Tag: sewing

Inktense Watercolor Look Throw Pillow: Part 2

About 2 weeks ago now, I attempted to make a watercolor look throw pillow using Derwent’s Inktense blocks. (I know A LOT of my posts have had that product in it lately… I got them for Christmas, plus they make such pretty colors!) Anyway, I got some really cool effects, but not quite what I had been going for. If you haven’t read part one here it is. I tried the process again yesterday, and I finally got the look I was going for. This time I used a heavy weight upholstery cotton, which made all the difference. I also worked on a craft mat without paper towels. Here are my fabric squares drying after the first round of color:Inktense Watercolor Look Throw Pillow

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Sewing a Simple Envelope Pillow Cover Tutorial

As promised, here is my pillow cover tutorial. I made my first cover late at night and the pictures kinda suck so I made this pretty infograph to illustrate the process a bit clearer:

How to Sew a Pillow Cover

My pillow inserts were loosely measured at 17 x 14:

Sew a Pillow Cover

I cut the new fabric out of green velvet, that I either got from my grandma or possibly it was a remnant from Joanns.

Sew a Pillow Cover

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Gloomy Skirt Minus 6″ = Gorgeous Skirt

Another skirt from a thrift store. This one was a bit expensive (for a thrift store anyway) at 14.99, but you can’t go wrong with a nice black skirt. It’s got a a crochet like top layer that is so pretty, and adds a lot of depth to the plain black:

When I bought it I thought it was a good length, sitting just over my knees. However, ever time I tried it on I couldn’t escape the  feeling that it looked more funeral-y than flirty.

Once again I broke out my scissors to do some reworking. As you can see in the picture above the crochet pattern changes about 6 inches from the bottom. I decided to try to chop off the bottom and give the skirt a new hem.

When I cut off the bottom I was left with the edge shown below. The right half has been trimmed, leaving just the loose threads.

The loose ends were actually loose, and had to be sewn down by hand.

Here is the edge, once all the modifications were done. It worked out better than I could have hoped, the edge has a pretty scallop and the length is just right.

I also had to bring up the underskirt, which was a simple enough hem. I just cut off all the extra fabric, ironed a double folded to encase the raw edge and sewed it up.

Just Another…

Here are the before shots of one of my recent thrift store find, a long floral skirt:


I liked the pattern:

and the price, but it looks way too much like a middle-aged woman’s church skirt. So I decided to make a new hem for it. I knew I wanted it to be at least knee-length so I chopped off about 10 inches and started from there.

After trying on, pinning, and adjusting and trying on and pinning and adjusting some more I landed on a length of 23 inches, or just above my knee. So I trimmed the extra fabric to just an inch:

I ironed the hem, and then tried the skirt on one more time before sewing (no one likes to rip out stitches!). I used some light blue thread I had on hand, and it matches really well. It’s actually the spool of thread that my Mom bought to hem my prom gown, I haven’t had occasion to use it again until now. Just goes to show you that it’s a mistake to throw out craft products.

I had to remove a button at the bottom to sew the new hem. The buttonhole is still there, but not very noticeably.

 I love this skirt, I’ve already worn it several times. It’s super light and airy, but it’s tight enough the wind can’t give passersby a show (always something to worry about when the winds kicks up.) Here is a lame after shot, you can see in the background how messy the room got as I worked, in the before’s it pretty clean!

I enjoy sewing new garments, but nothing beats the minimal effort you can put into switch up an almost perfect used find. If you don’t sew or don’t sew well, little projects like these are a great way to polish your skills without having to use a pattern or other scary sewing implements!

Cute Shorts Made From Men's Boxers

Using men’s boxer shorts as girl’s bloomers or around the house shorts is an easy way to get semi-customized shorts cheap and quick. I saw this idea from Honestly… WTF, originally on Pinterest. Here is their version (click the picture below to go to the post.)

I bought my boxers from Wal-Mart, but I think any clothing store would carry them, my ones came in a three pack. If you want the look above, simple stitch matching white lace to the boxers. Remember to prewash! Especially if the shorts and/or lace are cotton or mostly cotton because they will shrink and might pull at each other funny if they were sewn first. If you wanted a totally no sew pair of shorts, use a product like Stitch Witchery.

