Friday, May 20, 2016

Hand embroidery - Quilted Memories

I recently traveled to the Paducah Quilt Show with a handful of friends. While I have been steadfast in not starting another project until all of my other projects are done (quit laughing... You know you've said this too), I decided I had to start a few stemming from my Paducah experience/inspiration. 

One of these is a hand embroidery project called "Quilted Memories" by Wellington House Designs.  There was a booth down one of the side streets in Paducah that had tons of completed hand embroidery samples that were just awe-inspiring. The woman manning the booth had her own project going and I spotted it immediately.  

It's supposed to be a "brown-work" project but she was doing it in color!!  One of the blocks has a Singer Treadle Sewing machine!   That was it, had to have it. Ring me up!   

"Sorry, we're out of that one..."  Gasp!  But, but!   She gave me the shop name and number to order one after the show. I couldn't wait - had to start hunting right away. I found the pattern as a digital download on Etsy. Ordered...printed...starting tracing and stitching in the blink of an eye. 

So mindless and relaxing!  I'm using a "split stitch" with two strands of DMC floss.   I can't wait to see these come alive!! 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Putting the Presser Bar back together on a Singer 201-2

I've found that I have a LOT of bookmarks that are valuable resources to Servicing and Restoring Old Singer Sewing Machines.   Some of which I find myself referencing over and over again. As well as reorganizing over and over again!   The biggest downside to using someone else's notes & references are that they are never in the order that I need, when I need it.  They are also missing my personal experiences and observations.  And God forbid....what if they take their blog\site down???   I better start making some of my own posts!

When I tackle a machine on my bench for full restoration, I take apart every single piece.   Clean, sand, polish every screw.  Extreme?  Yep!   But that's why I take so much pride when my machines leave my shop!  I keep everything for each machine separate and in their own trays, cups, area. EXCEPT when they are all my personal stock!  This past winter I had some time in between customer machines, for a change, to work on some of my stock machines.   I decided to tackle a handful of 201-2's at the same time.   (NOTE: if a part varied on a machine (ie Chrome verses Black hand wheel, blackside parts, etc. - I kept a log to ensure that the original pieces went back to the machines they came from)  Not that anyone would truly notice the difference mind you...but authenticity is important to me.   Anyway - I digress.

Pieces & Parts for FIVE Singer 201-2's
Lotsa motors to go with all the parts 
Phew!   It took an entire weekend to take all those machines apart!   Some parts had to be oiled, penetrated...coaxed to separate from the head.   And at Midnight on a Sunday night, it's time to go to bed and head to work in the morning.   I'm excited to get right back to it after work!   The phone rings on Monday, some friends want to go out - ok!   Tuesday - big outage at work, gotta work late.  Wednesday - flat tire    Thursday - what a week!   Netflix and Wine!    Friday - a Sit N Sew with all the Gurlz!!   Woo Hoo!    Maybe next weekend I'll get back to the boxes of parts.    Well you get the idea.   I'd love to tout that I can leisurely work on these babies 24\7 but alas, I still work full time at an 8-5 job, have family and friends, and lookee there - I'm a human being and get tired!   

I thought it was a GREAT idea to tackle multiple machines at once.   And I still do, to a certain degree.   But when customer machines still come in, and orders, sometimes it's just this nagging "I have GOT to find the time to finish ALL of those!"   Over the next few months, I took a small tray of parts at a time and got to work.    Cleaning, dremeling, polishing, wiping, inspecting...every piece, until I could finally say all the parts were ready to go back on the heads.    Whoops....gotta do the motors.   You can see the process of cleaning and re-wiring those babies here

After cleaning, polishing
Don't even get me started on what it takes to clean the head - we'll get to that on another post.  Today, I want to point out what to do and look for when your trays and stuff have been moved around 42 times and you aren't 100% sure which screws go where!   Unless of course you have a fully intact machine sitting next to them all.   (Whew - thank goodness I do!)  But when I DON'T - here's a reference for which screw is which! Along with the part names & Numbers according to Singer for easy look up!   We're just going to focus on the Presser bar area in this example.  I threw the stop motion clamp & screw in there because the screw looks similar to the others.   Until you look closer!

Screws are different but VERY similar
Let's start with the screws that go with the Clamp Stop Motion Screw, Tensioner release lever and Presser foot lifter.   2 of these screws are what are called "HINGE" screws.  They are called Hinge screws because the parts that are held onto the machine move freely on the screw.   That's what the little solid part above the threads of the screw are for!   I put a sewing machine needle in the individual photos to help decipher the size.

