Thursday, May 28, 2015

Lavender Lady

On my big neighborhood garage sale adventure, I bought a Kenmore 158-1320 that was beautiful at one time but was now rusty underneath and looking pretty old:
A bobbin case all rusted into place
She came home with me only because of the lovely lavender color and the general decent shape of the cabinet. How to get rid of that much rust? I finally broke down and bought a quart of Evapo-Rust as per everyone's recommendation via the Vintage Sewing Machine Facebook group and various Yahoo group that I read. Parts that would come off got an Evapo-Rust bath and those that didn't were steel wooled or they got a 3M pad treatment. After cleaning it was oiled, and oiled, and oiled again, adjusted, and I found it would sew very nice. It came with a full set of accessories including extra feet, six cams for decorative stitches, even a needle threader that works.
Manual, cams, and a full box of accessories with a lavender lid
Next came the cabinet that was pretty nice but had some spots where it had been mistreated. I didn't think it needed a full strip-down and refinishing as that would not take care of the deep scratches anyway so opted for the Howard's Restor-A-Finish instead. Although it did not turn out remarkable, it was smooth now and the blotches of black tar-like substance were gone. We don't need to pretend that it's new, because it's not, so let's just embrace the vintage look with nicks and dings included.
Looks good in a photo, less in person, but it's a smooth finish
Testing the stitches with cams
You can see by the stitch sample that it makes a good stitch but there's a bit of fine tuning on the decorative stitches that is pretty fussy: sometimes I could get it right and have perfect satin stitches and sometimes they were too far spaced or too close and bunched up into a large wad of stitches. That's not the look I'm going for! As I continued to work with the stitch formation she started to whistle. Then the screeching began. It was terrible! I re-oiled everything but it continued. I took out the bobbin case (a new one, not the rusted one!) plus the hook and the sound almost went away. Next I oiled and reconditioned the whole area, put it back together and the screech was almost gone. I walked away for several hours and when I tried it again the screech was back even with all of the bobbin area removed. Now what?

I went back to using the Evapo-Rust and since I couldn't disassemble the whole bottom of the sewing machine I decided to follow a suggestion from someone else: saturate cloth or paper towels with Evapo-Rust and stuff it into the area that is still making noise. I did this to three different areas, wiped down with a cloth  generously soaked with water, dried, dried some more, oiled, run a bit to mix it all in, and let sit many hours so the oil can soak in. Fingers crossed? It worked great!

Kenmore 32, a lovely lavender lady

Monday, May 25, 2015

Singer 201 (again)

It was a happy weekend even if it did rain all three days because I had plenty to do with new sewing machines and sewing on them. I spied an ad for a Singer sewing machine and a close up showed it was the beloved Singer 201. It was posted over an hour before I saw it so I didn't think I had a chance but I got an email back saying I was the first one! Delight, delight, delight! I set out on Saturday to pick it up and the owner said it had been her grandmothers but she had never even met her and only needed a sewing machine a couple times a year. Since it was in a cabinet that had been repainted blackish (antiqued?) she didn't want to move it one more time. But she did ask how much it was really worth since she got another six calls after mine and one person even offered to pay more than the asking price. She was good to her word and sold it for what she was asking but still wanted to know. As much as I wanted to be truthful, I hated to tell her it would sell for 3-4 times what she was asking. She said that was okay because it didn't have any value for her. Sigh. I hear this all the time.

Once home and looked over, I could tell it didn't have the power of my other 201's. With a potted motor (where it is up high on the back of the machine, looks more "built-in" than a low motor with an external belt) it is more work to look under the hood or trade out an old motor but I took the cover off and it was pretty clean in there and the wiring looked good. I took off the foot control and wired in a different one that I knew was working well. Well, well, it took off like it had somewhere to go! In the end I put a new cord on for the foot control as there must have been a break in the wire somewhere. Now she's all ready to go:

Singer 201 out of the cabinet
She's in pretty good shape and came with a great set of accessories:
Bobbins, extra feet, blind stitch hemmer attachment, buttonholer with extra templates plus a newly rewired foot control
I could put all of these things except the buttonhole attachment (but it has its own green box) in a nice basket for a complete set. The Singer 201 has level feet and doesn't need a cabinet so I think I will use the cabinet for another machine that needs one, like the Singer 15's I have. But first I have to empty out the cabinet. Here's what the contents looked like sorted out on the table:

How big was that cabinet?
The amount of thread was overwhelming but I got it sorted into wooden spools, polyester, keepers, those for other purposes. I don't know what "other purposes" but they all got sorted. Almost all of it was kept with very little that was trash, but there were manuals for a 201 and a Singer 99. There was a bobbin slide plate for a 99 also but no 99. Sometimes we just collect these things, like odd bobbins, but they all get put to use in my household.