Since I had three pairs to work with, I decided to try something a little different and dye one of them bright pink.

On the left are my starting supplies. I used Rit’s powdered dye in Fuchsia. Rit has a ton of dye resources on their website, ritdye.com, including a color formula guide. I decided to use the stove top method to dye my material, since I’ve done it before and I liked the results. I wanted to do a double layer of lace, the larger lace was thrifted and of unknown content. The smaller lace I got from Wal-Mart as well and was 100% cotton. I also threw in an eighth of a yard of unbleached muslin I wanted pink for another project. I didn’t pre-wash the lace, which I should have done, and would definitely recommend you do since my 100% cotton lace shrunk and I wasn’t able to use it.

For more information on the types of dye processes including the stove top method read this, on Rit’s website. Here are my things in the dye bath:


After they had been in the dye bath for 30 minutes, I rinsed them until the water ran clear. I then threw them in the washer with my homemade detergent (recipe here) on a regular cycle. The results were mixed, I’ve read many places that the best attitude when dyeing is to expect nothing, because you never know how they will turn out.

Here are the shorts:

They were 55% cotton, 45% polyester and as you can see, they achieved more of a heather finish.

Here is a comparison of the large lace, which I think must have been 100% polyester or similar synthetic fiber, and didn’t accept the dye very well at all.

Here is the 100% cotton lace, which achieved full color and looked amazing. However, as I already mentioned I measured and cut it before I dyed/washed it. You can tell in the photo the lace shrunk quite a bit and was no longer enough to fit around the shorts.

Lastly here is the unbleached muslin before and after. It took the dye very evenly although wasn’t as vibrant as the 100% cotton lace.

I decided to sew the large lace to the front of the shorts, since I thought that looked nicer. All you need to do is pin the lace where it looks good, and sew it on.

To join the two ends of the lace, I trimmed until there was only a few millimeters of overlap, and hand-stitched the two ends together. I also hand-stitched the crotch opening closed as I want to wear these as around the house shorts. If you were planning to wear yours as bloomers layered under short skirts it wouldn’t matter as much.

Here are the shorts before and after:

I really like them, very cute and feminine for lounging around the house. Another good thing about dyeing, the shorts are now opaque, before dyeing the white fabric was sheer enough to see through. For the other two pairs of boxer shorts I have, I plan on making a plain white lace pair and maybe a black one with lots of lace to wear under some of my sluttier skirts.

Tips for Sewing with Leather

My leather handbag has been coming along, but slowly. For my first foray into sewing with leather, I’ve been pleasantly surprised how well it’s gone. I have already deviated from my original design a bit. I find it so hard not to experiment and change patterns during construction, whether they’re my own or not!

So far I’ve got the straps finished:

I’m still figuring out my flap design, but all the pattern pieces are cut out. I’m hoping to finish it this week, fingers crossed. In the meantime, I hope you all have been searching for your own leather jackets to cut up! Leather isn’t nearly as scary as it seems.

For anyone wanting to try their hand at sewing leather, below are some tips I’ve gathered from the web, books and experience. (These tips also apply to pleather, and vinyl.)

  • Don’t use pins, the holes they make won’t close up. Instead use binder clips for seams ready for the machine, and double-sided tape or rubber cement for details that can’t be clipped together.
  • Use tailor’s chalk or a sharpie to mark pattern pieces on the wrong side of the leather.
  • Purchase special leather sewing machine needles, these are sharper than regular needles and will pierce the leather with each stitch.
  • To make it easier for your machine to move the leather, use a walking foot, or teflon foot. I have also read you can stick scotch tape to a regular foot, trim it and it won’t stick to the leather, but when I tried it I saw no difference.
  • Use 100% nylon, or 100% polyester or rayon upholstery thread. To test thread for adequate strength hold 12 inches taut between your hands and pull, if it doesn’t break it will probably work okay.
  • Don’t use tiny stitches, it’s possible to rip a seam if the holes are so close together they perforate the leather.
  • For the same reason as above, don’t back-stitch, knot the end threads instead.
  • It is very likely that the tension of your machine will have to be adjusted to sew leather, test everything out on scraps first! I had to lower my upper tension a bit, to get nice stitching.
  • Don’t use an iron on leather, pound open seams with a rubber mallet, and glue with rubber cement or pound open and top stitch on either side of the seam. You can use fusible interfacing, just remember to use a pressing cloth.
  • For hand sewing, use a hand sewing leather needle. I didn’t, and ended up breaking several. It’s also advisable to use a thimble, or the needle just might go backwards into your skin, instead of forwards through the leather. I also found it helpful to use a small pair of pliers to help pull the needle through.
  • One last tip, use sharp scissors to cut through leather. If you are cutting through seams to take apart a jacket like I did, don’t use your nice fabric scissors. After taking apart the jacket, my scissors could barely cut thread.

