Tag Archives: Singer

Failures and fluff

I still haven’t gotten the hand-cranked Singer up to speed – I was waiting to order more cleaning/greasing supplies (and the blasted always forgotten spool pin) until I knew I didn’t need anything else…

Because another sewing machine came home with me.

There was a label on it that read: “works, needs new belt.”

I cleaned the case and the machine, picked out the motor belt and other belt that I thought I might need, and just before I placed my order, I figured I should plug it in…

The light works, the motor is blown.

But whatever – it was only $12, I didn’t need it, (and why didn’t I test it at the store like I usually do?) but I have it now, and perhaps I’ll try to replace the motor, or perhaps I’ll take it right back to ReStore – only with proper identification of its faults this time.  It’s also a bit young for my machine tastes, but it is the next version of my mom’s sewing machine, and it’s got a zigzag (I just have one machine that can do that now), and it actually dates to around the years of me, so there’s a bit of a nostalgia thing going – if I get it back up and running, perhaps I can go whole-hog authentic on my ’70s quilt (that I haven’t started yet).

*************

In a moment of frustration and brain failure a few weeks ago, I took a break to make a cheery pompom.

I thought I knew how to make pompoms, but like the sewing machine, some shit from the 70s doesn’t work anymore…

I’m not enamored/charmed/giggleful with them, and I certainly didn’t embrace their bombastic return a few years ago, but I have some thoughts on their usefulness now that may or may not come to fruition.

And I wouldn’t mind topping a hat with one, once in a while…

Unfashionably late to the pom pom party… #pompom #wool #recycledyarn #shadows

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But a second try (and a video) brought success.

Now I just need to control myself from trimming them down to nothing…

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What Phil* had to say

It’s a bit disorienting to be in February and have only been through an extended mud season – mud from rain, not snow (except for a tiny bit). I don’t mind a mild winter per se, but the ticks haven’t died (have I already bitched about the ticks still hanging on – on the dog – this winter?) and I’m sure the garden’s not-frozen foes are planning their evil attacks…

Go back to sleep! #january #itsnotspringyet

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But there is still ample time for a blizzard or two, so I’ll shut the hell up.

Thanks to N with his speedy PVC erection skills, we’re good to go with seed starting this year – just need the electrician to add a plug, and a few more supplies.

feb-grow

The signs of spring are urging us to eat up last summer’s bounty – we’ve barely touched the frozen veg, but we’re down to just one butternut, and the last of the juicy peak of season blueberries made their way into a pie.

None of my current knitting projects wrapped up by the end of January, so they’ll be finished when they are – soon, likely, for the socks, and I have to really force myself on the sweater – I need the needles from it though (to start another likely long-suffering, but less painful to knit sweater) so that might be the needed kick to the finish line.

I put the hand crank on the Singer red eye.

feb-crank

And it will hopefully be awesome – now, not so much – the machine is far more gummed up than I thought and the movement is sluggish (I think I last used it in 1999? and it’s been in and out of basements and storage units) – and I have to learn a bit more about disassembling parts and well-greasing and whatnot. “Fixing” old sewing machines for me has just been a good wipe down, oiling, and replacing a missing part or two, so it’s time I get a few more mechanical skills on that front – and at some point, I’d like to be able to restore the finish and whatnot, but maybe not – I want to use these machines, not look at them being pretty.

*as in Punxsutawney.

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Cranked

Just thinking I was nearing the finish line with a few long term projects by the end of January jinxed it… but I haven’t cast on anything new in the knitting department so at least my focus on finishing should carry over into February.

But I also started to act on a few other long term projects (and yes, that’s how I don’t get things done for ages).

I’ve been wanting to convert one of my old sewing machines (seen here and here) into a hand cranked one and finally acquired the supplies.

