Showing posts with label Singer 401G. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Singer 401G. Show all posts

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Oliver + S: Family Reunion Dress

This is a dress I made around the end of 2014 in readiness for Christmas of that year.  I never got around to blogging about at the time.  I did however take some photographs during making up.  I bought the digital version of the pattern, printed it all out and stuck it together with tape.  I don't mind the process too much.  My version is sized to 24 months.  At the time the recipient was only 16 months but I pictured this dress getting more wear during the following summer and as it was intended to be a surprise I allowed lots of margin for growth.

I had a nice pale blue 100% cotton print in the stash, a little fusible interfacing and some reused shirt buttons.  The apparently simple, short-sleeved, A-line dress has quite a bit of detail.

The dress is shaped by tucks over the chest and back.  I sewed the dress using the Singer 201K treadle and used a vintage tuck marker to help me form the tucks.  Using the vintage attachment was fun but I would imagine that with careful measurements and thread marking one could easily manage without.

The dress buttons up the back.  I made the buttonholes on the Singer 201K fitted with Greist buttonholer.  The neckline facing is interesting in that it is turned to the right side and edge stitched in place.

The pattern has nice deep seam allowances and gives the usual modern instructions for finishing them with a zig-zag, serger or however else you might wish to.  I cribbed Muv's flat felled shoulder seams from the child's dress pattern she drafted and made.  The sleeves are hemmed, gathered and attached to the armscye before the side seams are closed.  I finished the sleeve head seam allowance with a zig-zag using the Singer 401G.  This was quick but if I made the pattern again I might make matching bias and use that to bind this seam. 

I used good old reliable French seams to close the sides of the dress which just made my zig-zag short cut on the armholes look even sloppier.

The pattern made quite a feature of what Oliver+S calls its signature hem.  This consists of a deep hem facing, worthy of the 1840s, turned to the inside and edge stitched.

The facing is then decorated with an additional five rows of topstitching spaced at quarter inch intervals.  The result is a good looking, firm hem which hangs well and is suggestive of hard wear.

This was a a very sweet little project to sew.  I would definitely make it again and would look at using Oliver+S patterns again in the future.

Monday, 20 January 2014

A onesie for The Much Belovéd: Kwik Sew K3713

It seems like onesies are ubiquitous at the moment even here at Oil and Thread where we seldom follow fashion.  According to the stats the likelihood is that by now you either own a Onesie or know someone who does.  I am guessing that fewer people have actually sewn a onesie.  Unless they happen to have a copy of Kwik Sew K3713 lying around.

I thought this pattern might appeal to The Much Belovéd.  He seemed genuinely pleased when he first saw it and quite excited when I finally got down to work on it.  He tends to run around barefoot quite a bit so we agreed on version B the footless sleep suit.

I was inspired by the colour scheme on the pattern envelope and the very reasonable price of red cotton flannel.  An error on my part concerning the fabric width led me to buying twice as much winceyette as required.  During the weekend I spent shrinking, drying and ironing this fabric it felt like we were swathed in acres of red brushed cotton.

Red rag to a bull?

The pattern really isn't complicated and the instructions are first rate.  The biggest challenge is the size of the pieces.  Laying out and cutting took up a lot of space.  It's lucky the dinning table has that extra leaf!  Once the fabric was cut its size made it more than a bit of a handful.

The pattern includes a quarter inch seam allowances which are finished by zigzagging together - must be a job for the trusty 401G.  I heeded all my old sewing machine instruction books' warnings about shortening the stitch length and lightening the tension when sewing flannel.  I think this is supposed to allow the seams to 'give' a little during wear.  Kwik Sew's quarter inch seam allowances mean no trimming - refreshing!

This shade of red has proven to be virtually impossible to photograph!

The neckband and cuffs are sewn into the main body and finished in the same way.

This was my first go at sewing stretchy knits.  I did invest in some Organ needles designed especially for stretch fabric and I played it safe by sewing with my 'modern' machine.  I quite enjoyed the experience and the results are encouraging.

The pattern includes directions for either buttons or snap fastenings.  TMB put in a special request for snap fastenings so that meant buying some new kit.  I may post a full tutorial on fitting snaps at a later date.  They went on without any trouble at all and I think they work well with this pattern.

The pattern is a very generously sized.  I cut the medium based on the measurements on the pattern envelope but in my opinion the finished garment is a shade too big for TBM.  It's actually a better fit on me and I am nearer a large these days.  If I made another (remember I ended up with enough fabric for two) I would either make the small for TMB or reduce the length of the body by 1-2 inches.  TMB was however delighted with his roomy new onesie.  The proof has been in the wearing with the onesie making regular appearances at the weekend breakfast table!

The owner was not available for modelling today

Friday, 25 October 2013

Sewing on buttons with the Singer 401G

I had to do a little repair so I used the opportunity to get some photographs.
This procedure is so much fun and so quick it is over all too soon.  As usual preparation is key.  First fit an open, short-toed, button sewing foot to the presser bar.

Singer slant shank button sewing foot

Next raise the throat plate (which is, on the 401, the equivalent of dropping the feed dogs - trust Singer to be different!)

