Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Let the Machines OUT!

I was a quilter on the loose yesterday afternoon!

I had a 4:30 appointment that ended around 5pm.  Rush hour was in full force.  So I made a detour.  It was only 3 miles off course, and they were open until 6pm.

I can do A LOT of poking around in a little under an hour if you turn me loose in an antique mall.  The Post office was closed by this time, I’d done all I could do for the day so in I went.

Now, when time is limited, I can make a quick overview of the area and determine in rapid fashion which booths are worth rummaging around in.

ANYTHING that looks like an end table or desk is suspect!

And I can almost see this on the antique mall surveillance cameras as the counter checkout girls watch in amusement:

“She’s here again.”
“The crazy quilter woman who comes in, opens up all the machine cabinets and leaves the machines out in plain view.”
“She does WHAT?  Why?!”

BECAUSE!  Don’t the sellers want to sell their MACHINES?  It’s the machine that makes the cabinet worth the price.  Cabinets without machines are a dime a dozen, but one WITH a beautiful machine?  LET THE MACHINE OUT!


And I did!

Quilter Strikes AGAIN!

My goal in life is to pet the machines, let them know they are still loved and valued, and show future poke-about-ers that HEY!  There is a MACHINE in here!  Sometimes this means I am moving lamps, platters, planters, photos, and yardsale worthy bric-a-brac, but come on!  If you want to sell the machine, LET IT BE SEEN!


Aristocrat!  Show your stuff you 1950s Japanese Import!

If the machine is in a case, I’ll leave the lid behind so the machine can breathe allowing it to show off its beautiful decals and shiny chrome to its best advantage.

Who knows?  THIS could be the impulse buy that turns someone on to the wonder of vintage machine sewing/collecting.


Queen Anne table with a Singer 306!

You can always open the table up to have MORE table space to display your crap lovely merchandise but let the machine out so it can make a note-worthy vintage statement.

I’m still remembering the beautiful Singer 201 I found in Denver in August, blogged and Facebooked about it and someone actually DID go and get it!  THAT makes me happy.


Sometimes there are odd ones like this White!

You can see I checked and the shuttle is still there.  It’s got a crinkly Godzilla finish.  Knee controlled. 

Now I didn’t check the prices on most of these because I wasn’t going to bring them home.  Remember, I only had about 45 minutes to quickly uncover all the machines I could.  I was on a mission!


Oh sweet New Royal! 
But the chain was broken and the machine wouldn’t lift.

Gorgeous cabinet!


What the heck??

1970s decoupage cat!  Okay, you are getting the “weird item of the day” award.  I took some time to look this one over.  It was quite large, and the decoupage was starting to cloud and wear.  But those fabrics!


I remember MOST of these, and some are still in my scrap stash!

No, the cat did NOT come home.

But THIS did:


Hello, 1953 Bernina 117K!

The model 117 K, made in Switzerland, was Bernina’s first zigzag sewing machine.  If I have the story right, Bernina started out as a very small sewing machine company specializing in industrial machines first before deciding to go into the home machine market.  I am THRILLED to find this machine.  I’ve loved all of my Berninas, but wanted something that was all metal, very vintage, flat bed, no computer parts, and something easy for me to maintain myself.  I believe I’ve found it!


It came with a copied manual!  GOOD! 
Because this machine has some odd features.

It takes 287WH round-shank needles, industrial style.  And what is GREAT about this machine, it threads the needle from front to back, not side-ways like other vintage machines. Because of this rotary hook system:


It’s BEHIND and kind of backwards!

It was awkward to get the bobbin in place this morning when I went to set it up.  You have to have the take up lever in the highest position to be able to get the bobbin case on the race just right.  A few tries and I had it.


I was able to wind some bobbins.


Set my seam allowance and do a seam test.

2 2’’ squares sewn with the correct allowance will give you 3 1/2’’ on the ruler.  And it does.  Yahoo. This is a short shank machine, so I was able to swap out the zig-zag foot for a short shank 1/4’’ foot with no guide.  I prefer to use a stationary seam guide on the bed of my machine to run fabric up against.  It doesn’t wiggle, move or go up and down like a guide on a foot. 


