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Oct 8, 2011

Peter's Saturday "Ditch 'n B*tch"



Friends, today I'd like to take a break from sewing men's boxer shorts and return to something we all can relate to: The Daily Ditch!

Please don't think I wasn't ditching this week during the sew-along, because I was.  And would you believe there is still more ditching to come?  Decluttering my apartment is very much like digging a subway in Rome: you unearth ancient Roman ruins, only to find Etruscan ruins underneath, and then you're digging up dinosaur bones and pieces of Fred Flintstone's old car.

To say I'm discovering stuff I'd forgotten I owned would be an understatement.  In fact, I may have inadvertently tunneled into my neighbor's closet, which would explain all the plaster dust and pieces of cinder block.  I hope they won't mind.

Here are some of the week's highlights:

I found this cute plastic Sixties-era storage unit in the street while walking the dogs.  It's actually kind of collectible, part of the Combonibili line designed by Anna Castelli for Kartell.  (Yes, we have good trash here.)  It was a little grimy but I was still able to make money on it.  Is that wrong?



I sold a few other things as well.

This vintage mannequin seemed so cool in the faded industrial setting of the flea market, but looked like junk in my apartment, and it took up a lot of space.  Some artist ended up buying it (for an art project, presumably -- good luck with that).



Hours after purchasing this used bicycle on Craigslist about five years ago I realized the frame was too big, but I tried to make it work.  I couldn't -- it's really not safe for me to ride.  I sold it to an attorney who actually insisted I let him test drive it.  I let him, since he was willing to leave his personal belongings behind.  Was I wrong to snatch his VISA card and a few twenties?  I think he can afford it.



I am always finding cheap plastic sunglasses at the thrift store only to be reminded why they ended up there in the first place.  They're fun to use for photo shoots but, at my age, I really need to start taking better care of my eyes.  Back to the thrift store they go (went)!



Did you know I used to knit?  Well, for two weeks.  I liked knitting and found it very therapeutic, but the yarn is so expensive, and -- this was the main problem -- how many scarves and hats does a person need?   Actually, maybe I'll save a pair of those needles with the plastic between them, just in case.



Oh, I almost forgot -- that Mickey Mouse push-button phone pictured up top.  Nobody seems to want a real phone anymore, not even a priceless Disney collectible, alas.

And now, friends, the b*tch:

I counted yesterday, and in the past two-and-a-half years I have owned twenty-two sewing machines, more than half of which I have sold to make room for others.  Except for a rusty Singer 66 I found in the curb without motor or bobbin case and a Sixties-era Singer (with table) I found in my building's trash before I knew anything about sewing machines, I always found new homes for them, and passed them along in better condition than I found them in.

But then...

Remember my Viking, 3240?



This is really weird: on a whim I was looking at vintage Vikings, models like the 6440, on eBay -- not seriously considering getting one, just window shopping.  After all, my 3240 was working fine, even though it was beat up -- missing, among other things, the door to the shuttle area, a few screws, etc.

The very next day, I tried zigzagging on her, only to discover that she had seized up almost completely: turning her hand wheel was like trying to pull your foot out of the La Brea Tar Pits.  I couldn't believe it.  This was one of those self-lubricating Vikings, which after many decades have a tendency to freeze, though usually as a result of disuse.

Do you think sewing machines have feelings?

Of course, my first thought was that I would fix her myself and I immediately emailed Rain to ask where I could purchase Tri-Flow or some other miracle grease solvent.  Well, I didn't hear from him for days; turns out he had been away on vacation (from fixing vintage sewing machines?).

Readers, to make a long story short, I have decided not to invest another hour in this machine.  I paid $40 two years ago and it has given me a great deal of pleasure.  I don't know how to take it apart, and it's simply not worth paying what it would cost to have it restored here in NYC.  I feel kind of conflicted about it because, like I said, I have never junked a working machine before, but what can you do?

Oh, I should mention that I'm replacing her with this (thank you, eBay), a Viking 6020, apparently one of the last of the Vikings you could oil yourself.  Let's keep it simple.  Keep your fingers crossed.



