Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The Start of the Big Clean

Did you ever do something you were really proud of, then learn something new and look back on it with new eyes?
I was so pleased with my last post, and there's no way I'll be editing it. However, one thing has come to light that has made me look again at my pictures. The dust and oil!

Having got the thread I needed (amazingly, I ran out of purple), I was trying to sew my current project last week, but was having tension problems with the Singer. No matter how much I turned the screw, the tension on the top thread was far too tight. I battled with it for a bit, then did as I've been told by a lot of people; walked away and had a cup of tea, and then went to youtube.

And it turns out that the tension problems were most definitely due to the poor old machine needing a good clean. I'm aiming to clean it in stages and take my time to do it properly, so I've only looked at the tension discs so far, but they needed looking at the most. It's no wonder the machine was struggling, the tension spring had got stuck to the metal plate! It looks like the oil used on it last time had just stuck them together, so the tension was essentially stuck, too. Nothing a few cotton buds couldn't sort out, but I need some metal polish to finish the job properly.

Once I'd started learning, I was amazed by how much of the machine can be cleaned, and suddenly saw my machine in a new light. I also realised how much of it can be removed and then reassembled once it's clean. There was me viewing it as a solid mass that shouldn't be tampered with. The more I learn about this machine, the more I'm humbled by how amazingly well made it is. So the plan now is to clean it in stages, taking pictures where I can, then (or possibly simultaneously) finish making my garden apron, which I will also post pictures of as soon as it's done. At the minute, it looks like two fat quarters and a pinned-on piece of bias binding.

But I do have something to share today. We went on holiday to Weymouth last week and went into the Brewers Quay Emporium. There was so much lovely stuff in there, and I bought the most amazing selection of buttons I've ever seen. Aren't they gorgeous?
It's purchases like these that make me want to get sewing, so I can make something to attach them to! :D I have plans, and I'm really excited to get learning and sewing.

Friday, 5 June 2015

The Turn of the Singer

At the moment I'm waiting for some sewing books and fabric to arrive in the post, so while I'm in a bit of a sewing lull, I thought it'd be a nice idea to take the opportunity to look at the antique sewing machine I'm using in more detail. I wouldn't be sewing much without it, after all!

Rose, as I've been calling my machine, is a Singer 28k from 1908, and in pretty near to perfect condition, as you can see.

When I was given the Singer, my first thought was along the lines of 'oh my gosh, it's perfect, it's really old, wrap it in cotton wool, I'm going to break it'. Not so. The Singer is a beautiful machine, I can't mention this enough...but it is also very capable, well made and nigh on unbreakable.

I am a beginner, I'm right at the early stages of having a go and realising I'm doing something wrong 9 times out of 10. My machine has been wonderful. Every time I've got thread wrapped around itself, it's been easy to pull it out, sort it, then start again. If the thread tension is too tight or loose, it's one dial to turn, and it's sorted.

It only does one basic stitch, so I'm not confronted with tens of dials and too many choices (I am rubbish at making decisions, as will soon become apparent). Now, I've seen this mentioned as a draw back of having an antique or vintage machine, but seriously, everything I've made or wanted to make so far has needed one simple straight stitch, which is exactly what this machine does. For a beginner, it's perfect.

Not to mention the fact that with a handcrank machine, you regulate your own speed. When I studied textiles at school, I was given the nickname of 'speedy' by my teacher. I see a foot pedal and I jam my foot on it at top speed. Not the best idea for sewing in a nice, straight, calm line (or for the one attempt I had at trying to learn to drive, incidentally). A handcrank machine goes at the speed of your arm; I find it instantly relaxing, and so far I seem to automatically go slowly and steadily with my arm.

The funny thing is, I'm not sure how I thought I could break it. The machine is 107 years old (again, I can't mention this enough), so obviously it's built to last. It didn't get this far by being breakable. The only sign of damage on my machine is to the bobbin winding wheel, from over-use. It's worn down to an oval and will need replacing at some point, when I'm a bit more experienced with these things.

Even the decals are all still here, albeit slightly faded or chipped in some cases. But to me, the wear and ageing is what makes each machine unique. I love so many of the details on this machine, and every time I get it out of the box, I smile.

Everyone I've spoken to has said that it's much better for it to be used for what it was made to do, than to sit in the attic gathering dust. Now that it's out of the attic, it's never going back. If anyone has an old machine that they're not sure about, or has seen one somewhere and thought they might like it, I say go for it! Use it, you'll love it.

And if anyone has any questions on vintage or antique Singer sewing machines, I'll do my best to answer, or to offer a link to a video or blog who has answered the query. I'm only a beginner, after all. :)

Thursday, 4 June 2015


Hopefully this should be a Sticky Post at the top of the blog, if it's worked. :)

This post is a Work In Progress, and as I go along I'm hoping to add resources, helpful sites, and anything on the internet that I've found useful, whether it's to do with the Singer machine, or with sewing itself.

*Please Note* If you see a link to your site here and you're not happy with that, please let me know and I'll remove it. Likewise, if there is a really helpful site I've missed, let me know and I'll take a look. I'm here to learn, after all.