Sunday, June 16, 2019

Summertime in the Cities

Life has a way of grabbing us and making demands on our time and resources. Lately, it's been my time that has been in low supply but it's Sunday morning when I typically like to write a post for my readers. Loyal readers. Most of the time I have no idea who reads my blog posts but then I get questions and realize I have some very loyal readers and that humbles me. Thank you for your faithfulness while I attend to other duties.

I have continued to buy, restore, and resell sewing machines but it has slowed down as it happens every summer. There are cabinets stacked up in the garage but neither car wants to be sitting out and I've been too busy to try and clean them up anyway. One is for a Bernina Record that I have been using to hem bridesmaid dresses for a step-daughter who is pregnant with her third baby so they are hemmed with that in mind.
Bridesmaid dress with lower hem in front
I love the hemmer foot for making rolled hems and it seems to work the best of all the rolled hem foot attachments. Leave it to a Bernina to make the best stitch.

Next up is a Viking 2000 that I've been using for all kinds of projects because it's so sweet.
Viking 2000 in perfect condition
This is a model that is known for all kinds of problems but mine has been perfect so I want to keep it active and sewing. I made up swimsuits for a granddaughter and great nieces again giving them a choice of fabrics:
Swimsuit fabric choices: electric blue or dancing pink?
and they liked both so I decided to make up the blue fabric first:
Swimsuits sizes 7, 10, and 12
Sorry about the color difference but they really are the electric blue as shown in the first photo. I was busy sewing along and didn't notice anything amiss until I laid them all side by side. You can't see it very clearly in the photo but the middle one has a very narrow crotch! I don't know what happened but I wasn't paying attention and didn't catch it in time. Although I do not have any extra fabric I could have done some sort of an insert if I caught it sooner. I sent it along in hopes it just might work but with apologies and the promise of sending the pink swimsuits this week. It wasn't the fault of the Viking sewing machine because it made such a nice zigzag elastic stitch making the whole project easier. Maybe too easy? There is no autopilot for sewing!

I had another run-in with a New Home XL-II, a favorite of mine. It needed a new hook drive gear but after replacement I find it has other problems that I cannot fix. This is a big disappointment since it's such a good machine but I fear it's going to go for parts, too. At least I learn a few things along the way!

As we continue to care for my aunt in Iowa, I find I'm spending more time getting her financial papers in order and that takes a huge chunk of time but is necessary. I keep telling myself it will slow down but not yet. We cancelled a trip down this week because we need to go down the following week to take her for a bone marrow test. She could have this done without us but she doesn't want to have it at all and we are hoping if we go with her this might allay some of her fears. We just need to know what is causing her blood counts to be so dangerously low and if there is something that should be done to help her. Thank goodness she is not in pain but we are in more distress than she is at this point.

Life goes on, I continue to keep sewing as it is such a soothing task for me that I can't imagine not sitting down to a sewing machine to have a little fun. Having so many sewing machines to choose from makes it all the more enjoyable, don't you think?

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Free and No-So-Free

Last week I got a call from a friend asking if I wanted another free sewing machine. Of course I said yes because he hadn't sent over anything I couldn't handle... yet. Besides, if I couldn't fix it I knew what to do with it (parts, etc.). When it gets dropped off, here's what I see:
Table has seen better days!
Oh my, that's a pretty scratched up surface. Inside is a Japanese built JA-13 sewing machine, badged Universal, model KAT, that is dirty but the hand wheel turns so there is hope. Last night I was itching to get a look at it so I pulled the head out of the table and brought her inside. She is one dirty bird:
This photo doesn't do it justice but, trust me, this was grimy
Surface dirt is usually no problem so I take a look inside to find the bobbin case, hook, and ring all covered in a sticky substance. Although I'm not sure what was used, you can bet it was some type of oil that has now congealed into a sticky mess. Thank goodness sewing machine oil cleaned it right up and from there I see there are only a few other parts that got this treatment. Most of it is just dirt that is easily cleaned off with sewing machine oil. Everything is moving really nice until I check the feed dog drop:
Angled rod with bullet on end manages the feed dogs dropping
They don't drop. I work and work on them but I can't get them to move. The bullet and the arm are removed, cleaned further, manipulated, put back together, still no dropping. The hair dryer comes out and with heat applied I finally get movement but not what I need to call this fixed. I give up for now and put things back together but now when I start it up it binds. What? After another hour of adjustments and trying to find exactly where it is catching I have to walk away. Maybe tomorrow I will have a flash of insight.

