Friday, January 31, 2014

McCall 6841 Drapey, Flowy Top, Done.

There's nothing Urban Recyclist about this top. New fabric, new pattern. That's how I roll sometimes.  That's why I'm an "urban" recyclist, and not a purist.

I found the fabric that was perfect for this top. Rayon/Poyl/Lycra blend knit. It's pretty with a little shimmery gold tone on the right side of the fabric. The actual color of fabric is, mmmm, pretty close but somewhere in between these two pictures below and the finished pictures.

The only thing was that it was a very stretchy and very thin knit and that I knew it wasn't going to be easy to handle. Bhhhhhuuutttt, I didn't anticipate it to be THAT hard to handle just to lay on a flat surface to cut! The pattern consists of just  two large pieces. So the fabric absolutely had to lay neatly flat on a huge surface, in double layer. I think I spent more time laying out the fabric and pattern and cut the fabric than actually sewing it.

Here is the back collar. The fabric was tricky to sew. I really felt the need for a walking foot.  I have a Singer walking foot, but I was using my Bernina 1230, and I don't have a walking foot for her (yet.... the price tag......!!). The last time I sew knit on her, it was just fine. Then again, that knit fabric was a bit thicker and more stable. I did carefully chose the needle, but that wasn't enough.

This top has dolman sleeves.

This fabric is feather light. Feels so soft on my skin. It is quite comfortable. I love the way the fabric drapes and forms the neckline. Again, the stitch on this knit didn't come out completely right. Oh, well. Still wearable, and I'm just going to move on! I did have to raise the neckline for about 2".

See the hem pucker?  In retrospect, I could have left it unfinished. The fabric doesn't fray or roll. I did have to chop off a good chunk on the hem because it was way too long for me. I shortened it as much as possible without sacrificing the draping design.

Next time I make this, I'll make the sleeves just a tiny bit longer. I like it that way. Because the sleeves were barely long enough for me, I decided to leave it unfinished -- which was the right decision!
I've done something brave. I've joined the 2014 RTW (Ready-To-Wear = store bought clothes) Fast movement initiated by Sarah of Goodbye Valentino.  I thought it would be a great way for me to make a commitment to sew garments regularly (otherwise, you know, I love free flowing, easygoing, improv sewing - not that there is anything wrong with improv sewing. I just want to improve my garment making skills.)

I was inspired by a fellow RTW faster's project and immediately decided that I wanted to make one myself. McCall 6841. (Copy ca~t. It's ok, as long as I'm sewing)  This was an easy sewing - except for the fabric I chose made it difficult.

Anyway, I love the feel and the look of it.  It's a very forgiving design in terms of fit. I'd like to make one again with a different, easier-to-sew, fabric next time.

But for now, I like the one I made.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Darn Vintage Market!

There is a vintage market that is held monthly in my neighborhood in Seattle. It's called Groovy Girlfriends: A Very Vintage Market. It's a sweet little market. Only once a month, so I try to make it there. I LOVE the vintage market. This one is really sweet.

I picked up a few things. 

Darning silk and cotton.
Actually, the boxed cotton spools was a part of the bagful of these little spools as you can see in the photo on top. (Don't ask me what I plan to do with these....) Well, I'm sure I'll use them for something. These old threads sometimes are in bad shape, easy to break. But these were in amazingly good condition. I think I can actually use them.

Buttons! French crystal buttons and pretty little ones 'made in Czechoslovakia', it says. These little buttons look darker color in the photo than actual color. They are sort of dark, brownish green. Very pretty.

More buttons. I actually had three of the black one in my button 'stash'. I was thrilled to find the fourth. The metal ones are fun, too. 

See. Now I have four!

I couldn't leave this one behind. 

Pink and white polka dots!

This one was for a friend who has discovered darning and has been wanting a darning egg to mend her wool socks.  The measuring gauge is for me. Metal on metal, inches and metric measuring.

I learned from the seller that the egg shaped wooden darning thingies are older.

than these mushroom types.  My friend wanted a mushroom.

I went in with a specific budget, and I came out just $1 under my budget!  I'm very happy with my purchases.

The last Saturday of every month. Seattlite, you've got to visit the Groovy Girlfriends' "A Very Vintage Market"! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Necchi Lelia 513 : Lelia

She is one of the first machines in my collection - it was actually a while back when I got her.  Ever since I heard that the Necchis were great machine, I've wanted one. I also wanted a pink machine. Not long after I set my heart on finding a Necchi, Lelia showed up! I felt quite lucky since these don't come up very often in my area.  She was made in Italy, sometime in the mid to late 60s.