Sewing some test pieces!

This is a zig zag machine, and I look forward to playing with that as well, but for now I’m planning on using it for straight seaming.  This machine fits my Singer cabinets.  This is the cabinet for the 400/500 series machines so the hole is a bit wider, but the hinge pins are the same.  If you look at the bobbin winder photo above you’ll see how the electrical plug sticks out just a bit, and having a space at the right end of the machine also gives me a way to feed the cords down to the floor. 

But if I wanted to go cordless?  This machine will also fit my Singer TREADLE cabinets!  Whoowooo!

I’m so excited to be able to show you this machine during Quilt-Cam tonight!  Live at 8pm Eastern on my Quiltville Facebook page.  Archived to my YouTube channel and embedded in the Quilt-Cam post and archived under the Quilt-Cam tab AFTER the fact.  We are moving to winter hours, so until the time changes back in spring, our evening sessions will be starting an hour earlier.

But wait a minute?  Weren’t there QUILTS at the Antique Mall?  Yes!  But  I’m going to parcel them out and share them with our Quote of the Day for each post.  Starting with this one:


Album block quilt top, 1940s.


Quiltville Quote of the Day!

Spread the kindness around, and lay it on thick!

No need to be skimpy as the more you give, the more there is to give. The day you make better for someone may be your own!

And remember, the next time you come across a hidden machine – LET IT OUT!

Have a great Tuesday, everyone!

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  1. OOOH! what a great find!

  2. Bonnie, you started my day off right. I release the machines when I go to the thrift stores. It must be done! Thanks for continually doing good deeds.

  3. I k ow I have said it before, but would live to see you write a book about antique machines! I have learned so much from your blog but you have a book s worth of info.

  4. Wow! Congrats, Bonnie! I love that Bernina.
    And... In fact the antique mall gals should pay you 25% on every vintage sewing machine they sell, because YOU are the one who helps them to present their stuff! This is a real job here in Germany. Shops hire people called "Schauwerbegestalter" (window dresser), to do what you did in the antique mall.

  5. I look forward to seeing this Bernini run on quilt cam!

  6. Love that green machine♥

  7. Long time Bernina girl/lover here! Have a large number of these babies ... old to new and love each one. So glad you've added one to your stable ... looking forward to QuiltCam tonight! Linda

  8. My husband found a Singer Featherweight one time screwed into a cabinet. The cabinet was horrible and the lid was down but her checked. Actually asked the seller to take less than the $25 she was asking. He did good.

  9. Ooooh, I just love your antique mall jaunts!! All those machines! "Let them out!" New mantra. Super excited for your vintage Bernina that fits in a Singer cabinet and we'll get to see it tonight on Quilt Cam. Thank you for inviting us in to sew with you this evening. I'll be working on Scrap Crystals. Hugs, Allison in Plano, Texas USA

  10. I love this story Bonnie. See you running arpind to expose all those loveley machines. Great Bernina you did buy. And I love all your quotes and this one is so true again. Kind regards Conny

  11. So, it's good to know which of all those needles will fit.... as my mother has had some other machines too, for us to point our fingers at! Will show some poetry in motion =^} Thank you for the introduction to my own bernibeany colored precious. When I get it running, I will tell you straight away!
    love, Irene

  12. Jealous! Yes, I am & not ashamed, either. I love old machines. At one time we owned a total if 34 machines. Six of the not antique machines found homes with my sister, nieces, & 2 cousins. They all sew. I haven't been on the hunt for more machines because of current remodeling. I will be on the hunt again soon. I look forward to the quilts who found a new home. That's my other collectible that is on hold. Continue on, Bonnie. Free the machines hidden away in a cabinet.

  13. Wow what a great find!! The next time I am in an antique place I will be sure to take your advice & "Air Out" the machines. Maybe I can get the same crazy quilt lady nickname. Ha HA!! BTW: Where do you store all your lovely machines?

