March 24, 2015

sewing solutions

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | stretch stitches: lightning stitch, triple stitch, zigzag

So, what would you call this stuff? Waffle Knit? Mmmmmmm....waffles with crème fraîche, berries, and edible flowers. SOMEONE MAKE THAT BREAKFAST FOR ME.

It's only fair, hey, I made this for someone else! THAT'S RIGHT. I don't know what's come over me, but lately I've been making things for other humansWILLINGLY AND WITHOUT EVEN HAVING BEEN ASKED.  

Expect lions and lambs to be chumming it up soon.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | stretch stitches: lightning stitch, triple stitch, zigzag

When I make something for someone else, I go really extra crazy over what the guts will look like. And as my serger downright refuses to play with knits (I know, she's essentially a doorstop now, I keep her on hand as a sort of hairshirt) I had to think of some creative solutions for the seams on this gal.  

It got me thinking about necessity being the mother of invention, and there are no problems, only solutions, and when life gives you a lemon serger... not that I've reinvented the sewing wheel here, plenty of peeps have used a zigzag topstitch before, but it was fun to think up an alternative to overlocked seams that would also hopefully add to the dress.

On the back neck and arms of this cowl dress, I used my Pfaff's awesomesauce triple stretch stitch to attach binding, graded the seams, then steam blasted it down with my iron (oooo you guys, I hope those of you who took the plunge like your irons!!), and topstitched with a zigzag...

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | stretch stitches: lightning stitch, triple stitch, zigzag

The bumpiness of the fabric gave it a spongey kind of loft! I liked the topstitching so much, I did it right down both sides of the side seams as well, which you can see a peek of below...they're triple stitched, pressed open, and topstitched. Probably would not do that on a lighter knit, I think it would make the side seams a little wavy. But the waffle texture soaked the zigzagged thread right up.

Really seriously I need some waffles in my life like AN HOUR AGO.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | stretch stitches: lightning stitch, triple stitch, zigzag

I wanted a faced hem, but didn't want even an infinitesimal amount of extra width from a graded seam at the hemline, so I kept the edges of facing and hem raw, and zigzag topstitched again. 

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | stretch stitches: lightning stitch, triple stitch, zigzag

I think the hem will fray a bit, in fact I hope it does, as I wanted this dress to be feminine with an edge, like the gal it will grace. Or rather, be graced by.

Roadblocks excite me, even when self inflicted. Especially when self inflicted! I shout at myself with glee: HEY! LOOK AT THAT GREAT BIG HOLE I JUST MADE AT THE FINAL STEP OF BAGGING A LINING! HOW WILL I EVER GET MYSELF OUT OF THIS JAM?! (true story, coming soon). Like I'm the James Bond of sewing, surrounded by crocodiles and villains with squinky eyes... though actually I think it would be more fun to play the villain. YEAH! I'm the Dr. Yes of sewing predicaments!!!  

Who are you when you find yourself in a fix?

March 16, 2015

Yes, this IS how this Iron works.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | iron review

What you're looking at is my iron in pieces. I'm known for taking things apart against the advice of the manufacturer. But not this time. This iron is meant to do that.

After my main and my backup irons both bit the dust, I spent a good portion of last fall agonizing over a new sewing mate. Peeps, I hate to buy something important. Discount shoes, cheap fabric, designer coffee, sure, I think about it for a quick minute, but good lord, I OBSESS OVERTIME over anything costing more than 50 bucks. Especially when said Thing has electronic parts. Then I know I'm in for triple the amount of magnifying-glass detective work. I mean, I'm still hanging onto my (super researched, super out of date, SUPER DROPPED) Canon g12 because the thought of doing all that investigating (and dropping that dinero, really, in general, the words dropping and electronics should not ever be friends) is too much to think about.

And let's face it, this is an important decision. Your iron completes the Holy Grail Trifecta of Stitchin' Tools: Sewing Machine. Scissors. IRON. 

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | iron review


So believe me when I tell you I researched the shizznit out of this thing, and have used and abused her since last November just to be sure.  I couldn't holler about her right off the bat, because, um, let's talk about my first try at a replacement: the Rowenta Eco Intelligence. I will not even deign to link to this green monster. Holy EVERYTHING, Batman.  THAT DAMN IRON WANTED TO BE A JACUZZI. It was livid to find out its real purpose in life, and soaked every fabric it laid eyes on in retaliation. And such a worrywart! So many lights and failsafes! JUST NEVER ENDING SPITTING AND SILENT ANGRY BLINKING! 

And it was five times the price of my old beloved Black n Decker repro. What a cutie pie. I loved how it looked, I loved the weight of it, but I rarely used any actual water in it. It didn't spit like its (quintuple the price) initial successor, but it did drip a bit. The weight, looks, and Surface of The Sun heat of it seemed a fair exchange for having to use a separate spray mist bottle for steam.

And the mist bottle kind of made me feel like a hairdresser.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | iron review

This time, I thought, maybe I can have it all. Yesssssss, oona, dream big with your ironing! How 'bout a gravity feed? How 'bout a second mortgage? Someday. 

(The swanky iron, not the drowning in debt.)

