Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bonjour from France

I don't really have anything of substance to add to my blog right now, since I'm 4500 miles away from my sewing machines for a few months.   My "sewing room" is now reduced to a little sewing kit I brought along and my "sewing" has been limited to the occasional mending of my clothing or sewing on a button. 
My "Sewing Room" for the next few months!

But I still can't resist taking pictures of old sewing machines even in France.  I was surprised to see a couple of Singer stores like the one above - there is actually one in Paris as well this one here in Amiens.  But sadly they are both closed.  "à louer" = "for rent".  

 No vintage machines here, but I still thought it was a good picture.  What probably sounds very ordinary in French  - "machine à coudre" - sounds kind of cool to me, but then again that is true for almost anything in French.  ;)

This one I saw in the window of an alterations shop in Metz.  Naturally I thought it was charming and made my companions stop while I took a picture of it.  

Best of all was the YARD SALE!  Or as the French call it, "vide grenier" which means "empty attic" which again sounds much more charming than "Yard Sale".  There, among some military relics, including what looks like some helmets from the First World War (this town is near the border of France and Germany), was a vintage Singer.    

I'm not even sure what make this is, but cute.

Well, that's all I have to offer for now - a few random photos.  I just wanted to add a post so the blog won't completely die of neglect while I'm gone.  

A+  (which means "see you later")

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Fun With Sewing Around the House

We're doing some late Spring cleaning (hey, we've still got a couple of weeks to go) and yesterday we worked on the deck.  Our old patio umbrella was rotted and tattered and we were about to go buy a new one when I had the *** IDEA ***   Hey, the frame is still good and we'll just be throwing it away.  I'll SEW a new umbrella!   So I got me off to JoAnn's to look at outdoor fabric.  My choices were limited since there were only a few selections that had enough yardage on the bolt for my needs.   And being a rather impetuous person - I want to do it now, not wait for special ordered fabric - I went ahead and bought it.  And it is nice...

Cutting it out was the hardest part since it involved getting down on the floor, spreading out 10 yds of fabric, and getting all four sides exactly the same.  (Each side is 2 yds across).  

But I think it turned out very well.  Sewing it was the easy part with my Singer 301 that makes nearly 1500 stitches/minute.  Sewing these long straight seams and eight yards of hem are when you really want to put the pedal to the metal - and this machine doesn't disappoint.  My serger also made quick work of the seam finishes.  

Best part is that it actually matched very well with the cushions on the patio chairs - the same gray and white.

View underneath - and yes, this is a crappy frame which was hardly worth repurposing because.....

...the fabric cost more than an entire new umbrella!!!  Yes, I paid $100+ for the fabric @ $10/yd (which was half price).

I guess I'm just weird because I think it is fun to sew something like this rather than buy it even though it actually cost more.  It really would have been a thrifty project if I'd re-used the frame and sewn the umbrella out of re-purposed fabric, but its not like I just happened to have an old parachute hanging around the garage.

But I can justify it this way....I have enough fabric left to make matching placemats for the patio table.  Does that make me come out ahead?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Little French Fun..., not that kind of fun  (hélas !)

As usual I find fun fabrics and I want to make bags - and especially a sleeve for my recently acquired iPad.  I know it will be kind of corny to tote my belongings around France in French themed carry-alls but darn it, I just couldn't resist!

The tote bag I made to be heavy-duty tote worthy.  It is canvas with webbing straps that wrap all the way around.  I'm not crazy about tote patterns I see that have the straps just sewn along the top edge of the bag.  I put books in mine and I need it to be sturdy.  This one won't sag not matter what I put in it.  The printed duck fabric I got at Hobby Lobby and I wanted to buy about nine yards of it just because it was so cool, but I know better (ask me how I know).

My Rocketeer did the deco stitching along the top just because it is so fun to do it.  I'm either weird or I'm just getting old, but I think it is awesome to fire up my 1962 Singer 503, pop in a top hat cam (which one to pick?) and add a funky little design element to my project.  You guys can have your computerized Whatchamacallits that do 10,000 different stitches at the touch of your finger on a digital panel.  Me, I like the mechanical.  :)

The lining is the icing on the cake - even if I did put the fleurs-de-lis upside down!

