Thursday, July 26, 2018


As promised, I'm going to tell you all about my new-to-me mangle. What is a mangle? Besides the idea of something being mutilated or damaged, a mangle machine is a large iron that gets very hot and with a moving roller it presses fabric like no portable iron can. It's fantastic! How did I get this item and restore it to its original functionality? I answered an ad for a free item and even though I was second on the list I was still the one who went home with my first mangle.
Ironrite 85 mangle
It was stored in a large recreation center that also doubled as storage for antiques but there was an event coming up so some of the stored items had to go. No one knew if it worked, it takes up a fair amount of space, so they just wanted to get rid of it. It's pretty heavy but we got it into the Jeep on its back and that probably wasn't the best of ideas. Once I got it home and had a neighbor help me get it out and upright only a few hours later, it was leaking oil. It was suggested to change the oil every year (is this a lawnmower?) so we got the oil drained off and new oil and seals on, hoping that was where the leaking was coming from. It hasn't leaked since so think we've got a great machine if we can only figure out how to use it.
Gearbox with new seal
It took quite a bit of cleaning with my TR3 car wax as well as auto body scratch remover but it finally came clean and looks fantastic. The big roller itself has a pad that was in excellent shape but the muslin cover for the padding was pretty well scorched. It was easy to make a new one but on my first use I left the rolled down while it was heating and scorched it! Now I know better but at the time I hadn't figured all of that out. It's pretty easy to make a new one and I still have more fabric so that might be in order while I have the fabric in hand.
Roller with new covering
The way this works is to turn on the heat element to your desired temperature just like a regular iron BUT separate the roller from the heating element as in the photo above. That's done with the red lever that makes it look like an emergency brake but it's just to raise the roller. Once the iron is heated up, taking nearly 10 minutes, lower the roller and start the motor:
Mangle controls
It rolls at a steady speed, too fast when you are a beginner, but you learn how to feed the fabric and keep everything straight. Here's some of the fabric I pressed:
Pressed fabric with mangle
I even felt bold and confident enough to press cotton batting and the pieced wall hanging I just finished: that was brave but it turned out great although I didn't use the highest heat setting. I've gone back to  clean and polish the surface until it's as good as it can ever be under my care.

Ironrite 85 cleaned up
It can also be used as a regular iron with the roller not moving but you need to move the roller up to release and lower to press. There are levers underneath that also are controls so you need to be sitting for part of this but I find it easier to stand to direct the fabric. I'm going to have fun with this and just trying to decide if I can keep it or if it needs to find a new home. All in all, it's quite a find for the sewer and quilter just not very portable!
Ironrite 85 mangle
Manuals are freely available and there are even videos about how to use one of these "new and improved" irons. I'm sure everyone wants a mangle now, right? They are pretty cool to use even though they are hot!

Friday, July 20, 2018

New Tricks

There is always something new to learn and I'm going to share a new technique with you in this post. I learned how to make nifty handles with cording. This idea was given freely in Sewing For Free which directs you to the link for Reversible Rope Handled Canvas Bag. Using their idea, I made up a few bags but just made them lined, not reversible. You make the handles by stitching the cording down in rounds, super simple, and the results were quick and very satisfying:
Cotton cording stitched in rounds for handle
Making up the handle first and then fitting up the fabric to sew up the bag was much easier than the other way around. For the first bag I picked out two large dot fabrics that were coordinating:
Stitched on serger first
I sewed up the seams with a serger and then attached the handle with a regular sewing machine:
Finished dot bag
 For the dot fabric bag I used cotton cording, a roll I found out in the garage in a plastic tote with other cords and rope. I like the look and feel of the cotton cord but know it will get dirty quickly: doesn't cotton wash up easily? For the next tote I used some acrylic cording that was marked for macrame. I thought this was going to be easy but it wasn't due to the stretch nature of the acrylic versus the firms cotton cording. I made up two sets of handles that didn't fit and one that was so distorted I threw it away! I finally made up a handle that fit the tapestry bag already made up (much harder than making bag to fit). Next up was a yellow burlap with a fun summer print:
Handle made and fabric ready to sew for a good fit
This bag was much shorter so I think it turned out better:
Finished yellow burlap bag with lining of a flip flop print
Of course, practice did help and this was my third bag and about the fifth set of handles I practiced on. Here are the final two bags:
Tapestry bag and burlap bag
I like to stitch the bottom of the bag to secure the lining to the outside fabric. I think these bags could use a little embellishment but not sure what I could do at this point so they might have to just look pretty on their own with the fabric choices I made.
Which sewing machine did I use to make up these tote bags?  I picked out the Bernina Nova 900 and it just purred along, never pulling at the cord or getting stitches caught in the thick cord.Since I worked on this over several days I did use my Viking Designer 1 but it did not sew as nicely as the Bernina Nova yet I was too lazy to pull out the Bernina again. Sigh. As for the serging, I used one of the last acquired Huskylocks, the three thread 430 and it did a very nice job. Because burlap is a somewhat difficult fabric I serged the seams and also using bias binding on the edges to seal and reinforce all seams. Using a lining with the burlap will also help to distribute the stress of those seams but time will tell how it holds up.

