Friday, 8 December 2017

American Civil War Quilt


Yesterday was like any other work day, raking leaves in the front garden of my customers.  Their neighbour stopped to chat to me and of course, seeing that snow has been forecast were talking about that, mainly that he was going to take his book stall to a market in Tynedale. He started to tell me that there was a really good plant stall there.  I explained that I do nothing garden related in my spare time and that I sewed and made quilts.  Oh, he said that he had a nice book on American quilts and an original Civil War quilt.  Wow.  He went to get the book to show me but came back with the quilt.

He had bought it in Charlotte, North Carolina USA as an 1850 Civil War Quilt.  He used to be in a Civil War reenactment Society, he bought the quilt to use, he said it kept him very warm whilst camping.

He then asked if I would like it!  Goodness me, how kind is that.  He wanted it to go to someone who would appreciate it and perhaps mend it.  After double checking it was Ok for me to take it, "yes definitely" so off  in my van it went.

Its got some large sections of damage and a good deal of the fabric is delicate.

The back is a plain fabric which is worn thin, at first I thought it was rust marked but have done a little bit of research on old quilts, the rusty bits are the remains of long gone dead bugs!  Yuck.

At first I thought that I would just leave it as it is but on reflection, if I carefully repair, darn and patch, it will just be another bit of history to very old quilt.

I have spoken to the Village Fabrics at Wallingford, they do packs of reproduction Civil War fabrics, I have sent her a photo of the quilt and she will pick the best packs out for me.  I will make new large triangles using 2 different coloured small triangles (I am sure there will be a name for this type of block) and applique them on top of the worst of them, there are 10 that need fixing.  The holes will be darned and I will put some binding on the edges to protect it.  It will need a gentle hoover using a fine fabric over the nozzle to clean it up, its far too gone for a wash!  I will sew a label for the back, giving its history and when I repaired it.

It might take a while so watch this space.

A big thank you to Peter, what a kind chap.


Thursday, 30 November 2017

Imperial "The Good Companion" Typewriter


The lovely Sarah from Drawn Threads mentioned yonks ago that she would like an old manual typewriter to use to print on labels for her items for sale.

Sooo when my sister took me to Lancaster for a day out, we visited a Antique Warehouse and instead of buying a Singer sewing machine (I was really tempted), I bought a typewriter for a present for Sarah.

It was in a real state, wouldn't work at all, filthy.  Leatherette covering on the case peeling off.  You will have to imagine it because as usual, I forgot to take a before photo.  Doh.

Got a new ribbon for it on Ebay, gave it a mammoth clean and oil.  Fixed the case and got the catch working, polished it with shoe polish to smarten it up.

Its still not perfect but I think using it will free it up more once the oil (Singer oil, of course) moves around.

Sarah loved it, phew


Monday, 27 November 2017

Patchwork Advent Calendar


I was floating around Blogland and came upon this lovely project sewalong to do by Sarah at A Little Happy Place 

Had a gorgeous Moda scrap bag but the fabric was only 2.5 inches wide and I needed 3.5 inches for the pockets so I joined 2 strips together.  I didn't have any light fabric for the background so mine turned out totally different to Sarah's.  I was determined just to use fabric I had.

I went to the Knit and Stitch Show at Harrogate so treated myself to 24 little gifts to put in it.  Some were a tight squeeze, I should have thought this out more when buying them!  Put some chocs in for my other half so the pockets are bit heavy which made the calendar sag abit.  It did hang straight before filling but hey, who cares when there are goodies in there!  It will straighten out again half way through the month.

There are little bells on it as well so it sounds like Xmas and I will know if anyone tries to take the chocs when they shouldn't!

So a happy Dec with a pressy a day.  Yeah

Thank you Sarah for a delightful sewalong.


Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Singer and other Needle Threaders


I have now got to the age when I cannot look at anything close up without wearing reading glasses, its a complete pain the butt.  So into the realms of needle threaders I wander.

