Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The "A-ha!" Moment

There is a certain point in costuming, where a half-baked design and hard work, coalesce and one gets a glimpse of what the final gown is going to look like. And it's good.

I finally hit that spot tonight. :)

It wasn't easy, and up until about 15 minutes ago, I was beginning to think I had made a mistake in using black velvet for this gown.

I had a long list of things I needed to do today, both for work and for home. More work than time, and a huge batch of things that need to be done.

I had a slow start tonight, as far as sewing. I should have worked on the hem to my overskirt yesterday, but I spent most of the day indisposed (stomach flu), and therefore only managed to dress my dressform last night.

After work today, we had tons of errands to run, and it was after 6 by the time we got home. I made dinner, and then puttered around until close to seven, when I decided that I had to quit procrastinating and get the hem and trim at least pinned.

I was procrastinating because I didn't really like what I was seeing. Just black, light-sucking velvet, as far as the eye could see. I knew in my mind what I wanted this to look like, and I was disappointed that it hadn't lived up to my vision. So, I forced myself to work on it tonight.

Did you know that the Connect Four game box is exactly two inches high? And that it makes a perfect level for pinning up hems? It took over an hour, but the hem was pinned. I took a bit of a break, then started working on pinning the trim into place. After a couple of false starts (the wire!!!! Argh!!!!), I finally finished pinning the trim into place. I placed the overskirt on Scary Lady Mary (the dressform), and stepped back.



I just can't believe how great it looks! The trim just makes this gown perfect. I know I have a long way to go before it's finished (trim sewn, hem finished, hook and eye, and pearls, plus braid), but I can finally see the end is in sight! I'll take pictures tomorrow, when the light is better.

And that's good, because I have an incredible amount of work still to do on other projects. :)

Just for the record...

I hate ribbon with wire edges!!!!

I hate it because in order to use it on my gown, I had to remove the wires.

For six yards of it in one shot.

Which sucks.

I finally wrapped one edge of the wire around the legs of my ironing board, and was able to make more progress.

It still sucks, but dang, the ribbon's beautiful!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Frustrating day.

Sewing-wise, that is.

I got all of the handsewing done on the bodice, with the exception of the shoulder treatments. I even got the hooks and eyes sewn. Then, I tried it on over the corset, bumbroll, and overskirt.

The corset doesn't smoosh my chest enough, or in the right place, and then the top two sets of hooks and eyes were too far from the edge of the bodice opening, leading to straining on the fabric. So, I had to rip those off and resew them. Not a huge deal.

The heartbreaker, though, was the overskirt. The damn front edges were too far apart. I had to rip out stiches, and resew the edges. That's still in progress. I am so sleepy right now that I have to call it a night, and pick up tomorrow. I am ticked off at myself for mistaking where the edges needed to be. I had plenty of space to make the pleats, and I had to really pack them tightly to make it work the first time. I just sucks to have to pick apart that work. 33 days, folks. 33 days.

Okay, the diet starts again tomorrow. Willpower, dear. Gotta have it so I can breathe in my gowns come September...

Yes, I should be sewing, but procrastination is FUN!

Simpsonize me!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Huge "Thank you!" to the Duke of Somerset

This needed its own post!

Marty did an incredible job on my son's dagger frog:

Great workmanship! My son's very happy with it. :)

(BTW, the dagger is peace-tied, and will remain so. I may be a little more permissive than some mothers on even allowing him to purchase a dagger, but I am a stickler for safety. He knows that if he draws it, unless it is at the request of our Queen, or other adult member of the court, he won't see it again for a very, very, very long time.)

What a great day!

We spent most of the day out at Festival Park, rehearsing. Around 4:30pm, we were joined by fellow cast members for a potluck at the Feasting Hall. Lots of great food, good friends, fun, a taste of the Forking Queen's homemade mead (most excellent), and dancing made for a great evening!

I laughed until my sides ached (although that could be from all of the walking and dancing we did today). Some of us ladies have decided that we want to visit a faire that we aren't working at, and do a wench invasion (dressed as wenches, no husbands/boyfriends allowed!). I so want to do this!

