Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Oh So Close

Remember the saying "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades"? Sometimes close is good enough, sometimes it seems it misses by a mile.

This past weekend I finally got an answer from Steve about the Necchi BF: he was going to take a pass on it. What? The longest stitch came in only at 6.5 stitches per inch instead of 6 stitches per inch? Seriously? I was disappointed but didn't want to sell him a sewing machine he didn't want. Just the next day I get a phone call asking to see the Singer 115 with gingerbread or Tiffany decals. It wasn't too much of a problem since I had a 2 pm appointment for serger repair but that should give plenty of time before their 4 pm appointment. It wouldn't even be close but then my serger visitor didn't come until 3 pm and the Singer 115 appointment came a little early. Yup, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades as they were both wanting my attention. As luck would have it, the Singer 115 wouldn't turn on via the knee control. I just couldn't figure it out...until I saw the loose wire. Well, that wasn't going to be a quick job so I asked if they would be interested in another sewing machine and what they were trying to sew. Wouldn't you know it, they liked the Necchi BF and bought it after about 5 minutes of  looking and comparing to a Singer 15-91 at twice the price. Guess that was an easy decision.
Necchi BF
Meanwhile, the serger problem persisted and it wasn't going to get fixed quickly either . She didn't mind coming back for it because I also had her daughter's sewing machine that wasn't working quite right: both could be picked up over the weekend. Here's the little attachment that was added to this Singer 5511: a micro-serger.

I had a couple of these and could never get them to work so I was tempted to just write them off a not-too-great attachments. Then I looked further and found a nice set of instructions on how to use them, pros and cons, so I went back to try this out again with a more serious attempt to get it to work. It took a couple of tries until I could get it to work right:
Since this model wasn't my own, I got out mine and tried it on a Brother Select-o-matic. It also took several tries but it did finally work. Here are the steps I went through:
Step 1: cut edge of fabric next to where you want the zigzag to be.
Step 2: feed into foot with cut tag feeding into the right side
Step 3: Look closely to see zigzag stitches made over the stitch finger
Step 4: keep stitching , holding fabric straight
Finished edge: okay but not great
Some of the commenters thought it worked just fine but others said it sure wasn't like a serger and I would have to agree. Maybe theirs worked much better than mine but I did try two different ones and even have a third model that works with a snap-on foot shank:
Snap-on foot model of a serger foot
For the Brother sewing machine I needed to put it in the right needle position so it wouldn't hit the stitch finger on the new foot but that was okay, just not a very wide zigzag. It's a way to finish off seams, I guess, but give me a serger any day! It is supposed to be close to a serger in it's ability to cut and stitch at the same time but then

 close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Tried But True

We are getting very close to getting my car in the garage. It has already snowed and I did have to scrape frozen rain off my car one morning but we are so close! The Necchi BF came into the house when Steve arrived to buy it but it seems it had been adjusted to stitch only a 10-12 stitches per inch range and he wanted a longer stitch. Can't blame him so I took a look later to find an adjustment screw that could easily be loosened to get the maximum amount of stitch length.
Necchi BF stitch length lever
The plate shows a maximum of 6 stitches per inch and I could get it to 6.5 while going forward and 6 when it is in reverse. I let Steve know but think he wants the full 6 instead of 6.5. Here's what it looks like:
It looks like we are both disappointed because I think this machine is great but Steve is holding out for another half stitch per inch. Okay.

While cleaning up the garage, I found the Damascus Project: identical sewing machines rotary with potted motors that I had hoped to switch. I got the motor out of the first one (in great physical shape but poor electrical shape)
First Damascus with great decals
but could not get the second one apart enough to get the motor out. Then I couldn't get the motor back in the first one!

Here's the open cavity for the motor: empty!
 I finally had to give up, clean up the second one, fix a plug end into the machine, and get it working again.
Second Damascus looking better with a cleaning

Rewired bit not perfect
It's working great! Rotary sewing machines aren't a real favorite of mine (right up there with vibrating shuttles)

Rotary: little wheel, not a belt
but I have had a few that were pretty nice and this is one of them. It did clean up pretty good and I think I can claim another one ready for sale. YES!
Looking good with decent stitches
What happens to the first one I couldn't fix? I have a recycle man that I keep them for and he makes a little money off of them and I'm hoping they aren't going into a land fill. Could I recycle them myself for the metal? Sure, but don't I wear enough hats already? I'm going to let him get rich instead of me.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Promises, Promises

