Singer Automatic Zigzagger!

Awhile back I was at a thrift store in my neighborhood with one of my sisters and her keen eye spotted something I’d been trying to track down for about a year – a Singer Automatic Zigzigger!

I started looking for one of these beauties last year before I got my Singer 403A. It was so wonderful to finally find one! This model is for a slant needle sewing machine, which my Singer 403A Slant-O-Matic actually is! Now, my Slant-O-Matic comes with it’s own cam system for doing the same kinds of stitches the Singer Automatic Zigzagger does, but it could still be fun to see if I can make this work on it! Though, the Automatic Zigzagger is for class 301 machines, which is a previous generation, so chances are, it won’t work on the 403A…Oh well, knowing me, I’m sure I’ll get another slant needle machine eventually! I can very rarely resist sewing machine attachments when I come across them in the wild, especially since I never know what kind of vintage sewing machine will end up in my home…

These remind me of the cams for my 403A! You can do a blind hem, arrow and zigzag stitch with these three, and the one currently attached to the machine makes a domino stitch!

It even still had the instruction booklet!

And a little pamphlet advertising some of the other stitch patterns you could purchase for your Automatic Zigzagger!

Speaking of vintage sewing machine attachments and machines…I did end up sadly parting ways with two of my vintage machines prior to the move – my White model 1099 machine, and my Singer 128-13 (which I’ll admit I stripped for parts). Of my vintage machines I only kept my Singer 403A Slant-O-Matic (of course!), my 99K from 1941 (the only non-functional machine I kept, because I plan on finding the parts and fixing this one up eventually so I can use it), and the Singer 127 vibrating shuttle from 1915 that I turned into an electric machine (which is why I stripped the 128-13 for parts, most if not all, work on this machine). It was sad saying good bye to those two lovely machines, but I’m happy with the ones I kept and my one modern machine.

That said, at the same time, I’m getting that itch to find another vintage machine again…I’ve been able to resist a number of vintage machines I’ve seen out and about in the last eight months or so, but I definitely have a mental list of machines I know I couldn’t resist if I came across them. Now all I have to do is try not to go purposely seeking them out, or I might just magically wind up with another machine!

Instead I should see if I can play with this wonderful Automatic Zigzagger! (The doom that will surely lead to me tracking down a Singer 301! *cough*) They look like SO much fun in the old commercials!

Thank you so much for spotting this awesome little guy, Sarah!! ❤

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Simplicity 8920: A Marcia Brady Nightmare Fuel Fail of a Dress

Awhile back I finished this absolute costume of a 1970’s dress, using Simplicity 8920:

I had such high hopes! This was going to be so much fun! I was going to look just like Marcia Brady! If only I knew…

I made view 1 over the course of a few weeks, because I kept putting it on the back burner to work on other projects. I’m not sure what I think of the finished dress. I love the pattern and the fabric I chose, it was fun to make something so in your face! But wearing it on the other hand…let’s just say I’ve tried it on a few times, but haven’t been able to bring myself to wear it in earnest just yet. I think what’s killing it for me is unfortunately the massive collar, which kind of overwhelms my petite frame and features. I think I might try this pattern again but make the collar smaller.

The fabric I used for the collar and the band were also a huge problem – the satin did not want to behave. It wouldn’t iron properly no matter what I did or how much time I took working at it and it ended up causing major frustration. Next time I’ll definitely use another fabric. I ended up being so frustrated with how this project was going that it lead to me taking even more breaks from this dress, and then finally rushing to get it finished because by that point, I knew it was a bit of a mess and I probably wasn’t going to wear it. So I didn’t finish it as neatly as I could have or normally would have.

I hemmed the dress before getting mad at it, so the hem is pretty darned good at least! I think I used the wrong kind of elastic for the sleeve, so it ended up being kind of a mess. I had to insert the zipper two or three times, because I kept doing it wrong, and by the time I finally got it in, I had already given up.

Then, joy of joys, when I was about to give it a final press, I dropped my iron, making part of it come loose. I thought I had fixed it, but oh boy, did it ever get messed up on that fall! It pretty much burns and/or melts fabric now no matter what setting I put it on. Time to start looking for a new iron!