Anyway, back in the air-conditioning again, and I am freezing. Today was a good warm-up for September, as it was so hot and muggy until around mid-afternoon, when it cooled off a bit, and we started to get a really nice breeze. So I spent most of the day unbearably hot, and now I'm freezing.

Well, back to work on the sewing!

Friday, July 27, 2007

No, I don't do anything other than work or sew...

Sorry, but prepare for another sewing post:

Yesterday evening, I managed to get the gathering stiches sewn for my black velvet overskirt, and part of the waistband sewn. I would have worked more, but we had a bit of a thunderstorm, and the sewing machine was unplugged, as were the computers.

Tonight, I didn't get started sewing until after 7. I finished the waistband (broke a needle. Yikes!), and pulled up the pleating threads to the right size. I sewed the inner edges of the pleats to the waistband, but had to quit before sewing the tops to the waistband. I decided to take a break, and finish watching a movie, and work on the binding for the bodice.

We have a busy day tomorrow, but I hope to spend all of Sunday working on finishing this gown, and cutting out a couple of other projects. There is a lot to be done, but so far, things are going fairly quickly. The big thing is to get as much work done on the weekends as possible.

Four more rehearsals before opening day...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Relieved to be relieving the black velvet

...with some color! Pretty trim!!! Shiny!!!! (but not too shiny. Elegant shiny!)

This trim is sewn to the front sides of the overskirt opening, and once I have hemmed the skirts, will be sewn around the bottom of the skirt, about two or so inches from the bottom of the hem. I also used this trim down the front of the bodice, on either side of the opening.

This is the trim I found on clearance at Hobby Lobby, at nine yards for $6.57. And I'm going to end up using just about every bit of it. :D

I had forgotten how hard it is to sew on black (the light just vanishes, of course, making it hard to see what you are doing. Which means you have to be extremely careful to not make any mistakes with the machine.)

Okay, back to work! This is going to be gorgeous!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sleepy Sewing

(BTW, not really a good idea.)

It took me forever to get the gingham strips for the cartridge pleats sewn to the top edge of the skirt panels. Maybe because I first had to press the top edge under 5/8 in, the 2 inches, to cover up the raw edges. I also had to press in the facing on right and left edges. Just problem after problem when sewing the gingham to the turned under bit. Like sewing for over an entire yard without any bobbin thread...

So, too sleepy to sew any more tonight. I am going to sit back and read a bit, then get some sleep.


I am the biggest klutz lately. I have bruises all over my arms from unpacking and setting up the new Macs last week. I have a bruise on the inside of my right forearm, that has a lump in it, and is very painful. Don't remember how I got that one. I have bruises on my legs from running into things because i'm thinking of something else other than walking. And I just rammed my hand into the door when I was taking the laundry down to the laundry room, and now have a very purple kuckle at the base of my index finger.

And there is the ever popular swearing that occurs as I jab myself with a needle or pin while sewing.

I think I am reverting to my gawky pre-teen days...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sunday Accomplishments

I have only hand sewing left on the black velvet bodice!!!! Just need to slip-stitch the binding to the lining, add hooks and eyes, and sew the shoulder straps into place. After that, I'll be adding pearls to the trim on the front edges, and pearls to each of the tabs at the waist and shoulder.

After dinner, I am going to cut out the skirt panels and lining. Three rectangles of each, sew up the seams at the selveges, and attatch the lining at the top edge. Then, find my gingham strips for cartridge pleating, and sew that to the top edge also. That may be as far as I get tonight. I don't like to stop sewing the pleating threads once I've started, so I may save that for tomorrow.

I have exactly three days to finish this gown, before needing to move onto the next project. Six weeks, from yesterday, until opening day.

I finished the book about 25 minutes ago.

All I can say is, "Wow."


