About thecuriouskiwi

Everyone’s got to be a little nerdy at something and I am a nerd with a sewing machine. Obsessed with collecting patterns, fabric and buttons, welcome to my nerdy little world…

Evernote and Pattern Cataloging

I’ve written before about using Evernote for organising my patterns so that I can access them anywhere. I also briefly reviewed the Android app. Lately I’ve had a few people ask me in real life about organising patterns and so I thought maybe I’d write an update.

Evernote has a great help page to get you started and of course, you can Google anything…so this isn’t really a tutorial per say, more of an, “this is how I use it and I think it’s great”.

So first of all, an Evernote Basic account is free to use on up to two devices with a monthly upload limit of 60Mb – trust me, you’ll be sick of entering pattern information by the time you hit that limit and happy to wait for the month to roll over I’m sure! If you’re not, or you use Evernote for loads more things, like me, then a Premium plan is worth it.

I began by using Evernote just for sewing patterns but now I have a work specific notebook, notebooks for planning holidays etc and one for all my recipes. That means I need access on my phone, my PC, my work Mac and my tablet, so Premium is my jam.

Ok let’s just jump right in then:

Here is my view on my PC. I can’t comment on Mac because I log in through the web browser at work and later I’ll show you some Android app screen shots. Sorry if you are a Mac person, well, not really 😉

On the left are my notebooks (some of them are nested), think of them as the top level folder and inside them are the files (the notes). All my sewing pattern notes live in my Patterns notebook (that makes sense right?). They are in there all together in a jumble – there is no separate notebook for pants and another one for dresses etc because the way you search is by using Tags.

I tag my patterns the way I would search for them – by brand, type of garment and sometimes more specific thing like, “Vintage/Retro” and “Festive” as examples.

I also have a tag called “Queued” so that I can find my shortlisted pattern even more quickly. (In my recipes notebook I use the tags “Planned” and “Favourites”)

Here is a note. Under the note name is the notebook (where the note lives) and it’s tags:

You can keep your tags under control by grouping them. I have two groups for my sewing patterns: Pattern Category (type of garment, e.g. “Pants”) and Pattern Designer (e.g. Butterick”)

In the first image you’ll also see tag groups for my Recipes and Fabric notebooks. I’m still deciding if I want to keep my Fabric notebook, it’s a lot of admin for how little I access it!

I really enjoy “shopping” my stash in real life 😉

I keep it pretty simple but you could tag for seasons or fabric type, pdf versus print or Big 4 and Indie, whatever you want, however you think you’ll search for a pattern.

Notes themselves can go on forever, you can type or insert pretty much anything.

Let’s look at the full note from the above example:

So much information at my finger tips – and how did I get it? I copied it from the Butterick website, easy! You can also put in photos (for vintage or OOP patterns) and the most powerful thing about Evernote is you can search inside your notes. All the text, whether typed, copied, photographed, or even in a PDF, is searchable.

So, to stick with this example: I want to find a dress pattern, so I’ll look in my Sewing Patterns Notebook at all notes tagged with “Dresses”…I might even know I want it to be a Big 4 pattern, so I can also look at all the Butterick, McCall’s etc tags. Or maybe I just know I want a vintage dress, I can look at notes tagged with “Vintage/Retro” AND “Dresses”.

While I’m searching I can order my results by “title” (the way I title my notes means I’ll see them in brand order) or “created” (to see patterns by order they were entered which for me means date purchased)

Let’s look at how it appears in the app, when I’m at the fabric store holding the most beautiful bolt of fabric that’s also on sale and I just need to check how much to buy:

Looking at a specific tag:

These examples are ordered by date, I forgot to change my settings for the screenshots.

Maybe it’s a bolt of denim, hmm, what pants can I make with this?

You’ll notice in the above tags list you can see some of my Recipe tags, that’s one of two annoying things I’ll mention later…and here are two example of full notes:

I copy my favourite pictures from the pattern website and often the text description (good for searching). I also grab the line drawings and fabric chart. If it’s a brand I don’t sew from regularly I also copy and paste the size chart/finishes measurements chart as well. I also have a Size Charts Notebook and I’m experimenting with linking notes to their brands size chart but often it’s easier to look it up or paste it into the note itself. I keep my current body measurements in a note here as well.