Raised throat plate

This is done by setting the throat plate positioning lever to the darn/embroider/button sewing symbol.

The stitch selector must be set at AL and the red lever at position 1.

With the work clamped down by the presser foot and the needle aligned with a hole on the left side of the button take one stitch (turning the balance wheel by hand) and stop with the needle just above the foot.

Then move the red lever to position 4 and take six zigzag stitches ending with the needle back on the left side.

Move the red lever back to position 1 and take three stitches to secure the button.  Remove the work from the machine and trim the loose threads.  It's that easy.  It takes seconds.  I kid you not!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Simplicity 1960: French Back Boxer Shorts - Pt II

Here are the finished boxers.  I added the buttonholes using my new toy a Griest #1 template buttonholer for low shank machines (this means YOU Mr Singer 201K).  I was very happy with the results.  I am planning a full photo-tour and review of the new (to me) buttonholer in a future post.
French back boxer shorts

Front and back there are seven half-inch buttonholes and one additional thirteen-sixteenths vertical buttonhole which allows the waistbands to cross at the back.  It's a lot of work but we all get a buzz out of using an automatic buttonhole attachment right?

The position of the buttons at the back give a range of adjustment for expanding and contracting waists.  I think this design must have arisen from wartime and post war shortages of elastic.

The half inch (12mm) buttons I used were saved from shirts I cut up last year to turn into my first quilt.  There a total of nine so I think can be forgiven for sewing them on with the Singer 401G.  I used white thread to match the buttons rather than pink to match the shorts.  Sewing buttons on with a vintage Singer is probably worth a post all of its own sometime soon.

I am happy with the way these turned out but.  I will need to forget how much work they are before I am tempted to make them again.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Has anyone ever heard of a Hussif?

I hadn't until I was chatting to follower Ken a week or two ago.  I thought I knew what he was talking about until Monday when I treated myself to a copy of the Merchant & Mills SEWING BOOK.  When I saw a photograph of their project Hussif I realised the picture I had in my head was well off beam.  It turns out that a Hussif is a pocket sewing kit with some whimsical etymology thrown in for good measure.

I am rather taken by the Merchant & Mills SEWING BOOK.  It's an aesthetically pleasing object in its own right and the projects inside are, for the main part, non-gender-specific which makes a welcome change for the male seamster.

As a confirmed old bachelor with some heavy unbleached calico on his hands I figured that a Hussif is the nearest I am likely to get to a housewife and resolved to knock one up [perhaps I should rephrase that!?]

Here are some pictures of my version

Pocket Sewing Kit - open

There are seven pockets for bits and bobs sewing notions.  I made mine the same size as the instructions but the book encourages makers to adjust pocket sizes to fit the objects in their own sewing kit.  The striped ticking covers two layers of cotton quilt wadding which form a pin cushion cum needle case.

Pocket Sewing Kit - closed

Here is the Hussif all furled up and tied shut.  To give you an idea of size the cotton webbing tape is 25mm (yes I've gone metric today) or one inch wide.  I may trim the tape down a bit once things have stretched out a bit.

The first of two big adventures in making this project was printing the downloadable Merchant and Mills graphic onto what can only be described as magic paper and then transferring this to the front of the Hussif using the iron.

I think I may have overcooked the transfer slightly and the instructions on where to position it were not Gavin-proof (I may have got the graphic upside down) but overall I am pleased with the effect.  I am left with some mixed feelings about putting a company logo onto an item I have made but I like the look of the finished project and I have tried out something I never would have done otherwise.  My mind is now teaming with ideas for some kind of Oil & Thread transfer.  Possibly featuring a hen if I can find copyright free image to use.

Adventure number two is a Singer 401G related discovery and one for the seam guide junkies amongst us (you know who you are).  I have discovered that the toe of the general purposes foot can be made to sit under the seam guide.  This is shown in the section of the Manual which shows how to blind stitch hems using the "BO" setting.  I realised that, with the needle centred (red lever at position 3), this gives scant ⅛ seam allowance.

Singer slant shank general purpose food and seam guide
Singer 401G: General purpose foot and seam guide

When would want a scant ⅛ seam allowance?  Well I found it handy when edge stitching the Hussif.  I hope you agree that the results are pretty tasty.

I am planning to hold on to this particular Hussif myself.  I have something in mind for it.  I really enjoyed putting this together.  It's a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  At this point in September I am thinking that one or two of these, filled with some 'heritage' style notions might make good Christmas presents.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Preparing the Singer 401G for Straight Line Quilting

Here is the needle of the Singer 401G set up with the general purposes presser foot and throat plate.  This is how the machine was when it arrived and how it normally lives.  There are easy changes I can make to the machine to improve its quilting performance.

The changes revolve around this little lot.
  • No1 a walking foot
  • No2 a straight stitch throat plate
The general purposes throat plate is pictured on the left for comparison.  Apparently the smaller needle hole helps stitch formation by offering more support to the fabric.  The benefit of the walking foot is that it helps reduce "shift".  

