Sunday, June 22, 2014

Machine Loyalty

A quick post today, to let you know that I'm alive and kicking. I have been sewing and have a couple of posts in draft mode, just waiting for photos. I'll get to them this week, I hope - no promises.

But I'm hanging around doing nothing (not really, but telling you I've been crazy busy gets old really fast...) This weekend ranks up there with the busiest - work at Sawyer Brook yesterday morning, an unusual thing because of a bus group shopping visit; an ASDP chapter annual meeting in the afternoon; a bridal shower for a neighbor today. I barely have time to read the Sunday paper!

But I picked up the newest Threads magazine this morning and was so pleased to see a spread on my friend Helen Haughey's studio in St. Louis. I saw her space about a year ago while I was out there visiting my daughter, but Helen has remodeled it recently. It's truly lovely, light and airy, and a wonderful spot in her beautiful home.  But it was the caption of a photo of her machine that caught my attention today. Helen sews on a Bernina, and the caption says she's been loyal to the brand since her first machine in her teens. 'Yay, Bernina' was my first thought, but I can't make the same claim.

How many of you sew on the same brand you first owned or used? I'm really curious about this! I meet people with all kinds of sewing backgrounds, from hobby sewists to couture designers, and I wonder if the level of expertise has more to do with brand loyalty than other factors.

I first sewed on a Singer, a treadle that was my grandmother's. Well, that was just playing around as a child.

Singer Style-0-Matic 328, circa 1960. I still have all the cams and attachments - and love its sliding zipper foot! Mom was crestfallen when the Touch and Sew came out shortly after she bought this, and she always wanted one.
My first serious I-made-this-dress-myself experience was on my mother's Singer, which I tried desperately to take for my own when I moved out of the house at 19. (There followed several years of me "borrowing" the machine that had sat unused for months, only to have Mom insist just days later that I had to bring it back because she "needed" it, until she finally bought the machine of her dreams. Then it was years of her begging me to trade with her, because she didn't like her new one as well.) It was the only machine I owned until I made the decision to open my sewing business. What I added at that point was a Necchi, only because it was a "sewing school overstock" sale that I found at the right place and time.

My Bernina loyalty doesn't even start with a regular machine. I bought a Bernette serger after a weekend sewing seminar. After my first classes using this serger, the sponsor/store owner offered these brand-new machines we'd used for class, at half price - making me a customer for life. I didn't even have the money to pay for serger yet, so it had to go on my family credit card (my husband's only comment when I called him for permission was "Get all the attachments that go with it now, so you won't be looking for them later." Gotta love a man, he understands the importance of the right tools for the job!)
This is the serger my DH repaired last year, when the brushes had worn down to less than nubs. Great having an in-house repairman!

The serious machine that really got me started and triggered my loyalty is my Bernina. Only a month or so after I brought home the Bernette serger, the same store owner made me a fabulous deal on a very gently used (only 3 months old) 1230 that had just been traded in. She even gave me a 3-months-same-as-cash credit deal, when my business was brand new. I paid it off in that time, and will be forever grateful to Ann Sullivan, of Ann's Fabrics in Canton, MA.

And the 1230 is still humming away, doing the bulk of my work day-in, day-out.

So where do your loyalties lie? I'd love to read your comments!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My favorite custom project...

This morning, I was commissioned for the first custom project of the year - a christening gown to be made from the mother's wedding gown. Repurposing a gown that was such a large investment really appeals to my "green" side, and I love when a family chooses this for their baby's christening. It's always a pleasure to see what style gown the client is bringing me, to get the creative juices flowing as we discuss ideas for the baby's gown.

Today's consultation couldn't have gone faster or smoother - I'd taken some time to set out photos of past gowns I'd made before the clients arrived, including a slideshow on my new MacBook Pro (yay Photoshop!) While it's usually the mother who comes to see me for these projects, this time both parents brought their beautiful little girl, and both were very vocal on their preferences for the baby's outfit. This wedding gown is made from an all-over lace embellished with beaded edging and appliques, over a satin undergown, and the couple really liked one of the gowns I'd done several years ago using a similar style.
I'd made a simple satin gown, and a jumper-style overdress of the embellished lace. As I remember, the lace was quite heavy due to the beading, and I had suggested the idea of the separate dress to counteract the weight, as well as make it easier to clean. The lace dress can be removed after the christening ceremony, leaving the baby in the satin gown for the after-party celebration.

The challenge is going to be choosing the cleanest areas of the lace from the bridal gown to incorporate into the baby's gown. It was disappointing to see the yellowing that happened following the cleaning and storage process - many of the sequins and beads are discolored, probably due to a combination of dry cleaning chemicals and storage in a plastic gown bag. The resulting off-gasses can really do some damage. Both parents were pretty set on using the whitest parts of the lace, even if it means sacrificing some of the decorative details.

Keep watching for photos as I make progress on this gown. I can't tell you how happy I am to be able to do this project - it's been too long since I've had a really creative garment to make - and to be paid to make it! - Having a baby in the studio was pretty fun, too.

Now if it would only stop snowing for more than a few days....I'd love to see signs of winter ending and spring coming on!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Christmas gifting from the stash and scrap bags!

In the last weeks before Christmas, I managed to sneak into the studio to whip up a couple of little gifts for the girls and guys in my family. Digging into the stash, I found two great wool plaids and made scarves for my two sons, son-in-law, brother-in-law and DH. Simple! Snip-and-tear to size, stabilizing straight stitch along each edge and pulled threads to fringe all around.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

What will 2014 bring?

I've been reading the many "top 5 of 2013" posts my fellow and most-often-read bloggers in the sewisphere have written, and felt a bit guilty that I haven't done one. I don't know that I could find 5 of anything that I'd want to list from the past year, because I also feel guilty about the extremely low number of posts I wrote. As I start out fresh for the new year, perhaps it's time for me to channel my usual resolution-listing into what I'd love most to see from my sewing and blogging.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Country Dressing, New England style

Now that I'm back from the Nashville ASDP conference, I want to post an update on the brocade and leather jacket. Finished in time to take to conference, and submitted to the members' fashion show for the board "Oh Sew Country" presentation that was requested

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Here I am in Nashville!

Well, I've arrived in Nashville for the ASDP conference! Our hotel is the Inn at Opryland, right across the street from the the Opryland Resort with its amazingly beautiful atriums and conservatory gardens, and walking distance from the Grand Old Opry! Can't post any pictures, because even though I brought my camera, first of all I didn't have it on the walk we took late this afternoon (which is becoming a bad habit with me), and two, I neglected to bring the cord to upload the photos anyway. So, I'll just have to post an update when I get back home next week. The Threads Challenge finalists will be judged Friday, with the results announced at the conclusion of the members' fashion show that night. Wish me luck - although it's such an honor just for my garment to be among the entries chosen as finalists.

More later - stay tuned -

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Leather trim - thought I'd be first, now it's everywhere!

Late last Fall I had a vision of a jacket I really wanted to make. One of the fabrics from Sawyer Brook's autumn collections spoke to me every day I worked in the cutting room, and by early November I had to bring some home.