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Stuck in the Middle – Frozen Slant-O-Matics

Note:  This post is some of what we’ll be going through in the class I’m giving in William’s Lake next month.

The 401A, 403A, 411G, and 431Gs along with the 500A and the 503A (or the J version) are possibly some of my favorite Singer machines.  There are a few more in this series as well, like the 401G and the 421G but I’ve honestly never laid hands on either of those models.   These machines are all fundamentally the same with some small differences.  They are all “Slant-O-Matics”, meaning that the whole stitching mechanism is tilted a little and angled toward the user to make the needle more visible.

Today, I’m going to talk a little about the differences and also about the one thing that makes some people shy away from these machines – the cam stack and stitch selectors are frozen.  It’s typically easy to fix, so I want you all to know how to take care of it.

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A Million Miles – traveling to speak and teach!

Note: Amended date!  I goofed ladies and gentlemen, April 16th is the date, not March!

Update: 2014-04-09 - It looks like the Evening class is tentatively full (may be able to open 1 more spot) and there is one left open for the morning class.  If you wanted to get in, now’s your chance!  We’ve been chatting about the possibility of me doing the class again in the future in William’s Lake, but there’s no firm timeline for it.

OK, so it’s not quite a million miles but I bet it feels like it by the time I get home.

I’m going to be teaching people just like you how to service and restore their vintage machines in BC next month! :)

Beauties like this:

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The Cariboo Piecemakers quilt guild has asked me to speak to the group about vintage sewing machines at their Tuesday meeting.   The following day I will be doing a marathon training session.

The class is in William’s Lake, B.C. Canada (approximately 3 hours out of Kamloops) the Wednesday before Easter (March  APRIL 16th) at the Pioneer Complex, and we have just added a second session and there’s currently a little room left.   The tentative times for the classes are 10am to 3pm with a break for lunch and 5pm to 9pm.  If you’re interested in attending, leave me a comment below or contact me here.

Here’s what I’m planning to cover: Continue reading

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Throwback Thursday – Project F-250 Revamp

Here’s my version of “Throwback Thursday” ;)  This is a post I made back in 2009 when I was still in charge of BanditAlley, as a blog post there.  Recording it here on AA for posterity.

Seeing that I can do this, you’d think I could polish up a sewing machine like nobody’s business, wouldn’t you?  Not so.  Though a lot of the process is the same, I just can’t seem to bring up the shine on a sewing machine the way this truck finally shone.  It’s probably because I can’t use a power polisher on the machine like I can with a car or a bike.

The victim:  A 2000 Ford F-250 Diesel. Previously dark green in color, but likely painted when it was recovered as a roll-over in the first year of its life.   Continue reading

Cross wound thread - Left to Right Back Row: Serger Thread, Superior's So Fine, Superior's King Tut, Connecting Threads Essential.  
Middle Row: Robison Anton, Aurifil Poly, Paradise Dreamz, Aurifil Cotton.  
Front Row: Wonderfil Cotton.

Standing at a Crossroads – Thread: Cross Wound vs Stack Wound

I received an email from Roger about a month or so ago that asked for clarification about one of the posts I made last year. The post in question is Common Thread – Evaluating the Real cost of thread

Did I mention that I love hearing from readers?  Even if it’s questioning what I’ve written, I enjoy the conversation. :)  Feel free to comment below or drop me a line. I always answer, even if it’s not right away because I’m perpetually behind on email.

The question Roger asked made me realize that I might have been guilty of a little thread “geek speak”. He emailed me to ask what I meant by “cross wound” or “stack wound” thread.  The two other questions I also inferred from that question were “what’s the difference and what does it mean to me?” :)

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It’s for you – not me – and other lessons learned

Happy 2014 everyone!  I’ve been fairly absent for a bit here.  First, trying to get Ryan’s Christmas present finished.   I almost made it on time!  Then catching up on the corporate books.  I don’t recommend a 5 month absence from those.   Ugh.

At the end of it all, he got his gift before New Year’s Eve, which considering all of the hurdles I cleared to do it, and the fact that I started it WAY too late, I’m accepting of.

I’m told that the significant other is often the last one to get a quilt.  Not in Ryan’s case.   He actually managed to get the second ever quilt I’ve made.

