Friday, December 29, 2017

Speed Demons and Slow Pokes

The adventure continues with the Bernina 1006 and 1008's as I try to get them up and running again. I had temporarily given up on one of the 1008's when it was dead in the water but I tried one more time to see if I could get it to at least turn on. I could hear the switch click and connect but then nothing so I took the cover off again and looked at the switches but something didn't look right:
Contacts on left above #66
There was only one contact in place but there were slots for two. I reluctantly opened up the back of the other Bernina 1008 so I could see how it was supposed to look and, sure enough, there were two metal strips that made the contact when the switch was turned on. Digging around on the back of the machine, I found the one that had fallen off. Making sure both were snugly in place, I put everything back in place and voila! It not only turned on but the light was working now. Here's what I figured out: the contact for the light was the one on the left and it had fallen out and wedged itself onto the shelf right below the switches, probably long ago since it didn't have a working light when I got it. While pulling the cover off over and over again I dislodged the motor switch, the contact on the right. This wasn't rocket science but I did feel pretty victorious. Now it's all in place and working nicely:
Light and motor contacts
The foot controls were still a problem with racing too fast so before I ordered one I decided to take the worst one apart. Checking on a Youtube video, I found out I might need new tiny carbon brushes but no, they were still good. At this point I adjusted the speed dial again and found I could turn it more than before. Now I got curious about the settings on the other one that was working well and while I was at it I might as well take the third one apart and check brushes on each one. In that process I found one of the brushes very short but think I might have broken it myself so I ordered a new set and adjusted the speed control on each. One foot control is waiting for the new brushes but the others finally work better and are all cleaned up: do you ever look at how dirty foot controls can get down on the floor? Yuck!

I decided to make dust covers for these little ladies:
Bernina 1008, 1006, and 1008
There was a canvas cover that came with one of them but it was stained so I threw it in the wash only to find part of it shrunk. That left it with puckers on the sides and just a mess so I took it apart, traced off a pattern and made a new one:
Bernina 1008 dust cover, back side pocket
It seemed a little too short and not quite to the contours of the top so I tried again:
Bernina 1006 dust over, front with decorative stitches on pocket trim
That turned out much better but I find the spool pins that do not retract are keeping it from laying down nicely but that's just the way it goes. I went back to the original cover and when I put it back together again I could see how much it had shrunk: at least an inch on each side of the top panel! That it was too short and I needed to fill in that gap so I added red bias tape:
Bernina cover out of canvas with new side edge
And here are all three machines with their new covers:
I love the pockets on each side with different orientations for the openings. It's nice for a manual, cords, and foot controls but you would need a separate box for all of the Bernina accessories. Here's one last photo to show the difference in the stitch selection between the model 1006 and 1008:
Bernina 1008, 1006, and 1008: note stitch patterns differences
Hopefully I have slowed down the Bernina speed demon foot controllers and now I'm working on a Necchi Lydia 544 that is getting a new set of hook gears. All is finally in place but it is not running very fast. What is making it such a slow poke? I went back and started taking parts off until it would run smoothly and as fast as I could get it to go. It's not very fast. Back to the drawing board to figure out if I've done something wrong or if there is a motor problem, or something else. I'm happy to be at home this week, even with the below zero weather, since I'm staying inside anyway. We are getting ready for New Years Day and homemade donuts! That's a little treat I like to make and invite the neighbors over so I better put this sewing machine business away or they will surely think I've gone crazy. No, not crazy, just addicted.

Sunday, December 24, 2017


Part of the haul I got from Judy as I wrote about in Overloaded included three Berninas that I quickly tested and then put aside. I finally got tired of tripping over them so got them up to the table to see what was going on. For starters, there were two 1008's and one 1006 with the main difference being stitch selection.
Bernina 1006 stitch selection: 13

Bernina 1008 stitch selection: 16
The Bernina 1008's had eight basic stitches that were doubled when switched to stretch stitches. The 1006 had a few more decorative stitches with a total of sixteen different selections. First we had to see what was holding them up and for the most part it was bobbin adjustments or replacements and foot control speed adjustments.