Good luck with your leather projects, hopefully next time I post on the subject I’ll have a finished bag!

One-Seam Skirt Bedecked With Bow

Here is my completed entry for Burdastyle/Indygo Junction’s Vintage-Inspired, Modern Style Challenge! I really love how it looks and wears, in fact I wore it out to dinner tonight.

I based my design on the free vintage one-seam skirt pattern from Indygo Junction. The basic idea of the skirt is to take one yard of fabric and turn it into a one side seam, 27 inch skirt, with a zipper closure and cummerbund. For my skirt I took up the hem so it didn’t look so dated. I also changed the zipper into an elastic waistband for easier fit and wear, and made the one-seam go up the back. I also added black bias tape to the pocket flaps so they were easier to see against the skirt. Lastly, but most importantly I added a big beautiful satin bow to the back of the cummerbund:

I bought the yard of skirt fabric at a thrift store for 2.99. It was sooooo easy to sew with, it pressed beautifully and drapes nicely. I really wanted to know the fabric content so I tried to do a fiber burn test (chart and instructions here). Unfortunately I couldn’t determine the content, but I did burn my finger. Anyway, I also used 2 inch black elastic for the waistband, black bias tape, and white satin for the bow.

The vintage one-seam pattern is very easy to work with, and I would highly recommend to anyone who has basic sewing skills to try it. I plan on making several more of these skirts, I have some orange cotton print that I would love to turn into a casual one-seam skirt. Here are some action shots:

So, although I really hope I win… even if I don’t I have a gorgeous skirt that I love to wear! Check out all the other unique submissions on Burdastyle, here, and wish me luck!!

T-shirt Neckline Alteration

As I mentioned in my last post, I bought this lovely dragon t-shirt at the Salvation Army.

I neglected to try it on, which is just as well since although its neckline doesn’t fit I love the print! So here is where I would usually stick in some examples from the web of other people’s t-shirt alterations. However, when I looked for good examples, I found soooo many I decided to make a Pinterest board instead. I’ve got a ton of cool examples with tutorials attached of redoing and recycling t-shirts. There are even a couple that are no sew. Check it out here.

Back to my t-shirt, since I liked everything but the neckline I decided to just cut a new one. On the right is the neckline before altering. See how the fabric is all puckered. I wanted a boat neck or similar shoulder baring new neckline so I took tailor’s chalk and while I still had the t-shirt on marked a new line I liked.

Pretty simple, once I had a line marked out that I liked, I measured from the arm seams to make sure it was symmetrical and cut off the excess fabric:


Once the new neckline is cut, you can either leave it un-hemmed since knit fabric won’t fray or finish it. I don’t like the look of un-hemmed knits since they tend to roll up a little. The easiest way to bind a neckline or sleeve is to use single fold bias tape. So here is my quick tutorial on how to use it.

First open up the bias tape and pin it to the right side of the neckline:

Once it’s completely pinned, sew along the tape a fourth of an inch away from the edge.

It’s hard to tell but this picture is showing you that it’s sewn:

Next you will flip the bias tape over so it’s laying against the back of the shirt:


Iron the seam so the bias tape lays flat against the inside of the shirt:

Lastly, top stitch along the right side of the shirt, press again and it’s done.

There you go, a very tame t-shirt alteration. I hope to try some of the more involved projects on my Pinterest board soon. Good luck with your own alterations!



Old Attachment Tin with New Interior

As I showed you in this post, my Grandmother gave me a bunch of very cool sewing things awhile back. One of the items was an old Greist attachment tin.

