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Dec 1, 2012

All Treadled Out? + Michael's shirt update



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.

Have a great day, everybody!

34 comments:

  1. Looks great! You really have to try the technique that Pam uses. It's like magic.

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  2. Nice shirt. I like the material and the style. I don't think I have the coordination to treadle, but thought about a treadle when I wanted to sew and the power was out due to the storm.

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    1. I have a Pfaff 90 treadle and it needed a ton of work when I first bought her. But now I wouldn't trade her in for anything. Great stitches and unbelievably relaxing to use. After all the initial tweeking and fixing, treadling is a great way to sew.

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  3. Hi Peter!
    I was recently given a 99 as birthday present and I found out she's sixty years old (I named her Suzanne) she has no reverse or stitch length indicator. It seems like I've been spending an eternity trying to adjust the upper and bobbin tension along with the stitch length to get things in balance......things are looking better and I'm getting closer to my goal, you have my highest admiration for treadling!! Did you have any problems with the stitches when you began? Another thing I found out is that this machine does not like cheap "4 spools for a dollar" thread! LOL!! She wants real cotton or nothing doing! Still, there is nothing like sewing on a vintage Singer, especially after the hard work of cleaning and oiling it up! Oh,quick question, what pattern did you use?

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  4. Michael looks great in that beautiful shirt. Elle

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    Replies
    1. I had that same thought...the color for him is perfection.

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  5. This is a second on the thread. No cheap thread. Plus, do you have one of those thread holders that sits off to the right of the machine? Just a platform with a post to hold the spool of thread and a tall piece with a hook at the top that holds the thread up before it crosses over into the regular threading places on the machine? I don't know the exact term. But I never sew on my regular sewing machines without using one. The little plastic spools are clunky and tipsy. The thousand little problems of inconsistent thread feed....makes me crazy! The thread holder eliminates all of those problems.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the tip Kitty......I'm going to start looking for something like that!

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  6. Hello Peter! I'd like to ask a shirt-making question. Do you have any tips on how to successfully attach a collar stand to the bodice? Thanks. =)

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    Replies
    1. Try this post from my Shirt Sew-Along:

      http://malepatternboldness.blogspot.com/2011/02/mens-shirt-sew-along-13-new-collar-for.html

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  7. Beautiful job on the collar!
    ...looks like Pam's interfaceomg.

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  8. Peter,

    Perhaps you've already mentioned it, I'm not done reading your archives yet, but do you follow Dave Page Coffin? He has a blog:

    http://dpcoffinonsewing.blogspot.com/

    but I own his Shirtmaking book

    http://www.amazon.com/Shirtmaking-Developing-Skills-Fine-Sewing/dp/1561582646

    and love it.

    Jenny from Sew-Classic sells stick on seam markings.

    http://shop.sew-classic.com/Adhesive-Needle-Throat-Plate-Markings-5-PK-SCP001.htm

    That doesn't solve every problem, but it's a start. =)

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  9. Beautiful shirt! My treadle sits in the living room with a box on top with pictures to still hang ... kind of exactly where they were planted when I moved in here almost 7 months ago. Shame on me. :-)

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    1. We must have the same interior decorator.

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  10. You are a riot!
    Brian Sews made a video of Pam's technique...it's here http://www.briansews.com/2012/10/perfect-collar-points.html
    and had me yelling out OH MY GOD so frequently...it's really amazing to see the technique in action. I haven't tried it yet because I'm in pants territory for now.

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  11. Looking great so far. Now I'm really tempted to make a shirt for my husband for Christmas because I saw a yarn-dyed cotton stripe at the store the other day.... Like I don't have a million other projects to get done. *sigh*

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  12. Your sleeve plackets are beautiful. (Ooh I love lovely placket!) So is the collar, which is indeed the bit that often causes grief. These days I often to use a collar cut in one piece with a seam at the centre back underside. ( It’s demonstrated by Louise Cutting on one of the Threads CDs) The centre fronts are on the fold, so there are only two layers of seam allowance to worry about. I interface the whole piece with something lightweight.

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    1. I've used that very same technique after seeing it demonstrated on "Sewing with Nancy"! It works very well!!

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  13. Treadling: my mentor, mr. Tozzi taught me to Work it with two feet. Using the ball of one foot at the front If the pedal and the other foot towards the back of the pedal. This was a high productiontechnique in his day. He's 73. love him for sharing his trade and the tricks.

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  14. Hi Peter,
    Beautiful job on the shirt. You inspire me to start sewing clothes!

