Chestertown (Maryland), Camden (Maine), FitBit and Camera Strap. So, like, everything.

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No sewing, but a few photos of what I’ve been up to. Jordan is wrapping up his first of two judicial clerkships this week. When we get back from our honeymoon (squee!!) he starts his next clerkship in Annapolis. His boss was kind enough to invite us down to their home in Chestertown, Maryland two weeks ago. It was calming and beautiful.

Also, a good kick off to my three days in Camden, Maine for work. I LOVED MAINE. The summer was not too hot, the people were so friendly and the food was great. You may note a theme here. I kind of seem to like everywhere I travel, heh.

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I liked it so much I’m trying to figure out how to make Maine a small vacation next year. I would also like to go with more time to stop at the LL Bean flagship store…

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I had a tuna roll that I devoured. Lobster rolls are definitely the thing, but I don’t eat shellfish. I am totally recreating this soon.

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For our trip, I made a neck strap for my point and shoot Pentax. You should know, I am a total Pentax fangirl. My last point and shoot was a Pentax and my DSLR I use for blog photos is a Pentax

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This MX1 makes me happy because of the retro styling and it takes awesome photos. If you wait a year after cameras come out, there’s always a huge price drop. I’d get the Fuji 100 if I didn’t have to sell a kidney for it.

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For the neck strap, I sewed ribbon to the nylon strapping with my edgestitch foot. I attached the new strap to these lobster claw swivel hook thingies and connected them to the camera with key chain rings.  I used sliders to make it adjustable.  I’m both proud and ashamed that I had all the supplies to make this in my stash. I also made a wrist strap but didn’t snap a photo of it. If I were making this for a DSLR, I’d use 1.5 inch vs 1 inch wide strapping. And, if I were making this again for this camera, I might do 3/4 inch vs 1 inch. Mostly because I think the bolt snaps are a little big.

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Oh! I also got a FitBit. Am.. well.. obsessed. If you want to be FitBit friends, here’s my profile.

And, with that, I bid you adieu until we return from our European adventure :-) 

Simplicity Patterns Cabinet

Remember my interest in a pattern cabinet? Well, I found a very old one locally!

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Yesh. That’s truly a vintage Simplicity Pattern cabinet from goodness knows when. I bought it from Housewerks here in Baltimore. The guy told me it came out of an old uniform factory in the area. I wanted to haggle and bargain. He, did not.

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The outside though has seen some wear and tear. I’d love to get it blasted and powdercoat repainted. But, Jordan took delivery and he said removing the drawers was a huge PITA. And, I’ve spent enough money the last month that I can think about it another time. Plus, I’d want to keep the original SIMPLICITY there at the top. I think I could also have a new decal made.

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From looking on the inside I can see the original chocolate brown shiny paint. Which isn’t a color I would want anyway!

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So, the drawers are wonderfully split in to three sections, perfectly sized for all but McCalls and Vogue Designer of my Big Four. This also helped me pare down my traced off pattern collection. I probably pitched 30 patterns that never did work or were now way too small for me.

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There is one drawer that has a missing divider, and in there I’ve put my designer Vogue patterns and bigger envelopes like Hot Patterns.

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I also finally bought plastic baggies (thank you for the suggestions) for my Jalie and Hot Patterns. The larger Jalie are being stored in my filing cabinet. I still have two empty drawers in the cabinet. So, I’m thrilled!

Remember almost two years ago when my gravity feed iron short circuited? Well, I replaced it last month too.

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I was using my 13 year old Rowenta Sew ‘n Press (I friggin loved that iron). But, the temperature is unpredictable. And, Jordan used it to iron his suit (don’t ask. I told him not to iron suits). It scorched a few holes right into the wool blazer. So, he bought a garment steamer and I bought a new gravity feed iron.

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And, last update to the sewing room:

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I added a double (like 120) spool thread rack to my other two thread racks. If I run out of space now, I will seriously have a thread problem. I think I’m going to start buying larger Gutterman in bulk. Most of my prior thread accumulation came from trips to Panama.

McCalls 6706: Red and Khaki Pleated Skirt

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I fell in love with this full skirt striped silhouette a few years ago when it was popping up on style blogs and in stores. I even remember emailing Mood last year to see if they had a red and white stripe version.  Naturally, I took three years to find the right fabric and ID the perfect pattern.

