Yet Another Gem

While preparing my mother-in-law’s home for sale we came across her electric sewing machine.  Questions arose as to whom would adopt the machine.  My immediate reaction was “Not Me!”  I really don’t have room for another piece of furniture and besides I’m trying to downsize.  As time went by and I pondered the vintage machines I have adopted, refurbished and passed on to my daughters I began to sense this was yet another sewing machine in need of rescue.

From there my thoughts shifted to how and when can I take it home.  Yesterday the aqua sewing machine with its tiny plain wooden cabinet arrived in my garage.  The cabinet, as was the case with every other machine that I have fostered, is in need of refurbishing.  Due to the small size of the cabinet and the simple design I believe this one I can tackle myself.

The timeline for the restoration has not yet been set.  Once the project begins I will keep you abreast of the progress.  In the meantime I will begin my research trying to find out as much about the machine as possible.  I must also find a suitable place in my home for the machine to reside.  Stay tuned for future updates.If you have any details about this machine I would appreciate hearing your information.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced.  Make sure you visit her blog to see the magnificent projects the other quilters are working on.

Oh My Gosh It’s Beautiful!

Several weeks ago I shared a post about my great grandmother’s vintage sewing machine.  In that post I talked of how the wooden cabinet was badly in need of repair.  Ten years ago it had been left in the hands of my mom and a close friend.  Both had taken a furniture refinishing class and intended to use their new-found knowledge to restore its lustre.

Earlier this summer I reclaimed the cabinet from their possession.  The cabinet restoration had been started but never finished.  A portion of the veneer had been replaced but not much else had been done.  Being as we have a trip to Colorado planned for this fall and since that sewing machine was destined for my Colorado daughter’s home I thought it was time to retrieve the machine and take finishing the restoration into my own hands.

After transporting the machine home an assessment was made of its current condition.  The cabinet was in worse shape than I had remembered.  The veneer, which had been replaced, appeared nice but had been installed improperly.  The grain of the veneer flowed in the opposite direction as all of the other wood, numerous other sections had veneer that needed replacing and there was an accumulation of old varnish on other sections.  After examining the cabinet I came to the revelation the scope of this project was way beyond my talents.

Deciding how to proceed was a no-brainer.  My older brother is what I call a master craftsman.  He can turn an ugly, dilapidated piece of furniture into a beautiful show piece.  I just knew he was the man for the job.  I presented my case to my brother and asked him if he was up to the challenge.  Plans were made for him to stop by and check out the cabinet before he made the commitment.

We invited he and his wife down for a family gathering.  While at my home we both went into my basement to look at the cabinet.  After asking a lot of questions and a bit of pondering, my brother agreed to take on the project.

The cabinet and machine were transported to my brother’s house early in August.  Since the required amount of reconstruction was more than we had anticipated I told my brother he didn’t have to finish the cabinet in time for our Colorado trip.  He was appreciative of the extension afforded to the timeline.

As my brother began the initial phases questions arose as to missing hinges, how much veneer I wanted replaced and what type of finish I wanted applied.  We worked through the list of questions and established the priorities.  Since I didn’t want the task to be too burdensome for my brother, by the end of the conversation I basically left it up to him.  He could decide how much time and effort he wanted to invest and then take it from there.

Today 5 1/2 weeks later the restoration was completed.  We met my brother at his home to take delivery of the finished project.  As we approached his driveway I could see that his garage door was open and the sewing machine and cabinet were sitting in plain sight.  I believe the first words out of my mouth were, “Oh, it is beautiful.”  I didn’t for one second think that my brother would do less than a stellar job.  Everything about my brother’s workmanship screams excellence.  My husband and brother carefully loaded the cabinet into the back of our truck.  Once it was safely secured we offered to take my brother to lunch.

During our meal I asked my brother to share the details of his restoration. process.  In hind sight I wish I would have had him keep a photographic documentation of his work.  Perhaps next time I will think of that ahead of time.  He shared about the removal and replacement of the veneer, the gluing process he used to reinforce other areas that were coming unglued and the vendors he used to acquire the missing hinges.  Two of the hinges were found on Ebay and the others came from a local hardware store.

Before parting company I handed my brother a check for his monetary investment plus a stipend for his time.  A big smile washed over his face as he read the amount of the check.  His efforts and his talents were well worth the price I paid.  I know that the dollar value I placed on the cabinet was well above the price we could expect to receive on the market but I didn’t care.  What was important was the restoration of a family heirloom.  Hopefully this machine and cabinet will remain in the family and be passed down from one generation to the next.

