Sunday, August 14, 2016

HSM '16: #2 Tucks and Pleating: Market Hat

At the end of January, I got an opportunity to volunteer for a local Regency event, to which I enthusiastically agreed shortly into February. I immediately started planning my gown, wanting to both wear my new stays, and also not wear last year's gown for the 4th time in a row. Not the least because last year's gown has a lower back, and my stays would be very visible over the neckline. Oops?

I wondered how I could possibly fit my gown and/or accessories into the challenge theme. It only occurred to me late in the month that the pleating required to fit the skirt width into the center back would absolutely qualify, because up until then, I had already started another item that was "done enough" to also work. And, I think, be more suitable, since the challenge info states "make a garment that features tucks and pleating for the shape or decoration", and this item is most definitely shaped by the pleats.

Introducing: The Market Hat!

You've likely seen some version of this hat around the internet before. I first saw it way back in summer 2013, in photos of the Curtain-Along meet-up at Costume College that year. Oh, what a lovely hat Loren wore! Then, in 2014, I realized I needed a similar hat in order to recreate an art piece for the Art Challenge (which I still have yet to complete). Where could I find a pattern for such an enchanting object?

At the time there wasn't many. I scoured the internet and came up with a few ideas -- Kannik's Korner has a similar item, that I could probably use to suit my needs, and The Sign of the Golden Scissors. But, both of them seemed awfully expensive at the time, especially since I couldn't find shipping rates. I thought I might get around to developing my own pattern, if I ever decided on what I was actually looking at. I had a hard time imagining the 3D object laid out like a 2D pattern, so I put off thinking about it for a long, long time.

I did not get around to drafting one. My chosen pattern was not any less expensive, but several factors made it the best option. Maggie of Undressing the Historical Lady put out a pattern in between these two in cost, and unlike the others, was a print-at-home pattern, so at least I wouldn't have to pay shipping! That pushed into the "best option" category, in fact, and I bought it last summer when the exchange rate was sliiiiightly more reasonable than it is now.

I tried to look at options for the brim board at Michael's, but all I could find was a humongous sheet of material that I didn't feel comfortable purchasing, even if I used a coupon. It was 24" x 36" and I only needed a fraction of that. I used a found-item from work that would otherwise have been recycled, sheets of super thin cardboard that came on top of a stack of loose paper to protect it. But since they were only 8.5" x 11", I had to use several sheets (three, in fact) to get a piece wide enough and stable enough to go into the brim. And even though I followed the directions for the brim, pressing in my seam allowances and stitching by hand, my brim board was just too big to fit into it. I had to trim and trim and trim until I could stitch up the seam allowance for the caul to attach to. (I take full responsibility for this issue. The pattern pieces fit just fine together, and I think my board ended up being thicker than the recommended material which took away from the fabric too much.)

The caul's shape, as directed in the pattern, is achieved entirely by pleating. One could theoretically play with the pleats, how many and how deep, to achieve a different look. I have 9 pleats on either side of a central box pleat. And then I immediately had to run to the mirror to try it on!

It's been languishing ever since, waiting for the final two steps (finishing the caul/brim seam and then decorating), but I would not feel bad about wearing it should the need arise at this exact moment. I used some of the leftover fabric, actually in a separate cut, for one of my accessories for my ball outfit, but saved the rest from this cut to make a "ribbon" to decorate with. Partly complicated by the fact that I could not find my pinking shears for most of the month. They had decided, for the last 6 months, to make their home with my partner-in-crime.

And since this post is ONLY 6 months late (HA!), it still hasn't been finished... and I've misplaced the spare fabric... but I could still totally wear it right this moment!

The Challenge: #2 Tucks & Pleats
Fabric: 100% polyester
Pattern: 18th Century Bonnet/Market Hat
Year: late 18th century
Notions: thread, ribbon, bias tape, thin cardboard
How historically accurate is it?: Looks great! I don't know if this type of cardboard was being produced in-era, and we won't even touch polyester.
Hours to complete: 10 or so.
First worn: Not yet
Total cost: $27 CDN for the pattern, materials were all free-to-me! I would expect to spend roughly $30-$40 CDN (without the pattern) on this if I were to buy all new materials. Silk is difficult to get in Edmonton, and with the exchange rate being so poor right now, even "cheap" silk is expensive to ship in. Americans might be able to do this project for under $20 US.

