Tuesday 31 July 2012

Tuesday's Top Tip - Stitch Length Regulator Knobs

Stitch length regulator knobs often end up jammed solid on machines that have spent decades in cupboards.  The only way to ease them free is with lashings of oil and patience - don't expect a result the same day.

Then you are raring to go with a project.  Halfway through you start wondering where the little oily smudges are coming from on your hitherto pristine work.  Cleaning it off with washing up liquid gives time for reflection... and you realise that the stitch length knob is the culprit.

The solution?  Well you could create a stylish little cosy in black velvet with gold trim to match the machine.  Otherwise, you could reach for the nearest paper bag, rip off a strip and keep it in place with sellotape.  The latter option has more immediate appeal.  

Monday 30 July 2012

Queen's Diamond Jubilee Bash

The pub was packed on 4th June.  The Queen's Diamond Jubilee coincided with the first anniversary of the pub reopening after being renovated.  The landlady made a fabulous Union Jack cake...

... and in the nick of time I finished a wall hanging that took pride of place in the restaurant for about ten days.

Being a true vintage girl and in a patriotic frame of mind, I used only Singers (made in Scotland) for this project - my 1927 99K (hand machine) for the applique, and all the quilting was done on the 15K treadle.

Welcome to Janice Jackson!

Sunday 29 July 2012

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - A Church Window

Just a little fragment of glass incorporated into a newer window.  Country churches always have fascinating little surprises in store.  This one is in Suffolk.  The grey sky looks suspiciously like this year, but it was in fact two years ago.

Saturday 28 July 2012

Yet More Wonderful Decals

Just one last picture, and you can play spot the oil hole.  No prizes on offer, but you can claim the glory by posting a comment to say where it is.

Being a true couch potato I sat through last night's Olympic Opening Ceremony and had the incomparable pleasure of seeing the Queen and Daniel Craig taking the art of understatement to its pinnacle.  The video also features a sewing machine.  Here is the link, so you can play at freeze frame in the first few seconds and then dash off furious letters to the props department at the Beeb asking why the handle of the sewing machine was not clicked into position.  And why wasn't it in a base either.


If you have trouble with the link, search Youtube for "Mr. Bond escorts the Queen."

Hello Gin!  (That's a greeting to the latest follower, not a private conversation into my glass)
And hello Laura Jean who has appeared just this minute!

Friday 27 July 2012

More Pretty Decals

This picture of the Vesta shows a very helpful feature that Vesta included on their machines.  The holes for lubricating the machine were outlined in red, so there was no chance of wasting oil by ramming it down the wrong hole.

Welcome back to Kmalmquist, and hello Lala!

Thursday 26 July 2012

Vesta Decals

First of all, thank you and welcome back to Artymess, Fabriquefantastique and Scott Egerton, who have now reappeared through the cybermaze!

Now feast your eyes on the beautiful designs.  Can't you just imagine them stitched in tiny satin stitch, or woven into brocade, or printed on silk?  Where have you seen similar designs?  This could be a special assignment for Fabriquefantastique.

Somewhere in this house I have an old(ish) little book in German of children in peasant costume, which I should examine with a magnifying glass.  I must dig the book out some time.  I just wish I knew where to start digging.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Welcome to all the Blog Followers!

I enjoyed visiting your blogs this afternoon, planning a nice quiet Sunday afternoon reading through your posts and looking at the pictures.  And suddenly, by magic, this evening half of you have disappeared.  

Was it me?  Did I hit the wrong button?  Am I suddenly too old for computers because it was my birthday earlier this month?  Or has blogger developed a warp in the ether and sucked your icons into oblivion?

So a special welcome to Acceleratio,  AnonymousG, and Duncan, whose icons are here tonight...
and an equally warm welcome to Artymess and Fabriquefantastique, whose icons have disappeared,
and another equally warm and apologetic welcome to the other two or three followers whose names totally escape me and whose icons have also disappeared... you will be welcomed back with open arms.

Terribly sorry everyone.  I feel such a dimwit.

Vesta Transverse Shuttle

They didn't have to make them beautiful, but they did.  Vesta machines have a charm all their own, being built to a smaller scale and with exquisite decals  If you sit this machine beside a Frister and Rossmann the F&R looks an absolute brute and a monster in comparison.

When I bought this machine it had been in the same family since new.  It barely needed cleaning and seems to have been hardly used.  I bring it out from time to time just for the pleasure of looking at it.  The rest of the time it is kept safely away under its cover, away from all the steam and damp that fill English houses and that would soon have any uncovered machine screaming out for the rust remover.

The decals to me look like mid European peasant embroidery.  If anybody ever comes up with pictures of embroidery reminiscent of the design on this machine, please let me know - I will be intrigued.  I will put some close-up pictures of the decals in posts later this week.

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Ejecting a Transverse Shuttle

This photo of a Little Vesta machine shows how easy it is to remove the shuttle on a TS machine. The photo is taken from the back of the machine.

The slide plate is attached to a very nifty little mechanism.  Pull it open as far as it will go (it is designed not to slide right off), and up pops the shuttle.  Couldn't be simpler.

Monday 23 July 2012

Transverse Shuttles

All the machines I have shown so far have been Vibrating Shuttle machines, where the shuttle carriage is to the right of the needle and the shuttle moves back and forth in an arc.  Singer patented their design for Vibrating Shuttles in 1886.  Before then they had been manufacturing Transverse Shuttle machines.

