Posts Tagged ‘vintage sewing machine’


33.4 One machine, one purpose

December 5, 2013

I have joined up with a vintage machine group on facebook, despite the fact that my Necchi is from the 80’s & broken, and my Sewcraft is a Singer 15 clone and not an actual “Singer” machine.

Repeatedly, daily, hourly sometimes, there are facebook posts about this craigslist ad, that ad, this treadle, that cabinet, & so on.

I am sorta overwhelmed by it at times, but also sorta encouraged at times by this group.

After a comment about metal polish, I decided to take my saturday ‘strange cleaning project’ as the little metal plate on my Singer 15 sewing machine.

aquata sew craft deluxe shiny

Here’s a close up of my hard work.

de-luxe shiny

For comparison, here is the machine when I first oiled her this past summer.

old blue sewcraft with 'new light'

I used some Brasso I forgot we had that had been sitting for years untouched. A toothbrush & Q-tips, and a soft microfiber cloth to polish up the metal seal.

And of course I oiled her & started thinking about using this machine more. But the name – “ol Blue” was cool, but not quite good enough yet.

And then also prompted from a comment about the machine name on the same vintage facebook group, I made a name decision. Exciting, I know.

I was mentioning I liked the idea of water / ocean with “old blue” and someone said – Ariel.  Which feels / felt almost right.

So I remembered the very annoying song where they sing ‘We are the daughters of Triton, great father who loved us & named us well …” in the original The Little Mermaid movie – something I watched obsessively growing up.

And yes, watching the video will mean the song will be stuck in your head for two weeks too, right?

And I started looking up & researching the Disney Little Mermaid Ariel’s sisters.

Did you know there were 2 other movies made about TLM? I didn’t. But did you know there was a Disney wiki about the sister’s of Ariel?

I used the knowledge from that site & fact that my sewcraft is ocean blue to name my machine after the blue brunette of Ariel’s sister who is a little OCD.

So meet – Aquata!

aquata and aquata cartoon small

And after all this thinking & cleaning, I decided to use this machine for what its best purpose – it’s a great FMQ machine.

So I got out my very “oldest” UFO. and This thing has been ready for a while – even spray basted 2 years ago, just waiting for FMQ.

And that’s what you see happening here (if you can – white on white doesn’t show that much.

some white on white quilting on the corners in the bows

And there are some circles in the center. I am kinda making this up as I go along.

white on white arches and single paisly

And I wish I had made this orange peel done in red instead of white. I may over quilt the orange peels in the center of the red squares with red & see how they look.

white on white quilting center close up

I find the FMQ very fun to do with Aquata. I go rather fast on the ‘knee pedal’ and so my stitches are tiny and will be a bugger to remove if I need to, but it quilts so smoothly that way. Faster foot, slower hands right?

One more thing I thought about with my cone that I’ve been using to quilt. The cone thread sits so much higher than the top of my machine, and it likes to “jump the track” on my singer 15 clone.

So I came up with a solution. A strong magnet & a small binder clip!

binder clip holding thread in place


32.1 New Vintage “Singer 15 clone” machine – Sewcraft

August 25, 2013


Seems like the only time I get to sew now is on the weekends. Crazy busy other times. Trying to keep up with everyone is hard when a lot of my time is at work.

But last week I went shopping! Craigslist style.

*** The problem ***

You see, last Saturday, with the inherited Bernina, I got some bad news.  The machine was going to be too expensive to fix and the parts were going to be hard to find.

The Bernina place was recommending that I not get it fixed.

The Necchi still worked(works), but not well, and not consistently, and not for FMQ without massive fights with bobbin breakage (possibly techinque or thread type??)

Saturday I kept talking on FB about what to do – what to do. Saturday night I was a wreck with possibilities.

Sunday, I did talk to my friend who works in the Bernina shop when I picked up my machine. And my price range is going to be in the “Bernette” style of Bernina machines (it appears that Baby Lock are pricier than Bernettes are from the brief time I saw them).

Sunday a week ago, I came up with a plan, trying to figure out how to save for a ‘new’ machine. Trying to figure out what to do, what events to go to, what to sacrifice.

I was offered two different sewing machines by two different guild members to borrow. And I love the idea, but I am nervous about borrowing. Nervous about a lot of things, but borrowing, I always wonder what to do if it breaks down in my care, if I am treating the machine right… It was an option. A good option, not a great one.

*** The plan for now ***

But then I got a message or two from a podcast friend.  Who looked up craisglist for this area (no she does not live in this area) and pointed me to one of two vintage machines that it’d be worth taking a look at.

The first one was an older blue machine, name I’d never heard of, couldn’t find anything on the internet about. But it was “just like a singer 15” AKA Singer 15 clone.