Want to admire more market hats? Maggie's own market hat, which you can see on the Etsy listing, is also visible here at American Duchess; Lauren of American Duchess has a lovely one (this is more of a research page, so be sure to click through to entries at the beginning of July to see the finished item in action!); The Couture Courtesan has a beautiful piece made from her own pattern; Peryn's gorgeous hat (and dress); and so did Festive Attyre with Maggie's pattern. Got more? I'd love to see them! Even after looking at them all summer, I still think this hat is adorable!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Adventures in Cosplay: Jareth the Goblin King

Shortly after David Bowie's death earlier this year (I won't go into how much his death affected me -- I "met" him at all the wrong moments in my life, but I still loved him), my partner-in-crime, Nicole, asked if I would be her Goblin King at our spring convention. She thought that the time was right to make her Sarah ballgown costume (something that had been on her to-do list for the past 10 years), and course she needed a Goblin King.

Photo by T.T.

Of course I said yes ;)

We purchased 5 metres of teal taffeta and a metric butt-ton of jewels in blue, black and silver (this is a very technical measurement), and got to work. I created the shirt, jabot, vest, and coat, and wore a pair of black pants and boots I already owned. Nicole sourced the wig, and spent around 40 hours (with some assistance from other friends) gluing jewels to the coat.

It was quite an experience. The sewing itself was very easy, if time-intensive. While I have decided that writing and posting about my mental health is not the ideal way to deal with it, I do want to touch on it briefly. I started experiencing full-blown anxiety attacks in the middle of this sewing, and I was finally self-aware enough to recognize them as such. It's been quite a roller coaster ride, learning to manage them, and I have a long way to go yet. They seriously coloured the creation and wearing of this costume.

I started with McCalls 6818, a Once Upon a Time costume pattern, modifying the skirt, collar, sleeves and cuffs. The shirt was made with Simplicity 4923, with a lot of width taken out of the body and sleeves. The jabot is a rectangle with circular ruffles sewn to it, and a fun necklace part on top. The vest is a pillow case with some nice floral mesh sewn on top. The final touch was to sew a string of blue LED lights to the edges, to go with Nicole's lighted skirt. I ended up sewing them on the night before I wore it. Not recommended. One of my ongoing costume goals is "no last minute sewing", but I really didn't make it for this con. Next time! I will strive to do better.

The day we wore them, I used a YouTube tutorial to create my makeup, and eventually we set out to the con. We had entered the costume contest in the master category. While I usually don't enter contests, Nicole wanted to, so I figured I could do it this time, and she has won more than enough contests to place her squarely in the master category. That was its own set of fun (part of the anxiety manifests as stage fright...) but we (ok, myself, mostly) got through it and then we had to wait for the results.

Photo by T.T.

Photo by T.T.

Photo by T.T.

I was a little surprised that we won best in class: craftsmanship, and then even more surprised when we won best in show as well. It really made all of the stress and headaches of the construction and sewing at 11pm and removing part of my eyebrows worth it.

Accepting our Best in Show award. Photo by Calgary Expo crew.

We even had someone make fan art of our pictures! Some of the nicest things people said to me over the weekend was how much I looked like David Bowie, and I didn't quite realize it myself until I saw this manipulation of the movie poster and myself side by side. Super thanks to that YouTube tutorial!

I'm so sorry, I don't know your name, awesome person! Please let me know so I can credit you!

Honestly, the experience was not my ideal situation, but it was so amazing at the same time. We waited a long time before going on stage, with others in our category, and everyone was so nice and so supportive of each other. After the contest was over, as we left, we got delayed over and over as people stopped us to congratulate us. People reached out to me on Facebook with the same, both people I know and total strangers, and I felt really connected to the cosplay community. It was really wonderful, and I am glad I took part in it (shhh don't tell Nicole. She'll make remove part of my eyebrows again! ;)) Thank you, everyone, so much, for creating a welcoming and warm community where even anxiety-ridden oldies like me feel at home.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Regency Midwinter Ball 2016

For this year's ball, the lovely Tara of Regency Encounters asked if Nicole and I would be willing to volunteer in the card room. For every ball, card tables have been set up for those needing or wanting a break from dancing (or, like us, people who don't dance) and we have so enjoyed the experience at previous balls, so of course we said yes! I immediately began planning a new outfit, having worn the sari gown I made last year at two other balls.

