Wednesday 31 October 2012

Meet Little Red Riding Hood

Meet Little Red Riding Hood, my one and only rag doll.

She's a bit grumpy with me because she spends too much time in the cupboard, so she refused to smile for the photograph.  Also the camera played fun and games with me.  It recognised her as having a face, and after I clicked the shutter it said "blink detected."  Too clever by half.

Even though I only made her last year I consider her a vintage piece of work.  Why?  More tomorrow..

Tuesday 30 October 2012

A Bit Battered but Pretty

This is a Singer 48K that I found in a second hand shop in South Wales a few weeks ago.  It is in a bit of a state - the metal will never shine again, it is too far gone -  but the decals are incredibly pretty and I have a serious soft spot for transverse shuttle machines, so it came home with me.  The design of the decals is known as Ottoman Carnation.  

This machine has joined the queue for a clean up, but it might have a long wait.  I have a quilt to finish and I need to keep my hands clean.  

Monday 29 October 2012

Removing a Bobbin Plate from a Singer 99K

This is my nice, clean, reliable Singer 99K, showing the bobbin plate in the open position.  
The Singer 99K, 99, 66K and 66 all have the same design of plate. It is designed not to slide open any further than shown in the picture.  However it can be a bit of a puzzle if you need to remove the bobbin plate altogether when cleaning the machine.

Over the past few days I have seen the same question asked by a couple of people who were not sure how to remove the bobbin plate.  Fortunately there was a mucky 99K in the house, so I was able to make a quick video.

So you can fully appreciate the filth on this machine, here is a photo of the underneath of the bobbin plate, showing how the grooves stop short of the edge so it cannot slide off completely.

And here is a loving close-up of the muck and grease covering the metal runner, each end of which fits into the grooves.

Sunday 28 October 2012

Saturday 27 October 2012

First World War Silk Postcard - United

Another of my charity shop finds - three First World War silk postcards mounted in a frame.  This is a close up of just one of them.  The second flag on the left had me slightly foxed, but after a cup of coffee and a quick bounce around the internet, I have sorted them all out.

From left to right, the flags are:  Italy, Russian Empire (black double headed eagle on a yellow background), France, Britain, Belgium and Serbia.

Strange that while I was looking all this up my husband answered the door to a lady selling poppies for the British Legion. 

Hello Lesley Cockell - thank you for following!

Friday 26 October 2012

Quilting a Butterfly

Here is the brimstone butterfly again.  I have just finished quilting around the edge of the appliqué.

To give it a bit of extra body I added an extra layer of wadding to fit the shape of the appliqué.

Once the extra layer was tacked in place and trimmed, I used pins to hold the layers in place around the butterfly and stitched around it, using the method shown in yesterday's post. 

So there you have it.  Stuffed butterfly.  Sounds like a delicacy from the declining Roman Empire.

A warm welcome to Allon0711 and Madakamom - thank you for joining as followers!

Thursday 25 October 2012

Quilting Around the Edge of Appliqué

After all the work I put into the appliqué on the Diamond Jubilee wall hanging, I had to work out the best way of quilting around the edges before I launched into the free-motion quilting.

The ideal foot to use was the adjustable cording foot, usually used for zips.  Not only is it adjustable, but also it is hinged, so it rides easily over the inevitable bumps.

The red arabesque at the top of the hanging was nothing but curves and corners, but the cording foot made relatively easy work of it.

I was pleased with finished effect - the blanket stitch edging really stood out in relief.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

The Quilting Foot

Often an old Singer machine will have a quilting foot with the attachments, together with a quilting guide. 

Once the foot has been attached to the machine, the rod of the quilting guide can be inserted through the groove at the top part of the foot.

The quilting guide can be inserted from either the right or the left, depending on which way you want it to face.

I have to admit that I have yet to master the use of the quilting foot.  There has been too much rumpling and skidding going on, which may be partly due to the fact that I have only ever tried it out with synthetic wadding.

The other slight problem I have had is that I am used to occasionally letting my finger touch the front part of the foot while I am sewing.  This gives no trouble with a regular foot, but because with the quilting foot there is such a short distance between the front of the foot and the needle, I have had the needle come down on my fingernail a couple of times.  Stupid, I know.  Fortunately I have always had tough fingernails, so the needle has come off worst - just a slight bend making it come bashing down on the side of the foot with my next stitch.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Tuesday's Top Tip - Test Strips

There is always the fear that the dye will run and that all your hard work will be ruined.  Even when fabric has been washed, a dodgy dye can still catch you out.

Once I had bought my collection of colours from Oakshott Fabrics I cut a tiny strip from the edge of each piece and then sewed the strips to a piece of white cotton.  Then I washed and dried the test strips, ironing them while damp, to see if any of the colours ran.

