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Mar 26, 2011

In other news...

Friends, do you ever have rescue fantasies?  I do -- in fact, I'm having one right now.  I bring this up because yesterday, out of nowhere, I was rescued and let me tell you, readers, it felt wonderful.  (Don't let them tell you otherwise.)

Remember my beloved Singer 15-91, my go-to machine for everything until I decided on a whim that it needed to be rewired?  And then I couldn't get the hand wheel off because it felt cemented on?  Well MPB reader and all-around handy guy and native New Yorker Rain (as in, Singin' in the) offered to remove the hand wheel for me -- he owns about six 15-91's in his large and growing vintage sewing machine collection and he has successfully restored/is restoring all of them!

He arrived yesterday after lunch and in about a minute and a half had that hand wheel off.  Then he starting dismantling the machine itself.  It was thrilling!  He brought his own solvents, special screw drivers (the kind you use for guns), everything but paper towels.

The machine really will need to be rewired and Rain has offered to do it for me in exchange for a little sewing guidance so we're going to do a trade.  He even offered to help me restore -- if needed -- my Featherweight, which still hasn't arrived, btw, nor have I received any communication from the seller since the purchase eight days ago.  This is not good.

In other news...

Friends, I realized that some of my difficulty making a decision yesterday about the rose-print dress was related to my apartment being a total mess -- Cathy's shoes, hats, stole, still lying about everywhere nearly a week after the big event.  I could barely see my poor Vinyls amid all the detritus.  Something had to give; it was time for another round of decluttering.

Here are few items that didn't make the cut (i.e., adiós a vosotros), along with a few that I'm still not ready to part with.

It breaks my heart, but this vintage crochet wine bottle poodle has to go.  NOTE TO SELF: Avoid kitschy knit-knacks sold in thrift stores -- the fact that somebody else dumped them contains an important message.

I bought this vintage orange Braun hair dryer at the flea market because I liked the design; I don't have any hair to dry.  Alas, it has a European plug and I could never turn it on.  It has been sitting in a drawer for fifteen years!

I also have this classic Braun men's razor, though I have never shaved with it.  I love its Teutonic good looks and I'm not ready to part with it -- yet.

I bought this carrying case in 2001 for a camera I no longer own and I never use a camera case these days anyway.  It's well made but what am I saving it for?  It just sits.  It's hard for me to part with things I paid money for (as opposed to finding in the street).

Here are a few (more) things I'm not ready to part with, though I really should, I know, I know....

This old box of travel soaps, no doubt collected assiduously by some peripatetic newlywed fifty years ago.  The scent of Lux is still overpowering!

And these old autograph albums, seventy years old.  I'm a sucker for this kind of stuff and now when I see it at the flea market (it's always there) I run the other way.  Read them and weep for our collective lost innocence -- and penmanship skills.

In closing readers, I ask you: what kind of crap do you collect that your husband or wife, parent or friend, thinks you're nuts to hold on to but hold on to you must?

Do you consider things like the autograph albums and soaps pictured above priceless memorabilia or just so much dead weight and best tossed in the dumpster?

Any interest in a crochet poodle?

Have a great day everybody!


  1. I have been following your blog for quite awhile and love the work you do. Your crochet poodle brings back such fond memories for me. As a young girl, my father and I used our poodle to save change. Every so often we were able to buy special treats.
    Thanks for the memories.
    Mary Kay

  2. Mary Kay, would you like another one? ;)

  3. Glass containers. I'll spend twenty minutes cleaning out the last remnants of wax from a glass candle jar that is shaped oddly, just for it to sit on a shelf. Old tatting shuttles and patterns. And I work at a flea market, so it's hard not to see all the goodies...

    The soap collection is fascinating. I wish there were more small hotels rather than giant franchises, it's kind of lame nowadays bringing home the same labels over and over.

