Friday, February 10, 2012

Presser Feet for the Vintage Montgomery Ward

It is extremely difficult to come across an actual vintage walking foot for Montgomery Ward machines however you can purchase a generic low shank walking foot. I purchased my walking foot from my local Bernina dealership. It's a Quilters' Resource Gerneric Low Shank Walking Foot and Plaid Matcher part #10449. It's manufactured and sold by Brewer Quilting and Sewing Supply and should be available at your local Bernina dealership. If you would prefer to purchase it over the web I would recommend these links...

I can guarantee that the foot from will work as it is the exact same model that I have on my Montgomery Ward. Nancy's notions and Amazon are very reputable sellers but be sure to check their return policies before purchase.

I also have a Nifty Notions Free Motion Quilting and Darning Foot (another Quilters' Resources Inc. product) but to be honest I'm less then impressed with it. The only time I've used it I broke three needles stippling a 8 x 10 inch doll quilt. That is most likely due to piloting error (I'm not a big quilting person). If in the future I decide to stipple another quilt I may just pick up a leather rolling foot.  

I recently went to a sewing expo where I saw a demonstrator use a Bernina leather rolling foot to create tight circles and spirals. He then proceeded to wow the crowd with a simple large stipple pattern. I would have bought the leather rolling foot on the spot if it had been the type to fit on my machine, which of course it wasn't. The wonderful thing about it was that the stitches all came out the same length with the roller (and they most definitely didn't with the free motion foot). The downfall is that the leather roller won't make super tight and small stipples and I'm not sure that it will work well with high loft quilt batting.

The generic low shank leather rollers don't look a thing like Bernina's and I don't know if they will work as well but I put one on my wish list anyway. I hope you find a great free motion foot - if you do be sure to let me know about it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

My Pattern Stash - Butterick 9492 - Toddlers' Yoked Dress & Slip

B9492 circa 1960
Toddlers' Yoked Dress & Slip

Puffed-sleeved yoked dress with full skirt and Peter Pan collar, optional applique or eyelet and ribbon trimming. Scoop necked slip with buttoned shoulders and ruffle trimmed hem.

Toddlers' Measurements in Inches
Size...........................1/2 ...... 1 ...... 2 ...... 3
Breast........................19 ...... 20 ..... 21 .... 22
Waist.........................19 .....19.5 .... 20 .... 20.5
Finished Length..........13 .....14.5 .... 16 .... 17

Suggested Fabrics -
Dress: Organdies, Cottons, Sheers, Synthetics, Dotted Swiss.
Slip: Cotton Broadcloth, Muslin.
Reminiscent of Shirly Temple this lovely little frock is finger tip brushing in length and perfectly paired with today's trending tutu or pettiskirt dresses and ruffled bloomers. I love this little dress and can't wait to break out the pattern and make it from some frothy yellow organdy with appliqued tulips I have stashed. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Birthday Week - Completing the Crazy Dragon Pinata Making Scheme

First off let me apologize to my readers about the delay in follow up posts. April is a very VERY busy month for me between birthdays, (for friends and family I observe 16 birthdays, one almost every other day in April, Maxwell's and my own included) gardening (my other business and passion), spring cleaning, two growing little boys, and being sick I'm lucky I found time to shower let a lone spend a few hours composing a blog. Now on with the show....

When I was a kid we would put together these huge New Year's Eve parties and the main attraction for the kids was the pinata; so I have been making pinatas for years but always with wheat paste and newspaper strips. Now that I have tried instant paper mache I have some mixed feelings about both.  Wheat paste and paper is a lot more work and I don't have to prep my frame to make the strips stick. Instant paper mache is faster but the frame prep kills me. Blarg.

So after my dragon's body dried I made up the head - basically following the same method - and stuck them together with some heavy duty masking tape. If you can't find a wide masking tape at your local big box try a home improvement store paint section, they carry a wide variety of tape and if it's not in the paint section I can guarantee they have it some where.  This worked fairly well. I then covered the tape with instant mache and molded it to look seamless. All in all I think I did a good job.

My fabulous sister Felicia Reynolds is an amazing artist who came to help me out with putting the color on our dragon. She began by taking brown packing paper (what I had on hand, but newspaper could just as easily be used) and twisting it into a tail which was then covered with the wide masking tape/painters tape and taped to the body; she also made arms and legs the same way by molding the brown paper and then wrapping it with the tape and taping them to the body (the masking tape works best for this as painters tape will peel off too easily). Then we used the pattern from DIY Fluffies to cut the wings, ears, and tail spikes from green poster board. Lastly we capped our little fellow with a couple of horns.