And my iPad Air will travel in fine French style as well.

I'm not a quilter in any way, shape or form, but I did a kind of ad-lib piecing here (and fused it to fusible fleece) and it turned out pretty well if I do say so myself.  I think the main fabric has kind of a steampunk flavor to it, which is apropos since I'll be attending Université de Picardie Jules Verne in France in September.  (If I had the time, which I don't, I'd totally be into steampunk and making costumes and going to the Cons.) 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Singer Cabinet for 301 - I Found One!

So having been lucky enough to find this black 301 shortbed at a yard sale for $10 - with another $20 to replace foot controller - I needed only to install it in a Singer cabinet to have the perfect sewing experience. 

Cradle Adapter for installing 301 shortbed

The 301 shortbed is unique in that it can be installed in a cabinet like any other full sized vintage Singer but then this machine just pops out of its cabinet and goes along to wherever you need to take it, carried by the clever handle right on top the machine (a stand alone feature, not seen on any other vintage Singer, not even the Featherweight.)  The thing that makes this possible is the "cradle adapter" into which the machine fits in place in the cabinet.  The lever on the left releases the machine when you want to remove it.  VERY, VERY COOL!

Since my machine came with the cradle adapter, and I had a Singer cabinet, I was all set to go...or so I thought. I figured this was the 301's new home.  WRONG!

Alas, all Singer cabinets are not exactly alike!  There is one crucial element that determines which type of machine can be installed in the cabinet.  Most of the mid-century cabinets are configured to hold machines like the 15-91, 201, 66, etc.  When the machine is in place, it rests on a lip protruding on a hinged panel that folds down.  Like this:

Installing the 301 requires brackets to hold the cradle adapter on this panel and it must be flush in order for the machine to fit.  Like this:

I was very frustrated to realize that my 301 could not fit into either of the two cabinets I already have.   
But with my Midas Touch for all things Singer (and seriously, who saw this coming?) I was running errands yesterday and noticed an Estate Sale sign at a slightly shabby split level house in older neighborhood which is always where I find the best stuff.  (Ladies of this era almost always had sewing machines and they were more often than not Singers.)  I always know exactly where to look, too, as I've done this countless times.  Straight upstairs to the furthest back bedroom - the sewing room. Bingo.

And there she stood: a nice little Singer cabinet in the corner with a few sewing supplies on top.  I couldn't tell from the outside, of course, so I moved the stuff, opened the cabinet and there it was - the configuration I needed to install my 301.  Price:  $125.  This was the first day of the sale and no way am I coming back on the mark down day, its either now or never.

I offered $50.  Bold?  Maybe. But they not only accepted the offer, when I picked up a green Singer box of attachments and a set of buttonholer templates and asked if they'd throw those in as well, they said sure.  

It is also slightly different with a single, extra long extension on the left rather than two extensions that fold together like my other cabinets (3/4s to the left, 1/4 to the right.)

Anyone who has been paying attention might rightfully ask why I am spending money on yet more pieces of sewing furniture when I am going to France at the end of the summer - yes, it is definite, I am going!  I can't give a good answer for this except maybe to offer the excuse that I will be doing some sewing this summer in preparation for my trip.   (Ha, ha, that isn't even remotely true, but let's just go with that, shall we?)

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Personal Note...

So a double post today, and this one is nothing to do with sewing.

IF everything goes as planned - and this is still in the works but is looking good at this point - I will be spending four months in France later this year.  When I decided to go back to college well into middle age, I figured why not go for the whole experience just like any other coed (wait, do they still say "coed"?  I didn't think so!)  So I am going to do Study Abroad to complete my minor in French.

I will likely spend the summer raising money for the trip by selling everything I possibly can.  One connection I can make to sewing, I guess, is the fact that I sold my beautiful Centennial Featherweight.

Yes, this gorgeous machine has gone to a new home and raised just enough money for my application fee for Study Abroad (!)  

So I'm not sure how much time I will have for sewing and/or playing with sewing machines for a while after I finish the Easter dresses.  Final exams are coming up in about three weeks, then I have a visitor from France coming in June who will hopefully spend the summer getting me up to speed with my French.  

