Thursday, June 28, 2018


I'm back from a fishing vacation but only a vacation from writing as I still thought about sewing machines. Although we caught our limit of walleye and sauger, it was more about having fun together out on a boat in glorious weather:
Right outside our cabin on Rainy River
On the way up north my sister and I brought our knitting but I was too quickly done with my ball of yarn (what was I thinking?) so when we stopped for lunch I popped into a thrift store and picked up a bag of yarn for a dollar. Look what I knit up with only part of that yarn:
In Grand Rapids, MN, we stopped for lunch on the way home and just happened to find a yarn shop where we picked up Red Heart Scrubby cotton for making wash/dish cloths. Although I've been knitting up dish cloths for some time now, the texture of the Scrubby yarn is pretty neat: the cotton variety has just enough to mildly exfoliate but not scrub your skin off. For only $5 I think I can get 3-4 out of that modest skein of yarn.

With my bargain yarn I'm also going to knit up a hat with a large skein of Prism yarn but that has jump started a whole resurgence in using up left over yarn from my own stash. We have a craft and bake sale at church in December in conjunction with the children's Christmas program and that has me thinking about knitting up a group of slippers, mittens, hats, etc. for the sale/donation. I'll never have time come fall but I do have some I can spend on these hot nights when we are reluctant to spend it outside.

What has been happening with my sewing machines? While we were gone I answered an ad for a vintage sewing machine in a compact cabinet. I'm such a sucker for those small footprint cabinets so while up north I arranged to pick up this gem on Sunday afternoon:
Cute compact cabinet
Excellent Japanese branded Helebrant sewing machine
While we has our grandsons over to help with some odd jobs they found this sewing machine in the garage and had a great time seeing if it could make all those fun stitches. Grant said "Hey, there's a sunglasses one!" and I did a double take:
Stitch selection dial with "sunglasses" at the top.

With no adjustments, here's how it stitched.
Could be! It's such a nice machine and only a bit stiff in the beginning. It came with a printed manual and a whole slew of accessories:
Extra feet and tools fit in plastic box

Manual with vintage dress patterns
All of this fits so nicely into the drawer in the pull-out seat with room for lots more. Along with all of the iron-on patches, there were a couple patterns that were a hoot: a wedding dress that was undated but looks like 1969. The other "mod" dress pattern looks way too familiar so it's possible I made this one back in the day, too. The cover on the manual was in pieces but it did tape together nicely: because this machine is just a bit different I'm glad there is a good manual.

Fun times to have a great fishing vacation and then score such a nice sewing machine at the end of the vacation was just icing on the cake. Next up? Treadle restoration!
On the deck at the resort at the end of a day of fishing

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Cabinets, Again

What a fun sewing weekend I had, full of machines, sewing, interesting conversations, and even a freebee at the end. It all started with the outdoor furniture that needed to come down from the garage attic but, as usual, there were sewing machines in the way. Correction: there was a snow thrower in the wrong part of the garage so first it needed to be moved. There is space for it way at the back, at least during the off season, so that gives me hope for storage if not actual convenience when it needs to be used.

With that big baby out of the way I could see what was left: a whole lot of cabinets and all with machines in or on them. Before they got too tightly packed I took some photos so they are now ready to list for sale, at lease two of the treadles are now ready to go. The Davis in the stunning cabinet is going to be difficult to let go of since it has the vertical feed foot, very cool machine in a fantastic cabinet:
Parlor cabinet for Davis Vertical Feed
Davis vertical feed in treadle cabinet
Then comes the New Home treadle, with near perfect decals and a joy to treadle. I will be sorry to see it go, too:
New Home Vibrating Shuttle
New Home cabinet, a plain model but in excellent condition
Taking a look at the black metal box with accessories, it could use a little cleaning up so I took metal polish to them and the results were worth the effort:
Classic accessories for vibrating shuttle machine but now so shiny!

Some of this movement was made possible by the sale of a Necchi Mira in a compact cabinet. It held a near permanent spot in my kitchen:
Compact cabinet for Necchi Mira

Necchi Mira with Wonder Wheel
but it sold and not-to-let-a-spot-grow-cold a Brother in a similar cabinet moved from the garage into the kitchen:
Compact cabinet for Brother Sewing Machine
Brother (no model number)
There is a downfall to the Brother cabinet: it's missing the chair cushion. It is not just a matter of buying foam (already did that) but to construct a whole base for the seat and that's going to take getting out the saw and....well, my Power Tool for Women class last fall didn't prepare me enough to use my own power tools, just those in class. I have hopes of getting it out soon and finishing up this project but I'm so fond of that Brother model that I don't mind having it around a bit anyway. Cool cabinet, isn't it?

While I was home on Saturday I found an ad for a free sewing machine. No model number, no photo, but nearby. Turns out, even though I was second in line, the first person said it wasn't heavy duty enough for her sewing and took a pass on it. I buzzed on over but didn't have the Jeep so I knew I was going to have to take the head out of the small table. Without the proper tools, only have two screwdrivers with me, I ended up taking out eight screws in order to remove the hinges. But I got it all home, cleaned up and oiled, found a set of power cords and foot control that was missing, and away she went:
Elna 65C
She was very dirty but sound inside. The owner said he was actually going to toss the machine and burn the cabinet up in his backyard but just took the chance someone would want it. I sent him a text when it was all cleaned up with a stitch sample and he was amazed and glad it went to a good home. I'm happy, too, because it would be a shame to put something as fine as an Elna into a landfill. Another win-win for sewing machine nuts; if you are reading this, maybe you should join us, too? You would be in good company, very good company!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Three of a Kind

This is the season for buying up sewing machines as people clean house and decide they are no longer going to keep broken or unused items around their house. That is where I step in and take the sewing machines they no longer want off their hands: well, some of them, at least. Experience has shown me there are some to never buy again (Singer Touch and Sew, for example), and those to run towards (Brother Select-O-Matic, a favorite of mine). This past weekend I got to pick up several and meet up with an old friend in the buying.

