My January Sewing, in a single post

I had a big burst of sewing activity before Christmas and spent my time away for the holiday plotting a huge list of things I wanted to make as soon as I got back. But once I was home, my motivation took a nose dive. All told, I managed to finish a single sewing project in January–another pair of Winter PJs for my godson’s birthday.

Jonas PJs

(Adorable PJ photos courtesy of my friend, Nicole)

J is currently very into what he calls “jungle” print, and I got the idea to make these when I saw a camo “jungle” cotton spandex jersey pop up on Girl Charlee. I cut the cuffs and neckband from some leftover black Kaufman Laguna jersey. I made these in a straight size 6. For reference, my friend says J usually wears a size 5 or boys XS.

The only other significant sewing thing that happened in January was that I finally got myself a serger. I’ve been wanting and then talking myself out of getting a serger since I started sewing. I just didn’t feel like I did enough sewing or had enough room to justify a second machine. But the three pairs of Winter PJs I made for our nephews for Christmas (or, more specifically, the tediousness of finishing every seam in triplicate) finally convinced me it was time.


I went with the ever-popular Brother 1034D. I was a little hesitant to get this machine because I’ve had two lower-end mechanical Brother machines that were pretty crappy and difficult to use. But I’m really happy with this serger so far. It was really easy to get the tension adjusted and I was able to thread it right on the very first go. People have complained that this machine is loud. It’s definitely not quiet, but I don’t think it’s much louder than my regular machine is when I’m using my walking foot (which is most of the time).

I used my new serger to make J’s “jungle” PJs. I didn’t feel confident enough to just serge all of the seams, especially since they were a gift, so I sewed the seams on my regular machine first and then finished them on the serger. I’m feeling confident enough at this point to just use the serger for mostly straight seams but I’m going to need some serious practice before I feel good about serging curved seams. Anyway, I’m excited about my new machine. It’s fun to use.

I’ve got a new project in progress, so the sewing landscape for February is already looking brighter. Maybe I’ll actually finish two whole projects this month!

Some Home Sewing (and a New Machine!)

I decided it was time to be done with my old, crappy sewing machine and so I went ahead and bought a new one: a Janome DC 2013. There are lots of things that I like about my new machine. It has a speed control function that makes it easy to moderate how fast the machine sews. It has a nice wide workspace and an up/down needle function. The machine has some different stitch options that will be especially helpful for working with knits, and it came with a walking foot. And it’s so much quieter than my previous clunker. Janome has been releasing a new DC model every year for the past couple of year and the DC 2013 is basically the same as the DC 2012 and the newer DC 2014—they have the same features and most vendors even sell them for the same price. So I did the only rational thing and made my decision based on which color I preferred.

Janome DC 2013

Before this, I’d only ever sewn on a $100 cheapo mechanical machine so this new machine is a revelation. It turns out that having a good machine that makes a straight stitch and doesn’t continually experience impossible tension problems makes all the difference. Suddenly, everything seems possible, and I’m excited to sew. I’ve resumed work on my January sewing project and am hoping to get it done pretty soon. In the meantime, I knocked out a couple of quick home sewing projects on Saturday to let me get acquainted with my new machine.

First up was a table runner (which, of course, is just a glorified rectangle). Aidan and I picked out this vintage-ish looking quilting cotton print from JoAnn’s, and I basically cut two very long rectangles, sewed them right-sides together, turned it inside out and then top-stitched the edges. The up/down needle function on the machine was really helpful as I turned the corners on this. The final dimensions on this are about 15”x 68”. It turned out a little long and depending on how much it bothers me, I might go back and shorten it a bit. We’ll see.

After that, I made a cat bed. And by cat bed, I mean that I made a pillow case out of fleece fabric (also from JoAnn’s), put it on an old pillow we had lying around, and threw it on the floor for our cats. To make the cover, I basically followed the procedure outlined in this MADE Everyday video for making an envelope-style pillow case. I used a heavy-weight ballpoint needle for this, but otherwise treated the fabric like a woven.

Even though it’s super simple, this project would have been a major pain on my old machine. On previous projects, my old machine would fight me if it had to sew through more than 3 layers of quilting cotton, and I’d have to wrestle just to get thick fabrics under the presser foot. This machine has an extra high foot lift feature that made it easy to get started sewing. At times, I had to sew over 4 layers of fleece and my new machine wasn’t the least bit bothered by the thickness.

We had to sprinkle some cat nip on top of the cat bed before any of our cats were willing to give it the time of day, but I think it’s officially been given the cat seal of approval.

I have to say that Aidan was the impetus behind both of these projects—he’s the one in our house with an eye for decorating and he’s the one who suggested that I make both of these projects. And now that I have a machine that doesn’t suck and that makes me excited to sew, I can make all of Aidan’s design dreams come true. Onward with the sewing!