Monday, October 8, 2018

Continuing to Learn How to Sew

It was another big sewing weekend with First Quilters on Saturday morning and our granddaughter Sarina staying overnight for a sewing marathon. What fun! Let's do this in chronological order:

I was invited to come back to make a presentation about how to clean your sewing machine and they said I should bring my sewing machines, too. That's a bit of a loaded invitation since I have way too many to bring so I selected about six to show off and possibly interest someone in a sale:
So many models and all for sale
There was quite a bit of interest in a fun Viking 21 model in a compact cabinet:
Viking compact cabinet
but it came home with me. I love those compact tables that fold up so nicely and this one is really nice because you do not have to bolt the machine in but just put it down on a lower shelf.
On lower shelf for storage

On upper shelf for sewing
It's still very portable but with the machine lifted out the cabinet is lightweight enough to move around.

There was a nice group of women in a semi-circle of chairs who looked on while I explained how to clean the interior, exterior, oil, and maintain a sewing machine. I had a nice Kenmore that I used for demonstration but asked if someone had one they wanted me to demo with and Cathy said she also had a used Kenmore she would love to have cleaned. She was a very good sport when I revealed the packed link under the needle plate. Everyone admitted their machine probably also needed cleaning like that so she was in good company until she asked if we could remove the bottom plate. Under the bobbin area we removed the free arm cover to reveal a whole mess of lint. At this point everyone gasped and someone even got up to throw out the linty globs that had fallen through. I reassured Cathy that what we were seeing was not at all unusual and most machines even look worse that this. Nevertheless, she was quite embarrassed until she remembered she was not the original owner but it was bought at a garage sale and just maybe this was from the previous owner. I liked that idea, too, and Cathy stayed on and continued to clean it out and we put it all back together again. The next morning I sent her a pdf of the manual so she could figure out anything she hadn't already discovered on her own:
Cleaning up the Kenmore 385-18630890
The afternoon was spent with family at Skylar's 6th birthday party and afterwards we asked if Sarina could come home with us so we could spend more time sewing together. Boy, did we sew! She wanted to make a top for her shorts made in August but we couldn't find an easy pattern so we switched things up. How about using knits and a serger? Yes, we bit off more than we could chew but it was still fun and it turned out well:
Sarina in her raglan sleeved shirt she made
Finding a free raglan shirt pattern, she chose two different fabrics. It was quick and easy to put together mostly by herself once she got the speed on the serger down to a slower pace. Then I added the neckline band and wrecked it! So as a way to disguise my mess we added the flower trim and she liked it even better. I made up leggings but we had to do the elastic on the waistband over again to get them to fit better. It wasn't too hard and I can adjust the pattern for the next pair. That's right, there's another pair coming up:
Sarina's extra pair of leggings
Since all of this was done without her Brother sewing machine we got it out to make her own hot mitt. She did all of the sewing up to putting the bias trim on. For that we went out to the industrial Singer 78 in the garage and I sewed through all of the 11 layers. It went home with her to finish hand sewing the bias edge but we all knew how much her mom would love it. It was a great weekend even if I didn't sell any sewing machines or get any of my own sewing done: it was grandkids time!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Treadle Madness

I get these crazy calls from people wanting to know if I would like/take their family treadle sewing machine. The answer is usually "NO" but I made an exception when friends from church said after their move into a house they couldn't fit this item in. Since they would deliver it I figured I could find a way to sell it for them. They want the proceeds to go back to our church but that also means I'm willing to donate my time: I'm up to 3 hours already and it is not done yet. But I'm having fun so here's what it did and does look like:
Treadle base before cleaning, missing drawer knob.
Singer 66 Red Eye before cleaning

Singer 66 Red Eye before cleaning, obviously!
These photos don't give it justice but take it from me, it had been stored in a garage for many years. As I started to clean with Go-Jo, a new method I saw demonstrated at the TOGA ten days ago, it was in good shape with decals somewhat intact, no pin rash from a rag tied around the arm, nothing broken and all parts represented. Even though I have way too much to do, including mowing the lawn, I just can't resist looking at it and seeing how much work is ahead of me.
Metal parts with rust
Before the day is over I have used Howard's Restore-a-Finish on the top exposed parts of the wood. It doesn't get much better but I know it is not worth stripping down. After it dries I go ahead and use Howard's Feed & Wax over all of the wood parts and it does start to glow a bit. Inside of the head I can see there are some very dirty and possibly some rust on parts so I go ahead and clean up with sewing machine oil and give it a nice oiling. Things move but not too enthusiastically so more parts come off to find the bobbin case like this:
How many years of compacted lint?
Even with a big clean-up job it still wasn't moving too fast and I know these machines should move with a touch of your finger. I get out the spray can of TriFlow and give the underneath parts and behind the round plate on the backside of the head a spray and leave it overnight. In the morning it was moving much smoother so I attached the original belt (just needed a new hole cut for the cleat) and she moved like the wind.