Tension Releasing Lever & Hinge Screw 
Ref Singer No's 32573, 97
Thinner and smaller diameter than the Presser Foot Lifter Hinge Screw
10mm in length - 5mm diameter on the head
Presser Bar Lifter & Hinge Screw 
Ref Singer No's  66564, 85
Fatter and shorter than the Tension Releasing Lever Hinge Screw
12mm in length - 8mm diameter on the head
Clamp Stop Motion Clamp Screw  & Stop motion screw 
Ref Singer No's 51280, 45294, 45295, 45336   Screw - 246
11mm in length - 4mm diameter on the head - 3mm unthreaded at the bottom
Tension Releasing Lever & Presser Foot Lifter
Above is a visual of WHY these two parts need "HINGE" screws.   Both of these parts need to be able to "rock" freely on the shiny smooth portion just under the head of the screw.   If they aren't working in unison together, one of those screws aren't seated correctly.  This is just one example of WHY I take everything apart.   Those "hinges" should get a drop of oil, and with a drop of oil can lead to build up and prohibit "smooth" hinges!   Also - when you are putting this area back together, the Tension Releasing Lever should go in first, then the Presser Foot Lifter.

Next - we focus on getting the presser bar back in.  You'll need the Presser Bar Guide Bracket, set screw and the actual Presser Bar.
Presser Bar Guide Bracket & Set Screw
Ref Singer No 45237, 453

Presser Bar Guide Bracket & Set Screw
Ref Singer No 45237, 453
Roll the hand wheel until the needle is the down position - this gets the gears out of the way so that you can "side-shimmy" that piece back in above the Presser Foot Lifter Level.   DO NOT FORCE THIS PIECE.   There is a sweet spot where this piece slides right in.  This piece is another area that needs to always move FREELY - Up and down with the presser foot lever.  Hold the guide bracket in place with your fingers (with the set screw out far enough to not impede the inside of the bracket) and slide that presser bar down through the top - through the bracket (held by your fingers), and down through to the bed of the machine.  

Presser Bar & Presser Guide Bracket
Note - you can tighten the set screw on the presser bar guide bracket enough to hold it in place for now, but plan on going back to it later.   For later reference when doing final TWEAKS - Presser foot height needs to be set at not more than 19/64 of an inch between presser foot and the top surface of the throat plate.  The presser foot should be parallel with the feed dog when lowered. The needle should be close to (but not touch) the inner or right hand side of the large toe of the presser foot.

Slide the Presser Bar Spring right through the top until it rests on the Presser Bar Guide Bracket
Presser Bar Spring
Ref Singer No 32675
Then you add the Pressure Regulating Thumb Screw AND THE THIN WASHER to the top to keep all the pieces in!
Pressure Regulating Thumb Screw and Washer
Ref Singer No's 51228. 66773, 66772
Presser Bar back together
Almost done!   Don't forget to add the thread cutter back onto the bottom of the bar before you add your presser foot!

Thread Cutter
Ref Singer No. 26075
Now the most interesting part I found I needed to research was for that thumb screw that holds the foot on!   I honestly thought the thumb screws were all interchangeable.   But then again, I had never piled all the parts for multiple machines into trays before.    Interesting findings!

The thumb screw that measures a little more than 1/2" in diameter and 3/4" in length is the one for the presser feet as well as the shiny side cover on the back of the machine.   The one that is a little LESS than 1/2" in diameter and 1/2" in length is the one for the Faceplate!  Regardless - they are all threaded the same on the screw, other than the feed dog lever, so it's easy to put them in the wrong place.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Tumblers! ... Cuz Why Not?!?

So I have a friend that is obsessed with Missouri Star Daily Deal, you can get obsessed too!   Just click HERE .....Daily!  

One day - the deal was a mini charm pack (2.5" precuts) with a Mini Tumbler Template.   She bought it....she had no idea why.  LOL   She's a relatively new quilter.  I told her she needed to cut them and sew them together!  It would help her practice perfect quarter inch seams, and lining up units to match points.  Then I impulsively said "I'll do it with you!".  So in true Sabrina form...I was handed the template to "do mine" within a few days..  HAHA.  I picked up a little mini charm pack from "The Quilter's Daughter" quilt shop in Perry, NY.  (not sure why, because I have a kabillion in my stash....)  Anywho, last night....I did my tumblers.

Tumbler Template on 2.5" Squares

Trim, Trim, Trim
And....More trimming...

42 total in a pack, found the layout...
Sewing the seams on my Vintage Singer 99
This little tumbler unit was a good size to take your time and make sure the seams are pressed opposite at every intersection for PERFECT nesting!

Nesting seams and pinning
Absolutely perfect intersections!

