Tag Archives: sewing machines

My new sewing machine – It’s 1969

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So, welcome to the first post in my serie “My new sewing machine“. As you might have already imagined, I was eager to sew something with my new Bernina. I won’t talk much about the machine again, as I have already written a whole post about her.

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The attachment list of the Bernina dates from 12/1968, the machine itself was made in early 1969, according to the serial number. So, what was 1969 like?

(all information from the above linked Wikipedia-page)
Looking back 1969 seems to have been all about space. In early  January  the Soviet union sends probes to Venus and Soyuz spaceships  into the sky, the US sends Mariner probes to mars only weeks later and uses Apollo 9 and 10 as test runs for the lunar mission. The hightlight of course being the moon landing of Apollo 11 on July 20, followed by the moon landing of Apollo 12 already in november.

While the Beatles give their last public performance in January and John Lennon marries Yoko One in march, Elvis is in the middle of his comback and Led Zeppelin release their first Album. In August the famous Woodstock Festival  turns three days into an immortal part of music history. “The Godfather” is published and the “Sesame Street” comes to american living rooms, both influencing pop culture until today.

Technical progress can be marked by the first implant of an artificial heart, the maiden flight of the Boing 747 and the first test flight of the Concorde in France, while inMoscow the Tupolev TU-44 had had her first flight already on New Year’s Eve of 1968, two months earlier. These two are the the only commercial supersonic aircrafts until today.

Politics: Richard Nixon becomes president of the USA, Georges Pompidou of France, Willi Brandt chancellor of West Germany (in the same year, Muammar Gaddafi takes over power in Libya, imagine how long all the other politicians had retired and how recently Gaddafi was ousted). The Vietnam war is present age as still is the Cold war.

Born in 1969: Michael Schumacher, Marilyn Manson (interesting side note: the Manson Family was very active later in 1969 and Charles Manson arrested for the crimes he had commited), Dave Grohl, Alexander McQueen, Cate Blanchett, Steffi Graf, Oliver Kahn, Jay Z, Richard Hammond and so many more

Died in 1969: Boris Karloff, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Judy Garland, Walter Gropius, Otto Dix, Rocky Marciano, Ho Chi Minh and so many more

So, this would be in your mind or in the near future if you had got a new sewing machine in 1969. While history knows no copyright, magazines do, so I won’t be able to show you a bouquet of 69’s fashion, but limit myself to some links: here’s what you find when you search the V&A’s online database for fashion from that year, see it as a little “défilé de mode”. The seamstress might be more interested to sewing magazines of the said year, here you can find the Burda issue of march 1969, the issue I made today’s project from.

First I thought of this project as a complete fail. I mean, when you get a sewing machine that can do so many interesting and decorative stitches, my project maybe wouldn’t be your first choice. But on the other hand, maybe I first wanted to test the sewing before I headed towards the more fancy bits, no-one said I can only write one post about each sewing machine 😛

So, this is the project I went for:

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I don’t wear trousers that much, but if, I mostly wear jeans. simply because that’s all I have, I didn’t own one single pair of trousers made from another fabric when I started this project. So I thought, why not sew something I could use better than a fancy late 60ies dress I would most probably never wear. In my stash I found navy blue trouser-fabric, a polyester-viscose-spandex-fabric with a little stretch.

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I can’t tell you much interesting about the sewing itself. The hips were much too round and I had to alter them more than once, I am still not happy with them, but it’s ok. The trousers close with a zip in the front, the belt is completely seperate and optional to wear. I lined it with some patterned Ikea-fabric, the same fabric I used for the facing inside the waistband. A leftover of plastic boning gives it the stiffness it needs, I assume the original was made from sturdier fabric.

The pattern was surprisingly short. I am shorter than the average woman and the hem was even higher as you see now and I still would like it to be a little longer.

Well, not the best fitting project, but wearable.

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And to save the best for last: Each day you can pick up a free newspaper on Switzerland’s stations (not very high journalism, but well, it’s for free), each friday the same boxes contain a fashion and lifestyle magazine. This friday said magazine told me, that the 70ies will be very “en Vogue” this year. And look what was featured in the photo gallery: Navy blue flared trousers in a polyester-acetate-cotton-fabric by miu miu. Price? 650€. Considering that my fabric cost me 15CHF I still have plenty of room (meaning money) to produce the perfect fitting navy-blue-trousers for this season and will be, for once, totally fashionable.