While this sewing machine was free, I got a package from Missouri Star Quilters that was not free but a pretty good deal. Their enticement emails come on a daily basis and this time I fell prey to one of their deals: Amy Butler designs in a fat quarter bundle and a 10" square stack:
Surprise! Even a free template
They are gorgeous! The 10" squares are repeated so there are 23 different designs for a total of 42 squares but that makes it better for quilting projects. What are my plans? Let's just look at them for now and dream.

Last weekend I picked up a quilt kit from someone in my neck of the woods that I saw advertised and just loved the colors:
Leaf fabric has gold outlines for a rich quality
No plans to make it soon but looks like a nice fall into winter project. Who wants to sew fall colors when it's barely spring? Come September when I'm back with the quilters up north I will love having this project to work on. If I can add more colors to the borders to make it larger, that will be a plus.

Update: I went back to the Universal sewing machine last night and finally tried six different hooks until I found one that didn't rub.
If I only had an arrow to show which part is the hook!
 Everything got adjusted again and now she's sewing fine. It's not as quiet as a sewing machine like this can be but I think with a little TLC on the table and someone might find a decent mechanical machine at a bargain price!
Universal JA-13, model KAT

Stitch sample shows some skipped stitches so maybe it needs a new needle but not too bad for first try
She also comes with a nice set of accessories and the original manual. In the bottom of the accessory manual I found the original bill of sale from 1969: $195 plus tax in Minneapolis. What a deal!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Catching Up

I don't think I have ever taken this long a break from writing a blog post so I apologize to my reading audience for being such a slug. Machines have been bought, repairs made, failed repairs, and so much more to report on so let's get started!

Pfaff 1222's have taken center stage since I have had three donated and then one more. My own Pfaff 1222 is a great machine that I lean on when it comes to quilting due to the IDT, the Pfaff built in walking foot system. Yet they have their weaknesses, too. Every one that I have worked on had thread wrapped around the hook, right in front of the enclosed gear and behind the actual hook. On one machine I just kept pulling more and more thread out until it was all cleaned out...and then I found even more! That particular machine finally came to rights and I gave it back to the donor since I could get it working again. When I brought it back, I got one more but this time all three of the remaining machines were toast. Several have a stitch dial that is not aligned correctly and I understand I can rebuild them. That is, in theory they can be rebuilt, but I have no clue how to do this. Take a working mechanism apart and then a broken one and see how it should go back together? That seems risky but it could be worth a try.
Note white dot on inner right: cannot be moved and shouldn't be in that position!

Getting a little too confident, I decide to replace the cracked camstack from a Pfaff 1209 that I had for several years. Checking out other blogs, videos, and repair manuals, I get started. It all come apart easily, only removing what is necessary to slip out the camstack. I note the exact rotation and put the new one in the exact same spot but it doesn't turn well. Along with binding I know is going to cause damage, it is not reading the cams either. There are adjustments, more adjustments, testing, more testing but it is not working right. Sigh. Here's a bit of good news: when flipping the machine over I heard a cascade of rattling. What just came loose? This handy portable model has a pull out storage compartment full of accessories including a set of feet with the back opening for the Pfaff IDT. This is glorious!
Pfaff 1209 with accessory drawer

The machine still doesn't work but what a discovery. Next up is a Pfaff 1222E that was brought in for repair. It has never seen any repair work and recently "froze up" but her husband worked some magic and got it working again. I opened the top and found a gray grease had been sprayed on everything. Everything. This is not good news but I clean off what I can, clean out the thread behind the hook, and now have it only moving in reverse. Now, I have three parts machines to check out their differences to see what exactly is going on but they are not helping much. Thank goodness the owner is busy in her garden now and doesn't require her machine back soon but I still feel the pressure to get it done. I want to be out in my garden, too!

In the meantime,I have continued to find sewing machines at thrift stores, garage sales, and other sites. Right now I have a Singer 2517C, Necchi 4795, a couple Elna 1010's, even an excellent Singer 221 that are all cleaned up and ready for sale. Yesterday was the annual Johnsville Garage Sale where it is nearly a festival with so many sales and even food trucks. We got some great deals, enjoyed gyros at our friends food truck, and even came home with a Kenmore 158-14301. That Kenmore just took a bit of cleaning, much oil, and her test stitches were very nice. This should end up as a great beginner's machine, heavy enough for making gear, and oh so reliable. I just had to buy it and it was extra nice when our car was nearby when it was found.
Kenmore 158-14301
That's all I can say for right now as it is Mother's Day and we have much to celebrate: my daughter Kelly had her baby on May 1 and is a new mother at age forty. All of us are ecstatic with their good health, positive attitude, and joy in being new parents. Such a blessing!
Evelyn Kay smiling in her sleep

