Sunday, August 20, 2017

Old Friends and New Friends

We are in the midst of a garage sale but I just had to quickly write this post in to keep you up-to-date. While we were getting ready and I'm picking out just a few of my machines to sell (two were only $30!) I'm still buying sewing machines. This is a very serious addiction. Anyway, here I am, picking up two Kenmore's that are just too good to be true. The Kenmore 158-1525 is just lovely, needing nothing but a light cleaning and some oil:
Kenmore 158-1525
As it turned out, a student at my school was selling it via Facebook Marketplace so imagine our mutual surprise when we were arranging time and place. The next day I stop over by the hospital to pick up a very nice Kenmore 385-162184 that was part of an estate sale. The seller told me someone else came to buy it and it skipped stitches so the buyer declared it needed to have the timing fixed and it wasn't worth that kind of a repair. The seller was just being upfront as she now saw it as a parts machine. As we talked on the phone I reassured her it probably wasn't the timing but more likely needed a new needle or some minor tweaking. Once home, rather than get things ready for the garage sale I just had to take a look: it was the wrong bobbin. There were clear plastic bobbins in the accessory box that were class 15 and one class 66. Yup, another class 66 was in the bobbin holder but Kenmore's are almost always class 15. Switched it out and it runs beautifully. I love the tapestry bag it came it, too, another plus:
Kenmore 385-162184 with tapestry bag
In a couple hours I had an appointment to sell some beginner sewing machines to Amy who is working with students who are learning to sew. This time I picked out a Singer 237 (classic), Elnita 220, and a J.C. Penny 7102. The stretch stitches sold her on the Elnita and Penny's sewing machines:
J.C. Penny 7102
Amy had asked if I could check out her "problem" machines so she dropped of a Janome that she said wasn't computerized. Well, it had an LCD display so that makes it computerized or at least electronic but I promise to take a look. Then there was a Riccar in an old suitcase type of carrier that she said was donated but I could just take it. Looks like it going to need some work on the tension dial since all of the parts aren't there. I'm excited to get a free machine that holds promise even though I have shelves full of the same. See, it's an addiction.
Riccar 8500
But before Amy came over, while the beginner's sewing machines were just getting set up, I get a call from Cheri, an old friend of sewing machine buying and selling. Do I have a Singer 404, she asks? As a matter of fact I do but she has to hurry since I have another appointment coming over. The Singer 404, a straight stitch only machine but gear driven, was just perfect for her friend and the price was perfect, too, since it was less than half the cost of a machine she had first looked at. They are nice machines but plentiful so no highway robbery is needed!
Singer 404 (same model, different case)
Cheri has more good news: remember the combination table with the Singer 99 in a bentwood case that fit down into the table?  I wrote about it in In a Line Up and now you are going to get a great follow-up to this little beauty. Cheri knew Bonnie Hunter, of Quiltville fame, would love it but figured it wasn't going to ship too well so she declared she would travel from Minnesota to North Carolina to bring it herself. In our get together this last week Cheri told me all about it and even sent me the link from Bonnie's blog about her Road Trip with the Minnesota Girl's! adventure. I loved reading about the joy this great little Singer 99 gave Bonnie and now hear she's gotten rid of her other 99's since this one was her best one! Here's one last photo of the Singer 99 and Combination Table No. 301:
Singer 99 in Combination table 301
Serious addiction or just another way to make friends while you love what you're doing? Who knows but I'm still havin' fun in the summertime here in Minnesota.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Maker Space

My work in a college library sometimes takes me down some interesting paths. Maker Spaces are a new term that has been coined to describe a place where ideas can become reality. Three D printers were the start of this kind of movement and it has grown to include all kinds of equipment and supplies. Our Maker Space includes a green screen, recording equipment, computers and special software, button making machine, manual typewriters, and even a sewing machine. Enter stage left, a Singer 237 from the Sculpture Department of the Art Department:
Singer 237 in table
It was full of plaster dust but with cleaning it came out working just fine. It's not too fancy but it does have zigzag and the feed dogs can drop and that was basically what we were looking for.  I made up the instruction sheets that are taped to the wall in the above photo and brought in a few basic supplies that we keep in a make-up tackle box and a common paper box:
Singer 237 with supplies
Free motion embroidery was practiced and I finally claimed some success by using a spring-loaded presser foot:
Darning foot with spring worked the best
So how was I going to demonstrate what this set-up could do? Enter Pinterest with so many ideas on free-motion sewing that I could hardly decide.  With much practice and some fabric from home I came up with the idea of making a tote bag, something our students might find useful. With my two samples of free motion stitching (I can hardly call them embroidery), I used the cat as a pocket and the vase as contrasting decoration for each side of the bag. Enter a serger:
Serger on loan with sewing machine at the back wall
for sturdy stitching and to give some interest in using this kind of a tool. Here are a few of the steps I took:
Front and back laid out with straps ready to be sewn down
Bias strips encased the top edge with long straps from top to bottom.
Stitching the cat pocket over the strap
The cat pocket was sewn on last right next to the rolled edge made on the serger.
Serger seam for strength and durability
I had to serger one edge twice because the first pass was made without the presser foot down. Yikes! We all make mistakes.
Tote bag side one

