Archive for the ‘Sewing Machines’ Category


43.7 First Weekend of MAL 2019 Free Motion Ruler Work – Beginner’s Perspective and Setup

March 3, 2019

I love March for many reasons, none of which is the snow that fell last night. March provides a good jump to get me in the blogging mood, in addition to the quilting mood.

For the uninitiated or new who lost/missed my last two posts, today, March 3rd, is the third day of March-A-Long. A monthly sewing celebration of working on quilting for 15 minutes a day during the month of March to see how much we can get done with a tiny bit of discipline.

Some years, I focus on a specific project, some years I just work to further along all my projects.

This year, I have decided to focus on Free Motion Quilting, and finally learn some quilting ruler work.

To start, last week was basting a bunch of small quilts with the goal of getting the stained glass quilt quilted by the end of the month.

Then I purchased from Amazon a roll of Oven Liner.

Wait?! What? What does that have to do with quilting or ruler work?

A comment from a FB group by someone I don’t know said the word Oven Liner, and since I didn’t already own a supreme slier, seemed to be a cheap way to experiment to see if I would like to try smoothing down my surface for free motion quilting. I could cut it to length I needed, I could make cutouts on it.

So the roll of oven liner is now on top of my sew-ezi table and “heirloom (aka inherited)” table next to it.

I cut a 2nd piece of the oven liner to serve as a “bridge piece” behind my sew ezi table. Behind, I have a machine in a cabinet (Aquata) that hasn’t seen the light of day since I got my magnolia machine. MMMMMM

I set my tv on top of the aquata cabinet, and it sits (higher, sadly) behind my table. And then proceed to watch Craftsy/Bluprint videos from the tv while quilting.

The oven liner is really helping to bridge my quilts up to the higher level without fuss or problem. I do think I am putting a tiny kink in the oven liner. Oh well.

I cut a small hole for the needle and used the oven liner all day. Used blue painter’s tape to keep it secured to each surface needed.

This DOES HELP the quilt slide fairly well! I was impressed with how well it worked! Cost me half as much as a supreme slider, was versatile and helpful.

What I did not realize that to change the bobbin, I was making things worse.

No one has ever accidentally sewed up their supreme slider to the back of their quilt and then ripped out the stitches, have they?

I would lift up the right side of my tape to get all up underneath to change the bobbin.

I started having bobbin tension issues. First, I had different thread in top and bottom. Then I kept having the issue where the bobbin thread wraps around the wrong way (though I thought I did it the right way every time). Lots of different times. Changed tensions, tension on the top seemed super tight even just threading and re-threading the machine.

Tension on the top is now down super low, which seems to be “on par” for this machine specifically.

Cleaned up inside the machine as much as I was able to dare without hurting the machine or doing anything too rash like taking it apart.

I realized I really need to get this professionally cleaned. Ugg. Not this month.

The cleaning and tension and changing the bobbin threads seemed to help.

I have been watching Free Motion quilting videos (already said that). By virtue of the idea that I could lower my feed dogs, which I only discovered in January of this year because I was supposed to have a workshop that got cancelled due to weather, I was able to get the ruler foot on the machine – correctly and without hassle – and place the ruler in front, or to the side of my foot.

My ruler foot is one of those aftermarket ones instead of one of the Janome ones. Some time ago, I bought a ruler foot, had problems with the ruler hitting the back when trying to use the ruler, had a poor ruler with very low markings on it, and frustrated with the entire idea of ruler work and put the whole thing away for a year or so.

I am realizing now that this low shank machine is why I was frustrated. And my aftermarket foot is why. And my feed dogs.

I had always gone by Leah Day’s idea that “it’s ok to keep your feed dogs up” and just worked around that idea in the past. I couldn’t predict the height of the feed dogs with the non-hopping ruler foot, I was used to my hopping free motion foot.

In the past, I really didn’t spend a ton of time working on this problem.

Watching the videos now, I realize that a common problem of these aftermarket feet is the space between the foot and the “foot holder post thing”.

Angela Walters said that you try to use rulers on the front or left for some machines, and Amy Johnson said some rulers have different thicknesses and that the low shanks like what I have is just going to give problems getting the ruler to go around back.

Here are my (now growing) list of rulers for quilting.

The ruler on the farthest left is probably an ok ruler, but it has only one marking vertically, and one marking horizontally. I do believe this ruler, I was trying to use in a way that wasn’t going to be successful (in the past), and even after I had done some practice, at the end of the day yesterday, I was still trying to use the ruler just to see, and getting frustrated. So I think this ruler is not for me.

Next to it, is an “s curve” ruler, also with minimal markings.

And the spiral, which is either going to be really long from now when I figure out how to use, or just going to be available as a “marking-type” ruler instead of a “quilting-up-next-to-the-foot” ruler

I also put onto the backs of these rulers just this morning were these dots.

You might be able to see on the s type ruler two purple blotches. This is a cheap version of “invisigrip” in the form of purple colored Hugo’s Amazing Tape, which I got for board games and use to keep my board game cards together in a group. Not really feeling the groove of this ruler either, maybe it is the gripping, maybe the size, maybe the lack of markings, maybe it is something else.

