Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ah...The Holidays are OVER!

I hate to say it,  because I really do love the holidays, but this year I'm REALLY glad they're over!  It just didn't seem like Christmas this year...and I don't know why!   This year, for the first time in 11 years, I got to spend the holiday with one of my boys.  THAT part was wonderful!  We had a lovely day, with too many gifts (IS there such a thing?) certainly more than I deserved, and a lovely dinner with my sister's family.

I don't know what it was...but I've heard it from many of our customers here in the office too..."It just didn't seem like Christmas this year..."

Oh went...and I'm glad that it came..and I'm glad that it went.

I haven't been much interested in my machines lately either.  Oh! Don't get me wrong, I still love and adore my old sewing machines, but really have no interest in collecting any more of them.  Not real fired up to sew right now either.

Knitting.  I find myself wanting to knit. I don't want to knit just any old thing either...I want to knit...get this...are you ready for it?  SOCKS!  I find myself wanting to knit socks in the worst way!! ~shaking my head~   It doesn't make sense to me!  I have never been overly fond of knitting...crochet was always faster for me...but nope.  No crochet....don't wanna.  I want to knit socks!

Who knows how the human mind works?  If you do, would you please let me know?  Wouldn't a burning desire to knit a pretty sweater...hats, gloves, better than knitting SOCKS?  But I don't want to knit any of those.

So...a trip to Michael's tonight for some sock yarn...I already have the "tools".  Years ago, I took care of an elderly woman named Mildred, and when Mildred passed to the arms of our Lord, I inherited her knitting needles. TONS of include on set of double pointed needles, made in Japan, that are marked "Ivory".  (They're still in their original package, they cost her $3.95, I'm guessing purchased sometime in the 40's or 50's.)  Guess I better get a pattern for  beginners and brush up on techniques as well.  I learned the very basics when I was 8 years old,  but I think socks are going to weigh in at slightly above my skill level of "Knit one, Purl two".

I'll keep you posted on the Great Sock Saga as it develops!

In other news...I'm interested in what you all think about the "condition" of our Great Nation?  I am seriously worried about our country and where it's headed.  Even Fox News has mentioned "The coming civil war"....that scares the bejeebies out of me, I don't know about you!
I really feel that the current administration is screwing up big time, and I, for one among many, would like to know some truths behind the whole Benghazi affair.  I think that Obama and his minions have some answers to deliver, and truth be told, I would not be surprised if this whole thing turns out to be like Nixon's Watergate...

On that same front, I'm also interested to know if any of you are "preppers"?  No...not like the wackjobs on "Doomsday Preppers"...some of those folks are just plain nuts, but I actually think they'll survive whatever might come....and think about it...Do you want our world to be repopulated by THEM ALONE???  LOL!!!!   Get your preps on...look at it as buying ahead so you don't have to go to the grocery store! ~grin~  I am actually starting to buy a bit ahead, not for any great devastation, but for the event of a personal financial strain...who knows, in this economy, if one is going to have a job tomorrow?  No job, no money, no grocery shopping...I told the spousal unit that I'd like to have at least six months of "backup" groceries...which is really no big deal, when you consider that if you have a large garden, and can/preserve the produce from it each year, you have about a years worth of groceries...

:)  Santa brought me a new pressure canner for Christmas...I'm going to put that puppy to work!

Happy New Year,  may God's blessings be with you and your family!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Köhler Sewing Machine

Well's as done as it's going to get for now!   I love this machine!  It's quiet, smooth sewing, easy treadling!   Or at least it was until I broke the  belt three it's too short, and I don't have a leather bootlace to sub for it right now!

Anyway...What I did:

1.  I cleaned and oiled the machine, and got every part of it working right. (With a bit of help from the spousal unit!)
2.  I touched up the paint on the machine where it was scuffed and chipped.  I considered trying to do gold leaf over the decals for the work "Köhler", but can't bring myself to try it.
3.  I waxed the machine and polished it.  It doesn't fall into the "fix the shellac" catagory, because the clear coat on the machine is NOT shellac!  I'll have to figure out something else....or just live with it, which is most likely what I'll do. :)
4.  The cabinet got worked over.  It was taken apart, cleaned, stripped, sanded, stained, and shellac was applied....many coats of shellac...  I had to re-glue a strip of wood to the base of the cabinet that the lid attached to...some goon had opened it and let the lid fall, breaking that strip of wood loose.  Also had to re-glue the front legs...they were separating.

I think it looks MUCH better now...LOVE this machine! :)

The machine is very similar to my Singer 115, or to a Singer 15.  Some differences of course, but it takes a 15x1 needle, a class 15 bobbin.  The faceplate and the slide plate are identical to the 115, the bobbin winder is pretty close too. All in great feats of German engineering on this one, not like the little Vestas or my friend Muv's wonderful machines, (which I would LOVE to get my hands on!!)  but still a nice one, and it will still get used often and loved lots!

Friday, June 15, 2012

My Anniversary Gift

My husband and I were married 13 years on May 30th.  I can't think of a better "BFF" to have...he's so good to me!

It was a special day.  We went to "town" and while there, stopped at the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store.  They had this beat up old girl...normally I would have let him talk me out of it.  Something though, told me that I didn't want to go home without her.  She's a Köhler, made in East Germany, either shortly before the end of World War II, or shortly after.  My bet is on "after".

She's beat up, missing decals, and her cabinet is in terrible shape!  The place on the body of the cabinet where the lid attaches via a piano style of hinge broke off.  The finish looks like it's sat outside for a spell.  Dirty, and presenting as a "challenge" piece.  The decals that remain are pretty though, and the cabinet has potential.

William pointed out the "Angel" in the woodgrain of the door. It didn't take me long to see "her"

I need to say once again, William did NOT want me to bring this machine home.  He doesn't always see the same beauty in them that I do, and he knows how much work and inconvenience is involved when I tear into one of these "projects".   We don't have a shop to work in, so these things "happen" in our dining room.  He knows that the machine will never look as pretty as she did new, like some of our other machines.  I HAD to have it, even though I didn't exactly know why at the time.  I've let him talk me out of others in the past, not this one.  This one was a MUST have!  I think maybe I have a sort of "sixth sense" about them...when I "had to have" the 115 in the drawing room cabinet, I had no idea that it was one of the earliest known machines of that model...and I had no idea when I "had to have" this Köhler, that not many of these machines made it out of Communist East Germany.  I just knew that these machines needed to come home with me.