Nicole and I.
Photo by Janine Rose Photography

I bought this IKEA curtain set in 2012 with the express intent to make a regency gown out of it, after seeing some lovely examples made up in the same material (notably, Quinn's lovely recreation of a gown patterned in Patterns of Fashion 1; the other dress was an image on Facebook that I'm too scared to try and find four years later!). I had initially intended to make it with the Folkwear pattern, or possibly the PoF pattern, and even got so far as to start tracing out the skirt pieces from Folkwear onto the fabric with pink chalk, when I had a moment of "ahhhh!! NOT READY!" and decided not to do it. I am so glad I waited.

I had been wanting to make Laughing Moon's Regency gown pattern #126 for several months, but didn't have an idea of what I wanted the gown to look like, or even what fabric to start it in, so I declined to make something I wasn't wholly inspired to do. As soon as we had decided to volunteer, I knew exactly what I wanted -- this sheer white gown, and I wanted to start ASAP so that I could do things I don't normally have time to do, like making accessories and decorating the gown. In the end my gown needed no decorations, as the fabric has woven stripes and dots that do an admirable job of that already, but I had lots of accessories to work on!

I made the gown in most of a weekend. I made a mock-up on a Friday night directly after work. The pattern fit me perfectly, no alterations needed. Full steam ahead! I even spent the weekend being social, seeing movies and celebrating the lunar new year. By Sunday evening, the only things I had left to do were some ties on the inner bib (not actually necessary, as my bib overlaps enough to pin it), hemming, and possibly finishing a seam on the bib part (I did not finish it, and it was not noticeable whatsoever). 

The gown on Sunday night. Holy sheer, Batman!

Y'all. You need this pattern if you enjoy working with such, and especially Regency era gowns. It is so well drafted, each piece fits together perfectly, and the pleating diagram for the skirt is beautiful. I realized, after spending the time to pleat, and was over halfway through stitching it, that I had pleated it backwards (that is, it looks fine on the wrong side, but the right side should have an inverted box pleat, and it does not), and decided that I didn't care enough to re-do it. It's so lovely, and absolutely perfect. I had a bit of extra fabric at the sides, but that came more from using two full panels for the skirt, thanks to the necessity of layout economy needed when working with curtains, and not accounting for that when I cut the front/side panels. I really wanted a train, so I included that in my measurements. Handily, the fabric's stripes and dots are all at 1" intervals, which made measuring and cutting very easy.

Guido helped me lay out the fabric.

I made a little sleeveless Spencer jacket, using Katherine's tutorial as a guide. I made a few mistakes, namely not cutting down my seam allowances even though I hand-stitched most of it, so there's a few little bumps at the seams where I stitched too close to the edge to turn the full amount in. Next time I will know better, and there WILL be a next time, because this type of garment is just so cute! I extended the center fronts a bit, but they meet edge-to-edge with hooks and eyes comfortably.

I also needed a petticoat, since my dress is quite sheer. I tried it on with the chemise underneath, and could totally see my modern underwear through the skirt. Eep! It's very simple, a three-yard length of fabric and some strips for the waist band and straps, hemmed a bit along one edge. I could have cut panels at the right length and had very similar results, so in the interest of it being an undergarment, I just sewed it up along the torn edges at the center back. I used the same pleating diagram as the gown to pleat it to the band. It was absolutely lovely to wear under my dress.

I also attempted to make a new Spencer jacket, since it IS winter, but I was having trouble deciphering what the instructions meant about the pleats, so I gave up and re-wore the blue velvet Spencer instead.

Lastly, I made a muff cover for the base I made 2 years ago out of a scrap of black velvet and some bright pink ribbon, using Katherine's wonderful tutorial (base and cover). So adorable!

