Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I made that list of all the sewing machines.  Now I am entering the information into a spread sheet.  It won't surprise any of you when I confess that I have forgotten where and when I acquired some machines.  The nice thing about spreadsheets is that you can manipulate the data.  I have 84 machines entered.  I have about 20 to go.  (I found about three or four more machines that I had not counted on the original list. Including the 201K that is in North Carolina).

For fun I added up the grand total of what I had paid.

"Three Thousand three hundred fifty four dollars and fifty cents.  And that includes the 2200 dollar Viking."


Why he thought that was so funny, I will never know.  

"It doesn't include the Baily. I don't remember what I paid for that."

"I think it was a couple of thousand, honey."

"Oh, really?  Maybe not so much."

Somewhere I have the receipt for it.  I meant to look today but got distracted with data entry, vacuuming  and packing a 201-2 for shipping.  

We are heading back to NC on Friday.  Our dog sitter is one of the loveliest people in the world and she would not give a hoot if the house was a mess.  But I did have to make a meager effort at tidying up. 

"Are there rules about wiping dog paws when they come in from outside?" she asked when Steven called her to confirm.


We have no rules about dog paws.  We accept that dogs will track in stuff and poodle dogs track in more stuff when their paws are ungroomed.  Like now.  I did grind their nails down.  I just haven't had time to groom any dogs.  Maybe in April.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

OFF TOPIC Tailgating or FTC; Defensive Driving

 I hate tail gaters.  These are the drivers who follow too closely (FTC).  It really ticks me off.  Yesterday on my way to work, such a driver was following me so closely that I could not see his head lights.  That is close.

I pulled over.  He passed me and promptly came upon the car in front of me and tail gated that car for the next ten miles.  What a jerk.  We were traveling on country roads where the deer and the antelope play (OK no antelope, but certainly deer).  If a deer jumped into the road, there would be no way to avoid the tail gater rear ending the car in front of him. 

So what is the point?  Why drive that closely to another car?  I learned how to drive in the era of allowing one car length between you and the car in front of you  for every ten MPH you were driving.  At thirty MPH that would mean three car lengths.   The problem? I never new how long my car was because all my life I was misinformed on how big six inches really is.

  Now we are taught the three second rule.  Allow at least three seconds time between you and the car in front of you.  Pick a land mark on the side of the road; say a sign post.  When the car in front passes it start counting One Mississippi Two Mississippi and Three Mississippi and you should pass the land mark.  If you pass too soon, slow down.  If you pass later, say at four or five, don't speed up.  This holds true at 30 MPH and at 70 MPH. 

So, if you are a tail gater,  you know if you are, slow down and drop back.  Why risk anyone's life or property?  You never know if someone you are following might have a sewing machine in the trunk.  If you rear end that car, there goes that wonderful machine (I don't mean the car)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Singer 319W

Yes, I posted this photo again.  After I cleaned up the shop I set to work servicing this machine.  I don't know how many of you are familiar with these machines.  Singer made them in the 50s.  The 206 was the first zig zag, I believe.  The 306 and the 319 were later versions.  They all take a 206X13 needle.  And they all have this funny cleated belt that drives the machine

 This belt is in good shape but it seems a bit loose to me.  I compared it to the 306W parts machine and my other 319W.

The "keys" at the top of the machine select the stitch.
The horizontal camstack looks suspiciously similar to the "fashion discs" that offer more selection in decorative stitches
You have to tip the machine up to get to the bobbin and shuttle.  It is neither a class 15 nor a class 66 bobbin. It is an L bobbin and bobbin case. They are still available, though, as are the needles.  (No bobbin case in this photo.  I did check it and it seems to be in good shape) There are gears driving the shuttle, too.
It is cleaning up very nicely, I think.

I am never going to sew with this machine.  I have to face it.  I adore it, none the less.  I bought it because I wanted to save it from the dump.  I thought I would clean it up and sell it.  The loose belt worries me, though.  I doubt it will break anytime soon.  But when I sell a machine, I like to know it is working.  So I will keep this one for the museum and sell my "Good" 319W.  Its belt is fine and it is in better cosmetic shape.  Plus it comes with a very nice base.  It also has the original light green wiring.  I also have an original manual.  Am I sad?  Not really.  I have too many machines. 
Singer 391W vintage 1956?


I have counted all of my machines at one time and another.  Back when I had only 12 (November 2010) I could tally them in my head. I remembered where each one came from, how much I paid and each story of the acquisition.

Today I wrote down each machine's make and model, serial number if I could see one or if it had one, date acquired and  comments.

I have exactly one hundred machines. 