This was a fun way to spend my weekend, along with making a new dress with jacket (all done but the buttonholes and dress hem), stripping the school cabinet, and finishing the stripping on the Franklin treadle. Okay, all three of these items needs a post of it's own so stay tuned. I might even model that new dress with the bright floral lining.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Mix and Match

At the beginning of the week I got in touch with someone selling a Singer 15 for a low price but I already have several and wasn't looking for another one but (and there's always a but) this one has a trapezoid case:
Singer trapezoid carrying case
Singer 15's did not come in trapezoid cases, only Singer 301's as far as my experience tells me. I wanted that case! It's not too far out of my way to stop on my way home to check it out. It's a really cold day so when I drive up and find it on the back step I know this is going to be quick. When the case is opened I see the 15 neatly tucked away in a nice wood base so it does fit but when the hand wheel is turned.. it gets stuck. I look it over and see the finish on the sewing machine is not in very good shape but still looks functional and comes with two boxes of accessories. The motor looks very dirty but not unsafe and the hand wheel is spoked and very shiny. This appears to be some kind of conglomeration of models and parts: Singer 15 with donated spoked hand wheel in a 301 trapezoid case with enough accessories for two sewing machines. I go ahead and buy it anyway because of the case that is in very good condition. Before I can drive away he runs out to the front of the house and flags me down: they have another one.

During our conversation he has already told me he has a black sewing machine with one of the "wood covers that is curved" but it was at another house and would I be interested? I said sure just call me when you have it. So what was this arm waving all about? It wasn't at another house? No, when he goes back into the house his father mentioned a sewing machine they had and maybe I would be interested. We go out to the garage and find a Singer bentwood case in very good condition but it's locked onto the base with no key. Easy, I tell them, just get a small screwdriver with maybe a star or square tip. One is finally found and it's opened to find a pristine Singer 99. We were all surprised because the case hadn't been opened for three years and they weren't sure what was inside at this point. It get plugged in: it runs fine so it goes home with me. It's a two for Tuesday Monday and I go home happy.
Singer 99 (and I haven't even cleaned it up yet)

Once I take a good look at the Singer 15 I can see the hand wheel doesn't want to turn because it needs to be in a taller base. Once I put it in one of my new wood bases it runs fine. Just as I had suspected, it was taken from somewhere else and put into the trapezoid carrying case. Since it has a spoked hand wheel already, I pop a hand crank on it and take some stitches to find it's going to be a great sewing machine:

Singer 15 with spoke hand wheel
Take a look at the finish on the bed: what is going on there? Is it some kind of mold? Do I need to clean it?  Hate to tell you but it is clean and that looks to me like it's the clear coat coming off. Oh dear, this isn't good but with the Singer name worn off and the bed in this kind of shape it might be a candidate for a new paint job. Now what color would you suggest? It's a contest! I will go with the color that is suggested the most so vote now (and vote often).

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Not So Lucky

My last post detailed finding two sergers at great prices but I already have to "part out" the EuroPro 534. I tired, I really did, to get the feed dogs moving correctly but upon taking it all apart, my husband and I could see there was a fitting deep inside that was not working correctly. If you can't get to it, you can't fix it. There are times when a scenario like this seems tragic but not so with this newer serger that had been sitting unused for so long. Besides, it came with the following goodies:
Set of 7 feet with samples for 8 different uses
I could probably sell the feet but I'm going to hang on to them in hopes for another machine to come along that could use them. Of course I don't have one now but just maybe...
Serger soft carrying case: really large!
I already have several sergers that could use the carrying case so it might just be the next one that walks out the door or I could keep it in hopes that I can convince one of my daughters to take a serger home and use it. Such an item is always handy to have around.
Scrap bag that hooks around suction feet (there were 2)