  4. Lindsay, you could always leave it in the hotel. ;)

  5. Oh, dear! What haven't I collected! Here's a partial list: The 'Eloise ' series (before they were re-released a while back),juvenile illustrated books, British Commemorative stamps (fabulous designs up until 2000) Books by Cecil Beaton, Beverly Nicols and Miss Read, as well as vintage Penguin paperbacks. I like vintage kitchenware, esp. the old Made in the USA kind that does not fall apart(Pyrex, Flint and Wearever). New Yorker covers (framed for work). I inherited my great-aunt's furniture from the 1950s: Wegner, Risom and Michael Taylor 'Far East' dining room set (black matte with walnut table top) as well as her streamlined Rosenthal china) I do NOT collect: Snow Babies, Franklin Mint plates, Star Wars themed Christmas tree ornaments or Pandora beads. I lovingly maintain my old Barbie, Tutti, Skipper and Francie as well as their apartment building and plethora of ripped clothes! Phew!

  6. Peter, what pattern will you be using for the boxers? Just wondering.

  7. I would find it hard to part with the soap collection! It is very sweet. The autograph books would be good materials for a collage or book artist, so if you offered them for sale you probably would be able to sell them.

    I have several small collections. I don't seem to stay with one thing a really long time. Packed away is a blue bottle collection. I seem to be buying old mid century green glass decor items now. And I have an amazing button collection, sorted in jars by color. Heaven only knows what I'll eventually do with it. I have used some of the buttons.

    I watch the shows on cable about hoarders from time to time, and after one of those shows, stuff leaves my house!

  8. I could read those autograph books all day long. I love looking at handwriting. You could scan them and start posting them in a new blog, but part of their charm is the books themselves I know. I would have a hard time parting with them as well. And the gorgeous package design on those soaps! It makes me want to frame them all in a shadow box and hang them in my bathroom. I don't know what it is about other people's cherished memories that is so compelling to me, but it's a lovely well of nostalgia to visit.

    Congratulations on finding yourself a sewing tech! It's lovely to know your vintage machine is in top order and you have the connections to maintain it as well. And your teaching is thrilling! I assume you'll be using modern equipment, but how cool would it be to also be able to offer one on one classes on using a treadle? I think that would be fantastic.

  9. Congrats on the class, and the sewing trade!

  10. I have been following your blog for about 6 months, Peter. Great to see your posts on sewing - I have learnt loads. I joined in with your shirt sewalong but didn't post pictures or comment. The shirt isn't finished because I wanted to use an attachment to sew the hem. I couldn't find a suitable attachment for my newer machine (or any other modern machines it seems) so I have since bought a Singer 99k (1954) and an adjustable hemmer attachment is on it's way to me now. As for the travel soaps - did you know you can use them to mark out dark fabric before cutting? This is because the soap will easily wash out. I learned this from Mike Maldonado who does some excellent downloadable video on custom shirt making.
    I'm currently trying to source some denim/canvas for the jeans sewalong. I have a pattern for some 70's bellbottom jeans and I'm looking forward to having a go. Good luck with your 15-91 and teaching job.

    Rob, England

  11. Yay! More sewing machine geeks!

    Actually, my main collecting passion (and the one which makes my SO roll his eyes...) is vintage sewing machines. I'm never happier than when I happen across one, filthy and neglected, for a pittance that I need to bring home and coax back to speedy, glowing health. I always think, "I'll fix this one up and move it along." But it rarely happens.

    I relish the rare weekend that I have the time to deconstruct and strew parts everywhere, demonically clean everything, re-assemble in a haze of Tri-Flow and then spend countless hours testing, timing and re-timing. Sometimes after the repairing orgy, I even have time to sew. Bliss.

    I have pulled back the last couple of years, though, and truly don't pick up everything I see. It has to be something either (a) extremely old or (b) somewhat rare. And I do move along 'some' of them.

    Yeah, it's a sickness...but I'm not apologizing for it. And I won't tell you how many I have, but we are well into double-digits here.

  12. Those autograph books are priceless. They should go to a museum or someone who collects them. Just mho.

    The soaps are cool too. I like learning about history -- as the saying goes, it's like another country. These are the details that make it come alive.


  13. Hey I love Lux. I use it everyday!

  14. My mother is like you but with photo albums. If she sees an album full of vintage family photos she feels she has to give them a home. One day someone will be very confused when trying to work out to which part of the family all these people belong...

  15. Your crocheted poodle reminds me of my auntie's bathroom with all the hand painted pink flamingos and crocheted toilet paper covers.

  16. I love, love the soaps! What a cool piece of history. I think they would be great displayed in a bathroom, maybe in a glass jar. You could put out a few at a time and rotate the display once in a while so they would not take up so much space. I have some old medical-themed tins in my powder room - need some quinine pills or Cachoo sneezing powder?

