Review of my Husqvana Viking Opal 670

SO: as I have had my sewing machine for a few months now, and made about 4 things using it, I thought I would do a little mini-review. I thought this might be helpful as there weren’t a ton of reviews for it while I was shopping.

I do have to say that this isn’t the cheapest machine on the market, but nor is it the most expensive. I have a reasonably well-paying job so I decided to treat myself to what I really wanted, rather than getting something cheaper/with fewer features and upgrading again later. My old machine was a Brother XL 2230 It only had 11 stitches, and no option to change length/width. It was a great starter for me, because I wasn’t sure how much sewing I would do and to be honest, it was ok. It had issues with nesting however and the tension was a little off.

My machine is a Husqvarna Viking Opal 670. I chose it for a number of reasons: I wanted a machine I could “grow into”; one that would last the distance; a thread cutter; good buttonholes; tons of stitches and needle positions; a overlocking stitch; and ability to wind bobbin from the needle.

I tested out a few machines that fulfilled what I wanted and got the Opal because it was the best combo of price/features. I tried a Bernina, and a Janome neither “felt” right. I knew I didn’t want a Brother, as that’s what my old machine was and I wasn’t super keen on it. Plaffs were too hard to find in my area & I wanted to buy local.

So on to the actual machine.
What I love about it:
It does everything I want, the stitches are smooth and even, and it runs a lot quieter than my old machine.
It is very intuitive to use.
I love the touch screen + sewing advisor.
The thread cutter is THE BOMB.
I also love the “fix” setting, which means no more backstitching, yey.
You can save a ton of stitches to the favourites for later.
So.Many.Needle.Positions!
Makes sewing less stressful as it never eats fabric or destroys stuff like my old machine.
I love all the stitches and options!
Needle up/down stop.
The start/stop button can be handy.
Came with a hard case. So much better than the soft ones!
Comes with an assortment of feet (although I have already gotten more!)

What it could do better:
It is not amazing at going over tons of layers of fabric. It is a picky threader – I had a problem with nesting because when I threaded it didn’t go though the tension disks correctly, so you really need to pay attention and have the presserfoot + needle up when threading.
Sometimes I get the overload warning and it freezes for no reason.
Feet can be REALLY expensive. My ruffle/pleat foot was $90!

Overall, sewing now is so different! I used to get stressed out because my machine would nest without reason and the tension was always off, no matter what I did. Now (as long as I am careful with threading!) I never have to worry. It sews pretty close to perfectly all the time. Plus the store I got it at is a short drive from home and if I have any issues they are always willing to help me over the phone or have my bring my machine in. Although the only issue so far was caused by me not threading carefully!

So that’s my machine. Feel free to ask any questions!

Reverting to form

So after my last post, which was about trying a new thing (even if in the same old, same old floral cotton fabric) today I bring you a “new” make that is pretty much the same as most of my other ones. Why mess with a good thing right?

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This is Vogue 8615 a “very easy” number with cup sizes A-D. I myself like the cup size options because I’m lazy a rock star who likes to take the risk of skipping the old FBA. This pattern also seems to think it’s vintage: french darts, circle skirt, purchased petticoat. Still, vintage-ey floral dresses with giant skirts are kind of my jam. Plus this one has sleeves so I was pretty much always going to go for it. Having made it I am a massive fan. The french darts are very cool and interesting and I think the boat neckline with dipped back is demure but not boring or frumpy. I would 100% make it again and in fact am considering making one for work – perhaps with a less full skirt and minus the dipped back. next time I would also shorten the darts, I think they are too long (and also not exactly even, whoops).

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Modifications: I shortened the sleeves to just above elbow length and took about 2 inches out of the front and back neckline, tapering to just above my bust on the front and about 3.5 inches down on the back. Luckily the centre front seam meant I could avoid adding darts. Sewing has convinced me that I must have a small frame, but a healthy appetite which warps my figure into a mutant petite-yet full look. On the bright side, this being my first Vogue pattern I now know to take out a bunch from the neckline of all Big 4s. I sewed a 14 with the D cup, but it is a little loose – my fabric has a 2-way stretch to it (but not great recovery), so I think that’s probably why.

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Originally I skipped the lining – not having anything with stretch to hand and wore it to a party. My deep love of the dress convinced me it needed, nay deserved, a lining, so I unpicked the hand stitching on the bias binding I had used originally around the neckline and stitched in my lining, before re-hand stitching the bias binding to the lining – I didn’t want to undo my machine stitching as I knew it would leave holes and I also thought that given I was using a light china silk for the lining it could use the structure of some binding. I then stitched the binding to the armholes of the lining and hand stitched that to the seam allowance of the fashion fabric. I didn’t have enough lining to do a full circle skirt so I made a gathered one instead. I also re-did the hem after wearing it – I didn’t like the look of the machine stitching and an order I made at fabric.com including some horsehair braid had arrived so I decided to test that out and hand stitch the hem. The braid doesn’t make a huge difference, probably in part due to its width, I think the wider the braid the more dramatic the effect. That said, I think it does make the skirt stand out a bit more which I think provides a nice middle ground between a petticoat (giant skirt) and nothing (sad flat skirt). I am, however wearing a petticoat in all but this last pic for maximum huge skirt action.

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While this dress is very similar to my Betty-style floral frock I think I easily have room for both. Who says I don’t need dozens of floral dresses with big skirts? Certainly not me!

On trying new shapes

One of the things that struck me about the Wardrobe Architect series of posts on Coletterie was the post on silhouettes. Looking through the number that Sarai listed (10) I was struck by the fact that I have one – fit and flare. Occasionally I mix it up with jeans (on weekends or while traveling) or shorts (music festivals, hot summer weekends) but day in, day out I wear fit n flare. Some dresses are more flared, and I do have two pencil skirts but I thought branching out into a new shape would be interesting.

And so I give you a sheath dress, which I picked because Joan from Mad Men lives in them, and if it’s good enough for Joanie it’s good enough for me! This is Butterick 5952, described as “Lined dress has fitted bodice, waistband, semi-fitted skirt and back zipper”. The pattern also comes with a coat and belt, neither of which I have used, but I do plan on doing a dress and coat combo at some point.

Me made May day 6: cotton sateen sheath #mmmay14 #butterick #sewing #floral
I wore it to work on May 6 as part of MMMay 2014.

I cut a 16 (hello big hips and butt) everywhere except the neck/arms where I cut a 12. I added about an inch to either side from hips down. These were mistakes! For this, I honestly should have made a muslin, as I ended up making a million changes to get it to fit, and while I am happy with the fit now, I don’t think it fits quite how it should. But then neither does the version on the envelope.

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Before my many alterations, 12 in neck and arms, 16 in torso/wait and 16+ 2 inches hips down

So on to the alterations:
The neckline gaped terribly front and back. I added 2 darts to both the front and back to take out the excess.
It was loose through the torso and waist, making me look both like I have no waist and generally wider than I am. I took out about 4 inches in the waist, which tapered out just under my bust and at the hip.
I lengthened the darts in the skirt back and made them much deeper as the fabric bagged badly (maybe I do have a sway back?)
I re-cut the armholes at the back as they stuck out into my arms.
At the armhole front I made a small dart to take out the excess.

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The armholes are still not 100%

I used a floral cotton sateen with 5% spandex for a bit of stretch. unfortunately I cut with the stretch running up/down instead of across. This probably contributed to the fitting issues and does make it sit a little strangely sometimes.

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Despite the problems and the different shape, I really love this dress. On a windy day it’s so nice to not have to worry about your skirt flying up! Plus I think the floral print, which I adore, is less in your face in a more streamlined design. Next I would like to make one in a nice wool for work, lined in silk (I skipped the lining this time round). Next time I plan on doing a muslin, although I think a size 8 in the neckline, 10 in the armholes, 14 in the waist and 16 waist down will probably work well, based on the alterations I made. But I plan on making sure!

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Outtake!

Until next time!

Me Made May 2014

I, Bec of Bows&Bunnies, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear handmade items every second day for the duration of May 2014. I futher endeavour to complete my “UFO” pile during this time.

Gosh I am the WORST. Not only am I doing my MMMay14 post on the 5th of May but I also failed completely to wear me-made on the first. I blame excitement over my new asos cardigan arriving (unlike many other lovely sewers I Do Not Knit).

One of my problems with wearing clothes I made all the time is my obsession with floral party dresses. Also, novelty prints. These are not really the kind of thing I wear to work, although I do like to do “Fun Dress Friday” where instead of dressing down like everyone else I dress up.

The other issue is that, while I have a fair number of clothes that I’ve made, to go all of May wearing them would lead to a LOT of repeating. I probably have most of my “work” dresses on a two week rotation but to go all of May it would need to be almost weekly. I have already finished my first May project and hopefully will finish something else this week which should help.

**To avoid a million MMMay’14 posts, I shall be updating this post with new pictures as I take them. Follow me on instagram or twitter (both LadyxBec) for up-to-the-minute outfits and rambling.

Until next time
(when I swear I will blog some of the many projects I have waiting)

Whenever I feel the need to exercise, I lie down until it goes away: Sew Dolly Clackett

At last I have finished my sew Dolly Clackett dress! For those of you playing at home, Sew Dolly Clackett is a sewing competition to celebrate the marriage of Dolly Clackett herself, Roisin. As a hardcore stalker fan of Roisin I was super pumped for this challenge. An excuse to blatantly rip-off some sweet sewing action? I was so in!

This make was freakin’ full of challenges. Not going to lie, at one point I wanted to throw my machine and half-made dress out the window. Then I had a gin & tonic and felt better about the world. After several more I felt even better, but in no state to be sewing! (don’t worry dear readers, I didn’t go on a drunken sewing rampage!).

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This is Simplicity 2444 a tried and true pattern that somehow refused to come together properly. Oh well, in the end I got there. I used this sweet measuring tape quilting from spotlight, which has enough body to make a pleasingly big skirt.

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Awkward pose is akward.

In true Dolly Clackett style paired it with fancy shoes – in this case some silver glitter pumps. Because who doesn’t love silver glitter shoes. unfortunately I have no idea what brand they are, but I got them from Nordstrom. My hair bow is Alannah Hill.

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Pattern matching FTW. Why yes, I do feel pretty pleased with myself :)

Despite the hassle when sewing i really love this dress. It’s fun and flattering with a touch of Meta. As I said in my last post, it was inspired by Roisin’s Meta dress, which in my stalking of her makes I have always admired.

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Congratulations Roisin and Nic, I hope you have many happy years together!

Until next time!
Xx

PS I even went with a Dolly Clackett-style title for this post, in case you were thinking WTF is with the title man.

Challenging Sewing

After several years of watching other bloggers participate in sewing competitions and challenges and a year of sewing regularly but still not participating, I made it one of my goals of 2014 to participate in a few challenges. If nothing else, I figured it would help up my sewing productivity.

My last post talked about the Mad Men 3 challenges (go look at the pretty dresses!). So now lets check out what’s next: Sew Dolly Clackett!

I am super pumped for this, because I pretty much stalk Roisin’s blog. In a way that I feel is a little bit creepy. But COME ON. Someone that totally indulges their cray cray fabric habit! Yes! It’s like all of the insane (in the best possible way) dresses I want to make in one place. Plus, let’s be real: I have pretty much ripped of her dresses before and now I have total permission to do so. Yes!

So I am making Simplicity 2444 (aka the pattern I make all the time) in this:

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It’s kind of inspired by the meta dress. Because who doesn’t love some meta action? My fabric is a little different and I’m using a different pattern, but I think you can work out where I got the idea from… The comp ends on 23 April, so I really need to get my sewing on. I actually had planned to finish the dress this weekend, but for some unknown reason when I tried on the bodice it was hella too tight. So then I tried on the last dress I made from S2444 and it fit fine. So I don’t know if that was super-bad cutting or what. In the end I just cut the back bodice again (luckily I had some extra fabric!) and slightly bigger – I spent a really. long. time. making sure the pleats would align with the darts on the front so I wasn’t keen to play with that. If the skirt back ends up being too short my current plan is to just make the pleats smaller of something. Cos that’s how I roll. #lazysewing4life

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Moving on, I also decided to do sew for victory. I’m using Butterick 5846 which a bit like Vogue 8615 is a modern pattern that seems convinced it’s vintage. Seriously, ignore the fugly styling and look at those lines. To me it’s very 1940s.

My fabric is a navy floral, pictured below. I was in Spotlight for AGES looking for the right fabric – I wanted something navy-based with a small-scale floral. The flowers on this are a little larger than my preference but it’s pretty close to what I had pictured.

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In closing shout out to my awesome friend T, who with some assistance from yours truly completed her first dress on the weekend. Welcome to sewing T!

Until next time!

Mad Style A Betty inspired Floral Frock

So I was kind of inspired by Betty, in the sense that I wanted something “Betty-like”, but not in the sense that I had something specific in mind. Mainly because I left it too late to get an appropriate fabric.

Me made May: the 9th in a floral Butterick frock #mmmay14 #butterick #sewing #floral

I did however have general inspiration: I wanted a super girlie pink floral frock, along the lines of the “Betty Barbie” dress, but with different colours and minus the sash:

As previously discussed, this is Butterick 5748 using some of the floral cotton twill I purchased at Mood during my holiday in the US. I didn’t actually have enough fabric, according to the pattern envelope but as usual the good folk at Butterick vastly overestimated the yardage required. I trimmed the skirt length a little, as I knew it would be far too long to further conserve fabric.

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The only other changes I made were moving the zip to the back – since there’s a seam there anyways and I hate underarm zips. Surely it’s not just me that struggles with them? This floral is not directional, so I cut the bodice front on sideways stretch and a size down, and the back on no stretch. Somehow the bodice ended up loose at the top of the back, so I shaved out the excess. To get rid of the gape at the top of the front of the bodice I inserted a little pleat. I also took the shoulder seams up by about an inch and re-shaped the dipped back bodice to be a little more flattering on me.

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Instead of using a lining, I finished the neck, armholes and waistseam with bias binding and the side and skirt seams with seambinding for a clean finish. I hung the skirt for about 4 days on and off to settle the bias before I hemmed. I used the machine to hem as I was running out of time, and to be honest, a bit sick of hand sewing! Because the hem is so long I ran out of pins and had to start using hair clips.

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All in all I am very happy. I don’t really know how much wear I’m going to get out of this frock – it’s so very pink! But it is pretty cute and I’m proud of myself for not cutting corners during the making. Plus the whole thing is machine washable! Score!

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Until next time!

PS apologies for the not-so-great pictures. By the time I’d finished hemming it was dark outside and the lighting in my house is not amazing.

Mad Men Madness

So recently Julia Bobbin launched her Mad Men 3 challenge. I intended to make something for the first two and thengot lazy ran out of time. This time, however I was determined! Until I went on a three-week jaunt though America and realised I had all of 14 days to get it together and sew something. Luckily, while I was in New York I hit up Mood Fabrics after spending literally years drooling over their website. I did quite a lot of damage to the old credit card in Mood (then more when I had to ship my purchases home due to lack of suitcase space!). In fact, I got so much fabric at mood that I decided to skip other fabric stores. A decision that I hopefully won’t regret!

Although I didn’t think to search for Mad Men specific fabrics while in Mood, I did pick up one that immediately struck me as ideal for my planned flock – this pretty pink floral cotton twill.

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(fabric image from Mood)

Isn’t it pretty? originally, I had planned to make it up in By Hand London’s new pattern Flora, despite the fact that I don’t actually own it and the Mad Men deadline is fast approaching. Nevertheless, I ordered a copy of Flora and sat back to wait. And then I thought about it more, and wondered why (as usual) I hadn’t bothered to look through my pattern stash before buying a new one. Upon a quick look though said stash, I remembered Butterick 5748 the perfect choice for a quick timeline as I’ve sewn it before, for SS, but never for me. Plus it has a circle skirt and while my fabric is printed it’s not so directional it would look odd as a circle. Plus it has an adorable dipped back neckline.

Now to stop writing and start sewing!

Until next time!

Fighting Back #stopspying

*I hope you will forgive a change of topic today, however I wanted to make my feelings clear. we will return to sewing and style in my next post*

As Benjamin Franklin said:
Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor Safety

Whatever you think of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, what he revealed shocked many:

The NSA engaged in wide-spread spying on the private internet and mobile communications of citizens of the US and other countries without warrants or evidence of wrong-doing.

Please help pressure governments and international institutions to forbid mass surveillance anywhere in the world. If my government won’t stand up for my right to privacy and liberty (& for what has been revealed it seems the Australian Government will not) I will do it myself, and I encourage everyone else to do likewise.

Please visit The day we fight back for more information.

Cupcake Care Package

So one day a few months ago while I was spending the weekend with SS she asked me to sew her a dress. After some thought I agreed, and together we decided on Butterick 5748. It’s a pretty cute dress and one I had my eye on for myself so I was pretty keen. After emailing through TONS of fabric options, SS settled on “Quaint Cupcakes” by Michael Miller. Not gonna lie, I was a little sad because *I* wanted a dress with it! The sacrifices I make!

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(with petticoat)

So I had SS send though her measurements. Unlike me, she is close to a completely standard fit so it didn’t matter that she’s not close enough for me to do a fitting (well hopefully!). 5748 has a circle skirt, something I didn’t realise when SS picked it, and because the cupcakes are printed in rows, rather than scattered I opted to swap it for a gathered skirt. I know some people don’t mind it, but watching a print go from up-and-down to side-to-side bothers me a little. I also cut the bodice back on the fold, because with a side zip why would you want to disturb the print?

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Zip!

Because it was a dress for someone else, I put a lot more effort in than usual. I understitched the lining around the neckline, something I’ve never tried before (it was harder and messier than I had anticipated!) and used bias binding on the armholes and waist seam. It closes with a side lapped zip, which I’m pretty pleased with as it’s probably my best so far.

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Without petticoat

SS was looking for a longer dress that she could wear with her petticoat, so I left the skirt unlined. This was also because the seam was already a little bulky & I didn’t want to make it worse!

All in all, although it’s not perfect I’m very pleased with how the dress turned out. The bodice is very cute with its dipped back and I’m particularly keen to try a version with a centre lapped back zip and embellishments.

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Back view

Yes, these photos were taken in my sewing area. One day when I get a new machine I might take some photos to show you how it looks and how I manage without a sewing room to take over as it’s pretty cool how I can pack it away to look neat & tidy.

Until next time!