A Tale of Two Skirts

Skirt One, the $5 pencil skirt, now the Can’t-get-up-the-Bus skirt:

Business in the front…

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And party on the inside!

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Admittedly, I didn’t bother reading the instructions for sewing a facing into a zippered back and had to wing it. I did an inside hip curve on the sloper pattern, and had to modify the cut fabric to have an outer hip curve once I realised my error – so the seam allowances are a tad bit odd.

But look at that invisible zipper! So tidy.

Skirt Two, slightly easier because it wasn’t I who cut the fabric, but the edgestitched waistband was twice the frustration – whatever I did, I could not get the stitches to lay straight. I think I must’ve ripped the stitches out five or six times.

So. In the end, I hand-sewed it with a backstitch and good thread. A double backstitch for the bottom end, and just a single thread for the top.

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I know it isn’t ironed – I was in too much of a hurry to get it tried on! I wonder how I’m going to wear it?

EDIT: More gratuitous photos here –

Side note: Weather report – terrible weather to be out in. I hope it clears up by morning so I can get my morning run in!

(Can you tell that I went to bed at 3.30am last night?)

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Upcoming Projects – An Update!

My nearly-completed projects have successfully passed into the realm of done-and-gifted bits, as you can see –

The Two-and-a-Half-Month Culottes, for my grandma. Ta-dah!

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I redid one of the pockets, and had to rip out four lines of stitching, then decided to recut the pocket fabric because there were tiny holes left in it from the stitches. I had the most trouble with the curve on the fly front. The hem is blind-stitched to the inside of the culottes.

A Hermione Hearts Ron hat, for my cousin J.

I cast on 11 stitches less than what the pattern called for, on account of my yarn being worsted weight, but knitted the same number of pattern repeats (J asked for a slouchy hat). I knitted to LOTR, Jewel in the Palace, a few episodes of Gilmore Girls and, I think, The Fundamentals of Caring. Whew. That’s a lot of TV!

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Here ya go, a piece of glorious pinkness.

My now-In Progress things can best be summed up, I think, with these pictures:

I have been spending TOO MUCH this month, and these lovely fabrics started it all.

After my Chinatown excursion, I trooped off to Straits Art and Overjoyed the next week for calligraphy supplies for a friend’s birthday present, and grabbed a Pilot Kakuno fountain pen for myself. And then of course I just had to see a set of Pilot various coloured ink cartridges, and of course I just had to have that :/ AND then I bought a 1″ bias tape maker. And reserved a 3/4″ bias tape maker. And to top it all, I bought my notions, got another zipper (a 7″ zipper is a little short for my purposes), and my mom accidentally collected 3 3/4″ bias tape makers instead of 1 – I suspect some miscommunication on my part. And I have been dreaming about all these extra notions I don’t need at all. Or…do I?

Anyway. So I’m on a spending embargo for the rest of the month.

In the pictures: A soft brown Thai poly-cotton (S$12 for the lot since it was the last of the batch. I’m estimating somewhere between 1-2 yards), 1.5 yards of a grey woven poly cotton (around S$6/yard) for the Colette Sorbeto top, a really super swoon-worthy three-tone cotton that reminds me of the sea (S$17 for 1-3/4 yards) and charmingly grey Cotton + Steel fabric (S$8/yard) – I got three yards for a wrap dress. Not pictured: Lining for the skirt, and plain blue woven cotton for bias binding.

One Pleated Skirt – now gathered! Owing to a passing comment on its resemblance to bedsheets, I hereby christen it the Cloud Bedsheet Skirt (that’s a terrible name). Pictures up as soon as I’m done with it!

The $5 Pencil Skirt (well, $5.35, to be exact) – Black cotton twill, snatched off the bolt at an Arab Street store. Also the last remnants off the bolt. One and a half metres. Fair weight, very lint-y. Pictures up soon, too, but here’s a summary of what I’ve done with it so far:

Instructions from Simple Simon and Co.’s pencil skirt sew-along, here. They had a tutorial on a self-drafted pencil skirt sloper, too, which I largely followed with some modifications. Sloper drafted, skirt cut out, basted, adjustments made. Next: to sew!

I’m going to bind the facings with an excellent red skull-print fabric that I got way back in 2012 (I was 15! I can’t imagine being 15 anymore, but I think I can.). I’ll save the pockets for another project. A 9″ invisible zipper for the back, which I’ll sew in over the weekend, and a back split for mobility (and getting up buses).

M’s Sweater – I’m done with the swatch. Knitted up using TECHknitter’s method, but I haven’t measured and blocked it yet. Here’s the early beginnings of said swatch:

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This is, I think, a forgiving acrylic yarn. Here’s to hoping it knits up well!

When I’m done, or halfway, or three-quarters of the way done with these projects, I’ll tell you all about all the new ideas roaming around in my head, like the relatively inexpensive cotton rib knit I’m eyeing on Etsy, all those beautiful buttons I see online, and lately, even sergers (nooooooo!) have started creeping into my daydreams.