Note: The last book, I was able to read straight through in one sitting. I stayed up all night, and finished around 10:00 am (that was with reading three chapters aloud to my son and his two friends). This one, I knew I wanted to read slowly, and have time to process. I knew it would be traumatic, no matter what happened. I am glad I took my time. It was worth it.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I lasted until 5:08 am

So far, great book. I woke up at around 8 am, but then decided there was no way to get through the day on 3 hours of sleep, so turned off the alarm and didn't even turn over until a bit after noon. My son woke me up by coming into my room to get the book. Last time, I read through the entire book in one go, but I just couldn't stay awake long enough this time. It's significantly longer, for one thing, and I want to savor the whole book, not race through it.

I read the first six chapters aloud after we got home, while my son sat in his bean bag chair listening. Now we'll leap-frog through the book. I read for awhile after he fell asleep, and now he'll read as much as he can while I do the household chores, and get more sewing done. Later this afternoon, I'll grab the book for a bit, and so on,until we are done.

Here are the rules we made:

1. No talking about chapters of the book that the other has not read.
2. If you tear up while reading, do NOT say why!
3. Spoilers are NOT ALLOWED!
4. No TV today. DVDs are okay. (unless the weather gets nasty)
5. Likewise, no internet other than checking email, and this blog post.

And with that, I'll get back to work.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Dear Diary,

I feel really fat today. I have felt really fat for a couple of weeks now, but today, for some reason, it just is no longer acceptable.

I am starting my diet again tomorrow. I am supposed to be on this diet for medical reasons. Low Fat. Low Sodium. Period. I have to find someway to deal with it other than denial.

I was doing fine on my diet until about the second weekend of June. Since that time, I have gained more than five pounds, and it has to go.

I am putting myself on notice. I am emptying the refrigerator of all things bad for me, and i am going to exercise, and start walking for 30 minutes every night.

You must help keep me on track, because if you don't, I will never fit into my court gowns by September 1.

the geek girl

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Black Gown Progress Update!

Last night, believe it or not, I was able to get the pieces of velvet for the bodice cut out. I was certain I would not be able to get anything done, as I felt like utter crap after work yesterday.

Amazing what a two hour nap can do...

After a bath, then dinner yesterday, I went to my room to rest, and read a bit. I woke up two hours later, when my son came into my room to ask if I was okay. I answered honestly that I could probably have slept through the night if he hadn't asked me that. ;)

Anyway, tonight after work, I felt much better, despite a serious amount of unpacking machines and equipment. Still, I didn't start working on my gown until after 7 pm.

I flatlined the velvet with black quilters cotton, to give it more body, then sewed the velvet pieces together. I sewed the cotton drill lining together, then marked off and sewed the boning channels (six total. this is why I love my corset. I don't have to put a ton of bones in the bodice!). I also cut the trim for the bodice to length. I am going to baste the trim to the bodice, then sew the edges when I add the bias binding. I'll hand sew the sides of the trim to the bodice after it is finished.

Basically, if everything goes well tomorrow night, I can start cutting out the round tabs for the waist and shoulder treatments. I am going to sew pearls in the shape of flowers to the center of each round tab, with a red glass bead in the center, or else a larger pearl in the center. I'll have to see what works best.

By the weekend, my goal is to be working on the skirt. I am making a four-panel skirt, which means, with the fabric at a width of 45 inches, the skirt width at the hem will be close to 15 feet. I am using the same trim on the front edges of the overskirt, and close to the hem. I lucked out and found some amazing trim at Hobby Lobby on clearance: 9 yards for $6.39. It was normally $3.27/yard! I had been drooling over it for over a year, but couldn't justify spending the original price. I bought another roll of a similar trim at the same time. 3 yards for $3.57, normally also $3.27. No idea why they weren't priced the same per yard on clearance.

Eek! I didn't mean to spend so long on this post! I just meant to post an update so that I would feel better about the progress that I have made. Six weeks, folks, to finish the black gown, and another complete set of noble garb for my son. If there is time, I am going to start another gown for myself, with the goal of being able to wear it by the end of the season (Romance weekend! Two weddings scheduled already on the same day! Means no break for the royal court...).

Very busy, but very fun!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


The new MacPros did come in on time. Over the lunch hour, in fact.