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A front on view of better ergonomics.  Wrist is in neutral position. (close to it anyway.  There should be a small amount of slope upward from your wrist to the hand, but not a lot.   Think of your position when properly holding a mouse on a desk.

High Enough – Ergonomics in your sewing room

Ergonomics Part 2:  In the last article, we discussed why we need to pay attention to ergonomics.  Now I’d like to talk about some of the ways we can do this.

Most of the time, it’s little changes that we can make that are inexpensive, or even free.  Sometimes we can trade cost for a little sweat equity.

If you’re having trouble putting your finger on the cause(s) of your ergonomic pain, I suggest that you have a helper take a photo of you when you’re working at the machine(s) and then you can review your posture.  You’d be amazed at what you can pick out from a photo.

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Back in the Saddle – Take care of your back

Ergonomics Part 1: (This post ended up far longer than I’d intended (yeah, shocking, I know!), so I will split it into 2, and offer you part 2 tomorrow.)

Lately, I’ve noticed that I hunch a lot when I sew.  This is on the longarm or at the domestic machines.   The result of this is that I “hurt” and I can’t sew for long periods of time.  So I thought I’d talk today a little about ergonomics, both at the stand up and sit down types of machines and your cutting table. Continue reading

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Review – Quilter’s Rule Quick Quarter 2

Back when I started up with SMS as a dealer, I had a pretty big “opening order” to make, so I went looking for a number of tools that could make my sewing and quilting life easier.

It can be really hard sometimes to tell the gimmicks from the gadgets and the gadgets from the really necessary tools.

One of the “frightening” concepts for a new quilter is “bias edges”.  I thought that any tool I could come up with to help me with that would be great.

I stumbled upon the Quilter’s Rule Quick Quarter 2.  Knowing that I would “eventually” be making something with half square or quarter square triangles, this seemed like just the thing. Continue reading

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Dance the Night away – Panto Fun

Note: I’ve noticed lately that the photos in the posts look blurry and low quality.  This is not true if you click on them to look at them.  Until I figure out what it is that’s doing this, please click on the images to see them the way I intended for them to look for you.

I attended a pantograph class at Sparrow earlier this month and learned a few things.  The most important was speed.  The easiest (and most counter intuitive) way to get a better result – less boxy corners, smoother lines -  is mash the gas pedal.

In the past few weeks, I’ve also learned that – within reason, this is also true with a lot of quilting and sewing in general.  For instance, I sew a much straighter line by going faster and watching the guide tape I’ve put on the bed in front of my machine than I do to watch the needle and try to keep it straight against the 1/4″ guide.  My bindings may have a chance, one day in the distant future, of being presentable! Continue reading

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Rockstar – In my quilt studio!

Note: I’ve noticed lately that the photos in the posts look blurry and low quality.  This is not true if you click on them to look at them.  Until I figure out what it is that’s doing this, please click on the images to see them the way I intended for them to look for you.

As some of you may know, my APQS Lucey was delivered on November 1.  She waited patiently until November 5 for setup because when I bought the machine, part of the deal was for Matt from Sparrow Studioz to come set it up.   You also may know him as manquilter.  He’s a local quilting rockstar.

I loved this idea because I knew that she’d be set up, level and running perfectly with her leadergrips sewn in (and straight) before he left.  Sure I can probably service Lucey, maybe even with one eye closed, but it doesn’t mean I want to tinker like that all the time and certainly not right out of the box.  This was great peace of mind, and permission to be in creative mode, not techie mode right off the bat.

The wait was slightly agonizing.  Yes, I know those of you who have known me for years are thinking “Wow, that’s the understatement of the century!”  After all, I’m not known for my patience.  ;)

That said, it was mostly “easy” to wait.  She arrived Friday, then Saturday and Sunday I had classes at Sparrow Studioz.  Monday, I had a white featherweight to service, a sewing circle (sometimes referred to as a “Stitch n B*tch”) to attend and a very well deserved chiropractor appointment.  Realistically, I wasn’t going to be able to set her up before Tuesday myself anyway.

Tuesday, though…  Continue reading

My thoughts and revelations on the vintage arts and skills of yester-year.

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