Serger course book with additional helps

Dodads that didn't get put into use right away

 But right now the dodads are being put into use first. When I got the Bernette 234 without any accessories, it was in need of the plastic cone holders so I took them off from the EuroPro. The extra lint brush, double eyed needle, and tweezers were put right into the Bernette for easy access. Cool. I was so happy to put the Bernette to use that I took out some random cotton knit that I was going to use for stitch samples and made up seven bags to hold foot controls with their cords. I think the bed of the sewing machine (or serger) can get all banged up when it travels with the foot control just stuffed in next to the machine. Now seven of mine will have a soft bag to contain them. I need to go to my pile of knits and cut out a few shirts to sew up on the sergers to put them to good use. I feel productive just writing that. Now I'll have to get to work!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tomorrow Is Another Day

Scarlett O'Hara was right, tomorrow is another day so when I sold the Bernette Funlock serger I knew there would be another serger but didn't think it would be so soon. Of course, I was looking for one and liked the ad and condition of a Euro Pro 534DX so I went to take a look. This serger was bought with the best of intentions because his mother loved to sew. A good idea with all things new is to take lessons but his mama didn't speak any English so his wife would have had to go along for all of the lessons and that just didn't work out. How many years the serger sat I do not know so when we turned it on there was no movement. The handwheel was solidly stuck and we suspected it just wasn't on the correct settings and this was a safety feature. No manual. After a few trips back and forth to the computer to check on ideas for getting it unstuck, he finally gave it a real muscle turn and there was movement, slow movement, and finally it would turn.

Euro Pro 534 DX
That was great so I put some fabric under it to see how it would move and it didn't. The feed dogs looked like they moved but only had forward and backward movement and they need to move in a somewhat circular mode. We finally had everything unassembled and I could see where I thought it should move as per other machines but it was stuck fast. I have now been in their home for two hours so I finally said I would take it for about half of the asking price and he jumped at it. I got it home and took the old hairblower to it but no movement. I went to bed a little hopeful but mostly disappointed.

The next day I went to yoga and as my usual routine I stopped at the Goodwill on my way home. There it was, a Bernette 234 serger:

Bernette 234 serger
 No power cord was around but another woman and I found the thread rack and how to attach it. It was a no-brainer since the price was a ridiculous $10 so it went home with me. I was pretty sure I had another cord but it might have to be shared until I could buy one of its own but at least I could find out if it even worked. As luck would have it (wasn't the price lucky enough?) I not only had the power cord and foot control but it was one that was an extra, taken from a machine I no longer owned. I worked on her for a couple hours and finally was rewarded with this:
Bernette 234 stitch sample
I wouldn't say its stitches were perfectly balanced but it was pretty good. In fact, it was better than my Elna serger that has so many features (if you can get it to actually do them). This was a clear win-win. I found free manuals for both online and that will help, too. I think I can continue to oil and heat the Euro Pro and get it to run plus it came with a complete set of feet so it is valuable for parts yet that little Bernette is going to keep going for years to come.

Moral of the story? Sell when you have a buyer and you can always get another. Maybe two.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Anniversary (Concluded)

It was a great sewing machine acquisition weekend with a Singer 185J on Friday evening, Franklin treadle, Bernina 807, Singer 401A, and a Kenmore 158-321 all on Saturday at neighborhood garage sales. But I had arranged to pick up a Singer 301 in a cabinet on Sunday evening and what should have been a real event was almost a let-down after the ringers I had gotten in just the two previous days. I put the address in my GPS and got underway. No, did not even get out of the driveway because my GPS didn't recognize the address. I ran back in the house to find the address on my computer and to print out the directions thinking "What's wrong with this GPS?" Well, there ended up being a bit more driving than necessary trying to find the right roads but I got there 15 minutes late to find it was a new street and subdivision. The owners commented that it happens frequently since they are new. But there, in the garage, was the Singer 301A looking absolutely pristine.:
Singer 301A: ain't she sweet?
There was a bag of "stuff" that included a box of accessories (mostly feet) and a red cased buttonhole attachment. Yea!
All those lovely feet