Tote bag side 2 with pocket
I can't say it was simple but it was creative and a way to show many skills at once, the types of sewing and serging that would be available. I'm hoping this is interesting to our students who might have their own ideas for bags or pillows or whatever they might be thinking about sewing. Now we wait for students to return from summer break and see what interest they might have in the Maker Space. You just never know when your "other" skills might be used while you are on the job!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Going in circles

There's been some talk on Treadleon about circular stitchers. I was intrigued so I looked them up to find it's a pretty cool foot you can easily buy:
Flower Stitcher attachment for low shank sewing machines
This one attaches to most low shank sewing machines and allows you to stitch in a circle. Not real impressive on a straight stitch sewing machine but when you try this on a machine with cams or other built in stitch variations, it can be pretty cool. My Googling of this object also brought me to the Singer Circular Stitcher and then I remembered I already had one. I found it on a shelf with various buttonhole attachments and such but it did not look like the one above:
Singer Circular Stitcher #161847 (note pin on far left side)
The box stated it was for Singer Touch & Sew sewing machines but I found out that only referred to the size of the screw that attaches it to the bed of the sewing machine. Since I had been working on a Kenmore model 54, I tried it out and found the holes sizes were just fine so away I went.

First you have to figure out how wide, or narrow, a circle you can make. I found out the smallest circle was almost four inches due to the adjusting rod hitting the edge of the device:
Rod with measurements at closest mark (note pin is covered)
Since this was just for fun and experimentation, I'm okay with that but it is pretty limiting. I understand the one above that is a foot attachment can only make small circles so maybe there is a combination of these two devices that will really work out nice. For today I got it going with a scallop:
Row one with a scallop
The part that looks like a push pin is the center of the circle so everything pivots around it. The first photo of the circular stitches shows the pin open and the second photo shows it with the cap back on. You don't need to push it along but do need to guide it. It seems the feed dogs aren't fully engaged or something and it needed a bit of help. Next up was an inner circle with a different cam and color of thread and then I discovered it couldn't go any smaller so I finished it off with the outside ring in a third cam and color:

Final round in bight color thread
Where the circle comes around to join is a bit of a crap shoot so there is a definite art to making it come back to the exact point at the right part of the stitch! I popped off my sample, cut around the edge and called it a beginners success:
Ta Da: it's a circle of......stitches?
Now I'm anxious to think up projects that could use this technique and you bet I'm ordering one of those attachment foot style stitchers to see what I can do with it. It's kinda fun and would have a different result with an Elna SU or a Bernina Record, don't you think? It was a nice little project for a Sunday afternoon while it was raining outside. What did you do on a rainy summer afternoon?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Winning and Losing

As in so many parts of our lives, this sewing machine business falls under the premise of "you win some and lose some" in terms of repair and sales. This past week was a good example of that. Earlier in the week I heard from a woman who was interested in the Viking 12 I had posted for sale. In my questioning her about what kind of sewing she was planning on using the Viking 12 for, she seemed to be a beginner. She agred, she was just learning and didn't know what she needed so I set aside a couple beginners sewing machines and sent photos but life intervened for both of us and she couldn't come until Sunday. As Sunday approached I got back to her but by this time she no longer needed a sewing machine. What happened? Maybe she decided not to tackle that pile of mending, she bought one from someone else, or a friend heard her talking about it and either loaned or gave her a sewing machine. Yes, you lose some.

