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, in addition to sewing for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!