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Chaly

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I'm doing some fabric embellishing for a garment and decided to use my Singer 421G for some decorative stitches (same patterns that are available on Singers 401, 403, 500, 503).

I see many  folks showing examples of these stitches but I rarely see real life work using the decorative patterns so I thought I'd share how I'm using them for this project.  They are part of tucking and lace embellishing on linen fabric which will be used to sew a top.  I'm using my favorite patterns - the curlique and the ribbon.

I'm also attaching a photo of a stitch pattern chart that is very helpful and is more organized than what is just in the manuals.

In many ways these patterns seem primitive compared to reverse decorative stitching and what's available on the modern embroidery machines.  For me they have an appeal and a certain special look - 1950's-60's - and I need to remember to use them more.

decorative stitches 421 garment.jpg  singerstitch patterns.jpg 

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Mavis

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Oh, your work looks great.  Your techniques remind me of a lady I used to watch on PBS.  I think it was called Sewing With Martha (?) not quite sure if that's quite right.  She liked to specialize in using vintage sewing techniques for fabric to be used in clothing construction.  She joined lace to two pieces of fabric with specialty stitches, too.  I believe she had lots of ideas on pleating, tucks, and various other terms I can't recall just now.  Be sure to show us your finished garnet!
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WI Lori

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Oh, beautiful work!
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Chaly

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mavis
Oh, your work looks great.  Your techniques remind me of a lady I used to watch on PBS.  I think it was called Sewing With Martha (?) not quite sure if that's quite right.  She liked to specialize in using vintage sewing techniques for fabric to be used in clothing construction.  She joined lace to two pieces of fabric with specialty stitches, too.  I believe she had lots of ideas on pleating, tucks, and various other terms I can't recall just now.  Be sure to show us your finished garnet!


Thanks, Mavis.  I always see so many examples of these techniques and use of attachments/stitches but I rarely see them used for real.  I'll see if I can find the PBS series you are referring.  I'll post when my top is done along with my summary of the tucker - another very under used and under appreciated attachment.
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Chaly

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Quote:
Originally Posted by WI Lori
Oh, beautiful work!


Thank you!  Now if I could just get going with my quilting work to improve my work in these techniques....
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WI Lori

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Reply with quote  #6 
Chaly, where do you source your garment fabric from? Your fabrics appear to have such a wonderful hand.

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Chaly

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The fabric in the picture on this post is a medium-light weight linen I bought many years ago from SR Harris Fabric Warehouse in the Minneapolis (Brooklyn Park) area.  I see you are in Wisconsin - if you ever happen upon the Twin Cities area, SR Harris is a fun place to visit.  I'm originally from the Twin Cities area and use to frequent SR Harris.  It can be overwhelming since there is so much inventory and you measure your own fabric.  You have to do your own quality checks since they have a range from low to high end.

But most of my fabrics I've purchased from Farmhouse Fabrics online.  I now just use natural fibers - mostly cotton shirtings, linen, wool, silk.  Farmhouse has the best quality, service and prices I have found.  I have never received anything of poor quality from them.  They also have neat notions/trims and they are my resource for MOP shirt buttons.  I usually get their clearance fabrics or fabric bundles.

I came across this resource for shirtings when I started to sew men's shirts.  For my time I put into a project, I wanted the best raw materials - the results for shirts are amazingly different depending on the quality of the shirting.  Fine twill broadcloth or pima cotton make all the difference for my final outcome.  And I learned this the hard way!!
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penny

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Gorgeous, I can't wait to see the finished blouse!
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WI Lori

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Thank you, Chaly. The Twins are 5 hours away, but I will check out Farmhouse Fabrics.
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redH

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Reply with quote  #10 
I just picked up a SewMor yesterday from Goodwill with some fancy stitches. Now I have ideas for how to use them once I get it ungunked. Thanks!
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Chaly

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by redH
I just picked up a SewMor yesterday from Goodwill with some fancy stitches. Now I have ideas for how to use them once I get it ungunked. Thanks!


Please share how you will use them.  I love to see how folks use their vintage decorative stitch machines...
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Chaly

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Quote:
Originally Posted by penny
Gorgeous, I can't wait to see the finished blouse!


Finished top - completed on Singer 101 and decorative stitches and overcasting on Singer 421G:

top front main.jpg  top back.jpg  top side 2.jpg 

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WI Lori

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Gorgeous!
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OurWorkbench

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Lori took the word right out of my mouth. It is absolutely gorgeous.

