Friday, August 31, 2018

Maintaining Good Will

Despite my dim view of some brands of newer sewing machines, I have to make exceptions from time to time. For instance, I have an embroidery machine, a Singer Quantum XL-6000 that I wrote about in Revised Opinion, that is fantastic and enjoys a great reputation. Modern Singers have a wide price point so you can bet you get what you pay for: one lesson to learn is a cheap Singer will sew adequately but do not expect it to last. If something goes wrong, there is no repair, just toss it. This goes against my principles so I generally will not buy this type of machine. But then they have their higher end models, like my embroidery machine, and they are pretty sweet. Last night I sat down with a Singer Quantum CXL and got a pleasant surprise. It worked pretty well and was even a bit intuitive (I'll still download and print a manual).
Singer Quantum CXL
Before I bid on this one, I checked out reviews and parts to find there was something odd about the foot control. It had a different connection than most and they were no longer making them nor a substitute. Without a foot control, how could I hope to use it? Checking a free manual online via Singer, I could see there was a feature of using a button for control so possibly no need for a foot control. I also saw a very neat way they stored the accessories with a slide out tray on the right side of the machine, similar to the Elna 5000-9000 series.  My last twenty second bid was successful and it was mine! Would it be a yea or a neigh? I went to pick it up yesterday and the first thing I checked was that accessory tray: it was there and complete!
Slide out accessory tray with smoked plastic cover up
 With an extra electrical cord, I plugged it in and it worked! It is going to take a some practice in using the controls with just my hands but others do this and I think there is a population that likes this choice.
Singer Quantum CXL: red button for stop and start: easy!
Before I pick up my winning bid item, I went next door to the outlet and it turned into my very lucky day. My little eye spied a Viking case and I hoped it would have a model 21 inside. Not only did it have that prized model but it was clean and fully loaded:
Husqvarna Viking model 21

Inside the suitcase was the extension table, original manuals, stitch wheel, original accessory box with double layers for everything essential:
Double layer accessory box
There was a Viking booklet with sewing ideas dated 1959 so there were varieties of aprons, table decor, even bath "wrap-arounds." The machine itself is amazingly clean so I'm guessing it was gently used. It needed to be run plus the needle position lever was stuck on the right, very fixable. What a great find and all on the way to pick up another deal. I love this business!
Viking 21 manuals, booklets, and stitch wheel

Monday, August 27, 2018

Eight in Spades

It's been another grand weekend with rain and raining sewing machines. We planning a day at the Minnesota State Fair on Friday but rain and thunderstorms helped us change our minds. Instead, we traveled over the border to Wisconsin to visit friends who are moving to Tennessee and she had sewing machines she was not going to take. I was lured by the offer of some-are-free so we took the Jeep and headed over.

Despite the rain we had a great time together, the men deep into discussions about hunting and fishing while we discussed their new home and new adventures. Between the basement workshop and the "barn" I took home eight sewing machines and no tables or desks.
Loaded up!
Although I have a million other things to do, I couldn't resist seeing what I had and what still needed to be done. There was a Singer 237 with parts in a bag so it was put at the back of the workbench. The Singer 327K kept slipping so it was next to the back. A Davis vertical feed was frozen up with parts in a bag and it is now on the floor of the garage, a place of shame but also in the garage, at the top of the list is a Brother Super Select-O-Matic, favorite of mine, in two tone:
Brother Super Select-O-Matic (HZ3B3 Model 100)
This was the big find of the day but it wasn't free and that was just fine. Isn't she a beauty? She will get a future post with comparisons to other Brother models of this Select-O-Matic fame. Next up are the four that need some work and clean up but all are doing quite well.

The Elgin is actually a Japanese model JA-38, a great machine I have seen with other names. It was dry inside and very dirty but that's not hard to rectify. It got a new motor and a used motor block set for the power cords and foot control with only one trip to the hardware store for a new long screw. Don't ask, it works.
Elgin (JA-38)
Stitches fine, sounds good, a nice smooth operation and is cosmetically perfect. Good find for someone who wants straight and zigzag and doesn't mind a heavy machine!

