Monday, 16 March 2015

Ottobre 1/2015 "Elvis" shirt

You can tell when I've got a small baby feeding at all hours of the day and night, because my blog posting frequency suddenly goes up!  I've already read the entire internet, so I've resorted to adding my own content... ;-)

I finally caved in and bought myself my first issue of Ottobre magazine as a treat, a few days before baby Button II arrived.  I was so excited to unwrap it on the postnatal ward (although obvs not as excited as having baby himself).  So many lovely designs to make for the boys!

The main reason to select this issue was the shirt (design 20):

Shirt from Ottobre 1/2015, page preview pilfered from their site.

The sizes start at toddler and go up to about age 12, as I recall, so I am hoping this pattern will see me through the next 10 years at least!  Shirts are what I really like to make for Toddler Button, although I like the cool trousers in the image too, so he might be getting a pair of those.  I just wanted to spare myself drafting shirt patterns constantly and focus on sewing them.

Anyway, the shirt has cuffs and a yoke, which I'd always wanted to add to my own patterns.  Sadly, turns out that the yoke is stylistic only, and not double thickness in the original instructions (as it would be on normal menswear), but there is no reason why I could not cut it to be so.  I'm also planning some yoke style changes to mix things up in the future, and maybe a re-draft of the cuff plackets,  These are all speedy and minor drafting changes though, and should be fun.

I was quite nervous to cut into the fabric because I had some real concerns about the piece designs I'd found on the pattern sheets.  Firstly, the left placket looked narrower than I was expecting, especially compared to the tiny schematic of it they print with the instructions.  Secondly, I wasn't sure where to add seam allowances.  They state "The patterns include hem allowances, placket extensions and placket facings.  When cutting out the garment pieces, add seam allowances of approx 1cm ... to each edge of the pattern."  Indeed, the placket patterns had marked seam allowances on them, but the front opening of the shirt didn't have allowances marked, so I wasn't sure if this was included under the placket rule or not.

The shirt front has two cutting lines marked "left" and "right" for the different sides.  The right button placket is supposed to be narrow for style reasons, and the left placket has a more normal width.  In order to have the collar stand fit the neckline correctly, once the plackets are inserted then the front pieces should finish along the line marked "left".  Since I was super confused about how to get this to work, I ended up re-drafting a new pattern for a placket 2 x 44mm in width, adding the 1cm seam allowance at each edge. I cut two new plackets to my re-drafted design, cut both fronts down to the "right" line, then applied my plackets with a 1cm seam allowance.  Both plackets are now identical, loosing a style feature, but at least the shirt has gone together.  Reading back the instructions with hindsight, I can see how the left placket was supposed to work (and yes, you do need to add a seam allowance down the front), but I'm still confused about the right one.  Perhaps all will be clear next time.

You don't get good garment photos on this blog until I get spare time during the day with two hands!

I made the 98cm size in our old friend the Laura Ashley soldier fabric.  It's probably the last shirt I'll get out of it (boo hoo).  I tried super hard to match patterns on this shirt, but there are still a few things I'd do differently with the pattern placement, especially now that I know how the front plackets work.

In other news, the cuff plackets were easier to figure out than I expected (I couldn't find their suggested method in a brief flick through this book so I did a trial run on scrap fabric).  Also, the sleeves went in without fuss, and I overlocked and topstitched the armhole seam after clipping it, so it lay flat.  Not sure why I never thought to clip the seam allowances at the armhole before (clearly I was being dense), so I'll chalk another one up to the learning experience.  I'm still a bit rubbish at getting the hem done neatly and easily around the side curves.  I wanted to do a rolled hem, but there was no way the thick plackets and seam allowances were going to feed through my rolled hem foot so I did a double turned hem instead.

Check out that pattern matching!

I'm really pleased with this pattern overall.  I love the little details like the collar and pocket buttons, and I'm hoping the slim fit will look really smart on.  I can't wait to make more of them!  I massively underestimated the time it takes to sew it with two small children under 3.  I'd quite forgotten how much work goes into a shirt with all the seam grading and top-stitching.  However, the complexity is exactly why I love to make them; a t-shirt just wouldn't be so satisfying.

The shirt is for Toddler Button's little friend.  It's my payment for the amazing Pocoyo birthday cake his kind and talented mother made for Toddler's birthday in December.  I hope it fits him!

In other news, I am really disappointed with the range of shirting and printed dressmaking cottons available online.  I want to make more funky and bold shirts for Toddler, but all the cotton poplin and lawn is turgid floral patterns that even I wouldn't wear.  I'm going to have to resort to quilting cottons (argh) to make cool shirts.  Toddler likes to wear shirts like Daddy, and he'd dress like a crayola box if I let him.  (Favourite outfit: grass-green trousers, blue and purple t-shirt and bright yellow tank-top.  Granny let him wear it once, because she is nice.  Mummy is a big meany.)

Friday, 13 March 2015

New eyelet curtains!

A good thing to do when you're heavily pregnant is to make curtains.  All the crawling around on the floor measuring is good to get the baby in position, and there is lots of sofa time with all the hand-stitching.

I made some new eyelet curtains for my bedroom.  I have previously written about designing eyelet curtains here.  Mr Button and I spent many happy hours measuring and laying out fabric as by this time I was quite big and slow to crawl around the floor on my own (thanks, Mr B!).  Much thought was put in by both of us to minimise hand-stitching.  I did have to hand-sew all edges of the blackout interfacing in and turn up the main fabric hem, but otherwise got away with hand-stitching only the very top corners of the lining, plus the mitred corners in the main fabric.  The rest was cunningly machined by assembling the curtain in a strange order.  The result is that the front looks like a clean rectangle of fabric with no visible stitching: a boring result from a lot of effort!