Janey

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penny

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Reply with quote  #15 
Chaly you have excellent sewing skills and an eye for details. Your garments are beautiful. Thank you for posting pictures.
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Cari-in-Oly

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Reply with quote  #16 
Wow. Beautiful. Very gifted you are....

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PatriciaPf

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaly


Thanks, Mavis.  I always see so many examples of these techniques and use of attachments/stitches but I rarely see them used for real.  I'll see if I can find the PBS series you are referring.  I'll post when my top is done along with my summary of the tucker - another very under used and under appreciated attachment.


There is Sewing with Nancy, and another with Martha Pullen, who taught heirloom sewing.  Two great shows.  Are they what you were referring to?

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Mavis

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Yea, Patty, the one I was trying to remember was the heirloom sewing instructor, Martha Pullen.  She did amazing things that used to be commonly seen in garnet sewing.  I think you would love her shows.  I haven't been able to see any of her shows for years, but they used to be on a PBS channel we could pull in.
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Chaly

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Reply with quote  #19 
I see there are some online videos -youtubes from both Martha and Nancy and also I found some older books that may be a good reference.  I've just been using my 1930's-1960's sewing reference materials to get some inspiration along with learning couture sewing methods - mainly through Claire Shaeffer.  And I really like getting proficient at those vintage sewing machine attachments!
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Chaly

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Reply with quote  #20 
A few more use of stitch patterns on my Singer slant 421G - Chevron (pillow), Fagoting (fabric embellishment for shirt), and Overcast (armscye seam on shirt).  Construction was done on my Singer 101 including narrow hems (narrow hem foot) and placket pleating (ruffler foot).

pillow.jpg  pillowchevron.jpg  chevron closeup.jpg  shirtfront dress form.jpg  shirt fagoting.jpg  shirt overcast.jpg 





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Chaly

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Reply with quote  #21 
Here's another project using decorative stitches from my vintage machines.  I used up fabric scrapes and the thread and cording I had on hand. My intent was to make a Christmas themed design to photograph to use for my Christmas cards.  Now I just have to work on the graphic card elements.

I used my Singer 401, Elna 62, Necchi Supernova - and even my Singer 101 got into the act using the decorative stitches on the Swiss zigzagger attachment.  This was a fun project and allowed me to experiment with lots of different stitches and techniques.

christmastree.jpg 

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ke6cvh

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Reply with quote  #22 
That Christmas decoration is amazing.  Did not know this thread existed.  Very nice stuff.  Best regards, Mike

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PMac

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Reply with quote  #23 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mavis
Yea, Patty, the one I was trying to remember was the heirloom sewing instructor, Martha Pullen.  She did amazing things that used to be commonly seen in garnet sewing.  I think you would love her shows.  I haven't been able to see any of her shows for years, but they used to be on a PBS channel we could pull in.


This may be what you are referring to:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbO0ROTMyGrbNY77Omb_XDw
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Chaly

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Reply with quote  #24 
It's interesting to see the change in hand embellishing over time and how this coordinated with the popular use of the home sewing machine.  In some of my vintage sewing books, it was almost considered a grave misdeed to machine sew baby garments/layette.  Then there became more acceptance of using the sewing machine to mimic hand sewing and then even instructions on how to use the sewing machine for baby wear.  For some reason, the baby garments and some children's clothes were sacred and the last to use the sewing machine for construction.

Then sprung up a revival of heirloom sewing and how to use a sewing machine to get the same look.  I've been finding out more about these techniques as I explore using all the decorative features on my machines.  For the most part, I just like to use the decorative stitching for both practical use and embellishing but not necessary to mimic heirloom - but this is nice also.  

I started this thread topic to give examples of what I do and to see how others use their vintage machine's decorative stitching.  It seems to me the decorative stitching on the vintage machines was a feature that contributed to many upgrading or buying machines.  This feature makes the mechanics much more complicated and yet many rarely use these stitches.