The next cutie is a New Home that is not heavy and includes just the basics of straight, zigzag, 4 step buttonhole, blind hem, elastic zigzag, and two stretch stitches. Nothing wrong with this one except a big clean up and a new motor block/foot control. Because of the cute factor and lack of heft, I put it in one of the Brother mod carrying cases so it looks cute in storage, too.
New Home 1300
New Home 1300 in carrying case
Then there is a 3/4 sized National S-40, a vibrating shuttle model that has oh so many differences. Note that large round plate?
National S-40 3/4 sized sewing machine
No real purpose, just for design intrigue! Then there are the double tires on the rotary wheel, both replaced, and the bobbin winding spring. I couldn't figure out how the bobbin winder worked since it didn't line up with the hand wheel  but it did line up with the wheel in the back. Then I remembered finding a large spring formed into a circle and put two and two together to see how it worked:
National S-40 bobbin winding mechanism

I still don't have it stitching but that's due to the wrong needle, misthreading, and/or tension but I will work that out yet. The case is in excellent shape and the original cords are soft, strong, and pliable. Now, if I could only find a manual.

And, finally, there is a Signature URR-56X271, a nice machine that is turning over but I haven't tested out the stitching capability just yet. It is extremely heavy so think it will go out to a table in the garage since this is clearly not a portable sewing machine. It came with a box of attachments, cams, and a print manual so that one hit the jackpot. UPDATE: It got a new motor and a re-tread on the motor block, using one that was missing the foot control that was among the mix of items in this haul. It does stitch nicely and the cams work just fine, too.
Signature URR-56X271
As you can tell, I'm super excited to be working on these machines, it was so nice to get to pick the ones I want instead of having them appear on my doorstep. My friend was more than generous and she still had more that I wouldn't take but we agreed that she would strip them down and bring over the bases for me to send to my metal recycler. By this time next week I should have a bunch more that I can now move along. Sorry, folks, but not all of them get saved but at least they are not ending up in a landfill. Most of them were on my parts shelf for several years and didn't have much to save left so to let them go was the humane thing to do. Yes, they are a bit like my pets: beloved and with us just for awhile.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Attic Fresh or Basement Moldy

This was quite the weekend for sewing machines and did not turn out the way I expected, of course. On Saturday I packed up seven sewing machines and bags of fabric and trims for a sale with the up north quilters group I occasionally attend. It was fun to see everyone and the shopping was fabulous for only a small group of friends, not like the Textile Center Garage Sale and their mega sale every spring but not bad either. I did get some great fabrics and only tallied up about a $20 bill. It was also fun to talk sewing machines with these ladies and to let them try out the variety I brought: an Elna Lotus, two Singer 99's in bentwood cases, Kenmore 158-1020, Elna 5000, a Singer 221, and an Eversewn Sparrow 30. That Sparrow sure did get a lot of looks but no buyers yet and even though I brought them all home with me, all but two got listed on our local Craigslist while I had them out. I did sell some of my fabric to offset my buying but it was still a satisfying day with friends.

On my way home I got a call from a couple who wanted to buy the Kenmore 158-13250 in a table that I just refinished and listed: that was quick! While sitting around on Saturday night (yes, I do sit down and relax once in awhile), I found a Singer 301 listed for sale for a very low price so we arranged to have me come down on Sunday after church to take a look. It was a nice drive to this estate/garage sale and there she was, a 301 that had seen better days. I had never seen one that dirty, possibly no sewing machine that dirty, but it was a Singer 301 so we struck a bargain and she went home with me.
Singer 301 as a dirty bird
It was hard to even know where to start but I kept working at the outside so I could bear to touch it and then look inside. There was some kind of mold or granular junk inside:
Very dirty bird
I think I should have worn a respirator when I cleaned this because that stuff cannot be any good. Surprisingly, most of the rust came off with just a little sewing machine oil and a lot of rubbing. Then I looked at what was under the needle plate:
Feed dogs before cleaning
Now that was disgusting but it was mainly packed link with some rust. It cleaned off pretty easily once removed and just look at her now:
Feed dogs after cleaning
Then there was the whole tension mechanism that didn't have a spring and even though I have it stitching great I'm not happy with how the tension mechanism moves so it needs more work, The cords were brittle so it got a new power cord and a new cord on the old foot control. It came with a nice set of attachments and I have extra bobbins, too, so it's looking much better:

