Friday, November 30, 2012

Daphne Throw, still continued.

I don't know if you can see the FMQ  in this photo.  I am having a boat load of fun working on this project.  The designer suggested FMQuilting along the fabric pattern.  I like that idea and wished that I had felt confident enough to do so from the get go.  I am already bored with the meandering thing.  I have over half of the quilt to go and am running out of thread.  I can get more.  I just had wanted to finish today. 

I am not unhappy with the stitches, though I think they could be longer.  That means moving the machine faster or running the motor more slowly.  Since I control the motor with my left hand, it is easiest to just hold the thing down, full throttle (which MIGHT be 500 spm).

I am pleased  with the way it looks on the back, too.  (Boy, this photo has washed out the colors.  It is much more of a teal green. )
 Probably by the time I finish the quilt, my stitches will be more uniform and my meandering will be more interesting. 

The other Daphne
Frannie's middle name is Daphne because Steven would not let me name her FD.  So she is Francine Daphne.  Very proper for a Poodle.  Especially a nesting poodle.

You know it's really bad when.....

We are trekking to North Carolina on Sunday.  It is our annual winter trip to see Mom.  Alice will be there too.  We stay in a great place that caters to dogs and dog people: Barkwells.   Four dogs, four humans and, this year, two sewing machines.  In preparation, I was in the shop figuring out which machine I would take.  I thought about the Singer 221 but figured that I should take a Kenmore.  Alice is bringing hers and I thought it would make the most sense for me to have a class 15 Kenmore along, too.

I got out the 158.1430 that Betsy and I bought this past summer in Clifton Park.  I love that machine.  It is strong, quiet, makes a gorgeous stitch.

 It is a flat bed.  I am not planning to make anything with sleeves, so it should be fine.  As I was working on it, though, I thought "Gee I wish I had this machine in a free arm.  It is just such a nice machine."

As I got ready to come in for supper I saw a Kenmore, in a box, just inside the shop.  I looked at it and wondered "Where in Sam's Hill did THAT come from?"

I could not remember.  Really.  I didn't fret, too much, though.  I knew that I would figure it out.  If not, well, what the heck.  It looked like a nice machine.  Probably one of Betsy's that somehow ended up here (That has happened before, and NO I don't mean the Pfaff).

I took it over to the bench to look at it more carefully.  Wrigley and Wilson understood.  They knew that I had a dilemma on my hands and decided they could wait for their liver and kibble.  Had Frannie not been in the house, snuggled by the fire, she would have been less accommodating.

I turned the thing on its back and recognized it.  I had worked on this machine.
 I remembered putting the spool felts on the bottom of the machine to balance it out since it was missing feet.   I remembered the writing on the bottom of the machine ( I don't need notes to show me where to take what off.  I just start removing screws and parts when I tear into a machine).  Then I remembered the whole story.

Well, there it is.  My Kenmore 158.1430 in a free arm.  Who knew?  I labeled it and packed it for the trip. 

Friends, have you ever found a machine that you did not recognize?  Does it worry you?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Daphne Throw continued

I finished piecing this quilt this morning.  Then I had to wash it and the backing.  While I did that I trained dogs and managed to piss away more time than I had.  Once it was dry I pressed it , using some spray starch.

The instructions merely stated "Piece your backing and then cut a square 60.5 x 60.5.  Honestly, I think that this quilt could be made with slightly less fabric than what she recommends.  It is nice to have some scraps for the stash, though, I guess.

It is always enlightening to make a quilt for the first time.  I would do several things differently next time. 

The sucker is on the frame now and I have made one pass with the meandering FMQ.  I would love to do something like flowers or feathers, but I am a novice and meandering seems to work for me.  I practice the feathers, but they end up looking like a clump of white blood cells under a microscope.  Not pretty.
I likely will run into a problem when it is time to bind this quilt.  The seam allowance at the peak of the contrasting diagonal boarder is about 1/2 inch, if that.  I will probably absorb that with the binding.   The things you learn by doing.

I had a boat load of trouble mounting the quilt sandwich.  I basted it with the thread to the cloth leaders.  That was a huge mistake.  I thought it would be better.  Pinning it is the way to go.  I also forgot to square up the back before I mounted it.  By the time I got the back basted and mounted on the rails, it was a little off.  I adjusted by pulling the excess into the hem and pinning.

I had to do that on the take up rail and on the feeder rail.

I decided that I would machine baste the top to the cloth leader .  That took about 7 minutes, versus thirty or forty hand basting the back to its leader. 