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A Bag for a Bernina

The baby Bernina story continues with a new foot control and a custom bag for carrying:
Sewing machine tote bag from McCalls 4119 pattern
I've had this pattern for making sewing accessories for some time now and wanted to find just the right machine to use the tote pattern so this one was going to be "it". It was different than the tote bags I have been making for sewing machines since it was designed with a rectangular base and matching zippered opening:
Opening slot for the handle
There was even an optional opening for a handle that looked like a good idea. I found my fabric to coordinate with the Bernina Sport 801 along with a bright and jazzy lining:
Bag lined
The only thing I was missing was fusible fleece so I substituted a firmer fusible interfacing on the lining. It does seem pretty firm and stands up on its own but I think I should have used one of the firmer time. I like how it turned out until I put the machine down inside and found out it was too tall: I couldn't grab the handle on the sewing machine. To the rescue, I found a box that would fill the bottom for some good support and raise up the whole machine so the handle could be grabbed:
Fiberboard box for accessories
Even better, that box can hold the accessories! Now this is a real win-win.
Bernina Sport 801 resting on the accessory box
This will be a very sweet deal for someone with a vintage Bernina, new power cords, and a custom carrying/storage bag.

Yet the Bernina story goes on. Next time I went to the thrift store I found a Kenmore in okay shape and while I debated with myself I found a green suitcase that looked like the classic Bernina case. I lifted it up and it was heavy...and when I opened it up there was a Bernina Record 730 inside. I am not kidding, a Bernina in with the suitcases. Of course, it went home with me! There were no power cords or a foot control but everything seemed to be moving so I fired it up and found some binding. Wouldn't you know it, the camstack gear had a crack in it but that's not so bad so I ordered a new one. Once I have it up and running again I'll order a new set of cords and she will be in business:

Bernina Record 730
This was just so exciting to find all of these Bernina's in decent shape with inexpensive repairs needed. It's a Bernina season, to be sure!

Were you wondering if I bought the Kenmore I found before the Bernina? I thought about it for about ten seconds and said nope, I better stick with what I've got. Blessings all around!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Baby Bernina

I'm always asked "Where do you get you sewing machines?" and that's not easy to answer. Resale shops, thrift stores, yard sales, online auctions, and sometimes people just offer me their old sewing machines. Yesterday I followed some of my own advice by being persistent and stopping in at a local thrift store to see what I could find for 40% off on senior Tuesday. There she was, a Bernina Sport 801. No kidding. Needle moved up and down, dials all moved nicely, feed dogs were lowered and raised, only problem was a missing set of power cords and foot control. I had several sets of cords at home, none working well, but at least I could test it out. There were no accessories to be found and not even a foot on the machine and further inspection showed it was missing a bobbin case but I was not discouraged. She came home with me:

Bernina Sport 801 upon arrival
This poor machine has taken a beating with built up dust inside but no real dirt in the main areas, just a dirty exterior. Tape and taped instructions on the body lead me to believe this was a school model but I got to work and removed them. She cleaned up quite well so then I found a set of cords and tried her out: PERFECT stitches! Minor tension adjustment and she was even better. Oh joy, a Bernina at a rock bottom price. I have extra feet and other accessories I can add but then I notice someone has scratched "I love ..." on the top cover. I'm not loving that so I get out a scratch remover compound and get working. Here's the result:

Scratches after buffing compound
Pretty good, huh? Next up is a  scarred knob on the hand wheel but the buffing compound doesn't really improve it too much.  I checked my collection of knobs only to find a Bernina knob; it was from a Minimatic and has red trim:
Bernina knobs
 I tried it out and think it might not be too bad yet I kept the original in hopes of painting the interior. Maybe. This model also has a nice selection of stitches:

and that makes it an all around great addition to any sewing machine collection. With its built in handle it makes this model a nice travel machine. I have an offer out there for a new cord set and when it arrives I'll be all set. Don't you think it deserves a new bag, too? I'll practice using it and show you the results when I get it all done. Oh joy, a great machine at a great price and I even get to spend a little time sewing on it. Spring has sprung but we have a snowstorm coming our way later tonight and into tomorrow but I'm not too concerned because I have a project I'm itching to work on!
Bernina Sport 801 all cleaned up and ready to sew

