Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Good Day

My friend Linda is trying to fix a machine for a friend.  She is having trouble setting the needle and believes it is because the thread guide just above the needle is missing.  I looked through my stash the other night and found a drawer labeled needle clamps.  There I found an envelope labeled:
WOOT WOOT ! Finally! Something in this stash that I can actually use ! Included in this envelope was a thread guide.

 So the very first thing I did this morning was send Linda  the screw and the thread guide.  I sent two screws because I don't know which one will fit.  But I did test it out on my machine, a very similar HA-1 Class 15 straight stitch machine.

Oh I do feel good about this.  I hope that they fit and that she can get that machine working.

Sometimes I spin my wheels and get nothing done.  Today was not one of those days.  I did a lot.  After I ran to the PO, I came home and set about organizing the shop. I rinsed the empty tool bin drawers that were  stored in a big cardboard box for months.  They were pretty dirty. Someone I know will be pleased.   I used warm water and Diswasher rinse aid so that they would dry more quickly.  Who knows if they did or not.  I was distracted next by sorting through some more of the South River Stuff. 

What do you suppose this is?  Steven thinks it is some sort of medieval torture device. 

 I culled and sorted and threw away some stuff.  Rusty bobbins, broken bobbin cases, other miscellaneous mysterious stuff.
I found this  Singer motor and foot control combo.  I don't really understand this set up.  There seems to be a power cord but there is also a receptacle for a power cord in the motor.  I threw it in the trash and then retrieved it.  Maybe it works.  I wonder if anyone would buy it on eBay? 
 I did some more tidying up and then I walked the dogs.  The trees have overgrown the path a bit so I trimmed some branches while we were up there.  Not much so anyone would care.  Enough so that I won't poke my eye out as Wrigley drags me down the path.

I put the clean bins away next.  That meant moving some of the full bins.  I have a lot of industrial parts.  I found some bobbin cases which I think might fit the 206 etc series.  I found some class 15 bobbin cases too.  I found some hooks.  I found some needle bars I found some antique machine parts and I found these:
The box is hand labeled "Singer 221" and one does look a little different from the other.  I guess I will have to figure that out.  I believe I have the cams for both as well.

 As part of my attempt to clear out stuff in the sewing loft, I pieced some scraps together for a practice quilt for the quilt frame this past week.    I was surprised at how much fabric I had stored in those little, plastic bins! Somehow I managed to create a quilt top 68 X 74.  The only rule I followed: if it was on the cutting table, it went into the quilt top.  I finished piecing it on Friday afternoon and set it up on the frame last evening.  Today I took my first pass.  I am using light colored thread so that I can inspect my stitches and see how I do with my design.  I have been practicing feathers and spirals.  I feel quite comfortable with meandering.  I have to say that I am pleased with the results.  No real need to tweak tension at all.  I managed to make the first pass down the quilt without jamming the needle or breaking thread. 

I may have to change to a darker thread for the border.  The bottom looks pretty good too.  The Sew Control is working fairly well.  One of these days I will set the machine up without it and see how I do.  For now, I will stick with the speed control.  I am not unhappy with it.
I really needed to get busy stitching on a Kenmore 158.1355 that I would like to re-home.  It wasn't working well when B. came to look at it so I worked on it some and got all the stitches working.  I was using it this afternoon when all of a sudden it stopped.  I figured it was a hand wheel issue because the hand wheel just locked up.  I took it to the shop, gave it a good once over, took off the hand wheel and loosened the belt.  It now whines.  That is a simple fix.  It seems to be sewing just fine. 

After supper (the dog's not mine, I had no time for food) I went back to the loft and started another practice quilt piecing project. This time with greens.  Now it is time for knitting and Season One of Cheers. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

I would not call it a summit

I finished the quilt today.  I could have done a bit more but I was done.  I think that I should have practiced some more.  I am not unhappy with the finished product, none the less.   It is definitely a practice piece.  Betsy loves it.  I am giving it to her.

I learned a lot.  Frame machine quilting is not easy.  It takes practice and a certain understanding of how machine, fabric, needle,  thread and frame interact.  I think that a faster machine might be easier. I have a stitch control device on this machine but did not use one on the smaller frame.  I could remove it but I have all this experience now.  I am definitely going back to practicing before I attempt another quilt. 