I made one test strip before I had washed all the fabric pieces, and a second test strip after washing the fabric.  So on one test strip the tiny strips of colour were being washed for the first time, and on the other they were being washed for the second time.  The third test strip is of a few additional colours from Oakshott fabrics and a strip of the selvedge of the backing material I used for the Diamond Jubilee wall hanging.

Only one of the colours, one of the dark reds, ran ever so slightly.  But I wasn't worried by this, because I had subjected the test strips to some serious abuse - pouring boiling water over them, standing them in the hot water for an hour or so, giving one of the test strips a blast in the microwave to heat the water back up again, leaving the strip lying soggy on a plate for hours.  I worked really hard to get that red to run.

So all told, provided the finished quilt is never left in a leaking attic, I am confident that the colours will hold fast.

The strips are also jolly handy for colour matching when you go shopping for threads and matching fabrics.

Monday 22 October 2012

Perfect Fabrics for Appliqué

For a long time I was looking around for a fairly lightweight cotton in a good range of colours suitable for appliqué.  In the end I found exactly what I wanted at Oakshott Fabrics.  For me the added bonus was that they weren't that far away - a quick zip up the motorway to Gloucester, and I spent a happy hour or so picking the right colours for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Quilt.

Here are the colours I have used, together with the two shades of background fabric I bought elsewhere.

Sunday 21 October 2012

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - Oak Tree and Rainbow

The job I had planned for Friday was finishing the oak leaves, and look what I saw on Thursday.  Is it a good omen?

Saturday 20 October 2012

A Little Woven House

This tiny little woven house is only 3 inches by 2 inches, excluding the frame.  It was all lonely in a charity shop so I had to give it a new home.  It is years since I bought it.  It now has its own special place in my sewing corner.

So often beautiful pieces of needlework end up in charity shops  Whoever made this little house knew exactly what she was doing.  All the warp threads are wound securely over a tiny piece of board, and the weft threads must have been woven in and out with a darning needle.  The little wooden frame completes the picture to perfection, and I love it.

Friday 19 October 2012

Oak Leaf

This oak leaf is on one of the panels representing England on the Queen's Diamond Jubilee quilt. Today I am adding the machine stitched veins on the leaves, using a dark mustard yellow cotton. This particular oak leaf can lay claim to having been made in three different countries - mainly at home in England, with most of the blanket stitch having been done in Poland, apart from about six stitches which were done in the Czech Republic.  It says it enjoyed its holidays and is quite happy to stay at home now.

Thursday 18 October 2012

Thistle Leaves

Today I have been adding a bit of machine stitched detail to thistle leaves.  One of the panels on the Diamond Jubilee quilt is of a thistle, representing Scotland. 

Looking at the leaves again, now that it is a few weeks since I completed the blanket stitch, the centres seemed empty, so the machine stitched veins in the middle were today's job.  I didn't bother with a stencil.  I drew the central veins on the back with fabric marker, so the bobbin thread shows on the front. 

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Monday 15 October 2012

Blue Butterfly

I have just finished this appliqué butterfly this morning as a fill-in detail on the Queen's Diamond Jubilee quilt that I have been slaving over for the last few months.  Two more butterflies should be taking flight over the next couple of days.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

I'm Off...

...just for a few days.  Next post on Saturday or Sunday.  xxx

Tuesday 9 October 2012

A Machine (and a Clock) with a Story

This Singer 28K belongs to my friend Mary.  It still has its original base and case.  A while back I gave it a thorough clean up and oiling.  It sews perfectly.

The decals have worn away with all the use the machine has had in its long life.  They are the original decals - this machine has never been re-japanned.

The metal will never again shine like new, but that adds to the machine's character.  It was manufactured in 1893.  Mary's father bought it for her mother for thirty shillings in 1933 when they got married.

In 1940, when Mary was a baby, the family had a narrow escape.  They were living in Ashtead in Surrey in a house that her parents had bought new in the late 1930s.  During an air raid a bomb landed behind the house and blew a huge crater in the back garden.  All the windows were blown in and most of the contents were wrecked by flying glass and debris.  Fortunately the family were not in the house at the time.  

When Mary's father went through the house afterwards most items were damaged beyond repair, but he was able to retrieve the sewing machine and a clock, and not much else.  The clock had been a wedding present.

The house had to be shored up at the back because there was an enormous crack in the back wall. Mary remembers the wooden buttresses remaining in place for some years before the house was finally repaired.

The machine was passed on to Mary when she married.  She was an army nurse married to a soldier, so the machine travelled with them... Germany, Greece, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Northern Ireland.

If machines could talk...!

