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 – 

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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

“Up, up and away!”, it rhymes with Laneway

Finished items I’ve yet to blog about:

“New” Vintage Sewing Machines I’ve yet to blog about:

  • Bernina 125
  • Brother 190 Flairmatic
  • Pfaff 332-260
  • 1880s (?!) Beale and Company Handcrank transverse shuttle (possibly a rebadged Frister and Rossman)
  • 1910 Singer 15k treadle in no. 22 Drawing Cabinet

Items I’m supposed to have finished already:

  • Resignations Coat (Pauline Alice Quart Coat)…but I was waiting on new zippers to match my buttons. They finally arrived last week courtesy of the double slackness that is Australia and New Zealand Post.
  • Secret present (2 of 2)

Two of those lists are quite long…so obviously I’m blogging about none of those things today! 😉

For a while I used to pattern test regularly for Sewaholic and Papercut patterns. Pattern testing has had a bit of a rough time lately because, well, if you know why, then you know why…I really enjoyed pattern testing for these two brands only because both designers actually listened to my (and others) honest feedback about fit, instructions, etc…and incorporated these into the final release. I don’t pattern test for either designer anymore and I’ve missed it a little bit so I was excited when Jennifer Lauren announced she was looking for pattern testers and her reasons behind it. I signed up, it’s nice to help support a fellow Kiwi designer. I like her style but I’ve never sewn one of her patterns before…

Ok, that’s enough of an explanation. I was chosen for the first month of pattern testing for recently released The Laneway Dress. I was very excited because I really liked the look of the pattern when it came out.

I picked my fabric first, even before I got the pattern in my inbox 🙂

I pulled out a few options from my stash: Three are fun “quilting” cottons and you’ll notice the rayon that everyone else in the blogosphere also owns. I dismissed that as too light-weight and settled on the balloon girls because I love them and with the asymmetrical collar option it would be fun to play with the solid colours for the facing.

I tested out a few options and settled on red…although pink came close.

The Pattern:

With access to a large format printer it’s been a while since I’ve printed a pattern on A4 sheets but I decided to go old school to thoroughly test the process. Real-job has been a bit crazy lately, sometimes assembling and tracing patterns can be relaxing, methodical work.

The layout page was really helpful with both the test box and a full layout of the entire file nicely organised by pattern cup and piece which made printing really easy. However now is the perfect time to point out the 2 sheets that contained nothing but two little triangles of the skirt edge, in sizes I wasn’t even going to use…It’s only two sheets and I know this happens because the process of creating an A4 paged file is automated but to turn this into some constructive criticism I have a suggestion that I hope to one day to see implemented:What if the little corner bits were added to a page that had a bit more room? Both of the sheets (page 51 and 60) could have fitted on this sheet.

Ok, let’s move on with a game of Spot The Kitty Toes…also if you regularly assemble PDF patterns and don’t have a paper-cutter go and get yourself one right now…I’ll wait 😉

I chose my size from the finished garment measurements chart in the instructions and double checked by comparing the bodice pieces pattern to another favourite pattern. Then I selected my cup size by measuring my full and under bust as suggested in the instructions.

The instructions:

Really nicely laid out with clear diagrams. I like how each new section of the process is headed up on a new page and numbered clearly. I don’t print my instructions, I view them on my tablet, so I have no issue with the layout being clearly spaced out if it adds clarity.

I also think it’s great that stay stitching and finishing cues are included. Lots of seam allowance reminders and little tips spread throughout without being too hand-holdy and bogging down the more experienced.

Having said that, I made some changes and added in a few extra steps, the kinds of things that I always just do.

Sewing:

First up, I’m not a fan of facings. They’re too shallow so they are annoying to iron and always flip out.

So for my Laneway dress I decided to fully line to the waist but I used the facing pieces to cut my fusible interfacing.

I had some grand plans initially to try to reduce some bulk at the waist by sewing the darts of both layers together and eliminate having to do any hand sewing at the armhole but in the end I just couldn’t get the steps right in my head so I continued on treating the bodice lining as per the instructions for the facing.

Ready to go!

