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Sep 25, 2011

Two sewing machines GONE + Street Fair Madness!

Readers, after a solid week of Daily Ditches, yesterday I was ready to put my willpower to the ultimate test: the fantastic London Terrace Street Fair that takes place every September just down the block from my apartment.  Could I go there and come back with nothing?  The short answer is no.  But while I didn't pass the test with flying colors, I think I earned a solid B+.  First let's back up a bit.

There were a few things on my ditch list I wasn't willing to just give away for free, namely a few of my vintage sewing machines.  (Are you sitting down?)  Remember that Singer 99 I picked up last Spring, the one I bought primarily so that Rain couldn't get his greedy mitts on it first?

Well, nice as that machine is, I never used it, especially since I already had a Singer 15-91, a Singer Featherweight, a Singer 66 treadle, and now a Singer 201, plus my Pfaff 30, of course, whose plug I still need to replace -- all excellent straight stitch machines.  So I posted it on Craigslist.  And here's the truth: I actually offered it to Rain for free and he turned it down -- an obvious slap in the face.  Just see if I offer him any more free sewing machines! 

Readers, there's more.  Remember my beautiful Pfaff 139, the 35 lb mid-Fifties zigzagger I purchased the summer I started sewing?  (It's the one that came with the pin cushion we talked about last weekend.)

I made many garments on that machine; it's incredibly smooth to sew with and has excellent piercing power.  But after I purchased a beat up Viking on eBay a few months later, I found that I was doing all the zigzagging I needed to do on that machine, plus winding all my bobbins, attaching buttons, and inserting invisible zippers.

It's weird about the Viking -- it truly looks like it survived an earthquake and is even missing the door that covers the bobbin case, though this doesn't affect the stitching at all.  I use it only for specific jobs but it does them perfectly.  It's always out and ready to sew.

I think one of the things I didn't like about the Pfaff -- and this is going to sound really dumb -- was that it came in a huge, grimy, beige plastic carrying case, so when I used the machine I had to find a place for the top of the case.  I despise carrying cases, and where am I going carry a 35 lb sewing machine?

Anyway, long story short, I listed my Singer 99 and Pfaff 139 on Craigslist on Friday, and within a two-hour span on Saturday, sold both.  And to men!

This leaves me down to the bare bones: seven sewing machines and only two of them zigzaggers.  Plus my serger, of course.  It feels a little scary but it's so wonderful to have the space back.  And both buyers were totally stoked about their respective purchases.

I've found that the quickest way to move stuff on Craigslist is to price things to move.  Especially in a lousy economy.

But back to the fabulous street fair, or should I say fairs, because later that day, on an afternoon stroll with Michael, we happened upon another great street fair in the West Village, on West 10th Street. What are the odds?

I have a weakness for vintage sunglasses, and I picked up two pair of vintage celluloid glasses -- I'm guessing from the Thirties or Forties -- for just $20 at the London Terrace Street Fair.  Cute, no?

At the second street fair, I found this sweet pattern for just 50 cents.  It's one those flouncy party dresses, this one from 1961, and how Natalie Wood is that gal in yellow?  It's missing the skirt pattern piece, but it's just a dirndl skirt, so it's a big rectangle.  If I give it away on the blog, I'll trace the dirndl skirt from another party dress pattern I have, so it feels more complete.

The ruffled capelet -- the best or worst part of the pattern depending on you feel about ruffled capelets -- is intact.

And that's it!  Two of the best street fairs ever and all I spent was $20.50.  That's some kind of record, right?

Today it's more ditching, obviously.  I'm on a roll!

Any good ditches in your neck of the woods?  Vintage sewing machine purges?  Take it from me, you don't need more than seven.  (Anybody have more than that?  Hope not.)

Happy Sunday, everybody!


  1. I have 6 sewing machines and 3 sergers. I don't use 2 sergers and 2 of the sewing machines. I'm leary to get rid of them as I do private sewing lessons and I think some of them might be handy if I started doing group lessons.