For the most part. This is a moment to pause and take a deep breath.

One of the 1008's would not make a full turn as it kept hitting something I couldn't see. Peering inside showed there was quite a bit of thread wound around the take up arm mechanism so I carefully removed it section by section until it looked pretty clear. That helped but there was still something hitting. With a pen light I spied something like a small white disk resting at the bottom of the needle arm so using my hemostats I lifted it out. It was a small plastic part of something that had snapped off and gotten wedged into place keeping the needlebar from going all the way down. Success! No, it still had a significant hitch in its giddyap so I kept looking and found more thread in another place and kept pulling it out until I saw clean metal. Still something was catching so I looked again with a pen light to find the other part of the broken piece also lying at the bottom of the needlebar. Now it would move nicely and I could make other adjustments for a good stitch. It was okay but sounded too loud so more adjustments and it finally stopped working. On to number 1006.
Bernina 1006
This model was a bit simpler but there were problems with the jack-rabbit take off speed. Wow, no one could sew like that but then I took a look at the actual foot control and noted it had an adjustment screw on the bottom. Out of the three foot controls, one was adjusted easily but the other two still were too fast even after moving the screw as far as it would go. That left opening them up and I did, at least two to three times each only to find one of them could not be adjusted any further and wasn't going to get fixed by me. It's possible I could do a bit of research to see what else is recommended but the 1006 has another problem:
Bernina 1006 backside looks a bit exposed
Yes, the lower panel that hides the feed dog mechanism is missing. What? It's possible I could find another one but there's also supposed to be an accessory box in that spot so maybe I should search for one of those instead. It's also getting put aside for the moment.

The final Bernina 1008 is just fine, only needing the tension adjusted and it's sewing perfectly. I try out the buttonhole steps but that's not quite right and then I remember that's one of the parts that fails unless it is used frequently so now I better read up on it but don't think it should be a deal breaker.

My three Bernina's weren't a slam-dunk but are very doable with a bit more work and a few more parts but they are Bernina and do sew a fine stitch. It's possible I won't get the dead 1008 to revive and in that case I'll see if I can get the back plate to fit into the missing space and use the better foot control. With the holiday's here I've been listing machines and selling so I expect it to be a busy week with appointments as I keep cleaning, repairing, and selling these oh-so-sweet vintage sewing machines.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Up North

Our fun weekend up on the Gunflint Trail was a great success with wonderful food, snappy cold weather (what did we think we would get along the Canadian border?), and warm accommodations but there was also a sewing machine adventure. On Friday I was up early and while getting ready to go I thought I'd check the Craigslist ads for Duluth just in case there was a sewing machine for sale that I shouldn't miss. Of course, there was: if you seek you will find! A Bernina 931 had been posted less than a day for a reasonable cost so I sent the seller a message. Patty was available for us to stop on our way up so we got her address, finished packing up, and were on our way.

I was warned that Patty might shed a tear while she let this final Bernina sewing machine go but she wasn't using it anymore so it needed a new home. Since she was a professional dressmaker and also made wearable art, I was as interested in her studio as in her other sewing machines. There was a large professional Juki and an industrial serger right in front of the sunny windows in her basement studio along with bolts of fabric and a sets of drawers for all kinds of needful things. My husband pointed out the large collection of thread on a wall and I noted the large curtained area as her dressing room. Impressive! Here's what we came to see:
Bernina 931 Sewing Machine
The ad stated it was used and Patty pointed out the spots where the finish was worn down or off but she assured me she kept all of her machines maintained and I could see that. The 931 has some electronic parts but it is not computerized and had not aged out and it was a Bernina! It came with all you could want: power cords, extension table, lever for presser foot knee lift, original manual and box of accessories plus I could purchase a walking foot and eyelet kit. Why not? If only it came in the nifty carrying case it would have been complete but this will have to do. Here are a few photos of the goodies:
Walking foot