Now I'm down to the metal parts and the bobbin winder. That bobbin winder looked good from the front but I know it's a mess deep inside so I need to give it some serious time with cotton swabs, sewing machine oil, and metal polish. It's really looking good:
Cleaned up bobbin winder and replaced Singer nameplate
It was missing the Singer nameplate but I had an extra that I glued into place. Sorry that isn't too authentic but it worked! More cleaning, buffing, and just keeping at it comes down to this:
Singer 66 Red Eye ready to go back in her treadle stand

Singer 66 Red Eye backside (replaced plate with a different one)

Much better
And now for the stitching: things weren't going too well. Taking the whole tension mechanism apart showed it had been put together wrong and there were missing parts. Digging in my jungle of parts I found what I needed and with some tweaking of the bobbin tension it now sews like this:
Singer 66 Red Eye after adjusting tensions
A nice clean bobbin area didn't hurt so compare to the photo above to see how it is now glowing:
Clean, clean, clean bobbin case
And how did the cabinet turn out? Meah. It's not horrible because there are no chips in the veneer but it's not great either:
Classic 5 drawer cabinet for a Singer treadle
Since these are a dime a dozen I'm trying to talk myself out of stripping down the top for a really nice finish. I hope I can resist! It does work well as it is and is fine when set up, just not much of a display piece. That's where the stripping of the old finish comes in. Let's see how long I can hold out but it will also depend on the weather since we had our first hard frost last night. Days to work out in the garage are numbered and I have 2 more projects to finish up first besides the craft fair items that still are not ready! It will get done, it will get done, all in due time.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Vinyl Sewing

I've been up to my eyeballs with cabinet sewing machines and trying to get them sold but what am I doing to see that it gets done? I'm sewing, of course! Nothing like avoiding the task at hand, I've taken a little bit of time to get some small tasks done, like make a new lunch bag. Okay, it all started when I got an email with new ideas for making small items that I thought would be nice dollar sales at the craft fairs. As a credit card holder, they suggested using leather or vinyl, anything that would not fray. I dug out my stash of vinyl and leather and found my pattern for a lunch bag made a few years ago. I made up a few of the card holders:
Card holders in vinyl: cute, huh?
and then took a look at the lunch bag pattern. Hummm... I think it would look cute with denim and lined with a checked laminated cloth for easy wiping off:
Lunch bag with top rolled down to show inside.
Lunch bag with flap over the front
I like a lunch bag with a nice squared bottom, large flap to cover the top even when it might be bulging, and a single sturdy handle. I made two the last time and only one has survived but it was time for a refresh. Since it was only laminated cloth, not a true vinyl, it was easy to sew up on my Viking Designer 1, but not so with a true vinyl. Here's some I cut out for the card holders:
Cut and matched pockets ready to sew
There is a larger inner pocket that is sewn up on three sides and then the outer pocked folds over it and is also stitched on both open sides and across the bottom just like the inner pocket. Problem was when my Designer 1 would not stitch the 2 thin layers of vinyl and kept catching the top edges under. Before I wrecked any more I took them to a Brother Super Select-O-Matic where they were stitched with ease. That's where I'll be stitching the remaining pockets I cut out. I did try a rolled hem on a serger but it also didn't like to feed the vinyl so I was back to the regular mechanical sewing machine.

There's a machine for each job and it's not often one machine can do everything. I think I'm kinda glad about that!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

River Rats TOGA Third Edition

We had a good weekend with the treadle aficionados in Lake City, MN, despite the heat and community celebrations. Coming from the Twin Cites to the southwest area of Minnesota, there were all kinds of motorcycle conventions and corn fests along the way to keep me focused on the road and get there on time. As per last year, I only attended on Saturday but it was great fun learning how to clean metal parts, heads with decals, how to identify feed sack prints, solving tension troubles, and the ever famous raffle late in the afternoon. I managed to bring three sewing machines and not take a single one home again. Oh wait, I did bring two in for repair consultation that did come home with me but that was the plan.