  17. Jeremy, Soapmaker in SyracuseMarch 26, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    Can I buy that Hotel Syracuse Soap from you??

  18. Mira, our bathroom isn't really decorated; it's all we can do to keep it clean!

    Jeremy, just email me; you can have it. (peterlappinnyc at gmail dot com)

  19. I'm a rat. Feather my nest with nice crinkly papers and I'm happy. But I've largely switched to big hard drives in the past few years, and that's great. With indexing, I can find the piece of paper I'm looking for much easier.. So nearly all the paper remaining is on the walls, in the form of books. Too much dusting, but it's still OK, and I have culled about half of them with the last move. Am getting ready to donate the good collections (lesbians in Paris 20s etc) to University libraries. I'd rather some young people were reading them too..

    Then there's the fabric, and the yarn. But you knew that :-).

  20. Congrats on finding a talented tech who does house calls. I don't collect crap -- I love everything that is stuffed in my closets. Things like hotel soap and crochet poodles are long gone to make room for my extensive (described by DH as ludicrous)collection of fabric and patterns. Have fun with your class!

  21. EEeekkk, I collect hobbies and the tools that go with them. I have too many sewing machines, too much fabric......patterns out the waazooo , costumes, and geekynista that I am, Star Trek ornaments and other trekkie stuff. You should see my half eaten spockcookie christmas ornament! To. Die. For.

  22. Ooh, I'm in a big decluttering mode right now. I'm even selling fabric on my blog as my stash has gotten completely out of control. :S

    Containers are always my downfall. Glass, plastic, big, small. I'm a sucker for a good container. Especially vintage Tupperware.

    I would keep the soap wrappers and frame them as a neat collage. I'd display the autograph books on a narrow wall-mounted shelf. The skinny kind made for photographs. I'd get rid of the rest.

  23. Hmm, what do I collect? Let me see, like Regena, I collect hobbies and the tools to with them. The more tools needed the more I seem to like the hobby. I can go through the Nancy's Notions catalog and check off almost every item. If there is a tool needed for embroidery, I have it. Ditto for beadwork, stained glass, polymer clay. My latest interest is photography, it by far has the most expensive toys, I mean tools. Ten grand for a lens anyone? Not in this lifetime. My car cost that much.

    I also have a weakness for books. In addition to filling the 8 bookcases, they are also stacked on the stairs, beside my bed, in the office and of course the sewing and crafty books have their own bookcases. I have never met a bookstore I didn't like. Hello my name is Elle and I am a bookaholic.

  24. i love that someone is called rain! i'd so like to be part of your 1st class, sadly too far away!
    over my 37 years a few of the things i've collected-badges, keyrings, erasers, shoes, hats, buttons, books and russian/nesting dolls...i can't get in my office for my 'tat' as my lovely husband calls it!

  25. Oh, I'm impressed with Rain's repair know-how. My poor Necchi is sitting unused because I haven't been able to remove the handwheel. (I've been told I need to use a hammer, and I'm afraid!)

    I do own one of those gun-screwdriver sets and have found it very useful.

    When I go to thrift stores/flea markets, I am unable to resist the rayon seam bindings. I am sure I have more than I'll ever use, but keep buying them.

    Those soaps are just the type of thing I'd be tempted to buy in the thrift store. Even the box is cute. I've fortunately learned to admire things like that, and then leave them in the store. Although, sometimes I do buy something just because it's interesting, and I'll keep it for a while, knowing that I'll never use it and I'll eventually donate it back.

  26. Your man Rain sounds like my man Dan. Dan is a sewing machine whisperer!!! First of all, one look at Dan and you would think he was a ski instructor, and not the owner of a sewing machine shop. That guy can and will fix any sewing machine that will come his way, and make it work like no other! I always am secure in the thought that if I ruin any machine that I have, Dan will certainly come to my rescue!

    Love the soap collection I must say :) I don't think I could part with those. I think my worst thing that is starting to get out of control are my French magazines, and sewing patterns. Should I stop? No I don't think so :)
    That poodle item is too funny for words!!

