Sunday, October 23, 2016

Double Bind

The craft fair is only two weeks out so I pulled out some of my boxes of crafts for sale to find I really sold a lot of the hot mitts last year and needed some serious restocking. Wasn't that what I was buying all that fabric for? Right. I've been busy sewing up new hot mitts, over 40 have been cut out. But I've discovered a few things over the past five years that I wanted to share with you.

The first is the sewing machine I've been using. With so many layers, ten when I'm sewing the binding on, I will no longer use one of my good but not sturdy enough sewing machines. I've tried my Viking 1100 with a walking foot and a Pfaff 1222 with the IDT built-in walking foot and felt like I was going to run each one of these machines right into the ground. Next up was a Singer 15-91 and a 201-2 and they were not going to burn up but they were struggling even showing some skipped stitches. This time I got out the portable industrial, a Consew CP-206R:

Consew CP-206R
After getting over being afraid of it, I have been sewing through all those layers and more without any hesitation. Now, you know I'm all about the "experience" of sewing: how does it sound, how does the machine feel while sewing, even how it looks all add to this factor of "experience." All that had to go out the window when I needed to get 40 of these babies done pronto! The Consew is loud, feels clunky, and is industrial grey/white so it fails on all counts for the experience but it does sew without having to go back to resew areas and the stitches look good. She delivers so my idea about enjoying sewing goes out the window when I need superb functionality and the Consew certainly has that.

The second new thing I want to share with you is a technique that quilters have been doing for years but I'm new to this double binding effect. In the past I added the bias tape edging just like I was putting it on the edge of any cut edge using a two step process. First I would put on a single layer of the bias to the front of the item and then fold it to the back, pinning it in place, and hand sewing it on. It turned out nice but was pretty laborious, taking about 30 minutes per hot mitt.
Step one: bias strip, single fold (ripped out later)

Step two: bias strip folded over to back and pinned in place
 Now I take the same bias strip and fold the long raw edges together and sew the raw edge to the edge of the mitt:
Step one: sew raw edges together

Step two: trim excess fabrics and fold over, sew in place without pins
Now it is doubled right from the start and I can fold it over to the back side of the mitt and sew in place by hand without pinning. It only takes about 15 minutes per mitt this way, providing a double edge for better wear. I think this is brilliant and thank my quilting friends for sharing this tip. Since I cut all of my own bias binding for that exact match of fabrics I need to make sure I cut it wide enough so it can fold over and cover all those layers but that's been the only real problem. Here's an array of what I'm sewing on, just to give you a flavor of the fabrics I been using:
Hot mitts in various stages of readiness

It was also another big sale week with a church garage sale and more from Goodwill Outlet:
and there is more...

Next up will be my heart pot holder that I've been experimenting with various fabrics to piece little squares. Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Fall Treat (No Tricks)

We were in for a pleasant treat when the Textile Center in St. Paul had an off-season garage sale. This wasn't the usual extravaganza they hold every spring with their silent auction and famous $5 a bag sale at the end. It was a very pared down sale held in their own facility in their multipurpose room but was nicely done and good items and prices were to be found. Although we did have to drive around a bit to find the Center and off-street parking but that was mainly due to our own ignorance (plus I was driving, not my husband) plus there was no $4 parking fee either. I managed to find ten patterns at their famous price of $1 for all ten:

Alog with the usual little girl dress patterns (will I ever have enough?) there were a few fun summer dress patterns for myself, a Vogue wedding dress pattern dated 1999 (how could I resist?), and two vintage patterns for a total of nine. When I told my husband I was short one he found this little gem:
Sorry for the sideways view but can't edit for some reason!
I was skeptical of the sizing but when we looked at it closer I could see the sizing is the same as today with a men's large having a 16-16 1/2 neck. Women's sizing has changed all over the place but from fifty years ago men's have stayed the same? This is an interesting comment on American life, no? Here's the two vintage patterns that have me all excited:
No dates on these gems but guessing 1962?
The wrap around skirt and blouse are straight out of the early 60's and I'm sure this is the pattern I used to make my first skirt. My sister Sue might remember this one as I think she made this skirt in Home Ec. and then I made it up, including the blouse that was way over my head in skill. Check out the sizing on these patterns: size 14 that is more like a size10 or 12 today.