Singer 301 all cleaned up
Of course, it needed oil like crazy and didn't sound good at the beginning but with more oil and keeping it running it now sounds like a 301 should. Cosmetically? She's no beauty but for someone who really wants a 301 for its functionality at a lower price point, this is the one for you. Yup, there's a sewing machine for everyone if you are patient and just a little bit lucky.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Getting Ready

It sometimes feels like I'm always getting ready for one thing or another: a sale, cleaning out, a show/event/class. When I was home last week I spent so much time getting ready and now you will get a peak at what I accomplished.

Industrial sewing machine for sale: that's right, I finally got the servo motor attached and running, the table refinished, and the whole thing ready for sale. It is so nice now, a great Singer 31-15 in a well-worn but sturdy industrial table with light attached, quiet and adjustable servo motor, ready to work like a dog in someones home and out of my garage. Swapping out the motors was fairly easy but it wasn't a perfect fit so I had to drill out new holes and that is something I'm not particularly good at. The table was thoroughly sanded, stained in natural, with three coats of satin polyurethane. I'm quite proud of this beast and wish I could now keep her but she must make someone else happy now.
Singer 31-15
Servo motor (cords have been secured since this photo)
While I am working out in the garage, I have a Kenmore table refinished now with a good Kenmore model 158-13250 all ready for sale. I really hate to put time into these cabinets but cannot bear to sell them with such a poor finish so my loss is the buyers gain:

The Mod Podge project went on to phase two after the first attempt was less than satisfying with somewhat sticky results.I was trying to add a design to burlap as noted in Sewing4Free but not sure I'm satisfied yet. Although I did get it to feel dry, eventually by using my iron with a pressing cloth, it feels gummy although it is not sticky. It looks okay but not sure I want to spend the time or money on a project like this again. I can stencil on plain burlap just as well and even have some nice printed burlap that made up a cute tote bag. Still loving making those handles out of rope!
Burlap bags on ends with Mod Podge bag in center
The quilters I have been working with are having a do-it-yourself sale on Saturday and that has given me the opportunity to clear out some fabric I know I will not be using. Besides selecting, each gets measured, labeled, and bagged so it is all ready to go. There's a big bag of free items but most of it is still only a dollar or two. I have a few choice machines to bring along so maybe it will wet someone's appetite to adding a vintage sewing machine to their collection.
Bags of fabric all labeled for sale or giveaway

Modern Sparrow 30 and antique Singer 99's
Now time is at a premium and I need to sew up a huge batch of hot mitts if I'm going to be ready for the three craft fairs I plan on selling my goods at. So many are cut out and I have the batting and insulating filler in abundance so I need to chain myself to the industrial walking foot machine and get sewing!

Thursday, August 9, 2018


Even though I am home all week I have no time for all of the activities I had hoped for. Here it is, half over, and the cabinets are idle in the garage due to heat and other more pressing issues. One opportunity was to spend a day sewing with my granddaughter, Sarina. I don't know quite how it happened but I not only got to spend the whole day with her but she even stayed for supper as we had her great grandmother over. Was that ever a treat! Here's what happened with her sewing (and sewing machines).

