Category Archives: hardware

A Seamstress’ Wet Dream

Dear readers, I have the most perfect husband, ever. Let us not get into how awesome he is besides his attitude towards my sewing life, because, who cares about THAT, right? ūüėõ Not only does he always give me honest and great critiques about my sewing, he has always been very supportive of my addition. He’s bought me a serger, and an¬†embroidery¬†machine for two¬†separate¬†occasions before we got married. He tells me that my sewing makes me even more attractive because its “domestication”. He takes great photos of my creation to get me the attentions I crave for in the sewing world. He’s also quite the enabler when it comes to my recent old sewing machine collection addiction, paying the sincere compliments to my growing number of sewing machines that they deserve. Most importantly, he NEVER asks me to sew anything for him! (Maybe its because I had told him years earlier that it takes way too much fabric to sew for him, that its not economically viable, but I think its because he is quite comfortable in his shirt+shorts-summer-or-winter outfit).

Last night, he gave me this for an early seven year anniversary (we celebrate the date we first kissed) gift:

That is right! a pair of earring and a wrist charm with sewing notions (and a sewing machine)! I love it so much! And being a tiny girl, I always wanted a charm that actually fit on my wrist instead of slipping right off. He somehow found a chain that is only 6 inches long and fits perfectly on my wrist (amazon, he said). If he’s not a tiny seamstress’ wet dream, I dont know what he is!

Unveiling of the Grasshopper

I know! I am a lucky girl! ūüôā My last secret sewing machine purchase was an Elna Grasshopper! I am sure that many of you have heard lots about it. I myself had been crazy for one ever since I saw Peter’sin his¬†multiple sewing-machine-collection-show-off blog entries¬†(ok, maybe only three, but it felt like ten, I swear!). And! It seems to be rumored to have one of the best straight stitch ever. I snatched one from ebay one day, and it arrived at the house with 5 layers of packaging, and worked perfectly! The only issue was that I smelled a little smoky smell while operating it, but it probably just need some oiling. I love how green and small and cute it is. I had always had trouble sewing sleeve hems on my other sewing machine, so its small narrow arm is a great excuse for me to get my hands on this one! Also, I love that this machine is knee level operated instead of foot petal, which ergonomically makes so much more sense.

If you live in the bay area and are drooling for one as well, I saw one for sale on craigslist for the last few days for a really really reasonable price. I wish I had waited just 3 more days to get this one locally! I had been watching craigslist for monthes for this machine, and the week I gave up and got one on ebay, this machine showed up and were unsold for weeks! daaarn!

After this purchase, I had been pretty good at restraining myself from getting more sewing machines. I didnt guy a single machine when I went to the downtown antique district, where I saw at least 10 old cool sewing machines. One of them was a perfectly operating hand crank singer portable, with perfect paint and all, for 120 something. But I did manage to get a hold of myself. See! I am not obsessed. (OK, its been 3 weeks since I went shopping there with my mom, and I had been trying to justify buying it to myself ever since then!)

On the sewing front, I havent sewed for a whole week. That normally doesnt happen. I had been super busy and stressed out the past 2 weeks:

And it didnt help that my attempt to make coat 116 failed. I decided to use the gray striped material — the black square coating material felt too stiff, while the purple square material felt too soft. This one was a good weight for it. However, I forgot to cut one piece, and there wasnt any materials left by the time I¬†realized¬†that! However, that didnt matter, because after I pinned the pieces together to get a look, it looked like my graduation gown!!

A closer comparison between the two patterns made me realize that this is indeed a copy of a graduation gown, just without the gathering. So I am giving up on this. Luckily, the pieces are pretty big, so I can probably salvage a fitted jacket from this coat later.

Anyway, now that the weather is back to being summery, I am going to make a dress! Actually, two!! stay tuned ūüėÄ

Fashion fades, but hardware is forever

Dear Readers, I am officially very happy with myself (and my Singer 201). After CGCouture pointed me to a much cheaper source for parts, I read up more on Singer 201 and realized I was only missing three things — bobbin cover plate, power cord, and class 66 bobbin. I bought all those from sew-classic, plus some sewing machine oil and lube and shipping, it was only about 35 dollars!

