Sunday 27 January 2013

A Brief Bulletin From The Pub

...using husband's laptop and the pub's WiFi connection.

There will be a brief interruption to this blog. 

On Friday I tried to post my reply to Nola's quiz question that she posted as a comment on Thursday, and nothing happened.  The internet had disappeared into a cyberhole.

Yesterday the men in a van came to check the connection in the hole in the road and had to give up before they started because there was a car parked over the cover.  We are expecting them back tomorrow.

Tonight our main computer is being packed up in a box ready for a quick trip to computer hospital for a check up.

So no blogging for a few days, but plenty of time for sewing, drawing patterns and generally tidying up the sewing den.  By the end of the week I should be posting off a very important doll quilt to Karen in Canada.

Anyway, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted...

Nola, it's for hanging your mothballs in the wardrobe.


Friday 25 January 2013

Not All Long Bobbins Are The Same

Here are the bobbins from four different machines.  From left to right, Vesta Transverse Shuttle/Little Vesta, Serata treadle (ie, Stoewer Vibrating Shuttle), Singer Vibrating Shuttle, Frister and Rossmann Transverse Shuttle.

Sometimes bobbins are interchangeable between machines, but not always.  

If the disc at the end of the bobbin is too large for the shuttle, the bobbin will not rotate properly inside it.  The disc on the Vesta bobbin is smaller than on all the other bobbins shown.

If the bobbin winder has a little pin where the bobbin fits in at the right hand side, then there has to be a small hole in the disc.  My Singers can take bobbins without holes because there is no pin.

The protrusion at the centre of each disc might be sharp and pointed like the Singer, rounded like the Vesta and Serata, or not there at all, like the Frister and Rossmann.  The F&R is flat at one end with five holes, but has a solid disc with a central protrusion at the other end.

The first questions you need to ask if you are thinking of acquiring a long bobbin machine are firstly, has it got the shuttle, and secondly, has it got bobbins.  Singer bobbins are easy to come by, whereas other bobbins can prove to be pretty scarce.

Thursday 24 January 2013

Brass Darning Needle

It was in a box of bits from a car boot sale.

It is two and a quarter inches long, with plain stripes on one side, 

and crossed lines and dots on the other. 

Is it just a decorated darning needle, or did it have a particular use?  I would be delighted to find out.

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Jumper, Stole and Bolero Knitting Pattern

I spent a happy half hour browsing the knitting patterns in a charity shop this morning.  I love the elegant summery atmosphere evoked in this one, and the fact that these models manage to look at ease in hand knitted items.

The knitting pattern itself took me back to my childhood, when wool came from Yorkshire in one ounce balls, and I expected to use face powder when I grew up.

My bro in law took one look at this pattern and took less than a millisecond to notice the Alfa Romeo in the background.  It's the leaf print skirt that really interests me.

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Is it a Doily?

Or is it something else?  The lace edging has too much of a frill to it so it won't lie flat.

It is lovely intricate work, but awkward.  It gets in the way a bit if you use it as a doily. Was the edging designed to have the extra weight so it would hang down?  Is it a cover for a cream jug, a beadless version?

Monday 21 January 2013

A Doll Quilt from Karen in Ontario

Look at this sweet little seal pup!  He arrived from Canada on Friday, the same day that we woke up to snow.  Thank you Karen, he's lovely!

Karen has posted details about making this quilt on the Doll Quilters Monthly blog, along with a picture of proper Canadian snow - nothing like the rubbish we have here, which is already half gone and just adding to the layers of mud as it thaws.

Meanwhile, I am only halfway through the quilt I am making for Karen.  I had better get my skates on.  Don't worry Karen... it's coming!

Sunday 20 January 2013

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - The Railway Bridge

We don't get it every year, and snow often doesn't last long in this part of the country, but on Friday morning we woke up to find a six inch blanket of it.  Even though it is slowly thawing, this particular fall of snow is sticking to the trees, so it looks extra pretty.

Saturday 19 January 2013

Help from the Willcox and Gibbs Manual and Youtube

It's always a thrill when you find that an old machine has the manual with it.  If I haven't got the manual I just oil every obvious place.  I let the machine soak up the oil for a couple of days, turning the wheel now and again to check progress.

