Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Cover Up

I love having sewing machines on display although I really don't have room for any type of display shelves. I make do with having a few on top of the cabinets that are for sale or on the breakfront that is near the front door. The Singer 99 hand crank seems to be permanently on display and it does get a lot of compliments but she's getting dusty sitting out all exposed. At the River Rats TOGA last September I noticed one woman's solution: a cover that was backed with fusible fleece to give it body so it would nearly stand up by itself. Here's the best part: her fabric was printed with the words "Singer" in their own font. Oh, I had to have some of that fabric! It's not cheap but I figured I would make one to see if I could sell others and last weekend was my opportunity.
Black background with gold Singer motif, very elegant.

 I measured my machine for length and width, cutting out the fusible fleece first as my base pattern. Then the Singer fabric was laid out, fusible fleece on top, cutting out with 3/4" seam allowance:

Base pattern of 19" by 26.5", adding seam allowance to Singer fabric

I made up a pattern piece for the side panel and repeated the process, cutting out two of each:
Size before adjustment of 1" off the bottom edge
My fusible fleece was not too happy about fusing onto the back of the fabric so I went ahead and sewed through the fleece and outer fabric along lines that basically underlined the words "Singer" to keep it all together. With my fabric sandwiches, I fitted the end cap piece and basted in place:
End cap fabric was too large, creating bulges
It looked terrible! There was way too much end cap fabric so I snipped out most of the basting threads and pinned it in place from the outside while sitting on top of the machine. This was more like using a dress form but this time I got it right. I checked the final version against my pattern and found out I needed to make that end cap about an inch shorter. Now I could serge the seams for a more finished look:
Seams were sewn and then serged as a seam finish. Note quilting lines.
I cut out lining that was fabric from a shower curtain where I had used the outer fabric but not the gold colored lining. Ta da:
Lining serged together, ready for sewing onto the outer shell
Measured to cut and formed around the finished quilted shell, I also serged these seams. With right sides together, the bottom seam was sewn with about eight inches left open for turning. Once turned so the right sides were now showing, it was pressed and top stitched around the bottom for a finished look and to enclose where it had been open for turning around:
And she lifts her skirt to show off the lining!
Here it is, on top of the Singer 66 Red Eye treadle cabinet where she currently resides:
I'll need to find a different placemat to set the Singer 99 handcrank on now that it has such a beautiful cover, but it does need something to sit on so it doesn't make marks on the wood top from movement. I wouldn't want to put felt on the bottom of the wooden base as it would then be slippery, a no-no when sewing. I like the placemat solution so that will be my next project. Maybe I could make one that is more interesting than just a black rectangle of fabric...suggestions? Would this be my entrance to free motion quilting? It just might be but for now I'm very happy with my Singer fabric cover for my Singer 99 hand crank:

Oh so sweet, my Singer 99 hand crank

Sunday, January 15, 2017

My Lotus Blossoms

As I have written about in a previous post, Hey Stella!, I love those little 3/4 sized sewing machines and have fallen hard for the Elna version. Stella comes with me from time to time, even visiting my workplace when I was making Dobby for a Harry Potter display. You can imagine how fast I jumped when I found out someone was selling, not one, but two, Elna Lotus model sewing machines. Sure, there were problems, but I thought they were all just challenges that beckoned to me. We struck a deal and they were coming UPS, faster than I could have imagined:
Lotus model 25 in front, model 35 in back
They were in terrific shape but traveled in subzero weather so I had to restrain myself to wait until they warmed up. The biggest disappointment was the top flap that conceals the accessories had broken through its plastic fittings so it no longer would hold in place. Bummer. But all else was great with the exception of the bobbin winders but they are on back order at Ray White's Sewing Center so I'll have to be patient or include a bobbin "Side Winder" with the sale.
Model 25 open with the bag holding foot control and cords
They were different models: a model 25 with basic straight and zigzag stitches and a model 35 that has an elastic zigzag and a modified blind stitch:
Model 35 with stitch selection dial
Of course, the more basic model, with the name lotus on the front had that broken top. I made up linen bags out of a vintage piece of fabric for the foot control and cords so they didn't scratch the bed of each machine and could also contain extra bobbins and a few other accessories.
Linen bags (confession: made up on a Bernina serger)
 The Lotus and Stella do not come with many extra feet so they are pretty slim and trim.
Lotus 35 accessory tray, only missing an oiler
 I hope I don't have to point out why they are called lotus but just notice the flaps when they open. Yup, like a flower blooming, the Lotus was the first model Elna made with the Stella coming later. I like how the Lotus has you place it in a parking mode when you are done:
Dot matches up to the 0 for locking in place
and then move the handwheel towards you and it locks in place. This actually disengages  the friction wheel so it does not get a flat spot on it, a major cause of rough running and uneven wear. Stella didn't have that but then there were other upgrades so I'm not complaining. So how did I fix the top from falling off? I have to pat myself on the back on this one: I used a thin piece of plastic coated wire, like a twist tie, and ran it over the end of the rod and then through the nearby screw hole, twisting it together underneath. Once the screw was in place it was held down and now could open and close without falling off. Voila!
Twist tie as a flexible fitting
They are just so sweet and I can't wait to call Kristie who showed an interest in my Stella. But she's "my Stella" and I'm hoping she will be interested in a cute Lotus for herself.

