Saturday, December 28, 2013


Someone gave this machine to Betsy.  While she was working on a clamshell Kenmore, I started working on cleaning this up.  It stunk of MOLD.  Despite the fact that it had been in a basement fo "35 years" or so Betsy was told, it still turned and after only a few drops of TriFlow, ran pretty well.

I violated a cardinal law, though.  I plugged it in and tried it out without checking the wiring.  

We were lucky.

Look OK here:
I took the motor and light off so that I could clean the machine body.  I could see the mold behind the motor. When I did that, I discovered:
I have tons of experience re-wiring potted motors.  These external motors might be different.   I have a new motor that will fit.  I would like to preserve the original motor, if I can. 

The light, is a different story.  It comes apart quite easily.

The problem:
I think it is probable that the insulation will crumble.  I will need to slip some heat shrink over the replacement wire and perhaps not heat shrink it.  Too much danger of damaging the bake light plastic.

I have to work within the fixture because I don't see how I can get these connectors out.
Of course the other option is to ditch all of the electrical parts and just pop it into a treadle stand and call it good.

Which seems like a terrific idea, come to think of it.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Is that wrong of me?

Sunday I was in the shop.  We had incredibly warm weather.  I was working to put the Little Treadle back together so that I would have room when my neighbor brought her machines over for me to check out.   She had just called and I had an hour to get ready.  No sweat.

Then the phone rang again.  I wondered if it was her.  Nope.  I recognized the number.  Steven's cell.
Well, I thought as I picked up, he could have at least said good bye when he left!

"Hi"  (me)

"Can you come help me?  I dropped a sewing machine on my toe." him

"Really?" (me, INCONCEIVABLE)

"Yes" (him)

So I rushed into the house.  Part of me was thinking "This is a joke."  The other part of me was thinking "WTF was he doing messing with my machines in the house?"  and trying to imagine wha he had been doing to drop a machine on his toe.

Well, sure enough, he had an injury.  I don't do trauma, just so you know.  True, I am a Registered Professional Nurse and I did take an EMT course some 40 odd years ago.  For the last 22 years, though, I have been a Women's Health clinician.  You figure it out.

His big toe was bleeding and it looked pretty gross.  It doesn't help that the toenail was too long and the injury occurred right next to the nail

"I think I will lose the nail" (him)

"What happened?" (me as I tried to find the appropriate first aid gear, all the while thinking, I don't have time for this)

"I was puttering around in the barn.  I was just trying to move the Vermont Cart a little bit so that I could get at the trash cans behind it.  The sewing machines were piled up in it and one fell out and landed on my toe."

OK I admit.  I thought it was pretty stupid of him to try to move the VC with the machines piled so precariously.  But I couldn't really say that, now could I?  I mean I am his WIFE for heaven's sake and I am supposed to by SYMPATHETIC and he might lose a toenail (gag).  Oh and did I mention I am a NURSE?

"Oh poor you." ( I really am trying here.) 

I cleaned up the wound with some lavender castile soap.  It has anti bacterial properties.  The chlorhexidine gluconate I keep around for just such events was out dated (2002).  The bleeding had stopped and we concluded that an ER visit would be fruitless.  We left it undressed and there was no need for steri strips. I cut out an old sock and an old shoe so that his toe would be exposed (gag) but protected.

By now the hour had passed and our neighbor was due any minute.

"Are you ok, now honey?" I queried.  There was really nothing more for me to do
"Yes. Thank you." as he hobbled to the sofa to lie down and nap.  Frannie joined him and the boys curled up on the other sofa. 

I left the lot of them to their own devices and headed back to the shop.  On my way I stopped off at the barn to see which one landed on his toe.  I should have known.

It was a Red Head.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


We had 60 plus degrees today.  All the snow that fell last weekend is rushing down the streams to the Susquehanna River.  I am not complaining.  It was delightful to work in the shop with no fire burning.  We did light a fire first thing, to take the chill off of the sewing loft.  It was colder inside than out.  I didn't make it out to the loft to work.  I got way laid in the shop.

A neighbor called and came over with two of her machines and some photos of a Singer 44-90.  She wondered whether she should buy the 44-90 and what to offer.  What could I say?  The machine has been in the basement for 12 years.  I told her to offer 50 bucks.

Then she showed me her Singer Merritt.  I advised that I wasn't interested in working on it.  It was a bit rusty and not worth the effort.

She had a New Home 600, I failed to photograph it.  I worked on it for a bit, got the "squeak" out but couldn't access the shuttle gears.  Screws too tight.  I returned it to her today and she will sew her project and then return the machine to me to complete the service.  I happened to look at the top shelf in the shop after she left.  There I had a New Home (flat bed , hers was a free arm) and the exact Singer Merritt.  Who knew?