Monday 8 October 2012

Adjusting the Pressure on the Presser Foot

The pressure on the presser foot can be adjusted if necessary by turning the screw at the top.  If the material is not feeding through the machine when you are sewing it will give a faulty stitch.  For instance, if there is not enough pressure you will find skipped stitches immediately after you sew over seams or folds.  If there is too much pressure there will be crowded together stitches before going over seams or folds.  The pressure is easily adjusted with a few turns of the thumb screw at the top of the presser bar.

Not all thumb screws look the same.  This is the screw on my Serata treadle.  Try not to look too closely at the dust.

Sunday 7 October 2012

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - A Quiet Day at St. Peter's

I always thought Rome was heaving with crowds.  Looks nice and peaceful in this picture, doesn't it?

Saturday 6 October 2012

A Doll Quilt from Betty in Virginia

This is such a charming little quilt, to which Betty gave the title of Tree Top Manor.  Betty managed to choose the perfect colours for our kitchen, and also made it the ideal size for a gap on the wall. She plainly had our kitchen in mind, because she sent a couple of pot holders too.

I have often thought about making a doll quilt based on my nan's needlecase, which I posted a picture of a little while ago.  When I received this quilt I had the distinct feeling that Betty had beaten me to it.  It has the 1930s look about it.

Thank you Betty for such a sweet quilt!

Welcome to Granny Darley - Thank you for following!

Friday 5 October 2012

Doll Quilt - Irish Chain

With this quilt I chose a straightforward traditional pattern, the Irish chain, so I could make the most of just two colours.  I really enjoyed using the bright lipstick pink batik.  I kept the top simple because my main aim was to practise machine quilting.  The quilting in the centre was fairly trouble-free.  The problems came doing the border.  There was a bit too much skidding and rumpling going on for my liking.  I really should try and take pictures of my quilts in more flattering lighting conditions.

This time I was doing a swap on a different forum, Quilting Haven.  They have a different system for the swaps - you send a quilt to one person, and receive a quilt from another.  This quilt took a flight to Oklahoma, and I had to wait and see what I would receive.  The idea is that you get a surprise - only the swap co-ordinator knows who is sending quilts where.  So I had to sit back and wait for my mystery package..

Welcome to Maria, the latest follower (not to be confused with Maria, the proud owner of the Jones machine).  Thank you for joining!

Thursday 4 October 2012

Needles for the Jones Family CS

The problem with Jones machines is that they do not take a standard needle.  Singer set the standard early on by giving the shank of the needle a flat side and a compatible slot in the needlebar for it to fit into.  This meant that the needle was easy to insert and that it would be correctly set. Most manufacturers adopted this system, and the same standard needle is used on modern machines, so that it is easy to replace needles on most vintage machines.

Jones continued to make machines which took a round shanked needle.  There were four old needles with Maria's machine, a couple with tiny spots of rust, and all of them blunt.  We tested the stitch with the least blunt of the four.  The stitch was perfect, as perfect as you can get with a blunt needle that snags on the fabric every few inches.

Maria is going to contact Helen Howes, who has a wonderful website, to get some replacement needles, then we will give the machine a proper run.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Look - No Tension Spring!

Here are the tension discs on Maria's Jones Family CS machine.  They look very similar to the tension discs on the Singer 28K that I showed in my post about thumb tabs, but there is one important difference.  The Jones has no tension spring, the little wire hook sticking out to the left of the discs on the Singer.

On many old machines the tension spring has been snapped off.  At first sight this seems to have happened here.  However, this machine had no tension spring in the first place.

So, if you are considering buying an old machine with this type of tension discs, always check the tension spring.  If it is a Singer and there is none, then it is missing.  If it is not a Singer, find out by trawling through google images whether it was likely to have had one in the first place.  Most other makes did have tension springs, but this Jones machine didn't.

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Tuesday's Top Tip - The Pin Tin

For years I would have a messy pile of pins in a tin and risk getting the sharp end of one pranging me under a fingernail every time I went to pick one up.

Then one Christmas a watch came in a posh tin with sponge fitting snugly inside. Never mind the watch (not mine anyway), it was the tin I was interested in.   Absolutely ideal.  Now I can keep my eyes on my work and pick up or put back pins without even looking.  The pins sticking up above the top of the tin are all rammed down into place when I put the lid back on.

Monday 1 October 2012

Shuttle for the Jones Family CS

This is the shuttle for Maria's machine.  It was totally rust free and only needed a wipe to get a bit of greasy oil off.

This photograph shows the tension spring.  I did not touch the screw - screws on shuttles should be left well alone when cleaning a machine.  Testing the tension comes later.

This photograph shows the capital F stamped on the shuttle.  F for Family, so the right shuttle for the machine, not a rogue replacement.  Shuttles from other models are not necessarily compatible.


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