Author Archives: juebejue

The Office Spider

Its quite hot in the Bay Area lately and for some reason the office is pretty warm despite the AC. I felt the need for an unlined cotton dress for the office.

I found this barcode stripe stretchy cotton in my stash, and Ive had burdastyle’s sheath dress 2016/10 #105 printed out for a while. Decided the stripes + different pattern pieces would create some interesting visual effect. I was very aware that with a normal stripe (nota. Barcode one) the visual will be more consistent and better, but I m in destashing mode and didnt have any other better stripes in my stash.

I printed out the pattern @91% as usual and the pattern fit super well! I made no alteration. I didnt cut the front pieces on grain in order to achieve the spider-y pattern, but it seems to do fine and didnt have any weird sags. It was impossible to get every single line on the barcode stripe to match, I did as best as I could… trying to match the dark line here and there. I think it turned out good despite the chaotic lines.

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I cant wait to re-make this in normal stripes! There re several other stripe placements that would look great 🙂 Or maybe color block too! I love wearing this one to the office, comfortable and flattering 🙂 Oh and the name is because it looks like a spider web… not because I have spy everywhere in the office ^_^ (for all you game of throne watchers, tomorrow!!!!!)


Flirty Little Thing

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I made this little number, inspires by this dress. This is actually version number 2, as a result, I was a little short on fabric towards the end and decided to leave the dress unhemmed and a bit short. Luckily there was just enough fabric to make a teeny pair of shorts that I wear underneath as a boomer 🙂

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The top part is drafted from a basic 4-dart bodice piece. The rest are all pretty much gathered together with a gathering feet. This was made on the Juki machine and I had a lot of fun making it. The fabric is a pretty stiff cotton quilt-y fabric, and I think for what I wanted originally a rayon challis would be better. But I couldn’t find any tiny flowered blue rayon fabric.

I really like how it turned out. I wore it for a whole 3 days before letting it go in a wash! Normally I do not go around with a short dress like this, but the boomer solution made a huge change (its in fact longer than most shorts I wear out). I love how twirly this is, and its perfect for hot hot weathers when you dont want a bra on.

 

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The Tale of Three Machines

(A compare between Brother SE400, Janome HD3000, Juki TL 2010Q, from a garment sewer’s personal experience)

Although I love vintage sewing machines, I mainly sew on modern sewing machines – it just gets the job done without any fuss.  The past year I’ve had the chance to sew with three modern sewing machines and I want to share some of my thoughts on them in case it helps another person with their shopping.

Brother SE400 ($299)

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Brother-SE400 is an embroidery machine. Since I’ve gotten it as a present from Hubby back in 2014(???), I’ve used it quite non-stop. It is packed with functionalities that I really enjoyed.

Pro:

  • different button hole and eyelet maker is essential for my garment sewing
  • The embroidery part is really great – there are some existing patterns, and you can also use free software out there to design your own (a bit time consuming but worth it if its a pattern you will use often)
  • Thread cutter – you know when you do some sewing and stop, you have to pull the threads out, cut it, and them make sure the needle position is such that the thread wont escape the needle when you start sewing next? well, with this thread cutting feature – they do both for you automatically. This really saves me SO much frustrations and makes my experience so wonderful
  • speed adjustment – This machine has speed adjustment so you can cap the speed of the sewing machine. Normally I would not care for this feature because I am good at adjusting the speed with the pedal, but when little K started sewing I use this to make sure it never goes too fast and stab her little hands. Its really quite essential for her!

Con:

  • This might be associated with any kind of computerized sewing machines – but with computerized machines there are just more points of failure. My feeddog broke after a few years of usage – and its the computerized control to the feeddog that broke (I debug processor chips for a living and had a bit of fun trying to characterize this failure). Technically I should just buy a new machine to replace it (the price dropped from $500 to $300 in a few years), but I felt really emotionally attached to this one, and end up spending $130 and a few trips to my local brothers dealer to have it fixed. Its been working well for me since – but the few weeks when I didnt have a stable machine to sew on was quite painful – I broke down and bought my Janome HD-3000 eventually to tide me over).
  • Also this will be an issue for many computerized sewing machines – everytime you turn off the machine, it will reset back to the default stitch. So if you are half way through the project you need to remember what length you were on before. Though there are ways to set a default you prefer.

