Saturday, February 25, 2012

Serger Maintenance

Open and ready for cleaning.
For the past two weeks, a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad virus has invaded my home and family. One by one. And you know how it goes - Mom takes care of everyone, then ends up sick.

Right before the plague came, I had started a studio reorganization, so things in there aren't quite settled yet.

As a result, studio time has been limited. However, I've been working, albeit slowly, on a couple things that I hopefully can finish today, and will show you later.

In the meantime, one of the home dec fabrics I have been using recently creates a lot of fuzz and dust in my serger, so I pulled out my trusty little vacuum kit to clean her out, and thought I'd share.

**As always, click on the pics to enlarge.

Small brush attachment.  Little brush on the desk to the left  came with my serger.  

Complete kit.  Well packaged, well made components.

The kit comes in a sturdy little case.

This handy dandy little kit came into my possession one day while I was at the local vacuum store. I love Miele vacuums, and 'needed' a second one for the downstairs. We have a Mile canister we keep upstairs, and that day I bought an upright for down. I spied this little kit when I was chatting with the salesman, and knew it would be perfect for my serger. The knife creates a lot of fuzz when it cuts the fabric, and my regular vac tools were to large to be of use.

Here's the catch, though. The kit was pretty pricey at the vac store. I got the owner to throw it in gratis, as I am a good and frequent customer (they sell lots of other products and do maintenance also).  A quick Google search shows many similar kits can be found online at a reasonable price. Even if I had to fork over the $$$ for it, it would be money well spent.

This little kit gets into *most* of my serger's nooks and crannies. For extra tight spots, I use a tiny little brush to encourage the fuzzies toward the vacuum nozzle. I should do this after every project, but in reality, I clean the serger after particularly fuzzy projects, and then just when it's looking like it needs some love.

The Evolve is seen at least once a year for regular technician maintenance, also.  I am fortunate to have a Babylock dealer in my part of town. Truth be told, machine maintenance is not my favorite task, nor is lugging my serger to the shop.  Necessary, though!

How often do you perform or have maintenance performed on your serger?

I just LOVE my serger.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dressform Adventures Part II

Rather than work on the bottom area of my new dressform, I fine tuned the fit of the upper part. I put a more fitted blouse on her, one that fits me ok (I can't say I have any that fit great - yet), and adjusted until it fit the dressform like it fit me.

One thing I had noticed is that the dressform's shoulders are quite sloped compared to my own, and while I thought the included shoulder pads fixed this issue, putting the fitted blouse on her showed me that the shoulders needed to be more 'squared' or basically straight across. I temporarily fixed this with more fabric scraps, but will need to add padding under the cover.

This picture above illustrates an important point, and it was in working this out that I realized the importance of a good shoulder fit. (Eureka! This is why I bought a good dressform.) The left arrow points at the bust apex, which is in line with the bottom of the sleeve (right arrow), just as it is when I wear this blouse. The third arrow points to the dart tip. I compared this to pictures of myself in this top, and relied on measurements also. Without the proper shoulder shaping, the shirt wasn't fitting the form the same way it fit me, even though I knew my measurements were correct. Stepping back and scratching my head, looking at the form from across the room and then back to the picture of myself in the blouse, was when I had my eureka moment. Simply inserting some folded fabric scraps to elevate the shoulder line to more horizontal fixed the problem, and the blouse then fit the form perfectly.

If you look closely at this blouse, you will see that the bust isn't a perfect fit - the bust pulls the fabric from the armscye forward, essentially 'borrowing' fabric from that area. This would not work in a long sleeve, as this would restrict arm movement. As it is, this blouse does have to be adjusted a lot when I wear it. But for me, it's as good as RTW gets in a woven fabric. This is a Michael Kors in a 14W. I go up to the women's size in woven tops for the bust room. They are usually too big in the back, shoulder, and belly area, but this top has a great back feature that I just love - several rows of elastic at the center back waist. It works really well for my figure.

I have enjoyed setting up my new dressform, and I think it will be most helpful for fitting challenges. The FF pads give such a nice contour, so I am going to order another batch of fitting pads rather than tear up foam. I believe it will serve my needs better in the long run.

Josephine, my duct tape form, will be retired. Her innards are slated to become a 26" pillow for Anna - it is her birthday this week and I want to make a few fun pillows for her room to match the valance and sheers I made for her .... of which I believe I need to take and post pictures. This afternoon I spent some time on another accessory for Anna's room. I've got some more work to do on that before I post it.

We were supposed to be traveling this weekend, but my family is down with the flu. I admit the downtime is really wonderful, so I don't mind staying home on this four day weekend (US President's Day). Fingers crossed I don't get the cooties.

Happy sewing,


Friday, February 17, 2012

Dressform Adventures Part I

This past Christmas, all I wanted was a new dress form. I assured my husband that I would take care of the ordering myself. {Just to be safe, he had a lovely, sparkly present or three under the tree for me. What a great guy!}

I had decided on a Fabulous Fit Dress Form. I called for sizing guidance and with their help, decided on a size 10. If you are not familiar with Fabulous Fit (FF), you start with a smaller form and build it out to match your body using pads and a cover that you also get from FF. I didn't end up ordering it until a couple of days after Christmas, and then it took much longer than I expected to arrive! I contacted the company a couple of times about how long it was taking. I was told it was  'almost ready' twice, a week apart. A third email response told me they were waiting on a part. A woman I spoke with the day it was shipped out was most gracious and apologetic for the wait, and sent an extra cover in a size large in case the XL was too big. I felt the service was always polite and responsive, but would have preferred to be notified of delays. I am happy to report that I feel it was worth the wait, however.  Waiting is the hardest part, right?