These photographs are of a Frister and Rossmann Transverse Shuttle machine manufactured (probably) in the mid to late 1930s.  German manufacturers continued making Transverse Shuttle machines until the outbreak of the Second World War, when most manufacturers switched over to the production of arms.

The shuttle moves from side to side in a straight line behind the needle.  It fits snugly into its little bed, as shown in the second photo where I have slid back the plate.

The needle is threaded from front to back, whereas on a VS machine it is threaded from left to right.  Different, but the same principle - in both cases you take the thread through the needle towards the shuttle.

TS machines make an excellent stitch, equal to that of any VS machine, which no doubt explains why the Germans didn't stop making them until history so rudely intervened.

Sunday 22 July 2012

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - May in Somerset

After all that bright Spanish sunlight it is time to feast your eyes on a bucolic English scene, lush moody greenness inhabited by fat succulent sheep, none of which would be possible without our frequent lashings with rain.  

I can thank sheep for my first creative passion - all those knitted tea cosies I churned out when I was little.  I dread to think how many ended up getting burnt on gas stoves.

Saturday 21 July 2012

More Delights of Zaragoza

Here is another photo of the fabulous Moorish style brickwork on the Cathedral of San Salvador in Zaragoza.  If ever you get the chance to go there, drop everything, even your sewing (but not your sewing machine), and go!

Having said that, I did take some hand sewing with me to do during the hot afternoons when we had to stay indoors...

Friday 20 July 2012

The Delights of Zaragoza

After nine days in Zaragoza poor old Blighty seems terribly dull, but at least I can entertain myself and watch the ever changing cloudscape.  

Will I ever make a quilt based on this Moorish style brickwork?  Probably not, but at least I have already had the fun of working out how to do it.

Monday 9 July 2012



My favourite flowers.  One day I will do an applique of hollyhocks.  This year enjoyment of the garden has been somewhat diminished by at least six weeks of constant rain.  It is time to escape, so I am disappearing on an aeroplane to see if it is any warmer and drier in Spain.  I think I know the answer already.

There will be a slight interruption to the flow of sewing machine pictures.  If we can master the technology there might be some pictures from Spain...

Sunday 8 July 2012

Ejecting yet another shuttle

This machine has no tab or lever to eject the shuttle...

... so use your finger at the tip of the shuttle to make it pop up.  Couldn't be simpler.  The original digital technology.

Saturday 7 July 2012

And ejecting another shuttle

This is a Serata treadle, which is shown in the "How to Treadle" video.  It has a very handy little lever.

The shuttle doesn't just pop up, it practically comes flying out.  It is a very nifty little mechanism.

Friday 6 July 2012

Ejecting the Shuttle

Some machines have a little tab or button to press to make the shuttle pop up out of the shuttle carriage.  Make sure the shuttle is as far forward as possible... 

...press the tab, and up it pops, just enough to enable you to take it out of the machine without putting any pressure on the tension spring.

These photographs are of a Singer. 

Thursday 5 July 2012

A peep inside the pub

What has this video got to do with sewing?  Absolutely nothing.  Today has been one of those rare days where I have been nowhere near sewing or a sewing machine.  It started with breakfast in bed and ended with supper in the pub.  Yes, you guessed it, it's my birthday.   And for the first time in weeks it DIDN'T EVEN RAIN.  Truly wondrous.

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Treat your shuttle with respect

They look like bullets.  Hardly surprising then that sewing machine manufacturers readily changed over to arms manufacture in the two World Wars.

This shuttle is from a Singer 28K.  Shuttles from other makes of machine may look slightly different, but the bobbin is loaded and threaded in the shuttle in the same way in most cases.

The cut out plate of metal which is screwed onto the outside is the tension spring.  Never pull at the tension spring to get the shuttle out of the machine. 

 A sharp tip is essential for stitch formation.  The shuttle has to pass through a loop of the upper thread.  If the tip is damaged it could snag or miss the loop.

I used to rack my brains trying to work out what happens when a long bobbin machine forms a stitch, until one day the light dawned... 

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Tuesday's Top Tip - Tea Break

Every serious sewing session includes a tea break.  Five minutes in the kitchen for a breather, dreaming up marvellous projects and scoffing biscuits, back to the sewing machine with the second mug of tea, put it on the table, start stitching again from where you left off... aagh... oh horrors...

The moral of this story applies mainly to right handers using a hand machine.

Don't put your tea on the table too close to the sewing machine.  As soon as you start sewing again the tea goes flying.

How do I know?  Bitter experience, many years ago when I was young and foolish.  Such an awful waste of tea.  I just want to spare you all the same agony.

Monday 2 July 2012

The Stitch Length Regulator

On older machines the stitch length is regulated by turning the large screw on the pillar of the machine.  For the longest possible stitch, turn the screw all the way in, as shown above...

... and for a smaller stitch, turn the screw out.  Test the stitch length before you thread the machine by stitching on a piece of paper.  You will see how far apart the perforations are and can set the stitch length without using up material and thread.

Sunday 1 July 2012

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - A Flower Beetle on a Thistle

This is a picture I took last weekend whilst out on a walk.  Over the past few weeks I have been doing an applique of a thistle - more about that later - so I took this picture to remind myself of what they look like in real life.  The beetle just happened to be there, which was good of him, and he was happy to pose while I fooled around dangling the lens cap dangerously close to his antennae.  A quick bit of research on the internet revealed that he is a flower beetle and feeds on pollen, which explains why he was able to ignore me while he concentrated on lunch.  All that pollen plainly goes straight to his thighs.


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