Janome HD3000 $430

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I bought this mechanical sewing machine after I didnt sew for a few weeks due to the broken Brother machine. Hubby did a lot of research and recommended this one, so did my local sewing friend B. The cheap part of me cried a little because if you take a look at the features, the equivalent brother or singer counter part cost  much, much less.

However, I did have a old mechanical brother sewing machine when I first started sewing, and it broke on me after a year. I wanted something very high quality – Janome had really good reviews.

PRo:

  • Its form factor is really smartly designed. All the feets have housing area on top of the machine, there’s no separate box you need to keep around to keep all the feets – I really like that.  The spool of threads also sit below the top lid  – so there’s no spool poking out on the top during sewing or storage. This is important to me because my brother sewing machine’s thread spool thingy snapped when I accidentally put pressure on it when moving it about.
  • Its feet is interchangeable with the brother sewing machine
  • It does feel quite sturdy and I suspect this will last me quite a long time even with the extensive sewing I do.

Con:

  • more unbalanced feeddog: usually when you are sewing, the bottom fabric gets pulled more than the top, because the feeddog is at the bottom. This is usually more noticeable when you sew a long seam, such as when quilting. To solve this people usually use a walking feet. I’ve noticed that this machine pulls the bottom fabric much more than the brother, maybe because its heavy weight. Its such that I can see the difference when doing apparel sewing – during which you cant always use a walking feet.
  • its a little more noisy and a little unbalanced: its a heavy weight machine, but for the price I was expecting the engine to purr and not shake my table. Unfortunately it actually is a little noisier and more vibration than my brother SE400. Granted, the brother sewing machine is not considered a heavy weight machine.
  • No advanced features such as thread cutter, and speed adjustment.
  • Button hole making with a non-computerized machine is just not the same – you have to do it in 4 steps and it doesnt come out that well.

To be honest, for the price I was a little disappointed in the hardware, its a sturdy little machine but I thought the “feel” would be more highend. I was also working on my trench coat at that time and definitely was missing some of the eyelet and button hole features.

Juki TL-2010Q ($1000)

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Now I would never really spent $1K on a machine. But a local sewing friend B scored this on craigslist for cheap and let me borrow it for a month. It was like sewing with butter.

Pro:

  • smooth and no vibration at all. It just makes sewing so joyous
  • It has a thread cutter/trimmer which trims the thread very short and neat – I dont have to go back and trim the thread most of the time. Please the thread never escapes the needle
  • It’s extremely heavy weight – the first thing I sewed is shortening some belts on there – about 3/4 of an inch of a material – I dropped the feeddog to cramp the fabic in but the machine sewed well!

Con:

  • The feets are not interchangeable with my Brother or Janome machines
  • threading is not very standard – I have to watch youtube videos/read manual to figure it out.
  • It only has straight stitch – no zigzag even, and lets not even think about button holes or eyelets! It is really truly made for a quilter.
  • it is heavy – I sometimes need help if I want to move it.
  • it is quite a lot pricier than the other two options!

1k is above my price point, though it looks like they have a similar machine Juki TL-2000Q, ($667) minus the speed control on amazon. And its 2/3 the price. If I were to buy another machine new, I’d probably try that one first.

 

After trying all three machines, I end up really appreciating all the functionality and price point of my Brother Embroidery. If I were to choose again that machine would be the one I choose despite the possible breakage; not because its the cheapest one, but because some of the stitches are essential for garment sewing. When I have my Brother and Janome around, I tend to default to the Brother, and I only let little K sew on my Brother because of the speed control.  Janome pretty much became my back up machine and the machine I go to if it happened to have the right colored thread. (or if I am doing color blocking and need multiple colored threads to sew).

However, when the Juki entered the room, I pretty much sew on Juki only until I need a different stitch or a different feet. It just feels so uplifting to sew on there.