William didn't want me to post pictures of the Köhler until it was finished, but I couldn't wait.  I have started on the cabinet, and most of it is done, just waiting for it's finishing coats of wax that it will get after the shellac cures.   In the meantime, I should be working on the clear coat that's on the's cracked and flaking, but it scares me a bit!  I think I need my friend Skip to come fix it for me!  LOL!!  I will tackle it in the next day or so, I've touched up the chips in the paint, polished the steel plates, and oiled the machine.  William was able to get the lever to drop the feed dogs to move, and was able to take off the stop action knob so that I could clean the post and oil it so it works again. (For those of you that don't know what that is, the stop action knob is the part you turn to keep the needle from moving up and down when you wind a bobbin)  I've tested the machine just by turning the handwheel, and she makes a nice stitch, forwards and backwards (YES!! She has a reverse!).  I'm looking forward to getting her back in the treadle and really stitching something with it!

I will have photos soon, of Liesl (that's the machine's name) in her newly refinished cabinet.   Bear with me, as impatient as I get to have these projects done quickly, you just can't rush it.  My attempts to do so in the past have resulted in "starting over", and if anything turns the air in this household blue, it's the knowledge that I've messed up and have to re-do all of my hard work!

Wish me luck!  Hopefully this cabinet will turn out as pretty as I'm hoping that it will, and that Liesl will look awesome sitting in it!  

Saturday, May 12, 2012

One More from Skip!

These old sewing machines that we like to collect oftentimes have damage to the finish due to the old shellac or clearcoat finish aging, getting dull, and wearing away.  The pictures here are of my own Singer 201-2.  Skip tells me that the machine got pretty hot at some time or another, causing the "alligator" looking shellac finish on it.  The finish was cracked, separated, flaky and dull.

I will caution you before you use this tutorial to ASK QUESTIONS if you have exposed decals!!  There is no guarantee that the products used in this tutorial will not hurt those decals, nor will Skip or I take responsibility for damages done to decals.  I will tell you that I have used this technique on my own machines with no problems, but being over-enthusiastic when cleaning or rubbing on these machines can cause problems!!  Proceed with caution, and I would suggest that if you are new to these kinds of techniques to test them first on less common, "boat anchor" types of machines before you try it on your great great grandmother's extremely rare antique machine that really doesn't look too bad to begin with! 

I am going to first post the photos of my own machine, a Centennial Singer 201-2.  This machine was a GREAT thrift store find, and cost me a whopping $15.00.  Nothing was with it in the way of attachments, but since those are "a dime a dozen", I didn't care.  Normally, seeing boxes of attachments with a machine will incite me to buy it faster than if it doesn't have attachments...don't ask why, I couldn't tell you and it has nothing to do with this post anyway!   This machine had a finish  that was dull, flaking, and the decals were in danger from exposure.  I couldn't quite follow Skip's tutorial down to the letter, because I first had to add more shellac to the machine to protect the decals.

These photos are of the machine's finish BEFORE I started on it.  I had to, gently as possible, clean the machine of all of the layers of car wax I had applied trying to "fix" the finish, and I had to add shellac first to give me something to work with using Skip's tutorial that I'm going to post in just a minute.  This is the time to be REALLY CAREFUL, and know with a certainty that you are not going to further damage your machine's decals and decorations before you advance to cleaning!!   PLEASE ASK QUESTIONS IF YOU HAVE ANY DOUBTS!!
Here is the same machine after following Skip's instructions; still not perfect, but so much better, and the decals are protected!

Here are Skip's instructions:

Supplies needed: Shellac
Denatured alcohol
Linseed oil (boiled)
Rags (old t-shirts or old tighty whites)

1. Clean the head with your favorite method to remove dirt and grime.
2. Wrap your finger with a couple of layers with the t-shirt.
3. dip finger in alcohol and place a few drops of linseed oil on the finger
4. now start rubbing the bed with light circular motions, add more oil if finger sticks to the finish.

We are now melting the old shellac into a smooth coating trying to eliminate the dull brown spots of old shellac.

5.Now go from left to right in a straight line ligthly lifting the finger and the repeat. you can also go from right to left if you like. Now we are trying to get rid of any swirl marks that were left by the rag.

Stay away of the decals at this time. Cont this tech until you have a smooth finish on the entire head.

When you have a smooth and clear finish on the head(as clear as it will get and you will know)

6. Now go over the the decals with the same method above very lightly.

7. Let this cure for about a day then with new rag on finger dip it in shellac and place a few drops of oil and with a circular motion go over the decals and the head. Cont. dipping finger in shellac and a few drops of linseed oil and do this over the entire head and decals. this is adding more clean shellac to protect the decals and the japan coating. Always ending in the straight line finishing to get rid of the swirl marks made by the rag.

8. Do this until it looks good to you and smooth and shiny. Let cure for a week and then wax if you want. You favorite brand of wax is okay although it is not needed now.

Please note: I recommend you practice this french polish method on an old machine first so you can get the hang of it. Please do not hesitate to ask questions anytime. I am always here to help.

More Words of Wisdom from Skip!

If you read my previous post, then you know about my friend Skip already.  If you didn't read my previous post, go read it first.   It will tell you Skip's credentials, and you'll need the information in it before you start with this step of sewing machine cabinet refinishing! :)  Once again, I have Skip's permission to repost his instructions.  Skip DOES read here, so if you have any questions, post them, I'm sure he'll answer when he sees them.  If he doesn't, I'll send your question on to him for an answer for you.  Without rambling on as I usually do, (STOP CHEERING!  It's not polite! LOL!)  here are Skip's directions for refinishing that beat up sewing machine cabinet:

Okay quilters here we go!
Supplies needed: 
0000steel wool
120-200 grit sandpaper
Lots of cotton rags(old t-shirts underware etc) white only
containers to but stripper and mess from the old finish in(coffee cans work great)
2" natural bristle brush of good quality for applying shellac
putty knife
stain brown walnut, dark oak or mahogony(your choice) I use aniline dye water soluble(can be ordered from the Rockler Cat)
your choice of brand

Orange and clear shellac 1qt each
1gal denatured alcohol
1 gal of turpintine
1 gal of your favorite stripper

Paint the stripper on the surface doing a section at a time. For example do the top first then the each side. Let stand according to the instructions on the stripper. Scrape off old loose finish into a coffee can. Wipe surface with rag and turps. This will clean the stripper and nutralize the chemical action of the stripper. Repeat if necessary.
When stipped to your satisfaction wipe down the entire piece with turps. Let stand 24 hours to let the turps evaporate. Then Wipe the piece down again using alcohol. This will prep the wood for staining and remove any unwanted moisture. Let dry for about an hour.