  27. Forgot to say that your orange dryer looks like it has a French plug from what I can tell. Bet that baby works like a dream! I lived in France for a couple of years, and I still have my Braun 2000 watt hair dryer. When I go for a visit I'm good to go.

  28. Another lover of the soaps, here! I could never get rid of those - a great collection.

  29. The soaps are fantastic. I would have to display them somehow.
    The autograph book is cool--but not so much if you have no tie to those people. I would ebay it.
    The hairdryer is just funny. And trash-worthy.
    The clutter is what you and I collect in common. I recommend the Flylady. Do you know her? She'll whip you into shape.
    Love your blog!

  30. Out with the old, and in with the new...sewing machines! I am turning into a sewing hoarder- I have an ever expanding stash of vintage patterns and notions, and I now have 6 (or is it 7?) sewing machines, 4 (or 5?) vintage. Thanks for giving me someone to look up to. I still have treadle lust...
    Oh, and I really like old linens. I can't part with them- I love hand stitched stuff, and I have a lot that were made by my husband's grandma and grand aunt. I do like to use them though, I don't just keep them locked away in a box, so I figure it's ok. I think your collections are neat. Love the soaps!

  31. I just dropped off 5 HUGE boxes of 70s and 80s+ sewing patterns at St. Vincent de Paul.

    People just kept giving them to me. "You sew, right? Here are some patterns my mother had." This from the child who is all of 25. *sigh*

    Now I have reclaimed the space behind my drawing chair, yay. Im sure Ill fill it up with something else soon.

  32. Sometimes it is not what you have but where you put it. Put the box of soaps in your linen closet, it will scent your towels, etc. When you go garbage shopping look for shelves. A good place for stowing sewing notions. Put those autograph books in with your sewing books until you can get rid of them.

  33. Peter,

    I have AND USE one of those Braun shavers (great for cleaning up the back of one's neck). Bought it in the late 80s, and it just keeps on trimmin' me into respectable bliss!

    Those soaps! I howled! Ode to another time and place, indeed.

    The poodle made me laugh/cry - it's an artifact. Kitsch with a psuedo-purpose? Hope it finds an appreciative home.

    Never shaggy,


  34. I love those soaps -- don't blame you for not being able to part with them!

  35. Please also convince Rain to do a step-by-step tutorial on his repair work...

  36. Ack! the dryer made me panic - my grandma had a blue (american) version and it had a snap on attachment with a VERY HARD plastic comb-type thing. I remember crying and crying when I was little and had to get my hair dried at her house. It hurt!

    My mom is a packrat, approaching hoarder status, so I am the complete opposite and tend to toss things that I shouldn't. My hubby is more spartan than I am, though, so I'm still able to drive him nuts. The biggies with us are my ever-expanding collection of books (slowing thanks to kindle - I only buy authors I love in real books, and keep the trashy novels that can be read in a few hours on my ipod!) my LOVE of magazines and my sprawling collection of regular old sewing pins that I think are best displayed scattered on the floor around the house :-) The other thing I tend to hold on to is paper things - tickets, postcards from art shows, programs from the theater, his bib/number thing from marathons. I have boxes of this stuff going back to when I was in high school. He thinks it's junk, I like to comb through it every once in a while!

  37. I agree, the Hotel Syracuse brings back memories-- particularly as I live just outside Syracuse. My husband and I went to a Valentines Day dinner dance there once and my father and stepmother (both gone now) came along. My Dad was hilarious on the dance floor. In another ballroom there was a larger dance going on and full of more elderly people dancing classically-- the stuff of the old movies. My stepmother used to teach dance so she and my Dad decided to join them and waltzed, foxtrotted, jitterbugged, and Lindy'd their way around. Us young'uns were quite impressed with the grace of the ove- 60's. And yes, the men and women were dressed to the 9's. We climbed the stairs and sat in the observation balcony and tapped our toes to the Big Band.

    I wish they would re-renovate the hotel-- I think it is closed now, out-dated.

  38. Boy that Anna was a hussy, haha! I have all sorts of weird things I collect: post cards/notecards, plaid jackets, anything with crocodiles/alligators, patterns (duh), ugly clothing...

  39. Am I the only one who still thinks soap is for washing? It doesn't go bad, you know! Just gets hard, but it softens up quickly in a soap dish. I inherited someone's hotel & guest soaps and I didn't have to buy soap for months :)


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