I ache all over.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Beginning the Black Velvet Gown

Okay, just in case you were befuddled by that last post: I do work in IT, you know. I run computer labs for a living. I like it a lot, and am never bored. Summers are great, because I get a chance to play with new toys. ;)

On to the real reason I even opened this browser!

I was able to get the flat lining, and the cotton drill lining cut out for my black velvet bodice. I am still working on the trim concept for this dress, but I really want to have black guimpe, and gold or ivory ribbon trim, with ecru glass pearls in clusters. I want to keep the colors of the gown simple, so that I can wear different sets of sleeves and foreparts with it.

Tomorrow night, if I can move, I will finally get to cut into that gorgeous black velvet that I bought with my Christmas gift card. I am so excited to get started on this dress! I have had the idea and sketches for so long... I did make one modification to my original plan. I was going to make a doublet bodice, but decided that it would be too hot. I am going to make a low-necked bodice instead. It will be quicker.

Okay, back to my sketch pad, because I have an idea for the trim... if I can stay awake long enough, that is...

A post a day.

Novel concept, huh?

Anyway, I spent a good bit of today feeling really sleepy, along with a slightly upset stomach and headache. I muddled through everything as best I could, trying to get ready for tomorrow.

You see, tomorrow my 20 new MacPro's, for the lab, should be delivered. I spent a good hour cleaning off the Radmind volume, making space for the monster of an image I have for the lab machines. Over 30GB, to be more specific. The volume has only 100GB allocated to it, and 42GB of data, even after cleaning up unused overloads. I am a little concerned, since I have to keep the old images around for a bit, while I setup the new machines. I should be able to make it work.

So, tomorrow I will be, hopefully, hauling the old machines around, cleaning, and getting ready to unbox the new stuff.

Ahhh... the lovely smell of fresh plastic, and aluminum... Seriously, Apple computers and equipment smell really good when you open the box.

Best part of my job, right there!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Corset = Done!!!

And it fits! In fact, it actually fits a little too well in the chest area. I could lace it completely closed in the chest, when it really needed to have a gap to allow better lacing during weight fluctuations. It's really comfortable! I think I am going to wear it around the house in the evenings, to get used to it, and to help keep the appetite down a bit.

The bad news is that the green bodice that I was going to base my pattern on does not fit with this corset. The bust area is too small, but the waist is fine. The length and the shoulders are perfect, though, and that is usually the hardest area to fit. I'll just go up one size in the bust. It does mean, however, that I will have to redraft the damn pattern for the fifth time, and make yet another mockup. Getting a bit sick of that part.

Well, I have to go do a bit more shopping. I need flatlining fabric for the skirts of both gowns. I also need more cotton drill. I am trying to figure out how best to use my 40% off coupons. I can use only one per visit, and I would really like to be able to save as much as possible. I'd better check on the sales, too. I hate paying full price for anything.

I did manage to find the sewing machine foot I needed for sewing velvet. I found a walking foot at Hancock Fabrics yesterday. $30! Considering I spent only $62 on the machine, that was a bit much. But, I had priced them online, and it was comperable. No discounts on sewing machine accessories allowed.

Anyway, too much to do, not enough time. I've got to get going. On to the fun sewing stuff!!!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

How many more weeks?

Seven weeks from today.

The faire opens seven weeks from today.

Rehearsal went well today. We met out at Festival Park, and practiced our shows, promenading, and blocked out our arrangements for the Royal Box, and the photo lineup.

The park looks beautiful! The flowers and trees have been planted, and have taken hold. Grass is growing up amidst the wood-chips. I hope they just mow it off, and don't kill it or bury it in more wood-chips. The park looks so much better with green!

It's been a long day. I have just seven more eyelets to sew, and the hooks and eyes to attach, and my new corset will be finished. I should be done well before noon tomorrow. Then, I can make adjustments to the bodice pattern, and start making a mock-up for the black gown. Once I know it will fit, I can cut out the new red gown, too, and work on them both at the same time. The skirts are easy, especially now that I have a dress form to help with the hems. I just have an amazing amount of work to do in the next seven weeks.

