Needle Bulk-Pack sources

A couple of you asked where I bought my needle bulk-packs. I’m not particularly loyal I’m afraid. I’d Google & Amazon & Ebay for the best price & convenience for a particular order. The two shops I’ve used when buying in bulk are:

Both offers free shipping to continental US for order $20+. (Schmetzneedles.com has $20 minimum order policy.) Both takes international order on their website. Worldweidner.com currently has a 10% off first order offer using coupon/voucher code “firstorder“.

For this particular order World Weidner worked out cheaper & more convenient because they had all the needles I wanted. It still was a big chunk of money, but cheaper than if I bought the 490 needles the usual way. My subtotal was $388.92, minus discount $38.89, plus international shipping $23.80. The final total was $373.83 (£237.85) or 76¢ (49p) per fancy needle. Yeah, I got lucky this time. I was expecting a hefty customs charge + 20% VAT (sales tax) + handling fee. But luckily the Post Office didn’t asked for any & I wasn’t about to argue with them! 😀

Xmas comes early!

Look what goodies came through the post yesterday!

IMG_20150625_181057
So far this year has been more productive than the last few. So I’m running low on a few favorite sizes of needles. I thought it’s about time I try bulk-buy boxes of 100. But what shapes & sizes?

It was really hard deciding. It’s just not practical to follow the sewing experts’ advice to choose the right needle & thread for each project. With a stash as big & varied as mine, I’d need a whole warehouse & lots of mullah to do that. Needle manufacturers & their rather generic descriptions & instructions don’t exactly help either. Like really, what is the practical difference between a Stretch needle and a Jersey/Ball-Point needle? What would happen if I use a Stretch needle on a jersey or sweater knit? Can you really spot the difference between the two? And if you can, can you explain why one would work better than the other for one fabric vs another? I sure can’t.

IMG_20150626_175731I do have a pack of Ball-Point needles, but I have not used a single one. Besides, various articles say to try Stretch needle if skipped stitches continues to be a problem even with a Ball-Point. So why not just use a Stretch needle in the first place?

Anyway, I checked my fabric stash for dominate types/weight of fabrics. I also made note of the needle types/sizes I used more often and those that languish unloved in my notion stash. Then I made the executive decision to only order in bulk the smaller sizes of Microtex (60/8, 70/10, 80/12) and Stretch needles (75/11).

Oh do not weep for the other types/sizes. I do have some in my stash. And as you can see I’ve added small packs of other types/sizes in this order as well. And yeap, I now have a spreadsheet to track this stash as well… :-)

needle-inventory

Now the bulk-buys…For some reason the 75/11 Stretch needles came as 20 packs of 5/pack rather than a box of 100 like the Microtex needles. Which is a shame as I was trying to cut down on wasteful packaging. Of course Twin/Triple-Needles are the worst offenders, or at least the Schmetz ones are.

IMG_20150626_180726I mean come on, you can easily fit 3 such needles in a pack. So OK, they’re not cheap and maybe 3/pack will not sell well. But those of us who use twin needles in lieu of proper cover stitch will have to buy extras sooner or later anyway. In fact I splashed for 15 this time. You betcha I’m consolidating these 15 needles into 5 packs. Save precious sewing space at least even if it doesn’t help save the planet.

So what do you do with your empty needle packaging? I can’t think of a good way to recycle/upcycle them.

And do you think my 603 needles will be enough for my 865 yds of fabrics? (See, you’re not so bad after all! 😉

Now if only I have the right size threads in the right colors to go with these…

Fix It June: Tote the II Forever!

Next up on my Fix It list: My replacement tote that’s barely six months old.

Self-drafted Tote v2

Sadly poor construction quality is not limited to fast-fashion RTW. Tote I lasted me almost two years. So it was definitely a WTF moment when the handle tabs on Tote II started doing this:

5-broken

I thought the thicker faux leather would last longer. I was wrong. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but here are my suspects:

  1. 5-compareDifferent D-rings I used this time have rectangular wire profile where as Tote I had rounded wire profile. Combined with heavy grocery maybe the pointier edge acts like knife edge.
  2. Lack of tab reinforcement from woven interfacing. Can’t remember whether I reinforced Tote I, but Tote II definitely needed this. And it needed a stiff interfacing at that. For these softer tabs keep shifting to the extra pointy corners of the D-rings.

I decided changing 1 would be too much hassle, so 2 it was then. Apart from a layer of old woven interfacing, I stiffened the center bit that goes around the D-Ring with a double layer of Ban-Rol (precut interfacing for waistbands that won’t collapse heightwise). I bought these long before I discovered that standard waistbands don’t like  my short-waisted torso. Now it finally found a use!