  14. Ok, I just might have to break open my "Priscilla" for Quiltcam tonight. Have to do a little rearranging, and cut some scraps up to make my Hourglass L/E. Good that you took that Detour to find that Bernina. It was waiting for you!

  15. Ok, I just might have to break open my "Priscilla" for Quiltcam tonight. Have to do a little rearranging, and cut some scraps up to make my Hourglass L/E. Good that you took that Detour to find that Bernina. It was waiting for you!

  16. Oh, the same size needles that my daughter's Bernina takes (25 year old 950). At one time the only place we could find them was the repair shop and when that moved farther away, it was not handy to get needles (we used old ones way too long. I finally found Organ brand and I bought 100 size 14 for about $17 some years ago. Then I no longer hesitated to change my needle. I do sometimes think I should look for other sizes and maybe ballpoint for knits. Now I can't find the site where I ordered, but there are many listings on Amazon and other sites. The needles were hard to find because the package doesn't actually list 287wh. I had to dig up that info somewhere. Page I have lists: DB X 1, 16x231, 16x257, 1738. Sorry if this info is already on your site. I should look at your vintage info.

  17. I like it because it's green, my favorite color

  18. Cute cat & I recognize some of those fabrics too as some I recently bought at an estate sale! The stripes & that bright green with pink. Too funny. And beautiful "new" machine.

  19. Fun finds. I went out and did a little machine hunting yesterday at the local thrift stores. None came home, but I did tell the sales gals at one store that they had a machine labeled "Heavy duty" that was just a regular Japanese clone. I didn't want someone to buy it for industrial use and end up just trashing the poor old girl.

    I had to laugh at that cat. It would have matched the cat applique quilt my mom made me when I was a preschooler. That quilt fell apart and is long gone, but I still remember every fabric she used in it and that cat you found had about half of the same fabrics. :D

    Yeah for Quilt-cam (I just hope the kids don't mind me watching it during dinner, hehe.)

  20. Oh my! So love your 'new' Bernina purchase! I must not go into the right antique shops - I am usually lucky to find one or MAYBE 2 sewing machines. Or maybe that really is lucky, I really don't have room for more machines in my house LOL!

  21. Nice machine. The cat is interesting. I recognize the yellow fabric with the little red, blue, green and white flowers. I used it to make a "bicentennial dress/costume" when I was in the 7th grade for a program we put on in school. (I know I'm dating myself.) I still have the dress almost 41 years later...and no it doesn't fit anymore:) Thanks for sharing and stirring up some memories.

  22. I'm curious to know how this machine looked when you first discovered it and what you had to go through to get it up and running. It's a pretty color!

  23. Oh Bonnie. Didn't I attend one of your lectures in May and heard the stories about your moves? And aren't you moving from the cabin eventually and how much room do you have for yet another machine? I sound like your mother don't I? Have fun with it and buy a bigger place!!!

  24. You will LOVE this machine! Rick finally got his Holy Grail 117L the year before last. In my humble opinion, this machine sews the BEST stitch I've ever seen. GREAT FIND!! If you ever find another one, let me know. I have a friend who has been looking forever for a 117.

  25. Oh, THE CAT!!!! I would have had to go home with that lovely item. LOL Thank you for letting the machines out for all to see. Excited to see your vintage Bernina in action. Maybe I will fire up my Featherweight during Quiltcam.

  26. You go, girl!! I suffer gladly from the same "I gotta have it vintage machine affliction" What a beautiful vintage Bernina you found! Just look at her cute little bobbin. You powered her up and she works just fine! Have you named her? So happy for you. I get the same rush when I rescue a vintage lady. I'm up to 13 and counting. My husband bought me a beautiful Free treadle in a gorgeous cross cut oak cabinet at an auction, $20. She has a bobbin like your Bernina. I do the same thing with auctions. They may post a photo of the closed cabinet which tells you very little. Why do they do that?? I go and open up the cabinet to find the treasure hiding inside. I paid $5 for my 401A in a cabinet because nobody wanted her. She's a beauty and I love her and am so happy to give her a home. Enjoy your beautiful new old machine!!