And the other one was a smaller looking actual singer. With a larger cabinet, three drawers down the side.

Well I wasn’t “looking” for a cabinet, but in my small car was only going to be able to pick up the smaller (and closer) of the two machines.

I was nervous to talk to the seller. I contacted him and he got back to me over 24 hours later.  I was nervous right up until we rang the doorbell (didn’t seem too kooky on the phone).

I had asked my friend what to look for in one of these vintage machines, started to look up info on ‘singer 15 clones’ and found a bunch of info.

*** A few things I learned about Singer 15 clones & vintage singer machines ***

Apparently, there was a lot of machines made in Japan (and some in China I believe) after WWII that are modeled after the Singer 15 machine or maybe it’s the Singer 15-91 machine. This website told me a lot of this info.

And looking around there are A LOT. Many in many different colors (blue is a favorite, so is black). Many different brands are out there, but mostly that was kind of like putting a label on something that was ‘generic’. A generic machine that is every bit as good as the original. Many of them even have larger motors than the original.

There were a few websites with pictures of all sorts of pretty colored Singer 15 clones. With all sorts of names on the front. And this one thread just kept talking about how good the machines really are, and how well they stitched and how easy it was to work with them.

*** The visit ***

There was no belt with this machine, or there was, but it was broken.  I was able to turn the handwheel, and I was able to turn the motor on, even though it didn’t connect with the fabric, it sounded like a good motor.

Flipping to the machine bottom, I could see the bars that turned the bobbin area and the feed dogs were adjustable.  When I turned the handwheel everything seemed in pretty good moving order, minimal rust anywhere that I could see.

Except, there was a rusty old light on it which was probably the grossest part of the whole machine, with a falling off rusty clamp, but that meant – removable!

Everything turned well, I was able to adjust the stitch size plate once I figured out how, threaded the machine (used the diagram in the manual to reference how to do it).

Stitched a line, changing the stitch distance half way through. Was able to get the machine to stay in place by dropping the feed dogs.

All with moving the handwheel back and forth.

I impressed the seller with my ‘new knowledge’ about singer 15 clones.  And the price was right in the range that people suggested in the ‘singer 15 clone’ thread I found.  $20. For the whole thing.

Worth the risk.  Spent the next 10 minutes trying to figure out how it was going in the car.  Tilted it sideways which wasn’t ideal for the hinges as the weight was now not normal, but it was going to fit in the car with the cabinet.

*** Getting it home ***

old blue sewcraft sewing machine

So this is her after I removed the light.  The headlamp on the left site, a keeper. and may be my light for this machine for now.

I didn’t know that “oil removes oil” until my podcast friend Tina told me. This actually was taken after I cleaned it up unguided. I got down into a lot of the outside crevices, removed the visible dirt on the outside of the machine, anything I didn’t need to remove pieces to clean.

Sewing machine oil cleaned this machine up pretty well. And a toothbrush, and a toothpick, and a microfiber cloth.

I did have a belt from the bernina that I did steal for this machine, but I proceeded to break that belt right away.  Motor must have been setting too low.

A couple of days later I did get a chance to get a new belt. I bought two, Just in case.

But didn’t set down with the machine to give it its’ ‘take apart’ cleaning & oiling until I saw the video that was made with me in mind that will be a great reference to me and others in the future.

I now know how to take apart the machine enough to oil it.

*** Trying it out ***

It took until this morning to try to sew with it. Now I’m getting a wobble.

I am posting a video about my machine so you can see the issues I am having with the wobble. I don’t know much about video except that it makes me about 10-90 times more nervous than creating audio files. I am putting my first you tube video up with this post.

Please comment here instead of at the youtube channel if you have any advice. I am considering the idea that the cabinet may be the issue rather than the machine itself.

This video reminded me of why I liked podcasting however. Although my stomach is now churning a little bit. Here’s hoping for a good reception. If there is no video about the sewcraft in this post, I took down the youtube video.  Thanks for understanding if that is the case.



31.9 Changing Directions

August 4, 2013

Changing Names

I don’t know if I told you, but on Tuesday, I took my machines to see if either would be able to be serviced by the local Bernina place, and they will work on my inherited Bernina.

bernina machine

I had forgotten that I wanted to call this machine Hot Lips after Major Margaret Houlihan from M.A.S.H.. Which I really like as a name and I think one or two or several of my twitter friends (aka #twilter – twitter quilter) helped me name her.

Army green and all, ya know.

But lately, I have taken to calling her Lennie, short for Lenore, probably because I feel she is being ‘lent’ for me to use.

