Monthly Archives: October 2011

last minute Halloween craft

Since I am nothing if not a last minute gal, here is something I made this week.  I had hoped to lure the kids into making one, too, having this fantasy of making a big collection of them.  However, they thought it was cool, but cool for me to have done, not for them.  Perhaps your children are less feral?

This was the genesis of the idea- a nightlight cord set all wired up and ready to go at the craft store.  It was about three bucks.

Here is the how to section- find a box, cut it to look like this, sort of, unless you have better ideas, which you surely might!  As you can see by the cat below, no level of ineptitude is too great.  After this I spray painted it black and then glued in yellow copy paper to cover the windows and doors.  Then I hacked a hole in the back the size of the night light bulb, ad there you have it! Happy Halloween!

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Poor, rescued orphan machine

UPDATE! This machine has found a home! This is a treadle machine that came from a house that looked like an episode of hoarders.  The lady’s family was doing a not entirely congenial clearing out of her house, as it had become a bit of a fire code violation

Anyway, it was on the pickup truck ready for the dump when she called me.  I think that I had bought a sewing machine from her last year, so it was kind of random.  I live one exit from the dump, so her dad pulled up, said, “want it or not? I have to get three more loads in today” I took it.  She cried.  I also offered to find homes for any other sewing things, but NOT for fabric. I didn’t take before pictures, but I should have.  The irons were rusted and frozen, and the veneer was splintered and peeling.

You can see that I just took the top layer of veneer off the center section- too far gone and too much missing.  I stained it to match the remaining veneer.  It’s important to finish cleaning up the remaining veneer before you chose a stain color.  This didn’t lighten up as much as I wanted, but it did lighten considerably.  If I had stained before cleaning, it would not match.
Below you see the machine itself.  I had what is called “pin rash” from someone wrapping a rag around the machine to use as a pin cushion.  I put a rust treatment on it that turns the metal black, and than waxed the machine with caranuba wax.  There is a resin cleaner called, I think TR3 that can be used on old machines.  However, my experience with it has been mixed.  It seem to me if the machine is in really rough shape and the lacquer is gone, the poly resin removes the decals.  This machine was pretty far gone, a lot of rust, and visibly peeling  lacquer, and so I used oil to clean with, then rust treatment to darken the bare metal, and then wax.

It is sitting in our pantry/coat closet and I DO NOT have room for it.  I just bought a belt for it from Cindy at her ebay store, Stitches in Time.  I’m certain it will sew well, as it has loosened up nicely. Then I have to find a home for it.  I already have a nice Singer 66 with these decals (called red eye informally), and I have enough treadles!  So, if any one in Northern CA would like it for the cost of the parts I’ve used, and you want it  let me know! I think it would be a fun machine for a home schooling family or a kid or a first treadle, or someone who just wanted a people powered machine!

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Tips for winding a VS bobbin

VS stands for vibrating shuttle.  This is the type of sewing machine that has a long bobbin.  An essential part of the mechanism is the silver, bullet shapped shuttle.  It hold the bobbin, and tensions the bobbin thread.  In the past, shuttles were sold anywhere that sewing supplies were.  When a machine started behaving baddly, skipping stitches or such, a new shuttle was bought for a nominal sum and the machine ran like new again.

The old Singers were designed to be maintained by the household that owned them.  All the oiling points were clearly marked in the instructions, the shuttle  was replaceable, and the machines could run forever. I wonder if the move for women’s rights was not in some small part helped along by the widespread use of the sewing machine.

The machine came with screwdrivers and an oil can- things I think most women didn’t normally use.  The directions in the manuals, when a hand is shown holding a part, that hand is clearly a woman’s.  It was, I think the first machine that was run by and maintained by women.  It must have been very empowering.

ANyway, back to sewing.  Many people struggle with winding the long narrow bobbins used in a VS machine.  The top photo shows a bit of blue painters tape.  That tape is holding the end of the thread.  I do this because it is hard to start the bobbin winding.  Painters tape leaves no sticky behind. You will note that the thread guide is in the center of the bobbin.  That’s where I like to start it, so I treadle the machine until the thread guide is in that position.

After the thread has wound around a few times, I stop treadling grasp the bobbin overhand, like the picture, and ease the tape out of  place it was sandwiched. I just tip it slightly to the right, letting the edge of the bobbin keep the spring for closing all the way. The end of the thread generally stays attache to the tape.  As soon as I have the tape thread end out, I lower the bobbin back into the winder.  I cut the end as close to the bobbin as I can, and continue winding.  This winder does not stop when it is full- you have to keep an eye on it.  I have less trouble with the sewing if the bobbin is not completely full.
I don’t know if this is anything like the correct way, but it works for me and thought it might be helpful to someone else.

