Friday, June 29, 2012


 Steven and I are trekking over to Boston tomorrow to see the grand kids.  There is a problem with my grand kids.  They haven't been born yet.  So we will settle for visiting their parents, my son and daughter in law.  It is predicted to be 102 tomorrow over there in Bean town.  Great  I hate the heat.  I almost cancelled. BUT the kids are so busy and this may be the only chance I have to visit all summer.  I am going. 

Max called earlier tonight and said the magic words, "Do you have a sewing machine you could bring along?"  Turns out, they have a friend who has a "little sister" who wants to learn to sew.  I am taking along a little Kenmore 385.12321 four stitch machine.   It is perfect for a beginner.  I am trying to acquire more of these machines, but they are hard to come by lately.  Maybe I will look at Craigs List in Boston....  HMMMMMM...

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Steven has been kind enough to help me design basic little bases for the sewing machines.  The pine that I used for the last two certainly worked out well;  notching out the backs where the hinge pins go was easy peasy.  I can almost do it with a utility knife.  But, its pine, for heaven's sake.

Look what I found in the Dutch Barn...oak flooring.  OOOOOHHHH LA LA
It looks to be just the right width, too. Now, I am never going to be able to whittle away notches in this stuff.  Time to learn how to router.......But we have to agree, oak bases are much nicer than pine.  I think I will buy myself a new set of drill bits..... good ones......and beg for  a lesson on the router.  I bet I can learn how....I just don't want to use that table saw.  It scares me....

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

No Treats for you tonight!!!

We told you, well, Wrigley told you, to stay home and not buy any more machines.  But did you listen?  NOOOOOOO.   See these steely eyes?  That is NOT the sun too brightly shining.  It is the look of...YOU ARE SO IN TROUBLE.  NO TREATS FOR YOU TONIGHT!!!!

Capital City Cash was open when I got there at a little after ten today.  The folks were very friendly there and helped me right away.  I did have to exit one building and wait in the entrance way to another store front as the NYM (Nice Young Man) went to fetch my machine.  I had been, admittedly, a little bit nervous about going to the Pawn Shop by myself.  And I was a bit peeved to have to go back.  But , by the time I got there I had scored two other sewing machine related items  (why the dogs have disciplined me ) so I was in pretty good spirits.
Kenmore 158.1814
 I am going to tell you, that Singer 223 is HEAVY.  This quilter's tote came in pretty handy at the Pawn Shop

Actually, the pawn shop was NOT EXACTLY opened when I arrived.  I had parked a couple of blocks away and as I approached the shop I saw a man outside the shop, sort of hunched over a big crate. 
"Are they open?" I queried.
"In a few minutes,  Gotta boot up the computers." He replied with only one side of his mouth.  The other side worked, he just chose not to use it.
"I'll be right back."  like he CARED?... I have no idea why I said that....

I trekked back to the car to fetch the tote.  By the time I got back,  he had disappeared inside.  The foyer was dirty, as I expected it would be, and the inside of the shop was dark.  But, there were some NYM inside working.  One, mine, was applying shipping tape to a big, flat, box, which I suspect housed a Flat Screen TV.   When he brought out my machine he said " My mama never owned a sewing machine so I have no idea what it is supposed to look like." 
I examined the machine briefly,  and then,  he was kind enough to place it inside the tote and I high tailed it back to day light and the car.  WHEW.  I had the Singer 223.
When I took this picture I realized that I have seen this model of Singer before.  Last fall I worked on one at the Ray White class.  That one had little seeds inside of it and was pretty locked up.  The light was missing as I recall and the machine did nothing for me.  Now I am intrigued.  It came with a manual.  I guess I will spend some time with it.  Its kind of cool looking and not like most of the Singers I own.  I actually chased this down for Rain ( and I really think that I should pass it along.  All of you who are afflicted with SMAD  understand my dilemma.  Rain does too.  He has said, over and over, "Only if you don't want it..."  My problem?  There really isn't a sewing machine I don't want....well, OK, a Singer Touch and Sew... No thanks.  And a EuroPro,  nope.  But a Vintage Singer ......shoot......It is missing its spool pin and who knows what else.  The bobbin case and bobbin are intact.  The foot controller looks ok but the wires should be replaced.  There is a knob in front; I wonder if that is to lower the feed dogs.

It has a pretty cool case.
 That nifty hand cart I bought for Betsy to use in her shop.  She needs something like that to move her machines around.  It was an impulse purchase from Mr. Vivian (Vivian's husband) who sold it to me when I bought the Kenmore.  He claims he just decided to sell it last night.  Who knows?  He had all sorts of stuff there, including about a gazillion little American Flags that you can attach to the car.  No thanks, I want to keep my car as stream lined as I can, better gas mileage that way.....

