Wednesday, June 29, 2016

101 Reasons

With so many brands and models of sewing machines that span over one hundred years, I  recognize that I cannot know them all. How could I be surprised to find a totally unfamiliar model? But I was when I found this gem locally:

What is it? Nice decals on the bed (see button dial for stitch length)

It looks like a Singer 66. There is a potted motor on the back, meaning it's gear driven with no belt from the handwheel to the motor. Is it a Singer 201? There is no light in the front, there is no tell-tale white light switch by the electrical cord on the right side of the bed. Wait a minute: where are the electrical connections? No plugs, light switch is at the back like a Singer 66/99 (and take a look at the weird shape of the black pole for the light!) so how does this run? The ad said "Needs power cord" but I'm thinking it needs more than a power cord but a foot or knee control, too.

The research begins but how do I even start? I go to Sandman Collectables and go through his wonderful identification template but that doesn't help, mainly because there is a piece of cloth of the bed and I can't see the details I need for proper identification. I look for potted motors and their models and Singer 201 keeps coming up but it is not a Singer 201. Then I find a photo of a Singer 101 and I start to perk up. What do I recall about the Singer 101? Something about their being only a few years they were made and they don't run all that well. I go ahead and respond to the ad and set up an appointment but continue to delve into who the Singer 101 is all about. There are warnings about the oiling system using multiple wicks (this sounds similar to older sergers) that might have gotten old and crumbling and the controller that is usually built into the cabinet and is a knee model. In one photo I find the plug for a three prong cord and it looks like a typical Singer cord so I bring one along with me.

I not only find Denise and Tom's house easily enough, the sewing machine is right in front of the garage. We get it plugged in but cannot figure out how to get the knee control to work but Tom comes to the rescue and makes sense of it and gets it to respond. Oh so slowly, it makes a very slow turn and stitch so I agree that it's going home with me. The poor cabinet has almost all of the veneer coming off of the top and the inside of the cover looks pretty rough but I have hopes for this pretty typical cabinet:
Singer 101 with cabinet that needs to be refinished

Right side leaf that is made to fold down, not stay up for extra working surface

Once I download the manual, it shows how to take the motor assembly apart and how to re-grease the gears. There are little tubes that come off pretty easily and are full of darkened grease but it isn't hard yet so I get it all cleaned out and replaced:
Grease cup with wick
Wick pulled out: pretty cruddy
Wick with old grease squeezed out, ready to be refilled with new Triflow lubricant
Placement of grease cups, only one in place
Grease cups are underneath this gear with new lubricant in place

Placement of motor with cleaned out grease
Gears where the motor sits
There are more gears to clean out and grease, even gears on the bottom but everything gets cleaned out, gears greased with Triflow lubricant, oil on other metal parts as per the manual, body of the machine wiped down and cleaned with sewing machine oil, metal parts shined up, and she's ready for the test.
Beautiful faceplate all shiny now
 With some tension adjustment, she sews! This Singer 101 sounds just like a Singer 201 with the same drop-in class 66 bobbin and smooth operation with all of those gears. Top speed is enough but it doesn't seem to be as fast as others. I remember this happening to a 201 last winter so will check the knee controller to see if there is an adjustment that needs to be made. I text my new friends, Denise and Tom, to let them know how nice their sewing machine sounds and that it is working quite nicely. Denise asks me to keep them abreast of any updates and to send photos. I think they are in for a surprise.
Back of Singer 101 with potted motor and unique light assembly
Once the machine is running I take a look at the table. That veneer is not going to be saved with many pieces missing and big sections that have delaminated. I've never removed veneer before but there's a first time for everything so I look up some methods and land upon using a wet towel overnight. Sure enough, most of it comes off in the morning and what doesn't come off gets the wet towel and hot iron treatment. Here's the top with the veneer removed:
Singer 101 cabinet top with veneer removed

The wood underneath is not too bad, at least passable with some black marks from a hot saw that I manage to sand out:
Much improved!
This is starting to look good! I try denatured alcohol on one of the legs that is missing most of the finish on the front and it comes clean, too. Although I had a nearly empty can of the denatured alcohol (so I must have used it for something) I have not used it as a shellac thinner before and hope a new can will give the desired results. I even have a new vapor mask! This is something I should have been using long ago and recommend to prevent the harmful effects of breathing in all of the junk when chemicals are being used. Sorry, no photos because it looks so dreadful but does work well.