  2. Oh god, I was just thinking that I don't have that many at all. Then I counted. I have six plus my serger. Seven if you count the one my sister is holding for me until I can pick it up. I did give one away a few years back to a friend who wanted to sew and had no machine. I have, once or twice, regretted giving that machine away just because it was my first, and it was really good for its price. Anyway, my mom has several machines, my sister has two, and she doesn't even sew. So, I guess I come by it honestly. Also, people give them to me, unwanted, vintage machines that have been collecting dust for too long, they just find their way to my house, sort of like stray cats, but I only have four of those.

  3. That cover for the Pfaff? Well, it's just the right height to make an excellent footrest!

  4. I really need to get my vintage machine (which a co-worker gave to me for free) up and working, since my tension on my babylock is messed up. That would put me at two machines and one serger, although we have several machines in our house that belonged to my grandmother. My dad curses their existence because two are table-based and take up loads of room. Secretly, I think he is keeping them to give to me! I also have a mini childs antique machine but it is only as big as industrial stapler, so...Good for you for being frugal! It is really so hard when you can come by things so cheap.

  5. Peter,

    Still recovering from all of that "pillow talk" you inspired yesterday. How you give a platform to the eternally unspoken, I'll never know.

    Just bought a featherweight (it was listed as a "featherlight" so I was first to contact and see it - buyers take note!), so I'm up to three machines and a serger. Does the longer one reads your blog morph one into a far-flung, or ersatz, version of you? I can't be the only one experiencing this sci-fi-meets-sewing transformation.

    Ditchin' what needs pitchin' here, but will get around to donating and selling in the next round.

    Speaking of round, those glasses are snazzy.

  6. um, I have more than 7 vintage sewing machines. As far as I know, only one of them works reliably, but I haven't tried all of them. Fortunately, I have storage space for them so don't feel compelled to part with any of them right now.

  7. I have one modern sewing machine, two vintage, and my serger. My husband built me my workroom with a long table he made specifically for my sewing machines, plus a separate work/cutting table. Our daughter christened it Evil Lair - LOL!

    I love the aviator sunglasses on you, Peter. You look terrific!

  8. Wow! You did well! Those street fairs would be very hard to resist. Am visiting NY in a month's time, but I reckon the street fairs might be over by then, for the cooler weather. Bugger.

    I have 3 sewing machiness, but to be honest that's 1 too many for me. I have an old Elna Lotus that I really need to sell as I just don't use it. Luckily there is demand for these in Australia so I can sell it for a good price.


  9. ~~Sigh I have 14 sewing machines and one serger. I've been trying unsuccessfully to downsize to just 8, but as I sell or give away some others follow me home.

    I like your sunglasses Peter... you look really cool.

  10. Um...I have multiples of seven, I'm loathe to admit. I think the treadles number seven (with about four more heads to swap in and out...) and the electrics number about 24. Yup, about 35.

    I do sew on many of them, in fact, but I need to be paying more attention to the Ditch Factor.

  11. I am a sewing enthusiast with just 1 machine and 1 overlocker and but there is no limit to sewing though!

  12. I have a brother, which I totally love. I love all the embroidery stitches, which I use all the time.
    However, if I didn't have a daughter then I doubt I would use them at all.

    I am scared of sergers.

  13. wow, I am glad I am not alone, friends think I am mad for hoarding, 3 vintage machines under my bed. 1 treadle in the hall way, 2 machines and 1 embellisher in the living room, 2 more vintage machines in the conservatory and lastly 1 machine and overlocker (serger)in the kitchen. The only rooms not holding any sewing related bits are the kids rooms.
    I too am afaird of the overlocker, infact it was only yesterday i took her out of her box the reciept said 2008. And now I am not sure what to do with her. my shirt pattern is all cut out. Do I use her just like a sewing machine or for edging seams only ?


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