Daffy's Stitchy Friends

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A New Facination

I have become increasingly interested in vintage Singer sewing machines. Mind you, I said vintage...not antique! While I think the oldie-oldies are pretty and quaint, I don't find them as attractive as the little bit newer ones. I'm talking 1950-1960 era, the true workhorses, electric and made so well they are still running today. I decided I wanted one. While I love my Juki and I have a cheapie Singer as a backup, I really wanted a vintage machine. What to do but go shopping? I asked Dash to take me to two antique malls nearby.

I spotted this pink box in the first one!
A buttonholer!

Everything was inside, including the connecting screw that is almost always missing. The space-age clamshell box is adorable. It was mine for less than $5 even though I didn't even own a machine it would connect to! I did see a couple of machines in that first mall but alas, not what I was after.

Halfway through the second mall I spotted a familiar cabinet all closed up and half hidden under a display shelf. I peeked underneath and saw a machine in the dusty recesses. I called Dash over and together we dug it out from under its burden and I opened the top.

A Singer 503. wow.
The price sticker:

I dashed to the front of the store and asked the lady for an electric outlet. The light came on and the motor worked! Poor thing had been sitting there, buried in junk, since 2014. Mine for a mere $35.

I googled on the way home that the 503 uses the buttonholer that comes in the pink clamshell box. Dash swears this was a SET UP, that I knew the two items were there and we were merely going to pick them up! But no, it was truly an adventure...

The Singer 503 was released in 1961 in the height of the space craze. People call this model the Rocketeer and it is rather "Jetson's" in styling isn't it? I have him cleaned up, oiled and sewing like nobodies business. Oh, dear I'm hooked! 

I next asked Dash to go to Claremore, Oklahoma. where they have a huge gathering of antique shops. Dash was game for that but he wanted to go extra early so we could eat breakfast at Hugo's before any shopping. This meant an hour and 45 minute drive, plus a good long wait in line before eating but Hugo's bacon is to die for! Dash and I shared these plates and could not finish.

The second shop we went to was a large mall, super squirrelly inside and easy to get lost and turned around. I spotted this pink Wilson sewing box. It was full of notions and I saved what I liked but most of the stuff shown here is my eBay purchases for the Rocketeer. 

The 503 Rocketeer uses those black Bakelite Tophat cams to do fancy stitches. I had found a large set on eBay and snapped them up. I adore the pink Wilson box and now I have someplace nice to store all the cams in. Dash and I were unlucky for the rest of the day and only bought the box, and breakfast...the breakfast would have been worth the whole trip!

Looking at eBay can be dangerous. I saw this lovely Singer 301 with no bids at a reasonable price. Sold! This was the machine I was originally interested in finding. The 301 is a straight stitch only machine. It can whiz by at 1500 stitches a minute if you could keep up. I unboxed excitedly, took it apart and oiled and lubed and she took off like a racehorse, not bad for an oldie 1956 machine! 

Sewing on these vintage beauties has a bit of a learning curve when you are used to sewing on modern machines. They look different, sound different, smell different, feel different! Sound? The vintage machines sound like a miniature jet plane revving up! Not loud at all but very different! Where I have learned even the tiniest sound my Juki makes (I can tell when it misses a stitch) and can tap out a single stitch on the foot pedal the vintage foot pedal looks like this:

1950's era ergonomics! You rest your foot against the right peg and roll your foot left on the button. It is taking some getting used to! The cabinet the Rocketeer came in has a knee control. This foot pedal goes inside and you control with a push of the knee. I just need Dash to help me put the Rocketeer back into the cabinet now they are all cleaned up. 

I have been watching lots of  YouTube videos and reading blogs and other websites about these vintage machines. I am so interested! One day, I'd love to learn how to adjust and repair them formally. For now, I shall watch videos. And learn!

Thank you for visiting my blog today!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Dresden Fun

I nearly titled this post, "The Dresden Files" but figured that was too nerdy, ha ha! Since returning home from retreat I continued on with the Dresden Plate blocks. These are insanely fun to create. Sewing all the points, snipping corners and turning them out, pressing then sewing again. 

The mini ironing board was invaluable and the little Steamfast iron cannot come more highly recommended! I must remember how handy this set-up is the next time I have blocks requiring a lot of pressing in between sewing. It was so nice to just turn and press instead of gathering everything up and taking it all to the pressing station then carrying it all back to the machine. Plus, I can sew my seam and press it right off instead of waiting and pressing everything at the end.

Once I got all the plates together and stitched to the block it was time to make circles. I found a round jar top that covered my holes neatly and drew circles on the wrong side of my fabric. I used iron-on interfacing, glue side toward the right side of my fabric and stitched right on the drawn line. I cut them out and made a little slit in the interfacing, and turned the fabric making sure it lay smooth and round.

