Adventures in Baby Lock land! Test drive on a new machine

I have been rocking my $100 Singer for a while now, and I think it is getting to the point where it is hanging on by a thread <pun intended nyuk nyuk nyuk>. The bobbin is good for about 3 or 4 runs and then the thread pulls itself loose and I have to stop what I am doing and open up the machine and start messing with it and tricking it into working properly. I have tried everything, the tension, tightening and loosening the little screw on that plate thingy, nothing works for very long. Needless to say it is driving me nuts! Now that I have my new Serger that runs so well and makes such good clean stitches I really have the bug to upgrade to a sleeker, higher end, computerized model. However, good sewing machines (especially with all the features I want) come at a price- usually a high one. Lucky for me my husband is in the market for an upgrade on his hobby too- a new kayak playboat- so we struck a deal 😀  I get a new sewing machine and he can buy a new kayak. Guess we will be eating a lot of ramen noodles for a while!

My dear friend Jo heard about my quest for a new machine so she graciously lended me her Baby Lock Decorators Choice to test drive for about a week. This machine is fabulous! It has all the features that I am looking for: drop in bobbin (no more struggling and tighting screws), over 200 stitches including 3 alphabets and even a cute little crocodile stitch, automatic threader, automatic cutter, start and stop self stitching without the footpad- sorry don’t know the technical term, dual needles, and it can sew through layers of heavy fabric. It also has tons of accessories, and something she was sure about which I have now confirmed through usage; if you make a mistake or do something wrong it will pop up a message telling you what the error is and what to do to fix it. Pretty bad ass!

Here is the threading trail for the machine- it reminded me a lot of my Serger.

For my Mom’s birthday I used McCalls 6338 to make her the casserole dish carrier. This pattern had called for hot and cold prequilted fabric, but I couldn’t find any. The regular prequilted fabric was crazy expensive so I opted for terrycloth instead. Since she will probably use it for things other than casseroles as she doesn’t really make casseroles then I think the terrycloth lining will work fine. This was the perfect project to test out on Jo’s Baby Lock since it had so many layers of thick fabric, I wanted to see if it could handle it! Well let me tell you, the Baby Lock sewed through these layers like a champ! Here it is in action:

And through a layer of terrycloth, and three sheets of cotton:

And the finished product, not as sturdy had it been made with quilting but I think my mom wll like it:

Overall I am really enjoying the Baby Lock Decorator’s Choice. The only complaint I have so far is that since the bobbin drops in and the thread stays down with it, there tends to be kind of a sloppy start to the stitching because the ends get caught up, but its not a big deal, it can easily be pulled out and snipped.

 I have looked for it online and have had some trouble finding it so I am not sure if it is even an available model. It is also pretty expensive, about $800. There are some models I have been looking at that are similar, the Brother IS Innov series have gotten great reviews on Consumer Reports, however the one that I think I am pretty dead set on is the Brother PC 420. It is very similar to the Baby Lock DC, all the same features, 294 stitches, and it is a Project Runway Limited edition so there is an added feature to create and program your own stitch. Not sure how it works or how much I will use this feature, but it sounds really cool!

This model has tons of great reviews, and it costs about $450-$500, more reasonable than a Baby Lock. I saw a lot of really cool embroidery machines, however I only use my machine for construction of garments and crafts and I know I will never embroider anything.  If anyone has used this machine or has any other recommendations I would love to hear from you! I am trying to stay in the $500 range.

On a final note (off topic) my SuedeSays prizes finally arrived! I received the 2011 Simplicty Autumn catalog and the two Fall SuedeSays patterns yesterday, all signed by Suede. The patterns are pretty cute, I really like the jacket and the flowy bohemian top. I’m still enjoying summer, but these patterns make me look forward to Fall outfits!

 


Orange-ya glad for Seersucker? McCalls 4769

This has been one HOT ass summer in Louisville, we’ve had heat advisories and humidity that can melt tires. I have been crazy busy with school and work (the reason why I haven’t been posting much lately) but since I am stuck in these places for so many hours its nice to have some cute summer friendly outfits to wear while I am there. My downtown office is air conditioned, but since I work in a cubicle I find that in order to maintain my sanity I need to get out at lunch and go for a walk. Pants are just miserable in this heat so I have been trying to make more office friendly dresses. This McCalls 4769 pattern is a button down dress and it has a bit of Marilyn Monroe flair to the skirt which is so chic! I have really been wanting to try a seersucker number for a long time now so this one  made the cut!