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Auf Deutsch:

So, es hat ein Weilchen gedauert, aber endlich, willkommen zur ersten Folge meiner Serie “My new sewing machine“, was wäre wenn meine Nähmaschine neu wäre?
Da mein letzter Neuzugang die Bernina 730 war, lag es nahe, mit dieser Maschine zu beginnen. Viel zu ihr sagen muss ich glaub ich nicht mehr, sie hat ja bereits einen eigenen Post bekommen.
Während die Packliste im Koffer von 12/1968 datiert, ist die Maschine laut Seriennummer vom Anfang des Jahres 1969. Also, was passierte denn damals so? (ich habe als Grundlage für die Daten die englische Wikipedia-Seite genommen, daher verlinke ich hier zur englischen Version ).

Das Jahr 1969 stand ganz im Zeichen der Raumfahrt.  Während die Sowiet Union Soyuz-Kapseln startete und Sonden zur Venus schickte, machte die Nasa ähnliches mit Mars-Sonden und startet die Apollo-Missionen 9 und 10 als Testläufe für die Mondlandung. Die Landung der Apollo 11 auf unserem Trabanten am 20 Juli ist wohl allgemein bekannt, bereits im November landete dann die zweite Mondmission, Apollo 12, ebenfalls dort.

Im Januar gaben die Beatles ihren letzten Live-Auftritt und John Lennon heiratete Yoko Ono, Elvis war mitten in seinem Comeback und Led Zeppelin veröffentlichten ihr erstes Album. Das Woodstock-Festival im August ging in die Musik-Geschichte ein.  Mario Puzo veröffentlichte sein Buch “Der Pate” und  die erste Folge der Sesamstrasse flackerte über amerikanische Fernsehbildschirme, beide haben bis heute ihren Einfluss auf die Popkultur nicht verloren.

Auch technisch tat sich einiges. Das erste provisorische künstliche  Herz wurde implantiert, die Boing 747 hatte ihren Jungfernflug und die Concorde hob das erste Mal zu einem Testflug ab, zwei Monate nach dem ersten öffentlichen Flug der Tupolev TU-44, beide bleiben bis heute die einzigen kommerziellen Überschall-Flugzeuge.

Jaaa, Politik: In den USA wird Richard Nixon Präsident, in Frankreich Georges Pompidou. Westdeutschland sieht Willi Brandt Kanzler werden (um sich mal über die Verhältnisse klar zu werden: Alle drei Politiker sind schon so lange Teil der Geschichte. Im selben Jahr übernahm Muammar  Gaddafi die Macht in Libyen und dass er entmachtet wurde ist ja nun wirklich nicht lange her). Der Vietnamkrieg gehörte ebenso  zur tagtäglichen Wirklichkeit wie der kalte Krieg zwischen den Blöcken.

Wer wurde geboren:
Michael Schumacher, Marilyn Manson (interessant übrigens, dass 69 ebenso das Jahr der Manson-Family-Morde und der Verhaftung von Charles Manson ist),  Dave Grohl, Alexander McQueen, Cate Blanchett, Steffi Graf, Oliver Kahn, Jay Z, Richard Hammond und viele weitere.

Wer starb:
Boris Karloff, Dwight D Eisenhower, Judy Garland, Walter Gropius, Otto Dix, Rocky Marciano,  Ho Chi Minh und viele weitere

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So, das wäre also die  Gegenwart bzw. die nahe Zukunft Anfang 1969. Während Daten und Geschichte kein Copyright kennen, tun es Zeitschriften durchaus, so dass ich euch keinen bunten Bilderbogen der 69er Mode zeigen kann.  Als kleine Modenschau soll euch diese Auswahl der Mode-Sammlung des V&A dienen. Für die Hobbynäherinnen natürlich interessant, was nähte man denn 1969?  Hier ein Link zur Burda-Ausgabe vom März 1969, der Ausgabe aus welcher das heutige Projekt auch stammt.

Am Anfang dachte ich,  ich hätte eine totale Fehlentscheidung getroffen. Wer so eine Maschine mit Zierstichen bekommt, näht doch keine Hose?! Nun ja, vielleicht mag ich sie erstmal kennenlernen, die Zierstiche kommen dann später 😛 Sagt ja niemand, dass jede Nähmaschine nur einen Post bekommen darf.
Da ich nicht viele Hosen trage, aber wenn dann Jeans (einfach weil ich nur Jeans habe) , dachte ich es wäre an der Zeit für eine Stoffhose.  Einen dunkelblauen Polyester-Viskose-Spandex-Hosenstoff hatte ich noch da und los ging es.

Über das Nähen kann ich gar nicht viel spannendes verlieren. Die Hüften waren viel zu rund, ich musste die Naht mehrere Male ändern, inzwischen geht es, auch wenn perfekt was anderes ist. Die Hose wird ganz normal mit Reissverschluss in der Mitte geschlossen, der Gürtel ist optional. Mit dem gleichen Blümchenstoff  wie innen im Gürtel habe ich auch den Beleg in der Hose gemacht. Damit die Ecken nicht umknicken ist er mit einem Rest Plastikkorsagenband verstärkt.

