Friday, July 12, 2013

Elna Supermatic

I saw this beauty advertised for sale and left it alone... For a long time.

And now she's mine. Feel free to shake your head thinking "Incorrigible". Laugh all you want, but she's mine! All mine.

SSsshhh! We don't talk about the no-buy resolution in these parts anymore! Remember? I gave it up in June and not looking back.

All the machines I've tried in the past 20 years.. could never match up to the straight stitch from my mom's treadle. And now I've found one that possibly can.  I've read about vintage Elna's a bit and have found that they could make a stitch as good as vintage Bernina's. Let's see if she can rise up to the challenge. I picked her up yesterday. She came with just one accessory - the zigzag cam. I don't think I care about other accessories.. At least not at this point, anyway. I also found the Elna Supermatic manual online.

The good news is that she seems to work! Yay! Bad news is that there's some noise; The needle moves freely not hitting anything but there's some noise elsewhere. I've read that the pulley might be off and needs replacing every 50 yrs. The Youtube video that talks about changing the pulley in Elna Supermatic seems to have a different noise than mine. But first things first - she needs a bit of cleaning and a lot of oiling to see if the sound still exists. If it is the pulley, apparently it is easy to change on my own and the pulley can be bought online at RayWhite. But I might get it serviced as well.

A machine that was well used and care for at some point and put away for long time.  Needs a tiny bit of TLC before she can be back in full form kicking ass.

In case you are wondering if I am sewing at all, yes, I have finished a dress and wore it thrice already and love it! Just waiting for pictures before I post on that. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Connie Crawford's class - a review

It's been a week since I'm back from a class with Connie Crawford in June. And it has taken me this long to decide whether to post this review or not. Read on and you'll know why.

Fitting on my own has been frustrating... First comes selecting the correct size for the pattern, then knowing what adjustments to make. Followed by how much to take in or let out for each of these adjustments. And to do this on my own?? Yikes! Makes me want to go back to reading about sewing, instead of actually sewing! No, Not lazy, but just plain frustrated!

So I signed up for this class with Connie Crawford at Ann Arbor. I know that Connie also comes to Toronto for the Creative Festival in Fall every year and teaches hands-on workshops and seminars but I have other classes in mind for then. So Ann Arbor, it was.

Know what was even more fun?? I convinced my family to drive to Michigan with me. :)

As for Connie Crawford's class, I'm double minded.

I did learn stuff from her - Watching her drape a knit top on a mannequin was a great learning experience. Learning about drafting, grading, watch her do it with a grading ruler was very helpful too. Her method of sewing lapped zipper was very different and quick and easy! Also, got some tips on drafting styles from a sloper  and balancing seam lines in skirts / tops etc.

For the "Fitting & designing for the girls" class, (No,  I don't like the name either), Connie had us try on multiple samples from her sloper pattern that is drafted for all sizes, all bust cups.

Fitting the bust first and then taking in the shoulder (no changes to sleeves) was her main principle in fitting. Which is totally fine - there are million ways to fit as long as the wrinkles are gone. But her idea of a well fitting garment and mine were not the same. She was ignoring the very obvious arm hole/sleeve wrinkles in many people she fitted.  And I could see that a lot of people needed their armhole raised - me included.  When I went back again and asked a question about the armhole and showed her what was wrong with it - yes, she agreed I needed to raise the armhole at least an inch.

Does that mean all were fit incorrectly? No! that's not what I mean. If you have a figure that fits into one of the multiple samples from her pattern, you lucked out and I'm really happy for you. For the rest of us who did not confirm to the body shape that the patterns were drafted for, Too bad!

One of the ladies tried on Connie's knit top samples (Which were not for different bust cup for each size, just regular XS, S,M,L, XL, etc) during a demo. There were very obvious wrinkles originating from the bust at all angles and somebody in the audience even dared to ask the question that many of us were asking ourselves - if it fit right - to which Connie said 'In my opinion, the fit is perfect!   Sorry! Nope!

What was very annoying to me is her repeated bashing / eye rolling at people who educate or make patterns for home sewing and making fun of 'choosing by upper bust measurement and asking how on earth will it fit the bust?' while she very conveniently ignored that an FBA was almost always done on the pattern when they have a bust bigger than B cup, while choosing by upper bust measurement.