So if I were to plan out my sewing machine purchases again, I’d get the Brother first – because its a need, and then a Juki as my straight stitcher & a reliable backup, as a want 🙂 Janome is a very nice machine with the best form factor, but I find it not as luxurious comparing to the Juki.

Lastly, for any beginners out there who just want to try out apparel sewing or hem stuff, a basic brothers computerized machine (this one, or this ) under $150 is what I always recommend to my friends. I am pretty sure I have “sold” about 5-6 of those to my friends!! I bought one of those after my very first Brother (a flea market find by my dad) broke, and it worked very well for years until I got the embroidery machine. I mailed it a very good friend and its still going strong!

Hopefully this post help someone out there with sewing machine decisions to make!!!

 

Note that I did use Amazon affiliate links above, so if you happen to want to buy one of the machines from Amazon because of my recommendations, using above link would enable me to start Amazon Affiliate program at no cost to you 🙂 Thank you!!! 


The Cat Dress

I love cats, so its no wonder one of my favorite dress is a cat dress. Unfortunately its white-based, so I am deathly afraid of wearing it around the kids. It also doesn’t fit terribly well. So I decided to remake this.

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It fits quite well! 🙂

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It has really nice deep pockets. I’ve noticed with larger phones I need larger pockets, also pockets with more supporting seams to make sure it doesn’t drag the side seams. So the top of these pockets are actually sewn into the waist seam, which accidentally makes a pretty good waist-stay.

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Close up of the two darts in the front, and the nice V neckline – I’m quite proud of it.

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The pleating in the front was especially fun to make. I basically did all the pleating on a rectangular piece of fabric, and then laid front skirt piece on top and cut it out smoothly.

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Back pleats. Unfortunately, this fabric attracts cat hair like nothing else… its somewhat appropriate!

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A side by side comparison of the original and mine. I lined mine in the same luxurious black rayon satin fabric as my Burberry inspired coat. Getting in that lining just makes it so much dreamier!

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I am quite pleased with this dress! This shape is really quite flattering on me. I usually avoid wearing patterned dresses to work – studies shows that floral clothing diminishes a person’s authority at work and I imagine cat patterned dress is even worse 😛 But I just cant help it – dress lining feels so good and this is perfect for a chilly early summer California weather. So I pick days when I dont have any meetings to wear this dress, when I dont need as much credibility!

 


Belle inspired dress

I didn’t know that I was making a belle inspired dress until I was almost done with it. This is one little K commissioned during a play-sewing-date with one of my sewing friends and daughter. She chose the fabric from my stash, options in the tea party dress pattern, and the decoration at the end. Half way through she said something like “just like belle!”. =_= I suppose she knows about my dislike for Disney princess and didn’t want to tell be before hand that she’s scheming for a Belle dress.

In any case, I love how the dress turned out 🙂 It sure does make her feel like a princess! I used up all the remanant of that fabric, unfortunately, or one for little A would have been great!

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Burberry “Inspired” Coat

I finished my first creation of 2017 in March! Its been an insane 2 months – littered with many episodes of flu/cold/tummy bugs and two travels without the kids.

So this coat took a while. I first caught sight of the pattern Lekala 4298 years ago. The inspiration itself  was not a coat I’d normally buy, but I LOVE to sew those types of curves in the front. So this year, I finally made it happen.

I have a lot of good things to say about this pattern. I made almost no changes to the pattern except to take just a little bit in on the sides (maybe half an inch). The armholes are much lower than what I usually like, but it actually worked out well in very cold weathers for layering. I was really amazed at how the arms doesn’t look fat even though it has a lot of room – the pattern was drafted in such a way that the sleeves lie pretty flat against the body and looks slim from the front while giving a lot of room – Ive never experience this with other coat patterns! The arm itself is a little short, but I may have made a mistake when inputting my measurements. All in all – the made-to-order pattern fits really really well!!! I may try to make the waist more snipped if I ever remake this. But really, I dont have the wasp-y waist the model has. Lastly, as most patterns out there, they dont really give you the right pattern pieces for sleeve vent and back vent. I found that I needed to follow this tutorial to draft the vent, and this tutorial to sew the vent.