Der Schnitt ist auffällig kurz. Ich bin ja schon kurz geraten, aber die Hose wie ihr sie seht ist schon unterhalb der eigentlichen Saumlinie umgenäht und ich hätte sie sogar gerne noch ein Stückchen länger gehabt.

Im grossen und ganzen nicht perfekt, aber tragbar.

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Und das Beste zum Schluss: Jeden Tag gibt es hier in der Schweiz an den Bahnhöfen eine Gratis-Zeitung. Nicht grad die hohe Kunst des Journalismus, aber dafür eben gratis. Freitags liegt anstatt dessen eine Mode-Lifestyle-Zeitschrift in den Verteiler-Boxen. Diesen Freitag sagte mir das bunte Papier, dass die 70er in diesem Jahr absolut im Trend wären. Und was war auf einem der Fotos zu sehen? Dunkelblaue Stoffhosen aus einem Polyester-Acetat-Baumwoll-Gemisch von miu miu. Der Preis? 650€
Der Sitz von meiner Variante mag nicht perfekt sein, aber da ich für den Stoff auch nur 15 Fr. gezahlt habe, bleibt mir reichlich Spielraum um  das Höschen zu perfektionieren und nur ein einziges Mal komplett auf Höhe der Mode zu sein. Wahnsinn…

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blouse: Nine Bird (via Fizzen) – trousers: made by me using Burda magazine 3/1969 – shoes: vintage (via Fizzen)

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Soviel für heute, alles Liebe

So much for today, see you soon,

ette

My new series – My new sewing machine!

For quite some time I have had a little idea working in my mind. I mentioned it very shortly in my post about my new old Bernina 730, but I wanted to be prepared for the series to start before I really announce it. But finally here it comes.

As I have said in the above-mentioned post, I love old sewing machines. I love to imagine how the previous owners worked with them, what dresses were created on them, how the rooms they stood in looked like and so on. My Singer Featherweight had a little handwritten note attached to the sewing table with some old adhesive tape, I was so sad when the mechanic who maintained it last year removed it without even asking me.

Now, my idea: I don’t want to leave it at speculating what could have been back then, but try to re-imagine the original environment of my sewing machines as accurately as I can.

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First step would be to narrow down the manufacturing date, the older the machine, the more difficult this will be, I fear. Next step is to find information about this time period. How would the world look like, which people were famous, are there important dates in history connected to it? What did the first owner possibly wear, what was eaten at lunchtime, how much did she (or he) pay for the sewing machine. And, third step: What would be sewn on it when it was new? What pattern styles were popular, what fabric would have been considered modern, what could have been the first project made with the new helper.

I plan to make a little series, including the ideas above, featuring each one of my machines. I don’t plan to make it a regular feature, but will post it whenever a project matches.
If you own a more or less old machine yourself and want to participate, I would love it! Please feel free to use the icon above and link back to my blog. There are no period restrictions, I am equally open for late 19th century creations or early 1990ies projects.
You can include whatever you want. Dates, facts, photos, recipes, everything you consider helpful to create an image of the time given. But you will have to include a sewing project and it has to be made on the sewing machine presented! Yes, this is the mean part. Feel free to create a breathtaking art-nouveau-gown, but create it only on your period machine, no serger, no zig-zag-stitching, no computer-backed embroidery, you get it 😉

So, are you with me?

And if someone is interested: This cute but hilarious image above I cut from a sewing machine add found in the Burda-issue of march 1956. I just love how she hugs this presumably quite heavy machine.  The add is for Frigor-Sewing machines, a brand I had never heard of before. It seems as if they produced radios and things like that until 1952, then went bankrupt. From 1953 what seems to be the same enterprise, produced sewing machines. I found Hague (Netherlands) and Munich (Germany) as production sites, but one machine on ebay had a plague saying “licensed in Switzerland, produced in France”.  My otherwise always helpful book on old sewing machines can’t add any more information and even the world wide web proofed not fruitful at all.

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The machines have a very distinct, “atomic” 50ies style and are very reasonable priced if you want to buy them today, something around 50€ if you find one. Back in the 50ies this was in fact a comparably expensive machine. The add from 1956 names a price of 712 Mark, this equals nearly 1700€ today! But it seems to have had some fun features, too. It was already able to sew straight and zig-zag, to darn, to make buttonholes and attach buttons and even had some decorative stitches. But the best thing, look at the upper picture on the left:You didn’t have to change the needle as we know it today but, to prevent confusion on how it should be placed, you could just throw the needle into a little hole on the top and it fell into the right position all by itself, magic!