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

These Boots Were Made For Walking

I've been sewing up a storm in anticipation of a new granddaughter coming in May. Elly had been making these great boots that were so very cute so I bought the pattern, too, and went to work:
6-9 months size in flannel

6-9 months size in fleece
They weren't too difficult when making the larger sizes but somehow I had difficulty picturing them on my spring birthday granddaughter. She wouldn't need to keep her feet warm for many months so what she needed were baby shoes instead. I found a free pattern that I adapted to work for me:
Boots in the back row and shoes in the front
The inside edge was just trimmed close and I thought it looked too raw so I practiced with bias tape to make a finished edge that would look clean but also not bother tender little feet:
Inside out with bias tape binding

The color choices and combinations were endless but then I decided they needed to be in all three sizes:

And then the larger size needed to have grippy soles. Since a shower date was coming up soon I needed to finish up and decide which ones would be part of the gift and which ones would be the start of a new product line for the fall craft sales. I got a little crazy and made up a sparkly pair:
See the white grippy soles on this pair?
It was all so much fun and then I arranged in a basket (suggestion courtesy of other daughter) and wrapped with inspiration from Pinterest:
Baby shoe wardrobe

Wrapped up with socks on a clothesline
For any other baby gift I would have given a bib, burp cloth, and shoes as a set but my daughter makes burp cloths herself so wouldn't be needing any so the shoe wardrobe seemed appropriate. A good time was had by all and even a parting photo of my daughters with me:
Karen, Alison, and Kelly

We are blessed!

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Good and Bad Coming in 3's

It's been too long since I posted and I fear all of my readers have left me but here's a refresh and getting back into the saddle again. Sewing machines have been coming in the door like an avalanche! We had a record snow year for us in Minnesota and it appears it has brought out the "clean-it-out" bug in many. It all started with a Singer 301.

Betsy responded to my ad and said they were tired of their crappy new Singer breaking down every time they wanted to use it. As it turns out, they were going over to Grandma's house to use her Singer 301 so why not just get one of their own? That sounded like a good idea to me, too, but when she came and saw all of my other machines she asked if I would be interested in a few more. After photos were sent they came a week later with these gems:
Singer 1507
The Singer 1507 is not one of my favorites but I think all that was wrong was using the wrong bobbin. This is a frequent error and I'm ready to suggest when you get a new sewing machine to check the bobbins and if they are a different type mark them in some way and keep them separate from the others. I have bobbins with pink nail polish dots on them: maybe that was one woman's marking system?
Singer 6110
This Singer 6110 seemed to be okay, at first, but it had not been used in so long that some of the functions were no longer working. I could not get the dial to move to engage the stretch stitches. Even after giving it a nice oiling and cleaning out it didn't budge. The old trick of walking away worked: by the next day I could get the knob to move into the stretch stitch zone and all worked well again. As it turns out, this is a pretty decent sewing machine. I even made a zippered bag since it did not have a built in carrying handle:

Singer carrying bag with vinyl bottom and zippered top

And now to the cabinet model, a Singer 66 in a compact cabinet.
Singer 66 with no decals, c1910
This was originally a treadle machine since it has a spoked hand wheel but the treadle mechanism had been stripped out and the whole thing was painted a ghastly green. The exterior was stripped and I think the wood veneer was  removed but I'm hoping I can clean it up when it gets warmer. The sewing machine itself might be a bit plain but she is running again and shows much promise.
Love those compact cabinets

Inside painted green: pretty dingy!
As if that wasn't enough, I answered an ad for three Pfaff 1222's. Who would have three of the same model? Someone with a drapery business who needs the even feed of the Pfaff IDT system, that's who. She did not want all of the bells and whistles of a newer Pfaff and these old ones kept breaking down. In my optimism I took all three and hope to be able to fix the wandering straight stitch and other signs of worn down mechanisms.

If course, I have been working on repairs, too. Natalie had her machine back again and we determined it was fine, it just needed to have the bobbin race and ring removed and set back in place. I had another machine come in for what was suspected a shot motor. Nope, the motor was good but there were other adjustments and cleaning that took place to get it running good again. Her New Home sewing machine had been a gift from her mother-in-law years ago and it had sentimental value so it was worthwhile to have it running "extra fine" again.