The very last thing I needed for the ball was hair! I get a lot of volume when I rag-curl my hair, so I made sure to shower in the early part of the day so that my hair was clean and ragged well before it was time to get ready. My hair is so thin and fine that it normally dries in about an hour, some of the ends were already dry even as I started rolling, and they'd only been out of the towel for 10 minutes! Ragging takes a bit longer to dry, and some of them, especially at the back where there was more hair wrapped up, were still damp when I took them out. I had always intended to wrap a turban, so this time I tried something a little different, and used this tutorial by Jen of Festive Attyre, and it turned out AMAZING. I was so impressed with how awesome my hair looked!

And of course, the last little bits to complete the outfit were the pineapple reticule, and some long gloves. Then, Nicole and I had a wonderful evening teaching others how to play whist, drinking tea and syllabub, and generally enjoying the atmosphere and camaraderie of a whole bunch of people. It was so lovely, and I can hardly wait for the next one!

The end of a wonderful night.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

HSM '1: #1 Procrastination: Late 1830s Cap

Hello friends! I spent all of January waffling about what I wanted to make for this challenge, since 98% of my sewing life is procrastinating on everything! (And then I procrastinated EVEN LONGER on posting this!) I even went into my "almost finished" box to see what I could pull out of there to finish, as it's mostly things in a state of (as labelled) almost-finished. My cat gave me a good scare while I did that. I walked away for a moment and he jumped in. When I came back, I thought he was a piece of faux fur, but then it started to move. Gah! He's good at that.

Like the day my bustle started to move on it's own... Until I realized it had a tail.

So there it was, January 30th, and I'd spent all month procrastinating on a procrastination challenge, which was kind of hilarious. Luckily, I had one little project at hand, that I knew what had to be done, just waiting for me to finish it.

I started this little cap in August, after seeing Anneliese's ADORABLE version a few days previously. It's made out of some embroidered linen that I last used on Esmerelda's petticoat, and hand-sewn with silk thread. When I had left off, all I had left to do was the back hem to run a ribbon or tape through. It's got a temporary ribbon at the moment, that I may or may not keep. I tried a little mock-up bow on top, like the book suggests, and it is SOOOOOO cute! (I forgot to take a picture of it though!)

I don't know how it will work under a bonnet, if it's even meant to, but it should look pretty good with my dress too :)

The Challenge: #1 Procrastination
Fabric: 100% embroidered linen (the embroidery thread I'm sure is polyester)
Pattern: The Workwoman's Guide (1840) (link should be to the correct page, which is 59. Plate is on Page 314.)
Year: 1838-1840
Notions: silk thread, a bit of ribbon
How historically accurate is it?: shape is great! Materials, less so.
Hours to complete: 4 or so, not including the time it took to learn how to do rolled whipped gathers lol
First worn: not yet
Total cost: free-to-me as everything was stashed or leftovers. Still, this would be a very inexpensive project to buy new, perhaps $10.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 Year In Review

Phew, it's the end of the year already! Friends, thank you for being so patient with me these last few months. I feel like I had so many things happening and so much on-the-go, that blogging simply had to take a back seat. Unfortunately, sewing got stuck back there too, and so did knitting. But in the spirit of the past two years, here's a look back on what I made this year anyway :) Many of them were not blogged about, so I've linked to their posts where I can.

Items made (more or less in order):

The sontag took about a month to knit, and I've already started a new one. I want to try the knitted border instead of the crocheted one, but I'm not making it a priority. It'll be done when it's done :) I wear this one around the house sometimes when it's really cold out, but as the winter has so far been pretty mild, I haven't needed to yet (knock wood!).

Still LOVE this petticoat :D It lived for most of the summer under the 1840s dress on Josephine.

I decided one day to make a bumpad to go under it, and tossed one together in a few hours. The pattern is from Simplicity 3727.

Stashbusting-Sari gown. One of my favourite makes this year. I wish it was a teensy bit longer, but what can you do :)

1928 frock for friend's birthday – not super happy with the overall look, and it was difficult to drape on myself. I started with a base pattern, pinned and pinned, eventually came out with something that looked like the pattern. It was a pretty easy sew.