I hope you will like this little series and I would love if someone decides to join me. Stay curious for the first post, see you soon,

ette

 

 

A new one in the team

Every now and then I write about the little helpers without all the sewing projects I post here wouldn’t be possible. They do have their own tag and once in a while they even get a post all for themselves (some of these posts were deleted when my blog moved to the new url a year ago, at the moment there is only one post left online).

I am talking about my sewing machines. Whereas many bloggers sew after historical patterns most of them use more or less modern sewing machines and don’t talk about them a great deal. But antique mechanics fascinates me and despite the lack of space I can’t help allowing another machine to join my “collection” every now and then. Apart from having to be somehow interesting to me they do have to work. Apart from 1,5 exceptions all my machines can still sew and are still, more or less often, in use (1,5 because one is actually working but the wire needs to be replaced and without this being done I don’t dare to use it, the other may even be working but I never tried, it is even older than the other and I want my father to check the wires and change the plug before I try).

The age of my machines ranges from the early 1900s to the late 1960ies. The oldest two are handwheel-operated and not very handy to work with, these are the ones I use least. The two I use most are my 1948 Singer Featherweight and my foot pedal-operated Pfaff 30 from 1932.

Today I want to show you the newest addition to the family, but there is a little story behind. Last year in Spring my father and I were browsing ebay for fun, searching for special sewing machines and children’s ones (my father collects the latter). This all went via telephone and emails because we live 700km apart. Amongst all the other fun and/or interesting links he sent me the auction link to a General Electric Sewhandy. As it turned out, this model was copied by Singer with the well-known Featherweight.

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As you can imagine this was an auction on ebay.com (I can’t imagine finding the GE on german ebay). My father knew he would fly to the US later that year so he won the auction and had it send to a friend of his. We already were a little confused when the link with the tracking number said something about a 40 pounds-package (the GE-machine was supposed to weight 12 pounds). But my father didn’t want to cause any extra work and decided to wait until he got to the United States himself in the summer, we couldn’t think of anything really going wrong.

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Well…it did. When he finally came to open the package he did not find, as expected, a cute 30ies green GE sewing machine, but a massive beige 60ies Bernina. Bummer!

All attempts to contact the seller were ineffective and so he had to decide what to do with it. The GE would have fitted into his suitcase, the Bernina definitely was a piece of luggage on its own and the airline asked a ridiculously high price for it. But my father didn’t have the heart to dump it. So many accessories came with it, the manual, the case, everything was there and in pretty good condition and the machine itself was working.

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On the spur of the moment he removed the needle, put all loose parts and his intended hand luggage in his suitcase and headed to the security check with the Bernina to board with him. Technically a small sewing machine as hand luggage shouldn’t be a problem, still it is advised to inform the security personnel beforehand because it is a rather unusual object to take with you. Well he didn’t have the time to do so and this machine was everything but small. And being 40 pounds it was just a tiny bit heavier than the 16 pounds allowed for hand luggage.

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my right hand isn’t even capable of holding the camera properly, please excuse the blurryness.

Well…it worked! Back in Germany he bought a power transformer to make it work with the 230 V  voltage here in Europe and when my brother came to help us with the move to our new apartment, he brought the Bernina with him.

My dear, welcome home!

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It is a Bernina 730, a very strong and reliable machine built from 1963-1982, mine is the record variant. According to the serial number it was built in 1969.

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What makes the 730 special is the then new knee lift. This is not, as with other machines I own, used instead of the foot pedal, but serves as a third hand to lift the sewing foot. Until today this system is available for most Bernina machines.

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And another thing makes this machine special: To sew decorative stitches it was long necessary to insert little discs into a certain slot. The shape of the disc determined the stitch. That meant that you were able to use a vast variety of stitches, but that you had to store all discs in a separate box. The 730 has a dizzying mechanic inside that makes it possible to chose from a set of decorative stitches without changing any discs at all.

no wonder this country is also famous for its clockworks
no wonder this country is also famous for its clockworks

I already sewed a little bit with it and it really works great. I even sew knits and it feels ok (I hate sewing knits, but I need to reduce my storage)! What I haven’t tried out yet is how the decorative stitches look but I see no reason why they shouldn’t work.

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And because all these machines get far too little attention on this blog (and maybe on others, too), I plan to introduce a little series related to them so stay curious!

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See you soon, love,

ette

 

back home

Yes, it’s been a while…

I am really sorry for having disappeared from the screen without saying anything at all.
It all began when someone else was chosen for a job I had so longed to get. This made me hit the ground really hard, not only because I had hoped to be the lucky one, but also because so many people had encouraged me to apply and had given me some positive signals regarding my success. Most of the weeks passed in a blur, I felt terrible, unmotivated and I have to thank my costiveness and my last bit of reason for not letting me buy my first pack of cigarettes in eight years.