Before and After

Here is a Singer 66, made in 1915, before I cleaned it with Goop hand cleaner (pumice free version), Maas metal polish, and sewing machine oil.  Sewing machine oil does not damage decals, so the Goop was the first wave, then finishing up with oil.  I use little scraps of cotton quilt batting to clean with.

Here it is, after.  This of course, is the opposite side, but I assure you the filth was spread uniformly.  There was also a wee fossilized mouse in the pillar of the machine.

Here is my Little Plastic Bricks quilt, before.

Here it is after.  It really needed a fourth column of blocks, but I had just re- folded everything and was loathe to start cutting again.  Strips were 2.5 inches, chopped into bricks, sewn back together and then that long strip sewn to itself.  I used the mechanical randomizer, AKA the clothes dryer, to mix the bricks after they were cut.  Thanks to John G. for that term!

Below is a close up with the little prairie points I added because it seemed dull over there.  Have to wait a while to quilt it- I’m broke and I need batting, so that slows things down. Maybe next month.

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Sick again

One of the bummers about having a chronic disease like rheumatoid arthritis, is that getting sick is a bigger deal.  To start with, the drug I takes knock my immune system down a little, so that while it is not attacking me, it is also a bit slack about attacking germs. So, I get sicker sooner and stay sicker longer than the rest of the house. I also have less strength and reserve than someone without RA, and while a large part of that is my long standing dislike of exercise, it is also part of the disease.

So I’ve been moping around with a bronchitis/pneumonia type thing, missing work.  My boss is a troll, and has already been borderline harassing me and making my co workers very uncomfortable. Because of the little ray of sunshine that he is (not), I know all the rules about sick time, have contacted my union, etc.  But what a waste of effort. My previous boss said things like “don’t worry about us” and “take care of yourself, honey”. He chooses to be a different kind of manager.  I believe the type that Jenny, The Blogess, calls a douche canoe. (Don’t go to the blogess if you are at work or don’t like swearing.  She is very, very funny, I think, but she does have potty mouth.)

So, yeah, lots to whine about.

I have been up as much as possible, and have been sewing on my LEGO quilt.  I was inspired by this one.  Shockingly, I did not follow the tutorial directions.  I am using 2.5 inch strips mostly solid, that I cut.  After I cut them, I chopped them into semi random bricks and bits, and sewed them all back together into a very long strip.  Then I proceeded as though it were a jelly roll racer quilt, sewing the strip to itself until it was more that 12 ” wide.   It turned out to be slightly more that 15″ wide, so I am cutting blocks from it 14.5 inches wide, and sewing them together.I needed this project to be really, really simple because I am laying down a lot in between sewing.  I’ll take some picture later. It seems like too much effort right now, so that’s my cue to lay down again.

Sew, What did I Buy?

I saw this treadle table on crag’s list a few weeks ago. They wanted some real money for it. In the back ground were several other tables, that I was more interested in. So I called the guy, and it turned out that the others had been sold (sniff) but he wanted this one gone. I said something along the lines of “well, if you’ll take $20 and deliver it to the town I live in, I’ll buy it” I figured that would end it. He did it, and so I bought it. Question is, what is it?

I actually had to hose it off, it was so filthy. Then I wiped it down with mineral spirits, wire brushed the metal, wiped that with mineral spirits, and hit the whole thing up with some wax. I use a shoe polish brush for buffing the iron work after waxing. On first glance, I thought the top was warped. But when I looked closer, there had been a piece glued on that was ripped off. Looks like hide glue, so I should be able to get it off by wetting the glue ( hide glue is water soluble, which is why it is used in making musical instruments. Things can be taken apart non destructively for repair.) The holes for the treadle belt are there, I’m guessing the two grooves perpendicular to the front edge secured the dust cover/ coffin top of the machine. The cut out is really small, though.

Nice little detail on the iron work. Here’s the after shot. You can see how tiny the flywheel is, and that the original wooden pit man rod is still there. Little drawer in front, too. Notice how the treadle is off center to the left. This assured that the machine operator sat directly in front of the needle, and was early ergonomics, preventing a twist in the back while working.

I’m not sure where it will even fit in the house. O suppose I could sit the hand crank on top of it, but something will have to go to make room for it. I’d rather find a home for it with someone who has an orphan machine head that it goes with.

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