Regency Bodiced Petticoat – quite enjoy it. It needs to be reworked though, it's VERY tight around the armscye and yet my boobs fall into it after a few hours. I had to make it REALLY short to fit under the sari gown, and it likes to bunch up around my knees when I wear cotton gowns (read: all of the ones I own) Still, it's really cute and it fulfilled its purpose. I have enough fabric left I could remake the bodice part. Or perhaps just remove the bodice and add some straps!

Cosplays - Tauriel and Juri (Utena). Tauriel, I've come to realize over the summer and early fall, I am no longer excited about. The costume was uncomfortable and not as well-designed or constructed as I would like, and on the day I wore it, something deeply personal happened that really affected my enjoyment of wearing it at all. So I'm not sure if I'm going to remake it or just consider it a lost cause. For the summer con, I started making, and nearly finished, an anime cosplay, Juri from Utena (not pictured), but the day I would have worn it, I spent instead with my family as it was just a couple of weeks after my Grampa passed away. It needs some leg band buttons and some finishing work and a ton of decorative buttons.

1840s gown - It needs some sliiiight tweaks before I will consider it 100% finished, but I am SO pleased with it! I was waiting for cooler weather to take pictures, as I finished it at the start of summer and hoo boy did we have a hot one this year! Getting all dressed up to take pictures just was not on my agenda. And then other stuff was happening when the weather became agreeable and I just haven't done it yet. Can't wait to do it though, perhaps early in the new year :3

Green summer dress - it just needs buttons and buttonholes, but my main machine is in desperate need of a servicing, she is making the most horrible noises, and I just can't afford to get her in right now. So, no buttons for me for awhile...

Pineapple reticule - Probably my favourite knitted thing I've made this year. Heehee, I just adore it! It's so silly and ridiculous and also practical, what's not to love?

1930s skirt - I'm just waiting to get some petersham ribbon to finish this off. I drafted the skirt from Vera Venus directions, made it up out of the last bit of brown fabric (literally not enough left for a waistband!), and hemmed it with hem tape my gramma gave me eons ago. I hand-picked the zipper, too! My main machine doesn't have an adjustable foot, and I didn't even bother trying out one on Beatrice, because I just have never perfected machine-sewing a zipper. Hand-sewing it still wasn't perfect, but it was remarkably easy and I like the control I have with a hand needle.

A photo posted by Crystal Yoner (@totchipanda) on

Star Wars hat - can't resist another attempt at stranded knitting since my first one went so poorly, and it was Star Wars!! Sadly it was too big for my head, so it's gone on to a new home.

Yoga socks (Not pictured)- started making these for my dance studio. It's in the basement of an old building (built in the 20s, I think) and now that winter is here, it's cold on the feet! These leave the toe and heel free to grip the floor, but keep the foot and ankle warm. They also fit over leather jazz shoes! I'm usually pulling them off by the middle of class lol.

Ravenclaw sweater - I wanted to make this to wear for Halloween. It took me a good 3 weeks of really dedicated and focused knitting, and sadly it's not quite right. It's a bit too short and it's definitely too wide, but the sleeves are 95% perfect (I put a stripe on the bottom when I shouldn't have). I will probably remake this, but not with a deadline! It's made from 100% wool, so it was REALLY warm! I'm usually freezing at work and wear a poncho around, but I didn't need to that day!

Doctor Who Scarves - My dad found and gave me his yarn, all of which was purchased for the making of scarves, so I knitted him one. Then I sorted out the rest of it, and am making two more. One for myself in a smaller scale, and one to sell when it's finished. It's going to take awhile, it's a good 12 feet long lol.

King's Landing gown - Made this in time to take it to Spokane for WorldCon. I finished the hemming by hand in the hotel room the night before (my friend made fun of me for DAYS), and we made a nicely matched set. The day we wore them, the air quality was exceptionally bad, full of orangey smoke that permeated even the insides of the convention centre. We managed to sneak outside for 10 minutes or so to take pictures on the river.