There were more, such as a Kenmore 385-1764180 that was in great condition, and a Bernina 730 in a cabinet that came without any feet from an estate sale. Neither were free but were affordable and great models to have. It's getting crowded again so I better get selling so we have room to walk!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Paneled in Christmas

I continue to work on panels I have picked up for a song and hope I haven't created a monster. I like to think I run with themes in mind in my interests and activities: sometimes it's vintage, sometimes it's industrial, sometimes it's sergers.. you get the idea. After working on the Cabin-in-the-Woods quilt, I got out a series of printed panels with a Christmas in the barnyard theme:
Barnyard Christmas panels

There is only one print, just a mirror image of it and there were twenty two panels so I needed to come up with something to use them up. Not a quilt this time since there is really only one panel, but may be tote bag? My first effort came up with a decent bag with a zippered opening, lined, snaps on ends to snug it up or open it up:
First bag with zippered closing

Snaps on ends
It turned out good but feels a bit flimsy, like it needed something to stiffen it up. Batting? Quilting it into layers? Ah, how about making my own reversible quilted fabric? On the first bag I took the border print and used it for the short/narrow sides but this time I used the border for the bottom that the bag will sit or stand on. I can then quilt the sides separately from the bottom to give it the strength it needs and an area of separation. So I set the panels as I like and measure out the batting and red backing fabric and get to quilting. Each panel gets an outline or box around the main part of the design and then I draw lines to fill in the design with a diamond pattern:
Panels assembled and quilted
The bottom gets the same treatment:
Close up of the finished bottom
Now it's ready to sew up the sides, flat fell the side seams, and box the bottom. I love to finish off the seams with bias or some other way to conceal the cut edges:
Flat-felled seams for a neat interior
The top edge was trimmed and the red lining fabric was folded over to the front for a colorful top edge. The handles were added but I had to use white since my stash of webbing currently does not include red. I may have to change that. I think I like it but it seems too tall to me but that just might be personal taste.
Bag #2 quilted
Which sewing machine did I use? I tried my newest machine, the Adler 153A but without a walking foot it was not going well so I got out my reliable Pfaff 1222 with the built in even feed system, their IDT, for near perfect results. There were a few lines of stitching that had to be pulled out and at the very end I decided to let a few pass and now I regret not having higher standards. I tell myself that it was my first try at this model but who am I kidding? I just got tired of it and wanted it finished. Note there is no zipper  closure or even a Velcro tab but I might have to consider that on another one. That begs an answer to the question will-I-make-another-one? It took way to long to do the quilting but it did give me a chance to practice making straight lines. Stay tuned to another post where I use more of those panels!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Just Relax

I got an semi-emergency call from Natalie who said her Kenmore was holding the thread too tight. Was it nervous? In a panic? What had Natalie done to it? I doubt it was anything dire since her Kenmore is about forty years old and still in great shape. She brought it over, we tested it out, but it didn't behave exactly as she had described. Isn't that frustrating? The tension mechanism was not quite right, though, so I said I better take a look at it. Here's what I found when I took it apart:
tension mechanism in order of disassembly
That's way too many pieces and so many ways for it to go wrong. Then I noticed something on the counter that wasn't there before, a piece of felted lint:
felted intruder
It must have fallen out of the disks. I cleaned each part off and found other bits of stubborn dirt so reassembled it all to find it was just fine now except she was noisy. Out came the oil and cotton swabs for cleaning and she was better but there was still a distinct click-click as the needle entered the race. It wasn't hitting anything so I took the ring and race off and the noise went away. Checking and watching each part very carefully I could see the race had a bit of play as it fit into the hook. I found another one, exact same number and configuration so as it was replace and tested, wait for was now quiet! I believe the race had worn away enough to cause it to fit with too much slop in it so it got an update. Natalie is going to be happy with it now!

Race in place with hook and ring
We continue with winter here and have even succumbed to having out roof raked. There must be nearly two feet of snow up there and even with a new roof in 2017 that's quite a bit of weight. The extra insulation my husband insisted we have added must have paid off since we have no icicles hanging from out roof. All of that snow is now in our yard and is four feel deep on the patio so we need to work to get it further away from the house: spring melt will come one day. Just to add a bit of spring to our never-ending winter, I have this beautiful basket of bulbs, sent as a memorial for my mother-in-law who passed away in February:

Bulb Basket to remind us of spring
They smell wonderful and are just an encouragement for spring! I hear we are getting another foot of snow this weekend, just in time for daylight savings time.

Update: It wasn't exactly a foot of snow but it was snow on top of ice for a real mess. I've been working on a few Christmas projects (always thinking ahead!) and can share the end results with you later in the week. In the meantime I'm going to use this bad weather as an excuse to stay inside and SEW but I don't think I needed an excuse, did I?
Patio snow removal (he's not getting lost in that color)