Saturday, 21 August 2010

A Sweat of Sewing Machines :)

Alright, I concede I don't actually know the collective noun for a group of sewing machines! However, 'a sweat' of sewing machines sounded appropriate since you'd get a big group of sewing machines in a sweat shop :)

My Mum recently said to me that she thought her sewing machine (the one above - a Cresta machine bought in around 1962) was destined for the sewing machine shop in the sky! The tension seemed to have gone completely wrong and she couldn't adjust it at all.

Last Saturday, in Lidl's, we noticed a special offer for a basic Singer machine for only £80 and we wondered if that would suit her. By a strange coincidence, on the same day, she decided to phone a sewing machine shop in Waltham Cross, not far from here, that do machine repairs and who have serviced it before now, to see if there was anything they could do...... and they say there most probably is and ....... DON'T THROW IT AWAY whatever you do!!!!

They basically said that the Cresta machines were good solid machines that were 'better than some of those cheap 80 quid ones you can get nowadays'! [Can't think what they might have been referring to! No coincidence that Lidl's is just round the corner!]

So, I picked it up from Mum's on Thursday and will be taking it down there today. Mind you, I have no idea how my non-driving Mum got it there before! It weighs a ton!!!

This got me to thinking ....... I haven't used my sewing machine for ages! For exactly the same reason! I wonder if they can put mine to rights? I have a couple of ideas that need a sewing machine but, like Mum, I had also thought that my machine had had it! This machine is a Jones VX540 that I bought in 1982. It is no where near as heavy as Mum's but, like Mum's, I can't see any plastic anywhere obvious! Anyhow, after a quick call to the shop, they said the Jones machines are also good machines, so it will also be going off today for repair.

What about this one? Well ....... I couldn't resist showing you this! Apparently, my Mum had this from when she was first married, so around 1957. It's an Essex Engineering Mk1 Sewing Machine and I found a brilliant website that tells a little of its history. This would seem to indicate that production stopped around 1956 but Mum is sure she bought it from a catalogue (possibly Kays catalogue) when she was first married, so perhaps they were on sale for a while after that?
As you can see, it is hand operated and when you look at it closely, it is a marvel of engineering. Everything is so perfectly made! From the days when we in England still made things to be proud of! [Oops ..... soap box moment ....... put that away now :) ]
Mum used it to make things for me when I was a baby. As a child, Mum also used to let me use it. My principle use was to run pieces of paper through it to make patterns!! Oh Dear!
Nevertheless, it still appears to work, although I haven't actually threaded it up to check. Still, I feel the urge to do so as I'm curious to see if it can sew even after all this time. It sews by producing a chain stitch..... there is no underneath bobbin.
So there you have it ........ three generations of sewing machines :)

Friday, 13 August 2010

Lynne's 60th Birthday Party

Last Saturday, 7th August, my niece Claire organised a surprise 60th Birthday party for her Mum, Lynne. Lynne is my huband John's sister, for anyone who doesn't know :)

Somehow, it WAS kept a secret! Lynne was totally surprised! It was a great party and all credit goes to Claire for putting on such a fantastic party.

You Want Cute Cats ..... ?

A friend's son just became the new slave for a kitten and, as a result, he posted a 'cute cat' video on You Tube. Not to be outdone, my son's response was ...... if you want cute cats ....... we have TWO cute cats, so there!

This video is the result! It was only taken on James' mobile phone and his camera technique might induce sea-sickness if you're that way inclined :)

However, I love it as it shows off Flossie's temperament perfectly! For any ladies who, like me, struggle to keep their weight in check, she is living proof that exercise is the key to slimness! She is always on the go! She eats far more than Minstrel, yet there is nothing of her.

Hope you enjoy this :)

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

A Labour of Love

Although this could do with some pressing to truely look its best, having re-found it last Friday when having a sort out, I thought I would share it as it is a poignant week to do so.