The fabric was also a deal with quite a few quilting cottons in zipper bags with about a yard in each for $3. Here's some of what I brought home:

There were a few knits that caught my eye:
as I think about the bottom green (really bright in person, but not in this photo) that would make up fun little girl leggings, some was swimsuit fabric (top) for those cute panties for the little girls in my life along with a cotton knit in a rather wild '80's print.

The super bargain of the day was the six yard piece of tan/khaki poplin for only $6 along with this great assortment:
I've got a thing for dots these days so I had to snatch these big ones up and the black and white plaid on the top reminds me of the cape I made for my mother-in-law that I have always coveted (maybe I will make one for me?). There were also a few cones of thread and some other random pieces of fabric that weren't close by for photos but maybe they are just shy.

My dining room table is stacked with fabric from cutting out hot mitts for the upcoming craft fair in New Brighton so I have to take care of these stacks right away or we will soon have no place to eat. I'm getting excited about sewing all of this up and even wonder how I will ever get 40 hot mitts sewn but I always seem to find a way, don't I? Happy sewing, folks!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Easy Peasy

In my rush to get the sewing machine cabinets out to the garage and while I had muscle show up to help, I traded out the standard Singer treadle for a really fancy parlor cabinet treadle. It had been in the garage for many months and I never cleaned it so now was my moment to tackle this project. Sometimes the easiest  way is the best way and it proved to be true this time.

Instead of my original plan to strip off the finish with denatured alcohol, I decided to just clean it with a damp cloth. It was really dirty and much of the dullness was simply dirt. There were a few loose parts along the bottom that I can glue and nail back into place but all-in-all it did not need to be stripped to become beautiful once again. The veneer was almost gone from the waterfall section of one door so I removed the rest of it, sanded, then stained the wood that remained.
See the door on the right side? Veneer is removed!

While I was at it I dabbed a bit of stain on any of the other exposed parts that were now light wood. This was an easy fix and it looked amazing:

While the stain was drying I cleaned out the inside and tried to figure out how a Singer 66 Red Eye would fit. It could sit in the top framework but how did it "attach"? I looked online for some kind of a guide and found two videos about this type of cabinet and how they work.  It works on the principle of an elevator. Say what? I kid you not, it moves up and down on a heavy duty spring. My parlor cabinet had all of the parts and the leather belt even fit the Singer 66 sitting up top.
Treadle mechanism hides behind a door on right.
 Watching those videos really helped because now I could raise and lower the machine without getting hurt due to the spring action. This is so amazing!
My Singer 66 Red Eye dates to 1917

Next up is leveling the head in the opening and I thought it should have a nice coat of the Howard's Feed & Wax to bring out a glow:

Closer view of detail work that is all glued on (but real wood)
See what I mean? This is quite amazing: with only a cleaning and minor repair this parlor cabinet has returned to some of its original beauty.

What happened to the standard treadle that I put on the sale? I decided to add a Singer 306 so you can  straight and zigzag stitch. I left the motor attached so it can even be used with electricity if you are into speed. It really works quite well and I almost hate to part with it but I keep telling myself  you can't keep them all.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Twins (Again)

Twins do not run in my family although my daughter married a fraternal twin and my husband has twin brothers and I live in the Twin Cites in Minnesota. Yet, once again, I have twin sewing machines and it was intentional. I have been pining for another Brother Select-o-Matic because even though I love mine it looks like it's been through a war. Recently I bought a Wizard that was very similar but was disappointed in the outcome as I wrote about in We're Off to See the Wizard. They appear on ebay once in awhile but never the two-tone beauty that is mine. Imagine my surprise when I found one on my local Craigslist in exactly the same colors, with accessories, and it looked really nice. It had been posted only five hours before so I hoped no one else was looking for one. But then there was a bit of a problem: it came in a very large desk and I didn't have my vehicle for the weekend. Although I really didn't want the desk sometimes that is the thing they want to get rid of. I got the call with the happy news that I was the first caller and it wasn't a problem if I didn't want to take the desk. I was over there in a hurry. Here's my new Brother Select-o-Matic next to the first model:

