Thursday, December 22, 2011

My sewing table at home - the imfamous Rockler!

The afore mentioned Singer #42 cabinet is headed for our house on Lake Wallenpaupack. I have my real sewing room in my house in Virginia. That's, of course, where most of my sewing takes place.

The original dilemma I had was with the compact space I have here and what to do with a newly aquired serger. I saw some Horn cabinets that looks like they might do the trick but they were expensive and frankly a bit cheesy looking. The solid wood ones were prohibitive.

My Father in Law is a wonderful woodworker. He does this as a hobby but makes absolutely beautiful furniture. I showed him the picture of the Horn and he then went out and found plans from Rockler that were even better than the Horn one I was looking at. He asked me what wood and I asked for cherry. This is how it looks open:

It was originally constructed for my Bernina 1010 but then I retrofitted it for my Artista 165E and later my Artista 630E (that's what's in it now). The arm holds my Bernina 1300MDC serger nicely. All I have to do is swing the chair and I can get to each of them quickly. He also made me the corresponding inserts for the various machines. This is how it looks closed:

After he finished he asked me what did I want to do with the leftover wood. Well, a matching bookcase of course:

Needless to say I spend a lot of happy sewing hours at this table!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Singer #42 cabinet, the Rocketeer and Me!

Colin and I have just "aquired" a vacation house. Actually we bought my Mom's house in the Poconos since the market is so rough and frankly it needs some TLC. Mom is thrilled about this. She's happily in senior housing and is happy the hear this one less thing to worry about and the house will be well taken care of.

Of course NO house I own and spend a lot of time in can be without a sewing machine! I thought about bringing my Bernina 1010 up there and started looking for a cabinet. I thought a good solid mechanical would be just the machine for there. Also we have very little furniture so this would be a good start.

I couldn't believe it when I saw a nearly perfect Singer 42 Art Deco cabinet on EBay, pickup only, right in the path of our Thanksgiving trip! I put in my bid and wound up winning it for a very good price complete with matching stool. This neat little cabinet has a little drawer on the left with a pencil tray and ink well and the upper drawer on the right has a thread holder and a place for the oil can. When I saw it I knew there was no way I could retrofit it for the Bernina without pretty much messing it up.

So what to put in it? I really did want a machine with zig zag capability and this cabinet was specifically made for a Singer 201-2. 15-90, 15-91 or 301 - all straight stitch. But I discovered on my Vintage Singer Yahoo group this could fit a 400 or 500 series. I've alway wanted a 503, otherwise known as a Rocketeer so I thought why not! I'm going for it! I found one that was fully refurbished on Ebay for a very acceptable price. It is a total work of art and came with all the accessories, cams, feet, an original manual and even an oil can!

So now how to make this 1961 machine fit this 1940's cabinet. We took the front lip down 1/8", removed the black spring mechanism meant for the other machines, removed the block in the back right that stops the black mechanism from going too far and dropped the back of the oil pan a tiny bit. It fits perfectly and stores the way it's supposed to! The top closes very easily. This what it looks like stored:

So, here we are, drum roll please.....

Isn't the the coolest looking combination ever?! We think that machine is the 57 Chevy of sewing machines and it would be something Jane Jetson would sew on.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The essential trench coat

One of Tim Gunn’s essential looks is a classic trench. Bernina My Label to the rescue! A recent pattern release was a classic trench coat. What a project but so worth it!

The fabric came from Michael’s Fabrics. It’s a Zegna 100% cotton rainwear fabric. So luxurious… I decided I needed to put leather buttons on it and found the perfect ones at MJ Trim in New York. Finding the leather buckles were another story. The only place I could find them was at Klein’s Haberdashery in London, England. I email them the link for the buttons and asked if the buckles they had would be a match. They said they would be suitable – now that does sound British!

How they got here was really interesting. They couldn’t ship to the US but my cousin is engaged to a guy in England and he said I could send them to his house and he would bring them on his next visit. On the way back to the airport they stopped by to drop them off to me. Now that’s service!
The pattern had the front gun flaps. I also lengthened the coat as I wanted it to be full length.
I lined it with some very nice coat weight lining from Atlanta Thread. I added a back vent and the rain shield to the back.
Needless to say this turned out to be a very lengthy project! I bought some light colored fabric from Michaels for a winter version on this with a quilted lining. I think it will be a while before I do that one.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Love my Kindle! Now how to protect it...