I have also decided, after working on a second pair of boxers on my Kenmore 158.141, that I don't really want that machine around either.  Don't get me wrong: it's a workhorse, but I'll stick to my vintage straight stitchers, thank you very much.  (And one Viking for the times I need to zigzag.)


And that, readers, is the end of my Saturday Ditch 'n B*tch.

If you have something to ditch and need support to actually do it, or merely want to b*tch, please feel free.  I realize that my sew-along hasn't fostered much discussion and you may have things to get off your chest. 

What have you been up to?

Do you think sewing machines have feelings?

Happy Saturday, everybody!

23 comments:

  1. OK, I can't believe you found someone to buy that mannequin - actually, I can't believe you brought it home in the first place :-)

    And good job, by the way!

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  2. I have the same Viking you just bought and I love it!! Bought it used 3 years ago. It seized up once. I took it apart and found a penny stopping it up. Removed penny - machine fixed. Kinda weird huh? I've sewn some thick bags on mine - it's strong too.
    Way to go with the ditching - I wish I could get started.......

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  3. Ha ha, really? I loved the mannequin! I thought it had a really cool, moody vibe that would look amazing if I actually had the interior design /styling skills to display it.

    And that Kenmore- I had the exact same model with same table and I recently gave it away on Freecycle. Fortunately the recipient was super-pleased with it. You are right, it was a workhorse but I never bonded with it.

    It feels so good to have the house cleared out. All that de-cluttering wore me out.

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  4. I like the mannequin too--sort of a funky/creepy vibe :-) So glad we got to meet-up and sorry our conversation got broken up by the crazy/overstressed man in the cafe--ah, New York...I so don't miss you! :)

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  5. Hi Peter!

    Maybe sewing machines have fellings! Weird, but something similar has happened to one of my machines! I own four vintage Singers(3 straight-stitches and the 401G) and one Pfaff. The Paff is also a good and strong model from the 70's, with seveal usefull stitches, but I was not using it at all. Last week I had a project and I wanted to sew with the Pfaff, but the machine simply started to do a strange noise. I found the problem and I think I can fix it by myself, but I decide to sell it. I really do not use it and I find the Singers much softer and nicer to sew with.

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  6. A while back I had a sewing machine repair guy over to fix my newly acquired pre-loved New Home - with lots of solvent - and he told me that not needing to oil machines was a myth and that you can oil and maintain any machine - regardless of brand.
    I don't know if machines have feeling but I feel sad that you junked the Viking ..

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  7. Still working with my Pfaff. And today, well... For Halloween, Bit requested a "Nice pumpkin, not scary pumpkin but with big teeth and fangs" costume and a matching one for her baby sister. Now, the pattern requests fleece as padding and far be it for me to actually buy expensive fleece when I had a whole pile in my donated fabric bins! So I was going through donated fabric today and pulling the fleece for pumpkin padding.

    Now that I've found it, I'm going to start drafting the pattern for the baby's costume. It comes in size 1/2, but that's for 19 inches and boo is only 17. So I'm going to have to redraft the smallest size to take out two inches...

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  8. Over 35 years ago I learned to sew on a Viking identical to the one you just acquired. My Mom was still sewing on it until just recently when her cat knocked some stuff off the shelf above it and busted it. Between myself, my two sisters and her, it made hundreds of items of clothing, quilts, stuffed animals, bags and home dec projects. Great machine.

    I don't know if machines have feelings but I think they get tired and cranky sometimes. There are days when I am putting my machine through its paces and it just stops behaving. I go through the usual of rethreading, changing the needle, etc. and if it still won't cooperate, I just turn her off and move on to something else. Never fails, the next day or even a few hours later, I come back and she is in a good mood again and we proceed as if nothing ever happened. Maybe she does have feelings and is just having a "Garbo moment" and just wants to be left alone.

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  9. We do transfer our emotion to our machines. When we have to consider disposing them, do we not pine for all the things they helped to create. I have a Morse Apollo 6500,with a drop cam, that was given to me by my first husband shortly after we married in 1974. I still use it, it runs great. I created clothing for myself and all my children on it. Now I have a granddaughter on the way-oh boy, will I have a blast with all the cam stitches again!! My point, though, is if it ever died, I would not be able to part with it-too many memories, and it's all my fault.