If you do make a dragon pinata at home and you have small children be sure to give yourself at least two weeks of lead time because paper mache takes a long time to dry and preparing and gluing the crepe paper streamers can be a nightmare with helpful little hands around.

Starting at the bottom and working our way up we began by cutting several yellow wrapping tissue paper ovals and glued them on in two or three layers. Because wrapping tissue and crepe paper are very fragile and turn soggy when wetted with traditional white glue we used glue sticks. The results were wonderful as you can see, no puckering or bleeding. Once we got the bottom covered with the yellow tissue we covered the feet with green wrapping tissue as well and added a few little black construction paper claws.

Next up Felicia marked out the tummy area and put down the initial layer of red tissue. We also covered the arms first in lime tissue then a piece of dark green tissue in the shape of an arm was added to really give it some great definition. covering the arms and tummy first was very important because it gave us a clear area to work around. Then we layered on the yards, and yards, and yards of lime green crepe paper streamers (I highly recommend starting at tip of the tail and working up to the head).

To prepare the crepe paper streamers I would loose a few feet from the roll and cut 2/3 of  the width every 1/2 inch or so while Felicia glued the other end to the body frame. With two adults working on the project together - one cutting crepe paper and the other doing the gluing - it took us about four hours to put the whole dragon together. If I had done it on my own, not only would it not have looked so awesome but it most likely would have taken me several days.

What do you think, how did it turn out?

Up next; three year olds with swords! :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Birthday Week - The Crazy Dragon Pinata Making Scheme

Yoki the Fat Dragon
Grawr! GRAWR!

This coming weekend my big boy turns three years old (they grow up so fast, it seams like just yesterday I was bringing him home from the hospital) and Max Attack wants a dragon themed birthday party. No vikings, no knights, no princes JUST dragons. So dragons we will do. 

Totally inspired by DIY Fluffies' "Yoki the Fat Dragon" I am going to make a dragon pinata for the party. How can you resist this?

First I prepare my 12" party balloon with a thin layer of white glue - a tip given to me by local crafting guru Pattie Lundin whose rustic dolls are absolutely amazing. Then I stretch several damp paper towels over the balloon in a single layer and give it a few hours to dry. This will give the FastMache I plan to use to create the dragon shape something to adhere to.

While it is drying I create the head using the Yokie pattern I purchased as a template and stuff it with wrapping tissue to help it hold it's form. Tomorrow I will cover the head with Cellu Clay a sister product to the Fast Mache that is more easily molded and carved. This will be great for adding the fine details.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Vintage Sewing Machine - Montgomery Ward UHT J1277

I inherited my sewing machine several years ago after my father passed away. While it was not my mother's sewing machine he loved it dearly - he called it his "button sewer". My father was a practical man, I think he bought his machine with two things in mind; one, it is a little power horse and two it can sew buttons on clothes.

To be honest I knew nothing about owning a vintage sewing machine when I brought it home. It needed so much equipment - my dad may have bought a good machine but he didn't buy any of the peripheries - it needed needles, bobbins, bobbin casings, presser feet, cams, and belts. Blarg. Imagine my surprise when I learned that finding Montgomery Ward parts was next to impossible. I was so depressed. Thank the powers that be for my local Bernina dealer "The Sewing Palace."

Believe it or not those ladies know about more than just Bernina sewing machines - they knew that my Montgomery Ward could be repaired using Singer parts and that I could use generic manufactured class 15 metal bobbins, bobbin casings, and belts and Schmetz universal needles and that my machine would be compatible with most low shank presser feet. The only thing they couldn't help me with were cams - cams appear to be machine specific and while I have since found and purchased Montgomery Ward cams that are compatible with my machine I am curious if others will work but hesitant to spend money on them (if you know please tell me).

She sews like a dream, emitting a pleasant little whir as the motor takes on most every fabric I throw at her - including layers of denim and leather - without a stopping. Her one downfall is her satin stitch foot. It drags on the top layer of fabric causing it to pucker and create uneven stitches so I have become an addict of the walking foot I purchased for quilting. I think I will buy one of those Teflon open toed feet to see if it will fix the problem. Until I do the cams go unused - nothing can destroy a decorative stitch faster than uneven feed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Nainsook - A Little Known Treasure

"Cultivate your gift for clothes."   

