Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bali Bag

My sister and I recently took a class where we began construction of a handbag. I didn’t finish during the class time, but worked on it this weekend.
Bali Bag
After signing up for the class, I found a jelly roll in Malka Dubrawsky’s fabric line from Moda, A Stitch in Color. I’ve been an admirer of her work since it appeared on the cover of Quilting Arts Magazine several years ago.  I just love the bright colors she uses. I need to get together with my sister to find some fabulous beads from her collection for further embellishment.
But there’s more…look at the machine I used to finish the bag.
bali and 401
It’s a Singer 401, one of their first zigzag machines. It’s getting hard to find these machines “in the wild'”, but this one was waiting for me at a local thrift shop. It runs beautifully and sews a great straight stitch. I even had it doing some bar tacks with the zigzag function.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

What I’m reading

Alligators, Old Mink and New Money by Alison Houtte
A memoir written by a former model who opens a vintage clothing store in Brooklyn New York. It’s just a fluff of a book, but fun. It made me want to go to Brooklyn and visit her store.

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
Lisa See wrote Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and the prequel to this book, Shanghai Girls. Dreams of Joy covers the period in Chinese history of Mao’s great leap forward. This public policy experiment had disastrous effects on the populace, the economy and the environment. Although fiction, it does depict what life in the “countryside” was like during this time.

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
This book won the National Book Award and its influence from Faulkner is apparent. It’s a story of twelve days in the life of a rural Mississippi family in the days leading up to and following hurricane Katrina. It’s raw and visceral. There were parts that made me gasp. The narrator, 15 year old pregnant Esche, is a character you won’t forget, nor will you forget her brother’s fighting dog, China.

The Obamas by Jodi Kantor
I didn’t learn anything new in this book that read like a People magazine article.

Inside Out and Back Again by Thannha Lai
A book in verse that tells the story of a young girl who leaves Viet Nam in the panic and frenzy of the fall of Saigon and her family's resettlement in Alabama. I read it in an hour, then re-read it because it was such a powerful story. She captures the essence of what I imagine a child’s experience would be like.  Recommend!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

NOLA 2012

The SEC basketball tournament was in New Orleans this past weekend. It was the first time Tom and I had spent any significant time in the city since we were there for the Sugar Bowl festivities in 1968. That event holds a special place in my heart because it was during that time where we became engaged. Here we are “back in the day” celebrating New Year’s Eve at Pat O’Bryan’s.  That’s me and my sweetie in the left corner.


We looked in on Pat O’Bryan’s on our most recent trip and it is remarkably unchanged.

My daughter wrote an excellent post about all the fun we had this year. Click on the photo to view her blog post.


To view last year’s March madness post click here.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My Italian Boyfriend

Some of you know about my fascination with vintage sewing machines. I have a wonderful, modern Bernina Artista 630 on which I do the majority of my sewing. That said, there is something I love about the sound, the feel and the heft of machines made before 1965. In starting the compassion quilt project at our church I began looking for used machines at thrift shops.
A few weeks ago I found an Italian Necchi BCJ. The Necchi enthusiasts say the Necchi Italian machines were the best ever made, so for $15 I bought it. Languishing in a shed outside the store was a filthy Singer. It was so dirty I couldn’t even tell what model it was. The clerk threw it in for an extra $5. With high hopes I sent the Necchi to a repair shop to get a new motor and power cord. It was repaired and it sews Ok, but still needs some work on tension as it puckers fabric. I spent an afternoon working on the upper and lower tension and it’s still not right. I’m a little disappointed. I thought I would have a new love with this Italian. He just seems a bit fussy to me, just what I don’t need, a high maintenance boyfriend. But you have to admit, he’s got a lot of style going on.

Necchi BCJ

Then I got the Singer out of it’s filthy case, and found a very dirty 301A slant needle machine with years of lint and crud on it. I have had a yen for one of these for several years. I wish I had taken a photo before I began cleaning it.
I spent the morning cleaning and oiling it. It was not locked up, just dirty and in need of oil. After I got everything inside cleaned and oiled, I did a test sew. Perfect! I mean it was a perfect stitch! I had different color thread in the needle and the bobbin so I could analyze the tension, and it was perfect. Unbelievable. Tom put a bit of electrical tape on the cord and this boyfriend was good to go. I’ve ordered a new cord since I have to tape this one on to stay in the machine, but that is minor.  After the initial cleaning, the body still had some stains on it and needed extra TLC.

front before
back before

Having learned in another blog about TR-3 automobile cleaner and polish, I went to work on the stains and rust. This product is amazing.
Here are the after photos

front after

back after
In the world of vintage machines the Singer 301A is known as the big brother to the Singer Featherweight and has the reputation of being trouble free and easy to maintain, more like my kind of guy. Signore Necchi may be history.