Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Cabinets, Again

What a fun sewing weekend I had, full of machines, sewing, interesting conversations, and even a freebee at the end. It all started with the outdoor furniture that needed to come down from the garage attic but, as usual, there were sewing machines in the way. Correction: there was a snow thrower in the wrong part of the garage so first it needed to be moved. There is space for it way at the back, at least during the off season, so that gives me hope for storage if not actual convenience when it needs to be used.

With that big baby out of the way I could see what was left: a whole lot of cabinets and all with machines in or on them. Before they got too tightly packed I took some photos so they are now ready to list for sale, at lease two of the treadles are now ready to go. The Davis in the stunning cabinet is going to be difficult to let go of since it has the vertical feed foot, very cool machine in a fantastic cabinet:
Parlor cabinet for Davis Vertical Feed
Davis vertical feed in treadle cabinet
Then comes the New Home treadle, with near perfect decals and a joy to treadle. I will be sorry to see it go, too:
New Home Vibrating Shuttle
New Home cabinet, a plain model but in excellent condition
Taking a look at the black metal box with accessories, it could use a little cleaning up so I took metal polish to them and the results were worth the effort:
Classic accessories for vibrating shuttle machine but now so shiny!

Some of this movement was made possible by the sale of a Necchi Mira in a compact cabinet. It held a near permanent spot in my kitchen:
Compact cabinet for Necchi Mira

Necchi Mira with Wonder Wheel
but it sold and not-to-let-a-spot-grow-cold a Brother in a similar cabinet moved from the garage into the kitchen:
Compact cabinet for Brother Sewing Machine
Brother (no model number)
There is a downfall to the Brother cabinet: it's missing the chair cushion. It is not just a matter of buying foam (already did that) but to construct a whole base for the seat and that's going to take getting out the saw and....well, my Power Tool for Women class last fall didn't prepare me enough to use my own power tools, just those in class. I have hopes of getting it out soon and finishing up this project but I'm so fond of that Brother model that I don't mind having it around a bit anyway. Cool cabinet, isn't it?

While I was home on Saturday I found an ad for a free sewing machine. No model number, no photo, but nearby. Turns out, even though I was second in line, the first person said it wasn't heavy duty enough for her sewing and took a pass on it. I buzzed on over but didn't have the Jeep so I knew I was going to have to take the head out of the small table. Without the proper tools, only have two screwdrivers with me, I ended up taking out eight screws in order to remove the hinges. But I got it all home, cleaned up and oiled, found a set of power cords and foot control that was missing, and away she went:
Elna 65C
She was very dirty but sound inside. The owner said he was actually going to toss the machine and burn the cabinet up in his backyard but just took the chance someone would want it. I sent him a text when it was all cleaned up with a stitch sample and he was amazed and glad it went to a good home. I'm happy, too, because it would be a shame to put something as fine as an Elna into a landfill. Another win-win for sewing machine nuts; if you are reading this, maybe you should join us, too? You would be in good company, very good company!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Three of a Kind

This is the season for buying up sewing machines as people clean house and decide they are no longer going to keep broken or unused items around their house. That is where I step in and take the sewing machines they no longer want off their hands: well, some of them, at least. Experience has shown me there are some to never buy again (Singer Touch and Sew, for example), and those to run towards (Brother Select-O-Matic, a favorite of mine). This past weekend I got to pick up several and meet up with an old friend in the buying.

A very cool German hand-crank was offered and I jumped at it on Sunday afternoon. Come to find out, it was from Joe who reminded me I sold him a Singer 66 and started him on this new hobby of repairing and collecting sewing machines. So how did he come across such a fine machine when I had to buy mine off of eBay? Joe is retired so when he saw an ad locally he could fly right out the door after it; there are some advantages to being retired, I guess! My husband and I stopped over after dinner to check it out and were happy to renew our friendship and talk about sewing machines. As we looked at his collection, we eventually made it from the garage workshop into his home where we met his lovely wife who is quite talented in her beading and pottery creations. We could have stayed for hours hearing their stories and admiring their creations and collections. I always say I meet the nicest people buying and selling sewing machines and sometimes it goes both ways with the same person.
Harris hand crank
Once home and examining my petite Harris hand-crank, I had to compare it to my other hand-cranks. It has the transverse shuttle like the Optima, very similar to a Singer model 12, but smoother than the Optima or the German model. It is interesting that all of my hand-cranks are German made, no Singers, but I understand there were far fewer made and distributed in the United States than in the UK where they made and used them long after electricity was in general use. Anyone watch the early episodes of "Call the Midwife" where in the late '50's they use a hand-crank sewing machine on the dining room table? Here in the US we were either using a treadle if electricity was iffy, possibly because he have larger homes and just more space in general in this big, wide open country, but I digress. Here are some photos of my collection of three:

