Friday, January 17, 2014

Random Threads # 5

Whatever I have been doing lately, it certainly has been keeping me busy. I have a lot of projects in process, both sewing and home improvement but nothing completed to show you. When I asked for blog topic suggestions, commentor Ngoc said she liked my Random Threads posts which is great as random is what I have for you today.
First up, I am in the process of making a large moveable worktable with a newly purchased piece of plywood, two very heavy wood shelves that I already had, many L-brackets, my staple gun and a newly purchased phillips screwdriver drill bit for my trusty Craftsman drill. So far I have it assembled and am just testing out where I want to secure the top. Then I will complete it and have something to show you. I went down the rabbit hole of wanting a higher (37" high) worktable that I could iron on top of and looked at a lot of options, plus I found the website and then spent too many hours looking at stuff. Next I went to Ikea, looked at the raw materials for some of my ideas and came away with nothing but the appreciation for using actual items I already had. Score!
Craftsman tools

Remember my sewing machine purchase back in June? I bought the Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 at Costco. It was a deal I could not refuse. So I have been mostly happily using it ever since. Oh, it is not perfect. The feed dogs are kind of sharp? they seem to snag on delicate fabrics and there is not as much space between them and the bottom of the presser foot as on my other vintage Singers. Also the lighting really seems harsh, not a fan of the LED lights but I guess that is the future. On the plus side I LOVE the thread cutter, such a satisfying feeling to push that little button and snip, no need to pick up a scissors. 
I will do a full post on it sometime but here is a question that is nagging me.  See this foot, it is the basic foot that is used for most stitches.  Why is there the little button with the tiny spring on the right? What is that for? I cannot figure out any use or what it does but obviously it is there for something. When you push on the black button the little stem moves over toward the shank but seems to do nothing. 

Presser foot question

I did just make another Renfrew top for a friend of mine. Who is basically the same size as me and so it is easy-peasy to make her stuff. Plus she is a great friend and likes whatever I make her. A keeper!
                                 Black renfrew top
Black renfew close up fabric
Kind of a weird fabric, huh? but I saw it at Stone Mountain and thought it would make a cozy top. Although it was around 70 degrees F today so no cozy tops needed.

I did a little analysis of what I made for myself in 2013 and used Excel for good not evil  (meaning for something amusing instead of grimly serious business analytics as in my former corporate life). 
So here is the chart breaking down what I made into garment categories. As an overview, I sewed the following for myself. It includes 3 items made for mom and my sis.  
  • 25 total items  
  • 9 of the 25 reused a pattern = 36% repeat pattern use
  • 8 of the 25 items used fabric purchased at thrift stores or garage sales, total cost estimate $ 20 for those

What I made

8 jackets, 7 knit tops, 2 skirts, 2 shirts, 1 coat and 5 dresses. For the first time I can remember I made more jackets than any other category. Interesting........
And now the pattern breakout: Vogue still the winner and Simplicity next most often. Interestingly the pattern reuses were mostly Simplicity and New Look. 

Which patterns used

Based on this data I probably could give up purchasing any new patterns just shop my filing cabinet. But we knew that, didn't we.  After all there are NO new patterns. I repeat, no new patterns. Just my opinion. And yet...I will probably make any/all of these 3 Vogues. I already have the first one V8944 but now I am liking the second one V1382 more. I promise you that the third one, V8970 is better than it looks in the drawing and actually would make a very cute blouse. 


That's all for now, I have so many more topics for Random Threads such as Pinterest (I can't find a use for it), sewing swimwear (I was never going to until I had an unfortunate incident with a thieving racoon, story to follow) and bodice length (the number one pattern adjustment that I think could help many who struggle with fit).
Yesterday I was in San Francisco for a lunchtime party and was walking up the street when I turned and looked behind me. The sky was so blue, my friends had arrived via the ferry, we had lunch in a waterfront restaurant and I felt like a tourist in my own hometown. Kind of a crazy city but always beautiful.
Ferry building

Happy weekend sewing, Beth


  1. I recall reading on a blog somewhere that little button on the foot can be pushed in to keep the foot level when sewing from thick to thin fabrics, perhaps when you are sewing over thick seams in heavy fabrics. I'm sure a quick google would answer all your questions.

  2. I always wondered about that foot on the Singer. I'm also no sure what exactly is the difference between the foot marked A and the one marked B. They seem completely interchangeable to me.

  3. Keeping the fabric level over very thick fabric or multi layers is the purpose of the foot. Pressing on the little spring loaded button adjusts the tilt of the foot that you would otherwise have. Handy if you decide to place a "hump jumper".

  4. I can't wait to see your moveable workstation. So you are a regular Tim The Toolman"! How nice! That's a great top, I love the fabric! Your friend is a very lucky lady!

  5. Indeed that is were that little black button is for, I love it, just befor you reach that point were you have to stitch over those thick layers of fabric, just push that button and slowly continue. It is magic!!

  6. OMG, I found another person who isn't gaga over Pinterest!?!?!??!!!! I thought I was the only one, in the WORLD. LOL!

    Love the analytical posts about sewing :-) can't wait for all the finished goods.

  7. What everyone else said about the button--it keeps your presser foot level when going over humps like in jeans and it resets itself once you're over the hump.
    Your renfrew looks very very nice. That fabric is neat!
    I have been looking at the Ikea site for a stand for my elna press. I have two options in mind. one they can ship to me and I don't have to take any time off from work and with shipping it's under $100, but it is just big enough for the press and nothing else. The other is larger and I could potentially put a mini ironing board on it, but it comes via delivery service so I'd have to take a day off from work and the grand total is $350. Or I could get 2 of the smaller one. The height of either option is in the 33" range. Decisions, decisions!!

  8. Wow! I love a good spreadsheet analysis. Really stopping to think about what you are sewing is so helpful. I'm in the middle of doing this myself for my whole wardrobe.

  9. A Craftsman drill?!? You are a woman of many skills!

  10. I can't wait to see the new sewing table and I'm impressed with the use of the power tools. I'm sure your friend will enjoy the new top! I didn't get Pinterest at first either, it kind of grows on you but I use it primarily while I'm commuting so it isn't too much of a time suck for me. Finally, I learned something new about the sewing machine foot, thanks for that!

  11. I always wondered what that button was for. I have some fabric that looks very much the same as your Renfrew fabric. I picked up a rather large remnant at a shop in Australia. Is your's double sided, but with more darker grey on the reverse? I'm thinking of making mine in to a draped cardigan.

  12. Interesting statistics, Beth, and I *love* that Renfew! What a fabulous fabric!

  13. How's the DIY table going please Beth :)?