Instead of keeping it as an attachment tin though, I decided to redo the inside and use it as portable storage for pins, fabric markers, seam ripper etc. Sometimes I like to prepare patterns, or mess with the fabric of projects in front of the TV or at the kitchen table.

How I changed up the inside is very simple, and could be used to “upholster” any tin or box. Using this method is also great for vintage or sentimental tins/boxes since the additions can be removed without hurting the original surface. The materials I used are on the right, fabric, plus batting and cardboard. I also used masking tape, disappearing ink, and scissors.

First I removed the old purple paper inside so it was an empty tin:

I traced around the bottom of the tin on the cardboard, and cut it out to create the correct shape to line the inside. It’s important to dry fit the cardboard so you can make adjustment to the size while it’s still easy to do. Next, I used the cardboard as a pattern to cut out the correct size of batting. The fabric I used was scraps of a silky print left over from another project. Use the cardboard again to rough cut the correct size of fabric. It doesn’t need to be precise, I used disappearing ink to trace a half-inch or so around the cardboard.









Place the batting on top of the cardboard and wrap the fabric around it, secure with masking tape:

Repeat to make another fabric covered form for the top of the tin.

I used double-sided tape to secure the forms to the tin, if you wanted a permanent hold you could use hot glue instead.

That’s it, a very simple way to spruce up a tin, here it is all filled up:

Vintage Modern Design Challenge

Burdastyle, which is a fantastic resource for sewing enthusiasts, is sponsoring a contest created by Amy Barickman of Indygo Junction. The idea is that you either take a Indygo Junction pattern, or a pattern from Amy’s book “Vintage Notions” or one 4 free patterns offered on indygojunction.com (pattern options here) and give it your own spin. To enter, upload your completed project to Burdastyle. Complete contest rules are here. The contest is open now and will end the 12th of March. The prizes sound amazing:

Sponsors Choice: The winning design will be published as an Indygo Junction pattern + An assortment of items from Coats & Clark + An assortment of items from Indygo Junction + Vintage Notions/ “The Dressmaking Collection” fabric.

BurdaCommunity Choice First Place: U.S. Winner: The SINGER 160™ Limited Edition Sewing Machine + An assortment of items from Coats & Clark + An assortment of items from Indygo Junction + Vintage Notions/ “The Dressmaking Collection” fabric.

International Winner: $499 + An assortment of items from Coats & Clark + An assortment of items from Indygo Junction + Vintage Notions / “The Dressmaking Collection” fabric.

BurdaStyle Community Choice Runner-Up: U.S. Winner: The SINGER® Curvy™ 8763 Sewing Machine + An assortment of items from Coats & Clark + An assortment of items from Indygo Junction + Vintage Notions/ “The Dressmaking Collection” fabric.

International Winner: $199 + An assortment of items from Coats & Clark + An assortment of items from Indygo Junction + Vintage Notions/ “The Dressmaking Collection” fabric.

Not to give too much of my awesome plans away, but I have chosen to use one of Indygo Junction free vintage patterns, the “One Seam Skirt.” Here is the drawing provided with the pattern instructions:

It’s a pretty simple concept, one yard of fabric used to make a 27 inch skirt with a zipper closure, pockets and a cummerbund to cover the waist. Here is the fabric I am using:

I bought it second-hand, and it’s super soft. I’ve only got a little over a yard, so hopefully I don’t screw up too bad. I might use another fabric for the cummerbund. Anyway if you sew check it out… but don’t try too hard, I could use some sweet new fabric and notions. 🙂

Ballet Inspired Tulle Skirt

I have seen ton’s of pretty tulle skirts around lately, here are some examples:


From left to right (click on the picture for origin site): 1. Burdastyle.com’s Brocade and Tulle Party Frock 2. Fashion is Spinach’s vintage tulle skirt 3. Urban Outfitters’ Pins and Needles Tulle Skirt

For my skirt I used a 1 1/2 yards of cream-colored lining fabric, 5 yards of white nylon tulle, and 1 yard of 2 inch black elastic. As you can see in the picture below I also bought 2 yards of darker beige tulle which I didn’t end up using.