Newer Brother on left and old standby on right
Yes, she is in very good shape and I need to figure out a way to make sure I can sew with her more often. But in the meantime I need to go pick up a Viking 21, a compliment to my Viking 19. So here are my next set of twins:
Viking 19 on left with Viking 21 on right
Okay, a Viking 19 and 21 aren't twins but at least they are in the same family! I like my 19 and it's doing pretty well but I need to keep running it or it gets stuck and won't perform a zigzag stitch. The Viking 21 has removable cams so it's the next step closer to the 6000 series that have been my hope and disappointment. I have a nifty collection of them that I refuse to give up because one day I will figure them out! The Viking 21e is my goal but this is close. Upon closer inspection I note it's not as pristine as the 19 and it's missing the extension table but it does run although a bit slow to start. I think this is going to be another one I should use often but crafting fair season is upon us and I will be sewing up a storm and rotating those babies on and off the sewing table.

Speaking of table, where was I going to put the Brother? The first one was in a portable case but it's one of the heaviest sewing machines I have and I feared there would come a day I would actually hurt myself when I lifted it up. Since I have so many cabinet/tables from the garage sale, maybe one of them would work. Yes, I have one but where am I going to put it? In my sewing area I have a Singer 15-90 with gingerbread decals that I've been using more as a work table and I rarely get out the Singer. I realize if I want a straight stitch sewing machine I usually go for my Singer 201 or 99 so now Miss Gingerbread is going to be sold:
Singer 15 with gingerbread decals
Her table top is really in need of refinishing but the rest of it isn't too bad so I decide to try the Howard's Restor-a-Finish. Here's the before and after:
Before: pretty scarred up

After: ooh la la!
Isn't that amazing? I finished off with their wax finish and even did the rest of it with their oily wax and it looks so much better. Watch the local CL ads for this one to appear very soon!

With the Singer 15 on the sale block there is now room for the Brother in a cabinet that opens with about 18" to the left and about 6" to the right so I can open it with ease and close when necessary:
Brother Select-o-Matic in a Singer table
It's a very beautiful day in my neighborhood and I need to get outside to enjoy this day before it goes away. I'm happy with my twin sales and now have two more sewing machines, the Brother Select-o-Matic and Singer 15 with those gingerbread decals ready for sale. I hope someone else will be as happy with those beautiful machines as I have been.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Sale Down

Post Sewing Machine Garage Sale, I'm hoping you would like to hear how everything went: number of machines on display, number sold, all those fun stories people told while looking at these wonderful marvels of engineering. I have stories, I have pre and post photos, but the statistics are not impressive. But I'm jumping to the ending and that's not fair.

As you can imagine, it took a week of set-up with both cars out of the garage, finishing up the cabinets that were in line for a final coat of polyurethane, installing sewing machine heads in empty cabinets and arranging electrical supply to strategic areas. Basically, there were straight stitch models in tables/cabinets on the perimeter, zig zag models one row in on the left, two large tables in the center with portables that were more modern, a tall table in front with five sergers, and a treadle with a Singer 306 sitting right outside of the garage to attract attention.
So many sewing machines, so little time!
Rocketeer in front with table of portable behind

There were two Martha Washington tables that sat outside of the left and my husband has a card table with his vintage and hand made jewelry on the right under the roof overhang. There were 19 cabinets and about the same number of portables on display and plugged in (or an outlet nearby) but as it turned out people came and asked to see other models and I brought another 4-6 out and I sold three of them! One person made an appointment and came the day before the sale and bought a Singer 223 in a cabinet but I included that in my numbers, too. She moved from Ohio and wanted a basic machine for mending and "whatever" so she already knew how to sew but just was out of practice. I loved that she wanted one with a cabinet and that it was gone before the sale began so I had more space.