The second thing that was really killing me was our apartment. I had to go by train so early each day and came back so late. It was dark, gloomy and because of its size and the little time I had left in the evening it was neither comfortably tidy or clean, in the end it was really a dusty mess. It was so loud, in the few quiet moments where no train or motor truck made it impossible to hear myself think I was able to listen to every word and every step of the landlord living above us. Our cat was so bored, being not allowed to go outside and having to wait so long until we came back from work. In the evenings, when I was barely able to cook dinner, she wanted the attention she had longed for all day. She even started to scratch herself until it bled because she didn’t know what to do with herself (not unlike me, my skin looks like a mixture of a mars desert and a volcanic eruption aftermath at the moment).

Now we moved last week into a much smaller appartment, but it is so bright and lovely, much more quiet and at the same time much brisker. You hear the street a little, but not a word from the other parties living in the house. If you open the window you can hear the distant humming of the motorway, but also chatting neighbours and playing children (the old house was completely isolated, only the landlord with his partner and us two).

Though it is smaller, all my stuff is so much better accessible (simply because I had put everything in a locker and had closed the door back in the old flat, now I had to think about how to organize my things with less space and worked a lot with boxes and magazine files on top on shelves, so I see them).

my book-shelves, a small poster I plan to hang above the flpwers still needs to be framed.
my book-shelves, a small poster I plan to hang above the flowers still needs to be framed.

I have only lived here for little more than a week, but it still feels more like a home than the old apartment did after a whole year. In this first week we did all the things we had planned since moving in the other apartment a year ago, bought furniture for the balcony and a barbeque, decorated the walls with photos and pictures, I even sewed curtains. Somehow we never had the motivation to do it in this dark cave of a flat and now it is as if we cannot wait to catch up with everything.
All this ill-feeling, moving and life as a whole made me forget about blogging, reading and posting. So I was welcomed by 5781 spam comments on my blog and 349 posts in my bloglovin-feed, please excuse that I won’t read them all, I am sure I will miss a lot. And please excuse that I didn’t answer your comments on my last posts, Jeannine, Jen, Draped in cloudlets, Amy and Anthea !

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the chest of drawers contains UFOs, things to be repaired and the like. The old prints and textile pictures I put on the right wall on purpose, because it is protected from direct sunlight.

I didn’t have much time or motivation to sew in the past few week, but I finally finished a blouse I had already started in january (you see it on my sewing mannequin). I will show it to you in a separate post.

the chest of drawers contains UFOs, things to be repaired and the like. The old prints and textile pictures I put on this wall on purpose, because it is protected from direct sunlight.
still plenty of space for more pictures^^ And while everybody else registers at pinterest I finally decided to get my own mood board.

I have to confess, the title wasn’t chosen only because I feel like being home again, but because two topic related beauties also are. My Singer Featherweight went to see the sewing machine doctor for a check-up and sews like she left the factory only yesterday. And another sewing machine made its way into my collection. My father had found a 1920ies General Electrics Sewing machine in America earlier this. The seller claimed it to be the precursor of the Featherweight,   the patent being bought by Singer and turned into the now iconic small sewing machine. My father bought it and had it sent to his girlfriend’s son, who lives in the States. This was all a few months ago and when he wanted to pick it up last month he had to see, that the seller had sent the wrong machine, instead of the small early 20th century GE one a heavy and complex 1970ies Bernina record 730. All attempts to contact the seller failed and because he didn’t want to throw it away, brought the Bernina with him, back to Germany. Last week my brother visited, helped me with moving and gave it to me. I haven’t had the opportunity to test it yet, but it looks great. It is signed with “made in Switzerland”, so this, too, is back home. If the man who assembled it somewhere here for the American market could have imagined that it will find its way back, some 40 years later?

Tough decisions

Maybe you wondered why I didn’t show you any of my flea market hauls on the 1st. Well, I really bought some things, to be honest I bought a lot. Maybe too much, because I really wasn’t able to decide what to show to you, additionally I was very short of time last week.

But this sunday I went to a household clearance in a village nearby and found something, I just have to show to you.

As you know, I am a fan of old sewing machines, the newest I own dates from the 1990ies and is only used for automatic buttonholes (and I only keep it because it was my grand-aunts). My oldest ist from the early 20th century, around 1903.

But my by far largest one ist my foot operated Gritzner Modell R, a 1958 machine, working without any electricity and a vibrating shuttle, at a time where electric machines with rotary hook mechanism were the state of the art. You could really say this is pre-war-technology in a post-war-warapping.