For the Acton Dress I also included a screenshot from Instagram of a version I love:

I have a “Wishlist” notebook for patterns I want to buy but I’m waiting for payday…or a sale…or I think I like but I want to see more versions before I commit. It’s easy to move notes between notebooks so once I buy a pattern from my Wishlist I move it to the main Patterns notebook, adding in anymore information and tags.

In the interests of total honesty (and to prove I’m not being paid for this post, I wish!) there are two things I find annoying and that I hope one day will get fixed. The first is only mildly annoying but it’s that tags are not associated with a Notebook. What that means is that as I’m writing a new note and I want to tag it for example “Cardigan”, all the other possible tags pop up as I type.

Mmmm, Chicken patterns…this list whittles down as you type more letters but I wish it would only show the Tags for Patterns.

The second thing is much more annoying. It’s that you can’t choose which image shows as the thumbnail in your notes list. This is strongly and regularly complained about in the Evernote forums. What this means is that I can’t guarantee the hero image, the image I paste in first, the image I want to see, is displayed in the notes list, see example:

No consistency at all. Well there is, through some weird algorithm that picks the image with the smallest biggest measurement or something equally absurd sounding. It’s actually one more reason why I paid for Premium, to lend more weight to the many requests to allow us to control this.

Anyway, I don’t want to end on a bad note. It’s not stopped me from continuing to use Evernote and I’ll stick with it for the foreseeable future. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve pulled out my phone in the fabric shop or at someone’s house or at work, to show someone a pattern. I also look up recipes while out food shopping!

I use my tablet in the kitchen when I’m cooking and for work I have a notebook with all my technical notes and software tutorials. I also planned our recent overseas holiday with Evernote, sharing the notebook with Nerdy Husband. I had notes for each city we visited with lists of attractions and our accommodation details. I also uploaded all our important pdfs and scans of important documents (tickets, booking confirmations, health insurance, passports etc) so that I could access them on the fly or in an emergency.

So, that’s it. Any questions? Suggestions, tips or tricks? Do you catalog your patterns and if so, what do you use?

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Mysterious Attachments – Brother 190B Super Flairmatic

I love to share my sewing machine collection with you but please note, I am an amateur vintage sewing machine collector, I do this for fun – Please do not ask me to help you value your machine or buy/help you sell it. I also will not respond to requests for advice relating to repair or restoration beyond what I have written about. None of my machines or accessories are for sale and I do not give away, lend or sell my manuals, scanned or otherwise, for free or for any sort of payment/trade. Thank you 🙂

The Brother 190 Super Flairmatic came home with me from the Kapiti Coast, with a friend. This is becoming a common occurrence.

Actually the Pfaff got picked up second, from Wainuiomata, about 60 kilometers in the opposite direction. More about her in my next VSM post.

It was a beautiful day for a drive!

I had no clue about this machine when I first saw it, I just loved the colour and 1950sness. She was only $15.00 and look what she came with:

Ohh, a mysterious tin, I love a mysterious tin! I wonder if there’s anything inside?!

Lots of things!

And this weird thing, which we’ll come back to shortly:

She was also absolutely filthy.

They almost always are.

How do they never look as dirty in the online photos? My enthusiasm always dips a little and then I get to work.

So shiny!

Much better!

If you google “Brother 190B Super Flairmatic” you get a lot of pictures. They look just like my machine, in different colours. Mmm, beige…

You’ll also see a 1960s advert from the Sydney Morning Herald for the Lemair-Helvetica Flairmatic Automatic Zig-Zag.

Sensational.

I’m never sure which re-badged machines are legit and which are not…

Anyway, what you’ll not see (or at least I haven’t seen yet) in those Google images is this:

Located just behind the presser foot…it opens up too:

Neat huh? What could it be for? It looked familiar but had me stumped for a while so I kept cleaning and taking photos.

She didn’t come with a manual and all the pdf manuals I’ve seen online show nothing behind the presser foot:

Then my brain woke up and suggested I pull out my vintage Singer buttonhole foot.

Let’s take a look underneath:

Right?!

So I dug back out that weird blue packet from the tin of goodies and it clicked:

It makes buttonholes!

And then I couldn’t get the other half of the cam back out! I struggled for a bit until I took a closer look at the rest of the pieces. Of course it came with a tool for that:

Little tabs and recesses, I was nerding out big time. This is the perfect example of why I love vintage machines and their accessories. It’s ridiculously simple but next-level clever.