I have found very helpful the vintage Singer, Necchi and Elna literature on using these stitches.  I have also found Carol Ahles a very helpful resource to specifically detail how to use the sewing machine (heavy emphasis on Elna) to achieve fine hand finishing and embellishing looks (Books:  Fine Machine Sewing; Know your Elna).  Kenmores and a multitude of other vintage machines are very feature rich with their decorative and utility stitches- but I rarely see how these machines are used for decorative stitching.
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Mavis

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Reply with quote  #25 
Chaly, your garnet sewing and Christmas ornament are stunning.  Pmac was correct in the link to u-tube (everything is on there these days!).  Martha Pullet was an expert in using a machine's attachments and built in stitch patterns in garment construction.   PBS from the Twin Cities and one down in Iowa used to be so fun to watch, especially Master Piece Theater and all the sewing and quilting shows.  We had a couple of seasons of backhoe, skid loaders, heavy truck traffic all around our house as we finally took care of a wet basement issue.  We live in a rural area and would rely on our t.v. reception from a ??UHF or VHF ? system, (can't remember which).  Anyway, the tower next to the house was taken down for all the digging around the house, and after it went back up, a big wind storm blew down most of the antenna.  We are still waiting for the company who will install a new one to arrive.  We went to a Roku box for t.v. and have enjoyed Netflix a lot.  

But, I digress....Chaly, please keep sharing your creations with us.  I find them to be so inspiring. Maybe some day I'll try my hand at something like that.   Quilting, taking care of an aging dog, and 3 aging ponies, and card club seem to be filling my days for now!

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Mrs. D

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Quote:
Originally Posted by WI Lori
Thank you, Chaly. The Twins are 5 hours away, but I will check out Farmhouse Fabrics.


Hi Lori.  Let's pick up Farmer John and plan a road trip to SR Harris Fabric Warehouse in Minneapolis.  I've always wanted to go there. 

I'll bring the big van (if it doesn't sell by then).  We will have plenty of room, and could even take a couple extra friends along.  Please think about doing this--in spring of 2020.

2001 Ford V8 Van 1.jpg 


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Mrs. D

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mavis
Oh, your work looks great.  Your techniques remind me of a lady I used to watch on PBS.  I think it was called Sewing With Martha (?) not quite sure if that's quite right.  She liked to specialize in using vintage sewing techniques for fabric to be used in clothing construction.  She joined lace to two pieces of fabric with specialty stitches, too.  I believe she had lots of ideas on pleating, tucks, and various other terms I can't recall just now.  Be sure to show us your finished garnet!


Hi Mavis. Oh yes, I agree Chaly's work is exquisite!   I wonder if I could find one of Martha Pullen's books to purchase?  I loved her program!

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Mrs. D

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Reply with quote  #28 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaly
Here's another project using decorative stitches from my vintage machines.  I used up fabric scrapes and the thread and cording I had on hand. My intent was to make a Christmas themed design to photograph to use for my Christmas cards.  Now I just have to work on the graphic card elements.

I used my Singer 401, Elna 62, Necchi Supernova - and even my Singer 101 got into the act using the decorative stitches on the Swiss zigzagger attachment.  This was a fun project and allowed me to experiment with lots of different stitches and techniques.

christmastree.jpg 



Hi Chaly.  Your work is so beautiful.  Great Ideas!  

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WI Lori

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Mrs. D, a road trip sounds great! Thank you for the invite.
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hilltophomesteader

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Reply with quote  #30 
Linda, this is off-topic.....but are you going to post, like a zillion pics of your Christmas event at your AMAZING house????  I keep looking at your blog and hoping for more pics of your stunning vintage home!
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Mrs. D

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Yes hilltophomeowner! I will post photos of our Victorian Christmas Craft Show. Thank you!
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hilltophomesteader

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrs. D
Yes hilltophomeowner! I will post photos of our Victorian Christmas Craft Show. Thank you!


Excellent!  I'll look forward to seeing them!!!

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Chaly

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Reply with quote  #33 
Here's another project I just finished using decorative stitching on the hem band and waistband casing for some PJ bottoms.  My Singer 500a was used for all the construction and decorative stitches (6 different patterns).  

Eventually, I plan to do a review/comparison of my vintage machines that do decorative/utiility stitching (Singer 401, 500a; Necchi Supernova, Elna 62C, Carina).  Then folks with other vintage decorative machines such as the Kenmore, Brothers, etc. can add to this.  

pjs.jpg  pf stitches 500a.jpg

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Phyllis1115

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Reply with quote  #34 
Chaly-  Great use of decorative stitches. Very nice on both sides of the hem. What size thread did you use?

In the 1960s and 1970s I used my Elna 62C to add decorative stitching to my young daughter's clothing. Later, I used decorative stitches to add tucks and on skirt hems. Occasionally, I use decorative stitches when quilting. 