With this machine the real fun came with the threading, because it is so unlike all my other machines.  Luckily I found this video, which brought the instructions to life.  It shows the same model of machine in a treadle.  I just sat there wondering why other manufacturers didn't incorporate a brake on the treadle.  Ingenious stuff.

Friday 18 January 2013

The First Stitches with the Willcox and Gibbs Automatic

Today we had the moment of truth.  It was great fun, because my brother in law, who found the machine in a charity shop some months ago, arrived last night and is staying with us at the moment.

The stitches are really even.  I have the gauge set at 12 stitches per inch.

This is the back of the work.  It is a single thread chain stitch, with the loops on the back.  I'm looking forward to trying it out with different threads and using it for decorative stitching.

Thursday 17 January 2013

The Cloth Plate on the Willcox and Gibbs Automatic

The cloth plate is so big that there is plenty of room for all sorts of information to be stamped on it, including this handy table showing recommended needle sizes and stitch lengths for different threads.

This photograph was taken before I cleaned the machine because it is easier to see what is stamped on it when there are not too many reflections. 

Wednesday 16 January 2013

Temporary Belt for the Willcox and Gibbs Automatic

It was no surprise when the ancient leather belt, all cracked and stretched, came apart at the join.  It was a bit frustrating because I had drowned the works with oil and needed to turn the machine.

I have heard that the emergency repair for a broken fan belt in a car is a pair of tights.  The same principle applied here.  The temporary belt is a strip cut from across the leg of an old pair of tights. The great bonus was that I had a circular strip, so there was no need to make a join.

It looks rather smart in black.  It matches the machine.

Tuesday 15 January 2013

The Willcox and Gibbs Automatic is Beginning to Shine

It didn't take long to get the metal to shine.

When I was cleaning the foot I realised that it has a bar and groove so you can use it as a braiding foot.  Where I would find tiny narrow braid today I can't begin to think.  Six stranded embroidery thread just fits through.

Monday 14 January 2013

Cleaning the Willcox and Gibbs Automatic

I finally made a start today.  Now I can really enjoy the trademark on the badge, a big W made with needles, and the G is the sewing machine.

Here it is before I got busy with the metal polish.  All that nasty tarnish came off in a trice.

Sunday 13 January 2013

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - Cactus Flower

Don't ask me the name of the cactus.  I took this picture in August in Poland.  Bogusia's husband grows cacti.  This cactus has only one flower every few months, and the flower lasts only a day.  We just happened to be there for that day.

Saturday 12 January 2013

Finished a Dress Today

The first little dress for Dress-a-Girl is finished, and the second one only needs the shoulder straps to be added.

It's the dress I was making in the French seam video.

The pink straps look lovely with the turquoise.  Shame I can't get away with those colours, they would be truly horrendous on me, but will be really sweet on a little girl.

Friday 11 January 2013

Another Appliqué Tray Cloth

This tray cloth is even prettier than the one I showed last week.

The weave of golden yellow cotton used for the lower part of the large flower is graded in colour, giving the effect of light falling on the petals.

The little pink flowers are absolutely tiny, a touch less than three quarters of an inch across.

The two tray cloths came together, and looking at the quality of the stitching I am sure they were made by the same person.  She certainly didn't lack patience and skill.

Thursday 10 January 2013

Doll Quilters Monthly

There's a new project on the go.  I have joined Doll Quilters Monthly, a blog based swap started by Barbara, who I swapped with some time ago.  I'm thrilled to be the first member in England.  Anyone else in Britain fancy joining too?  I don't want to be the only one for too long.

My first partner is Karen in Canada.  The theme for January's quilt is snow.  Karen has some fantastic pictures of snow on her blog, Bungalow Bay Quilts.  It's a good job the theme is optional. The only snow we have had here has been in liquid form, non-stop for months, turning the roads into rivers and the fields into mudbaths.  Karen will have to sit back and wait for a total surprise. 

It is going to be interesting.  Karen makes fabulous quilts, so I am looking forward to seeing what she sends me. 

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Seville Oranges in the Shops Now!

If you are in Britain, the season has arrived.  Make the most of the Seville oranges while they are in the shops... they will only be there for a month to six weeks...

This evening I was delighted reading the lovely comment left on Youtube by a lady in Venezuela. British culinary tradition lives on in South America!  The wonders of the internet.

