Sunday, November 25, 2018

Blonds Have More Fun

My blond haired daughter claims she does have more fun keeping her hair blond but this post is about mid-century modern blond wood/finish tables/desks/cabinets and my adventure in refinishing them. A few years back I totally stripped and refinished one of the Hollywood model cabinets but was not totally satisfied with the end product. In the past they used a type of white-wash paint with a hard finish over it and when you remove the finish the layer of white wash doesn't come off too easy. If it is left on it lends an odd finish that isn't exactly blond but not exactly a clear wood finish either. When I came across two cabinets with that same type of finish that needed some restoration, I really didn't know what to do so I went to the experts: Woodcrafters of Minnesota. They recommended a milk paint finish in a golden yellow color along with a polyurethane finish.
General Finishes: polyurethane and milk paint
Things never go as planned, do they? The first time I tried to apply the milk paint and wipe off I chose three small drawer fronts and they turned out pretty good. From there I went to the table top leaves of a different cabinet and it was terrible. Quickly wiping it off with a damp cloth got it back to where I started but what was I to do next? I came up with the idea of wiping the surface with a damp rag first and then applying the milk paint. It worked! On both table tops it worked well but when I got to the leaves they again resisted a decent finish. What worked in the end was to apply the milk paint with a damp rag and that was fairly successful:
Before: flaking finish
During: stripping process
After: New finish

Due to the colder weather it took longer for the first coats of polyurethane to dry and more coats than usual (5 total) but the end results were worth it:

Never perfect but quite good with a smooth surface so conducive to sewing. Which sewing machine to put in each cabinet?It seems I'm going to have to put a Pfaff 130 in the larger cabinet since no other machine fits. Singer's didn't fit, Brother's didn't fit, clones didn't fit but the Pfaff 130 was just right. Goldilocks sure needed a nap by the time the right one was found.

For the Brother cabinet, it seems I'm going to have to put a Brother back in it but I have three to choose from:
Brother Super Select-o-Matic in blue and cream
Classic Brother Select-O-Matic in teal

Another version of the Brother Select-O-Matic in pink and teal
Since these two blonds are about the last of the electric machines still in the garage, I need to get things in order and get them listed. I'm down to three treadles and two electrics left along with the huge mangle and the last industrial. Soon and very soon all will be set to rights: this last week saw one happy customer buying three cabinets! I almost kissed her when she came back to pick up a treadle and said she wanted to buy a machine for her sister-in-law. Does she have any other relatives or friends who sew because have I got a deal for her!
Brother cabinet

Top and drawers refinished: looks better in person!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Twenty-Nine Cent Wonder

I buy a lot of sewing machines. I have many donated to me. And sometimes I get a bargain basement deal that turns out ... surprising.

This past week I went to our Goodwill E-Commerce building to pick up an Elna SU62 I won on their auction. It was a super deal and I could pick up locally so I planned it for a Wednesday morning when I could go into work late (because I worked the early evening shift) and take advantage of the senior discount. That's a whopping 25% off when shopping at their outlet store right next door. I found a few things but the two sewing machines they had set aside for $5.99 each were not stellar models so I just kept shopping. Along the way I spied two sewing machines that were in with all of the usual stuff but had no foot controls and were both somewhat stripped down. I kept shopping until I checked the pricing sign: electronics were 29 cents each. Really? I went back and picked up a Kenmore 158-1340 that was in so-so shape and possibly could still be useful. At the check out I confirmed that it would only be 29 cents and the young woman got a big smile when I got excited about my deal-of-the-day.

Once home I got to checking it over and couldn't figure out why the needle bar wouldn't go up or down and only moved a little bit. There wasn't anything in the way in the bobbin area and parts were missing from that area anyway so less to get jammed. The presser foot pressure dial was missing but I had more of those, and the tension unit was missing parts. As I picked it up to better see, I heard a clinking sound and found one of the missing tension disks was inside the machine near the needle bar, preventing it from moving up or down. Once removed the needle bar move just fine. A little cleaning, oiling, adding those missing pieces, including a power cord and foot control, and we were in business. Here's what I added:
Tension assembly
Shuttle hook
Race Cover
Bobbin case, bobbins
Pressure regulator
Light bulb
Power cord and foot control
New tension assembly in place and presser foot pressure thingy

Shuttle hook and race cover in place

All were pretty standard and I thought I might even have the extension table but I didn't find it with all of the others so chances look slim. I did have to try out a couple different tension assemblies to find one that was compatible but with some testing and adjustments it stitched just fine. Not every machine is worth rescuing but these old Kenmore's are sturdy, basic, and easy to use. Did I mention it was only 29 cents? That was a big win-win and someone will get a good no-frills sewing machine that's a nice bargain, too.
Kenmore 158-1340: a ready to go
Next up was the Elna SU62, the purpose for my visit to the outlet. It came in the blue metal carrying case, complete with foot control and power cords but sans any accessories. At first the stitching would only jam things up so I took off the needle plate to find thread caught up in the bobbin area plus a ton of linty stuff. Even after cleaning out the fluff it wouldn't stitch but the thread kept getting caught. Once I took the drop-in bobbin case out, held in with only two screws, I could see a large piece of thread caught in it. In the end I had to take most of it apart to get that thread out but now it was super clean and ready to sew again.

