Monday, December 31, 2018

Christmas Vacation

As always, I have big plans for days off and rarely get even half of it done but this time I have very good reason: grandchildren! Finding out parents had to work and kids were going to stay with others we piped up and said "Can we have them for a few days?" It turned out to be only one but we sure had a good time. Sarina, who has been working on her sewing with a new-to-her sewing machine, wanted to make up a few Barbie doll clothes and I wanted to make her some more leggings. Here's what we came up with:

Barbies with new dress, top, and skirt
I think the Barbie clothes were her sister's request but she made the beach bag on Barbies arm in the photo and had fun with serging the edges on the skirts. They were free patterns found online and were so wonderfully easy. Next up was using the minky fabric to make something and here's what we came up with:
New soft throw showing off all three fabrics
I had a big square of red bubble minky fabric and suggested we back it with flannel for stability. There were two pieces of heart printed fabric that just fit onto the back when sewn together so we could use up the largest portion of the soft fleece. She loved it and posed for the above photo with her newest teddy bear, also made of minky.

From our last sewing date we had picked out fabric for leggings and now I had the chance to get them all sewn up, especially since she hadn't brought enough clothes for a whole week away from home. I made up a pair several sizes smaller for another granddaughter but here's Sarina in her new pair:
Sarina in her new citrus print leggings
I had some pink solid for a shirt and she suggested I make the front or sleeves in the print so I made it up but she doesn't have it on in the photo (maybe under the hoodie?). We were using my Bernina 1100 serger and a Kenmore 385-1665510 serger but she really needs a speed control lever on a serger so it doesn't get away from her or one that just doesn't go too fast.

In the meantime I had a couple drive over from Wisconsin to pick up a treadle, the New Home in a compact cabinet:
New Home treadle, possibly before cleaning?
I also answered an ad for a Bernina 830 that was wanted by a nice old lady. I can say that because I'm an old lady: we are both old ladies at this point. She was frustrated by her very complex Pfaff and just wanted a good reliable sewing machine to make clothing, not quilting, and wanted it to work every time. As I've heard before "I want to be in charge, not the machine." A classic Bernina was her goal so I checked mine out, sent photos, and now she is ready to go!
Bernina Record 830
I'll leave you with a photo of my Snowman Pizza made for one part of the family Christmas gathering:
Snowman pizza: satisfying three different tastes

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Purge

With Christmas right around the corner, I'm as busy as the next person but I also know this is the season people start to think about staying home and getting some things done. New Years resolutions can bring out the crafty in us as we think about new hobbies, finishing up the pile of mending, or just upgrading our current equipment. Used sewing machines to the rescue! This is about the busiest sales time for me so I need to be ready.

Ellie, my gateway to a sewing ministry in Haiti, made the mistake of showing me the next shipping container and I couldn't help but note some empty space. She said she could fill it with portable sewing machines if I had any that would work and still be cheap. Be still my beating heart: I found at least eight she could possibly use. While I was getting them ready I heard from Darlene who was going to be in the Twin Cities for Christmas and was looking for sewing machines for granddaughters. She liked the Husqvarna Scandinavia:
Husqvarna Viking Scandinavia 100
and was looking for others of the same ilk. If she liked a Viking she might like the Emerald 118, a good basic machine with a few more bells and whistles:

Husqvarna Viking Emerald 118
I couldn't help but think of another good beginner sewing machine, a Riccar 9900:
Riccar 9900
All three had a nice variety of stitches with stretch included and buttonholes of various sizes. The Riccar was probably twenty years older than the 2004-5 dates of the Vikings but included more stitches and two storage compartments. Darlene came over soon after she landed and looked all three over. She was charmed by the Riccar, too, and said it would be perfect for one granddaughter but had a much harder decision with the remaining two Vikings. They each had their pros and cons and even though I liked the Emerald 118 much better, in the end she went home with the Scandinavia. One machine was staying in Minnesota but the other one was flying home with her to Washington state. That's one nice grandma!

Of the eight machines possibly destined to Haiti, Ellie chose to take all of them. I was so excited and didn't want to have to haul any of them back into the basement to find a new spot for them. It included three Singer 237's, a Singer 66 with lotus decals, another Singer 15 clone called Helvetica (stamped Made in Switzerland), Necchi Alco, Singer 177C, and a Morse 400.  All were in cases except for two of the 237's, some were zigzag, some only straight stitch, all with regular needles and only one that took class 66 bobbins. They like to keep it simple and I agree they shouldn't have to keep s supply of different needles and bobbins for a wide variety of sewing machines. Ellie and her friend Karen were happy with the haul and I just hope they find room for a few more: I left the Kenmore's behind but I could be talked into it!
Lined up and ready to get shipped out
While I was searching for parts, I found a Singer 15-91 that was a good stitcher with a new set of cords and foot control but not a beauty:
Singer 15-91: yes, the finish is that dull
Her decals are pretty well worn away and her clear coat has been cracked and shows significant wear. Have no fear, someone will be happy to have such a good machine even if she is not very pretty. There is a sewing machine for everyone who wants to sew and I hope there are a few you might share your stories with us. Beautiful or ugly? They are not going to win in a beauty pageant, just winning the talent contest.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Crafting for Christmas

With Christmas approaching, I've been avoiding so many tasks in favor of sewing and crafting. I finally made myself decorate the tree and spend time setting out a few of the many nativity sets while I was putting away fall decorations and dusting around. Christmas cards are still waiting to be sent but I have been sewing as a way to escape tasks I should be doing. So what have I been making? First up is repairs.