I stumbled on my Maytag Vertical SmartFill though a rabbithole of blog and google searches, none of which actually talked about this little grey girl, but instead led me to that handy "you might be interested in" Amazon predictor, which spit this out. I didn't even know Maytag did irons. And what ever happened to the Maytag Repairman? I so liked him, and his cute outfit. Advertising, dudes. Might not have clicked without the memory of that guy.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | iron review

Back to the review. Yes, they call it a "Vertical Steamer," and yes, they mean it. I've steamed vertically on my dressform without so much as a particle of drip. It's heavier than a handheld steamer (which ooooo baby I have a good one of those too, post coming soon!) so, weight wise you wouldn't really want to steam a shirt on a hanger, but it's great for dressform use, or steaming yards off the side of your ironing board! The removable water tank is nice and big for large jobs like that.

Speaking of. I LOVE THAT REMOVABLE TANK. THAT REMOVABLE TANK IS THE BEST EVER, PERIOD. Although the water hole (is there not a more official sounding name for it than that?) is large enough to fill at your ironing board, it's super nifty to pop off the reservoir and walk to the sink while your iron stays plugged in. I noticed a reviewer said the valve leaks when you fill it that way-- not true if you use it correctly and keep it upright when filling and transporting.

And I've pressed paper patterns and silks with zero fear of moisture, not only because she doesn't drip anyways, but because I can remove that tank and use only the stainless steel faceplate. And using just the faceplate portion means much less weight-- the better to iron out flimsy pattern paper, or give your hand a break when prepping/sewing silks and whathaveyou.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | iron review

The faceplate is stainless steel, which was a must in my search. Easier to clean! (And aluminum creeps me out a bit. Easy to scratch, bad to cook with, yadda yadda.) Oh! A word of caution: if you're in the market, make sure you get the one with plenty of holes on the plate. There's a cheaper version with less holes, and I've even seen what must be a knockoff with zero holes. (Yes, I know. WHAT THE F. A steam iron with no steamholes. I have no idea why. It's like the American Horror Story version of irons.)

The one I'm linking to is the version I've got here in Kalkatroona. The real thing produces steam so wonderfully, I use the Blast button just to hear the whoosh it makes. When it's on Cotton, I can almost feel the iron raise up a bit from the force of the blast. You can also leave it on continuous steam by pulling that grey lever down, which gives a nice, even, barely visible steam. A calm steam, if you will. 

I'm not the calm type when sewing, so I go for the blast. 

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | iron review


My one con is that she has that automatic resting feature that every appliance seems to have nowadays. Apparently we have become a people who cannot be trusted with an on/off switch. But, she heats up lickety split from resting mode. The manual says a minute, but I'd say about 10-30 seconds depending on heat level.

And, main vote of confidence, when asked if he liked this iron, Ruggy said: This is the best iron we've ever owned. This is the man that taught me the Way of Researching Products, so that sealed the deal for me. At just under 60 bucks, and knowing the lifespan of today's appliances, I'm thrilled.

Cliff's Notes: Maytag Smartfill Vertical Iron and Steamer. Stainless steel faceplate, great steam & steam blast & spray, actual vertical use, true heat options, zero drip, and the removable water tank wins EVERYTHING. Ask me questions, iffn you have them!

disclaimer: this is my first post including amazon affiliate links. any possible pennies earned would materialize in the form of an amazon gift card, which would be used solely for feeding my sewing and blogging habit. you'll still see plenty of non-affiliate links in kalkatroona, and you'll always see a disclaimer note when needed.

March 4, 2015

a wolf in winter

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | By Hand London Victoria boucle coat in process

Lately, in protestation of Winter, I've been wearing summer clothing indoors. From the second I get out of bed to the moment I have to drag myself out into Actual Weather, it's a tropical climate of the mind. 

Currently, I'm creating winter wear, but I'm wearing a neon green bra, a tank top imprinted with a giant pineapple and the siren call "Aloha From Honolulu," a pair of black n' gold (GO STEELERS) culotte-parachute-harem pants that are made less Man Repellant by the fact that they are black n' gold (GO STEELERS), and an extra long dangly necklace. An extra long dangly necklace is key. But I can't seem to get fair weather stitching going under the machine. I tried, I snagged several yards of springy floral fabric from my beloved janky store, only to make an underlined cocktail dress that is on the docket for so much Dior inspired adornment that it will surely cause me to melt in anything above 70 degrees.

SEVENTY DEGREES. DO YOU BELIEVE SUCH A TEMPERATURE STILL EXISTS?

This morning there are eight thousand handmade pieces on my bloglovin'roll screaming at me to jump on the spring bandwagon: Orange! Orange and Blue!! Flowers!!! Feathers!!!! ENTIRE PINK GALAXIES!!!!! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR, WOMAN?! Suzanne even took the bandwagon OUT INTO THE ATMOSPHERE TODAY

People, it's disgusting outside. Suzanne is a badass.

We make the jump to daylightspeed this very weekend with an extra hour of sun (assuming the sun still cares to grace us with its presence), so it's time to get on the stick. After I finish up the lavender boucle hanging out on the form, it's warm weather stitching. Friends in cold climes, have you made the switch yet?