Making sleeves…

I added in some under-stitching to the pockets to help stop them flipping out. I usually like to sew my pocket bags in a contrast colour for some hidden fun but because these pockets are caught in the waist band I suspected they would gape a tiny bit so I stuck with the self fabric this time around…I did use red overlocking thread 😉

I also under-stitched around the neck, catching the lining to the seam allowance after I attached it. While I was doing this I forgot about the folded collar detail and went a bit too far. The stitching was visible with the lining folded out so I had to unpick back to before the fold to keep it hidden. I’m still glad I did as much as I could to keep the lining sitting nicely at the neck and shoulder.

I always add stay-tape down the center back seam. It helps add some stability before inserting the zipper.

I love that ironing the zipper teeth open is included in the instructions. When I learnt this trick a few years ago it was a game changer.

I was also really happy to see the instruction for machine stitching the facing down over the zipper – You guys know I hate hand stitching and I’m always a little confused when I see instructions to hand stitch the facing/lining to the zipper tape. You will hear me splutter “Why?! You can do that by machine!”

Yay!

All Finished!

I am really REALLY happy with the fit. The release darts fit really nicely under the bust and the C cup is perfect with plenty of room for the ladies.

Next version I’d like to add a bit more flare into the skirt, just a bit. I’ll also put the pockets in lower down and not catch them at the waist. They definitely flare open a little and add to my hips. I love my hips but they don’t need any extra help 😉

The skirt is not full enough for my red petticoat – didn’t stop me trying…

In the back I have a little bit of pooling over my bottom, more than you can see in this photo (hands in pockets helps!) so I’ll do a little sway back adjustment next time – this is a typical fitting issue for me.

The sleeves are great, not too loose, I like the length and they have good movement.

I dug the buttons out of my stash (Yessss! Bonus stash points!) I don’t know where I got them from (maybe a Fabric-a-brac find) but I think they are pretty perfect.

In the end I had to hand stitch the lining at the armhole and waist. It only took one episode of Rick and Morty so not too long and it was good practice I guess…I’ll crack this puzzle, just you wait…

To finish it off my fabric had a really beautiful slevedge that I decided I had to use somewhere on the dress. I ended up keeping the cute saying and then adding my tag over the top of another section so I had an extra chicky and flower.

You can also see the under-stitching to the lining in this photo.

So that’s it!

Do I recommend this pattern? Oh yes. Great drafting, clear instructions – I can’t wait to see the other tester’s versions (I’ve been trying to avoid spoilers and I’m probably last to post due to winter lurgies) and more great patterns from Jennifer Lauren.

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Jennifer Lauren Handmade Laneway Dress, straight size 14, C cup

Fabric – 

Other notions – Invisible zipper, interfacing, buttons

So helpful…

 

It’s the little things…

I picked up a new (old) vintage machine today and boy does it have a story! As well as some beautiful provenance to match it’s beautiful cabinet. I haven’t even really had a chance to look at the actual machine but if the outside is anything to go by…

It’s still in the boot of my car because I need a second person to help me get it upstairs and that will have to wait until tomorrow….which reminded me that I was going to try and catch up on blogging about my (apparently ever expanding) machine collection.

That’s going well isn’t it? 😉

So here’s my lucky find from November 2015 (see, I told you guys I seriously needed to catch up!)

Obviously no vintage sewing machine collection is complete without a Singer Featherweight…actually no vintage sewing machine collection is ever complete…but now my little collection includes one.

They are a little hard to find in New Zealand, even harder to find in Wellington. More often they pop up in Christchurch and Auckland but cost a fortune to send my way due to their weight*. It only recently dawned on me that Fashionable Younger Sister lives in Auckland and so I altered my TradeMe search settings and then coaxed her into being my mule.

Three popped up for sale at the same time so I had my pick of the bunch and I think this was what kept the cost from getting too crazy. I know that sentence doesn’t make much sense if you don’t know what I paid for mine…but let’s just say they can go for in excess of NZD$350, regardless of condition, and I paid a lot less than that for an almost pristine machine complete with accessories, original case (with key!) and original manual.

I liked two out of the three the best. One of these was slightly older – without checking serial numbers the face plate is a good giveaway: In general you’ll find the Egyptian-like scroll work on the older machines. Newer machines have the more basic looking vertical striations. I ended up pursuing the more modern machine because it looked in much better condition.