I am no longer on Facebook so I am toying with the idea of another blog which will chronicle my adventures as a middle-aged student attending a French university... we'll see...

Link to my blog Second Chance in France

Vintage Hankie Dress

I've done a couple of posts about vintage hankies and little projects I can do with them.  But until now I haven't actually made one into a garment.

I forgot to take a picture of the hankie before I started, but I decided to use it as the bodice of a toddler Easter dress.  Since it was such a sheer fabric, and because it had scalloped edges that didn't quite fit the pattern pieces, I fused it to a lightweight cotton.
  Then I zz-ed around the edges to make sure it stayed put.
Made the little dress from McCalls 6017.  The purple sateen cotton was bought on Etsy.
And best of all found a seersucker fabric that EXACTLY matched this 50-60 year old handkerchief!  I was absolutely thrilled when I found it at Hancock.  They couldn't have matched better if they were designed to go together!  
So I used it for the flounce.  Adorned with yellow rick-rack which is just about my favorite thing in the whole world (I love yellow and I love rick-rack!)

I always dreaded the thought of cutting up one of my hankies, but I love this little dress so much I might actually take the plunge and do it again!  (Hankie I used is in the middle of this picture.)

Easter Dress Number Two:  McCalls M4817.   My nod to vintage sewing here is the old Boiltex Rick Rack from the 1940's.  I've had it in my stash for quite a while waiting for just the right project to use it.  I LOVE the color!  And it worked perfectly here.   My attempt at an applique wasn't perfect, but if you don't look TOO closely, its not bad.  ;)

Oh...and the back zipper is also from my stash of mid-20th century notions.  It is an old metal Talon zipper "Orient Blue".  Again, it perfectly matched the blue in this fabric print.
I also got to have some fun with my ruffler attachment on these dresses.  I used it for the bottom flounces on both of them because they are so long - 130" on the pink one - that it would have been difficult to gather it and keep the gathers even.  So instead I have nice, perfectly pleated ruffles.  Love!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Who You Gonna Call? Stashbusters!

Stuck at home while it snows and sleets.  A good time for Stashbusting!  No need to buy anything new,  I have remnants and notions galore.  I have lots of vintage fabrics in a yard of this/two yards of that, bought at various estate sales because they were pretty.

So the challenge (to keep myself entertained and use up some of this stuff) is coming up with fun little projects.  And being a sucker for any kind of bag, that is the first thing I do:

A couple of items out of my stash... hour later a small project done.

I had the hardware, the zipper and the ribbon - a perfect match! - all in my stash.  I LOOOVE this fabric.  It looks like Spring and it makes me smile.  :)

Then there was something I actually needed to make, and pulled it off for $1.  Yes, $1 for Simplicity 3647 on sale at Hancock and I have a Greek costume.  (Don't ask me why I needed this costume, but I'll give a hint that it involves a Greek tragedy and an assignment in one of my classes.)

What makes this so cool and so cheap is that I got the fabric from my linen closet.  Like this:  I had an old king-sized dust ruffle that I didn't need anymore.  I cut the ruffle part off and that is the gold-striped sash you see here.  The dress was made out of the middle part (the part that goes under the mattress.)   The head band is made from a piece of stretchy sequin trim.  Quick. Easy. Cheap.  Costumes are fun!


When I got tired of sewing, I turned to eBay to fritter away some time and money.  Only my blog is privvy to this little secret:  I paid nearly $30 for two top-hat cams for my Singer 503.  


 Cam #22 on the left is an overedge stitch (basically a reverse blind stitch) that is used with the overedge foot.  Supposedly this is intended as a "stretch" stitch.  I don't know about that, but I have the overedge foot so I'm going to try it out.  On the right is cam #17, the curlicue stitch.  Okay, I know.  When am I ever going to make this stitch pattern when I already have all of THESE?

Fashion discs for Singer Slant-O-Matic

I guess I needed those two cams like I needed the complete set of cams for my Singer Automatic ZigZagger (which I will never use.)  Because they're there and I want them all!