Monday, September 24, 2012

My Two Singers

So, what's the plan with the two Singers? Some of this is self-evident, but I was going to mention it anyways.

My Singer 66 is my workhorse. This weekend, as you can see from the photo, I was sewing garments. She is so reliable, and even without reverse, she's a delight to work with. For my Etsy sewing, most of it will be done on the Singer 66 or my modern Janome.

Maybe, someday, my sweet Singer 15-91 will be a workhorse, but for now, he is relegated to making liners and hammocks for my own rats. I'm anticipating that he will become my free motion quilting machine, and maybe my primary straight stitch machine. I must say that, when he's working properly, he's a delight, but his reliability is lousy right now. I'm still working on the bobbin issue and the rest of his refurbishment.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Not So Awesome, Doctor

I caught Doctor being very, very bad, and, of course, I had to grab the camera to document his misdeed.

    Ok, that may seem strange, but one does develop an odd reaction to rat's modification of objects.  It sort of becomes your fault if you leave something that they shouldn't chew on in reach of their chompers.  In Doctor's case, he isn't a chewer typically.  He is much more interested in getting places and exploring.  Lily, on the other hand, is incorrigible when it comes to chewing.  She is never left unattended near fabric otherwise, she WILL make lace.  She's already nibbled holes in a couple of my slacks.  So, I've learned to not let her squeeze into my pants leg.

So... I will be mending the quilt on my bed.  LOL

Awesome Dean

I just had to share this adorable pic of Dean that my hubby took. By the way, that's Rose he's leaning on.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

My New Big Sewing Project - 1916 Sewing Course

I've had an idea for awhile that my sewing skills would improve if I took a course. And, with my interest in vintage sewing machines, I've been looking at old sewing text books. I've been looking at a lot of old sewing text books.

Finally, I found one that I really liked. My wish list included

1. No need for buying additional patterns

2. Easily obtainable text - In this case, I downloaded it to my iPad via Kindle from the Internet Archive. FREE is awesome.

3. Most of the projects need to be machine sewed.

4. The projects, for the most part, needed to remain practical for the 21st century, and I had to want to do them.

School Sewing Based on Home Problems by Ida Robinson Burton B.S. and Myron G Burton A.B. This particular book met my requirements best, although it is somewhat lacking in the directions for specific hand stitches, but I have other books for that.

So, here's the first project of the book, and the first that I am going to do. I'm going to try to work through the book project by project.

One of the cool things about the book is that it includes several options for each project. For instance, instead of a needle book, I could make a book mark or a napkin ring, or a penwiper (whatever that is - Wouldn't it get dirty if you wiped a fountain pen on it?)

Well, I'm going to make the needle book. I think having a little container for my hand sewing needles will actually be quite convenient. It's such a pain to reinsert needles back into their original sleeve.

So, I scored some nice art canvas while garage saleing. I can't stand that thick, coarse Aida fabric, so I have some nice regular "thick"? weave fabric that should work.

Now, to design my decorative stitches. Oh, and I need to find out what outing flannel is. Otherwise, I will need to obtain some felt.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, September 22, 2012

My Style of Sewing Machine Shopping

Today, I was out yard sale perusing, my idea of sewing machine shopping. Tough thing is that I don't want to buy another machine right now. Even tougher was that I saw my next machine although the price may have been high for me. ---- Treadle for $75 Singer 15-something from 1907. All parts moving. Intricate decals but not in the best shape, but I don't know if 100 year old decals can even look better. Anyways, I walked off with a small bag of sewing incidentals.

Fourteen 66 bobbins - I'm puzzled why they were in the drawers of the Singer 15, but there was a Kenmore sewing machine upstairs that used 66 bobbins, so probably just its bobbins. Fortunately, my Singer 66 will enjoy these.

Low shank feet - I've not seen this before. Please note- I'm pretty much a neophyte with vintage machines, so it really ain't earth shattering that I don't know what I've got. I'd been hoping that these would be variations of hemmer feet and such, but they aren't. Some have hinges. Some don't. Mainly they appear to have different widths to the pointy parts. Some are actually labelled 1/4", so I think I have a couple nice quilting feet (one hinged, the other unhinged.)