There was someone earlier in the week who wanted to see the Pfaff Tiptronic 1069 but was visiting nearby and not exactly sure when he would be heading home. A quick text confirmed he would be around late on Sunday afternoon and that worked for me, too. While visiting a daughter on Sunday I get a call from Jack who is interested in a Singer 15-91 that's been sitting in my living room for almost a year. Currently, he's been using his grandmother's 15-91 and loves it but wants a back-up and mine looks great to him. He thought he could be at my house in an hour. So my husband and I say goodbye and while we are driving into the driveway Jack pulls up, too. I grab an extension cord and get it set up while I get a text from my out-of-town buyer, Vern, asking for my address.
Singer 15-91 in table
Jack is a young man who is fairly new to sewing and sewing machines so we have a great time talking about brands and models. Pfaff? Viking? Elna? Who are they? Rotary sewing machines don't have belts? In the midst of all this fun Jack pays for the Singer and when we look outside we see someone else coming up the driveway as it starts to rain. Really rain, like a downpour. Vern, my Pfaff Tiptronic buyer is just running the errand for his wife so they are discussing the Pfaff on the phone.
Pfaff Tiptronic 1069 stitch sample
 Bless his generous heart, Vern doesn't know anything about sewing machines but he tries to describe features to his wife and they finally say it will be fine for one of the kids, at least.
Pfaff Tiptronic 1069
The rain lets up and Jack makes a mad dash to his vehicle but since it's in a small table this is pretty awkward. The table has a nice finish so he can just wipe it down once he gets home. He did ask how I could sell such a fine sewing machine so cheap and still make money and I had to admit sometimes it's just a matter of timing and profit: his lucky timing and my lower profit. I'm hoping to see Jack again when he is ready for a zigzag sewing machine.

Vern is getting his sewing machine wrapped up in a box to withstand the rain and a trip back home when he departs with a final comment "If you get any more like this you can let me know." If only, Vern, if only. So we lost two sales to the beginning sewer but won two sales on Sunday afternoon for Jack and Vern. Yup, you win some and lose some but I hope I sent home two men that are happy with their new-to-them sewing machines with hopes of return visits. Who knows?

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Getting Organized

Craft fair season is approaching and I need to replenish several of my regular items, such as the hot mitts, and then generate a few new items to keep things fresh for my past customers and interesting for me, too. Before I started digging through fabrics I thought I needed to finish up some organization projects. We bought a 48 drawer unit off of Craigslist to store the sewing machine repair parts. This was an older hand-made item that had been painted at least twice, labels taped and re-taped in various positions on the drawers so I decided to start over:
Cabinet framework
This thing took up a whole bunch of space in our garage and we are getting ready for a garage sale so I was on a push to get it done and relocated to my basement workroom. All of the drawers came out, label and knob hardware removed, cleaned, holes filled and sanded. Choosing the paint color and drawer hardware was agonizing because I was only going to do this once so I better like it! Looking online for drawer pulls that would have a place for a label was a bit tricky: too big? too small? too pricey? color? I finally made up a few paper templates to see if they were in proportion to the drawers and then ordered 48 from China. This was supposed to take three weeks but they were here in about 10 days and by then I was done with all of the painting:
48 drawers with new paint
I decided to prime with Kilz so there would be no bleed through of old marks or things that only got sanded down but not off. Then they got three coats of paint because once this was in place it wasn't going to get painted again.

Adding the pulls was going to be tedious and I wanted them to be even so I made up a template to use on each one:
Outline of hardware
Red dots for screw placement
Hardware in place and screwed down
And repeat for all 48 drawers. Yes, it was tedious but the end result was excellent:
Ready for the basement
All of the drawers came back out and we put the framework on a two wheeled cart to carefully move down the steps. We went really slow with only a bit of the paint chipping off the bottom edge that I can just touch up with extra paint. So how was this going to sit on the floor? We decided to put down a cushion so the wood wasn't directly on the floor, cutting up an old bath mat:
Pieces of rubber mat were sewn together
I hope this doesn't turn out to be a nightmare if we get water in the basement, but there's always a downside to any decision. Cabinet in place, drawers were organized and filled over several days, and then I made up the labels:
Labels made in MSWord
I just made up a three column table in MSWord, practiced with font size, and filled in the correct names. I also needed a master list so I don't have to peer at the labels down in the back corner. There were three boxes of things that were too large to fit in the drawers so they are going to sit on top but not until that paint has a few months to cure. All in all, it's been a relief to have gone through everything, throwing out some broken parts, put like items together, and lighten the load on a few other places where I had miscellaneous parts.