Early Scroll Pattern v. Later Striated Faceplates from Singer Sewing Info

After I won the auction FYS was the best sister ever and braved a drive into a less-than-desirable suburb to pick it up for me. Don’t worry, she took her new beau with her for protection (I think he’s a keeper, just sayin’). She arrived in Welly for Christmas 2015, carrying it onto the plane as hand luggage in such a way as to make it look light…as a feather.

I picked FYS and the Featherweight up a few days later on my way to pick up my next vintage sewing machine purchase. For a short while (and not for the last time – see April 2016’s yet to be blogged Brother 190 and Pfaff 332-260) my boot contained TWO vintage sewing machines…more on what’s in the other case later…

Like usual I took lots of photos of the featherweight so if you are interested in seeing more you can find them here.

Check out my entire collection on my Weapons of Choice page.

*While the Singer 211 does indeed weight less than many of my other vintage machines, it’s still much heavier than a feather…

#weddingguestdressoption1

This year is just zooming by and a few weeks ago I realised my Fashionable Younger Sister’s wedding was fast approaching and I would need a new dress!

Not being part of the official wedding party meant I could wear whatever I wanted. So I stash dived and floundered around with way too many ideas until Hawes & Freer contacted me about sewing something with their fabric to celebrate the launch of their new website.

Perfect. Timing!

I said yes because I buy from Hawes and Freer already and I love supporting Kiwi businesses, especially the sewing kind!

Instantly I was envisioning a gorgeous floaty Papercut La Sylphide (because what I really need in my life is more La Sylphide dresses…) in a silk georgette or chiffon…and guess what fabric Hawes and Freer sell?

Oh yes! Along with amazing wool coating, cottons, linings and more.

So I picked a yummy red chiffon and when it arrived I got cutting. Unfortunately I was a bit unlucky and received a batch of fabric with some weird black dots through it. When I checked with H&F the whole bolt had the same flaw so I picked out a raspberry silk chiffon as a replacement. Way to take it up a notch! Yeah! 😀

In the end I decided that since I had already cut out the chiffon I could use it as lining/underlining which had the extra bonus of really bringing out the raspberry red of the georgette.

French seams require much thread!

All my seams are French seamed and I used my amazing Merchant & Mills Entomology pins for the first time. I won these pins from H&F in a little competition they ran last year. They are perfect for silk and fine fabrics. I didn’t have any snags or runs at all plus black just looks so much more professional (and photographic!)

You can read more about the actual sewing of the French seams on the Singer Simple 3223 in my Singer blog post.

I sewed this (my 5th) version of the La Sylphide pattern the same as my zebra version.

The bodice is underlined with the chiffon but the skirt is lined, both fabrics are only caught at the waist seam and button placket so the side seams are free from each other.

I buy all my interlining from Hawes and Freer – like 10 meters at a time. I have a few different weights and colours so I always have something on hand. I bought their Guide to Interlining in…2013 apparently 😉 I’ve collected a few other samples H&F have sent me when I was looking for a particular product and I just staple them in for future reference.Along with some great tips (types of fusing, how and where to fuse, etc) it also contains samples of all the different interlining options both raw and fused to an example piece of fabric. It’s absolutely worth it.

I used FF Shirt (M902) to stabilise my button placket. I needed enough stiffness to support the weight of the buttons but still keep the placket looking soft.

For the first time I made this dress sleeveless (I was channeling Kate’s amazing Viscose version) so I had to finish the armholes with bias binding. I had the perfect red cotton in my stash. I have no idea where it came from!

I’ve never actually bought pre-made bias, not even a pretty vintage packet from a thrift shop. Mostly because I’ve never seen pristine vintage bias at a thrift shop…I’m usually looking for machines 😉 So I always make my own.

I have a set of Clover bias tape makers and cut my own strips of fabric. It’s really easy and you can have pretty bias tape in whatever colour (or pattern) you want.

My buttons are wooden with printed flowers. I’m not entirely sure where I got them but they were soft! I sew all my buttons on by machine and I may have accidentally stitched through one of them…oops.

I hung this dress for three days before leveling the hem. The fabric is light but it dropped a lot.

And that’s it. Nikki and I caught up for photos on a very cold winter day but we found some awesome graffiti for ourbackdrop. Check out how great Nikki’s Linen Quart Coat turned out!