The replacement tabs had to be hand stitched and the stitching shows on the inside of the bag. Not brilliant. But at least functional. And thanks to an old-fashion thimble and needle grabber, I managed to do it without spilling blood.

While I was at it I tried to enlarge the zipper pull too. Clio was right that Lampo zippers are some smooth operators. And Don Morin was right that a large ring pull is a plus for practical zipped bags. My Lampo’s pull was lamentably anemic. My stash & trash yielded no matching ring pull of any sort, not even a keyring. So I end up wrapping the existing pull with a scrap from the tab redo. Hopefully this tote will now last me a while longer.

5-fixed

Fix It June: Sari Top

Or more correctly a “choli“.

So Me-Made-May set me on the path to Fix-It-June.
First to be sorta fixed is this choli top.


The pattern was self-drafted based on an earlier sloper, and didn’t account for breathing ease nor my uneven sloping shoulders. As with most alterations there is a limit to how much improvement that can be made. Here are the before & after mug shots.

Before Mug Shots

After Mug Shots

  • The left back side is now better after a sloping shoulder adjustment.
  • I can now breath after letting out tiny bits on all princess & side seams.

But I can still see fitting problems…The armholes feel a bit tight and there are draglines along the neckline pointing toward the shoulder tips. It’s as if the sleeves are pulling the neckline outward. I wonder if perhaps the lack of sleeve cap ease / shallow cap is the culprit.

sleeve-cap-ease My theory is that there’s not enough room in my sleeve cap to accommodate the roundness of my shoulder joints, so the sleeves want to pull the shoulder tips outward to compensate, and without a smaller neckline to counter-act this tendency the sleeves win, resulting in the neckline being pulled apart / outward. So what this top wanted was more like the left side in the picture below, but what I’m getting is more like the right side. (More on my sleeve block experiment here.)

It’s a shame I experimented first on the nicer of my two choli fabrics and made it in a rush for an occasion. This red one is silk and I think it came with the matching silk sari that I wore in the mug shots above. The other red one is cotton and might also have been bought as a set with the matching sari. I have another green cotton sari, but no matching choli fabric for it.

 Saris: An Illustrated Guide To The Indian Art Of Draping by Chantal Boulanger Ja, I went through a sari-mad phase, but never mastered the art of sari-wearing. I even bought this fascinating book by anthropologist Chantal Boulanger called “Sari: An Illustrated Guide to the Indian Art of Draping“. It documents 100 different ways of sari draping worn by the various castes in different regions of the Indian subcontinent. Absolutely fascinating. And sad that some of these methods may soon be forgotten. Thankfully the book includes instructions & diagrams for these different drapes.

> You can sample few pages from the book here

In London you do see women wearing Saris on the street. And they always look so elegant regardless of their size, shape, or age. Even the impoverished ladies you see in documentaries about rural India look elegant in their sari. All that without complicated fancy sewing. Amazing.

Here are my not so brilliant attempts
at three of the drapes…

 

 

Maybe I should practice wearing saris more often.
It would certainly be a good justification for
my Sari & Not-So-Sari stashes! 😉

US expat tax hell survey

Sorry, totally off topic…but as it seems like some of you are also US expats, so I thought maybe you might be interested in this survey.

The University of Nevada & American Citizens Abroad Global Foundation are doing a study on the unintended hellish effect the latest US tax laws have on US expats. They need as much input as possible to help convince Congress to fix the broken policy. The survey is anonymous and many questions do have a “prefer not to answer” option. Find out more at the American Citizens Abroad website.

> Take the FATCA Survey of American Taxpayers Living Abroad

If you’re long-term expat with no clear plan to move back to the States, you might want to look into your tax returns in more details. I thought I was OK doing it the way I would have done it in the States. But it turned out that just because my “local” is IRS’s “foreign” everything I do is treated as potential tax-evading action and punished accordingly. Pub 54, the tax guide for expats which I relied on for guidance, is woefully incomplete. Now I’m looking at fees in the thousands not to mention potential tax, interest, and penalties in the same region, plus the threats of losing rainy day/retirement saving options. (One UK-based adviser even quoted me an eye-watering £11,000+ fee for the pleasure of sorting out my trouble.)

Oh how I wish I had spent all my spare pences feeding my fabric stash instead of saving prudently. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished.

Please share the link if you have US expat friends. Thanks.