Myra asked via email “I have my Grandmother’s Singer Sewing Machine…I would like to clean it up and use it, also teach my granddaughter how to sew a little. I didn’t realize how gunky and dirty it really was ……any suggestions?”
Jessica J asked “…what can I use to safely clean the metal parts?”
Theresa asked “… Also how do I clean her?”
* * *
This is probably one of the questions I get asked thae most, and when I was looking for advice on how to clean up my Singer Machine I found terrible advice. (Please don’t dip your machine in a vat of kerosene)
You can read a bit more about me first meeting my girl
Before I go on, please remember the following…
I am not an expert.
I don’t spend money on unnecessary products or parts, so this is a cheap way to get your machine running smoothly.
I assume that your machine was rescued from a skip or a damp garage and has not been cared for for some time. It is probably mucky and tarnished, with cobwebs and random sticky patches.
I assume that your machine is generally working but hasn’t been used for decades.
If you want to treat your machine like a priceless antique, spend a fortune on her and have her look like new, this probably isn’t the guide for you. I just want to help you get it good enough to be a functional piece of equipment again.
Here is what I found worked the best to clean up my machine from a tarnished and mucky mess. It was a 2 day job.
You will need:
An old toothbrush
Wooden cocktail sticks, for gently poking and scraping out dust and fluff.
Cotton buds (q-tips)
A ball of cotton string
A couple of rags (preferably lint free, old t-shirts are fine though)
A couple of microfibre cloths
Singer sewing machine oil (available on ebay if you can’t find it locally)
Peek Polish (also available on ebay)
New needle and some thread
A pot of tea < -- This is essential Step 1 Give the whole machine a wipe down with a damp microfibre cloth (or rag) to remove as much of the loose dust and dirt as possible. You are unlikely to do the machine any damage. You may feel you need to use a little warm water with a little dish soap in it, but do make sure you wring the cloth out well, you don't want to introduce any excess moisture to the machine, you just need to surface clean. Wipe the machine first, then the table and round the drawers to the treadle mechanism at the bottom. You might need several cloths to get the muck off. Always start a clean cloth on the machine body, you don't want to rub a cobweb from under the drawers into the mechanics of the machine. Step 2 Remove the end panel. Use an old toothbrush to loosen and scrub out any grime, grit or fluff behind the panel. It might help to turn the balance wheel slowly while you do this to draw out any fluff that many have been trapped, blow fluff and dirt away. Only use a dry toothbrush, don't introduce moisture to the inner workings of the machine. You can spray some WD40 into the workings and use a cotton bud if you need to scrub off little parts of grime and dirt. WD40 can damage the decals and the black japanning so make sure you wipe any drips off with a dry rag immediately. This can take a while and I never managed to get the parts shiny clean and looking like new, but clean enough and all the actual dirt and fluff and sticky bits must be gone. Once you have got rid of all the grit and grime from the inside you should polish the bars, and clean and polish the end plate with peek polish, you only need a tiny amount of polish. Replace the end plate. Step 3 Remove the old needle, the needle clamp, the foot and thread guide, carefully lay them to one side and clean and polish the needle bar, wrap the cotton string round the bar and pull the ends back and forth to polish it. Clean and polish all the small parts before re-assembling (don't put the needle back on, you will need to replace it with a new needle) Step 4 Remove back panel and similarly clean out as much grit and grime as possible. Do the same in the bobbin chamber under the slide plate and remove the plate above the feed dogs. This is a often where a lot of fluff and grime lies, so give it a good clean. Only use WD40 where there is sticking or bad grime on the inside. I needed a new bobbin case as the original is too tarnished to use, ebay is great for sourcing spare parts if you need them. Repeat this process on all moving parts, getting access by removing panels where ever you can, I do these one at a time, so that screws and parts don't get mixed up, and I remember where I am. The bobbin winder is tricky, you can remove it if you like but I didn't. I just cleaned and polished it as best as I could in situ. Step 5 Cleaning the balance wheel - I have been told wire wool should remove the tarnish and then it can be polished, my balance wheel is very badly pitted with rust and I have never tried wire wool on it, but it still works fine and that is all that matters to me. The most important thing is to get dust, fluff and grime off. Step 6 To clean the black japanned areas and the decals use singer sewing machine oil on a dry lint-free cloth. The black areas can be rubbed quite hard to clean them up but with the decals you must be careful if you want to retain them as they are. My decals were already quite badly damaged, so I wasn't too upset when I damaged them with WD40, but they are so pretty you really should keep them in as good condition as possible. WD40 will remove the original gold and leave them silver. Step 7 If you still have the old leather treadle belt it will probably be loose and need tightened. To do this find the metal staple and carefully prize it apart, slip one end off of the staple and snip an inch off the leather. Poke a new hole