I then was finally able to get to the 31-15.  I want to use it for free motion. quilting.  The presser bar pressure doesn't release enough for me to move the fabric.  I guess I never serviced this machine.  Nor had anyone else in the past thirty or more years.

I worked and worked and was finally able to get the presser bar OUT of the machine.   I cleaned out a lot of crud before I took this photo.  Looking at it now, it doesn't look that terrible.  Trust me, the stuff I am getting off of those parts looks exactly like, well, MUD. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


 They aren't that difficult to make.  You can make them any size you would like.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Snap Bag/coin purse

My friend Andrea is a most clever seamstress. I want to be like her.  Plus, she is neat and tidy and knows how to say NO.

She made a darling little coin purse for me.  She used a tape measure for the snap closure.

I found a tutorial on You Tube  but the inside edges were raw and finished with a zig zag.

  Andrea's example was much classier.  No raw edges.
I spent much of Saturday afternoon trying to come up with one that looked like hers.  I should have just asked for the dimensions.  Finally I created one that I liked. 

The possibilities for this technique are endless. You can make different sizes.  Use a larger tape measure for larger purses,though.

I found an unfinished, lined drawstring bag on the sewing table. I put a tape measure closure in it.  I like it A LOT
Because this was originally designed as a drawstring bag, it has no batting for heft.  I made a base for it to give it structure.  I store my Pellon fusible pieces in it for now. 

I fully intend to write out this pattern. As I was driving home from work today I contemplated another technique for inserting the tape measure. I will certainly give it a try.

I used my White ZZ in the treadle for these.  It has a left homing needle which provides a 3/8 inch seam allowance.  I think I will change to a Singer 201 or a 15 when I make it again.  That way I can have the 1/4 inch seam allowance.  I can manage to create a 1/4 inch seam allowance with the White but the fabric does not sit under the right feed dog if I do that.  What's the point?

 I do have a Kenmore 158.1760 all set up in the loft.  I did use it a bit.  It's electric, through no fault of its own, has a center homing needle and  winds a lovely bobbin.  I could have used it to make these little purses.  It's a free arm too.  Yet, something happened to me last summer as I was preparing for the TOGA.  I became a PP convert.  (People Powered).  I prefer the treadle.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


This little treadle stand came to me via Betsy about three months ago.

"What are you doing?" I asked when I called her earlier this fall.

"I have to clean out the garage or else Jack is going to throw away the treadle stands I have out there."

"I had better come over and see what you have and help."

So I trekked over and brought this little guy home.  It is lighter than the conventional stands because the legs are wood, not cast iron.
It is missing the back piece and the four drawers.  Adding them will make it heavier but one really must have drawers.

I have a school cabinet that matches this one. It's not in the greatest shape. The front piece is warped which would make sewing impossible.   I am taking its  drawers, back  and top for this.     

The veneer is peeling in places.  So I got out the glue and found a couple of clamps that weren't in use.  Steven is building new cabinet fronts for the kitchen.  He has monopolized the clamps this week.  I am all ok with that.  Ten years is a long time to wait for new cabinet faces.  I can deal with clamp shortage.

It is a bit of a challenge to shove glue under peeling veneer.  I think a syringe would be the perfect tool for this task.  But I used a small stick and just kept shoving it in there.  I would open the gap with a small screw driver and load up the stick and shove.
Yes it is a messy task.

I then put apiece of plastic over the top and then blocked it with a small piece of wood.  When the clamps tighten down, the glue oozes out.  More mess

A damp rag cleans that glue right off.  Voila

I managed to complete the veneer repair today.  I also removed the irons and cleaned the frame.  I retouched the rusty spots only.  I was in a hurry to put the frame back on.  The table was terribly unsteady without it.  BUT before I did that, I had to sand the inside of the wooden legs and put on a finish coat.  My urethane was FOUL so I ended up using Tung Oil.  It will suffice.  We aren't building pianos here.  I had to take advantage of the warm shop.  It is getting cold later this week and I wanted to get this done.

Not a great shot.  The SINGER lettering doesn't show so well now.  Poor lighting.  C'est la vie.  I have a life to live, you know.
Does this picture make you dizzy?
I did take the time to get some hot water and fire up the ultrasonic cleaner.
Dirty parts

Clean and oiled parts.
I need to sew.  Next week I will be sewing.  Christmas is coming. I have projects to finish.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Organize Organize Organize

I have two more machines to strip and add to the pile in the barn.  That is first on the agenda for tomorrow as I clean other parts using the ultrasonic cleaner.  The shop has been transformed.  Surprisingly my back is holding up quite well.  I have moved machines all day long today and yesterday.  I am SICK OF IT.