Many thanks to Nola in Australia for identifying the lace on yesterday's doily as netting.
Today I dug out my copy of Mrs. Beeton's Book of Needlework (a reproduction copy), and sure enough, there were the illustrations showing netting.  The illustrations were a bit tiny, so without Nola's help I'm not sure I would have arrived at the right answer.

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Another Doily - Is It Tatting? .. No, It's Netting!

This doily also passed the audition and has been on the sideboard under a jug of flowers for Christmas.

I'm no expert on lace, but I think this is tatting.  The lace is made up of tiny knots.

The infill in the points appears to have been woven in with a needle afterwards.

Monday 7 January 2013

Mobile Phone Cosy

I made this for my daughter a year ago using odd shaped scraps.  No sophisticated mitred corners here, the black binding was too thick and awkward.  It was a quick botch job, but it has held in one piece.  Don't look too closely - it could do with a wash.

Most important - the phone has been kept protected from knocks and scratches.

Brighton Pavilion on pink.  Very snazzy, very 60s.

Saturday 5 January 2013

French Seams

Work has started on the little dresses, using the turquoise batik that Sew Scrumptious Louise brought round here. 

With my machines there is no such thing as zigzagging or overlocking, so seams are made the old fashioned way.  French seams take a lot of hard wear and washing and are ideal for children's clothing.

Here is the latest video, showing how to make a French seam quickly and easily with the help of the seam guide.

And for the sharp eyed, you can just see what is stamped on the slide plate, the date of the patent for Singer's vibrating shuttle machine - 1886.

Friday 4 January 2013

Vintage Appliqué Tray Cloth

This beautiful little tray cloth has hand stitched appliqué on a tiny scale.  The pink flower measures just a fraction under two inches across.

There are about six miniscule blanket stitches to every quarter of an inch.

Browsing through my May 1937 copy of The Needlewoman, I found this interesting advert on page 3, under the rather racy picture of Mrs. Simpson.  Patterns were 2d at your local needlework shop, or send 3d in stamps and have them sent direct by Wm. Briggs and Co. of Manchester.

What I found particularly interesting is that they supplied the pattern "With the coloured organdie pieces already attached."

Somehow I think the lady who stitched the gorgeous little green tray cloth was skilled enough to cut her own pieces.  The stitches for the hems around the cloth are equally tiny.

Thursday 3 January 2013

The Treadler's-Eye View

When treadling, you spend 99.99 percent of the time looking straight ahead and concentrating on the stitching.  However, for the occasional split second you need to cast a quick glance at the wheel.  When pausing or starting you need to make sure the wheel never turns in the wrong direction.  You can't always guarantee you can get your right hand to the wheel quick enough, so looking out of the corner of your eye is essential.

Keeping your feet dead still when not stitching is pretty important too.  It's all on the video!

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Serata Decals - Assyrian King

This intriguing figure is on the bed of the Serata Treadle.  

He also appears on the front and back of the machine.

When I posted pictures of this machine on the Quilting Board forum I asked for suggestions as to who it might be.  The best answer was Hammurabi.  After that I spent ages looking through pictures on the internet of Assyrian kings.  I ended up deciding that it was Sargon II.  It's as good a guess as any.  Whoever he is he must be very wise, sitting on that owl.

I emailed the Stoewer Museum to see if they knew.  Unfortunately they didn't, but I did find out that this decal doesn't crop up much in Germany, so it seems that they may have put this design on machines intended for export.

The Egyptian sphinxes were a very popular design, appearing on Singer and Frister and Rossmann machines, and are very sought after today, but I prefer the Assyrian style on this machine.

Update 30th April 2013 - I was delighted today to receive a comment from Assyria, who has identified the king as Ashurnasirpal II .  Although both relief portraits are highly stylised, the king on the machine bears more similarities to Ashurnasirpal II than he does to Sargon II.  I knew that someone, somewhere, would recognise the king, but it came as a great surprise to receive the message today.  Thank you Assyria!

Tuesday 1 January 2013

A Hundred Years Old This Year

A beautiful treadle, manufactured in 1913 by Bernhard Stoewer in Stettin, Germany (now Szczecin, Poland).

It has a lovely dainty look about it.

Even with the cover on it looks pretty.

When I bought it I emailed the Stoewer Museum and they confirmed that the serial number dated the machine to 1913.

But of course, I don't love it just because it's a delight to look at, but also because it runs like a train.

A big welcome to Meg, the first new follower for the New Year!


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