Most work, some are parts machines (only five, so far).  Too many need attention and servicing.     I have forgotten when I got many of the machines.   I estimated dates and, since I rarely pay a lot for a machine I also estimate cost.  The real bargains I remember as well as the over priced silly purchases.  The factual  information may be retrievable.  I took pictures so I may be able to figure out dates.  Only one is a mystery machine.  It is a Singer 27 vibrating shuttle.  It is possible that it is the machine that belongs in the treadle cabinet that went back to Betsy.

Will I stop at 100?  Nope, not a chance. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Snow Country

The forecast for today was 70% Wintry Mix with little to no ice or snow accumulation. 

"Perfect. We can head up to Utica to fetch that 319W.  Do you think we should take the Tacoma or my car?"

"I don't think it matters."

"OK  Let's take the Jetta.  It's got studded snows.  We won't need the 4WD." 

 We were running late, as usual.  Since the appointment was for 0930 I pulled over, just off of Route 12 to phone the seller to let him know we were on our way. 

"Ten minutes out," I claimed.

Two minutes later, we crossed into Snow Country

The road wasn't really slippery.  The change, though was dramatic.  Steven claims it wasn't from Lake Effect; something about the temperature being wrong.  But all of a sudden we went from no snow on the ground to this.  Needless to say, my ETA was off.

One really should check the cleated belt on these old 319s.  I did check the bobbin case and it looked fine.  Not chewed up at all.  It was not IN the machine. It had fallen out onto the board in the bottom of the cabinet.  We loaded her up and headed over to Harbor Freight and out of snow country. 

5127 Commercial Drive, Yorkville. 

"I have never heard of Yorkville," the world traveler said. 

"Neither have I, but Harbor Freight is there."

"They have a retail store?"


We found Commercial Drive but no Harbor Freight.  Thank You, Garmin for getting us lost. 

"There it is!" exclaimed Steven as I turned the car around in the Hubbel's parking lot. "But how do we get there?"

It was on the other side of Route 5, a major 4 lane highway with, we thought, limited access. 

After chasing down all the side roads around  Route 5 in  search  of   HF, we finally just drove down Route 5 and there was a turn off, right into the Parking lot. 

 I had heard that HF had cheap rotary blades that lasted longer than the ones sold to replace the ones for the rotary cutter I own.  The blades were as elusive as the store was.  Finally I found them. 
1.99 for two. We shall see if  1) they fit and 2) they are better.

Just the same I had a blast wandering around the store.  Steven found a tool box and did not even complain that I took a long time just feeding my tool fetish.

By the time we headed home it was raining.  Not enough to rinse the Jetta of its coating of sand and salt.  Darn.

I cleaned the machine up a bit.  Tomorrow I will light a fire in the shop and service its innards.  The cleated belt looks fine.  It turns over smoothly.  It is dusty and needs a good cleaning.  I love my compressor.  Just the tool for the inside of this machine.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Want to guess what sewing machine is in there?

Here is a little hint...

Yes it is a Singer 301A. It is getting ready for shipping. I find that plastic wrap is a wonderful tool.  I like to position the movable parts in the lowest position.  That means the take up lever needs to get tucked in the machine in its lowest position, as if the needle were all the way down.  BUT if you do that and DON'T secure the hand wheel, up comes the take up lever and is at risk for breaking during shipping.  So I tucked the TUL into its "nest" and then wrapped plastic wrap around the needle bar area and then wrapped the whole machine with the plastic wrap securing the hand wheel.  Then I stuffed some bubble wrap on top of the tension assembly and wrapped more "Cling" TM plastic wrap around the whole kitnkaboodle. 

The cocoon is now nestled into its inner box which is nestled into its outer box waiting for re-birth at its new home. 

I am very fussy with packaging my machines for shipping.  It is a tedious task but so important.  I want to make sure nothing happens to the machine en route.  It's all about preserving history, for me.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Lousy iPhone Photo

I admit it.  I was in a hurry.  Mom and I had gone out to run some errands on Saturday.  It was cold and there was snow in the air.  We were both hungry.  I wanted to get Mom back before she got too tired.  I snapped these photos with my phone quickly before I put her car back in the garage.  The 201K is still there, in the trunk. When I return in two weeks I will fetch it and bring it home.  I would love to tinker with it while I am there but I think I will be quite busy.  Just the same, maybe I will take along a tool kit.

I was fairly certain that I was chasing down a 201K.  Just the same, I had a dream Thursday night that it was really a 66 and I had to buy it anyway because I told the seller to save it for me. 

And look ! It is a Centennial!
The machine is not great cosmetically.  I don't really care.  I have my 201K and now all that's left on the wish list is a Bernina.  I am sure I can get one, for a price.  But what fun would that be?

Friday, February 15, 2013

I Should and I Did

This morning Max and I fetched the 201-3.  I was able to buy the machine only.  Oh and the knee controller for a friend.  I saved some money on the deal because I did not buy the stand.

"I didn't know you could take the machine out."