Regency stays - my old stays were improperly fitted and I've been making-do with either a good push-up bra or the bodiced petticoat (thank goodness my petite bust point is good for something!). I was SO excited when I was able to pick this pattern (Laughing Moon) up locally! (Psst Canadians, Nutmeg Sews carries these!) I finished them pretty quick, but haven't managed to take any worn-photos yet. Plus the back is pretty high and peeks out of most of my gowns.

Long Regency stays - I had started these Mantua Maker stays in early 2012 during one of the bed bug sprays, and they have been sitting mostly finished for a good 3 years. All they needed was binding, and I got that done in time for the Michaelmas Ball so that the RSG could display them.

1910s corset - Made up this summer from the last of the coutil (last seen on my 1850s corset), with bits and bobs raided from other corsets. I made it exactly as-is from Festive Attyre's pattern and I need to tweak it a bit since it closes almost completely! I also started some of the other bits, like a corset cover, so I can get going on an outfit, but as I was unable to attend the train ride this year, it has gone to the back burner.

I'm looking forward to what 2016 brings!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

TBT: Butterick 3640 Does the 1770s ("Esmerelda", 2004)

I made this gown in 2004 for Hallowe'en. It is, in fact, directly responsible for me failing my third NaNoWriMo attempt (it was my second and last loss; I've won every year since then). I took some pictures of the construction process, inspired at the time by sites like Koshka-the-Cat. Most of them really aren't worth sharing, so I won't ;)

For a commercial pattern (now out of print), this one makes a decent costume. It would need a lot of work to make it historically accurate, but for a new seamstress, it was challenging enough and produced a lovely outfit. I'd learned to sew when I was 13-14 years old, but I didn't enjoy it at all, and I gave it up just a few years later. I made a project here and there over the years, nothing that was ever finished or wearable. I loved historical fashions, and the few bloggers who were out there uploading their creations pre-blogging days, but so many of them self-drafted (how do I math??) or used one of the few independent pattern companies out there, pattern companies that rarely shipped to Canada, and if they did, charged an arm and a leg to ship it. As well, at the time I didn't have a credit card and PayPal had not quite opened to Canadian clients yet, so I was super happy that a commercial pattern, that I could walk into any fabric store and buy, had something that looked like it would work. So, I eventually invested in some fabric, a nice embroidered linen, and made up my gown.

Can I hear a HUZZAH for the advancement of the internet, more patterns and research available, and ease-of-access to things that we didn't have 10 years ago? HUZZAH!

It took a long time to pleat the skirts, but pleating guide helped a lot. Each pleat is stitched for a couple inches. I did use the netting in the skirt but if I ever make this again (with some other adjustments), I will leave it out. You can see that I used white or cream fabric for lining the bodice, and black for the sleeves. As I recall, I did fit the lining in the white fabric (probably cotton) before deciding to cut the fashion fabric and then just used it as lining. The bodice closes with hooks and eyes. As I recall, the pattern directs you to sew on hooks and make thread loops; I opted to use hook and eye tape. I didn't have a lot of luck with it, it gapped a lot and pulled. As I didn't know any better, I didn't make or wear any undergarments. I would absolutely do so now. Since I am not a standard size, I fit the bodice to my bust measurement and fudged the waist, and was terrified of the bodice ripping open during the two nights that I wore it. A set of stays will do the work of holding the body in the correct shape and save the gown itself the stress of doing so. And, as this gown is very low cut, a shift and perhaps some trim would definitely help hide a tiiiiny bit more skin ;)

Other than that, and the laundry list of changes to make to make it more historically accurate (and really, once you get into changing the armscyes and sleeves, you might as well just get a historically accurate pattern), this pattern went together easily and created a really lovely garment! I dubbed her "Esmerelda" and only wore her twice. I had her in my closet for many years and finally sold her last year when I realized that I would never do so again.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Meet Beatrice & Farewell Grampa

Hi everyone! I'm sorry I've been so bad at blogging recently. I did finish my gown, but it's been far too hot to take proper pictures of it, and then I had some personal things pop up that have been eating all of my spare energy. So this post is about a month in the making.

