Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Getting Ready

It sometimes feels like I'm always getting ready for one thing or another: a sale, cleaning out, a show/event/class. When I was home last week I spent so much time getting ready and now you will get a peak at what I accomplished.

Industrial sewing machine for sale: that's right, I finally got the servo motor attached and running, the table refinished, and the whole thing ready for sale. It is so nice now, a great Singer 31-15 in a well-worn but sturdy industrial table with light attached, quiet and adjustable servo motor, ready to work like a dog in someones home and out of my garage. Swapping out the motors was fairly easy but it wasn't a perfect fit so I had to drill out new holes and that is something I'm not particularly good at. The table was thoroughly sanded, stained in natural, with three coats of satin polyurethane. I'm quite proud of this beast and wish I could now keep her but she must make someone else happy now.
Singer 31-15
Servo motor (cords have been secured since this photo)
While I am working out in the garage, I have a Kenmore table refinished now with a good Kenmore model 158-13250 all ready for sale. I really hate to put time into these cabinets but cannot bear to sell them with such a poor finish so my loss is the buyers gain:

The Mod Podge project went on to phase two after the first attempt was less than satisfying with somewhat sticky results.I was trying to add a design to burlap as noted in Sewing4Free but not sure I'm satisfied yet. Although I did get it to feel dry, eventually by using my iron with a pressing cloth, it feels gummy although it is not sticky. It looks okay but not sure I want to spend the time or money on a project like this again. I can stencil on plain burlap just as well and even have some nice printed burlap that made up a cute tote bag. Still loving making those handles out of rope!
Burlap bags on ends with Mod Podge bag in center
The quilters I have been working with are having a do-it-yourself sale on Saturday and that has given me the opportunity to clear out some fabric I know I will not be using. Besides selecting, each gets measured, labeled, and bagged so it is all ready to go. There's a big bag of free items but most of it is still only a dollar or two. I have a few choice machines to bring along so maybe it will wet someone's appetite to adding a vintage sewing machine to their collection.
Bags of fabric all labeled for sale or giveaway

Modern Sparrow 30 and antique Singer 99's
Now time is at a premium and I need to sew up a huge batch of hot mitts if I'm going to be ready for the three craft fairs I plan on selling my goods at. So many are cut out and I have the batting and insulating filler in abundance so I need to chain myself to the industrial walking foot machine and get sewing!

Thursday, August 9, 2018


Even though I am home all week I have no time for all of the activities I had hoped for. Here it is, half over, and the cabinets are idle in the garage due to heat and other more pressing issues. One opportunity was to spend a day sewing with my granddaughter, Sarina. I don't know quite how it happened but I not only got to spend the whole day with her but she even stayed for supper as we had her great grandmother over. Was that ever a treat! Here's what happened with her sewing (and sewing machines).

When I first offered a sewing machine to Sarina, I picked out an Elna 1500, a nice solid machine that has a dial for stitches,and levers for stitch width and length. This looked pretty easy to me but she struggled with some of the basics: holding threads behind before stitching, lowering the presser foot before stitching, adjusting stitch length for zigzag so it doesn't bunch up, needle unthreading every time. Some of those things are just new habits she needed to learn but I suspected a different sewing machine might help. This time we got out a little Brother XR-7700 that is computerized but has some nice features: speed control, needle up/down, wide variety of stitches, presets for stitch length and width, plus it won't stitch until the presser foot is down. Of course, it was lighter weight, too, and looks more modern so we gave that one a try.
Brother XR-7700
She picked out fabric for a pair of sleep shorts and I found a pattern and here's what she ended up making:
Sarina, 10, modeling her sleep shorts
It was her idea to add the eyelet cotton lace with ribbon even though it took another couple hours to accomplish that embellishment. We even washed them up in hopes of softening up the fabric but it didn't help too much. She said they were so cute she might just wear them around as regular shorts so we both called this a big success.
Lace and ribbon details on Sarina's shorts (love those socks!)
We had so much fun but it literally took all day to make that one pair of shorts. Lessons are slow and sometimes hard (on the teachers and the student). She is making good progress, even did some of the ironing this time although I had to move my hands out of the way quickly a few times. I like this approach to learning: quickly produce something to show for all of your effort so not much time spend on learning how to use the machine but to learn along the way. Remember sewing lines on paper when you learned to sew in Home Ec? I certainly didn't learn like that at home from my mom so didn't think we needed that kind of instruction for Sarina either.  Yet it would have helped with those sewing habits she needed to develop but she is learning them anyway.

