Tuesday, June 24, 2014

PJ pants in Nani Iro 'Painting Check' brushed cotton

These pyjama pants were cut out across the width of the fabric, to make the most of the beautiful Nani Iro 'Painting Check' design (available in store or online here), which changes colours as it nears the selvedge. 

The brushed cotton is extremely soft and supremely comfortable. And these didn't even need hemming because the bottom edge is the little fluffy selvedge itself.

They were made for my husband, on his request. I unpicked an old pair of his PJs to use as a pattern. They're mostly a very simple design, being mass-produced cheapies from many moons ago, yet somewhat bizarrely they featured a full button fly. In elastic-waisted pyjama pants. Didn't think I'd copy that part.
Yes, the Nani Iro is a slightly more sophisticated look for the grown man than these elephants

Instead I opted for a faux fly opening and full elastic waistband, with functional self-fabric drawstrings in the front.
 Adding patch pockets to the sides allowed more decorative use of the fabric border.

Simple handmade that will see a lot of wear this winter and for more to come!

PATTERN: deconstructed existing worn-out PJ pants
NOTIONS: cotton thread, elastic
TOOLS: Clover Bias Tape Maker to make drawstring (cut on grain not bias), vintage Singer buttonholer attachment for drawstring holes

- Jane x

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Deer and Doe Aubepine in Natural Linen

Our love for Deer and Doe patterns continues! Fresh from the success of the free Plantain t-shirt pattern, the next project we picked was this 'Aubepine' dress. 

Here it is freshly finished, unironed - in its 'natural' Natural Linen state. (And really, this is how we like our linen.)
 As the pattern says:
"Empire waist dress with elbow length sleeves, lined. Tucks on bodice and sleeves, adjustable waist string and flared skirt punctuated by 8 inverted box pleats."
Deer and Doe patterns come with both English and French instructions. They are beautifully packaged, with excellent instructions and diagrams. You can see more garments on 'real life' sewists of varying shapes and sizes in their Flickr pool here.

It's Deer and Doe's policy to only sell their patterns through 'bricks and mortar' shops so we can't offer them in our online shop. However, if you are not nearby The Drapery, you can ring us (Wed - Fri 10am - 4pm, Sat 12 - 4 Adelaide time) or email info@thedrapery.com.au and we can help you out. The patterns we have available presently are: Aubepine, Sureau and Reglisse dresses, Chardon and Anemone skirts, Airelle blouse.

For my version, I decided against using a lining, so I had to make a couple of small adjustments to the finishing. Other than that, I sewed a straight size 42 - using the fit of my Plantain tops as a guide - and the fit is great.

Adjustments to make an unlined dress:
Normally the casing for the waist drawstring is made between the outer and lining, so instead I pressed the waist/skirt seam allowance up and stitched that down to the bodice to make the casing. Below, you can see this from the inside: edge of seam allowance overlocked without trimming it down at all, then seam allowance stitched down close to edge of overlocking to create narrow casing.

The neckline is usually finished by attaching to the lining. I finished this unlined neckline by binding with self-fabric bias tape.

I also made a self-fabric drawstring instead of using ribbon.
The drawstring was made with more self-fabric bias tape, double folded and topstitched. The pattern suggests a narrow ribbon which would slide more easily through the casing, but this is perfectly fine.

Buttonholes reinforced on the inside.
The buttonholes for the drawstring were made with a vintage Singer buttonholer attachment, and reinforced on the inside with iron-on interfacing plus a couple of pieces of the linen selvedge for extra strength.

Don't be scared by the pleats!
The sweet pleats are what really makes this pattern, and they are a delight to sew in linen. After carefully marking the lines with heat-erasable pen, I was able to finger-press the pleats into place before stitching. And in the crinkly earthiness of the natural linen, any slight wonkiness just adds to the rustic charm... well that's my story and I'm sticking to it :)

The sleeves are quite narrow with no 'puff' at the shoulder so will be excellent for layering with a cardigan in cooler weather. And it has side seam pockets - yay! Although these would be easy to leave out if you prefer.