This organization isn't going to make me a better technician but it will save me time and money when I don't have to search for items in three places and buy something I already own. At the end of the day I just have to say: anyone want a sewing machine motor? I think I've got a dozen.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Generosity of Strangers

I love the Husqvarna Viking sewing machines and the older the better. Recently I have been playing with a Viking 12 and sold a Viking 21 and 1100. Still old but more up-to-date, I've had a Viking Designer 1 repaired and I've enjoyed learning how to use the embroidery feature of this classic sewing machine. In one of the many Yahoo groups about sewing machines there was a generous offer of a Viking 21 to anyone who thought they could either fix it or use the parts. That got my attention but then I read the poster would prefer someone local so it she wouldn't have to ship it and, TA DA, I lived in her area. I sent a quick reply and Carol called me the next day saying I was the first local person who got in touch with her and was I still interested? Boy, was I ever! My husband picked me up after work and we drove about 20 minutes to West St. Paul to meet Carol and her Viking 21:
Original cabinet for Viking 21
The sewing machine head was out of the cabinet but she showed me how it fit together and I said I would be happy to take the whole thing, including the suitcase that had moisture problems. The machine head itself was good and since she was giving it away I didn't need to plug it in to test.
Viking 21
While we were packing it all into the back of the Jeep, she told the story of her mom sewing on the Viking 21 for many happy hours, making "everything." She even remembers the day they bought it and how she got to go along as they went downtown to pick it up. That must have been a very happy day for her mom. Carol said she doesn't sew and knew the machine had been sitting idle too long so just wanted someone to take it who would either use it or find it a good home. She came to the right woman!

Once home and cleaned up, the Viking 21 was a dream. She still worked great, had all of the original accessories, including two manuals, and all three of the insert cams.
Box of accessories is two layers deep
Here's the stitch sample:
Stitches on cotton from all three of the cams
I had to switch out the bobbin case before I could get those great stitches you see above. As I went to put the machine head into the cabinet, I couldn't figure out how it would lower down. There was a lever but how did it work?
Green circle shows lever that holds and releases the bed
It basically slid over to manually lower the head that was secured with those wood pieces. It didn't seem very sophisticated but it worked!
Head down into the cabinet with wood slid back into place
Everything cleaned up and ready to go, I hesitate to put it up for sale. It's a really nice machine, well cared for and not at all worn out. Someone is going to get a very nice sewing machine that is going to do all it needs to do: sew a good stitch, perform reliably, and give many more years of good use. Maybe not yet?

Viking 21 Sewing Machine in cabinet

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Far Afield

As much fun as I have in tracking down desirable sewing machines, I try not to travel too far for them. Over the years I have learned if you just wait it out another one comes along and it's closer to home and usually a better price. And then there are exceptions.

Even though I missed out on a Singer 12 treadle, the seller said she had a really nice Singer 15-91 with clear decals and it was a Centennial, born in 1951, the year Singer celebrated 100 years of business. The photos looked good and I said it was a GO but then didn't hear anything else. Win some, lose some, I said to my husband. In the meantime I found a Bernina Activa 145S on Craigslist but it was a bit too far away. Oh, just give it a try, I tell myself, so I emailed and asked if she came up to the Twin Cities. She doesn't but we did agree on meeting closer to me and still not far for her. Traffic was heavy and it was raining part of the way but we finally met up at Perkins where she rolled her baby in to keep it out of the rain:
Bernina carrying case
I said baby because the 145 is a 3/4 sized sewing machine, just a little whipper-snapper but comes with all of the features we have come to expect with higher end sewing machines: needle up, needle threader, LDC readout, mirror image (so blind hem can be left or right), etc. Oh, this is going to be fun!
Bernina Activa 145S
As with so many sewing machines, the accessories are part of the draw, too, and in true Bernina fashion, this one had a nifty storage box that fit on the back of the machine for easy transport and storage:
Bernina accessory box snapped into place
and then opened up to hold the extra presser feet, bobbins, needles, oil, etc.
So many goodies in this accessory box!
There's plenty of room for more feet that I'm sure Bernina would love to sell me but, honestly, they are worth it! With fifty different stitches there is plenty to keep me busy just testing them out. But there is more: an extension table AND a large Sew Steady plexiglass table that is perfect to support the weight of large projects, such as a quilt. But I'm still not done trying things out because there is a knee bar in the bag that attaches to the front of the sewing machine so when you press against it the presser foot lifts: look ma, no hands! I have to admit this one might be hanging around for awhile but we shall see.

Now back to the Singer 15-91 Centennial: I did get an email back almost a week later saying if I was still we take a 20 minute trip to pick her up:
Singer 15-91 Centennial
I haven't even cleaned her up yet but just look at those decals:
Singer 15-91 Centennial as a bird's eye view
She's going to have to wait, though, because the wiring is brittle and I'm going to have to work on that. It came in a painted table that had seen better days so I plan on using one of my wooden boxes. Besides, she's going to look so good she might just be on display.

So there are exceptions to traveling too far but I hope I don't get into the habit of this. Here's a bit of a confession: so there's this sewing machine over two hours away and we are looking to see if we can make the trip on Saturday. I tell myself I have so many other things to do but maybe a nice ride on the open road would be good for my car as well as me? There are so many excuses and so many beautiful sewing machines!