I’m hiding the shivers well!

As the post title suggests in the end I made two dresses to wear to the wedding but you’ll have to wait for the next post to see the other option and which one I finally wore 🙂

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Papercut La Sylphide, size M

Fabric –

Other notions – FF Shirt (M902) from Hawes and Freer, buttons

I was given the fabric in this post by Hawes & Freer for free to help promote their new website. I freely chose to use and review the fabric, talk about H&F and mention other quality products I have purchased myself because I genuinely support Hawes & Freer as a Kiwi owned, sewing focused company. My views are my own but they’ve been around almost 100 years so they know what they’re doing. I’d love you to join me in supporting H&F so that we can continue to buy quality sewing products right here in NZ.

My new NEW Singer machine and one for you too!

Hi everyone! Guess what? I have a new sewing machine!

And it’s actually new!

So obviously it’s from Singer and it’s mine until they give me something else.

But don’t get too green with envy ok?

(Hehe, see what I did there?)

Because guess what? My machine is green and you’ll be tickled pink when you see the raspberry version I have to give away to one lucky NZ reader!

Keep reading… 🙂

So what’s this machine all about? It’s a Singer Simple 3223, an entry level mechanical sewing machine aimed at beginners and here in NZ it comes in green (ok, aqua) and raspberry.

So pretty.

Now let’s address the elephant in the room. I am not a beginner sewist. At the most you might catch me calling myself advanced intermediate. So you might be thinking, why did they give you this machine? Good question!

When I think about my current machine (it’s not a Singer, so we won’t talk about it in too much detail, you understand…) it’s not particularly fancy either. It has a lot more stitches than the Simple but really what stitches do you actually use for garment sewing? I use straight stitch, zig zag, blind hem, I insert zippers, I sew on buttons (because I hate hand sewing) and I make button holes.

That’s pretty much it.

So what can the Simple do? Well, it does straight stitch, zig zag and blind hem. It can insert zippers, sew on buttons and make button holes!

Tick, tick, tick…tick!

I’m going to give you a quick review because I’ll be sewing my next Singer Sewing project solely on this machine and then I’ll be able to give you a better idea of what it’s like to “live” with in a future post. Fluffing around on fabric scraps is fun but sewing an entire garment? That’s a real test of endurance!

The Singer Simple 3223 is a fun, retro looking mechanical sewing machine aimed at beginner sewists. It would also make an excellent backup or travel machine, it’s got a great price tag and it’s pretty colours really stand out among all the white and grey machine options.

I got to choose what colour I wanted and I really struggled. I can tell you what I think of this machine but I am afraid you’re on your own when it comes to choosing which colour!

It arrived in a colour matched box (squee!) and was very well protected, snuggled in a polystyrene inner and plastic bag. Immediately inside the box was the instruction manual and DVD, a dust cover and the electronic foot.

First impressions: It looks like a typical mechanical sewing machine but very pretty. The knobs and machine markings are colour coordinated, there is a thread cutter on the side of the machine and it has a front loading bobbin. The standard presser foot is attached (snap on) and the front sewing bed is nice and deep.

Inside the accessory compartment was a nice selection of standard accessories. There were a couple I didn’t recognise so I had to look them up! They turned out to be a fancy shaped screw driver, a darning plate (to cover the feed dogs in place of being able to lower them) and two different thread spool caps.

The full list of standard accessories is:

  • All purpose foot
  • Zipper foot
  • Buttonhole foot
  • Button sewing foot
  • Seam ripper/brush
  • Edge/quilting guide
  • Needles
  • 2x Spool holder caps
  • 3x Bobbins
  • Screwdriver
  • Darning plate

Ok, Harriet has approved the new addition, now let’s sew!

First thing I noticed was that the thread spool sits sideways and that’s what the caps are for! It might seem strange for me to point that out but this is new for me.

Secondly, I didn’t even need to glance at the manual to start filling the bobbin (in Singer red, of course!). Threading and bobbin winding threading sequence is nicely indicated on the top of the machine with arrows and numbers without being too “Fisher Price” obvious.