Mr B hammered in the metal eyelets using the cunning hole-cutter and die set.  He has much better aim and arm strength than me.  The tools and eyelets are from Hanolex and I can't recommend them enough.  The eyelets feel and look very professional, and Mr B says the tools were easy and a lot of fun to use.  The eyelets are bearing up well under the immense weight of these lined and interlined curtains.  The interlining might be overkill on this fabric as the spots are woven and some are chenille.

I have yet to finish the curtains with the large pattern repeat that I previously winged about.  I only finished these spotty ones a few days before the baby came, but I did have time to cut out the next pair and join the drops together.  So the hard pattern-match bit is done.  Good times when you need to choose between three options: cutting perpendicular to the selvedge, or with the wonky grain line or with the off-grain pattern.  Nice.  That's what you get for £10/m, I guess.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Disassembly instructions for Janome 423S

My toddler and my 2 or 3-week old son both napped at the same time a couple of weeks ago, and my husband retreated to his garage.  I used the quiet time to take Able Mabel apart again to fix a problem I'd been having with the presser foot.

In this post, I bring you photographic help to take apart your Janome 423S sewing machine for servicing at home.  I have previously written posts on this subject here and here, and if you are looking here for advice then I strongly suggest you read both of these also.

This one describes polishing and oiling the hook and bobbin race, and this one describes in words how to take the machine to bits.  I'm going to repeat my disassembly order here, but add pictures.
1.  Remove the casing on the end above the needle.  (The screw is hidden behind a plastic cover which can be eased off with a screwdriver.)

2.  Remove the plastic screw-cover on the opposite (plug) side of the machine and remove that screw too.  You won't be able to take the side casing off from this side yet, so don't bother with that: you just need the wiggle room.

3.  Remove the plastic cover underneath the machine.  There are LOADS of screws here.  One of these (near the front right of the machine) you won't be able to remove through the hole: that's because it's to hold the purple front-plate on.  You need to loosen this screw anyway in order to get enough movement in the front plate to work the bottom cover off.  See the image below, where the screwdriver is shoved in the hole to loosen the screw inside.  Don't worry if you hear the screw drop out into the machine: you can retrieve it later.  It's my guess that Janome made a bit of a blooper with this one: the access hole looks like it's been drilled after the case molding when they found they couldn't get the machine together without wiggle room from movement in the front plate.  Whoops!

Note how I use blobs of blu-tack to store the screws next to the holes I just took them out of.  That's my top tip for not losing any fixings.

Loosen Janome's hidden blooper screw ;-)

4.  Once you've removed all the screws, you should be able to take the bottom off by hinging it towards the belt/motor side of the machine: you'll need to wiggle the front and side covers to get enough play to be able to hinge the plate off without snapping the lugs.

Hinging the bottom plate off

Behold!  The hidden screw you were loosening through that hole in the bottom plate!

With the blooper screw removed, you can see that just loosening it will be enough.

5.  Remove the top cover of the machine: there are screws under the handle and also one holding a bobbin-winding "stop" on.  There's also one on the side at the needle-end (see last image).  There's a plastic lug at the right-hand side, so like the bottom piece, the top needs to be carefully removed by hinging it toward the motor/plug side.

Screws under the handle

The bobbin-winder stop screw needs to be removed

This bobbin-winding mechanism screw also needs to come out

Don't forget this screw at the needle-side of the machine, accessible once you've taken the end off in step 1

6.  Remove the side cover over the motor/plug.  I didn't bother to remove the lilac-coloured* front-plate, as I could get the access I needed without it.

Note the small lugs all the way up the side plate.  (Image taken before top removed in step 5)
* Does not look lilac in my image as my model has faded after 12 years in the son.  It used to be lilac!

I cleaned every metal-on-metal moving joint I could find (hand-crank the machine to spot these).  To clean, I rubbed around the area with a Q-tip, and then a drop or two of machine oil did the trick.  I took a few photos (not exhaustive) of a subset of the joints.  There are more than this!

Underneath the machine, with the machine lying on its front

Inside the top of the machine.

There is a triangular cam thingy visible when you look down inside the top of the machine (next image).  This bit needs a SERIOUS clean and oil: it was responsible for my machine groaning and stiffening, threatening to burn out the motor.

The bit highlighted here is the triangular cam thingy.

On this trip inside my machine, I paid special attention to the presser-foot mechanism, because the foot wasn't staying clamped down when I was stitching, leading to an exciting free-motion stitching experience with every project.  Argh!

Behind the presser-foot shank.  Oil the joints in the black thingy on the left, and the shank guide on the right.

Oil the presser-foot shank-guide on the front as well.

Also clean and oil the bobbin-race (see other post) to avoid nasty skipped stitches.

That's it!  If you have a Janome 423S, I hope this post helps you to get it apart quickly and without damage to the plastic work.  If you have any other type of sewing machine, I hope you feel ready to service it yourself.  It's easy!  :-)

This machine has run for 12 years with no need for any part change.  If I have to do any further maintenance excepting a clean and oil, you can be sure to hear about it here.  Lucky lucky you.  Ha ha.  There's a reason to subscribe to this blog if ever I heard one!  ;-)

They still sell this Janome model, so if you're looking for a reliable metal-bodied front-loading mechanical machine, I recommend it.  Super reliable.