Sunday, February 26, 2012


Frannie hates the grooming table and the camera.   Can you tell?
She hates that stupid beret, too.
 I just could not resist.

Getting ready for Class

 Betsy and I are teaching a beginning sewing class starting next week at the Arts Association.  "Bring a child to sew. "  We have room for 6 pair (12 people) so we need 12 machines.  Betsy loves Kenmores and these are the machines being prepped for class.  We want to have all the same style so that it will be easier to trouble shoot issues.  And Kenmores are very very easy to use.

Betsy was pretty sure that I have more machines than she does.  We counted hers today.  She has 82.  Most of hers work.  And most of hers are Kenmores. 

Are we worried that we might be terribly, mentally ill?  Nope.  We would readily take 10 grand for all of our machines.  Then we could just start over again.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


I am trying to get organized.  Taking inventory is the first step.  Originally I had intended to take a photo of each machine, write all of its pertinent data on a card and catalog each machine.  Instead I spent the morning with two magnifying glasses, a very good light and lots of loose sewing machine needles.  Now I have all of the loose sewing machine needles organized and put away.  Only two of about 25 had burr on the tip.  Not too bad.  Still, I won't know how they sew until I actually use them.

Once I had that distraction managed, I repaired the wire on the 158.960 that came from eBay.   I did not completely re-wire the plug.  Instead I carefully slit the two wires apart

and wrapped each one with a bit of electrical tape and then wrapped electrical tape around both of them to complete the repair.  Good enough.  I will, undoubtedly, repair it if I ever sell this machine.

I had to fix the design board next.  It wasn't tight enough, I thought.  Here it is before.  Sorry, no after photo.

 After I walked the dogs I finished a "tool kit" I had started.  I rather like having my tools handy and I now have a "roll up" for scissors, needles, tape measure, seam ripper, marking pen, ruler and other miscellanea.

Supper time came and I had to prepare something since Steven put up my new shop light in the sewing loft.  Pesto pasta.  Quick and delicious, even if the pesto was from 2010. 

Finally, time to get down to counting.  Steven's count was 80; but that was a guess rather than a real count.  I counted.  I have 77.  He wasn't far off.  I didn't think I had more than 75.  That does include the serger and the mid-arm quilting machine.  Only 30 need work.  Some more work than others. 

Kenmore 158.1227

Friday, February 24, 2012

SMAD is the acronym for sewing machine acquisition disorder.  I caught it from Betsy.  I really want to infect some other people in my circle, but so far most of them are immune.  Sometimes I worry about it.  My mother, I know, worries about it.  She told me"You are almost 60 years old...You have enough sewing machines to work on for the rest of your life...."  She may be right.  But you know, I cannot help myself.  I had stopped for a bit and then in the past seven days I purchased 5 more machines.
I did not intend to get that many.

 Betsy made me get the Kenmore 158.960.  No one made me get that 221 from the Northern Catskills.  I really really wanted that poor 301 with the "peanut butter" encrusted needle and presser bars.  The Monty Ward looks lovely, though I admit I have not even inspected her.  The Kenmore from Pete's Place needs some parts (bobbin case and bobbin) but I bet it will be fine.

Now that I have these machines, when will I work on the 201s?  And when will I set up the web page for vintage sewing machine magic?  When will I sew?  When will poor Frannie get her hair cut?

Is there cause for worry?  Only if you are a poor disheveled poodle

Francine Daphne

Kenmore 158.960

I bought this on eBay.  I was the only bidder and Betsy made me do it.  It came from California and arrived today.  Fortunately it was very well packed and did not suffer from the 3000 mile trip.  HOwever, it originally had a case and the wiring suffered terribly from case crimp abuse.
So now I have more wiring to do.  Jeez.  It isn't like I have nothing to do.  But I think I might do a cheater fix on this.  More tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What WAS I thinking?

 I have wanted a long bed 301 and now I have one.  I also have a project.

