Tuesday, January 28, 2014


I saw a great idea on this blog and it's been kicking around in my head for quite some time.  You could turn your child's drawing into a stuffed animal!  Since my son loves to fill up pages and pages of paper with robot drawings, I asked him to draw me a robot to sew for him.

He drew a pretty complicated robot, but I gave it my best shot.
He adores it.  I still have to sew blue stripes on the legs, but then it'll be all done.  The proportions are off, but not bad for my first shot.

My son was glued to my side through the entire process.  I think it really sparked his interest to see his idea turn into something real.  He was full of questions about sewing and my sewing machine, my trusty Singer 27.  I love to model a maker mentality for him...I hope to encourage him to be creative.  I sew and my husband builds electronics and plays music.  I hope my kids pick something up that gives them a creative outlet. 

In the meantime he has a cool new robot to cuddle up with.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Crafty Goals

After acquiring my two new Davis machines I got into a conversation with my husband about which machines I really want.  I realize that our house is small and space is finite, and I can't just keep acquiring machines willy-nilly.  So I made a short list of the machines I absolutely want to get.  That also got me thinking about my quilting and sewing ultimate goal lists, so here they are.  It probably won't be of interest to anyone but me.

These are the sewing machines I'm really on the hunt for:
Free (any model with Rotoscillo motion)
Eldridge Two Spool
Davis Vertical Feed
Singer model 29
Singer model 99

These are the quilts I'd like to make sometime...probably not in 2014, but someday:
a Drunkard's Path quilt
a Double Wedding Ring quilt
a postage stamp quilt
another Log Cabin quilt, this time light/dark instead of warm/cool

And these are the other crafty things I'd like to do someday:
re-upholster a chair
make my own winter coat (my grandmother did this)
make an entire outfit

I think it's an attainable list.

Saturday, January 18, 2014


This week I was perusing Craigslist -  a nightly activity for me - for sewing machines.  Most of the time I just look at the machines, but this time one ad caught my eye.  Someone was selling an old machine - and included a ton of pictures in the ad from Pinterest about what you could do with the treadle irons.


I emailed him to ask if he had the machine still, and he did!  He said it was a Davis Honeymoon...I Googled and was pretty sure that was a vertical feed model.  I was so excited...I've wanted a Davis vertical feed for a while.  So I drove two hours round-trip...in the snow...getting lost twice...to get this machine.

It wasn't a vertical feed.

It had a vibrating shuttle.  I really don't care for vibrating shuttles.

It had a leaf tension mechanism.  I don't care for leaf tensions.

I was so disappointed. 

The funny thing is, though, that just last month my parents gave me a Davis Advance machine for my birthday.  It was really sweet - I had followed the auction on shopgoodwill.com, but the price went higher than I wanted, and I talked myself out of the purchase.  However, I had shown the listing to my parents, and when I bowed out they jumped on it.  I had thought it was a vertical feed, and, again, I was wrong, but I was really happy to find that it was made around 1896.  I had always wanted a pre-1900s machine, and even though this one was only 5 years older than my Singer 27 from 1901, I was still so happy to have a machine from the 1800s.

I wondered if I could still sell the irons and use the Advance's irons for both machines.  Just swap them out.

I think it might work.  The machine beds are both the same size. 

And really, I have such a soft spot for these old machines, it didn't take long to start feeling a fondness for the Honeymoon.  The decals are grimy, but pretty.  

I still plan on selling the cabinet and irons...which is a pity, since they're so pretty...

I'll list them for a couple of weeks, and if they don't sell it won't be the end of the world.

I am sad that the slide plate is missing on the machine, because that's where the serial number is.  I'd love to get a date on this.  I also really want to get the irons and cabinet for the Advance from my parents' house so I can get both machines up and running. I can't wait to start using them.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Rambling about home sewing

I first fired up a sewing machine shortly after I turned 30.  I wanted to make some flannel baby blankets for my then-gestating daughter, as well as some other babies that were soon to be born to family and friends.  Mike and I had gotten a machine for our wedding but I hadn't used it until then.  I discovered that I really enjoyed sewing, so after sewing a mound of baby blankets I started searching the internet for tutorials on how to sew more things.  Once I stumbled upon modern quilting it quickly became my first love and took up most of my time, but prior to that I was more interested in sewing clothing.  I made some skirts for myself and dresses for my daughter, and even a couple pairs of pajama pants for my kids.  Very basic garments.  And even though I don't sew many garments I'm still fascinated by the idea, and I hope to get back into it once I'm not so intimidated by it.

I read some sewing blogs, and one of my favorites is Male Pattern Boldness, written by Peter Lappin.  He sews using vintage machines (he even has a Singer 66 treadle, though he doesn't seem to use it much) and sews clothes for himself and his partner. He recommended a book called Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion.  The book discusses the economic, human rights, and environmental impacts of how clothing is made today, and how cheap and low-quality today's clothing is compared to clothing 25 or 50 years ago.  I was surprised at the parallels between what is discussed in the book, and in the sewing blogs I read.

When I started sewing I knew nothing - my mom gave me a quick crash course on using my machine but I was still woefully ignorant.  In fact, when the bobbin ran out of thread, I let the machine sit for days because the idea of winding a bobbin was just a monumental task.  I've learned from sewing blogs and tutorials on the internet.  However, it seems like some of those women were also self-taught...which is fine, except that they see the stuff for sale in the stores as the ultimate goal for home sewing.  If they can make their projects look like the things for sale in department stores, they've done a great job.

But the stuff for sale in stores now is so cheap.  It's barely worth owning, let alone making.  When you aspire to store-bought clothing, it sets such a bad example!  For instance, it wasn't until I read that book that I realized that using a serger is a shortcut instead of a preferred method...I read so many sewing blogs that talk about investing in a serger to achieve a professional look.  I always doubted that I could make anything of good quality on my old straight-stitch machines, when in reality they've probably made things of higher quality than I've seen lately.

I really love the resurgence of interest in sewing in my generation, but we need to aspire to more than running two pieces of knit through a serger and calling it a professional-looking skirt.

I'm not sure what the point of this is, but I do know that after reading that book I want to sew more of my own things.  Maybe I'll have my mom teach me what she knows.  I also want to teach my kids - my son as well as my daughters - the basics of sewing.  Hopefully that will help, in some small way, to carry the information through to another generation.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Finally finished!

After 18 months of work, I FINALLY finished my scrappy log cabin quilt. 

It's made entirely of scraps, except for two fat quarters that I purchased.  And, to be honest, there was another fat quarter that I took a little square out of, and then used the rest for this.  But the vast majority of these pieces were just scraps. 

I adore it.

I pieced it mostly on my Singer 66 hand crank and bound it with my Singer 27 treadle.  I did free motion quilting on it with my Singer 115 treadle.  The quilting isn't an overall pattern...there are lots of hearts, stars, and swirls, some pictures of things the kids would like (our house, a t-rex, a robot), words (the kids' names, "I love you," my name and the year, etc), and other things.  My hope is that in the years to come the kids will spot these things as they curl up with the quilt.  And since there's the possibility the quilt might exist after I've passed away, I hope the messages will make them happy after I'm gone.

You can't see the quilting unless you really look.  I think that makes it more special...like a secret message.

The quilt is around 64" by 64", which is about right for curling up on the couch.  I'm so happy to start 2014 with a finish I'm so proud of.