Eyelet set

Accessory box
It came with a dozen feet and about 15 original Bernina bobbins but Patty also asked if I could use any extra class 15 bobbins since this was her last sewing machine with class 15's. Why not, I said again, so she dumped the lot into the bag. On our way north I read the manual but then wanted to put it behind me and enjoy the weekend without sewing. On the way back the extension table was rattling so I pulled it out and checked out those bobbins and the accessory box. There were 47 class 15 bobbins! I can put those to very good use and can't wait to sew on this baby. The Bernina 931 might not have all of the stitch selection of some of the other models but it does have stretch stitches that are very handy when sewing knits. This was a very utilitarian model with almost no decorative stitches unless you count the scallop stitch but what a nice machine that will do about 80% of your sewing.

I didn't see Patty shed a tear but we didn't linger and make it any harder than it needed to be. I'm going to have fun with this Bernina as it will take the space where i currently have a Bernina 730 Record. With the holidays upon us, there will a nice uptick in sales so I better get busy and have them show-room ready!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Telling Time

Hoping I'm about caught up with Christmas preparations, I can finally write up what I've been doing with my sewing machines. The last warm day here in Minnesota was about ten days ago so with one mad dash to donation centers and some thoughtful rearranging of the garage, both cars were back inside before we got the next snowfall. It's been more than chaotic here with the new windows finally installed, bathroom light and fan done, and new refrigerator ordered to replace the broken one. That still leaves another ceiling fixture and fan in the second bedroom, HVAC people for duct cleaning and furnace check that had to be rescheduled. In the midst of all of this I have been working on sewing projects, too!

Spoonflower, the company that lets you design your own fabric or even purchase someone else's design, had a great fat quarter sale and that's just the size (18" by 22") I need to make up recipe card dish towels like I did at this time last year. This year I had a brainstorm to make up calendar towels using some photos of a family wedding. Using PicMonkey online photo editing, I came up with this:
Printed fat quarter comes unfinished
Printed on their heavier weight canvas linen so it's a good feel and weight, it's also a larger size than the standard fat quarter since this linen is wider than standard cotton. This happy family just moved into a new home so I'll get it hemmed for a housewarming present and a memory of our trip together. Here's what they look like finished:
Wedding memories
Since it was a beach wedding, I used a cloud background via PicMonkey and added the calendar from a free calendar and image site. I did have to be careful when hemming because one side was nearly white and the other blue so I changed thread color as needed. It looks skewed in the photo but it really is straight! One little snafu was not checking the calendar for typos: there was a red line under each abbreviation for Tuesday and Thursday so a small red line appears under each and every month for Tu and Th. I would have edited them out if I would only have caught it! Live and learn on that one. All in all, they turned out nice and will be gifts for the new year.

While I was bringing sewing machines into the house, I spied this a very dirty Singer 185 and cleaned it up to reveal how nice it really was:
Singer 185 out of Canada
It took some coaxing to get it sounding good again but there was nothing a good cleaning and oil couldn't fix. I put it in one of the wood bases I had someone make up for me last spring so it's ready to go. There's no top for these bases so I should make up a cloth cover and that brings me back to Spoonflower. I bought someone else's design as a fat quarter in hopes of making up a cute cover but noticed the design is running the wrong way so will have to combine with another fabric to make a cover. Here's what I have for sewing themed fabric:
Sewing themed fabrics: Spoonflower design on right is so cute!
The one on the far fight with the vintage sewing machine photos will be my "centerpiece" but think I should pair it with something less busy than the fabrics I have on the left. Maybe the green Singer 185 should have the spools of thread on the brown background for a cover but I'll have to see how much is left. I would love to make up my own quilted fabric and as I type my mind is forming a plan for piecing squares and quilting for a fantastic new cover. Oh, I can hardly wait to get started!