Change because I had forgotten.  But I can call her both. Hot Lips Lenore….

Changing Machines

Any event, I know that Carlotta was giving me so much trouble when quilting the auction quilt, and although I would have rather gotten her fixed instead, the Bernina shop is where I went for service this time, next time I’ll go to the other shop.

I have never used Hot Lips really other than once to thread her and get the thread through the (backwards mounted) bobbin area.

I was nervous to bring the machine in, I have heard horror stories from a few quilters with podcasts about their more modern machines and problems, but I did.

The lady who took my order was very nice, and we got to talking and such. She had went up to the Sisters quilt show (same weekend as our quilt show) and it was neet to hear from a quilter in person about attending that quilt show.

I have a 2-3 week turn around time on the machine, and they may even find something wrong with her.  Let’s hope not. But this means when she is done, she’ll be the fixed machine, and so she’ll be my running machine.

So there is new places to learn where the presser foot drops, new zig zag locations, knobs & buttons to learn & get used to using. Changing from Carlotta to Hot Lips Lenore will be something strange to get used to.

Lucky me I have the manual somewhere, and there is always You Tube.

Here’s someone’s demonstration video on a 540 Favorit (Lennie’s brand) done by someone else. Lots of humming noise, but you can see what she can do.

Changing Sewing Tactics

In the mean time I have started to come up with a list of things to do that do not involve a sewing machine.

Some of the things I thought of:

  • cut up the small ‘catch all scrap baskets’
  • go through the PIGS (projects in grocery sacks ziplock baggies) and see what I have stashed where
  • designing a quilt idea I’ve had for 2+ years
  • cutting out more paper pieces for a PIG that I haven’t cut fabrics for
  • hand quilt the very first large quilt I ever made (the ugly quilt as its referred to around here)
  • applique the hot air balloon quilt i’ve been working on (not shown yet)
  • work on the trim options for the periodic spiral quilt
  • measure for the 4 year old spectrum quilt idea
  • create black bias for a stained glass quilt kit I bought at the garage sale
  • learn EQ7 better, try to design something new using the book I bought a year ago

And more … folding & cutting & hand work & designing

Changing trims (?)

I have an idea for the trim for the periodic quilt that I rather like. Problem is that the trim consists of three separate strands that are twisted together.

The picture I have for this on the quilt is rather BAD, I was trying to take an in focus picture for facebook and nothing was working.

blurry pic of trim border

These three strands are twisted together and as I see the quilt, I was simply going to couch the trim directly onto the front of each of the black pieces, outlining them from the rest with a little bit of metal.

But the 3 strands keep separating. I asked FB peeps what to do to fix it, and I got the mostly overwhelming response ‘fray check’, which I had dabbed a little bit of Roxanne’s glue (stronger than fray check I think) on the ends and nothing was staying put, so I can try fray check, but am worried that it won’t be strong enough. I have only used fray check twice I think.

Here I finally got an ‘in-focus’ picture today of the separation involved with this trim.

trim separating pieces

My instincts told me to try clear fingernail polish rather than fray check. Anyone else had experience forcing three strands to stay together like this?

What has worked for you keeping strands together? Glue? Fray Check? Fingernail polish? other?

Daisy said she usually hides them in a seam, but as this is couched on top applique style, there are no seams to hide this under. Maybe I need to rethink the trim to something else??

I like the idea of having metals around with the beads since there are so many metals that are elements for the periodic spiral.

I also liked this other trim that mimics the style of the border around the spiral itself.

lanthanides border option

I do like this option, but two things.

  • One I like the back side of the trim almost as much as I like the front, but it sorta looks unfinished. The back side is the sides that you can see the threads running back and forth in a zig zag pattern.
  • Two, to make the trim show all 4 sides correctly (not showing the back at all) would take 4 different separate mitered cuts and glues down on all four corners of each patch.  And that is 4 times the work, and I think 4 times the amount of potential ‘errors’ / flaws for this quilt.  And I would have to fray check all 8 edges for each group name.

Ideas on the guilded ric-rac trim to help minimize these issues? Or maybe I can live with the ‘unfinished look of the piece.

I do have some more, different, metal style beads, but to use them I would need to get a few more.

Which would be even another way to go on the trims than my original decision.

Anyway, just thought I’d share my change of pace this week.

Something tells me that the Periodic Spiral quilt will be put on the back burner again until I can make a decision (or two) here.

I suppose I should experiment and see what works, but don’t be surprised if next week I have a different quilting topic to share.

And I bet I will, I plan to go see something live next weekend that will re-inspire a quilt idea I’ve worked on this summer.  Also with the list of things to do if not machine sewing, may throw me off on another completely different tangent.