elastic waistband technique Nancy Zieman

Sewing Technique: Serge an elastic waistband -no casing

This week I learned another method to sew a waistband without making a casing. I started cloning my pajama pants. I left about 1 and 1/2 inch more for the waistband. Then I receive a timely blog post from Nancy Zieman’s site, which I have subscribed. In her blog, she gives details of a more simple way to sew elastic to a waistline.
I decided to try my serger and finish the edge with my old sewing machine. This is my very first attempt so I am a little nervous about stretching elastic as I serge… but here are some pictures I took.
I like the finish much better and this technique turned out to be faster and easier than making a casing and feeding the elastic through using safety pins or bodkins.

I journaled this technique on my Lulu’s Atelier video journal (vlog).

New technique I learned from Nancy Zieman's blog
New technique I learned from Nancy Zieman’s blog

elastic waistband technique Nancy Zieman
Ready to finish edges with sewing machine. Zig zag stitch.

V-Neck T-Shirt for Men Jalie 2918

Great pattern for T-Shirts for Men: Jalie 2918- “Ultimate T-Shirt” Class

This project is part of “The Ultimate T-Shirt” class with the Tilton sisters. I was supposed to work with pattern Vogue #8793 which you receive when you sign up to this class. Well, when you have family moping about how come you don’t sew for them… I totally gave in and had to set aside my T-shirt pattern and decided to use all what I have learned from this class to sew t-shirts for dear husband. He is very thin and tall and is really difficult to find good fitting shirts.

I researched on pattern review for best T-shirt patterns. The winner seemed to be Jalie 2918. I have never used this brand before, so I gave it a shot and I really loved it!

V-Neck T-Shirt for Men Jalie 2918
V-Neck T-Shirt for Men Jalie 2918

The fabric I bought was the priciest I ever paid (22 dollars a yard… ouch!) but I really wanted a good knit fabric with medium weight. I am sick of working with cheap, and slimy knit fabrics that are hard to manipulate for a beginner. So I found a couple of knit cotton/poly fabric. One solid and one striped.

For the first t-shirt, solid color, I used only my Singer 401 sewing machine. I only used a zig zag stitch, textured thread for the bobbin, and an even feed walking foot. It worked really well. No skipped stitches and very smooth finishes. For the second t-shirt, navy blue and white stripes, I used my Brother 1034D serger and my sewing machine to bind the neck. Binding the neck was the “hardest” part. The Tilton sisters show you their techniques and even the pros find themselves redoing the neck sometimes.

Notes to myself:

When cutting the neck binding from pattern, leave at least one inch longer as allowance. The knit keeps rolling up and it is very hard to bind the neck with very tiny room. At least, until I master this technique. I had to redo twice the neck to make sure I was getting all the edge together with my sewing machine.

When buying fabric, make sure to write down the description of the fabric and instructions! I received the fabric but I did not get any info about it. I don’t know why the solid fabric started to pill on the wrong side. I remember pre-shrinking it in delicate cycle…but next time I have to be more cautious as this fabric was considered premium knit.

New Site Lulus Atelier

Lulu’s Atelier is going through changes….

After a long hiatus here in Lulu’s Atelier, I have spent time juggling work, parenting, and managing the new look and design of my Lulu’s Atelier site. I am moving my sewing journal to www.lulushomeatelier.com. I have finally put together all my ramblings and journal content in one coherent and visually interactive way. I have chosen a magazine style and I am pleased with it, I am not going to go crazy about it, otherwise I won’t have time to continue improving my sewing skills.

Thanks everyone for your stimulating comments and questions. I know right now I have very beginner stuff, but I promise to keep working my way up from “wannabe sewist”. If there is anything you would like to share or any demo regarding your Singer 401 sewing machine, let me know so I can prepare material and add it to Lulu’s Atelier ‘s  “Singer 401 Videos” playlist.

Happy Sewing!


