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!