Monday, May 05, 2014

My Love Affair with Vintage Singer Sewing Machines

Since I was a teenager, I have had my Grandmother's featherweight. I shamefully have to admit, although I thought it was really cool, I have never sewn on it.  When I started quilting in 1991, like all 22 year olds of my generation, I wanted brand new.  Living on an island in Alaska at the time, I pulled out the Sears catalogue and ordered a Singer with 14 stitches and I have been using that machine ever since.  She is solid, metal and plastic with a 7 inch harp. 

Only photo I could find of my workhorse.  She has taught 3 teen girls to sew.

Then last summer for my birthday, I was surprised with a fabulous Craigslist find of perfect 1948 15-90 that appeared to never been used.  The sewing cabinet was another story.  It looks like it was been abused by many house plants and careless waterers.

At that time, I was growing envious of those, in blogland, purchasing the the Juki and Janome straight stitchers with their 9 inch throat space, and was starting to seriously consider one myself.  But this little 15-90, I affectionately call Ginnie, changed all that.  She was (and still is) amazing!  Much quieter than my workhorse and has been able to power through free motion quilting like she was born for it.  The only down side is that I am still fighting that 7 inch space.  Despite that though, I fell in love.  I realized that I did not need newer and faster.  I just needed quality and reliability and set out to learn all about Singer's history and their machines.

In this process, I learned that the Singer 201 had a 8-9 inch space and many consider it to be the machine that set the standard for all sewing machines.  So I started scouring Craigslist on a weekly basis.  Not just Dallas - Fort Worth, but the rest of Texas and Oklahoma, too.  When I headed out to Phoenix for the holidays, I would search there, also.  I was disheartened to learn 201's were hard to come by.  I found many on Ebay, but out of my price range.  Afterall, Ginnie was picked up for $75.

Then this past Saturday, I found this on Craigslist:

In my home town!  But $400?!?!?!
I don't think so!
Yes, she is gorgeous.  Yes, she looks brand new.  But she is simple.  She has the simple "paperclip" decals, and the metal work is not the fancy scrolling.  The bentwood case is gorgeous, not beat up, and she came with "original Singer seamstress chalk", and a few bobbins, but I did not feel chalk and bobbins were worth a couple hundred extra dollars.  For comparison, there is a gorgeous "fancy" 201 on Ebay for $340 that includes 5 different presser feet.  I have done my research!
Then I discovered she has been listed on Craigslist for a month... and a thought came to me.
"She is still for sale because he is asking too much.  I wonder how desperate he is to get rid of her??  Desperate enough to bargain????"

Now for those who don't know me, I do not bargain.  It drives my husband, family and friends CRAAAZZZYYY!  I say I have too much empathy and respect for the seller.  If they want that much money and I am willing to pay it, I will buy it.  If I am not willing to pay it, then I keep moving on.

Anyway, I guess my empathy and respect went out the window because I texted the seller and the haggling commenced. 
 It went on for 6 hours! After 2 hours, I said I needed to think about it.  He said he was going to be in town later in the evening and would put her in his car so he would have it "just in case you change your mind."
Four hours after that, I texted him to say his bottom line was still too much compared to the one on Ebay and I would have to pass. 
No response.
Thirty minutes later he came back with a price under three hundred dollars!
 I texted my husband, who said "Go For It!  Happy Mother's Day!"
(I think he might still be in shock I haggled.)

So meet "Beth". 
My 1951 near factory mint condition Singer 201.

I switched her out of her beautiful carrying case and into the table which I have set up for Free Motion Quilting.  Ginnie is now in the case, and I plan to do all my piecing with her.  Not sure what to do with the workhorse.

Naturally, Merlin had to check her out!

Some free motion quilting working the tension out. This is the underside.  It turns out I had the bobbin threaded wrong. :(

A couple of skipped stitches below, but that was before I messed with the tension and figured out how to thread the bobbin correctly. 

I can't wait to give her a spin on a real project! I have the perfect one lined up and waiting!

As for Grandma's featherweight... I better take her out of storage and get her cleaned up.  I'll start taking her to classes and sew ins.

Monday, April 28, 2014

1000 Paper Cranes and Flying Geese

In my adolescent private practice, I was looking for a project to show my kids that steady work can and does pay off.  Therefore, I decided to make a 1000 Paper Cranes during their sessions this year.  The kids can either make cranes or any other origami shape they wish while I work on my cranes.

The picture above shows the 200 cranes I have made since the middle of February... still 800 to go!

The paper cranes reflection in the mirror just mesmerized me for days on end, and I knew there had to be a quilt pattern in there somewhere!

Then in March, the Fort Worth Modern Quilt Guild offered up a Flying Geese challenge quilt due in May... and an idea came to me!

Above, Merlin is helping by being a design board as I looked at my geese from a distance.
Below, my geese are still attached the their Triangles on Roll paper. (Click the link to go to their website.) It is the first time I have used the product and I really like it.  My points are intact and I have 1/4 inch seams on the sides.

Below, the assembly begins.

To represent the mirror, I used Michael Miller's Fairy Frost in Glimmer, which I had 3 yards of  because I accidentally ordered it thinking it was white.  I didn't realize it was glittery. 

Below are my 2 sets of flying geese.  The larger one was made from 3" x 6" flying geese and the smaller one used 1.5" x 3" flying geese.

Now I am stuck!!  I don't know where to go or what to do next.

 I don't know what to use for the background.... solids and what colors?  or a Japanese print fabric?? My mind is reeling from the idea of piecing these into a background of some sort. 

I was attempting to go for an asymmetrical look, now I am thinking it needs more smaller diamonds to balance it.  In fact, I am thinking I should make more smaller diamonds and take out the larger diamond.  That would reduce the size and make piecing the background easier.  The smaller one is 21 inches on point, and the larger one is 48 inches on point.

On top of all this confusion... time is running out! The challenge is due in 2 weeks!

I would greatly appreciate input!

Thank you,

Monday, April 21, 2014

Name Branding and a Fresh Start

What's in a name???  
Apparently, a lot when we have such a large internet community of friends.  

In my blogging absence, I have maintained contact with the quilting world thru Instagram and I love it!  Snap a quick picture, type a quick caption and post it immediately.  In this time, I have made many new friendships, learned new techniques, regained my sanity from my home life and realized what direction my quilting is headed in.  I also realized how much I missed writing my blog.  So I am dusting it off, and branding myself as:


The following is a list of changes:

Blog name - thequiltingcats
My signature - Ann @thequiltingcats,
New email - 

Flickr and Instagram will remain the same - thequiltingcats

I have purchased the domain name -  - and  I just need to figure out how to migrate my blog over to it.

Now... for some sad blogging news.  When I opened up my blog about 90% of my photos were missing!!! I don't know what happened. Apparently it had something to do with Google+ and Google Backup and the fact I erased a lot of photos off my Samsung Note3 and they were all connected.   Grrr....
Therefore, I just erased all my old blogs. because without pictures they did not make sense. So in a sense... this really is a fresh start with new name branding, but same old me. :)

Finally, because we can't have a blog without pictures.... here is a couple of quilts I have worked on in the past few months.

lots of free motion quilting on my 1948 Singer,

a quilt for my receptionist,

 my String of Batiks, and

and Merlin is still my biggest quilthelper.

Happy Quilting!