Now, for the real puzzle, these appear to be attachments for the feet, but I'm not sure how and to which foot they attach, but they are labelled with like 5/8" and 1/2". So, I am thinking they are seam guides which explains why the old Singers lack the seam lines on the throat plate. You were apparently supposed to switch out the feet or use one of these ?seam guides for seams.

You may notice the bobbin case, and you may be thinking... ah, she found herself a new bobbin case to fix her bobbin case issues for her Singer 15-91. You are wrong. Ok, maybe I was hoping that it was a bobbin case I could use, but on closer inspection. It is just plain bizarre. It appears that it is a 66 bobbin case which I've never heard of (not earth shattering news). And, it lacks that handle like thingy.

So, I've got a few mysteries...

1. What are all of these feet/spacers and how are they used?

2. What the bleep is that bobbin case?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, September 21, 2012

Singer 15-91 Update - Bobbin Case Issues

So, here's my new Singer 15-91. I'm still cleaning, fixing, etc., but I have made 3 liners for the rats. There's a big change in the machine if you look closely, but if you can't see the difference. Take a peak at the photo below.

I've replaced the throat plate with a modern one because it's just a pain to not have those lines. This one is cute because they must have rubbed some red something into the engraving. Quite nice.

Now, for my biggest issue right now. The BLEEPING bobbin case....

On the left, is the rusty original bobbin case. Now, one would think the brand spanking new one would work like a charm. But, alas. NO. You see apparently, the shiny smooth (non-rusty) bobbin case catches thread and makes nasty tangles and jams the works. I can get through a project with nice looking stitches with the rusty horrible original bobbin case, but the brand new shiny one jams about every 12 inches of stitching. GRUMBLES.

Here's the part that I think is jamming the works. Just to confuse things, the bobbin case on the left is the new shiny one. The rusty bobbin case has switched sides to the right. So, the bobbin on the left, you may notice is a tad taller. That hook which appears to be part of the door hinge is not as curved as Rusty's.

So, what to do....

Well, I hate to do anything that may lead to loss of function of the machine, so I don't yet want to derust ole Rusty bobbin case.

I want to just bend that piece so that it looks like ole Rusty, but what I will first do is discuss the problem with my handy dandy neighborhood sewing machine store.

This provides me the opportunity to tell you how awesome they are.
Stitch in Time website and their Facebook page. I primarily use their Ridgefield, CT store. A few years ago, I bought my Janome, and you get lifetime sewing machine instruction when you buy a machine from them. But, they are more than just a sewing machine store. They have fabric and every single notion that you can imagine, and a very knowledgable and friendly staff. I spent $30 on the bobbin case and the throat plate. I could have saved a couple of dollars by buying those on Ebay, but I wouldn't have gotten them the next day (and if I'd driven to Darien, CT, I'm sure I could have gotten them same day.) They also steered me towards using plastic 15 bobbins for the Singer 15-91 that way I can interchange them between my Janome and the Singer 15-91, and they work unlike the ones I bought at Walmart.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Health Report - Rose

As you may have read in my blog, Mabel has recently recovered from a severe bout of pneumonia. On the other hand, Rose... Rose had a much milder bout of pneumonia and she just hasn't bounced back. Last week, her vet informed us that Rose wasn't likely to recover. There's very little air movement in her lungs. She's back on 2 antibiotics and theophylline, and she's supposed to receive albuterol twice per day, but we stopped that because it was too traumatic for her. However, if Mabel starts wheezing, we can give her two puffs of albuterol, and Mabel stops wheezing.

Rose's weight is plummeting. She actually weighs less than Mabel. And, Mabel is our smallest rat.

Here's an older photo of Rose. Yeah, she's our Siamese rat. Unfortunately, Rose is cyanotic most of the time now. So, I'm sparing you a photo.

Today, though, she's been more chipper. She's been very energetic, hanging out in various hammocks and the cube. We hand feed her every time we go by the cage. I'm hoping that her increased energy is a good sign, but her vet did tell us not to expect recovery.