Much to my relief, the Christmas tree is up, cards have been sent, the refrigerator is being delivered today, and the electrician is scheduled to come tomorrow. All of this gives us the freedom to head up north for three days to Gunflint Lodge for a smoked meat weekend. That's right, we will be watching them smoke meat and other food to enjoy while we hike outdoors in their single digit weather. We really like this place and couldn't resist a package deal plus a chance to get away and relax before the rush of company and cooking. I'll let you know how it goes but there is no internet access up there and we will be UNPLUGGED for three days. This will be good for me, too, but I'll report back about the food and the sights but not expecting any sewing machine sightings but you never know...

Monday, December 4, 2017


You know how I love a bargain and I especially love FREE so you can imagine how excited I was to be invited to take a look at a bunch of free sewing machines. Actually, I was dragging my heels a bit because I'm still cleaning out the garage in an effort to get my car in before the first snow. Three cabinets were donated on Monday night so I wasn't as excited as I might be to go looking on Tuesday but Ellie asked me to go and I can hardly say no to her. I picked her up and in five minutes we were at Judy's house, snaking our way into her basement to peruse her leftovers.

Judy was part of a project to send sewing machines to Uganda so when the shipping container was full of the best machines there were some that didn't make the cut. Ellie asked me to come and help her select those appropriate for Haiti since I've been a part of her project for several years. Anything I wanted I could also have since Judy was at the end of her project and was looking to get her car back in the garage, too. I wasn't prepared for what I saw: a storage room that was covered with sewing machines, probably forty in all. There were labels/notes about the problems and I recognized many by their cases so we could say an immediate no to some modern Singers, vintage Touch and Sew models, and problematic Elna's.. But what was left...
The Haul.

filled the back of my vehicle. Bernina, Kenmore, Riccar, Singer, Viking, I was a little breathless! Then we made our way to the garage. Lining both sides were treadles, cabinets, and heads in boxes. We looked, pulled them out, and labeled. We decided it was time to organize so we put the keepers all to one side and those she was going to dispose of on the other side. There were two treadles with vibrating shuttles that were not going to Haiti since in Haiti they need standard needles and bobbins.  Ellie took photos and posted them as free on Facebook Marketplace and they were going to be picked up within the next hour! As we moved cabinets we continued to find even more and then I found it, that one I'm always looking for. It was a New Home treadle in a small enclosed cabinet, all in good shape. Perfect!

New Home treadle cabinet

By now we were trying to figure out how to get the cabinet models to Ellie's and she immediately came up with a plan: On Sunday she would come back to Judy's with a larger SUV/truck and bring muscle. They would come over to my house and drop off the one cabinet I wanted and two Singer's with potted motors and at the same time pick up the machines that I had looked over and gave my seal of approval for sending to Haiti. I spend most of Saturday getting Ellie's machines ready and in the end she gave two back to me. On Sunday night she brought three boxes of machines and parts and the beloved New Home treadle. Here's how my garage floor looks:

There's a floor under those sewing machines!
But I'll keep working my way through the pile, finding the treasures and discarding broken parts. I don't have the time to really take care of the New Home treadle but I did open it up:
New Home vibrating shuttle
and brought the accessories inside. Wow, there was a treasure trove of long bobbins, round bobbins, accessory sets, and even an original manual:
Accessories with the New Home treadle
All was sorted and put back into boxes to go with the New Home treadle or into the assortment of extra feet or bobbins. There was a nice set of needles for the treadle, too, something I probably didn't own and now will be able to test out this machine. But first we are going to get that car back in the garage ASAP since snow is coming this week.

An exciting time with Ellie, but isn't it always?, and I'm sure I ended up ahead in this transaction. She is sure she's getting more than her money's worth. We are both lovin' it, getting machines ready and sewing up a storm!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Measuring Up

Occasionally I get inspired by clever projects and attempt to make them myself and today's post is about a cute coin purse I saw at a museum shop. A friend and I were at an art museum and when in the shop she pointed out a tiny coin purse that had measuring tapes woven lattice fashion on one side. She suggested I could even do that myself so I started collecting measuring tapes. I had a few that came with other sewing supplies but quickly found out there were subtle differences in printing and width that kept them for being a cohesive grouping. I finally had four sixty inch tapes and figured I could cut them into six inch segments, use ten strips per purse, for a total of four coin purses. It was harder than it looked with the tapes trying to curl back up and not wanting to stay woven but a light iron and interfacing between sheets of copy paper did the trick:
Measuring tapes woven together
They needed to be anchored in some way and I settled on sewing down one edge on each strip. The pattern was from a posting about making an earbud case. Pretty simple, but with all projects there was a learning curve. I cut out two circles and folded in half for the sides of the zipper:
Top of coin purse with zipper
Next up was cutting the same size circle in the measuring tape fabric with a white fabric liner on top. Stitching around all those layers, being careful to have the zipper open into the purse so the excess can just be snipped off, it was ready for bias tape trim. This was where the problems arose: joining the ends took several tries to get them looking smooth and only number 4 came out really acceptable. Here are the end results:

Coin purse tops
Coin purse with measuring tape : left are tops, on right back side
I used an end from the measuring tape as a hold tab which was also hard to keep from coming out crooked but that's all in the learning process. It was fun to put together the fabric combinations and figuring out what was going to work for bias tape and how to make it look good. I brought the one with the yellow edge to Patty later in the day when we met up for an exchange. I ended up the big winner when she gave me a Singer 15-91, complete with accessories, plus two more buttonhole attachments, when she bought a machine for the cabinet. She kept the cabinet and thought of me for the machine and I'm grateful she did! It was frozen up but she gave it a kerosene bath and it moved right along. Wiring will take a bit of work but that's something I can easily do and she didn't want to fuss with it, especially since she loves the Singer 201's as I do and wasn't interested in a 15-91. My little coin purse was just a token of my appreciation for her effort but I did get some good lessons along the way.

I thought you might like to see what happened to Mary Sue's typewriter she brought at the beginning of the week:
Emma typing while Grant spells out the words for her
We went over to my daughter's house on Friday after Thanksgiving and brought the manual typewriter and my three grandkids could hardly keep their hands off of it. What a big hit! From the eleven year old down to the five year old, each one wanted to try it out and figure out how it worked. So thank you again, Mary Sue, for the old typewriter that has been given new life.

As for those coin purses (or earbud cases, if you like) I decided to make a few more and found out I could get a dozen tape measures in six different colors so it looks like I'll be making a dozen more of those babies. I've already thought of people I just wanted to give them to so they might not end up for sale anywhere but this is the season for giving. What are you giving this year from your creative efforts? I'd love to hear!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Out of Towners

Although I basically run a local business, there have been a few requests to send sewing machines or to hold for a buyer to come to the Twin Cities, like when a Domestic went to Scotland, or a Brother Select-o-Matic went to South Dakota via trucker, or just a continuation of the saga of an Elna that went back and forth to St. Louis.

Back in 2015, Mary Sue got in touch with me through a blog post about an Elna and she wanted to know if I had an Elna Jubilee model 46. This model is similar to the Elna Air Electronic, model SU68, except there are no additional cams, working from a built in camstack for a nice variety of utility stitches. With the Air Electronic you can add decorative stitches with individual cams but the Jubilee came without that feature. Mary Sue's beloved Jubilee died after a many decades of use and she couldn't find one or trust an auction site so she got in touch with me. Although I did have an Air Electronic for sale and it wasn't the exact same model as hers, she still wanted to give it a chance since it would be so similar. Could she come over to buy it? It was only when I discovered she was in St. Louis, Missouri, that I put the brakes on but it would not be a problem since they had a son who now lived in the Twin Cities and they would be traveling up here.
Elna Air Electronic, model SU68
Over the years we kept in touch and I was even the recipient of her decades worth of Sew News, a very nice set of magazines that I'm still reading my way through. I love the information and even the ads for some of the sewing machines that were new at the time that I'm now working with today. Since I'm always on the look-out for requested sewing machines, I finally found an Elna Jubilee, even finding two of them, as I wrote about on Ingenuity. I got an email back from Mary Sue titled Yes! Yes. yes. They would be coming back up but not sure when yet I was not going to sell The Jubliee without her seeing it first. This was back in February and by then I was in Florida taking care of my mom so it was nearly forgotten until now. Mary Sue was coming up for Thanksgiving and wanted to stop over to swap out the Air Electronic for the Jubilee:
Elna Jubilee, model 46
 Since I had two of them, she got to try them both and take her pick. There were only slight differences and she picked the one I bought locally that came in a retrofitted table that was sold months ago. We sorted through the accessories and since she still had her old machine with all of its accessories she wouldn't need some of the feet and none of the bobbins. The Air Electronic came back with the hand wheel off but it was a quick fix and is now good as new (it took a bit of lining up and force to get it to click into place).

Mary Sue brought gifts, too! Here are the microwave bowl holders she makes for friends:
Microwave bowl holders: cute!
and even offered to send me the pattern. We used them at lunch yesterday and they worked great so I'm hoping I can make some for work. She also brought a manual typewriter after I wrote about our school Makerspace and looking for typewriters. This one I will keep for my grandchildren to try out to see how we lived "in the olden days". My granddaughter, Emma, is learning to read and might have fun typing out the words she knows.

I finally finished fixing up the new-to-me wicker furniture on the porch by making covers for the new foam cushions. I stained the faded wicker accents with sage green and then gave them a coat of boiled linseed oil. Do not put linseed oil over stain! It left them sticky and it has taken two months to finally "cure" and not be tacky to the touch. I like the final product:
Porch furniture with new cushions

I also got the pillows for the trundle bed covered in the guest bedroom, using my new treadle. Practice on a treadle is necessary and four pillows with piping gave me a nice refresher session.

Pillows with piping for new trundle bed
It was a nice start to the Thanksgiving holiday with our visit from Mary Sue and her husband, taking her from a customer to a friend. I have a feeling we might be seeing them again on a trip to St. Louis as we visit a daughter who has moved to Missouri. Until then, may you all have a blessed Thanksgiving and happy sewing days ahead.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Petite Able

I've been a fan of the Kenmore 158-1030, 1040, 1050's for some time now, ever since my friend Fran gave one to my daughter Kelly. Although the top dial broke, somewhat of a common problem with the 1030 model, little did we know I would eventually go into the sewing machine repair business and learn how to replace the dial and oh so much more. I've bought and sold many of these cute 3/4 sized Kenmore's and have a whole list of blog posts about them, especially the Three Little Kennies in a Row so didn't expect to hear about other models of the same ilk. I should have known better because there is always something new to learn about any model and that's my story for today. I now have a Kenmore 158-1020:
Kenmore 158-1020
She's a precursor to the 1030 model but was actually manufactured after the start of the 1030. So let's get this straight: the 1030 series was made between 1970-1975 and the 1020 was made between 1971-72. There's a great chart available to verify all of this as well as other Kenmore sewing machine dates you might find interesting. I can see why these dates seem a bit backwards because it's all about the simplicity of each model. The 1020 only has straight and zigzag stitches and the 1030 has more. Each model number has a few more features but still the same small footprint.
Kenmore 158-1020 stitch dials
There is no dial on top, just the stitch width on the front and the stitch length on the right side. I couldn't figure out how to get the backstitch to work and even took much of it apart only to discover I needed to move the stitch length past zero to get that to work. I should have known better but in the joy of discovery my common sense seemed to have stalled out. It came complete with foot control in vinyl pouch, intact accessory box full of goodies:
Kenmore 158-1020 accessory box, rolled forward
and even the carrying case was in great shape:
Kenmore 158-1020 all packed away
Kenmore 158-1020 rose embossed carrying case
What's not to love about this 3/4 sized Kenmore? How did I get my hands on this little cutie? I was willing to travel a tad farther than usual but my husband was working that night and I was already on the road to pick up thirty spools of serger thread. With only another twenty minutes of driving I could check this out and I'm glad I did. It's a great stitcher with a bit of adjusting to the tension and general cleaning and oiling. It belonged to one of their mothers and was given to his wife who really didn't sew and now it was time to move it out of the house. I'm delighted and think it will make a nice travel sewing machine for someone but I won't keep it since I have Fran's 1030 that I truly treasure. I love the stories behind these machines and really like a pleasant surprise like this new-to-me model.

