Friday, July 24, 2015

Meet Beatrice & Farewell Grampa

Hi everyone! I'm sorry I've been so bad at blogging recently. I did finish my gown, but it's been far too hot to take proper pictures of it, and then I had some personal things pop up that have been eating all of my spare energy. So this post is about a month in the making.

One of these days I might end up with a whole page dedicated to the things I have in my sewing area, which is, at the moment, most of my living room. There's so many lovely items! Last summer my life-partner gifted me a vintage adjustable dress form whom I promptly named Josephine. I have 2 sewing desks (one of which was built by my grampa), a foam mannequin, a lovely Rowenta iron, three sewing machines and a serger. Right now I live in a small two-room apartment (that I'm very certain used to be a single room) and I just have far too many things in general.

The sewing desk my grampa built. Unsure of when, but the original picture was taken at least after 1981.

A photo posted by Crystal Yoner (@totchipanda) on

But not sewing things. One cannot have too many sewing things when one's main hobby is sewing.

A friend of mine recently offered up her sewing machine free to a good home. She'd purchased it second-hand in 1976 and it's been well-loved and well-looked after, but she just didn't need it or use it anymore. It goes forwards and backwards, she said, and that's it. She later found a zipper foot attachment and also offered up a sewing box. I happened to see the post within minutes of her posting it, and quickly snatched both up, which I then picked up a few days later. I hadn't really noticed a lot of details from the picture she'd shared, just that it was an older Singer machine. I was really excited to pick it up, and even more excited once I actually had. I knew right away that she had a real treasure.

Meet Beatrice. She is a #singer #sewingmachine manufactured in 1956 <3

A photo posted by Crystal Yoner (@totchipanda) on

Once I got her home, I unfortunately had to run out the door again so it was several hours before I got to sit down and examine her. I intended to find something on the internet that would help me identify what kind of machine she was, but first I had to locate some key features! Some of the immediate features I noticed were the side-mounted bobbin winder (a feature I've never used! My machines have always had top-winders), separate plugs for the power cord and foot pedal, and a side-loading bobbin case. I didn't really notice the model number on a plate on the front. I googled some keywords and immediately found a helpful database of Singer serial numbers. It took a few minutes to find the serial number on the machine, but I finally found it imprinted on the bottom. It had a double-letter start, so into the appropriate database and...

Oh my.

Oh myyyyy. According to the database, my lovely new friend was manufactured in 1956. That makes her older than my dad, and almost as old as my mum as to make very little difference. I could hardly believe how lucky I was.

Beatrice is a Singer 301A in two-tone beige. She's not black and gold and she doesn't have any decals, and as near as I can tell she's as basic a machine as she ever came, and I am still so thrilled.

The next day I googled a manual, and I'm glad I did. It's been 10 years since I needed to loosen the flywheel in order to wind the bobbin, and I had completely forgotten that that was a thing. Bobbin winding was definitely a mystery. The bobbin is loaded slightly differently from my current machine, and I got the overview on the mechanics and things like where to oil it. Also of interest was some tips on embroidering fabric, special feet (like a bias tape applier!), and perhaps most interestingly, a somewhat offhand comment about using it on a cabinet table. A cabinet table like the one currently sitting in the corner of my living room.

I'm currently in the process of trying to downsize a few things so that I can rearrange my sewing desks, now that the one my grampa built has come back to me. Right now Beatrice and Janome both live on the kitchen on the table with the serger. I've been using Beatrice pretty much exclusively for my recently completed projects, both the 1840s dress and a 1910s corset, and I am so in love. She sews like she was made by angels. She's had a tiny bit of a learning curve, namely in winding the bobbin, of which I only have one, and discovering how the lever on the side controls the stitch length. The most interesting part is that the foot pedal is more of a box with a button, rather than a pedal. I usually sew barefoot, especially in summer (did I mention it's been really really hot?), so that's a bit strange-feeling using only one toe. Interestingly, on a day that wasn't as hot, I was wearing slippers, and the flexible sole made the button operate more like a pedal.

Welcome home, Beatrice. Welcome home.


Friends, I am very sad to say that my grampa passed away on July 23. I was very close to him, and I am very saddened by his passing. He was responsible for so much good in my life, and I am still in disbelief that he is gone. But gone he is, and with upcoming cons and trips, I won't have much time or energy for blogging. So I am going on a writing/sharing hiatus. I will still be reading, so I hope to see all of the lovely things you've been working on.

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