Monday, October 18, 2010

Selling Items Hoping to Raise Donations for Former Necchi Owner

First the story.

I decided to start looking for Necchi machines in August. Wonder of wonders, there was a lovely Nora (which I'm sure you're tired of hearing about) in the next city over. It took two long weeks of coordinating schedules with the former owner, but Nora finally came home to live with me on my birthday.

In those ensuing few weeks, I found a Supernova on Craigslook. searches all of craigslists in the USA instead of limiting the search to your geographical area only (which is what craigslist does). When I went to craigslook earlier this week, I found the site to be closed due to a dispute with craigslist. Here is the new address for craigslook.

The craigslook ad for the Necchi was misspelled as "Neechi." There was one photo. Of the cabinet. Closed. And posted sideways. All it said was "Neechi sewing machine." No indication of model. And without a contact phone number or email. I kept clicking on the "please contact owner to notify them to add contact information."

The interesting thing was that the listing was in my old hometown in upstate NY. I live 11 hours away, but....but....surely there had to be a way to get her if she was what I was looking for, right?

When I called the owner, she knew nothing about the machine. It had been her mother-in-law's machine. From evidence I've gathered looking at her things, I think the mother-in-law had been a seamstress. I had two questions about the machine - these two would tell me everything I needed to know: What kind? Where was it made? It took her 10 minutes to answer those questions. She had no idea where to look to answer them. I meant to ask both together, but once the first question was out of my mouth, she was gone to look. So she had to go twice. Poor dear.

I asked her to send additional photos but she said she'd have to pay someone to do that. So I imposed on my son's best friend and asked him to go take photos. He sent me photos of the label (Made in Italy) and machine (Supernova) and my heart was aflutter.

I asked the seller if I could pay her but pick up the machine sometime later. She said sure, she needed the money.

So I started scheming about how to get the machine. My son was going to NY for his best friend's wedding. But he would be busy doing best man things all weekend with nary a moment to himself to help his momma. Surely he'd be able to squeeze a bit of time? But that idea turned into a nightmare of logistics. Better not to stress the best man when his job is to de-stress the groom. Right?

So I had to cancel the idea. But the spark of hope never faded.

Finally, my son called me the Monday after the wedding [which was on 10/10/10 - cool date for a wedding], as he was driving out of town. He was post-wedding. Post-stress. I asked him to wait, pull over. Just wait. Please. Begging. I called the owner, no answer. Sigh. My son gets further down the road on his trip back here. Fifteen minutes later, the owner called me. Back to begging my son who had just reached the state line. It would only be 30 minutes of back-tracking. Begging. Look, Son, I gave you spending money. Surely you appreciate that....and haven't spent it all?!? [He did, he hadn't...we were in business...grumbly ...but in business.]

So that's the story. But while he was there, the owner spoke on the phone to a friend about a financial need. My son won't talk about it. He said it is too sad and he won't tell me anything.

When I started opening the bags and bags of tidbits and whatnot that came with the desk, I realized she had given me some things of monetary value, not directly related to the machine, but to sewing. It would be a huge blessing to sell a few of these things and send her the proceeds.

What do you think about wooden spools? If I counted correctly, there are 96(I found 3 additional spools after taking this photo).

These feet do not go with the Necchi. I am hoping someone knows what machine they go with. Perhaps they are rare and would be beneficial to someone with the machine type?

There's a collection of almost 100 buttons. I was going to keep them, but if they will raise a bit of money for her, I'm happy to part with them.

Misc collection of buttons.

New York and "FD" buttons. Could the FD buttons be Fire Department? The MIL lived outside NYC and could have altered shirts for firemen.

Cut out shapes with pattern. If you or someone you know likes to make dolls, perhaps this will speak to you. There is even additional uncut fabric. There are no doll heads.

Mystery Bobbins. Size unknown (narrower than the size 15 the Necchi uses.

Workbasket Magazine plus 3 smaller craft magazines

If you would like any of these items, please make an offer. I will take offers through Sunday, October 24, 5pm. If you have the best offer, I will notify you and we can work out a payment method. I'll have to see if I can find my paypal account (I haven't used it in about a year - but I think it is still available). Once I receive payment, I'll mail it to you asap. I hereby promise to send ALL proceeds to the dear lady in New York. Thank you. I hope I am able to send her a bit of money. It would also be a blessing to be able to tell my son we helped her out.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Announcing that I am now an official

...Necchi collector with the addition of

this lovely SuperNova Automatica.