Overall, I'm glad I tried this class. I might buy her books / DVDs in future or check them out in the library. But I don't think I'll take another one of her workshops, which is really unfortunate as I do think she has a lot to offer on drafting. I browsed through some of her books that were available for sale at the venue and those seemed good. I haven't watched her DVDs so can't comment on that but obviously it would not contain the repeated bashing 'what does home sewing say.....?'/ self adulation 'I'm the only one who has ...' / This person copied my pattern / that person copied my book... No thanks!

One person that got a lot of my thanks was 'Rosebud' - her assistant for this weekend. I had missed the 'Sew like a pro'  class since I arrived very late, driving from Toronto to Ann Arbor.. Rosebud offered to help me get caught up with the class. And she did sit with me for half an hour the next day morning before the class started and had me caught up with 'Sew like a pro' class material.  Those tips were very useful.

In all, I got a lot out of Grading / Draping / Sew like a pro class. None with the fitting.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

OOP Burda 8547 becomes a TNT and a quick catch up.

OOP Burda 8547
 This is an OOP pattern that I got ages ago. I love the cap sleeved sheath dress pattern, for knit fabrics.It also has a armhole dart. Not sure if I like that one but the fit is pretty good.

Alterations made:
  • Traced out 12 on neck / shoulders / armholes and gradually extended to size 16 at the hips.
  • Reduced the length at hemline by 5 inches to make it knee length on me
  • Changed neckline from crew neck to scooped neck
Muslin done on a double knit, bought eons ago from wazoodle! The fit seems good! What surprises me is the no FBA at all part. Maybe this pattern has been specifically drafted for a person with a large bustline? The muslin dress is waiting to be hemmed and pictures will follow. Maybe when pictures are posted, you can tell me if I need to go down a size and do an FBA after all. I have some yummy ponte all washed up and dried, eagerly awaiting to be made into this dress.

So, What happened to the short term goal (4 tops, and 2 dresses before mid June)? 
It's still on... so far, one black top and 1 grey dress (needs to be hemmed) done... Even though these were muslins, they turned out decent! The rest will be made. I will extend the date to June end (or even July!) but it will get done! HAVE TO. I've purged my closet way too much. And we have a vacation coming right at the end of June. Need clothes big time!

Any other news?
 Well, the darn no-buy fast!! I slipped...... right into the shopping cart at Fabricmart Fabrics. It was midnight... I was stressed out about something else and what's a girl to do? Whip out her credit cards and order stuff of course.... 50% off on Ponte fabrics. That too ponte without polyester. I lucked out with some Rayon double knit and wool ponte. These have been shipped to a friends place in upstate Newyork and I'll be picking it up when we visit her this year.

And then happened some drama in personal life, which translated to more fabric from Fabricland and an online order at You know how that happens, don't you?

Latest enlightenment:
No buy fasts aka Self imposed fabric bans are dangerous... When it ends (or when I break it), it can make me go whole hog! Very important note to self:  Do NOT commit to fabric fasts anymore.. Never ever! Why torture self?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Whatcha gonna make? (I am making plans)

One month into the challenge and I haven't made a thing!! I haven't bought a piece of clothing either, but the goal here is to get me sewing...So I'm going to do what I always do - make plans. But this time around, I'm going to declare it to all the lovely sewing people out there just so that you can feel free to give me a kick in the rear, if I don't make it.

Now that's established, let's talk more on the plans. The more I see my previous patterns related to plans and carrying them out, I realize that long term plans don't do much to me.. I lose sight of the goal real quick.. but short term goals, quick ones, small ones work well.  Sooooo.....

In the next 4 weeks, I'm going to make 4 tops and 2 dresses.

There! I've said it!

After a big purge in the last 2 months, I'm finding that my wardrobe is seriously lacking in the tops department and summer short sleeved dresses. Time to do something about it.  And it will also help me tweak the minor fit issues with sleeves.

Now isn't this too many garments??  I chose this number, only because my almost TNT knit top pattern is ready and I think I can do it. At least 4 of the fabrics have been prewashed too!  Now I just have to cut up and sew.

Writing that was easy! Posting it was nerve wracking. Let's see what comes out of it!

Meanwhile, I'd love to hear from you..... What's your plan for the next 4 weeks?  Do plans work for you? Short term plans? Long time plans? What helps you carry out your plans?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Creative Festival - Spring 2013

Having lived in Toronto for 8 yrs now, I've never been to the Creative Festival until very recently.  Adrienne and I met up at the Creative sewing Festival on Friday and took some seminars together. We also bumped into Reethi and her mom on that day. Seraphinalina and Debbie joined us on Saturday for more fun.

