Thursday, 29 August 2013

My Singer 431G Story

You can't see the electrical from this photo.

I did it! I didn't think I should, but I did it! I bought a vintage machine on eBay! After I bid on it I realized the machine would be wired for English voltage. YIKES! It won't work in Canada. With some research I found out I could buy a step up voltage transformer that will change the voltage/wattage up to 220V from our 110V. One person told me that people bought English Featherweights all the time and used the step up transformer. So I went ahead with the purchase.
I was still nervous about using this step up transformer so I talked to a couple of repair guys who have worked on sewing machines for a long time. From one guy we heard the history of Singer and I got to go in the back and see a sewing machine graveyard! There were machines stacked 5 high and 4 deep. There were machines rigged for treadles, like European 401's. It was very cool. The consensus was that transformers can be noisy and they could stress the motor. Being a vintage zig zag machine and a vintage motor it's not like I could go buy a new motor to exchange it if it burnt out. (I now know they stopped making this motor model 10 years ago)

Still can't see the electrical. This is a free arm model. Like a combination Featherweight 222 and a 401.
You can see the compartment in the part that comes off. All the original attachments, including the chain stitch plate.
The silly thing is that now my machine had arrived I couldn't test it to see if the motor worked because I didn't have a transformer. What were my options? So back to the repair guys to ask more questions. Could the English motor be swapped out for a North American one? Where could I get a motor? After talking to a couple of local guys in person and through emails I got 3 reactions 1) Why do you want an old machine? Yes I can probably do it. 2) Bring in the machine so I can see what motor it uses and if I can get one - probably from the first guy and 3) He knew his stuff, he looked right away for a motor and when he wasn't sure he called Singer and got the info he needed. He found out he could use the motor from a 503(?) in my machine and that he had one in his machine cemetery. So I went with Mike, number 3 because I got the best vibe from him. 4) This guy emailed me after I had the work done to tell me it couldn't be done!

Mike is located in Woodstock, a 2 hour drive away from me. He said if we prearranged it, he would work on the machine while I drove around and went shopping/sight seeing. Well since Lens Mills is almost just up the street and there is a 3 story antique barn/shop there too it wasn't hard to use up the time.
This is one row of many!

While Mike worked on my machine, I found a few fabrics (I was good and didn't go crazy) then I headed to the Antique store.

I was in the middle of the 2nd floor when Mike told me the machine was ready. I went and tried it out and we talked about what he had done. Mike works on lots of vintage machines, he converts electric machines to treadles for the Amish in the area and he sells rebuilt vintage machines in his shop. I forgot that he didn't do debit and I had exactly the right amount of cash on me, whew! I packed it in my car and then went back to the store, after all I drove 2 hours to get here I might as well go and finish my looking around. I picked up some vintage tins to hold my binding clips and a vintage sewing attachment tin with a quilting attachment in it to sew straight lines. I picked up a brooch for Sharon since she wasn't able to come with me.

Mike emailed me 2 days later to see if I had tried out the machine and if was I happy with it. He guarantees his work for 2 years. I know who I will take my featherweight to when it needs service. I hope people in the Woodstock area give him a try, small businesses like his are what we need to support, especially if we want to keep quality vintage machines up and running. What I learned from this experience?

In my local  Starbucks!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

My Small Quilt for the DWR Chalenge
Okay, I've been playing with the Double Wedding Ring pattern off and on since I heard about the Challenge the NYC Mod Quilt Guild was hosting. I entered and won a set of DWR rulers through the Blog Hop that introduced the challenges (small, traditional and modern).  I showed you a hint of my quilt here and here.