I haven’t successfully sewn a button hole just yet. The drive belt was perished and despite coming with a spare Brother branded belt, it’s the wrong size. That’s on my list for the next parts order and I’ll be back to update you.

While investigating further I found an example of a Kenmore buttonholer set on eBay. It has a replacement needle plate featuring a similar cog and full length cams.

I’ve also since seen two more examples of this machine owned by other NZ/Aus collectors in the same colourway and with the buttonhole cog. Neither of those machines came with the accessories and while one lady managed to find a set the other is still looking. So this was clearly an option available for this machine but perhaps only for some markets and only for a brief period of time.

Have you even seen this kind of built-in attachment before?

And that is my Brother 190B Super Flairmatic. As per usual I took too many photos which you can find here. More VSM stories are on my Vintage Sewing Machine page.

A Marvelous Dress*

Oh my poor neglected blog…

Let’s see a new dress shall we…and by “new” I mean from April…

This is the face I made when my husband asked if I was really going to wear my new dress to work:

Duh!

This creation is a mashup of two fabulous Indie pattern designer dress patterns: Sew Over It’s Betty Dress and Jennifer Lauren Handmade’s Laneway Dress that I was lucky enough to pattern test near the end of last year.

Fully lining the dress gave me a good chance to test out the fit and pattern combo before cutting into my precious fabric. Harriet clearly agreed, as usual she took her supervisory role very seriously, testing both fabrics thoroughly for comfort!

As with most full skirted patterns the quilting fabric wasn’t wide enough for the full swing of the side seam so I had to piece the corners. I had just enough fabric to pattern match my triangles on the front skirt piece but the back and to be unmatched…not that anyone will notice!

Sewing Avengers ASSEMBLE!

I usually cut my pockets from the lining fabric but to make them extra stealthy on this dress I cut them from the dress fabric so they blend right in. I don’t need to tell you that pockets are great so of course secret pockets are even better!

I went for a black invisible zipper at the back to blend in with the character outlines. After I turned my lining out I just needed to decide on buttons for the front collar.

I saw some amazing wooden buttons on Etsy that had the Avengers ‘A’ on them but they were too big. I messaged another seller who said they could customise the size but they never got back to me. Later that week I woke up one morning with the sudden memory of buying covered button kits from a thrift shop.

 

I went digging through my stash. Only $1.00? No wonder I bought them! Plus they were the perfect size match for the star on Captain America’s shield.

And then I hit a snag…I do it every time. I buy a single spool of thread thinking that one day I’ll win the Thread Roulette game but so far I never have. Two long hems will do that!

But totally worth it, check out this twirl!

I do wear my dress to work…usually on a Friday but also on other days when I feel like it…The first Friday ended up having a surprise client meeting thrown in! Everyone loved it, but they’re used to my crazy dresses by now.

The way you dress has power over you. This dress makes me feel ridiculously happy and instantly lifts my mood. I want to twirl around and laugh at myself and that’s a good thing.

So, just for fun, here is a silly Hulk pose…with petticoat, of course.

THE DEETS:

Pattern –

Fabric – 

  • Marvel Kawaii All in the Pack Multi 100% Cotton from fabric.com, USD$6.38/yard, purchased July 2017
  • Lined in blue cotton poplin from Spotlight, $5.99/m

Other notions – $1.00 Self-covered button kit from Who Knows Where!, black invisible zipper, thread.

Did you like Hulk? Maybe I spend too much time playing around in Photoshop…

Or maybe not.

*See what I did there? 😉

 

 

The Little Traveler – Bernina 125

The Bernina 125 rode home in the boot with good company. It’s not the longest journey she’s taken…

I knew very little about this machine when I put a $20 bid on it. It looked a little bit like Bernina’s response to the Grasshopper but with zig zag.

I spotted the “Serviced by” sticker in the online photos – Paraparaumu (that’s about a 45 minute drive north of Wellington) and a 5 digit telephone number. These little windows into time always make me smile.

I’ve owned it now two years and sad to say I don’t know much more other than reading somewhere that this model may have been Bernina’s first zig-zag machine.

More investigation is needed.

She runs beautifully and came with LOTS of accessories:

There’s a white button in this photo above. I already owned 6 identical white buttons still attached to their original card.

As well as the accessory tray she also has a slide on extension table.

It has a little set of legs that fold down for stability. You can just see the hinges on the short edge but I discovered those after I took these photos!

The most exciting accessory was the original instruction manual which is all in German.

