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

Thursday, November 2, 2017

New Home Addiction

I have loved the New Home sewing machine models that have the built-in storage, like the XL-II, My-Excel, and the Memory Craft 6000, that I just couldn't resist getting the SL-2022:
New Home SL-2022 by Janome
It was on auction so you never know what condition it will be in but I've found more and more of these transactions are turning out quite well. This one arrived wrapped in bubble wrap and even the parts inside the loose plastic cover were wrapped and padded: nothing came broken! We were out of town to a family wedding in Florida to be held on the beach that turned out much, much better than expected so I came home with a very positive attitude. All of the parts were there, the hand wheel turned, light came on, but the dials didn't want to turn. It was late so I had to put it aside and get some sleep.

The next morning I could take a closer look, get out the hair dryer to put some heat on the old stiff dials, and see if there was any real damage. Nope: it moved slowly and quite stiff but disuse can do that. I continued to clean and oil, getting everything moving and was finally ready to start sewing. That's when I noticed the presser foot was up. It was stuck in the up position. It was rusted in the up position.Once again I had to walk away so I could sew up some of the bentwood case carrying straps, this time an order for two Featherweight strap sets that are always custom sized:
Carrying case strap set
It was good to have this presser foot stuck-in-the-up-position problem to simmer while I thought up a solution. It came to me that I could loosen it up with a tap from a hammer but even after letting it sit in oil for a day it wasn't going to budge. Then I looked at the top of the presser foot rod and could see the top clearly. Do I dare give it a tap? Or two? Finally on the third tap it moved. It was free again!
All those accessories under the top lid but see the black knob on the left? That's the presser foot rod in there.
Using cotton swabs and Evaporust, I cleaned up the rod and removed as much of the rust as I could but I can still go back and use a bit of emery cloth to polish it up. Now let's see how it actually sews.

Not so hot: the tension on the bottom was a straight line. More adjustments, new needle, new thread, more adjusting, and I can finally get a good stitch:
To some extent I think it just needed to be run again but good thread and a new needle did the trick. The dials are still a bit stiff but everything works and all of the snap-on presser feet are in the top compartment and the rest of the accessories are in the little box in front of the bobbin area so it's a very self contained unit. The manual is original and in good shape and I did need it for details on the threading. Yes, I even read the manual from time to time. In the end, this is a nice sewing machine that would make a good starter that probably wouldn't need to be traded out since it would give continued performance for probably the life of most sewers/crafters.

It was a nice time away to have a beach wedding in Florida when Minnesota was getting its first snow but now we seem to have the cold here to stay so no mild November for us. It's another craft fair weekend and I'm ready to roll!