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I found her in a charity shop in my hometown, literally blindfolded: The machine can be hidden inside the table, the opening is covered with the wooden panel you see on the left side of the table. Well, and this cover was locked. It was obvious that there was a machine inside, but nobody knew what she looked like and in what condition it was. So they sold it to me for 10€ and I tried to carry it the 50m from the shop to my working place, a haberdashery store in the same street. After appr. 15m I asked a man passing by if he could help me and he really did. Thirty minutes later my shift ended and my boyfriend picked me and the machine up.

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The key on the photo is an old desk key I found in my father’s garage, I was so happy to avoid breaking the lock. As you can see, it even came with supplies and the manual.

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Of course she looked different than what I had expected. I had never seen such a “modern” machine in a wooden cabinet. But I loved her from the first day on and she sews very well.
She even has a dealer’s tag on her, a shop in my hometown that sells only bikes today (bikes and sewing machines being a common combination in the first half of the century).

 

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Well, that was…

Because today I met…her:

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I found her at the household clearance after I had spent my time in this house mostly in front of the book shelves. The rest was either uninteresting and too high priced or high quality antiques, legitimately high priced but out of my price range.

After we had seen everything there was only one room in the first floor left. My boyfriend and I stood in front of it an all we see was a built-in-wardrobe with some empty hangers and an ironing-board. We were close to leaving when I decided to at least make one step into this room. And there she was!

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A Pfaff 30, according to the serial number built late in 1932. As with the other one, the key is missing, but this one was open.

The price that was asked? 20 CHF, not much for a machine like this, don’t you think?

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Only one screw is missing, the one that holds the rear cover in place. But the cover is there, so I am optimistic to find some random screw that fits.

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I love the subtle art déco design of the handles and the fluted legs.

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And it too has the dealer given, this time engraved in the needle plate.

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Well, and now I have a problem: I promised my boyfriend to part with my beloved Gritzner, simply because we have not enough space for a second cabinet-machine (and I do not only own these two, in fact I have way too many sewing machines). And now she stands there, abandoned in the dining room,  waiting for someone to love her…and I do! And she looks so pretty next to our dining table, I don’t see the need to give her away. Additionally, the dealer’s badge that reminds me of my hometown. I am not sure if I am able to give her to someone I don’t know. Anybody willing to give her shelter?

But at the moment, the joy of having found such a black beauty is larger than the grief of parting, surely also because she sews as good as the Gritzner, maybe even a tiny bit better.

So, this was my sunday. I hope yours was fine as well, see you soon,

love,

ette

 

 

 

 

 

Innovation changes life

First: Welcome to my new blog-adress, I hope you found it without any problems. I was contacted by my old host, telling me that I had exeeded my upload limit, so I had to react rather quickly not to lose my blog. The move made me erase a lot of the old posts, I’m sorry if some links to no more existant posts won’t work anymore.

But let’s talk about sewing:

The second challenge in the HSF 2014 was named “Innovation”.

First I though of sewing a 30ies dress with a zipper after the 1939 zipper promotion I found in november.
Innovation can have a very direct influence on fashion and sewing, namely zippers, artificial colours, artificial fibres and so on. But it can influence life (and thereby fashion) in a different, an indirect way.

Can you imagine Dustcoats developing without cars? Bicycles did so much for the acceptance of women in trousers. Putting steel hoops in crinolines allowed the skirts to grow as big as they did in the middle of the 19th century. And you wouldn’t be able to sew a cover for your smartphone or tablet if there hadn’t been someone who invented it.

Well, first I was very keen to make this miniature folding screen which is in fact a windbreak for a petroleum-operated coffee machine. But while I would have been willing to ignore the fact, that most participants sew garments (I am still not sure if it is part of the rules, if yes I am going to break it, at least this time 😉 ), I wondered if anybody would accept this as a sewing-project. At least I wouldn’t have, so I saved it for later (and please, don’t ask me when I am planning to use a miniature screen, I have no clue).

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While searching for a pattern or at least an idea what to make instead of the zipper dress, I stumbled upon a little device, meant for an invention of the 19th century, surely one of the most profund ones when it comes to sewing.  No doubt, sewing machines changed sewing more than anything did in the last hundreds of years. Even inventions of artificial fibres or dyes did not have such an impact on the actual process of sewing.
So I though, why not go with it 🙂

Singer Featherweight, 1948, my everyday-sewing-machine
Singer Featherweight, 1948, my everyday-sewing-machine

The first experimental devices to produce a mechanical seam date back to the 18th century, but it wasn’t until the middle 19th century that a properly working and commercially successful machine had been developed. The American Elias Howe had his sewing machine patented in 1846, but he didn’t succeed in turning his invention into money.  After having failed badly attempting to put it on the market in England, he came back to America a few years later, only to see that a certain Isaac Merritt Singer very successfully sold sewing machines, working with his technique. This was the start of a triumphant success in the whole world.

