Thursday, January 19, 2017

The time I made an embarrassing dress

I'm sure you've heard of this saying: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Well I have but I ignored it. After sewing my successful Ikea curtain sailor top, I thought to myself, why not make the sailor top into a dress, something I could wear at home - a house dress.

I went through my fabric stash and although I have a lot of fabric, most of it did not have the required length to make a dress. When I used to buy fabric to make bags, I usually buy 1 meter's worth. Finally I found this green polka dot fabric which I used for the lining of my bags. I had two meter's worth. Perfect.

I used size M this time and didn't make any alterations to the pattern except to lengthen it. Yep, just one straight line down. Clearly I wasn't thinking straight.

Finally, I finished sewing the whole dress and I even added two patch pockets. I was so proud of myself.  I tried it on and presented myself to my family.

The verdict was unanimous. Everyone said it was awful. Everyone agreed I shouldn't wear it out. It was the colour. It was the fabric. It was the shapelessness. It was everything. Hubs said it was too embarrassing to show anyone.

Really? I went to take a look at myself in the mirror and sadly I agree. I guess I was too close to the project to realise it just doesn't work. As a top, yes. As a dress - nooooooooooo.

Today I finally dragged hubs and myself downstairs to take photos of the dress. And of course I had to wear it. Hubs wanted to do it by the bonsai trees but I wanted somewhere more secluded. So we went to the physical fitness area.

There was a cat lazing under a bench and we decided to include the cat in the photo shoot. The cat was very uninterested in us.

I tried to get its attention.

It got bored by me.

I decided to take a look at the photos hubs had taken.

Most of the photos weren't very good. Too stiff.

Then I heard hubs calling to the cat. Meow, meow, meow. Why was he trying to get the cat's attention?

Oh, he was taking photos of me and the cat. Just then, hubs saw the cat get up and walk towards me. He said nothing.

Suddenly I felt a weird velvety softness snaking past my legs. I had such a fright! I screamed and screamed.

Oh it was the cat!

I started laughing with relief.

For a moment, I thought a ghost or something had slithered past me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

How Many Sewing Machines Do You Own?

So, exactly how may sewing machines do you own? Right now I have one sewing machine and one serger, both by Janome. (notice I said right now) In case you don't know what a serger is, it's the white elephant in the room.

My Janome is a QC6260. Is it a quilting machine of sorts? I have no idea. As you may or may not know, I don't do any quilting. Maybe once in a while I may do a small "artsy" quilt thingy but that's about it. I forgot when I bought the sewing machine but it's been awhile. It's the best sewing machine I've ever owned.

My first sewing machine was a Singer. I bought it shortly after I left school. That was decades ago. I basically bought the cheapest sewing machine I could afford. Did I ever tell you my dear mother sulked up a storm when I brought the sewing machine home? She had this idea that buying a sewing machine meant I would become a professional seamstress which is something of a nightmare for her. She was also afraid I would spend money on sewing classes and fail badly and end up wasting my money.

The Singer was a very, very, very, very basic sewing machine. I can't stress the 'very' enough. It was a mechanical machine and came with a rubber belt round the hand wheel. I still had the machine when I got married but soon after it broke down. I finally gave it to a rag and bone man as I had no idea I could do a trade in.

My next sewing machine was a Sakura. One day we were at a shopping mall and hubs saw a sewing machine on sale and we bought it right there and then. Once again, price was the factor. It was a very cheap sewing machine. Unfortunately the Sakura was a very difficult sewing machine. It kept breaking down. I hated the machine. Sewing was a nightmare. Finally I traded it in and upgraded to a Brother.

My Brother was a innovis-200. OMG. What an upgrade. It had bells and whistles. It was very expensive. It had features I never knew existed. This sewing machine made me fall in love with sewing. Unfortunately, it eventually broke down after a few years. The tension was a big issue. Although I got it repaired many times it continued to break down.

I gave up on the brand Brother and turned to Janome. I had avoided Janome because they were always priced slightly higher than other brands available in Singapore. I did check out Bernina but the ones available here were the higher end ones and I can't even think of shelling out that much cash for a sewing machine. So I got Janome QC 6260 which has nearly all the features of a Brother innovis-200.

The big difference between my Brother innovis-200 and Janome QC 6260? Brother sews a lot faster. Brother also had a particular stitch which I used for reinforcement but it wasn't available in the Janome. But I love my Janome and we never quarrelled. Maybe just a bit of yelling now and then.

My one big complaint about my Janome QC 6260 is I have to use Auto tension. The machine acts up if I try to adjust anything. So auto it is. Sometimes I do wish I have another cheaper sewing machine which I can play around with and not be afraid to mess up. Basically a sewing machine I can abuse. Wouldn't that be great?

If you are looking for a sewing machine, there are a few things you should consider unless you want to do what I did when I was less smart - buy blindly based on price.

I recommend you take a look at these features:
  • A good feeding mechanism
  • Up/Down needle stopping (some people can live without it but I can't)
  • Built-in needle threader (seriously can't live without it)
  • Adjustable stitch length (a must-have)
  • Ability to sew through thick layers
  • Adjustable needle - adjustable to the left and right (this feature is really useful for sewing accurate seam allowances)
  • Automatic one-step buttonhole (essential only if you need buttonholes)

Other things to consider:
a. Drop-in bobbin or front load bobbin.
I personally prefer drop-in bobbin. So much easier to use. However, drop-in bobbins are very sensitive. You need to use the correct size bobbin case. I use Janome bobbin case.

b. Pedal or knee-operated lift for pedal
I can't for the life of me use my knee to operate the pedal. I think I have two left feet. Try it out before you buy it!

c. Weight of machine
A heavier sewing machine is better than one that's easy to carry around. It has to do with the size of the motor. The heavier the machine, the stronger the motor. The stronger the motor, the better it copes with heavier fabric and usage. If portability is more important to you, by all means get a light machine. But know what you are giving up.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

My Home-made Bread Lame

I finally have my own home-made bread lame. It is a blade used to score (slash) bread dough before baking. Previously, I used a kitchen knife. At the baking school, the teacher showed me how to make one. All you need are a double edge razor blade and a bamboo skewer.

Insert the rounded end of the skewer through the center of the blade.

I do have to be very careful when I use it because there is no screw attaching the blade to the bamboo skewer. Still I'm pretty happy with it.

When I'm not using the razor blade, I store it in a container with some vegetable oil. The teacher gave me the razor blade as I have not been able to find a shop which sells such razor blade. I do have to obtain more razor blades as these blades do wear out.

There is a technique to holding the lame when scoring bread dough. You have to hold at an angle and if you do it right, the results are beautiful. I still have much practice before I can say: I got it.
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