I serged the edge.  Someone I know will be happy that I used it. It is hard to tell in the photo below but the quilt is folded on itself.  What you see is the serged edge of the quilt lying on top of the quilt back.

I stitched along the design in the fabric.  It makes for an interesting front, but a very messy looking back.  Like I said, I needed more practice.  The trick, I learned, is to start quilting by moving the machine forward and then start the backward and side to side design.  Think about it, the machine is designed to stitch in a forward direction and so if you start that way, there is much less difficulty.  I don't think that I jammed one needle today.  WOOT WOOT.

 To make the binding I plan to fold it over.  I was going to fold it over again to hide the serged edge.  I think it will be too thick.

But, my darling 15-90 as a treadle could do it.  I marched through the jeans french seam, doubled,  no problems.  I love that machine. (PS I used the serger on the hem of these jeans too.)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mount Everest

I feel as if I have been clawing my way up this learning curve with the Bailey 17Pro on the GMQ Frame.  There are times when I am happy; other times, not so much.  There are so many variables to consider when using a domestic machine on a quilt frame.

First of all, we are asking the machine to do something that it isn't designed to do. Domestic machines are designed to sew in one direction, forward.  True if you remove the feed dogs you have make the machine go anyway you want it to, but the design remains the same.  It is a forward stitching machine.  So the stitch quality changes when you move the machine backward and sideways.  If you are FMQ on a table, you are moving the fabric and the machine continues in its forward stitching.  Fewer variables.  But try to move a big quilt around on a table, it isn't that easy.  Bulk gets in the way.  I have FMQ a queen sized quilt.  It wasn't an enjoyable experience. 
 I have quilted  on a smaller frame,  I used a Jeans machine (class 15 front loader).I liked that. 
 But not a lot of space between needle bar and pillar.  Not a big deal.  The quilt I made was small

Tension tweaking was the biggest problem and once I had the tension right, I had a blast. 

I put a Singer 66 on that same, smaller frame and found that it worked well, too.  The 66 offers a bit more room but still, not a lot.

It worked very well and again, only tension tweaking was needed.  I did not have a stitch speed regulator on either machines.  I had no problems.  HMMMMM.

I wanted a larger frame and I found one used.  I wanted a larger machine and I found one at a price I could afford.  The Bailey

We  have many variables to consider when running a domestic  machine on a frame: needle flex, fabric flex, stitch speed, top thread tension, bobbin tension, fabric tension on the frame, take up bar height,  backing bar height, quilt top bar height.  I don't recall having nearly the issues with the smaller frames, that I have been having with the larger frame and the Bailey.  But maybe I have just forgotten.  Seems like all I had to do was tweak tension on the smaller machines and I was good to go. 

Since I started this process I have damaged 10 or 12 needles. All due to jamming the needle.  At 85 cents a piece, this is expensive education.  The manufacturer (Chuck Bailey) recommends using Organ Titanium PD 100/16 large eye needles.   I found two  packages of 10 in my Bailey stuff.  I have about 6 needles left.  One package had four faulty needles; burrs on the points.  GRRRRRR.  I have now switched to Schmetz Jeans Needles size 100/16.  I tried a 90/14.  Needle jam.  I think there was too much flex with the 90. 

Thread, of course is important.  I am using Signature long staple cotton machine quilting thread.  I am happy with it. Some Bailey users report thread breakage.  I have not had that problem.  I run out of bobbin thread pretty quickly.  The class 15 doesn't hold a heck of a lot of thread.   I wind several bobbins at a time.  It is important to obtain a consistent tension on the bobbin.  Tighter is better.  I have yet to find, among my many machines, a perfect bobbin winder.  The search isn't over.  The 15-91 is up next to audition.    I have heard that some quilters use prewound bobbins.  Color choice is limited.  But it may be worth it.

I practiced on a single piece of fabric and an old sheet before I started working on this quilt.   I had hoped to produce something more polished but it isn't going to turn out that way.  That's ok.  I am still learning.  I think I will go back to practicing on plan fabric before I attempt another real quilt.

There is a bit of play in the Bailey handles.  I have a carriage with handles but it is designed for a smaller machine.  The handles are just IN THE WAY.  I rigged up some metal strapping tonight to help stabilize the handles in hopes I could reduce the flex and increase the responsiveness of the machine.  It seems to have helped.  I didn't jam the needle and managed to quilt quite consistently with the new rig. 