I think my New Year’s resolution for next year will be to: shave my head and knit myself a fish hat. I giggle every time I think of it.

I also spent today hunting down bow-tie and tie sewing tutorials. A distant maybe?

But! Lately I’ve been a little worried that my hobbies are kind of esoteric, or ‘out-there’. Am I stuck in this little bubble of interests that no-one outside understands? Should I be going out and joining clubs and making more friends? Oh, well. I’m trying to apply to one of the university halls next semester – email sent out! – so fingers crossed, I do get in.

xxx

Upcoming Projects

Nearly-completed ones:

  • One pair of culottes for my grandma that took stinkingly long to finish. The stitching isn’t perfect, and I’ve ripped stitches out too many times to count – but I learnt a lot! I just have the hook-and-eye to sew on.
  • One hat for my cousin J. The Hermione Hearts Ron pattern on Ravelry. Apart from the weaving-in of ends and blocking, it’s done 🙂

Upcoming:

  • A pleated skirt that my friend very helpfully pointed out looks like bedsheets. Cut out and serged. I’ll be sewing up the side and attempting to insert an invisible zipper over the weekend.
  • A pencil skirt. This is going to be the first clothing item I sew all by myself. Self-drafted, invisible zip, pocket and everything! Fabric: 1.5M, $5.35, 100% cotton – the stiff kind used for uniforms – from Arab Street.
  • A sweater for M! Acrylic yarn, red and white. My first. This one on Ravelry.
  • More distant projects: A mustard-yellow gathered midi skirt. Possibly cotton. If linen, I might line it with cotton lawn. One wrap dress in the style of McCall’s M6959, or a mock-wrap dress. The dress’ll be done in class – I haven’t yet figured out if I want to do the midi skirt all by myself, or not.

Sewing Machines in Singapore

After, oh, about four months of sewing, I decided to hunt around for my first sewing machine. I learnt on a Singer 8280, a Singer 2259 and a very temperamental Sakura machine (Model 9302). These were the machines I sewed on in class and at my grandma’s place. My grandma’s main guy is one of these old Singer machines that everyone used to use in those days, a Singer 15K80. Most of the decals have kept their glossy gold finish, so it’s still a very pretty machine 🙂 I searched up the serial number – it was made in Clydebank, Scotland! That’s such a Iong way away. I sewed a little on it, but couldn’t get the hang of it. I’ll try again another day!

I Googled around a lot for tips on picking out a sewing machine, sewing machine reviews (I leaned heavily on Erin Says Sew and The Sweet Home in particular even though both are US-based sites if I’m not wrong), the different models and Singapore-based locations. Many of the things I learnt are relatively easy to find on the internet, so I’ll focus on the Singapore-based stuff, since that’s the part I had the most trouble with.

Sewing machine retailers/shops in Singapore include:

  • Courts
  • Ban Soon Sewing Machine
  • Guan Lee Long Sewing Machine
  • Sing Mui Heng Pte Ltd
  • Spotlight Singapore
  • Freddy Elect Sewing Machine Service (I didn’t check this one out personally) – it sells a mixture of secondhand and new machines

Courts carries mostly Singer and Brother machines, but also stocks Husqvarna Viking E20 machines. There are a couple overlocker machines too. At the Toa Payoh branch, you can test drive Singer machines, but not the Brother ones. I suppose it’s because they only have the Singer promoter there? I’m not sure if they have a promoter there every day, and even so, there may be different people on different days. The auntie I went to is there every Sunday. I wanted to test drive out the Brother machines, but they told me I’d have to go down to the Courts Tampines branch instead. I didn’t go in the end – call ahead if you’re planning to make the trip down!

Ban Soon Sewing Machine carries a wider variety of machines – embroidery machines are represented. It carries the Janome HD3000 too! It also stocks a cool range of sewing machine feet and other accessories. They sell treadle machines with the attached desk too, as does Guan Lee Long. Guan Lee Long Sewing Machine carries more Janome machines, but I didn’t see the HD3000 when I was there around a month ago. It also carries the Juki HZL-K65.

But if you’re looking for a Singer or Brother, you might have better luck elsewhere. Sing Mui Heng’s Chinatown branch stocks mostly Brother machines, though it also sells the Juki HZL-K65 (the lady I spoke to said they don’t have ready stock, but they will order it in if I’m buying) and a Toyota machine – I think it’s the Toyota Super Jeans.