Using a clean rag apply stain to the cabinet. If using oil base stain let dry overnight. If using water base let a couple of hours. Make sure stain is even on the cabinet. The stain can be adjusted at anytime during this stage.

Feel the surface now that the stain is dry to see if it raised the grain of the wood. If it did use the steel wool or sandpaper to lightly smooth the surface down. Clean all dust off with a vacuum then wipe down with the alcohol. Let stand 1 hour.

Apply first coat of shellac using the orange shellac. This gives the amber look to the finish to simulate age. Let dry a couple of hours and apply the clear shellac. Apply two to three coats of clear shellac. Let the piece stand for about a week to cure.

The finish will appear shiny and new. Now take the paste wax and apply it using the steel wool with the grain. Gently rubbing down the finish. Let wax dry buff with clean cloth. Do only a small area at a time. This will take the shine and the new look off the finish. This will take some time so do not rush. When you are pleased with the results you are done. All that is required now is to keep it dusted (NO enddust or pledge please) Dust with soft rag then a clean soft rag can be used to buff the shine back up. You should wax the cabinet once a year, you will not use steel wool this time. Just follw the instructions. 

Note; If shellac feels to thick you can thin it with the alcohol. Work quickly when appling shellac and always keep a wet edge Shellac dries fastbut easy to apply. It can be sprayed also.

You do not have to use shellac you can also use an oil varnish, I do not recommend water based poly because of it clearity it will not have that old wood glow. Oil varnish takes so long to dry(overnight) that you need a dust free place to work or you will wake up to a finish with embeded dust. I am here to answer your qustions. 

My Friend Skip and His Knowledge

Skip is also known as "Glenn" on the quilting board.  This is a man of MANY talents!  (Sorry Girls, he's married to the lovely Miz Pat, and quite happily, I might add! ~wink~)

Skip can sew.  He's a quilter.  Skip can crochet.  He makes the cutest little "thread pin doilies" to decorate the old sewing machines that he loves. (I have some that he made for me, they're GREAT!!)  And Skip knows wood and finishes.  Skip is also probably one of the most helpful and willing to share person on the quilting board!  (Ok...that's not necessarily true, there are lots there that are willing to help and share, but not all of them know how to do woodworking and rejuvenate a sewing machine finish! LOL)  Suffice it to say that Skip knows his stuff, and he gave me permission to use his tutorials/instructions here to help others.   Trust me, if you like old machines and old cabinets/wood furniture, these tips are going to help you make the best of them!  He spent many years working with woods and restoring antiques.  Can I get a round of applause for our friend?  YAY!! THANKS SKIPPER, FOR PERMITTING ME TO SHARE YOUR KNOWLEDGE HERE!!  :)

So.  Without further ado, this is Skip's advice on cleaning an old wood finish.  All of the following words are Skip's own.  If you have missing shellac, stop at the end of Step #2, I'll be posting more of Skip's knowledge in another post.  All of the ingredients needed can be found at your local hardware or "big box" store.

Cleaning solutions needed:
Solution One--4parts white venegar, 4parts boiled linseed oil, 4parts mineral spirits, 1part denatured alcohol and 3-4 drops of household ammonia.

Solution Two--4parts mineral spirits, 1part boiled linseed oil

Stept 1-- with a course lint free cloth(blue jeans is good) charge the cloth with Solution one and rub in a circular motion, turning a recharging the rag with solution one. Replace rag as it gets dirty. Continue until the whole is cleaned. Hard to clean areas use 0000steel wool with the solution. The final wipe down should be with the grain of the wood. This finish will be cloudy and dry looking at this point.

Step 2--with a lint free cloth charged with Solution Two rub in a circular motion turning rag and recharging with solution two. Replace rag as it gets dirty. Continue until the whole is cleaned and the finish is not cloudy and dry looking. Finish by wiping the whole with only minaral spirits.

Step 3-- Apply a good coat of wax( such as a tinted briwax or any of the antique paste waxes that can be found in antique stores) according to the directions on the can. Apply thinly and buff like crazy to a nice clean shine. The looks of the piece can be maintained by waxing once a year and regular dusting and buff to shine. Nothing else needs to be done. I do not recommend endust or pledge. No need for lemon oil or anything.

This is the accepted method of proff antique restorers. After you can say I did not refinish the piece I restored the finish. Happy cleaning

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Buying Vintage or Antique Machines (Cont.)

Hopefully my last post made sense.  It's really a subject near and dear to my heart, these old vintage/antique machines are fantastic, and if you're looking to "go green" I can't think of a better way!  (I'm NOT actually a "greenie", my carbon footprints are all over the place, but in this?  I'm green, without really meaning to be!)

If you're a quilter, tell me, do you REALLY need that big fancy machine with all of the fancy stitches?  Do you USE those fancy stitches?  Most don't.  Most folks that own those machines play with the stitches a bit, and sit down to quilt with straight stitching.

You can't get a better straight stitch than you can with a straight stitch only machine.  We're talking about "old" machines.  Those old black Singers, New Home, White, etc. can't be beat when it comes to a straight stitch.  Guess what?  The harps/throat space on these oldies is bigger too!  My Singer 201-2 has a nine inch throat on it.  My Singer 15-91 is 8 1/2 inches.  The others are comparable.  This is my 15-91:

See how much space you have for a bulky quilt?  Perfect straight stitches, because it CAN'T stitch to the side! A zigzag machine has a needlebar that can be shifted to one side or the other in order to make the zigzag stitch.  While the machine is in straight stitch mode, that needlebar can still be shifted to one side or the other when sewing over heavy seam joins.   Since a straight stitch only machine doesn't have the zigzag feature, and therefore no need to move side to side, you can't force it to the side with a heavy seam.