Buttonhole attachment

The cabinet was pale yellow and in excellent shape so it goes right into my car, I remember to pay them, and take off. Going home is always much quicker so I get this jem into my house (no temporary storage in the garage for this one!) in a prime place in the living room. As I look through everything I notice there are no bobbins. This must be an oversight so I email the sellers and ask if there were other supplies like bobbins. They get back to his mom and she finds a paper manual, another lightbulb, and one bobbin. She says she only had two bobbins. WHAT? How can you sew on a machine since 1955 and only have two bobbins? They offer to send the manual, lightbulb, and lone bobbin but I tell them not to send the lightbulb because it is a common one and would be too much fuss/breakage to deal with. I go ahead and order a dozen bobbins from Cindy Peters at Stitches-In-Time because she's an independent business woman, nice to deal with, and checks her products over for quality so has good supplies. As I look further at this lovely sewing machine, a real classic, I see it has the "cradle" under the machine as it fits into the cabinet. I have only heard about the cradle so am fascinated to see one since my past Singer 301's were portables.

Cradle seen as straps underneath

Cradle from the side

It is a metal strapping device that helps the machine lock into the cabinet and is pretty slick! I'm going to have fun working on a new dress with this sewing machine just to see how she stitches (perfect, of course). This is my third Singer 301A but the most perfect. Life is sweet in Sewing Machine Mavin's life.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Anniversary (Continued again)

Here we are at this mega garage sale, having already bought some fishing gear, a toaster oven, and two sewing machines. We are both feeling pretty satisfied but don't want to go home just yet and what do we find? A cabinet that I've wanted and I hope it has a good model inside:
Singer N90 cabinet
Doesn't this cabinet look like a modernized treadle with the pair of drawers on each side with the flip top? There's a page about these cabinets and it looks like it's a Student Cabinet N90, compatible with early electric machines. I open it up to find a singer 401A, an all-time favorite!

Singer 401A
She's got spots!
It's very dirty, with spots all over it but I think this is just surface so I ask the seller about it. She makes a confession that she didn't buy it for the sewing machine but for the table and she had such hopes for it. It was taller than other tables so would work well with her sofa that had higher sides but her husband didn't like it so she had to let it go. She would take less due to its condition so we paid, exchanged information, and now I started to wonder how I could fit it in with the treadle in my vehicle. Oh well, we would figure something out! We continue to shop and I spy a White that is mostly plastic so even the $10 price tag doesn't entice me. There are cute accessory boxes that I pick up and even a nice set of attachments for a Kenmore with buttonhole attachment. I also find a Kenmore in pretty rough shape so I pass it by once, then twice, and I go back to see how bad it is. Oh no, it's rusty underneath and I find it's been in the garage "for awhile" but I love the lavender color.
Kenmore 158-321 looking cleaner
I've never seen a bobbin case this rusted
Yup, we pay for it and now know we will have to make two trips home. This we finally carry to the car and make our way back to the addresses to pick up the sewing machines.

We only get as far as loading the treadle and the Singer 401 before we are full so we go home to unload, eat a late lunch, and trek off again. This time we fit the Kenmore, go back for the Bernina, and claim we are done. Just a few more? On our way back we find something intriguing: respirator tubing, a huge box of it with other parts. Since my husband was a respiratory therapist he knows exactly what this is and the value of it. I'm all excited because it can be used on treadles in place of the leather belt. In 16 feet packages, it totals over 1000 feet, enough for an army of treadles! We have also decided tonight was going to be a pizza night because by now we have to admit our feet hurt. It was such a good sale today that I'm more than satisfied but then I remember I'm going to pick up another sewing machine on Sunday evening.

Here we go....

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Anniversary (Continued)

