I’ve been meaning to write this post for what feels like forever now – I sure know I kept promising to write it, but I kept putting it off for one reason or another, as seems to be my way the last week or so! Today I told myself I was going to sit down and write it no matter what so here, finally, is a little introduction to my newest vintage sewing machine, a Singer 403A Slant-O-Matic that I’ve named Emma Peel, after the iconic character played by Diana Rigg in the 1960’s television series, The Avengers (who was also one of my first crushes).
Seriously, who doesn’t love an intelligent woman with a sense of humour who can kick some serious ass, all while looking, well, like Emma Peel/Diana Rigg?!
Ahem. Back to the sewing machine!
So far, the 403A Slant-O-Matic is my favourite sewing machine that I have ever used. It looks fabulous and works like an absolute dream! I expected it to have a lot of problems that would need fixing, but surprisingly it didn’t! Other than needing a replacement for the little bobbin winding “tire”, needing the bulb replaced and obviously needing a more thorough cleaning/oiling, it is in perfect condition, which is very impressive!
It took me a few minutes to figure out how to thread it and wind the bobbin – but under less stress it probably would have taken even less time, as this is the most intuitive machine I’ve ever used. The drop in cams to change the stitches are easy to use, and mine even came with the Zig Zag stitch cam already inside (which I didn’t realize right away, having no idea what I was looking at at the time), which was so lucky as (from what I’ve seen) they tend to be the priciest of the cams when bought individually!
I took my Slant-O-Matic to the Ottawa Sewing Centre, which has an excellent reputation for working with vintage machines, just to have it looked over and be sure there were no problems. One of the owners, Yasmin, replaced the bobbin tire, adjusted the tension (which had been a little off) and helped me find a few bits and bobs (the manual, a zipper foot, a blind hem cam, and a light bulb since the one in the machine burnt out the first night within five minutes of being on). She had a whole bunch of other cams and presser feet that I would have bought on the spot as well if I had had the money – but seeing as I didn’t, I decided to save up for them instead and either buy them there (which could be a bit pricey, buying individual pieces) or buy a set online and just keep my eye out for good prices. I’m so glad that my machine didn’t need a bunch of work – and was very impressed and pleased that Yasmin didn’t charge to adjust the tension or quickly look the machine over! I’ll definitely be going back there if I need any work done on this machine (or any vintage machine actually) that I feel is beyond my ability to fix, because the owners are very friendly and helpful and the prices definitely aren’t as bad as they could be! Plus, their collection of vintage sewing machine parts and accessories is like an absolute treasure trove!
Unfortunately in the last week or so, I haven’t been sewing as much as I would like to, because I’ve been busy trying to coordinate a bunch of stuff and it has been pretty overwhelming, anxiety provoking and depressing, but I’ve been trying my best to get through it all and the soul sucking process of searching for help and resources has luckily been punctuated by a few very nice things – like seeing some of my sisters and my little niece, reading the wonderful, supportive comments from all of you, and some nice quiet moments of quality time with my sweet cat. I did sew one project almost entirely on this machine though, it was just one that doesn’t give me the best feelings – a vintage inspired button down shirt I made for my husband at the end of our relationship. I’m proud of this shirt, because a hell of a lot of work went into it, the hand sewn blind hems truly are invisible, and it looks pretty damned good for being the first men’s shirt I’ve ever made, but it just makes me kind of sad and angry and conflicted to look at it.
The button placement is incredibly off, because I had him put it on and tell me where he’d like the buttons – honestly, I should have just used a ruler or tape measure or something to make sure it was all even, but whatever. If I’d cared enough, I also would have re-sewn a few of the buttons because they weren’t perfectly lined up with the buttonholes, but honestly, by that point, I just wanted to finish it and was already seriously depressed by this project but I’d committed myself to making it, so make it I did.
Here you can see some of the blind hem from the inside, and the zig zag stitch from my Singer 403A, and also (in the second picture) the blind hem on one of the sleeves from the outside:
(Click to enlarge images)
I’d like to sew another shirt from this pattern again (though for who, I have no idea, a brother in law/one of my sisters boyfriends perhaps?), because the pattern itself is exactly what I was looking for, even though some of the instructions were frustrating and I ended up going my own way on some things so that the shirt would look neater and cleaner on the inside. Oh, the pattern I used was Simplicity 5581, which I believe it out of print:
Like I said, not the best instructions, but a great pattern in and of itself, especially when paired with retro-vintage inspired fabric. I still have some of this fabric left, because I was originally going to make the hat from this pattern as well, and another pair of shorts with it, but honestly, I feel like I could put it to better use in another project – there are few people I want to sew for at the moment and a certain somebody is not one of them.
But speaking of sewing for other people! I’m going to be sewing a dress (or a few dresses!) for one of my sisters and I’m incredibly excited about it! I’ve never sewn for another grown woman before – and our body types are very different, to boot, so this will be a fabulous project and great experience, learning to fit and sew for another woman will be a wonderful skill to have. Before I even started sewing my first garment, I knew that one day I would love to make outfits for all of my sisters as gifts, and I’m glad I’m finally going to be able to make a dress for one of them! (She may even model it here on the blog! 😉 ) Sewing something special for someone you love is a truly wonderful gift, I think, and I’m looking forward to fittings, picking out fabric, finding patterns, sewing and most importantly, having the perfect excuse to spend more time with one of my favourite people on the planet. ♥ I’m also going to be trying to help her learn how to sew too! Right now, while I wait for her measurements and our next sewing related get together, I’ve been trusted to mend a lovely vintage 1950’s dress for her.
There is quite a bit of work to be done on this dress (mostly on the inside), and I may post some before and after shots at some point. Fingers crossed I do this dress justice! I’ve started work already, but took a break for a few days, I’m going to get back to work on it tonight I hope!
Other than that, I’m sewing myself a dress which feels like it’s taking forever, mainly because I keep going days without sewing a stitch (which is not like me at all!), I’ve got another project I need to finish which keeps tripping me up at every step, and a couple of patterns that I’m looking forward to sewing but haven’t started yet – I need to finish these other projects first!
How about all of you? How have you been doing? What have you been sewing? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Like my content and want to support this blog? Please consider buying me a coffee – it isn’t mandatory, but it will definitely be greatly appreciated and make me and my cat do a happy dance around the living room. 🙂