This particular machine is from 1946, and has worked from the moment I plugged it in.  I have better luck with free motion quilting on this machine than I do with my 201-2.  This machine has a vertical bobbin, and that seems to work better for me than does the drop in or horizontal bobbin of the 201.  The 201 does  killer straight stitch quilting though!

Even tho the treadle machines themselves are awesome, if you're looking for a common use workhorse with somewhat modern features, then stay away from the treadle machines.  Treadles have a bit of a learning curve for most folks, they're not as fast as an electric machine, and depending on the model of treadle, needles may be hard to come by.  I'll write about them next time.

If you're looking for a workhorse, much like the other e-machines I wrote about last time,  check for the following:

1.  Wiring.  Make sure that there are no cracks or breaks in the insulation covering the wiring.  If there are cracks or breaks, it doesn't mean you shouldn't buy the machine, it just means that you can't USE the machine until those issues are repaired.  Find out before you go to look at the machine approximately what it would cost to rewire it if necessary (along with other possible repairs).
2.  Turn the handwheel.  Does it turn easily?  If it's a bit stiff, then it's likely that it's only old oil that is holding things up.  New oil and working the wheel will loosen it.
3.  When you turn the handwheel, does the needle go up and down?  If not, it could also be an oil problem, or you could have rust that is interfering.  Unless you want a project machine to learn repairs on, I'd pass.
4.  Make sure it's got a bobbin casing and bobbin. the bobbin is not quite so important, those are replaceable, but the bobbin casing (that the bobbin fits into) can cost $50 or more to replace.
5.  Assuming that the wiring is good, the handwheel turns and the needle moves, you remembered to bring a scrap of fabric, a needle, and some thread, right?  Thread the machine (they all thread basically the same way, with the main difference being that some thread right to left, and others left to right, a few thread front to back.)   Plug that baby in and stitch with it.  Does it make stitches?  Don't worry about tension at this point, that's an easy want to know that it's not skipping stitches.  If it's skipping stitches, check to make sure that the machine and bobbin are threaded correctly.  If it's still skipping, you may want to test it with a new needle.  If you exhaust all of the common "fixes" for skipped stitches, then it may be that the timing is off...that can be fixed, but know what it will cost before you commit to the machine.

Next time, we'll talk about the treadle and handcrank machines! :)

"The Guy" update.  Still, no one has gotten their machines or their money.  He claims that they're all repaired, and waiting to ship out, but he's not done it.   Things are getting snarky on his PDA once again, and the snarks are his defenders!  Everyone else, that I can see, has been polite....firm, but polite.  They state facts.  One from "across the pond" staunchly defends him...couldn't tell you why...other than I guess she believes his bs stories.
Oh..and guess what?  He couldn't go to his "studies" because he had infections from being forced to fix the machines that he's had what?  Some for YEARS.  I coulda told you he'd say that.  And yes.  I think he's lying, again.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Buying a Sewing Machine...Go Vintage or Antique!

Sure, I'd like to have one of those super spendy modern machines...I want one that has an embroidery module, because that's about the only thing that I don't have in my machines.  Unfortunately, I don't have that kind of money to spend.  Not all at one time, anyway!  So that's just not going to happen.  Maybe someday...if I win the lotto.  So...what's a girl (or guy) to do?  Look to the vintage/antiques.  I can get a machine that is 100 times better than any of the less expensive models on the market today.

Let's examine why.  The average life span of a new, lower end machine (think big box store machines) these days seems to be about 5 years or less. These machines are going to cost you anywhere from $89 to $500.  True, they have extra stitches, pretty ones.  How often are you going to use them?  If you're quilting, you need the straight stitch, and maybe you'll use a decorative stitch to quilt with.  You'll sometimes use a zigzag, or a blanket stitch for applique.

The average life span of a Singer 403, made in the 50's,  has not yet been determined!  If you discount all of the  perfectly good machines from the 60's and before that have gone to landfills because they just weren't wanted anymore, even tho they still worked, you have very few of these oldies that went because they were worn out or broken!

People, I have a machine that is about 132 years old, and that baby sews like a dream!  My current favorite is a 100 year old treadle machine that will sew anything I throw at it!  Multiple layers of fabric where seams meet are nothing to it.  Doesn't even hesitate or moan a bit, just zips right through!  Treadles, tho, are a novelty for many and some don't even want to think about making them their "main machine", so we'll examine some e-machines. (electric machines)

I decided to write this blog article because last evening, I decided to make a "truck quilt" for the spousal unit.  He asked for one, and if I can avoid denying him anything, I will do just that...and he wants a quilt to put in his pickup truck.  I got out some precuts that I've had for awhile, and decided that since I haven't used it in awhile, I would stitch this one on my 1957 Kenmore model 84.  This baby has a 1.2 amp motor.  It's going to go forever.  Well, ok.  Not forever, but it's going to sew for a longggggggg time!  All metal machine, it's heavy.  It's in a "desk cabinet".  Very cool cabinet, when I lift the top of the cabinet to slide it behind the desk, it lifts the machine into position.  I paid $15 for the machine, and found the cabinet in another thrift store for $20.  I forked out a few more bucks for the decorative cams that the machine uses.  ($2 at an antique store)  So now I have a powerful machine, in a very nice cabinet, that does 18 different decorative stitches.  For $37.00, I have a machine that is going to outlast me.  This is the Kenmore 84 in the original cabinet that I brought it home in.  I switched it to the desk cabinet and took this cabinet to the St. Vinnie's store.

I have a 1950's Singer 403 that I paid $29.00 for in the cabinet.  None of the attachments that I have would fit it, as it's a "slank shank" machine, meaning that the needle/presser foot is at a slant to allow better viewing of the stitching as it occurs.  Since this girl didn't have any extras, I felt the need to buy some.  So I found presser feet at the local Goodwill for six dollars.  My friend Cathy had a set of the decorative stitch cams and more presser feet (I got another slant shank machine, a 500A for Christmas that I needed the extra feet for!).  I only have to give $25 to Cathy for all of what she sent, and it was a LOT, half for each machine, so another $12.50 invested in this machine.  Forty seven dollars and fifty cents later, I have a complete machine setup that once again will last longer than I do, and it will do 21 decorative stitches with the cams I have. This is the Singer 403.  Photo was taken right after I got it home, and it's not been cleaned yet.