Saturday morning the weather was sunny with a promise of warm so we put on our "it must be summer" clothes of long sleeves without jackets. In Minnesota we might not get to tank tops all summer so lightweight clothes means summer at our house. On our way over to the 200+ neighborhood garage sale we make the mistake of stopping at sales along the way. Complete waste of time when the real mega sale is right down the road! We finally drive up to the subdivision where the sales start and my husband is almost speechless: where have all these cars come from? No parking signs are on one side of every street (for emergency vehicles, I understand), people are walking everywhere with small wagons and carts, even golf carts are making their way along with all the cars looking for an open parking spot. There are even food trucks and Boy Scouts are selling "taco in a bag". After parking, with water bottles and backpacks (husband) we start hiking into the neighborhood garage sale land. Someone has a sign stating there is a mega fishing sale so we follow those signs but stopping along the way. It only takes about 10 minutes before we find the first sewing machine:
Franklin in treadle base (finished stripped)
I'm not in the market for another treadle, but Ellen is sending them to Haiti so I take a photo and send it to Ellen for approval.We bargain for a better price, pay for it, take down each others information (like their address so we can get back there) and continue down the street. I never did make it to the fishing sale but Jim was interested in something for my grandsons because he has visions of taking them fishing. A big loop around the neighborhood and we find ourselves right back to the corner where the treadle waits for us so this time we don't turn but forge straight ahead to find this one:
Bernina 807 "Minimatic" after cleaning
That's right, it's a Bernina 807, the Minimatic. I do my best to stay calm but we get it plugged in and it runs so sweet. Now, to be honest, I already have one of these but my OMSG (old man sewing machine guy) tells me it has to be rebuilt so now it's a parts machine. There are numbers written on this machine in permanent marker so the seller quickly rushes in to tell me that this was a sewing machine her grandma tried to teach her to sew on. She needed the numbers so she could thread it herself but she just had so many problems: she didn't learn and now it's time to let it go. And indeed, she let it go to me. I wanted to carry it right off but we realized we were probably too far from the car so, once again, I paid for it, took down their address, and continued on. Now remember this isn't all about sewing machines and we are picking up other things along the way, so our arms and bags are getting pretty full. At some point we go back to the car to unload but not before we spy another sewing machine that is an all-time favorite of mine:

You will have to wait until tomorrow to read which one I found next so stay tuned!

Monday, May 11, 2015


This is my third anniversary. Marriage? Job? No, it's been three years since I bought my first vintage sewing machine that sparked this whole adventure that has turned into a business. Not a profitable business yet but still a whole lot of fun. This past weekend was just proof so here goes the story.

Friday night after work, my hubby picks me up and we go to a school fund-raiser plant sale. This is big time: they use the Grand Stand of the state fair so it takes up a huge amount of space. We are all maneuvering our carts and peering over signs and pots when I get a phone call from my son-in-law Eric. Since this is a rare occurrence, I answer even though I can hardly hear him within this huge hall. Can we do a Craigslist favor for him? They need to have a large clock picked up only a half mile away from our house tonight. We say sure and start to calculate the order of events for the rest of the evening. Once in the car and only a few miles from home I hear from another Craigslist inquiry: the Singer 185J can be mine but I will need to come soon. Too bad we hadn't heard earlier because it's located right where we had come from. Now the logistics get trickier but we manage to make up a quick supper before I run out the door to pick up the clock and sewing machine.

The clock was in a huge box, looking more like a door in corrugated cardboard, but we fit it into the car and I dash back into town to find the address for the Singer 185J. She was having a garage sale and this was more of a pre-sale and I already knew I had a buyer so timing was important. The first caller didn't show so I was up next and couldn't waste any time or it was going on that garage sale! Imagine this: I walked up to the door and it was opened by someone with a familiar face. She cried out "Karen! It's YOU!" as I madly searched by mind for where I had seen her before. Well, it was Susan who bought a wonderful Kenmore earlier in the spring. We got caught up like old friends and she showed me this cute little green sewing machine that was clean as a whistle (after Susan cleaned it all up for me) and would run just fine when I put a new belt on it. I meet the nicest people while buying and selling sewing machines and Susan just proved it. The machine came home with me (glad it was portable because not much else would have fit in the car) and I finished "detailing" it:
Singer 185J all cleaned up!

Hard shell case with cleaned up brass fittings
This would have been a nice weekend in  itself but on Saturday we were going to a neighborhood garage sale extravaganza, involving more than 200 families. I was hoping to find a few good sewing machines from people who didn't care to sew and just wanted to get it out of the house (translation: cheap prices). We sure did, many times over, so stay tuned as I write about each one over the coming week. I hope you are ready for a vintage sewing machine treat.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Saying Goodbye

My sewing machine adventure began by trying to upgrade my older Kenmore sewing machine. This was strictly for personal use, a bit of sewing that I sold at a couple of craft fairs each year. Three short years later it has blossomed into a small business that I struggle not to let run my life. But last night I had to talk myself into selling two machines that I wasn't ready to say goodbye to.