in the leather using a bradall or a strong darning needle. Put back on the staple and pinch it together firmly with pliers. Treat the belt with olive oil on a cloth, you will see the leather change colour as it absorbs the oil. Immediately after treating, the belt will be extra slippy, but after 24 hours it will be nicely reconditioned. Alternatively, you can get a new belt on ebay for around £5. If your treadle is squeeky, give it a little spray with WD40. Step 8 I suggest you do this on day 2 Once you have all the machine dust and grime free, and polished as much as you can it is time to oil the machine. Remove the end panel again and drip just 2 drops of oil on each moving part, turn the balance wheel a couple of times and drip another drop on each moving part, replace the end panel. Next, you will see a line of holes along the top of your machine, these are oil holes, drip just one or two drops into each of these. Drip oil into the oil holes near the feed dogs and over by the balance wheel and bobbin winder, and any other oil holes you see. Use the treadle or balance wheel to run the machine for a minute or so (this will disperse the oil around all the moving parts) I would now go round the whole machine again and drip one more drop into each oil hole and onto each moving part. Use a dry rag to give the machine a quick rub down and clean off any excess oil. Done!!! You will need to leave the machine alone for a few days now before using it. This will allow the oil to really seep in and avoid any rubbing off on your sewing work. When sewing on the machine for the very first time use a brand new needle, use fabric scraps and just go back and forth and round in circles until you figure out how well the machine is working, adjust the tension if necessary, and get used to the rhythm of the mechanism. Each time you use your machine (or maybe once a fortnight or so if you use it every day) remember to oil it a little (just a drop on each oil hole or moving part) this will keep it running smoothly and stop it from seizing up or getting into a bad state again. * * * I do hope that helps some of you clean up your machines and get them running again. I am sure their are other ways of doing it, and there are probably professionals that offer a clean-up service I have found one Youtube user who has some beautiful machines and gives details about how to use, thread and clean various machines in detail... all her machines are pristine and super-shiny - here is the link to her lovely channel * * * Let me know how you get on in the comments below ------------------------------------------- I wrote this article back in 2013 - some of the links no longer work - Please check out this updated post for more up to date resources.CLICK HERE!If you are trying to identify a year and model for your treadle or handcrank singer sewing machine, let me tell you how I identified my girl. I have given all the relevant links - remember I am no expert in this, but I struggled to find decent information and I am just trying to make it a bit easier for you. Knowing the age and model number can be essential if you need new parts for your machine, and it is always nice to know anyway. Of course, once you get your old lady working again you'll be giving her a new name and identity and I hope she is with you for many years to come. Here is my girl, her name is Nefertiti - she came to me a year ago and I cleaned her up and got her working again. She is reliable and even-tempered, a nice lady to have around. Right, let's get started: You will find your serial number embossed onto the metal body of your machine. It looks like a little plate but it is in fact straight onto the body and can't be removed easily. I'm not sure why you would want to remove the serial number, but I guess it happens. The position may vary slightly but mine is on the front right corner. My girls is Y1368567 Model and Age: Once you have your serial number pop over to this website and click on the relevant letter prefix, they have a pretty extensive database. It should identify the model number and the manufacture date. From this I know Nefertiti is a 15K model, 1 of a batch of 250,000, Made in 1923. 'date allotted' I am assuming is the date the factory decided to make 250,000 15K machines - it makes her feel not quite as precious and unique as you might think. * * * Where it was made: To find out where your machine was manufactured, check the letter prefix: click here if it has a single letter prefix. click here if it has a double letter prefix. So my girl was made in Clydebank, not far from Glasgow. The singer factory was famous, it was the biggest sewing machine factory in the world and was bombed heavily during WWII - The factory was closed and demolished in the 1980's but it's train station is still there and the area (now mostly housing) is still called 'Singer'. So my sewing machine has ended up about 30 miles from where she started... I wonder how many of her 250,000 twin sisters are still around. * * * If you don't have a complete serial number: Here are some other identifying methods: If you have part of the number you can check the year of your machine on the singer website, just follow directions depending on whether your machine has a 2, 1 or 0 letter prefix. If you have no serial number you can still identify the model that you have the sandman collectables website (though not the best interface) has a fairly easy to follow instructions - click on 'start here' and answer the questions as you go. * * * I hope that helps those of you looking for more information about your old sewing machines. If there is anything else you'd like to know or I can maybe help you with, just let me know in the comments, I always try my best to answer your questions. * * * 12/11/2013 - I love sharing everything I have learned about vintage singer machines with all you readers out there in Blogland. But please, please, please don't email me photos of your machines for me to do the work. Check out the post above and follow all the tips and links I have put up here (thats all I do anyway) The instructions above are for domestic, pre-electric models, and the most important thing you need is the serial number, but even if you don't have it there is another website linked above that can help. If you are really having trouble, do email me and I will see if I can help, I do like to help, I really do, promise. I've been getting an email a week, often just containing photos and a curt "what machine have I got?" message - I could start charging for the service I guess, but since I have shared all my resources already that seems a bit cheeky. =--------------------------- * * *I was wondering what to do about the sewing machine cabinet. The veneer is chipped in places but I decided against any major work on it. I don't want the sewing machine to look new or pimped in any way, so I decided I'd give it a bit of an attack with the sander I had no idea if the stains would come out, thinking they look pretty bad and must go quite deep but thankfully no and I'm quite impressed!! For the rest of the cabinet, I gave it a quick rub down with 160 grade sandpaper, concentrating on the stains and suspicious marks. I gave the whole cabinet a wipe down with a damp microfibre cloth and allowed it to dry before giving it a varnish. The top got 3 coats of varnish, and still needs a final one I'll go back to that once I have finished plastering and painting the room it is going to live in I was happy to use the varnish sparingly on the fronts of drawers and the side detail, just where it needed a little touch up on the dull parts. The alternative was to strip down the whole cabinet to do it properly but I felt I would loose too much character doing that. I'm really chuffed, she still looks like a little old lady. But she has much more grace and dignity now. The Nitty Gritty Sander - an orbital 1/3 sheet sander, we find it suits every job. Bought from (and branded) Wickes, we believe their power tools are made by Draper Sewing Machine - 1923 Singer Treadle 15K in a 5 drawer cabinet. We got it for free through gumtree you might also try a local freecycle, they come up on eBay all the time too. Varnish - Ronseal clear gloss varnish (I only bought a teeny tub, and still only used 1/3 of it) I was Listening to Gosh, I've not done a music mention in a while.... I can't listen to much with the sander buzzing so loudlybut while doing the varnishing on a bright sunny day I was listening to Jack Johnson Inbetween Dreamsand chillaxing in a laid-back-hawaii-kind-of-a-way...... ahhhhhhhh! ================= I was very frustrated when I got my Vintage Singer Sewing Machine. I couldn't find any help or online guides for where to start and what to do with her, I learned the hard way and spent hours digging around in badly maintained websites to get some info. So I've put together a few posts that I would have found useful at the beginning. If you have just acquired an old people-powered sewing machine (treadle or handcrank) I think you should start by reading why I love my machine so much. Now for one of the most frequently asked questions, click on the link below if you want to sell your Granny's old machine and pay off the mortgage. I received my hundred year old treadle sewing machine (a 1923, 15K) in 2012 and I just love having her around. We get thousands of hits each month from people looking for information about vintage sewing machines. So I've collected all my posts here, including some FAQs from those of you who have sent me questions over the past year or sew* *ha, ha, get it?, Sew, hahahah... I'll get my coat. Varnishing my Singer Cabinet Protecting Floors From a Treadle Sewing Machine FAQs How Should I Clean My Vintage Sewing Machine? How Do I Unlock My Sewing Machine Drawers? How Do I Do Reverse Stitch on My Old Sewing Machine? Ask Your Singer Machine Questions...If you have any questions you'd like me to answer in relation to your machine please follow the link to this postand leave questions in the comments box. I use my old singer for all the sewing I do in the house (except for the rare occasions where I have to use a zig-zag) Here are just some of the things I have made with my Singer Sewing Machine over the past few years. Our Livingroom Curtains Some Nursery Curtains for a friend A Retro Kitchen apron NB: Identifying an Old Singer Machine I love sharing everything I have learned about vintage singer machines with all you readers out there in Blogland. I can ID your machine for you or check out the post How to... Identify an Old Singer Sewing Machine and follow all the tips and links I have up there (thats all I do anyway) The instructions are for domestic, pre-electric models, and the most important thing you need is the serial number, but even if you don't have it there is another website linked on that post that can help. I've been getting an email a week, often just containing photos and a curt "what machine have I got?" message - I could start charging for the service I guess, but since I have shared all my resources already that seems a bit cheeky. ETA - I have now launched an ID service ==================I didn't even walk into my sewing room yesterday. Usually not a good indicator of my mental health status for the day. But yesterday turned out alright. In the morning we did