Spotlight stocks more embroidery machines and Semco sewing machines. IMO, the selection is rather poor and overpriced. And the Brother promoter there was super pushy 😡

Distributors (the ones I researched and/or went down to):

  • Singer – I have two different addresses here, so I’ll just put both of ’em down. If you have the Kaki Bukit Road address, that’s the old one. I didn’t go down personally, but I have the sales promoters’ namecards & enquired about the machines via text.
  1. Regnis (S) Pte Ltd, Lorong Tai Seng, Leong Huat Building
  2. Regnis (S) Pte Ltd, 6 Harper Road #06-04, Leong Huat Building, Singapore (369674)
  • Juki – 20 Bendemeer Road, BS Bendemeer Centre, #04-12

Getting the machines via Singer directly is cheaper: the Singer 2259 retails at around $379 but it’s $299 if you get it directly from the promoter. The Singer 4423 is only slightly less costly: it retails at ~$499 and is sold for $465-$470 from the distributor.

Juki Singapore is more of a warehouse-type area than a shopfront (duh). They don’t sell domestic sewing machines to individual customers directly. They handle industrial machine orders more, I think, but I’m not sure if they will sell industrial machines directly to individuals, or if you have to go through a third party or order in bulk, or something. But they gave me the contact details of the guy who does sell/distribute domestic Juki machines. He’s Mr Mui, tel. 9633 4545. I didn’t look at any more Juki machines, so I didn’t use the contact details they gave me. If anyone reading this does call, let me know how it goes and what the selection’s like! I was really hoping to get my hands on a Juki HZL-35Z, but didn’t see any around.

Other than Singer and Juki, I know there’s a Brother service centre somewhere in Singapore. The address for the Janome distributor and a Bernina shop in Singapore is floating elsewhere in the internet. I didn’t check those out.

Other handy finds:

  • Carousell
  • Gumtree
  • Lazada/Qoo10, etc, what have you – but generally I would prefer to see the machine in person before I purchase one!

Similar to Freddy Elect (mentioned above), Carousell and Gumtree are great for perusing (read: obsessively browsing) secondhand finds. To be honest, I thought the listings were sorta meh, but that also really depends on your needs. If you sift through them carefully you’ll find a gem once in a while.

My shortlisted options, in order of price:

  1. Singer 2259 ($299 from the Singer distributor, $299 during a Courts sale at the time)
  2. Brother FS101 ($399 – can’t remember where I got the price from…a Brother sale?)
  3. Juki HZL-K65 ($450 – at either Sing Mui Heng or Guan Lee Long. I think GLL?)
  4. Singer 4423 ($465-470 from Singer, $480 at Ban Soon, $499 at Courts)

Other options I had:

  • Singer 7256 Fashion-Mate, sold in Singapore as Model 6810 ($599 at Ban Soon)
  • Janome HD1000 ($588 from a listing on Freddy Elect’s Facebook page. Retailers generally don’t stock the HD1000 any more since the HD3000 has come out)
  • Juki HZL-27Z ($239 on Carousell from an old listing. Not sure if still valid…hmm)
  • Janome HD3000 ($661 at Ban Soon, I think the Carousell listing going at $600 has already been snapped up, but whaddya know, I found two listings for the HD3000 the last time I checked. There may still be one more up!)
  • Janome 525S ($799 at Guan Lee Long)
  • Brother LX27NT ($228 at Sing Mui Heng)
  • Brother AS2730 ($198 at Ban Soon; $228 at Sing Mui Heng)
  • Janome 1008 ($450 at Guan Lee Long)
  • Janome 380 ($590 at Guan Lee Long)
  • Janome NS7388 ($550 at Guan Lee Long)
  • Brother GS2500 ($198 at Courts)
  • Brother CS6000i (I estimate $425-ish…but haven’t seen this one anywhere, although I think they are available here. Maybe??)

Most of the machines should have a one-year manufacturer’s warranty. As an aside, if you’re looking to get a sewing machine table for a treadle machine, here are the prices from Guan Lee Long: Original (原装): $228; Malaysian-made: $180. The one from Ban Soon is around $250-$280. $280 if I remember correctly. The shop guy will deliver the table to your home for you. For both shops, there’s no extra delivery charge. Technically, for Ban Soon, I think the delivery charge is already included in the price.

Of all the shops I went to, I like Ban Soon the best. The selection isn’t as extensive as I’d have liked (then I wouldn’t have to go running around everywhere), but let’s face it, the machine shops everywhere else here aren’t known for their wide variety and choice either. The staff at Ban Soon listened to what I wanted for the machine, asked questions and recommended me a couple machines. They answered my noob questions patiently and weren’t pushy.

One last note: Smaller shops usually have to charge an extra credit card fee (1-3%), but bigger merchants can absorb the cost of the fee.

I eventually went with a Singer 4423 because I wanted something mid-range heavy duty that wasn’t a computerised machine (too fiddly, and not worth the extra money, for me). Something portable, a free-arm machine with seam allowance markings on the throat plate. I checked that the basic stitches I needed/wanted on hand just in case were there. Bonus points for having a drop-in bobbin, one-step buttonhole, drop feed capability with a good feed dog system and adjustable thread tension (I like having the option). My only beef with it is that the manual has zilch on maintenance and troubleshooting 😡

Okay, I think that’s it!