I cut out paper shapes and played with block placements on my dining room table. (I lost the photos that show this, which is too bad I liked the pattern) I also auditioned fabrics for the DWR. All along I wanted to use a specific fabric in the center of the DWR, specifically a set of characters. When my rulers arrived I realized they were too small and too thick to showcase the fabric I wanted to use, so I searched on line and found several patterns to start from until I came up with the size and thickness I wanted. You know the pencil on a string to make a circle...
Image from,

Next I needed an idea to go with the fabric. I knew the DWR = a wedding ring. I'm not married, what do I know about marriage, I only know the things I learned from listening to married people and TV shows.  I talked it over with Sharon (my colour consultant turned ideas woman) and showed her the fabric. We thought it was a bit like Downton Abby (almost the same expressions on their faces! LOL!!!).

Image from,,
As we say when we come up with an idea together "Twin Powers Activated!" we/she came up with the expression of a ball and chain.

So I went online to look for an image to help me design the ball and chain. I found one image that I really liked so I changed it to suit the placement of the ball and chain in a 20" square (those are the measurements for the small quilt challenge). Now I could get to work.

The ball = the circle created by the DWR so now I had to draw out and cut out the shackle and chain. I used fusible product to attach the rings and the chains. Then I did an applique stitch around everything. I used a ribbon thread to make some links in the chain shiny so they looked like they were on top of the other links.
Check out those expressions!

The background is much pinker than this photo shows.

 I put the quilt on my frame and I outlined the couple then meander quilted the inside of the circle. I quilted around the arcs of the DWR, then I did my favourite paisley stitch around the outside of the circle, chain and shackle. I wanted it to look like lace, after all this is a wedding!

Well here it is my entry for the small DWR Challenge. I call it "The Old Ball and Chain" or "Forged in Love".  It is 19 1/4" wide and 20" tall.
The "corner" blocks are made from the large flowers you can see inside the circle, I outlined the circle in ribbon thread.

The label made from more of the Ghastlies fabric.

The quilting from the back.

 Well here I go, I'm linking up to the challenge. Wish me luck - hope everyone looks at it with a sense of humour!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Our Visit to Quebec City

Our second short trip this summer was to Quebec City. Sharon and I went with our Mum for 3 days. We could have driven like we did to Ottawa but it would be a long drive. We could have taken the train but it could be between 91/2 hours all the way to 12 1/2 hours depending on the number of stops.
So we decided to fly Porter Airlines, it was amazing! We got up Monday at 3:30 AM and flew out at 7:50 AM and landed early at 9:10 AM. (Sharon and I decided we might book all our holidays around where this airline flies.) When we got to the hotel one of our rooms were ready so we dropped off our stuff and started sight seeing.
Love the roof tops on this set of houses.

We visited the upper part of Old Quebec City on Monday. We ate at cute little restaurants and walked and walked and walked. The Old City is beautiful and very historic. It was like going back in time.

We're standing in lower ville looking up at upper ville. The rails are the Funicular tracks.

On Tuesday we took the Funicular down to the lower part of the city. There were winding streets that didn't look like you could get 2 cars to pass on the road.

If you don't take the Funicular you have to use the stairs to go between upper and lower Quebec. My Mum has had both hips and a knee replaced so we were not doing the stairs!!!

This is the first set of stairs!
It rained and Sharon had to by an umbrella because it started to pour. We sat out part of the rain in another lovely restaurant and shared a tasty pizza and a bowl of celery soup each. After the rain stopped we walked and walked some more.

On Wednesday we had some time before we had to go to the airport. We walked to the parliment buildings and saw this statue to women's rights in the province of Quebec.

Then we walked to the Chateau Frontenac and looked around the hotel. We saw the slide they use during the Winter Carnival. You walk to the top and slide down on carpets.

All that gold and brown colour is hills and mountains!!!
I have to tell you all 3 of us had very sore calves. Sharon and I even got ready for this trip and for 2 weeks we went on long walks each night with Poppy to get our muscles back in shape. You see this is another city built on a hill. Every where we walked, if you go down hill you have to go back up hill. It took 2 days for our legs to feel better when we got back.
We had a good time and really enjoyed the flight experience. The funniest thing (now) is that the car service we used to bring us back from Downtown Toronto sent us a stretch Limo instead of the sedan we booked. It was like a party car inside with flashing lights, a bar, a stereo and a mirrored ceiling with rainbow lights. We felt like we should shower when we got home. LOL

I'll leave you with my favourite photo I took with my iPhone. It was when we were walking through a University street and it was shady and cool then I saw this tunnel/doorway with the sun and the red door against the yellow brick and snap, my favourite shot.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Studio Spotlight Tour

I decided to join the Studio Spotlight Tour at The Sewing Loft and Ellison Lane. For 5 days I've been looking at people's sewing studios to get ideas for when I move to a finished basement. (It will be a while) People are very clever and creative with their spaces.