These got ironed onto the centers on the plates.

Then again using the blanket stitch got secured. It's almost invisible but when you do see the sewing it is pretty stitches to see!

Now I have all 16 plates finished. It's quite a pile! I need to decide how I want to put them together. 

I have the idea to sew a folded corner square to each inside corner, giving me an on point square when the blocks are sewn. This would eliminate the large area of blank white space between the plates. I just can't decide how large? Ideas? The white blocks themselves are 21 inches. Decision time. These cry out to be finished! I also need to go run that long arm again before I forget everything!

I have been on a bit of an adventure these past couple of weeks and maybe my next post will tell you about it? I think it's quite exciting and I am looking forward to sharing with you!

Thank you for visiting my blog today!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Thready ORTs

Yesterday was the New Moon but I was so wiped after work I napped instead of blogging! We aren't too late to celebrate the Totally Useless Stitch A Long with piles of ORTs though!

My leaf bowl is filled with scraps from sewing the Dresden centers and the corner bits from joining binding strips for En Provence. The little pink cup was begged from my retreat hostess when I unpacked and realized I had arrived with NOTHING to save ORTs in! HORRORS! Doing Dresdens, it started filling up immediately, these are thread wasting blocks! 

My first Dresden at the retreat. Totally worth wasting thread. The mini iron and board came in mighty handy with all the pressing required to create these.

I think my favorite part is doing the Blanket Stitching!

A close second favorite was the blackberry cobbler they fed us for dessert one evening! Yum!


Now it is YOUR turn...we want to see your ORTs! Leave a comment on this post with a link to your April TUSAL post so we can come visit! If I hold a Totally Useless giveaway your comment will earn you an extra entry.

Wondering what a TUSAL is and why all these people are posting pictures of rubbish? Click here to learn more and join the fun!

Thank you for visiting my blog today!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Retreat Fun or En Provence is a Wrap

At the end of March I attended a quilt retreat. This was a Christmas gift from Dash along with gift cards to the store hosting the retreat. I took my Dresden project which was planned and started just for the retreat. I also took my finished En Provence top, batting and backing to quilt on the longarm.

Retreats are such fun, even for me, so shy and bashful. I sewed on my Dresdens the first day (more on those in am upcoming post) but the second day was my appointment with the longarm!

I learned how to pin the backing to the stretcher bars.

And how to thread the machine! I chose this soft lavender thread.

The longarm is nothing like I imagined. The batting gets basted onto the backing at the top, then it and the quilt top just floats. See it all bunched up at the bottom?

Here I am maybe halfway finished. I got many compliments on the quality of my piecing and my fabric choices. All told, it took about three hours to get this quilted.

After I got it trimmed up, I returned to my table, made binding and slapped it on the front. Hand sewing it to the back had to wait until I get home. I was so tired that night! My body and brain had such a workout!

Once home, I spent several hours watching TV and stitching the binding to the back. I wanted to get a photo outdoors but it won't stop raining!

The backing looks fabulous, as I knew it would, and I love the lavender dot fabric on the binding.

I learned so much doing this Mystery Quilt! So many new blocks and how to longarm quilt. I really look forward to this years' holiday season...when the next mystery comes out!

Thank you for visiting my blog today!

Monday, March 27, 2017

On Time

Woo! It's the New Moon and I am not late for the Totally Useless Stitch A Long! Go! Get out your camera and snap a photo of your gorgeous ORTs!

Can you believe I actually have some cross-stitching ORTs? I got a little bug and stitched a motif from one of my Blackbird Designs books. These are my first embroidery ORTs of the year!

My leaf bowl is stuffed with scraps and thread ends. Although I usually have a Leader/Ender pair under my needle, I mostly can't when sewing the Dresdens. It drives me batty to toss all that thread! The scraps are from cutting more 2 inch squares for Leader/Enders.

My Leader/Ender box was nearly empty before I cut up those scraps. I grab a pair of these (light+dark) and start it through the machine, followed by what ever blocks I am piecing and follow those with another pair. This keeps me from having wasted threads and if the machine is going to gobble up the starting piece it can gobble my scraps and not my important pieces. Lots of people use a little piece of folded fabric as a leader and just keep sewing on it over and over. That is still wasting thread! Why not use that Thread?

Here is the box of two patches I've completed. I need to start feeding pairs of these through to make four patches...this box is getting full! One day these will be a big postage stamp quilt, all sewn while sewing other quilts.

If you'd like to learn more about Leader/Ender quilts click here. You don't have to sew tiny squares as L&E...you can sew any second quilt.


Now it is YOUR turn...we want to see your ORTs! Leave a comment on this post with a link to your March TUSAL post so we can come visit! If I hold a Totally Useless giveaway your comment will earn you an extra entry.

Wondering what a TUSAL is and why all these people are posting pictures of rubbish? Click here to learn more and join the fun!

