Wednesday 26 July 2017

Pulling out all the poses: Another Jalie 3136

I whipped up another little leotard for my budding gymnast, and while she prances around giving every pose imaginable, I'll talk a bit about how it came to be...

About two years ago my sewing machine was playing up. It sounded like a badly tuned engine, there was grrrring instead of purring. It had been serviced just once before in it's lifetime and while it wasn't skipping stitches or sewing badly, it just felt unreactive and sluggish: like a car with the wrong kind of petrol in it.

I took it to the Janome dealership and it went off for a service. It came back free of lint but driving exactly the same. I took it back. No, the lady in the shop didn't want a demonstration or to hear my explanation of how I thought it felt. It could go back to the mechanics as the service was under warranty.

Another two weeks went by and again it came back exactly the same. This time I had the good sense to try it out in the shop before I took it home. I demonstrated how, when I put my foot lightly on the pedal nothing happened. Sure, if I floored it the sewing machine took off. The sewing machine sales lady had a go herself - here it needs to be said that she was obviously a quilter not a garment sewer.

She floored the pedal, executed a few large sweeping circular motions and declared the machine to be perfectly ok. But I don't sew like that I said. And for the way I want to sew, this machine is not working properly anymore. It could go back to the repair guy one more time she relented. This time with my comments and notes about what they were actually meant to be looking for: a sluggish delay when starting to sew, and then a somewhat jerky, out of control speed once going...

You guessed it. It came back with a note from mechanics that nothing could be found to be wrong with it. So obviously I needed a new sewing machine mechanic...

I thought I'd try that funny little sewing machine repair shop in my local hood. The Italian guy who used to be a weightlifter - beautiful video link here.

Within a moment of describing to him how the machine felt, he knew it would be the pedal that was the problem. The pedal! That bit that the Janome people had never looked at, and of course it made perfect sense. I was pressing and the "feel" just wasn't there. I was lifting slightly and the machine was stopping immediately, or even worse, continuing to run on like a bolted horse.

Of course I'd sewn over numerous pins in my time and done a few bits of other damage to my machine and so Nick did a lot of work on it. Along with a new pedal I had the footplate replaced, some other belts or internal bits.... It cost more than double what the Janome guys had charged for their service but it was perfect!

Now since then I've learned a few things about Nick. His wife has sewn for ballet and figure skating and Nick loves a chat. Be prepared to take your time. The kids don't mind 'cause Nick is always happy for them to rummage in the scrap fabric basket and keep any treasures they find.

Jump forward 18 months and the new pedal was playing up. He tinkered with it free of charge. While we were there A scored the piece of fabric that would go on to be her first Jalie 3136 leotard. Seen here.

But there continued to be some loose connection in there. Some days it would be perfect, other days it would cut in and out most annoyingly. About a month ago it went back again. Nick replaced the whole internal workings of the foot pedal, and again, refused to charge me anything.  I walked out with a perfectly functioning sewing machine and another little piece of sparkly, stretch velour fabric.

And that's the tale of her second Jalie 3136 leotard. The fabric remnant required some pieces to be cut upside down. Annoyingly, I hadn't realised the fabric had such an obvious nap until I took these photos. It's less apparent in real life and half the time she's a blur or upside down anyway!

Pattern: Jalie 3136  I really enjoy making this pattern. The neckline binding technique is especially pleasant. (yep that's how exciting my life is)
Size: J width, L length - oddly the cap sleeves seemed tight on her other version, yet the full length sleeves are quite loose
Fabric: free scrap of black sparkly stuff from Nick Ciancio Sewing Machine Repairs. Nude sparkly stuff from my stash via GJ Fabrics (by the way, if you say you're buying fabric for a costume you get 10% off! Did everyone else already know that?)


  1. What an awesome little model! I had the exact same problem with my Janome, but my dealer is excellent and new what it was immediately. There is a known fault with the metal pedals. Luckily they have made new plastic pedals with nifty retractable cords. Have not had one iota of a problem since. Phew!

  2. Hooray for sewing machine mechanics who know their stuff! I'm about to sew a leotard. Miss A wants to dress as a gymnast for book week. She's ordered a pink leotard with an orange sleeve. It appears I have been 'let off' the black swirls on the front of the leotard as per the book cover. Maybe I should outsource this job to you as we all know how much you love sewing costumes!

  3. Oh man, what an ordeal to get your pedal issue fixed! Within the first two weeks of moving to Vermont, I've had 3 people mention that a guy named "Smitty" in Essex will fix my machine like magic if I need it. I am hoping I have a similar experience to yours with Nick!

    Also, the leotard is quite cute, as is all the posing!

  4. I love It! I've made my share of velvet gymnastics leotards, but I've never tried Jalie pattern. I keep stalking them...very tempting!

    Nick sounds so cool! I'd love to hang out in his shop!

  5. I am findng the Italians really know what they are doing with machinery and so glad Nick has got it all sorted for you. Now your budding gymnast looks gorgeous in her new leotard and I'd call it a design element.

  6. What an amazing model! How aggravating to have to keep returning the machine for ineffective servicing, but wonderful that you have the perfect repairman who throws in free scraps of fabric for kids. Great job on the leotard, it looks perfect, nap issues notwithstanding!

  7. I love what you have made here Shelly, and might give it a try. I would need a bit on the instruction front though having never sewed with stretchy velour before. I really do wish the kids could meet--my daughter would love to learn a few new poses from your budding gymnast, and would swoon over the leotard too!


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