Monday, February 12, 2007

jules' jeans #2

First thing with new mishin!

New machine is supposed to sew through anything. So what better to test it on than denim? This is a repeat stitchin' of Vogue 7481. This time I used much thicker denim and attempted some of the topstitching details. What I really wanted to work on was the fit. As well as seeming too large at the front crotch, the previous pair we slightly loose when finished and are even looser now. So I made the pattern alterations that I had noted last time: I took an inch off front waist, tapering to nothing at the hips, and then took 5/8" off most of the outside of the legs. Then I took a cm off the front inside leg all the way down. I then redrafted the waistband to taper more towards the waist. I'm not sure I got the grainline correct on both waistband pieces - the left side looks kind of wrong on the finished garment.

I'd already washed the fabric 3 times to pre-shrink it (it is what they advise for denim). Then I cut across the grain at either end and attempted to lay it out. The fabric was about 4 inches off grain! I do wonder if I made it do this by stitching the ends together before washing it (to stop it fraying). Perhaps one ought to try and straighten it while wet? Or after it is dry? Anyway I did neither of these. Instead, with James' help I laid the selvages on top of each other. The ends were about 4 inches off, but the fabric was lying very happily with a nice flat fold -- if you fold fabrc off-grain usually the fold will not lie flat. The fabric was also already showing another irritating characteristic of picking up bits. I thought I may as well carry on since the main aim was improving fit.

So I cut out and then I basted it all together in no time, using my new machine, on which it is possible to sew long stitches that can be easily pulled apart. The result certainly seemed tight!, but I've heard often of people sewing jeans which then stretch in wear that I thought I should not adjust it but carry the experiment through. I think what I failed to take into account was the extra bulk taken up by this thicker fabric which makes them tighter compared to the previous pair. I took another cm off each side of the legs below the thigh because they really did seem too baggy especially when compared to the tightness of the top. This change needs transferring to the pattern.

To test the new machine I bought some #20 thickness "jeans stitch" thread. I had wanted very dark red but it didn't seem to be available so I got an orangey instead. I wanted to be able to see it clearly to see how good the topstitching really is. I think this thread is thicker than one usually sees in RTW jeans so probably one could just as well use #30 thread which is available in a huge range of colours. Anyway, yes, the machine stiches merrily through 8+ layers of denim. I even made flat felled side seams and the new machine and new iron just made it easy. The only thing I didn't feel confident enough to do was the double row of topstitching round the fly. Perhaps next time... For the hems I copied my RTW jeans and did a double folded hem (2.5cmx2).

I haven't done any of the details like the belt loops, or the yoke and pockets of the other views. I suppose having belt loops might be useful if/when the jeans get looser.

At present they are certainly tight round the bum, but not tighter than pairs of jeans I have bought before. I am waiting for several round of wearing and washing before casting a verdict...


atarashii mishin

On the evening before Memorial for Broken Needles Day a new sewing machine arrived.
The day before, the iron stopped working so later in the week I bought a new one of them too! As you can see the new equipment is all huge and built around an icy blue theme.

The sewing machine is a SuperQuiltDX made by Janome, a Japanese company, who are also the world's largest manufacturer of sewing machines, partly because it also manufacturers a lot of the machines sold by other companies. Or does it own the other companies? I am not quite sure... I bought the machine for a lot of money (205,000¥) from Janome's local dealer in Fujisawa. I could not find this machine in any more usual shops (like the big electrical stores which, surprisingly, mostly seem to sell rather old models), on the web or even at the specialist stitchin' shops. I was so impressed with myself for finding the dealer only a 20 minute bike ride away that I wasn't going to waste time shopping around for a cheap deal!

Anyway, the SQDX is the Japanese version of the 6600, which can be found in places like Europe, Australia and North America. The only differences (as far as I can tell) apart from the casing colour and language details are that my version doesn't stitch alphabets and also has slightly fewer decorative stitches. One of the cool things about the machine is the oodles of space to the right hand side of the needle. As you can see, this allows one to more easily enjoy a nice cup of tea while stitching. The Janome 6500/6600 have their own yahoo group!