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Fabric is from Fabric Mart. It’s a double cotton/linen blend from Marc Jacobs. Mood has something similar on their site now (narrower stripes and closer to my inspiration). And, Idle Fancy worked the Mood fabric into a dress.  Liz and Trena both thought it looked like upholstery fabric. It may well be. I think Trena was pretty wary at the thought of me wearing wide horizontal stripes. You know that sound your friend makes when she thinks you’re doing something terrible but wants to be supportive. Heh. That’s the sound she made. Like, ‘Oh. Horizontal stripes…?’

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The pattern is this great McCalls 6706 that actually has a plan for you to piece together the stripes. But, I just cut the non pieced version for my already striped fabric.

My skirt = store awning. I quite love it.

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For this pattern, I sewed down the pleats to release rather than have them open. When open, they added an extra five lbs right at my waist. And, I’m already sewing wider horizontal stripes.  Closed, they are more slimming (I mean as slimming as wide stripes on someone with with hips can be). And, while more slimming, it eats away at the wearing ease.

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I finished the hem with rayon tape (from my last Garment District trip) and my blind hemmer (invisible thread).

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I won’t call this a slam dunk. The waist is a little snug and the horizontal lines at the waist aren’t totally level. But, I’m happy to realize one inspired piece. Also, I know the stripes add width, but I LOVE stripes. And plaid. And polka dots.

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Gah. That part in my hair is super crooked! I like this skirt with my Vogue 1099  jacket from a few years ago. If you recall, I lamented I didn’t really know what to wear this with. I think it works really well with this skirt. Maybe the high waist?

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Jordan and I are still learning to work together to take blog photos.  I think there’s literally one photo of me smiling. And, he thought this below was hilarious. I was making sure my tee shirt wasn’t bunching up under my skirt.

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After wearing this skirt all day, I’m making a few changes. I’m going to lower the waist band. It sits so high that when I’m sitting down, the waist is under my bewbs. And, when I do lower the waist band, I’m going to try and level the center front a smidge more so the line is as perfectly balanced as it can be :)

And, thanks to all the good styling advice on my seersucker dress. I bought a skinny patent navy belt from Nordstrom to break up the swath of fabric and define my waist. And, rather than lower the neckline (I just would never do it)  I added a scarf (a tip I saw online for high necklines and busty women). I think it’s much better! I got several compliments on my outfit at work the second time I wore it (which are several more than I got the first time). Yay! You guys are the best.

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Finally, still no home computer and no posting from work. Editing pictures is a PITA on J.’s eight year old laptop. This is such a first world problem… My plan is a new computer come October. Yay!

Should I or Shouldn’t I? Europe Questions.

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I made up this dress for our upcoming honeymoon as a cycling dress. This is my ‘I’m going to wear it anyway’  test run. The fabric isn’t as beefy as I would like it to be. And, my other two versions from a sturdier ‘dry flex’ will fare better I think. Please ignore the Star Trek vibe. I think it’s the colors in addition to the design (which is Burdastyle 7-2014-113).

Anywho, I’ve been trying to decide if I want to cover stitch the seams. Partly for a sportier look. And, also because these serged seams are just not laying flat! I’ve never really done the ‘reverse’ / decorative three needle top stitch to show on  the outside before. The two dresses I’m working on now (which are the same) are done entirely on the sewing machine instead of the serger.

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Here are my questions:

1. Would it be too sporty looking to add the coverstitching? There are a lot of seams here. I mean, people don’t really wear bike gear in the Netherlands. But, I want something wicking, easy to wash and light to pack. Plus, we bike for one week and travel another week. So, I would like to also wear these as ‘regular’ dresses too.

2. Umm, how do I do it? Do I need wooly nylon? I think I do. What I see on my RTW jacket with this look seems thicker than thread. Do I put it in the loopers? Or in the three needles? Should I have had the seams on the outside and then done the coverstitching? Is that the way people claim their sports gear is ‘seamless’ or ‘irritation free’?

