Friday, November 27, 2015

Discouragement and Encouragement

The last craft fair came and went without any good news: it was a bust for us, barely covering expenses. We have analysed it and think it's possible this is too big of a venue and my kitchenie type of craft does not appeal to the younger women that come to this particular show. Between the two craft shows I worked like crazy making up 25 new hot mitts, five more aprons, two new tea cozies, and fixing the display hardware and soft ware (pressing the tablecloths to be exact).

There was interest in the men's shirt aprons where I added vintage linen and most of them sold:
Corner of a vintage tablecloth
Center circle of vintage tablecloth (lace added)

Nice to have a good idea for the linen and great comments from the women who looked so I'll continue to use the vintage linen with other ideas I have. On the bright side, my mom wants four of the hot mitt sets with towels so I consider that goes with the craft show sale and makes it a bit better. Thanks, Mom!

Just when we think life is treating us cruel we are in for a surprise. After picking up a turkey in preparation for Thanksgiving, I stopped at a local thrift store to see if I could pick up a kitchen tool I like to sell with my hot mitt sets.There was a sign on the door announcing their furniture with orange tags were half price today so that peaked my interest, too. I just got to the back by the furniture when I spied a desk with a split top, a sure sign there is or was a sewing machine inside. It was a very nice desk, a newer solid wood style in light oak with a price tag that was a little high for this particular store. I open the top up and see the back side of...a Viking sewing machine. Not just any Viking, but as I pull it up into place I see it's a Viking Husqvarna 1070, very similar to my beloved Viking 1100.
Cabinet fit for a Viking!
Storage, storage, storage!
 I'm pretty excited by now and as I open the doors and drawers that are loaded with supplies, I see the foot control. After asking if I could move it over to an outlet and scooting it over seven feet, I get it plugged in and see that everything lights up but the needle is broken off and the bobbin has a ton of thread wrapped around the finger. That was the cause of the jamming and broken needle so I think I can fix that pretty easily. With shaking hands I get it up to the check out where I only have to pay half the amount on the tag. YES! I have to drive around to the back for loading (so much for dragging it up to the front) and talk the young men into letting me use my screw driver to take out the two screws that bolt the machine into the top leaf. I also insist on removing the drawers so the contents don't end up all over the back of my car but they are good sports and go along with my requests before loading it in the car for me.

Once I get it home with the turkey I have to tell my husband that I bought another cabinet model. After I exclaim about the great turkey we are going to have in a few days I tell the story about the half price Viking I found. He's not mad or even unhappy but I know he feels his space is shrinking. It is. Dinner is made and eaten and I have to fly out the door to babysit but the anticipation of coming home to find out if I made a big mistake with this purchase looms.

Viking Husqvarna 1070 sewing machine
I end up using a razor blade to remove the knot of threads but then the bobbin really rattles so the whole casing and hook needs to be removed and the area under the needleplate is also in need of a cleaning. It's full of packed lint but nothing terrible or alarming so I get everything clean and reassembled. Without the bobbin case it sounds very smooth so I run it again with the bobbin and case to find it seems a little loose. When all threaded and trying out a variety of stitches, I need to adjust the presser foot pressure but everything else works great. Unlike the Viking 1100, there are no stitch cassettes to remove and lose: everything is built in and seems to work perfectly. It came with only one additional foot and is missing the extension table, but has the original manual and another printed set of papers where you can see the owner took a learn-to-use-your-Viking sewing machine class. I'm in heaven!
Built-in stitches with the push of a button
The next evening I get another Viking in the mail, an Ebay bid I won for a Viking #1+. I get it for a ridiculous price because there is no foot control. I see it uses the same one as my 1100 so at least I can try it out before investing in one for this machine alone that is over $100. It does come with the extension table that is full of additional feet and bobbins, maybe ones that can be used with the new-to-me Viking 1070.
Viking 1250 a.k.a. #1+

Extension table with front and back storage for feet, accessories, bobbins
Although this one had stitch cassette A, it looks pretty beat up yet it works:

Viking 1250 with stitch cassette A
I think this might be one from the earlier 1100 series because the Viking #1+ has cassettes that are fairly bright blue. With only one cassette, I need to look for the rest and find L is available for only $20 so it's now coming in the mail this week. The manual, a free download from the Viking website, shows only cassettes A, B, D, and L were to come with the machine and now I have two of the four.