First the most basic Singer needle threader which works perfectly fine using a fine wire loop system.

The next two are Singer needle threaders for threading your sewing machine, I don't really need these quite yet.  Having threaded up so many times, think I can do it without looking.  These have tiny weeny hooks that you push through the eye of the needle, hook the thread and pull it back through.

Complete with original instructions, apparently you can buy replacement hooks from your Singer Sewing Shop!  Bet you can't now.

It's hand sewing needles I have a problem with, especially my dinky quilting Size 9 needles I use for English paper piecing. Their eyes are tiny, but I do like using these needles. Have tried out a large eye quilting needle which worked OK. Most of the time I do still thread by without a threader but I do use them when the light isn't so good.

This combination needle threader and scissors sharpener is a real handy thing to have.  The sharpener is great, gets a good sharp edge on all sizes of scissors.  The threader is the fine wire loop type.

 This one is a Blindfold needle threader.  The needle is placed in the top, you press the plunger which pushes a fine hook through the eye, then you loop your thread over the hook and release the plunger which pulls the thread back through the eye.  This one works well, even threading the Size 9 needles with ease.

Another design of threader is to push the thread through the needle with a sharp point. This is probably a 50s/60s version.

Needle in the top, press the lever down to move the fine point to push the thread through the eye.  This one comes with a thread cutter and a spindle for a bobbin of thread.  When using this and the Blindfold, give the needle a quick pull to test if the point has gone through the eye, if the needle comes out, try again.  Make sure you have the eye in facing the right direction.

Finally, this dinky thimble.  I just love this idea.  When I bought it, the little slider was stuck at the side so I couldn't work out what it was there for.  I played around with it and got it to move and up popped a threader.  Never seen one like this before.  Not sure if I will use it though as I would hate to break the wire.

So another sewing related collection! OOOps


Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Steam Train Dog


We've had a little steam train holiday and of course, Buzz came with us.

He is getting an old chap now so had to be lifted onto the lovely trains which wasn't his favourite thing, the lifting not the trains.  He has been on so many over the years, he is not bothered at all by the noise or steam.

"If I stare at Dad long enough, he will give me a biscuit?"

"This waiting for trains is a bit boring"

First class carriage, "pity I am too old to jump up on the plush seats".

The signage around the stations were brill.  Not sure what Brain-Fag is but I am sure I have it!

Had a ride on this funicular railway at Bridgenorth.  Very smooth short journey saved walking up a steep hill.

Pretty station

Steaming, Buzz didn't bat an eyelid when we got engulfed.

Had a walk down the side of the track.

As you can see, he gets really stressed!  Just joking, he was so laid back.

A choo choo train.

I would love a signal box in my garden to use as a sewing workshop, do you think they would notice if I nicked it!

Back to work now, loads of grass to cut.  Hey ho.


Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Antique Leather Sewing Kit


When clearing out our late Aunt's flat, my sister found this handy sewing kit and thought I would like it.

The zip had started to come away, the leather strip its attached to is very brittle and had torn away.

My Aunt used to do a lot of cutwork embroidery and she has obviously used these curved scissors as the fabric behind the keeper is very worn with lots of use.   I've never really thought of using curved scissors when sewing so had a go with these, they cut the thread very close to the fabric which is useful.  I don't think the other pair of narrow curved scissors are original as they don't seem to fit the slot in the case very well and they are of a different design.  The ribbon/elastic pullers are a useful thing to have, they beat a nappy pin!

A matching needle case.

I reattached the zip using the Singer 201K, then gave the case a good polish with navy shoe polish, added a bit of ribbon on the zip pull.

Couldn't do much with the inside, the watermarked moire silk is a bit grubby.   If anyone has any suggestions on how to clean this, I am all ears.

There is a makers marker J.C. Vickery, Regent Street.  W1.  Which made me wonder.   So I Googled, don't you just love being able to do that?

Came up with this info.