Here's an update on the Brother Select-O-Matic that traveled from St. Paul to South Dakota from my last post Letting Go. She's home!
Brother Select-O-Matic in a place of honor
I got these lovely photos from Linda who promises she's going to retrofit the treadle cabinet to fit the Brother (remember, she's a big gal and needs a cabinet). There's even a photos of their home, the same one where Grandma was born in 1899 and used her Brother Select-O-Matic (or one very similar):
Snowy South Dakota in January 2017
Now doesn't that just feel good to know where this little lovely ended up? She does look petite even if we can barely lift her and her two tone coloring is very appealing. I think all her nicks and dings on the bed of this model are just fitting since both this one and probably Grandma's were very well used. Linda plans on doing the same having already mended jeans on them (she doesn't waste any time). But look at this photo, above the sewing machine to see who is looking down on it:
Grandmother and the Brother

Congratulations to Linda (and Dale) for making this story have such a happy ending!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Letting Go

It can be hard to let our children grow up and take flight. I've always felt it was my job as a parent to prepare my children to leave, to grow up knowing how to take care of themselves and have an inkling of who they are or could become. That made it a tad easier when the time came to leave the nest because this was my goal and it was a success! But there are still moments that tug at our hearts.

The same can be said of some of our sewing machines. I know, I know, they are machines, not people, they don't have emotions, but I do think they have personalities. How we have acquired them, the time we spent fixing, coaxing, reading about, and sharing with other enthusiasts, have given them some degree of value in our lives. I remember my first Viking, now with my friend Ann, my second Viking, model 1100 that is currently not being used since I have a Viking 1200 now in its place. An early acquisition was a Brother Select-o-Matic, a hidden gem of a sewing machine that I quickly grew to love. Her biggest downfall was her full-metal body and innards: she was hefty! This kept me from using her since I had to hoist her up onto a closed cabinet and then it was too high for comfortable use but I still continued to drag her out and use her from time to time. It was love as only a mother could love because she was pretty beat up with nicks and chips from some pretty hard use but I said I didn't care.
Brother Select-o-Matic (my first)
Until a golden opportunity arose when one appeared on our local Craigslist: she was mine! Not only was she a Brother Select-O-Matic, she was in pink and teal plus was in perfect shape. She came home with me and is now installed in a cabinet for easy use.
Brother Select-o-Matic in cabinet
This model works no better, no worse, than my first one but she is much prettier. I almost hate to admit that as it sounds so superficial but it's true. It took several months before I had to admit I didn't need two and it was time for it to find another home. Fortunately, there were more calls than I had machines for but the first contact was from Linda. Linda lives in South Dakota, not real far away but not exactly in my neighborhood either. I think we both laughed it off a bit but Linda was serious and I knew this was too heavy to ship. But Linda is inventive.

If I could connect with her brother-in-law who makes frequent trips to the Twin Cites, she would send me a check and we would get this scheduled. Thursday was the day when my Brother meets Linda's brother and takes that long trip to South Dakota, outside of Sioux Falls.
Brother in case has to wait it out in my car all day
Through a series of emails and texts we finally met up; Linda said it wouldn't be hard to find Dale's truck and she was right:
Dale in his truck, ready to roll
As I thanked him for his very big part in this adventure, he said he was more than glad to help because Linda has done him a few favors from time to time, too. Just looking at the outside of the case he thought it looked familiar, just like the one Mom used, maybe even Grandma. Since it's from 1954 that's very possible. I was glad to have it go to such a good home but there was a bit of a lump in my throat as we drove off and I even have tears in my eyes as I write this. Sometimes those vintage sewing machines just find a place in our hearts. So Linda, from my heart ot yours, you know have a Brother like no other.
My Brother on left, Linda's on the right.

