Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A new home for Peggy

For several years I have had a quilt demonstration booth at our local Heritage Day festival.  I've always thought it would be great to have a treadle sewing machine that could be a hands-on part of the display. (Maybe feet-on is more accurate.)

The Museum has several machines, but the only one that appears to be in working order is an 1870's Wheeler & Wilson.   I don't want to risk moving it around and using it outdoors at a community festival.  Way too much risk of damage!

So, on a whim I checked out Craig's List for a treadle machine this past week.  And I found "Peggy."  She runs like a charm, and as soon as I can get some practice in I think we'll make a great demonstration team.
Introducing.... Peggy!
Her Damascus badge and decals are very worn,
but she runs smoothly and sews a nice seam.

She's a Damascus Vibrating Shuttle Treadle sewing machine sold by Montgomery Ward.  I've been trying to find out more about the machine, but very little is available.  It seems that "Damascus" was a badge name put on a National Sewing Machine 'Eldredge' model made specifically to be sold by Montgomery Ward.

Her serial number under the bobbin cover is 2901079 with the letter Z stamped above the serial number.  Unfortunately, it looks like nobody kept a listing of serial numbers and dates for the National Sewing Machines.  The machine belonged to the seller's grandmother, Peggy, and they thought it was made around 1902.  Without a doubt I had to name her after Peggy, don't you think?

There might be some clues in the manual that came with her.  First, there is no copyright date.  This might indicate that it was made before copyright dates were printed on the manuals.  I found a manual on line with a copyright date of 1925.  From the photos in that manual, I can see it is clearly a newer model machine version than mine, so I will conclude for now that "Peggy" was made before that year.  Montgomery Ward was an Eldredge customer as early as 1889 for badged machines.  The chain lift technology for the cabinet was patented in 1902-1909, so that gives me an earliest possible date.
Original manual!

A second clue is a number in the top left corner of the manual cover. 10M-2-23-Irwin   So, maybe it was made as recently as 1923.  So, for now I have about a 20 year age range: 1902 - 1923.

 There are a few people who have on line conversation threads about Damascus machines, but the conversations I have found are three to ten years old.  In fact, some of the sites haven't been updated or posted in years and many of the links don't work.  I doubt they are still checking or involved in those web sites after all this time. (Maybe there is hope that what we put on the internet won't last forever after all!)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Piecing away in the rain

It's been a wet and stormy couple of days here.  Lovely weather for time at the sewing machine!

First off, I completed a UFO row from a row-by-row that I started a couple of years ago.  Each month has a row.  Whoo Hoo!  August is finished!  (I have now also discovered that long skinny rows are super hard to photograph. But here it is lined up on the patio steps.)


And, I've been keeping up with Circa 2016 blocks. The little Shoo-Fly blocks from last week are adorable!  I had such fun making a whole bunch.  Yes, I know I only need two.

Shoo Fly blocks
This weeks' blocks were Friendship Star.  The little gray and red one that didn't want to lie flat for photos is so sweet, but it won't make it into Circa 2016.  My background fabric is also gray, so it won't show up well.  Not to worry, I'll find another use for that little cutie.

Friendship Star blocks
As for the rain... There was a thunderstorm late Saturday night that gave us 3.1 inches in the rain gauge.  Then another storm swept through Sunday night, and Monday it continued to rain.  We dumped another 3 inches out of the rain gauge after lunch.  By dinner time an additional 3.5 inches had fallen.  My sister stayed up for the week, and we'll get a final total tomorrow, but that's already 9.6 inches of rain in less than 32 hours!  

And at home a mere 2 hours drive south... not a drop.  The storms are tracking north.  But, the evening meeting I came home for was cancelled. Yippee!  Time to do a little more piecing.  Log cabins are on the agenda.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Keeping up with the Quilters

A busy summer here, how about you?  But I'm keeping up with a couple of sew-alongs.

Temecula Quilt Company's "Circa 2016" has us make two blocks each Friday.  Haven't made this week's blocks yet.  They've given me pause.  The pieces are awfully tiny and my machine doesn't like pieces that small.  Chews them right up because of the wide feed-dogs.  (sigh)  But here's the last few weeks blocks...

And there's a Basket Medallion sew-along going on too.  Lots of freedom with this one. They give you a theme and you just run with it in whatever direction your heart desires.