I chose the sleeveless version as obviously this one provides the most relief with heat. I really really like the eyelet dress that the model is wearing, I have never worked with eyelet material and this is really inspiring to me. Oh well, I guess I will just add it to my growing list of projects… maybe someday!

I used orange seersucker since it seemed like a fun sunny summer color. Seersucker is kind of an oddball fabric, clearly it is made with cotton but since it is striped and has ridges it also wrinkles easily (but not as badly as linen). The plus is it is not heavy and won’t made you feel constricted. I decided to go with orange pearl snaps instead of buttons- can you tell I am obsessed with snaps? I just think they are so fun and add more spunk to a garment than buttons. These matched perfectly too!

This dress took me a while, but mostly because I haven’t had too much time to focus on it. It was kind of a pain, I cannot lie. I have made a button down dress before- posted https://mystitchnbitch.wordpress.com/category/shirtdress/. It was not difficult to make or interpret the instructions, but this dress was so interface happy it was unreal!!  There was interfacing in the collar, both plackets, and the facings for the collar and plackets all of which were long and narrow and had to be adhered in sections for incremental amounts of time. The time I spent adhering the interfacing was ridiculous, I refilled my Rowenta with water three times because the steam was flowing nonstop. I also let these dry overnight before sewing them because I just don’t like to work with wet pieces. Frankly, I think it was way too much interfacing, the next time I make this dress I would limit the interfacing to the collar and plackets only. I also noticed a lot of reviews on this dress people said they were confused with the directions for the collar attachment, I thought it was pretty straightforward, and if you had problems following the directions you could easily just wing it. 

The main dress pieces were simple, just normal darts in the bodice and attachment to the skirt. Now that I have Brother Sergio, I have been using him to finish all the seams and hems that I possibly can to make my garments more professional. This dress has pockets, and I decided I would go ahead and serge them on along with the front and back skirt seamed. Woopsies… I ended up messing up and the knife cut the pocket edge too far, it left a big hole at the bottom of the seam pocket. I used my Singer and fixed it by straight stitching outside the tear, but the effect left an odd pull on my seam. I don’t think it is too noticable though, I asked my husband to zoom in and take a close up of the flaw and he didn’t know what I was talking about until I physically pointed it out to him. I guess this just goes to show that we are our own worst critics.

In the end I am very happy with this dress, the bodice is a little bigger than I would like, but at this point it is not so big that I am going to spend anymore time making alterations- too many other projects, Next!! This is a cute dress, great for work or a brunch on a hot summer day. I would make this again in the eyelet fabric they featured but with less interfacing next time.


McCalls 6112- va va voom showcaser!

When my husband and I got married last year, we had a Fall owl themed wedding because we both love owls and how cute and quirky they are. We ended up getting a lot of owl related wedding gifts and decorations so it has turned into a little collection. Recently, my husband’s awesomely fabulous Aunt Madonna gave me this crazy cute vintage owl necklace. I have seen these huge owl necklaces around and I love how 60’s and old school they are.

This necklace is quite a statement piece so I wanted to make a dress to wear with it that would show  it off. I have seen a couple of posts of people who have made the McCalls 6112 dress in view B in a plain black knit so that it can serve as a back drop dress to showcase jewelry and bright shoes.  I decided that this would be perfect for my owl necklace, and it would also give me a chance to practice my serging techniques.

This dress was very simple, though I took some extra time on it to try and perfect a serged blind hem. Brother Sergio so far has been a dream, really user friendly and easy to operate. I taught myself how to chenge the thread down to three spools and how to use the blind hem foot to line up the edge of my fold along the hem seam- super easy. However when I finished it didn’t quite look like a “blind” hem, you could totally see the hem line fold. I serged this entire dress except for the arm slits because I didn’t want them to have this bulky folded look. While my hems don’t look bad, I was a little disapointed that they didn’t turn out exactly as I wanted. I am not sure if this material is what is causing me difficulties but instead of ironing out smooth, they looked like this:

Regardless I still like the way it turned out, I made a long wide self belt but I think it looks good with or without it. It is the perfect dress to use as a guinea pig if you are trying to work on your serging skills, this one especially so since it was black and black thread blends in so that you can’t see mistakes. I made the hem short so I could wear it out to parties and events, my husband said “well look at that sexy dress!”

Really easy dress to sew, it would be great in a fun print and it is really comfortable. You can even wear a regular bra which is always a plus!