Friday, January 25, 2013

On Baskets, Backings and Bobbin Winders ---

Something must be done.

I’m out of laundry baskets in this house ---it seems they have been adopted for use as other things.

In the bedroom, one once empty and very useful laundry basket now contains all of DH’s tennis gear.  It’s doing a good job corralling all of that tennis stuff into one location, but what about getting the laundry from the dryer to the bed where I usually fold?

And I can’t just blame the DH ---I’ve often used laundry baskets for doing things like hauling mail to the post office, or in the case of this basket…..which seemed to become the eternal resting place of a whole load of gifted shirt parts that I have not had time to strip down, mostly because the strip drawers are full and I’d need more drawers to contain more strips.

backings 002

So this is my plan.  These are all different pieces from different sizes of shirts.  Fronts, Sleeves—both short and long, backs and in some cases yokes.  I am cutting 8-1/2” widths from the pieces and piecing a backing in panels.  Length doesn't matter -- just the width.

The seams will fall where the seams will fall.  It will be very scrappy, very fun, and hopefully make a dent in this laundry basket that I’d rather have back for my laundry!

Yes, I know  -- why not just buy another basket?  Because it doesn’t force me to face a daunting task of piecing a backing from many pieces instead of whimping out and just buying 8 yards of one thing and calling it done.

I’m thinking of the quilter in days gone by, being forced to work with what she had on hand.  Sometimes the best quilts and most inventive uses of fabric came out of necessity, and scarcity of large pieces of yardage.

Yes, I will show pictures when it’s done….It may be hideous!  But I’m bound and determined!

Oh, and the bobbin comment in the subject line of this post?  Look what I got up to last night:

vintagemachines 050

Grease encrusted bobbin winder!

I had to remove Dinah’s bobbin winder to change the rubber tire that had turned to concrete.  Serious.  It was as hard as a rock, and it really didn’t make good contact with the wheel when winding.  It was probably the original bobbin tire for this machine from 1925!

This is no ordinary sewing machine oil build up.  No one coats a bobbin winder in sewing machine oil!  I swear,  this is cooking grease as in “Let’s fry up bacon every morning for breakfast for years and years and years with a sewing machine in the same room” kind of cooking grease.  It was as dried on and as hardened as shellac!

vintagemachines 051


There are still some rusty flecks, but it is much better! And just getting the gunk out of the teeth that run around the edge made the winder run so much better! 

And you would be so proud of me – I have finally mastered the fine art of long bobbin winding!  Woooot!  It’s not as hard as it looks!  And it is really fun to watch that little heart-shaped cam go round and round, and the thread arm go back and forth, precisely laying down line after line after line of thread as the bobbin fills. 

This is the year of “Old dog, New tricks!” and we are on a roll!

How about Quilt-Cam tonight?  Look for me at 9pm Eastern!

Happy Friday, Everyone!  Woot!


  1. You bring back childhood memories for me. My mom sewed all our dresses on a my grandmother's treadle machine,and she taught me to sew doll clothes on it. I remember the noise it used to make. My mom became an expert at putting zippers into our dresses because the treadle machine couldn't make a buttonhole She got a new machine (Bernina 830) in 1972 when I was 10, and the treadle machine hasn't been used since. You make me want to pull it out and try it again the next time I visit.

  2. You've jogged my memory! When I was very young my mom's sewing machine was in the kitchen. I don't remember her sewing too much, my aunt was the seamstress in the family and made my fancy dresses. My mom made a few flannel nightgowns for me. I think she mostly mended clothes with it. Oh, just turned out dozens of terry cloth bibs as gifts! I'm so glad my memory is going deeper...

    The sewing machine was a crinkle finish Singer with a knee control. It was in a cabinet that was closed unless she was sewing. She got rid of that machine a bought a fancy new Kenmore when I learned to sew in the 70s. That machine is still at my parents' house and will be looking for a new home soon. It will not be coming to my house, lol. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but for me, less is better.

    1. Which Kenmore model did she have? I am an old Kenmore fan and am kind of looking for some of my old "friends". Thanks

    2. I don't know, I can look it up when I go the house, I think I'm going down there next weekend.

  3. I love the idea that you use the fabric that you have! And it doesn't matter to me if it is pretty or not, it all has a purpose. I have a pile of cotton shirts from the 80's that is calling my name this week. I want to cut them up (yes I've seen your excellent tutorial!) and use them for a quilt. I also love that you give TLC to those old machines. Super work!!

  4. I have some very large wicker baskets that I use for the miscellany that collects, such as QIP (quilts in process), binding strips to be pressed in half (simplicity's bias tape maker is a huge time saver when doing large or multiple quilts), and fabric scraps in general. And with the wicker, it ALMOST looks decorative!