Just keep sewing...just keep sewing...
And..... Done! 
All sewed together!!
Now...   What on earth do I do with it? 

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Whatcha Workin On?? (Halloween Frenzy!)

I've been a busy girl lately!   Making progress on multiple projects!   Most recently, I've committed to doing free motion Quilting on my Vintage Singer 201.   It took a bit to find the right, needle\thread\speed combination for perfect stitches, but I think I got it!   I spent the entire weekend on a Quilt retreat focused on getting comfortable doing it.    Here's the border quilting on my Scrappy Jewel Box quilt!

FMQ on my Vintage Singer 201-2
I've also made UNBELIEVABLE progress on my Halloween Frenzy  (grin).  Here was the first post on this project!  Click HERE.

February 2015 retreat
Current State February 2016
Doesn't it look like complete Halloween Chaos???   I LOVE it!  Yes - there are TWO complete quilt tops there. Why?  Because I'm going to baste them together for a completely reversible quilt!  

This quilt has TEN years of collecting Halloween fabrics in it.  I think I started cutting into my stash for it in 2013. There are 153 different fabrics and the Big Triangles in each block are NOT duplicated.  

Here's what I came up with to put it all together. Each strip of fabrics was worked up on phone book paper (can be easily torn off later) to keep the shape before the borders went on the block.   The strip-piecing is done with NO rules.  Diagonal, wonky, straight, whatever.   Just get em in there.  Then all these flappy long strips of fabrics were trimmed to 4.5" wide.    1.5" CONSISTENT fabric border added on each side.   Then - using a 12.5" square ruler, I measured a 4" width on the diagonal and marked it with full-adhesive post it's, so it would be SUPER easy to line up and slice off the tops!

Customized Square up ruler
Then I slice one side off the long way (all the way through), and the other short flap afterwards. 

Cutting off the tops
Why so precise you ask?   One long, one short?   Because THOSE pieces are getting used in this quilt too!   NO WAY am I wasting any of this precious collection!   Finally we add the nice big triangles to the sides to complete the blocks.    I had already precut a 10 inch square from EVERY Halloween fabric I have.  Sliced on the diagonal so that that bias edge is on the INSIDE of the block, I pinned one to each side, sewed em on and squared up the block!

Now let's get back to what I did with those leftover triangles we lopped off the tops.  I had a small set and a larger set leftover.

You end up with two sets of triangles!  
Using my EASY ANGLE RULER with the bigger triangles, I trimmed them up to the 3 1/2" line.   I put a little blue tape on the bottom of the ruler so I didn't get myself turned around or line it up on the wrong line.

Once those are nice and trimmed, it was easier to put them together and run them through the machine to make 3 1/2" squares!  I spread them out to make sure I didn't sew two of the same inner fabrics together.
SOOO scrappy!
Then I sewed the squares into manageable strips.  These strips became my INNER border!

SO fun!
Next up!   The BIG border!   Wonky Piano keys!   I cut more phone book paper to 7 1/2" wide, and glued the ends together to get 25" Strips. 

Trimmed up those sides to match the phone book paper, Trimmed the length down to 24 1/2" and added them to my inner border strips.    3 sets of these on each side of the quilt!

Back side view so you can see how they went together!
Now let's get back to the smaller set of triangles that were left over.    Those, I decided, were too cute to toss out too.   So using my little 2 1/2" x 6" Hummingbird Highway ruler, I cut them into 1 1/2" (2-patches)
Smaller triangle scrap
I could get 1 1/2" 2-patches!!
And THEN, I made itty bitty 4-patches!!    
So I made 4-patches!!
Those sweet little patches are likely going to end up in the corners once all these borders are on!  I know the quilt looks like sheer MADNESS...but I will never forget how much fun I had petting EVERY single Halloween fabric I owned and getting every single one into one quilt!

Halloween FRENZY
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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Rewiring a Singer Potted Motor (Worst Case Scenario)

Once upon a time, I fell in love.   In love with bringing old, abandoned, vintage Singer Sewing Machines back to life.  My absolute favorite, still remains, the Singer 201-2.

 There are so many valuable resources out there for the novice that is just getting started with this life-altering obsession.   There's a Vintage Sewing Machine Facebook group with currently over 20,000 members, a discussion thread on Quilting Board, You Tube Channels and blogs.

One of the most valuable resources when I was first starting out was  - the Holy Grail in my honest opinion - "The Vintage Singer Sewing Machine Blog".   Oh the sadness when I realized that it's a "historical only" resource with the last entry dated July 14, 2013.   I've referenced that blog over and over and over again.