Each machine has parts missing but I'm not ready to put them together to make one machine: both are just too good to use for parts! I'm excited to try them both to see what they can do and hope this long weekend gives me some time for sewing. Already two calls have come in for sewing machine appointments (cabinet models!) so let's hope there will be more space available for that great cabinet/table of the Viking 1070, now waiting in the garage.
Nice sewing space, huh? Get me out of the garage!
 For all of the above I'm grateful. I have a roof over my head that I share with a generous man, good health, a great job, and a wonderful hobby that I get to share with you, my readers.

Thank you, dear readers of this blog about sewing machines and my adventures with them!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Things That Come In Threes

While I was extra busy crafting the last few weeks, I have bought a few new sewing machines that I almost forgot to tell you about. This time they came three at a time, all on the same day. It started with an online auction where I got the winning bid for a serger:
Elna Lock L1 serger
The Elna Lock L1 is very similar to the Elna Lock Pro 4 that I just bought and sold to Brenda so I thought it was a pretty good risk. I arranged to pick it up early morning before their regular pick up hours but before I could get there I won another one:
Kenmore 385-1960180
The Kenmore 385-1960180 is an early electronic/computer model so there is a pretty big risk in bidding on this one since there's more that can go wrong that I could not fix. It's a great time saver to be able to pick them both up on my way to work but it's not over because I've also arranged to pick up another serger after work:
Juki MO-103
I've read wonderful things about this Juki serger because it was their first home-market model so was quite powerful, similar to their industrials. Once I get all three of these home and try to work with them, I see the Kenmore is going to be fine but I might need to print out their 100 page manual to be able to figure out some of the finer points.
Large selection of stitches

The Juki serger takes the rest of my time and even though I finally get it to stitch fine it now makes a distinct loud clicking noise that it didn't have the first time I started it up. I can't tell where the clicking is from so maybe the stethoscope needs to come out to find where it is hitting.

I finally got to the Elna Lock L1 and without skipping a stitch it threads up and stitches perfectly. It might be just a three thread, one needle model but is easy to thread and no adjustments were necessary. Wow, I wish all sergers were this nice. I got a text from Ellie who now wants a few sergers for her Haiti project and I think the Elna is an excellent candidate and, hopefully, I can get the Juki up and running great, too. The Kenmore was a bit of a surprise, but then, not really since Kenmore has made pretty good machines but I would put this one on par with the Elna 5000 (but more stitches) and like a simplified Viking 1100. It's a very nice stitcher but as with all electronic sewing machines they aren't made for heavy duty work but still gives a satisfying experience and result. Not bad for one day, huh? And no new cabinets were added!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Free Again

Although I do pursue and buy vintage sewing machines, sometimes they are given to me. Lately, that has been quite a blessing as I got three sewing machines given to me just this week. So here is their story.

Susan was worried about her Singer 301 and asked if I would "listen" to it. Now I am the sewing machine whisperer? For Susan, I would gladly listen to any one of her machines she is concerned about. As payment, she is bringing me a Montgomery Wards Signature sewing machine she bought just for the case and didn't need this machine.
Signature UHT-J278
I would have welcomed a visit from Susan even without the bribe but it did make the visit a bit sweeter. She arrived with not one, but two sewing machines:
New Home 443 by Janome
This classy beauty does remind me of cars from the '50's with its greenish color and chrome trim. After listening to her 301, which sounded quite healthy, I plugged my freebies in and listened to each one and they seemed to be fine. It took a few days until I could get back to them with a deeper cleaning and possible adjustments. The Signature is a great sewing machine with an early stretch stitch: according to the manual, just hold the reverse button in and turn the stitch selector dial to "Stretch" and it's ready. This is not intuitive so I was very glad to have a paper manual! It's is a very nice machine with zig zag, a four step buttonhole on a dial, blind hem stitch, and the stretch stitch that incorporates a forward and reverse movement of stitches. Montgomery Wards made some nice machines, or maybe I should say they put their name on some very good Japanese models.