See the next post for the Brother Select-O-Matic in its new home!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Penny For Your Thoughts

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time you might have noticed there are ads on Sewing Machine Mavin's blog now. Thank you for reading my blog as I ramble on about vintage sewing machines and sewing on them. In my adventures at work I found a course on Google Analytics and as part of that course I was made aware of AdSense, a Google product where they manage ads on your web page and you make money. That seemed simple enough. After more searching about AdSense I found out not everyone who applies gets in, there are some specific things you need in place before you even apply, so now was the time to get all of my ducks in a row. I took to heart 12 Things to do Before Applying for AdSense so I added an "about" page, a policy page, and cleaned things up a bit. I even tried out new templates only to discard them. You are now seeing one that I'm trying out but don't expect it to stay. Then I applied to AdSense and waited for a few days. I got accepted! First try! That might not be unusual but not everyone gets in so I'm busy patting myself on the back.

Here's where the truth comes in: you make money but it's measured in pennies. As I understand it, from my blog post for every click on an ad I get a small kickback. Small, very small. I do get hundreds of visits every day so I think this is only going to grow so I check in every once in awhile to see what my earnings might be and wonder when they will cut me a check. Well...I need to reach $100 before they pay back. This could take years! I'm not going to get rick quickly but I hope the ads are interesting and relevant, add to my blog, and don't irritate you, my faithful readers, too much.

I read an article recently through the Treadleon Yahoo group about trying to put a Singer treadle in a museum or library collection at Harvard. This was a fascinating article for those of us with treadle sewing machines because it was an excellent model in very good condition that any one of us would like to have.

Apparently, Harvard had a difficult time finding anyone to put this Singer 27 with sphinx decals in their collection and it ended up in the office of a librarian. Of course. This librarian, a.k.a. Sewing Machine Mavin, has been known to bring a sewing machine to work but to have one in your office, to even have space for one in your office, would be a little bit of heaven while on the job. Sigh.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A New Home for a New Home

This is my tale of a sewing machine that I feared I would never fix and it would have to go into the parts category. It had such good "bones" in its variety of stitches, excellent condition, and neat storage for accessories.
New Home XL-II with extension table
What was the problem? A plastic gear in the hook assembly had cracked so it ceased to run. The owner was nearly giving it away since it was broken and said if I could fix it she would like to buy it back. Now I have to confess that was almost two years ago and I do not have the contact information anymore. I replaced the broken gear but could not get it to "stay" as it kept sliding back. Had I missed something? How could I get it to hold in place? I broke down and bought a service manual a year ago and checked to see if it could solve the problem for me and it seemed so but I made a very big mistake in not downloading it. Yup, it would only be available for two weeks and then it would be gone unless I downloaded it to my computer. And I didn't. Cheap and stubborn as I am, I was very reluctant to purchase it again so it waited many months until I couldn't stand it any longer and went back to the site again but this time I downloaded it and printed it off right away.

The manual was quite good and I could see by their diagrams and explanations that I wasn't missing any parts, all but one of the settings were correct, but it kept sliding back. Then I did something that moved it all into place. Voila! Now the machine would run, pick thread up from the hook, but the thread would get stuck. I check it over and over again but there didn't seems to be anything wrong. I applied the principle of WATT (walk away to think) several times and finally I took another long look at the whole mechanism to find the hook seemed to have a gap and that's why it was catching. Could I move it back? Sure enough, there were two tiny screws that would loosen and reposition it to close that gap. It took a few more trials and adjustments but it finally worked. It not only worked but it sounded better, too. Hallelujah, she was sewing again! I needed to use the instruction manual to figure out the stitch width lever and the automatic buttonhole maker, but it was sewing very nicely.
25 stitches plus buttonholes
Dial up one of the stitches
Sharon called up and was ready to try it out but icy roads were predicted in the afternoon so maybe she could come early in the morning? She arrived with her husband and a piece of double sided fleece. She admitted her white plastic Brother was not meant to sew two layers of fleece but just do minor repairs. Sure enough,  the New Home XL-II handled it with ease once the stitch length was at the max. She loved it, especially how the accessories were stored in the top compartment.
Accessories under top lid
Even the carrying case had a lift off lid that would hold even more supplies so all of your sewing would be in one place.

