Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Weekend Warriors

It was a busy weekend with the first craft sale now over and a fun garage sale in my neighborhood that netting some great finds. We started out on Friday night setting up our tables at the local high school where the long-standing craft fair is a benefit of the Swim and Diving Club. We figured if we got our tables and stands all set up the night before we would be that much ahead for Saturday morning but when we got there we were in for a surprise: the students not only unloaded your car and brought everything to your booth, they also would help set everything up. As we looked around we could see everyone else had their products out so we figured why not? Another dash home and loading up the Jeep, we returned to have the same great help in getting set up. They did really mean 6-9 pm because at 9 they announced they were closing and we had to leave but could return at 6 am. This seemed fair since we now had so much set up it would only be a matter of rearranging in the morning.

Double booth space and set-up Friday night before the craft fair
Jim had great helpers again to put necklaces on the stands and even made a sale as one of the girls couldn't resist an item of jewelry. Kelly joined us and added her memory wire bracelets and flannel burp cloths, help in proper display set up, and we were off and running. It's always fun talking to everyone but by the end of the day I'm pretty well talked out and exhausted. I only bought one item from a fellow seller, a pair of LuLaRoe leggings that are buttery soft, and a jar of jam from my hairdresser, Kathy, who shows up at some of my venues, too. How can you resist strawberry basil jam? It's truly delicious!
We are in business!
Coming home exhausted isn't exactly our idea of fun but we were prepared for this and I had barbecue venison in the slow cooker, all ready for dinner. Since we have another craft fair in only two weeks, we left our tables and stands in the garage and stored the bins and boxes in the spare guest room so no hauling everything downstairs. At the end of the day when we tallied up our accounts we could see that we both made money but it's not spectacular.  This was our first time at the high school and we would sign up again if our schedules allow but life has a way of intervening and it gets tricky to keep these commitments.

The next day dawned bright and clear after a very rainy and cloudy Saturday at the fair (what did we care since we were inside all day!) and we visited a neighbors garage sale. My husband was there on Friday and said we needed to go back because they still had some things I might be interested in. Did they ever: I spied an Elnita 140 sewing machine in pristine shape with a large amount of accessories included:
Elnita 140 with extension bed in place

Print manual, bobbin box, accessory box with snap-on feet and other extras
The price was right and the accessories included feet, bobbins, and thread I was interested in. She also had machine embroidery stabilizers that came home with me but I missed the Bernina thread box, already sold to someone right ahead of me. Win some, lose some, but I'm thinking this was a decent deal. I get everything home and sorted but don't have time to play with it until the next day.

I did put the Elnita 140 to the test as I made up three ironing board covers to test out the stitches and then put together two cobbler aprons that were requested.

Busy prints to hide cooking foibles!
The quality of the stitching was good, ease of use went down when I had to remove the extension bed every time I changed the bobbin. With the pink trim on the aqua background fabric I was changing the bobbin often and it wasn't horrible but not convenient either. Conclusion: it will make a nice occasional sewing machine or a first timer. Here's the results:
Bias tape foot with zigzag finish

Flat fell seam near pocket
Make no mistake, this is not an Elna sewing machine but for the price point, it will get you sewing and should lead you to a better sewing machine when you are ready for one. Yes, it was a nice weekend after all!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Too Much On My Plate

Once again, my eyes are bigger than my stomach: I have way too much to do for the upcoming craft fair! I planned on making a mountain of hot mitts, pillow cases, some cobbler aprons, refresh other stock, etc, All I have done is make 64 hot mitts:
Hot mitts finished and ready to go!
That's a lot for me so no moaning and groaning but that is all I have done. Except. I did take that Power Tools for Women class, cycled through most the ten sewing machines I got from Erin (see below), and even managed to get the green Singer 15-91 in good shape.
Singer 15-91 (yes, it is green)
Then there was the New Home Memory Craft 6000 that I couldn't resist:
New Home Memory Craft 6000
It came without a power cord, a pricey item, but I managed to get one reasonably priced, and it came last night. The machine only hums. I've tried everything but know it's electronics this time and I'm in over my head. A sewing machine tech owes me a favor so I'm calling it in on this one. Everyone says this is a fabulous sewing machine and it sure looks like it so it's worth paying to have it fixed, I believe. You know I don't want to pay to have someone else do my job but I know when I'm out-skilled. I just love these New Home models with the accessories under a flip up top:
New Home MC 600 accessories "under the hood"
As promised, I've been working through the ten sewing machines from Erin and have two more that are ready to go. Both needed cleaning and tension tune-up but are stitching fine now. The Singer 237 is such a classic sewing machine but I have no portable case, only a table if it is necessary. Of course, it will need accessories, too. The Singer Merritt 1872 runs pretty well but it has a belt system for the feed dogs and I've never been a big fan of this system. This particular model has a clinking sound when it is at maximum stitch length but I'm going to not spend any more time on it and just give the buyer a warning about this anomaly.

Moving things around in the garage, I decide I need to toss the box the New Home MC 6000 came in and guess what I found? The foot control. That's right, it's the same one I just bought. I'm just a bit chagrined but glad I didn't pay top dollar. I checked back in the ad but the foot controller was not shown and only referred to as "powers on from source" so I figured that was geek speak for "borrowed cords" but I was wrong. Well, it still needs to be sent in and I hope to sell that foot control/power cord set.