I got a Kindle on a recent birthday. It was a gift from my wonderful Husband. He was afraid I would think the gift was repetitious as I got him of for his last one. But no, ever since I gave it to him I wanted one too! Now, how to protect it. I'm not much for buying covers if I think I can do one better myself. The latest issue of Bernina's online magazine Through the Needle Issue 7 there were instructions to make this wonderful cover. They are a bit confusing but when I hit that AHA thought! it all came together.

I decided to embellish it with this nifty bookworm that can be downloaded free off the Bernina International Inspirations site. They have a lot of really neat downloadable embroidery designs. I took the bookmark bookworm and took out the background using the Bernina Designer 6 embroidery program. 
I also found that Windows 7 32 bit WILL work with a Bernina Artista 165E! My 630E was in for maintenance so I used the 165E. Things to note: make sure the machine has the correct driver for the USB to serial and in the advanced properties to send the correct machine is selected. So for owners of the 170E, 180E and 185E as well as the 165E - don't worry, it works!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

What to do with those beloved T shirts...

My daughter in law wanted a T shirt quilt as she didn't want to toss all her old T shirts and the memories that went with them. I said "of course"! I requested she pick the fabric as this is a really personal type project. She made some very nice choices. I used the Bernina Stitch Regular on my Artista 630E as I'm not too practiced with free form machine quilting. I don't really quilt - only when I need a quilt! This how the front turned out:

Since I used a quilt-as-you-go technique (no way was I forcing the whole quilt under this machine) so the back was pretty interesting too.

I wish this idea was around when I had some well loved T shirts but then quilting would have never occured to me at the time!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

And now for something different, home dec!

I mostly make clothes but sometimes I want to do some home dec. I hate to buy too many things I can make for myself. Right now I'm redoing the master bedroom but this is something I did a recently when I wanted a dinning room table to look a bit more like Summer.

I took a look at the website for the Bernina 800 series machine and saw a really nice table runner for Summer. I don’t own an 830E – I don’t have the room, it won’t fit in the fabulous Rockler cabinet my wonderful Father in Law made for me and frankly I didn’t want a machine that cost twice what my first new car cost! I am very happy with My Artista 630E – it does everything I want and then some. So I thought “hey, I’ll bet I can do this on my 630E!” I was right!
I used the fabulous Mega Hoop frame that allows the machine to automatically split a very large design. In the software I set up the reeds to fill the frame and just rehooped it as needed to get multiple designs. It was really easy to rehoop as it aligned easily. The embroidery designs were from the OESD’s Reeds and Grasses set.
To go along with the runner I embroidered 10 cocktail napkins that I ordered from All About Blanks. They have some pretty neat blanks for things so I’m sure I’ll be back at that site in the near future. So this is now my Summer table runner – it dress up a very basic Tommy Bahama tablecloth for sort of an island vibe.
So this is what's on my table right now

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A nice little wrap skirt that won't unwrap

I’ve been really happy with working with My Label patterns and like to take creative license with them. I wanted a wrap skirt, but not all the quirky problems with a true wraps skirt. This was done as a "faux" wrap. The fabric came from a remanent I found at G Street Fabrics. 100% linen and a true steal!
Between where the basic skirt ends and the wrap starts I inserted a hidden invisible zipper:
I also added a slit right below that for walking ease:
Also I used a combination of the multi-hoop program in the Bernina Designer Plus 6.0 and the giant Hoop-it-all to create the embroidery design as this one was done on my Bernina Artista 165E. The embroidery design was from the “Dressed in Damask” package from Emblibray. Had I used my Artista 630E (which I did not have at the time) I could have auto split it with the mega hoop.
I then added buttons for the faux closure. I really like the versatility of the My Label patterns. It’s amazing what

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The kimono jacket - perfect for an over air-conditioned office

As anyone who works in the DC area knows offices are notoriously over air-conditioned. When it's hot and muggy outside you can count on freezing in the office. That's why having some nice Summer jackets are a good thing.

This was a pattern for Bernina My Label that was released after the original package came out. There have been six more patterns released, free to anyone who has the program. I've been really happy with My Label and have tried just about every pattern so far.
 This komono jacket was quite challenge in construction. I found some really nice stripped texture linen at G Street Fabrics and some turquoise linen to make the trim with. The embroidery as a fairly inexpensive download from Emblibrary. It's worth checking every so often with them. They frequently have $1 designs that are fun to use. I used a giant Hoop-it-All for the design with assistance from the multi-hoop program on my Bernina Designer Plus software. That's the way I could split designs on my Bernina Artista 165E. On my Artista 630E I can use the Bernina Megahoop and the softwear will auto split it for me.
The back was actually one piece at the top but I liked putting the strip across it to give it more interest.
The sides are slit with hidden pockets - I love to hide pockets when I can because I never seem to have enough!
So I'm really happy with this program  - I haven't had to buy a pattern since I started using it!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The essential LBD