When I began looking for a Necchi, I joined the Necchi Yahoo group. I've learned much from the group.  It's a great source of info on older Necchi machines, and to get to know other Necchi lovers. 

I bought my Necchi Lelia from a person who had hoped to learn how to sew but never got around to doing so and she eventually gave up on the idea. Lelia is actually more like salmon pink than "pink" pink.  

She came in this pretty and compact cabinet. However, when I got her, she didn't move! Luckily, it was just the broken foot pedal - easy to replace. 

Like many things Italian, I was fascinated with Necchi's design. Sewing machines, as I previously knew them, didn't look all that sleek and, well, so fashionable at the same time being a reliable workhorse.  I mean, think about it. This sewing machine company named every single one of their machines with a cool real people name. Julia, Mira, Lelia, Lydia, etc., and not just with numbers. How cool is that?

I love her pretty two-tone color. 

Older Necchi sewing machines enjoyed fabulous reputations. Those all metal machines are what most collectors want. The Necchi collectors are not at all interested in modern Necchi machines that are no longer made in Italy - newer ones are no longer metal inside, and completely different. The vintage Necchis have a great reputation for leather and canvas sewing. 

I haven't sewn leather or really thick canvas on her yet, but I love the way she hums along. She actually makes this really soothing sound when she sews. Despite her sweet appearance, she is quite solid, and she's not even the top model machine of Necchi. She's a very basic zig-zag machine. She has three needle positions. I love machines with multiple needle positions. Just makes sense, and totally handy.

There's just one thing about her. This plastic dial knob thing is a buttonhole regulator and it is jammed stuck. I'm afraid I'd break the knob, so I'm leaving it alone. I figure, I have other machines I can use for buttonholes.

Love the "N" decal on its bed. The letter design is whimsical.

I usually sew garments on my Bernina 1230. When I have smaller projects, I'd like to get a different sewing machine out and sew on it. It's not really good to have those all metal machines sit idle for too long. They really need to be used, the machine needs to be oiled, and the motor needs to be run. 

My son needed a new pencil case. His old one is cracked broken. (I tell you, those plastic things!) So I decided to take Lelia out for a drive. I haven't sewn on her for a while. I used a leftover fabric from my son's journal book cover project. It was a couple of years ago - he chose the fabric himself. 

In fact, we've been trying to figure out what to use it for ever since he saw me using it for a gift wrapping sack this past holiday season. He was like, "oh~, I really liked that fabric....." (Translation: Mom! How dare you used MY fabric without my permission! I'm jealous!) Well, the gift wrap sack was kinda cute. I called it a "bubble wrap". But I got the message.

Anyway.  Worry not, my son. There was still plenty left to make something.  Here it is. A giant pencil pouch. It needed to be big enough to carry a scotch tape, compass, scissors, in addition to pens and pencils. 


I used a couple of scrap fabric pieces from the Zero Landfill event for the liner. 

I used the tutorial from here. I was originally inspired by Dawn's "Two On, Two Off" blog. This was so fun and fast to make. I was so pleased with it that I made another one for carrying my knitting supply!

For the zipper pull, I used this little beaded puppy my mother's friend made.

It was a date night with Lelia. I'm glad I took her out on a spin. 
 Do you like the little boom box with pink flower design that is keeping Lelia company?! (Really. I bought it for Lelia. They look great together!)

Now, I want a lavender Julia. Where are you~?!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Bernina 1230 (aka Riccar RCM 1230) : World Traveler - Born in Switzerland, lived in Japan, now a US resident

I introduced my Riccar 888 just the other day.  I have another "Riccar".  But it's really a Bernina.
Not sure if she qualifies as a 'vintage machine'. She has a computer inside. It's from the 80's. That's about 30 years old. Is that vintage?!

Many of us, vintage sewing machine lovers, know that there are many "badged" Japanese machines sold in the US. For example, ever popular and cute Kenmore 158.1030~1050 series sold in the US was actually made by Jaguar, a Japanese sewing machine manufacturer, and this model was sold as Jaguarmate Mark II (or III, etc.) in Japan.  Michelle at Life with Lou has a Kenmore 158.1050 (jealous).

Here is what Kenmore 158.1040 looks like.

And, JaguarMate MarkII.

Anyway, back to my Bernina 1230.  Bernina 1230 was sold in Japan through Riccar in the 80's. With "RICCAR" badge. Complete opposite of the above Kenmore/Jaguar example. Did you know Bernina was doing this for the Japanese market?