I just could not stand it.  The dogs were hungry, I was hungry and cold but I had to clean up this machine a little bit.  And WHAT is that stuff that looks like peanut butter?  I tried degreaser, denatured alcohol and finally got out the big guns...kerosene.   Even though I had the little space heater on, it was cold in the shop.  I put the face plate 'door" on a rag on top of the heater and that helped a whole lot.  I am sure warming the sucker up will help.  For now, though,  I managed with a toothbrush and some kero.  I may have to bring this machine into the house to get it warm enough.  BUT  right now it reeks of kerosene.

The shop does not freeze so I am sure the machine will be fine there.  It awaits me....I hope to get back to it on the weekend.
Two more images of the presser foot spring:
Before.  The black stuff at the right end of the spring is congealed oil, I think.  It is pretty thick.

Oh, yes,  the top gears after...
I have not looked at the bottom of the machine but I imagine it is in the same shape as the rest of the machine.

The case is a stinky mess and I have already ripped out some of the moldy interior fabric.  It needs to bake in the oven to get rid of the mold.  But not in my oven.......  Maybe I can get a good hot fire going and put it right next to the stove out in the shop......NOt too close. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Singer 221 continued

The commutator on the motor looked ok from this angle.  I did not want to take the motor off and dis-mantle it last night.  The one brush that I took out looked pretty good, as well.  It certianly was not oily  and the motor did not smell when I ran it. Nor did it smoke.  Both very good signs.

I did put a little grease in the motor grease port. 
Tomorrow I have to go to Albany again.  I have to pick up a long bed 301.  I really want it for free motion quilting.  There is also a vintage Monty Ward there that I may be able to pick up.  Those machines, I believe, were also Japanese made machines.  It may be a good one.


Monday, February 20, 2012


I "won" this Featherweight on eBay.  It was located in the Northern Catskills and since I work just north of the northern Catskills, I figured I could pick it up if I had the winning bid.  When I contacted the buyer to see if I could pick it up, turns out I know her.

This machine originally sold a week or so ago but the first buyer backed out of the deal.  When it was re-listed I decided to bid, what the heck.  I did not really want it.....but I did really want it.... It is just so darn cute.   I could tell that the decals were in good shape from the photo.  My other two are not so cosmetically together.

There is something about eBay.  I am better than I used to be.  I now can just decide, ok that's it, no higher... Just the same, I was anxious as the last minutes ticked away on this item.  It came to me for 4 bucks under my highest bid.  I felt relieved at the same time that I was thinking...."What are YOU THINKING."

But how serendipitous that I know the seller!!!!   I picked the machine up after work tonight.  As it turns out I actually work in the Northern Catskills.. Who knew?  The sellers are antique dealers, of sorts.  Lovely folks and I am pleased that the deal came through.  There is another sewing machine at that address.  But I resisted.  It is a gorgeous 128 but rusty and, well, I have a couple of those. Still.....

The case is in OK shape and it has a KEY.

The screw on the spool pin base was terribly stripped but I managed to free it up.  I guess I will have to find a replacement for this.

The gears were dry.  Which is probably better than being wet and over oiled or greased.
I cleaned them all up tonight.  New grease on gears.  After I clean all the old grease off I like to put some new grease on and clean it all off too.  I think that helps get the old grease off. 
Then I rotate the handwheel to distribute the new grease.

I just ordered the new screw for the spool pin from Jenny at Sew-Classic.  I can't say enough about her site.  She is honest and dependable.  She ships quickly and her rates are so reasonable.  If you ever need anything she has, you should just buy it from her.

I did test the machine.  She stitches and I will do more cleaning and servicing tomorrow.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Treadle On

We had a BLAST. It was cold in there but we managed to have a few folks actually try out the machines.  I wish I had taken more photos.  I just was too busy sewing and chatting with people.  I could retire if I had a thousand bucks for all the people who said"I wonder whatever happened to that old machine we had?"  or "My grandmother had a machine like that."    We even had some kids try out the hand crank and the treadles.  A.  actually made a tote bag on the hand crank.  Here she is winding the bobbin  She loved that little hand crank.

Two darling sisters made tote bags as well.  I helped Z  and Betsy helped L.  Z. ran the hand crank as she sat on my lap and L. guided the fabric as she sat on Betsy's lap.  I would post their photos, but I don't have permission.  They are adorable girls and so into sewing.  L. kept saying she wanted to buy a machine.  Let's hope she gets a vintage one.  Not a Wal mart special.