A lovely ski sweater was in the by-the-pound bin at Goodwill Outlet and I just couldn't resist such a quality sweater. Although it washed up nice it was still several sizes too big with sleeves that hung down past my hands. Examination of the construction showed that I might be able to make those drop shoulders less of a drop to pull the sleeves closer to my size. The photo above shows my work on just one side but you can see there is a difference of three inches! It was more than just the shoulders but also the sides being taken in about four inches total. I thought I needed to leave the hem width intact but even the bottom edge needs to be taken in.  For this I used my Bernina 1100 serger as well as on trimming the excess from the shoulder. The actual set-in sleeve seam was sewn with a Bernina 217 and steamed with a wet pressing cloth (an old dinner napkin). I think it turned out pretty well so now will tackle the other side in hopes of wearing it in the cold weather to come. Yes, it's coming.
Left side original, right side shortened 3"
For crafts, I've been making trees and pine cones with tiny folded pieces of fabric. The trees came about when I discovered three foam cones that just begged to be covered.  Karen, from First Quilters in Cambridge, MN, showed us her idea of covering cones with folded fabric. Over Thanksgiving weekend we got to enjoy two granddaughters and I asked them if they wanted to make Christmas trees with fabric, no sewing, and they were game. It took way, way too long to get to the top of each tree but with a bit of help they finished before dinner and were happy to take them home:
Sarina and Alexandra showing off their trees
Sample tree
 I couldn't wait to try making pine cones with the same technique, using an egg shaped form and smaller squares of fabric. Although we didn't count the number of three inch squares needed for the trees, I did count how many were used on the pine cone: 65. That's a lot of cutting but rotary cutters make that part less laborious. I love the look of using all one fabric but have seen them with ribbon and folded paper. As you can imagine, I have more fabric than ribbon or paper:

Pine cone in process: folded 2" squares pinned with tiny pins
Although a bit tedious, I liked the end result:
pine cone with less fabric

Finished pine cone in a different fabric using 65 squares
I guess the granddaughters weren't the only ones who thought it was a long time to get to the end of this project.  Up next are the cobbler aprons in sizes XXL to XS. Only the buttons are left so today is the day! Oh, maybe I'll have to finish those Christmas cards first...naugh, sewing comes first!

Friday, December 7, 2018

More Hand Crank Sewing Machines

I continue to be enthralled with hand crank sewing machines  and had an opportunity to purchase two a few weeks ago in a package deal with a treadle and an electric sewing machine. It was a quadruple hit! My husband went with me for the drive on wet roads at night but we found the place easily enough and, of course, there was a story, too.

In Jeff's very clean garage we found the four machines all waiting for me, a bit dirty but I knew they had been stored in another garage for some length of time. The two hand cranks were original, a Singer 127 vibrating shuttle in a bentwood case:
Singer Vibrating Shuttle
Case and machine both responded well to a good cleaning plus my favorite Howards Feed & Wax for the wood parts. Using my new products of Go-Jo and metal polish, things are looking quite good:
Singer 127 bentwood case
Next up was a very sweet Pfaff hand crank that looks much like my other German hand crank:
Pfaff model B hand crank
The Pfaff has a letter "B" on the back of the arm but my research doesn't bring up too much so I'm in the dark about needle size, threading, as well as the general mysteries of a transverse shuttle sewing machine. Most of my time is spent trying to find a needle and getting it set into the holder. I can get it to stitch but not without skipping or the tension miserably off. Still, a very sweet machine.

The first machine I started to work on when we got home was a Singer 319W that was very dirty but in excellent condition. It came in a bentwood case that was falling apart but wood glue and Howard's will fix it right up. The wiring gave me pause but it ended being sound and the machine stitches just fine. A box of accessories was helpful so it seems to be ready to go but here's the big plus: it is an aluminum model so it is not a heavyweight like most 319 or 306's. This is wonderful news and makes those piano keys up on the top just sing out to be used!
Singer 319W
The final model was a treadle, a Franklin with a coffin top, that is in fairly decent condition. Jeff said this cabinet was kept in the front room of the original owner so it has been cared for and shows it.
Franklin treadle cabinet

Franklin treadle with fiddle base and transverse shuttle
 I swore I wasn't going to bring home another table model but it was a package deal and I think it might be worth it. Along with a few accessories it also had a print manual, something I will want to scan. It's also my first fiddle based sewing machine and I find it charming.

So who had these sewing machines? It was a previous sewing machine dealership who sold Pfaff but changed over to Janome and eventually retired as the shop is no longer in business.  Without asking outright, I suspect he had died or moved away since his garage was emptied out and these machines were the ones that were left. Always a bit sad to see things move out of a family's home but at least I know who might want them and I'm getting them ready for happy new homes.