The Davis vertical feed came to me completely frozen up so the first thing was to get things moving again. With very patient cleaning and oiling it finally broke through and had complete movement. I continued to clean and put parts back where they belonged until I decided to thread it up and stitch. There was a part missing, just the first thread guide, but it looked odd. Since I have another Davis I looked at it only to find there was a small disk, just like the ones found in a tension mechanism held in place with a screw and spring. The bag of parts that came with this machine did have a small screw with spring but no disk. There was no solution at the TOGA and no additional parts but when I got home I looked in my boxes of parts and think I found one that would work:

Davis with top thread guide added
Next up was the little Ruby sewing machine head. She was a freebee given to me by a neighbor who is also a co-worker. It started with not knowing how to thread it, then finding a needle, so Cathy and Bill both worked on it with me:
Cathy and Bill debate how the tensioner should be functioning
There was something wrong with the top tension mechanism so it was taken apart and put back in the correct order.
Ruby with repaired tensioner
Cathy knew how to thread it but it would take a much longer needle. She showed me a neat little trick in lowering the needle to the right length and how to make a small guide to use each time the needle needed to be replaced:
Needle positioner
Once we had it all threaded up it kept jumping out of the take up lever so it was decided it needed some surgery. Cathy made up a new ring to replace the broken part using jewelry wire and her handy tools for making jump rings:
Ruby has some surgery

New ring in place
With only a small amount of tweaking it did stitch. The shuttle bobbin was adjusted until the stitch was perfect, at least for black bobbin thread, always a no-no when testing out stitch tension:
Ruby Stitches!
Now I need a table to put little Ruby in and I think that's going to be very hard to find. It's a standard small treadle opening but the back pins are spaced wider than usual. It did come with the wood top and tray so I can hope to replace the top of a standard treadle with this topper. Maybe?

I did go to Cindy's storage shed and came back with a cool machine but that's going to be another post since it is waiting for a belt: to be continued!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Margie's New Home

So many of the sewing machines I come upon have a long history that I will never know but my find today is an exception. Marge and I go to church together but actually met in the grocery store parking lot. I was walking from my car when I heard "Hey, hey! Don't you go to my church in Fridley?" and I turned to find an older woman half in and half out of her car. Sure enough, it was Marge and we talked long enough to figure out we only lived a mile apart. One event lead to another and I started picking her up on Sunday morning so we both would have someone to ride and sit with. Over the past decade she has become a widow, I got married, we met each other's families and have shared our personal histories along with countless rides to church together. Turning 80 in August was the tipping point for Marge as she ended up in the hospital and is now moving to an assisted living facility.Sweet as always, she wanted me to have her sewing machine so I went to pick it up last weekend:

New Home 560 in cabinet after cleaning
Not only was it a very nice New Home model 560, it came fully equipped with a full set of cams for decorative stitches, original accessories in their tin box, and a paper manual to teach you how to use this machine. Score! The cabinet turned out to be a four drawer model and was in decent shape, too. I brought it all home and got to work, cleaning, oiling, and tuning up. It hadn't seen oil in decades and the pristine oil can testified to the lack of oil supply but that is easy to remedy. There are no nicks or dings on the machine and it runs terrific. Although it is all metal and very heavy, the desk it comes in supports it and makes for a very nice sewing station. The top surface had scratches but no water stains or anything that would require serious refinishing. Out comes Howard's Restore-A-Finish in Maple/Pine for a great restoration:
Cabinet after restoration
This was a perfect application of this kind of product. It is a combination of chemicals that will soften the surface finish and you simple move it around to fill in scratches and weaker spots. After it dries you can give it a coat of wax to preserve the finish and it is ready for new life. Here's a sample of the stitches with cams:
New Home 560 sample stitches
I can't wait to see who gets this lovely sewing machine in a great cabinet/desk for a new life with a New Home. Marge would be proud.
New Home 560
This weekend is the River Rats TOGA, an event I have gone to the past two years and where I met Sally, a very creative quilter and seller of vintage sewing machines, too. It's always a fun time with demonstrations for treadle and hand cranked sewing machines, items to show, some to sell or buy, and the fabulous raffle that raises money to put all of this together. I have several sewing machines to donate to the raffle, some fabric, and I'm still looking for other items of interest. My first year I stayed with Sally in her motor home and we even got my husband to join us. Little did we know that was going to bring our husbands together for fishing and hunting trips over the next two years. They are now moving to a warmer and more hospitable climate in their retirement but we are having one last hurrah on Saturday with just the women. I'll let you know about my great finds when I get back: I always have high hopes!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Super Select-O-Matic Twins

I have written ad nauseam about the Brother Select-O-Matics (just keep clicking if you are bored with me) but I have now come across two Super Select-O-Matics. As you can guess, they are super, too. What makes them super? My hunch is when they made the newer models they had to call them something so they add words or numbers onto them to indicate new features. The Supers' are a bit more intuitive, but not much, and I think they still need a manual A scanned copy was found as well as a nice article about this model (even the same color scheme) in The herd is growing again! by Stitchified. Once you have used the first iteration of the Select-O-Matics, the newer ones do not seem to be a great improvement and I think I like the looks of the original one better anyway. But like all things, the newer models are usually bigger and with more features:
Cream and blue Super Select-O-Matic

Okay, just a bit bigger but the functions are exactly the same. They still have the fun two tone look of an older car, in cream and blue or pink and teal. They are so smooth, quiet, and  understated. Everyone should have a sewing machine this nice.
Stitch selection: I got crazy with thread while making this one up!

