Showing posts with label sewing machine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sewing machine. Show all posts

Monday, September 29, 2014

New baby!!

Last week my sweet hubby and I had an hour to kill between dropping off one kid and picking up the others, so we decided to check out the local Antique Mall.
We didn't have a whole lot of time, and I honestly wasn't looking particularly closely at anything. Mitch spotted this elaborate cabinet, and only upon closer inspection did he realize that there was a sewing machine in it. He called me over, and after I started breathing again, we took a peek at the price.
I should mention at this point that a treadle sewing machine has been a dream of mine for some time. And this one *gasp* she's so beautiful! And that cabinet! I have no words. But I know very little about machines this old, and even less about cabinets, and we HAD to go to get the other two kids, so I walked away, me heart breaking a little more with each step. I should mention at this point that Mitch thought we should buy it right off. I should listen to him more...
Obviously, this tale has a happy ending! While waiting for the kids to get out of school, I did a bit of homework and determined that the price the Antique shop was asking was a very reasonable one, and we went back to get her. I didn't breathe on the whole drive there. What if someone else had gotten her?? But there she was, waiting for me. It was meant to be.
She wasn't in perfect condition. Not surprising, since she's 114 years old. I cleaned and oiled her, then replaced her belt and the rubber ring on her bobbin winder. But even before all that, she moved like a dream. So smooth! My modern machines are jealous.
Even though I don't know a lot about machines this old, my clue to her age was the direction of the needle thread. You thread her left to right, instead of front to back. I looked her serial number up in the Singer database and discovered that she is a Model #27, built in 1900. She's in amazing shape for her age!
Her decals and paint are a bit worn, particularly on the machine bed where she'd have seen the most action. It is clear that she was used and cared for well. I wish I knew her history. Imagine the things she has sewn!
Her face plate is in excellent shape, although it could use a bit of a cleaning. I love the ivy design on it.
The treadle mechanism is in beautiful condition though. Even the paint is still shiny! Replacing the belt was easy peasy.
And just look at that perfect stitch. Nora and I are going to have a lot of fun together.

Monday, August 5, 2013

My machines

It seems like I've been chatting about my arsenal of sewing machines a lot this last week, so I thought I'd introduce them.
Here is the "aerial" view of my sewing room, which is the only angle I can get all 4 machines in. Up front are the sewing machine and serger, with my vintage machine on her own table. The coverstitch machine is tucked into the corner.
This is my main machine, a Janome 4623LE. My hubby gave her to me for Christmas, just after we were married and long before the sewing bug really hit me. He is a wise man. She's a really wonderful machine - basic, but with all the features I need. I use her every day.
My serger also gets a workout every day. She is a Brother 1034D and was also a gift from my sweetheart. Yes, he spoils me. I really love this serger. I've had her nearly 3 years and she's never complained, despite heavy daily use. I find her easy to thread and simple to use.
When I first got her, I did get the threading sequence confused on occasion, so I added a little crib sheet with a Sharpie. I find this insanely useful, so I thought I'd share. The numbers in blue are the threading sequence. The red annotations tell you which thread goes where - L for left needle, R for right needle, upper for the upper looper and lower for the lower looper. The two thread paths that are starred are the two threads that are visible in the seam, so those are the ones I always make sure match the garment fabric.
Another tip, which I use for both serger and coverstitch, is how I keep that darn hex wrench close at hand. Lose this thing and it is impossible to change your needle, and I am a neurotic needle changer, so I do it often - generally every time I change the thread, which I do with pretty much every garment. I use a little ball of putty (AKA Sticky Tack) to keep the wrench stuck to the machine. This way, it's always here when I need it.
The third machine on my main table is the cover stitch machine. I have the Brother 2340CV, and I love it. When I initially was considering getting one of these, I really questioned how much I needed it. I mean, all it does is hem knits, right?? But I do sew a lot of knits and I had gotten more and more dissatisfied with the results I was getting with twin needles or other methods. But as it turns out, I use this machine all the time. At least 3 times a week, possibly more often. She hems, she binds, she attaches elastic, she makes beltloops; all effortlessly and beautifully. Seriously. She's amazing and I can't live without her.
Here's one little tip for the coverstitchers out there. I like to use regular sewing thread in the needles when I coverstitch, but if I don't have 2 spools, the spool pin doesn't accommodate a bobbin well. I discovered that a bobbin actually works great if you stack it on top of an empty spool of thread. It brings it up to the height it needs to sit and feed smoothly.
Last, but definitely not least is my Singer Touch & Sew 603E. This machine was a gift from a good friend who didn't have room for her. She's an absolute powerhouse of a machine. This girl with sew through 8 layers of heavy denim like it was nothing, and come back begging for more. Her stitch is beautiful and sturdy. I use her for constructing heavy duty items (like jeans) and also for topstitching when I'm using contrasting thread, so I don't have to constantly change thread.
But what I truly can't do without is her buttonhole. Seriously, these things are so beautiful. Perfectly stitched, every single time. The vintage buttonhole attachment does have a bit of a learning curve to it, but once you've got it, you'll never go back. These buttonholes are a work of art.