My point is this.  Do you want a machine for it's "status value" or for it's REAL value?  These vintage machines are workhorses that in no way deserve to be put out to pasture.  They are heavy, all metal machines.  They, with a bit of care, will last you more than your lifetime, and will sew a "prettier" straighter stitch than any modern machine.  They will zig zag, they will applique, they will free motion quilt AND free motion embroider.  They will serve you well, and be more faithful to you than their previous owners were to them.  

What to look for when you look for a vintage machine:

Ignore the dirt and grungy stuff on the machine body.  That will clean off.  Instead ask to plug the machine in and run it.  If that's not possible, at least look to see that the cords and foot feed  (or knee feed) are there.  If you don't want to mess with rewiring, check the cords and wires to make sure they are intact and solid.  You don't want to see any cracks or bare spots in the insulation.  Turn the handwheel and make sure that the needle goes up and down.  Look to see if the bobbin case is there.  (that bobbin case can be spendy, if it's missing)  Take thread and scrap fabric with you, thread the machine and even if you have to do it by turning the handwheel, make sure it stitches.  (If the timing is off, it won't make stitches, and while you CAN time a machine yourself, it can be difficult.  You don't want to have to pay to have it done, and besides, when the timing is off, it's usually a sign of abuse of some kind).  For pricing?  I've been lucky with mine, as you can see above, but if you are patient and watch for it, you can get some real bargains!

Where to look?

Ebay, Craigs List, local papers, thrift stores, yard/garage sales, antique stores, let your friends and neighbors know that you're looking.   Keep in mind that Ebay is going to have shipping attached, and these babies are HEAVY.

If you're looking for an update on "The Guy" saga, he seems to have disappeared...most likely will be back with a story of how he almost died.   (DO NOT read that as a wish that he did!! In my perfect world, illness or injury doesn't exist, not even for my enemies!)  I do know that a machine that he promised would be delivered on Feb. 12th didn't show up.  Nor has the money that the lady paid for it.  I don't believe that any of the others have gotten their machines either, but I don't know for sure.

Next time, I'll talk about what to look for in an antique or vintage straight stitch machine.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Back to the Fun Stuff!

We have a new "lady" in the house!!  She followed me home, and I had to let her in, it was snowing and cold, I was afraid she'd get all rusty! ;)

When William and I went to Eugene, Oregon about a week and a half ago, we went to one antique shop that had this pretty machine and cabinet.  Priced WAY out of my range.  I left it sitting in the store, and thought about it quite a bit on the way home.  Thought about it all evening and the next day.  Announced to William the next day that I was going to sell some of my collection so I could go back and get this machine.  It was just something I felt I had to do, and even though I felt it was overpriced, I HAD to have it.  As the week wore on, I was moving about and trying to decide which of the machines I already have would be offered on Craig's List, my ever-loving spousal unit would counter with "But you LIKE that one"...."We worked hard on that one"...."it's kind of a cute machine"....and a "Don't even CONSIDER that one!"  LOL...he won't admit it, he likes these ladies as much as I do!

Tuesday, we were off to Eugene again, and the bonus was that one of the ladies from the Quilting Board was going to meet us for lunch!  Margie is just the sweetest, cutest woman!!  We had a great time!

 That's Margie on the left, yours truly on the right.  We had lunch at "Dicky Jo's Burgers" in was GREAT food, and wonderful company!

"It" or as I more commonly refer to them, "She" is a 1912 Singer model 115-1 with "Gold Wing" decals.  Her "skirt" is a very desirable "Drawing Room" cabinet, an early model with the spring elevator lift. (Later models of this cabinet didn't have the lift)  She's in wonderful shape as is the cabinet.  One of the guys on Needlebar said it was a "top of the line machine in a top of the line cabinet".  I think this is the first time I've ever had anything that was considered "top of the line" with the exception of my spousal unit, and I don't own him...he graciously puts up with me!! :)  In doing some research today, I learned that this combination originally sold for somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 in 1912.  That, according to the inflation calculator, translates to about $4500 in today's dollars.  Someone with some money first owned this machine...and it shows in that there is very little wear on it or the cabinet.

I took photos before I wiped her down so you get to see the dust from the store...but here she "Margie"!  (Named for the lovely lady we had lunch with,  and coincidentally, my Aunt Marg, who I was named after. (Long story...another day)

Isn't she pretty?  I've already made a table runner with her...she sews SUPER stitches!  I'm pretty pleased with this machine, and I'm thrilled with the cabinet!  To see how the cabinet works, mosey over to YouTube and watch this video, courtesy of the "Treadle Lady"'s a cute video, and it shows you just how really cool this set up is! :) 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

It Was A Lovely Holiday!

We had a really nice Christmas and New Years! Meet "Buzz", my Christmas gift from my wonderful Spousal Unit! Buzz is a 1963 (or so, no real records for these machines) Singer 500A, also known as a "Rocketeer". I absolutely LOVE this machine...William couldn't have gotten me a better gift. To go with it, he bought me a full set of the decorative stitch cams. I had found the machine on Craig's List and showed it to him, but he seemed to blow it off as just another old machine. I was so disappointed a few days later when I was once again browsing Craig's list and the machine was gone! I resigned myself to not having a Rocketeer in my collection yet, and didn't give it much more thought. After all, it's the season to do for others, right? So I went about my way planning to get Christmas gifts for this wonderful man I married. I got him a toolbox for his pickup, and some other things that he "needed" for the truck and for shooting his black powder rifle that he got for his birthday. I was tickled pink knowing that he was going to like his gifts...there was no doubt in my mind. Christmas morning, he handed me a box to open. I opened it, and there was a foot pedal for a sewing machine. He asked if it was the one I'd been looking for since I'd been thinking of finding a black one for my Singer 201-2, that currently has a white colored pedal. I looked at the plug on it, and told him that no, it wouldn't fit, but maybe we could rewire it. He suggested instead that it might fit the machine that was out in our storage shed! He immediately got marching orders to BRING IT IN!! :) He went and retrieved Buzz from the storage unit. I was SO excited!! It's a wonderful machine, sews like a dream.

