Readers, I treadled so much yesterday that I'm afraid I've run out of steam, though a treadle doesn't run on steam and neither do I.
I do enjoy treadling, but it's hard to do on a project like a men's shirt where there's a lot of starting and stopping and you can't just press a pedal to make it go, you have to crank the hand wheel and then start your feet pumping. It takes a lot of coordination. Plus my treadle doesn't have its own light so it gets hard to see in the evening. Its stitch plate doesn't have seam allowance markings -- I've learned to guess-timate. It also lacks a reverse and a stitch length lever. (Why am I doing this again?)
But the shirt is turning out very nicely.
For whatever reason, this Singer 66 -- despite a recent oiling and a new needle -- isn't stitching as perfectly as I'd like. When you least expect it, she'll leave a loose stitch -- rarely, but every so often -- and it's maddening because I can't figure out the reason. It doesn't seem to have to do with starting or stopping. I'm wondering if maybe her tension assembly could use a cleaning. Anyway, having finished most of the shirt already, I decided to do the collar and collar stand -- arguably the most painstaking part of shirtmaking, and certainly the part requiring the greatest accuracy -- on my Singer 201.
Going from my 66 treadle to my Singer 201 is like going from the Flintstone's car to a vintage Rolls Royce. It's no wonder most people stopped treadling seventy years ago; it's so much faster to sew with a motor and the 201 is super smooth. Of course, you can treadle a more modern machine than my (vintage Twenties) 66 too, but you still have to pump it yourself.
Anyway, the shirt...
The shoulder seams are flat-felled, but the side seams are just stitched and serged: this pillowy flannel doesn't like excessive handling.
The collar, made on the 201, came out well. Collars are never easy, and require a lot of concentration, accurate measuring, and careful pressing. I'm getting a lot of use out of my June Tailor board -- a good thing since it's hard to store due to its size. I use a bamboo point turner to keep my points sharp, molding the point on the turner rather than jabbing the turner into the point. There's a new technique Pam Erny has come up with but I've yet to try it. I find that keeping your interfacing out of your seam allowances makes a huge difference in how sharp you can get your collar points from the inside.
Here's Michael in the shirt so far -- it still needs cuffs, hemming, and buttonholes but I think I'm done for today.
There were a few questions about interfacing. I use a weft-weight loosely woven fusible; I can't remember where I bought it. It's super soft and a little stretchy. I interface my out-facing collar, my out-facing collar stand, my out-facing cuff, and my front facings (where the buttons and buttonholes go). I want these parts to be sturdy but to remain relatively soft.
If you have any other questions about how I make shirts -- with or without treadles -- feel free to ask.
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns. I also sew for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!