March 28, 2011

Not Happy With My Brother

This time I am talking about a sewing machine. My real, human, flesh and blood brother is awesome, so let's not confuse the two.

Yesterday I started sewing the Rose Print Dress using my Brother sewing machine, which I had been using because it has an automatic buttonholer and I needed it for the MPB shirt.  "Funny you should speak of the MPB shirt, when is there going to be a reveal?" That is what you were thinking, right?

I have been waiting for the elbow patches to arrive, they have, but oops, I have no black embroidery thread to sew them on with. I thought I did.  I will not reveal till it is 100% finished. Hubby loves it! I promise it will be only a couple of days more.

Back to that tiresome Brother of mine. I have mentioned time and again that I really do not know how to sew. What I mean by this is that other than 8th grade home-ec class, I have had no one to show me the ins and outs of the sewing world. It may be my humble opinion but nothing beats having someone standing over your should (like your mother or grandmother) to show you how it is done...and more importantly WHY things are done the way they are. Tutorials and YouTube are wonderful, goodness gracious yes, but they do not replace a real life person that you can converse with over the course of a lifetime.

My Brother has the worst tension. I don't get tension. I don't get how to adjust it. I really don't know the first thing about sewing machines. There I said it. If I step on the pedal and it does not go, I am doomed. The tension was working fine on the Brother when I was sewing with wool, substitute light weight cotton and Ugh!!! Out came the Manuel. Okay, just move the knob 'this way' that should fix it. NO! Okay, move the knob 'that way' that should fix it. NO! I sewed and turned and moved and cajoled and all I got was a damn mess. Bye-bye Brother. See you next time I need to make some buttonholes.

Out came my trusty Singer Touch and Sew. One of the reasons I believe it has such beautiful tension, is the lengths you need to go to, to thread it! The Brother takes all of 3 seconds, the Touch and Sew takes 3 hours (just kidding)...but I have to believe that all of those loops and rings and what-cha-ma-things help with the tension. I put the light weight cotton in and zippitty-do-da. Perfection!!!

I sewed together the bodice lining so I can use it as a  muslin to see what changes need to be made. Ugh! Once again with the 1950's pattern, boobs too small. Waist too big! Can I say Ugh! again? It will be a fairly easy fix but I am sure no matter what, I am going to need hefty undergarments for this dress. So I started looking on e-bay. I have plenty of new fangled ones, but just can't bring myself to wear a vintage inspired dress with new-age undergarments. I really like the idea of a one piece body-armour. That way any left over bulge may have no place else to go but up into my boobs. Sounds like a plan to me.

I just love the one below. Look at the little lace skirt attached for poof around the hips.

The problem though with buying from e-bay is figuring out the fit. What does a small mean? How much to these babies stretch? I must find NOS (new-old-stock). Really don't want someones used undergarments!!
And then there is the price. Holy smokes they are not cheap. I want inexpensive. So much for whipping this dress may just whip me up!  Is there really anything simple in this world? How the heck do those contestants on Project Runway whip those creations up in a day or two? I just don't get it!


  1. Tension gets blamed for everything. On most modern machines, just leave the tension around 3-4 and you'll be fine for just about everything.

    Try a new needle. Needles need changing every 6-8 hours (I'm not kidding, needles get burred and slightly skewed especially if you sew over your pins). If you're sewing lightweight cotton you might try some fine sharps. Maybe 80/11.

  2. I hate tension too! I never know which way to turn it! Though it's usually not my tension--usually i've missed one of the holes on threading the machine (I've got one of the older machines that has a detailed threading procedure)! Ohhh elbow patches for the shirt! I can't wait to see it! Hope your brother behaves soon :-)

  3. I could write reams about tension but just remember that the thicker the fabric the higher the top thread tension is likely to need to be. This is because the top thread is pulling the bobbin thread up and through the fabric. Obviously it's going to take more pull (higher tension) to pull the bobbin thread through leather than gauze. Does that makes sense?

    If you stitch through a single layer (or two) of cotton shirting, the stitches should lay flat, not pucker. Use that as your standard.

    Even old undergarments have sizes, no? If you're a 34B buy a 34B girdle. I think you might have more luck in a vintage store if there is one near you. Just my pre-dawn two cents...

  4. My mom had a Singer machine and used to make me some outfits when I was a kid in the 70's. I always loved my handmade clothes the best back then. My Aunt still has her Singer. I tried using it only once when making a doll and didn't do a good job on it. I guess I did not inherit my family's skills at this and other things like knitting and crocheting which I also tried and did poorly at. Love your blog - I just discovered it through Pam at Go Retro. I'll be back to look at older posts soon.

  5. When you get the undergarment problem sorted out, please let us know what you did. I'm having the same issue with finding period appropriate girdle type garments. I have the additional problem of being very small busted and most repro girdles I have found start at a b-cup.

  6. I know next to nothing about my sewing machine too. And my sewing style is completely made up, and probably all wrong! I also wanted to stop by and thank you for your kind comments about Scrappycat.

  7. (((((Scrappycat)))))) I really, really get what it is like to loose a pet after so many years. I look at my girl Angel and know she is getting on in age and already can't even think about life without her. My thoughts are with you Pam.

  8. I wish Peter WOULD write reams about tension. I'm spoiled because my Viking D1 does all of that voodoo automatically and it does it well. But now that I've got a small herd of vintage Vikings and Singers, the tension thing does rear its ugly head now and then. Like this weekend topstitching through multiple layers of camouflage and interfacing with upholstery thread.

  9. I know what you mean. I still don't get the whole tension thing.

    Thanks so much for your sweet comment on my blog post about my pregnancy.

  10. I too, am astounded that the PR folks can draft and COMPLETE a whole outfit in such a tiny amount of time. I too, don't get the tension thing and I think I may have broken mine a little pulling the thread out funny one day. So now I always test tension on a scrap. And by always I mean when I feel like it, haha!
    Anyways, we should go to the Scaasi exhibit soon!


I appreciate each and every one of your comments. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me.


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