Posts Tagged With: Tutorial

Singer Featherweight Class

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Learn to fix a featherweight? Well ….


Featherweights have an interesting history and have not diminished in popularity.

I freely confess that I am not the mechanically inclined sister. Matter of fact I’m not sure either of us would be classified as a master mechanic. But we both do have a very robust “Can Do!” gene that sits alongside a hearty “Why Not Try It!” gene. So, when I heard that Nancy Troyer of Long Arm Machine Quilting was coming to Pensacola to teach a class on maintaining your Singer featherweight machine, I thought that even if I didn’t master the process I would at least be better off than if I didn’t even go. (low expectations for myself)


Nancy is a wonderful teacher – she goes step by step and gives clear instructions so that everyone in the class feels like conquering  the challenge is possible. Even her class supply list is eye opening:

  • A towel – spreading it under the machine while you work means that if you drop a screw or other small piece it won’t go bouncing along the floor.
  • A magnetic pin holder – a great place to stash screws or bolts or other small pieces so they don’t get misplaced.
  • Paper towels – these are a must have since the gunk that accumulates inside a machine is surprising.
  • Old toothbrush – for cleaning gears with kerosene
  • Tweezers – for reaching small pieces of lint and grime
  • Screwdriver – for removing various plates and covers
  • etc.
lint brush - straw and pipecleaner sm

Hot tip for making a lint brush: straw and pipe cleaner

We started the cleaning and rejuvenating process by removing the bottom panel, cleaning the inside and replacing the pad. Then we opened every nook and cranny, cleaning and lubricating as we went. Nancy stressed the difference between oils and lubricants – lubricate gears and put oil in the oil ports.

hook assembly

The hook assembly – especially the tiny, minute screw – is to be treated with care. Expensive to replace and absolutely vital!

Next we took off the throat plate to clean by the hook assembly. Special care has to be given to the hook assembly which houses the bobbin case. It’s better to use a wooden cuticle stick instead of a screwdriver if you need to remove it. Even the smallest scratch can cause the thread to snag and break when the machine begins to stitch. The vital piece of information about cleaning this part of the machine is that the positioning finger must be in place before you replace and tighten the throat plate. The timing of the machine will be fine as long as the hook assembly and positioning finger is placed correctly.

And here’s a hot tip about vintage bobbin cases: they are stamped with SIMANCO. New replacement bobbin cases often do not fit well so guard your vintage case as if it were gold.

When we got to the place that the motor needed to be cared for, we learned that carbon brushes are what makes the motor run. There needs to be at least ¼” of carbon on the brush or the machine motor will not work.

checking motor carbon2 sm

In fact running it without adequate carbon can ruin the motor. Checking the carbon brushes should be done with great caution and care. Success depends on the pressure you use to remove the screw as the carbon brush is on a spring. And the screw is brittle, aged plastic which can break easily.

checking motor carbon3 sm

Remove the screw carefully as it is under pressure from the attached screw.

We did not open the housing around the motor but we did lubricate it using the techniques she taught us.

motor lub sm


A belt in good condition makes a difference in the efficiency of the machine. We learned some great tricks including the use of vinyl tubing over screwdrivers when changing the belt to allow for leverage without scratching the machine. The motor can be raised a bit if the belt needs to be loosened.

checking belt3 sm

Note the vinyl around the screwdriver!


Last but not least, the front panel needs to be removed so that the parts there can be cleaned and oiled.

front panel sm

Singer machine manuals are a great resource.


The five hour class was filled with valuable information and expertise. So, this is just a summary to let you know that it can be done. Remember Singer originally advertised that the machine was constructed so that “the average housewife” would be capable of caring for it and maintaining it.

If a class is offered close to where you are, I recommend that you take advantage of it. Or contact Nancy and see if she is available to travel to your area to give the class. It is worth every penny!


Nancy Troyer sm

For class information, you can get in touch with Nancy HERE.

PS – Just a couple of weeks after the class Dietz and I were on a vacation/business trip in Tennessee and we stopped at Pickers Paradise where I saw a small black case stashed under a table behind some other things. I knew without looking inside that it was going home with me when I saw the price tag. When I opened the lid the first thing I saw was a tray holding a box of attachments! And the 1934 featherweight will give me a great chance to practice all I’ve learned.  

new case sm

Now I need to apply what I learned from Nancy to this little prize!

Come on, Sister, we can do this!

(NOTE: This is not a comprehensive guide to maintaining your machine, but rather a summary. Contact Nancy for expert advice or research the process via YouTube videos.)

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The Language of Quilts

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Cecilia is continuing the business her mother started, Pat’s Sacks.  Her booth is filled with vintage fabric, sugar sacks, and all things 30’s – including great music playing.   I enjoyed time in her booth very much and loved this handwritten memo she had hanging.

cajun quilt language

Cajun Quilt Language


Cecilia’s memo reads:

Before telephones, Cajuns spread news by hanging quilts over the balustrades of their houses.

Each quilt had a special meaning.