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ke6cvh

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Reply with quote  #35 
Hi Chaly,

  Your rows are aligned near perfect.  Did you use the plaid on the material as your guide, free hand it, or other method?

Best regards,
Mike


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Chaly

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Reply with quote  #36 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phyllis1115
Chaly-  ...  What size thread did you use?...



Thanks, Phyllis.  In general, for decorative stitching, I use 50 wt. DMC cotton for upper thread and a poly bobbin wt. 80 for the lower thread.  I used a water sol stabilizer since the cotton flannel fabric is not so crisp of hand and this helps with the stitch formation.  I always use a microtex needle as well.
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Chaly

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Reply with quote  #37 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ke6cvh
Hi Chaly,

  Your rows are aligned near perfect.  Did you use the plaid on the material as your guide, free hand it, or other method?

Best regards,
Mike




Mike,  Thank you, this work is far from perfect but just PJs so it's okay for me.  I usually do my decorative stitching on the raw fabric before any construction or cutting out.  This time, since I hadn't planned on using the decorative stitching, I had to use a cut out fabric piece (the hem band).  I used a clear satin presser foot to help guide the rows.  I started on the outside going toward the middle and the rows are a bit squished since I only had limited space.  

The reason I did the stitching was more than decorative.  The fabric hem band was suppose to be interfaced to help the pants hang well so they don't bunch up.  Rows of decorative stitching act to stabilize and add weight to areas and it worked well for this application and I avoided using interfacing which can sometimes add unnecessary bulk and stiffness.
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Phyllis1115

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Jeans have become my fashion statement. Back in the day when I wore skirts to work, the decorative stitches on tucks and hems added weight and prevented my skirts from blowing up.

Once creating my quilt guild's Sew Day Quilt Kits, I will use decorative stitches again when quilting my smaller quilts. Thanks for the reminder.

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Chaly

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Reply with quote  #39 
Phyllis,

If you had an Elna 62C in the 70's you were very fortunate.  This machine was way beyond my budget in the 70's - just getting out of college.  These vintage mechanical machines can really do wonders and I'd love to see how you use the decorative stitches on your smaller quilts.
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Phyllis1115

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Chaly-

Yes the Elna 62Cs were very expensive in the early 70s.  My family story included women making clothing, sewing curtains, mending garments and household goods. My mother and her mother were amazing seamstresses. I remember my mom standing me on a chair and cutting a bodice pattern from a sheet of  newspaper. Of course, I wiggled and moved and was quickly bored. She even made underwear for my father from bleached feed sacks. 

In the early 70s, my then husband and I were not making much money and had a frequently ill three year old. I traded in my 16th birthday gift New Home "semi-automatic" zigzag machine and used a very small inheritance from my grandfather to purchase my Elna SU and foldable table. I still have that Elna SU machine and sewing table. 

That three year old is now in her early 50s and several months ago reluctantly admitted that she is a quilter. Yes!

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Mavis

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Reply with quote  #41 
Linda, I don't know if there are any Martha Pullen instruction books but came across this interesting gem from friend....what a cool instruction book from a long ago era.

Attached Images
jpeg image.jpeg (588.78 KB, 21 views)


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JonesHand52

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Reply with quote  #42 
That's a neat book from 1833, and it's even more amazing since there were no sewing machines on the market in that year.I reminds me of a book I have in my library, The Dressmaker, by Butterick (1911, 1916 second edition) that starts off with showing virtually all of the hand stitches, then goes into extensive garment construction using tissue patterns. Nowhere in the book have I seen a photo or a clear reference to a sewing machine. Even today, any garment made from a purchased pattern could be made entirely by hand with needle and thread. 20 years ago, when I was doing Civil War re-enacting, there were some die hard Confederates that made their uniforms all by hand to be "authentic". 


- Bruce
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Chaly

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Reply with quote  #43 
Another project for me using decorative stitches.  Lori so graciously passed along a vintage Du Barry apron pattern to me.  I love using vintage patterns.  This is an unprinted pattern that does include seam allowances.  The marks for darts, etc. are punched holes - easy to then use tailor tacks for marking.  And as this era suggests - waste not - only one yard of fabric needed with very very little waste scraps.  In fact, I was afraid if I made a mistake, there would be no left over fabric.

