This is for the “MY MACHINES” page. These are machines not yet on the website.
Singer Electric SewHandy
I found my British electric Sewhandy model 50D on a road trip passing through Schulenburg, TX at an antique store. Everything Singer jumps out at me. It is in great condition and works. You turn the knob on the right of the machine to turn the motor off and on. There is a lever that you push upwards to sew and downwards to stop. It makes a chain stitch just like my other Sewhandy. I hope the little girl who owned it enjoyed many hours of playful sewing.
Pfaff 30 Treadle
My Pfaff model 30 treadle machine was made in 1955 in Kaiserslautern, Germany. It was an estate sale find and came in a very pretty parlor cabinet. It came with only a couple of feet. Since it is purely a straight-stitch machine, that is fine with me. However, I probably have feet that will fit it and just don’t know it. A friend has brought me and relatives have sent me attachments from Germany. This machine makes a beautiful stitch. It has a wooden treadle and makes a little thump when treadling. I will have to figure out if that thump can be eliminated. Never-the-less, I love this machine.
Singer Phoenix Class 15
This Class 15 Singer machine sports the beautiful and fully-intact Phoenix design decals. It was manufactured in Elizabeth, NJ on September 1, 1937. It is waiting for a good cleaning and rewiring. I found this machine at an estate sale. Even more exciting than the machine and it’s cabinet (which needs refinishing), it came with a Singer Fashion Aids attachment case full of attachments. Regretfully I sold the case, but I still have most of the attachments. The most unusual of the attachments was a Singer two-thread embroidery attachment for a back-clamp Singer Red Eye model 66 machine. It was in the original box, original instructions and even had the original tissue-type paper in the box.
This is my Singer model 66 Godzilla crinkle-finish machine; manufacture date March 8, 1938 in Elizabeth, NJ. This machine was rescued from going to the dump. A man getting a divorce saw no value in it. My then-husband snatched it up for me. That was in 1981. From 1982 to 1992 I used this machine to sew specialty items for an interior-decorating firm. It allowed me to work at home while my son was growing up.
This was my first vintage machine. What I love most about it is that it is simple and so easy to sew on. The only thing that has ever happened to it is the carbon brushes wore down because I used it so much. This machine and I are one. I love a lot of different machines, but this one is part of me.
Singer Sew Handy
My sister and I received this Singer Sew Handy as a joint Christmas gift from our paternal grandparents somewhere around 1957. Even at a young age I was interested in sewing. I never could get the machine to sew. So it was tucked away for many years. Once I got an interest in vintage machines, I figured out the tension mechanism was missing from the machine. I can’t remember how or when that happened. I got a replacement and it is such a joy to have the machine in working order. It makes a chain stitch rather than a normal straight stitch. It came in a nice grass-cloth case, clamp to attach it to a table top, needles and an instruction manual. Unfortunately, as a child I wrote on everything. In crayon is my name, address and phone number on the grass-cloth case.
My Singer 401A was purchased at an estate sale and manufactured in Anderson, SC in 1958. I love this machine! It is the second generation of slant-needle machines meaning the needle bar is slanted so you can see what you are sewing on easier. Unlike its predecessor, it is not just a straight-stitch machine. It has built in stitches plus cams to add more decorative stitches. It is a heavy-duty workhorse. You can use two needles in it, which is another big plus. Even though it is cast aluminum, it is pretty heavy. Mine came in a case that automatically latches when you set the lid down on the machine. If a person could only have one vintage machine, this would be my first choice.
Singer 301A Long Bed
My Singer model 301 long bed was manufactured in Anderson, South Carolina in 1951. For their 100th anniversary Singer introduced the first slant needle machine – the 301. The angle of the needle bar makes it easier to see what your are sewing. Some say this is the “big sister” to the Featherweight machine. It’s really not, as they are not much alike. However, like the Featherweight, the 301 is easy to move around and carry to classes. It is made of die cast aluminum and weighs just over 16 pounds. In addition, it has a handle on the top that flips up to lift for carrying. The machine I have pictured is a long bed which will not fit into a cabinet. It came in a trapezoid-shaped case covered with grass cloth. There is also a short-bed 301 machine that will fit into a cabinet. The 301 is well sought after, as it sews very nicely. It is a straight-stitch machine, so extremely popular with quilters.