What's up next? She said she would like to make a shirt next time to go with the shorts. I better start hunting through my stash to find something that would compliment those butterflies!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Summer Sun-Time

We really appreciate our summers here in the cold north, especially with longer daylight and wonderful sunsets. It's a little more difficult to stay inside to sew or work on sewing machines but on milder days I work in the garage getting some of those cabinets in shape and ready for someone else to enjoy. Beside being very excited about some motor switching on an industrial sewing machine, I've had the chance to pick up a Bernina Sport 802 that came in a very old compact cabinet that just wasn't right:

Metal flanges where hinges should be
The old hinges were removed and the substitute metal pieces were screwed in to hold the machine aloft. It was pretty weird so I took the Bernina out, to be sold as a portable like it is, and took the compact cabinet back to its original glory:
Compact cabinet now with an Elna SU62
I had the perfect machine to go in it, an Elna SU62, a very well worn machine that someone was going to toss as written in earlier post Cabinets Again. The Elna came in a table with a mounted foot control with a motor block, one of those outlets that has markings for a motor plug and a light plug. That was not what the Elna used so it seemed a shame to keep it in the wrong table. Voila! It is now in the compact cabinet with a fun chair that fits up into it snuggly. I found some fabric that complimented the light blue top on the Elna and covered the seat after adding more padding. The cabinet cleaned up rather nice with Howard's Feed & Wax so she is ready for her new home.
Elna SU62 in its new home

Compact cabinet with recovered seat on chair
While perusing the thrift stores I found a pink sewing machine that sorely tempted me but it was in a big ol' cabinet and I just couldn't face another one so here's what I did. I promised myself I could buy it at 40% off, on Senior Day, if it was still there in four days. It was not there on Senior Day so I could walk away with a clear conscience, that is until I found another cabinet. That's right, I found one without a sewing machine but with a sharp edged opening of a Kenmore. Taking a photo and heading home, I was glad I didn't have the right vehicle with me so I could think about this one. Of course, I have a Kenmore that has needed a table or cabinet but this one exceeded my list of requirements:
Kenmore cabinet
Good lines, solid wood, excellent condition...would the Kenmore 158-161 fit? My husband went back with me on Member Discount day and I hauled in that very heavy all metal sewing machine to find out if it would fit. Perfect! At 25% off it was a deal.

Once again, I cleaned up the desk (table with drawers?) with Howard's Feed & Wax only to find it had been refinished along the way. Doesn't it look great with the Kenmore model 61? That is one very nice machine, similar to one of my first Kenmore's that was frozen but I got working again, an early career victory that got me hooked on sewing machine restoration. They are quite heavy though, so I suggest a cabinet, not a portable case.
Kenmore 158-161
Kenmore 61 in new cabinet/desk/table
Of course, I've been sewing, too, making up tote bags for sergers with rope enclosed in those handles:
Wide nylon webbing with rope sewn in

Finished bag with serger tucked inside
The mangle got into the act with pressing the fabrics so very flat and smooth; there's a definite learning curve in learning how to best use this large rolling iron! When we had a cool night over the weekend we actually had a fire in our portable fire kettle:
New patio, new fire kettle

Enjoying those Minnesota sunsets and hope you are getting outside, too.

Thursday, July 26, 2018


As promised, I'm going to tell you all about my new-to-me mangle. What is a mangle? Besides the idea of something being mutilated or damaged, a mangle machine is a large iron that gets very hot and with a moving roller it presses fabric like no portable iron can. It's fantastic! How did I get this item and restore it to its original functionality? I answered an ad for a free item and even though I was second on the list I was still the one who went home with my first mangle.
Ironrite 85 mangle
It was stored in a large recreation center that also doubled as storage for antiques but there was an event coming up so some of the stored items had to go. No one knew if it worked, it takes up a fair amount of space, so they just wanted to get rid of it. It's pretty heavy but we got it into the Jeep on its back and that probably wasn't the best of ideas. Once I got it home and had a neighbor help me get it out and upright only a few hours later, it was leaking oil. It was suggested to change the oil every year (is this a lawnmower?) so we got the oil drained off and new oil and seals on, hoping that was where the leaking was coming from. It hasn't leaked since so think we've got a great machine if we can only figure out how to use it.
Gearbox with new seal
It took quite a bit of cleaning with my TR3 car wax as well as auto body scratch remover but it finally came clean and looks fantastic. The big roller itself has a pad that was in excellent shape but the muslin cover for the padding was pretty well scorched. It was easy to make a new one but on my first use I left the rolled down while it was heating and scorched it! Now I know better but at the time I hadn't figured all of that out. It's pretty easy to make a new one and I still have more fabric so that might be in order while I have the fabric in hand.
Roller with new covering
The way this works is to turn on the heat element to your desired temperature just like a regular iron BUT separate the roller from the heating element as in the photo above. That's done with the red lever that makes it look like an emergency brake but it's just to raise the roller. Once the iron is heated up, taking nearly 10 minutes, lower the roller and start the motor:
Mangle controls
It rolls at a steady speed, too fast when you are a beginner, but you learn how to feed the fabric and keep everything straight. Here's some of the fabric I pressed:
Pressed fabric with mangle
I even felt bold and confident enough to press cotton batting and the pieced wall hanging I just finished: that was brave but it turned out great although I didn't use the highest heat setting. I've gone back to  clean and polish the surface until it's as good as it can ever be under my care.