She just arrived this evening so I have not yet had an opportunity to clean her, plug her in, or get to know her. We are still in the awkward introductory phase. I hope to spend the day with her tomorrow, taking her apart, cleaning out her oil, giving her a new dose of Triflow Teflon oil and taking her for a tentative seam or two.

A few stats:

- I was told she was originally bought in 1953

This is the copyright date for one of the books which came with with the machine. It's not proof of purchase date, but certainly coincidental.

- She has a knee operating lever instead of a pedal
The knee lever is in view next to Latte.

- She has a full cam set (and the usual large selection of presser feet that come with Necchis)

- She came with several mystery items
Mystery 1: What is a Sew Elite?

Mysery 2: A sandpaper bobbin, of sorts. What? Why?

Mystery 3: What kind of shaft is on these feet? What machine would use these? (The Sew Elite, perhaps?)
I have been told these go to a rotary front load machine. What is that??? A serger?

Mystery 4: Plastic Pieces. Can anyone identify these for me?
KC commented that these are used to hang curtains, which makes perfectly good sense because there were other curtain hooks in the "bits and bobs." Thank you, KC.

Mystery 5: Metal Part - a metal thread cutter that should go on a machine?

I have been told this is a cutting part to a "rotary front load machine." Question: What is a rotary machine? I tried searching to no avail.

- She came with almost 100 wooden spools of thread (which I'd love to sell in order to gift the dear woman who sold her to me because she could truly use the funds). If you'd like to purchase them, please make an offer. All proceeds will go to the elderly woman who sold me the machine. (I found 3 additional wooden spools since this photo was taken and have added them to the colleciton.)

- Her throne needs a good cleaning, but won't need sanded or painted

- She came with a couple of vintage sewing books

- Someone must have made dolls to sell

- She may be wonderful, but Nora holds my heart

- She will certainly come in handy in my sewing: I can use the old, cheap Kenmore for basting, the Nora for straight stitching, and this one for zig-zag. Having this option will help me stop breaking needles when I forget to switch needle position, or presser feet, or plates.

Happiness Necchi collection!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tricky FBA for the Lekala Top

Tricky seams near the bust line.

The pattern is amazingly accurate and went together like a dream. Of course I pinned it wrong the first time. Luckily I unfolded it along the pin line to see the effect and discovered my mistake. These Lekala patterns have no photos in the instructions - and the English translations leave much to be desired.

Instruction example from this pattern:
2. Sew the sides of the shelf to the central part of the allowances zautyuzhit on flank and frayed. Along the upper edge of the central part of the plateau to lay a line with a slightly prolonged stitches and gather the assembly.

Since the knit I used was quite thin and had lots of stretch, plus the pattern has those gathers at the neckline, I took a chance and made the pattern without adding an FBA.

Well, no, not quite, actually. I did add an FBA - I added a curved allowance - but to the part below the intersected seam at the side seam. Quite too low, so I simply cut it off during construction. I originally thought the intersecting seam hit higher under the arm. Not so.

So here's the question: do I add an FBA under the arm, on side seam of the wedge piece? Or do I add the FBA at the diagonal seam?

Or a should I add the FBA to both sides of the front wedge: under the arm plus at the diagonal seam, thereby sharing the burden of the FBA in two places?

The problem with fiddling with that front diagonal seam is that the pieces are beautiful. They fit so wonderfully - I'd hate to mess with that.

But then again, perhaps I could treat the pieces as a princess seam, perform a slash and spread to the wedge shaped piece (spread it about 1 inch), then slash the front piece all the way across and spread it 1 inch).

Talking about the front bodice piece, Lekala patterns print a large, flat front bodice piece. I'd rather have a piece half the size which I can place on the fold, so once printed, I folded the piece in half. I found it much easier to manage than the large multi- pieced, taped sheets of paper. I imagine there will be times when a full front bodice pattern piece will come in handy - as in when using a fabric with large motifs. Meanwhile, I'll stick to "place-on-fold" sized pattern pieces.

I would like to make this up in a dress next spring - complete with silk collar (but omit the bow)....if I can figure out how to add an FBA.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fall Corduroy Skirt and Knit Top

I love corduroy.