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  6. (Sorry, that was me not Ambrose (my sweet DH.)

    Look at you go. Those machines couldn't have gone to a better place. Will these shirts be the backing to your strippy flying geese?

  7. I, too, have one(!) laundry basket with parts and pieces to cut up. I am determined not to buy another. You've inspired me to get it cleaned up when I get home.

  8. I have one laundry basket, used only for laundry, but I do have a bunch of "green" baskets that we bought to use instead of bags at the grocery store. They come in handy for lots of things.
    In my longarm studio sits my grandmother's Singer treadle. Bought new in 1925 for her by my grandfather. I am watching with great interest how you are refurbishing this one, as I will be fixing up mine this year.
    Happy Quilting
    Barb from Canada

  9. Anonymous10:00 AM EST

    I am sure that much grease ON anything!!! is "illegal" to show online to us gentle folk lolol!

    Treadles were an appliance in days gone by. They sew in the kitchen while waiting during food preps. They spent SO MUCH TIME in the kitchen!
    Smiles to you and Dinah

  10. Next time you come to town I need you to show me how to thread my treadle machine! Tried using the directions on the internet but I have declared myself hopeless!

  11. Whoa! There's an interesting dual lesson in the greasy machine. Can you imagine: if cooking grease does that to a sewing machine's innards over time...what it does to our innards?!

    And on that cheerful note...looking forward to QC tonight; I have the facing on a quilted hanging to tack down!

  12. Since my tub of strips was packed so firmly, I transferred them to my larger laundry basket while working on the 288 strip geese for a queen size quilt. Still, the pile refuses to go down. I think strips, like metal coat hangers, reproduce in captivity! Maybe a stripy keyboard type border will help???

  13. Good job of cleaning the bobbin winder! Looks like should work for many years to come! You go, girl!
    You had asked what we do when one of our scrap drawers are full. Me-get a bigger drawer and keep going! lol

  14. Great job of cleaning that old bobbin winder! my oh my! i wish we lived closer so we can tinker together !

  15. Looking good, so good! I learned about a new thing this week, if you want to go a step further with the cleaning...Maas metal polish!
    (Also Simichrome, or any of those paste polishes that come in a little tube). Works outrageous good!!! I learned about it on lizzielenard blog, where, today she actually has an article about those long bobbins, you might like to check out!
    Here: http://www.lizzielenard-vintagesewing.blogspot.co.uk/

  16. Here are her posts about the cleaning. There's even a video. So awesome. I really think you will like the pix too.

  17. You've inspired me to do with what I have! You were very busy last night. Congrats to you!

  18. Hooray for quilt cam tonight! I'll be working on Easy Street blocks. I have 9 left to piece.

  19. Your idea for the quilt back is an interesting one. Reminds me of the 1600 or jelly roll quilts in concept. I think it would turn out amazing to use 8, 10 or even 12 inch strips and let the seams fall where they may. Would be a lot faster then cutting blocks- lol

  20. what do you use to soften up the shellac, and to clean the mechanics inside??

  21. Limits can promote creativity. And you don't need more baskets , you need less stuff in them. I understand totally.

  22. Limits can promote creativity. And you don't need more baskets , you need less stuff in them. I understand totally.

  23. Anonymous1:22 PM EST

    Have you ever used "Bar Keeper's Friend"? It's a white powder cleanser that comes in a "Comet"-like can, but it doesn't have the unpleasant smell and isn't harmful to your hands. It works great on removing the grease from the outside of skillets and works wonderfully on removing stains from my white porcelain sinks. You can find it in your local grocery store with other similar cleansers. I wouldn't suggest it on your decals, but would be great on your metal parts.

  24. Yeah - Quilt Cam! Also, LOVE your commitment to USE WHAT YOU HAVE. That has been my mantra and my goal lately too. USE WHAT I HAVE. Still waiting on pins and needles for my Quiltmaker so I can see your awesome articles. I'm all in on Lazy Sunday and I haven't seen it yet, and with an Irish heritage of my own....I LOVE the little St. Patty's block you previewed! Can't wait to make a few. (I was even tempted to figure out the cutting on my own...but I'm focusing on finishing Easy Street and Midnight Flight...better use of time) See you tonight.

  25. I knew you could master the long bobbins! Way to go!

  26. i am sew glad you waited for quilt cam until i got off of work! let the weekend begin! 8)

  27. I know some of the grease build up is from cooking but I wonder if someone used kitchen oil for oiling the machine?

  28. Anonymous9:20 AM EST

    Also has the look of old grease, the type that is used on old machines as parts used oil and gears and metal parts used grease and when it gets hard and older than dirt looks like that. Who knows mamas used to do what they had to do with but glad you got it off . Bonnie We are practically neighbors as I live in Walkertown,NC not far from Walburg. Come play with me....


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