To end this post, here's a photo of previous models that I'll need to add the 1020:
Kenmore 158-1030, 10450, 1060
So many sewing machines, so little time... but a holiday weekend is coming up and I have free time to sew new porch furniture cushions, finish rewiring a White Rotary, rev up a Bernina I've been neglecting and posting more machines for sale. Mary Sue is coming up from St. Louis to pick up her Elna Jubilee so let's hope we remember to take a few photos of that, too, for sharing!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Bird's Eye View

I hate to sound ungrateful or even picky, but when I find an upgrade to a favorite sometimes I just have to abandon an old favorite. This is a story of going from best to excellent, as if that was possible!

I have loved my Singer 66 Red Eye, in excellent condition but also such a nice stitcher:

Singer 66 Red Eye
I had it in a standard treadle cabinet and then in a drawing room cabinet that was quite ornate:
Drawing Room Cabinet
I wrote about this beauty only a year ago in Easy Peasy and have enjoyed showing everyone how it rises up on a lift. It's an engineering marvel! I have enjoyed sewing on it and have made items for the Treadleon exchanges so why would I ever want to let it go? Here's what came home with me only yesterday:

Drawing Room Cabinet in Bird's Eye Maple
You could say it was plain or even simple compared to the ornate details on the previous cabinet but it's bird's eye maple! In excellent condition,the previous owner was downsizing and letting some of their precious antiques go and I was there to snatch it up. It's deer hunting season here in Minnesota so my husband had the Jeep I use for hauling and her husband was out hunting so she was missing the muscle we both needed to get this thing in the back of my vehicle: she held it about ten days for me! It was love at first sight:
Singer 66 Red Eye in maple cabinet
My previous Red Eye was in terrific shape but this one was nearly flawless. I even wondered if it was a repaint but no, there;s a bit of wear on the back left corner. It absolutely spins with a touch on the hand wheel. Just like the first drawing room cabinet, the mechanism is fully enclosed:
Treadle wheel behind a door
and the leather belt was in good condition even if it was joined with black electrical tape: it works! So how did I get this into my house? I did have to puzzle this one out and finally called Ellie who has strong men sitting around her house. She came right over with two men in tow and she talked them into helping me put summer outdoor furniture up into the garage attic and then trade out the drawing room cabinets. That was some muscle! I'm so grateful for their willingness to help me even when it was last minute.
Open and ready to sew
I didn't even clean it up with my usual furniture cleaner and polish yet but just had to get it all into place. What a beauty: now I will need to get sewing on it. Yes, it came with a nice set of back clamping feet that are also pristine but not in a puzzle box, just in the drawer. I might have to rectify that. What happened to the other drawing room cabinet? It's going to grace the home of someone else as it's now up for sale. If you are in the Twin Cities, come and see it, perhaps to buy, but let me give you fair warning: it will be hard to resist.

Thursday, November 9, 2017


On the heels of the final craft fair Mindy, my youngest sister, came for a visit. This wasn't just any visit but a sewing  expedition. After a couple years of working on several quilts, she was in the final stretch and thought she needed help. Our oldest sister, Jane, is the real quilter among us and even had a long-arm machine for a decade but that is now gone so we needed to finish these quilts in a more practical way. Add to that a move from one house to another and Mindy knew she had to get this stuff out of the house so she announced her trip dates and we figured we could work out the details.