One of my favorite posts is the series on rewiring a potted motor (BEST CASE scenario)  Thank goodness the first half-dozen potted motors I re-wired were textbook BEST CASE....  because I don't know if I would have kept going with this passion if this happened in those first few years.

Unfortunately - of late - I have only come across WORST Case Scenario's....  and figured it was about time to blog it out for my own reference.   I can't even describe the flip your stomach does when you remove the terminal plug on a Singer 201 and find this:  Sigh.....damn.  Poor Poor baby....

Singer 201-2 Subject A
Might as well dig in and remove all the wires from the terminals.

Singer 201-2 Subject A

 If you notice discrepancies in my photos, it's because I have TWO "Worst Case Scenarios" going at the same time here.  (What are the chances of THAT???)   I'll try to remember to caption each photo so you can distinguish them.  The first machine, I had actually set aside for a later date because I have a deadline for this customer.   Then when I got to the motor off the second one....well.....hence the post.   (sigh)

Singer 201-2 Subject A
The photo above, Subject A, while depressing, isn't the worst... But electrical tape??  Come on people.  Who does that??  

Singer 201-2 Subject B
Subject B is probably the worst I've seen.  I've already gently used the end of a small screwdriver to dig out the GOOP that was remaining of the grommet..   The black sticky rubber goop is also on the machine head and inside the motor.   So here we go:

If you have already looked through the other blog link I posted above on Best Case Scenario, you'll see all the detailed removal of parts, etc.   I'm just going to dig in and get these girls working again

Singer 201-2 Subject B
See that slimy shiny stuff on the carbon brushes?   Yeah...that's bad.  REAL bad.  THAT is what happens when you stick oil (or grease) in the wrong hole on a motor.  Carbon brushes are attached to springs and then capped with those very fragile Bakelite screws.  NOTHING is supposed to go in there ever, except when replacing the carbon brushes.  That area of the motor is supposed to stay completely dry, free of debris, moisture, and most especially OIL or GREASE.   The DRY carbon brushes make contact with the copper commuter and the commuter goes round and round and round very fast.  Pretty little sparks sometimes when you go REAL fast.  Which is perfectly fine might I add, if wired correctly.  If not, melting CAN ensue...  But I digress.   The spring attached to the top of the carbon brush, is held in an "unsprung" state by those Bakelite caps and applies enough pressure to the carbon so that it lightly touches the copper and it forms a gentle arch to the shape of the commuter.  This is part of what makes it go VRoooooommmmm.....

What we have here, is no sign of copper on the commuter (which I already removed), we have a black sludgy mess.  

I had to cut the wires really close (way closer than I'd like) because they were all frayed and covered with goop.  Did I mention that the goop USED to be a rubber grommet protecting the wires?  It was also part of the sheath on the wires.   Crappy wires I might add.  

Singer 201-2 Subject B
Ok....just finished opening Subject A....I take my previous statement back.   I'm not sure which is worse....
Singer 201-2 Subject A
It's not going to clean up itself.   Gloves, Q-tips, toothpicks and Isopropyl Alcohol.  Dig in.  

The Tools to Use
As soon as the Q-tip is black, roll it to a clean spot, blacken it up, flip...repeat, dispose.
Singer 201-2 Subject A
This is NOT a quick process....but worth it for a "forever" machine

Singer 201-2 Subject A
The above shot it for understanding.   There is a thin washer on the end of the commuter.  Do NOT forget to put it back in when you put it back together.   Let me explain why!   See that tiny hole on the left side of the permanent brass ring?   That hole leads back to one of the grease cups.   This is what you are actually lubricating when you add grease to a motor.  The other end has a little brass cap over it.   The WASHER restricts the flow of the grease to JUST the end of the commuter!   It is, after all, metal on metal there. If you lose the brass washer, don't bother putting the motor back together.  You put the carbon brushes and the wiring in jeopardy of lubricant!   AGAIN!     

Singer 201-2 Subject A
The picture above is a gentle reminder of what happens when you take shortcuts and use electrical tape around bare wire instead of properly insulating it with solder and Heat Shrink Tubing.   Electrical tape is NOT for bare wire!   PERIOD!   It eventually heats up and melts.   

Singer 201-2 Subject A
Here is where we UNDO what the previous genius (ahem - hobbyist) did.   I removed all of the electrical tape and used Isoprophyl Alcohol on a qtip to clean the wire in preparation for soldering new ends.  Keep doing it until the paper towel under the wires wipes clean.

Singer 201-2 Subject A
MANY hours, hundreds of Q-tips, toothpicks, dental picks, an eraser, more Isoprophyl Alcohol, paper towels and new grease wicks later, all our parts are cleaned and ready to bring her back to life!