Sally was a great help on Saturday during the middle hours and asked about what kind of machine each person was looking for while I helped others. A dear woman spend an hour and a half (by her count, not mine) trying to decide and ended up buying two machines: instead of the Pfaff 130, for the same price she got a Singer 15-91 (in less than best cosmetic shape) and a Kenmore 158-18021 with the "tower of power" accessory set. She was very happy as Sally and I were also. There was disappointment, too, when someone said she would return with her husband to buy the Elgin Rotary in a cabinet only to never come back. Sigh. She has my business card...
Table of sergers with treadle in front

Aqua New Home is now in a mid-century modern cabinet
Sara, my Elk River friend, is still trying to figure out how she can get a free arm Kenmore into a cabinet with storage space so we have post-sale been trying to find one for her. A Kenmore free arm would be a really nice addition to her sewing machine collection!

At the end of the two day sale there were only five sold (cash in hand) but another one needed a tad more work so they are returning by appointment on Wednesday night. There was also an appointment request for the Singer 221, the Featherweight, but no confirming call. Another sigh. BUT! While I had everything all set up I could take photos and work to get them posted on Craigslist and that's my job this week. Craft fairs are beckoning me to get sewing so I'm ready and I still need to get the cabinets sold before the snow little time, so many machines, but I continue to have hope for those who are looking for winter projects. Quilting anyone?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Plan for a Plana

The Elna Plana is happily back in its cabinet and I hope to get it on the sale BUT (and this is a big one) the timing is off with a lot of skipped stitches. This little lovely was quite upset when I removed the hook to replace the feed dog gear so I brought it along to the TOGA. To make a long story short, I ended up with an entirely replaced hook and gear from a donor machine from Bob. Bill worked and worked to get it in time so I'm pretty disappointed that I will have to finesse the timing again.There is so much promise for this machine with a new motor pulley and new gears but by this time I just want it out of the house.This will be a break-even transaction since so many things were replaced but sometimes you have to consider it the cost of an education.

As I got back to the Elna Plana, I thought about the advice I get and give about skipped stitches: try a new needle. Of course, that did work and I'm glad it doesn't need to be retimed but now that it is stitching I notice I can't change the stitch length. I'm so glad I have another Elna just like this one but portable so I bring it upstairs and set it right next to the ailing Elna. Oh, does it work perfectly! I can see what is not working but don't know just what is preventing the stitch length lever from engaging.
Swivel action isn't happening unless I force it to move

I take the good model apart and look in the hand wheel side to see a small part that springs back.

Small part behind the black rubber motor pulley

I look at the ailing Elna and see there is no springing back. The bottom plate comes off and I can see the difference in the two models action.
As I followed it down to this small lever that wasn't moving

Now the plate comes off to see the feed dog gears (oh no, it's not another gear failure!) and I find a long narrow spring is not engaged. I remember unhooking this spring and then forgot to go back and reassemble it so now it has caught up to me. Although it took hemostat clamps, a small crochet hook, and a pen light, I did get it all back working. The sweet smell of success!
See that small spring?

and the spring continues.
It still wasn't stitching as it should and I almost had to get out the manual. That's right, read the manual. I really do love Elnas but they are not intuitive and you will need to read the manual until you have the process memorized. When there is a cam in the top you have to move the stitch length lever down to "A" for it to read the double sided cams that will move forward and backwards to give the distinctive patterns. How to adjust if the pattern is too close or too far apart? There is a very tiny + and - on the stitch length dial that will rotate to spread the design apart or move it closer together. It worked!