A red quilt – political victory

A yellow quilt – quarantine

A blue quilt with a big white star – wedding in the making

A patchwork quilt – a big celebration – Mardi Gras, New Years, July 4th

One quilt hung out with the wash – a child has eaten too much watermelon.


It reminded me of the book I enjoyed reading a few years ago —  Hidden in Plain View, written in 1999 by Raymond Dobard, Jr., an art historian, and Jacqueline Tobin, a college instructor in Colorado. I found their assertion fascinating that quilts may have been used to send coded messages to run away slaves.

Reading that book, and again when I saw Cecilia’s memo, I stopped to ponder – if I used quilts to send messages, which quilts would I use on different occasions?

During the NCAA basketball tournament –


Kansas Troubles

When I just happen to look at the calendar and remember a commitment at the last minute –


My Lucky Stars

When I back the van out of the garage and forget the Jeep is parked in the driveway. (#fenderbendermyself)



When I get to the end of back to back traveling commitments –


No Place Like Home

When I proudly make a grocery list – and stick to it –


Frugal Patch


When The Sister and I pass our 5th year in business Anniversary mark-



When something gets checked off the UFO list.


Shining Hour

What quilt message would you use most often?

Thanks to the Quilter’s Cache for their line drawings.

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Lace Languages

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From the royal halls of castles to the humble cottage abode, lace adornments always were and always will be a favorite decor item.  It may adorn a collar or cuff of clothing,


Lace Collar

or grace an arm or back of the chair ,

chair web

Antimacassar Set

possibly a cushion, pillow or curtain

curtain web

Machine made curtain


Hand crocheted portiere

but most certainly it is cherished wherever displayed.

The term “lace” is used to cover a broad spectrum of textures so let’s break it down into a more definable art form.


Tatting: knotted lace made by hand with a shuttle of linen or cotton thread

tatting web

Made by a fellow needle-worker

Crochet: needlework lace done with a needle having a small hook at one end for drawing the thread or yarn through intertwined loops; varied sizes of hooks or thread will alter the appearance greatly


Personalized gift from my nursing home friend. She uses NO patterns.

Irish lace or Irish crochet: very fine steel crochet hook and fine crochet cotton or linen thread. Uses an outline of the pattern on a piece of cloth. The cotton cord is for volume and shaping. The finished motifs are then basted onto a cloth in the shape of the pattern. Is is a raised dimensional design.

Irish web

“Bumpy” doily

Machined lace: mimics several styles of lace but all reproduced by machine; early ones looked like this




Bobbin lace:  lace made by hand with bobbins of thread, the thread being twisted around pins stuck into a pattern placed on a pillow or pad; usually with an elevated pad


Bobbin Lace

Another type of handwork that some refer to as “lace” is actually drawn work; threads of the linen are pulled together to develop a pattern


Mexican Drawnwork

Cut work: cotton or linen, are cut away and the resulting “hole” is reinforced and filled with embroidery or needle lace.


Vintage cut-work set

So whatever you decide to embellish or adorn you can use the term “lace” with confidence. But you should also know that you can never have too much of it.



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Weather Warning!

CO Sister id tag

This is so NOT a Colorado day.  It is sort of warm-ish (38 degrees) and the sky is overcast gray.  The snow has reached that “dirty” stage and frankly, I’m having a case of the blahs!  I blame it all on the weather.  I just can’t work in these conditions!  Storm-gray-gray-skies

So I threw the job list away and went to the sewing room.  That in itself is like having the sun come out from behind the clouds.  I finished a project and that is like having a spring blossom come up through that muddy yard.  I’m not going back to the job list but I can face the mending and ironing that are in the sewing room.

I thought I would share my “forecast” with you for curing a weather induced case of the blahs. It is really the beginning of spring cleaning.  You could tell yourself that

I spruced up my computer work area with a decorative mouse pad, made one for the guest room, and then one for the sewing studio. We all have those ugly, advertising mouse pads around the house and why advertise for something we don’t want when it takes 5 minutes to make your home more beautiful and match your own decor.

Gather some supplies:  pretty fabric, ugly mouse pad and your favorite fusible web.


I picked the purple for the guest room (sister stays there when she comes), which is done in 1930s, and the floral for my own room.

Follow fusible web manufacture’s instructions for drawing around the mouse pad.  Better to keep it a little generous as you can trim the fabric later but you can’t put it back on.   (Don’t ask how I know)draw web

Press (without steam) the fusible web to the wrong side of the fabric.  I even adjusted on the floral fabric so I could fussy cut some roses.fussy-web

Remove the paper backing and test for placement. Using a WARM iron, no steam, press the fused fabric to the advertising side of the mouse pad.  Trim edges from the back side if necessary.iron-web

Ta-da!  The sun is shining and the birds are singing.  You’ve finished a project!3-web

PS: I have used the brown one for a couple of years and there has been no wear or lifting.

How do you spend your gray days?


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Tutorial Tuesday: Don’t make it hard

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Don’t make it hard: Elmer’s Glue Basting

When I cook I want to make something that looks hard but is really easy.

easy cooking

Don’t make it hard!

That reflects one of my most used mantras: Don’t make it hard.