3. Should I pack rain gear? I ask because Jordan doesn’t have any and I’m not sure my rain pants from last time still fit me. All I can figure out is that weather is unpredictable in Europe.  I’m running out of weekends to sew…

4. Is saying ‘Europe Questions’ like saying ‘Questions about Africa?” If so… whoops. Please tell me though so I know for the future.


The Right Measure

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I no longer hate my blue and pink polka dot tunic. Why? Well, I finally broke down and got measured for new bras this weekend.
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And, my new size has made a world of difference.  I don’t think I look AS pregnant. The FBA I made fits much better now. And, with this new size there is more space between my stomach and my bust.
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I also added more shirring to try and balance out my uneven shirring. It’s still not perfect, but better (at least I think so!)

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This photo is meant to show you the shirring. Not my bust. But, as I’m between home computers and posting from a tablet, I can’t crop!! So, please forgive the bust eyeful and focus on the underbust.

Never underestimate the power of a good bra and the magic closet.

Friday Laughs: A RTW #Fail

I was recently quite taken with a whimsical Popsicle print in a dress from the Atlantic Pacific blog. I mean, I love the red, white and blue color combo and these are my favorite popsicles.


From her July 4 post

The similar dress she pointed to was a scant 34 dollars. Yes, it’s poly. But, I super love the print. So I ordered a size large and figured I could take it in if needed.

Taking in not needed.


Funny, right? That’s like a six inch gap. The bodice zipper is resting on the apex of my girly bits. I’m still not pregnant (nor trying to be). But, between the desperate need more length in the bodice and the stiff stiff crinoline at the bottom, it looks like a hoop skirt gone awry. I now see the teeny model wearing it looks a little pregnant too.

My mom always warned me about ordering clothes from catalogs (yeah, catalogs. I used to order from J.Crew ON THE PHONE  in college when I had the scratch. That was exactly twice.)


This dress could not fit worse. I can’t even tell if the print is off grain. Again, this is a Large! I tried to get a 24 year old size 0 friend to take it and she ‘politely’ declined. Heh.  Maybe this is a sign to dress my age?

I think I will be turning this into a skirt….

BWOF 11-2007 #107 : Pink and Cream Seersucker Cross Dart Dress

Oh, hey.



I don’t know know that there is a seersucker I don’t like.  I started this dress almost two months ago to wear to a summer ‘picnic wedding’ in upstate NY where the dress was ‘summer semi-formal’. I didn’t get it done in time :-(

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My sewing of this dress greatly benefited from having lots of extra fabric. I had to recut the bodice three time due to incredible user error. I first used this seersucker to make a sailor-inspired skirt two years ago. The fabric is kind of see through, so this time I underlined the bodice with cotton batiste.

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I’ve wanted to make this dress since it came out in 2007. I thought the bodice darts were so interesting. Add a full pleated skirt and it’s totally speaking my language.



Not only did I need an FBA, I had to move the darts down a good 1.5 inches too in addition to changing the angle of the darts downward. So, while it doesn’t look exactly like the original, it fits and flatters me so much better.

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Like a dolt, I sewed up the shoulders and sides before remembering the correct sleeveless construction order. That meant I needed to use a bit of bias at the neckline so I could clean finish everything. This would have also looked awesome if I’d used the binding at the armholes too (thought for next time).

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The inside of this dress is really my favorite. I used the time consuming but my favorite method: facing lining combo.  I drafted the bodice lining using the included facing. I looks so ready to wear to me! It’s much more work, but worth the effort I think. There is no peeping out of lining from the sleeves or neckline this way.

I used ALL the machines on this dress. Sewn up on my Bernina 830 using the AMAZING invisible zipper foot.

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Seriously. Perfect insertion every time. I hate to admit that this sucker was worth the $40.

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The hem of the lining is made with my Brother Coverstitch (my new favorite way to do lining).


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And the hem of the dress itself is secured with rayon tape and my Japanese-made  blind hemmer (using the invisible thread).

Seriously. All. The. Machines.

I think this dress would benefit from a belt. But, I don’t have one that works. Yet. I’m thinking a pale blue or teal? I would also make the tulle underskirt if I need this for dress up rather than work.

