Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Awesome Birthday Gift Revealed and Vintage Dress Revived

I was talking to my mom a couple of months ago and mentioned that I had decided on my birthday present to myself this year: a walking foot for my Bernina. I am one of four and my parents now have 7 grandchildren; we have never been wealthy so big presents just are not a thing in my family. I was just prattling, definitely not angling, but she got all excited and said she wanted to get it for me! It is true that I am hard to shop for. I don't want much (except fabric...) and what I do want I can easily get for myself. She was thrilled to have a solid gift idea of something I would love and use often.

A big package arrived around my birthday, containing not only my Bernina Foot #50, Triple Soled Walking foot (WARNING: a video auto-launches if you click the link; turn the sound off), but also a couple of books and some home-grown and dried herbs.

I had occasion to put it to use right away, sewing on the shiny side of satin. It was fairly easy to set up on the machine and worked extremely well. However, I would love information from those of you have a Bernina and use a walking foot. It made the machine "heavy" and tight--I could definitely feel the machine struggling to keep the needle bar moving and when I used the hand-wheel it was quite hard to turn. Any ideas what I am doing wrong? Or is this normal? I think it can't be normal because I couldn't have sewn much longer with the walking foot on or the machine would have completely frozen up. It took a little while to recover after I returned to a normal foot; the tightness did not immediately release when I took off the walking foot.

I mentioned last month that I participated in the Dandies and Quaintrelles Full Moon Ride (if you click on the link, you'll see that I made the collage of photos!). This month was the last of the season. The theme is "White Nights" and you dress up in white or light-colored clothing. D&Q rides are all about the vintage fashion, so you can really do it up without looking ridiculous.

Metal Zipper and "Nadine" Label When I went looking in my costume closet last month for white dresses I ran across a vintage lace dress I'd forgotten was in there. I bought it as a freshman in college. It looks home sewn, though it has a label that says "Nadine." I love the metal zipper! (I don't know why the photo is upside down. I've been having a little trouble with image rotation in Flickr recently. It is right side up in my Flickr account, if you click on the photo.)

It had a lot of dark discolored stains on both the lace and underlay and nothing I'd tried had lightened them, but I couldn't bring myself to the rid of the dress. Since I last tried to treat the stains, OxyClean has come on to the scene. I figured I had nothing to lose, as the dress was unwearable, and soaked the lace in OxyClean for several hours. Amazing! I didn't take photos of the stains on the lace beforehand, unfortunately, but here is an example of a stain on the sheath underneath. The sheath did not respond as well to the OxyClean, but still showed some lightening of the discoloration. The dress is still not fit for prime time, I don't think, but was definitely wearable for a night-time bike ride.

Previous Alteration I was entirely thrilled about the dress. Then I put it on. Hmmm. I recall it fitting like a glove when I was a freshman in college. Although I managed to zip it up this time, I was a little concerned about getting out of it. One of the hazards of living alone is that your only option for getting out of too small clothes is calling the fire department! As it turns out, I am somewhat larger than I was as a (under 100 pounds) freshman.

Even if it had fit, however, it would have been impossible to bike in, as the sheath was, ahem, very tightly fitted. To those of you for whom vintage is sacred: You should probably click away. Though to be fair, I was not the first to change up this dress. I am almost certain that it was once full length, very Jackie O. in Camelot (she loved long white dresses). When I got it, the sheath had been very roughly chopped off and I believe was hanging raw and much longer than the lace. The person had taken the trim off the hem of the lace, shortened the lace (albeit somewhat unevenly, as I discovered when hemming the sheath), and sewn the trim back on. So I don't know what happened when they got to the sheath.

At any rate, when I went back in to alter this, I realized I must have altered it when I first got it to let it out at the waist a bit. Even when I was teeny weeny this was too small for me (perhaps a girdle is the difference). The photo shows the narrowed seam allowance where I let it out before.

Side Panel This time I undid the hem (which I had put in, somewhat badly, nearly 20 years ago) and then unpicked the side seams to within 2 inches of the underam. I drafted a side insert panel that would give me the maximum amount of body movement for biking, though I narrowed it after I took this picture and thought to measure the maximum width of the lace. No point in having extra, unusable volume in the sheath!

Matte Side to Outside The sheath fabric is a polyester crepe underlined with some sort of tricot, otherwise unlined. The fabric edges were left raw. After the Oxy Clean soaking and air dry the sheath part seems to have shrunk a bit while the tricot did not. So I had to do a little smoothing in my sewing. I sewed the matte side of my rayon satin as the outside; I didn't want the panels to shine through the lace and advertise that I needed more room! The color match is amazingly almost perfect, and the panels are completely unnoticeable in the wearing. The shiny side of the fabric is on the inside. Since I was sewing on the shiny side as the "wrong" side, I used to the walking foot to keep the satin from sliding around and feeding unevenly. It was perfect (aside from the machine tightening up, as mentioned above)!

Vintage Dress Revived Finally, I was ready to ride! Here is proof of how unphotogenic I am. The photo was taken by a friend who is very photogenic; those people do not understand that you can't take one picture and call it good! It was another lovely ride through city (don't worry, I wore my helmet while on the road). This was the last Full Moon Ride of the season and seemingly hundreds of people showed up! Our caravan was about five minutes long and the passersby kept asking us what we were about. We ended back at Logan Circle again for a lovely impromptu party. Now the next thing we have to look forward to is the Tweed Ride. I can't wait!


You MUST check out this awesome YouTube video. It condenses 100 years of fashion into an amazing 100 seconds. Apparently it's an ad for a shopping complex in London.


Karin said...

Sadly, I don't have a Bernina so can't help you. I find my Janome walking foot very useful. Your moonlight ride dress looks good. All your tweaks worked. The shopping centre you mention, I just went to a few hours ago. Big moan from me. Just full of the usual stuff. The haberdashery department which I have been awaiting with baited breath was a big let down. sigh.