Regarding my previous post about "the guy" on "that board" ("Frustration Reigns"). He's still tugging at the heart strings of the lovely, generous, big hearted ladies on the board. Today, he posted that he doesn't feel comfortable on the thread he started about vintage machines anymore...why? Because others have answers to questions too? Because he looks like a toddler having a tantrum when he's challenged? Heh! I'm at the point that I feel like I've tried. I've tried to warn the ladies there that he'll take them for a ride if given a chance. He's not beyond taking advantage of their generosity and big, warm hearts. Some of the ladies took what I had to say and have backed away from him. It seems that it's pushed some of them even suggesting that they take up a collection on the board to help him with his medical bills...GIVE ME A BREAK!! He just spent $300 on a GUITAR before Christmas! He doesn't need money...he needs to be neutered! At any rate...I feel my job is done. Can't save the world and all that. There are those out there that want to believe the best of everyone, and take everyone at their word, no matter what. I honestly wish those kind hearts all of the best this world has to offer, and I sincerely hope that they don't end up heartbroken as one woman did. Actually...more than one woman was hurt. Instead of praying for his health, I pray for his victims.
Back to machines!! :) The other "Pre-Christmas" gift I got was a Singer 403! It's the pre-cursor to the Rocketeer. Very nice machine, my friend Suzy found it for me and picked it up for less than $30! This one too, sews like a dream, and I'm so excited to have it! The cabinet on this one needs to be stripped and refinished, but all in all it's not too bad, and the machine itself is wonderful! It takes the same decorative cams as the Rocketeer, so the two machines will share those. Now I just have to get some other projects finished so that I can SEW SOMETHING! :) Speaking of getting things done...I'd best get at it...I really need to get this sewing/computer room so that I can walk through it! :) Talk to you later!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hazel's All Gussied Up!

I am SO pleased!! Miz Hazel the Machine has been all gussied up and I'm pleased as punch with the way she and her "skirt" look! It's been a LOT of work taking most of my free time for an entire week, and some of William's free time as well! My poor spousal unit never wanted to get involved with my machines, and yet he always comes through for me! While I still have some cleaning to do on the machine herself, the base is finished, and while it's NOT perfect, I'm still pretty proud of the job we did, considering our lack of experience, tools, and proper workspace. Before I show you how she looks are some pics of the process.... This was the metal that is around the drawer frame...I thought it was brass at first.
And the same metal after some scrubbing....
Check out these rags....this isn't all of them....

She's so pretty now!

Of course...this means that I have to go camping, fishing, and keep my mouth shut about his hunting trips...somehow, I don't think I'll have a problem with that!!! :)

Monday, September 26, 2011


YAY!! We're making progress on the Davis cabinet!! I expect Miz Hazel the Machine to be up and sewing by the end of the week!!

William put the treadle base back together after we painted the rough and/or rusty spots!

Tonight, I tackled the coffin top and drawers...(I *REALLY* need to buy some gloves!! I don't think I'll ever get my hands clean again!) The top is looking good, as are the drawers.

The drawer pulls surprized me the most. What I thought was dull brass turned out to be silver!! I'm not sure of the metal, maybe nickle?

Tomorrow, I tackle the remainder of the cabinet...and then I'll start with shellac. I think it's going to be so pretty!!

Goodnite....thought I'd share Friday's sunset with you!

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Davis Vertical Feed Sewing Machine

The Davis Vertical Feed Sewing Machine....oh my. This is a unique machine in that it does not have feed dogs! The fabric is propelled via the needle and the presser foot as seen in this video:

I have watched my sewing machine friends talk about their DVF machines and always felt a little spark of envy. I had only ever seen ONE of these machines in the wild, and it was in terrible condition, with a price tag of over $100! I left it where it sat...somewhat reluctantly, but I seldom pay very much for my sewing machines. There are too many folks that just want to get rid of old machines for me to pay that much for one in terrible shape! I continued to haunt the antique stores and local Craig's List hoping to find any of the several machines that I would like to be a caretaker for. (Can't feel like I "own" it...they have too much personality! It would be like owning a child!) Then, one day last week, it was there!!! A Davis Vertical Feed!!!!!!!!! An EARLY Davis Vertical Feed!! With a coffin top cabinet!!!! I called and asked for more photos of the machine and cabinet, knowing already from the small photos on Craigslist that I was going to have to refinish the cabinet. These are what the gentleman sent to me:
I was in love. Especially when the gentleman told me that it had belonged to his mother in law's mother, and his mother in law was 82 years old. I wrote an email to him and explained that I didn't have the asking price, and the machine and cabinet were going to take some work and money to refurbish....and made an offer of what I thought I could do for a top dollar. He called me a few days later and told me that he had talked to his sig. other and her mother and they had decided that they would rather I had the machine, since I love them so much, than to sell it to someone else who might not appreciate it like I would!! I was FLOORED and totally honored. I made arrangements to pick up the machine from the mom the next day. When that garage door opened and I saw the machine, I was totally enamoured! Mind you, the cabinet, as you can see, is rather crusty, the machine is missing some of the decals and has some cleaning to be done, but it just oozed charm. After a little chat with "Mom" (names withheld for their privacy) I learned that she had sat near her mother as her mother sewed her clothes. Clothes that she said she hated, because they were always too big, so that she'd be able to grow into them. It made me smile. My mom used to do the same thing for me when I was little. "Mom's" mother did it because she was a child of the Great Depression. My mother did it because we didn't have much in the way of money and she had to dress 5 kids! "Mom" told me her mother's name was "Hazel", and then ammended it to add that her name was actually "Bertha Hazel", but she didn't like the name "Bertha" so always went by "Hazel". This machine's name, therefore, is Hazel. :) (And yes, I always name my machines...just like a lot of guys name their cars or motorcycles!)

I came home, and armed with "Mom's" age of 82, looked up the family on the 1930 census to find out when Hazel was born. (The woman, not the machine) I found that she was born in 1896, and because of that could not have been the original owner of this machine. SOMEONE had owned it before Hazel did! I wish I knew who, for sure...I'll bet it was a relative tho. This particular machine was made in Watertown, NY and the Davis Sewing Machine Company moved it's operation to Dayton, Ohio sometime between 1888 and 1890. The machine had to have been made sometime AFTER the last patent date on the shuttle slide which is May 12, 1885, and 1890 when the factory started work in Dayton, Ohio. Hazel the Woman would have been 2 or 3 years old when Hazel the Machine was brand new. History lesson over. ;)

I brought Hazel the Machine into the house and set it down in the dining room. As I looked her over, the task seemed daunting. I've never tackled this much restoration before. The cabinet, as you've seen, was missing much of the finish. The coffin top also needs to be worked on, and has a small hole in the back of it that I'm not even going to TRY to fix. God Bless my husband tho, he immediately sat down and started trying to figure out how to take things apart. He got the wooden top of the cabinet off. He played with the base, trying to figure out how to remove the wood pitman that operates the treadle action between the base and the machine. We gave up on that, for fear of breaking the wood. That's another indication that the machine is pre-1900...most of the big companies, and Davis was a big company, stopped using wood for the pitman arm before 1900.

