Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Sewing, vintage style.

Over at the Sew, Mama, Sew! Blog they've had a 'Sewing Machine Month' so, right at the end of the month I thought I'd witter on endlessly about my sewing machine(s). If you don't want to see the results, look away now!

I have three sewing machines. Shocking really. I do feel a bit guilty. But they all (well two of them) do different jobs, and if you sew as much as I do, you need at least two so that when you've burnt one motor out or broken the drive belt, there's still a machine that works! I suppose you could call me a bit of an enthusiast, which is the new, more polite name for 'sad person in anorak'. It's quite hard to go out spotting sewing machines though, have you ever tried?!


This one is a treadle machine, from the late 1920s, which Paul bought me :) (click on the pictures to make them bigger). It wasn't expensive either - you can buy them for about £30 these days. I've had a go at sewing with it but I think treadling and me need to spend time together and get to know each other. Ahem. It's like trying to rock back and forth with your lower half, while keeping your arms still enough to feed fabric through the machine and not keep waving about like an utter fooool! So helpful when trying to sew flat-fell seams!! How did they do this in the olden days?? Do you think they had Treadlerobics classes? Hmm...I think I'll stick a motor on it, then I might get more use out of it - at the moment it folds into its neat little table shape and serves as an extra desk...(sorry Paul)...

Jones blue

Mum's jones machine

These two Jones machines are my favourites, and they are the machines I use all the time. For everything! (go here for a history of Jones machines...it's fascinating, she said, in a geeky voice)The brown 1970s one (they loved their brown in the '70s, didn't they?) belonged to my late mum, and all my clothes as a kid were made on it! Oh boy, the Terylene, Crimplene and Bri-Nylon that machine has seen...! I love sewing with it, it is so mechanical, smooth-running and such a heavyweight old girl. The only problem is it gets hot really quickly and I think it really needs a new motor. So I have the other one for back-up (you know, like shoes?? or spare yarn??) I found the blue one (1960s I think) on eBay - it was £35! You can't buy a decent dress for that these days! I do like vintage machines though. They do free-style embroidery so well, and free-motion quilting - I don't need a modern computerised one (luddite!) or indeed a particular brand of Swiss machine they're always recommending (paying £500 for a second hand machine makes me feel queasy) But that's just what I'm used to. You have to be prepared to get the screwdriver out and adjust the tension if you want to use a mechanical/vintage machine but I think it's worth it for the stitch you get from it. I'd love to hear about your machines - do you use vintage or modern ones? There's lots on the Sew Mama Sew Blog about all that, it's interesting to see what people are using...Right. *rolls sleeves up* I'm off to find my oil can :)

Wednesday, 24 June 2009


We've had our own Springwatch in the garden this week. There were blackbirds nesting in the hedge, and I'd been checking on them periodically from a safe distance to make sure everything was ok. When I checked this weekend, look what I found:


An empty nest! Yikes! I was crossing my fingers in hope that nothing bad had happened. And then I heard a little "cheep cheep" from the bottom of the garden so went to investigate...



A dumpy little fledgling, no tail, all beak and fluff...so cute! I've heard it in the garden since then, so I think he's doing ok so far and hasn't fallen prey to the local cats :) Oooh I'm all Kate Humble with enthusiasm! Shriek! a baby blackbird! Will it survive?! Oh the drama!!

In non-Springwatch news...I'm busy dyeing a small batch of yarn for another update. You should see my hands this time...I'd also better get on with sewing some more bags since I've cut out all the pieces and they're waiting patiently by the sewing machine. Bah, not as fun as crawling around in the undergrowth looking for fledglings though!


Wednesday, 10 June 2009


Purple liesl

Should've chosen a smaller coat-hanger perhaps. This one provides 1980's pointy-shoulder-reinforcements as you may have noticed...it's quite a stretchy cardi, so it does fit after all. Which comes as a relief, as I spent hours on it. You know, the kind of hours where you're enjoying knitting and it's going well, but at the back of your mind there's a tiny niggling little knitting voice going 'it won't fit you...it's tooooo small! bwahahah" and rubbing its hands gleefully. If a voice can rub its hands. (Well, if knitting having a voice, then it really can rub its hands...in fact it can make itself a sandwich and get a beer for me too while it's out there) Yep, that knitting voice. The one you ignore and Carry On Knitting (starring: Kenneth Williams, Jim Dale, Barbara Windsor, Sid James and Hattie Jacques) despite overwhelming evidence mounting in front of you...

Well, knitting, this is a poke in the eye for you! it fits! And I'm pleased with it. Maybe I'll wear it to Knit in Public Day. So I can be knitting in public while wearing 'knitteds' in public also!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Oranges and Liesls

I finished the Purple Liesl! I have just to weave in some ends and add buttons. Trouble is, it's come out a bit small.

Liesl small

Hahahah! Oh, OK, you got me - slight exaggeration on the 3 inches front...but trust me. This is small. Well, it's done now. It just needs some hefty blocking (= steam iron, swearing, glass of wine) and it will fit. it WILL.

Meanwhile, new stash arrived (*guilty face*) to make another one. Still life with oranges:

Orange yarn

Any excuse to get the 60's pottery out!

Anyone doing a Knit in Public day on Saturday? I'll be at the one near to us in Bath, hope to see you there!