Now I've added a Singer 101 to my cadre of sewing machines and I'm pretty happy with it. The dire warnings about crumbling oil wicks doesn't hold true and it does run quite well even if I don't get it working at a lightening pace. Checking the serial number dates this Singer 101 to 1930: that's 86 years old! It's okay if it works without being super speedy. The cabinet will get refinished over time and this will be a handsome and functional piece of furniture. When I talked about how refinish sewing machine tables and get the machines to sew again, Tom said it would be a nice piece if he had an historic home. I told him about how I sell sewing machines to quite a few men and by the time it was loaded into my vehicle Denise said maybe they would have to buy it back from me when it was done. Just maybe so we will be in touch!

Stay tuned to see the finished product before the end of July (this will give me motivation).

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Going From Cute To Cuter

Friday dawned clear with a light breeze so I decided the lawn needed mowing, a nice way to start a day off. But the grass was too wet and it was too early to start up anything loud so I looked at my pile of current fabrics and my eyes fell upon a skirt I bought at Goodwill Outlet last week. Too bad I don't have a photo of that skirt because it is now a very cute little girl's dress:

Simplicity 2377, view A
This little cutie started out as a Coldwater Creek size 6 boarder print skirt. I know the photo looks navy and pink but it's really black with red flowers (isn't it cute in the navy and pink?). The bottom width was only 52 inches so that limited quite a few patterns. I really didn't want to make it as a top for size 2 or 3 so I kept digging until I came up with this simple pattern:
Simplicity 2377
If I made view A with a simple skirt it just might work. As I pulled out the pattern pieces I could see that the skirt was only the same piece for the front and back and as I held it up to the bottom of the skirt I found out I only needed to cut it to length, leaving the seams and hem intact. How simple is that? Would I have enough for the bodice and sleeves? That was a bit tricky since there were small darts right under the waistband and I needed all of that fabric. If I positioned the darts evenly across they might not be noticed or might look purposeful so it was worth trying. I managed to squeeze all of the parts on the remaining skirt fabric for a size 5 except for the back ties but I could come up with something:
Grosgrain ribbon for back ties
It all went together so quickly with the ease of elastic on the neckline and sleeves. How to finish up? I tried little buttons down the front, along the waistline, ribbon waistline, and ribbon bow. The bow looked the best in slightly narrower ribbon than what was on the back ties but it still needed something to finish it off. Out come the buttons! I managed to find a white flower button that is very vintage looking, somewhat pearlized looking:
Bodice detail of bow and flower button trim
That photo looks more black and red, the real colors of the dress. If you look really close you will still not be able to see those tiny darts near the sleeve seams as they melt into the fabric. I sewed the bow on really well with the sewing machine so it's not going to come apart in the wash, a pet peeve of mine.This was a big success in re-purposing a woman's skirt into a little girl's dress, complete with the border print showing all of its flowers.

Now we need to discuss the sewing machines I used. My Viking #1 is currently in place but nearly covered with kitchen towels, waiting for buttonholes to be made so I looked around and found a lovely Bernina 700 that I have apparently forgotten to tell you about. I responded quickly to an ad about six weeks ago for a Bernina 700 and snagged that baby up. All is not perfect, though, as it came with only one foot and the 700 only does straight and simple zigzag, nothing else. That was a little disappointing but with the high quality of its stitches I felt it was worth the purchase:
Bernina 700
It came with the extension table, original foot control (they are HUGE), and print manual all in the upgraded green suitcase carrier. I went ahead and bought an accessory box with a nice variety of additional feet:
Bernina box with feet #7, 16, 33, 285, 470
Of course she makes beautiful stitches but I can't seem to get the hang of the exposed belt right where you need to touch the handwheel to give extra control for some parts of sewing:
Bernina 700  with belt semi-exposed
In the original manual it does show this as normal so I can confirm it's not some kind of re-make. I can also see that this machine was purchased in Madison, WI on 10-19-'67. Wow. This sewing machine is older than many of my readers, no? Even though there are no built-in stitches beyond the zigzag, it does show you how to make many different designs by manipulating the needle position, stitch width and length, and counting stitches. Okay, that can be accomplished, but it would be easier to get out the embroidery floss and needle! Or maybe you could just upgrade to the Bernina Record 730 with a whole variety of stitches; they always have you yearning for more!