  1. Meeting up with fellow sewing bloggers of course. It was so much fun going to the expo with them.
  2. The fitting seminars by Lorraine Henry -  FANTASTIC!!! (insert many many light bulbs here!) Lorraine uses the book "Fitting and Pattern Alteration - a multi-method approach" by Judith Rasband, Elizabeth Leichty. Out of her 6 seminars, I attended 4. She showed us how to make a crotch curve and how to use that template on the pattern, how to take proper measurements and how many of those to take (plenty!)  and how to use those measurements on the pattern. She also showed the order of alterations - what goes first and what next. (Length before width and in a certain order). All of these were before we even brought out the scissors for pattern alteration. The book that her fitting principles for pattern alteration are based on, has been on my wishlist for a while now ever since I read glorious reviews (It will continue to be, at least till next year!). And even without the book, I can work on my fit issues based on what she taught us. I also loved the fact that she wasn't doing a sales pitch for her products during the seminar. I bought the ingenious 'Two easy Measuring tape" that she designed herself.  Now got to put that all theory that I've learnt, into practice. for anyone who is curious about her alteration methods, you can check out, this Threads article for back alteration and this one for full bust (FBA) and swayback.
  3. No, I did not break my resolve of not buying stuff. The measuring tape is a nifty notion.Other than that, I bought some beads for my 6 yr old DD, who is not a part of my No buy resolution, for this year. She uses her stuff, unlike her mommy!And I bet it will be used up in a week or two.
  4. Seminars by Johanne Brousseau - While Johanne is not a fitting expert, I learned some  practical tips on machine maintenance, needles, sewing swim wear, serger basics etc. I found it very funny that she measured my torso diagonally (crotch to shoulder tip) and proclaimed that I have a tall torso. Lol! No, just have too much squishy factor that she didn't take into account. When measuring bodies, there's length and width and then, there is depth that most people ignore! I practically drown in most of my tops and have to buy petite tops and bottoms. So, no, not a tall torso by any means!
  1. The expo was not targeted at the younger sewing crowd. Not even a teeny tiny bit.
  2. No demos of sewing techniques - there's so much the organziers could have thought about. Easy breezy welt pockets, Bagging a lining with the machine, Attaching lining with zippers with no hand stitching, Sewing with leather  .... Why save these techniques demos only for fall?? All demos can be done with one machine and using a video projector to project it on a huge screen. Come on, guys! Use the darn technology!
  3. Allowing the internet ticket buyers to go in early and check out the stores before the crowd comes in, was a good way to promote online buying and to reduce the long lines. But starting the seminars early? So NOT cool! I bought my tickets online, but those that bought the tickets right at the door were not amused!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

An essential top!

Finally, a top on the blog. Thanks to Faye's Essential top sewalong! It's almost done, except for the hems. I'm too tired today and if I go any further I'll mess up. So the hems have to wait for tomorrow.

Fabric is from King's Fabrics, Queen Street, bought maybe 2 yrs ago.. The color is more  of a deep royal purple in real life.

The pattern came from Ottobre Women 2/2007 issue. The top seemed a bit plain like a tank top, so I added a tie on collar to it. I surprised myself that the collar isn't too bad after all. The kicker is that it fits!  Did you hear that?? IT FITS!!! :) No gaping neckline, no armhole gaping, no bra strap showing on the back shoulder - nothing!! Apparently, the regular FBA works out better for me, than the Y dart one!

Thank you Faye, for the sewalong!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Why do a muslin? Why? Oh why?

I've been thinking about muslins. A lot. Because I have a unique body, the pattern right out of the envelope would never work for me. So, I 'have to' make a muslin(s) for figuring out the fit and hopefully will help me to turn that pattern into my pattern.

So far I've muslined Burda and Ottobre many times to come up with a well fitting Tee. I'm almost there but not quite yet... I did learn a few things worth mentioning -  I tried the famous Y dart FBA technique and discovered that it was not for me. Continuing on my quest to find a well fitting Tee, I even printed and taped a million sheets for a 'customized' Lekala pattern. No, that didn't work for me either....  More on these two later... But what I discovered in this process is that, even though I did start on the muslins to sort out the fit issues,  I got a lot more than that out of it...