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Don't Do it!!! Don't buy another sewing machine

Wrigley barks a lot.  He is pretty tired of me gallivanting off to all sorts of New York places to fetch machines.  He is telling me here to stay home and play with him, just before I left on that bogus trip to Troy. 

I am heading to the pawn shop tomorrow.  They promised me they would be open and apologized again, for the mistake.   I do have another machine lined up to fetch as long as I am going that way.  I wonder if I will ever stop?

Maybe it is time to retake inventory........   Nah.....

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Singer 201-2 and me

I had many goals for today.  I accomplished two of them.  One was to mow another pass around the field at the top of our ten acres.  The other was to play with the ruffler on my Singer 201-2.   I was rather hoping that I could use the ruffler to make pleats for a very pretty clutch.  The ruffler works very nicely to make pleats, but the bite is too shallow and won't work for this application.  Nice try, though

So as long as I had the 201-2 out  I thought I would start on my daughter in law's birthday present.  Max said that I should make her a big tote bag with a zipper.  I actually bought some fabric earlier this year just for this project.
She likes green

BUT before I cut into this fabric, I wanted to make a prototype.

Zippers and I don't get a long that well.  I have never perfected a straight seam when I sew the zipper in place.  I worked all afternoon on getting it just right.  I worked so hard, I didn't take any pictures.

I did take some pictures when I first started.  This one, of the machine sitting in its base that I built, shows just how messy my sewing loft is.
It is even worse now.

I know that I have a lot of machines.  Some people think I have a scarey number of machines and some people are worried about me.  I am not worried about me.  I cannot stand the mess around me.  I could not be a hoarder because I am bothered by the mess.  Not so bothered to stop sewing today and clean up.  But bothered enough so that this week I vow to organize that loft.

The 201 is a wonderful machine and this one is my logo.  I love how it sounds
I worked away with it and everything was going fine until all of a sudden the stitch was all wrong.  It was just awful.  I could not figure out what was wrong.  I changed the bobbin, no better.  It seemed to be fine and then when I would really put the "gas" to it, it would get all phooey.  I spent two hours trying to figure it out.  Yes, I changed the needle, yes, double checked the threading, both top and bottom.  Finally, I oiled the race and got another new bobbin and moved the machine from the folding table to a regular sewing machine stand.  Something I did fixed it.  I think.... I hope......

Almost to 30,000

Right now the blog has had 29,576 hits.  This week we will hit 30,000.  Thanks to all of you. (  I don't track my own pageviews.  )

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Consolation Prize

I had vowed to stay off of eBay after my last debacle with the Kenmore 158.  That seller offered to take the machine back but did not offer a partial refund, which I would have preferred.  I decided to just keep the machine.  I can fix the stupid thing and it is a free arm and it is light weight enough for classes and it is a Japanese made what the heck.  Lesson learned, right?

Well, not so fast.  There was a machine relatively close by and I figured I could just pick it up should I "win" the auction.  Which I did.  And so I emailed that seller and asked SPECIFICALLY if I could pick the machine up today.  Sure, no problem.  It was, after all at a business location and "just tell them at the counter that you have an eBay purchase..."  Right.  Except that when we (Sonja went with me, this time.  I am trying to convert her) got there,  IT WAS CLOSED .  Oh boy.........I sputtered a bit...  and then sputtered a bit more.  " Well,  dog hooey."  or something else....

I tried emailing the seller.  No luck.  So much for the smart phone.  I still haven't heard from the seller as of this writing, though I did email him/her through eBay so that there is a record of how FAR I had to drive to fetch this machine.........I really do not want it shipped.  So I reckon I will trek back up that way during business hours later in the week.  GEE WHIZ.

BUT all is not lost.  Craigs List did not fail me.  I found a parts machine for 10 dollars.  Worth 2 probably but you know me and charity cases.
This is a 1951 Singer 15-91.  It is in pretty rough shape and I am not going to revive it.  It is a PARTS MACHINE.

The motor is worth ten bucks, or more.

The foot controller is probably in pretty good shape, just dirty.  It depends on how many times it has been dropped.  The female three prong connector is intact and I love having them around.  And Mr Three Pin Terminal looks pretty healthy as well.

So all was not lost today.  Sonja is great company, but I got a feeling she is not going to acquire SMAD.  She has two machines.  One is a Kenmore that she bought with her first paycheck after graduating from Nursing School sometime in the 70s.  The other is a Viking 6030 that she bought from me, which I bought from Betsy.  At least it is getting used which 79 of my 80 machines are not.

We did stop in Joann's on the way home.  I bought some interfacing for a project that you can check out on the other blog  I also bought some elastic thread.  That is for some shirring that I want to try.  That post will be on the Magic blog too.  When I get to it.  Tomorrow I have to mow.

The museum improving all the time

Part of the reason that I want to make the bases is so that the machines look better on display
 Seven more to go.  I have stock for one more.  Steven is out of town.  When he comes home he will cut me some more.  If I were brave I could do it myself.  The table saw frightens me.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The triumph of hope over experience

I don't know why I don't stop buying machines on eBay.  I guess I am addicted.  BUT I must stop.  My most recent experience has convinced me

I love the Vintage Kenmore 158s.  The free arms are especially nice.  I use my 1760 happily and the free arm comes in handy frequently.  So I bought a machine on eBay and it arrived, poorly packed and damaged.  I am pretty sure the machine is ok.  But the very nice case was cracked on top and I could tell it was a new fracture.
I also discovered that the machine "ready to go" does not function properly.  The special stitches do not work and the needle bar moves with bobbin winding.  I contacted the seller who agreed to take the machine back.  I packed it all up (better than how it was shipped to me) and was ready to cart it off to the United States Post Office.  I turned around and discovered the foot controller still on the work bench.  Defeated I decided to keep the stupid thing.  I bet I can get it to work.  But I was hoping it would be ready to go, as promised.  There you have it .  The Triumph of HOPE over experience.

I should know better

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I did it again

Singer 201-2 Centennial 

Steven cut me some "stock" today for my bases.  I made this one all by myself.  It is not as slick as the one he made.  But I will get there.  I can sand it and paint it and that will cover up the mistakes.  How often have I heard "Putty and paint make the carpenter a saint"?    or "We're not building pianos here.."

Still I think this machine looks more handsome with a base.   I think that this machine was used in the schools  There are about three or four sets of initials on the machine bed.. It probably will affect the value... but it is rather touching...thinking about young love and high school crushes....

I have not put bottoms on the bases.  I could but that is another step.  Since my goal is to provide bases only, not cases, I figure bottoms aren't crucial.  I might do it ...Maybe Steven will show me how to use his finish nailer...oh boy another tool...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

It all happened so fast

For my birthday I was promised a whole day of sewing machine related activity.  That was three months ago.  I decided to cash in a few hours at a time.  Tonight Steven agreed to teach me how to make bases for the sewing machines.  I didn't even have time to take photos of the process.  Though I tried.
He plans to rip me some stock.  I am sure that I can manage the chop saw
And the drill to drill the pilot holes for the screws.  I just have to practice.
That sheet rock screw and fender washer are for another project; putting up foam insulation in the Dutch Barn so that the sewing loft is not ice cold next winter.

Steven did suggest that I use sheet rock screws to screw the bases together.  I said " I'd rather not, if you don't mind."

We did glue the pieces together and held everything in palce with clamps while I drilled the holes and put the screws in.  I have about fifty of these bases to make.  I think..   Yup that could be accurate.  I have ten machines in the house alone that need them.  Well I will be busy.....

But how nice it looks even with that chipped piece of wood.

Compared to..

I am very happy.  And I have about 10 more hours of my birthday present left.  I figure a 12 hour day is about what I am worth... Hmmmm wonder if I can get him to help me put up the shelves in the shop tomorrow?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Betsy and I launched a .com and a blog.  We have decided that we really need to get organized and make it official.  All this fun.  We just have to spread the joy!!!

So we dropped the Vintage from Vintage Sewing Machine Magic and  bought another .com.   So far there is just one page.  But we will have more.  All we need to do is get more organized....

The blog will focus on sewing adventures.  Check it out today.  I have a tutorial on a how to make a drawstring bag.  It is for the beginner. So for those of you who sew, it will be quite redundant.

Everyone loves a good before and after

The problem with before and after... you have to have decent before photos to appreciate the after.  I don't have decent before photos.

"What's the story with the two sewing machines in the Dutch Barn?"my beloved asked this morning, "Are they trash?"

"Nooooooo..." I said just as the canines and I were heading up the hill.

"Oh, so now you are storing machines in there, too."

"Well, actually,"  I lied, "I was hoping that you would help me put that up on a couple of saw horses when I get back from the walk so that I could wire brush it and paint it." Referring to the 114 year old treadle base I bought last Saturday for 10 bucks.  It came with a machine and a cabinet.

So now I was committed.  DARN.  I wanted to SEW today...

The treadle works.  It clearly was re painted at some point.  It has some rust and is dirty.  Its a project.

 I took the cabinet off.  It was held together with "carpenter's duct tape."  AKA the sheet rock screw.  These little C brackets attach the drawer casements to the treadle stand.
So rather than sewing, I spent the day with this treadle base.

Steven, helpful man that he is, offered his drill and some wire brushes.  I was hoping he might take over....false hope...

I determined that it would be best to take the treadle apart.  It is so rusty that I have to be able to really clean it before I repaint it.

But I could not get the pedal off.

I was afraid to bang on the pin holding the wooden (imagine MY surprise, wooden parts on treadle irons) pitman rod in place.  So I didn't.  But I think that I will later when I work on this project some more

The cabinet has been "repaired".  More sheet rock screws.  I don't think that I will keep the treadle top.  I have already ditched the drip reeks of mold... and the top is is bad shape.
I did salvage the drawers and their casements.  But just in case I keep the top, I replaced those sheet rock screws with the some wooden screws of the correct length.  Morons.

I could sand it and stain it and it would look ok.  But the plywood is delaminating on the right side and there is dirt and debris embedded in there.  That is a decision best left to another day....

Not photos of after,  but during...

PS I got the pin out of the pitman rod.  Because it is wood I think that I will gently clean it and paint it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Drawstring bag

 I sewed yesterday.  Each sewing machine needs a bag for its accessories and foot controller/power cord.  Draw string bags are perfect.  I also wanted "boxes" for attachments.  I have been experimenting.  The "box: in the left is time consuming but sturdy.  The one on the right is a drawstring bag with gussets.  It was much easier to make and rather cute all drawn up.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Singer 221: How to remove the bobbin case base

Rose emailed me about her Singer 221 (aka Featherweight).  She turned the hand wheel backwards and it is all bound up.  I told her I thought it might have a thread lock.

There is a free adjuster's manual available on line.  If you go to my resources page and scroll down to the link about FW you will see it.

First remove the needle plate.  Betsy is demonstrating this.  I like to use the Brownell bit set.  She, however, is a fan of the long shaft screw driver.

Now the proverbial finger of the bobbin case is released from the position bracket on the needle plate.  When you replace the bobbin case base be sure it is positioned correctly with the finger nestled in the position bracket. (This is a 301, it is the exact same concept though the parts are not necessarily interchangeable)

Loosen the gib screw that holds the gib in place and rotate the gib outward.

 Now you will be able to turn the bobbin case base clockwise a bit and lift it out

If there are threads locked in behind the hook, that will be another post.

Singer 27 vibrating Shuttle treadle

They wanted 50 bucks.  I offered ten and they balked but finally relented when they knew I was leaving.  I am sure I was the only interested party. It is missing the shuttle, the bobbin and the slide plate.

 UPDATE: November 22, 2012

I just checked my Boye Needle dispenser and found a shuttle and a bobbin for "Singer New Style" 

It looks a little small.  I will have to test it out.

 Everything is varnish and I think it is real varnsh over dirt....The cabinet had been "refinished" the veneer is gone and the irons spray painted silver.  They are rusty but work.

Its old:
1898 according to the ISMACS website.  I could barely read the serial number.  So I picked out the numbers and coated them with Mothers polish so that I could read them.

Now that I know it is that old,  maybe I will have to restore it.....

I have a fiddle bed VS I think I will look up that serial number and choose between the two.

Honestly, I have enough to do....

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Singer 403A tension

 Lisa A. wrote:
"My new-to-me 403a tension dial with numbers just spins. The nut does not have any pin to fit in the holes on the dial. Is there a pin on the nut on your machine, to hold the numbered dial in place? I wonder if mine has a broken or wrong part."

No Lisa your nut is not broken.  It does not have a pin in it.

The tension numbers are adjustable.  Yours spins, perhaps because you are missing other parts?  Does the nut have a set screw like this?   Does it have the chrome collar?
 Perhaps the set screw is just loose or the nut is adjusted too loosely to keep the numbered dial from spinning.

In order to "set" the numbered dial you do need to loosen the set screw and remove the chrome collar.  Loosen the nut just  until the numbered dial spins easily.  Turn the numbered dial to the desired setting ( I like to use 4 for the perfect stitch when I am "stitching in" a machine) and while carefully holding the dial at your selected setting, tighten the nut so that it is secure against the numbered dial.  Then replace the chrome collar and tighten the set screw.


Wrigley is the miscreant and never misses an opportunity to steal food.  Steven had left some tomato  soup on the stove.  I went upstairs for ONE second.  When I came back downstairs, Wrigley skulked across the dining room.  But he could not hide the evidence:

I just put the soup in the fridge.  Steven never reads the blog.  He will never know....

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Road Trip

Betsy and I went to Clifton Park yesterday afternoon after work.  We both had a half day.  After we prepped her Dreams Park Rental for the next guests we drove east to fetch two machines. 

A White 477
And a Kenmore 158.14301

As you can see, I have already started to service the Kenmore.  Then I realized that I am supposed to be getting organized and took some photos.

I also set up the Makita compressor.  Steve gave it to me and I finally got all the quick connectors installed.  Wilson did not like the noise but I sure did like blowing all the dust out.  After I cleaned the race and rinsed it with denatured alcohol, I blew it dry.  NICE.

I still have more servicing to do.  I have to clean and re-grease the gears but this is an all metal machine.  It came with buttonholer and feet in the original attachment box.    It's a very nice machine to add to the inventory over here at Vintage Sewing Machine Magic.