Lucky me, had she known, likely the machine would have been trashed years ago.  She was just using the table.
"Maybe I will keep it now that it is so much lighter "

Then Max and I had some mother and son time before we went back to see see the Matriarch.

This afternoon I drove Max to the airport and Mom and I  are now awaiting the snow showers promised us by TWC and NOAA. Mom says not to worry.  "They always hype the snow around here."

But I hear the wind a howlin' up the holler.

I wish I had a photo of my dream machine.  No camera.  Iphone not the greatest and I have no way to shrink photos to the requisite 800 pixels so I can post for free.

Next week. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Should I or Shouldn't I?

I am traveling to NC on Wednesday for a long weekend visit with my mother.  Of course I checked the local Craigs List near her town.  I found one of my dream machines.  A Singer 201-3 with the belted motor.  I can convert it to a treadle.

The 201-3 looks like a 201-2 with the light in back and a belted motor.  The round stitch plate and the tension assembly on the machine, not the face plate (15-91) make it a 201-3.  Wish I had a photo.  Maybe I will next week.

Of course I will contact the seller.  Tonight.  Some how I will figure out a way to get it home.
I have been wanting a 201 that I can covert to treadle.  You know, for end times. 

After sewing with 201-2s this past weekend I would love to have a treadle 201.  I probably don't really need it.  My 31-15 likely will sew through leather.  If I don't get it,  I don't get it. 

Still, how do I explain it to my heart?


 For a little movie about how great the 201-2 sews through not leather but through leather like check out :

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Singer 201-2 Quilts !

Did I mention that I have five 201-2s?  Four of them are for sale.  I am trying to figure out which four.   I made an apron with the 1941 201-2 on Wednesday.  It is a lovely machine and is listed for sale now on the website.
As you know, yesterday I sewed on the 301A .  It is NFS.  The one I used last weekend is listed.

Every time Betsy and I talk about selling machines, I have a little palpitation or two and feel some weird twinge somewhere near my heart.  Really, I do.  I think it is because I hate to let these machines go.  I love them all.  Truth is, they are machines and need to be used.  If I hang onto them, they will only need service again in 6 months and I do not want to be a slave to my hobby.  It is supposed to be fun.  Just the same......OUCH.

So today I decided to test out another 201-2. This is actually the one that I was having so much trouble getting to stitch decently.  Not so now.  I used it all day and made a very nice quilted tote bag.  I was amazed that I did not need a walking foot to quilt the sandwich layers of quilting cotton, batting and quilting cotton.

 As a matter of fact, I did not even consider getting the walking foot out.  I  just started quilting the sandwich.  My intention was to make a tote bag.  I cut out the three pieces 18 by 39 and quilted them together never thinking that the raw edges would show on the inside when I stitched it together.  And what about the straps?  I figured out the strap problem by adding some contrasting fabric to the top. Likewise, I wrapped the raw edges with some cotton before I sewed the whole thing together.  It was pretty labor intensive and I doubt I will ever make another.  I  am happy with the results. I feel pretty virtuous, though.  This machine used to give me fits.  Now it is sewing beautifully.  I can let it go.  Such is the nature of sewing machine obsession.  The flame only lasts so long.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Sewing Inside and Outside

It was absolutely heavenly to get up this morning, have coffee and sit down at the sewing machine.  I loved it.  My little inside sewing space is pretty compact but it is quite functional.  At least for sewing an apron. 

I can use the top of  bench behind the table for storage.  I wish I could use the actual bench, for it is a storage area, but the little furry rodents live in there too........ick.

I just had a brilliant idea.  I think I will make a Big Board, the width  of the top of the table plus the gap behind the table.  It will give me more work room.  The table is the perfect height for working. 

There isn't much room to pass through between the table and the sewing leaf extension.  We still have some wood on the front porch so traffic through there is necessary.  Sort of.  I am of the mind that it would be perfectly FINE to fetch wood from the wood shed.  Steven is of a different mind. 

I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  Gram Parsons on Pandora Radio, a cozy fire, three dogs and an errant sock. 

I did have to keep running out the to Sewing Loft to fetch supplies, however.  First trip I decided to light a fire out there and warm it up so that, once I finished the apron, I could go out and organize the loft.

I finally made it out there by 3 PM.  Wilson is not sure what to think.

He finally decided to relax and join Frannie on the bed.
I had hoped to make some true progress and get this place organized.  Too much stuff.  Instead I finished a draw string bag I had put aside months ago because I needed to alter it and I made a pad for the inside sewing space.  I organized my needles and the attachments for the Kenmore 158.1760.  Mostly I just loved being out there.  It was pretty cozy with the fire burning. I love looking out through the big sliding glass doors.  So much glass is a significant heat loss, but so worth it.