I found a pdf of the English manual online that is exactly the same inside which helped me translate the guarantee page. If this manual does belong to this machine it was apparently purchased in Buchs (Switzerland?) on the 25th of August 1951.

So, she’s very well traveled!

Some more photos here.

 

The Resignations Coat

I first cut into the fabric for this coat in June of 2016 and I finally finished it in January this year…it’s called The Resignations Coat and obviously I kind of resigned part way through making it 😉

I did take a long time to finish this coat, picking it up and putting it down multiple times. I found the instructions a little frustrating to follow and had a few hiccups along the way but the real reason it’s called The Resignations Coat is because all the fabric was purchased with vouchers from two different job resignations.

When I resigned from First Job I was delighted to receive a goodbye card with a voucher from Fabrics Direct. At that time the head office had reduced our team to just myself and two guys and, it sounds a bit mean but, I really didn’t expect such a thoughtful gift. Luckily G remembered that time we were walking back to the office after a client meeting when I suddenly yelled, “I’ll catch up!” and literally ran across the road right into Fabrics Direct after seeing the “vintage fabrics” sign outside. Fabrics Direct specialise in curtain and upholstery but occasionally get in fashion fabric including estate sale lots. This voucher + and extra $55 purchased the black wool coating for the outer.

Second Job felt like it lasted 10 years but was really only just over a year and when I resigned I received flowers and a very generous voucher from The Fabric Store. Thank goodness I was good friends with N and she was tasked with my leaving gift. This didn’t really make up for the loss of my soul but I did use it to buy the silk lining (and some other pretties) and that made me very happy.

As a side note I’m pleased to tell you I’ve been in my current job for almost 3 years and I have no intention of leaving for quite some time! In fact, they would have to drag me out the door kicking and screaming…so no more resignation fabric vouchers for me for a while, all future fabric must be purchased with real money 😉

When I bought this pattern I envisioned a well made and long serving coat for the coldest of Wellington winter days. The vouchers allowed me a bit more extravagance with my fabric purchases than usual and a plain black wool meant it would go with anything. However all plain fabric must be kept in balance with a not-so-plain lining fabric, of course. Along with a sensible (outer) fabric choice, bound buttonholes fit the whole concept and would give me that next level finish. This was to be the coat to end all coats and when I wore it I would be toasty warm from the weather and from good career decision making!

I cut everything out and applied my interfacing (which took forever, but I was lucky to get it all done before my ElnaPress bit the dust. Spoiler alert: I bought another one. I couldn’t live without it) and then I purchased all the other notions (shoulder pads, sleeve heads and zippers) but got stumped finding buttons. I normally leave buttons until last but this time around I needed the buttons early for the bound button holes. So I lost my momentum and put it all away until the following winter.

I finally found my buttons at Made Marion Craft here in Wellington and so I picked everything back up late into Winter 2017. I pushed through to get the next most time consuming parts out of the way: pleating the side panels in both the shell and lining and creating the bound buttonholes.

This is when I discovered my zippers didn’t match my buttons…doh!

I couldn’t find any locally so I ended up buying them off an Australian supplier on Etsy. They took forever to arrive thanks to Australia and New Zealand Post, who I shall award joint first place in Who Can Be the Most Terrible Postal Service Awards.

I had to buy them longer than I needed but they were easy to shorten and if you’d like to see how I did that you can check out the tutorial I wrote over on the Singer New Zealand blog.

Inserting the zippers into the sleeves was fiddly but not as difficult as I thought.

Everything else went together pretty smoothly until I got to the sleeves and one of them just wouldn’t behave and set in smoothly. I unpicked and restitiched that sleeve four times and it spent a considerable amount of time in the naughty corner.

Attaching the buttons also tripped me up. After I stitched them on and did the coat up I had all this weird bubbling between them. After I realised it was due to the thickness of the bound buttonholes I pulled them off and reattached adding a thread shank and that did the trick!

Hand sewing the hem was the easiest part of this make. The thick wool and interfacing made it easy to hem the wool outer and then I attached the silk to the wool using tiny, neatly spaced fell stitch and you can hardly see it.

Despite dragging my sewing heels I am truly happy with the final coat. I took the photos for this post in January but I didn’t get to wear my coat properly until recently. Last week we had our first cold snap leading up to winter and I wore it every day to work.

In my photos I felt like I didn’t quite know what to do with the collar. I don’t like it buttoned all the way up and it feels weird folded over but since wearing it I just leave the top button undone and the collar just does what it wants, sitting up around my face and making little wind break.

I’ve worn it so often now that I’m paranoid about losing one of the buttons and realised I never bought any spares! So, back to Made Marion Craft for me this week to grab a couple of extras just in case…

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Pauline Alice Quart Coat, size 40.

Lengthened sleeves by 2cm.

Fabric – 

  • 3.0 meters of 148cm wide  100% Black Wool Coating from Fabrics Direct (used approx 2.2 meters), $35/m, purchased with $50.00 gift voucher from First Job, total paid cash $55.00, purchased 17 August 2015
  • 2.6 meters of 100% Silk from The Fabric Store Wellington, $28.00/m less 20% discount, purchased with other items using gift voucher from Second Job, total paid cash $0.00, purchased 07 September 2015

Other notions – Buttons from Made Marion Craft, zippers from Who Says Sew, shoulder pads, sleeve heads and interfacing from Hawes & Freer

More Info – 

Crossing Off The List: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Hops dress

Let’s travel back to late 2016 shall we? It won’t take long, I porpoise…

It’s another Vogue 1353 and I cut this out before I had even finished the first version. I wear both these dresses as often as I can get away with.

The fabric is from Tula Pink’s Eden collection, it’s called Lotus in Midnight or as Home-brewing NH prefers, “Tigers hiding in the hops”.

This dress is exactly the same as the first version except for one very important modification:

Say it with me now, “POCKETS!”

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Vogue 1353 Kay Unger, size 14 graded to 16 at the waist

Fabric – Tula Pink Eden Lotus PW071 in Midnight

Other notions – Invisible zipper, interfacing

Crossing Off The List: Soma Swimsuit

In May of 2014 (oh my, I didn’t realise is was that long ago…) I was a pattern tester for the new TRI Collection for Papercut patterns. I sewed up and posted about the Pneuma Tank and 2 pairs of Anima pants and briefly mentioned photos of the Soma swimsuit would follow when the weather improved.

In the meantime I made three more Pneuma Tanks in one go (these only ever appeared on Instagram) and I’ve wore them to the point where I need to repair one and probably should make some more…

This pattern is great for using up old t-shirts you no longer wear or never wanted to wear…or ones that contain glaring spelling errors that make your eye twitch.

I run in them, I work out in them, they’re comfortable and cool and made by me!

So now it’s 2018 and still no Soma swimsuit photographs. Well that’s not entirely true, I photographed the swimsuit on Scarlett when I sent my pattern testing feedback to Katie.

The Papercut Soma has three variation: a glamorous one piece or two different bikini tops with either a high or mid rise pant.

The one piece swimsuit has a over elasticated back, ballet style cross over front with cut out triangle detailing and an elasticated waist seam to accentuate the waist.

The first bikini variation is of a similar style, with a supportive cross over bust with cut out triangle detailing and a cross over elasticated back fastened with a bikini clip.

The second variation is a bustier style with bust cups for added support, a centre front triangle detail and elastic in the waist seam. There is no back fastening so is comfortable and easy to take on and off.

I made the one piece in a Zimmerman swimsuit lycra purchased from Global Fabrics (now called The Fabric Store) in December 2010.

I bought my fold over elastic (best notion in the world btw) from Made Marion and sacrificed an old black bra for the bra rings.

I had owned my Janome Coverstitich for about 5 months when I began making this so I used it as much as I could for the FOE, at the waist and for the leg openings. For the leg openings I attached the regular elastic with a zig zag stitch first and then folded the hem over and finished it with the coverstitch.

Coverstitching on FOE at center front

Coverstitching on pant leg

I avoided writing this post truly intending to get photos of it on me and then I just never did. And it’s not like I’ve never taken photos in a swimsuit for my blog before! But yeah…

For Christmas 2016 NH and I bought a paddling pool anticipating an amazing summer like the year before. It didn’t happen. So the paddling pool stayed in the box until this Christmas when we set it up and floated and chilled out each afternoon over the holidays. It was the perfect chance to finally get some photos.

Now I can cross this off the list from last post.

If you are at all interested I took that unblogged list and added it to the sidebar – this post crosses two things off, a great start!

THE DEETS:

Pattern –

Fabric – 

Other notions – Colo(u)r Run t-shirt, bra rings

Everyone saw “Awwww!” for one year old Harriet