Harris in front, Optima in the center, German at the back
Definitely large, medium, and small sizes
View of their mechanisms
They are quite lovely but each one has its flaws that I will not point out at this time: let there be a little bit of mystery! The next day someone posted locally about a sewing machine they had that looked like the photo they used in the ad - a hand crank! Could I be this lucky? I was patient and waited until she could take a photo of the actual sewing machine and, alas, it was a mere Singer 66.  I should have known it was too good to be true but that is okay with me as she got a bit of education in what she actually possessed and its value.

There are plenty more stories in Sewing Machine Mavin's life just this past week as it continues to be a very busy time for buying and selling sewing machines. Stay tuned for the next adventure!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Kenmore Crazies

My longest lasting sewing machine was a Kenmore 158-17812 so I still have a soft spot in my heart for those machines and this week I have been dealing with three different Kenmore's, all 158's. It started with a Kenmore 158-161 that I got as part of the Judy haul back in November:
Kenmore 158-161 before cleaning
I asked if I could keep this one, especially since it came with no cams and needed a Kenmore cabinet or case with the squared edges. I've been looking for a table since then as well as the flat style E cams that are needed for this model. The cams were found but when they arrived the center section with the buttonhole attachment set was badly cracked. Not a big deal since I found I had one already in my sea of boxes and attachments:
Kenmore flat cams with buttonhole kit
Half way there, I now found a table advertised as free: just my price! It came with another Kenmore 158 but when I was putting it into my car the neighbor yelled across the street that the machine wasn't working right. No problem, I yelled back, I really wanted the table. When home and checking it all out, I see the table needs refinishing:
Kenmore cabinet

Kenmore cabinet open, note sharp edges of the cutout for a Kenmore
but it does have the correct cutout. The Kenmore 158-161 technically fits but there is an anchoring screw that doesn't line up, not a big deal, but not quite right either. Of course, I can't leave the machine that came in this table by the side of the road so I take it, too, and check it out at home. It sure doesn't work too well: it was all gummed up. My guess is the wrong type of oil was used and now it has sat and solidified into a sticky mess. There is much cleaning with good sewing machine oil, Triflow, and over several weeks I get it to sew.
Kenmore 158-13250
No, I get it to move, then it finally will sew. And sew it did:
Kenmore 158-13250 stitch sample
That is a nice stitch, a good set of basic stitches including a four step buttonhole:
Kenmore 158-13250 stitch selection
I go back out to the garage and check out the table again, knowing I'm going to refinish it for at least one of the machines but now I have to decide which one. I can get the Kenmore 158-13250 back in it and since it is running perfectly now maybe it should just go back in there. But what about the Kenmore 158-161? I'm on the hunt again but have a friend who is looking to downsize and hope she has a Kenmore cabinet for me.

Then there is one more Kenmore this week. With half price sales at my favorite resale stores on Memorial Day, I stopped over and spy a Kenmore 158-13571 that was looking good. Electronics were not on sale so I waited until the next day and snatched it up on senior discount day:
Kenmore 158-13571
It cleaned up nice, came with a good set of attachments that included the buttonhole attachment, all in the classic green portable carrying case. Talk about win-win! Here's the stitch sample:
Kenmore 158-13571 stitch sample
A few more stretch stitches than the 158-13250 but all of the basics and a good, solid sewing machines for beginners and occasional sewers, too. You can hardly go wrong with any of these Kenmore's, just keep them clean and use the right sewing machine oil, not WD-40 or 3 in 1, but a sewing machine oil like Triflow. As I head into the weekend and have to work on Saturday, I'm satisfied with my progress on these Kenmore's and know they will find a good home down the road and will have many more years of sewing ahead of them, too. And why not? They are Kenmore 158's.







Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Bad Bernina Nova

Since I've been on a roll with Bernina's lately, I came across a deal for a Bernina Nova:
Bernina Nova with mustard colored accents
This model has intrigued me: smaller size, portable with built-in handle, wrap around case, all with the Bernina quality. How could I go wrong? Apparently, I do not learn from past mistakes because there are so many ways it could be unfixable and I just have not stumbled upon them...yet. But cute is cute and a deal was struck and it arrived. Once cleaned up and running I could see that it had great potential but there must be something wrong with the foot control because it was full speed ahead only. I took it apart to check and clean but it looked pretty normal even if it was a bit funky looking:
Bernina Nova foot control: funny hat style?
It reminded me of the Elna's with a bladder inside but it is not like that at all just different looking. I did more research and found a possible answer on the Bernina Facebook group. There is an electronic board inside with connections that are known to go bad over time. I looked at mine and although there was black residue it was hard to tell if it had gone bad:
Circuit board in place before repair: looks okay to me!
All was not lost because there was someone in Utah who repairs or replaces them for a reasonable charge. I got in touch with Neal, sent photos, and decided I needed to send my board to him. Then began the process of removal:
Connections to the motor
Tiny frail parts that nearly broke off
Black gunk where the board sits: this doesn't look good
Other side of board once removed
I took photos because I feared I wasn't going to be able to put it back together again! It took only a week or so and Neal confirmed it was done and sent it back once I paid for the repair plus shipping. It arrived and I pulled up those photos and reassembled it. Even with the photos it was difficult to figure out but I put it all back to the best of my ability, plugged in the machine and gingerly tried the foot control....and it worked! No more racing foot control, stitches were perfect, and we have a winner!

This was such a relief since a good machine like this deserves to be used and even electronics can sometimes be repaired. It would be a nice skill to learn but, for now, I am very satisfied to send parts out for repair. I titled this post "Bad Bernina Nova" but the model itself is not bad, just the circuit board went bad. With Neal's expert help, it is now fully healed and looking for a new home. That's a win-win in my book. Here's a peek at the carrying case:
Portable case with handle from machine showing
Inside case: extra presser feet and other accessories
That's portable! Although not really heavy like the Bernina Record models, it is portable with the handle but still not lightweight. An excellent sewing machine and as good as new so I am very satisfied. How about you? Do you have a Bernina success story to share? I would love to hear it!


Thursday, May 24, 2018

It's Golden

Putting all of these sewing machines to use can sometimes be a challenge. I did manage to rescue some flour-sack type of towels from the Goodwill Outlet a few weeks ago but it was a mixed blessing. They came out of the dryer in such a wrinkled mess that I feared they were going to have to go to the rag pile. Deciding to see if they could be made useful, I pressed four of them only to find out the selvedge edge would get all stretched out. I tried hemming one of them and it just looked all distorted. I put it aside to give it some thinking time and came back to it with the following save: why not cut off the distorted part and hem again with a trimmed edge? I figured the trimmed edge would give it the weight it needed to keep it straight and true. Here's how it turned out:
Flour sack towels trimmed, using Franklin treadle

Which sewing machine did I use? The Franklin treadle I wrote about in Another Brother. I still have four more flour sack towels and this time I'm going to try to use rickrack trim, interwoven to give it a different look.
Flour sack towels trimmed with rickrack using New Home treadle
In another sewing project, I needed a jacket/coverup to go with a dress I planned to wear to a wedding. Actually, we had two weddings in one weekend so there was a parade of fashions and photos sent to sisters and daughters before the right outfits were settled on. A dark blue satin sheath dress with gold high heels really needed something....besides jewelry. I picked out some gold sparkly fabric that also was a stretch knit. At half price it was only $8 for the light weight jacket and an easy pattern, too. Using a serger would make it go quickly but I feared it was going to be scratchy with those exposed edges around my neck and on the inside of my arms. To the rescue: use organza bias strips to line the seams!
Organza bias strips over seams

It seemed like a good idea but wasn't as easy as it sounds. It was slippery stuff that didn't want to press flat but it finally was done:

Gold Jacket: McCalls 6084
It did the job by not showing too much and the jacket was not at all itchy. Success!
Happy Uncle Jim and Aunt Karen at the wedding dinner

Friday, May 18, 2018

Another Brother

Ah, Brother Select-O-Matics have stolen my heart...again. You are right if you are thinking I had quite a few of this model, even keeping the best-condition model, and I continue to buy, restore, and sell this beloved sewing machine. Another one came up for sale and it is now sitting in my garage, waiting for a cleaning and small amount of repair on the cabinet. Judy introduced me to a beautiful Brother cabinet that she guessed had been used by a dealer as a special promotion. And now I have a cabinet with the same Brother decal:
Brother decal, probably a promotion item
My cabinet does not have the convertible treadle to electric function but it is still a fine piece with an excellent sewing machine:
Brother Select-O-Matic
This one even came with a set of attachments and another box with even more parts that belong to a couple other sewing machines but I took all of it in hopes of using it someday. The cabinet does pose a few problems: chipped veneer and a stain on the top. There is a fairly glossy finish on this veneer so not sure how to restore and what can I do about the chips? It sounds like it is time to take it to Woodcraft in Bloomington , MN to see what they can do to help restore those chips. It's possible the top with the ring stain can be restored with Howard's Restore-A-Finish but I will need to buy a new bottle with that very blond shade. Before I purchase anything I think a trip to Woodcraft would either confirm that decision of lead me down a better path.
Brother Select-O-Matic in open cabinet