Singer Black Sew Handy
Singer toy machines first appeared in the 1920’s as a Singer model 20. In the 1950’s they changed the design and they were then named the Sew Handy. They came in different colors. My sister and I got one for Christmas in the 50’s that is beige crinkle paint. I found this black one at an estate sale minus the clamp that holds it onto a table. Fortunately, a few years later I came across an orphan clamp that was made for this machine. A lot of little girls learned to sew on these. It makes a nice chain stitch which came in handy for little ones learning to sew. I know I appreciate a chain stitch when I am taking something apart. To make it easier to thread this machine, the places the thread passes through are numbered. it is a quality machine and makes a quality stitch even though it is a toy. Now us older girls collect them.
Getting Started With Your First Quilt.
Here is what you should have at hand
So you’re ready to get started with your first quilt but you have no idea where to start. Below is a list of some basic quilting tools you will need to get started in your quilting journey.
1) Sewing Machine – It goes without saying, but if you are going to hand stitch your quilts you will not need a machine. There are many brands of sewing machines on the market. I personally love my Singer 15/91 and one of my Singer Featherweights. But to start off, remember, you will need a machine that can sew straight stitches. You don’t need tons of different stitches until maybe later, maybe never. It all depends on the level you want to take your quilting. You will want to make sure of two things. One: does your machine have either a 1/4 inch foot attachment or marking for the 1/4 inch? This is the most popular stitch in quilting. Two: does your machine have a walking foot? The walking foot allows you feed bulky items through or even machine quilt.
2) Rotary Cutter – Whoever invented a rotary cutter was brilliant. When I took my first sewing lesson (back when the dinosaurs roamed), there were only scissors. UGH! If you ever use scissors for long, you understand how your thumb will hurt from the pressure of the finger holes. You don’t experience that with a rotary cutter. You will definitely want a rotary cutter, because it quickly lets you cut your strips, blocks, etc. You will save a ton of time and energy than if you use scissors. Don’t forget a rotary cutter sharpener. There are a few on the market for you to choose from. There are many sizes and varieties out
there in rotary cutters. You will soon find the ones that work best for you. For me, I prefer the Olfa Rotary Cutter, 45mm. What I found when I used the smaller (28mm) is that I didn’t have as much control. But when I used the 60mm, I found it to be too big and bulky and still didn’t have as much control. I like the Olfa because the blade retracts automatically, less chance of cutting yourself. What I would suggest is that you go to your local quilt shop and ask them to try their rotary cutters. You don’t need to cut fabric, just feel it in your hand and practice on their cutting mats.
3) Rotary Mat – Rotary mats are great for cutting out your projects. They protect the surface you cut on and they are made of self-healing material, which means they don’t make grooves. They also help keep your blades sharp, which means less time sharpening your rotary cutter or replacing blades. When I use my mat, I turn it over and use the back side without the numbers. I do this because I have found some mats don’t have straight lines. For convenience I use a large one at home, it is 36″ x 24″ . You probably will want a smaller mat for classes. Choose a size that fits easily into your quilting tote if you will be taking classes.
4) Rotary Rulers – What can I say about rotary rulers? Without them, you wouldn’t be able to cut and square your projects or create special blocks and quilts. They are used to grip your fabric and a act as a
guide for your cutters, also a place for your hand to rest so you don’t cut your fingers. At home I keep a 6″ x 24″ Ominigrid ruler around for most projects. This ruler is great for cutting out your bigger pieces
of fabric. I use a 15″ Omnigrid square for squaring up blocks up to 15″. I also use this for squaring up my quilt after it has been quilted. A small 6″ square ruler on my cutting area makes it easier to square up or cut smaller pieces. With these three rulers, you will be able to cut most projects. If you only buy one, I would strongly suggest the 15 inch square. You can do most projects with this one ruler.
5) Iron Board – Most of us already have an iron and ironing board. Chances are what you already have will work just fine. Just remember as you iron any of your pieces to press with an up and down motion, instead of ironing back and forth. If you use steam, be very careful you are dealing with raw edges of fabric and bias edges. Be gentle with your strips, blocks, and fabric. There is an iron to hit the market. It is a mini iron by Dritz. You can adjust the handle so you can get into tiny spaces and press the smallest of areas. This iron is priced at $39.99, but I have found Amazon has some for as low as $25.89. So if you are in the market you can check it out here. This is a great deal. Petite Press Portable Iron. If you do have to purchase an iron for home, look for one that is fairly heavy. I use Rowenta and it has some heft, which is great for helping with the pressing. There is also a specially designed ironing board for quilters called a Big Board. This is square without the narrower end and makes it easier to press fabrics and your quilt tops and even has grid lines to make sure your strips and blocks are lined up correctly.