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Overall, I’m meh on the dress. I put a ton of effort in to it. But, I really don’t like it on me. On the dressform it’s rocking. But, the proportions are ever so slightly off on me and I look like a rectangle.  I’m sorry it didn’t make it to the wedding as thematically it was perfect. I am just off my sewing game as of late. I have one more skirt to post that I made a few weeks ago and I’ll be caught up in project back log.

BurdaStyle 5-2010 #104: The Accidental Maternity Top

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I bought this delightful silk / cotton fabric from Mood four years ago when I was in NY for the Met / Brooklyn Museum High Style exhibition. I’ve really, truly, hoarded it looking for the right pattern. This fabric was everything to me. It’s got polka dots, has contrast, and has pink. And, to me, the pink dots remind me of the halo/pink sapphire of my engagement ring. Really, it’s screams my name.

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I didn’t check reviews for this pattern until after it was cut and I was sewing. Imagine my delight  (read: here horror) when I saw every review made it up AS A MATERNITY TOP. There’s a reason for that. I look three months pregnant. And, I am so not pregnant.

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Now, I like this top. I love the colors. I love that it’s breezy. But, there’s a definite expecting vibe. The pink and blue probably don’t help. What I’m not sure about the material is how ‘secure’ it is. I messaged Peter on Twitter (he made it up into a man skirt) and asked if he secured the seams in any paticular way. The design is loose enough that I’m not straining the seams. That said, I’m being super careful with it: hand wash, careful to take it off and on, etc. Yes, I could have used silk organza in the seams to reinforce… but, I didn’t.

I’m also not modeling it. Why? I don’t have any bottoms that ‘go’. Yes, I sewed an orphan. But, orphan sewing has stopped me from making the separates I so desperately need. So, I’m going to plow ahead and make separates anyway. Otherwise, I’ll jut never do it.

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For this pattern, I used the shirring method from the Vogue Sewing book. You use elastic thread in your bobbin, secure the ends with hand tied knots, and stitch over those with pink tucks. It’s a’ight. I’ve never shirred before so I’m glad I got to try it out. Not my greatest work. But, you have to try something to learn something.

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On the neckline, I used bias trip to create some interest. And, sewed up the V a bit for modesty’s sake (i.e. no cleavage in the office). I also took the sleeves from the dress version rather than the strips in the tunic top. Oh, I also made a one inch FBA. I think I could have added another 1/2 inch to the length to get it perfectly under the boobage.

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Ok. Now, my shame. The shirring is off center (and kind of sloppy). ARGH. I look at it and all I see is off-center shirring. It’s off by about 1.25 inches. I thought it was centered when I put it together. But, obviously it’s not.  Jordan assures me when on it’s not noticeable. Mostly, because I look pregnant. His words. Not mine.  I’ll be honest with you, it’s bad, but I have no interest in taking it apart and fixing. Mostly because I just don’t think the fabric can handle it.

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Nice enough top. Probably better for maternity.  Not my greatest work. Saved by my absolute unabated love of the print. I’ll wear it while I can. Hopefully, the material is stronger than I’m giving it credit for.

Youse guys! I have a new job that I start next week.  The thing is, I’m going from a strictly businesses dress/ political gig  for pretty much my entire career to a totally casual private sector job.  I mean, we had a strict dress code at my high school. I remember being absolutely startled when a mid 20s guy I was dating didn’t own a suit (we went to church every weekend growing up in clothes that didn’t get worn the rest of the week). Top ten embarrassing moment  was the Executive Producer at the Washington TV station I was interning at pulling me aside to say my knee-length short suit with blazer from Dress Barn was not appropriate for work and she wasn’t comfortable sending me to a press conference  on the Hill. I was mortified. I am super conscious of what I wear to work.

It was bizarre to me that this feels like an existential crisis. I’d actually had this post queued up for over a month now. But, worried I sounded crazy for not knowing what to wear to work or feeling weird about not being in business dress. Now, I  feel in good company! I read Audrey’s post last night about her office going to casual wear. In my position the last year, I was the one who instituted a business casual dress code (no jeans, flip flops) and people damn near revolted.  I still stayed business (dresses, occasional suit). Because, I’ve always had to dress up for work.