Elna SU62 feed dogs and bobbin area exposed (after cleaning)
It stitched very nicely and needed very few adjustments. I already have a set of accessories for an Elna SU, including many of the coveted cams for decorative stitches, so she will be ready to go to a new home very soon. That blue metal case was in excellent condition and I used my new Gojo to clean off the dust and give it a bit of a shine.
Elna cams and accessories

Very portable with accessories neatly tucked under the free arm
Elna SU62 ready for a new owner
A trip to Goodwill to pick up an auction item can sometimes turn out to have a bonus: a 29 cent machine discounted to less than a quarter of a dollar. Sweet.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Moving On Out

No, I'm not moving anytime soon but I do have sewing machines that have to move out of the garage because we are having an early winter. That's right, it's winter here in Minnesota already. Shiesh, how did this happen so soon? Just a week ago I was sewing out in the garage and now you need gloves on just to walk out there. I looked over the situation and called in the troops: my strong son-in-law Josh:
Josh, my strong son-in-law
I know, he looks like just a regular guy but he's been lifting weights and working out so comes to us as the "strength of many" or at least a couple of us combined. He came forewarned of all I wanted to do but he had even more ideas.

Since I wanted to bring the Bernina 217 industrial inside, something had to move on out. That turned out to be the Kenmore  158-1813 in a very nice refinished cabinet:
White cabinet but with a Kenmore inside

Kenmore 158-1813
I love the cabinet but found I wasn't using the sewing machine so it was going out and the industrial was coming in. Even with the head out of the tables both were pretty heavy but Josh picked them up and carried both up or down with relative ease. Only because the industrial table was 48" long did I have to hold up one end while he could get further down the steps. All was in place and hooked back up and I'm back in business:
Industrial Bernina 217 in her new home
While I had his muscle rented out three of the treadles came inside plus I'm going to have to bring in the heads of the electrics in cabinets but it just has to be done. With everything cleared out we could now put some pulleys up so I could get the lawn furniture up into the garage attic without calling on friends to help every year. Not only did Josh do a nice job of it, he also brought in all of the furniture and we practiced getting all of it up and in place. That was a huge deal for me and now it has been made much easier.

Looking over the situation, Josh and I talked about our new-to-us snow blower and how we needed it closer to the front of the garage but also needed an outlet for the electric start.  With a light switch nearby he said "Let's move the shelves back, the snowblower forward, and change the light switch to an outlet and switch." So with Jim's help and a call to a friend for clarification on wires, they got it all done:
Snowblower ready for business
I got to stay in the house and talk with my daughter Alison and play with two of my grandchildren so it was a big win-win! Later on I went back out and rearranged some of the attic items and cleaned up even more with the vacuum cleaner and now the garage is ready for winter. Not quite: I still need to get my car in the garage but we are so much closer and more ready for this cold weather. It's gonna happen, trust me!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Craft Fair Hangover

Yes, it has been quite awhile since I last posted and I apologize for my lack of industry in getting my latest activities posted but it has been a bit crazy around here. Along with three craft fairs three weekends in a row, my husband had another set of kidney stones which landed him in the hospital. Along with stents, lithotripsy, and pain meds he has weathered the storm again but it also meant he was out of the picture for the craft fairs. Since my daughter Kelly is the one who comes along with us, this time she was relied on quite heavily to hold up her end with additional product. We had double booths at all of the fairs so we could really spread out! Here's what one of the displays looked like:
Karen at Blaine High School craft fair
and here are Kelly's burp cloths and memory wire bracelets:
Salem Covenant Church craft Fair display
All in all we did great at each one! Blaine High School Swim & Dive Club has an efficient set-up and take down routine with lots of help so we were glad to go back for our second year. The Minnesota Viking hot mitts sold out so I went home and made up twenty more and ended up with about eight left over at the end of all three sales. Who knew?
Our meager sports display at Salem
Our first time at St. John's Lutheran Church in St. Paul gave us a bit of a surprise when we found ourselves in a line-up of tables but we made do and paired down our offerings:
Kelly watching our goods over two tables
Our sales were fine but I ended up spend way more than I usually would because they had a bake sale and a rummage sale. Who could resist? During the last hour there was even a $5 bag sale and I went back for more. We went home happy and I only had to sew up a few more Green Bay Packers hot mitts and a few more towels.

One of the best parts of having sales back to back was in leaving the car all packed up. After the first sale we just added Kelly's tables to mine and it all still fit in the Jeep. The second sale already had tables and chairs for us so only the bins came out. By the last sale, where I usually need the wheeled cart, I could park right next to the door to unload so no cart was needed. It also helped that I thought it started at 9 am so we were both there at 7:30, just like the past two Saturdays, only to find out it didn't start until 10. What? We couldn't help but wonder where everyone was at 8:30 when we were nearly done setting up and some of the booths were empty! Next time we will have to review the details ahead of time.
Display at Salem Covenant Church
Will we do this again? I hesitate to return to the smaller church sale and three weekends in a row was exhausting, but Kelly and I did have a great time together as mother and daughter. Make that mother, daughter, and granddaughter: she announced she is having her first baby April 30, 2019! Of course, I cried, we got all excited together, and then could spend time between customers talking about babies, her new favorite topic. There will be so much sewing and knitting going on for babies now: I can't wait!