The iron is a T-Fal (or Tefal depending which country you are in), and its most amazing feature is that it flattens things. My old iron did not do this. Reminds me a bit of our old vacuum cleaner which did not pick up dust. At least my previous sewing machine - cheapest Brother that did not sport Mickey Mouses on the casing - did actually do stitchin'!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

green T-shirt for James

In September 2006 I took a Tshirt class (on the web) and stitched a couple of samples. I have several bits of fabric to carry on with this but have been rather slow getting a round tuit. The only one made so far is a light weight dark green version for James. I had to add a little width at the chest compared to last time when I used a 2-way super-stretchy fabric. In this case the error was found after I had stitched the side seams so I took them apart and added gussets at the underarm. I've altered the pattern, adding a somewhat generous amount of extra width all the way down the side seams. I have some nice fabric for another T so don't want to mess it up by cutting it too small. I can always baste it together and then sew the sides with a bigger seam allowance. I followed the class instructions for self ribbing which it seems to me produces a rather too tight neckline. I am waiting until the Tshirt has been throught the wash before passing a confident verdict on this. Possibly it will settle down just enough. There is enough fabric left to make a T-short for jules...

again - no piccie yet!

heavy cotton baggies for James

I have made in total 3 pairs of cotton baggies, and even have possible fabric for another pair. Because James is so tall he looks good (I think) in these things. However, he does not look so good in the baggy-knees sweatshirt-fabric trews he insists on wearing at home all winter. I was wondering what to do about this. Then I found a kind of ethnicy weave of rather thick cotton in the local store in Kamakura. I accidentally didn't buy enough so James had to go back with a swatch and buy some more. Only by then (a week later) they had cut the remanants up into 1m lengths! I had realised that if I see nice fabric I should buy it there and then but I hadn't realised quite how quickly it gets sold. Kamakura is obviously a stitching hotbed. James bought two 1m lengths and then I spent quite a while sewing them accurately together (being the sort of person who struggles to stitch in a straight line, this was a bit of a challenge). I was concerned that with this thick fabric even tall-James would start to look dumpy in these but turns out that the strong vertical pattern cancels out the effect.

The problem of what to do with the two ~50cm lengths left over from the purchasing error has just been solved! While writing this I kicked over my coffee cup and the smaller scraps came into service to mop up the spill. Very effective. Ethicy tea-towels then..

Pixie and shroomie

James has a silly hat which he used for cycling in the winter. But it is not warm enough (see previous post on fragile men). So I took some of the remains of the Polartec 200 WindPro fleece used to make the muslin for James' cycling fleece (which BTW has become very popular as a really warm fleece for taking mountain climbing in the winter), and roughly based on the not-warm-enough hat I made a pixie hat for jules and a mushroom hat for James. I wonder if the styles will catch on.

Somehow I doubt it by nevertheless the hats have been very serviceable this winter.

more jim jams

James said he wanted more winter jim jams. I was a little surprised since he already has 2 other pairs as well as the ones I stitched last year, and only needs 2 pairs for winter. But apparently one pair are too old and smelly and the other pair too small! So I bought some brushed cotton from Yuzawaya in Kamata. I decreased the width of the legs by an inch (ie 2 inches decrease in circumference) and otherwise stitched them the same as last time. Something I didn't mention on the blog last time is that the legs are too long. At least I had to stitch a large hem and I noticed that the first pair also have a large hem. It would be good to adjust the pattern to take a couple of inches off before cutting these out for a third time.

The clever part of making these jimjams is that two pairs resulted. I did have plans to make some nice PJs for me having ripped one of my two winter pairs last year - but I found that the rejected "too small" pair are in excellent condition and can be made to fit a jules! After all it is better to have PJs too big than too small. It is interesting how much warmer men's PJs are than women's. Now I understand that it is men who are the fragile sex!

jules' jumper in blue

I made Burda 8291 again only this time I made View A. Kind of. It is just the hoodie without the hood and in a less sporty fabric. I used a self-binding for the neckline. I thought perhaps that with the wide neckline it would be good for wearing over shirts. The fabric is a soft medium weight knit made of wool, tencel and lycra (IIRC). It is a bit clingy so not so good for wearing over shirts made from crisp fabric! Also it feels like the sweater is slightly bigger this time even though it is made from the same pattern pieces. Interesting how the choice of fabric can affect this - this fabric is thinner with less stretch recovery. My instructions said to cut 1.5 inches width for the binding but with 5/8" seam allowances this was really too little (2" would have been OK) and I ended up handstitching the backside of the binding. The only interfacing I used was lightweight interfacing on the neckline. This seems to help stop things stretching out of shape.

The only alteration to the pattern pieces was to smooth off the area near the hem a little so that it wouldn't flare out. That worked out as hoped I think. I used stretch thread and a small zigzag stitch for most of the stitching.