The first thing I did was to make the lining of the skirt. If you wanted to add layer after layer of tulle until the skirt is opaque or wear a slip with the skirt you could skip this step. I reused this pattern, New Look 6004, which I already had and liked, which is a super simple pull on gathered skirt with elastic waistband. I used the skirt panel piece but not the other pieces and created this:

A basic lining skirt un-hemmed on the top and bottom, around 12 inches greater than my waist measurement. You could also draft your own pattern for a lining skirt like on this post on nicoleporter.wordpress.com, she also has links on that page to her tutorial on making a tulle skirt.

For my tulle overlay I took all 5 yards of my white tulle and wrapped it over and over in intervals roughly the width of the bottom of my lining skirt. I then sewed a gathering stitch around the top of the tulle. To sew a gathering stitch use the longest stitch setting, and don’t back-stitch or tie off the ends. You can then pull the thread ends  and slid the fabric along to gather it. I gathered the tulle to the width of the top of my lining skirt and pinned:

As you can see I didn’t trim my tulle, it’s still as long as it was originally. The next step is  to sew the two fabric’s together:

To measure for my waistband, I generally hold the elastic tight to my waist, the way I want the skirt to fit and add about an inch for a seam. To sew the elastic use a tight zig-zag stitch:

The best way I know to attach a waistband to fabric is to mark off the center front, center back and both sides on the elastic and the skirt:


Start by pinning the center back elastic to the center back of the skirt and as you stitch, stretch the elastic out so the next pin on the waistband meets the next mark on the skirt. Don’t forget to use a zig-zag stitch so the elastic can still stretch!

Here is my skirt with waistband attached:

I left the lining skirt un-hemmed because I thought I would add lace trim to it, but after seeing it plain I liked it more and hemmed it. I also left the tulle un-trimmed for the same reason and at this point trimmed it to about 1 1/2 inches below the lining. If you attempted this it would be easier to hem the lining before adding the tulle overlay, and trim the tulle before gathering it.

Another thing to keep in mind with this method is that you will have a vertical edge of tulle that is only attached at the waistband where you started wrapping the yards of fabric and where you ended. You can’t really see this edge when wearing the skirt since the tulle sticks together but if it bothers you can stitch the errant edge to the layer below it.

I love how it turned out, but it’s a little more puffy than I wanted. I think that was a problem with the tulle I used. I used the softest tulle I could find, but I think it was still a bit too stiff for the look I was going for. Perhaps with some laundering/steaming I could relax it a bit.



Special thanks to my parent’s for the Joann gift card that financed this project and for the beautiful nail polish I am wearing in the above pictures, also thanks to my husband for taking pictures of me in my finished skirt.

Simple Fix for a Too Tight Skirt


I picked up this dark denim skirt second-hand two days ago. It’s from Ann Taylor and I got it for $3.99. I never try stuff on at thrift stores, I generally hold it to my body and guess if it will fit or not… this time I got it wrong, but just barely. When I tried it on at home it was about an inch from being wearable and about two inches from being comfortable.

First I looked at the side seams, since they were only half-inch and serged, it would be impossible to let it out two inches. I considered adding fabric to one of the sides instead of the front but again I didn’t want to mess with the original seams. Below is how I altered the skirt to fit me, you can follow the same directions for any woven skirt with a zipper. Keep in mind the added fabric will alter fit of the whole skirt instead of just the waist like in a traditional alteration. You should also keep in mind that all fabrics and embellishments you use should have similar laundering requirements.

My extra fabric was some beige colored soft cotton that I bought second-hand: So first thing I did was decide how much fabric to add, I measured the circumference of my natural waist and the skirt. My measurement was around an 1 inch larger, so I decided to add an inch to get the skirt to my waist size and another 1 1/2 for comfort. The piece of fabric to be added also needs a seam allowance, I used a half-inch on each side. The length of the extra fabric should be the same as the skirt with a half-inch seam allowance on either end. For me the new panel was 3 1/2 inches by 19 inches. Below is the panel marked out in disappearing ink:

Next I hemmed the two smaller sides, and finished the raw edge with pinking shears. If you want you could also serge or double fold the edge to prevent the raw edge from fraying.