Brother Select-O-Matic in closed cabinet
On the search for another convertible treadle cabinet, I have actually found one! You have to be diligent when searching and this time it paid off. Here's my tip: click on every photo because what might seem like a photo of a sewing machine head you are not interested in reveals a cabinet you are dying for.So excited, we went a day early to pick it up:
Convertible treadle cabinet?
That's when we found out it wasn't convertible after all. What a huge disappointment! I still bought it and brought it home, working to get it limbered up and clean.
Franklin Rotary ready to treadle
 This is one of the sewing machines that runs backwards from Singer: you push the handwheel away from you instead of towards you. It does have all of the treadle mechanism hidden away:
Behind that door is the big wheel and shelves

that can be closed to keep little hands away.
It's still going to be a nice treadle and in good shape once I refinish the cabinet. Since most of the finish is already gone and the lines are pretty clean and simple it will be fairly easy to make it look beautiful again. I already had a set of attachments and bobbins in excellent condition so now it will be complete.
Franklin Rotary in treadle cabinet (before refinishing)
I'm still on the hunt for one of those convertible treadles and I'm confident I will find one ... some day. Patience is a virtue, I hear.



Saturday, May 12, 2018

Treadle Abundance

Right now I have five treadle cabinets with machines in all but one. When it rains it pours! It all started late last fall when my neighbor had his mother's Wheeler & Wilson 9 up for sale. I managed to store it in the garage over winter, not a good idea, but it was in pretty rough shape. It is still in rough shape and I'm just not ready to deal with the cabinet problems as well as getting the bobbin to work so it will continue to wait for me.
Wheeler & Wilson #9
Next up was the adorable New Home in a compact parlor cabinet. It's one of those petite 3/4 sized machines but it also had to wait in the garage over winter. I've been working on cleaning it up, the cabinet and the machine, and think it's in pretty good shape. The threading is different with the top tension unit besides being a vibrating shuttle model.  I continue to struggle with setting the boat shuttle in the vibrating swing arm but practice makes perfect.
New Home treadle cabinet

New Home treadle cabinet open

New Home treadle: bobbin winder out for cleaning
 I got the two parlor cabinets without machines and they are now all cleaned up and working as noted in Whiplash. I have enjoyed showing them off, especially after I got the Davis treadle. It was an adventure after winning the local auction and picking it up by myself. It's not a big treadle and I figured since it would come apart into at least three sections and I would be okay to disassemble and haul it. It was easier said than done. The head came out easily but the wood cabinet was not all one piece but at least three pieces with the side drawers coming off first. My screwdriver was too long so that was a struggle and even to find the screws when it was so sunny outside and so dark under that cabinet! With the drawer sections removed I was now ready to take off the top, but not until I removed the large shield held on by three screws on each side. One of the screws just turned and turned so it had to be carefully coaxed out. Now the top could be unscrewed from the irons, held on by only four screws. It all fit into the back of the Jeep and made it home safely. With all of those pieces all over the floor of the garage I wanted to get it back together again but it was not obvious how it would all work. My husband helped me in this part but it was a struggle. Let's just say it is all back together and we are still married. It got cleaned up with Howard's Feed & Wax on the wood with Johnson's paste wax on the irons after a scrubdown. It got posted on Facebook Marketplace with a half dozen people interested and only one needed to show up to pick up.
Davis treadle cabinet

Davis treadle top
It was crazy how many people were interested in this cabinet that was far from perfect and contained no sewing machine. I finally broke down and asked one person why they wanted a treadle and they said it was for their TV. Is that all? No, she learned to sew on a treadle with her grandma and it would bring back fond memories. I said I would keep her in mind if I found another one...cheap.

As a final bit of eye candy, here is the Davis in her new cabinet. She is not only pretty, she runs like a dream. I think it was worth the struggle!
Davis in new cabinet: a real beauty!