                  - Paris Frocks at Home

I'm always on the look out for vintage fabrics or reproductions to use in my children's clothing. To be honest using the "real deal" is a big thing to me, weren't these patterns designed with a certain type of fabric in mind. I recently purchased a lovely length of  vintage embroidered fabric that the seller listed as batiste, but once it arrived in the mail I quickly realized that I had a real find on my hands. It wasn't batiste at all but a lesser known cousin called Nainsook.

Example of corded nainsook.
Nainsook is a fine, lightweight, plain woven cotton made from the same gray goods as batiste, cambric and lawn, with a soft hand and slight luster due to it's combed and mercerized threads. Most commonly manufactured in white and occasionally produced in pastel colors, printed, or made with a closely woven satin or twill stripe forming a corded effect, nainsook is often tucked or embroidered in blouses, night wear, lingerie, and infant's wear.

During the 50's and 60's nainsook was used to manufacture bias tape. Unfortunately after the 1960's, when inexpensive synthetic fabrics which closely resemble the drape and feel of expensive natural fabrics became more widely available, it fell out of favor. Little is manufactured today but it can still be found used in store bought clothing and on rare occasion sold on the bolt. I most frequently see it - along with dimity - used to manufacture ready-to-wear western style clothing, specifically shirts.
A rare printed nainsook.

Nainsook is frequently mistaken for batiste or voile.  An easy way to tell the difference between these fabrics is to take a close look at the material, voile is loosely woven generally using rougher threads and batiste is more tightly woven with smoother threads. Cotton voile will have a very slight fuzzy feel while batiste will be smooth. Both are more sheer than nainsook.

For those of us who live in colder climates nainsook might be preferable to batiste because of it's heavier nature. I love the feel and look of the few pieces that are in my stash, they are reserved for girls summer dresses and layette sets.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

How to List Your Vintage Patterns

Simplicity 9843
Nothing bugs me more than spending tireless hours pouring through listings and scouring shops looking for a specific pattern, only to find it buried amidst thousands of generic "vintage sewing pattern" descriptions. I absolutely despise listing title words like cute, sweet, lil, tot, frilly, frock, darlin, adorable, lovely, quick and easy. These descriptors waste valuable time when someone is looking for what you have to sell. You only get three seconds to tell a browser what you're selling before they move on, so give a collector or sewer what they want. "Super Cute Child's Quick and Easy Retro Dress and Smock Sewing Pattern" means squat to the buyer looking for Simplicity 9843, Girls Dress and Smock, c.1971, Size 6.

This is how you list to get buyers into your shop and to the listing they really want. List the manufacturer, pattern #, description from the envelope (please don't make up your own), size (actual size not descriptive word like toddler, girls, boys, tween, teen - that should already be in the description), copyright/print date or circa (if you don't know the print date). It doesn't really matter what order you list these items in so long as you list them all.
Butterick 9492
  • 1960's Butterick 4463, Girls Dress and Jacket, Size 5
  • 1964 Simplicity 5854, Size 3, Boys Suit Pattern
  • Toddlers' Yoked Dress & Slip, Butterick 9492, Size 1/2, c. 1968
  • 50's Toddlers' Playsuit and Coat Simplicity 2094 Sz 2
If you absolutely must add adjectives to your listing  - and sometimes you must - put it at the beginning of the listing title. For example...
  • Rare Vintage Girls' Dress with Detachable Collar and Cuffs, Simplicity 1254, Size 10, c. 1955
  • UNCUT Vintage 50's Girls Rockabilly Dress and Jacket, Advance 7706  Size 14
One could put "Rockabilly" as part of the description but keep in mind that terms such as Rockabilly, Atomic, Classic and Retro are subjective, even though they are indicative of the print era. Sites like eBay, Etsy and eCRATER, provide plenty of ways to use your descriptive words, simply add it with tagging.

Simplicity 2094
Keep your descriptions concise - eBay only gives you 55 characters for your listing title, make each one work for you. Vintage Embroidered Layette Set Butterick 6426 Size 1/2 ca 1960 will not fit in the space allotted shorten it appropriately...  VTG 60's Embroidered Layette Set Butterick 6426 6M. If your listing is going to be in the Collectibles > Sewing (1930-Now) > Patterns > Children category you can drop the VTG altogether, however if your listing is going to be in the Crafts category as well, keep it. 

Spell out the manufacture's name whenever possible for search purposes. Some collectors only want Simplicity patterns. However the abbreviations B, S, M, or A will work in a pinch. Also remember that it is not necessary to include the words vintage or pattern in your listing title, those should be included in your tags. If you categorize or tag your listings correctly you will not need to create verbose listings to attract customers.