About to have a cranky sewing machine… #handcranksewingmachine #sewing

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Now to chose which machine…

This Singer 66 hasn’t gotten much love or use even though it’s a beaut. It’s the one machine I think about selling or giving to a new sewer sometimes but when I get it out, I love it and want to keep it and I always forget about the huge set of attachments I’ve never used for it and oh boy will I have a ball with those attachments one day when I remember them and have time on my hands…

sewingmachines-singer

I thought this 99 was toast since it was missing a few things and I was afraid to plug it in, but it was my initial candidate since it is a bit lighter and smaller than the others and I have a fantasy about taking it with me on cabin vacations or out in the yard on a picnic table we don’t have, but it’s still no featherweight, and the crank adds on another pound or so… But it turns out, this machine just needed a good cleaning and a new bobbin slide plate, so it’s pretty sweet on its own and is currently in use in the basement near the serger.

machines3

And this lovely old red-eye already has the spoked wheel that makes the hand crank possible (and dammit I forgot to order a new spool pin for it again!) but I’ve wanted to convert it back to a treadle for ages, but I still could eventually – the crank should be easy enough to install/deinstall.

machines2

So I need to spend some quality time with the two 66s and chose the one with the worst motor I think, or perhaps I’m deciding on the red-eye as I type this…

Either way, there’s other work to be done at the moment…

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Dirty old things

We’ve got a decent ReStore nearby – luckily not too close or I’d go too often, but not too far that you have to plan to go. We had an entirely awesome architectural salvage store in our old city that I dearly miss, but still visit when passing through, and though this doesn’t replace it, in some ways it’s more practical because it carries a wider variety of smaller-scaled items (and I’m no longer in the market for a victorian mantle anyway). We found a good mid-century dresser there, a near-mint wool kilim rug, and the typical bits we usually bring home from thrift stores like records and books and fabric scraps.

On my last visit, I scored an old sewing machine box.

old-before

I’ve got a partially boxless machine that has been topless for nearly 20 years. Once in awhile I’d dick around on ebay debating about buying one, but usually balked at the shipping price, so this was a classic example of finally finding something for which I’d given up looking. And oddly enough, it was already in half of an old Morse box.

old-during

But the best part is that it was saved – yes, it’s dirty and stained and a bit smelly, but it still serves a good purpose in a way that nothing new can. Granted, that’s a given because I’m using something old on something old and the whole thing is a no shit sherlock kind of thing… But many/most people would have probably thrown the thing out? Or the thrift store might have dumpstered it? In fact, the half-naked machine had a complete case, but the thrift store threw out the top because the handle was broken off, or something along those lines, and unfortunately just before I bought it too… or so said the clerk who might have just been itching to see a long face…

So the machine has some new vintage digs albeit much younger than the machine itself. I had also been intending to un-electrify this machine and put it back in a nice treadle cabinet like it originally came in, but until that lucky happenstance comes along, I can at least store and use it a bit more securely.

old-case after

And then I’ll see if anyone needs the bottom part of an old Morse box – I need to check the rest of mine first though – I know I have one that the little post things that hold the machine are broken, but don’t know if the lid will fit the bottom – unfortunately even though these are all a universal size, the clasps that hold the two parts together can differ – these two Morses from approximately the same time period didn’t – one had clasps 1/4″ longer than the other…

During our most recent vacation, we stopped in a Goodwill in Maine. I love seeing the local flavor coming through in used shit and stop at thrifts whenever I can when I’m on the road. I was hoping to find some good old hard-wearing woolens, but silly me, in the land of frugality, of course they wouldn’t just be chucked in the charity bin but used until they were entirely shredded and then stuffed in the walls for insulation or given to the dog.

So I poked around the household items even though I’ve banned myself from buying any more plates ever.

oldthings-dirty plates

And I fell hard for these dirty old things.

At $4 for the whole lot, can you blame me? And they’ve got a bit of green and yellow and orange, my favorite colors? And they’re from the time period that I’m most drawn to in terms of household things?

old things-plates

But what I like best was that they were clearly salvaged from an old garage, barn, abandoned house, unrepaired attic, root cellar, or someplace long neglected and not suitable for proper china storage…

…but someone made the effort to chuck them in a box and haul them in for someone else.