I had one orphan basket block, so thought I'd use that for the center theme which was selected in May.  The June theme for the next row was 'childhood.'  My childhood days were spent playing with my sister, so I chose to make Sister's Choice blocks.  They ended up an odd size because I used bonus HST's that were 1-3/4 inches square.  So, I added a narrow tan border to make things match up.

Here's what it looks like so far, and I'm lovin' it!
(The little basket in the corner was another option, just in case the on-point plan didn't work out.)

Have a great weekend!

Friday, June 10, 2016

The rescued quilt top

Just checking in from tropical Minnesota.  Whew!  Summer is officially here!

This week there's a new addition to the WIP pile.  While taking a quick look through the fabric at our local thrift store I was amazed to find this beautifully made quilt top just waiting for a new home.  (As if I don't have enough tops that I've made in the pile ready to be quilted!)   How could anyone let it sit forlornly at the store, unwanted and unloved?   It took about a minute to decide it needed to come home with me.

Does anyone recognize the pattern or designer?  I wonder if it is from a class, or block of the month.  I couldn't come close to buying that amount of fabric for what the price was. And it was 25% off because it was Thursday.  OK with me!

I doubt I'll ever know who pieced this, but I hope I can finish it for her, and perhaps then donate it to someone else who will enjoy it.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Gifted Concerto

Violin Concerto has found a new home.  A family friend was in a skiing accident and has a long recovery ahead.  As a youth, he played the violin.  Perfect fit!  It was gifted this afternoon.  Should be a good size for a lap or wheelchair quilt.  I was glad to see how well he is doing!
In another re-use of scraps:  The next Circa 2016 block was posted and I WAS able to use the leftovers from last week's blocks. Last time, I used the Magic 8 method to make the very small HST's. The block used 12 of the 16 HST's that were made.  Those leftover 4 pieces fit right into this week's block!  Can you see them?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Little Log Cabins Mini

The extra little log cabin blocks from Circa 2016 have become a May Mini.  This little 8 x 11-inch quilt can be tucked just about anywhere around the house for a splash of color.  And it's small enough to fit a standard picture frame too!  So many possibilities!
I'm struggling with last Friday's Circa 2016 block though.  Making HST's that finish at 3/4-inch is ridiculously small - even for me.  I think I'll make the HST blocks with the Magic 8 method to keep the pieces a manageable size and hopefully eliminate a lot of the twisting I get on my machine as I start and end on little pieces.  Each block takes 12 little HST's, so I will have to start with two pairs of 3.5-inch squares for each block.  There will be a few leftover, but they might come in handy later on.  We'll see.  I can guarantee I won't be making any extras on that one!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Denim and flannel quilt

Front side
Happy Birthday to my DS!  This year he had a special request for his birthday... a heavy denim quilt.  It's taken some time, but it was a great scrap buster!  Four yards of flannel out of the stash, and my box of old jeans is practically empty.  Whoo-hoo!

I like to make denim quilts double sided.  Each piece has denim on one side and flannel on the other.  I stitch them together in four-patches with the seams on one side. Then sew those blocks together with the seams on the opposite side.  That way the seams aren't all on one side.

Cloudy day for photos.  The flannels are mostly forest greens, dark green plaids and white with bears or pine trees.
back side

I haven't made too many rag edge quilts.  They are SO MESSY.  But I tried something new this time and I think it made a big difference controlling the mess when I washed & dried it to get the edges to frizz up.  Here's the steps:

1. After snipping the seams every 1/4 inch or so, tumble the dry quilt in the dryer on Cool Tumble for 20 minutes. Clean the lint trap out every 10 minutes.
2.  Take outdoors and hang over the clothesline.  Brush off as much of the fuzz and threads as you can.
3.  Place in washer on setting that gives the most water in the washer. (large load for me)  Set a timer, and stop the washer just before it discharges the water.
4.  Take a wire strainer from the kitchen and swish it through the water in the washer to take out as many of the thread particles as possible.  This was a brilliant idea!  I scooped out a huge amount of fibers and kept them from going through all the washing machine plumbing lines.
5.  Put a lint collecting net or nylon sock over the washer discharge tube.  Start discharging the water from the washer.  Stop the washer if necessary several times to clear out the lint sock/net.
6.  Take the quilt back out to the clothes line.  Shake and beat to get as much of the lint off as possible.
7.  Tumble in the dryer at medium temperature.  Set a timer and clean out the lint trap every 10 minutes.
8.  Out to the clothesline again and brush off the remaining lint.  A whisk broom might help here.

All done!  And what a difference it made to my washer & dryer and the household plumbing as well.