6) Fabric Scissors & Paper Scissors – I know it sounds crazy. But you really will want to have two different scissors. If you cut your paper with your fabric scissors, it makes them dull. So you will need ONG>one pair just for your quilting projects and one pair for your paper cutting projects. I would advise marking these scissors, either with a tag, or permanent marker on the handle or blade so you will know that you use these for your paper projects ONLY. For quilting projects, I recommend Gingher scissors. These stay sharp forever and are true workhorses.
7) Pins & Needles – When I started quilting I really didn’t realize there was more than one type of pin available. But, wow, they have every kind imaginable. You will want long straight pins. I like the ones with the flower heads. They lay flat on your fabric and are easier to avoid melting them with your iron. If you will be ironing your pins, you will want to get glass head ones. They will not melt on to your work. Don’t forget the pin cushion. There are millions of them out there or you could make your own. When you are sewing with a machine, there are many sizes of needles to get. Make sure to get the ones recommended by your sewing manufacturer. I find Schmetz 75/11 Universal needles work great for ost of all the projects. If you are planning on sewing thick or bulky fabric you will want to get a Jeans needle. For metallic threads you will want to use a Metallica needle. So for whatever material you are sewing other than cotton, make sure to use the right needle for the project. Follow your sewing machine manufacturer’s directions.
The next step will be to find an easy quilting pattern that appeals to you.
Quilting is addictive – welcome to the club. You will need:
1. Rotary cutter – I recommend a 45mm blade. It’s small enough to handle some curves, but large enough to go through a lot of fabric. Once you’re sure you want to continue quilting, get some spare blades and change them as soon as you notice that it isn’t cutting through fabric effectively. Be very careful when using a rotary cutter – it’s essentially a round razor blade. If you lightly bump the blade, you will draw blood. Get a cutter that has a built in safety feature, and get in the habit of using it. I like Olfa’s curved one because you squeeze the grip to expose the blade, and when you let go, the blade is covered. You can also lock the cover into place.
2. Self healing mat – Buy the biggest one you can afford and have space for. I like by 24″ x 36″ mat, and I also use an 18″ x 24″ when I’m taking classes. Be sure to get the thin green, blue, pink or purple one (depending on brand) NOT the thick white plastic ones. They bog down your fabric and cutter. I prefer to use the back of the mat – the measuring lines just get in my way. I use the ruler for measuring and squaring the fabric.
3. Acrylic ruler – You need at least two – a short one that is easy to maneuver and a long one that you can cut strips from the width of fabric. I prefer a 6″ x 12″ and a 3″ x 18″, but most people like a 6″ x 24″ for the long one. Make sure you can see the markings on both light and dark fabrics. At least one of them should have diagonals marked – at least a 45 degree and a 30 degree, and preferably a 60 degree as well. You may not use these now, but you won’t have to buy another ruler later. They must have at the very least a clear 1/4″ marking and a 1/8″ “dot.” I prefer a ruler that has a 1/8″ grid in one corner (or all over if I can find it). When you measure, always measure to the outside of the marking line, not the inside or center. Some rulers come with a non-slip surface (Omnigrip) or you can buy a roll of clear plastic (Invisigrip) that you can cut and apply to the back of your existing rulers. You can also use little sandpaper discs with adhesive on the back.
4. Fabric – Start with 100% cotton, and buy the best quality you can afford. If you have a local quilt shop, see if they have a clearance section. Not only can you get first quality fabrics for nearly half price, the limited selection forces you to try colors that you might not otherwise have chosen. It’s good to stay out of ruts. If you like scrappy quilts, fat quarters are a good way to get a lot of different fabrics. If you like more planned color schemes, buy yardage. Watch for sales to acquire backing fabric. Value (light and dark) is more important than color. We gravitate toward the pretty fabrics in the middle values, but for a quilt to really sparkle, you need to include light and dark fabrics as well.