This very fine corduroy is made up in McCall's 6038, which is an asymmetrical pencil skirt of sorts.

The yellow knit top is another free Lekala, pattern number 5872, which is described as "Knitted Dress with Silk Collar." I obviously shorted it and omitted the silk collar and bow tie. Maybe this summer I'll make it as a dress AND use a silk collar with the bow tie.

Meanwhile, this knit is very thin, so I decided to double all pieces. It was easy enough to lay the main pieces along a fold and cut those double. Doing this meant that there is no hemline to sew.

I did not make an FBA - thinking that the gathers would be sufficient. I suppose they are - but next time I'll figure out how to make a slight FBA by simply rounding out the front seam under the arm to add just a bit more room.

The cardigan is Loes Hinse which I made up last spring.

Together, this is an outfit which is very comfortable and perfect for this breezy fall day.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dotted Knit Top New Look 6950

I needed a fall top. This View A fit the bill.

I prefer solid tops, but the colors on this fabric called to me. I added a yellow binding - just a doubled over length of fabric. You'll see this yellow fabric soon made up in a Lekala pattern.

I think the binding helps break up the dots.

I'm not sure why, but the sleeves are a tad short on me. I'd prefer them to be just below my elbow.

The neck line was huge and flopped open. I took 4 tucks across the front, two as darts. The middle two I took as pleats and sewed them down with buttons. I felt the dots could use to be broken up a bit more. I don't know why adding round, brown buttons work on this dotted fabric, but I think it does.

Over all, it's a comfortable top which I'll probably wear often this fall.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Skirt Made with Free Russian Lekala Pattern 5270

Last month, Lekala patterns were offered for download in sizes 42 and 44 for free. I took advantage of the offer and downloaded several patterns.

Downloading came with many questions, foremost being: what size paper? I could have bought some A4 paper (I think) but wanted to use what I have on hand. I found a great set of instructions at Modern Sewing Patterns.
I was able to use the paper I had on hand.

The free Lekala patterns had no seam allowance. I found it rather tedious to manually add them, however the time spent gave me a great appreciation for the pattern maker. I wish I had a rotary cutter guide arm. I think that will be added to my wish list as I hope to use more Lekala patterns. If I had this arm, I would feel confident in NOT adding the seam allowance to the pattern pieces (which I did because I was afraid I'd not remember to add during the cutting phase).

I found that using a pattern cut to size is amazing! I love not having to cut off extra paper (even if it is tissue thin). The control of the pattern is so much better.

Several of these Russian patterns came with instructions in English, others were in Russian and so needed translated with the help of google translate. This made parts of the instructions difficult to decipher. For example these instructions for the fly zipper installation:

5. Zipper. Press front left panel center seam into wrong side. Press strengthener along the centre right side out, work open edges. Sew the zipper under allowance edge along left edge, teeth closely to bend. Underlay the strengthener with its bend to the center so that worked edge hides zipper band. Pin the split coinciding front center lines. Sew free zipper band to right zipper fly front; do not catch front panel fabric. Topstitch front right panel along zipper according to marking, catching fly front and folding strengthener out. Stop stitching 1.5-2 cm before center seam. Then fold strengthener out and continue the stitch up to seam.

You get that? I didn't! I had never installed a fly zipper. Thankfully, almost all answers to sewing questions are a click away. I found a great video tutorial by Theads Magazine Online.

Of course, following the instructions was a bit tricky because - I don't know why - but installing twice and ripping out twice was involved. My zipper kept coming out on the center seam, rather than lapped. The third time was the charm, except that the fly is backwards. Ah well. I can live with that - and I sewed the waistband backwards as well - to match my backwards lap. At least I'm consistent if nothing else.

I must say, understitching on my new Necchi Nora is a dream. I have never been able to sew so close to a seam on the cheap Kenmore. Stitching close to the edge is truly the key with understitching - and I FINALLY understand the purpose of it.

You know, the right tools makes a huge difference.

Oh, I cut the pattern to the original long length, but shortened it considerably without destroying the original length, that way I can make longer patterns as the season gets cooler. I did have to raise the front slit a bit, but that was easy enough.

To shorten the pattern without losing the original length, I made several slashes and simply folded them to the desired length.