Yesterday, I received a bunch of packages and one of them is my singer parts. (The packages also included yet another vintage sewing machine, which I will not talk about just yet to prevent you, my readers, from overdosing on my recent vintage sewing machine addiction and conquers). After putting in all the parts, I took a guess on how to thread the machine, and manually turned the wheel to see if it sews ok, and it does! I then used electrical tape to tape over some exposed wire (a common issue with Singer 201, though if they did touch and short, it is no biggie, your machine just wont stop running!) on the foot petal, then plugged in the machine.Voila! the motor works, even the light works! I haven’t even oiled it and the machine sounded quite smooth. I could not believe my luck — an old Singer that had been literally connecting dust in some old man’s garage, dirty and sad and miss parts, actually works smoothly and sews a nice stitch!

Of course, I could not risk running the machine without cleaning and oiling it, as many of you have warned me. So I carefully unscrewed any external screws I could find and cleaned the machine with oil-dipped towel paper as much as I could. Some parts (especially below the feed dog) of the machine was quite nasty — I couldnt tell if it was mold or just old oil+lint. I hope it was the latter. The feeddog itself was so dirty that I resorted to using the tip of my screw driver to scrape the blackened tar away. As the cleaning goes on, I started having even more appreciation for this beautiful machine — all the smooth gears and stamped metal parts under the hood looks quite steam punk. I could see that this machine was built to last a life time. There were quite a few strategic holes on the body to allow user to insert their oil bottle (which comes with a very long nipple) to put in a few drops of oil.

Most of the decoration and prints on the machine are still intact. There were a few lines etched onto the surface of the bed, possibly because the machine itself did not have any lines to indicate stitch width.

After I had put all the parts back together, I gave myself a major heart attack as the stitches got all unbalanced. It turned out that the flat side of the needle should face the left, not the back like my brother sewing machine (of course, I could have just read the manual instead of debugging it, but I do like a puzzle). Also, the spring mechanism on my bobbin plate catches the threads during sewing. So I have to leave it open in order to sew properly.

Whew! I was so glad when it started working perfectly, note how awesome it is at reverse stitching:

(OK, the video exaggerated the purring of this machine. It actually doesnt sound veryloud in real life!)

Some pictures of my lovely, now cleaned Singer 201:


The bobbin cover plate has to be left open:

Beautiful cover plate for the gears in the front:

I love that sturdy hand wheel:

If you want to see some pictures I took of the inside of the machine during cleaning, click icons:

reasons I love this machine:

  • Its straight stitch is more balanced than my relatively new brother machine!
  • It is beautiful
  • Everything works — the lights, the reverse, the stitch size adjustment, the feet, and even the bobbin winder!
  • It purrs when used, in that deep, calming, i-know-what-i-am-doing way
  • I fixed it up!

Petite Sewing Machine

yes, you heard it, I got myself yet another sewing machine ūüôā It is this cute little thing I got from a lady on craigslist over the weekend:

A turn of the century Wilcobb and Gibbs sewing machine! I believe it is made around the time of 1890. I love how it makes my brother sewing machine look like a giant in the background. Despite its petite size, it is heavier than my plastic brother, since it is made of pure metal.

I am quite impressed by that most of its parts move smoothly. Though, I am disappointed that its feet doesn’t move up and down anymore due to a stuck spring — still troubleshooting that issue with the lady who sold it to me (she’s a serious collector, has over 80 old sewing machines!).

Another interesting thing is that this does not have a bobbin! It just sews by one thread, instead of two. They call it a chain stitch and this technology is out competed quite early in the century. Mine actually still sews a stitch when I let the feet down and held it by hand.

What a piece of beauty. Just like hand made garments, it seems like old sewing machines are always well made with more pride and character. Even my husband, whom I imagined would roll his eyes in disapproval for buying a non-functional-and-yet-another sewing machine, declared that it is “wow, really cool”.

I hope to fix the stuck spring on this pretty lady and clean it off a little more. And yes, my older Singer 201 is still sitting in my garage– I figured out that I need about 60 dollar worth of parts to fix it up and I am procrastinating on fixing it. Also, that thing weights a ton comparing to this little one and I have a hard time moving it about!

What I wouldn’t do for a (free) singer 201!

I love sewing, but it was not until i started reading people’s blogs did I start craving for sewing machines, very vintage sewing machines. I was amazed to find that very very old sewing machines may still work like a wonder despite their ripen old age! Even though I already have a working sewing machine that works amazingly well for its price and does almost everything i needed besides serging and embroidering, I really loved the idea of owning a piece of a black beauty:

I want it not only because I am greedy Continue reading