I do love a good Bernina

Just picked up this lovely old girl on eBay.   No, she wasn’t a bargain – the seller knew what she was worth – but I’m happy to pay for quality.    She’s built like a tank and purrs like a kitten.   Feels so incredibly solid to use.

Back in the early 1980’s, the textiles rooms at high school had Bernina 830s, so my mother bought an 830 too.   She figured that if they were good enough for a textiles room, it would be a good investment.    It’s still her favourite machine to this day.  And this machine is what I learned to sew on.   No fancy electronics here – this is simply a machine that does exactly as she’s told.  Every time.

I do have one of those fancy electronic machines – a Bernina Virtuosa 155.   Don’t get me wrong, she’s a beatiful machine too.  But can be a little too fussy if I’m trying to make her do things which she probably shouldn’t do.  Like sewing through tacky bits.   And the auto buttonhole feature isn’t working so well (don’t know if it’s the machine or the user) and I can’t figure out how to set the machine for a fully manual buttonhole.   Which leads me back to wanting a fully manual machine.

Sadly, I couldn’t justify the cost of a vintage 830.   But after some research, I decided that I couldn’t go wrong with an 801 model.   Same solid construction, same controls, same brand, same era, cheaper price.  Yep, that’s good enough for me.

My 15yo daughter is delighted with the old lady.  As it turns out, the controls on it are exactly the same as the more recent model she’s now using in her textiles room at school.     It seems the Dep’t of Education have continued their good choice making with their machines. .

bernina 801


Mid-Season Cardigan

I love a cardi – the perfect garment for mid season.    I was recently adding to my autumn wardrobe when I found the perfect cardi at a major department store chain in Sydney.   Then I looked at the price – it was just a bit over $100.    I was tempted, but then realised that the fabric was just basic Tshirt fabric and the pattern itself was quite simple.   I’m very much a newby to knits, so ‘simple’ is a pre-requisite.

Pattern Jalie 2919 was very close to the original garment so I ordered it from the US.  Sadly, Jalie patterns aren’t sold here. I found some lovely soft Tshirt fabric for $5 per metre at an Asian fabric store in Marrickville.  Win!

I’m an Australian size 12-14 with a 102cm (42″) bust.   So I chose size Y from the chart.   It fitted me perfectly, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any smaller.   Also, on the pattern picture, the cardi is shown worn open – this is accurate.   If I wanted to pull it closed in the front, I would have to add a couple of inches to the front panels.

I did a lot of messing about with the pleats on the front.  I did transfer markings to the fabric, but perhaps they came out a bit wonky?  At any rate, I did unpick and re-sew a number of them.   If I make it again, I will mark out the seam lines and also measure the gaps between the seams just to make sure.    Call me pedantic, but it makes me happy.

I would highly recommend this pattern.  I know I’ll be making another from it.

Jalie 2919

Black and Purple Underbust

I’ve had a break from corseting while playing around with quilts and learning to sew stretch fabrics, so it was lovely to return back to this and try out some things I haven’t done before.   I’m very keen to keep trying new patterns and techniques.

The pattern I used was the Ariadnes Thread Corsetry 24″ pattern.  I’m not a tight lacer and so had to resize this to fit my corseted 31.5″ waist.   This gives a 2″ reduction, so is a good size for a corset beginner.

The instructions for resizing the corset were from a great download published by The Corsetmaking Revolution called The New Corset Pattern Drafting Masterclass.    Resizing is all math, so I ended up making a spreadsheet to do the multiple calculations.  Soooo much easier than doing each calculation on a calculator.   I think I’ll make a spreadsheet for resizing each corset pattern I own now.

After the resizing, I was absolutely delighted to try on my toile and discover that it fitted beautifully.  Who knew it could be this easy?!

When I started putting it together in the final fabric, I tried a technique called “Roll Pinning” when sewing the fashion fabric to the strength layer.   The idea is that it will help stop wrinkles – and it worked a treat.   If you’ve never heard of it, here’s a tutorial

I also tried a new way of tipping the bones.  Instead of battling with the little metal caps, I used heat shrink tubing which an electrician friend sourced for me.   It shrinks down real quick with the heat gun from my scrapbooking stash.    Now only time and wearing will tell me if the tubing is good for the job.  I doubled the amount of boning this time too: two bones, side by side on each fabric join.    I didn’t make a modesty panel for it because I will be wearing it over black anyway.

Incredibly comfortable to wear, I can’t wait to give it an outing

black and purple underbustblack and purple rear view