Wednesday, 18 August 2010

...why I sew on old machines

Gail and I got together yesterday morning to work on our braids for the local hospital's chemo unit. We are paired up with another member of the Elgin Piecemaker's Quilt Guild and we decide what we're going to do and then work on the project together. It's a great way to get to know another member of the group better and we accomplish something useful :-). Here are the braid pieces, all cut out and ready to sew:

I sewed the braids on my trusty Singer 15-88 treadle sewing machine. Have I mentioned lately that I LOVE this machine? :-)

First braid coming together:

Gail's first three braids at our second get together:

Yesterday, we trimmed the braids and sewed the pairs together and got started on the sashings and borders. Trimming was a great job to do together! I had to test a Featherweight that my husband had cleaned and serviced, so I "killed two birds with one stone" and did something productive while test sewing. This little Featherweight was made in 1934!! It purrs along so nicely and was a joy to stitch on!! While looking up some of the history of this older Featherweight in Nancy Johnson-Srebro's excellent book "Featherweight 221 - The Perfect Portable", I came across this paragraph:

"It's hard to believe some of the Featherweights purring away in sewing rooms and class are now old enough to qualify for social security, but there they are - proud of their Depression era birthdates and not only alive, but thriving. And they look as modern today as when Singer shipped them from its Edison, New Jersey, factory to a cautious public ready for the 1933 World's Fair.

"The Featherweight will probably never be reproduced as we know it. Even with today's advanced technology - investment casting of parts, and CNC (Computer Numeric Control) machining operations - the design and hand fitting involved in assembling this intricate, finely-crafted portable sewing machine would likely boost its unit cost too highly. This reality just reinforces its status as a classic; an example of craftsmanship that's fast disappearing in this modern world of plastics and throw-aways. This alone makes the Model 221 well worth owning whether you are a quilter, seamstress, or a collector of fine things that will probably be no more."

p. 131

....and that's why I sew on these wonderful old machines :-).

Check out the stack of 2" squares that I was using as leaders/enders while sewing the sashings and borders onto my quilt :-):

And, here is the finished quilt top (the colours are a little off in this photo...the border is a blue with brownish/plum motifs):

The quilt top is actually square :-)...I was not exactly in the center when taking the photo..hey, I'm a quilter, not a photographer LOL.


Susan In Texas said...

I'm working on a braid quilt too; I'll have to post an in progress picture one of these days. 8) I've heard you HAVE to use a leader bit of fabric with the Featherweights, otherwise the thread gets all snarled (I'm kinda glad Bernina got that issue all squared away!) I'm seriously tempted, though, to get a FW to have something light to take on the road.)

Happy stitching,
Susan in Texas

Jacqui's Quilts said...

Hey Susan! Great to hear from you again :-).

You don't HAVE to use thread pads, leaders/enders, whatever you want to call them with Featherweights or any of the old straight stitch machines. You do HAVE to hold the threads as you put the needle down and start sewing. Actually, I do that on the Bernina's as well. It's just a great habit to get into. But, I usually sew with leaders/enders now and get other projects done in between, so even with the Bernina's I use them LOL. I still cringe whenever I see one of my students plunk down the presser foot and start sewing. Even with the newer machines, it often still snarls up. I teach all my students to hold threads :-) because most of them don't have the Berninas that you don't have to worry with LOL. The Featherweights can't be beat for taking on the road...only 14 lbs in the case :-)!