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Oct 2, 2013

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back or "Curbside Sewing Machine SCORE!"



Day 3 of ditching and I've experienced a setback, readers!

I'm coming back from the chiropractor this afternoon -- and if you're looking for one in NYC, mine is fabulous -- and am walking west on the south side of 25th Street when I see, across the street, directly outside The City Quilter, a woman carrying away a box she seems to have fished out of their trash (Wednesday must be trash night).  It looks like a sewing machine box so, naturally, I'm intrigued.  I quickly cross the street and approach the remaining trash pile, where I spot another box -- the one pictured above (and below).



I open the box and see that it indeed contains a Brother VX-1120 sewing machine, only it's missing its cord and pedal.  But when I look at the socket, it looks exactly like the one on my Brother 1034D serger.  Might this model use the same pedal/plug?

So I carry it home, take it out of its box (it even has its original styrofoam packaging) and plug my serger pedal into it.  It fits perfectly!





I plug it in; the light turns on.  I press the pedal; the needle moves!  I thread it (I can pretty much thread any standard sewing machine blindfolded) and check the bobbin: it's all there.  With some minor adjusting I balance the thread tension.  It works perfectly.



There is nothing fancy about the Brother VX-1120; it is as basic as they come -- or rather, came, since this machine dates from 1998 (based on the date on the box).  But it has some nice features.  First, the needle position is adjustable (left, middle, right).



It has an amazing range of stitch lengths and the smallest stitches are, frankly, fantastic looking (it's not like the contemporary low-end Brothers that offer only a small number of pre-set stitch lengths.



This would be a great starter machine.  You can buy the cord/pedal combo on eBay for roughly $20.  I may pick one up tonight.  Even better, Brother still offers a free, downloadable PDF of the original manual on their website.  Thank you, Brother!

The VX-1120 is a free-arm (like most modern plastic machines) and very light to carry -- a big plus.  The base contains a space for accessories, which include a zipper foot, three plastic Class 15 bobbins, a feed dog cover, Organ needles and even a double needle -- everything it originally came with, which suggests this machine was lightly used if at all. 











Do you know this is the fourth sewing machine I have found, literally, on the street?

Now wait -- I DID ditch a bit today, pitching a somewhat holey cashmere men's sweater I found not a week ago in the trash, so I'm still on track, right? 

Only, I also bought a book today.

I had coffee with Suzanne (who had the audacity to stop blogging so she could devote more time to her young daughter -- the nerve), and afterwards I stopped into Kinokuniya, the Japanese bookstore we visit every MPB Day.  After eyeing it for literally years, I finally treated myself to a copy of....I don't even know what it's called since I can't read Japanese.  Let's just call it, "The Japanese Men's Coat Pattern Book."



This book includes some fabulous traceable coat patterns, and if you're a fan of Mainely Dad, you know that he has sewn them all and now boasts the most amazing men's outerwear wardrobe north of Portland.  (A direct quote from Mainely Dad/Duane: "...there are 13 coats featured, but they're really just themes and variations on 4 basic patterns.")


Anyway, I think I'm ready to tackle some of these patterns myself and I may pick Duane's brain before I do.









Now you may be wondering how I intend to use a book whose directions are written entirely in Japanese.  That's a very good question for which I should have an answer after I've picked Duane's brain. 





In closing, today's total is not very inspiring: 1 sweater out; 1 sewing machine and 1 book in.

I hope to make up for it tomorrow, I promise!

(Would YOU have left that Brother VX-1120 in the trash?  Be honest.)

Have a great day, everybody!

46 comments:

  1. That sweater would sure have made a nice warm sweater (the sleeves) or bed or bed pad for your doggos.....cashmere felts into very nice toasty dogwear and, once felted, is easy care.

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  2. Great find! Makes me wonder what the other person got.

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  3. I would have turned the sweater into a needle felted scarf,but that's me. Yes, I totally would have saved that orphan machine.

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  4. Why do I never find things like this??? That's awesome. Good for you!

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  5. NYC trash is amazing! I wonder if the other woman's box had your foot pedal?

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  6. Peter, I'd have grabbed it in half a heartbeat. I wish that I were as fortunate as you are, finding such lovely castoffs.

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  7. Thank goodness you saved another usable item from the landfill. It makes me sick that so many people are to lazy to take workable items to the charity shops. There is somewhere, a young sewist who would love to get started with that machine. Can you give it to a homeless shelter, if you don't want it ?

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  8. I love Japanese sewing books. Even if you don't read the language, their illustrations are so clear and well done! You'll be fine, especially since you have a lot of sewing experience.

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  9. It is "The Men's Coat Book". If you ever need help figuring out any part of the book, let me know. I'll be happy to help. My native language is Japanese and it's my profession, too. (the language part not the men's tailoring part!) Traditionally, Japanese sewing patterns don't include seam allowance - you may already know...