Looks like we could go back for another demo.  But in the warmer months.  Just the same, it was fun to be there showing folks these great old machines. 

In the photo above.  A Hand crank VS 28,  Betsy's "new" Red Head treadle and my VS 27.  All these machines are older than dirt and still stitching.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Singer Vibrating Shuttle 27

This is Winnie.  I bought this machine on Christmas eve morning 2010.  I was just a baby when it came to sewing machine acquisition and I fell for this machine.  It had a really nice base and a beautiful coffin top.  But no irons.  I am an idiot.  I paid too much and brought her home.

I found a set of irons and thought they would fit the cabinet.  Nope.  So I asked Steven to help me make a plain top for the irons so that I could more easily transport machine and  base to the Farmer's Market tomorrow.  Betsy and I are on display showing off treadling. 

Steve did a great job cutting out the hole for the machine but I forgot all about the belt.  Tonight we had to figure that out.  "We" didn't have the right tools, since the jigsaw was at the job site.  But "We" used the drill and just made do.  The machine works but the belt does rub at the front.  "We" can fix that once this demonstration is over.

I love this machine.  It's serial number dates it to 1898.  Grampa was 10 when this machine was made.  It makes a lovely stitch now that I finally have then tension right.  I do love the little dance a Vibrating shuttle makes.  Bobbin winding is quite satisfying, I might add.  All in all, I think this will be a fun demonstration.  The treadle base is light enough so that I could move it myself.  I do wish that I could have put a second coat of varnish on the top.  Just ran out of time.  Its that FTJ (full time job) that gets in the way.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I am still trying to figure out how to teach a class on constructing a quilted, nine patch tote bag.  I am a trial and error kind of creator.  So the first attempt was too complex.  So was the second.  This third attempt seems pretty straight forward but the end product was smaller than I wanted.  So I am in process of creating a larger one.   The quilting on this is totally bogus.  I just used the Featherweight with the presser foot down and just moved the piece around in the free form pattern.  I should have just quilted in the ditch.  The iPad fits perfectly in this. 
My sister loves this pink fabric.  She selected it to go in a Texas star quilt I made for her years ago.  I could not work with it so I found something else to go in the quilt.  This fabric has been kickking around for a while, then.  I think I will send this little bag to her.  I have a lot of the fabric left so I think I will make an Irish chain quilt out of the rest of it.  It will be a little lap quilt, but at least Alice will have something from that fabric.

I have used the Featherweight for all of the piecing on these projects.  I do like it. I find that my seams are straighter and the stitches are very uniform.  Such precision requires less "squaring up" at the end.  Gotta love that.

This larger tote is ready to quilt.  While I would love to do some free form quilting, I think I will stick to ditch stitching.  It is a demonstration project, after all.  Once it is quilted, I will stitch it up the sides and gusset the bottom to give it some shape.  These are my colors. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

201 Centennial

Yesterday after Betsy and I worked on the lesson plans some,  we checked Craigslist.  Sometimes checking Craigslist is just plain tedious.  I had been seeing the same machines listed and re-listed over and over again.  But yesterday we saw  a new listing.  I knew right away that it was a 201.  So I responded and made arrangements to fetch it tonight.  Betsy had to work and I had to work but we met on the way and drove over in Cherry the Sewing Machine Chariot.

I have surprised more than one seller at the number of machines I can fit into this little VW  Jetta Sportwagon.  I name all my cars.  I always have.  When I was a kid and did not have a lot of money I believed that if I named my cars, they would treat me well.  It has worked so far.  Today though, Cherry did not look this sleek.  It snowed last night, just enough to warrant salt spreading.   She now has a blanket of salt on her nice red paint. It probably prevented that cop in Cobleskill form nailing me for 45 in the 30 zone.  

I use a Garmin to help me find my way.  I thought I knew right where I was going tonight, but let the Garmin lead me astray.  If we had been crows we would have been fine following the more or less straight line that the Garmin determined to be the quickest route.  We are not crows and so we ended up a bit lost and a bit late to our destination.  Next time, I will just ignore the blasted thing.  