This robust looking lever is the means by which the throat plate can be lifted to carry out darning (notice the symbol that looks like a darn), embroidery and free motion work.  Move the lever to the far left to remove the throat plate either for cleaning (notice the cute brush symbol) or to swap the plates.

Here is the machine with the plate swapped, the walking foot fitted and the stitch length adjusted to ten stitches per inch (just like the books told me to do).

Next I made a trial sandwich using off cuts of the batting, backing and quilt top.  No point using materials that aren't similar to those in the finished project.  I played around sewing lines of quilting.  I found that the bobbin thread was only slightly visible first time so I reduced the upper tension half a number and tried again.  It took a few goes until the bobbin thread vanished somewhere inside the work.  That should do it.

Now I like quilting on the 401G with all this kit but remember - my first quilting project was pieced and quilted on a diminutive 1899 Singer 25K hand crank.  What is more that quilt, although it may never win first place and the Minnesota State Fair, actually looks ok and has been keeping me warm at nights since November 2012.  My point?  Don't let the gadgets put you off.  Think carefully, take your time, have a go!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The Log Cabin Quilt: Batting on the Matting

I can hardly believe it has been a week since I last wrote on the blog.  Busy times for me if not for Oil and Thread.  Anyway this evening I feel like I have had the space and the energy to get back to work (or back to play) on the quilt.

Since I last wrote I have been to see the lovely Angela at The Creative Sanctuary to buy some lovely Cotton/Polyester blend batting.  It's suitable for machine or hand quilting up to ten inches apart and I spent Saturday afternoon pre-washing it in the bath and then most of the rest of the weekend trying to get it dry.  Up until this evening I was wondering if it would have been worth the bother.  That was before I began to assemble the quilt sandwich.

In the following picture I have lightly pinned the backing fabric to the carpet using quilter's pins.  I have read about this method but I found it hard to imagine that it would work.  It seemed only marginally less futile than trying to stick masking tape to fabric and carpet.  I guess a lot will depend on the type of carpet and how it is laid but here I was pleased and surprised at how I got on.

In my second picture I have smoothed the batting out over the backing fabric.  See how lovely and fleecy the cotton mix batting is.  I have pinned the batting, making sure not to stretch it, but I have yet to trim it to size.  I did this with my shears.

The third picture shows the quilt top added to the sandwich.  I have used the same quilter's pins to baste the sandwich.  Each of the red squares at the centre of the log cabin blocks has a pin through it.  It is worth remarking on how easy it was to get the pins to go through the cotton batting.  Progress this evening felt much smoother than my experiences working with safety pins and polyester batting on a previous project.

My plan now is to start quilting in-the-ditch between the long cabin squares.  My hope is that this will stabilise the layers and then I am imagining some sort of diagonal grid of quilting covering the middle panel.  Have I the strength to quilt in the ditch between every one of those piano keys in the border?  Would that be too heavy a treatment?  Questions I will need to ask myself and answer but first I want to set up the Singer 401G properly for the task in hand.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Meet the Singer 401G


Singer 401G Sewing Machine showing balance wheel.

"The SLANT-O-MATIC - the greatest sewing machine ever built!"

Well that's what Singer told new owners back in the late 1950s and early 1960s.  It really is quite a claim and probably an indefensible statement.  I am however quite fond of my example of the breed.

Singer 401G Sewing Machine showing needle and tension unit

I don't know how anyone couldn't fall for the streamlined 1950s styling of the Singer 401G.  Part Hillman Minx and part Roberts Radio - what's not to love?

Now I am prepared to accept that 401G might not be everyone's cup of tea but there is no denying that this machine was a range-topper in its day and, if one can bond with one, these machines still offer a lot to the domestic sewer.

Face plate open, tension unit and needleStitch length regulator

What really strikes me about this machine is the general quality and attention to detail on offer.  How thoughtful that the faceplate is hinged for cleaning and oiling and that on the inside is a threading diagram for both needle and bobbin?  The feed is fully reversible and, after the anonymous chrome knobs of the 28K and 15K, the clearly labelled indicator plate is a doddle to use.

AK3 is the setting needed to obtain a straight stitch

There is a lamp hidden behind the "Singer" name plate which is prefocused on the needle - very handy.  The red lever slides to set the position of the needle or the width of the zigzag.  The large centre knob is used to set the type of stitch.
The top of the machine opens to reveal yet another handy diagram.  This one shows the settings needed to obtain some of the many stitches the machine can produce.  The circular space int the top of the machine is where pattern cams can be fitted in order to obtain even more patterns. This machine was originally supplied with five cams.

Now those of you have been following the blog will remember that I had tracked down a set of tool drawers to match this machine.  The way these work alongside the machine and its extension table is typical of Singer's thoughtfulness at this date.

Notice the spring clips on the extension table and the profile of the edge of the tool drawers

The extension table clicks onto the top of the tool drawers

The unit attaches to the bed of the machine, the extension table is supported by the tool drawers and the overall result puts me in mind of an aircraft carrier.

And when ones is done the whole lot packs away beautifully.  It's no bigger than a large brief case but it weighs a lot more.