    Brother VX-970, predecessor of the one you picked up and very similar, was my sewing machine for a looooong (too long) time. Yeah, I loved the three needle position and it served me well... ok - unless and until I wanted to sew something thick. Then it gave me nothing but frustration. So as long as you don't try to sew jeans with that machine, it will do fine. Oh my, I'd love to take a walk in NY with you. I may find something really fun!

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  10. What is it with New Yorkers that they just dump stuff in the trash pile? .......or do they know that Peter lives nearby and can't resist a good pick up!! Congratulations, if you can't keep it, please make sure it goes to a good home,

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  11. I must move to New York. Seriously nothing that cool happens in Dallas. Would I have left it there ... absolutely not! Love your blog!

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  12. Found sewing machines don't count. They're like over done cookies - no calories.
    Good for you on all fronts!

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  13. It sounds like the streets are paved with sewing machines, not gold.. What a wonderful find!

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  14. Nothing in the world would induce me to throw away a working sewing machine even if didn't want it-- not with craigslist, freecycle and various thrift stores. What a great find, and I love the even, tiny stitches.

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    1. I agree.

      I can't understand why people send potentially useful stuff to landfill when there are other EASY methods of "disposal"?

      Spud.

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    2. Here in the UK landfill is taxed, and there are all sorts of choices for recycling. It varies with exactly where you live. But a sewing machine would need an electrical safety check. Not every charity shop is willing to do that.

      Mobile phones assay out as a better source of gold than the ore from most goldmines.

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  15. I absolutely would have fished the sewing machine out of the trash bin and looked for others. Why is that store throwing them out? What happened to the power pedal I wonder?

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  16. Hell no I wouldn't have left it there! Amazing find (and you got rid of that jumper so you're right on track).

    Look forward to seeing which of the coats you make... once you've deciphered the instructions.... good luck!

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  17. I had this machine. If it were a car, it would be a Honda...I put at least 200,000 miles on it. It was, hands down, the most faithful sewing machine ever. It finally died and I bought a Husqvarna..a poor substitute for my faithful plastic Brother. Lucky you!

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  18. Wow! I would definitely have taken it. I just don't 'get' people throwing stuff like that out.

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  19. Things you find like that, fab things just recklessly and pointlessly abandoned in the street, don't count against The Daily Ditch. You were SAVING it! That was a noble intention and as such lets you off the hook. The book def does count though...

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  20. honestly no one who sews can have something as too many sewing machines or fabric or sewing books

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  21. Leave a sewing machine in the trash?? NEVER! You did good Peter, poor thing needed a home. Also, I am so jealous that you found that machine...

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  22. I would have left it. Honestly. Like you, Peter, I have better sewing machines. That means it would not have been a life enhancing acquisition. Any acquisition that is not life enhancing is the opposite- there is no 'neutral'. The book, on the other hand, looks life enhancing. I'm surprised you managed so long without it.

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  23. I bought a nice older sewing machine for $18 at a thrift store. I didn't need it, but it was too good to pass up! So I admired it for one day, then sold it for $20 to a friend of a friend who loves to sew but doesn't currently have a machine. I got a $2 finders fee and warm fuzzies for passing the good deal along.

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  24. Oh wow, please pick a coat from the book and start soon!

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  25. Who would throw out a sewing machine? That is what blows my mind. Good for you for rescuing it from the trash. I would for sure have done the same thing. I don't need a sewing machine but I would have donated it to a community centre or Refugee Women's group. I'm sure if I wouldn't be able to give it a good home, someone would. Good score and save.

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  26. I couldn't have left that in the trash. However, I'm totally expecting that within a year or so, the Brother will be sent along to the Goodwill, sold, or given away. You do sew a lot, so I can see why you keep attracting sewing machines, but you can only use one machine at a time. Love the idea of trench coat.

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  27. This being New York, and being the front of a sewing store, I'm assuming they trusted someone would poke through and take what was of value. Well, I hope, anyway. We live on a drive-by-slowly street where I can count on decent items being picked...I offer them as a gift, and it saves me a trip to the thrift shop. For us, this means larger, visible items, carefully placed, meant to be seen and not land in the trash truck. Also, Toby Wollin from Kitchen Counter Economics has made a pea coat from your new book.She deciphered the construction using doll sized duplicate pattern pieces. It turned out beautifully and yours will too!

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  28. I have the Japanese Coat book too and made my mister a coat from it last year. Definitely pick Duane's brain. The main pieces of the coats go together quite well, but the welt pockets for all the versions are something else entirely. They are very strange and weird to put together and after scratching my head for a couple of days to figure them out, I redrafted them for easier sewing.
    The only other thing that will probably ever keep me from using the book again is getting the pattern from those horrible mass patterns sheets onto paper. By the way there are no seam allowances added to any of the pattern pieces. And you know, I know everyone is like "what's the big deal about no seam allowances and tracing from that big pattern sheet" but seriously, we're talking like 30 pattern pieces here! It takes a stiff drink, a steady hand and hours upon hours of tracing. I suggest, a double tracing wheel, wax tracing paper and medical exam paper. Oiy! I'm sure you'll make something wonderful from it! Can't wait to see it!