I'm frequently asked where I get so many sewing machines. This usually is asked when they walk in the front door and see three cabinet models with portable models sitting on top. That means there's usually at least six models right there with others on the floor waiting for sale or pick-up. Although this has changed our home in some pretty drastic ways, it does seem to be working for us:
In front of the built-in cabinets is my make-shift showroom
In an effort to reclaim other parts of our house, like being able to walk through my sewing room with ease and to get my vehicle in the garage for the winter, I need to sell more machines than I buy. It's just simple economics of supply and demand: the demand for sewing machines has to be greater than my supply. Right now I have about a half-dozen ads out on Craigslist but there are three sewing machines that are "spoken for." This means either someone has made an appointment to see one or we are busy making those arrangements. And here's where it gets sticky: showing up for an appointment. I'm not in the habit of standing anyone up that I have an appointment with. If it's a doctors appointment they will now charge you for the time you have wasted although we all know they will find someone else to fill that slot so they are most likely not missing out on much income. But to stand up someone who is selling you something? It's not only loss income but wasted time. When I sell a sewing machine I get it all set up, practice stitch, make adjustments, and sometimes set up similar sewing machines when I'm asked if I would have "anything else." I'm serious about my sewing machines, as you can tell.

This weekend has been somewhat of a mix on the theme of keeping your promises. Jennifer and I had been emailing back and forth about the Singer 301 in it's fancy art deco cabinet. She is finally ready to purchase, needing the cabinet measurements to be sure it was going to fit in with other furniture. She wants to come on Saturday but I already have an appointment set up at 2 PM with Kathy who is bringing back a serger because her daughter got the threading all messed up plus she has another serger and sewing machine to leave for repairs. Jennifer is willing to wait until 4 pm so I would have plenty of time to show Kathy how to thread the serger and to look at the other machines she is bringing. On Saturday afternoon I'm working on more quilted heart pot holders and finishing up some repairs but two o'clock comes and goes with no Kathy, no phone call. Three o'clock and I'm quilting the pot holders. By 3:30 I'm getting out Jennifer's Singer 301 and checking things out and still no Kathy, no phone call. Jennifer is delighted with the 301, pays full asking price, and told me they were at home just waiting until it was time to come pick it up. They were so excited as her daughter was getting the cabinet and she was keeping the Singer 301. As it turns out, Jennifer bought another sewing machine from me a few years ago so now we are sewing machine buddies.
Singer 301

Art Deco cabinet
At the same time I have someone interested in the Necchi BF but he's in Idaho. Not to be detered, Steve says he's driving down over Thanksgiving and Christmas and, if it's still available, he would like to pick it up. Several people have already looked at it but since it's still there I dig out the months old email and tell Steve it's still available if he's still coming this way. I get a phone call on Saturday and it's Steve, ready to pick it up as he swings by on Monday on his was to southern Minnesota. He's a delight to work with, making arrangements with my husband who will be at home on Monday. I'm excited and happy for Steve because this is one nice straight stitch sewing machine in perfect shape.

Necchi BF
So I win a few and lose a few and shouldn't be upset but the no-shows do get me riled up. Please, please, please, keep your appointments or call to let them know you are running late. It's the kind thing to do.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Time and a Season

With the craft fair behind us and the holidays not quite upon us (yeah, I'm in denial) I've been catching up on so many things around the house. Another sewing machine came in from the garage, all of the machines are now photographed and posted on Craigslist, and I've even spent a little bit of time repairing a few. and then I've had some phone calls asking for repairs.

A coworker had me repair her sewing machine this summer and in the process sold me her serger. She has since then referred a friend of hers and we met up a couple weeks ago to take her Elna SU 62 home for repairs. What a smooth running sewing machine! Although all Elna's are smooth, some can sound like a low growl is being emitted. It just needed some deep cleaning for major lint removal along with TR3 car wax for a really good cleaning. I did find the needle position dial was not moving at all so over many days I worked at loosening it up, removing dried -on oil that kept the dial from functioning. It finally worked consistently so I deemed it healed of its malady. There was also a rogue class 15 bobbin in with the Elna bobbins that I replaced with another Elna bobbin. That's one thing you don't want to fool around with: wrong bobbins can make a mess of your machine and you don't know why.
Elna SU62: dial on left was stuck