February 9, 2013
I think we got between 6 and 8 inches of snow.  We feel cheated.  A foot would have been respectable.  Especially since I did not have to do the clean up.  Steven did it all.  The dogs and I went for a walk and I did not even need my snow shoes.  Wrigley gave up before we were half way on our usual route.  He just sat down.  So we turned around and came back. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Singer 301A For Sale SOLD

Betsy came over on Sunday and we sewed.  I used one of the 301s that I have because I am trying to decide which one to sell.  I don't need two LBOW 1956 301s.  I have two other 301s; a black one and a long bed mocha one.  I don't know why I bought the second LBOW.  Oh, yes I do.  Because it was there and I could; so I did.

This is a lovely machine and I thoroughly enjoyed sewing with it.  The motor is very fast and very smooth.  I bought this machine almost two years ago and I serviced  it then.  I oiled it of course before I started sewing with it.  Oh it is just so sweet.  No problems at all with tension or speed or anything.  It just took right off.  I imagine it rather liked the exercise.

1956 Singer 301A
I have been making a lot of aprons.  They are quick and easy.  This one, I hated the whole time I was working on it.  Poor Betsy had to listen to me complain.  I was trying to sew a casing along the sides so that the strap could feed through it and be adjustable.  I thought it was a great idea.  I just did not know how to do it.  This apron was all cut out and ready to sew.  But I made a casing for it,  tried to sew it on and finally gave up because I hated the outcome.  In the time it took me to fiddle all around with that and finally finish it, Betsy sharpened 14 rotary blades, cut out and completed an apron of her own.

Here I am modeling her apron.  And yes, that is me in the photo in the background.  Do you think it is weird to have a photo of yourself hanging in your sewing room?  Too bad, if you do.  I was young and about three hours pregnant in that photo. 
Here is Betsy modeling my apron
I don't know about you, but my father would call that a "shit eating grin"

OK.  So next project will be another apron.  Then I think I really need to make that red leather purse I want to make.  Of course one of these days I am going to make a garment that I can actually wear some place other than the kitchen.  I want to make a shirt or a dress or a skirt.  A dress.  A simple dress.  Oh darn, that means I will have to shave my legs.

Sewing Inside

It is winter here in the Northeast.  It gets cold.  My sewing loft is in an outbuilding and while I have a lovely little Jotul wood stove, I can't get it warm enough after work in the evening to go out there to sew.

"I've been thinking." said I to Steven the other day. "What do you want to do with the bed in the front bedroom?"

"Sleep in it."

"No, I mean, really."

"We need it for guests. We can't really give up a double bed. Why?"

"I need a place to sew in the house, evenings."

"Honey, you have sewing machines and sewing stuff all over this house.  Why do you need to take over a guest room?  We don't have enough sleeping space as it is when everyone comes."

"Well, you have a room special just for your bike trainer."

"Yes and we always set up a bed in there when the kids come."

"I want to be able to sew after work.  I think it will keep me off the computer...."

"OK, well, why don't you set up in the foyer.  You can use the dining room table for cutting and the sewing machine will fit right in front of the door.  You will be warmer there because it is near the stove and the light is pretty good.  You can use the bench for storage."

"Well, all right.  I will try it.  But you will have to clear your stuff off of the table."

"Right, let's see, this is mine, this is mine, that is yours, that is yours, that is yours, that is yours, that is yours, that is..."

"All right, already.  I get it."

So today, after I vacuumed and did laundry I set up the recently refinished Singer Cabinet # 42 in the house.  Right next to the "office" (the briefcase and scarf on the chair).  Frannie isn't too sure about this idea.

I am happy with the out come.  (Gee I sound like a Health care provider....Oh wait...)  Even the patch doesn't look so awful now.

With a machine installed, it looks quite classy
1941 Singer 201-2
So tonight I sewed.  I made an apron with it.  This 201 is for sale.  It is a nice machine though it isn't perfect cosmetically.  There are a few dings on the machine bed.  Still the decals are not worn in front of the needle the way some of these machines are.  I have three others for sale, too.  Gotta move some machines out.

Next project I will use one of the other 201s.  I always like to sew a project with each machine.  Just test stitching on a small piece of fabric never gives me a sense of how the machine really works.  This one is very nice.   Stitches are nice and consistent.  It will work for another 72 years easily.  My electronic Viking, I'm not so sure.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Don't let the Bobbin Winder fool ya !

Singer 28 Vibrating Shuttle Vintage 1917
Forever (well, since 2010 anyway) I thought that I could tell the difference between the Singer Vibrating shuttle models by noting the position of the bobbin winder.  I thought that in the older 27/28 models (the 28 is the 3/4 size) the bobbin winder was always positioned low on the pillar.  Now I find that is not the case.  The tension release is a more significant clue. The tension release is manual in the older 27/28s (see the little spoon shaped extension?)  In the newer 127/128s the tension releases automatically when the foot is raised.

Thanks to the folks on Vintage Sewing Machines Facebook group for teaching me this fact.