  27. Just wanted you to know that you are a very bad influence! Every time I go to a thrift shop/antique shop I wind up looking for old sewing machines. I have purchased my first vintage machine--a 1951 Singer 128 with the Godzilla finish in a bentwood case. It is in pristine condidition--I think it was used some but it was very well taken care of. Sews like a dream. Now I will be looking for a vintage Bernina. Have you named your new machine yet?

  28. You are so funny! But to tell the truth; I've been doing it for a while now. How the heck do people honestly think they will sell a machine if it's all closed up! Then again... it may raise prices... lol.

  29. Oh my a vintage Bernina! You are one lucky lady!

  30. The beauty for you is you know your machines, what to look for, what to check and you know how to fix them yourself. I'd buy something that was broken or missing a part and then it would cost me big bucks just to get it running! GAH! I'd love to go machine searching with you! Now that would be FUN!

  31. Bonnie, I have a decoupage cat made by my DH's aunt. I was THRILLED when they gave it to me after she passed away! It has a place of honor in my living room. :)

  32. Love your new/old Bernina. I wish I knew more about vintage machines. I have a few but I've gotten stuck more than a few times too. They seem to run OK when I plug them in, but after using them a little bit.....One time it was the tension timing mechanism and it cost $100.00 to fix it! When is a bargain not a bargain? Like someone else mentioned, I wish I had someone who could show me what to check in a vintage machine before buying. Also, there are no antique malls anywhere near me and Craig's List never has much of anything even within 50 miles. You are very lucky!

  33. Bonnie, I loved this post, I also let the machines out when I see them any where. I tell them you can't sell them if people can't see them!!! I love old machines too!

  34. so will she have a name by tonight???? will it be a swiss one, a 40s one,or a greenish one? hmmm betty is a good vintage name...betty bernina???

  35. I can just see you in my minds eye, sneaking around the antique mall letting out the machines. : )
    I have my Mother's old Bernina 117. It is the machine on which I learned to sew. My local Bernina dealer told me parts are getting hard to come by, so I don't know how much I want to use it.

  36. Thanks for the giggle, Bonnie. I can just see you opening up all the machines in the Antique Mall.

  37. What a great find! I recently purchased my first Featherweight in excellent condition. I learned online how to tune her up and she runs great. I more recently found a Spartan machine at an auction and bought her for a song. She'll need a more extensive tune-up but I have no doubt with a little lovin' she'll be in super shape before long. My husband has a fondness for all the wood cabinets of old machines so I have about a dozen old treadle machines throughout my house. I just love the old machines. How good of you "to let them out"!

  38. Would the cat be considered a calico? So love the Bernina. Thrilled to see it and know more about it!

  39. Hi Bonnie,
    Check out this website http://www.naehmaschinenverzeichnis.de/verzeichnis-der-naehmaschinen/bernina/
    From what I read, and if you need translation I am happy to do so... but it says that this model was first produced in the late 1930's. It was a zick-zack but flat bed. The first free-arm zick-zack Bernina was the 125. And I have a 121, which is straight stitch only, but also green. I don't really like the bobbin winder on my vintage machine, but I am able to wind my vintage bobbins on my new computerized Bernina sewing machine. I just wind all my bobbins before. I use my vintage machine when I sew outside and take it to classes. It is quite portable.
    As for name: Why not a name in rumantsch, the 4th national language of Switzerland. Something like Ida (the on who like to work) or Leta (the happy one) or Madleina (rumantsch for Magdalena). Or a common name would also be Beatrice (the one who makes you happy). I am Swiss in case you were wondering...

  40. This model was manufactured 1938-41. The serial numbers are not date related. Just for interest, what is your serial number please? I collect them to maintain some sort of data-base

  41. That Bernina is beautiful, lucky you on that find!


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