I have no idea if these Centennials have more value than others.  The machine is in good shape.  The wires, THANKFULLY, are still intact and there does not appear to be any melting of the insultation.  the foot controller and power cord are not original.  The light works and the motor runs.  And  as my friend Andrea says , "The stabby thing goes up and down."   I am very pleased with this.  It came with some bobbins and in a library cabinet.  We looked at a treadle cabinet that was for sale.  It is a project and I am not into more projects.  Though it is lovely.  I think that we convinced the seller that she could, indeed, refinish it and enjoy it without much worry about devaluing it.  After all, it really is not a priceless antique.  
Betsy picked up a red head.  Not me.  A Singer 66 Red Head.  It is lovely and will, hopefully, fit into her orphan treadle base.  I would have bought it if she hadn't.  I love love love the Singer 66.  But it looks as if the 201 is my logo.  Not that there is anything wrong that. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sewing some more

I know that yesterday I promised that I would describe how I finished the nine patch quilt rows with the borders and the sashing.  I did not finish that project.  Betsy came over and we decided to go with an Irish chain.  My camera was out of juice so no photos.  But we did build a design wall (she built it I supervised).  I sewed and sewed.  I got the featherweight out to piece the strips and squares for the Irish chain project.  I love that machine.  It does make a very nice straight stitch.  I used the piecing foot I bought from Delores Pickens (see my blog list) and I want to get more.  I have used a quarter inch foot on my viking with some success.  But I have NEVER sewn such straight seams in my life.  Now I totally understand the appeal of the featherweight and I know it was worth every penny I paid for it. 

I think that we are going to go with teaching a nine patch square with corresponding setting squares to create an Irish chain.  We will have our learners make a tote bag.  This way they can quilt it on the machine if they would like.  It may be an ambitious project, but what the heck.  it will be fun.

Oh and I may be out of the dry spell.  I hope to go fetch a lovely Singer  tomorrow after work.  We shall see if no one else grabs it before I do.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I started this bag last weekend at Betsy's.  She got the fabric   in a box lot at an auction.  I was trying to figure out a lesson for our class.  I got distracted by this.  It is a print of a quilt design.  I don't like it but I had to finish it.   On Wednesday I "quilted it" on the Singer 66 treadle.  I just followed the lines of the pattern.  It was tedium defined.  The lining fabric is an old bedspread and so it did not have much loft at all.  The quilting improved it only a little.  Today I attached the straps after I zig zagged them on the Kenmore 18031.  Then I tried stitching the straps to the bag with that machine and it just would not handle it.  And the motor is growling at me.  It is not at all quiet the way my 158.1760 is.  I found sewing with the 18031 an altogether unsatisfactory experience.  So I turned around in my chair and tried the 31-15.  Magic.  It sailed right through everything.  I had some trouble getting the knack of the needle lifter but I love that feature.  Now THAT was an altogether satisfactory experience.  So I finished the stupid thing and now I have another odd shaped bag.

Betsy is teaching triangle construction  She assigned me the task of teaching how to make a nine patch square.   I made a nine patch block quilt several years ago.  I got that pattern out and played with it a bit today.

Of course I don't want to make the whole quilt......  But I did want to review the process.  This is what I have so far.

I started with the purple print.  It was a scrap from my very firt quilt and I LOVE this fabric.
 I had an odd shaped piece so I cut   21/2 inch strips out of the biggest part of that scrap which yielded six 32 inch long strips.

I cut six 2 1/2 inch strips out of the lighter green
and sewed them together in strip sets.  One strip was purple/green/purple.  The other was green/purple/green
Each strip set is then cut into smaller strips 2  1/2 inches wide.  Then you can place them in blocks and determine which design you like the best.

Next I stitched the strips together to create the block.  I like to preserve time and thread so I sewed them in a chain.
 Paying careful attention to matching the seams.
 Tomorrow I will show you how I connected the squares.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Launched!!!! GoDaddy!!

I did it.  I bought a .com.  That is what happens when Betsy puts a bee in my Bonnet and I have some spare time.  For under 50 bucks I own this domain for the next two years.  So far I have been very pleased with the technical support from  Go Daddy.  Now I need a drink.