Monthly Archives: August 2011

End of Summer

Bah. I hate the end of summer. I have to give my kids back to the schools, and not hang out with them every day. I like being alone, but I like them more. Here they are, leaving the pool. So old! So grown! How is it happening?

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Singer 28

This lovely little handcrank spent the last 20 years on display in a lovely home, filled with antiques.

Here is the hardware that held the dust cover on one side,

and the other.  The colors of the top and the base are different- I wonder if perhaps this cover was switched out?  But no matter, I’m happy to have it.

Here is the front view.  I’m having trouble deciding which set of decals this is.  There is no color other than gold.

But, everything is loose, needed a few drops of oil here and there and it sews a wonderful seam.

Here is the back.  The access cover is molded to fit the pillar of the machine, and has decals as well.

And here is the serial number 11236415, which if I am reading the Singer dating charts correctly, makes this a  machine made in the 1890’s.  Well, display time is over for this old girl- she is going to be headed back to work!

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If you hear a crash, followed

by a thump, it is just me, throwing my Singer Spartan out of the window.  The Spartan is a little Singer, made mid last century, and is an underrated little machine.  Except this one.  This one is over-rated.  I bought it a few years ago, at the start of my vintage sewing machine addiction.  I bought it from a sailor, who while not drunk perhaps, was definitely holding an open beer, but as we were on the dock at his berth, who am I to judge?  He was living on his boat, looking to get rid of any little thing he didn’t need, and figured a sewing machine was one of those things.  I gave him a $20 and we both went away happy.

When I got it home, I found that a night light had been hardwired into the motor, and them electrical taped around the arm of the machine, to serve as a light for sewing.  The electrical tape had morphed into a new and interesting substance, both more and less than it once was.  It took a long time to get it all off, and there is still some tape residue that i had given up on disgust.(Spartans didn’t come with a light.) When i disconnected the night lite from the motor, I realized that the wiring to the motor and the pedal really needed replacing, so I researched and did that.

I turned to the cleaning and de linting, and while taking apart the tension, lost a small essential part called the check spring.  The machine sits for about a year in here, with a note under the presser foot: lost check spring. Finally  I remember to buy a check spring, reassemble the tension, oil again, and rev her up.  Still some incipient thread breaking issues, but it seems like a burr in the slide plate, where the needle goes through, and that is simple enough to fix, once I find the abrasive string made for that purpose.  I notice that the motor seems to be running heavy, and power through a bunch of string blocks.  i figure a life at sea has left this machine with some stiffness and it would work itself through.

Then the lights went out.  Not the light on the machine- remember, the Spartan didn’t have a light, and I removed the clever but stupid solution.  The lights in the room.  It was hard to think about the lights though, because my hand felt like it was on fire and my hair was standing on end. This faded after a moment, and I sat quietly in the dark for a moment, gathering myself. The hall light was on, and so it wasn’t the whole house, it was just the things plugged into the power strip.

Remember when i said that the motor was running heavy, but I powered through?  That was because the cord was wrapped around the flywheel, merrily removing the insulation from the new cord with every turn.   The burning feeling was the shock I got, and the dark was from the power strip going out.

Calmly, I unplug the machine.  I see that in the excitement, the thread has tangled around the check spring, pulling it out of shape.  Numbly, I take the tension apart, untangle the check spring, and promptly drop the spring.  It rolls away.  I concede defeat, and back slowly out of the room.

Painted Doll

I had a bunch of time in hospital waiting rooms lately ( everyone is fine now) and so found the forum Maida today.  Maida is a site run by a doll artist that makes dolls inspired by antiques, particularly antique dolls that were made of cloth and then pained.  There were many of these made- the Alabama Indestructible Baby, the Izanna Walker dolls, the Maggie Bessie dolls.  The point of these painted cloth dolls was to make a doll that children could play with and not break.  There are also folk dolls of this type- the reg doll, Charlotte, in Little House in the Big Woods was cloth with a drawn on face.  After a disaster in Little House on the Prairie, Ma makes a new face for Charlotte.

Here is the back, where I tried to paint curls.  You have to look closely.

Here’s a back view, with her little painted garters and stays.  People felt that children needed to wear stays, a simple type of corset, to strengthen their backs, up untill the early part of the 1900’s.  Here they are shown laced in the back, over a shift and under a petticoat.

The rows of stitching that look a little like braid are the reverse side of the stitch from my antique Willcox and Gibbs sewing machine.

Here’s dolly with the machine that I made her dress on.  Chain stitching will ravel easily, particularly if you cut it, and so I can’t use it for the way I piece quilts.  If the seam is not cut into then the stitch will not unravel.  The W & G was most often seen as a treadle machine.  Here is mine, an early electric machine that was bought in Los Angeles in the 1920’s.  Chain stitch machines are still used industrially, but rarely at home.  The lockstich machine won out on that.  The nicest thing is that there’s no bobbin- only a top thread.

Here’s dolly’s little hand.  The thumb is applied.  Overall, I’m pretty pleased with this doll, especially considering I drew the pattern myself.  I might change the shape of the head a little, and take more care with the hand shape if I make another. I will also use a lighter weight fabric for the dress and under things, as muslin worked up too stiff. I haven’t made a doll in a few years, and I had forgotten how fun they are!

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string madness!

This is the pile of strings given to me by a fellow knitter.  She collected these over a 2 year period of working at a quilt shop.  They are the cuts from evening up the bolts when they come in.
Sorted by color family, they tightly fill 8 gallon zip lock bags!
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Veneer, after- ish

In the last post, I showed the gluing of the loose veneer.  Here, I am making a pattern to patch the places that have missing veneer.

While it would be easier to cut the patches of veneer if I squared out the missing parts, it does not look as well.  Following the splits in the wood seems to normalize the difference in the veneer.  The pattern process is like making a rubbing of a grave stone.  I just use a pencil.

Here, I am checking the fit of the pattern, and will adjust by trimming the paper as needed.  Above the pattern you see the piece of veneer that I plan to use as a donor.  I save loose veneer from other cabinets, in cases where the top is so far gone that it is better to just take it all off.  If heated with a hairdryer and carefully removed with a thin metal spatula, useful pieces can be harvested.  Veneer can also be bought in sheets.  Avoid the peel and stick- it is too thin to fill in with.

I cut the patch using an exacto knife.  If the pattern is intricate, I secure it with a swipe of a glue stick.  When cutting, look at the grain and decide which way you think it will split if things go wrong.  Work in such a way that the split, if it happens, will not go into your patch.  Here is the patch, glued in.   I don’t worry about the edges- they can be easily sanded later.  I use Titebond hide glue here, as well, wipe off the over flow with a damp rag, put down a sheet of wax paper 9 I use wax paper because if it does stick, it is easy to sand off), a flat surface and heavy weight.

After the patches have dried, I use finishing putty, sold with the wood putty in the hardware store, to fill in the inevitable gaps.  Finish putty comes already colored, and can be mixed.  Apply stain before finish putty, and linseed oil or shellac or what have you after.  Sand it gently when dry.  This top just needs a final sanding and then  oil.
Anyhow, that’s just how I do it.