Thanks to my friend, Skip, I've stripped what's left of the finish from the top of the cabinet. I used denatured alcohol, and it worked like a charm. Skip has also told me how to re-apply shellac so that it'll have a nice finish. This cabinet will always have it's flaws. There's a black water ring on it, and other flaws that give it character. I don't think I'll stain it, I don't think the original was stained. This is what it looks like now. I'm trying to avoid stripping any more of it than I have to, and so will leave the drawers as they are and just apply another coat of shellac to them to "freshen" them up.

The base for the treadle is another issue. Oh my!!! Look at the first photos. Do you see any decals on that black base? I didn't either, until I started cleaning. Once I did a little bit of a wipe down, I noticed them! Many of the decals are damaged or gone, but it still has quite a few of them left!! I'm tickled pink! After a few hours with a spray bottle, and after going through 3 large terry cloth rags, I broke down and put it into the bathtub, washed it down, and sprayed it off with hot water and the shower head. I'll be touching up missing paint and then using car wax to spiff it up. This is a "before" photo. They had used some kind of glue to glue the machine to the treadle! That's what the white stuff is....

This is after it's bath. William painted the foot pedal and bar, and as soon as I get done polishing the rest, he'll put it back together for me.

This is the "coffin top" to the cabinet. The hooks that hold it to the cabinet are broken, I'm not sure where I might be able to find them, but I will be looking! I haven't started on cleaning this up yet...

And of course, this is "Hazel the Machine". She's waiting patiently to get back into her cabinet...and I hope she's VERY patient, cuz this is gonna take some time!!! ;) Please ignore the messy looking table...I tend to pile things on it, and I just pushed them back to make room for the machine.

Well My Friends, there you have it. The Saga of Hazel, The Davis Vertical Feed Sewing Machine to date. I promise to post more as the process advances. I'm loving the process, and feeling a sense of accomplishment, even tho it's far from done, and most likely won't look perfect....I'm learning, and Hazel is helping me! I like to think that Hazel the Woman is watching and proud to know that her much loved old machine is once again much loved and being cared for!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Busy Week!

I've been a "fishing widow" for the past 3 days, and while I sometimes enjoy the solitude, I miss the spousal unit terribly and am anxious for him to get home tonight! In order to encourage the boss to go with him, I volunteered to work on our normal days off, so instead will be taking off tomorrow and Friday. Can we say, "YARD SALE!!" LOL I don't usually get to go to them, since I work weekends. I'm a bit excited! Maybe I'll find a new machine to bring home with me! :)

Worked on genealogy a bit this week, trying to find the parents of my Martha Ward. She was born in 1840, in Texas, orphaned by or before 1850, where she appears on the census for Walker County, TX living with Wm. and Mary Cummings and their 2 small children, as a 10 year old. There's no relationship information on the 1850, so we can't tell if Mary was a sister, or if they were guardians for her... I did find an 1846 tax roll for Walker County, and it listed a Jacob Ward...maybe her daddy? Will be digging deeper if I can!

Have not sewed at all this week. Maybe tomorrow afternoon/evening or on Friday afternoon/evening. Have some projects that I need to get finished up..they've been around too long!

On the political front: A question for you all. Do you think Obama stands a chance of reelection? The more I read/listen, the less chance I think he has! To be honest, I do think some of the problems are a result of prior administrations. "SOME" being the operative word. I think SOME of them are the fault of good old American greed.

When will Americans learn? Yes. Chinese made is cheaper, Philipine labor is cheaper, but if you don't support the American Worker, the American Worker can not support you! How hard is that to figure out for all of the big companies that farm out jobs (outsource) to other countries???? Put Americans out of work, and they won't need tech support for your product, because they don't have a job and can no longer afford it. DUH!

Nuff said for today.

Monday, August 22, 2011

YAY!! It's My Friday!!

I'm tickled pink! Today is my Friday...we take off from work on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and I'm so ready for it today!

Tomorrow, I have to go to the doctor. I've been having some pain in my left arm, and it's becoming a problem. I have trouble dressing, I can't reach into the backseat of the car, and so on. The pain can be dibilitating! I'm not looking forward to what she'll tell me....I've put on some weight in the past year, I haven't yet quit smoking, and I stopped taking the statens that are supposed to lower my cholesterol. Not to mention the cost of fixing whatever is wrong. Oh well...que sera! What will be, will be! We'll work through it, no matter! :)

Let's talk about happy stuff! Like Obama's popularity ratings!! ~grin~ How is it that the "popular" man that won the presidency is no longer so much loved? Joe Biden said it himself before he was the vice presidential canidate. "The Oval Office is no place for on the job training!" (and yes, he said it about Barry!)

Happier yet? SEWING MACHINES!! I so love those silly things! This is my newest aquisition, a 1953 Singer Model 20 toy. William bought it for my birthday, which isn't until November, but he is silly and can't wait! Now if I can keep him from buying anything in November when my birthday actually is here, it'll be a miracle, but I'm going to try! This machine is only missing one little thing...the "C" clamp that holds the machine to the table, because it's so light that it will push over when you try to turn the handcrank.

These were another find!! These are attachments for a Wheeler & Wilson Model 8 or 9 sewing machine!! Keep in mind, that as tattered as the manual for them looks, it's over 100 years old! I expect to be a bit tattered by the time I'm that age too! ;)

Isn't this pretty? I found this, and four doilies for a total of $5 at a thrift store! They all need some degree of minor repair, but as a crocheter that has won more than one blue ribbon at fairs and shows, I'm pretty sure I can handle that!

Ok....I'm off to browse my favorite site, and maybe chat a bit with friends on Facebook! Happy evening to you all, and may your tomorrow, and ALL of your tomorrows be happy, healthy, and positively wonderful!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011 I'm not so good at the blogging thing!