Thank you for visiting my blog today!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Try, Try, Try Again

I made some mini Dresden blocks to practice with. These blades get appliqued onto background squares with a blanket stitch. Doing these...It's harder than I thought it would be! Those corners are tricky and if you forget which part of the stitch your machine is at when you turn? Things go really wonky. I am positive after doing 16 blocks, I will have it down pat. 

Once the blades are applied you cover the center hole. Good grief! There are so many different ways of doing these! I decided on fabric and iron-on interfacing.

The top set in the photo above was my first try. I subtracted a quarter inch from my circle and sewed. Too small! Middle set, I did not subtract the quarter and they are the correct size...but I got the interfacing on the inside. BAH! Bottom row, correct size, interfacing going out. Whew! It's a good thing I am patient. However...I see myself doing this same mistake in the future. Often. BAH!

I start sewing them on. 

Eeeek! That's the wrong side! Rip, rip!

That looks better. It's a good thing I'm patient.

Four completed blocks!

Dresden blocks done this way, in five blade sets, are called a Grandmother's Fan. Maybe this will be a little throw pillow to match my quilt?

Thank you for visiting my blog today!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Busy Bee

I've been busy in the studio. I ironed and folded this massive 8.5 yards of fabric to ready it for cutting.

I carefully measured my lengths and cut them out. I pin any fabric this long before sewing. It is so heavy it can easily stretch! I had to maneuver the fold-out table next to me at the machine to hold up the bulk. 

I sewed my three pieces together and ironed the seams open. My backing is complete!

Ready for quilting!

I got nervous of my ability to sew dresdens. Or maybe I was just intimidated to learn how to do it during the retreat...in front of witnesses? Not wanting to make a fool of myself, I sewed a test block. It took a bit of fudging a couple of the seams fatter but it lays flat as a pancake. Beautiful! 

Now, I need to teach myself how to blanket stitch this block on! And how to make the center part. Oh, this is such fun!

Thank you for visiting my blog today!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Uglemor Isn't Crazy After All.

Yesterday, I received a very perplexing comment:
What? TUSAL isn't until next week. This girl is crazy! Then I go check the calendar and see I am a week late. Uglemor, my very abject apologies for my belief you had lost your mind! You seem to be the only one on top of things this month! Thank you for letting me know I forgot the Totally Useless Stitch A Long!

OMG I missed the New Moon! Did you? I was off in la la land with finishing one quilt and starting a new one. That means I cheated! I have added HANDFULS of ORTs into the leaf bowl since last Sunday.  I must say, they are beautiful ORTs:

I am working on cutting the background blocks of Kona Snow for the Dresden quilt. 


Now it is YOUR turn...we want to see your ORTs! Leave a comment on this post with a link to your February TUSAL post so we can come visit! If I hold a Totally Useless giveaway your comment will earn you an extra entry.

Wondering what a TUSAL is and why all these people are posting pictures of rubbish? Click here to learn more and join the fun!

Thank you for visiting my blog today!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Dresdens Anyone?

I officially started a new project this week but I've been collecting the fabrics for a long time. I have a retreat planned and this is going to be my project for it. Today, I finished cutting the plate fabrics out.

Yes, this is a Dresden Plate! I plan on 16 blocks, all in blues on white Kona Snow with blue borders.

There are 56 different blue fabrics. Whoops! I am NOT done cutting...I still have to cut the white fabric!  Once I get the white cut, I still need to sew the backing fabric for En Provence. 

I found this pink and purple Paris fabric at Hobby Lobby a couple months ago and dithered. When I went back to see if they still had it for sale I found it in the clearance bin, an entire bolt!

While I was busy playing with fabrics, Dash went for a ride on the motorcycle. He stopped by Pops and got me six different sodas. I don't drink soda as a rule but I do like a treat every now and again. I think I'll try the peach one first!

Thank you for visiting my blog today!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

En Provence! Flimsy

I have a flimsy of En Provence! completed! For those non-quilters out there a "flimsy" is a quilt top that hasn't been quilted yet. This has been a wonderful learning experience and I have had the time of my life putting this quilt together. My design wall is not big enough:

I had to pull out my ironing station and reach high as I could. Still not big enough! Once I get it actually quilted, I shall get better photos. I am pleased as punch. It turned out just lovely! I will certainly do Bonnie's Mystery quilt again this year. 

I am still trying to figure out where these leftover four patches go. Can I really miscount that badly? Really? I admit I am not the best at math but whoa...there's like forty leftover pieces here! HaHaHa!

I am hoping to take my flimsy to a local shop that lets one rent a longarm. I'd love to quilt it myself. Now to find the perfect backing and binding fabric! I also need to start ironing a bunch of blue fabrics I've been collecting for my next quilt...

Thank you for visiting my blog today!