The New Home 443 by Janome is another good machine in its bright color but it didn't seem to be making a very long stitch at the highest number. It also got cleaned and oiled but it still didn't seem right. I walked away as a technique for repair (insight will come later?) and when I looked at the underside again I could see the lever to drop the feed dogs had not engaged fully. This kept the feed dogs from moving the fabric along so I was getting a shorter stitch. Once I pushed the lever to fully engage, the stitches were longer. How did I know this? Same thing just happened on a Singer 201 that just wasn't performing well so I read up on the possible causes and one was about the feed dogs. As I checked them out I could see they were not raised up high enough so I raised them up by taking out one screw and rotating until the feed dog were raised higher. This made all the difference in the world so it was nice to put this new skill to use just a few days later with the New Home 443.

I'm up two new machines and I get an email from Mary Beth who bought the cool Phoenix in its refinished cabinet. She reminded me that she offered her old machine and now she was ready to bring it over. Delivery? That's just too much but her son brought it over during a stormy day and left it wrapped in a black plastic bag in a protected spot. I had never seen a Singer 177C, made in Brazil, but here she is:
Singer 177C
The finish is slightly textured and the whole thing is in pretty good shape. As I'm taking it apart I notice the bobbin case is like a Singer 15. The tension unit is exactly like a Singer 15. This is a Singer 15 model but it has a class 66 bobbin in the bobbin case. This would not be good and could have been frustrating to use a machine with the wrong size bobbin, possibly jamming or producing poorer stitches. All is right in the world now as she has a class 15 bobbin and sews very nicely. She is a bit dim as there is no light attached but that's okay as I can just use a portable light to illumine the whole area.

Speaking about lights, I have been trying out the new LED's for sewing machines and think I'm sold on this type of bulb for all of my sewing machines. They are cool to the touch so it's especially nice in  machines where your hand brushes up against the bulb, as on a Featherweight or Singer 15. The ones I bought are the cool white style so it's pretty bright and now I'm going to try the warm white style to see how I like them. I do notice it makes a difference where the light shines: a Bernina Record 830 has the light over the needle plate but a Viking 19 has the light over the bed so it's an entirely different experience. I should probably use a side light when sewing on the Bernina since I find the light, not dim, but too small of an area.

So, once again, I'm busy with sewing machines instead of actually sewing but I'm trying my best to replenish my stock for the next craft fair. Hurry, hurry, hurry...but enjoy using the machines!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Craft Fair #1

The Saturday craft fair at Salem Covenant Church was a very big success for my daughter Kelly and I with our top dollar amount in sales ever. Business was steady with not just lookers but buyers, too. Even though I had some new items, such as the hanger covers and aprons, the big sellers continue to be the hot mitts. I made up about twenty new ones for this sale and I sold so many that now I will need to make up almost twice as many for the next sale on November 21. Success! Now I will need to get sewing. I thought you might like to see the process and the use of my limited space:
That's right: it's just 2 ironing boards

Sewing them up on the Singer 201 with a walking foot
The best part of being in show like this is talking with the customers and other vendors to see what they like or would like to see. Various color schemes and themes were suggested: blue kitchens, sport themes, no white edges (there aren't any but even light colors are rejected), larger tea cozies, mother/daughter aprons, and solid color ironing board covers. There were a few items in the boxes we were not going to put out but thought "why not?" and they sold: at least two rag dolls sold, although the baby back-zip sweaters did not. None of the toaster covers sold even though everyone liked the one with Bible verses:

So what is my response to this? On the way home I stopped to buy more cotton batting by the yard and Insul-Bright heat reflecting/absorbing lining for the hot mitts. The men's shirt aprons got a lot of attention so I looked through my stash of shirts and decided I needed to buy a red shirt to combine with a couple green shirts for some Christmasy half aprons. Okay, that was Kelly's idea, not mine, but it's a good one! I also found one that was very pheasant- hunting-season and I'm thinking about what I could add to it for a great look. I have sold more of the hunting and fishing themed items to women for women rather than men so it stands to reason those same women might want an apron.