We have a button maker at work so I made up three different styles of buttons for a give-away at the craft fairs:
Yes, it's all about sewing
They were fun to make and I hope a bit of low cost advertising. I better get going and finish up the pillow cases that are all cut out and ready to be sewn, a new item that was fun in the design process. Hope they turn out as cute in real-time as they are in my head:
Pillow cases: a few done but most just to show combinations of fabrics and colors

Monday, October 9, 2017

Willing To Learn

Some of my blog posts aren't about sewing machines and this is one of them so if you want to read about vintage sewing machines...take a pass on this post. It is about learning and that whole "lifelong learner" stuff we read about and sometimes roll our eyes when we hear about it but it is true: we need to keep learning to be relevant, interesting, and interested in the world around us. My foray into new learning was "Power Tools for Women", a class I have wanted to take for a long time but always worked on the evenings it was offered. A change in schedule last spring has opened up my schedule to now be able to take this community ed. offer and was it ever fun! Here's how it looked on the first night of class:
Squaring up the frames with the help of our instructor
With only two classes of 2.5 hours we needed to get right into it so our instructor showed us the power tools we were going to use, basic instructions, and we were off and running! Well, no running in the middle school industrial tool shop, but working hard and helping each other. There were ten of us in a broad spectrum of ages with different purposes in mind, but we all wanted to learn how to use these powerful and scary machines with safety and purpose.
Busy in the wood shop on the first night of class
 The first night we made a picture frame out of an eight foot board of clear pine. I learned how to use a miter saw, router, pocket hole jig, impact drill, and cordless drill. Since I had previously used drills, the last three on the list were no problem but it was the power saws that terrified me. They were all table models so that provided stability and along with instruction and encouragement from the teacher and other women I learned to conquer my fear. Everyone pitched in to clean up and we were ready to leave ahead of the class ending time. Here's what I made:
My first frame: 16 by 16 in pine, before routed outside edge
If we wanted to put a routed edge on the frame, just bring it back to the second class session and we would add that nice feature. I brought mine back, as did everyone else, for the nice scoop edge. We spent this second class session on making a small step stool using power table saws, drills, jigsaws, and a few different sanders.
Instructions on making the step stool: we are all attentive!
 It was even more fun and everyone showed confidence in using the tools. We talked with each other about why we wanted to learn to use power tools and most said they already had tools but no one to teach them. One woman wanted to replace her deck next summer so needed to know how to use the tools of the trade. I thought that was ambitious but I think she can do it! Here we are with our finished projects:
Fall 2017 Power Tools for Women Class
There is a second class, Power Tools for Women Advanced, where they make a 24" tall side table in oak that many of the women signed up for but I have a conflict so will not be taking it this fall. It is possible I will not be taking it at all because the instructor is going to open his own shop in the spring and thought he would have open Saturday's. That would mean for a small fee we could work in his shop where he would be in attendance and we could make anything we had the skills to accomplish. Can we spell s-e-w-i-n-g  m-a-c-h-i-n-e  b-o-x-e-s? YES! I learned a new skill(s) and can put them to use relatively soon so this is a win-win for me and I think everyone in the class. Here's a look at the basic step stool I made, the current pride of my heart:
Ain't she sweet? My very own step stool!
You never know if you can do it until you try so go out there and try something new, something you have been toying with in your mind. It's time to put your hopes into action!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Twin Sergers Give Life With Transplant

Many months ago Natalie gave me her serger that a shop said they could not fix, there were no parts to be found. She was hoping I could somehow find the part and resurrect her serger and I was hoping I could, too. Taking it all apart, I found the broken part, tried to bond it back together without success so I started on a search for a donor machine. Come to find out, her Singer QuantumLock 5, model 14U595, was the same as a Pfaff 4870 with only minor changes to the exteriors. The Singer serger was a bit of a rare bird but I could find Pfaff 4870's, just needing to be patient for one at the right price. It paid off when one came up for parts, I made an offer, it was accepted and she arrived:
Singer 14U595 and Pfaff 4870
In my heart of hearts, I was hoping the Pfaff really wasn't broken, that it just needed some adjustment and cords.Opening her up, there was a whole lot of cleaning that needed to be done:
Maybe this was holding up the works?

and then there was more, more, more
I could see the part I needed was there but the arm that supported it was not attached. This had me worried so I took the Singer apart, compared the damage, and decided it might just be best to use the Pfaff for parts as intended. As it turned out, there were two parts that were needed so I went to work. Natalie's Singer QuantumLock 5 had been sitting around since January, moving several times in my workroom, finally getting downsized to a smaller box and then up to a donor machine shelf. I knew I hadn't put it all back together right but I didn't hold out much hope for a part. Shame on me! Now I had hours of trying to figure it all out but the Pfaff really helped me see how it would all work.

I didn't have the lower looper threader back in correctly and I couldn't figure it out so when checking back with the Pfaff I could see there was a plastic part that swiveled with a pin that receded. The Singer's pin didn't push back in enough even though they were both set in springs, so the part didn't swivel. Comparing pins and settings, I could see I was going to have to shorten it so I got out a file and went to work.
Small pin in center was too long (photo is upside down!)

They should have been the same size...
Trial and error, I did get it to work but it's an imperfect system and sometimes the thread would catch on the looper, sometimes not. Without that bit of assistance it's nearly impossible to thread so I'm hoping Natalie knows the trick to this. Now I was ready to try it again but I got an error message that the door wasn't closed. Well, in an old serger you didn't always have to even close the door but as a safety measure they now have sensors. I checked all over that machine and couldn't figure it out so I walked away and came back the next day. With a fresh start at it I could see there was a little flap on the door that I didn't have in the correct position so I took it out and re-positioned the door and flap: no error message. Now I could finally stitch: crummy, crummy, crummy. All of my usual adjustments weren't working and I had other things to attend to so I walked away, again, until I could face it.

Then I remembered a lesson from Ray White: adjust a serger so it will sew with Maxi-Lock thread. Off came the other brands and on went the Maxi-Lock, a different color in each spot, and it stitched perfectly. I let Natalie know and she's happy to have her original serger coming home again. I am, too.
Singer Quantum Lock5, 14U595