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On a recent journey down south in England, we visited Bletchley Park National Codes Centre, famous for World War II codebreakers and the mathematical genius Alan Turing and his colleagues.  The 2001 movie Enigma was filmed there, although that is a highly fictionalised account of the activities that took place there.

We saw Enigma machines and the Colossus computer, took a tour of the grounds and later had a nice picnic outdoors.

My husband loves computers, and my daughter and I are very interested in antique toys and household items.  While he was off looking at other computers, we were thrilled to find this antique Husqvarna sewing machine from the 1920s in a little museum.

The colours in the decals were still so bright and lovely.  We were allowed to turn the handle, and the mechanism was smooth and silent!

In the toy section, we saw a tiny sewing machine in a dolls house:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and we saw some of our other favourites, too — Mr. Punch (of Punch and Judy fame):

and a Batman joystick from an old computer games console!  We really love Batman at our house!

It was great day out with something for everyone!   🙂

Happy Quilting!

I’ve been visiting this book  — Traditional British Quilts by Dorothy Osler — at my public library about once a month for the past two years.  It’s in the reference section, so I couldn’t check it out and take it home with me.  It was also published in 1987, and it’s been out of print for a while, so for the longest time, I couldn’t even find a copy to buy.  Until now!  I just found it last week!  🙂

I fell in love with a wonderful quilt on Page 29.  It’s called Medallion Quilt in multicoloured cottons;  North Country:  c. 1880.  The photo is in black and white, so I can’t see the “multicoloured cottons,” but I know it must be really special.  Every time I looked at this book in the library,  I made lots of notes and little drawings so I could remember what the quilt looked like.

 

Then I came home and started making my own version of the Medallion Quilt in all the deep reds and burgundies I had in my stash.  I wanted my quilt to be rectangular instead of square, so I changed the centre design from 9 squares with sashing to 12 squares with sashing.

The borders and cornerstones will increase by 1/2 inch in width with each subsequent row.  Borders 3 to 6 are already cut out and ready to go.

Border 7 will be a Flying Geese “Goose Chase” flowing in anti-clockwise direction, and the geese will be made of all the scrap fabrics left over from the other borders.  Here’s an example of that pattern from the Quilters Cache website.

I haven’t done the maths, so I don’t know how big this quilt will turn out to be, and I’m not going to make myself feel guilty for taking a long time to finish it.  It’s been such an interesting project — I just want to savour it!  🙂

Happy Quilting!

Next up, Scrappy Trips Around the World, using Bonnie K. Hunter’s free pattern on her website.

Sometimes I see a quilt pattern first and then visualise it in my own fabrics.  This time, we found a wonderful fabric first.  I bought this cute snake fabric because my little girl liked it so much.  And when I saw Bonnie’s pattern, I knew it would be perfect!

This is a Moda fabric called “Sss-silly Safari” and designed by Cheri L. Strole.  I’m going to use it for the outer borders.

I had lots of colourful scraps left over from another quilt I made for my daughter in 2008, which I combined with other brights from my stash for this project.  My little one loves these happy colours.

Here are the first eight blocks assembled:

And more strips pinned and ready to sew:

Thank you very much, Bonnie, for sharing your lovely pattern!  🙂

Happy Quilting!

I’ve made good progress on the blue and yellow Crossed Canoes project this month.  All the quarter blocks are finished (168 of them!), which will yield 42 – 12-inch blocks.  They are going to be set 6 x 7, and the finished quilt will measure approximately 72 inches by 84 inches.  It’s not going to have any borders.

The first six blocks are assembled.  Just 36 more to go!  🙂  The blocks were pieced on Ruby, the Singer 99K hand-crank machine, but I’m assembling the components on Marie, the Janome 6500P.  It goes much faster on the electric machine, and now I am impatient to finish!

Nigel the quilting dog is staying “on top of things”, as usual!  🙂

Happy Quilting!

 

 

Ruby and the UFO

Lately I’ve been sewing only in my sewing room on my two favourite electric machines  — Marie, the Janome 6500P, and Peggy, the Singer 201K from 1951.

Today however, my 10-year-old asked me if I would sew in the living room so I could watch Dr. Who DVDs with her.  How could I resist a lovely offer like that?!  😉

I didn’t want to move those heavy electric machines and worry about extension leads trailing across the floor, so it was Ruby, the Singer 99K, to the rescue!  Small, portable, hand operated, and she doesn’t make much noise — just right for TV watching while sewing.

We are working on an ancient Blue and Yellow UFO.  I’m not sure exactly how old it is, but I do know that I bought this fabric in Houston, Texas, when I lived there, so this might be 16 years old or so.

The pattern is Crossed Canoes, and the paper pieced pattern can be found here on the World Wide Quilting Page.

I had 11 blocks previously made, and now I have enough components to assemble 25 blocks.  There is loads of fabric left, so I might keep going until I have enough blocks for a large bed-size quilt.  Most of the people in our family are tall, so lap quilts really aren’t big enough for us to wrap up in while reading or watching TV.

And here is Nigel, the quilting dog, supervising the activities!  He and this UFO project are just about the same age!  🙂  He is always my Number 1 helper.

 

Happy Quilting!

 

Ruby Steps Out

My latest restoration project is “Ruby,” a Singer 99K model from 1927, serial number Y4432093.