Anonymous said...

Great dress! (and I LOVE the video -- thanks for sharing.)

JillyP said...

I have a Bernina 1090 and I use the walking foot frequently. I have never had a problem with the foot making the machine feel heavy or otherwise work less than perfectly.

Sarah said...

I have a Bernina Active 210 and use the walking foot with it all the time (for garment sewing and quilting). I haven't ever noticed any tightness or weirdness when I use it. I don't make any adjustments to tension or anything - I just put the foot on and sew as normal. Sorry yours is acting strange :(

Great lace dress!

Beth O. said...

I work for a Bernina dealer and am not sure what is wrong with your walking foot but I can try to add some ideas. When you attached it did you have the little "forked" lever over the screw that holds the needle in place? (This is hard to describe! LOL) Also did you change the sole plate? I've had customers not get the sole plate on quite right or the screws that hold it tightened enough and that made it operate awkwardly. Something isn't quite right but usually it just moves along beautifully.

You did a great job altering the vintage lace for your ride. Sounds like a fun night.

Beth (SunnyGal Studio) said...

The ride sounds like so much fun. Great dress.
I love that video - saw it somewhere recently, it is mesmerizing.
thanks for sharing it.

sewing spots said...

I have a Bernina 185 and use my walking foot a LOT. Never had it act like you described. I would agree with the comment from Beth O. that you have to make sure that you get the forked part over the screw on the right side. It is actually tricky to do that and align the back so you can attach the foot like a regular one attaches.

I have found that I need to run my machine more slowly when I use the walking foot, but that is probably because of the fabric I am sewing (hence the need for the walking foot).

Perhaps you could visit a nearby dealer and see a demo on its attachment to the machine?

Adelaide B said...

Happy late birthday! The dress looks great to ride in. I miss riding a bike, but I am too paranoid in the city. And I live at the top of a very big hill.

badmomgoodmom said...

I have a Bernina and have that problem only when I installed the foot incorrectly. I ditto the suggestion to check that the little fork thingy wraps around the screw instead of hanging over it. It's tricky to maneuver the foot into the cone thingy and get the fork thingy in the right place.

The newer walking foot has a notch near the cone thingy to ease installation. Sadly, mine does not.

I use the walking foot mostly for quilting in straight lines. Straight lines are boring and quilts are BIG so I sew very quickly just to get it done. The walking foot works like a champ.

I can't comment on your blog using Firefox 3.6.22 on OS X 10.6.8 and had to use Safari to make this comment. Has anyone else had this issue?

kbenco said...

What a great present. I hope the bugs improve.
Your vintage dress is lovely, and the adjustments very clever. The ride sounds like a fabulous idea - much prettier than knicks and jerseys!

Jane M said...

What a beautiful ride and delightful dress workout. Hope you work out the walking foot issue.

Anonymous said...

Coming out of lurking....I have an mechanical Bernina and mistakenly purchased the 'new' walking foot and had similiar issues. My Bernina dealer was able to exchange it and help me pick the correct foot.

Many of newer presser feet and gadgets will not fit the mechanical Bernina's. HTH

Angie R

Mrs. Micawber said...

It couldn't have anything to do with dropping / not dropping the feed dogs, could it? (That's so basic I feel silly mentioning it, but it's all I could think of.)

The dress is so feminine. Good rescue work!

Eugenia said...

A full moon ride sounds such fun! Your white outfit is beautiful - I always think that your cycling outfits looks so glamorous and this one is especially so. Where I live cyclists just seem to wear serious looking lycra stuff - your outfits look so much lovelier!

Claire (aka Seemane) said...

Love that you got the dress to work! (No point having it if you can't wear it - and now it's wearable, yay!).

The shopping complex is Westfield Stratford in East London, I went there yesterday (and as said above the fabric/haberdashery section in the brand new 'John Lewis' department store is inadequate LOL!), though the rest of the vast shopping centre had plenty of stores to browse in and get me some inspiration for future makes :)

Lynn said...

As many have said, I have no trouble with my Bernina walking foot. I use it constantly, even with fabrics that aren't supposed to be difficult. Congratulations on the lovely make over!

Lisette M said...

As others have said I've never noticed any difference in my machine's performance when using the walking foot. I use it a lot since it is wonderful with knits!

Jne4sl said...

I've had the same experience with my 1008 and found it was solved by oiling the bar above the presser foot. Not so easy to do as Bernina no longer considers this consumer maintenance and the cover doesn't open. But it was on my old machine which is why it occurred to me. I just rubbed a drop of oil on the bar and hand cranked a little to work it up into the joint. This solved my problem and I suspect the walking foot just works the machine a little harder so that the need for oil becomes apparent. It might be worth talking to a tech though since there could be some other issue but I never did.

I'm completely jealous that the foot is now TRIPLE souled. Mine is double and one thing that keeps me from using it more is my addiction to the regular edge stitching foot. I wonder if the soul can be purchased separately and if so, how outrageous the price is.

Joy said...

The ride sounds like a lot of fun! White lace may not be moisture wicking, but it's more interesting than spandex!

Very entertaining video. I wonder if they were tired of changing clothes!

AudreyGab said...

Dear slapdash sewist, I too have a walking foot and when looking on the net for more information I found this blog with very clear instructions: http://www.dognamedbanjo.com/2008/07/23/bernina-440-qe-walking-foot/
I hope it will help you too.

Aroura said...

What a wonderful present from your mom! And great job reviving that old vintage dress. It looks so cute now! Would never have guessed it was stained and had an uneven hem not too long ago.

Sigrid said...

Lovely present. Hope you get it working fine.