Dawn dropped off a Featherweight sewing machine that she claimed she messed up the tension. Feeling especially guilty since it wasn't her own sewing machine, she asked if I could fix it. Upon opening it up I could see that it wasn't stitching at all so checked the needle to find it was in backwards. Well, that will mess things up, for sure. I checked the tension mechanism and couldn't really find anything wrong so I checked it against another Singer 221 and it seemed to be fine. It still wouldn't stitch so I went to take the bobbin out to find a common problem: when put back together, the bobbin "finger" needs to be positioned between two little ramps on the underside of the needle plate. This one was spinning around so I only needed to take the needle plate off, position the finger between the metal ramps (for lack of a better word) and screw the needle plate back down. It stitched perfectly. When Dawn came to pick it up and I told her about the two problems. She said she hadn't done anything with either the needle or the needle plate. Hopefully that made her feel better, not having messed up her daughter's machine after all!
Singer 221 bobbin case: red arrow shows where the finger needs to rest

The heart pot holders might not have been a hit at the craft fair, but my mom sure loved them and ordered four so now I'm getting them together. I already had the fabric cut into long strips and sewn together and needed to cut them crossways into strips to give the checkboard effect. More colorways are coming with the combination of orange, red, and aqua pindots and I can't wait to see how they look. Although I was sure I had already looked at for the yellow with red dots print to no avail, now I found it so I can make the highly popular heart pot holder that everyone repins from Pinterest. Then three more fat quarters were purchased for only a dollar each for nice color combinations that aren't dots. Not everyone likes dots!
Fat quarters for new pot pad hearts?

And then, just because I still like to sew, I made up three pairs of leggings for my granddaughter, Emma. At four years old she likes leggings with "things" on them so I interpret that to mean no solid colors. Here are the fabrics I used to make size 5 leggings from Serger Pepper's great pattern for leggings.

It seems she not quite tall enough for this size yet so the waist is pretty high up. Next time she comes over I will have her bring them along so I can roll the waist down one turn and stitch again so they feel a bit better. Honest, it took me longer to change thread on the serger three times than it did to sew these little gems up. Just like Emma, they are one-of-a-kind.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Brotherly Love

I love my brother. Let's make that clearer: I love my Brother sewing machine. Not just any Brother sewing machine, but the Brother Select-O-Matic. There are several posts about my love of this model and I even got a pristine model only a few weeks ago and I'm having so much fun with it. My great enthusiasm led me to find another one somewhat accidentally. Be careful what you wish for!

For months I have been checking to see if anyone had one for sale only to find them for pickup only from Texas or something else I was unwilling to attempt. My recent find on the local Craigslist did not stop me from looking, though, and wouldn't you know it, one came up at Goodwill Online Auction! There was one bid so I waited. And waited. Getting nervous, I went ahead and bid. I didn't need this Brother sewing machine so why had I bid? Now I was hoping someone else would come along and outbid me. This isn't the usual phrase that runs through my mind so I felt more than a little conflicted. Coming right down to the other bids so it was mine, much to my chagrin. Even though it was coming from California the S&H was only about $20 plus they reported the sewing machine was only about 20 pounds. I knew it was just the head and not a wooden box case but my other ones were at least 30 pounds so maybe this was going to blow up on me with extra charges...what had I got myself into?
Before: Brother from auction ad: what's not to love?

Shipped via FedEx it was very slow to come but I finally got an email stating it was delivered only a couple days before the craft fair. With no time to spare, I only took it out of the shipping box to find the cam and zigzag dial on top was askew. Even though it was fully wrapped in bubble wrap, the box was somewhat flimsy for such a heavy object and it probably got tossed into a bin somewhere along the way. In order to assess the damage, I needed to take the top off but that meant unscrewing the cam mechanism. Well, the cam mechanism was unattached and loose in the inside, rattling around once I unscrewed it. From there I could see where it was supposed to be attached:
See the rough ledge at the back?

There should be a whole camstack right in there!