While I was in Bernina-land, I also used my Bernina 1100DA serger to finish the seams so it would not only look professional but would also hold up to many washings. Photos were taken and it's already in my Etsy shop, surely a new speed record for me! What's my shop called? It's InStitchesKarenDubay where you will find this Black and Red Border Print Dress. Did I ever get the lawn mowed? It was a vacation day for me so I ended up trimming bushes at the back of the yard and eventually mowed only the front yard. The back yard is calling my name but it's still early, lawn mowers make too much noise for an early Saturday morning, so maybe I should take a look at other finds in my "pile of wonders" to see what I might create. Or maybe I should work on that stack of kitchen towels. Or maybe I should finish up the hot mitts I promised my sister Sue for her birthday over ten days ago. So many choices, so little time. And I stitch on.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Party Time

It was hard work to get ready for the graduation party, especially since hot weather was predicted. I took two days off from work to get all sorts of odd jobs done including painting the wrought iron railing and light post. After the yard work was done I felt ready to tackle the scraping, sanding, and painting but it was good that I did it when I did because now it's too hot and rainy to get the job done. But all was not work as I found the time to play, too.

On Wednesday, before I went into work, I knew I had extra time to veer over to the Goodwill Outlet since we were have a special day out on a boat cruise and didn't have to go into work until 10 o'clock. Don't forget, Wednesday is senior citizen day so it's even 25% off per pound at GW. I found the usual shirts, crop pants, fabrics, and then I rounded the corner to find a sewing machine cabinet that was mighty nice looking:
Decent shape with interesting legs?

Not sure what I would find inside, I opened it up to find this baby:

Pfaff 230
I didn't even bother to plug it in, just took the ticket and made my way to the checkout. Now, I already have a Pfaff 230 but I've taken it apart too many times and now cannot get the embroidery mechanism working correctly again. Let that be a lesson to all of you who are reading this: sometimes I overshoot my capabilities. Actually, I almost always overshoot my skill level but that's how I've learned and usually it's a win but sometimes...I lose. That sure doesn't take the damper off try-and-try-again and that's what has kept my adventure into repairing vintage sewing machines going.

On Friday, on my way to tackle the shopping, I stopped at a local garage sale right over by Marge, one of my church friends that I pick up on Sunday mornings. They had a cool looking cabinet advertised but I couldn't tell what machine it was so I stopped over in hopes it was still there. It sure was and, be still my heart, it was a black Singer 301 shortbed. Oh wow.
No. 42 cabinet with a Singer 301 shortbed
Upon showing interest they looked pretty anxious to sell so I offered less than their somewhat fair posted price and they jumped at it. Goodie, goodie, goodie! I tried not to get too excited but told them I would have to go back home to get more cash. They were so helpful upon my return as we tried to figure out how to get the drawers out to make it lighter when I got home and didn't have their help. The gentleman did say he could follow me home and help me get it out of my vehicle but then we came up with a plan to get a blanket under it so I could slide it out. It did work out great and ended up not being too much to just muscle it by myself the short distance into the garage.
Drawers hiding behind the curved door!
This set-up even had the "cradle" so you can easily flip up the "shortbed" on the left of the needleplate where there is a lever to push down and the machine is released and ready to lift out. It has an aluminum body so it's blissfully lightweight with a built in handle. So very, very clever. It came with a separate power cord/foot control for when it's lifted out. There is a built-in foot control (see photo above with small metal lever sticking out from the drawers) with a separate power cord that is in need of replacement. The gentleman I bought it from said it was his mother's and he only remembered her doing a little mending and the excellent condition of the bed proves it:
Check out those decals (and this is before cleaning it)
My research shows this Singer 301 would have been made in 1951. Although the machine and its attachments were all in like-new condition, the poor cabinet has been given an antique finish. I believe the process went something like this: paint a layer and let dry, then brush over it with another "antiquing" product that was like a stain to be followed up with some kind of sealer. It has now crackled and does not add in any way to this cabinet and it looks like the only thing left to do is to strip it all off. Been there, done that. With the party behind us now (and it was near 90 degrees that day) I can, once again, set up my workshop and get to cleaning up the long list of projects that have been waiting for warmer weather. It has arrived! And I am ready!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pretty in Pink