Well, there you have it.  My great grandmother’s sewing cabinet has been brought back to life.  So what do you think?

I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced.  Be sure to visit her blog and see what everyone else is up to.

A Singer Renovation

I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday.  Where ever did the week go?  This summer is going by way too fast.  For a little change of pace I decided to share a furniture refinishing project currently on my list of things to do.  Before I do that though let me bend your ear with an intro.

I’ve been fortunate to receive three vintage sewing machines.  All three of them have these things in common:

  1. They were previously owned by a family member

  2. All three currently are or have been powered by a treadle

  3. Each came equipped with a beautiful wooden cabinet

  4. Two of them have had their wooden cabinets re-finished and the third will be finished by September

The first machine belonged to my husband’s grandmother.  He has fond memories of playing with the machine, in his grandmother’s home.  By playing, I mean operating the foot treadle until jamming the machine’s bobbin thread.  Grandma I. wasn’t as pleased with his accomplishment as he was.  I know from personal experience how fun it is to set the treadle in motion.  There’s just something about the moving parts that draws your attention.  Even my grandchildren can’t resist.  Grandma I’s sewing machine was given to my oldest daughter Jenny.  She currently has it on display in her living room.

Grandma I.’s Sewing Machine

The second machine belonged to my grandmother.  I don’t really have any childhood memories of her machine but I was blessed to receive it upon her death. I have passed this machine on to my youngest daughter Katie.  Shown below are photos of Grandma O’s Bell sewing machine and the treasures I found inside.

Grandma O’s Bell Sewing Machine

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This box of attachments was found in one of the drawers of Grandma O’s sewing cabinet

Attachments Found in Grandma O’s Bell Sewing Machine Cabinet

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I found it interesting that the manual encouraged owners to

“Always speak a good word for your machine whenever and wherever you can”

“Always Speak A Good Word”

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Note:  Grandma O’s Bell sewing machine had a 10 year warranty.  I believe the warranty would be expired by now.

Certificate of Warranty for Grandma O’s Bell Sewing Machine

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I discovered a very interesting statement on page one of the manual.  The sentence made it very clear why children, or for that matter curious adults, should not randomly set the treadle in motion.  See for yourself.

“Don not run the machine when it is threaded unless . . .”

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This photo has a price list for parts for my grandma’s Bell sewing machine.  Imagine paying those prices today?

Price List for parts to Grandma O’s Bell Sewing Machine

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I had a great time finding all of the above items in my grandmother’s sewing cabinet.  How cool to have these pieces of history to go along with her machine.

The third and final sewing machine was owned by my mother.  This machine has very special memories because it was the very first machine I ever used.  I especially remember how there were only two things it could do, sew a straight line and wind a bobbin.  Back when this machine was made there was no button to push to do back stitching.  Any back stitching you wanted to do was done by pivoting the fabric, at the end of the seam, and stitching once again over the stitches you had just made.  Even though it was a very basic machine it helped me to make many, many garments.

My Mom’s sewing machine typically sat in front of a window in her upstairs sewing room.  The daylight that filtered in, as well as the view outdoors made in front of the window the best place to be.  Unfortunately the window also had its drawbacks.  The biggest and most unfortunate down side was the impact, an open window would have, on a wooden sewing machine cabinet when it rained.  My Mom’s cabinet fell victim to one such open window.  The rain that penetrated the sewing room window screen saturated a portion of the cabinet.  The rain-soaked wood eventually cracked and split.  The repair and refinishing of the fine wood cabinet is the reason for my post.

Some years ago the damaged veneer, on my Mom’s sewing cabinet, was carefully replaced.  Ever since the replacement of the veneer the cabinet has sat idle, in pieces, in a friends basement.  I recently retrieved it from its seclusion.  This machine is destined for my Colorado daughter Jessica.  Since we will be driving out to visit her this fall we decided it is now or never to get the cabinet finished.  Our plan is to finish sanding it, apply a coat of stain as well as varnish, then carefully load it, in the back of our truck, and take it along with the rest of our daughter’s belongings.

Here’s a picture of the Singer sewing machine, as well as the cabinet waiting for better days.

The status of my other WIP items can be found here.  I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced.  Please stop by her blog to catch up on the other WIP postings.  Take care and see you next week.