Since I have two of this model, it's a real contrast to see and feel how different they are: the one with all of the repairs works great now but the other one, bought from Sara, is so smooth and even quieter. The end result is the same but it's clear the well-maintained Elna Plana has been truely loved. That begs the question: do you love your sewing machine? Is it well cared for? That doesn't always mean taking it in for a cleaning and tune-up but taking a good look at your sewing machine, using a brush to clean out the link, then using a drop of sewing machine oil on a cotton swab to further clean out any remaining lint. Go ahead and take out the bobbin race, clean out any build up of lint. Look underneath to see if you have any broken pins or needles that could get in the way. Your manual should tell you where to oil but it's basically anywhere you see metal moving against metal. Run it without thread (presser foot in the UP position) to get the oil moving and lubricating all those parts. Wipe off the exterior of your sewing machine to remove finger prints using a good car wax then buff it like you would your expensive car. You can admire it, cover it up with a nice soft cover to keep dirt and dust from harming it. Your sewing machine might not work any better than it already does but it should be at the top of its game. Wouldn't you like a treat like that, too?

Elna Plana in her blong wood cabinet (so very 50's)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Back to Work

Since coming back from the TOGA last weekend it's been a bit difficult to get down to work. I have so many things to get ready for the upcoming garage sale that I feel a bit like a squirrel: easily distracted and running all around! It also doesn't help when I had to be up at 5:30 every morning this week but there were good reasons for all of it. Really.

While we were still in Lake City I was checking the CL ads and trying to get a great looking Singer 15-91. That finally came to fruition on Monday after work. Wow, was this ever a nice machine and I think I enjoyed talking to the owner just as much as buying the sewing machine. As I have heard before, they were downsizing and didn't need this straight stitch machine in a table. The finish was original and in great shape so he told me he had restored the finish in a manner that sounded like the same way I do but he got better results! Then he asked if I wanted to see another sewing machine that wasn't working right. Of course, I had to say yes and he pulls out a Singer 221, the Featherweight. It did have cosmetic issues with a significant amount of aluminum rot with initials scratched on the front of the base but those weren't the issues. It just would not stitch correctly so he shows me the replaced hook and both bobbin cases. Neither of the bobbin cases had numbers on them so that told me they were not authentic and certainly were not original. He needed the bobbin case with serial number 45750, not 45751 which I suspected. Since he changed out the hook he might have been okay but he said he wasn't. Of course, now comes the moaning about spending $35 when he should have popped for the $50-60 original bobbin case. Well, I learned that lesson once, too, and he had my sympathy.

Turning to my raffle prize, I'm working on the Elna Supermatic and find out the left side of a zigzag is too wide with the needle hitting the needle plate. It is centered correctly but the swing is off. I find out where it needs to be adjusted but I cannot get the nut loosened so I can make the adjustment. Now I need a very small crescent wrench so my hubby went out and bought me one.
Near cam, red arrow points to nut that needs to be loosened for needle centering  adjustment with screw
It worked but I found out that it only centered the needle, which was already fine. Oh, how I need to read the manuals better! Upon closer reading I found out I needed to adjust a screw that I had already checked out and it will not go in further to pull the needle to the right but then I get the idea that maybe it needs a washer to make up for the space that cannot be adjusted any further:
Inside red square is screw with washer behind it
It worked! Now it stitches fine so I get out my collection of cams. I check out Needlebar and their history of the Elna to find I have one of the earliest Supermatics with screw-on cams. It came with one flat cam that doesn't look like any of mine and, wouldn't you know it, they are different:
Red arrow points to high inner ring (older), green arrow points to wide outerring (newer)
I'm out checking on Etsy and then Ebay for those cams with the taller ring on the center, not newer single cams with the wide top ring but the older version. Someone just listed eight of them for under $5 each, a real bargain considering the next closest price with S&H is nearly double. I go ahead and put them in my virtual cart so now I'm committed to buying them but want the S&H to reflect the bulk shipment. I sent a note to seller asking for a new total and I'm so blessed when he writes back that I get them for their cost, no S&H. Wow! The green Elna Supermatic now has eight cams for a bargain price of $40 and I'm a happy camper again.

With only a week left to work on the garage sale I better get out there and get cabinets finished. It's a gray, wet day here so not a great atmosphere to be working outdoors but I'll put a book-on-CD in a player and enjoy having someone read to me while I work. That just might be the adult version of "Read me a story, please?" of years gone by. Remember when?