Having a creative outlet is a necessity for me and I've chosen hobbies that give me plenty of opportunity for creative expression. I love putting patterns, fabric, and color together to make what I hope will be a satisfying creation that is pleasing to the eye yet also practical, a nod to my hard-working German heritage. In an earlier post I wrote about making girls dresses that were sent to my great-nieces in Texas to try out and report back. Here they are, so cute in their new dresses:
Ellen and Ava in their new dresses
Only a few comments were made such as making the straps adjustable (actually, it wasn't a suggestion but I figured out a way to remedy Ava's too long straps) and to make the purse handles long for over-the-shoulder style of straps. They washed well and, hopefully, required no ironing. Now I've had another opportunity to have a tester closer to home. My friend, Anne, commented that one of her granddaughters asked for a dress that was pretty. Maybe I had one? I offered to make Addie a dress that was just her size and as pretty as I could make it.

Checking out my fabric and dress patterns, I liked two pieces of pink: a pink cotton with small white flowers and a pink voile, very sheer but an exact match (to my eyes, at least). Simplicity 5580 caught my eye with a cute inset in the back of tiered ruffles. I decided that voile would be especially cute in the ruffles and back tie so I cut out a size 4 and added extra length since she was between and 4 and 5 and that usually means they are getting taller, not wider. It went together easily and I added the cotton eyelet lace edging down the front and neck edge just so it would be "pretty" with white buttons that looked like flowers.
Simplicity 5580 front
I held it up and declared it a success until I found out that back ruffled section was sheer, as in see-through. Oh no, we couldn't have a dress with a see through back!

 I went back and added a wedge of the pink print fabric that would provide the perfect shield.
Inside at the back with sewn in extra panel
This would have been easier if I had thought of it from the beginning but better late than never. Really, I doubt the dress would even have been worn with a peek-a-boo back!
Simplicity 5580 back
As per usual, I report on the sewing machine I used and this time it was my Viking #1 that traveled here from Michigan. It is so similar to the Viking 1100 I have used for the past three years that I can hardly tell the difference. When it came time to make the buttonholes I thought it would be a good time to practice using the memory feature. It took four practice buttonholes before I could get it to work like it should and another two trials on the dress before they worked perfectly.

If I made buttonholes all the time it would be easier but for a first time this took way too long. I have a project of about 40 hand towels that are going to need two large buttonholes so I think I'm either going to really learn how to use the memory feature or I'm going to use a different machine with the buttonhole attachment. Those attachments make the best buttonholes! I think I might just have to experiment with that and report back in another post. Ease of use? Finished look? Functionality?
Neckline with new labels!
Stay tuned for more adventures!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Enter into the World of Embroidery

I knew it was going to happen one day where I would get my hands on an embroidery sewing machine. There were a few of the Viking 1070, 1100 and #1 where you can create, sew, and store your stitches and even a #1+ with the embroidery unit and hoop to make larger designs. But now I have found a Viking Husqvarna Designer 1 with so much more.

Our neighbors had a garage sale and I finally made it over on the third day of the sale. There she was, the familiar Husqvarna logo with a hard plastic cover, a large plastic case for the embroidery unit, and a very large box of "extras" that I couldn't begin to identify. On the tag it read: needs $300 computer chip. I walked away. Yes, I walked away. Then a man sitting at the sales table called out "I'll make you a deal!" and I was sorely tempted but said I'd have to think about it and really needed to mow my lawn.