My first one was given to me and I kept it quite awhile. It was pretty beaten up but that was part of its charm, a history I could only imagine! It also came with about fifty bobbins, most with a dot of pink on the outside: nail polish? Someone wanted to keep theirs identified from all of the rest, I guess.  It lived in a portable case, not a great idea for a machine this heavy, so when I found another one in pristine condition, I found a way to add another cabinet into my sewing room. The first one now lives in South Dakota, I'm proud to say, as I wrote about in  Letting Go. Hope Linda continues to enjoy sewing on that little girl.

So now I have several of this model, some in two-tone pink and teal, some in aqua, some are Super and one has no model number at all. Portable, in tables or cabinets, they are all a sweet sewing experience and I'm all about the experience! The cream and blue model came in a table that I was ready to get rid of  but once I got it home and looked at it carefully I could see it was decent and maybe could be fixed up a bit. I got out the electric sander and went to work on it, taking it down to the wood surface on the open top, closed top, drawer fronts, and the rest of the front.
Table sanded

I could leave the sides and back so only had to use Howards Restore-a-Finish on those parts. I stained it with walnut and then red mahogany with a final 2 coats of water based polyurethane in satin and semigloss. I'm pleased with the way it turned out:
Nice edition of the mid-century modern look

Rather than returning the same Brother Super Select-O-Matic, I think I'm going to put the teal and pink model in this table. It seems to make a better statement? Well, I'm going to have to see if the cords all fit first. I'm also working on getting the right belt and working out the vibration and extra noise.
Super Select-O-Matic in pink and teal
Sorry for the long delay between posts but I've been sewing up a storm with the deadline coming for the three craft shows I've signed up for. So far I have about 80 new hot mitts with about 40 left to sew but they are all cut and sandwiched, stacked and ready for the industrial. Yesterday I took them out to the garage and sewed on the Singer 78, a great walking foot model. It was nice for a change and it seemed the process went faster than the Reliable Barracuda but I just can't keep something that large in my house and the Singer 78 has to leave the garage this year. Sigh.If only I lived in a warmer climate? No, this is keeping me from hording and someone else will love this industrial. Could it be you?
Singer 78 industrial walking foot

Friday, August 31, 2018

Maintaining Good Will

Despite my dim view of some brands of newer sewing machines, I have to make exceptions from time to time. For instance, I have an embroidery machine, a Singer Quantum XL-6000 that I wrote about in Revised Opinion, that is fantastic and enjoys a great reputation. Modern Singers have a wide price point so you can bet you get what you pay for: one lesson to learn is a cheap Singer will sew adequately but do not expect it to last. If something goes wrong, there is no repair, just toss it. This goes against my principles so I generally will not buy this type of machine. But then they have their higher end models, like my embroidery machine, and they are pretty sweet. Last night I sat down with a Singer Quantum CXL and got a pleasant surprise. It worked pretty well and was even a bit intuitive (I'll still download and print a manual).
Singer Quantum CXL
Before I bid on this one, I checked out reviews and parts to find there was something odd about the foot control. It had a different connection than most and they were no longer making them nor a substitute. Without a foot control, how could I hope to use it? Checking a free manual online via Singer, I could see there was a feature of using a button for control so possibly no need for a foot control. I also saw a very neat way they stored the accessories with a slide out tray on the right side of the machine, similar to the Elna 5000-9000 series.  My last twenty second bid was successful and it was mine! Would it be a yea or a neigh? I went to pick it up yesterday and the first thing I checked was that accessory tray: it was there and complete!
Slide out accessory tray with smoked plastic cover up
 With an extra electrical cord, I plugged it in and it worked! It is going to take a some practice in using the controls with just my hands but others do this and I think there is a population that likes this choice.
Singer Quantum CXL: red button for stop and start: easy!
Before I pick up my winning bid item, I went next door to the outlet and it turned into my very lucky day. My little eye spied a Viking case and I hoped it would have a model 21 inside. Not only did it have that prized model but it was clean and fully loaded:
Husqvarna Viking model 21

Inside the suitcase was the extension table, original manuals, stitch wheel, original accessory box with double layers for everything essential:
Double layer accessory box
There was a Viking booklet with sewing ideas dated 1959 so there were varieties of aprons, table decor, even bath "wrap-arounds." The machine itself is amazingly clean so I'm guessing it was gently used. It needed to be run plus the needle position lever was stuck on the right, very fixable. What a great find and all on the way to pick up another deal. I love this business!
Viking 21 manuals, booklets, and stitch wheel