So, those are my girls. Together, we make beautiful things. Although there are lots of other machines out there that I *could* happily add to my arsenal, these four ladies are what I really need for what I love to do.

So, how many machines would make you feel content? Do you think a serger is essential? What about a coverstitch? What machine(s) can you not live without?

Monday, March 29, 2010

She sews!

Not me - the new-to-me vintage Singer 603E that I told you about in this post. I got a new throat plate and bobbin cover on Ebay and oiled her, and she sews like a dream!!
For her first project, I didn't want to tax either of us too much, so I made a pair of quick knit shorts for Logan (who is potty training and needs tons of easy on and off bottoms).  It gave me a chance to check out her zigzag stitch.  I even installed the elastic the Ottobre way by sewing through the elastic and she didn't have any trouble with it at all.  And let me just say, when I push on that knee lever - she GOES!  Janome is fast, but this baby flies through a seam.  So fun!

Now I just have to play with all her feet, cams, attachments and (cackles with glee) the buttonholer!  I have seen some beautiful buttonholes made on vintage machines.  I love Janome, but her performance in the buttonhole department is lackluster at best.  I can't wait to see how the Singer performs.

She needs a name...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A new member of the family

I mentioned my friend Starla a few posts ago.  She surprised me by giving me this...
Can you believe it??  It is a Singer 603E "Touch and Sew".  It's one of the last all-metal machines that Singer made.  She came in this beautiful cabinet with a knee lever.  I'm so excited to have her!!
It came with a ton of cams for different stitches as well as two boxes of feet and a buttonholer!  There are two rufflers and I think a walking foot.  So fun!  I can't wait to play with her!
Look, she even has her original manual!!  She's missing her universal throat plate (I have the straight stitch plate) and bobbin cover, but I think we may have just dropped them when we moved her over here.  Either way I found an Ebay seller that has them, so I may just buy them and have a spare.
She came with this big bag of cool buttons.  I already found two silver ones in there that are perfect for my capris for my mini wardrobe.  Sweet!!!

I need to go get some oil and get her back into fighting trim.  She's going to be so fun to play with!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pfaff 1027 "Tipmatic"

Look at this Grand Dame of the sewing world!! She has had more projects under her presser foot than I care to contemplate. I found her languishing in the closet at church where we keep supplies for our women's group. Since we have our sewing group coming up and there are a few ladies who don't have machines, I thought I'd see if she could help us out.
I've never really played with a machine this old before. She is completely mechanical, without even electronic thread uptake or stitch selection. She also has a front loading bobbin, which I've not had any experience with. And, naturally, there wasn't a manual and the Internet failed me. There was not one to be had. So, I had to wing it. First was a thorough cleaning. Some past user had gotten a giant thread jam caught in her feed dogs, so I cleaned that out, dusted out all the lint, and took a stab at threading her. It took a few tries, but eventually I figured it out, and she sews!
Look at all these cool stitches!!
I had to try some of them out. I especially love the honeycomb stitch. Janome doesn't have that one. *pout*

Well, she still needs to really be put through her paces, so stay tuned for her trial run project. It's fun!

