THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

March 26, 2009

Going Local

Filed under: Gigi — Gigi @ 8:59 am

As some of you may know, my life right now is pretty crazy! I’m working a lot and to keep my sewing mojo going my projects are getting much simpler – I’ve even been quilting! So as of March 31, 2009 I’ll confine my blogging to my personal blog “Behind the Seams”. All of my Sewing Divas posts will stay right here though.

It’s been fun!

November 8, 2008

Industrial Buttonholer

Filed under: Gigi,Tools — Gigi @ 11:40 am

Well, here it is. It’s a beastly-looking thing, isn’t it? I’m not sure how much I’ll use it but I’m anxious to try it out and see how it works. Thank goodness the instruction booklet is a bit better than the typical translated-from-Japanese manuals that often leave me scratching my head.

Since some of you asked, this is intended for use on an industrial straight-stitch machine but will also work on a commercial zigzag (like my Singer 20U-33) set for straight stitch. This is basically just the industrial version of the old Singer/Greist buttonholers made for straight-stitch machines – the ones that came in the old dark green (for vertical needle) or maroon (for slant needle) plastic boxes. The attachment moves the fabric back and forth but width and length has to be set manually since there are no templates.



November 4, 2008

Cool tools!

Filed under: Gigi,Machines,Tools,Vintage Sewing — Gigi @ 9:03 pm

I was so bummed out when I saw the super-fantastic Bernina invisible zipper foot #35 wasn’t made in a version to fit my Bernina 1530. 😦 I have a really nice, all-metal invisible zipper foot for my industrial machine and wanted something similar. Up until now, I have been using (and been perfectly satisfied with) the 3-groove pintuck foot to install invisible zips. Still, I was complaining to my friend Greg about how unfair it was that Bernina doesn’t support the older machines. Then he got that Aha! look on his face and wondered aloud if the only difference between the classic feet and the Artista/Activa feet was the shank. I immediately called my friend Sharon (who works at a Bernina dealership) and asked her to bring me the foot in question. We popped off the shank and replaced it with the shank from an old #0 foot I found laying around the shop and there you go – an invisible zipper foot for my 1530! I just love it when a plan comes together. 🙂


While rummaging through my friend’s shop lately I’ve found some really, really interesting things. Many, many buttonholers, for one. To be honest, I’ve never had any interest in buttonholers because my machine makes really nice ones. Then, I started playing around with them. Now I own three! This first one is a low-shank buttonholer for use on a straight stitch machine. It actually moves the fabric back and forth – so cool! And check out the awesome buttonholes I made on a scrap of rayon jersey! And, yes, you can adjust the distance between the beads.


I stitched the buttonhole on the left once and the one on the right twice. You can stitch around up to three times.


Then Greg thought I might prefer the Singer Professional (for zigzag machines) instead so I tried it and bought two: one low-shank (vertical needle if you are looking on Ebay) for my Singer Genie, Pfaff or my Bernina (using the low-shank adaptor) and a slant version for the Singer 600-series machine which I’m going to keep set up just to make buttonholes. The Singer Professional even has templates for bound buttonholes and a beautiful eyelet. Seriously, these are so inexpensive everyone should have one even if for nothing more than a good keyhole buttonhole!


Now I can’t wait to try the industrial buttonholer that Greg gave me for my Singer 20U!

Speaking of the Genie, I bought another one recently. I sold mine a few years ago and have always regretted it so I’m happy she’s back. Boy, this one sews like a dream and, at about 11 lbs., is the perfect little machine to toss in the car and much less precious than my Featherweight! This is model 354 (which has one more stitch than the original 353) from 1974.



Lastly, as I may have mentioned, I have been helping my friend sell some old inventory on Ebay. His father opened the shop in 1967 and I don’t think anyone has ever gotten rid of anything so the walls are closing in on us!

We found some really amazing vintage feet and attachments as we were going through boxes, one of which was this wonderful Singer one-thread embroidery attachment (#26538) from the 1920s. Specialty thread, cord or yarn is fed into the attachment and twisted around as the machine stitches the cord down. It’s really incredible. I did a little research and found that the last one sold on Ebay for $169 (!). He said that if I sold two of them for that much he’d gift me the third attachment. Well, he wasn’t joking because, despite my objections, this little gem is now tucked away in my sewing room. I’ll use it to embellish something as soon as I get a chance. How lucky am I?


There you go, I don’t post for months and then you can’t shut me up!

July 30, 2008

Hot Studs

Filed under: Embellishment,Gigi,Uncategorized — Gigi @ 7:00 am

I really like the dress I finished the other day but the more I looked at it, the more I felt it was missing something. It was just a bit too plain, you know? So, I started rummaging through my embellishments and didn’t find anything but some black bugle beads, meh. Then yesterday, Karla, Phyllis and I were talking about how to apply hot-fix studs and rhinestones when it hit me: I had a bag of square black 5mm hot-fix studs in my stash! The first thing I did was test them on a scrap of fabric to make sure they’d stick to the Illusion – I once used hot-fix rhinestones on stretch lace and they all fell off!

I used the smaller flat tip on my Kandi Kane and cut a small piece of a Teflon sheet to slide between the layers to prevent the glue from bleeding through. If you don’t want your front and back glued together get a Teflon sheet and use it!


Application is really simple. Just lay the studs into position and heat them up with the Kandi Kane tip. I couldn’t find the directions so I just tested and decided to hold the tip on for a count of 15. You will naturally want to press down on the stud with your finger after removing the tip – beware that it is very hot! If you can’t help yourself wear a thick leather thimble (or even an oven mitt) as a metal one might scratch the surface.


I concentrated most of the studs at the center front thinning them out towards the top and just sprinkling them around the back.



I also sprinkled a few on the sleeves. By this time I was running low and wanted to keep a few in reserve for repairs. I will probably order more and fill this in a bit more later.


I think they go perfectly with the geometric design of the main fabric and the whole thing took me about an hour.

July 26, 2008


Filed under: Embellishment,Fit/Pattern Alterations,Gigi,Patterns,sewing — Gigi @ 3:48 pm

I woke up this morning ready to tackle the Hot Patterns Wong-Singh-Jones Kimono Wrap Dress, other projects in the queue be damned (I know, I think I have adult ADD). I thought about it all day yesterday and couldn’t wait to get started! You see, this dress has been on my to-do list forever. I had it in my head that I wanted to use two solids or a solid and a print but just haven’t found two fabrics that were perfect so I decided to just go ahead and make it in a print for now. I’m sure even the Hot Patterns Team is sick and tired of my endless versions of the Cosmopolitan Dress!

As I headed to the sewing room this morning I poked my head into the exercise room (where my cutting table used to be) and saw this:


A dress version of Jalie 2793 that I cut out months ago. For some reason I just lost interest in it after it was all cut out. I think I was dreading sewing with the stretch Illusion I was using for the contrast. That stuff is never fun to sew, sort of like handling vermicelli (the worm or the spaghetti). The fabric is a gorgeous rayon/lycra from Textile Studios which made me feel a little guilty. Okay, a lot guilty. So, I grabbed the sad little pile of fabric and continued on my way to the sewing room.


I often look at top and dress patterns interchangeably. A top can become a dress and a dress can become a top. Since this top was already flared at the hip I simply chalked the extra length directly onto the fabric. If you are working with a fitted top it’s easiest to pull out a favorite dress pattern and marry the two at the waist.

I thought it would be pretty to use black stretch Illusion for the neckline, the modesty panel and the sleeve bands. Awhile back I used it for the bands on this Jalie 2449 top and really liked the effect. And, yes, I sewed all of those little paillettes on individually, by hand. Tedious but worth it.


Sewing with the Illusion didn’t turn out to be so bad. Rather than serging, I used a very narrow zigzag to stitch all of the enclosed seams. I originally wanted to zigzag over black elastic thread to stabilize the neckline but I didn’t have any and, as it turned out, I really didn’t need it anyway. I then carefully trimmed the seam allowances down to 1/8″ with my rotary cutter. In retrospect, I could have used my perling machine. Oh well, I just didn’t think of it!


This left me with a nice neat seam. To make it a little easier to handle I machine basted the outer edges together after turning and pressing. The fabric can be wiggly and I didn’t want anything slipping out of place during serging. Yikes, I really need to recover my pressing board.



I debated whether or not the modesty panel was necessary. I decided to go ahead with it because I knew the weight of the fabric would pull the neckline down a bit. During fitting, I was really glad I did! As you can see, this would be pretty risque without the panel.


Here’s a better photo on the mannequin – I take the worst mirror pictures of anyone in the online sewing community.


I love the way the Illusion looks on the sleeves!


Here’s the completed dress. It needs shortening and hemming but I’m going to let it hang out for a day before I finish up. Doesn’t it always feel so good to complete a UFO and hang a new garment in one’s closet?


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