But hey, I made my last noble gown in four weeks, and I hadn't used the pattern before. All of the prep work is done as far as patterns, so it should go really quickly once the pieces are cut out. So many layers to everything...

I'm just not going to have a life for the next 11 or so weeks...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

It takes talent...

The two smallest toes on my left foot made contact with the chair leg as I was carrying my glass of diet pepsi (caffeine-free!), and a Hershey bar (hey, chocolate is good for you!), to my room (to check email!).

I didn't spill a drop. Nor did I fall. Nor do anything other than swear really loud.

The pain was enormous. I limped into my room to check out the damage. My littlest toe does not feel right, and it has a purple bruise at the tip, and a break halfway down the toenail. It's making my foot ache.

That ought to feel good tomorrow evening when standing in line to get seated at the Harry Potter movie.

I spent way less time sewing tonight than I should have. I wish I could smuggle my sewing into the line, since there won't be anything else to do. I can talk and sew a the same time. I just feel like it is a waste to talk and be in line without getting any work done.

I am about 50% finished with the binding on the right side of the corset (it's in halves). I have 9 eyelets to sew on each side of the back opening. It will take me at least 7 minutes to sew each eyelet, maybe less once I get used to it again. And a minimum of 7 sets of hooks and eyes up the front (should take less than an hour). In all, I have a seriously large amount of hand sewing that i wish to complete by Friday. I am anxious to start my next gown (the black velvet).

Anyway, long day tomorrow. time to get to sleep.

In 21 hours...

we'll be sitting in a theatre, watching dumb ads and First Look, waiting for Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix to begin.

My son's a little excited. He wanted to go to the midnight opening tonight, but since I have to work tomorrow, he got vetoed. Just too tired today to stay up that late during the work week. In any case, by the time we got to the theatre to buy our tickets for tomorrow, all three midnight shows were sold out.

Personally, I will enjoy the movie, but I am more excited about the fact that the seventh book is 11 short days away. And yes, we have our copy reserved, and are going to a party that night at the book store. Photos will be taken, and we will be staying up very late, following a tradition that we started when the fifth book was released. When we get home, I'll read the first couple of chapters aloud until either my son falls asleep, or my voice gives out.

So, while I am glad to get to see the movie tomorrow, the real anticipation is for the book. And if you haven't read the books, and have only seen the movies, you are missing something extraordinary.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Progress Update - July 8

After spending all of yesterday having fun with my family, I did not get any work done on my new corset at all. I had too much fun!!! :)

So, today, I had to get back to work in earnest. The faire starts in eight weeks, and I have way too much work to do. I feel I have accomplished a lot so far today, but I still feel like I am barely inching forward. I can't start any new gowns until I know that this corset fits, and can try on the green brocade bodice to see if that fits well with the corset (this is the pattern that I altered to fit better than the bodice to the older red court gown, which was too long, and too wide in the shoulders).

I just finished cutting all 30 of the plastic bones for the corset. I now have to trim and sand these plastic pieces (3/8in. plastic cable ties, cheap at Lowe's), then put them into the correct channels (I numbered everything). Once that is finished, I have to add the binding to the edges of the corset, then I can start hand sewing the eyelets on the back. This corset will lace up the back, while the front will use hooks, so I can get in and out of it easily. The back lacing will stay laced, unless it needs to be adjusted for weight. I fully expect to lose a little weight over the next couple of months, due to the walking I am going to need to do to get in shape for the faire. A corset is very time consuming to make, and I would prefer to be able to wear this one a long time.

Well, break time is nearly over. I am going to sit for a bit and read before starting the sanding. It's going to take more than an hour to sand the edges.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007


I hate it when I do that.

I had my alarm set for 8:00. I hit snooze a few times, but I was using my travel alarm, where snooze means 4 minutes, not 9. So I finally turned it off.

And I woke up at around 9:30. I have a bunch of stuff planned for the day, and getting a late start means something's going to be skipped.

