Karen writes about life as a Quiltmaker in Austin, Texas; surviving in an empty nest, marriage, cooking, gardening and (did I say?) Quilting...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Quilting with the Vintage Singer 15-91

I was sooo happy to get my "call" this morning first thing.
Thought I sure do miss my "little one"...

Someone was asking about the Singer 15-90 on one of the quilting boards I frequent, so I said I'd post my favorite 15-91... The 15-91 has the geared motor - sometimes called a "pot" motor as it sits in a little "pot" stuck on the back of the machine head. The 15-90 is the exact same machine, but is belt driven with a bolted on motor...

Here she is working on a Quilt of Valor this past month for our guild:

And here she it again in her swell No. 42 "Deco" Singer Cabinet!

And a close up... this is one of my best restoration jobs - but she was also really "minty" to start with! - NOT FOR SALE!! But you can come over and play with her anytime!
I do have a centennial model for sale at "the shop"...(the Shameless Commerce link to the left) and have several more in for "SPA" treatment that will be out and looking for new homes in the next week or so. So visit there and see if you'll find something you might like!


Thursday, May 10, 2007

My Sewing "Domain"

OK... for the edification of a few curious types, here's a picture of my sewing "space"... and a couple of my favorite machines.

When we sold the "big house" last year and did the downsize, I still ended up with a spare room... And, it seemed silly to make the largest bedroom into a "master" bedroom - when all we do is sleep there for 8 hours or so in 24! What a waste of space when that room could become Karen's sewing studio eh?

I am one of those wild creative types... although I DO have a "place" for everything, I also am not real crazy about being neat for neatness sake, so there are always several project laying around, patterns and books ready for a quick look, and way too much paperwork laying around.

These are my "users" the "go-to" machines I use every day. On the left above, a Bernina 830, for dressmaking, er, well pants and shirt making - haven't worn a dress in years! and (mostly) quilt piecing. The 830 was a great estate sale find... in a fairly well off woman's sewing room. The Bernina was in a fancy electric lift cabinet - but was entirely unused. The old Singer 66 also in the room was worn smooth out - no decals left on the bed! Apparently she purchased the Bernina (even went through some of the classes as demonstrated in her workbook), but never really got used to it enough to use it. It was loaded with over 25 feet, The BIG workbook, and every thing! Just love it... though I still go to my older Star series Elna 62 when I want to do some cool decor stitches (blanket or feather stitch for example!). So although this is a 25 year old machine, it is basically new!

On the right above, and at left here, is "BIG RED"... my restored 1927 Singer 31-15. A VERY heavy (50+ pounds) industrial Singer in an original Maple topped Singer table! I don't run it as an industrial with a clutched motor however. Right now, it's belt driven off of a bolted on 1 amp PFAFF 130 motor. The lamp from the 130 (which was broken - sniff, sniff - in shipment to me.... another story!) is mounted on the business end. I use an artists rotating carrel to store my fiddlies, and the serger is on the table opposite under the blue cover. This is the oldest working machine that I use regularly!
The old Dayzor lamp from the 1950s (or so...) that's between the two machines swivels to give me plenty of light on the subject. It's an old government surplus lamp that has a brass government tag indicating it came from the Joliet Arsenal!
I'll try to post pictures of the rest of the studio (including the stash!) next time!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Spring, The Empty Nest and...

Well, it's finally happened, I'm afraid the emptiness of my "empty nest" had hit me hard this spring. Last year, our son was still in school, and we were way too busy selling off the "big house" that had been our home of 13 years, preparing for the move, making the move to Austin - another words, way too busy to think too hard about the consequences of successfully raising our son to adulthood...

And an adult he has become. He was only here a month ago. Exploring Austin with us, preparing his polished, culinary creations. Fresh from finishing culinary school AND his first full year on a single job, (he was celebrating not only his graduation, but his first full WEEK of PAID vacation!)he is, alas "All grown up"...
To me, it was only yesterday that we carried him home so clumsily from the hospital. He arrived way too easily, and was just too, too good of a baby, child, and even teenager. Somehow, we managed to survive any of the potential for damage or horror that seems to dog every parents back-of-mind concerns about child rearing these days.
Just last week I was sorting through one more box from the move - eagerly seeking to flatten just one more box and ditch another pile of uneeded, once wanted goods. Only to stumble across the crib set I made for John. Worn, but not too much - as he never was the sort to drag a quilt around - he was more likely to have a toy in hand - with the crib ruffle and bumper almost like new., the quilt - all done in red "cheater" ABC blocks - only a little worn.

Has it really been 19 years? In August it will be 20! Unbelievable... Life just whizzes by...

I made him the prequisite T-Shirt quilt to take with him when he moved away... filled with T-shirts from his early days (Boy Scouts, Nickelodeon, and MTV) to those cynical teen years (Skinny Puppy and Edgar Allan Poe) which he says he enjoys so much so far away in Pittsburgh.

But I've hesitated to finish up the Hawaiian medallion I made several years ago in his favorite blue batik colors. It is a breadfruit pattern - symbolic of new beginnings, and, traditionally given at a wedding... perhaps I'm still just not quite ready for the next stage of his and my life!

As I tried to figure out why the funk, it finally dawned on me that I am mourning the "loss" of my "little boy"... As the calls get fewer and far between, and we must depend on an occasional email or even watching his blog to keep up, he seems farther and farther away. And worst of all, he has been talking more and more about a (gasp) girl... when I always thought of myself as just his... he is after all an "only" child. Doted on, spoiled (though not rotten!), and the center of our attention... and of course no other woman's to have or hold! But don't all mother's think that of their precious sons? Oh well...

I'm sure I'll survive, as will he, perhaps it is time to find that Hawaiian top and get it done! What was it my mother alway said about idle hands...