of the PBS kids show 'Zoom', where one kid tells another how to make a peanut butter sandwich, and the maker has to follow the instructions literally. They repeat this exercise several times.

How to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
(once you get past the obligatory YouTube ad, the video cues up to the beginning of the skit)

Assume nothing.

I think the dean of instructions is still Ruth Wyeth Spears.
Her work may look familiar


Very familiar


She's not complaining about this, either.

Yes, I put this right in the middle on the back.

I've spent enough time with Japanese pattern books to know that you can get a lot done with a clear illustration. I have virtually no knowledge of Japanese kanji (I know the word 'kanji' though!) but I've made enough clothes to get what the diagrams are supposed to show me and in roughly what order.

Okay, so they're doing an one piece facing above, and separate facings below.
The instructions below are from 4411, identified as 
"Simplicity Primer - Guide for cutting - sewing - detailed dressmaking"
Yes, the words are useful, but do you even read these instructions anymore?

I'll admit it, I buy patterns for instructions. I can figure out most stuff, and I have to redraft so heavily to fit me, it's barely worth the tissue and tape to cut out a new one. More often than not, I graft details from one item to a TNT.


Love that shoulder pleat!

Literally, the trick is a pleat at the shoulder line on the front piece. Nothing more than that.

Unlike this classic, just reissued, that gave everyone fits a couple of years ago. 
Hint: must use knit fabric with loads of lengthwise stretch.
The Vintage Primer is pretty short. There isn't much to this pattern.


The pattern line is perfect, dammit. Stop screwing around with it! I can SEE you....


And then they show you how to mark your fabric. I don't think my mother ...ooh. She did. I just didn't listen.

Although I've heard a big brooch works best.


See, even how to put the damn thing on! This is what I'm talking about!


And then we get into Miyake terrritory.


How does this blouse go? It's all in the diagrams in the instructions.


Just try this without the instructions. Double dog dare you.
And to be honest, the instructions are "match marks and sew". The key is marking those marks properly the first time.




This is a working muslin (bedsheet)
I still haven't gotten it to fit me, too tight in one place and too loose in another.

Yes, I know: I'm as white as a blank piece of paper. It really does look good in person on me. Really.

image from Pattern Review

Now this Miyake 1309 needed instructions. The pattern pieces are a set of rectangles and squares.
The fabric was a handpainted muslin bolt someone gave me. It took about ten years to listen to what it wanted to be. And these are the pattern pieces.
Hint: label all the marks on the pieces with tape and a sharpie. I serged the edges first. I love this dress to bits, but I still have trouble recognizing which way is front, and that's with a tag marking which shoulder is the left one. I need a diagram, like S8452!

click on this to enlarge for the life instruction you should have been given years ago.
Never stop being careful! Keep hands clear of the blade!
Dress properly!
This is the manual for the table saw in my workshop. It's older than I am!