ETA (8/27/09) - I've noticed that lots of y'all are coming over looking for instructions or a manual. I was not able to find a manual online for this model (despite a few sites that said that they had one and took my money, but didn't deliver - be warned!). A friend of mine has a much newer model, and it is similar enough that the manual is actually very helpful. Hers is a 6152, but I suspect that any "Tipmatic" manual that you can get your hands on would give you excellent information. Good luck! You got a great machine!

ETA (10/9/09) Thanks to reader Simone who writes "I found a manual at:
it was my first hit on google! (you were second)

it is a service manual in German English and French. And it is avalable for free! Hope some people are helped by that!" Note that this is a service manual rather than a user or owners manual. Still very helpful, particularly is you are having troubles getting the machine to work. Thanks, Simone!

ETA (10/12/09) - Thanks so much to Anne, who emailed me my very own copy of the Tipmatic owner's manual!! It is in Dutch, but has plenty of great diagrams. If you are interested in it, please send me an email and I will be happy to forward it to you. Thanks again, Anne!!  If you leave your email address in a comment on the blog, I will delete the comment so that your email will not be available to spambots and the like.

ETA (12/31/11) Unfortunately, the Dutch manual has been lost in a computer crash, but I have since gotten my hands on the manual in English. If you would like a copy, I would be happy to email it to you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Meet My friend, Janome

Meet my sewing machine.  Sew, Mama, Sew is having sewing machine month this month, and is collecting reviews from readers about their machines, so I decided to play along and introduce you to my dear friend.

What brand and model do you have?

She is a Janome 4623 LE Plus.

How long have you had it?

Since Christmas 2002 (wow, 7 years!)

How much does that machine cost (approximately)?

It is no longer available for sale new, but I found a new one on ebay for $300.

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?

I mostly make clothing for my family, particularly my kiddos, but occasionally make a bag, apron or pillow.  I make pleated ring slings, for which she sews through 8-12 layers of broadcloth or 6-8 of twill.  I have also sewn leather and "pleather" with her and there is a tent in our garage that needs mending.  We'll get to that.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?

Every day, if possible!!  I probably average about an hour a day, but it is very variable.  Sometimes, only a few minutes.  Depends on the kids.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?

I LOVE my machine!  While she isn't perfect, I know all of her little bugs and we get along well.  She hasn't failed me yet!  She doesn't have a name, per se.  That is, I don't call her Beatrice or Claire, but I refer to her as "Janome", as in "Janome and I are due for some quality time."

What features does your machine have that work well for you?

I like the top loading bobbin with clear case, so I can see how much thread I have left.  She also has a needle position control, so I can set the needle to up or down, which is great for pivoting at corners. She came with all the feet you see here, and I love that they all store nicely in the machine.  There is also a little slot that fits a packet of needles.  She has variable speed control, which is especially useful when my small fry are underfoot (literally) and push down on the pedal.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?

She's a bit finicky about thread.  If I always use Metrosene, we are fine, but a few projects with cheap thread and she gums up and skips stitches.  Very annoying.

Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!

My machine was a Christmas present from my hubby for our second Christmas together.  He took my mother (who has been sewing for 30+ years, has a degree in textiles and in an Extension agent) to find her.  He and Mom combed the entire city of Houston, looking at machines, trying out machines, sewing on machines, until they found Janome at a sewing shop on the north side of town about an hour from our home.

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?

Absolutely!  She is a great machine, particularly for a new sewer.  She has all the features that make sewing easy and while she isn't fancy, she is also not hard to use.

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?

Features, obviously.  It has to do what you need it to do.  I think the brand track record is important as well as your comfort with the machine.  Always sew on a machine before you buy.  You want to get it's "feel".  

Do you have a dream machine?

While I do not have a brand or model specific, since I haven't done any research yet, I do very much want a machine with embroidery capability.  I'd also really love a serger.  I'm not sure which one is higher priority for me right now.  Either one would make me sublimely happy!