I do enjoy FMQ on the frame, despite the tedium of setting it up.  The Jeans Machine is not fast and I can get some pretty decent stitches with it.  This frame is not as smooth as my newer one.  Now I am inspired to get the bigger one set up with my Bailey.

Grace Machine Quilt Frame

 To clarify how the Mouse Trap Game system of the GMQ carriage and foot controller works.  They have improved on this, but this works fine for me.
a b c and d are all connected to the same gizmo that controls the foot controller
You can stand on one side, as I am in this photo and FMQ.  Or go to the other side and follow a pattern if a stylus were hooked up.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Daphne Throw by Valori Wells

My friend Melany has a lovely store; Project Anthologies  She has some nifty project kits all made up but no EXAMPLES.  So I volunteered to sew up one of her kits so that she can display it.

I want to tell you; the fabric is FABULOUS!  I decided that I would sew everything together first and then run the pieced quilt through the wash BEFORE I make the sandwich.  I know that we are supposed to wash the fabric FIRST but I wanted to get going on this project SOON.  So I cheated.  I am glad that I did.  I just love the smell of warm, steamy fabric finish wafting up from the iron as I press seams.  It brings back memories of.....something.....wait......oh yeah.....warm, steamy fabric finish.

Melany and I decided that I should make the Daphne Throw

 She has coordinating fabric and thread bundled nicely, all cut in the required yardage.  I had to cut the pieces, anyone with two healthy thumbs can do it pretty easily.  I managed.  Don't worry about me. 

It is a 65 X 65 inch quilt.  I plan to quilt it on the frame.  Might as well.  The frame is set up and it will be a perfect size for that frame. 

I love the colors
The directions are pretty easy to follow but I still might put together a little tutorial on how I did it. 

I have to finish piecing it tomorrow morning and then I will wash the backing and the quilt top.  Once they are dry I will set it up on the quilt frame.  That means that I must finish this practice quilt that I have set up on the frame.  Or I could just take it off.
It's been a while since I pieced a quilt. I could have used the Kenmore 158.1760.  It's all set up and ready to go.
Kenmore 158.1760
Or the 158.96
 Kenmore 158.96
I am, however, piecing. I therefore decided that I would use every quilter's dream machine.  One of my Featherweights.
It was a good choice.  The motor, however was lurching.  I think it was likely a loose belt.  But it could have been the fact that I was wearing my "Aging Rock Star Boots" as I was sewing on the button foot controller.  The controller had been re-wired by a Certified Sewing Machine Technician a while back.  The wire to the controller is a bit short.  Betsy said "Well it least it doesn't slide away from you!"  I said "Nope, it dangles."  I guess The Certified Sewing Machine Technician will have to re-do that job!

From the looks of the photo on the pattern card, she did not bind it.  I think that I may have to.  I think I have enough of Fabric B to make a bias tube... Oh won't that be fun.

Now, did anyone notice the double spaces after my periods?  Well, I know that I put them there.  I have decided that it is just too much work for an old lady like me to try to learn that typing rule.  Where will it get me?  Will I be happier?  Richer?  More content?  Will it ensure me a space in Heaven?  Probably not.  So, there. Max doesn't read the blog. He will never know.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Another Apron

I had so much fun making the apron for Joann on Thursday that I started another for my daughter-in-law.  I used the same pattern (an apron I had) but this time I lined it .  I made a bias tube so that I could make a binding all the way around .  But I was having stitch problems and had to give up before it was finished.  This was my Sewing on Sundays project at Betsy's.
I chose burlap because that was the best green I had.  I think that my big problem is that the edge of the apron is of uneven thickness.  It is very thick at the edge where the two fabrics come together and the binding is sewn on, but where the binding is to be sewn on the front, it isn't as thick. The foot is riding on an uneven path, so to speak.  I just had the brilliant idea, just now, to try using the zipper foot.  I will try that tomorrow.

Betsy made a wallet.  She used the one I had made a few weeks ago as a prototype but modified hers by using bias tape around the whole thing before she sewed it up.  She also has those lovely fancy labels. 
I want to make more of these.  They are quick and easy and adorable.  I was at a crafts fair in Somerville on Saturday with Max, Anna and Steven.  We saw some hand made bags, wristlets and aprons.  I cannot imagine what it must be like to sew "production" for a fair.  What a lot of work.

Now for the not so good news.  I can remove the splint from the left hand occasionally now.  Sort of like weaning.... The fracture is not completely healed so I cannot be totally released from the splint.  The thing about fractures is that if they don't hurt, they are healing.  I am not yet ready to go back to work, so that means that I really cannot wrench on machines.  If I sew without the splint on, I must stop if it hurts.  

That means that I won't be doing much blogging about fixing machines, unless I can do it with the splint on.  Now there's a thought.  I will get a big old sock and cover the splint and see if I can work on a machine, or two.  That might cheer me up a bit.  My left thumb is a bit stiff,  it needs some exercise.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Now I Feel Better

She told me not to post a photo of her shop. But I could not resist.  See?  I am not the only one.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Punctuation and Typing

First of all, let me apologize to any of my readers who have been offended by my poor typing. I learned yesterday that it is unnecessary to place two spaces after the period. The computer apparently automatically places one space and one half space for you. I had no idea. I was SOUNDLY admonished by my son yesterday when he read a post on this blog. He clearly was offended. I am concentrating because it is a hard habit to break. I did, after all, learn to type in the summer of 1969 (way before the home computer era) instead of going to Woodstock. Somehow I just knew that learning to touch type would serve me in my life far better than spending time with a bunch of hippies, getting stoned and muddy.

I honestly would never have noticed the difference between this period.  And this period. But I guess there is extra white space. Some folks just cannot tolerate extra white space and my son is one of them. My daughter-in-law did come to my defense. Bless her.

Well, I can forgive him. After all he is a journalist and a PhD candidate at the preeminant university in the country (Ahem). He is teaching a class there about religion and politics as part of his obligation to Harvard for funding his doctoral studies. I guess he knows something. Still there is a part of me that wants to say to him "Get OVER it!"

I do plan to be back to sewing machines and sewing SOON. Tuesday I hope that the splint comes off and releases my left thumb from its bondage. Then not only will I be able to go back to work, but I can get some sewing machines tuned up, stitching and ready for the holidays.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Apron

I had to sew yesterday after I got the loft tidied up.  (I always think of Uma Thurman in The Producers when I say that.  I should spell it Tidy OOP ).

I wanted to make a gift for our hostess and thought that a tote bag would just be too boring.  So I found an apron and used it as a pattern.  I looked up how to make a bias tube on Yahoo ( and had the apron done at 3:45.  Plenty of time for a shower and a change of clothes and a trip down street to the party by 4:00.  We were fashionably late at 4:09.

I learned all sorts of stuff, basic sewing skills that I already know but forgot.  It was a fun little project and plan to make more.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Grace Company Quilt Frame: Machine Quilting

It took a bit, but I got the thing going this morning.  I have decided, however, to switch to a class 15 end loading machine.  It may not have the height and depth that the 66 has, but having an accessible bobbin will help when the thread breaks.  And thread breakage is a reality with this kind of sewing.  At least for beginners.   I also think that a vertical hook will make better stitches.

There are tension issues when you quilt on a frame.  I had forgotten about that.  The bobbin tension needs to be pretty loose.


It looks pretty good when going straight.  But not when meandering.  I can fix it.  But I see no sense in fussing with the 66 when I am going to go to a 15.

I do like the darning foot.  I don't like the feed dog cover.  It takes up just that much more room to make it impossible to change the needle with the cover in place.

I am putting this project aside now.  I have to get a 15 ready.  How glad am I that I did not spend more time on that other 66 I wanted to put on this machine.  Saved myself a lot of trouble.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Grace Machine Company quilt frame

More than twelve years ago I started quilting.  Nine years ago I got Frannie, the poodle.  I stopped quilting then because she took so much time.  But before I got her, I bought a frame so that I could mount my domestic sewing machine on it and machine quilt.  I made one quilt on it.

Now I want to sell this frame.  I have another larger one that fits my "mid arm" machine (it has a 17 inch throat)  This frame has been stored un-assembled.  All of the wooden pieces were sealed when I first bought it and they have not warped at all.  The frame is true and the plastic tracks in which the carriage rides are nice and smooth.

Steven and I spent Tuesday setting up the smaller frame.  We had to set it up in our little apartment above the shop because that is where we had the most floor space.  I hope that a friend of ours wants it.

I found the feed dog cover and the darning foot for the Singer 66.  I had planned to just remove the feed dogs but I think I will give this a try.  Just pure luck, finding those things.
It is tedious to set the quilt sandwich on the rails and get it ready.  I am sure that there is an easier way.  The directions were not that helpful.  I still have to smooth out the fabric, or else hope it "quilts out"  By the time I got this far, I had run out of time.  Tomorrow morning I will try stitching.  Should be fun.


It is listed on eBay.  I hated to have to do it but I have to sell some machines.  This is a nice one, though.  It really is.  If I didn't already have one, I would be keeping this one.  It was such a pleasure to use.  It even accepts plastic bobbins.  My 201 won't do that.  Not without protest.  I should include some metal ones, though.  Just because....

C'mon Baby Light my Fire

We had some trouble with the Hearthstone yesterday.  It smoked, it would not burn well.  Steven was cranky and I was depressed.  I had spent quite a little bit on that stove in hopes that it would be the answer to the heating problem. 

Turns out, there were some issues.  The horizontal stove pipe was one, but there is no fix for that.  It just has to travel horizontally a bit before it hits the chimney.  The blocked vent was another.  Steven worked on it some more last night and this morning.  I know that he had plenty of other things to do and had not planned to be working on a wood stove this week. 

The other problem was that it was warm outside yesterday, relatively speaking.  The warm outside temperature prevented a good up draft in the chimney.  When winter finally hits, that problem will be solved.

We were able to have a fire in the stove today.   It just needed more air and with the vent cleaned and the other air vent released, it burned well, without smoking.

And Steven gave his approval.

"I think it will be just DANDY."


No sun - no moon!
No morn - no noon-
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day,
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no bees -

My mom loves this poem.  This November, however, has been the exception.  We have had more sun this month than we did in October.  It has been clear at night and the crescent moon was very lovely hanging there in the dark sky.  

Today's forecast is for the same....Sunny with the high in the lower 50s.  It might be hard to get a fire going in the shop stove, but we will try...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Time for an Intervention or Why I did not go to the Auction

Yes, it disturbs me.  It would not be in this shape if I had two healthy thumbs or if I had that tidy gene.  I have tried discipline. It hasn't helped.  There are not machines on the top shelf.  Only cases are stored there.  Why am I keeping empty cases?  The 301 Grass cases may have some value if I can get them less stinky and in better shape.  Or else I am just going to give up and put the machines back in them and call it good.  Something's gotta give.

Don't worry, Mom.  I will clean it up as soon as I can.  Tomorrow might be a good day for this chore.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Betsy called me this morning at 8 AM.

"I am calling so that you can talk me out of going to an auction in Cobleskill."

"You are calling ME to talk YOU OUT of going to an AUCTION?"

"Yes, there is a sewing machine there.  I want you to tell me it isn't worth going there for.  Go to and look."

So I did, of course.  The machine was in a case and it was not any machine that I recognized nor wanted.  It wasn't too hard to talk her out of going.  We have too much to do. 

"OK good.  I have too much to do.  I will be over at about one."

The board meeting for Sewing Machine Magic was to  meet  at two today and we had to prepare.  Our board is pretty strict

If we are not prepared, they will likely cut off our funding.

Betsy arrived promptly, on time, at one thirtythree.  She did say "about one."  We got right down to business.  First we had to review the video I took of Steve and Kurt moving the Heartstone Stove from the truck to the shop:
Then we had to review the video of Vic loading it into the Truck yesterday.
 OK, I have a tractor with a bucket loader.  It is very tricky to ease that bucket down smoothly and carefully.  Kudos to Vic for being such an expert.  

Finally we got down to some business.  As in recording the $9.60 in sales tax that we collected so far this quarter.  And then we had to figure out how to create an account with the SONY so that we can PAY our quarterly tax bill when it is due in December.  If that wasn't enough frustration, then we took more photos of the pristine, vintage 329K we want to list on eBay and uploaded them.

Finally we had a chance to sew and headed out to the toasty sewing loft to make some diapers.  Betsy is to be a Grandmother in a few months.  She is getting ready.

We each made one.  Admittedly hers (the yellow one) came out better.  She has two healthy thumbs.

They were pretty easy to make.  But still, the meeting went way over and the board got frustrated with us for delaying dinner.  None the less, they were appeased with some liver topping their kibble and a raw hide each.
Now two of them are sound asleep next to me. 

More Heat

In contrast to the Hearthstone, this little stove was light enough for Steven and I to carry it up the stairs to the loft.  It is efficient and easy to light.   After about four hours, it gets too hot in the loft on days like today (mid forties and sunny)  But when it is fifteen or twenty out, we all love it.  It won't keep a fire going overnight.  But if I were to stoke it at midnight, there would be nice coals for morning.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


The shop is heated now with a Vermont Castings Vigilant.  It was cast off from the house because I really hated that stove.  It did not keep a fire long, it was hard to load and basically, it sucked.  It was adequate for the shop because it is new construction and very well insulated.  But the heat never really made it into my shop. 