Here's what I think muslins help me with:
  1. to work on fitting issues, of course (duh!)
  2. to see if the pattern style suits my personal style 
  3. to see if the pattern style suits my unique body shape
  4. to do a trial run on the construction technique, if I'd like to try that.
  5. to figure out the order of construction or come up with your own better version
  6. to see if the drape of the fabric is the right fit for this pattern
  7. to take the pressure off to get the garment look and fit super duper great the very first time (that's torture!)
  8. to use up stash ;)
  9. to say bye to the fear factor - muslins can be done in cheap fabric that I don't care to wear anyway and if it doesn't workout, I can kiss it goodbye and embrace another muslin.
  10. to feel encouraged - after every muslin, it's so obvious how far I've come from where I began and how close I am to a decent fitting tee.
 What else do you think making a muslin can help with? 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Essential top sew along - Count me in

Last month has been really busy what with painting the living room and starting to work on my health by working out. And I've been needing a push to work on my TNT knit top and been thinking about it right when Faye posted her 'Essential tops sew along'. Great timing! And yes, I've signed up for that. 

The sew-a-long will start next Sunday and run for two weeks (March 24th through April 7th).

 If I can get one top, even a camisole, sewn up and posted on my blog during that duration, I'll consider that I've done great. The whole idea is to get me moving. 

Click on the picture to go to Faye's post about this sewalong

Monday, March 4, 2013

Toronto Sewing bloggers meetup!

It was fabulous meeting other wonderful sewing bloggers (and a few soon to be bloggers) in Toronto last Saturday! Thank you, Gillian and Adrienne for organizing it! You gals, did a fantastic job in pulling this together!

I was delayed a bit due to my own stupidity(!) and the awesome husband of mine drove all the way from Mississauga to Queen / Spadina in record time so I didn't have to miss out even more! These are the lovely ladies whom I got to meet.
ETA: I've removed the pictures as I want to continue to blog anonymously for a while (at least until I am more comfortable with the idea of posting my face pics on my blog. Sorry the original comments got deleted when I was trying to figure this out.)

Wow! That's 18 of us, including me!!! We split into groups, shopped for a bit at the Fashion district (Queen / Spadina). And no, I did not buy fabric, but yes, I got some really yummy Cupro Bemberg lining in black from the Wool House (Linings are excluded from my No-buy fast. I'm proud of myself that I didn't go overboard buying tons of linings. It helped that it wasn't cheap! ;) And that's all I bought! Yesss!!!

We then, stopped at a cafe on Queen West for the fabric and pattern swap.Oh my!! I came back with so much more than what I took - 2 Burda magazines, and some swimsuit fabric in royal blue and some natural fabrics.

Most of the people I met wore their creations.. I got to see the wonderful Tiramisu and Renfrew in action! Reethi wore her Crocodile print knit pencil skirt. Adrienne, the lady in the apple green blouse, drafted that herself! :o It looks even more gorgeous in person.

Drinks and dinner later, we left with our hearts and minds filled with joy, a great feeling of community and TONS of possibilities!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

TO Blogger Meet in February

I am going for the TO bloggers meet this Feb 23rd. Are you?

See more details by clicking here.

When I first heard about this meetup, I was thrilled that I get to meet local sewing bloggers. I've read many of their blogs for months, in some cases, years!  So  I was quite excited. Then when the date was announced I felt heartbroken as I had plans for that day and changing it was not possible at that time. But boy! what do you know, the plans got postponed and now I can go!! Yippeee!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Survived January

I survived January. Phew!!!
  1. No purchases of fabrics or notions made
  2. I bought a veggie peeler as I prefer making my own salad at work than but pre-made salads from the deli-counter which is full of lettuce with very less vegetables. My veggies + peeler cost came lesser than one huge salad that I would have bought otherwise - so I will consider this good!
  3. As for no RTW, I bought winter gloves/ hat and socks; these were in exception list.
  4. I also survived buying a Burda magazine that I've been looking for ages, sold at a very reasonable price, twice!! Thank you Reethi for offering to lend your copy when I need. I really appreciate that generosity.
  5. I survived a trip to IKEA .. I mean, how did that happen? :o 
Those are what I didn't do... So, What have I been doing? 

I have worked on another pants muslin, attended the local sewing group meeting once, went on a 'Sewing with Jean' class at Brampton Sewn Serge!

I also gave Mischief, my 6 yr old daughter, her very first sewing class, twice. We practiced straight lines without thread and then with thread on paper and on fabric for the first class. For the second class, we made an apron together.. She's so EXCITED and so am I! :)

February will be fun as we will be going on a vacation soon... I hope to have fun without much shopping during the vacation.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Goals for 2013

I had written down my sewing related goals for 2012 and we saw my recent year-end recap on what happened to those goals. I believe that writing them down and looking at them often, helped me do something about those goals. I also learnt that I had too much on my list and I had not set myself up for success! So, this time around I'm making them more realistic goals broken into smaller doable chunks.

