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Redefining “Overkill”

I decided that I needed more practice with the industrial machine at work. I can use it, I can do well with it, but it still occasionally gets away from me. I like to get to a point with a machine that I can raise the needle with the foot pedal if I need to. (Hey, sometimes you run out of hands!) So I brought Maid Marion’s overdress pieces into the shop the other day. Sewing doll clothes on an industrial machine is probably overkill, I’ll admit, but…. I figure that if I can set in a dolly-sleevehead with the machine, I am its master. If you doubt my theory, you clearly do not sew many doll clothes… Seriously, I know how to sew, but this is a whole new level of precision. Yipes!

Oh, f you’re not familiar with industrial machines, they’re really a lot like normal machines. They just happen to have a souped-up motor that lives outside the machine, so they don’t overheat and they can go incredibly fast through almost anything. If you’d like to sew your hand to a pair of pants accidentally, for example, an industrial is the machine for you.

And they’re not like high-powered boy toys that have safety features and junk to keep your fingers out of the moving bits, either. There’s no safety on an industrial. You’re just supposed to be smart enough to keep your fingers away from the needle. This is why I’m concerned about mastering the speed control on the darned thing – when an industrial takes off, if really takes off and the first (unfortunate) human instinct is to grab the fabric and try to stop it. (Don’t do this. Let the fabric go. It is easier to remove stitches from fabric than fingers.)

On the bright side, I’m told that this new industrial Bernina is much safer than the old industrial Singer, by virtue of not being powerful enough to go through bone. We believe. It also hasn’t acquired a taste for human blood yet.

I kid, of course. The new one won’t really sew through your hand. The foot won’t glide over a full human finger. (An old-school industrial with a walking foot, on the other hand…. That’s a whole ‘nother story.)

And now I want to use it to do really itty bitty things with my fingers right up next to the foot? Worst idea ever, missa…..

sewing doll clothes with industrial machine
And there she goes, 1/4" seam allowances and all....

This actually turned out to be easier than doing it on my home machine. I know, I was shocked too! Here’s the magic….

the knee pedal
This pedal by my knee lets me raise and lower the presser foot, so I can use both hands to control the fabric.

Awesome-sauce, right? I love the knee pedal. It’s the best invention since, erm, probably the sewing machine.

two dresses
The lining and outer for Marion's overdress. Odd that I didn't sew them together, isn't it?

It’s just that I couldn’t decide if I wanted the dress to be dark brown and properly woodsy, or blue and sort of period-colored. So I thought, hey, I have to dye the darned thing anyway…. Why don’t I make one in each color, put the color I like better out, and call the other a festive lining? That would be great! Erm, except that I realized that blue isn’t something you sneak around the woods looking for baddies in and brown isn’t a particularly festive color, so the blue is going to have to be the lining. But at least I get it somewhere, right?

And so it goes…. In other news, I found out over dinner that my mother has sort of tasked herself with the idea of making a dolly long-bow happen, so that’s pretty cool. Tee hee…. Slowly, my insanity spreads to those around me like some sort of brightly-colored fungus…. ;)


  1. Erin
    Erin April 6, 2011

    Fungal Insanity could open for Eviserated Lion! I’d watch them both, I think.

    Having sewn my body parts before (and cut them with rotary blades and pierced them whilst hand-stitching…) I think I’ll stick with my boring, non-murderous machine. For now.

  2. Laura
    Laura April 7, 2011

    Stupid Captcha thing. Sigh. As I was saying, I am deeply covetous of your industrial serger. I am drooling from afar. And while I have never sewn my finger before, I have misused a rotary cutter in such a way as to have to say to my husband. “Honey – could you look for the other part of my thumb in the sewing room?” Never a good thing.

    And I am dying to know if your Mom is going to put little feathers on the ends of the arrows for the bow. Can’t wait to see it!

  3. Trish
    Trish April 9, 2011

    My Brother has one of those foot raise bars, but it won’t fit at the small desk I use my machine on. It is pretty handy tho.

  4. […] But I did get a few minutes the other day to work on Maid Marion’s little overdress that I started months ago. I dyed it months ago, too, and then crazy show-float-show-crap-I’ve-got-clients-too! season […]

  5. Sarobi
    Sarobi September 24, 2011

    I found you…. I have a Bernina table machine an the coveted “Singer” industrial with the reversible stitch. I love my Singer. I am happy because I thought I was the only one in the world who loved sewing dolls clothes. I am crazy about dolls too.

    Good meeting you write me and let me know more about what you do.

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