Hard plastic carry case
Top with handle
Top removed with sewing supplies storage

That would be "one place" if you didn't have a room-full of fabric, sewing machines, and all the items they require:
Earlier in 2016, just the side with the sewing machines

Might your life be so simple.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Good Housekeeping

It was fun to be home for an extra long week over the holidays so I could catch up on quite a few projects. Along with the final adjustment on a New Home XL-II sewing machine (that deserves its own post), I picked up a Deluxe Automatic 107:
Deluxe Automatic 107
She's a great two toned blue and in very good shape cosmetically. Although there was no manual, I figured it was pretty straightforward in operation.  See the shifter on the top? That's where you selected the various stitches that were built in with a camstack right next to the lever. Cleaned and oiled, I practice sime stitching but found it was hit or miss if I could shift into a different stitch. More cleaning. It still didn't work consistently. I didn't want to do it, but I finally took out the three screws that held the shifter in place, then the whole faceplate with three knobs had to come off, and then try to get the knob that protruded into the faceplate off (it was threaded but still took some maneuvering). This is what I found:
Under the shifter

Another gear for cleaning
Altogether there were five gears I could see that were like this. Out came the paper towels, toothpicks, and cotton cloth to wipe this gunk off so it would look like this:
All clean before regreasing

I can hear the relief on the clean gear
I really hate to pull out a mechanism like this for fear of not getting it back in place but it seemed to be easy to remove and replace. Although the cleaning of the gears was necessary, I'm not sure that was going to fix the problem. What was the hold up on the shifter? Here's the way it looked:
Shift lever on top left, bar with rider on right
The two bars next to the shift lever needed to be in perfect alignment in order for the lever to be able to move up and down. There was no fix for that but I did put a light coat of grease on them and hoped the cleaning and regreasing of the gears would be enough. It worked! Here's the stitch sample:
Deluxe Automatic 107 stitches: I made that 4 step buttonhole myself
Now that ain't bad is it? It reminds me of the Brother Select-O-Matic with those built in stitches and it does sound quite a bit like it. But it is a left homing needle  and the Brother is a center needle with a choice of left, center, and right. She's a fine machine so I put her in my only available case, plastic, but now she has some protection. I found a set of presser feet and a few more bobbins and she's all ready for sale. Maybe I will sew on her for awhile to see how she performs but I'm more than happy with this great find. Where does the title Good Housekeeping come from? She has a name plate that says "Good Housekeeper" but it's not original to this machine. I discovered the holes do not match up and it was held in place on one end by the faceplate. Who know what her real name is and I don't really care because she's great even as a no-name.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

When You Are Popular

It seems I have some popular sewing machines. This kind of thing seems to defy logic. Why are the Featherweight sewing machines, those Singer 221's, so sought after? They have their good points (lightweight, excellent stitch) but other sewing machines have these qualities, too. They are just popular! This takes me back to high school when certain classmates were seen as being the ones you wanted to be around: they were popular. Were they nicer than others, smarter, richer, physically more appealing? Well, yes, usually it was some of those assets. The same can be said for sewing machines: easier to use, pricey, and can do a few things very well. But it also boils down to a hidden factor that is unpredictable: everyone else wants them, too. So I have some popular sewing machines that I could sell over and over again.

One of my popular sewing machines is the Brother Select-O-Matic. I'm still getting calls about it! There are searches that bring up closed ads from Craigslist, Ad Hunt'r is one, so it is possible to get calls from interested parties months after your ad has closed. That means I can get emails from around the country asking if I would ship a sewing machine. No. But there are still interested parties in that gem of a sewing machine:
Brother Select-o-Matic as two tone

and in teal
Next up in popularity are vintage Berninas and there aren't any bad models, it seems. Right now I have three listed locally: 700, 807, and 1001. They are all very different from each other and manufactured decades apart but are beautiful stitchers, not as heavy as some, with a reputation for excellence:
Bernina 700: straight and zigzag stitches
Bernina 807 Minimatic: six stitches 

Bernina 1001: so many, many stitches!
 For my money, I would choose the 1001 because of the stretch and decorative stitches but I'm selling, not hording. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

Update on the recipe card tea towels: my daughters got theirs for Christmas and loved them. It took a moment for them to realize it wasn't just a random recipe on a towel (oh, Mom is so weird) but their grandma's recipe card on their very own towel "that I'm never going to wash!"

Kelly and Alison with their towels
 I also just received two more of the printed recipes of my aunt Marcella's that I'm going to hem and send one to my youngest sister, Mindy, and then have one for myself. Mindy, if you are reading this, expect yours in the mail next week. Now I should write a letter to my Aunt Marcella and tell her about her recipe card popularity; I hope she will get a big kick out of it. You see, it's all about popularity.