The set isn’t really one – mostly dessert* dishes and a couple smaller and one larger. They aren’t in the best shape and are delicate-ish, therefore not entirely practical, but the worst ones are still useful for holding drippy or dry things (soap or sewing bits) and the good ones will be perfect for the occasional dessert

dirty old thing-polenta cake

(This is just one quarter of a very tasty polenta bar.)

*They’re probably actually luncheon plates instead of dessert plates, and though I think today’s plates are obscenely large and use “lunch” plates for my “dinner” plates on a daily basis, these would only hold the daintier finger sammies… And they’re made by W. H. Grindley & Co., England, but I can’t find the name of the pattern – according to a random website, the mark dates c. 1914-1925 – anyone recognize it?

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Meet the rest of my sewing machines

A sequel to my first post about some of my mechanical herd…

I’m finally reunited with the two “lost” sewing machines trapped for too long in storage.

sewingmachines-atlas

I’m a sucker for a pink Atlas – my other  one has been a favorite over the years, and this one still hasn’t gone for a test drive since the cord is cut.  I found it on garbage day (or maybe the night before) on my old street.  I can’t remember if I was late for work and trotting down the long hill to the bus, but found this and had to lug it back up and start all over again and ended up being really late, or I found it at the end of dusk slogging up the hill after a long day at work and it made my day.  Either way, I schlepped this beast up a fairly substantial hill and haven’t gotten around to rewiring it for more than a decade.

And my fuzzy memory about rescuing it from its dump fate is because I found and lugged home lots of great sh*t on that street – including an old metal headboard from one of those old long narrow beds that prompted the comment by a passerby, “Do you always carry your bed with you?”  And I believed I said yes, I’m very tired.  But I don’t know what happened to that – I think it was a casualty in the move from that place…

sewingmachines-singer

And this Singer hasn’t had much love – I’m pretty sure it’s a 66, and maybe I already had that 99 and got this thinking it was the same and I could use it for parts?  All I know was it was an early thrift find and I don’t remember if it works now, and maybe I’ll part with it eventually.

So I am done buying old sewing machines… unless I find one that has stitch functions I don’t have, is non-electrically operated (like a treadle in a lovely cabinet), or something that is uniquely and fantastically awesome – and all must be for a great price and reasonably sound condition.  So, I’m really not in the market for them anymore unless I find something truly special.  And that’s a problem.  I wasn’t looking for a zig-zag machine a few weeks ago because I had been looking for the last 15 years or so and gave up – then, presto!

This lovely beast followed me home.

sewingmachine-new home 532

My current localish thrift is pretty decent – not a lot of vintage stuff, but good prices – I got this for $12.99.

Not sure what the inked-on “W” marks or means – hopefully wonderful or wondrous or woo hoo or wildly fantastic or wicked good or woot or wow, and not wonky or wah or wacky or whoops or whoop-de-doo…

sewingmachines-new home 532 detail

I’m also not sure if and how well it works yet, but the needle goes up and down which is the most crucial part.  So as long as I can get this up and running, and if I ever get around putting a hand crank on one of my others, then I’m really not in the market for another, right?  (Really, I’m not trying to jinx myself for the better, I don’t want more heavy old things).

I’ve never owned a new, or less than 40-years-old, sewing machine but I’ve been wanting a serger for some time.  I never felt I had a right (or the money) to buy one since I wanted it for making napkins and small bags and such, and those things can be made with any machine, just with folding and ironing added to the mix.  But I wanted to take out folding and ironing, and in some cases, preserve as many millimeters of the fabric as I could, so I asked for and received this for my last “big” birthday – thank you mom & dad!

janome serger

I took it out for a test run a bit ago, and it’s going to be fun and quite useful, but like the others, it’s waiting patiently and safely until I get its room in shape, and more importantly, I find the damn bolts and wing nuts for the tables to put it on.

(And my brain is on an endless loop saying: “janome-baloney, janome-baloney, janomey-baloney…”)

So it’s even more fitting that my last find was a New Home/Janome to go with my new serger – hopefully it will teach its younger sibling lessons in durability and perseverance.