When I did put the Tight Grips product onto the backs of my other rulers, I could tell a distinct difference, these rulers stay put. Or seem to.

Anyway, the other thing I worked on this morning was fixing the main problem of loading my bobbin from the top underneath the oven liner. I cut out, again with exacto-knife, the area around the bobbin area. Because I happened to look up when Amy was showing off her supreme slider and by golly there was a hole in hers around the bobbin area.

I hit my head with a “do-ooohhh-innng” kind of realization that I could do that too.

Only took an entire day of stitching and messing with and being slightly upset about having to change the bobbin.

I keep thinking I am going to actually stitch this morning/afternoon, but I might not. I have been working on this blog post, fixing my area around my machine, fixing my oven liner solution, moving some of the furniture in the back around slightly differently, going out to scoop the snow for tomorrow.

I have found it easier to get started quilting when I have a plan, and right now the parts I have on this practice quilt, I don’t have a plan for. Yet.

Anyway, that was the very tinsey itsy bit of my March-A-Long. Join in, tag #marchalong or #sqmarchalong or something similar, reply here or FB. Let me know you’re up and doing this! We can all get more quilting done together if we work at it, little by little.

I didn’t get to show off my crosshatching, which was done with the curved westalee ruler I got with my foot. The half feathers at the top of this picture was done some time ago.


33.4 One machine, one purpose

December 5, 2013

I have joined up with a vintage machine group on facebook, despite the fact that my Necchi is from the 80’s & broken, and my Sewcraft is a Singer 15 clone and not an actual “Singer” machine.

Repeatedly, daily, hourly sometimes, there are facebook posts about this craigslist ad, that ad, this treadle, that cabinet, & so on.

I am sorta overwhelmed by it at times, but also sorta encouraged at times by this group.

After a comment about metal polish, I decided to take my saturday ‘strange cleaning project’ as the little metal plate on my Singer 15 sewing machine.

aquata sew craft deluxe shiny

Here’s a close up of my hard work.

de-luxe shiny

For comparison, here is the machine when I first oiled her this past summer.

old blue sewcraft with 'new light'

I used some Brasso I forgot we had that had been sitting for years untouched. A toothbrush & Q-tips, and a soft microfiber cloth to polish up the metal seal.

And of course I oiled her & started thinking about using this machine more. But the name – “ol Blue” was cool, but not quite good enough yet.

And then also prompted from a comment about the machine name on the same vintage facebook group, I made a name decision. Exciting, I know.

I was mentioning I liked the idea of water / ocean with “old blue” and someone said – Ariel.  Which feels / felt almost right.

So I remembered the very annoying song where they sing ‘We are the daughters of Triton, great father who loved us & named us well …” in the original The Little Mermaid movie – something I watched obsessively growing up.

And yes, watching the video will mean the song will be stuck in your head for two weeks too, right?

And I started looking up & researching the Disney Little Mermaid Ariel’s sisters.

Did you know there were 2 other movies made about TLM? I didn’t. But did you know there was a Disney wiki about the sister’s of Ariel?

I used the knowledge from that site & fact that my sewcraft is ocean blue to name my machine after the blue brunette of Ariel’s sister who is a little OCD.

So meet – Aquata!

aquata and aquata cartoon small

And after all this thinking & cleaning, I decided to use this machine for what its best purpose – it’s a great FMQ machine.

So I got out my very “oldest” UFO. and This thing has been ready for a while – even spray basted 2 years ago, just waiting for FMQ.

And that’s what you see happening here (if you can – white on white doesn’t show that much.

some white on white quilting on the corners in the bows

And there are some circles in the center. I am kinda making this up as I go along.

white on white arches and single paisly

And I wish I had made this orange peel done in red instead of white. I may over quilt the orange peels in the center of the red squares with red & see how they look.

white on white quilting center close up

I find the FMQ very fun to do with Aquata. I go rather fast on the ‘knee pedal’ and so my stitches are tiny and will be a bugger to remove if I need to, but it quilts so smoothly that way. Faster foot, slower hands right?

One more thing I thought about with my cone that I’ve been using to quilt. The cone thread sits so much higher than the top of my machine, and it likes to “jump the track” on my singer 15 clone.

So I came up with a solution. A strong magnet & a small binder clip!

binder clip holding thread in place


32.1 New Vintage “Singer 15 clone” machine – Sewcraft

August 25, 2013


Seems like the only time I get to sew now is on the weekends. Crazy busy other times. Trying to keep up with everyone is hard when a lot of my time is at work.

But last week I went shopping! Craigslist style.

*** The problem ***

You see, last Saturday, with the inherited Bernina, I got some bad news.  The machine was going to be too expensive to fix and the parts were going to be hard to find.

The Bernina place was recommending that I not get it fixed.

The Necchi still worked(works), but not well, and not consistently, and not for FMQ without massive fights with bobbin breakage (possibly techinque or thread type??)

