Sunday, July 15, 2012

Checking In

Since I finished the cycling jersey, I have started three projects:  recreating Ebenezer Scrooge's house coat for the upcoming Chatham Players 2012-2013 season, making a dress for a very pregnant dear friend, and learning how to use my new used serger.

Ebenezer's house coat has a story.  The costume is over 20 years old and has been used continuously by the same actor.

At the end of last season, the gentleman retired from his much beloved role, and so it seems has his costume. The robe has many tears and repairs.  It's also been let out to accommodate the ever expanding good soul and body of the actor.  My guess it's a size 53.  The theater won't select a new actor for months yet, but the work needs to start now to make a new costume.  I haven't detailed it on the blog yet, but I have already traced the main outer shell pieces to paper.  Once I thought I had a paper pattern that made sense, I transferred the pattern to a muslin sloper with a 5/8" seam allowance.  Before I make a test garment, I have two patterns I  want to compare my slopers with as a sanity check.  I will write much more as the project moves forward.

I have wanted to make a dress for over a year, but I've not had a woman brave enough to be my first model.  A month ago, one of my co-workers and trusted dog-sitter, Jessica, announced she was having her first baby.  She's tall, thin, well endowed, and has difficulty finding RTW clothing that fits.  The few outfits she has that fit now do not and she's struggling to find something comfortable.  Out of a selection of vintage maternity outfits, she picked an alternative I gave her.. Simplicity's New Look 6774.

Fortunately, I found that Sheila-CTK has already made the dress and entered her experience in her sewing blog Sheilaz-CTK . The pattern allows the matching various bodices to two different skirts.  Sheila's combination is exactly what Jessica requested. Since Jessica's will be a challenge to fit, I'm making a muslin for her to try on before I commit myself to fashion fabric.  Sheila also used a serger to finish the inside seams, which leads me to my next project.  I bought my own Elna 744 serger.

My mom had lent her Bernina 1200 to me to see if I liked working with a serger.  I think  I had the machine six months and used it twice.  Two events changed my mind about sergers.  My wife is working on a very shear blouse that has a ruffled collar.  The collar edges are finished in a fine rolled hem that she did using her serger.  Once I'd seen that rolled hem, impossible to do on a sewing machine, I made a mental note to my 'to do' list.  The straw that broke the proverbial back was my last jersey.  I should never have attempted it on a sewing machine.  Spandex is truly in the province of construction by serger.  I had to admit to myself that I was afraid of breaking my mother's serger, which she cautioned me about how much it cost her.  One does not learn while being fearful of breaking things, so I bought a used Elna 744.  It came with a manual, a VHS tape, and most of the original accessories.  The ladies at Pocono Sew-n-Vac gave me a couple of quick lessons, and I can say that I have successfully rethreaded the machine after having made a mess of it.  To date, I've made a 3-thread overlock stitch with a safety thread and I have 13 more stitches to learn.  So far I am thrilled with serging.

Three projects underway.  G'night!


  1. I'd say you have some lucky "customers" in the theater and your coworker! I will enjoy hearing about both of these projects. Great to hear that you've added a serger to your arsenal. I recommend rethreading from scratch as often as possible. Once you have it down pat, you can use the shortcut method of tying on new thread to change colors. I think it's really important to know for sure that you can rethread it manually if necessary. A lot of people learn the "tie on" method and then live in fear of some mishap that requires rethreading.

    1. We think alike about threading our machines. I did find that the former owner hadn't threaded the serger correctly which caused the upper looper to do evil things at the edge. I would have been pulling through with the 'tie on' method forever and not ever catching the source of the problem. Kudos to you for your sewing projects; I greatly admire your work.