Ironrite 85 cleaned up
It can also be used as a regular iron with the roller not moving but you need to move the roller up to release and lower to press. There are levers underneath that also are controls so you need to be sitting for part of this but I find it easier to stand to direct the fabric. I'm going to have fun with this and just trying to decide if I can keep it or if it needs to find a new home. All in all, it's quite a find for the sewer and quilter just not very portable!
Ironrite 85 mangle
Manuals are freely available and there are even videos about how to use one of these "new and improved" irons. I'm sure everyone wants a mangle now, right? They are pretty cool to use even though they are hot!

Friday, July 20, 2018

New Tricks

There is always something new to learn and I'm going to share a new technique with you in this post. I learned how to make nifty handles with cording. This idea was given freely in Sewing For Free which directs you to the link for Reversible Rope Handled Canvas Bag. Using their idea, I made up a few bags but just made them lined, not reversible. You make the handles by stitching the cording down in rounds, super simple, and the results were quick and very satisfying:
Cotton cording stitched in rounds for handle
Making up the handle first and then fitting up the fabric to sew up the bag was much easier than the other way around. For the first bag I picked out two large dot fabrics that were coordinating:
Stitched on serger first
I sewed up the seams with a serger and then attached the handle with a regular sewing machine:
Finished dot bag
 For the dot fabric bag I used cotton cording, a roll I found out in the garage in a plastic tote with other cords and rope. I like the look and feel of the cotton cord but know it will get dirty quickly: doesn't cotton wash up easily? For the next tote I used some acrylic cording that was marked for macrame. I thought this was going to be easy but it wasn't due to the stretch nature of the acrylic versus the firms cotton cording. I made up two sets of handles that didn't fit and one that was so distorted I threw it away! I finally made up a handle that fit the tapestry bag already made up (much harder than making bag to fit). Next up was a yellow burlap with a fun summer print:
Handle made and fabric ready to sew for a good fit
This bag was much shorter so I think it turned out better:
Finished yellow burlap bag with lining of a flip flop print
Of course, practice did help and this was my third bag and about the fifth set of handles I practiced on. Here are the final two bags:
Tapestry bag and burlap bag
I like to stitch the bottom of the bag to secure the lining to the outside fabric. I think these bags could use a little embellishment but not sure what I could do at this point so they might have to just look pretty on their own with the fabric choices I made.
Which sewing machine did I use to make up these tote bags?  I picked out the Bernina Nova 900 and it just purred along, never pulling at the cord or getting stitches caught in the thick cord.Since I worked on this over several days I did use my Viking Designer 1 but it did not sew as nicely as the Bernina Nova yet I was too lazy to pull out the Bernina again. Sigh. As for the serging, I used one of the last acquired Huskylocks, the three thread 430 and it did a very nice job. Because burlap is a somewhat difficult fabric I serged the seams and also using bias binding on the edges to seal and reinforce all seams. Using a lining with the burlap will also help to distribute the stress of those seams but time will tell how it holds up.

Next up: I got a mangle! It was so much fun to get it working again plus I used it on the above fabrics and the quilted wall hanging I'm finishing up. Wait until you see what this old fashioned iron can do!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Triple Stitch

This past week I scored a triple: three sergers in two days (I think that's a record for me). It was never a plan but more of a happening so here's the story, with photos.

Watching an ad for several weeks, I finally broke down and asked to see one of the sergers listed in a local ad. A week later Larry got back to me and we set up a time for me to see the Huskylock 535 he had for sale. I knew he had a sewing machine and another serger also listed but the 535 interested me the most.

Huskylock 535 serger (after cleaning)
Larry had the sergers and a Singer set up on a workbench in the garage and he ran a cord so I could see if they worked. The Huskylock 535 very, very dirty but came with the original manual and a box of accessories. A decent four thread model that I thought I could clean up and get it to sew properly, I like it so it was now marked "sold." Right next to it was a Huskylock 430, only a three thread model, but it also had the original manual plus four large cones of white thread. In the past these Huskylock's had caused me some trouble so I wasn't sure I wanted even one let alone two but they both seemed to be okay so I took them off Larry's hands. They were his sisters' machines and he had fond memories of her coming over and making pajamas for the kids.
Huskylock 430 and 535 sergers
The Huskylock 535 was on the table first and I spent most of the time just cleaning the exterior. What a mess but it was fine under the particles of grit, probably from sitting out in the garage uncovered. The real surprise came when I checked the needles before stitching to find they were both in backwards. This machine wasn't going to stitch that way! The tensions were all messed up so it took some work to get it all to rights but it's now working great.