The material for this coat is not the best wool I’ve used. It is not as stable as I normally like, and the interface from walmart didnt stick very well. I used the luxurious 100% rayon satin though – and I LOVE it. I think I may walk away from synthetic lining forever.

after the last post, I also realized I’ve sewn three beige coats in a row. I am not sure what I think of that 😛

To see some of the inner details and progress photo, check out my instagram feed with the tag.

Here are the husband-grade photos:

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The photos are taken in Boston over a really really cold weekend – or at least, by California standard. I really appreciated the longer length of the coat. The coat itself was not quite warm enough for 15F weather, but I found a perfect inner down layer in Uniqlo to pair with this. I hope the material last long enough through a few cold winters!

 

 


2016 Sewing Review

It’s march 2017, and I’ve been hoping to have time to take husband-quality photos for my creations. But I think it’s not going to happen. So here you go! There are some new-to-blog creations below 🙂

I started sewing apparel late 2007, so I am coming up on my 10 year sewnniversary! In year 2016, I probably didnt sew as many as before, but I’ve spent time on pieces that I wore over and over again. There are really not that many “meh” projects from this year!!

Here is the count:

  • baby quilts: 2
  • coats: 3
  • Costumes for little K: 2
  • Skirt for little K: 1
  • Corset: 1
  • Dresses: 6
  • sweater: 1
  • splats: 1

Sewn:kept:wore often ratio (quilts included):

17:17:15

Not worn often:

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Unblogged Monument valley costume for Mia – she only wore this once. She finished this game this year with some adults help, so i thought I might make her a custome for a school event. But there are not that many Monument Valley fans and she was “meh” about it afterwards. She still loves the game though!

I love the color, but the fit prevents me from wearing it often. It does make me happy when I see it in my drawer – so I am keeping it!

Worn often:

This is a little short to wear often around the kids – works well as a tunic though!

 

I love the fit for this one – its a little “badass” and I don’t wear it super often as its midi length – a little hard to pair. But when I do i love how I look in it!

This is one of those coats that I didnt LOVE, but seemed to fill a wardrobe gap as I reach for it very often.

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One of my favorite creations for little K! I really made sure this one is sewn up nicely and she wore it to quite a few occasions. She’s not as  crazy about it as the Elsa dress I made the year before, therefore its still going to be good enough to pass down to little A!

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I wore this dress often in the summer – in fact its pretty washed out now… the fabric is not the highest quality and is getting quite faded.

I forgot to blog about this – but I remade one of my favorite Burdadresses in a terry knit – very comfortable  and fairly warm. I wore this often for work.

She wore this almost every week for her dance class.

Hubby’s favorite dress of the year 🙂 Very easy and comfy for the hot summer days.

Sweater, skirt, splats! All worn pretty often.

Lastly, my all time favorate stuff, coats!!!

I love this coat, though I have many awesome wool coat choices so it is not a everyday-wear for the winter.

This coat has been a real stable in my wardrobe!! I wear it almost every day during transition weathers. It makes me quite happy! Its really my favorite thing Ive made!

Even though this is my least productive sewing year ever, I’ve made a lot of things that I wear over and over again. I think its because I finally got out of the post-baby body (for the most part). I am feeling more… self, again. I made more fitting clothing that is suitable for me (for a few years I kept making more oversized style, which can be a bit tricky on my frame). I put more thoughts into fabric + pattern selection, because face it, motherhood comes with a lot of quiet time for cuddling a half-asleep baby and time for your mind to roam and fingers to play on phones.

For 2017 – I think I may become even less productive. There are just so much happening in life these days, its tough to find time to step into my sewing room. But its still something that makes me calm and happy – and I hope to sew an hour or two at least once or twice a week. I also hope I can start sewing with little K 🙂 she’s been stepping onto my sewing machine and making small things with a LOT of help – and I hope to do more with her! She’s such a little creator 🙂