A 1930s Sewing Machine and a Coat in Progress

This lovely 1930s machine was a gift and I think it is wonderful.  It is the only one of my 1930s machines left.

At one time I had four sewing machines but I sew in a very small room and I could hardly move.  Now I have only this one and a modern Pfaff.

This sewing machine can get through horse rugs without difficulty and yet it sews lightweight fabric really well.  A real treasure!

This what I’m working on at the moment.  It’s a man’s wool coat torn at the back. I’m hoping to get a coat for me out of this.

The before picture.

It’ll be a long time before I show the after photos, I think.


1950s Sewing Giveaway – the Winner

One of the fabulous 1950s patterns won by Carolyn who blogs at Handmade by Carolyn.  Congratulations!

Please email your details to me Carolyn and I will send you the patterns very soon.

1950s Sewing Giveaway

One of my giveaway patterns.

Who doesn’t like a gift?  If you like vintage sewing then this one is for you.

The suit pattern is from 1958 and in really good condition.  It’s a size 38 inch bust but I know lots of you can regrade patterns easily enough if the size isn’t right.  It even has a lining pattern. Weren’t patterns amazing back then?

This one is a fabulous blouse – much used by a previous owner.  It would be fun to see it made up again.   It’s from 1955 and a size 36 inch bust.

I’m giving them away as one package to someone who would like to make at least one of the garments and show the finished item on their blog.

If you would like to take part please leave a comment on this post saying which item you would like to make. I’m going to make the deadline midnight British Summer Time on 12th October 2012 and I’ll choose the lucky winner the next day.    You must have a live blog to take part as I would love to see the results of your sewing and link them here.

Good luck!

1970s Sewing Treat

Aren’t I lucky?  What fun! I have been given this box full of 1970s sewing treats.  My Mum had things like this in her sewing box.

My Dad gave me her sewing stuff when she died nearly 40 years ago. I was a teenager then and had none of her talent for sewing, so most things were just stored.

Mum could look at a dress she liked and go home and make one.  I can’t do that, but I do make lots of things and I used up most her supplies over the last few years.  Only a bit of 1960s bright green lace and some knicker elastic remains and I’m using those up rapidly.

So, I do feel really lucky to have these nostalgic bits to use in my sewing.

Tumbling Blocks Quilt in Progress

I have been working on this tumbling blocks quilt for about two years.  It’s a labour of love.  My aim is to use only the type of prints and colours available in the 19th century. Some of these are my favourite William Morris prints.

In England, tumbling blocks was a favourite Victorian pattern for baby quilts.

The smallest pieces are 1&1/2 inch diamonds tacked (basted) on to stiff paper – glossy magazine covers are very good for this.  You can see the tacking stitches in the photo.

The diamonds are oversewn into a hexagon shape. The aim is to stitch through the fabric only, missing the paper. The paper comes out when all sides of the diamond are completely enclosed.

Each hexagon contains a dark, a medium and a light shade to make the staircase pattern. I’ve made a few mistakes on the way but I’m hoping that this just adds character,

It will probably take me another two years to reach king size, but it is very relaxing to do and after all why hurry?

I’ve linked this post to WIP Wednesday.  Why not take a look at other works in progress?

I Love Vintage Sewing Machines

This is a Frister & Rossmann’s “Vibrating Shuttle” sewing machine dating from the early 1930s. It sews straight stitch both backwards and forwards.

I bought it a few years ago and have used it for various sewing tasks- including sewing in a power cut.   Even in the 1930s this was old fashioned. Most machines could have a treadle mechanism added or even an electric motor on the back.  There are still treadle machines around but I wonder how long the electric motors lasted?

I found it hard to get started. Why are there skipped stitches? How could I wind a bobbin successfully?  I had to take professional advice. Now my confidence has grown I try to keep the machine working well by myself.

Both my machines have instruction manuals.  They are well worth reading carefully even if they do miss out vital stuff such as how to sew straight with only one free hand. It’s hard!

One of the best troubleshooting tips in these booklets is to remove all visible dirt (I use clean make up brushes) and oil the machine. It’s always the first thing I try.

Sewing machine oil only!

Some of the oiling points

 The machine has visible oiling points all over and the manual mentions some others.  It “runs like a well oiled machine”!

My silliest mistake was not to have put the needle in properly. I thought I’d checked absolutely everything – correct threading, bobbin in correctly, checked the tension, but when I started to sew again the needle fell out. No wonder it wouldn’t sew properly!

Needles go into this machine with the flat side on the right and are threaded left to right.

Winding the bobbins is a bit tricky compared to modern machines but the instruction manual was really useful there and it doesn’t seem so hard anymore.

Bobbin winder

A little bit of vintage life

1940s Swing Dress Sew Along – Always make a Toile

This a really interesting sew along based on a pattern from Sense & Sensibility.  Casey at http://blog.caseybrowndesigns.com is leading it and providing pictures to guide the participants in all the difficult areas. 

I had to make two toiles because the bodice needed a lot of shortening to fit me and I made the mistake of not checking I had done all the alterations correctly.  Bad!! Even if I used up all the seam allowances in the bodice I couldn’t have fastened it.

Lesson: always make a toile. 

I made the toile from an old duvet cover & it looks pretty strange because it has huge checks.  Anyway here it is:

The 1940s Swing Dress - just for practice

I like the style.  This is the fabric for the real thing:

Fabric for the 1940s swing dress

It’s cotton & it should be something more flowing like rayon or silk but it feels a bit floaty so I think it will come out ok.

Use the link to Flickr for more photos – mine & others.