Here's a recent photo of Mabel grooming one of our blondies. She's gaining weight beautifully. The doctor was totally surprised that she survived never mind that she's recovering, but she's expected to remain on theophylline for life, but she's doing great off all antibiotics.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

This Week in the Critter Nation - The Cube Returns

They are loving this set up. We haven't set up the cube in awhile, and now, they are just all piling into it. I've also added some bikini hammocks above the cube and the basket which are also well liked.

Finally, this tube is getting used although it's a tad too small for some of my rats.

Here's Doctor hanging out in the cube.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, September 16, 2012

My First Project on My "New" Singer 15-91

I wanted the "new" Singer's first project to be simple, so I am making liners for the rats using un-favorite fabric.

This photo has the liner lying on my floral bedspread. You can see my freehand quilting.

I'm fairly pleased with the machine. It sounds like a shaking tambourine and the thread seems to just fly around through all the hooks and such. Comparably the Singer 66 has much more streamline threading. But, I'm having a blast so far.

I found out that apparently 15 bobbins from Walmart are notorious for not working on Singer 15s especially the ones from Dritz. Just guess which kind of bobbins I bought. But, I just have to mention, what the bleep. How can a company sell 15 bobbins that don't work on Singer 15s. It's just WRONG.

Here's the back. The backing is so thin that you can see the fleece through it. /giggles. Didn't I say this is NOT my favorite fabric. You can see some of my tension issues although some of it is due to finding out how fast the machine will go and not ironing the fabric. I also, had to play around with the stitch length. It is a delight to be able to switch the stitch length so easily in comparison to the Singer 66.

My Singer 66 was not completely ignored today. Today, I oiled it more thoroughly than I've done in the past because I learned a lot about oiling while figuring out how to oil the Singer 15.

I cleaned the back medallion. I didn't get a before picture. Mainly because I had no idea what I was doing and was surprised to find all the dirt. It had had dirt outlining all of the details. I cleaned it using a toothbrush and water. The details on the 66 are just awesome.

So, then, I had to clean the Singer 15's back medallion

This clean job was not as striking. But, here's the before....

And, here's after.... I hope you can see that it is significantly shinier.

Also, I spent time taking photos while threading the Singer 66. I'm hoping to create a photo tutorial for threading that machine.

But, I want to share this photo because it vividly depicts the horrible shape my Singer 66's shine coat is in. It actually doesn't look this bad in real life. Under normal lighting conditions, the finish is a fairly cohesive matte finish. None of it really shines in real life. Anyways, the flash is reflecting off the shine coat and that's why the photo shows the lousy condition of the finish.

I'm wondering if someone attempted to remove the finish. The more I look at it the more concerned I become that I need to replace that finish because I'm thinking it needs the finish to protect the metal.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, September 15, 2012

New Sewing Machine - Squealing in Delight - Singer 15-91

For awhile, I've been seeking a vintage Singer sewing machine on which I could learn refurbishing especially the motor. Today was amazing. I found a Treadle Singer 66 that was in very good condition, beautiful cabinet, paint job intact, but it was obvious that someone had been messing with it who didn't know what they were doing (the tension knob was too tight, the throat plate wasn't seated properly, it had a plastic pin for a spool holder???) They were asking $100 but were willing to barter. It looked like a machine I could easily learn to repair, but it was a treadle, and I specifically want to be able to repair the electrical portion. So, we walked away....

I'd told my hubby that I feared I would regret that decision....

Less than an hour later, we went to another garage sale and, VOILA, I saw another sewing cabinet. It had various items sitting on its lid, so I started cleaning it off, and the lady who owned it started to help, and she said that no one knew it was a sewing machine with all of the stuff on it. And, I mentioned that I was cleaning it off because I knew it was a sewing machine and wanted to see it.

We pulled out the machine, and my chin hit the floor. The Singer is beautiful. Its decals and paint are essentially intact and shiny except for the layer of dust that I kept dusting off. It actually took me a few moments to realize that it wasn't a 66 but rather a 15-91, the model that I've always wanted because I can drop its feed dogs and more easily do free-motion quilting on it rather than on my 66, but it also has reverse.

The prior owner was asking $75, and I felt I couldn't barter because I felt the machine was worth at least $100 if not more. So, I bought it.