Electrical Singer sewing machine, 1923
Electrical Singer sewing machine, 1923

In Europe, the 1850ies and 60ies saw the birth of a large number of sewing machine manufactories, some of them survive until today. Most of them produced licensed machines after the Howe/Singer patent, often after the founder had been to the US to study the American Singer machines. The 1870ies saw a second wave of factory foundations.

early 20th century Gritzner sewing machine, long shuttle mechanism

It would be too much to enlist all the additional inventions, patents and improvements made in the 2nd half of the 19th century. The chain-stitch machine, working with only one thread, was followed by the shuttle-operated machine, which again was followed by the bobbin system with the rotating hook, as we still use today, though the different systems lived alongside each other until the older ones finally  died out. Zig-zag- and decorative seams became possible, the first electrical sewing machine was already issued in 1899.

bobbin operated, electrical Singer sewing machine, 1923
bobbin operated, electrical Singer sewing machine, 1923

But still, having a sewing machine was luxury, at least in its early years. It took the sewing machine until around 1900 to become a indispensable part of every household. And the number of handsewn gowns from the second half of the 19th century I see everyday at work show better than any statistic that only because the sewing machine had been invented, it didn’t mean everybody had one.

I own the “Der Bazar”-issues from 1872, an illustrated magazine on fashion with tutorials and patterns (unfortunately, the pattern sheets of mine are lost), not unlike sewing magazines today. A february issue featured a nice little box, meant to contain sewing machine supplies and I decided very fast that this was to become my project for the challenge:

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Sewing machine supplies in these days meant oil and a cloth in first place.  🙂
The tutorial asks for “Ledertuch” to use as main fabric, which I would translate as leather-cloth. I was very sure that this wasn’t meant to be real leather from the beginning. Though I wasn’t sure what this word exactly described, I went to work, using a very shiny fabric from my stash. The ones who have been following my blog for some time might remember it: I bought very much of it, because I planned to wear a hooped skirt as my prom dress. After having bought the fabric, but before I  started cutting I saw that this was a little over-ambitious back then and went for a completely different style, using only very little of the fabric. A few years ago I made part of it into a half-circle skirt, using the wrong side as right side, because I didn’t like this shiny style of the fabric anymore. I still have plenty of it left and this time the shiny-ness of the fabric was just what I had been searching for.
I searched for the meaning of “Ledertuch” shortly afterwards. According to an encyclopedia from 1905, “Ledertuch” describes a  linen or cotton fabric, covered with linseed oil and grime, technically comparable to oilcloth, a treatment with patterned barrels gives it the appearance and marking of real leather (source).

Well, I had assumed something like this. But, first, I do not know if it is still possible to buy real oilcloth, what is sold nowadays is plastic-covered fabric, at least in normal houseware shops, no tinted oil anymore. I have to admit, I keep a whole roll of patterned oilcloth from the 1950ies in my closet, but that wouldn’t have made a good match, I suppose.
Secondly, I don’t suppose oil cloth is very nice to work with.
I decided the shiny fabric is as close as I could get to the original one without extensive search and bleeding fingertips (and as I said, I had already begun).

The box consists of two ovals, a large strip and two rectangles, all cut from cardboard and covered with the fabric.

the lid and the rectangles to form the compartments, already coveredthe lid and the rectangles to form the compartments, already covered

The outside of the box was to be covered in pleats on all sides but the back of the box. So I made a loop from the fabric for the inside and a panel of pleats. The latter one alone took me a couple of hours. I measured the pleats (0,5cm each), pinned them down, ironed them and basted them in four parallel lines (three of them where removed after assembling the box, one is hidden under the embroidery).

pleating in progress
pleating in progress

I closed the upper seam, connecting the pleated panel with the lining fabric, with the machine (there are in fact only very few machine sewn seams on the box, only this connective seam and the pleats’ hem). I had cut the fabric for the inside larger than needed, like this I was able to sew it in place stringing it, connecting the seam allowance with the fabric at the bottom of the box.
Here you can see the different basting seams hidden below the pleats: the seam I used to form the cardboard strip to a ring (there is no trace of glue on this box), the seam I made to tense the lining fabric and the basting I had to do to keep the pleated seam allowance in place, without it, it shore up and was visible beneath the pleats on the outside.