JC Vickery took over the shop in 1854 and expanded the stock to include jewellery, dressing cases, gold and silver.  The height of the business was before WW1 obtaining Royal Warrants. They were known for their high class leather goods so that's why this has survived for so long.  The business was taken over by James Walker Ltd in the 1930 when JC Vickery went into administration.

There is even a Facebook page dedicated to the company

So I am guessing this was made in the 1920s, I couldn't work out how my Aunt had ended up with a posh sewing kit from Regent Street.  My sister came up with the possible answer.  My Aunt was sent into service as soon as she became old enough.  Her father had come back from WW1, he stayed at home for a while before being admitted into a Sanatorium in York, I expect it was shell shock.  He never returned home and they split up for good.  So money was tight for my Grandmother with 5 children.  Aunty Mary ended up at Middleham in a big house as some sort of domestic servant so this is probably where this came from.  The dates work as she will have been there in the late 20s early 30s.  My Aunt was 99 when she died a few years ago.  I can't remember seeing her sew but she was a great sock knitter when I was a little girl.


Sunday, 20 August 2017

Singer 222K Featherweight - Darning and Patching Trousers


I had another play with my new to me 222K.  It's a novelty for me to have a machine with a free arm.

First fixed my partner's work jeans, he had torn the knee when doing some work in the garage on his car.

Pulled the jeans leg over the free arm then using a rectangle patch that I had already made.  Sewed 2 sides on the machine, there was just enough wiggle room to turn the corner.   Then turned the jeans around so the waist end went on the freearm first, sewed the other 2 sides.

Turned the jeans inside out, tucked in the frayed edges and machined round so that he wouldn't catch his toes when putting them the jeans on.

His tatty jeans will last a bit longer.

The 222K was powerful enough to sail through the layers of thick fabric.  Brill.

Onto the darning, my lovely customer Don who is 85 said he was going to re-darn his work trousers.  So I offered my services as darner.  Was really keen to try out my new darning hoop recently bought on Ebay.

Took out all the old darning threads.  Glued a patch on the back of the tear so that I had something to darn to (it held the tear together as well).  I left the frayed threads on the edges of the tear, you are supposed to tidy the edges.

Original 222K hoop and darning foot.

The hoop snaps together.

It has a post on the back that slots into a square hole on the bed, then the hoop swings round.

Material goes over bottom hoop then the top clips over the fabric except as this was thick fabric, it was tricky to get it to clip together but just holding the hoop held the top in place.  When you put the foot on, there is only one place to put it, as you drop the foot the lever hardly drops down, this is normal.  It drops enough to engage the tension.  There is no mention of this in the instructions so a bit confusing when you first use it as you are used to the lever dropping right down.  There is a little sticky out bit lever above the spring, you can use this to lift the foot up to get the fabric and hoop underneath.

YOU MUST DROP THE FEED DOGS BEFORE SEWING. Its easy on the 222K there is a lever next to the stitch length lever.  Set the stitch length to 12.

The hoop moves easily in all directions whether is up and down or side to side, its a joy to use.

Pick up your bottom thread and bring to the top by turning the hand wheel.  Holding both ends start sewing, cutting off the ends when you have done a few stitches.  Sew around the edges of the tear, as you look at the picture below sew up and down fairly close together, once you get the end of the space in the hoop, go back the way you came sewing side to side.  If the tear is big like this one, you will have to move the fabric in the hoop.  It's easy to cut the threads off, reset the hoop and start again, this tear took 3 hoop moves.

My first darn on the 222K.  I trimmed any excess fabric off the patch on the inside close to the stitching.

 My second darn. This was a smaller hole so didn't put any fabric behind it.

The 222K was designed as a darning machine, it was something that everyone did, darn and repair.  They didn't just throw clothes away because they had a hole in.  They repaired them.  It will be brilliant at repairing vintage table cloths etc.  Will have a go and let you see the results.

Happy days.

PS it took much longer to write this post than it did to darn the trews!  Hope it makes sense! Any questions just leave a comment and I will do my best to answer.