March 27, 2011

A Model Child.

Something that didn't occur to me right away when I started making baby clothes for Etsy was the need for a model. I didn't happen to have any babies lying around, and neither did any of my friends or family. (We're a barren lot.) And anyway, it's not like if I could get a baby to model for me, the baby would be glad to try on numerous outfits and put in a 10-hour day. What to do?

I came up with the idea of a clothesline--sort of old-fashioned and vaguely charming--and took a lot of photos of my newborn duds hanging across sunny windows, in places where nobody would ever hang a clothesline. Well, the light was good. Light is everything in photography, as I have come to discover.

I didn't hate the clothesline photos, but I felt they lacked something: a fake baby. So I Googled fake babies and lifelike baby dolls and preemie/infant/newborn, etc. Wow. Some frightening results. I wonder why it's so difficult to render a newborn's features accurately? The dolls I had to choose from had such objectionable facial expressions, some heretofore unseen among actual babies: Am I supposed to believe that newborn infants laugh like they are in Vegas working on their two-drink minimum? Then there are the babies that look mean. Like they just finished mopping at their hated janitorial job at the prison, and now you're going to get a face full if you don't give them a carton of cigarettes.

No matter. With a simple, two-piece pattern I found here for FREE: free baby! (thank you!) and a remarkably sweet doll's face that I stumbled across on Google Images (fine, sue me) and applied with a heat transfer, I was able to throw together a not-terrible-or-creepy fake baby, for nothing. I wish the doll I found was available in real-baby size--it's only 5" tall--but this quickie pattern is remarkably convincing and about the right size for an average newborn. I'm going to make another one in a preemie size now that I see how nicely this one turned out. (Pay no attention to the poorly stuffed hands.)


March 19, 2011

Nervous (Sewing) Tension

I discovered something exciting the other day. It is exciting from a sewing standpoint--those of you who are groaning may leave--which is a rarity for me, since I have been at it forever and figured there was precious little I hadn't already figured out one way or another. How wrong I was.

Are you like me? In other words, no matter what you do, is the tension on your sewing machine not quite as perfect as you would like? Do you lie awake at night wondering how this problem can be remedied? Do years pass without success?

Well, no longer! Stop me if you've heard this one: The secret is the bobbin case tension. To test your bobbin case tension, hold the case up by the thread, which you have fed correctly through the case's mysterious alleyways and springs. If the thread drops approximately 1 1/2 inches, your tension is correct. If it doesn't, or, as in my case, doesn't move at all, your tension stinks. Loosen the teensy screw that is on the side of the bobbin case by turning it counter-clockwise just a little. Keep going until the thread drops easily. Now sew something, and be at peace.

Truth be told, I cranked my bobbin case screw all the way around until the thread fell to the ground, and my machine sewed perfectly after that. I don't have the patience to mess around with rulers. I can't condone this behavior, however.

I find it astounding that I never came across this little test before. I'll tell you one thing: I have to wonder what else my grandmother took with her to the grave, and whether or not she ever loved me.