Daffy's Stitchy Friends

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Singer 301A Restoration

I have been watching Andy Tube avidly since buying my 2 vintage sewing machines. Andy teaches vintage sewing machines. This channel is a wealth of information for beginners like me and the way Andy teaches makes it easy for me to learn. I've been studying along his series on a Singer 404 and since most of the parts are similar I was able to follow and do the same on my Singer 301A.

Here is my machine, ready to restore. It doesn't seem too bad does it? I had spent a few hours cleaning it after I purchased it. Just wait!

I start taking parts off. Mind you, this isn't willy nilly! Everything that comes off is labeled carefully so I don't get mixed up!

My box of parts started filling up fast. As I took things off they got thoroughly washed with a degreaser and rinsed in water (even the bottom cover with the felt) then carefully dried and buffed with a dremel tool and oiled/greased as needed. The painted parts got many coats of various waxes.

See how filthy and rusty this tension unit was?

There was lots of gunky grease, likely put on at the factory during assembly. This stuff sits and absorbs odors and is sticky beyond reason.

Some parts were the very dickens to remove. I HAD to remove this Needle Clamp to be able to remove the Needle Bar and it took forever! I even emailed Andy to make sure it actually came off and I wasn't trying to remove something that was all one piece. I soaked this in WD40, in degreaser, and in rust remover, and I wiggled until my fingers were sore. No movement. I finally took the hairdryer out, got the part hot and let it cool and it came right off! It was pretty rusty! 

Some parts were downright scary to remove! This is the Thread Take Up Lever. All this is what attaches to the Needle Bar and the Needle Bar Crank. THIS MAKES IT SEW AND I TOOK IT OFF!

Lots of grease flung about on the inside. The end of the motor comes up through that empty hole. Seriously, the light and motor were the easiest parts to take off!

Then there were parts like these that gave me quite a scare. First I had trouble removing the lever that attaches to this and panicked, emailed Andy then I figured it out and emailed again saying never mind. So then, I got to fiddling with the little slide block (tiny silver part in the middle) that is still in the machine and it fell off into the body! Oh holy crows! My heart literally stopped! Andy had not mentioned that it came off and I just about came unglued for a few minutes. Then I realised how easy this would be to get it all back together and had quite a laugh.

I also had to tell Andy about how I nearly died taking apart the Feed Regulator... 

I don't think this Handwheel has been off since 1956. So much varnished oil! Remember, I had spent hours cleaning this machine already!

Once everything I could take off was off, the machine got taken outside and sprayed inside and out with a degreaser, scrubbed with a toothbrush, rinsed off with a garden hose and got a blow-dry with a leaf blower! I am not kidding!

It came back inside looking like this. I quickly started oiling and greasing gears and doing basic rust prevention. 

Oh my, it is so clean!

I was astonished how clean it came. Remember all that grease and oil and dirt? Gone. Along with the stink!

Once everything was clean it was quick work to put it back together. Before I knew it it was done! Every part was sparkling clean. And best of all it sewed!

The machine looks incredible and best of all, between the waxes and the yummy oil (Tri-Flow smells of bananas) no longer smells like an old auto workshop. All the workings are oiled and the gears are greased. The finish is protected with the wax and my material should glide across the bed. 

This was the best adventure ever! I had so much fun restoring this machine! This will not be the last machine I will restore. I am planning to do my Rocketeer next and I am constantly searching for any others in my area I could be interested in. If you have read this far you might be as crazy as I am...

Thank you for visiting my blog today!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Piggy Bank Challenge

Val let me know last week it was time to cash in our savings for the Piggy Bank Challenge. We were supposed to post our results on the 6th, I think. Of course, I am late! I did send Dash off to the bank with my coin and he brought back this:


Wow! Then I realized I was missing this:

The four Quarters I had taken out of my jar to help me measure my presser bar height on my 301. Whoops! So my actual total is:


Not bad at all for spare change! I haven't decided what to buy. Fabric? Another vintage machine? Patterns? The choices...there are so many! 

I tossed my coins back into my jar to start saving again...

Please visit Val's blog to join in on the fun! Sign-ups start on 13 July. How much can you save to spend (guilt-free) on your hobby?

Thank you for visiting my blog today!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Quick ORT Snap

Today is the New Moon and time for the Totally Useless Stitch A Long! My ORTs are cluttered atop EVERYTHING in my studio because pest control is coming to do their yearly business in our house. Miss Molly is at the vet's getting vaccinated and toenails trimmed (I don't like getting growled at. Or bitten.) and there she will stay until the house is dry. While waiting, I will post lovely blue ORTs:

And a total crapload of CLUTTER. The pink Post It note is to remind me the throat plate is for straight stitch only...don't switch to a zigzag! Our house looks crazy with stuff pulled away from the walls and stacked on top of tables. The OCD in me is screaming to get everything back in ORDER. 


