Friday, October 30, 2015


I lost my eldest brother last week.  I haven't known how (or whether) to write about it, kind of like how or whether to talk about it.  He was sick as hell from terminal lung cancer, but what ended his life was a wacked out girlfriend with a poorly planned premeditated murder. 

I worked for at least 12 years, coming and going, coming back, as a prison nurse.  It was my favorite job.  I've known many murderers and heard many stories.  A big part of me wants to, and does, look at this from the perspective of clinically seasoned prison/psych nurse.  Then it sneaks from around the corner and slaps me as sister.

I wasn't going to go home, I haven't been in more than 10 years, and only a grand total of 4 times since I joined the Army back in 1982.  Military brats that grow up and join the military, many of us don't go back.  I did go home though, in the company of my middle brother.  We spent two days and nights with his daughter and her family in a wonderful condo on Panama City Beach.  There was red tide going on and rip tide warnings my entire time there (like every one of the times I've been back to visit!) but still, seeing that magnificent Gulf Coast was so soothing.

I live 12 miles from a Delaware beach, but it's not the same as the Gulf of Mexico.  I am still vacillating between grief, anger, and detached analytics.  Now I feel a little homesick too.  Home, back here, seems a little dimmer right now.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Mini periwinkle quilt misery

is what I was ending up with using this template and a kind of pseudo paper piecing technique with the tutorial.  I even went back and traced around the template on the back, then added correct seam allowances so I would have more accuracy.

It just didn't add up to enough improvement to warrant the additional work.  There is a lovely tutorial by Red Pepper Quilts for the same quilt, using her foundation paper. Unfortunately, it is a slightly different size so I would have to print out and then CUT out all those patterns.  While I was looking at her tutorial again just now, I'm thinking if I followed along her directions to the letter I might get the results I am craving.  I do have about a gazillion of those MSQC triangle papers.  She puts down triangle, diamond, triangle and then presses all in one direction.  MSQC puts the diamond down first, assisted with a smear of glue stick, then left triangle and  right triangle.  Might be less bulk at the kissing diamond points the Red Pepper way.  I'll give it one more shot, darn it! 

*Update, Saturday night shift- Oh, dear.  I'm supposed to be sewing 4 of these pieced triangles together, not two.  Might make a BIG difference.  I'll definitely give it another shot!  I'm still going to incorporate Red Pepper's directions so I can twirl the center intersecting seams on the back.  I love doing that.  The thrill may wear off before these (half gazillion) triangles get made into a quilt. 

I got the 15-91 installed into the cabinet and oiled and the bobbin case arrived.  I tossed an orphan block into a small sandwich and tried out some free motion quilting.  I know every machine feels a little different but this did feel exceptionally "draggy".  The feed dogs do drop, but it felt like they were still influencing the flow.  I took a look at them in action- they appear possibly higher than they should be, and with the sandwich squished down they may be grabbed intermittently by feed dog movement.  I put stitch length at zero and that helped. I decided to give my supreme slider teflon sheet a shot.  This was the first machine of three that I really felt a benefit with it on, but alas!

That gold speckle upper right is some of my antique finish.  It did this on the Singer 201-2 as well. I won't try it again on another black vintage singer. It may do better on the later model machines.  I don't foresee myself getting any of those.  I have a taupe Kenmore from the 60's that suffered no ill effects from the slider, but it was one of the machines that didn't really have an improvement either.  It already did sweet free motion.

The 15-91 is also NOISIER than the 201.  It has a smaller (though still large) harp space.  It does move to the right smoother in free motion than the 201, but I think I've already learned to compensate for this.  I still want to try out free motion embroidery, and specifically free motion embroidery without any foot.  I think this machine will do better at that job than any machine I've ever owned or played on. One day, I'd like to be, in my own style, as good as this guy.

Monday, October 12, 2015

It didn't follow me home

I emailed the seller over two nights about it and got up today after 4 hours of sleep to go get it.  I removed it from the cabinet for transport and didn't put it back in yet.  I know it's kind of nutty- this makes 4 machines in cabinets, total of 6 in my bedroom.  I have one more on the stair landing that is waiting for a 306k stitch regulator (if someone just happens by here and has a parts machine :)).   I spotted this while looking for a machine for someone else and they didn't want it. It kept calling me back to the page.

This is a  Singer 15-91, the "farmer's wife" and very similar to my 201-2 "dressmaker".  I have been loving that 201, the machine that started me on this SMAD thing, BUT!  Reading and reading and reading about these vintage machines had the opinions of several owners saying that the 91 does better free motion because of the oscillating bobbin.  The 201 is considered to be more "deluxe" and has a drop in.  I have free motioned very successfully and enjoyably on the 201, but I have not had good results trying free motion embroidery or thread painting on it.  While hand zigging a hoop under a needle without a foot, it consistently skips stitches as I zig to the left and does better when I zag to the right. Here's a video of some nice technique if you are unfamiliar with this particular skill.  Mostly, it just boils down to I wanted one of these.

So, I've been hankering for one of these for quite some time, and this one came along looking very shiny, in a nice cabinet with "attachments" and the original manual, for a fair price of $75.  It does have the bobbin cover slide plate, the bobbin case is sadly missing.  I've already ordered it and some extra bobbins.  I powered her up and she sounds powerful, clean, quiet and very well machined.  I saw no evidence of wiring decay and it looks like it was regularly serviced.  I got to meet the 96 year old original owner.  She told me she purchased it during WWII and had to pre-order and wait for it to become available, metal rationing.  Nice lady and nice family, and I think they were pleased that I seemed very competent with the machine and intended to use it.

I'm not buying ANYMORE unless it is cheaper than $15.00 or is an excellent treadle in an excellent base.  There is, after all, more fabric to acquire.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A singer 201-2

is a fine machine however, $25,000.00 is a steep price to pay.  Craigslist in Delaware, keeps my herd from growing too quickly.  I'm hoping this price is a typo, but most machines offered there are overpriced, some figure out of a non-sewing (or dusting, never mind tuning up) owner's head.

WELL.  Getting that photo to upload just took about 3 hours over 2 nights.  Until I finally thought to switch from edge to chrome.  Then, pow, thank you again Google!  The block itself, a free 12 inch finished twinkling star was warned to be "a bit challenging" and it was, but I was fairly pleased with the results.  I took my time, which ended up being about a week, and didn't feel bad at all about it.  It's not at all approaching perfection, but it's pleasing and finished. Win Win.

I pieced the block, and have done some mending on my own ''rare and one of a kind" 201.  Mine was supposed to be $20, but the owner ended up just giving it to me.  I had to rewire before it would run, scary but fun and addictive.

Of course it is not treadled, even though it's perched precariously on a treadle cabinet.  I just liked this gifted cabinet so much that I decided to put it to use.  I guess the machine could just fall through to the floor at anytime, it is not screwed in and the top has some splitting wood. I've been using it there for at least a year now and it hasn't even looked like it wants to fall.  I don't want to modify this cabinet in case the right machine comes along for it that CAN be treadled.  The insert area is actually for a 3/4 machine, and not a Singer brand.  I figure that smaller hole is the reason the 201 hasn't landed it's 40 or whatever pounds on my happily sewing feet. I've always liked to live a little dangerously, and now that I'm an old lady night shift worker I have to skirt danger where I can.  

UPDATE 10/25/15  That 201 above is marked down!  To $40.00!  Quite a reduction, I must say.  If it were closer to me.....