Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Temporary setbacks

I've been dog-sitting for a friend and haven't had much time in the sewing room. Today I went to iron out some linen in preparation for a Cynthia Rowley jacket pattern when my gravity feed iron quit steaming. I don't know if the solenoid is clogged or if it might be something else- it still heats up, just no steam. I'm soooo over my equipment not working when I need/want it to. So, off I went to Cleaner's Supply and ordered the Naomoto iron I've been lusting after for awhile, as well as a Jiffy garment steamer for DH's jackets. My sister is going to have to forward the stuff or bring it with her when she visits this summer but eventually all of my tools will be here. The dogs go home tomorrow and I'm off to DDM/Seoul this weekend. I expect lots of sewing updates next week because I don't have much else going on to keep me away from my projects.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Janome Threadbanger TB-30 review

I am heading into month 2 with my Janome TB-30 and recently wrote a review on Pattern Review on this machine. My dress form arrived yesterday, still awaiting the other toy... along with the cutting mat and some new patterns. I plan to be very productive this summer, with Korean heat and humidity combo, I am essentially locking myself in the apartment in a few weeks.

What I like about this machine

This is my first computerized machine and it took a couple of weeks for me to get used to another brain thinking for me when I sew. I am a garment sewer and purchased this machine after lots of research online/on the PR forum threads.

I went with this machine because it offered adjustable presser foot pressure as well as 6 different one-step buttonholes. I have a friend who is purchasing another Janome with similar features except her model does not offer the adjustable presser foot pressure. I have yet to use this feature on my TB-30 so I hope the feature is worth the extra money.

I have tried a couple different styles of buttonholes on scrap fabric and found that the stitch density isn't as close together as I can get with my previous White Jeans Denim machine (only one style of buttonhole vs. the six styles on the TB-30). The density issue is probably more personal preference than function though, the buttonholes I have made so far are quite nice and professional looking.

I haven't sewn on difficult fabric yet (velvet, slippery silks, heavy denim, etc) with this machine, most of my projects have been quilting cottons. I did repair a nylon back pack strap the other night and the layers slid through the machine without a hiccup.

The machine is quiet and has a nice hum. This is my first full size Janome (I have a Janome Sew-Mini) and it feels like the machine and I are off to a nice start.

This is a low shank machine and comes with a few snap on presser feet out of the box. I have access to cheap low shank metal presser feet and will work on expanding my collection. It's nice to have interchangeable feet with this machine and my White.

You can control the stitch speed at various settings, I had a hard time at the fastest setting when I first started (always used to full control using the pedal) but I'm used to the feel of the machine now. The automatic needle up/down feature is very convenient.

What I do not like about this machine
I did have some bobbin tension issues when I first started working on this machine that have since been fixed. I was having the hardest time tightening up the bobbin tension, even when the needle pressure dial was at "0" my bottom thread was still poking through at the end/beginning of the top thread. I played around with all the possible settings such as presser foot pressure, needle pressure and higher-end thread. When none of these showed significant changes, I was

This was my first machine with a horizontal bobbin and it finally occurred to me last week to take the cover plate off to tighten the bobbin casing. I don't know why I didn't make the connection to tighten the casing to fix the tension issues, I guess if I don't actually see and hold the bobbin casing in my hand like I do with my horizontal bobbin machines, in my mind it didn't seem "real" (if that makes sense). My straight stitches are now evenly looped on the top and the bottom.

The quality of the straight stitch is still not what I consider perfection but they are even and nice looking. Maybe with some more tweaking it will look a little better, this is probably an issue specific to my particular machine. I played around with some of the decorative stitches and nothing really impressed me. The star/asterisk stitch didn't look very polished and the functions where it did a satin stitch (continuous half moons and diamonds) weren't all that tight. I do want to note that these stitches were tested when I was having the straight stitch tension problems and I'll need to re-test them. Truthfully I don't have a lot of confidence that it will be significantly improved, but these decorative stitches are pretty useless to me as a garment sewer. I suppose if I want fancier machine stitching I can get an embroidery machine.

I've had the machine beep at me for doing a couple of "off limit" things by accident, guess I have to get used to these computerized warnings.

I unplug the 220V/110V transformer from the outlet every time I am finished using this machine (I live in Asia and have a regular 110V machine). I am pretty sure just the act of shutting down the machine re-sets the settings (i.e. straight stitch length goes back to a default 2.2 while I usually set it to 3) and I thought I read online that we can set our own defaults on this machine, but I don't remember seeing it in the manual. This is perhaps the most annoying thing after the tension crisis, and it is very minor in the grand scheme of things since it's easy to set the stitch length.

Overall now that my tension issues are fixed, I am starting to work more in harmony with my new toy. I think this machine would be a nice beginner to advanced sewing machine for someone who does primarily garment sewing. The additional 30 stitch variations are functional, but I really plan to use the straight stitch, zig zag, and buttonhole stitches for my sewing needs.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It's time to learn Korean....

I've been away from this blog partly because other things have been coming up these past few weeks, and partly because I kept getting the Korean version of Blogspot every time I tried coming back to update. I finally did some clicking around and found myself miraculously at the English version. Better take this opportunity for a brief update.

The recent McCall's shirt was, shall we say, a wadder. I haven't had the chance to write a PR review, but I will attribute this flop more to outside factors than problems with the pattern itself.

My Threadbanger TB-30 was giving me tension problems and it wasn't until 3 days ago it dawned on me to open the bobbin case and adjust the screw. I had been changing needle tension and presser foot pressure trying to achieve a balanced stitch but even when needle tension was at 0 (auto is about 4) I still had a loose lower bobbin thread/stitch. With the recent tightening I seem to have fixed my previous problems with very uneven stitches.

Sadly my moment of clarity came as I had already sunk in about 90% of work into the shirt for DH. Oh well. Into the scrap pile it goes.

My other mistake was using the wrong interfacing for the CF. Instead of my nicer woven interfacing from Pam at Fashion Sewing Supply, I wanted to use up some fusible hair canvas interfacing I purchased at a local fabric shop. This is the stuff the most of the local tailors use in their suits (read: crap) and I don't know what possessed me to convince myself it'll be okay on this linen fabric. Stupid is as stupid does.

In short, I will attempt this pattern again, despite the lack of of a yoke. Today I received the Islander men's shirt patterns and DVDs I recently ordered, as well as some patterns from PR. I'm trying to do all of my online shopping for supplies before it gets really hot this summer- I am hiding away once we get to 85F and humidity is 100%.

On a happier note, I wanted to post some pictures of the fabric I found for Arielle in Haiti. She lost a lot of sewing things due to the earthquake earlier this year and in the spirit of sewing and charitable giving, I found out the kinds of fabrics/prints she likes and went on a shopping spree! I was at DDM (Dong Dae Mun) fabric market shopping for about 4 hours two weeks ago, the most time I have spent at that place and boy I was tired at the end! The box went out last week to Cidell who will be packing all the contributions from the sewing community into one box for Arielle's courier. I had so much fun shopping for her and I really hope she likes the choices I made!!!

80% rayon and 20% cotton knits

100% cotton eyelet

100% silk crepe de chine and stretch silk charmeuse

100% cotton shirting

100% cotton lawn and cotton knit

Cidell had commented on my first Blog post that I should do a write up on DDM. I have a couple of posts on PR about the fabric market but those were when I was still exploring. I have a pretty good grasp of the area now and will definitely do another write up soon. In the mean time, let's hope I can find my way back to the English version of Blogspot soon so I can post more about my sewing projects!