Anyway, here's the big 4th of July plans for the day:

1. Clean the house. Work through part of the master list.
2. Eat lunch at Fazoli's (my son's idea).
3. Go to a movie with my son (Rattatoue, is what we finally decided on. Three movies in the theatre we want to see, but we can wait for the others on DVD).
4. Grill something for dinner.
5. Work on corset in between all of this until...
6. Go see the Fireworks tonight, if it isn't raining by then.

So, simple plans, yes. But fun. I wasn't up to trying to drag everything out to Ledges, fight the crowds, struggle with the fire (although I would have no problems with this now, come to think...), and then get overheated, dirty, and gross. A picnic would be nice, but since it would probably be only us, it wouldn't be much fun. Too late now.

Anyway, have a great, safe, Independence Day!

Monday, July 02, 2007

I'm pretty sure ice cream isn't on my diet...

but I ate it anyway tonight.

The meeting room was overly warm, and the thought of ice cream was too strong to resist.

I am working on redrafting my corset pattern, so that I can have something that fits properly, does not ride up, and supports "the girls," enough so that I can maybe actually fill the bodice appropriately this year (okay, I know, TMI!).

My new machine sews like a dream on regular stitches. The decorative stuff is probably going to take awhile to master. It's fast and quiet, and the opportunities to tweak the performance are very interesting to my hacker-side (and by hacker, I don't mean the script kiddies, black hats, and crackers. I mean hardware hacking, resource editing, digging in just to see how things work, and if it can be made to work better. Stuff I used to do with computers back in the day.)

So, yes, I have plenty of activities and projects to fill my free time. Here is the list of what needs to be done before September 1st. This is an ambitious list for two months, but I have the main pattern work finished, and things just need to be cut out, sewn, fitted, and decorated. My son's 2nd doublet will come last, as I need to have the main part of his growing out of the way before starting (pattern alterations may be needed). Anyway, here goes:

My son:

1. velvet doublet
2. 2nd shirt (4 hours work)
3. velvet and damask slops (knee-length "pumpkin" pants) to match velvet doublet
4. 2 hats with "cool feathers" (his words)
a. italian hat in black velvet (2 hours, max)
b. flat cap in red damask (2 hours, max)
5. Order tights. 10 minutes online!

Me (where do I even begin?)

#1 goal = new corset. Can't make anything else until it is done (for measuring purposes).

Gown 1:

• deep red damask skirt
• wine colored silk velvet, low-necked bodice (trimmed with the same damask), with rounded tabs on shoulder and waist, with pearl and gold trim.
• paned sleeves in wine velvet with red damask, and pearl and gold trim.
• forepart in wine velvet, with a 6 inch guard at the bottom in the red damask, to protect the velvet. Not sure on the decoration this will have. This decoration will be repeated for the skirt guard.
• This gown will have detachable sleeves, so I can use sleeve and forepart sets from other gowns to create new looks.

Gown 2:

• black, cotton velvet skirt
• matching doublet style bodice, with silver buttons, and two rows of rounded tabs on the shoulder and at the waist.
• second bodice in same fabric, with low neckline, same shoulder and waist treatment, and gold tissue trim and pearl clusters
• silver and blue brocade sleeves and forepart. Not sure on the sleeve style yet, but am thinking of using diamond panes. Again, detachable.

Sleeve/forepart set 3 (can be used with all three gowns):

• gold/tan damask, spiral paned sleeves, with pearl trim and joints.
• forepart decorations will have pearls accenting the designs in the fabric.

• 2nd high-necked smock
• 2nd tall hat in black velvet (slightly different decorations and feathers) - not critical, but a fun rainy day project.
• new round pouch
• rework locket jewelry
• redo underskirt hem (just needs second row of machine stitching, as it is not going to be seen)
• strengthen farthingale steel connections
• if time, lace ruffs for wrists and neck, to be worn with the black doublet gown (which, btw, is for cooler weather). I doubt I will get this far.

All of the materials have been bought, with the exception of the 10 yards of white muslin I will need for the shirt and smock, and trims. Luckily, my JoAnn fabrics coupons finally arrived via email.