Next up: I got a mangle! It was so much fun to get it working again plus I used it on the above fabrics and the quilted wall hanging I'm finishing up. Wait until you see what this old fashioned iron can do!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Triple Stitch

This past week I scored a triple: three sergers in two days (I think that's a record for me). It was never a plan but more of a happening so here's the story, with photos.

Watching an ad for several weeks, I finally broke down and asked to see one of the sergers listed in a local ad. A week later Larry got back to me and we set up a time for me to see the Huskylock 535 he had for sale. I knew he had a sewing machine and another serger also listed but the 535 interested me the most.

Huskylock 535 serger (after cleaning)
Larry had the sergers and a Singer set up on a workbench in the garage and he ran a cord so I could see if they worked. The Huskylock 535 very, very dirty but came with the original manual and a box of accessories. A decent four thread model that I thought I could clean up and get it to sew properly, I like it so it was now marked "sold." Right next to it was a Huskylock 430, only a three thread model, but it also had the original manual plus four large cones of white thread. In the past these Huskylock's had caused me some trouble so I wasn't sure I wanted even one let alone two but they both seemed to be okay so I took them off Larry's hands. They were his sisters' machines and he had fond memories of her coming over and making pajamas for the kids.
Huskylock 430 and 535 sergers
The Huskylock 535 was on the table first and I spent most of the time just cleaning the exterior. What a mess but it was fine under the particles of grit, probably from sitting out in the garage uncovered. The real surprise came when I checked the needles before stitching to find they were both in backwards. This machine wasn't going to stitch that way! The tensions were all messed up so it took some work to get it all to rights but it's now working great.

Next up was the Huskylock 430 yet it was much cleaner and stitched right away with no problems. The inside was clean so either it had not been used much or it had been lovingly cared for. I like the latter reason. Checking out the box of accessories that came with the machines, I took note of two needle plates but they were not the correct shape for either of the sergers I bought. Online I see they are plate B and C for an Elna L4 serger and the rest of the box is most likely also not for the Huskylock's. I'll hang onto them in hopes of an Elna L4 some day in need of plates. Although they are not newer models of sergers by any stretch of the imagination, the Huskylocks are still very usable and in good condition with much life left in them.
Huskylock 430 serger
I had already arranged to pick up a Kenmore serger the next day so was thinking I would cancel that appointment since I just picked up two but my husband convinced me it would be a good outing for us. He would stop by after work to pick me up and we could check on his mobile home out that way and even offered to take me to dinner. How could I say no to that? So I met the owner at a local supermarket's coffee shop where she confessed she never even used the Kenmore serger. It still had the cones of thread from the manufacturer, the foot control was in the original plastic bag, and all of the accessories in the box placed in the front catch bin were untouched. Yes, it was new! It came home with me and sewed like a champ.
Kenmore 385-166551 serger
Because it had sat unused for some time it did have problems with stiffness and moving dials, etc. When I tried to make a rolled hem I could not get the position finger to move out of the way because  the stitch width plate could not move over far enough. It just needed to be screwed in and out a few times before it was moving smoothly so I could slide the finger down and out of the way for a rolled hem.
Stitch width plate needed to move right for the position finger to slide toward the front of the machine
All three need to be in totes or bags so I better get planning and sewing. These triplets remind me a little bit of the series "This Is Us" about a family with triplets. Like them, my triplets were not all born together and one of them is very different than the rest but still valued. Let's hope they don't crash and burn the way each one of the Pearson's do in the series but rise above their problems to be productive and stable!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Old and New Again

