Friday, May 26, 2017

Big Sisters

I have two big sisters and one little sister so that makes me a middle-child. As we grow older together I love my sisters more and more, appreciating our differences and celebrating our milestones. There is a sewing machine that is purported to be the "big sister" and that has always intrigued me but sewing machines are in families, of sorts. There's the Berninas, that Swiss family that lives next door to the Elnas, also from Switzerland. The Pfaff's are down the street and they moved here from Germany and then there are the Vikings, those rather tall ones from Sweden. And, of course, the Necchi's are from Italy, home of great shoes and fast cars. Enough of the stereo types, looking at the above list makes me wonder what sewing machines were made in the United States: Singer is the only name I can come up with and those were from another age. But aren't they all? Most sewing machines are now made by a few big manufactures overseas, to the specifications of the brand, but no longer in all those countries of origin. Okay, off my soap box and onto big and little sister sewing machines.

The Singer 221, a.k.a. the Featherweight, is said to have a big sister, the Singer 301. They might be in the same family but sure are different in my book. Both have bodies made of aluminum so they are lightweight with the same slimline bobbin case. For all practical purposes, that's where the similarities end because the 301 is slant shank, has a built-in handle, can fit into a table with a cradle for easy release. Alright, they both come in black with flip up extension tables but the 301 has a long or short bed extensions whereas the 221 only has a long bed. I would say they are more like cousins but then I wasn't the one who nicknamed them big and little sister. So here's my find earlier this week:
Singer 301 in her found state: a dirty bird
As it happens with so many of these sales, the seller only knew enough to be dangerous. He found it in the basement of his house but couldn't find the power cord but turned the handwheel to see that it wasn't jammed. Someone has sent him a message telling him the bobbin case was pretty expensive so maybe he should be charging more. As always, I chuckled to myself and told him I would need to actually see the machine to determine if it was worth more. I brought along an extra power cord but by the time I got there he found the one it came with as well as the cradle to fit into a cabinet. He had done some more research and knew that black plate of the cradle indicated it came with a cabinet but there wasn't one in his basement so it was what it was. And it was pretty grimy. It did run, the cradle was a plus, and the found power cord kept me from bargaining, so we were both satisfied with the previously posted cost. She came home with me for a real spa treatment.

Because my elbow has flared up and I'm giving it a rest by keeping it in a brace, the cleaning process had to be done over several days with my right arm more engaged than usual and my left only as a helper. This did take a long time but here are the results:
Singer 301A after her spa day
There is some mottling on the bed so I suspect it might have been cleaned with window cleaner at some point but it was smooth with no nicks or dings. With a good cleaning on the inside with Triflow oil and then grease on the metal gears, she ran nice. Stitching was another story so I ended up taking the tension mechanism apart to clean between the disks. I forgot how it went back together and was determined I could do it without looking it up but it took me longer yet I did it! It stitched perfectly now, was clean inside and out, ready for a new home. It's my plan to put it in a trapezoid case I've been saving and keep the cradle for another machine and cabinet/table.

Back a few few posts I reported on my trials and successes of the newly fixed Designer 1 so I'll show you two of the samples from my practice:

Both were free designs and stitched on white fabric that looks cream in the photos. I didn't use stabilizer on the backs, just a firm setting inside the hoop. Each one had about three starts until I could do the above examples. I tried to add my name to the Sewing Center but it ended up being too large and wouldn't start in the spot it said it was starting. I got so frustrated that I went back to the original to see if I could at least do that one and I was fairly successful. On the Song of Solomon verse I ran out of bobbin thread and when I reloaded I didn't have it seated properly and it all came out in white thread from the bobbin. This is just part of the learning so that's okay. What am I going to do with these little gems? Probably put them on my sewing bulletin board for now as early samples to give me inspiration. Some days I need it!

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