AK940949 is its serial number which means its birthdate would be May 26 1952. (It's about 20 years younger than my Singer 66.) Its original owner was named Maria and she was from Austria. And, her son died in WW2. The lady I bought it from had received it as a gift from Maria who apparently had sewed with her. But, also, Maria had saved her life. When the prior owner's mother was pregnant, she'd been hemorrhaging and apparently Maria had been there to help out. So, this machine had meant a lot to the prior owner, and she was happy to know that I was going to continue sewing with it.

The above photo was taken after I removed the dust. Ain't he shiny?

Here, I've taken the front plate off, so that I could remove fuzz and icky stuff.

Here's just some of the icky stuff that I removed from the machine. I'm still shocked with all the gunk that was secreted in places. The feed dogs "looked" pristine, but I was scraping lint out of them, too.

Here the bobbin assembly has been removed.

A close-up. I'd previously been scared of taking parts of my sewing machine apart for fear that I couldn't put it back together.

And, here it is. Look at that purty stitching.

Here, I'm trying to show that both sides of the fabric have perfect stitches.

Not, everything is great, though.

I still have a few things to do.

- The bobbin case is rusty, so I'm going to try to replace it.
- The brand new number 15 bobbins that I bought today don't fit its bobbin winder. This has me flummoxed. How the bleep can they not fit? The ancient number 15 bobbin that came with the machine fits the bobbin winder. So, I need to find some bobbins that work.
- The finish on top of the cabinet is badly scratched. I need to figure out how to fix that.
- And, the hubby has confiscated its power cord (fire hazard). The 15-91 borrowed the 66's power cord for today's sewing adventure. So, electrical repair is already beginning.

I am just thrilled that I have a Singer 15-91, and I may be a bit weird, but he's a boy. LOL. He's just a lot more stocky and bulky than my 66.

For comparison, here's a picture of my Singer 66. Yes, that's Bittle pretending to sew.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It's a Rat Tribble - More Fat Walter

Walter Butt

And, here's a ball of fur with rat ears.

Seriously, I would love to help Walter lose weight, but he does make a nice rotund ball.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, September 10, 2012

This Week in the Critter Nation - Four Layers in the Crib

I'm about to make more liners, so the Critter Nation remains fairly similar this week.

I call the upcycled record file the "crib". And, this week it has Doctor hanging in the top layer. A hammock covering the wire floor, and the double hammock hanging from the bottom of the "crib". We also have the big teal ball from their tunnel set in the upper floor this week.

Martha says, "hi" from the top layer of the "crib".

Mabs says "hi". I wish she was perfectly in focus because that would be an awesome photo.

Downstairs in the Critter Nation.

Walter being adorable.

Walter being cleaned by Mabel.

Isn't Mabel cute in her almost full coat of hair? Her fur will probably fall out soon. Sigh. She being a rex and all.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, September 7, 2012

Scary Spider - What is it?

Yesterday, we found this frightening spider hanging on the side of our house.  Yes, I know, for some people spiders are cute and friendly, but for me.... SCARY.
So, therefore, I'm attempting to put the scary pictures after the  (Hopefully, this works.)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Now Selling Rodent Themed Items in my Etsy Shoppe

In my wanderings through garage sales looking for toys for my rat crew, every once in a while, I stumble across some cute items.

I'm now selling rodent themed cute household items, something for the humans in the house

Currently available in my Etsy shoppe - Mouse Brass Figurine

This cute book of sweet sayings illustrated by darling mice is also currently available in my Etsy shoppe.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Walter the Lazy Mouse - An Awesome Used Book Find

I found a wonderful little book at a used book fair that benefits our local public library. Sadly, the book's cover shows its age and is held together with library tape, but the story... just too cute.

I included a photo of the first pages of the book to demonstrate the loveliness of the illustrations, and the mouse house illustration reminds me of my Critter Nation.

And, here's Walter. I'm not sure that he appreciates his namesake being lazy. I think he's taking it personally. LOL

Anyways, the book's author is Marjorie Flack, and the illustrator is Cyndy Szekeres. The book appears to be from 1963. It's an easy to read chapter book with lots of darling illustrations. Walter, the main character, has many adventures and learns the value of industriousness. Something that I wish my own Walter would learn. Then, maybe he might lose some of his weight.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad