New things and a little sewing

Sewing?  Oh that, yes I have done a little.  A very little.  One of the merino tops for the girls is made up and I’ve sneezed at the bodice block.  That is to say I have removed the 5/8″ seam allowances from the neckline and armscyes.  That’s it, unless you count mending and taking up JJ’s new jeans.

In my defence about the bodice block I do need help with it because, well its bloody difficult doing up a zip by yourself let along pinning and measuring back there.  JJ’s back next week then we’ll be off.  Very frustrating waiting.

On another note, aren’t new things grand? And if they are also useful, even better.

These mostly thrifty finds are going to be useful I’m sure and I’m dead pleased with them.  The fabrics are a cotton (blue) and a lining (red) and I love the colours together, though not sure how that will work because the blue is very light weight.  The lace is a lovely cotton?, non-synth anyway from the feel of it, and there are a couple of yards of the narrow one all rolled up on that spool.

Now the patterns are something I have recently started bringing home.  Both are styles I really like, particularly the Butterick, though I don’t know if the other (top) would suit my shape, curve free thing that I am.  The dress is the first pattern I’ve found with the old style pattern markings so I was fascinated.  You know, nothing printed on the tissue just holes of different sizes strewn about?  Both seem to have been stuffed into their envelopes so I’ll need to get the iron out to check they are complete.  Fingers crossed.

The presser foot I bought new.  Did you know that invisible zips in NZ are wider than those sourced in Europe?  Well, apparently they are, or so the ladies in the Bernina shop tell me.  They advised me not to buy the more expensive proper invisible zip foot but rather this one which is meant to be for buttonholes.  They said that they don’t use the IZ foot because whenever they do the zips bunch up and all hell breaks loose.  Interesting.

What’s this about zippers there being narrower than zippers here?  Is it true?  Do you have a Bernina with an invisible zip foot and do your zips zip in with effortless ease?  Or do you end up wrestling with bunching and other unpleasantness?

I wonder if the zips here are manufactured to slightly different size standards than the ones in Europe?  Could that be?  Sounds a little daft to me.

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28 Responses to New things and a little sewing

  1. StephC says:

    Also re: bernina invisible zip feet– one of my ladies in class has a bernina and couldn’t get her hands on a bernie invisible zip foot for class. I popped in my janome invisible zipper foot which cost $18 and tested it out with some trepidation but it worked really really well. No problems, just make sure the needle is in the middle position.

  2. StephC says:

    OH! OH! That lace is gorgeous! I have a one-track mind right now so when I looked at your photos that’s what pinched me on the cheek.. Lovely.

  3. No idea about the zipper width issue but I like the lace and the pattern on the left =). I use an invisible zipper foot but I’ve got a Brother-NS not a Bernina so no idea on that either. I have however, noticed that the invisible zips I put in with a regular zipper foot (before getting the invisi foot I use now) are better constructed…

    • Oh damnation about the IZ foot not delivering better invisible zip insertion. Doesn’t bode well for me and mine. We will have to wait and see.

      • Well it kinda does. I think the best thing to do is iron on the zipper first with seam tape (I use Clover but Nancy Zieman apparently has it too) and then put the zipper on. ron on embroidery fusible (water soluble) should work too. Also, use really good quality zippers – I’ve found vintage cloth tape ones from Etsy to be way better than the crappy mesh tape ones from Lincraft/ Spotlight. Too bad I can’t find any real YKK anywhere near…

      • Yeah I’d read about ironing it first. The mesh ones are awful to feel so I guessed they would be awful to sew – have managed to avoid so far. Thanks for the tips.

  4. I use a regular foot to put in invisible zippers, then a zipper foot to sew the bottom of the seam. I have to confess, however, that I’ve mostly given up IZs as they are far too flimsy and even in RTW, there’s often an awkward bit sticking out at the zipper end. Interestingly enough, I bought some IZs (in a moment of insanity) last time I was in the Fabric District, and they are WAY narrower than I’m used to. Maybe they’re European zippers?

    The cotton lace is lovely, and I have some very similar patterns from the 50s-70s that I inherited from my grandmother. They don’t fit, since my mom and grandma are teeny and I am (ahem) not, but I love to look at the different designs!

    • I’ve heard / read about IZs being notoriously good at failing so not sure what I’ll do about that. I haven’t had one go on RTW that I can think of so maybe the homesew market is flooded with gad awful quality. Who knows.

      My geekiness is keen to ask you to measure the teeth on your shiney new IZs but the other me is rolling her eyes in exasperation. Hmmm

      • I got curious, so I pulled them out and measured them, then compared them to the Coats and Clark in my stash. The teeth are approx. 1/8″ (a little wider) in both cases, but the seam allowances on the Fabric District ones are only 1/4″ on either side. I bought them because I have a Burda pattern that requires a side zip, but my saddlebags tend to accentuate any invisible zipper by making the bottom part stick out. I was hoping the narrower sides and slightly less stiff zip would help with that….

      • Hmmmm, now I’m going to have to ask my sister (who’s in california) to pick up on IZ next time she remembers and post it to me. Plus will get another from Europe (oh the wonders of having family living in exotic climes!) and compare them all. Geekiness will have to be allowed. Not sure if I’ll post it – haha

      • I just measured my one and only IZ and its teeth are 3/16″ so the same as yours. Now I will definitely have to ask my SIL to buy one (The Netherlands) and measure it for me.

  5. Judith says:

    Hi, just discovered your blog via He Cooks…She Sews!!! and I also think the zipper thing is a bit on the strange side. Will be interesting to find out if it is true, or just a sewing ‘tall-tale’.
    Anyway, off to have a peek around your blog…

  6. liza jane says:

    I love that Simplicity pattern! I’m a big fan of kimono sleeves. Looks like it could be a really fun pattern. I’ve never ventured in to an unprinted pattern before, so I’m no help. I just use my regular zipper foot for invisible zippers and I have no issues. I just press the daylights out of the zipper ahead of time. I’ve always had a nice result.

    • Hi Liza Jane – me too on the kimono sleeves and I am fascinated by the lack of printed pattern markings. Fortunately there’s loads of info on this internet thing so it should be fun.

  7. Claire says:

    Dear Calico,

    Those patterns are nice finds.When you get around to creating one of them, and if you like the result, please post it!

    As for the pattern pieces, I was baffled by what you described (pieces with just holes and notches), but found the following on the internet (

    Why are the pattern pieces blank tissue paper? I thought they were supposed to have printing on them.
    Pattern pieces usually didn’t have printing until roughly the early to mid 50s, though some printed ones are seen as early as the 20s. The unprinted pattern was used by matching notches and holes in the tissue paper pieces.

    But your patterns certainly look more recent than the mid fifties! I’d guess they are from the seventies, maybe.

    Good luck with the bodice work. I admire your determination.

  8. Tanit-Isis says:

    Oh, I love that Simplicity pattern! Nice lace, too 😉

    That’s so odd about the zippers! I have always used a regular zipper foot for invisible zips, it’s not that hard. Pattern, Scissors, Cloth has a tutorial on it (out of NZ so it definitely works with your local zips! 😉 )

    • Thanks Tanit – the zipper thing is weird eh? Thanks for the ref. to Sherry’s tutes, which I should have referred to before I went off and bought the foot. Its SM bling really and I like gadgets. Sigh. I will have to put the next zipper into the bodice with the new foot and use Sherry’s approach, ie practice properly. I need the practice very very badly as am reinforcing too many bad habits.

  9. Love the patterns – what a find!

  10. Anne W says:

    Which part of the zip is supposed to be wider? I haven’t noticed any difference is the ones in the UK and the ones in South Africa… Saying that, I do agree with the ladies re buying a Bernina foot, they are really expensive! I got a universal one from eBay and an ankle from the Bernina shop to fit it to. Much, much cheaper, and still does the job.

    • Apparently the teeth are the problem, well it wouldn’t matter if the tape was wider so I’m assuming I remembered that right! I didn’t know you could get an ankle for generic non-bernina feet? I had a undervisal plastic fantastic (a grand total of $5 it cost me) but gave it away cos it wouldn’t go on my machine. Damn. Oh well, thanks for the info.

      I’ll find out what brand IZ’s the ladies at the shop use though I’m sure its not something weird sourced from Mars. Weird. Oh well I can try out my new foot when my 2nd pair of hands returns from Aus.

  11. Jane's sew & tell says:

    Sounds a bit daft to me too. What brand are they? I can’t imagine that a little country like New Zealand (I’m Kiwi myself so not being rude) has a huge invisible zip industry that they keep all to themselves. The zips I buy here in London are Opti (2.5cm wide) and YKK (2cm wide) or is it the width of the teeth that might be different?

    Neither of my machines were built n the era of invisible zips so I have to use generic feet. I have one foot which is too light and does bunch up, however I also have a Janome foot which works really well.

    • Oh good I’m not going mad then, though it will be interesting to see if anyone else down under has heard of this! Not sure of the brand – will check when I get another one and let you know… From memory it is the width of the teeth that are the problem cos they don’t quite fit in the grooves on the bottom of the foot.

      Hope London is treating you well, fellow kiwi person :o) I loved it there.

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