The work on my fitting muslins had been rather slow (okay, it pretty much ground to halt from New Years until the end of March), but I've recently been able to make some progress. The second draft of the moulage and the first of the skirt muslin are ready for my instructor to review. I should have both a well-fitting bodice and skirt sloper very soon-and in time to draft and sew some warm weather clothes.
During the months when I wasn't mentally sharp enough for measuring and drafting, I started working through my stack of unfinished and/or damaged quilts. In February I repaired this one:
It was given to my parents by a church member when my dad pastored in Michigan. The maker said the pattern was called Rock Candy Mountain. It had a few small holes from when my mom spilled bleach on it and the binding was almost completely worn away. I used Moda Bella 30's Solids in colors that matched as closely as possible to both patch it and replace the binding. My sister saw this when she was here earlier today and said it reminded of her of when she was little. She was born during our years in Michigan and was definitely very little when this quilt was new.
In March I finally finished hand quilting and binding a top I pieced several years ago. This is a Camille Roskelley pattern but I can't remember its name. I looked at her website and didn't see it, but maybe I just missed it. I made it shortly after I had completely changed the design scheme of my home from burgundies and greens with dark stained antique furniture to aqua, green, and red (and lots of other bright 30's inspired colors) and painted furniture. At that point I didn't have a lot of quilt fabrics that matched my new color palette, so the prints in this one are a bit repetitious and lacking in contrast. I machine pieced all of the straight lines before switching to hand quilting for the curvy ones. It's not my proudest quilting achievement, but it's done and it keeps us warm on chilly evenings:
Now I'm working on this beauty, which came to me by way of a church member when my dad pastored in California. It was from the member's mother's estate and I was deeply honored to be trusted with it. It's a Trip Around the World made of blocks that are approximately 1" square. There are so many wonderful prints and solids in this hand-pieced top. I'm quilting it by hand on the diagonal and hope to have it done in the next month or so. My daughter had already spoken for it, so once it's bound it will be shipped back to California:
I've also been tinkering with old sewing machines. Over the past month, 2 more vintage Singers came my way. First this celery green Featherweight from my husband's grandmother's estate:
Dottie Mae (named for Grandma Dorothy Mae) was made in 1964 and had been stored in a basement for several years, but was still in very good shape. I've already cleaned, oiled, and lubed her, but still need to play a bit with the tension and the belt to get it just right. I didn't bother to open the motor because the visible wiring looked good and the motor brushes weren't worn enough to need replacing. I did swap the original white belt for a new one because it was cracked and smelled of musty basement. It, as well as the box of attachments, owner's manual, case, and badge went into a big plastic bag full of cat litter. I'm hoping this will be enough to remove the smell. If not, some days in the warm sun might help. I might even try some cheap vodka on the case. I seem to remember hearing that this will remove odors from old luggage. It's worth a try.
I had been looking for a Singer 201-2 for quite some time. Many vintage sewing machine enthusiasts consider the 201 to be the "Cadillac" of Singer sewing machines, with the best straight stitch ever produced. There are always quite a few on Ebay, but the ones that are already restored and serviced end up selling for more than I want to pay. At the same time, many of the sellers' machine descriptions say "I don't know anything about sewing machines" or "the wheel turns" (which doesn't guarantee that it makes a stitch or that the motor runs), but the prices on even these are still much more than I'm willing to pay for a fixer-upper. I eventually found one on Etsy that was being sold by a quilter who had actually used it and the price was right. It arrived this week and I'm quite pleased to own it:
|Still in the process of cleaning/servicing, so some of its parts are missing here|
The finish and decals aren't perfect. It has had some rather obvious paint touch-ups over the years and there are several areas that are no longer shiny, but this speaks to me of it history. I can't begin to imagine how many yards of fabric have passed under the needle through its centuries of use. These machines were built to last and this particular one will probably still be completely functional when I'm too old to use it.
I plan on using the 201 as my primary garment sewing machine. Since it didn't come with a case (and it's so heavy that I don't think I would like to lift it onto and off of a table anyway), I'm going to look for a cabinet that will fit it. In the meantime, it will sit here on my desk/sewing table and remind me of the generations of sewers who used it.
I now own 5 sewing machines: 4 vintage Singers and a Husqvarna Viking I bought back when I worked for a dealer. I'm thinking of eventually selling the Viking, if only to make way for a Red Eye treadle machine. Just kidding! Or not?