My sister, Sharon, and I decided I should use the "formal" living room as a sewing studio. It would keep me off the dining table and maybe we'd eat there more often!
The room is almost a long octagon shape. Lots of windows and light.
We painted this side of the house navy blue. With so many windows we knew it would be great. That was before it was a sewing space, so we bought some standing lights for me to use in the evenings and put daylight bulbs in the ceiling fan. The other side of the house is a butter yellow.

Yes that is a 12 foot quilting frame right in the middle of the room. Let me introduce you to Mrs. Biggins, Sharon named her! She is holding several projects I'm working on - a Hello Kitty twister quilt, a Keep Calm and Carry On quilt and a project I can't share until it's finished. It's hiding under the Quilt Diva.

We inherited a teak dining set from my Mum when she moved from her 3 bedroom house to a 600 sq. ft apartment. So we decided to use the hutch for my sewing storage. I have big rulers on the top in a file holder and small rulers on the top shelf in a ruler holder. I have glass jars of buttons, zippers, seam binding, and fasteners. I use photo boxes to keep threads and fabrics neat. I store LA thread and pantographs there too. You can see books and a box of quilt patterns and clothing patterns. The closed shelves carry empty iPad boxes full of metallic thread, jewels, sewing feet...

The shelf behind glass is where I display vintage sewing things or collections. Things like pin cushions, my Nana's sock darning thing, old bobbins, my Lego sewing machine and a vintage sewing machine.
Beside the hutch is an old sewing cabinet that was made in Toronto. The top opens and has pegs to hold thread and bobbins. I store attachments for my Singer 301's in the drawers.


Here is my sewing area. I have a cutting table - it's up on bed risers to make it the right height for my back. My sewing machine and ironing board are next to each other. I store things under the cutting table, such as, scraps, selvages and the material for my current project.

The other side of the cutting board area.

Now I do store a lot of things under Mrs. Biggins. I have some fabric under there and a unit that holds my rolls of Wonder under and stabilizer, there are magazines and binders of ideas and patterns I have taken from magazines.

Binders of ideas.
Ikea magazine holders.

My new collection. I'm going to store fabric in these, it looks neater and keeps it out of the sunlight.
Hope you enjoyed the tour and got some ideas for your space. I hope to be tidying up under Mrs. Biggins soon so come back and check it out.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Mo Willems' Pigeon quilt

Hawthorne Threads
I bought a meter of each of these fabrics in June some time from Hawthorne Threads/ Cloud 9 Fabrics, and made myself a skirt to wear to school.
I need to take in the side seams before I wear it again.

Now that I had my Jewel quilt off the frame I was ready to start on the Pigeon quilt to get it ready for school. I like to hang quilts in my Library to show the kids and the teachers my "hobby".

I thought I'd look on the net to see if there was a pigeon quilt block and lo and behold there is a block called Pigeon Toes.
Since I was experimenting with paper piecing I tried the pattern from Quilterscache. My printer didn't print to the right scale so I went with it and trimmed it afterwards.

I recently used some coupons from Scholastic to purchase a light table in case I went back in the classroom, or to use with students in the Library, but also to use with my quilting. I use it to trace patterns and I used it this time to do my paper piecing for this project. Boy did it make it easier than looking up at the window each time.
It is nice and thin and sits beside the sewing machine.

It helps see that the seams are pressed in opposite directions too!

One finished block 3 to go!?

Next, plan the rest of the quilt.