A very cool German hand-crank was offered and I jumped at it on Sunday afternoon. Come to find out, it was from Joe who reminded me I sold him a Singer 66 and started him on this new hobby of repairing and collecting sewing machines. So how did he come across such a fine machine when I had to buy mine off of eBay? Joe is retired so when he saw an ad locally he could fly right out the door after it; there are some advantages to being retired, I guess! My husband and I stopped over after dinner to check it out and were happy to renew our friendship and talk about sewing machines. As we looked at his collection, we eventually made it from the garage workshop into his home where we met his lovely wife who is quite talented in her beading and pottery creations. We could have stayed for hours hearing their stories and admiring their creations and collections. I always say I meet the nicest people buying and selling sewing machines and sometimes it goes both ways with the same person.
Harris hand crank
Once home and examining my petite Harris hand-crank, I had to compare it to my other hand-cranks. It has the transverse shuttle like the Optima, very similar to a Singer model 12, but smoother than the Optima or the German model. It is interesting that all of my hand-cranks are German made, no Singers, but I understand there were far fewer made and distributed in the United States than in the UK where they made and used them long after electricity was in general use. Anyone watch the early episodes of "Call the Midwife" where in the late '50's they use a hand-crank sewing machine on the dining room table? Here in the US we were either using a treadle if electricity was iffy, possibly because he have larger homes and just more space in general in this big, wide open country, but I digress. Here are some photos of my collection of three:

Harris in front, Optima in the center, German at the back
Definitely large, medium, and small sizes
View of their mechanisms
They are quite lovely but each one has its flaws that I will not point out at this time: let there be a little bit of mystery! The next day someone posted locally about a sewing machine they had that looked like the photo they used in the ad - a hand crank! Could I be this lucky? I was patient and waited until she could take a photo of the actual sewing machine and, alas, it was a mere Singer 66.  I should have known it was too good to be true but that is okay with me as she got a bit of education in what she actually possessed and its value.

There are plenty more stories in Sewing Machine Mavin's life just this past week as it continues to be a very busy time for buying and selling sewing machines. Stay tuned for the next adventure!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Kenmore Crazies

My longest lasting sewing machine was a Kenmore 158-17812 so I still have a soft spot in my heart for those machines and this week I have been dealing with three different Kenmore's, all 158's. It started with a Kenmore 158-161 that I got as part of the Judy haul back in November:
Kenmore 158-161 before cleaning
I asked if I could keep this one, especially since it came with no cams and needed a Kenmore cabinet or case with the squared edges. I've been looking for a table since then as well as the flat style E cams that are needed for this model. The cams were found but when they arrived the center section with the buttonhole attachment set was badly cracked. Not a big deal since I found I had one already in my sea of boxes and attachments:
Kenmore flat cams with buttonhole kit
Half way there, I now found a table advertised as free: just my price! It came with another Kenmore 158 but when I was putting it into my car the neighbor yelled across the street that the machine wasn't working right. No problem, I yelled back, I really wanted the table. When home and checking it all out, I see the table needs refinishing:
Kenmore cabinet

Kenmore cabinet open, note sharp edges of the cutout for a Kenmore
but it does have the correct cutout. The Kenmore 158-161 technically fits but there is an anchoring screw that doesn't line up, not a big deal, but not quite right either. Of course, I can't leave the machine that came in this table by the side of the road so I take it, too, and check it out at home. It sure doesn't work too well: it was all gummed up. My guess is the wrong type of oil was used and now it has sat and solidified into a sticky mess. There is much cleaning with good sewing machine oil, Triflow, and over several weeks I get it to sew.
Kenmore 158-13250
No, I get it to move, then it finally will sew. And sew it did:
Kenmore 158-13250 stitch sample
That is a nice stitch, a good set of basic stitches including a four step buttonhole:
Kenmore 158-13250 stitch selection
I go back out to the garage and check out the table again, knowing I'm going to refinish it for at least one of the machines but now I have to decide which one. I can get the Kenmore 158-13250 back in it and since it is running perfectly now maybe it should just go back in there. But what about the Kenmore 158-161? I'm on the hunt again but have a friend who is looking to downsize and hope she has a Kenmore cabinet for me.

Then there is one more Kenmore this week. With half price sales at my favorite resale stores on Memorial Day, I stopped over and spy a Kenmore 158-13571 that was looking good. Electronics were not on sale so I waited until the next day and snatched it up on senior discount day:
Kenmore 158-13571
It cleaned up nice, came with a good set of attachments that included the buttonhole attachment, all in the classic green portable carrying case. Talk about win-win! Here's the stitch sample:
Kenmore 158-13571 stitch sample
A few more stretch stitches than the 158-13250 but all of the basics and a good, solid sewing machines for beginners and occasional sewers, too. You can hardly go wrong with any of these Kenmore's, just keep them clean and use the right sewing machine oil, not WD-40 or 3 in 1, but a sewing machine oil like Triflow. As I head into the weekend and have to work on Saturday, I'm satisfied with my progress on these Kenmore's and know they will find a good home down the road and will have many more years of sewing ahead of them, too. And why not? They are Kenmore 158's.