I did check about declutching! Unlike most machines I’ve used you don’t need to pull the handwheel to declutch, it’s automatic once you push the bobbin over against the bumper. With a full bobbin I threaded up following the markings, it’s all pretty conventional.

If you do need the instructions they are filled with lots of great diagrams and there is even a DVD if you learn better that way.

I started out sewing on some calico and went through each stitch option before trying out the 4-step buttonhole. Apart from the zig-zag stitch, you can change the stitch length but not the width. All the stitches were really neat and straight and there are 23 of them to choose from including the stretch stitches.

I posted a pic of my first sewing trial on Instagram and was immediately asked if the machine could sew denim. That sounded like a good test to me! I dug out some denim and changed to a jeans needle.

I folded the denim so I had a section each two and three layers thick (because who sews just one layer?!) and started with standard thread for straight stitch and triple straight stitch. It looked good, no complaints from the Simple so far and this denim is fairly thick, I use it for patching. Next I switched out the top thread for a heavy duty top-stitching thread and repeated the process.

Single and triple straight stitch looked great and even the decorative stitches sewed fine! The Simple didn’t sound like it was under any duress and I only had to tweak the tension a little.

I was on a role now so I switched back to standard thread and changed the needle to stretch. I found some cotton knit and tested out the zig-zag and stretch stitch options. No problems again and the fabric stayed nice and stretchy without popping any stitches.

This little machine actually really impressed me! I honestly didn’t think it would eat the denim so easily and if I am brutally honest I did not have particularly high hopes for stretch sewing…but it proved me wrong and lives up to the long standing Singer name.

Ok but it can’t be all roses right? No, it cannot. But they aren’t total deal breakers as you will see. Remember this machine sells for only a little over NZD$300 (on special until the end of May for just NZD$299) and as we’ve already seen it’s pretty capable….and also really pretty.

So, what don’t I like?

First thing I noticed: No number markings on the needle plate. It’s broken down into 1/8th lines  but they aren’t numbered. I was quite surprised when I first noticed this because seam allowance is a really important thing to keep track of as a beginner…and always. Plus I would expect a machine marketed to NZ/Aus would have both metric and imperial markings. Needle plates are removable and therefore replaceable…and that’s the subtle hint I dropped at Singer.

Has it stopped me sewing? No. I’ve started my next project already and I’m using my magnetic seam guide to keep my stitching in the right spot. Another option would be to use pretty washi tape, you can relocate it as needed and I‘d be lying if I said I’ve never done that myself on my other machine. Several times I’ve had tape markings on the plastic bed halfway between the needle plate and the upright arm!

Secondly, the bobbin door is spring loaded and opens just short of completely flat. You can’t fold it much further down because it gets hung up a piece of plastic that sticks out. It’s not a big deal but at first I found it a little awkward to put the bobbin in. This is also possibly a result of the extra deep sewing bed which is a good feature for new sewists. Hey, you can’t please everyone! I do have pretty big hands and I’m just used to a bit more room on my other machine, anyone else might not even notice 😉

That’s kind of it…so what’s next? Well I’m currently sewing a dress out of very naughty slippery fabric so that’ll be a good challenge for the Simple and then a new coat for winter…that’s a big ask right? But I think she’ll be ok…watch this space…


Now, to thank you for reading my little Singer Simple 3223 review I have the pleasure of giving away a raspberry version of this machine to one lucky NZ reader. So exciting!

To enter jump on over to the Singer NZ Simple 3223R product page to learn more about the machine, check out the description (big hint drop). While you’re there look out for the special competition code (you’ll need it to fill out the entry form – it is not the sewing machine’s model code!) then just hit the button below!


Sorry this competition is now closed.
What do you think of the new colourful Singer machines? I’d love to hear all about your current machine (or lack of…), tell me in the comments below 🙂

Good luck everyone!

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I was given the Singer 3223G Simple Sewing Machine you see me using in this post to review as part of my work with Singer Sewing Company Australia New Zealand. All opinions expressed in this post are honest and my own. I freely chose to review this product because I genuinely believe it is a good product, I enjoyed using it and will continue to use it in the future. My samples were stitched on calico, denim and cotton knit using Singer Universal, Jeans and Ball Point needles, Gütermann 100% Polyester Sew All and 100% Polyester Extra Strong M782 thread.