Robin and I talked about this a little (since new job is practically in the parking lot of her development) and we both think we couldn’t do totally casual. I’ve been home the last week sewing for the new job and just trying to take a mental health break. I’ve completed a dress, skirt and tunic. I plan to trace out three more items and sew at least one more before I start working again. The all-to-me sewing time is unbeatable!

Charles James at the Met and Loving The Garment District

Yesterday, I met up with Claudine to see the Charles James exhibit at the Met in NYC. Friends, it was breathtaking. The last time I went to the Costume Institute was in July 2010 for the American Style exhibit. I think Brooklyn has a better display space, but the Met has more space. The exhibition made amazing use of technology to show you how dresses were constructed and the pattern pieces used in them. No photos allowed. But, I did buy the accompanying book. From Amazon. It was $15 less and I didn’t have to haul five pounds through the city for the rest of the day. Plus, it arrived this afternoon! I totally now regret not getting the hardback version of American Style four years ago.

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If you get a chance, please do go see the show. It closes in August and was worth the ‘recommended’ admission of $25. And, going on a Thursday was ideal! It had plenty of people but neither the subway/ busses nor streets were packed. I’m so lucky I can get there to see great things like this in a day.

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I did go into the Garment District. But, really, it was just to pick up a few supplies I needed for upcoming projects. I also wanted to step in some stores I don’t often go to. In the past, Mood took up most of my shopping time.  And, the organization there has spoked me I think. This time, I went to Chic Fabric, SIL Thread, Pacific Trim and Fabric Fabric (formerly Lace Star).

I think, in some ways, I’m ‘over’ the Garment District. Now, hear me out! The garment district has my heart. But, it’s packed, crowded, and expensive. I think for regular shopping I prefer places with a curated collection and better prices.

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Now, I did pay $30 for one yard of that silk pink taffeta at Fabric Fabric because it was exactly what I wanted for an upcoming project. And, that’s what NYC fabric shopping is good for. You just cannot find the breadth of notions and findings anywhere else.

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I was super excited to find loads of ribbing and collars for polo shirts at Pacific Trim. You can’t find that stuff on line! I didn’t actually buy any. But, at least I know where to find it!

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I saw this black and cream silk jersey for $38 a yard that I paid $14 a yard for at SR Harris in Minnesota. Yes, I know it’s NY. But, I just wanted to point out that the prices aren’t always better and where they excel is the selection, options and findings. Plus, you really have to shop around / go to lots of stores and it can be tiring. I think if I had the leisure of strolling there for specific items easily, it would always be my favorite place to shop.

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So, I’m back home today and have a completed project (that was due well over a month ago), an in progress tunic from four year old silk, and in in progress skirt from week-old linen. Hopefully some photos over the weekend.

Gathering With an Embroidery Foot

You’ll notice, I think, that I never do tutorials anymore on my blog. Why? It’s not only because I’m lazy and not an expert. But, in this current blogging environment, I have neither the time, energy or temperament to set myself up for comments about not knowing what I’m doing. Y’all. I sew for fun. I leave the tutes to those with brass balls and skills. But, I’m not above demo-ing a trick or two.

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If there is one thing I dislike doing, it’s gathering material using two rows of stitching.  My Bernina 830 came with several feet, including this 030 embroidery foot (now sold as #6 both old and new style methinks). The foot comes with an hole in it and according to my manual, can be used for gathering. How’s that?

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Using a thicker piece of thread (I used jeans top stitching thread) you are able to zig zag over the thread.

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Then you pull the long straight thread and the fabric gathers.

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I realize that Christina told me years ago I could do this with yard or elastic thread. But, I never bothered until now. The foot is nice because I don’t really have to focus too hard on not hitting my main thread with the needle while zig zagging.

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So, I realize the Bernina feet are crazy expensive compared to low shank feet. But, there really are some nice features they have that can make your sewing easier. Plus, I’m all about specialized gadgets and driving European cars. I’m pretty sure there’s a good analogy in there somewhere.

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This awesome drawer insert holds my Bernina feet. You can purchase one here. NAYY. Just love the simple solution.

This weekend I also picked up the Bernina invisible zipper foot. It was the foot-of-the-month foot last month. Which made it 25% off the price. I’ve heard really good things about this foot. And, hope it lives up to the hype. I’ll definitely do a little post to compare how it works next week.