We are going to get to the New Home MC 7500 in this post but I have a very happy update regarding the last post about the White Vibrating Shuttle. Katie Farmer and I sent emails and photos back and forth to get down to the exact model I had as well as the components of the tension mechanism. The serial number that was on the back slide plate was not an original for that particular machine, probably on loan from another model, but Katie deduced it was a White VS-IV due to the photo I sent. It pays to consult an expert! Once she found out which model, she could find one of her own and see what parts were in the tension unit:
White VS-IV with tension assembly on side
This was perfect because those parts looked familiar: I found them in one of the drawers earlier but didn't know what they were for. I keep everything so I found them on a workbench, put them back in order as per the photo and Katie's instructions, and with only a little tweaking she sews! I even tried out a hemmer foot with great success so now I'm more than satisfied with this lovely treadle. Just to think that I already had the parts but didn't know what they even were makes me shake my head. A very big thanks to Katie Farmer who is a delight to work with and is a true expert with White sewing machines.

And now onto the much more modern New Home Memory Craft 7500 sewing machine. Sometimes New Home are labeled Janome but this one is a NH, an early computer model that I was skeptical about. I have other early computerized models and there certainly can be problems so it was a risk to bid and win this baby:
New Home Memory Craft 7500

She came clean as a whistle with the exception for the hard plastic cover but it cleaned up great with TR3 car polish.
Hard case with manual
The machine itself came with nearly all of its attachments in a top storage compartment
All those feet!
with extras in the removable front box.
Storage compartment removes for free arm sewing
 The manual was a free download and I needed to consult it while I put her through her paces. This is one very nice sewing machine and received good reviews on Pattern (It's not just for patterns but other items related to sewing, too). Besides the wide variety of stitches, including block and script letters, upper and lower case, there are some nice features to make sewing easier: needle up/down, lock stitch, programing and memory features. Really, as nice as the computer enhancements are, it's things like needle up/down as well as the lock stitch for beginning and ending your stitches that win me over.

I made up some bentwood case straps on it and found it made a nice stitch with a fine end result.
Straps under construction
 This is one nice machine. Here's a sampling of the quality of the stitches:
Sample stitches
This is going to make someone a very happy sewer; it is not a beginners machine but a great step-up for someone ready to take their sewing to the next level and to have a machine capable of increased skills.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

White Treadle

As promised, here's a post about the White treadle sewing machine I have been working on. It came to me as part of the haul I wrote about in  Overloaded but it did not appear in my garage until early summer. I finally started to take it apart to find out how very, very dirty it was and how I needed to spend some serious time with it.

Beside the head coming out for total cleaning, there was a metal pan that served as a drip pan to keep any oil on the machine from getting on that lovely housedress. You are spared from seeing the before since I didn't take any photos but it took much cleaning and soaking in Lestoil to get it clean again:
White treadle drip pan: all cleaned up
After the wood of the cabinet was thoroughly cleaned and waxed with Howard's Feed-N-Wax, I used the same saturated sock/rag to wipe down and clean out the metal base. That stuff really does a nice job but it's a lot of scrubbing so it really does come clean. I've tried to actually wash a treadle base but concluded old ironworks like this just don't like water and it's best to scrub with natural products and a toothbrush. This time I replace the drip pan with screws and it is nice and solid. Returning the head to the base and cutting a new leather belt, she spun around and seemed on the road to recovery:
White treadle, VS-IV
This really surprised me because when I was working on the head it was not moving smoothly but over time the oil should seep in and get things moving again. The first stitches were too loose and then I remembered there were missing parts on the tension mechanism. It doesn't sew very well so I do more research and finally write to Katie Farmer, the White sewing machine expert. We can't wait for her book to come out! In the meantime I'm just hoping I can even find the missing pieces or figure out a way to cobble together enough pieces to make this work.
White VS-IV missing tension unit?