Okay, time to go back to work on the corset alterations...

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Normally, I am not an impluse buyer.

(and I am about to tell one of my long, drawn out stories. Sorry.)

Anyone who has gone shopping with me knows this, and is often frustrated by it. Shopping for fun? I am perfectly willing to walk out of most stores without buying anything. My mom will point out something in a store, and I'll look, and then put it back. I'll think about buying it, but most of the time, unless I absolutely love it, and have been waiting to buy it for awhile, I'll pass on buying.

Last night, after dinner, I needed to go to JoAnn Fabrics to buy a couple of yards of cotton drill for a corset and bodice lining, and 10 yards of white muslin, for another shirt for my son, and a second smock for myself. I was also going to look at trim for the red velvet and damask gown I am working on next.

I walked out with the drill, but left everything else behind. I also walked out with something else that I hadn't planned on buying...

Here's a little backstory.

Last summer, I nearly killed my old sewing machine. I nursed it back to health, and was able to get it running again, but it still skips bobbin stitches from time to time, and has been sounding worse and worse, despite oiling and loving care, over the last couple of months. It's a Brother VX-1120, and it is nearly nine years old. I have tons of presser feet for it, thanks to my mom's sharp eye at a garage sale quite a few years ago. I love this machine, but it can only do straight and zig-zag stiches, and is really meant to be a beginner's machine. And I can't afford to have it break down on me.

So, I have been hitting Goodwill and the Salvation Army stores for a second-hand machine for the last year, finding nothing but overpriced crap at the Salvation Army Store ($25 for a broken, 20 year old sewing machine???), and only one, flimsy machine at Goodwill (which usually sells them for about $15, sometimes with a sewing cabinet). So, nothing suitable. I couldn't see spending $25 on a machine, only to have to take it in for repairs which could end up tripling the price.

Now, about six weeks ago, as I was in the ER waiting, I leafed through my JoAnn Fabrics flyer. They were having a half price sale on selected sewing machines. I was somewhat excited, except for the fact that I was in an ER, which meant medical bills. I was bummed, because they had some decent machines on sale.

So, I forgot about it.

Until last night.

When I walked by an aisle cap, and saw a few machines, and actually stopped to read the prices (I had walked past this aisle no less than four times in the past couple of weeks). I agonized over the three machines they had out. One was clearly out of my range at $175, and was mainly for quilting. One was cheap at $63.97. One was in the middle at $87.95. I had the cheap and the middle one in my cart at alternate times, and then I walked past another stack of machines that were on sale for $68, and $101.

As I was pondering which one would be best for me, one of the ladies who works there told me that most of the machines had just had the prices lowered again, but hadn't been tagged yet! So, she helped me by checking the prices again, and then steered me away from one that her brother had purchased, and that had not worked well with heavy fabrics. I ended up getting the middle priced one that I had wanted, a White 2380.

Original price, according to Amazon, was $299!!!! This was on sale on the JoAnn Fabrics site for $130. I got it for $62, after my $5 off coupon!!!

So, last night, I read through the very complicated manual, and familiarized myself with the different controls and adjustment areas. This is not a beginner machine, and offers a great deal of control in terms of adjusting tension on both upper and lower threads (the lower tension on my old machine has to be adjusted by a repair person). It has a variable pressure foot, which should help tremendously when I am trying to get through seven layers of fabric and encounter a bulky seam line. It also has an automatic button hole maker, with a special foot that holds the button so that it makes the button hole the right size. Not that I make button holes for anything now (mostly because I hate making button holes, because I always screw up, and can't stand the thought of ruining garb at the button hole stage).

The fact that this machine offers so many points of adjustment is a little intimidating. I could see where it could be very easy to mess up, and end up with crap stitches. I am anxious to try it out now that I finished reading the manual. I think a little "blackwork embroidery" on the edge of my handkerchief might be a good test of how the different stiches work.

I'm off to play with my new toy. We'll see if this impulse buy ended up being a good choice...