    I wonder if there might be a tiny bit of lint in the bobbin case area? I am sure that you removed the bobbin case and cleaned and oiled it and the race. Of course you have a brand new needle in, I am sure....Don't want to insult anyone here. Could there be a tiny little burr on the hook? If you are winding your bobbin on the treadle it might be uneven enough to cause a skipped stitch, I suppose. Oh and sometimes those horizontal hooks prefer metal bobbins and vintage ones..
    I have a Singer 66 treadle with no back tack. I use it because I love its stitches. And I love to treadle. But I much prefer the 201. I want a 201-3. Then I will be happy. This is one machine that has yet to present itself to me. All in good time....
    Best wishes.

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  15. My 201 was skipping stitches. The longer I left it the more stitches it skipped. I tried everything but eventually I had to pull the bobbing assembly apart. It was a lot easier then I thought it would be and it fixed it. There was thread and a random piece of plastic down there.

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  16. That's my favourite interfacing of all times - I use it a lot. I'm curious about your method of placing the collar stand. From one of the pictures it looks like you turn the bottom up and stitch it into the seam. I've never thought to do that before. It certainly takes care of the part that always causes me the most trouble!

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  17. I'm sewing a shirt too - a ladies shirt - and also on a treadle & would you believe my treadle is also doing the occasional loose stitch. If you find out what's making yours do it, please let me know, driving me nuts!!!! And I know my tension assembly up & down is spotless :( The shirt looks lovely, will look great when finished I think :)

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  18. The shirt looks really nice and I'm impressed at how much you've done in a day. I don't think my leg muscles would hold out!
    About the lighting and seam allowance marking issues...
    I use a cheap desk lamp with a flexible neck (the jansjö from ikea) to light my machine.
    And I measure seam allowances with a ruler, then mark them with painter's or masking tape.
    Maybe that'll make things easier :)

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  19. Good-looking shirt.. Re: skipped stitches. Are you using the right thread, needle? Do you have Sandra Betzina's "more fabric savvy"? That'll save you a lot of groping around..

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  20. Great color and looks lovely on Michael. You are very patient to use your treadle. I do know people that use the treadle for quilting but they don't use it for making clothes for all the reasons you mentioned. As much as I love the look and history of vintage sewing machines, I couldn't use one for the type of sewing projects I do.

    Josette

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  21. Hi Peter,

    Helen Howes (http://www.helenhowes-sewingmachines.co.uk/needleplates.html) has graduated needle plates for 66k's but you may be able to find someone in the more local to you that has one available.

    Also for the backstitch, you can continue treadling while lifting the presser foot slightly with a finger and move the material back towards you to back stitch at the end of your seam etc. Takes a bit of practice but becomes second nature after a while.

    PS. I really enjoy your blog!
    Kind regards,
    Jon
    66k owner from the UK

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  22. Thanks for sharing about your interfacing! It's new territory for me (I usually work with denim or jersey). Cool!

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  23. Nice shirt! I especially like the color/pattern and the thought of it being a nice soft flannel - great for our Minnesota winters!

    Regarding those loose stitches. Inspect the check spring on the upper tension unit. I'd bet it's hanging up on occasion, resulting in the loose stitch. It's job is to take up the slack that as the take-up lever and needle are on the down stroke. If it isn't working or hangs up, you'll get a loose stitch.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Steve. I just disassembled the tension assembly, wiped the metal disks with a piece of soft flannel, inspected the springs, put it all back together, oiled the machine, used a metal bobbin (instead of a plastic one) and -- lo and behold -- the stitches look perfect. Let's see if this lasts!

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  24. Oh! I think I recognize that interfacing. I saw a roll of it at Chic Fabrics today. If it's the same stuff it's kind of a fluffy interfacing right? Very soft. I didn't know what it would be good in but now I see the flannel buttondown is a perfect project for it.

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  25. Is the loose stitch on top? If so, I had the same issue with my Singer 99, and it turned out that it was because the take up spring was sitting a little too far down, and as a result would catch on another part every now and again. I had to disassemble the tension mechanism entirely to get at the spring, and twist the underlying housing to bring it back into alignment. And since that was too many words that probably don't make a lot of sense without pictures (at least for me!) I describe and show pictures of the issue and fix towards the end of this post here - http://thelacedangel.blogspot.com/2011/09/getting-down-and-dirty-with-your.html
    Also, that shirt looks super amazing :)

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  26. There is a huge nation wide group called Treadle-On (treadleon.net) that is based on folks who love and collect treadle and hand crank machines. There is a flea market page that you can post for sale or wanted items. Someone surely has your needle plate w/ markings.

    http://www.treadleon.net/fleamarket/index.htm

    Also, Cindy Peters runs Stitches in Time and she sells a lot of machine parts...

    Hope this helps!

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