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Meet (some of) my sewing machines…

I learned to sew (or rather I learned how to use a sewing machine) on my mother’s 1960s era Singer.  I made some shapeless elastic waist skirts, “Jams” style shorts, and a few odds and ends in my youth.  During college, I borrowed the machine to make hats to sell at raves.  You heard me, raves – and the real kind back in the day, illegal and last minute and fun as a bucket of monkeys.  I loved her machine – it was metal and solid and felt like well, a machine in the masculine sense.  A few years later I acquired my first vintage machine at my favorite thrift store for something like $6.99.

machines1I’ve had it for nearly 20 years and it is the machine I use most often, however I just had to put it on a time-out due to a tension issue that springs up after an unpredictable amount of time (sometimes after 3 days of use, sometimes after year or so) and it seems to always fix itself as long as I don’t use it for a month or so.

machines1-det

A partial repair tag still clings to the handle – perhaps this tension issue gave the previous owner troubles as well…  After finding this machine, I was on the lookout for more.  Why?  I think I figured it would be nice to have the same one to use for parts if need be, I wanted one with zigzag and other stitch functions, and I just really fell in love with solid things made of metal that could last lifetimes – yes, the plural form.  I hate everything about the objects of our disposable society these days, but then again, obsolete, near-obsolete, and old timey things weigh a ton and are a pain in the ass to move.  But after a few years, I had amassed a collection of around 15 sewing machines, not to mention several typewriters and boxes of cameras and film equipment.  I didn’t move much then and used much of the equipment as furniture in my cramped apartment, but eventually most of it had to go.  Since I used the sewing machines on a fairly regular basis, I kept a half dozen of them or so.

machines4This is the back-up machine for when the pink Atlas is being temperamental.  It too came from a thrift store and I gasped when I opened the box – I’d never seen one that looked so like an automobile of the same era and I loved the deep green.  It sews strongly and steadily but the needle needs to be coaxed into the fabric in just the right way each time that I tend to get a little impatient with it.  Its best use is for sewing long seams or quilting.

machines2

This is the prettiest and the oldest of my current machines and it works just fine.  The bobbin is a little fiddly to work with so I don’t like to change it as often.  When I had more space (and when I will hopefully have more space again) I’d leave it set up with thread in the opposite color of what I was using in the other machine if I needed to hop on it for something else.  I believe this was originally a treadle machine and motorized later, so I have intentions of trying to turn this back into a manual machine, but I’d rather find a treadle machine for a reasonable price (and I could fit in my car or have delivered) instead.  It is also in a re-purposed Morse case that is annoyingly without a lid, so at the very least, I need a new lid/container for it.

machines3

machines3-det

My brother found this lovely Singer for me, but it’s probably been a decade ago…  I have it nearby because I intend to try to find a couple of missing parts for it, but haven’t done much searching around for them yet.  Ironically, it also came with the manual and a few extra tools, so someone was meticulous about keeping it all together only up to a certain point.  This one is also a more compact “portable” model, so it would be convenient to get it up and running as soon as possible.  I’m also slightly afraid to plug in anything old, so the first time I like to be prepared in case of an inferno.

And then I have perhaps two more?  I’m a little nervous that I can’t find them at the moment, but I believe that they could be in storage along with the other third of our stuff.  Hopefully I didn’t get rid of them in the frustration of the move.  One of them is another Atlas similar to my old stand-by that I found left in the trash on the curb in my old neighborhood.  Its cord was cut, perhaps indicating that the motor was blown or that it needs to be re-wired so I can use it for parts, or get it up and running again.  I believe the other machine is another Singer with a bad motor?

The machines I had but sold years ago included a couple of really old ones that had been motorized but weren’t very functional, I believe yet another Atlas, a less attractive 70s machine, and a blue White that I still can’t understand to this day why I got rid of it – it had a zigzag stitch, WTF?  But I think I thought I’d find another…

Some days I’m a little envious of others with the fancy-schmancy machines that will practically stitch up a cup of coffee or an offspring  but mostly I love my hunky metal beasts and will continue to do so…

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