I could show you before pictures, but I am so bored with this whole project.  The shop is in better shape now. I have more to do.  BUT  tomorrow I will work on the Montgomery Ward machine.  Let's get back to meching on machines instead of this whole shop transformation crap. Honestly. 

I bought 48 inch wide shelves.  The 36 inch wide shelves were out of stock. 

"I need them today.  I will take those."  I truly thought that I had enough room along the end wall for a 48 inch shelf.

"Honey, look, do you think this will be a problem?"  I asked the DH about the overhang of the shelves into the door opening.


So I had to make room along the OTHER wall for the 48 inch shelf and move the 36 inch shelf to the end wall.  I also had to move a White Treadle stand, the three machines sitting on top of it and some other hidden treasures to make enough room.  I am amazed that there is no more room on the shelves.  I thought I would have an abundance of left over shelf space.  Not so.
Check out all of that empty wall space.  That 301 cradle will be re-homed. I don't need it.  It had been hidden behind machines that were piled on top of stands. Yup, I forgot all about it

I know that the bench still looks messy.  I had had enough by this time.  At least there is only one machine on the bench.  

Look where I put the cobbler machine.  It is one heavy sucker.   You should have seen me using my chest to heave it up to its position on that little white book shelf.    Good thing I don't have implants.

Folks, what is it about these machines that make us do this ridiculous stuff?   I handled almost every machine in this shop at least twice over the past three days.  How crazy is that?

You may ask what I intend to do with all that wall space.  That, my friends is a secret. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Phase Seven

If you click on the link above, you will understand. 

There are seven machines in that pile; waiting for a ride to the scrap yard, via our local transfer station.  The Singer 15-91 carcass in front actually ended up back in the shop. I had been hauling these machines out all day.  I would strip off  the stuff I thought was useful and walk past Steven (he was working on our "new" cabinets)  proudly proving that I can cull and sort.  That 15-91 was given to me as a parts machine and I have scammed the motor and the set screw for the clutch knob.  I did not realize that the decals were so good.  I stripped it down and fretted the whole time I was doing it. I took it to the pile, none the less.  But then....with the last machine I caved.  There  are two doors to the shop.  I carried the 15 back in through the back door.  Steven  has no idea.

Two cabinets are in the Jetta on their way to Salvation Army.  Two more are in the barn awaiting listing on Free Cycle.

 I moved the 401 cabinet up to the loft.  Goodness knows where I will put it.  But I cannot dump it.  I also have two 99 cabinets that are uncommon.  I know I will never use them but I cannot get rid of them, either.

We moved a Singer 66 Red Head treadle from a guest room to the shop.  It is for sale.  Seventy five dollars.  

 I moved Winnie, the Singer 27 VS treadle to that same guest room.  I refinished the cabinet and love that machine.  Gotta keep it.  The decals are not pristine but the hand wheel is spectacular.  Steven mad the new pitman.  I have hours in this machine.  I don't care.  I love it.

 I will move the  Davis VF to Winnie's spot in the shop (it is a bit of an encroachment on Steven's space but hey, possession is 9/10 the law!)

And I have added a few more machines to that pile.  There may be a total of 10.

"Scrap is $170 a ton, honey.  Maybe you should just pile them in the back of the barn until I have another load to haul to the scrap yard."

"OK, that means that a pound is worth 8 and a half cents.  Do we really want to keep these around until you get a load?  When will that be, spring?  I thought the idea was to clean some of this stuff out?"

"Well, how much does one weigh?"

"Twenty two pounds"  Yes, we have a scale in the shop.  Don't ask.

"Oh, I guess it isn't worth it."

"Nope,  I am ready to scrap these and happy to donate the buck eighty seven per machine. "

  It is highly unlikely that I will reach Phase 9.  Perhaps, just in case, I should hang onto the Viking.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Twin Kenmores

Kenmore 158.1931 (left) and 158.1760 (right)
Today I was working on the Kenmore 158.1931 trying to sort out what was wrong with the cam function.  I retrieved my 158.1760 from the sewing loft so that I could compare their innards.  I thought that the cams worked on the 1760.  Turns out, they don't.  HAH.  Guess I will have to service my "go to" machine soon !

The machines look identical to me.  OK the end panel on the 1931 is a different color.  The tension assembly is also a different color.  But barely different.  Who knows why Sears labeled them with such disparate numbers?   Their innards are a bit different, too.  (In this photo the standard cam is installed in the 1760 and the decorative cam is installed in the 1931)

 I don't get it. I wonder if it made the OSMGs nuts when they had to work on these machines.  Just minor little changes.  Makes no sense to me.  Marketing ploy?