To determine where to cut the skirt I measured center front and center bottom and marked them with pins, then I sliced the skirt open along that line:

The next step is to pin the extra fabric right sides together to one of the skirts raw edges like so:

Stitch along the pins, back-stitching on each end to hold the thread in place. When one side is done press the seam, then repeat the process on the other side. Once the panel is attached press the seams. Like I said about the top and bottom hemming, you will need to either serge or double over the hem or use pinking shears like I did to prevent fraying:

Here is the skirt after pressing:

If you used an opaque or patterned fabric then your skirt would be finished here, my panel was a bit see thru and quite plain. I added some lace that I purchased back at the beginning of the summer (original post here). If you would like to attach similar lace, pin to the panel of fabric and hand-stitch along the straight edge.


I finish attaching my lace by tacked down the free hanging edge every few inches and binding the top and bottom edge with thread. Here is the result:

My too tight denim skirt now fits very nicely, and it looks awfully cute as well. It’s a little short to wear in winter but maybe with some leggings it would be okay. Good luck trying your own skirt alterations!

Sewing Book Score and Another Vintage Singer

In another bout of my family being wonderfully supportive of my addiction to vintage items, and project supplies, my grandmother (who is an amazing seamstress) was cleaning out her sewing room and offered me my choice of her extensive reference book collection before she donated them to Goodwill.

When I got to her house there were piles 15 books deep, some new some old. Among the most interesting that I took: Several government sponsored pamphlets printed in the 50’s on clothes making, the book “Couture Sewing Techniques” which I have checked out of the library several times, a 70’s book of men’s fashions which features drawings of funkadelic men’s suits… I could go on and on. As soon as I got home I wished I had just taken all of them, or at least 10 more.

While we were going through the books, she casually mentioned that she had seen on my blog that I had a gotten a vintage Singer and would I like another one. I thought my head would explode, besides being a piece of my family’s history (I learned to sew on it, my mom and aunts sewed on it, my grandma, my great grandma and so on sewed on it) the table is gorgeous, it use to be a treadle so the legs are iron, and the machine is running and in pristine condition. She pulled it out to show me and it went like this:

Grandma: “I don’t know if you would like it, it’s awful heavy and the table isn’t in the best-

Me: “Yes… I want it”

Grandma: “See here the top’s faded, and this drawer here has been broken since I was a kid, but it run-

Me: “I want it… yes I will take it, I will bring Matt and a truck to pick it up… yes”

She wasn’t kidding though, this thing is crazy heavy, its got a solid wood body, iron legs and the machine itself is really just a chunk of steel. I checked the serial number and it was made in 1938. I have done a bit of sewing with it, mostly just test lines to make sure I know how to thread it and that the tension is adjusted right. Below are some shots of it in my project room the last one is the sweet metal attachment tin that came with it.



Thank you Grandma!!!

Singer 15-90 Restoration: Part 2

Here is the second installment of my continued effort to restore my Singer 15-90 sewing machine, part one can be found here.

The 15-90 is an interesting machine because the electrical system is not built in. So it’s only a matter of a couple of screws and poof you have no trace of electric power. I knew that my machine needed electrical work because the first time I plugged it in the motor was running but couldn’t turn the belt and the foot pedal wasn’t consistent. The lightbulb however worked great.

So the next task on my list for restoring this machine was to take apart the electrical system to see what is going on. First up was the light fixture:

My light fixture is not in ideal condition… it wasn’t a factory standard to tie these on. I cut the string and removed the electric tape and saw that the light fixture attaches to the machine body with two small screws:

As you can see one of the holes on the light fixture body is broken, I don’t know if I can substitute a different screw to fix it or if it will have to be replaced. I looked all over the internet but I couldn’t find anything that described how to remove the light cover to change the bulb or clean the glass (the 15-91 has a different and easier set-up) So here is my trial and error guide to:

How to Take Apart the 15-90 Light Fixture

First up since the fixture is completely covered I would undo the two small screws holding the light to the machine so it is easier to work with. Next on both sides of the cover are these thin metal pieces with ridges at the top:

These must be bent and lifted away from the cover, I stuck a screwdriver into the ridges on the end and they came up just fine. With those metal pieces lifted away the cover will come off in your hand. Then you have this:

To remove the lightbulb press it down into the base and turn it counterclockwise. To replace the lightbulb line up the notches, press it into the base and turn it clockwise. The cover can be pulled apart so you have this:

As you can see my pieces are in need of some cleaning. To put the light fixture back together, reassemble the cover by sliding the glass into the metal cover and snapping them back into the black cover. If you put the metal back first the glass will not fit. Hold the metal rods apart and put the cover onto the lightbulb and snap the metal rods back into place. The light fixture can then be screwed back onto the machine and it’s good to go.