Singer 201-2 Subject A
That last photo reminds me of one particular guest at a lecture that I did last summer on Vintage Singer Sewing Machines.  Whilst the majority of the group was engaged and in awe of what it truly meant to restore and maintain one of these old machines, one wasn't so interested.  Annoyed even. Up until my lecture, she had never taken apart a sewing machine motor to inspect\refurbish\rewire it.  Apparently she liked to hunt Featherweights and resell them to the locals. Would blow out lint with canned air, oil, add new grease on top of the old grease and jack up the price $200 and then re-sell them as fully serviced.  While a Featherweight is a little less involved than a Singer with a potted motor, there is still much to know and take into account before you decide to "do business with friends" in my humble opinion. I smiled kindly at her after the demonstration, gave her a few of my business cards, and didn't say another word. I have since then gotten several calls from HER customers. They tell me that she highly recommends my services!   Sometimes, the know-it-alls that give you a not-so-nice first impression can become great allies if you respond respectfully!  I add this story to reinforce my reasoning for doing this blog post.   Knowledge sharing, is something that I strongly believe in.  My blog has been sparse this past year, but I really do plan on changing that in the coming new year.  :-)

Back to our already scheduled program!

Subject 201-2 Subject A
Lead wires trimmed to about an inch long, braided with copper wire, soldered and insulated with heat shrink tubing. Red on top, black on bottom. 

Singer 201-2 Subject A
Underwriters knot on the wires, more heat shrink tubing on both wires. Next, before you go any further, install a new grommet on the motor. You need a 3/8" diameter rubber grommet.

Singer 201-2 Subject A
Once the grommet is installed, feed the heat shrunk portion of the wires through and start putting your motor back together.   Tuck all the wires around the motor screws, put the washer on the end of the commuter, feed it back in (through the worm).   One screw on the worm goes into the flat portion of the shaft and the other, just screw in (more stability).  I add about a teaspoon or so of grease right on the worm.   The grease I use is is Polylube, the brand doesn't matter.   It's a polyurea Grease (Petroleum based) and can withstand hot and cold.   Bike shops use it.  It's a super slippery formula, kinda like that weird jelly stuff you used to play with as a kid.  It inhibits corrosion and WON'T harden like Lithum, plumbers grease or any other cheap stuff people buy to lubricate gears. 

Singer 201-2 Subject A
Singer 201-2 Subject A
The other end of the commuter peeks through the end under a brass-like screw.   I put a dot of grease there as well.

Singer 201-2 Subject A
I put a little bit of grease on the new wicks, feed them in (spring side up) and put the clips back in.   More grease - these are the actual grease cups - they feed grease to the worm and the other end of the commuter behind that little washer.  Remember the little pin hole?  Screw the grease cup caps back on.

Singer 201-2 Subject A
The machine head where the wiring melted to it has been all cleaned up.   Removed all the old rubber from the electrical tape fiasco and cleaned out the even older wire insulation crumbs. There was also hardened tan colored something (which I assume the previous "service" person decided was good enough to use as grease)......   The same person that opted to insulate bare wire with electrical tape..... Anywho...Cleaned out the 3-prong terminals with Isopropyl Alcohol and Q-tips.  Put the two large screws that held the whole potted motor in place back in and fed the wires down the head and behind the terminal.    Let them hang so you cut them at a comfortable length to terminate.

Singer 201-2 Subject A

I terminated the ends with terminal rings made for the same gauge wire and put all the wires back on the terminals.  

Red wire to #3 terminal, Black wire to #2 terminal.  The leads coming out of the head of the machine are for the light. One is connected to the switch and then comes back out of the switch and goes to terminal #3. The other lead coming directly out of the head goes to #1.   Add the brass rings back, put the knobs on, and screw the terminal box back to the machine and take her for a test drive.

Singer 201-2 Subject A
Plugged her in and hearing her rev up like a Porsche made my heart sing.  These machines, are like royalty when they are properly maintained and restored.    I'm off to work on the rest of her shiny bits now!   My customer is going to be so thrilled.   She thought she was going to be getting "Betsy the 2nd"...turns out, she's getting "Betsy the 1st!"

I forgot to mention - the serial number for this machine dates it to a set of numbers released on September 5, 1940.   "Betsy", as her new owner has chosen to call her, will be celebrating her 76th birthday next year.  And now, she'll run like a dream for another 76 years!   If you come across these beautiful machines, think twice before you put it to the curb or donate it to Goodwill.   They just don't make them like they used to.   If someone told me I had to get rid of all my sewing machines but one, MY Singer 201-2 would remain in my family for generations.