Now it is YOUR turn...we want to see your ORTs! Leave a comment on this post with a link to your June 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, June 17, 2017

A Little Upgrading

Sew, my studio has a new addition! I found this lovely Singer sewing cabinet on Craigslist yesterday. It came with an old 1970's plastic Singer inside but my 1960's Rocketeer will fit once I get the Rocketeer restored. I moved my particle board cabinet right on out!

Right now my Juki is sitting atop the cutout insert. When I want to use the vintage machine I can move the Juki and lift the 503A out of it's cave. The 301A takes a different mount as it was meant to be portable.

Look at all the storage space in the drawers! It is shorter than my old cabinet but I don't mind a bit!

Included in with the accessories for the 1970's machine was this Singer accessory box. 

I cleaned it all up and it fits my 503A cams and feet and plates like it was made for them.

I should really stay off Craigslist and eBay! There is a 401A nearby and it seems I am a sucker for beige and cream colored machines...

Thank you for visiting my blog today!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Fun Mail Day!

I was excited for this afternoon's mail as I was expecting packages! I got home to find a huge box marked "perishable" all over every side. "What's this?" I asked Dash. He had no clue. Fun mail isn't supposed to look like that and I was deeply puzzled. Oh, wait...that's my prescription from the specialty pharmacy! Not fun mail at all! My little bottle of pills came in a giant styrofoam box with little chilled coolers inside another giant box. 

Then the actual mail came and I  was a little frightened:

Eeek! Obviously well smashed on top of being two days late. Hmmm. This package went from Arizona to Virginia where it wandered around before being sent back to Oklahoma for delivery. 

Whew, the insides were undamaged! I found this box of 503 accessories on eBay and snapped it up as I have no feet except a zigzag and I was hoping it had some of the cams I needed to complete my set. It did have two I needed but it also had two of the "0" (zero) cams that are rather sought after. That makes 3 zero cams I have! I will have to give these things a good cleaning ala Andy Tube's method as they are kinda stinky. The box will be put in storage along with the manual...pee-yew...I hate that musty odor!

Another little package, this one undamaged, was a bobbin tension meter so I can check things out on my machines. You can find this creature on The Singer Featherweight Shop's site click here.

I've also gathered even more supplies for machine restoration. Odd photo angle as my paint brushes package would not stop shining!

This is a picture for Andy who was telling me about the rare eyelet cam for my buttonholer and as luck would have it one was mixed in with the accessories that came with my 301. It even has the original box! Quite a find and I still grin every time I think of it!

No photos of the Dresden plate, but all my folded corners are on! Progress, slow but there.

Thank you for visiting my blog today!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Stuff & Thangs

Too much life and not enough sewing...I need more free time! Lots of what free time I do have has been spent watching the Andy Tube channel on YouTube. Andy teaches vintage sewing machines. I am learning so much about my machines and have been gathering supplies needed to take one apart and restore it. Andy is doing a series right now on a Singer 404, step by step, take it apart, clean it and put it back together. It is so interesting!

The other day I stopped by Walmart to get a French bread, ham and Swiss cheese to make sandwiches for dinner. Heading to checkout I passed by the fabric area and discovered it packed full of clearance fabric. I picked up an entire bolt of this navy blue print on white, perfect for the backing on the Dresden plate quilt! Best of all the fabric was $1.50 a yard so I got 8.5 yards for $12.75! I am not kidding! 

How is the Dresden plate coming along? Slowly. It would go faster if I actually sewed on it, right? I tried a few of the scrappy corners and I think I like the look so I am working on the rest of those today.

These blocks are so big! They seem to have taken over my studio. Big blocks will probably make for a lightening fast "putting together" when I get to it.

I need to come up with a border idea for this one. Suggestions?

Thank you for visiting my blog today!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Testing Testing ORTs

Thursday was the New Moon and I am late once again for the Totally Useless Stitch A Long! My ORTs are a little sparse this month as I haven't been doing enough crafting! I have been playing with the machinery and learning it instead of creating. I've played some on the 301 and a lot on the 503. The ORTs in my bowl are a few cast off threads and really messed up leader/ender blocks. I do have a nice pile of finished half square triangles! The tiny feed dogs on the vintage machines lets me stick a sewing guide down and gives me precise 1/4 inch seams.

The really messed up blocks were caused by the presser foot pressure being set all the way down on the 301 and it took me a bit to figure out why it didn't want to feed the fabric. It was also frozen up and took me a long time of oiling and waiting and trying, then finally asking Dash to try unsticking it. Dash has strong fingers and got it loosened enough for me to get it thoroughly oiled and working freely! It sewed much better with the lighter touch on the presser foot!

After the 301, I got out the 503 and started playing. Since the 503 has zigzag capabilities I wanted to see what it can do. On the modern machines you push a button to set a different stitch but, on this 503, you open the top and insert a cam that moves the needlebar. I got out all the cams in order and sewed a line of stitches with each. Sometimes it took me a bit to figure out what stitch settings made the best looking stitches! A funny aside: I sewed for a long time that day in my stocking feet and wore a sore spot on my foot from the foot pedal button! 


Now it is YOUR turn...we want to see your ORTs! Leave a comment on this post with a link to your May 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, 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!