**My apologies to my Facebook friends who have already heard this story.** This is the sad unloved condition of my little 221K when I found her. This was my first sighting of an albino featherweight and I was smitten. But, so much dirt! I think the people at the thrift shop must have thought she was a toy since no self respecting sewist would let his/her tools get in this condition. You can see there were places that stickers had been removed and the back of the case has some red magic marker on it. But, do you see that price??? Be still my heart!
I had gone to the thrift shop to look at a black Singer to check the serial number for the model. I had decided it wasn’t one I wanted so I was just wandering the shop. As I came around a corner there was a couple in front of me. The man said….”what’s that?” The woman said….”the tag says Singer”. My heart stopped. Even if it was an empty case I would have bought it. I stayed back, lurking, looking uninterested but making sure nobody was coming up behind me. I was going to defend that aisle and the thing tagged Singer if that couple moved on.
Oh my gosh….they moved on! I swooped in and snatched up the case. An eagle after a rabbit couldn’t have been faster. It was heavier than a box so it had something in it. I gently raised the lid and peeked inside, not even taking the machine out so I didn’t risk a sneak attack by another shopper. Keeping a straight, uninterested face I made my way to the front to pay. Then my heart nearly stopped as the cashier said, “What’s this?” and opened it. Then she said,” looks like a pretty dirty toy”. Not saying anything I kept a poker face,paid for it and calmly walked to the door. Ron was waiting in the car and he knew by the way I was smiling as I came out that I had found a treasure.
It took me 2 days to make sure she was properly cleaned and oiled. I am still working on getting the flywheel off. So many vintage machines had WD40 used on them. That stuff turns to varnish over the years and glues metal together. But she sews. And she sews perfectly.
….since I was inspired to work on new pieces. I haven’t really figured out what the road block to my creativity has been, I just know that I haven’t been inspired to work! So I thought I needed to get back to some basics. I worked on a couple of UFO’s and they are nearly completed and up on the design wall in the studio waiting for quilting. They will get further along next week for sure. But, I still was in a creative funk. What I do should NOT be work.
Then a couple of things happened a few days ago. I unearthed a treasure of a 221K machine at Goodwill. For those who aren’t machine aficionados, that is known as a Singer Featherweight. And it is white, or as my friend Marie said, glowy green. After getting it cleaned, oiled and adjusted I became obsessed with making something! Ron said if he knew $8 (the cost of the machine) would do that he would have given me $8 sooner! Such a kidder…eye roll!
The second thing that happened was I found fat quarters and 1/2 yd cuts of some fantastic fabrics at the Humane Society Thrift shop. They spoke to me. And they are all fused up waiting to be cut for a special landscape quilt. I am excited! I think I may have my mojo back!
My new love affair is with a gadget. Quilters love gadgets, artists love gadgets and gadgets can be pretty pricey. So I usually stay away from them. I finally bit the bullet and bought a new gadget.
It is for my mid-arm machine. That awful thing that I swore would not beat me. I have modified it and can quilt on it…..sometimes. Then I bought a Towa bobbin gauge. I looked at these for a few years. It finally dawned on me that you NEVER see a used one for sale. Huh. Must be a reason for that, right? Sort of like your favorite pair of scissors that you would never part with. So I bought one with birthday money from my dad. Thank you, thank you, thank you Daddy!
Here are some pictures of a test I did on my sample piece. I used a prewound bobbin and set the tension for Sofine. Perfect stitches on the swirls you see. Then I wanted to try Star cotton. Mind you, I have NEVER EVER been able to use any cotton thread in this machine. First I just changed thread and that is the mess of eyelashes you see. Then I reset the bobbin tension for the thread….and got perfect or near perfect stitches. I could kick myself for not buying this sooner!
I think I struck gold! Extracting the dye from dried marigolds couldn’t have been easier. Simply put them into a jar and cover with water. There is almost immediate color. The problem was that in all my resource materials the only marigold dye recipe I found was for fresh petals. So as is common for me, it was a seat of the pants moment.
I soaked 50 grams of dried petals overnight. Then I drained them, reserving the liquid gold. I put the soaked petals into a large crockpot and simmered on low setting for 2 hours. Some natural dyes tend to go brown if the heat is too high so I use my crockpot in the studio to keep the heat low and constant.
I love the variation of colors from the dye pot. The lemon yellow silks are a ray of sunshine. The indigo pieces that were over-dyed got some much needed zip. The eco-printed long sleeved tee looks amazing and I love the splash of color added to the linen scarves. There was a lot of color changed on the indigo scarf, but not as much on the logwood. I think they are all keepers. The bonus is that I still have 2 quarts of dye extract. I will have to figure out a WOF (weight of fabric) recipe for fellow dyers who like things more exact!
By the end of autumn, my marigolds were in over drive. Yellow ones, orange ones and red/orange ones. A bucket over my arm and fingers ready to pinch there lovely heads off was all I needed. They dried all winter and with dyeing season coming into full swing, it was time to see what these would do, but first the petals had to be separated from the sepal and the receptacle. But never fear, nothing is going to waste.
The sepals when soaked overnight in a pot yielded a soft yellow after a little alum was added. I was surprised! I might have been able to leave them all attached but would not want to dilute the strength of the final marigold dye bath.
Next up, results!