I was so impatient to start working on her that I forgot to take any “Before” photos.  So here she is, just being beautiful in the “After” stage.  🙂

Ruby came to me in a sadly neglected state.  She was very grimy and sticky, the chrome on the bobbin plate and needle plate was badly pitted, and the lid to the accessories compartment was completely rusted out.  I believe she probably started her life as a hand-crank machine but later was fitted with an electric motor.   The electrical plug end was the old type that fits into a light socket where a bulb normally goes.  The flex cord was very frayed and twisted, and I didn’t want to risk a shock, so I removed all the old electrical bits and disposed of them.

In my treasure chest of sewing machine parts, I just happened to have a hand-crank mechanism of the right style and size to fit this machine, so I installed that.  I found a replacement accessories compartment lid on eBay, and I used sewing machine oil and a cheap emery board from the grocery store to sand out the pits in the chrome.  I took the tension assembly apart and cleaned that, and gave the whole machine a good cleaning and oiling inside and out.

Finally I polished all the enameled surfaces with a non-abrasive auto polish that is recommended for use on Aston Martin and Jaguar cars.  I figured, if it’s safe enough for fine motor cars, it ought to be safe for my little sewing machine — but I did test it first on the underside, just to be sure!

This is Ruby’s bentwood case.  I was also able to locate a square-ended key to fit the lock, so now she can be stored and moved safely in her case.

Inside the accessories compartment was this large assortment of attachments and feet, including the requisite lethal-looking razor blade!  Every vintage machine I’ve ever bought has had a razor blade like that with it.  It’s what people used before seam-ripper tools were invented, although my mother always used fine embroidery scissors, and so do I.

With stitch length adjusted and tension fine-tuned, she is now sewing perfectly.  I think Ruby’s a keeper!

Happy Quilting!

New Year’s Girl

I’ve been having fun with my new sewing machine that we brought home yesterday.  It’s a Singer Model 15K80 from 1937.

When she’s put away, she looks like this:

I cleaned and oiled the machine itself and lubricated the treadle irons, and she is so quiet now!  She has a lot of wear to her decals, and her wooden table could be refinished, but mechanically she is sound and works great.  That’s most important to me for this machine.  I wanted a good treadle that I can really use a lot.

We bought the machine from a lady in Leeds who inherited it from her great-aunt Whilhemina, who was a seamstress.  It came with a drawer full of attachments, a shoebox full of thread spools, and a big plastic bag full of scrap fabric.  I’ve named her “Mina” in honour of her previous owner.  She also has her original instruction book and a receipt from January 31, 1959, when she was bought used from the Singer dealer for £30.  That was a lot of money in 1959!  The wear to the decals is where the lady’s hands would rest when she was sewing.  It’s just so sweet.  I love it.  🙂

She is sitting on a plastic sheet because I oiled and cleaned the treadle irons and didn’t want to make a mess on the carpet.

Happy New Year!  Happy Quilting!

ISMACS (International Sewing Machine Collectors’ Society) has recently made the vintage Singer serial numbers available on their website.

At the Singer Sewing Company website, you can get a certificate for your vintage machine using the serial number.  It’s really good fun!  They also have lots of historical information and pictures relating to vintage Singer sewing machines as part of their 160th Anniversary celebration.

Happy Quilting!

Today’s Sewing Machine

Today I’ve been sewing on “Lavinia,” my Singer 15K treadle machine from 1907.  First I cleaned her and oiled her, and then we made some Maple Leaf blocks.  She sews such a lovely stitch!

I’ve been trying to determine which sub-category this Singer 15 fits into — I know she’s not a 15K80 or 15-96.  At first I thought she was a 15K30, but when I saw a photo of that model, I realised the bobbin winder is in the wrong place.  The letter K just means that she was manufactured in the UK, at Singer’s Kilbowie factory in Clydebank, Scotland.

Lavinia’s bobbin winder is in the lower position.  The 15K30 photo I saw had the bobbin winder in the higher position, near the top of the machine.

I like to think that someone spent many happy hours sewing on this machine.  Look how worn her decals are on the machine bed!

I’ll keep looking for her model sub-group, but it doesn’t really matter.  I just love to sew with her, and I’m planning to spend many happy hours with her, too!  🙂

Happy Quilting!

My latest project has been to clean and restore this sweet little Vibra handcrank machine to good running order.  She really is small — her base is 12 inches long, 6.5 inches wide, and 1.5 inches tall from the bottom of the cast iron feet to the machine bed.

She is badged as a “Vibra,” but she’s really a Jones CS in disguise.  All Jones CS (cylindrical shuttle) machines have that large screw on the top, between the spool pins.

I found some information about this model and a photo of a similar machine at the Antique and Vintage Sewing Machine Virtual Museum.   The serial number of my machine is 510728, so I think she was made in the mid-1930s like the example machine on the website.

The chrome on the balance wheel, faceplate and slide plates is all beautiful and smooth.  There were some dark spots before cleaning that I thought might be pitting, but luckily it was only dirt!

After cleaning, she just needed some round-shank needles and a new rubber tyre for the bobbin winder, and I was able to order those online, as well as an instruction book,  from Helen Howes Old Sewing Machines   — no affiliation, just very pleased with the excellent service and valuable advice.

Now my little Vibra is working perfectly!  I need to do something about her poor old storage case, which is in a very sad condition…but that’s a story for another day!

Happy Quilting!