Oh Yeah, I was using a blue that almost matched because I wanted the fabric to show, not the quilting.  I gave up on that when I decided this was going to be practice.  Once I could see the thread, I could see what I was doing and was then able to improve the designs. 

Like I said, Mount Everest. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Pet Peeve

I am aware that texting has required the truncation of messages.  Email, however, has not.  I hate it when U is substituted of you, when R is substituted for are, when i is substituted for I and when people do not bother with proper punctuation.

Just sayin'.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


 I made a short list of things that I wanted to get done tonight after work.  A very short list.  It was comprised of two items.  Take a photo of the barrister book case and list it on Craig's list.  That didn't happen

Instead, I packed an ebay item that sold (TADA!!!) today.  Of course I had to find it first.  Then I had to buy postage,  But before I could do that I had to remember my ebay password.  I had changed it when news of the Heartbleed flaw broke.  I carefully constructed a SAFE PW  and I wrote it down.  Somewhere.  I was pretty sure it was on the back of an old envelope that I CAREFULLY stowed in my desk with the PW book.  I could not find it any where.  No problem, I will just make up a new one.

"Are you not eating dinner?" asked Steven, perhaps somewhat put out that I was flitting around trying to reset a new password.

"I will as soon as I get this password changed."  But I was having a terrible time.  The page would not load.

"Oh and Betsy is coming over with some machines tonight.  Someone may come over tomorrow to buy one."

"And she is here now."

 I met her at the door and we went out to unload the machines.

"Where do we put them?" 

"Keep going," I said and directed her right into my part of the shop which was over run with STUFF including the left over stuff from South River that had been residing in Steven's part of the shop for the past four months. 

"Oh, I see," she said. "Steven got tired of having this in his shop, eh?"

"Oh he has been so good about it.  I really MUST take care of it now."  said I, lovingly thinking of my dear, sweet husband who puts up with all of this insanity.  (Cough).

On call, Betsy couldn't stay long.  Her beeper might not reach way out here so she had to head home.

I still hadn't had dinner but was determined to get this postage label printed so that the buyer would know the item was on its way.

Shipping costs were way too high via eBay so I went to the USPS site.  But by now the internet was running p  a  i  n  f  u  l  l  y   s   l   o   w.  No problem  I will reboot the modem.

Which was the perfect time for me to call Mom to chat about knitting and do the dishes. 

Good.  The internet was back up and running, I was able to comparison shop for postage on line (much better on the USPS site when you have actual weight and dimensions) and print the label. 

It was a frenetic evening and  I still have a book case to photograph, machines to prepare for sale, a package to ship, the house to vacuum and a quilt to finish.  I am swamped.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Singer 31-15 Shuttle Hook Assembly

Now a days, we take the hook/race/shuttle assembly apart from the front of the machine.

The 31-15, however, is removed from behind.  You remove the screws from the front
 That whole thing lifts right out to reveal the shuttle driver.

The hook shuttle comes right out.  This photo is deceiving.  I positioned it after I took it out to demonstrate how it just comes out. 
Remove that big screw and the retaining clip comes off of those pins.

Check out the 15-90.  Look familiar?  Same thing but moved to the front.  

Saturday, May 3, 2014


When Andrea visited she serviced this machine just before she left.  It was stuck in reverse.  She lubed it all up and got it going in the right direction.  There was a "ping' when the needle passed the hook.  She thought it needed an adjustment.  Turns out, it just sounds that way.  Really.  I read so in the service manual.

I had tested it and it sewed fine but the race cover looked a bit worn out.  I ordered a new one and installed it today.  I had a bit of a panic attack when I couldn't remember where I had put it for safe keeping.  I sat on my thinking stool and remembered.  I had tacked it to the bulletin board.  WHEW!

It looks much different from the original.
It made a nice stitch before I replaced the race cover.  I think now it stitches better.  I am going to try to find a cover for the lower knob.  I may be able to fashion something that looks half way decent.  Then I am going to cart it to the Quilt Zoo with me the next time I go there to sew.  It is very quiet.  Maybe someone there will be impressed.  I sure do like it.