Next up was the Huskylock 430 yet it was much cleaner and stitched right away with no problems. The inside was clean so either it had not been used much or it had been lovingly cared for. I like the latter reason. Checking out the box of accessories that came with the machines, I took note of two needle plates but they were not the correct shape for either of the sergers I bought. Online I see they are plate B and C for an Elna L4 serger and the rest of the box is most likely also not for the Huskylock's. I'll hang onto them in hopes of an Elna L4 some day in need of plates. Although they are not newer models of sergers by any stretch of the imagination, the Huskylocks are still very usable and in good condition with much life left in them.
Huskylock 430 serger
I had already arranged to pick up a Kenmore serger the next day so was thinking I would cancel that appointment since I just picked up two but my husband convinced me it would be a good outing for us. He would stop by after work to pick me up and we could check on his mobile home out that way and even offered to take me to dinner. How could I say no to that? So I met the owner at a local supermarket's coffee shop where she confessed she never even used the Kenmore serger. It still had the cones of thread from the manufacturer, the foot control was in the original plastic bag, and all of the accessories in the box placed in the front catch bin were untouched. Yes, it was new! It came home with me and sewed like a champ.
Kenmore 385-166551 serger
Because it had sat unused for some time it did have problems with stiffness and moving dials, etc. When I tried to make a rolled hem I could not get the position finger to move out of the way because  the stitch width plate could not move over far enough. It just needed to be screwed in and out a few times before it was moving smoothly so I could slide the finger down and out of the way for a rolled hem.
Stitch width plate needed to move right for the position finger to slide toward the front of the machine
All three need to be in totes or bags so I better get planning and sewing. These triplets remind me a little bit of the series "This Is Us" about a family with triplets. Like them, my triplets were not all born together and one of them is very different than the rest but still valued. Let's hope they don't crash and burn the way each one of the Pearson's do in the series but rise above their problems to be productive and stable!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Old and New Again

We are going to get to the New Home MC 7500 in this post but I have a very happy update regarding the last post about the White Vibrating Shuttle. Katie Farmer and I sent emails and photos back and forth to get down to the exact model I had as well as the components of the tension mechanism. The serial number that was on the back slide plate was not an original for that particular machine, probably on loan from another model, but Katie deduced it was a White VS-IV due to the photo I sent. It pays to consult an expert! Once she found out which model, she could find one of her own and see what parts were in the tension unit:
White VS-IV with tension assembly on side
This was perfect because those parts looked familiar: I found them in one of the drawers earlier but didn't know what they were for. I keep everything so I found them on a workbench, put them back in order as per the photo and Katie's instructions, and with only a little tweaking she sews! I even tried out a hemmer foot with great success so now I'm more than satisfied with this lovely treadle. Just to think that I already had the parts but didn't know what they even were makes me shake my head. A very big thanks to Katie Farmer who is a delight to work with and is a true expert with White sewing machines.

And now onto the much more modern New Home Memory Craft 7500 sewing machine. Sometimes New Home are labeled Janome but this one is a NH, an early computer model that I was skeptical about. I have other early computerized models and there certainly can be problems so it was a risk to bid and win this baby:
New Home Memory Craft 7500

She came clean as a whistle with the exception for the hard plastic cover but it cleaned up great with TR3 car polish.
Hard case with manual
The machine itself came with nearly all of its attachments in a top storage compartment
All those feet!
with extras in the removable front box.
Storage compartment removes for free arm sewing
 The manual was a free download and I needed to consult it while I put her through her paces. This is one very nice sewing machine and received good reviews on Pattern (It's not just for patterns but other items related to sewing, too). Besides the wide variety of stitches, including block and script letters, upper and lower case, there are some nice features to make sewing easier: needle up/down, lock stitch, programing and memory features. Really, as nice as the computer enhancements are, it's things like needle up/down as well as the lock stitch for beginning and ending your stitches that win me over.

I made up some bentwood case straps on it and found it made a nice stitch with a fine end result.
Straps under construction
 This is one nice machine. Here's a sampling of the quality of the stitches:
Sample stitches
This is going to make someone a very happy sewer; it is not a beginners machine but a great step-up for someone ready to take their sewing to the next level and to have a machine capable of increased skills.