Steampunk Utility Belt: The Sewing (Stage 1)

Project 8, part 3 – First, I’ll Need a Sewing Machine… (Part 1, part 2 here)

Seriously, it turns out it’s pretty critical to have!

Welcome back to the Steampunk Utility Belt project! As I mentioned briefly yesterday, I spent most of this week without my trusty Featherweight while she was in the shop for repairs. I may have mentioned some trouble briefly in another post, but ever since I did the buttonholes for the Milky-chan restoration I’d been having some issues with my upper tension disc. At the time I thought it was the thread I was using, as I have quite a lot of vintage thread in my collection, but it turns out it’s been about three years since my Featherweight’s last annual checkup. Oops! Luckily, my local repair shop sees approximately 4 vintage Singers a week. 😀 So they’re quite skilled at determining what might be wrong, and getting it taken care of! In my case it really was just that the tension needed adjusting, so my machine is back in action better than ever – and I will be certain to not miss another yearly visit!

One of the things I really like about the pattern for this is it has batch-building of similar parts. I find that to be both good for garment construction, and also emotionally satisfying!

So, once she was back in my possession, it was time to get sewing! After reviewing my options, I decided to start with the belt itself – I thought it would be fun to be able to hook the various contraptions to it as I finished them! The pattern had me batch all the swivel clasps as well as the D-rings in one go – although I will actually have to quickly make one more D-ring tab on account of making the second fan pouch.

I like this fabric more and more the longer I work with it – which is a good sign considering how many more pieces I have to sew!

Six of the swivel clasps went to the belt, and the last went on the cell phone pouch. I got slightly stymied by the darts at the bottom, but I think if I just hand-sew them they’ll be fine. I also learned that there’s a difference between stack spools (spools of thread where the thread is simply wound from bottom to top), and cross-wound spools (where the thread is wound in diamond patterns) – it turns out that I’m only supposed to use stack spools on my machine, and if I want to use a cross-wound spool I should use a thread-holder. It just goes to show that you can be sewing for years and still learn things! 😀 Luckily for me, I have a thread-holder for my embroidery machine, so I brought it out and indeed the stitching was much less jerky with my cross-wound spool!

Here’s a terrific demonstration from the Singer Featherweight Shop folks!

Art Donovan, curator of the 2010 Oxford Steampunk Exhibit, says “In Steampunk, we celebrate the device as a work of art. The form of an object must be equally impressive as the function. This illustrates the value of the object to the user.” This is truly how I feel about everything I use, make, and wear. It may be more challenging, but using my Featherweight to sew gives me a tremendous sense of satisfaction. It’s not “better” than anyone else’s way of doing things, but for me, it makes me the happiest!

Pictured: more happiness, in the form of a completed belt!

Even though I didn’t have much time to work on it, I was still able to finish the belt portion, which is actually way cooler in person than I expected! I do need to decide on the closure mechanism – it’s supposed to be a stitched-on grosgrain ribbon, but I’m not 100% sure that’s the way I want to proceed yet so I’m leaving it with no closure for now. Much like this project, since I still have plenty more sewing to do! So join me in the next installment, when (hopefully) I should be able to finish up all the various pouches and put it all together! ❤

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