We replaced the Vigilant  with a Hearthstone Heritage which  I just love.  The soap stone keeps the heat, the stove is easy to light and keep going and it warms us very well.  We hardly use the oil burner on days like today.  In winter when it is really cold we do have to run the heat to prevent the bathroom from freezing.  It's an old house. 

A new soapstone stove (Hearthstone or Woodstock) , large enough for the shop, would cost about three grand, we think.  Well, I found one on Craigs List that was only 1100 bucks.  It wasn't too far away (closer than some sewing machines I have purchased)

Ok so it doesn't have a catlytic converter and there is no ash tray.  BUT it is HUGE and it has all that mass of soap stone to hold the heat.  I am happy.

The guy loaded it into the pick up with his tractor.  Now all we have to do is get it off, into the shop and hooked up.  No small feat for something that weighs  600 pounds.  Our tractor won't manage it.  It barely could handle the Heritage.  BUT  we have friends and neighbors with big equipment.  Soon I cam have real heat in the shop.  So that when I want to work out there all weekend, it will stay warm from Friday through Sunday....  Oh happy day.

Friday, November 16, 2012

I'm RICH !

 I saw this ad on the local Craigslist today. No picture, mind you.

antique Singer sewing machine complete with bench and drawers - $1000 (East Greenbush)

 late 1800 model Singer sewing machine very clean original patina have seen similar machines go for 3 to 4000 at auction contact Dave at ******* area code ***serious inquiries only please 


I showed the ad to Steve.

 "Holy S***, honey!  You are a bleeping millionaire !  Quit your job now!"



Thursday, November 15, 2012


 A few weeks ago I cleaned the house.  This was a momentous occasion.  Steven  seized the opportunity and invited some friends over for dinner.  He cooked (i.e. ordered take out from the Chinese restaurant).

K. brought over a beer that had been given to him.  It came from Middle Ages Brewing Company in Syracuse.

Now,  I am a wine drinker and had started on a glass of a very nice Albarino.  But I tasted that Dragon Slayer Stout and LIKED IT.  K. and Steven liked it too.  D. and I were jabbering away about sewing and machines while they were slowly sliding under the table.  The stuff is STOUT. D and I were oblivious to their increasing inebriation.  Turns out, D. learned how to sew on a 201 and was thrilled to see mine in the sewing loft.  Long ago her 201 disappeared.  She said she would like another. ( I wonder where she would ever find one?)

Tuesday Steven and I were reminiscing about that dinner and about that beer.  I looked up the brewery on the internet and we decided that we should go over for a visit one day.

"All we have to do is find a sewing machine up that way and we can go." he said.  Oh the enabling..

I needed no more encouragement.  I immediately checked Craigs List.  Whoopee  There was a 201-2 for sale in Liverpool.  I responded right away.

"Can you go tomorrow?" I asked him.

"Nope, I have to show the apartment."


"I have to work."

"Friday is out for me, I have a hair thing."  (I might add that it is sacrilegious to EVER cancel a hair thing with my hair dresser.  It just isn't done)

"Well, you know, D. wants a 201-2.  This looks like it might be a good one for her. If its available I may just have to go by myself."

 I did and came home with a 1947 201-2 in a very nice Singer # 42 Cabinet.  You cannot tell from the picture, but the numbers on the SL regulator are legible.  The machine has been used but it is dry.  The motor leads look OK but I haven't checked them thoroughly.  I disconnected them with my good hand and the seller lifted the machine out of the cabinet and loaded them both into the Jetta.  Steven brought them into the shop for me.  This dependent damsel nonsense is getting to me. Not my style.

I am keeping this cabinet.  D. may get the machine.  She can have the library cabinet that I am using now or the other 42 I have.  Or I may keep this machine, depends on how it stitches.....

Oh how I love the 201-2

And to read what was originally said about the #42 Cabinet check out this link:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Kenmore Mounting Bracket

It fits into the opening of a Kenmore cabinet but it must be large enough underneath to accommodate the sewing machine when it is lowered for storage.  

I have to mounting bolts as well.  This came from a 158.1760.  A free arm machine but I imagine any machine that has port for the bolt will work in it. 

Contact me at if you are interested.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Leave it to a Pro

I took the Poodles to the groomer today.  There is just no way that I could groom them and they were pretty ratty.  Steven had helped me with Wrigley last week.  He held him while I ran the clipper with my right hand.  It really is a two handed job  I couldn't get a good result. I need my left   to counter balance  my right.  Steven ended up doing much of the job, including, of course the bath.
Wrigley doesn't look too bad in this photo.  But just see him in the flesh...