Love those vintage machines


Can you believe I bought this beauty for $7.97 + tax at the Smyrna Thrift Store two weeks ago?  I bought the machine to use as a decorative piece in my studio. My thinking at the time was that it would be a bonus if she actually worked.  (Note that the case in the picture is a temporary one. The original wooden case is in my garage awaiting restoration.)

The machine is a Royal DeLuxe straight stitch machine from the mid-1950’s. She is also known as a Class 15 Japanese clone (a sewing machine modeled after the Singer 15-30), which became popular after WWII. She was made in Japan, most likely by Toyota. All she does is a straight stitch, but her 1 amp motor allows her to deliver that beautiful straight stitch FAST!  I am very thankful to the collectors and lovers of vintage sewing machines who generously share their knowledge on the web. Special thanks go out to the Mary Jane’s Farm stitch & crafting room board plus the Yahoo Japanese Vintage Sewing Machine Group for their help. Although my machine came without a manual, there’s a generic manual available at no cost on the ISMACS site. Some web sleuthing made me realize that my machine was very similar to a Morse 300. I was able to obtain a pdf copy of an original Morse 300 manual here for a nominal fee.

All it took was little TLC in the form a liberal dousing of sewing machine oil to get her running. A $1.00 replacement belt and bobbin tire set from Hobby Lobby improved her stitches. I also borrowed the electronic foot control & power cord with motor block my husband rigged up for Ruthie, my vintage Riccar 707. Those in the know state that a cog style belt will work better than a stretch belt on this type of machine, so I will be looking to purchase one as soon as I figure out the size. I also plan to purchase a new electronic foot control similar to Ruthie’s for this machine once the original case is restored.

I took this 45 pound behemoth to school last Friday to demonstrate a pulley system for my 4th graders who are studying simple machines. Needless to say, it was a big hit with them and my afternoon maker club. Only a select few were allowed to experience stitching on this lovely machine. 🙂

Refining the biz a bit

It’s pretty safe to say that the new day job has moved the sewing biz to not just the back seat, but the THIRD row seat, if you knoBdayw what I mean. Honestly, I underestimated the time and energy that the new job would require. I am literally wiped out by the time I get home from work.

The art teacher helped put things into perspective – I see about 225 kiddos a day for classes and extended lunch. That’s a lot of kids to remember, behavior to manage and lessons to deliver. Add check-out on top of that and helping them find a “just right” book. Yikes!

Realistically, I can only devote 8-10 hours a week to biz projects right now. (That’s 1-2 evenings a week plus a weekend day).  Anything that can be done on a computer or while seated has a better chance of getting accomplished at this time.  Pattern editing, instruction/project planning for camps/classes/articles, and sample-making are my focus until things calm down a bit a work and my left foot heals. I am almost finished with two t-shirt quilts (good news for Enger & Robin, I’m sure!) and that will be it on the t-shirt quilt front. I enjoy making them, but they require a great deal of standing and I can’t do that right now – not especially after standing on a hard tile floor most the day. Shoe inserts have helped, but I need a better pair of supportive shoes.

A visit to the New Balance store provided some much needed relief. I stood on their foot analyzer machine that recommended a 1/2 size larger shoe than I normally wear, plus a special kind of insert. I purchased a light gray walking shoe that doesn’t scream tennis shoe so I can wear it to work. The magic happened when she put in the NP400 orthotic insole. OMG, that was the first time I’d walked pain free in about 4 weeks.  1/2 days at work this past week also helped me rest my feet and I’ll see how things go Monday with a full teaching schedule and the new shoes.  I am also doing some stretching exercises that seem to be helping. I’ll post with an update on Friday.

Maker clubs are more than Legos and computer components

Saw a poster by the entrance of my local Barnes & Noble advertising an upcoming Maker event.  Of course, the poster featured something that resembled a pixelated Lego creation.  This geek girl loves her Legos and computer programming as much as the next person, but maker clubs are designed to be hands-on activities where you make stuff.  This can include sewing, knitting, embroidery, crochet, jewelry making, papercrafts, origami, screen printing, tie-dye, bird houses, gourd painting…soapbox derby with carpentry, even cooking and baking can be a kid’s maker club.

My local school sponsors weekly clubs that meet on Friday afternoon. I sponsor the Stitching Stallions – which is Crafty S.T.E.M. rebranded and retooled with a decidedly stitchy focus.

Week 1 – Rules, expectations & project possibilities. Craft DIY project bags from Ziplock bags, chalk tape, stickers & markers
Weeks 2 & 3 – Fabric postcards, DIY Stuffies (hand-stitch) & Floor cushions
Week 4 – Stuff and finish floor cushions
Week 5 – Pom-pom spiders/open sewing
Week 6 – Pillowcases
Weeks 7 & 8 – Owl & monster pillows
Week 9 – Club showcase

I have 15 kids, 3 sewing machines and 1 adult non-sewing helper who manages students while I am at the machines with other students. Our club is flexible so that if we need to omit/revise a project, that’s fine. This is a rough outline to keep me focused and utilize materials I already have on hand.  Last year, I discovered that stations work quite well and it’s less stress on me if students do the actual prep work whenever possible. Students will use the die-cut machine to cut fabric shapes for their hand-stitched felt stuffies. They will select fabrics for the floor cushions and cut out the panels from a freezer paper pattern. Some can hand-stitch while I work with others at the sewing machines to complete the fabric postcards. Stuffing the floor cushions is going to take an entire class period, based on what I learned from summer sewing camp. It will take about 3 pounds of stuffing per floor cushion. Pillowcases can be made in one session IF kits are cut ahead of time. Monster and owl pillows may also need to be precut in the interest of time.  We’ll just have to see. Yes, it is a lot of prep work on top of teaching 32 library classes a week, but I enjoy it. The kids are so excited to be there. That’s what makes it all worthwhile.