But I DO love my sewing machines! These old girls are something else, I can't imagine ONE modern machine that exists today, sewing like these machines do at 50, 60, 100, and over 100 years old! Wonderful old machines, that actually do what I need them to do....SEW! No computer chips to get corrupted! Yippee!! NOT to say that I don't absolutely LOVE the Janome that William bought for me a couple of years ago, I do! But as old as these machines are, they're going to outlive that machine! This first pic is of a 1934 White Number 8, an electric Vibrating Shuttle machine that White made to compete with Singer's model 27. Evidently there wasn't much competition, because these machines were only made for a year or so, from what I understand. I named her "Fannie", after a woman that worked for William at the Town Pump in Montana. William was quite amused by that, and told me that it worked perfectly, because when I was showing interested guests my machines, I could show them "My White Fannie"!!! He kinda forgot the comma when he said it! LOL

This one is Annie. She's a Singer model 15-91 from 1946. I paid a customer $20.00 for her, she came with the matching stool, full of threads and goodies! Her attachments are mostly "blackside". I named her Annie, because of two things: Her "Queen Anne" cabinet and stool, and I happened to be reading a book that my sweet sis in law had given me about Anne Boelyn. I used this machine to stitch a Hawaiian shirt for William, including the buttonholes! She did a wonderful job....

My 1916 Singer Redeye that I bought in a little shop on the coast for $15.00. Pretty little thing, came with an aftermarket motor that immediately got removed when I got it home. She also had most of the attachments made for this model. This is one of Singer's "oddball" domestic machines, in that the attachments are all "back clamps"....the early model 66 machines are the only ones that have this style of attachments. They can be hard to find, and expensive when you do. She's waiting patiently for a treadle cabinet.

I've named this beautiful machine "Eleanor" after the woman that first purchased her in 1915 in England. I bought her from a couple in Sisters, Oregon, his grandmother was Eleanor Pike. Eleanor passed the machine down to her daughter, Bessie Pike Smith, who passed the machine down to David Smith, who sold the machine to me with the understanding that if anyone in the family EVER decided that they want the machine, I will sell it back. (My offer, not their demand). Eleanor (the machine) is a Singer Model 28K handcrank. The "K" after the model number simply means that the machine was made in Kilbowie, Clydebank, Scotland. I've used this machine to piece some simple quilt blocks, she's absolutely wonderful!! I'm in love with both the motions of operating a handcrank, and with the sound of a vibrating shuttle. I did pay a bit more for this one, but having the history of the machine back to her first owner, along with nearly perfect decals and case made her worth it to me!

Enough with the sewing machines for now...let's talk politics!! Who do you like for 2012, and why?
Honestly, I'm liking Herman Cain... Barry Obama fell so far short of my hopes for him. I didn't vote for him, can't stand his wife, feel sorry for his children, and he's demonstrated that Jimmy Carter is NOT the worst president in history. People made such a big deal of Sarah Palin and how "stupid" she was...but they chose to ignore that Barry thought we had 57 states???
Anyway...I'm interested in what you think!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Obcessive Compulsive...

I've determined that I'm a bit OCD. I'm not the type that has to wash my hands everytime I touch something. I'm definately no "Monk".
I've been watching my behavior over the past several years tho, and I do think I tend to obcess over the things that interest me.
For example. I used to crochet lace doilies. I bought every pattern book I could get my hands on. Produced doilies one right after another. Had every color of thread. Even bought yarn and crocheted a few afghans, but liked doilies better.
Got into romance novels. Would spend hours reading, and go through 7 or 8 books a week. The lady that owned the used book store became one of my best friends!
More recently, I became interested in scrapbooking. Oh my! How I loved it...would spend hours or sometimes days rearranging a layout until I was pleased with it. That lasted five or six years, and then we bought the camper. And along with the camper, we bought a dutch oven. Then two. Then three. I now have six of them...along with other cast iron...muffin pans...waffle irons...skillets...and trivets! Oh my...the trivets! My kitchen walls are lined with them...and I'm still trying to collect the JZH alphabet series of trivets! I find one now and again....but am not collecting the cast iron like I was...and in fact am selling some of it, everything that I don't actually use.
I decided to lose weight, and successfully shed 105 lbs. I did it by being obcessive about it. I learned everything I could about weight loss, and spent hours on . I counted every calorie that went into my mouth...obcessively.
My current love? Sewing, quilting, and sewing machines! This one started when William bought me a Janome for my last birthday. Oh how I LOVE that machine! Then...I saw a 1912 Singer treadle machine in a local antique store. I fell in love! I'd always liked the look of the antique treadle machines, and I pestered William until he bought it for me.
A couple of months later, we were wandering in a thrift store, and there she was! A 1957 Kenmore in a cabinet! And oh my! They only wanted $15 for her! A friend of mine had cams so that the decorative stitch feature would work, she stitches beautifully!
Two weeks ago, we were wandering in a furniture store...they sell higher end used furniture. There we found her...a Wheeler & Wilson #8 treadle machine, made in about 1880. Absolutely BEAUTIFUL machine and cabinet! William bought her for me....had to...the price was absolutely right!
Again today...wandering once more in a thrift store, I happened along a sewing machine cabinet, $35 price tag. Butt ugly pressed wood cabinet, did not expect it to hold anything of real interest, but I opened the lid anyway. Inside was a wonderful 1951 Centenial badged Singer model 201!! I checked it out, no power cord....and there was that butt ugly cabinet! I went and got Willaim...he had stayed in the car...and had him come look at it. Told him that we should maybe make an offer on it..say $15. He did, and they said "Yes"!!! It's an electric machine, with what's known as a "potted motor"...(means the motor is intregal, and the machine is gear driven) Without the power cord, all we can do is make sure it will form a stitch using the handwheel. It does...very nicely! Now as long as the motor runs, we'll be doing good! Well...that and getting rid of that butt ugly cabinet! ;)

Just in case you think I'm slipping by not offering an opinion? I still don't have much respect for the Obama regime... I think he's going to make things pretty tough on all of us for the next two years, until we can get him voted out of office. I didn't like my other choices for the presidency either, I don't like Hillary just because I don't like the woman, and while John McCain was an alright kind of guy, Sarah Palin pretty much turned my stomach.
If only the government would consult me directly about these things...I'm pretty sure I could get this country straightened out!! ~wink and a grin~