Camstack showing off the broken place
 This was not good news but I wracked my brain trying to remember what others had said would give a weld-like hold on broken part. Jen-Weld? JB Weld? After the craft fair I went to Menard's and checked out their adhesives (near the paint department) to find JB Weld: World's Strongest Bond. That's what I wanted, alright, so I got the original formula, none of this quick stuff. It was a two part epoxy:
One part of each: does this look close?
that got mixed together and then came the repositioning and holding in place. I think I went back three or four times to get this in the exact position, level, and precisely in place. When it was finally done I went back and attached one of the feet that had snapped off (now you can see how it had been abused in shipping.)
Broken leg but we didn't have to shoot her
 It had to cure for 24 hours so I left it for a good 48 hours before I tested it and put it all back together. It worked! Really, I never expected it to hold and figured it was a goner. Then I let myself start to clean her up and I do mean clean: every little piece of chrome, screw, and edge was cleaned and polished with Blue Magic TR-3 Resin car wax and Brasso metal cleaner.
Camstack now in place
Without the cover, here's how the camstack is screwed into place
 It was looking really nice so I threaded her up and tried sewing. It was terrible! I finally replaced the bobbin case, twice, before I found one that held some hope of making a nice stitch. It was finally working good but it's not over yet since it will have to prove itself by sewing something up, like maybe a little girl's dress. But in the end, it is working just fine, very quiet and smooth, just proving you can't keep an old gal down.
After: Brother Select-O-Matic in blue:        :

I was referring to the sewing machine, not myself. Yea, you knew that.

Monday, November 7, 2016

In Defense of Crummy Weather

I have a hobby and business that thrives on crummy weather. When it's blistering hot or sub-zero, everyone stays inside and picks up on their hobby and, hopefully, it's sewing. Nice weather has all of us outdoors enjoying these last days of mild temperatures and this weekend was no exception. It was glorious! But I was indoors at a craft fair where everyone decided to come in the morning so they could enjoy the afternoon outdoors. Our sales were not too shabby but less than we had hoped for and other crafters were complaining so I knew we weren't alone.

On Friday I brought over three of our tables and found our usual space but now we had two spaces to include both Jim's jewelry and Kelly's bracelets. Here was a photo I took:

Our double booth space between two doors and all that natural light!
We got everything setup with the tables you see plus one down the center that was a new one Kelly bought. A couple hours into the sale the organizer comes over and said  we actually had another four to six feet! I didn't read the sign on the floor correctly! We moved the tables over and Kelly brought in her second table so now we really had the space. Here are a few shots of our displays:
Karen with shirt aprons, hot mitts, and sets of kitchen towels.

Kelly with her burp cloths and beaded bracelets (all new!)

Jim with his vintage and hand-made jewelry (two tables!)
We had fun taking off and looking at everyone else's displays and products, even buying a few items we couldn't resist. I bought some of Kelly's baby burp cloths so keep the money close to home, I guess. We enjoyed their good lunch served by the youth group of wild rice soup (Karen), ham and cheese croissant (Jim), and hot dogs (Kelly). Clean up is easy since we have done this so many times  together and we can drive up close to the doors for easy loading.

Next year we are planning on adding another location in Blaine that I scouted out last month and I always have ideas for new products; I just need to start much farther ahead I keep telling myself. Isn't it adventures like this that keep us young? I sure hope so!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Last Minute Ideas

Here we are only a few days from the Salem Covenant Church Craft Fair and I'm coming up with new ideas. STOP I tell myself but the ideas keep coming. The good thing is having all of the hot mitts finished, all of the hand towels for sets have long been done, and I've decided what I will not include in this sale (baby back-zip sweaters, tea cozies, and tea bag holders). As soon as I have typed this I think about adding a few aprons, ironing board covers, and curling iron cases but I have to say STOP to keep my sanity.  I have made up the heart pot holders in another color scheme:
It's a patriotic hot mitt!

and I have the already-pieced fabric for four more hearts. Here is my dilemma:I started to make up some floaty throws/capes that I would love to feature but only have two so far:
Sheer fabric on this one with satin bands: so elegant!

Then I would like to use the great idea my daughter Alison pinned for me about a great little girl's Christmas dress:
One of the Pinterest versions

I already have a size three finished and fabric for several more but not the time even for such a simple dress. Maybe I can make just one and put out a sign taking orders?
My version with small chevrons and green polka dot ribbon

As always, I need to move the cabinets out of the garage so I can get my car in before it snows. In Minnesota that could be any day now but they continue to predict mild weather and I'm holding onto that. On Sunday I brought most the the sewing machine heads indoors along with three cabinet models: Singer 101, Necchi Mira SU, and a Singer 503A. The Necchi looks so nice, even if it is in the kitchen that I don't mind keeping it around. The Singer 503A is having difficulty stitching in the right position and think I could sell it easily once I got it fixed.

But I cannot dwell on these issues until after the craft fair! I'm also excited about having out-of-town visitors on Sunday after the craft fair and need to get things put away so they can walk in the door as it will be that bad after the fair. So all these things are balls in the air and I'm trying not to drop a single one.