Saturday I kept talking on FB about what to do – what to do. Saturday night I was a wreck with possibilities.

Sunday, I did talk to my friend who works in the Bernina shop when I picked up my machine. And my price range is going to be in the “Bernette” style of Bernina machines (it appears that Baby Lock are pricier than Bernettes are from the brief time I saw them).

Sunday a week ago, I came up with a plan, trying to figure out how to save for a ‘new’ machine. Trying to figure out what to do, what events to go to, what to sacrifice.

I was offered two different sewing machines by two different guild members to borrow. And I love the idea, but I am nervous about borrowing. Nervous about a lot of things, but borrowing, I always wonder what to do if it breaks down in my care, if I am treating the machine right… It was an option. A good option, not a great one.

*** The plan for now ***

But then I got a message or two from a podcast friend.  Who looked up craisglist for this area (no she does not live in this area) and pointed me to one of two vintage machines that it’d be worth taking a look at.

The first one was an older blue machine, name I’d never heard of, couldn’t find anything on the internet about. But it was “just like a singer 15” AKA Singer 15 clone.

And the other one was a smaller looking actual singer. With a larger cabinet, three drawers down the side.

Well I wasn’t “looking” for a cabinet, but in my small car was only going to be able to pick up the smaller (and closer) of the two machines.

I was nervous to talk to the seller. I contacted him and he got back to me over 24 hours later.  I was nervous right up until we rang the doorbell (didn’t seem too kooky on the phone).

I had asked my friend what to look for in one of these vintage machines, started to look up info on ‘singer 15 clones’ and found a bunch of info.

*** A few things I learned about Singer 15 clones & vintage singer machines ***

Apparently, there was a lot of machines made in Japan (and some in China I believe) after WWII that are modeled after the Singer 15 machine or maybe it’s the Singer 15-91 machine. This website told me a lot of this info.

And looking around there are A LOT. Many in many different colors (blue is a favorite, so is black). Many different brands are out there, but mostly that was kind of like putting a label on something that was ‘generic’. A generic machine that is every bit as good as the original. Many of them even have larger motors than the original.

There were a few websites with pictures of all sorts of pretty colored Singer 15 clones. With all sorts of names on the front. And this one thread just kept talking about how good the machines really are, and how well they stitched and how easy it was to work with them.

*** The visit ***

There was no belt with this machine, or there was, but it was broken.  I was able to turn the handwheel, and I was able to turn the motor on, even though it didn’t connect with the fabric, it sounded like a good motor.

Flipping to the machine bottom, I could see the bars that turned the bobbin area and the feed dogs were adjustable.  When I turned the handwheel everything seemed in pretty good moving order, minimal rust anywhere that I could see.

Except, there was a rusty old light on it which was probably the grossest part of the whole machine, with a falling off rusty clamp, but that meant – removable!

Everything turned well, I was able to adjust the stitch size plate once I figured out how, threaded the machine (used the diagram in the manual to reference how to do it).

Stitched a line, changing the stitch distance half way through. Was able to get the machine to stay in place by dropping the feed dogs.

All with moving the handwheel back and forth.

I impressed the seller with my ‘new knowledge’ about singer 15 clones.  And the price was right in the range that people suggested in the ‘singer 15 clone’ thread I found.  $20. For the whole thing.

Worth the risk.  Spent the next 10 minutes trying to figure out how it was going in the car.  Tilted it sideways which wasn’t ideal for the hinges as the weight was now not normal, but it was going to fit in the car with the cabinet.

*** Getting it home ***

old blue sewcraft sewing machine

So this is her after I removed the light.  The headlamp on the left site, a keeper. and may be my light for this machine for now.

I didn’t know that “oil removes oil” until my podcast friend Tina told me. This actually was taken after I cleaned it up unguided. I got down into a lot of the outside crevices, removed the visible dirt on the outside of the machine, anything I didn’t need to remove pieces to clean.

Sewing machine oil cleaned this machine up pretty well. And a toothbrush, and a toothpick, and a microfiber cloth.

I did have a belt from the bernina that I did steal for this machine, but I proceeded to break that belt right away.  Motor must have been setting too low.

A couple of days later I did get a chance to get a new belt. I bought two, Just in case.

But didn’t set down with the machine to give it its’ ‘take apart’ cleaning & oiling until I saw the video that was made with me in mind that will be a great reference to me and others in the future.

I now know how to take apart the machine enough to oil it.

*** Trying it out ***

It took until this morning to try to sew with it. Now I’m getting a wobble.

I am posting a video about my machine so you can see the issues I am having with the wobble. I don’t know much about video except that it makes me about 10-90 times more nervous than creating audio files. I am putting my first you tube video up with this post.

Please comment here instead of at the youtube channel if you have any advice. I am considering the idea that the cabinet may be the issue rather than the machine itself.

This video reminded me of why I liked podcasting however. Although my stomach is now churning a little bit. Here’s hoping for a good reception. If there is no video about the sewcraft in this post, I took down the youtube video.  Thanks for understanding if that is the case.