Finding a substitute case for my Singer 185 Hand Crank Sewing Machine

I have a Singer 185 electric with its cabinet which I really love and use heavily! I could not resist when I saw on ebay a cute Singer 185 from UK, the classic tan color, and with the original hand crank and the original bentwood case with a nice leaf that folds out like a bed. So I made an offer and bought it.

Singer 185 Hand Crank UK Version
Singer 185 Hand Crank Model-UK Version

When it arrived, the bottom of the bentwood case came smashed… I was really disappointed but the seller was very good at refunding me money. I could not rescue it at all, just the leaf with the hinges and saved it in a ziplock bag.


This is what the top of the case looks:TopCaseSinger185KTan

So all this time, I have been hunting for the original bottom of the case without success. I don’t want to buy another machine as this one is in very decent condition, completely clean.

This is the original bentwood case of this particular UK version of the Singer 185:

Singer 185 UK with leaf attached to case
Singer 185 UK with leaf attached to case

Researching on bentwood cases, I learned that the Singer 66 has the exact dimensions that the Singer 185. So I gave up on looking for the original and bought on  ebay a really nice original Singer 66 bentwood case.

Singer 66 bentwood case fit really well this Singer 185
Singer 66 bentwood case fit really well this Singer 185

I was very excited when I got this one since this machine MUST be on a bentwood case. I have used it on my table and I got a nasty scratch, luckily I put my cutting mat on top of my nice dining table. I have learned that the hard way!

One tip: Make sure to drop the crank knob (the handle?) before putting the case on to lock the case with the machine inside.  I never had a hand crank  machine and obviously, the top case did not fit because the knob sticks out. So there is a screw where the handle is positioned on the wheel. Just pull the screw out and the metal handle will be released. Now you are ready to insert the case and lock with your key. Make sure your machine is really locked. Put it on a stable surface so you don’t drop it!

Singer 185 Hand Crank Release nut
Notice the screw and the position of the crank handle before saving your machine and putting the top case on to lock.

So now I can relax knowing that I don’t have to scratch my tables anymore when I want to sew on this one.

Fitting Basic Skirt Pattern- Part 2- Altering Front of Pattern for Tilted Waist

Ok, well… this is quite an experience….now that I fixed the fitting issue on the back of my skirt pattern… I noticed I have “dimples” above the hip line. What does this suggest? I did some research online for similar fitting issues. It seems that this is related to my body posture issue. If I have a forward pelvic tilt, my bottom is higher than my front. Therefore, I must adjust both.

English: 1. A tilted pelvis thrusts stomach fo...
English: 1. A tilted pelvis thrusts stomach forward and hips out. Good posture can add inches to your height. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Skirt Pattern Alteration for Pelvic Tilt forward at back and front
Skirt Pattern Alteration for Pelvic Tilt forward at back and front

Adjustments On the muslin:
Back of skirt: I must add fabric on my muslin to align the hemlines so that the skirt is on grain.

Front of Skirt:  I must do the opposite. To avoid these dimples or holes bunching up around my hip, I must remove the excess of fabric around that area. I made a boo boo in my muslin. I made a cut above the hipline, which I was not supposed to do. I only need to fold fabric but must do it about 2 1/2 inches above the “shorten/lengthen” line on the pattern as a reference point.

Adjustments on the flat pattern:

Back of pattern: Make a cut above hipline and open a hinge. Measure the opening on my muslin and transfer the measurements on the paper. Then add tissue and tape to close.

Front of pattern:  Cut 2 1/2 inches above shorten and lengthen line and overlapped paper to shorten close to the darts.
TransferFlatPatternAdjustmentsSkirtResizedFinally, remember to match the hemlines front and back on the pattern and your muslin.

Fitting a Basic Skirt Pattern- Part 1: Fixing a “protruding derriere” issue

FittingSkirtPelvicTiltWell, finally I decided to tackle the beast….so I will begin this post addressing pattern fitting, a most dreaded thing for me. As much as I want to learn all about sewing and garment construction, I was sold on the idea (very naive from my part as I realize by now) that I could buy a commercial pattern and voila, I got my master piece ready in no time…. I know this is not really easy to admit for me, but I was looking at commercials from the fifties and they would really make the sewing and adjusting your patterns so easy I thought, this is it! I can do it too….

