Tuesday, May 18, 2010

And up...

Finally managed to get the little wall hanging quilt bound and mounted in the stairwell. (Thank you Mr. Mingling Yarn for great ladder work!) Colors may be a little off due to the lighting. This was pieced using the small hand crank sewing machine, and quilted using the larger Singer 66 Red Eye treadle. Nothing fancy, it's from a kit (Tonga Dimes from Keepsake Quilting), but I think it will brighten up the stairs just a bit. I downsized the quilt to fit the space, so I have a few blocks left over that will (eventually) become a pillow top.

It was a real pleasure to do the piecing on this -- almost makes me wish I were a 'real' quilter! Lots of control over the work, and it wasn't a problem at all to manipulate the fabric while turning the hand crank. I'm really enjoying that little machine.

The actual quilting was a little more challenging. For me, it was almost like patting your head while rubbing your tummy to get a smooth treadling motion going while guiding the quilt under the pressure foot. It's not too bad I think, but I did simple straight lines and perhaps not as many of those as I would have liked. Not sure if it's that visible, but here's a close up of the blocks -- (clicking makes bigger.)

And in the garden -- here's what we're harvesting now!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

If You Have the Machines...

...you might as well use them. Here's a little summer top that was sewn with the smaller hand crank -- The pattern is "Sencha" from Collette Patterns. Sewn in a rayon batik, view 2 with neckline tucks. I lowered the neckline just a bit, and also lowered the waistline front tucks. I'm not sure this is the most flattering of styles for me, nor the best choice of fabric (it wrinkles like a maniac!), but the pattern itself was well drafted and easy to sew.

Also finished is the "Ming" jacket from Doris Chan's new book "Crochet Lace Innovations". I used Nature's Palette yarn from Classic Elite -- probably discontinued, as I bought it quite some time ago on closeout. The sleeves were shortened, and the bodice lengthened a bit. Another nice design from the talented Doris Chan.

Friday, May 7, 2010

In The Beginning...

My fascination with vintage Singer sewing machines didn't begin with the 'people powered' treadles and hand cranks. No, it all started electrically --

This past winter I was having some major annoyance with my fairly new, top-of-the-line, modern sewing machine. So I started thinking "I need to get myself a good, reliable mechanical machine" and then started doing a little on line research about same. Cut to the chase -- a Singer 1200-1 on Craig's List. The 1200-1 is a version of the classic Singer 201 -- same machine, same motor, but a different foot control/knee lift configuration that was marketed by Singer as an "artisan" machine (think home sewing business, NOT industrial strength). Attractive price, good reviews -- bought it. Then started reading more about the machine and started getting very nervous -- specifically about the aged wiring/motor.

So, there she sat -- a classic vintage machine that I was too chicken to use. And that led to my current obsession with the non-electrics, which is a good thing, but I would still look over wistfully at what might have been. Until a few weeks ago when I contacted Jenny at Sew-Classic about something she had mentioned in a blog post. She replied, and in passing I mentioned the 1200-1. Long story short -- she cleaned and re-wired the old motor for a very reasonable price -- and now -- that old Singer purrs like a kitten and I'm no longer afraid I'll end up fried!

I can't say enough about how patient and gracious she was in the face of my total lack of knowledge about all things electrical. We aren't local to one another, so for her to work on the motor I had to remove it from the machine and send it through the post. Quick as a wink she had it back to me -- with a handy diagram and color coded wiring so that even a total numbskull like me could get it back together properly. OK, I may have had one small misstep, but she even walked me through that too -- thanks Jenny! I'd really recommend that if you have an old machine, or think you might want one, that you check out her site -- her blog is a gold mine of information about these classic machines, and she just may have that part or supply that you are looking for.

She may never win a beauty prize, but this ol' gal can sew!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I Can Stop Anytime, No Really...

Apparently I wasn't quite done with vintage sewing machines. At least it isn't a heavy cast-iron treadle machine Mr. Mingling Yarn!

Pictured is a Singer model 66 "Lotus" hand crank -- aged 100 years -- not in bad shape for such an old gal -- some cleaning, a little oiling and minor tension adjustments and she cranks out a nice straight stitch. This model was also manufactured at the Kilbowie factory in Clydebank Scotland, just like her little sis Ailsa the model 99 hand crank. Here's a closer look at the vintage lotus decals --

Attractive, yes? The mister recently asked me "So, are you a collector now?" -- and that kind of stopped me in my tracks. I suppose I might be, but really, I prefer to think of myself as a rescuer of a tiny bit of sewing history. Obviously, for me sewing is a fun past time -- I don't have to do it, I don't need to do it -- no one will go naked because I haven't sewn them up some drawers, or hungry because I didn't meet my piece work quota. So here's a snappy salute to the women (and men) who've gone before -- we value your efforts, and we'll continue to value your grand old tools!

Photos to follow of a small wall quilt I'm working on -- it was pieced on the (99) hand crank, and quilting was treadled on the "Red Eye", and just as soon as it's bound I'll be proud to show off my latest "people powered" effort. Go Green!