Friday, February 28, 2014

Quilt Saga

This quilt and sewing machine repair have become quite the epic tale.

Doug and I took my machine to the repair shop on the morning of his birthday.  We had originally made lunch plans with friends, but yet another snowstorm was on the way, so we canceled lunch, grabbed breakfast sandwiches at Dunkin Donuts, and headed to see "Steve," who sells and fixes vacuum cleaners and sewing machines.

Steve assured us that my 70s Kenmore was repairable, and we spent a pleasant half hour talking with him about how he got into the business and learning that his true passion is hot cars.

On our way out, a tiny vintage Singer caught our attention. It had its own little black suitcase, complete with attachments and the original manual with a 1952 copyright date. It was $399, but we were completely taken with the charm and beauty of this little machine.

We left but ended up turning around about a mile down the road. Doug had succeeded in convincing me that I needed it.

When we got it home, we learned that it was a Singer Featherweight, a brand that now has almost a cult following.

Here's a photo of just the machine:

And here's one with all the extras:

Weighing just 11 pounds, these petite workhorses were made from the 1930s to the 1960s and are prized by quilters because they can be easily transported for group sewing sessions.

I was pretty excited because having the additional machine meant that I could work on the quilt right away. And my friends were more than ready to help me:

I sewed along fine for awhile and then the needle met with some resistance. I wasn't going to push my luck with this one, so we took it back for a quick adjustment.

Back home, I continued sewing again, and then had a problem with the needle refusing to stay threaded.

At this point, I was ready to just return it and get my money back.  But so many websites and bloggers touted the virtues of the machine that I was torn.  And a call to Steve indicated that he was willing to play with it for awhile and make sure it was right. "You're going to love this machine once it's working right," he said. "Don't give up on it."

So yesterday, Doug visited Steve yet again and traded machines with him.

With my Kenmore all better, I finished the quilt last night and am waiting for my client to pick it up this weekend (hopefully before yet another snowstorm slams us on Sunday).

I ended up using a different sheet than planned for the border and back, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.  There are so many colors in the shirts that I decided this plaid complemented the shirts better than the blue checked one I ordered.  But I'm sure I'll find a use for that one in another project.

As for the little Featherweight, I think it's destiny that we met.  I checked the serial number and then went to the Singer website to date it.  It was originally delivered within a week of my birthdate.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sew What

This winter, my life and my blog have kind of gone into hibernation.  What do you write about when all you do is sit by the fire every night trying to stay warm and watching the weather report to see when the next snow storm is coming?

But last week I was really excited because a project finally came my way--a job making a T-shirt quilt for a woman whose son is graduating from high school this year.

She came to our house on Monday loaded down with a huge bag of shirts from his activities over the past several years. We made our selections from the bag and laid the shirts out on my bed in a rough design:

I always take a picture of the arrangement to use as a guide once I'm actually sewing the blocks together.  

But first, I cut the shirts apart so that I just have the front (or the back if that's where the design is).  Then I used my rotary cutter, healing mat, and 14-inch square plexiglass template to cut the actual squares.  That was done by Tuesday night, and I ordered a sheet from L.L. Bean to use as the borders and backing:

With an unexpected snow day and no work yesterday, I thought for sure that I'd have a finished project ready to blog about by today.

Um no....

First, when I checked my supply of fusible webbing, I discovered I had two boxes.  That's enough to do a 12-shirt quilt but not a 20-shirt quilt, which is what this client wanted.  But I figured I could still get some sewing done if I used the webbing I had on 12 shirts in adjacent rows.  A search through the drawers of my sewing desk turned up another random piece of webbing, so I actually had enough for 4 of the 5 rows.

With all of the pieces ironed together and trimmed to size, I headed for the sewing room.

One row down.

Row 2, and I heard an awful crunch.  Not only was the needle on the machine broken, but the bobbin was bent and completely jammed into its casing.

So much for taking advantage of the snow day.

Today, we are taking my little machine to the repair shop and just hoping it can be fixed.  It's a 1970s Kenmore in its own avocado green case lunchbox-style case:

Doug found it for me at Goodwill several years ago for $8, and all it needed was a new belt.  It works so much better than the new plastic portables, which in my experience jump all over the table.  This girl is heavy.

I just hope they can fix her.

And I promise an "after" picture of the quilt.


At least my client doesn't need it until June.