This project was a bit of a fail all around, but luckily I had enough projects that were actually going well that it didn’t really get me down or lead to a string of failed projects, as has happened in the past when I’ve lost confidence after a project went wrong. I don’t know what to do with this dress now though. Keep it as a reminder of the project? Hold onto it in case my niece wants to use it for a Halloween costume one day in the far off future? Save it in case I’m ever magically invited to/decide to have a 1970’s costume party? Donate it? I’d appreciate any ideas, because I’m kind of at a loss.

If I’m going to do anything other than keep it in my closet, I definitely need to re-do the buttons, they aren’t evenly spaced out and I should have put the first one up higher on the band. There is a lot of this dress that I would fix and finish better, if I could bring myself to pick it up again, but the more I look at it, the more I dislike it because of that awful satin. I definitely don’t think I’ll be messing with Fabricland’s cheap satin for awhile after this, it ended up letting the entire project down, just as it did with the dress I originally made using it. Polyester satin just might be my new sworn sewing enemy.

On the plus side, I love the main fabric of the dress, which I found at a thrift store, and I love the vintage buttons and zipper I used. Maybe I could fix this wreck by replacing the awful satin with another purple fabric, if I can find something nice that would work. That could at least ease the utter loathing I feel when I look at that damned satin…

I’m so sorry I failed you, my queen!

Operation Sharon Tate: Works in Progress

In my last post, which feels like it was written a million years ago, I mentioned that I was working on a dress for one of my sisters. Well, since I last wrote, I finished the mock up for it and another dress for her and now that my laptop seems to be working again (trying not to even breathe on it in case it decides to freeze again!) I’m finally going to post about them!

In case you’re wondering, the reason this post is titled Operation Sharon Tate is because my sister and I are both huge Sharon Tate fans and what started this dressmaking project was her wish for some Sharon Tate inspired garments. Sharon was always incredibly stylish and would transition effortlessly from mod mini skirts and dresses to casual (yet stunning) hippie chic, so these are the sorts of styles that we have been focusing on.

The first dress was made using Style 2204, from 1978:

As always, my photos are horrific!

I was taking and sending her progress pictures throughout the process of making both of these dresses, which I’m really glad of! The mock up was made using a vintage bed sheet, because that’s how I roll.

She chose view 1 and it was my first time sewing an elasticated sleeve and neckline, so it was interesting to do and much, much easier than I thought. It was also my first time sewing raglan sleeves! Luckily with this pattern, the sleeves were incredibly easy to figure out. Since this dress is just a mock up, I wasn’t using any fancy finishing techniques and was being a bit slapdash about things, but it was only because I knew that I might have to take in or let out seams or adjust the elastic in the neckline, etc, and I wanted to be able to do that easily in the test garment.

Unfortunately my sister lives out of town, so we won’t be able to do any fittings until she comes back for a visit (hopefully in the summer!). I’m itching to make this dress in some really nice fabric for her because I really loved making it. The pattern is great and I know this dress is going to look beautiful on her once it’s in a nice fabric and properly fitted.

The second dress was made using a fabulous pattern she found online, Simplicity 7756, from 1968:

This fabric was was originally going to be used for the entire mock up, but I decided against it due to the flimsiness of it – though it did end up appearing in the dress, albeit in much smaller doses!

She chose view 3 and since she’s leaning toward wanting this dress made in a sturdier cotton fabric that will hold a nice shape, I tracked down some stiff cotton at the thrift store to bring this dress to life. Unfortunately, merely handling this fabric immediately causes it to wrinkle, and it’s so weirdly stiff that I stabbed myself several times while sewing it, but I carried on for the love of my sister and the project.

Ooof, the wrinkles!!! The lighting! The ridiculous lack of a real set up for taking photos! Unfortunately since I spent my first month in the new place both sick with a brutal sinus infection and injured after the move, I haven’t finished unpacking or set up a proper space for taking photos yet. Ho hum. It’ll happen eventually! I hope you’ll excuse the horrific photos until then.

Originally she wanted the collar to be in the same fabric as the rest of the dress, but once the dress got to the stage it was at in the photos above, I knew that would be a mistake with this fabric because the collar would just blend in and look very plain. I wanted it to really pop in the photos, especially since she won’t be seeing the dress in person for awhile, so I went ahead and used the fabric from the picture with the pattern to make up the collar.

If you’re wondering about the weird looking hem, it was just pinned in place. also, yay for the dress still being a wrinkled mess! These progress pictures were never intended to be put online, but here we are!