Here's the pile of hot mitts I'm working on tonight:
From fish to herbs to denim, to printed piecework, something for everyone!
Although most is done by machine, the final stitching of the bias tape is best done by hand so there's my stack by my chair, waiting for me to get back to my movie. I better hurry: the good part has just begun!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Two for One

I love a good surprise; not the kind where you get that sinking feeling but the kind where you walk away saying "Who knew this was going to turn out so well?" As I was picking up a Viking 19 earlier this week, the seller asked if I would be interested in another sewing machine. Maybe...make and model? She said it was a Singer and brought out this:
Singer 99 with crinkle finish
a very nice Singer 99 in a crinkle finish with a decent bentwood case. Wow, this was nice but I didn't have much cash. She agreed to the amount I could offer and said she was glad someone actually wanted it because it was going to go into the trash. Here's the back story on why she had these two classic sewing machines but didn't know of their value.

Her sister married a man whose wife had died and left her antique sewing machines without a home. Neither of the women, new wife or her sister, knew how to use a sewing machine and they just could not imagine anyone would want something so old. Guess she was wrong because the sister offered to see if they could be sold just to get them out of the house and I answered the ad first. Ah, the early bird getting the worm, once again!

Both machines are dirty but only from sitting around, nothing terrible, but need oil and heat to loosen everything up. The cute little 99 has sticky residue from tape, lots of lint inside the bobbin area, but nothing that can't be fixed. Under that little metal door on the right is a space that hid a box of accessories and an original printed manual.
Singer 99 accessories: note one black foot
What really impressed me was the great shape for the electrical cords on both machines. Does this mean they were rewired? I do not think so but they were definitely stored in a good place that did not deteriorate the wires, so no hot attic, damp basement, or cold garage. They are going to find a good home with someone who will appreciate their excellent condition.

The Viking 19 came in a suitcase that is also in excellent condition with a hard, smooth finish on the outside and an intact interior of plaid cotton. Note the little box built into the back to hold the foot control and cords!
Interior of case with that cute plaid lining

Viking Husqvarna 19

Here she is with the extension table
It not only pays to be prompt but also to carry a bit of extra cash, in this case. It's another good week in Sewing Machine Land but now I need to attend to the craft fair tomorrow. Am I ready? Almost, almost...

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Getting Ready

The first craft fair of the season is quickly approaching and I've been very busy sewing up new items and freshening up my stock.

Ironing board covers in plastic bags with hot mitts and towels

That comes up to five new ironing board covers, new aprons, twenty additional hot mitts, a few matching towels, couple dozen hanger covers, and some miscellaneous items I hope to get done before Saturday morning. Besides just the process of sewing, I've been using a variety of my sewing machines to put them through their paces. Using a Singer 15-91 with a walking foot, I quilted the hot mitts and added the bias binding. From there I took off the walking foot and made the casings for the ironing board covers on a few but then switched to a Kenmore 158-1980 to hem the last of them. I discovered this model did not seem to have the needle centered and the electronic foot control drove me crazy: even the slightest touch made it hum so I needed to remember to remove my foot completely each and every time. Didn't I always? Apparently not but it might have been due to its rather large size and the need to pick up my foot. This does not make the Kenmore 1980 a winner for me.
Kenmore 158-1980
The real big news is both cars are back in the garage! Two more cabinet sewing machines were sold over the weekend and that only left three to come inside. My ever generous husband agreed on their placement and we were good to go until I got a call about someone wanting to return a sewing machine. In a cabinet.
Kenmore 158-1690
Since I guarantee all sales, I was obligated to take it back but I wasn't too happy since it was a rather longer in length desk and a so-so model. I actually got talked into selling it when the man called about a sewing machine that had sold earlier in the week. He printed off the information while the listing was still active but didn't check to see if it was still available and it was not. He asked about other machines that would be similar and I suggested the Kenmore 158-1690 but he pushed for a much lower price. Since I hadn't listed it yet I figured that was worth something to me so I let it go for only $5 more than what I had paid. When picking it up he explained his circumstances and kept asking if it could be returned and I should have heeded his inquiry. Sure enough, a week later I get a call from his son asking if it could be returned because his mother wanted something more computerized. Well, not at that price point! It came home last night and is sitting where the garbage cans will end up when it snows but needs to be moved. It needs to be moved out of my garage into someone else's house.

I'm very carefully not buying any more cabinet models. Unless...they are those cute built in chair desks. Or a highly desired model. Yea, I picked up a Viking 19 last night but it's a portable...
Viking Husqvarna 19
and in pristine condition. Very excited but that's not the end of the story because this was a two-for.

Stay tuned to see which model came home with the Viking Husqvarna 19 (and, no, it's not in a cabinet!).