Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Men's shirt patterns

Last time I mentioned the latest tailoring effort as a slim fit 1960s shirt. Well, after trawling for patterns it seems there isn't really one out there :-(
The closest I got were three 1960s patterns, but none of them seem to be slim fitting. I prefer the slim fit because it looks better on a slim man (now that I'm half the man I used to be - well, maybe 75%). We all need to use clothes to show us in our best light, don't we? The ladies certainly do (not so much these days, of course). In the U.S. two years ago it was really easy to find vintage shirts and suits, but they were all huge. Americans eat a lot more than Aussies, it seems. I'm currently wearing one of my thrift shop bargains though. An Italian suit, probably '90s but it doesn't matter when it fits this well. Classic design, with pin stripes, and very slim fit. The price? Same as a good op shop here: $10. Can't promise to ever learn to make suits, since it would take many years to make something even acceptable, but shirts are a different matter.
I hereby promise to attempt to create and publish an electronic pattern from the paper one I made my shirt from. Here are two pictures of it as it is now - I have yet to sew button holes on:
The seams are something my teacher's very proud of. Also, this machine sews beautifully, and it's just a pleasure to use it. The pedal looks bizarre - it's made of bakelite, and has a solid post right next to the switch for your foot to pivot on while you're using it, but it's very smooth. Some of this is probably the thorough clean and oil last week, but most is definitely due to the quality of the build back in 1960. Since teacher isn't here and I can't remember what it's called I won't go on about it, but side seams are pressed flat, then toward the back. The seam closest to the back is cut by half and the longer one folded over it. It's pinned in place like that and stitched. Looks very nice (better than the finish in the original shirt). The fabric was just what shirting was available, a nice plain green. Obviously you can make from something a bit groovier than this, but I chose the plain in case I screwed it up. Wasting 25 cents worth of fabric is not something I'd cry over. Besides, it'll still be a great looking shirt that feels good too. And that's not even mentioning that other feeling, of having made it!
Etsy seems to be the best place to find vintage patterns. The three I found earlier today are simplicity 4160, simplicity 7745 and butterick 5897. Just remember that pattern numbers are re-used so include 1960s in your search. I'll figure out some time how to digitise the pattern I have.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Singer 327K - Do I have a problem?

Well, duh :-)

Well, I did buy it prior to the 319K, and it was $5 (no foot pedal). Here is a picture of the 327K:
Isn't she lovely? (If you also heard Stevie Wonder singing that just then you must be as old as I am). There was a problem: After cleaning and oiling, it still wouldn't sew (sigh). Tried several hours of tightening and loosening the bobbin and thread tension to discover that the actual needle bar had a slight bend in it! How could this happen? It's solid stainless steel, so I think someone must have dropped it. Luckily, there was a number on  it. Read it out to my (now) friends at sewparts, and Singer no longer make them. I was luckier on ebay, however, and two weeks later (U.S. postal service is now extremely slow) I have it. The machine now sews perfectly but of course I no longer need it. Oh well, the collection grows.
OK, back to the 319K. Here is another picture:
Her indoors is a pattern maker and made a shirt pattern based on a small Van Heusen from the 1960s. Very mod, and as I said I was itching to do something a little more manly than little girls' dresses (and skirts). The shirt is nearly finished and I've taken a few photos along the way. Next post, therefore, will be how to make a very attractive shirt. Unfortunately, I don't have a pattern number for you to search for, but if or when I learn how to digitise patterns, I'll publish it here :-)

Monday, 11 February 2013

Another new machine and tons of patterns!

Every now and then there's a garage sale of a deceased old lady who sewed in more of a serious way than most. Even better is if the old lady has always lived in that house, and it seems the stars were all in alignment on Saturday. She threw nothing away, including her two sewing machines. One was a Singer 201, the other a 319K. The start time being 8:30am and I got there around 8:25am. The 201 had a sticker with $150 on it next to another that said "sold". This machine looked Russian: Black, amazingly large and very industrial looking. The sewing room was also full of fabric. Aha! This is where one finds old fabrics (rather than op shops, as mentioned before). In amongst the fabric was patterns from the 1940s to 1990s! I got every pre-decimal pattern there, loads of fabric, then asked about the smaller green 319K. I ended up buying it for less than $100. It needs a bit of work, but it basically looks the same as this http://lempobee.blogspot.com.au/2011/03/singer-319k-green-machine.html except that it's in a cabinet. A picture will of course follow. It's full of levers and knobs. The manual came with it and after a few things get moved I'll be getting it ready for a new lease on life.
OK, getting sleepy as well as distracted by lempobee's cool 319K pictures. More later.
EDIT: Late again, but here's a picture of my new machine just before sleep takes me.
It's quite dirty (I haven't touched it yet), and I took out the needle since it was the wrong type. These machines take a needle specific to this model, and a different one was in the machine (wrong needles will really stuff it up, according to the experts - Google "singer 319 special needle"). This was possibly just put in for display though, or I'm hoping it was. Sewparts has the special needles, and I'm willing to wait. Besides, my eldest daughter's '50s godet skirt is now finished so there's no urgency.
Some of these machines, apparently, have been modified to take a normal needle, but technicians don't recommend this, and warn that it will seriously affect the machine's performance.
The manual that came with the machine explains in detail about using the special feet that come with them, and I have never used (except zipper feet of course).
Don't those levers look enticing? The machine has several built-in pattern (fashion) wheels which these levers activate. A couple of dozen extra wheels are included with the machine and attach to the front, on the thing above the "S" on the right side.
The cabinet needs a really good clean, sanding and varnish, and there's the weekend for that. More pictures and information later.