When the form did finally arrive, the box was damaged in a couple places and it had been relabeled by the shipping company. My heart sank a little, thinking there would be damage inside. Thankfully, the contents were ok. The heavy base came in a separate box which was undamaged.

Setting her up was a two person job. Primarily that was because a large spring was jammed onto one end on the pole, but it needed to be on the other end. The hubs worked this out for me, thank goodness, because there was no way I was getting it to budge!

The big spring on this end...

..needed to go on this end!
 The {heavy}cast iron stand was easy to assemble, is good and solid, and well designed. It has a pedal which is used to raise or lower the form, which I find to be a well thought out design, and most convenient.  See it in the next picture just below.  The form itself appears to be well made and much like many others I've seen online.  After the tricky spring issue, the rest was easy to assemble, which my husband did and then carried her upstairs.  I am ever so grateful.  Here she is freshly assembled.

 She comes with two quite stretchy covers, a set of pads, and some batting. The under layer cover has only side seams, and the outer layer cover has princess seams and a turtleneck. The pads supplied are a smooth, contoured foam, and are labeled with the body part for which they are intended.

The first layer, before the pads and under layer cover.  [I must confess, I was so excited to get her all padded, that I did not take pictures of the process after the first layer was pinned and trimmed.  Trust me, it isn't hard, it just takes a little patience and a lot of measuring.]

I spent a couple hours padding her out last night. The pads provided were not nearly enough to pad out the size 10 form to mimic my bust or bottom, but I have quite a large bust, all up in front.  The size 10 starting point was to accommodate my narrow back and shoulders.  The waist and hips look good, but I need more contour for the buttocks.  To solve the bust issue, I put a bra on the form over the underlayer that I would never wear but was taking up room in my drawer. It's my size, but came too high at the center gore to be comfortable for me.  For the bra to work on the form, I had to cut down the center gore and fold some fabric in. I pulled out my scrap basket and stuffed the bra with lots of scraps. {So glad I didn't throw those scraps away!}

I measured a bajillion times, every which way to Sunday, thinking surely my girls are not that large. So, I consulted an expert. My husband. He looked at the form and me from every angle, took a few measurements, and confirmed that we did indeed measure up to each other. Sobering, I tell you.

I put one of my tops on her, and the girls looked less intimidating.  I just can't bring myself to post the pic of her without the top on.  It's scary.  ;)

Looking pretty good!

This evening I hope to finish her padding. I have half of a foam pillow from another project that I can pull out and cut to pad the back side. I should have had the foresight to order two pad sets...hindsight is 20/20. Talk about getting all up close and personal with your own body image.  Definitely a good exercise.

Stay tuned for more Dressform Adventures, Part II!

Enjoy your weekend,


Sunday, February 5, 2012

February Already?

Hello bloggy friends! February is upon us, which means beautiful sunny days in my part of the world. February was a tough month for me growing up in NW PA, as the sun didn't shine much, often for weeks on end. Or so it seemed. If you are reading this from somewhere cold and gray, I feel for you! {{Scroll to the bottom for a little inspiration.}}

February also brings my birthday. Another year older, hopefully a little wiser. Yesterday, my daughter made me breakfast. It may seem unusual, but fits right in with my eating habits. It was an egg baked in half an avocado - delish!

They call this a 'slice'. In the afternoon we went to see a 'scary' move, "The Woman in Black". Then it was off to dinner for some wonderful pasta and chocolate cake. Would you look at this cake? We brought home tons of leftovers, for the day after my birthday present of not having to cook.

Sewing you ask? Why yes, I've done a tad, and I do mean a tad. As posted earlier, hubs asked for more PJ pants in fleece. I had some red fleece from Hancock's in the stash. I actually have a good bit of it because I had a couple projects planned for this. It is rather $$ fleece, the M'Liss Kasmir Fleece in red. I've never used it in the past, but liked the softness and sturdiness of the fabric. Well, I am so glad I bought it on sale and had a coupon, because the bolt was flawed. It's got some strange lines running the length of the fabric. Don't have the receipt, either, so I cut PJ pants fom it. It's so comfy, but strangely, the fleece frays at he cut edge. I serged the whole thing, so no big deal, but I'm not used to fleece fraying.

So, without further ado, here is the only picture I have of them. They are for the hubs, but I had to test them, of course!
I took this shot to show how wide the leg is on these pants, Simplicity 2317. It's the same pattern I made here.

No other sewing projects have been begun recently, except in my head, lol. I am anxiously still awaiting one of my Christmas presents - ordered two days after Christmas. I expected it to take three weeks tops, and have emailed the company and called twice. They keep saying it's almost done. My credit card was charged on Jan 31, but no shipping notice yet. It is freakin' killing me, I tell you! It's killing me because it's a professional dress form! I wish they would have kept me up to date regarding the delays, and I hope it is worth the wait. I chose one that I can hopefully use for both DD and me with adjustments. But, more on that later......

I don't know what got into me, but I wasn't feeling the layout in my studio. So today I tore it apart. I was feeling like I needed to reorganize and do some purging. I get antsy if things are disorganized or out of place. So here is the mess I created today, while I had the hubs home to help with the heavy stuff.

Guess what I'm doing while waiting for my dress form?

Oh, and as promised:
I shot this with my phone while getting in a walk on the beach last weekend. It's pretty gorgeous this time of year!

Wishing you all lots of sunshine and good sewing time!