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After this step I sewed the bottom oval in place, attached the embroidered band  to the pleats (it is in fact an embroidered strip of the fabric sewn onto a green galloon, tutorial asked for a woollen ribbon, that was as close as I was able to get) and connected the pleats to the boxes’ bottom., the gap in the back of the box I filled with a piece of fabric.The pleats are 1,5cm longer than the box itself, so it really has to hang, or it would stand on them.

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The embroidery is said to be executed in “point russe” stitch. There are very different definitions online what a point russe has to look like, but the image looked to me like a feather stitch, so I went with this.

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To sew the rectangles into the box to form the compartments was hell! I used curved needles, straight needles, nothing helped, it was just awful. And as you see, they aren’t set in properly, no to say orthogonally, but I won’t undo this seams to give it a second try, never!

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The decoration of the lid was only very briefly described in the tutorial, it only said to apply a ruffle from the same green ribbon as used below the embroidery around the edge. So I cut the rest of the galloon in half and turned it into a a loop. This loop was laid in pleats and attached to the lid, upside down, so that I would be able to fold it over the sewing allowance and give it a clean look on the upper side. Unfortunately the galloon frayed horribly and while I folded and basted it in place, the seam allowance became visible in several spots. I couldn’t think of an alternative to attach the galloon with a better result, so I  sought for an emergency solution. Luckily  a darning cotton I founnd in my stash matched the colour very well, so I turned the 20m I had of it into a braid and sewed it on top of the fraying sewing allowance.

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You can see that colour of the darning cotton is close, but not the same. But this is really barely visible. In the middle of the lid I attached a small loop below the ruffle, made of a small rest of the braid (the tutorial suggested ribbon or fabric, but because I had no use for the rest of the braid, I chose this).

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The colours, black fabric, green ribbon and white embroidery, where given in the tutorial. I stuck to them but for some exceptions: The rectangles inside the box as well as the lid were meant to be attached with white thread. I decided this to be a very stupid idea, at least for me, because that wouldn’t only mean that the compartment themselves look messy, but the seams holding them as well, So I went to work with black thread. And the bow on the handle was to be made from black silk ribbon, but because I still had some white satin ribbon in my stash, I used this.

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The Challenge: #2 Innovation

Fabric: black shiny fabric, presumably polyester

Pattern: tutorial without a pattern found in “Der Bazar. Illustrirte Damen=Zeitung, Nr. 7, 12. Februar 1872”

Year: 1872

Notions: cardboard, twine (to sew the cardboard), polyester thread (machine seams), cotton thread (hand sewn seams), pseudo-woollen galloon (normally used to edge wool-fabric), white thread (maybe mercerized cotton, used as embroidery thread), 20m darning cotton, satin ribbon.

How historically accurate is it? Very, but for the materials used. I followed the pattern very close and tried to use only techniques available back then. I am pretty sure the green galloon is not made from real wool and I certainly know the fabric and ribbon to be artificial fibres. So the shiny-ness of the material is not caused by linseed oil, as would have been historically accurate, but by the fabric itself, so I would argue the overall appearance is at least comparable to the original.

Hours to complete:  very many. This is by far the most time-consuming thing I ever made, considering the time it took and its final size. 10-15 hours I suppose.

First worn:  in use since 25th January 2014

Total cost: I can’t remember how much the fabric was, something between 6 and 7€/m, I used only very little of it, so maybe 2-3€ for the fabric, but it has been in my stock for years. Cardboard was left from some calender or wrapping, can’t remember, but it was definitely for free as material. Embroidery thread was old, found it in my stock, can’t remember from where I got it, same applies to the darning cotton. Only thing I had to buy for this project was the green galloon, I bought 1m and paid something like 2 CHF.
If you include the pattern, the project was pretty expensive. For the complete issues of the year 1872 (48 issues, 392 pages total) I paid 200€ a few years ago, which is actually too much, considering its condition and its age. It is available for less, but I didn’t know back then (it was a time before iphones where widely spread and I stood at this antique fair booth having to decide very quickly). But this is only one pattern from many I can make from this source 🙂

what bow? This bow! And here you can see that I made it into a home for my hexagon quilt supplies:

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As a résumé I must say, this tutorial wasn’t logical at all. The loop suggests to be used to open the box, but the lid can’t be closed, because the pleats force  you to hang it, using the handle on the lid, opening it. Additionally the lid should have been made slightly larger that the bottom oval. The pleats seem to enlarge the box visually, so the lid appears to be too small. Additionally, the cardboard bents a little to the outside and intensifies the effect.

But I am content with the result and working with an almost 140 year old tutorial has been real fun.

See you soon,

ette

all information on the technical history and the expansion of sewing machines derives from: Peter Wilhelm: Alte Nähmaschinen. Namen. Daten. Fakten, Duderstadt 2002