The cabinet is the type where the sewing machine does not fold down into the base and has a "coffin" top to cover the machine and keep it clean and safe. Mine had been left behind and I retrieved it last night. Although it is in excellent cosmetic shape, it is missing the hooks that help to keep it anchored to the table. Another hunt is on but at least the lock mechanism seems to be present and working. Isn't it handsome?
White treadle with coffin top
Along with the White VS treadle, I worked on other cabinets, deciding which ones needed Howard's Restor-a-Finish and which ones needed complete stripping. There were two bentwood cases that needed to be stripped but they are pretty easy and give such good results.  Sales are slow right now so that gives me time to work on what I have and to get those cabinets in the garage ready for sale. I did manage to get a project done last weekend: recovering a sewing hassock. I've really like this one for seating and storage but the original plastic cover had to go. With no vision for a new color or style it continued to wait. Then I bought a sewing basket at a thrift store that contained a wealth of goods, including Gingher thread snips, multiple packages of new Schmetz needles, and a large piece of upholstery fabric. The basket is going to my granddaughter who is learning to sew but most of the pieces were stashed away except for that fabric. I set it aside and one day I glanced over and when I looked at it I thought about the bench seat. It was meant to be:
It's not exactly striking but it is clean and new with a bit more of a classic look rather than retro plastic. It functions the same, holds the same white cotton fabric it had before but is updated to fit my sewing room.

What's up next? A super deal on a New Home Memory Craft 7500: I'm very excited!

Sunday, July 1, 2018


I apologize in advance for those who come to this post wanting information about how to time a sewing machine because this post is not going to help you. Today I'm going to write about how so much of life is being in the right place at the right time. Yesterday was just such a day!

After the fishing trip my husband had hernia surgery scheduled so we are home for a long weekend and he is using ice packs and moving slowly while I'm keeping track of medication and filling or freezing ice packs. The type with the gel beads that can be frozen are the best since they are flexible and can be wiped off or placed in a towel. That gives me an idea of making a sleeve for the ice pack instead of trying to work with a towel. Next project!

It has also been beastly hot here with heat warnings so we are staying inside and I'm working on sewing machines and projects while my patient sleeps. But it isn't all quiet here as I run out to the store for the gel ice pack I stop in at the local thrift shop and take a few photos of fabric that have words on them. Daughter gives a big thumbs up so I return the next day and find they are having a sale so I just have to stock up:

From cotton knit to flannel to quilting cottons
In the meantime I find a Bernina listed locally at a drop dead price (yes, I almost dropped dead in my tracks when I saw it) so I dashed home, checked on my patient, ate a quick lunch and dashed over for the Bernina before she changed her mind:
Bernina Record 830
On my way home I stopped at a garage sale on the next block and spied a box of fabric with a sign asking to name my price. I asked how much for the whole box and she said "How about $5?" and it was in my car in the next thirty seconds. Once I got home and actually looked at what I had I was dumbfounded:
Innocent looking box of fabric...
I started to sort and laid them out by types of fabric to find all of this:
Flannel and a few knits for kids
Quilting cottons!
Minky (floral on left) and plaid flannel
Some were considerable yardage, a few were only fat quarters, but all were usable. There was even a shipping package with five yards of burlap, never used from an online fabric store so I have plans for that yardage, too.  It wasn't the motherload but it was a great find for a real deal.

On Facebook I mentioned on someone's post about young people learning to be self-sufficient and there were comments about sewing but that sewing machines and fabrics being so expensive. Of course they are...if you buy new and are very particular. If you are just wanting to try it out and see if you might like sewing you can buy a vintage sewing machine and buy fabric at resale shops, garage sales, and rummage sales. There are even free deals out there if you keep your eyes open but it is all about timing. How did I get the Bernina? I responded in the first 15 minutes to the ad and then I showed up quickly and on time. I buy fabric from all over the place, including regular fabric stores, but I rarely pay full price and wait for deals. It can be quite serendipitous but when you love what you do it is part of the fun, too.

Once home and with fabric sorted and cleaned, I worked on the Bernina to get everything cleaned up and working well. It had been well maintained with only minimal fuzz and working great. The carrying case and the accessory box needed the most cleaning but with my brand of "detailing" they look to be in excellent vintage condition:
Bernina Record 830 accessory box
Another Etsy order for a set of sewing machine case straps in hot pink were sewn on this baby and she just purred. With a holiday coming up, and it promises to be a hot one, I'm planning on staying home and tackling a few more of those projects. I promise, a treadle post is coming up...soon!