We can imagine this dress in all kind of fabrics. Take a look at clever blogger/customer Nicole's gorgeous cocktail frock version here. We also think it would be great in Robert Kaufman Essex linen/cotton, lightweight hemp/organic cotton denim/chambray or perhaps a Japanese woven-patterned cotton. Fabric requirements are 2.4m for 150cm wide fabric like our Natural Linen, or 2.7m for 110cm wide fabrics.

- Jane & Fiona xx

Monday, June 2, 2014

Singer Tension Assembly Fix

This post is kind of technical and specific to certain machines. However I could not find this help elsewhere on the internet so consider this my contribution to the sewing machine self-help knowledge pool. If you find it helpful please let me know!

The clever Nichola at Handmaker's Factory in Melbourne recently posted about fixing the timing on the industrial Janome sewing machine in their studio. This spurred me into action because I knew I had an old Singer that needed its timing fixed. I have a love of old mechanical sewing machines and fixing minor issues makes me feel rather handy. So I watched the videos, gave it a try and it worked! Booyah!

But. The machine still had a problem. Pretty much total lack of tension on the upper thread. The end of the tension dial would not wind in far enough to put pressure on the tension discs, and when wound out, it would keep winding and come right off.

The machine is a Singer 348 - the beguiling 'Blue Magic'.

This is how the tension dial should have looked - happy:
 And how it was - sad.

But I finally worked out how to fix it and I was so pleased - and it's really so simple - that I wanted to share it in case it will help anyone else.

Below you will see I have unscrewed the numbered end dial of the assembly until it comes right off. Leave everything else right where it is - don't pull it apart.
(If it happens to jump apart by itself don't panic, there's a very clear photographic record of how to assemble a slightly older Singer tension dial here, which is basically the same except for this last part.)

Now, in the slightly blurry shot below, you see the 'stop washer' with a small finger-like extension up the top. It slots over the two prongs of the 'tension stud' that goes right through the middle of the whole assembly.
When the front dial is on, that little finger will stop it turning when it hits the bump inside the dial (blue plastic, below).
If you simply screw the dial straight back on, the stop washer will stop the dial after just a turn or two. So you need to push the stop washer back against the spring that's behind it, so the dial can screw on further.
Screw the dial on as far as it will initially go. (Tip: read NB section at end of post.) Then take a small screwdriver or other flat instrument that will fit down the centre and between the prongs of the tension stud. 
 When you feel the resistance of the stop washer, push a bit harder. The stop washer should push back against the spring and release the front dial so you can screw it on further. (Use fingers to screw dial on further - mine were busy with the camera!)
 Now the dial should be in its proper position, and you will be able to turn it between 0 and 9 and it will not be able to come off. (Unless you want to take it off, in which case you will need to depress the stop washer again to release.)
Happy tension dial!

NB: test the tension - you may have to play around a bit with where the numbers are facing when you initially screw the front dial on. The tension assembly post I linked to above suggests you should start with numbers 2-3 at the top. This will determine how far the dial will screw on before the stop washer engages, and therefore how much pressure/tension is created. I ended up with way too much tension on my first couple of tries.

Here's another tip: I've found this offset screwdriver an invaluable tool when tinkering with sewing machines. Sometimes screws are in tricky locations that don't allow even short screwdrivers to fit properly in, and trying to 'make do' can end up in frustration and mangled screw heads. This just came from the hardware store. Surprisingly, with some machines you even need a tool like this just to get proper access to clean lint out from around the bobbin case and feed dogs. Which of course is something you all do regularly, right?!

If your machine still has issues or if tinkering really isn't your style, or perhaps your machine just needs a service and some TLC, we recommend the lovely folk at All Make Sewing Centre on Goodwood Road.

Happy sewing!

- Jane x