I tried to mimic the pattern illustration with my fabric choice.  All construction was done with my Singer 101 including using the vintage ruffler and narrow hem attachments (this sure helped to make short order of the sewing!).

For the decorative stitching, I used my vintage Elna Carina (discs 126 -Parisian hemstitch; and edging scallop- same as disc 35).  All the vintage Elnas that have the Elnagraph can use the same cams - such as Supermatic, SU, etc.
apron pattern.jpg  apron ruffle.jpg  apron pocket.jpg

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Chaly

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Reply with quote  #44 
Mavis - that is a really neat book.  Thanks for posting!

Bruce - You have some interesting comments that brings back memories of my grandmother. She was a WWI bride from Germany and never had a sewing machine.  All the sewing that she needed to do was done by hand.  I think this was a matter of economics and I think many don't understand that a sewing machine was expensive and not all could afford one.

Her oldest daughter, born in Germany, and came here as in infant, did learn to sew on a machine in school and right after WWII did get a Featherweight.  This was out of practicality, since the house they built after the war was just an 800 sq ft bungalow - two bedrooms, basement, and attic space.  No room for a dining room let alone a sewing room.  So the featherweight was ideal to stow away when not in use and the card table came in handy as well.  She wasn't a serious seamstress but did patching, curtains, etc.  I think today we sometimes overlook the struggles those had before us and how they managed.
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JonesHand52

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Reply with quote  #45 
Hand stitching is still common in my work. Not being anything but a neophyte quilter, most all of my sewing is garments and there is a lot of hand work there. I also make headgear, such as the forage caps, kepis and shakos when I was doing 1850s and 1860s military uniforms, plus adding insignia and trim. Hems are commonly done by hand here, the only way to make them invisible - not just "blind hemmed" with the little points of thread showing, but no thread showing. Adding leather visors to caps is simple and easy, along with the leather sweatbands, but always got a "how did you do that?" from people used to 100% machine sewing. Except for the Confederates, that is. Even virtually all of my leather work was hand sewing with two needles. As they say - busy hands are happy hands! Whoever said that never hand stitched. Quilters do some, tailors do a lot. Even buttonholes are beginning to be done by hand in my work. Machine ones always look ragged in the hole, so I do a foundation with the machine then do a hand work over that, at least on jackets and coats. 

- Bruce
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WI Lori

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Reply with quote  #46 
Chaly, your work on the apron is beautifully simple. How fun to see your finished apron!
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Chaly

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Reply with quote  #47 
Here's a project using a Venetian hemstitch (disc #140 Elna) to make some kitchen towels. Wt. 80 thread both top and bottom, size 19 needle, no stabilizer, linen lightweight fabric.  Singer 101 for construction using adjustable hemmer, Elna for decorative stitching.

kitchen linen towels.jpg  kitchen towel hem.jpg 

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Chaly

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Reply with quote  #48 
I think most vintage machines that zigzag and have some decorative/utility stitches usually have the blind hem stitch.  This stitch can be quite decorative but likely it's function was of a utility to "help" save time hand hemming.  As Bruce mentioned, the results can be quite unsatisfactory.  For years I did not even attempt to use this stitch to hem my garments but after studying more literature and seeing examples, this stitch can really be quite good if done right and with some practice.  For many of my garments though, this stitch is not indicated since you can't ease easily, etc.  But then for many garments and other applications, it is a useful and timesaving utility stitch.

The trick, at least for me, was to use a fine thread (80 wt - and poly for strength), a fine needle (size 9) and "in-the-air" technique.  

I've attached some instructions from Fine Machine Sewing  and some photos using some linen scraps left over from my towels.  I used black thread for contrast.  The front shows 5 stitches each from both the traditional blind hemming method (right) and  in-the-air method (left). You can see how the in-the-air methods works to make the stitches as invisible as hand stitching.  With white thread they would be undetected.  The traditional method leaves ugly stitching as Bruce was referring.

The back side looks quite nice for both methods - it's hard to see in the photo but the in-the-stitch method is more subtle (right side of photo).
blind hem.jpg  blind hem back.jpg  air blind hem instructions.jpg 


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Mavis

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Reply with quote  #49 
Nice job on the kitchen towels.  Loved the page giving  the instruction to start using a stitch and practice to become proficient.  How often we forget that wise bit of advice.  Holds true for most anything we "wish we could do that."  Practicing on an area where it doesn't show when done is wise!
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