But something was still missing. After seeing how much better it looked with a contrasting collar, I really wanted to add a contrasting sleeve cuff. The pattern didn’t give cuffs as an option, but I knew that if my sister agreed, I could either try my hand at drafting some, or find a pattern in my stash that might include a cuff piece in her size. I spoke with my sister after sending this photo and luckily we were both on the same page and she had been thinking the same thing!

I dug around in my patterns and found another Style pattern in her size: Style 1064 from 1975, which is a blouse pattern that luckily had usable cuffs!

So I cut out the cuffs and got to work immediately. Once the cuffs were finished, I found some pretty vintage pearl buttons from my collection for the cuffs and the front of the dress, sewed them on, inserted the zipper and hemmed the dress!

Yes, it’s still wrinkly AF in these pictures. I’ve since ironed the hell out of it and hung it up safely in my closet to prevent the wrinkle demon from attacking it again.

All I need to do now is figure out the belt!

My sister loves how both of these mock ups have turned out so far and I hope she likes them even more once she’s tried them on and that they fit! It’s been so much fun working on this project with her and I can’t wait for her to try these dresses on so I can get started on the real garments. I love both of these patterns and it’s been really hard to resist the urge to just go ahead and make them both up properly.

We already have a third dress planned that I’ll probably get started on next week! In the meantime, I’ve been working on a dress with a collar that is so 70’s it hurts – Simplicity 8920, from 1970:

I found this pattern in a vintage store and couldn’t resist it, even though it’s one size smaller than I normally take in 70’s patterns. Fingers crossed it will actually fit. This dress is so 70’s and SO Brady Bunch that I’m completely obsessed with it even though I know that the likelihood of it coming out looking like a costume is damn near 100%.

Since it was going to go in that direction anyway, I decided to embrace it and found a sheet at the thrift store that would really bring it home and made it up in it. The timing of making this dress was great, because I’d learned how to sew raglan sleeves with elastic casings from the first dress I made my sister!

This dress is nowhere near finished, as you can see. The purple satin in the third picture was salvaged from a dress I made back in August that was a total fail (and thus, never blogged about), it’s going to be used for the collar, sash and band (if I decide to include it). The raglan sleeves on this pattern were a nightmare compared to my sister’s dress. Like putting together the most confusing puzzle, but I figured it out in the end.

The band, slash and collar are just about ready to either be sewn onto the dress (in the case of the collar and band) or finished (in the case of the very pieced together sash). Once that’s all done, I need to insert the zipper, hem the dress (boy howdy is this dress ever going to be short! The hem is supposed to be about 2 1/2″ but I might change that to an inch or so, because I don’t know how comfortable I am with the length!) and sew the buttons onto the band. I’m going to have to track down some buttons though, I don’t think I have any in my collection that are quite right for this dress.

Though this dress is fun to make and I’m excited to see what it will look like once it’s done, I’m having way more fun sewing for my sister and planning the sewing projects for my other sisters, so I can’t wait to get stuck back into those projects. This one isn’t nearly as important to me, which feels kind of weird to say because I know I should be more excited about this Brady Bunch inspired fever dream of a dress, but I just love collaborating with my sisters on projects so much and I’d forgotten just how much fun it is. It’s been incredibly rewarding and exciting and has made me fall in love with sewing all over again on an even deeper level. Hearing my sister get excited about the progress of the dresses when I would send her pictures and coming up with ideas together, planning fabric and colours and patterns and everything has just been so much fun, I’d happily sew her an entire 1960’s and 70’s wardrobe.

Well, this cursed laptop is demanding that I update it again. Hopefully this update won’t cause the touchpad to freeze and stop working again like last time. Ugh. Never again, Windows, never again. Fingers crossed this time nothing bad will happen and I’ll be able to post again soon – I miss you guys!

I know what I like (in your wardrobe)

I can’t believe January is almost over! I spent the last month doing a fair bit of sewing, and finished up a jacket that I had temporarily abandoned due to buttonhole related anxiety, so I thought I would share the clothes I’ve been making (and finishing) this month and do a bit of a catch up.

While not the most perfect jacket by any stretch of the imagination, this is the first one I’ve ever made and I’m pretty proud of it. I forgot to take a photo of the back, but there is a self fabric tie that you do up in the back and I really like that feature, which makes it doubly silly that I forgot to photograph it!

