Thursday, May 30, 2013

I'm back!

In case you were wondering, I haven't fallen off of the side of the earth - I just went around it for a visit to jolly ol' England. I had a lovely time with my sister and grandmother. Of course, we stopped at Liberty for some fabric and yarn.

That is just a bit of my stash. I'm going to be busy for awhile. We also got to visit the Chelsea garden show for the 100th year anniversary. So many flowers!

The other exciting thing I did was make shoes. I took a one day course on making ballet flats. My sister and I had a blast and now I can make shoes to match my outfits. I just need to find myself (or make) some shoe lasts and I'll be good to go.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Safe and Easy Way to Clean Jewellery

I had a nice bracelet I wanted to clean, but did not want to do it with any harsh chemicals. I also wanted to see if I could do it using stuff around the house.

Turns out that brass tarnish can be removed with good old vinegar (or other acid, such as lemon juice) and salt. Using a small bowl, I submerged my bracelet in about 1/4 cup vinegar and 1 tsp salt.

I let it sit for an hour (doesn't have to be that long, but my jewellery was pretty bad) and then carefully emptied the vinegar/salt mixture. Some of the small fake pearls came loose and I did not want to pour them down the drain.

I then filled the bowl with water and added a teaspoon of baking soda to stop the reaction.

I didn't take before or after pictures, but the brass tarnish was almost all gone. A little scrubbing got rid of the rest of it. Now, I just have to glue on the little pearls that became loose.

I know that this will work with copper and brass. I'm not sure about other metals, so you may want to try it on a little non-visible part of your jewellery before you do the whole piece.

As to how this works, I am weak on my high school chemistry, but I believe that vinegar reacts with the oxide coated metal to form a gas (hydrogen?) leaving a original metal finish behind. The salt (ions) helps speed up the reaction. If there are any chemists out there, feel free to correct me and leave a better description of what is happening.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Instead of sending a boring, old card, I thought I would make a post for my Mom to wish her a Happy Mother's Day.

From our 2012 trip to Oxford, UK
Happy Mother's Day!

This is the lovely lady who taught me to sew, garden, bake, wash floors, laundry, household repair, and manage money. Those last few may seem boring, but it's amazing how many people reach adulthood with not being able to do them. She truly is a very capable lady.

Thank you, Mom!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sewing: Know Your Feet

I have figured out why my sewing machine has been giving me grief! As you might remember, I mentioned while sewing my blouse for the Ute Sew-Along that my sewing machine was refusing to sew through more than 4 layers of fabric.

My sewing machine was working fine with thicker fabric until I brought it in to a shop for cleaning and tuning. I quickly found out that I could not sew thicker fabric or many layers with my newly cleaned machine. The top thread would not pick up the bottom bobbin thread and almost no stitches would form. I was lucky when I got it to sew with just a few skipped stitches.

I tried many different needles, different tensions, and even different thread, but none of that seemed to work. It seemed like the thicker fabric was causing the presser foot and feed dogs to not hold the fabric properly.

Fed up, I brought the sewing machine back to the shop. The kind, elderly sewing machine repair man took one look and said "wrong foot". Duh! I thought to myself - that was the one thing I did not check.

Turns out I had been sewing (for years!) with "special purpose" foot and not a general purpose foot. That's my special purpose foot (for zig zag and decorative stitches, according to my manual) you see in the picture above. It looks like a general purpose foot, until you turn it over. The special purpose foot has grooves on the bottom, while a general purpose foot is completely flat. It was these grooves that were causing the fabric to not be held with the right pressure between the presser foot and feed dogs.

Singer 'B' General Purpose and 'J' Special Purpose Feet

I did not realize it wasn't a general purpose foot - that was the foot on there when I got the sewing machine from my aunt. I just assumed it was a see-through, plastic version of the metal general purpse foot. And don't ask me why it worked for so long with the wrong foot! I'm happy to say that, now that I've got the right foot, my sewing is going much better now.

Anyways, I hope this helps anyone else out there who is struggling with their sewing machine. So, the lesson is, know your feet.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Sewing: Burdastyle Ute #6020

I've finished my second Burdastyle Ute! This shirt was part of the Black and White Challenge I had with the sewing group Stitch Once, Rip Twice.

Update: You can see everyone else's Black and White Challenge projects here at Diane's Vintage Zest.

The big unveiling and my notes are after the jump...

Thursday, May 2, 2013