One of these days I might end up with a whole page dedicated to the things I have in my sewing area, which is, at the moment, most of my living room. There's so many lovely items! Last summer my life-partner gifted me a vintage adjustable dress form whom I promptly named Josephine. I have 2 sewing desks (one of which was built by my grampa), a foam mannequin, a lovely Rowenta iron, three sewing machines and a serger. Right now I live in a small two-room apartment (that I'm very certain used to be a single room) and I just have far too many things in general.

The sewing desk my grampa built. Unsure of when, but the original picture was taken at least after 1981.

A photo posted by Crystal Yoner (@totchipanda) on

But not sewing things. One cannot have too many sewing things when one's main hobby is sewing.

A friend of mine recently offered up her sewing machine free to a good home. She'd purchased it second-hand in 1976 and it's been well-loved and well-looked after, but she just didn't need it or use it anymore. It goes forwards and backwards, she said, and that's it. She later found a zipper foot attachment and also offered up a sewing box. I happened to see the post within minutes of her posting it, and quickly snatched both up, which I then picked up a few days later. I hadn't really noticed a lot of details from the picture she'd shared, just that it was an older Singer machine. I was really excited to pick it up, and even more excited once I actually had. I knew right away that she had a real treasure.

Meet Beatrice. She is a #singer #sewingmachine manufactured in 1956 <3

A photo posted by Crystal Yoner (@totchipanda) on

Once I got her home, I unfortunately had to run out the door again so it was several hours before I got to sit down and examine her. I intended to find something on the internet that would help me identify what kind of machine she was, but first I had to locate some key features! Some of the immediate features I noticed were the side-mounted bobbin winder (a feature I've never used! My machines have always had top-winders), separate plugs for the power cord and foot pedal, and a side-loading bobbin case. I didn't really notice the model number on a plate on the front. I googled some keywords and immediately found a helpful database of Singer serial numbers. It took a few minutes to find the serial number on the machine, but I finally found it imprinted on the bottom. It had a double-letter start, so into the appropriate database and...

Oh my.

Oh myyyyy. According to the database, my lovely new friend was manufactured in 1956. That makes her older than my dad, and almost as old as my mum as to make very little difference. I could hardly believe how lucky I was.

Beatrice is a Singer 301A in two-tone beige. She's not black and gold and she doesn't have any decals, and as near as I can tell she's as basic a machine as she ever came, and I am still so thrilled.

The next day I googled a manual, and I'm glad I did. It's been 10 years since I needed to loosen the flywheel in order to wind the bobbin, and I had completely forgotten that that was a thing. Bobbin winding was definitely a mystery. The bobbin is loaded slightly differently from my current machine, and I got the overview on the mechanics and things like where to oil it. Also of interest was some tips on embroidering fabric, special feet (like a bias tape applier!), and perhaps most interestingly, a somewhat offhand comment about using it on a cabinet table. A cabinet table like the one currently sitting in the corner of my living room.

I'm currently in the process of trying to downsize a few things so that I can rearrange my sewing desks, now that the one my grampa built has come back to me. Right now Beatrice and Janome both live on the kitchen on the table with the serger. I've been using Beatrice pretty much exclusively for my recently completed projects, both the 1840s dress and a 1910s corset, and I am so in love. She sews like she was made by angels. She's had a tiny bit of a learning curve, namely in winding the bobbin, of which I only have one, and discovering how the lever on the side controls the stitch length. The most interesting part is that the foot pedal is more of a box with a button, rather than a pedal. I usually sew barefoot, especially in summer (did I mention it's been really really hot?), so that's a bit strange-feeling using only one toe. Interestingly, on a day that wasn't as hot, I was wearing slippers, and the flexible sole made the button operate more like a pedal.

Welcome home, Beatrice. Welcome home.


Friends, I am very sad to say that my grampa passed away on July 23. I was very close to him, and I am very saddened by his passing. He was responsible for so much good in my life, and I am still in disbelief that he is gone. But gone he is, and with upcoming cons and trips, I won't have much time or energy for blogging. So I am going on a writing/sharing hiatus. I will still be reading, so I hope to see all of the lovely things you've been working on.