Only two weeks ago a woman came to buy a sewing machine for herself and one for her neighbor. Isn't that sweet? She recommended me to another friend who bought one last week. Really sweet! I got another call this week asking if the sewing machine for a friend could be exchanged for a table model. Of course, I want every sewer to have what they really want so they came back. They looked at a machine I had in a cabinet that had stitches already built in so was easy to use. It was okay but she was drawn to the Necchi across the room: could she try it? I pointed out that I only had it three weeks and it didn't have a light (bare wires!) but she could certainly try it out. I loved that classic Italian sewing machine, so sleek, so smooth as I ran the fabric under its needle with my hands. It came to me with the zigzag completely frozen and I nursed it back to life, learning much along the way. As you can guess, she loved it, too, so would I sell it?

Only photo I had (she was cleaning up nicely with TR3)
Next they were interested in sergers, something that had been mentioned before but I had forgotten. This time I took them downstairs, totally unprepared to have these women see my own sewing area. I showed the Viking Huskylock 431 first since it worked well but was a bargain due to the broken thread holder. Then we looked at the Elna Pro5 DC, fully loaded with an LCD display screen, many attachments, manual, the whole works. There was much discussion about the differences in the quality of the stitches and then they spied the Bernette Funlock 004D serger. No, no, no, not the little Bernette! I loved that little girl who never let me down, used regular needles, always worked, and the manual was easy to read and understand! They both loved it. Of course, what's not to love? Would I sell it? I told myself I could not keep them all, I still had the newer Viking that also worked well and is more versatile, but I loved that little Bernette. We placed her in her travel bag along with a small pouch of accessories (all she really needed), printed manual, and added another cone of white thread so she could use it as a 4-thread serger.

Funlock 004D (and she was fun!)
As we walked upstairs I took one last look at the black Necchi, then we folded it down into the cabinet and walk it out to one of the cars. Yes, I sold the Necchi. Yes, I sold the Bernette serger. My business funds have swelled but my heart was now feeling the loss. I moved things around to cover the space where the cabinet stood. I went back downstairs and moved things around so there were no sergers in boxes on the floor. Things were looking better but my heart was sad. I remind myself it's a business and my husband tells me I'll find another serger. Of course, of course.

But it's still hard to say goodbye.

Monday, May 4, 2015

$2 Tuesdays

At our local Goodwill stores we have colored tag specials: the color tag of the week is 50% off on Sunday and Monday but on Tuesday they are all $1.99. That doesn't work out well when an item is under $4 because you could get it as cheap or cheaper on Sunday or Monday but anything over $4 you are getting a bargain. Here's my story of $2 Tuesday:

On Monday nights I go to yoga class and drive right by my local Goodwill store so I stop in after class and check out specials but mostly look for any sewing machines and fabric. Last week the color tag was blue and I rounded the corner to find four sewing machines. I wasn't really very excited becasue there were there last week and I had already dismissed them. All were missing their power cords and foot controls and two were crappy Singers from the '80's. Another woman stopped to look at them and asked me what I thought about them and I told her my opinion. Then she pointed out they were blue tags and would only be $2 the next morning. I looked again. One was a Singer Featherweight 132Q, not a vintage Singer 221, known as the Featherweight, but a plastic model that was supposed to be great. It got terrible reviews so I figured I didn't want it. I took a look at the plug end, noted the weird configuration, and went home to check. Yup, I had a cord and foot control for it in my extras stash. Now I was in a quandary: do I violate my rule about plastic machines all being poor models or go for it since the price was right?