I don’t know what took me so long but I’ve always wanted a little black dress. It seemed kind of ridiculous that I can sew and have virtually anything I want but didn’t have one of those. Well, the Tim Gunn challenge on was just the motivation. I have the princess dress My Label pattern drafted specifically to my measurements. I used it for the day time dress but I thought it would work well for the LBD. I had some black on black striped silk fabric from Michael’s Fabrics that I had received in a bundle a while back. Those bundles are fun when offered! Any fabrics I don’t like become muslins and any I do are a great bargain. Anyone interested in this watch out on the website.

I also lined the dress in black silk charmeuse I ordered from I made the sleeves ¾ because that way it would work during either Winter or Washington’s over air conditioned Summers. There is a slit on the back. This might be the first of several black dresses. Now that I’ve made one I’m inspired to make more!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tale of two Singers

I'm very much a Bernina person but I have two wonderful Singers. The big guy is a 1938 Singer 201-2 my Mom got when she combined a birthday, Christmas and graduation from Junior High in 1942. This was a very gently used machine and came in a very handsome Queen Anne style cabinet. It's still in the very handsome cabinet.  I'm happy to have it grace my upstairs hallway and I do bring it out when I want a very quiet wonderful straight stitch. Since this is the machine I learned to sew on I fell like I'm sewing with a good friend.

The Featherweight 221 dates to 1946 and came from a very good deal on Ebay. It's in pretty good shape (although the people who had it did not baby it as much as we did the 201-2) and I might at some point want to restore it to perfect. Not sure though. Thanks to Mike at the Quilt Patch in VA it runs beautifully!

One of the cool things is they both have the nice scrolly faceplate so they really look like siblings!

And they take the same attachments and feet! I just love the two machines when I feeling truly vintage!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day Dress

This is the day dress I did for the Tim Gunn Sewalong on He suggests a day dress and when I got this fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics I knew that’s what it had to be! I think this fabric really has a Tommy Bahama feel to it.

It was the Bernina My Label basic dress pattern but, of course, I had to change some things. I put pockets on the front because I always wished dresses had pockets! Hey, I made it so I can do whatever I want with it! I put the slits in the front as opposed to the one in the back and added a placket neckline. I finally mastered doing plackets so now I want to use them more often!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Black dress pants for the Tim Gunn Sewalong

These are my completed black pants. I used the Bernina My Label flared pants but narrowed the leg. I also omitted the back pockets as I didn’t see any reason for them. The back is much smoother this way. I used a classic fly front and belt loops. The fabric was a black on black stripe silk suiting fabric I got in a Michael’s Fabric bundle a while back. This is how they look in the front:
 And this is the back:
Gotta love those My Label patterns!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bernina Design Skin and the curious bird....

Bernina has arranged with Design Skins to make skins for the Activa series and the Artista 635. I happen to have an Activa 220 which is my travel and class machine. I thought it would be fun to design a skin and Bailey would be with in spirit. Needless to say when she was it she was really curious about the machine! But then, she's an Amazon parrot so curiosity is her nature.


Design Skins are a company in Germany. They got the first one wrong - it had a dark brown background. I emailed them and in just a few hours they answered back saying it was being redone and I would recieve it shortly. I'm so impressed I think I might need a skin for my laptop cover! Now that's customer service!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

White shirt for Tim Gunn Sewalong

This is my interpretation of the white shirt. I used the Bernina My Label tailored shirt pattern and using David Coffin’s book and DVD I flat felled the seams and did the placket the way he instructed. It’s much more professional than the one that came with the pattern. The fabric came from G Street Fabric and is a white on white stripe.

I could not resist using the embroidery on my Bernina Artista 165E to do a monogram on the cuff. When I originally got that machine I didn’t realize how much I would use the embroidery but it’s great for things like this.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

In the name of organization

I've always found a bulletin board is a great thing to have in a sewing room. I like to keep it above the sewing table so I have a place for pattern pieces, drawings, ideas and samples. For years I had a plain one from an office store but I decided I wanted one more like a "work of art".

I was looking for a frame not necessarily in great shape for the frame. I would have done the "shabby chic" approach but I found a solid wood one in great shape at a thrift shop in Urbana, VA. They also had a slightly beat up cork board. Total sale was $12.