So I bought fabric, got my machine ready, cut a basic skirt pattern and….. oh…. what is wrong? I have sewn a perfect skirt using muslin but….when I tried it on I had like a “duck tail” on the back… why the back of the skirt is higher than the front?  I thought maybe I was not paying attention when measuring and cutting the fabric?

Totally frustrated, I ended up trashing my first muslin skirt. How difficult can a simple skirt can be? come on!!!!! I feel the dumbest person in  the whole planet. I am not getting it…. So I saw on Craftsy.com they had a “Sew the Perfect Fit” class  with Linda Maynard and decided to give it a shot. I bought the video and watched it like four times. So I clearly understood I had a body posture issue that was affecting the fitting of my skirt pattern.  So I made this short video to document how to fix this “forward pelvic tilt” or plainly a “protruding derriere” issue. I also used the book “Fast Fit” by Sandra Betzina as a reference, yet I have to admit, videos worked much better to understand what to do.

I hope you find this video tutorial helpful:

In my next post I will address the “full tummy” fitting issue. I have noticed after fixing the back of the skirt that I have gained weight below my waist and I can see some tightness around my belly. Looks like I need to adjust the front of the skirt pattern.


Basic Maintenance Singer 401-Part 4: Lubricating and Oiling your vintage Sewing Machine

After cleaning and oiling the top part of my Singer 401, I am focusing on the bottom part. I have not done any oiling or lubricating since I purchased this machine….

Light housekeeping: To clean the bottom part, check for lint, fluff. If you can, use a vacuum if there is too much lint. Check for old grease and oil residue. You don’t want to apply stuff on a dirty surface. Remove with WD40. Here, be extremely careful. You just want to apply WD40 on a piece of paper to wipe any residue. Do not apply directly to parts or onto the sewing machine.

Heavy-duty cleaning: If you happened to discover that the insides of your sewing machine are full of brown sticky gunk and some parts are not moving then you need a more aggressive cleaner. You can try using kerosene.Use an old rag, or an old t-shirt, pour kerosene on fabric and wipe the parts until the residues come off. You may need to wrap around that particular part that is stuck with the rag with kerosene and leave it overnight. The next day just wipe clean with damp rag and hopefully that will be enough to look like new.
I recommend you check out this blog from Lizzie Lenard Vintage Sewing, she has a wealth of videos and very useful information if you need to do serious cleaning of your vintage sewing machine.
My machine seems very clean except for some greasy spots around the turning wheel, and the cams. I think the previous owner or the technician who serviced this machine  put way too much grease.  I just used a piece of paper towel and it came off quickly without leaving traces.

After cleaning, apply oil according to oiling diagram. If you don’t have one, download from the internet. If not, apply oil wherever you see tiny holes. Just one drop. And make sure your oil is CLEAR avoid using old oil because it will leave a nasty yellow discoloration on the body of your sewing machine.

Follow your oiling/ lubrication diagrams in your sewing machine manual.
Sewing machine lubrication diagram
How do you know which are the gears you should lubricate?

Top Part:

  • Where the stitch cams are located.
  • Around the turning wheel to the far right of your sewing machine.
  • Around the red lever

Bottom Part:
Where you see these two little teethed circles touching with each other on far right near the motor.

Also, check for  shaft at far left that makes the bobbin run
Lubricate Gears Singer 401
What kind of lubricant to use?
I did extensive research among credible sources from people who own, collect, and fix their vintage sewing machines. The number one recommended lubricant is “TriFlow Clear Synthetic Grease”. You can read all about it in this review from Sew Classic’s Blog.


Now I am ready  to continue doing heavy duty sewing on this machine!

Journal of a wannabe sewist


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