Saturday, July 11, 2015

Important Piece of Advice

Do Not Sew With A Migraine! Blech. I was working away on my orange-red Marcy Tilton V8813 (aka the French Vintage Housedress) and I screwed it up so badly I could just cry! Luckily the mistakes are not fatal but it means that I have to unpick 3 major seams, one of which is serged and then line up the trimmed seam allowances correctly and stitch them back together properly. For now I quit before I do more harm to my poor dress.

The good news is that I experimented with the gathering technique that is used to shirr the front. I always forget that I have special presser feet for things such as the cording foot which works a treat to hold the cotton cord in place to zigzag over it. You need to absolutely avoid catching the cord so you can draw it up afterward to make the gathers. My elderly Pfaff (a 1222E from 1978) even has a hole in the throat plate to accommodate the cord that helps feed it in straight to the cording foot. Yay! Normally this system is used to stitch corded pintucks with a twin needle but I used a zigzag that just covered the cord with a little room to spare. The instructions ask you to do two rows of stabilising straight stitching on either side of the cord after drawing up the gathers and It seems that they are also easier to do with the cording foot but the lines aren’t quite as even as I’d like. Passable results though at least for my sample. On the real thing I may do that last step with the regular presser foot though because then I can engage the IDF (like a built-in walking foot) which helps the stitches feed more neatly. Hmmm…maybe another sample first?

While I was rethreading machines, adjusting tensions and making samples I was remembering what things were like back in the day. When I learned to sew in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, the world was black and white – well, at least on TV because colour TV didn’t exist yet! In our Grade 9 sewing classroom we even had a treadle sewing machine lurking among the straight stitch and zigzag machines and none of them had fancy stitches or automatic buttonholes or anything. My girlfriend and I liked to use the treadle because it was always available since nobody else knew how to use it! Her dad was a tailor and they had one at home.

There were other differences back then too. Printed patterns only came in one size and my size was usually missing from the pattern drawers in the fabric shop. Obviously it was the popular one. Fabrics were often only 36” (92 cm) or sometimes 45” (115 cm) wide. You had to buy a lot more yardage to make a garment. Fusible tapes or interfacings and non-woven interfacings had only recently become available and they weren’t very good yet. Stretch knit fabrics were rare and stretch wovens totally non-existent. A lot of garments had zippers so you had to learn how to do a centred or lapped application. Invisible zippers didn’t come along until 1968. Everyone cut their pieces with scissors because rotary cutters weren’t around until 1978. Thank you, Olfa!

Many of our sewing techniques have been modernised or changed entirely. For my first cotton shift dress I remember finishing all the raw edges with pinking shears. You can imagine how long that lasted in the laundry! I was very happy when I was able to buy a zigzag machine with my babysitting money so at least I could overcast the edges better. Sergers/overlockers weren’t available for home use yet and even now many sewists make fine clothes without one. Not me however. I love my serger and use it in nearly every project. I’m also extremely grateful for Lycra/spandex, good quality rayon and rayon blends, better polyester and poly blends and 60” wide fabrics. I’m sad though at the difficulty of finding good wool suiting (at least locally) when I think of the lovely stuff I could get back in the day. I was particularly fond of melton cloth, plaids and men’s pinstripes – at quite reasonable prices too.

OK, done reminiscing. Sorry about the lack of photos this time. Blame it on my head. The weather has turned cooler and cloudy. Weird that we have to turn the lights on in the kitchen! Though it was supposed to rain we’ve only seen a few drops but it’s definitely much more humid. I was hoping to get more stuff done around now that it’s not oven-like here but I guess there’s always tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

thanks for the trip down memory lane. I bought my Singer Featherweight with babysitting money and still wish I hadn't let my Mom talk me into giving it away when I got my new "fancy" machine. Don't sew like you do any more, other things have taken up my time.

Sharon in Surrey said...

I remember those sewing classes at school. I hated them. I was the oldest of six & had been sewing with the old Singer for years. That stupid sewing teacher made us do everything by hand!!! Even the seam finishes. I just about failed that class. I got my first serger in the early 70s. Wow, took a Stretch & Sew class & never bought another T-shirt or pair of panties until about 10 years ago.
No rain on Friday night or all day Saturday???? It rained out here in Surrey. Cleaned the air, washed the car. Was Very cool yesterday too.

Heather said...

I was taught to sew by a home ec teacher friend of my mom when I was 12 - I guess 1970. I made all my clothes through high school and on into adulthood. It was the time of polyester, but good cottons and wools were still available. Like Jean, other things have taken my attention away from sewing, but I would never part with my Pfaff.

Louisa said...

Wasn't that a fun exercise to remember where we were? Sharon, I too was NOT a fan of sewing class. I could do better on my own without Sister Mary Perfectionist breathing down my neck! Grade 9 was the second and last year of sewing in school for me. All else was self-taught.

Ooh, Heather, you have a Pfaff too? I know you like to hand-stitch but I'm sure old Pfaffy helps to speed things up sometimes.

Yup, it rained. Saved me from watering for a whole 2 days.

pao said...

Ahh, I just hate making sewing mistakes. I know when they start happening, I need to take a break. I took home ec classes too in high school. I remember cooking but not so much sewing. My mom sewed alot, so maybe I learned from her. I really don't recall. But I know I sew clothes in high school. The 60's shifts. I still have an old singer that basically just does zig zag. I mean it's not computerized. And I've never used a serger. Not to mention I hate knits.

Your Mizono dress turned out! Is the Tilton back on track? It'll be great when you finished, I'm sure.