The frame had an off-white inner boarder but that was remedied with some colorful ribbon from Joann Fabric. I covered the board with some Project Runway quilt fabric with a sewing motif. Some spray adhesive took care of attaching that. I added a ruler to the bottom edge and found these very cool push pins from Push Pins and Fabric Cork Boards. So very useful and very decorative.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Rain, rain, rain....

Well, what a soggy day! At least I have the perfect jacket for keeping dry! I made this using the Bernina My Label Barn Jacket pattern and the fabric was a combination of raincoat fabric from Michaels Fabrics (which suspiciously resembles Burberry) and a very nicely coordinating Bamberg lining from G Street Fabrics. The lining was a dead on match for the inside of the raincoat fabric.

I did the front zipper as a concealed zipper and put some snaps on to finish the closure:

I made the hood detachable so if I care to remove it I can. I used buttons to attach the hood.

I did a pretty interesting welt pocket, great as I always need a place for keys and such:

This made me feel pretty stylishly dry today!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Adventures in denim...

I wanted to make a denim jacket and perfect timing - Bernina My Label released a yoked pattern jacket. For those who aren't familiar with My Label it's a custom pattern drafting pattern and includes a virtual you to try clothes on before printing. This gives you an opportunity to check the fit and preview the fabric. This was the same technology shown on Tim Gunn's show Guide to Style.

I copied the front pocket detail from a Michael Kors denim jacket I have. I also borrowed the idea of quilting a lining with fusible batting and fusing it to the inside of the jacket.

I added some embroider to the front and a coordinating design to the back. This was done using the multihoop program in the Bernina Embroidery Designer Plus software and using a Hoop-it-All to position.  This was done on my Bernina Artista 165E but on the Artista 630E I could have used the Mega Hoop and auto split it. I didn't have that machine yet.

I did find one really useful thing about pattern software. As I hate to tape stuff I invested in a 24" HP plotter so I can print pattern pieces whole. What a time saver! Colin likes the plotter - he calls it the muscle car of printers!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Yikes, don't try this at home!

After I finished the blue shirt I went on to the white with metalic thread. After cutting it out, doing the darts and pressing, this is what happened!

This came from Mood in New York - I think I'll send them an email on this. I just got back from G Street and got some much nicer white on white Pima so I'm on to that instead. That is as soon as it's pretreated (it's currently in the washer).

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tailored shirt finished!

This is the shirt I made from Bernina My Label software and using David Coffin's shirtmaking instructions. I got the placket down, got the roll hem to work for everything BUT the hem (I rolled, basted and edge stitch that) did the flat lock seams my way of doing them (not quite as narrow). I couldn't quite figure out the cuffs and color but came relatively close. Next I'm doing this in white with a narrow silver thread stripe - that'll be for the Tim Gunn Sewalong from

Thursday, February 17, 2011

After seeing this on Project Runway....

I want to try this! I'm thinking of making a day dress with fabric from Spoonflower. As much as I really love this one:  Tetris Fabric, I think I want to make my own. I've got the samples and the fabrics look really nice. Also the prices are not nearly as high as I would have thought! So when I have some time (right, what's that?) I'll try playing in Microsoft Paint and see what I can come up with!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My trusty sewing sewing companion

Since I pretty much sew along I have my trusty assistant, "Coco", help me with fitting. This was made with me being wrapped in plastic, wrapped in surgical bandages and standing quietly for 1/2 hour (not easy for me). After, cut out of the bandages, varnish the inside then reasemble the bandages to a form and coat with soap on this inside.Then pour quick rising phone, get plaster off the form, wrap in fabric and mount on stand! The stand wasn't very stable orignially but my great Father in law fixed it for me and now it's very stable. I would say next time I would coat the plaster with a good release oil - the soap had plaster sticking to the form and it was a pain to get off.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Two projects at once again

Well, as usual, I'm into more than one project at a time. I'm doing a blue striped dress shirt using Bernina My Label's tailored shirt pattern and David Coffin's shirtmaking techniques. Last night I figured out the lapped seams last night. Amazing that there's always something I've never tried before!

Alternately I'm working on this sweater:

This is with Araucania Panguipulli yarn from Yarnmarket. This would be a good project for watching TV to except Bailey wants to chew on the bamboo needles! I'm working on the front right now but I don't expect this to be another 20+ year project like the one I just threw away! If you can't finish a sweater in that time you might find you don't even like it at that point. So I decided instead of letting it torture me, I would just let go!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Well here goes.....

Never did a blog before but I thought I'd give it a shot. It might take a while to get up and running. Anyone who knows me knows my life includes sewing, crafts, theatre, pets and a whole lot more. So we'll see where this goes......