To continue taking apart the electrical I unscrewed the motor from the machine body:

It is horribly dirty and grimy behind the motor and if you look close at the connections the insulation has crumbled away leaving exposed wires, here is a close up:

With the motor unattached the 3 pin terminal (where the power cord plugs in) on the side has to be unscrewed and you can lift away the entire electrical system. Here it is laid out:

I took apart the 3 pin terminal to see how my components were connected, besides all the exposed wires, I saw both the foot pedal and motor wires were barely connected/falling off the terminal. As you can see in the picture on the right insulation was just crumbling off the wires.

So I will need at least a new power cord, insulation for the exposed wires, and then I can plug it in again and see where I am at. I am hoping the poor connections indicate that once reconnected it will work fine… fingers crossed. For now I am going to work on cleaning and oiling the machine. I should be able to get it sewing by manually turning the wheel until I can order all the parts I need to make it electric-powered again.

UPDATE: How to Clean & Restore Vintage Singer Sewing Machines the eBook is now available in the Zounds Shop! Save and print all of the information you need to fix your machine! 

Featured Blog: Grainline

I found Grainline when I was looking for cheap downloadable patterns, and ended up reading just about all her posts. Jen lives in Chicago and designs her own line of clothes called Hound, website here. She is an amazing seamstress and has some great tips and tricks for sewing. She also has several downloadable patterns for sale I love the Colorblock Dress, if I wasn’t drowning in unfinished projects I would definitely be started that.

My favorite part of Jen’s site: when I go on all the beautiful photos of clothes and sewing always inspire me to break out my machine and get to work. Some of my favorite posts:

Easy Rolled Hem

(my favorite of her tips and tricks)

Between Wind and Water

(photo’s of her beautiful collection)

Small Pouch a Long Time in the Making

(I have ton’s of these kind of projects too)

So check out Grainlinestudio.com for great photo’s and sewing inspiration!

Note: All the photo’s featured were taken from and are copyrighted by grainlinestudio.com

Singer 15-90 Restoration: Part 1

I have recently been given a 1948 Singer 15-90 Sewing Machine (original post here) and being the information hog that I am have been researching the 15-90’s for hours on end. It is pretty fascinating stuff, but I have had problems finding info on the 15-90 specifically. Apparently they’re identical to the earlier 15-89’s but electric and identical to the latter model 15-91 but with a different motor. What I really need is the original instruction manual, which would give concrete particulars on things like the motor not to mention threading and notions. Singer’s website has a free manual download for almost every machine they made, unfortunately they don’t have mine. Everywhere else I’ve looked lists the 15-90 under the 15-89 manual, main problem of course is the 15-89 wasn’t electric. Oh well I suppose I will eventually break down and buy one-off eBay.

As far as getting it running goes, I’ve dismantled the shuttle completely and cleaned all the rust off the components.

I also discovered that the bobbin that was inside the machine is the wrong kind (it’s a 66 but the machine needs a 15). So far it looks like the motor is the only thing wrong. The wheel turns fine, and moves the needle up and down without hitting the bobbin case. I think the mechanical parts will just need to be cleaned and oiled. The motor is another story, I will be taking it apart next. If it turns out to be un-fixable I might convert the machine to a hand-crank instead of messing with a replacement motor.

For anyone else looking for info on the 15-90’s I recommend the 15-89 or 15-91 manual which has the same threading as the 15-90 and can be downloaded free off Singerco.com. I also recommend the Vintage Singer Group Handbook which has great general info on cleaning, restoring etc. you can get it by joining the yahoo group Vintage Singers. It’s a total pain to join their group, but apparently that’s vintage sewing machine forum protocol, I am in the middle of jumping through hoops to join Needlebar.org. I understand wanting to maintain a solid community but come on do you really need to force members to write an introductory post before they are allowed to even read other threads? Do ya?