When I first offered a sewing machine to Sarina, I picked out an Elna 1500, a nice solid machine that has a dial for stitches,and levers for stitch width and length. This looked pretty easy to me but she struggled with some of the basics: holding threads behind before stitching, lowering the presser foot before stitching, adjusting stitch length for zigzag so it doesn't bunch up, needle unthreading every time. Some of those things are just new habits she needed to learn but I suspected a different sewing machine might help. This time we got out a little Brother XR-7700 that is computerized but has some nice features: speed control, needle up/down, wide variety of stitches, presets for stitch length and width, plus it won't stitch until the presser foot is down. Of course, it was lighter weight, too, and looks more modern so we gave that one a try.
Brother XR-7700
She picked out fabric for a pair of sleep shorts and I found a pattern and here's what she ended up making:
Sarina, 10, modeling her sleep shorts
It was her idea to add the eyelet cotton lace with ribbon even though it took another couple hours to accomplish that embellishment. We even washed them up in hopes of softening up the fabric but it didn't help too much. She said they were so cute she might just wear them around as regular shorts so we both called this a big success.
Lace and ribbon details on Sarina's shorts (love those socks!)
We had so much fun but it literally took all day to make that one pair of shorts. Lessons are slow and sometimes hard (on the teachers and the student). She is making good progress, even did some of the ironing this time although I had to move my hands out of the way quickly a few times. I like this approach to learning: quickly produce something to show for all of your effort so not much time spend on learning how to use the machine but to learn along the way. Remember sewing lines on paper when you learned to sew in Home Ec? I certainly didn't learn like that at home from my mom so didn't think we needed that kind of instruction for Sarina either.  Yet it would have helped with those sewing habits she needed to develop but she is learning them anyway.

What's up next? She said she would like to make a shirt next time to go with the shorts. I better start hunting through my stash to find something that would compliment those butterflies!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Summer Sun-Time

We really appreciate our summers here in the cold north, especially with longer daylight and wonderful sunsets. It's a little more difficult to stay inside to sew or work on sewing machines but on milder days I work in the garage getting some of those cabinets in shape and ready for someone else to enjoy. Beside being very excited about some motor switching on an industrial sewing machine, I've had the chance to pick up a Bernina Sport 802 that came in a very old compact cabinet that just wasn't right:

Metal flanges where hinges should be
The old hinges were removed and the substitute metal pieces were screwed in to hold the machine aloft. It was pretty weird so I took the Bernina out, to be sold as a portable like it is, and took the compact cabinet back to its original glory:
Compact cabinet now with an Elna SU62
I had the perfect machine to go in it, an Elna SU62, a very well worn machine that someone was going to toss as written in earlier post Cabinets Again. The Elna came in a table with a mounted foot control with a motor block, one of those outlets that has markings for a motor plug and a light plug. That was not what the Elna used so it seemed a shame to keep it in the wrong table. Voila! It is now in the compact cabinet with a fun chair that fits up into it snuggly. I found some fabric that complimented the light blue top on the Elna and covered the seat after adding more padding. The cabinet cleaned up rather nice with Howard's Feed & Wax so she is ready for her new home.
Elna SU62 in its new home

Compact cabinet with recovered seat on chair
While perusing the thrift stores I found a pink sewing machine that sorely tempted me but it was in a big ol' cabinet and I just couldn't face another one so here's what I did. I promised myself I could buy it at 40% off, on Senior Day, if it was still there in four days. It was not there on Senior Day so I could walk away with a clear conscience, that is until I found another cabinet. That's right, I found one without a sewing machine but with a sharp edged opening of a Kenmore. Taking a photo and heading home, I was glad I didn't have the right vehicle with me so I could think about this one. Of course, I have a Kenmore that has needed a table or cabinet but this one exceeded my list of requirements:
Kenmore cabinet
Good lines, solid wood, excellent condition...would the Kenmore 158-161 fit? My husband went back with me on Member Discount day and I hauled in that very heavy all metal sewing machine to find out if it would fit. Perfect! At 25% off it was a deal.

Once again, I cleaned up the desk (table with drawers?) with Howard's Feed & Wax only to find it had been refinished along the way. Doesn't it look great with the Kenmore model 61? That is one very nice machine, similar to one of my first Kenmore's that was frozen but I got working again, an early career victory that got me hooked on sewing machine restoration. They are quite heavy though, so I suggest a cabinet, not a portable case.
Kenmore 158-161
Kenmore 61 in new cabinet/desk/table
Of course, I've been sewing, too, making up tote bags for sergers with rope enclosed in those handles:
Wide nylon webbing with rope sewn in

Finished bag with serger tucked inside
The mangle got into the act with pressing the fabrics so very flat and smooth; there's a definite learning curve in learning how to best use this large rolling iron! When we had a cool night over the weekend we actually had a fire in our portable fire kettle:
New patio, new fire kettle

Enjoying those Minnesota sunsets and hope you are getting outside, too.