Forgive the hair and scowl. I'm on week two of a killer headache - and was waiting for the car service to come change a flat tire. I had just cleaned out the trunk of my car to discover 2 inches of water in the spare tire compartment - hence double awful scowl and mussed hair. Since my trip into town was canceled, I wanted to take photos before changing into more suitable attire for cleaning out the tire well.

I did not make the little pocket belt thing. And I sewed a button closure instead of the Velcro the pattern calls for. I just looked on the pattern instructions to see what quaint term for "Velcro" Lekala used - only to find out that it is "Velcro." Smile.

My final verdict on this Lekala pattern: EXCELLENT! I love this pattern. I'll most likely make up several more of these skirts this winter, in a variety of lengths.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Vintage Machine Cleaning Tips

I thoroughly cleaned Nora last weekend.

I took out all her old oil using rubbing alcohol, applied with cotton swabs and an eye dropper.

The more I removed, the more I decided to dig for more. I took off all plates that could be removed with a screw driver.

The high heat from a hair blow dryer was handy to help loosen extra stubborn oil spots.

After cleaning, I used a specialty oil recommended by the Necchi Yahoo group: Triflow Teflon oil. This oil is amazing. You can find or order it from bicycle shops. Be sure to get the teflon (P.T.F.E.) and do NOT buy the spray.

I used the Triflow at each moving junction, being careful to NOT over-oil. One or two drops is all that is needed.

After just one application, a stuck feed dog drop lever started working right away. I had used regular sewing machine oil available at sewing stores to no avail the week before. Removing that oil with rubbing alcohol and applying Triflow, fixed the problem.

My frozen flywheel is starting to move. I think I should point the hair dryer at it for a prolonged time period. The great thing about Necchi's is that frozen parts can be worked with and fixed with a bit of patience. The machine is in working order with the frozen flywheel - it's just that the main shaft does not disengage in order to wind bobbins without the needle moving.

Don't be afraid of vintage machines. The working mechanisms are fascinating.

Here are a few photos of the machine innards cleaned prior to applying the Triflow.

Broken Needles. or Using the Straight Stitch Foot. or What a Difference a Good Machine Makes. or Linings - argh!

This post is having an identity crisis.

Let's start with The Difference a Good Machine Makes

I sewed my second garment with the new Nora. (I'll post about the first when I take a photo of it - a knit top which I didn't like at first, but which is growing on me).

This is the second.

Next time I use a bold floral, I'll pay more attention to the placement of motif.

Those Necchi's are amazing. What a difference in so many ways:
Speed. Finishing raw edges goes so much faster. I didn't realize until today (working on yet another skirt), that I've been sewing on high speed.

Neat even stitches.

Easy and even feeding of fabric under the feed dogs. On my Kenmore, I had to fight to keep straight seams. Now I can *almost* let the machine sew by itself. I had no idea!

Strength. Those intersecting seams? The machine didn't blip nor blurp.

Precision! Topstitching? Wow!

Broken Needles!!!! Good Grief!!!

I have discovered that using the straight stitch foot on the Necchi is phenomenal.

At first, I was switching out the plate as well as the presser feet - using the straight stitch plate rather than the zig-zap plate but it got to be a bit much switching it back and forth.

I kept forgetting if I was on zig-zag or straight stitch, causing me to break 5 or 6 needles over the course of two days. You'd think I'd have gotten my act together after one. Maybe two. Sigh. A couple of times I DID remember to change my setting to straight stitch, but had the needle in the centered position, but come to find out that the straight stitching is done in the left needle position. Good thing I've stocked up on needles, eh?

Ah, but I have found a solution!!!!

A dedicated machine just for straight stitching. More on that later this week - - - (I am sooooo excited!)

Linings. Aggravating Linings.

There must be secrets I don't know.

Ok. This skirt has things: pockets, a fly (my first and backwards - don't know how that happened. It was my third attempt and somehow...who knows how these things happen.). But the construction was easy enough.

And then I decided to add a lining. You'd think it would be simple enough. But those little details - like how to manipulate a lining around a zipper. I ended up whip stitching. Looks ok. Homemade. And what to do around a slit? It's all quite a puzzle.

Sorry for that blurry last photo. It's the best I have at this point.

If you don't have a better quality machine, I highly recommend you look for a vintage. They are relatively inexpensive but may require you to clean and work with it a bit. If I can do it, surely you can as well. Just remember: Triflow Teflon Oil. I should write a separate post on cleaning and oiling Nora.