Saturday, February 13, 2016

Vogue 1414

Once again it's time to make samples. This time its for a silk blouse class I will be teaching in March at Haberman's.  The class is intended to teach skills and techniques for sewing with silky type fabrics, silk in particular, while constructing this lovely Anne Klein styled shirt using Vogue pattern #1414.

Vogue #1414

The shirt was made using a rather expensive medium weight silk charmeuse in this Asian inspired print. The pattern ran along the crossgrain so I was glad I had just a bit more than the pattern suggested. Otherwise, I would not have been able to match the pattern for the front overlays.

It turned out beautifully though I must admit there are lots of lessons to be learned when working with silk. Cutting out this type of fabric to grain is always a challenge. Having a gridded work surface, rotary cutter and pattern weighs made the job much easier. I also cut the patterns in a single layer to make sure I had control of the grain and to match the patterns for the shoulder overlays on the front -- I know it's hard to notice them in the photos.

Tissue paper, you know the kind used for gift wrapping, was also a godsend here. While I have a single hole needle plate I could have used, it would have limited me from moving my needle around and is a pain to change back and forth. So, tissue paper did the trick of preventing edges from sinking into the needle plate at the start of a seam and it did wonders keeping seams generally under control. It's one of the best and cheapest ways to maintain control when working with slippery fabrics.

Overall, I am pleased with the way the shirt turned out with the exception of the back. The back was the last piece I cut and it appears it was terribly off grain as the hemline does not hang straight. It's the only thing I can attribute to the problem. The round bolt of fabric was displayed in the store standing straight up which made the fabric cascade to the floor on the bias. Perhaps the grain shifted as a result of this, who knows. It is a big disappointment as everything else turned out well. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Janome Memory Craft 8900QCP

My New Arrival!

I've finally done it. I purchased a new sewing machine and isn't she a beauty!  It has great features and many more stitches I will ever use, But, what sold me was the AccuFeed Dual presser foot that glides through thick and shifty fabrics with ease that came with the machine.

I've waited a long time to invest in a good machine. A few years back the Viking machine I had since I graduated college over 40 years ago, pooped out on me. Given its age I figured it wasn't worth the money to have it fixed, so I quickly purchased an inexpensive Singer to get me through till I purchased a new one. 

Four years later I finally settled on this machine.  When the American Sewing Expo came to my town last fall I used the event to shop all the brands and newest models within my price range. I am glad I did that. It was the perfect forum to try out machines and listen to the sales pitches from all the top companies that ultimately helped me make a more informed decision.

Viking was at the top of my list for the longest time, but after learning ownership has changed hands several times within recent years I became concerned. The same conglomerate also owns Singer and Pfaff.  This raised the question of whether their future was on solid ground or would it mean a decline in quality for the 3 brands.  Of course, this change of hands could be for the better, but it seldom is. So I passed on Viking and Pfaff.

What I learned from shopping around is how small the sewing machine industry has whittled down to.  Brother and Baby Lock are also essentially the same company. While I find the Baby Lock machines to be exceptional, they are simply higher priced versions of Brother models. Not that that's bad, but I wasn't in love with the Brother models I could afford. 

So, that left me with either Bernina or Janome. While there is no question Bernina makes one of finest machines on the market the models I could afford were too basic. The really good ones are simply too high priced for me, so I had to pass - maybe one day if I win the lottery I'll get one. 

I was left to conclude a Janome machine would fit my needs. Its a company that appears to be on solid footing and they make good machines to fit just about any budget. I really liked the new Skyline S7 model and almost bought that one, but settled on this Memory Craft 8900 which in the end despite having a higher MSRP came in cheaper than the Skyline S7. It has all the bells and whistles I was looking for. I sews quietly and smoothing and makes lovely buttonholes - many different ones in fact. 

AccuFeed Dual presser foot

Like I said, I've researched and waited a long time to find a good machine. I just hope this one will also last me another 40 years.