Monday, November 12, 2018

A Warm Welcome To A New Member of My Quilt Studio Family!

The thing that stopped me most recently was the loss of my Featherweight machine for two weeks.  No it wasn't broken -- it was a featured star!

For a while now I've been sewing on Fanny my Centennial Featherweight.  A friend in my complex got a grant to host a series of Oral History nights for the Tenants Association of her building.  She recruited seniors in her building born between the years 1920 and 1950 to come down and share stories of their lives or how they came to live in our community (which, by the way, is Co-op City, which has been said to be the largest affordable housing complex in the world).   She had the idea to decorate various areas in her Association room with "nostalgia stations".

When she started telling me about a sewing themed one she wanted to do, I asked her:  "do you have a machine?".  She didn't so I volunteered mine.  When we brought together our stuff, I realized she actually didn't have much in the way of iconic sewing items so a lot of what you see on the table is from my stash of family sewing items.  As I've related before, the Featherweight came to me through my mother whose boyfriend had been a tailor.  The forged cast iron on the table is real and belonged to my great grandmother, the pinking shears, tracing wheel, sock darner and tape measure were from my grandmother's sewing stash along with the Poinsettia hankie displayed.  I have a bunch of my grandmother's hankies and we were able to use them to accent each of the other displays in the room as well.  It was fun to work with her on these first two events and I was pleased to get to share some of my own family history in the process.

Another part of my loss of momentum was getting stuck on another project (and hopefully more on that in another post).  Getting stuck led me to re-evaluating my equipment needs.  I've long needed to fix my two electronic machines but admit I've been reluctant to do so.  Both were serviced in the last year and yet the problems I'm having with them have reoccurred making me wonder if it's time for an upgrade.  I'd really like to trade in both of them for one new upgraded machine but admit that the cost of that, even with the trade-in, is at the moment prohibitive.  This led me to think about what I features I really needed right now.  Fanny the Featherweight has been a champ and I love that I can maintain it myself for the most part.  The two limits have been the 5" throat space and that it doesn't do zig zag.  Actually the throat space is not a huge issue considering that it's still possible to quilt on it for small projects like mug rugs and runners.  For six years of this quilty life I quilted even queen size quilts on my Euro-Pro which is a standard 7" throat space machine.  

Quilting the flannel "Triangle Trips" in 2010.

Also, some years ago I bought Marti Michell's "Machine Quilting in Sections" book.

She also has a class and DVDs on Craftsy/Blueprint on the same topic.  I've never tried this technique formally but had already planned to try it with a Christmas top I want to get quilted before the year ends.  So it occurred to me that for the cost of servicing these two machines, maybe I could consider investing in another vintage machine if I could find one that had zigzag capabilities.  I did some research focusing on the all metal Singer models.  I narrowed it down to the machines in the 400 - 500 series (this and this are two of the many posts and YouTube videos on the various machines in this series).  After scouring listings on eBay, Craigslist and Etsy, I just recently came across this beauty.

So now there's a new equipment addition to the quilt studio!  It's a Singer 401A from 1956 purchased from Etsy vendor Ed Hurston of Stitches 'N Bobbins in nearby Connecticut.  She came Saturday and I've already had a chance to test out her zigzag and decorative stitch capabilities which allowed me to give my stalled project a boost.  I'll do a full post on her once I've had a chance to put her through her paces.  But I'm really looking forward to establishing this new relationship!

P.S.: I think I'm starting a new quilt addiction:  vintage machines.  I swear if I had the display space, I'd get this one just for show!

Do you own or covet vintage machines?  Do you like them better than modern electronic machines?  Inquiring quilt minds want to know!


Material Girl said...

You need to get a 301 from Ed Hurston too. They are amazing workhorses that sew with every thread. You can’t throw off the timing as they have gears and are stronger than the Featherweight but just weigh 4 more pounds. The vintage machines are just sew much better than the new computerized ones. I own both but really rely on the vintage ones. Boy, the prices are better too!

Unknown said...

A vintage machine is like an old dance partner. Reliable, hard working, and familiar.

Rebecca Grace said...

Oh, how cool! It sounds like you did your research and made the right choice.