I made this using McCall’s 4215:

The fabric is a mustard corduroy and I used brown vintage buttons. I started this jacket back in November, I think, but was so intimidated by the permanence of buttonholes even though I’ve sewn them a number of times before, that I put this project on the back burner until a week or so ago when I decided to bite the bullet and finally finish it! I’m really glad I did, because I think this jacket will be fun to wear once the weather finally starts warming up.

I actually used McCall’s 6904 to make two dresses this month because I loved this pattern so much!

Both times I made view B but omitted the faux pockets. I messed up a bit on the sleeves of the first version because I accidentally cut out the pieces for the long sleeved version and had to try and fix it because I didn’t have enough fabric left to re-cut the sleeves, but I still absolutely love this dress and wear it all the time.

I used the same brown vintage buttons that I used for the jacket and this wonderful 100% cotton fabric that I love. I found this in the quilting section, but it’s much softer and more lightweight than typical quilting cotton and works really well for the dress. I love this fabric!

The second version was made using this adorable fabric that I also found in the quilting section, though this one is definitely a heavier weight, but I couldn’t resist those raccoons with their disgruntled little faces!

Close up of the disgruntled raccoon faces!


Unfortunately, the fabric is a little too pale for my skin tone and I think it washes me out a bit, which is really too bad, because it’s a really fun dress and those raccoons never fail to put me in a good mood. I’ve been trying to think of ways that I could still wear it, but don’t know if something like dyeing it a darker colour would completely mess it up and obliterate those adorable raccoons. What do you think? I’d appreciate any advice any of you might have!

And the last big project of the month was made using yet another vintage McCall’s sewing pattern! Wow, I didn’t realize that I’d been on such a McCall’s kick! I really wanted to make a dress inspired by the style of 1960’s and 70’s clothes sold by one of my favourite Etsy shops, ScarlettWillowShop, so for this dress I used McCall’s 4762:

I love Marlo Thomas and That Girl is such a fun show, so I couldn’t resist making this dress! It had been waiting in my pattern stash for the right fabric and as soon as I saw this vintage fabric in the thrift store I knew it would be perfect! I made view B of this pattern, because I knew it was already going to be pretty long on me, since I’m only 5’3″.

I completely lined the dress using a vintage bed sheet, because the main cotton fabric I used for the dress turned out to be kind of rough and scratchy against the skin and I knew it would bother me too much to wear it unlined. Luckily I realized that before I started sewing! This is the first fully lined garment I’ve made and I love that almost every single seam is hidden inside of the lining. I still need to pink the sleeve seams, but I finished the dress yesterday morning and then things got really busy so I didn’t have the time to do it.

I’m posting this last three pictures of me actually wearing the dress mostly in memory of the last truly 60’s/70’s feature left in my 1960’s apartment building – the tiles on my bathroom wall! The cool vintage vibes this place had were what made me sign the lease, but sadly they stripped away all of the old features that made this place so cool years ago when they renovated the common areas of the building.

Speaking of apartments and moving, I looked at an apartment today. I wish I could say that I loved it and will be moving in right away, but it was definitely not for me. The apartment itself was very tiny and very dark, and the small size and darkness made me feel claustrophobic and awful, like being in a small, dark cave. There were other issues with the place too, and I just knew that I wouldn’t be happy there. It’s really too bad because everything outside of the apartment would have been great, but I just couldn’t say yes to a place that made me feel so unhappy. Years ago, I probably would have taken the apartment due to some silly feeling of obligation or low self esteem or a bunch of other nonsense factors, so I’m proud that I was able to realize that it wasn’t right for me and I wouldn’t be happy there, and actually call back and turn it down,. And I’m almost even more proud of the fact that I was able to stand my ground when the manager of the building tried to make me feel bad and like I was making some huge mistake that I was going to regret over the phone.

I know I won’t regret it, I made the right decision for me and I’m really proud that I was able to assert myself and make a choice that was in my own best interest instead of trying to appease someone else out of misplaced guilt. And I know that turning this place down isn’t the end of the world, there will be other (hopefully better!) apartments.

What about you? What have you been sewing lately? Do you having any apartment/house hunting nightmares you’d like to share? Do you know what I could do to make the disgruntled raccoon dress work? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!