The Salem Covenant Church annual craft fair was well attended and with steady sales I ended up in good shape. All of the Minnesota Twins and Vikings  hot mitts were sold and new ideas were generated so the day was a success but exhausting. We managed to get everything home and put away, floors vacuumed and bathrooms cleaned, venison thawed for the stew I was preparing for the next day so we called it quits and fell into bed. Mindy had been texting me while she was staying with friends and family on her way from Illinois to Minnesota via Iowa and says she has some surprises for me. Oh oh, I hope those are going to be good surprises and it turns out they were.

Along with six large bins/tubs of fabric, she also brought along four sewing machines. We spent Sunday afternoon looking through all of the bins and dividing everything up into piles: donate, recycle, and keep. She had a whole bin full of jean legs. Yes, just the legs. It seems there was a project several years ago where she made these cute aprons out of jeans but the legs weren't part of it so they were save for a future use. Most of them went into the recycle bags that were eventually taken to a place that would take any fiber to use for insulation materials. I cut up some damaged jeans and overalls to use for sample sewing so I had a nice stack of them and the rest went for recycling. She used men's shirts for the quilt blocks and had many of the parts left over. They also got cut up for sample sewing so what was left, mainly collars and cuffs, needed to be recycled. But there were whole nests of great fabric in creams and pinks from previous projects that were finished and are now in my house instead of hers.

What about the four sewing machines? Mindy was undecided what to do with them but she already has two at home she was keeping so the fate of these machines was up in the air. I tried out each one, none needed real intense help, just cleaning and adjusting. Here are the results:
Singer CG 550: handled jeans just fine!
Kenmore 385-11607: pretty basic stuff but runs well

Brother SQ9185: decorative stitches but not a "quilter" machine as she hoped
 During the last few hours she decided to take the Singer Simple, not pictured above, home to give to a neighbor and leave the Brother SQ9185 with me since it was just a little too fancy and she probably wouldn't use it anyway. Those words are not in my vocabulary but this was her decision, not mine. On to the quilts!

Using simple squares cut from men's shirts, she placed them in a diagonal pattern that ended up looking great. There was a sheet attached for the backing but she didn't want a filler so used a simple stitched-in-the-ditch method to join the front and back. I found some similar fabric and made up the bias binding and we used a snap-on binding foot to make the whole process easier. Here's the result:
Simple squares in an interesting pattern

Backed with a sheet
With only one quilt left and it was only noon of the second day, we laid out the sheet she was using for the backing, cotton batting for the filler (thank you, Jane!) laid the top on and pinned like crazy:
All pinned up
At this point we should have also used basing stitches across the whole thing but didn't think we had the time for it but that ended up costing us more time in the end. There's always lessons to learn and now we both know it takes more than safety pins for a quilt that large. I pulled out my Pfaff 1222 with the IDT (Integrated Dual Transportation) as a system-built walking foot, rolled up one side to put to the right of the presser foot and needle and she went to work:
Mindy hard at work on the Pfaff 1222
By dinner time all of the longer lengths were sewn and over half of the shorter rows were done. She treated me to dinner and we bought packaged bias binding. It was a struggle using that much stiffer fabric that is used in the binding and I remembered why I always make my own so that was another lesson learned. Mindy was a real trooper and got it done, the corners were mitered, and we both rejoiced.
Finally done: love those pinwheels!
It was late, we were both tired, she had a long day of driving ahead of her, and I had to return to my full-time job so we called it a night. In the midst of all of this she also ended up with a dead car battery and it took her hours longer to return home due to construction outside of Beloit, but she did get home and we called her trip to the wintry north a huge success. She's not going to be making any more quilts, she says, but what a great result she got from her foray into the world of quilting. She eyed my sergers but I didn't try to send her home with one since she's downsizing but just maybe... but that's for another sister weekend!
Mindy showing off her wonderful work