5. Thread – again, use 100% cotton for the piecing. Cotton (thread) against cotton (fabric) wears better. If you use a synthetic thread and make an heirloom quilt, the thread could damage the fabric and destroy the quilt. Use the thinnest thread you can find for piecing (I like 50/2). This helps keep your seams accurate. Every hair counts. If your seams are off just 1/8″ and you have eight squares in a row, the row will be off 1″. You don’t need to match your thread to the fabric color, just the fabric value. If you have white, black, cream, and gray you can handle just about any fabric. “Match” your thread to the lighter fabric. When you quilt the top, batting and backing together, you’ll probably want a slightly thicker thread (40/3 works great, and can also be used for piecing if you like). This doesn’t HAVE to be cotton, but many quilters still prefer it.
6. Scissors – you need both a larger pair to cut fabric, although you won’t use it very much unless you get into paper piecing or hand work, and a smaller pair for cutting thread. I love my spring handled large scissors. They’re comfortable for lefties and they open by themselves, which reduces a lot of strain on the hand. My small scissors have very large finger openings and are comfortable to hold. Both of mine are by Fiskars. You can also try thread nippers for the smaller scissors.
7. Pins – get the longest, finest pins you can find. A glass head is nice if you plan to iron with the pins in (plastic will melt). A large flat flower head pin is nice to avoid distortion when sewing, plus they’re easier to find on the floor.
8. Hand sewing needles – you’ll need this for the binding. I prefer a long fine “straw” needle, but most people use sharps for piecing. Betweens are for quilting.
9. Seam ripper – this will be your best friend. Rather than “ripping” the seam, cut every third or fourth stitch and pull it all apart. It’s faster and less messy, especially if you use a piece of tape to remove the cut threads from the fabric.
10. Blue painters tape – yes, I consider this an essential. When you sew your scant 1/4″ seam, you should not be watching the needle – by the time the fabric is at the needle, it’s too late to correct anything. Instead, you should watch about an inch or two before the needle. You can measure your seam by using an index card with a 1/4″ line. Put the needle down through the line and make sure it’s straight. Draw a pencil line on your machine bed along the edge of the card. This is your 1/4″. Use the painters tape to make a fabric guide. Cut through several layers of tape on the roll, peel it back and cut off a section that is at least 1″ long. Place this on the bed of your machine along the 1/4″ mark you just made. Now just butt your fabric up against this guide when you sew your seams. With this guide it doesn’t even matter if you have a 1/4″ foot on your machine (although they are handy).
11. Instruction books – I really consider a couple of good instruction books to be essential. You can find a lot of information online, but it’s worth the extra to get a couple of really good books. I recommend Start Quilting with Alex Anderson for your beginner book. It’s on Amazon and it’s a skinny little book that teaches you six basic blocks. I also recommend a reference book called The Quilter’s Ultimate Visual Guide. It doesn’t have patterns but it does answer nearly every question you’ll ever have. Spend a little extra (just a couple of dollars) and take your books to a copy center (Kinkos, Staples, Office Max, etc.) and have them cut off the binding and put on a spiral binding. This way you can fold your book back to the page you want, or open it flat.
12. Courage – Don’t let anyone say you can’t make a quilt the way you want to make it. It’s great to learn the traditional methods, but some of the most incredible quilts have come from people saying, “What if I did it this way instead?”
13. Inspiration – Use the internet to find photos of quilts that inspire you. It can be about the color choices, the patterns, the style – whatever you like. Use magazine ads to help you with color choices. Keep a file of interesting ads – you’d be surprised at what the professionals put together. I have a fantastic quilt in dark purple and lime green that I never would have chosen on my own. Check out internet sites that have quilting videos. Join one or more Yahoo Groups that are about quilting. Try Quilter’s Cache for free, amazing block patterns. (You’re going to love this site.) Also check out their tutorials.
14. Patience – You aren’t going to make a perfect quilt the first time. Enjoy the process, learn from your mistakes, and keep moving forward.
I just finished this dog bed for my son’s 4-5 lb. little fur baby, Chico. He is a mix and was supposed to be mostly Chihuahua, but as he got older, he looks like a little old Scottish man. I am thinking mostly some type of terrier. I don’t have him here to “model” his new bed. But there is plenty of room for him to root around and stay warm. I have seen these for sale. However, it was a must that Chico’s bed was made from camouflage. I drafted the pattern and here is what I hope Chico will love.
Update: He LOVES his bed!