Lawn was done, I was very hot and sweaty, but I made my way back and asked if the machine would work without the computer chip, thinking it might have been a problem with the embroidery unit and not the machine itself. So he calls his sister and seems to have a long conversation with her. It appears the offer he gave me was lower than she wanted to go but he would go ahead and sell it to me, his offer stands. We walked it back home and into the garage where he saw my workshop machines and cabinets, saying they were some really nice ones. Well, they were a far cry from the Designer 1 in all of it's plastic and outdated computer glory but I was very happy with my purchase. Here's what I got:

Viking Husqvarna Designer 1: the main part of the machine
Here she is, the basic head with buttons on the left for speed, raising and lowering the presser foot, start and stop (no foot control needed but I still have one anyway), thread cutter, and others I haven't used yet:
Left side push buttons for basic features
The front opens up to show all of those changeable presser feet:
Snap on presser feet and bobbin storage
There is a similar compartment on the back with a sensor buttonhole foot, straight stitch needle plate, light bulb remover, and spool pin end caps. Wow. On the right side is a touch screen for changing settings and functions. I go ahead and plug it in, everything fires up, and I can stitch a straight line. Success! Then when I use the touch screen - - - nothing happens. I guess that's what the $300 computer chip is all about. I dig through the rest of the goodies to find:
Writing pad to connect to computer (comes with a mouse and stylist)

Books, manuals, ideas!

Embroidery unit in carrying case

3 hoops, including the Mega-Hoop!

Reader/Writer box

System 5 software upgrade
What is all of this stuff?

A/B box, VHS instructional tape

I think I'm going to find out! Contrary to the comments about the machine not working, I turn it off and on a bit and find out it does work. I try out the touch screen the can get it to stitch rather nicely:

Straight stitch, hears, alphabet, and even a leaf cluster
Now I'm mystified: it does work? Score! I go back later, after a nap (hey, I mowed the lawn when it was close to 90 degrees!) and reading the manual, but this time the touch screen doesn't work. And it didn't work several hours later. And it didn't work this morning. Now how's that for giving me just a taste of what it could do and then shutting back down? Yes, I can still straight stitch but no length adjustment so it doesn't function as it should until I get it fixed. It didn't take too much time for me to agree to take it back to where it was originally worked on to see about that computer chip but WOW, this is a nice machine that appears to have many upgrades. I also have a spare laptop ($10 at Salvation Army in Superior, Wisconsin) that runs Windows XP that I believe it the system used by the updated software. This might be a very big project but not a bad way to dabble into machine embroidery.

I love garage sales.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hide and Seek

Since our big move, chronicled in the post Organizing Again, it has been harder and harder to find places to store my sewing machines. Even though I am now in a bigger room, my "inventory" has continued to grow while my space has not. I really, really try to keep the machines in just one room with the exception of one cabinet (sans machine) in the guest bedroom and I always have three in front of a breakfront in the living room (I call this my showroom). Really. There is no machine in the kitchen nor in the porch. Well, there's a few sewing machine heads in the porch but they aren't staying long.

With warm weather finally upon us, the garage is reserved for sewing machine projects. I'm trying my best not to move every cabinet out there but I do have two in the house that need refinishing and need to be moved out but in due time since I'm not ready yet. Right now I have about six cabinets waiting for some work and several heads that either need repainting, a spa treatment, or just have no other place to hang out. My car sits outside for the duration but that's no real sacrifice when the weather is so mild. But here's the problem: we are having a party and the overflow, especially if it rains, will end up in the garage. With the sewing machines. That doesn't really bother me (and dare I say it wouldn't bother you since you are reading all about sewing machines) but not all of our guests are as crazy about sewing machines as we are.

What to do....about half of the garage in disarray. should we discretely cover the machines? Block that section of the garage off with yellow tape? Arrange the sewing machines like a showroom in hopes for a sale? None of this sounds right. I'm hoping for some inspiration as I clean up and move things around but at the end of the day it will still be a garage that usually holds our cars and a variety of tools and outdoorsy types of things. We had a big party for one of my decade birthdays and were concerned about the garage but it turned out to be a great day, sunny and hot, so no one wanted or needed to be in the garage.

