Month: February 2013

Singer 201-2 Named Birdie

If you read Male Pattern Boldness, no doubt you are familiar with the virtues of vintage sewing machines. I myself have considered owning a vintage machine, but I decided I wanted a modern zigzag machine to be my primary machine as long as I feel I’m a beginner. I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with learning garment construction and an unfamiliar machine at the same time. I secured a basic and wonderful mechanical Janome last summer to be my #1 machine–very similar to the machines I learned on in middle school sewing class and my most recent personal machine (a basic modern Singer.) After recently reading about Peter’s latest Featherweight acquisition, I browsed Craigslist for local vintage Singers. I’ve browsed before, and there are rarely machines within 20 miles of where I live. However, this particular time, there was a vintage Singer listed nearby for $75. There weren’t many details listed other than it worked and came in a cabinet with attachments.
I could tell from the photos that the machine looked like a 201-2, and the internet had good things to say about the 201-2, so I arranged to test drive the machine.
Well, she sewed rather nicely, and home she came. Thankfully my mister is big and strong, because these machines plus cabinets are heavy!! He hauled her home and upstairs for me.

After a little more Internet research, I ordered some new oil and grease, and a marked needle plate.

I had a great time reading through the original manual and finding all the places to clean and oil. And then there was the grease. I used cotton swabs to wipe out the old green grease, and then refilled the pots with fresh grease. It wasn’t difficult to do, and I rather enjoyed it! It seemed there were more than 20 spots to oil, compared to my modern machine that only has about 3 places to oil and only requires oiling 2-3 times a year.

I received several crazy looking feet for the 201-2, as well as a buttonholer. I have yet to figure all these feet out, but they look rather impressive to me. The original oil can and grease tube were included to, which is kinda fun. The machine operates with a knee lever. This takes a little getting used to, but so far I really like it. My chair is a tad high for the cabinet, so now I need to get a little stool to go with the cabinet.

I made a top with Birdie already, and I have to agree that she is a smooth operator. I found she easily maneuvers around curves and corners, better than my Janome. She is quiet and ladylike, but don’t be fooled by the svelte figure–girl is heavy. I lift her with both hands when tucking her into the cabinet.

I’m very happy to have added a vintage machine to my collection, and I look forward to mastering the buttonholer.

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Welt Pockets and Scrubs

I volunteered to make some scrub tops for my dear friend Maxx who works in the medical field. I think it took me over a year to finish all three… What can I say? Sometimes it’s hard to stop sewing for one’s self long enough to make other people a garment, plus I was still building up my arsenal of sewing skills. It’s okay if I mess up on my own garments, but I couldn’t send Maxx to work in anything too shoddy.

I made a true muslin for once, checking fit and practicing flat felled seams and learning how to make a double welt pocket.

Here’s the first top:

I was pleased with the pockets. The welts weren’t perfect, but they mostly met in the middle.

I made the second and third tops together, going back and forth between two machines with different thread colors, finishing a few steps at a time. This mostly helped with the welt pockets because I didn’t have to read the tutorial I followed more than once.

This is the second set of welt pockets, and the welts are a little further apart, but not bad.

This is the final top, and sadly the welts aren’t even remotely close together… How did I get worse with each pocket? Well… I’m afraid I *might* have cut corners while attaching the welts and pocket pieces, combining two steps into one. The steps seemed a little redundant at the time, but now I regret not taking the extra few minutes to first attach the welt and then the pocket.

The fabric print is so busy, I think the pockets are well camouflaged. And knowing Maxx’s attitude toward my sewing, I decided to live with the mismatched welts and get the tops done already (Maxx is much less critical or picky about the details than me, besides, she can’t wear a top that isn’t complete.)

The pockets were the only difficult part of the garments–the sleeves were set in flat, and the sides and shoulder seams were flat felled. After welt pockets, flat felled seams were like child’s play.