Here are my sewing related goals for 2013 
  1. No-buying fast!
  2. TNT knit top - halfway there already
  3. TNT pair of pants - again, halfway there already
  4. Sew 1 ethnic outfit - Indian salwar kameez (long tunic + loose drawstring pants) 
  5. Take a class on machine embroidery basics
  6. Learn to do 3 things with the Viking Rose - to program a stitch, to monogram, to embroider
  7. Learn to do appliqué for Mischief and do it in 2 pieces of clothes.
  8. Make one capsule wardrobe - like a 6 PAC
  9. Go on a local sewing bloggers meetup
The first goal is to stop stuff from coming in. The rest of those are to use and enjoy what I already have, and to have fun doing that! Considering the goals this time are concrete and manageable in small chunks, I think  I can pull this off!

I've signed up for the Sew your on wardrobe for a year challenge to get me moving and start using the stash! I'm in great company.


I also signed up for Put your money where your mouth is - a challenge by Karen of Did you make that?  I chose the TNT knit top and TNT pair of pants coming together for a well fitting outfit!
I've also signed up for Tiny habits and one of my tiny habit is to just walk into my sewing area and spend one minute there, every single day. Tiny habit is built on the premise that motivation is not everything and that we can build small tiny habits that will work much better, simpler and easier!

My non-sewing related resolutions, not in any order:
  1. Drink more water
  2. Workout
  3. Embrace the love around me and cherish it!
I've already set up tiny habits for the first 2, and have to come up with a tiny habit for the last one!

Here wishing good luck to everybody who made any goals / resolutions / decided on the focus of this new year!

No more buying - a FAST in the year of 2013

Having watched Goodbye-Valentino and followed her journey on not buying RTW clothes,  I've been thinking about going on a similar fast. And I'd like to personalize it to make it work for me, by going on a buying-fast for a year from all buying - RTW clothes, fabric, books, DVDs, kitchen stuff etc - a moratorium of sorts, even from thrift stores where all sorts of interesting things find me. 3 very similar cast iron woks, anyone?  ::)

While I am not a hoarder and my house is not stuffed, I do have a lot more than what I need. Considering my sensory issues, I feel overwhelmed and I have f.i.n.a.l.l.y figured out that I do function well in an uncluttered minimalistic environment. So, it's time to declutter and pare them down or use them up. Keywords here are use/declutter/donate/freecycle/sell.

I do have enough fabric, books, videos!!! My fabric stash is plenty, with wonderful fabrics!! I have enough sewing books and DVDS. And I have enough patterns - My pattern stash isn't large but I do have some Burda & Ottobre magazines and maybe 12-15 other patterns from the big 4 pattern companies - I still won't be able to sew them all in 2-3 yrs even if I get cracking today!  ;) So, there's no excuse to buy more patterns for a year.

As one of the experienced ladies at SG hinted about how people switch from buying RTW to buying more fabric, I'm slowly aware that I tend to move from buying one stuff to another. And I'm really tired of this accumulation and want to do spent my time using the stuff I already have, rather than wasting my time accumulating more stuff. So I need to cover as much loopholes as I can! Lurking at the decluttering thread and also reading a few minimalistic blogs have been very helpful as I understand now that the 'stuff' overwhelms me and holds me back.


Some Exceptions:
- Food, toiletries, medicine
- socks, undies, a winter jacket and a polarized sunglasses for my eye sensitivity
- notions without which I cannot finish projects that I have been working on - say, a zipper or interfacing or lining, etc
- Renovations around the house + furniture + appliances which have already been carefully planned and budgeted for.
- Experiences like In person classes, Eating out in restaurants, tickets to events, etc
- 2 Craftsy classes and no more (I hope Craftsy comes with a great jacket construction class or fitting class) I do not have access to really good local sewing classes and craftsy has been a blessing! So, I'll give myself an allowance of 2 craftsy classes, if I'm dying to buy them. :)
- Gifts
- Everybody else in the family is excluded from this fast. And I cannot go shopping for them, unless it's an urgent need!

I just found out that a few other bloggers are going on a similar fast too!

- Sew Essentially Sew
- Meg the Grand
- What would Nancy Drew wear?

It would be interesting to follow their journey as well as feel inspired to stay on course.