There will be a large scale cleaning of the house, inside and out, with many of the sewing machines hidden away. I actually look forward to getting this done as the end result is always so satisfying. Bathroom got painted in May, fascia board on the back of the house was replaced and painted, even the new post supporting the garage overhang got a new cover but the inside of the garage has me worried. Then I came home last night to find my hubby had cleaned things up:
An improvement! The wood is from the fascia repair and is leaving soon.

Neat and tidy for such a collection!

And a close-up of the machine heads and bentwood cases
This was a relief and gives me hope for making this look better. The wood is going up north to someone's cabin and the other long pieces are going back to the store since they weren't used. I better get hustling or I won't be ready for the party. Let's hope I can make something less garage-y by the time of the party!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Haiti Update

I've written in the past about Ellie's project in Haiti and her recent trip found her taking a serger for their use. Although she was thinking about buying two, she held back because sergers are just a bit tricky. What if it was more than they could reasonably handle? What if parts were broken? It would only run with electricity so that would limit use and maybe that would be a bad thing or maybe not.

While she was gone I received a few emergency texts like "what size bobbin does the Kenmore use?" and "are there special needles for the serger?" and I liked keeping in touch while Ellie and her friend Karen (yes, another Karen) were teaching and learning.  I even got the following photo:
Sewing on the Necchi Leila in Haiti: she traveled far!

Although the Necchi sewing machine arrived in a previous shipment, I usually don't get to see them being used. That goes for all the sewing machines and sergers I sell: no one sends me "selfies" of themselves sitting at their sewing machine! It is also fair to say I do not have a single photo of myself sitting behind a sewing machine either so what does that say about where we spend so much of our time?

Time has marched on and now Ellie brings back a few more of her gifts for me to assess, restore, and give back for her to ship out. Today's story is about a White 208 serger. I sent Ellie a text pointing out a serger that was at a location closer to her than me so she got over there pronto. It turned out to be a pawn shop and they were willing to deal since the foot was missing. Foot? I translated that as "foot control" and figured I might have an extra that fit. Imagine my surprise when she brings over a very nice White serger
White 208 serger (and it really is white!)

with a foot control, along with a Singer 66 Red Eye head and a Singer 15-90 clone in a case with broken hinges. The White serger had a foot control. It did not have a presser foot. Ahhhh, that might not be as easy to replace. As it turned out, I have several models that use the same presser foot so I could test it out, clean and restore before I got a new foot in the mail: a presser foot, that is. A new one was ordered and Ellie was anxious to pick it up since the next shipment was leaving in only another week. You can imagine my disappointment when the foot arrived and it had the letter R stamped on it. To me, a serger foot with an R means Rolled Hem Foot. Sure enough, it was only for a single needle in the right position for making that narrow rolled hem. This would not work as a general purpose foot and my searching online showed only the bigger (and more expensive) dealers had the foot I needed for around $35.
Left: rolled hem, Center: regular, Right: broken finger

Ellie could have one from one of my sergers and I could wait for the price to drop, or an Ebay seller to offer one at a lower price, but eventually I was going to need one if I wanted to sell one of my White sergers. I hate when this happens! I notified the seller and they admitted it was mis-labeled and I could send it back but they didn't have the right one either. Since I have several that used this same presser foot, I decided to keep it as an extra feature ("rolled hem foot included") since I would lose money sending it back. That is the rub sometimes.

As I was taking photos I noticed that, side by side, the regular feet didn't match: one was wider but that wasn't an issue. Take a closer look at the tiny finger-like protrusions where the needles land: the outer edge finger is broken off a bit. Well, that means I'll be looking to buy two of those feet when I get a good price.

Here are the rest of her machines as they are still waiting my attention:
Singer 66 Red Eye (with motor)

Singer 15 (disguised as a State)
Aren't those nice decals? Both need electrical work and the State needs carpentry skills on the case base, but if I don't have a deadline they will get done before they need to get shipped. Now, since I mentioned that I didn't have any photos of myself sewing, I close with a photo of me (thanks, Jim) at my new-to-me Viking #1, a peach of a machine: