Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New equipment and PR Weekend Portland

I have been busy collecting new equipment/gadgets in the last month, and as you can imagine playing with them is way more fun than blogging. No offense.

The first piece I need to share is this Elna Alize ironing press. I bought mine from sewinginusa.com, they are one of the few etailers that carries Elna presses. You can't type 'ironing press' into google without hitting a million Simplicity presses, but it took some work to find the Elna. I was looking for a dry press as well, which also made it hard. Most of the presses on the market now come with steam, which means holes in the pressing surface. Tiny holes, but holes. Since I mainly planned on using it for fusing interfacing, I wanted as smooth a surface as possible. The Elna had good reviews on patternreview.com and the price was right, so I went with that.

Features I like:

  • 10 second timer that activates when you close the lid. My favorite interfacing needs 20 seconds, so I close the lid twice and I'm done. :-)
  • Pressure! Lots of it. (100lbs) I'm convinced this really helps the adhesion of fusibles.
  • Heat! Well duh. But it advertises 392F and it definitely gets hot on high.
  • Sturdy, it's got locking handles to move it around and rubber feet that don't slide on the table.
  • Board is made of Finnish birch, so no warping. At least not yet. (All the other presses use steel mesh). I prefer the way the steam permeates through the fabric with a wood board. The metal mesh on my ironing board isn't the same.
  • FUSING AN ENTIRE PIECE OF INTERFACING AT ONCE! (yes you need to get one of these)
Features I don't like:

  • It's 20"x9", and when you are fusing interfacing bigger is better. I can fit two collars, or two cuffs, but not both. it's not long enough for an entire waistband, but it really isn't too hard to move the fabric once part of it is fused. It's still light years better than using an iron. But to go bigger I would have had to get a steam model.
  • Not really a big deal, but having to use a spray bottle for steam. I mean you have to spray interfacing or a press cloth anyways when fusing, but when I use it to press shirts or something it does slow you down.
  • It came with a spray bottle, which leaked from day 1. I threw it away.
After I had my press for a few weeks, I was reading a blog post by Kathleen Fasanella at FashionIncubator.com about 'the annoyance factor'. She was talking about how to lower your expenses by examining seemingly low cost processes, and although it's aimed towards production sewing it rang a huge bell with me. If you can save yourself even a few minutes on a task that is done repeatedly, or streamline your process to make it require less work or more enjoyable, the benefit can be a huge bump in productivity. I used to hate fusing interfacing so much I'd put it off or contemplate skipping it. Now I'm looking for the next 'bottleneck' to fix.

After scouring Craigslist.org for a used industrial sewing machine for several months, I finally found one in San Francisco at the beginning of May for a good price. I've been picking up a lot more 'for hire' sewing projects and the allure of an industrial machine, with all it's capabilites and attachments, was too tempting. It was quite the fiasco picking it up at 6 pm on a Friday night, in the rain, lining up movers to carry it down 3 flights of stairs (one flaked, DH had to stand in. OMG), driving a full-size truck with a utility trailer through downtown SF, and unloading it into the house. Whew! But it's here. And it's awesome. :-)

It's a Juki DDL5550N-7 computerized single needle lockstitch with a servo motor. Features:

  • Adjustable speed servo motor, from turtle to rabbit-on-Red-Bull. (holy cow who sews that fast??)
  • Auto thread trimmer, activated by depressing the back part of the pedal
  • Auto back tacking at beginning or end of a seam (or not at all)
  • Reverse
  • Knee lifter

Control panel. Does anyone know how to use the thingie on the right, or what the 'eye' and 'fan' buttons do? No idea. LOL

I've only made a couple garments with it so far but the fabric feeding is so much better than my Janome, you can adjust everything (love that), I've decided life before auto thread-trimming sucks, and you can probably buy an attachment that does your laundry and cooks dinner for you. I bought some basic feet (left and right cording, zipper, invisible zipper) and a binder so far and am hooked.


So the reason for the haste in picking up the machine was the next weekend was PR Weekend Portland and I didn't want to miss out on the deal. I had a fantastic time with the ladies of Pattern Review, and enjoyed meeting some new faces as well as spending quality time with Cidell and Christina. I didn't take nearly enough pictures but here's a few plus some borrowed ones, as well as the fabric stash I came home with.

Fabric-Tan Burberry stripe raincoating, L-R silk charmeuse, cotton shirting, silk jersey

Me, Cidell, and Christina

Cidell trying on my Burberry trench. Don't you hate it when other people look better in your stuff than you do?

Fitting/Tailoring seminar with Pati Palmer