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  29. Aaah, you threw the sweater out?! I usually pick up cashmere sweaters (cheaper if they have a few holes) and unravel them to re-use the yarn. Next time, thrift store! They're also good to use to line knitted or felted mittens and hats to make them warmer and softer.

    The coats in that book are wonderful, and I'm certain your sewing skills are up to them.

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  30. I would have picked up the machine as well, if only to make sure it got a good home. You have already determined that it works and how to obtain the missing part, so you have added value to what was discarded! I am opposed to throwing out items with good use still left in them and you rescued this item from its' fate in a landfill. In most areas of the country craigslist or ebay or thrift stores will help you get rid of stuff, but I know that in big cities, people put items on the curb, expecting them to be picked up. My daughter leaves bottles out on trash day and they are always gone before trash pick up, rescued by people who will turn the bottles in for the 8 cents each. I would assume whoever threw out the machine was aware that their trash would be recycled.

    Have fun with the pattern book. I doubt I would have escaped that store only purchasing one book! I know you recycle and find new homes for your sewing machine sueplus and I tip my hat to you!

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  31. They look like great jackets. You are about to really up your sewing game with these.
    Trust you to find a perfectly good sewing machine in the trash. Though I do know a woman who furnished her whole apartment from NYC street finds.

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  32. I can't believe what New York throws away! Lucky you for finding that great machine. I may have to take a trip to NY just to go through the trash !
    Love, Sandi

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  33. Peter, just getting caught up on my blog reading and seeing this. I'm sure you won't have any problems, in fact I bet you won't have too many fitting issues if you cut the x-large size. Suni's right about the welt pockets and the need for alcohol! LOL. Still, all the effort and puzzle solving is worth it. All four designs are well drafted and way more stylish than any other commercially available pattern today. I'm here for ya, and anyone else who's working from this book.

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  34. I agree with geogrrl, you should have kept the cashmere sweater because it could have been used again as either parts or fabric. Good find with the Sewing machine. I'm sure you'll make good use of it!

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  35. I'd have picked up the machine, but not to keep. Now that you've checked it out, what about putting a note on it that it works, and some places where a controller could be bought and take it to the thrift store, or if that's too far to carry it, set it lovingly on the curb. I can think of reasons to leave it on the curb with a "free" sign, but to trash it??? Maybe whoever did that saw it had no controller and assumed it was now unusable?

    I look forward to reading about your upcoming coat.

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  36. I want to clarify - since you are back in declutter mode, I think that machine needs a new home. Whether it's someone who reads your blog, a thrift shop buyer, or someone who picks it up off the curb. Unless you are willing to give up at least one of your other machines to make room for it.

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  37. http://www.japanesesewingbooks.com/

    http://www.sewinlove.com.au/category/how-to-sew-japanese-sewing-patterns/

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  38. What a lucky find! That was my first sewing machine that was all my own. It was my sweet sixteen present (along with a guitar amp). I actually just got rid of mine last year as trade-in credit towards my first Husqvarna. My Husky is great and a true pleasure to sew with, but I loved my VX-1120. It still holds a soft place in my heart. I guess I really decided to get rid of my VX-1120 because I got while living in Europe, so it was a slightly different model. I was unable to locate accessories (feet, millimeter bobbins, etc) in the States, and I wasn't willing to stomach the international shipping, plus the conversion rate expense. I almost kept it, but decided I could live without the clutter. However, I kind of wish I kept the manual work-horse around just in case I have Husky issues.

    If you decide to set it free, I'll be waiting.

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  39. After reading about your machine collecting I asked an acquaintance through work about buying his wife's old machines. They'd spent $30 and $70 to get them serviced awhile back and kinda wanted to get that expense back which was fine with me sight unseen.
    When I got there, she thought maybe something was out of adjustment on 1 and since she'd only paid $10 for it originally at a church bazaar, they wanted me to take it for nothing. They then decided they would take the other one out of its cabinet and let me have it for nothing also, with the promise I would get the cabinet next spring after they planted the flowers that were sitting on it, along with a box of accessories they had not found yet, so I came home with 2 Kenmore sewing machines. I portable and 1 with a cabinet later. Both are probably around the 70's, very heavy and worked perfect once I threaded them up. I won't worry about using them on denim if I get brave enough to try jeans as you did.

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    1. Congratulations, Roger. Those sound like great machines!

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  40. I also have a BROTHER 1034D SERGER, although in the uk we call them OVERLOCKERS. It's great, do you think?

    From
    Cee Jay/Leigh on Sea, Essex, England, Britian

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