That advice works just as well at the sewing machine as it does at the oven. Which is why I was anxious to try a “make it easy” way to baste that I picked up from my friend Tish, a Red Hen Quilting Bee friend.

I was a little nervous to start because I wasn’t trying it first on a practice piece. See how much I trust Tish? It needed to work – I was on a past due deadline with the Winter Table Mat for the Seasons at my Window collection.

close up sm

a sneak peek of the Seasons at my Window table mat

And I am happy to report that I LOVE basting this way!  (insert angel choir music here.)!!!

There is no pinning or poking or extra stitching.  There is no puckering, no folding over, no stretching to get things where they need to be. Everything is where you want it to be before you start stitching! So I’m excited to share it in hopes that you’ll love it, too.


You will need Elmer’s School Glue – the washable kind with the chalk board on the jar.

And you will need to dilute it – 2 parts glue and 1 part water. I just squeezed out 1/3 of the glue and filled up the bottle with water. Shake it really, really good.

glue sm

I labeled the bottle so I’ll know which one is already diluted.


Gather your usual quilt sandwich ingredients: backing, batting, pieced top.

Lay the backing on a flat surface. I put a plastic table cloth on my kitchen island before I laid out the backing so that if any glue soaked through cleanup would be easier.


The back was always harder for me before because I couldn’t see what I was doing.


Squeeze out the glue in S curves – thin lines about 2-3” apart. Sometimes it will lay out in beads rather than a solid line and that’s okay, too.


Place your batting on top of that and smooth it down. Make sure to measure fabric and batting so that  they are several inches bigger than the pieced top. Flip both pieces over and make sure the backing is smoothed out well. Don’t stretch the batting or the backing, though. Flip both pieces (now stuck together) back over so that the batting is on top.

Center your pieced top over the batting. Fold the top back to expose ¼ to ½ of the batting.

Squeeze out the glue in S curves – thin lines about 2-3” apart. Remember, little beads will work fine, too.

s curves

I’ll admit I was still doubting myself at this point.

Lay the top back over the glued batting and smooth into place. Be careful not to stretch the top. On the other hand, the moisture from the glue will allow you to ease into place anything that is not quite flat.


Repeat with the other quadrants of the pieced top until it is all glue basted in place. Remember, you are not trying to have a solid surface of glue.

sandwich sm

Is it dry yet?

Place on a flat surface and allow to dry overnight. Of course, if you live in a high dry climate like some sisters, it may only take until lunch time. If the glue is completely dried it won’t gum up your needle when you quilt.

I have to tell you that my first thought as I started to quilt was, “Why make it hard?!?” This is going to happen often for me and I’m getting ready to call my sister to let her know I’ve found a way to make her life easier.


Let us know how it works for you.

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Mark it with a “B”…

Tutorial Tuesdays headerDo you remember the nursery rhyme that included, “mark it with a B for the baby and me”? So the greater question is: What did they mark it with? Ok, so it may not change childhood for anyone in the near future but for quilters marking it with the correct device is sooooo important.  A couple more questions for you to ponder:

Did you ever mark your fabric with something that wouldn’t wash out?

Did you ever mark your fabric with something that vanished before you were finished?


Color Pens

Proper tools make any job easier and ensure success,   so here’s a bit of info that we’ve collected about marking tools.

CHALK MARKING—can all be rubbed away or brushed with a damp cloth

  • Chalk pencils—can be sharpened with a standard pencil sharpener
  • Chalk markers—a container that holds loose chalk and marks with chalk powder run through a serrated wheel
  • Chalk powder—a small fabric bag containing loose chalk to be “pounced” on a perforated pattern or stencil

TEMPLATE MARKING—a standard pencil form with a special lead for marking on plastic templates; remove from plastic with damp cloth; do NOT use on fabric.

Air soluble

Air soluble

TEMPORARY FABRIC MARKING—used to transfer quilting, applique or embroidery lines onto fabric; some have extra fine points.

  • Water soluble—can be removed with plain water (some detergents have chemicals that will make the ink permanent), usually blue in color
  • Disappearing-ink or air-soluble—disappears within 24-72 hours of marking or can be removed with plain water
  • FriXion pens—iron out inks; best with dry iron and pre-washed fabrics


PERMANENT FABRIC MARKING—for journaling, labeling, or signature quilts

  • Black Fine Line—ink will not wash out. Better for detailing
  • Colored Inks—for specific shading or coordination

FABRIC MARKING PENCILS—for transferring quilting line or embroidery designs

  • Water-soluble Pencil—marks can be removed with damp cloth; blue or white for light and dark fabrics; Erasable with a fabric eraser
  • Mechanical pencil—lead marks lines for consistent thickness; lead thickness fits most additional tools (ruler slots; ¼” wheels, etc.)
  • Soapstone—naturally soft, fabric safe substance. Good on dark fabrics; gently rub off marks.
Water soluable

Water soluble

So there you have it.  Mark it with a “B” for Best Tool Tips.

PS: Did you notice that this Tutorial is coming to you on Wednesday? Not Tuesday.  “Someone” marked it wrong!



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