You see, this lovely quilt was made by my late Mother in Law, Rose Mary Maul, who passed away in the early hours of last Boxing Day 2009. Over the last few days, we have been finishing the clearing of her flat as the sale of her flat completes this Thursday. Clearing her flat has been sad. We almost don't want to do it as, clearing all trace of her home seems almost like clearing her and her memory away.

However, finding this quilt when I was sorting out one of my own cupboards last Friday reminds me that she left lots of special things for us to remember her by.

This quilt also has an interesting story. Rose was plagued by very bad arthritis but when I first knew her she still loved knitting and making things. In the 1980s, cross stitch became very popular and she took up the new hobby with relish. However, her arthritis could make holding an embroidery hoop difficult and if the pain was bad, she couldn't stitch.

When John and I announced at the beginning of 1990 that we were expecting our first child and her third grandchild, it coincided with the publication of these patterns in a cross stitch magazine she used to have which also suggested making them all up into a quilt. She decided that, come Hell or High Water ...... she was going to make that quilt for the new baby!

Now ..... was nine months enough time to do something like this? Maybe! But factor in her bad arthritis and this was a challenge. She often carried on stitching even though her hands were hurting and when she would otherwise have stopped. She didn't dare risk not completing it.

And finish it she did! It was quite the loveliest present we received when James was born and it was always used in his cot. She also managed to keep it a secret that she was making it during my pregnancy, so it really was a fantastic surprise.

I cherish having this lovely quilt. It was a true Labour Of Love and speaks volumes for her determination and strength of character.

RIP Rose xxxx

Saturday, 7 August 2010

The Reason I Abandoned Free-Style Embroidery?

When I was about 15 or 16 years old, I saw this kit advertised in one of my Mum's magazines. With the over ambition of youth, I totally ignored just how big it was an bought it! Well ...... seemed a very nice picture! I probably didn't even really notice the dimensions of 18" x 40"!

The instructions recommended putting the fabric on a frame but, as I only had an embroidery hoop, this was what I used. In truth, a hoop is not the ideal thing for this picture because you will inevitably end up crushing some stitches as the picture progresses. However, I made a start!!

I made a pretty good start over on the far right-hand side of the picture. Even if I say so myself, I'm quite impressed with the stitches and my standard.

For some reason, I then jumped over to the only bright yellow flower over on the left. It was here that I hit problems....... I wasn't happy at all with the satin stitches on the yellow flower or the orange flower ............. they seemed too long and I wasn't happy with how the material was slightly puckering. Perhaps I didn't have sufficient tension in the embroidery frame? Perhaps the satin stitches ARE too long, although I was following the instructions and they have the stitches this long.
So ...... I put it away and have only just recently found it ...... approximately 35 years later!
Looking at it now, my stitches don't seem too bad and I am left thinking that my 15 year old self was too critical! Could I attempt to carry on with it? It's tempting! However, I really don't want a picture this size!
What other use could I put it to if I were to finish it?

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Who is this Girl with Umbrella?

Here is another embroidery showing that my sewing 'life' started with free-style embroidery rather than needlepoint or cross stitch.

Again, I'm pretty sure I did this in my early teens. Mind you, having thought about it, I think I may have done this one before the Hummel 'Hiker'.

However, I can't remember who produced this kit or what it was called. Has anyone seen it anywhere as I would love to know!

By a strange twist of fate, I have found one image of it on another website. We have just come back from our holiday in Norfolk and, whilst away, we found a fabulous needlework shop in Norwich called The Work Box. I spent far more than was good for me in there :)

Once home, I obviously had to search out their website and, much to my surprise, on one of the pages you can see a picture of a pink version of this little girl!

I have contacted the shop to see if they have a record of what it is and they say they will try to find out...... although, I guess if the picture was taken a long time ago, they may not be able to. It would be interesting to see if it is one of a series.

Still, I do remember that I loved working this design although I did have a little difficulty with the satin stitch on the umbrella in one area. Again I didn't like the frame, so she's been hidden away in a cupboard with the Hummel 'Hiker'.

Shall I frame them again? Or what else could I do with them?
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