Besides the badge, RICCAR, everything else is exactly the same as the original Bernina 1230. Made in Switzerland. It's the same model.  Riccar eventually went out of business. One of the last models they sold was Bernina machines, from 1988 to 1992, Bernina 1120, 1130, 1230, 1090, 1021, & 1530. They even made a model specifically for the Japanese market, 1240, which was essentially the same as 1230 but with Japanese character embroidery stitch capability.

The cord on the machine, as well as the cord of the foot controller are retractable. I read somewhere that this was a Riccar specific detail. I wonder if that's true. Any Bernina 1230 owners out there who also has this retractable cord feature?? It's super handy for storage. I love the feature.

This was my first Bernina. I'm SO impressed with all the features and the design. Everything is located where it should be, and as I use this sewing machine, I go "uh, ha. that's why it's there. totally makes sense. genius." Thread cutter is located at the left back corner of the machine itself rather than on the needle bar. It took some getting used to. After using it for a while, I now know why it's there. After cutting the threads, both the upper and the lower threads stay there, keeping the feed dogs plate area free and clear for next stitch so that the upper thread won't get caught in your next stitch.

On the attachment extension table, there is a little peek-a-boo window so that you can open and change the bobbin without having to detach the extension table.
I just love working with her.

Accessory storage is also impressive.
There is the accessory box attached on the back of the machine which can be detached.

Opening it, you are greeted by an assortment of feet and bobbins, each of which has its own place.

It's a double decker! The upper caddy lifts up to line up on the open lid. 
This sewing machine came with absolutely EVERYTHING.  In fact, it was either never or barely used. All the accessories were intact. Oil bottle spout has never been cut open, the seam ripper was as sharp as it could be, i.e. new. Two packets of Bernina needles were there, only one was missing in the packet - because it was on the machine.  Bernina did not customize the accessories to have "Riccar" label on them. They are Bernina originals with "Bernina" name on them. There were a total of 10 presser feet, 6 bobbins, an extension table, a knee lifter, and the original Bernina manual (in Japanese), and in a giant sturdy plastic case to fit it all.

Knee lifter is handy. It lifts the presser foot, hands-free.

I test sewed all the different stitches onto a piece of fabric.
So I have stitch samples I can refer to. Much clearer than photos in the manual.

This was a birthday present from my mother. I was wanting to upgrade my sewing machine which I've had for over 20 years, which never really cooperated with me. In fact, it was so fussy that I eventually stopped sewing and it just sat on a desk for mending purposes only for a long time. I didn't know that I had a crappy plastic sewing machine....

Prompted by my mother's offer to get me a good sewing machine, I began researching for a new sewing machine. OMG! That's when I woke up. The sewing machines have evolved while I was out of the Land of Sewing. I didn't know they come computerized these days. I also learned the value of all metal vintage machines.

I eventually set my heart on Bernina 1230.

Guess where I found mine? A Japanese auction site. I ended up finding one sold by a sewing machine tech who shipped it to my mother's in Osaka, Japan.

When the package arrived at my mother's, she opened it (amazingly carefully and meticulously packaged - kinda Japanese way), played with  test drove it. She immediately fell in love with it, and contacted the seller right away, asking if there was another one!!  She already had a couple of mechanical machines, but she was SO IMPRESSED that she bought one for her right away although she knew she was going to be visiting me in Seattle for a month and wouldn't be able to 'play with' her machine in Japan for a while. Hahaha!

She repacked my machine, and brought it over with her on her flight from Osaka, Japan, to Seattle!  My very heavy Bernina 1230 was hand-delivered by my mother. Bless her heart!

Here is my mother, Tamiko.

One of the best birthday presents EVER. This has quickly become my main machine. So reliable, so quiet, so considerate. I love all of my vintage machines and I do use them. But I go to my Bernina 1230 when I make garments. Just so smooth and reliable. 

Look at that big foot controller.  Love it.

What do you think? Machines of this age, early computerized sewing machine. The machine is nearly 30 years old. Is it too new to be called "vintage"?  Well, it's computerized..... so it isn't so vintage? Do you consider them "vintage", or just "older"?

One other thing. A strange thing but I'm not feeling any name for her yet. Unlike my other vintage machines, for this one, a name hasn't come to me. Is this a all-metal vintage machine vs. modern computerized machine thing? I feel a different kind of connection with her. Thoughts?