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  10. I, too, learned to sew on my mother's Viking 6020, which I think she bought new as a young woman. I got my own machine a few years into sewing lessons, a Singer Spartan 192K with a beautiful two-tone green art deco-style case. Basic, but a real workhorse.

    My mother's machine stepped on a rainbow some years back, but my stepmother upgraded to a newer machine and wanted to hand me down her old one, and lo and behold, it was identical to my mother's Viking! My stepmother (bless her) had it tuned up and cleaned and gave it to me with every single attachment and teensy brush and special purpose-made screwdriver right there in the box.

    Now I can zig-zag again!

    Anyway, I am sure you'll love your new Viking. It's a lovely machine. And it's nice to be able to sew with a machine that has motorcycle and chainsaw cousins, isn't it?

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  11. Aw, I am sad you're ditching the Kenmore. It's been my one and only since I was 12 so I'm very sentimental about it.

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  12. Really, the depths of your apartment continue to amaze me. Where do you keep this stuff?

    I'm trying to finish slipcovering a sofa and it is taking over my life.

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  13. If you need someone to take the Mickey phone off your hands, I'd love to. My 8-year-old ADORES Mickey and loves anything with Mickey Mouse. Just email me if you haven't put it to the curb yet. caudles42@yahoo.com

    I'm trying to figure out how to narrow hem some very slippery poly/spandex knit that doesn't want to cooperate no matter how many pins I put in it. I'll figure it out soon!

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  14. The Vikings with sintered bearings can be oiled, you just have to use the right oil. I can't remember whether Tri-flow is good or bad, but some lubricants will clog the metal pores. WeFixIt yahoo group has great info.

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  15. ..... Have you been to the occupation? I'd love to hear your thoughts on it, you're in a much better position to check it out than I am.. I trust your opinions...

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  16. Well, I need to go to bed now, so that I can get up bright and early for work in the morning, but sadly my WHOLE bed is covered with my winter clothing. My dad took it out of storage yesterday for me, but what with this weirdly weathered weekend, I couldn't switch anything out yet! Never mind that most of it won't fit in my closet anyways. Need to get to the bare bones of my clothing!

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  17. My sewing machine (an Elna 3003) has a forgiving nature and all her feelings are good ones. My Babylock imagine overlocker on the other hand is a mean and temperamental thing. I'd send her off to star in a re-make of 'Dallas' this very minute if I didn't have to diagnose the cause and then fix her messing up the last two rolled hems on the multi-fabric top I want to wear tomorrow.

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  18. I tumped a seized-up, wonky old Montgomery Ward zig-zag machine into the dumpster ( a college graduation gift from my father -- the sewing machine, not the dumpster) with absolutely no regrets. It might have made someone a good boat anchor; but I do not live near a river or lake and my neighbor does not allow boats on her pond.

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  19. poor Kenmore. still waiting on my broken thriftstore one to get repaired/evaluated

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  20. My sewing machine is very good-natured as a rule. It was turning moody a couple of years ago, so I sent it on a nice spa vacation (aka service) and since then we've been closer than ever! It's a Husqvarna/Viking "Daisy" 325, from the turn of the millennium.

    I still think of my machine as "a new Husqvarna" even though it's ten years old. Says a lot about the quality of them, a lot of people I know have Husqvarnas from the 70's and early 80's.

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  21. Technically speaking, you didn't junk a working machine, at least in my mind. If it seized up, it wasn't sewing, there for not working. Nice replacement though!

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  22. That mannequin scares the life out of me! And why do people use those knitting needles with plastic between, is it so you don't lose a needle (like my mum used to attach my mittens on a long string)?!

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  23. Wag Doll - that's one reason I suppose. The real reason is for knitting "in the round" (like socks)instead of using 4-5 double pointed needles. I like them for regular knitting, where you get to the end of a row and turn around, because they are easier for me to control.

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