Monday, 30 August 2010

Craft fair and Morsbags

Well, my posts are getting more regular. What have I been doing in the last 2 weeks?

I did a craft fair with my daughter Sarah, down in London. It was a nice venue, a community gardens, it was well organised, lots of nice stalls , but there were very few buyers. The weather wasn't that bad, so we concluded it was the fact that the area wasn't very wealthy. We only sold 2 of Sarah's bags, a jeans bag and a vintage fabric knitting bag with wood effect round handles, 2 pairs of oven gloves and a felt brooch I had made about 10 minutes before it sold. We kept ourselves amused with hand sewing while we chatted and we had quite a nice day.

Thursday the 26th August our local Morsbag pod - LIT bags had a meeting in the evening. They will be holding that monthly. I cut the hems and tops off the donated curtains which needs doing before they can be made into bags. Morsbags are a charity which makes cloth shopping bags which are then handed out on the street and swapped for plastic carrier bags. The fabric and thread are all donated, mostly curtains and bedlinen. The volunteers make the bags. They also go to fetes and fairs with hand crank and treadle sewing machines and get the public to make their own bags.

I was talking to Rosie from Morsbags about the felt needles Sarah and I bought at the Weaving Studio in North London. She said she had an embellisher (a machine which felts and attaches wool or ribbon, etc to fabric, using a five needle unit attached in the same way as a normal sewing machine needle but with no thread or bobbin), and she didn't use it any more but would be willing to swap it for a treadle.

So we made a deal and I am now restoring a treadle for her. I am even repainting the irons as this was stored somewhere damp and the woodwork and metal have both suffered. The woodwork has to be stripped right back , bleached to remove black marks, sanded, restained and repolished. The irons will be wire brushed, cleaned, derusted and repainted gloss black with gold on the Singer logos on the centre and either leg. The orignal machine was a Singer 27 with Sphinx decals but that is very worn so I will be dropping either a 15, 66 or 201 into the table. Rosie will need the extra yardage of thread on the round bobbins for making the Morsbags.

You can look them up at They are pretty much worldwide now.

That's about it for today, we were up very late last night as we went down to see Sarah in London and the car broke down so we didn't get to bed until 4am. Although we slept in a bit, I am still very tired.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Another long gap, shows how busy I am. I had less to do when I was in full time work. What have I been doing since January?

Restoring sewing machines and selling them on eBay.

Finally getting on with learning to spin, I have made a crocheted scarf in Jacob's Fleece - random brown/white natural colours from yarn I spun myself. It's still a bit rough with the odd lump here and there, but you pay more for designer yarn with slubs. It's a good feeling actually making something you can wear with yarn you have made yourself right from the fleece.

I have just pulled out some light brown merino roving which I am going to mix with cinnamon Angora and see how successfully I can spin that. Drum carders are a Godsend for those of us who have arthritis or lack of time to hand card.

I have been buying tents at our local auction along with sewing machines, and using my Singer 201 hand crank to repair them. It sails over 2 layers of thick webbing and 4 of tent fabric, better in fact that my industrial Singer treadle. I think it might be the fact that the presser foot on the 201 is hinged and the Singer 16 is rigid. I might see if a hinged foot will fit on the industrial. I have realised that the industrial machine might be good for straight quilting on large quilts because it has a huge harp area. Not sure if it will free motion quilt, I will have to practice on it.

New additions to my sewing machine collection since January are 2 Willcox & Gibbs chainstitchers, one a hand crank in excellent condition which just needed a clean and service and the wood base and case treated with Fenmans Elixir. It stitches beautifully and I can use it for decoration as it makes exquisite chain stitches on the back of the material. The other W & G is from a treadle and is very poorly, rusted solid, but it only cost me £8. It is soaking in WD40 at the moment.

I also acquired a Shepherd, Rothwell & Hough Hand machine (serpentine) which is seized as well and one of the parts broke underneath while I was trying to free it off. It is exactly the same as the Jones Hand machine. I bought one of those the other day as well, a little rusty but a few hours soak in oil and a little judicious tapping on the needle bar with a piece of wood and a hammer and it's freed off. I will probably sell that one as the S, R & H is the same and I won't be able to sell that because of the broken piece. It can be fixed with JB Weld, a resin with steel powder in it. This is supposed to work really well. Hopefully I can get it into working order. I do like to have all my collection working.

I found a Singer 306 at our local auction which cost me £11. It is beautiful, although some people think they are ugly because they are chunky. It was one of the last Singer machines to have metal gears. It zigzags, has cams for lots of different stitches, you can monogram with it and because it is a full size machine it will drop straight into a treadle. The stitch length lever was jammed when I got it. I didn't realise and tried to move it with the result that it snapped off. I had to get a new lever from the US, thanks to the kindness of some ISMACS (international Sewing Machine Collector's Society) members.

I joined ISMACS this year and am now moderating the Digest. I am also a moderator for Vintage Machine QandE, a Yahoo group for those of us who not only collect vintage machines but actually use them and need technical advice. If anyone would like to join us, please let me know and I will send an invite. Membership is by invitation only.

Sarah (my eldest daughter) and I are doing a craft fair in London this Sunday (22nd August), selling stuff we have made. I am taking along the Jacob's fleece scarf and possibly an Alpaca baby beret if I finish it in time. Sarah is making needle books from vintage fabric and felted wool, embroidered greetings cards and various other things. Our hand made soap of course, we have several new recipes including a gorgeous gardener's soap which has rosemary and sweet orange essential oil with crushed olive stone for abrasion to get of all that gardening dirt. It also works well for oil and grease if you do mechanics. We have a new recipe for massage bars which Sarah is making and putting in small tins.

Sarah is moving to Devon in the new year, and we are thinking of moving down there in the next 2 years if she settles in OK. It would be nice to be near Sarah, and also to be back in Devon where we lived for over 10 years, where my children were born, and which I still miss, even though we are in the countryside. I miss being near the sea and just being able to go to the beach for an afternoon. My children used to go to the beach every weekend when their Dad played cricket just over the sea wall in Instow. We used to search the rock pools, make sand castles, the usual childhood pastimes which parents enjoy doing with their offspring. It would be so nice for Rowan my Granddaughter to grow up down there.

Well, I have to go and do some carding now, some spinning, machine cleaning, the list is never ending.