Having some work comp time coming, I was at the local GW when the doors opened, plugged in my set of foot controls to test it out, and it went home with me. I got into work an hour late but I had time so not too much fuss, especially when I spied an OttLite on the shelf for $7.50. It was just like mine and I have a friend who said "If you ever see another one like that, pick it up for me" so I did. I brought it in to work and she was pretty happy about my find, even if it wasn't a blue tag special. Here's my modern "Featherweight"
Singer 132Q: "Featherweight"

On my way home that night I was on my way to church where we run a food distribution program on Tuesday nights and I drive - you guessed it - right by another Goodwill. I don't stop there very often but I had an extra five minutes (I'm a fast in and out) so I stopped in to find, drum-roll here, an Elna 62C. My heart skipped a beat but then the disappointment set in: no power cord and they are pricey. But not only was it an Elna, even without the power cord, it was a blue tag. I ran my $2 purchase up to the checkout and figured I would sort it out later. Wow. Two for Tuesday for two dollars each: that's one for the records!
Elna 62C with broken gear

When I got home and brought those two specials into the house I could see my husband was trying not to roll his eyes but news that they were only $2 each won him over. The Singer 132Q needed a cleaning, oil, and bobbin tension adjustment before it was working but I didn't find the jamming issue that was the big complaint against this model. I will have to actually sew something with it to put it through its paces. Next up was the Elna 62C but I'm not real excited about getting it into working condition due to the expensive power cord. Not only would it need the power cords, it also needed all of the accessories like feet, bobbins, and cams that are are model specific and also expensive. Would I be able to get my money back? Probably not. Using a plug for a functioning Elna, I get it to sew but there's a hitch in its giddyap so I suspect it needs a new plastic/nylon gear. I cannot see an obvious crack or flaw in the feed dog gear but that's where it it hesitating. Maybe this will have to be a parts machine but for only $2 I can live with that, too.

$2 Tuesdays: gotta love 'em.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

All Zipped Up

All of my sewing machine adventures point towards using these beautiful vintage models to actually sew. Every once in awhile I get the urge to make something from beginning to end without stopping, reminiscent of the days when I used an upstairs bedroom to sew all kinds of thing on a very limited budget. There were no demands on my time or how I wanted to spend the whole day, just as long as dinner was on the table by 5:30. My life isn't so simple now but I still get the urge to sew for hours at a time. This weekend I did just that by making a dress for myself as I was anxious to try out a new pattern. It was a Simplicity Amazing Fit pattern #1652:
I made view A with sleeves and front tabs
Of course, this all started when I found a dress from a popular label that had these great pockets but instead I found this dress with the princess bodice. It's an Amazing Fit because there are different pattern pieces for A,B,C, or D bra cup sizes for a better fit and they are right: it fit perfectly!

After I had this all cut out and ready to sew, I heard from one of you, my blog reading friends, that it would be nice to read about how to install a decent zipper. Well, I would like to know how to do that, too, but here is my best effort with tips along the way.

The back of this dress had a standard zipper so this should be easy, right? Here's how I started:
Back seam allowance pressed open

Zipper pinned close to zipper teeth
Basted in place, outside of stitching line for easy removal
Stitch first side from bottom to top (note zipper foot position)
Stitch across bottom of zipper and up the other side (zipper foot now moved to other side of the needle)
Done but not perfect! Bodice and skirt seams match (yea!)
I have had years and years of sewing and I still do not always get it right but I have found directional sewing is important: either top to bottom or bottom to top so do not start at the top and when you get to the bottom just go across and up the next side. This is a recipe for not having it come out straight! I know it's not as easy, neither is basting, but it will give you a better result. I've learn when basting to put your stitches pretty far to the outer edge and then it will hold but not get in the way of the machine stitching. You can see I have a bit of a gap where the edges of the dress don't quite meet to cover the zipper so now that's another little trick I didn't employ: when basting push the fabric closer to the zipper teeth; don't allow the fabric to pull towards the outside edge. I'm always learning something new-to-me. My recipe for success with zippers includes: press, pin, baste, bottom up on each side. Always be prepared to rip it out and start again and practice does make perfect but zippers are a challenge! Replacing zippers in jeans? Only if they are an all-time favorite (or I'm getting paid to do the job). Replacing zippers in coats? Not too difficult but you must baste and use matching thread and stitch length.

So how did my dress-in-a-day turn out? Wish the photos could show you the details but here are the photos we took:
Pockets and those tabs with buttons! I used bias tape on the neckline and sleeve hem (I hate facings!)

and here's your Sewing Machine Mavin in her new dress
I have another princess seam/line style dress with matching jacket cut out so I just might get to sew away another Saturday. Which sewing machine do you think I used? A Singer 401A, of course, but with all of that straight stitching I could have used my Singer 99, 201, or even a treadle. Next time, next time!