UPDATE: I have finished restoring my Singer here are the links to the other posts:

Part 2: Assessment, light bulb tutorial, and electrical diagram

Part 3: Disassembly of machine, cleaning, reassembly

Part 4: Tensioner reassembly

Part 5: Fixing the electrical components

Part 6: Last adjustments and replacements

UPDATE: How to Clean & Restore Vintage Singer Sewing Machines the eBook is now available in the Zounds Shop! Save and print all of the information you need to fix your machine! 

1948 Singer Sewing Machine

My aunt had this lovely machine dropped on her doorstep as a poorly thought out prank. So she didn’t want it and very sweetly gave it to me… she even brought it over to my house! Anyway I’ve identified it as a 1948 Singer 15-90. It’s in need of some lovin’ and plenty of CLR, but I can’t wait to take it apart and get it working again. I also want to re-finish the cabinet, but I think I might be getting ahead of myself… my kitchen is still not setup. Here are a couple of glamour shots of the machine, the first (and possibly cutest) is Todd inside the table when I turned my back for a minute.

Vintage Fabric Score & Letterpress Again

Another trip to the thrift store and more sweet vintage finds:

About 15 yards of beautiful vintage medium weight home decor type fabric, great find but I did have to fight for it. I was standing looking at the row of fabric with this elderly woman next to me. I grab a corner to feel the weight and texture, she grabs a corner. I look at the price she looks at the price. I take it off the hanger and she grunts at me and walks away. I win! Anyway it’s gorgeous fabric with a tan grass pattern and golden-yellow leaves on a navy field. I however won’t be needing any home decor fabric for a while… no sense in making curtains or shades for a rental.

So I am selling it in one yard increments on Etsy.com here’s the link.

I also found this:

I know pretty freakin’ sweet huh? Only $3.99, it’s not perfect but it’s large and it’s got its original drawer pull. I think it must have been donated from the same person that donated the last one I found at this thrift store, just seems like too big of a coincidence.

I have already started working on making it the ultimate jewelry storage center. Like these:


Wardrobe Revamp: Too Short Skirt Fix

In this edition of Wardrobe Revamp I have this lovely little skirt:

I really like the feel of the fabric, the deep side pockets, the detailing on the front and the super comfy elastic back… What I don’t like is that when worn on the true waist like in this picture I couldn’t bend over at all, not even a little without giving passers-by a peep show. Unfortunately I bought it before thoroughly evaluating the fit. I intended to return it but a few days turned into a few weeks and eventually the date to return had passed and I was the proud own of a skirt that I couldn’t wear. Yay!

So I decided to buy some coordinating fabric, and splice it in. The plan was to cut the skirt about 3 inches up from the hemline, attach 6 inches or so of the new fabric and then sew the old fabric on to the bottom. Which would have looked awesome, however I didn’t think that idea through. To simplify the problem think about a flare skirt that is 5 inches at waistband and “flares” out to 10 inches at the hem. If you take fabric at the middle of this hypothetical skirt, then try to attach it at the bottom you will be short several inches. D’oh.

I ended up just sewing on the new fabric (gray poplin) and giving a decorative topstitch hem.

I don’t think it has the same style as the original but I still like the result. For anyone who wants to add some length to a flared skirt my method was: lay the skirt flat on top of your fabric, take a ruler and lay it on the outside edge of the skirt so you can mark the correct angle of flare onto to new fabric. Mark the angle on the fabric for both sides and then use the skirt hem as a guide for the hem curve.

Postcard Journal Tutorial

Clear Cover Postcard Journal Tutorial

Check out pictures of my completed notebook here.

Supplies: postcard, coordinating paper, filler paper*, clear contact paper, corner rounder, date stamp & ink, white glue, spray adhesive, sewing machine & coordinating thread, close-pins or binder clips, utility knife or scissors

*for my small postcard, 8 sheets of regular printer paper cut twice gave me 16 double wide pages and once fold 32 pages, the extra page is used for attaching the filler paper to the cover

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