some shopping around town and at the Farmer's Market. We even splurged and bought a mixed berry pie from the Mennonite booth. Can you believe that we got a day old pie for just $5! Regular price it was only $9. Wow, was it good. In the afternoon I helped Parker clean his room. Actually I bribed him with a new Hot Wheels car if he did a good job, with my help. He had an entire tall kitchen garbage bag full of trash and junk in his room, mostly on the floor! Most of it he didn't even know he had. I had to be sneaky though to throw so much stuff away. I would make a pile and tell him to take this to the playroom, then while he was gone I stuffed things in the trash bag. He did pull out one item later, a tamborine made in school last year out of two paper plates and some beans. We'll see how long his room stays clean. In my seven years as a parent, I have learned that you can not force your organizational style on your child. (You can't force it on your husband either) I did get to do a little cross stitch in the evening while watching a bit of TV. For the past few years I have been making ornaments for my nieces, nephews and close friends of the family kids. This year I have 12 to make, including Parker. Let me give you a little background on this practice. Growing up my Aunt Sue would send my sister and me an ornament every year for Christmas. Usually we got to open them on Christmas Eve which is certainly one of the reasons I looked forward to getting one every year. Now that I'm old, every Christmas I love pulling out all the ornaments and remembering when I got them, who gave them to me, etc... For the past couple years Parker has been old enough to help me decorate the tree. While we do this I tell him about the ornaments and who gave them to me or where I got them. It has been so much fun that I want him to have that opportunity someday, as well as the other children I make ornaments for. I guess the most important thing though is that I enjoy making them. I've just started so their isn't much to show yet. When I get one done, I'll post a photo. For now I'll post a photo of my most recent favorite quilt. I finished it in April 2008. I actually never planned to finish the quilt. I took a class at my local quilt shop to learn a new paper piecing technique. The worst part of paper piecing is pulling all the paper off afterwards. With this technique, you don't actually sew to the paper but you get the same level of accuracy. I had such a great time doing it that I went ahead and made all the blocks for the pattern we were using but I set them in a different way. Usually, my favorite quilt is the one I am currently working on. This one will be a favorite for a while though. Originally, I thought I'd give it away, but after I was done I couldn't part with it. Here's a couple detail shots. I always love to see the quilting up close so I thought you might too. ============The fun began yesterday and goes through September 5th. I got the pattern for this little lady last year but just got around to making her. This is Bobbin the Robin and she is the official mascot of Row by Row. Isn't she adorable?! The pattern is easy. I'm not sure why I put off making her. The shoes are 18" doll shoes (think American Girl Doll). Her legs are BBQ skewers painted white and then I used a Sharpie marker to make the black stripes. There is air-dry clay inside the shoes so she can stand up. The theme for this year is "On the Go" and this is the row for my shop.Our row celebrates Alamosa as a town "on the go!" Alamosa was founded as a railroad town. The whole town was transported on flatbed railroad cars from just east of Ft. Garland in the summer of 1878 and set up in just a few days. There is a famous story that the owner of the hotel served his guests breakfast in Ft. Garland and dinner in Alamosa that same day in the same building! Just like last year, our row was designed by Janet Davis exclusively for Alamosa Quilt Company. If you want a kit you can come in to the shop or call to order one, (719) 937-2555, or email me or leave a comment so I can email you. Please do not send credit card information in an email or comment though! I'll call you for that. Row by Row rules do not permit shops to mail out any patterns or kits until November 1st. This is so that only folks who actually go into shops are eligible to win the associated quilt contest, which ends October 31st. So if you do call to order a kit, just be aware that we are not allowed to ship it to you until November 1st. Last year we took orders, processed the sales and packaged everything to be ready to ship on November 1st. That way everyone who called was assured to get a kit, since we set one aside specifically for them at the time of purchase. For more information, go to the shop Row by Row page by clicking here. =============== This is what I've been doing this morning. Yesterday I pieced the background and marked the portion I have stitched. I'm just playing with stitching patterns to see what kind of texture they create. I need some hand work because I am mad at our school district. For the past two years the district has been doing an early release or late start for the children on the first Wednesday of each month so that the teachers can do their PLCs (professional learning community). They are doing them again this year, doing an early release. In the past this has meant the children are in school 2 hours less on these days, so for early release they should get out at 1 pm. However, this year it is going to be 3 hours, so the children get out at noon. The reason I am angry is that the notice that early release was going to be 3 hours early instead of 2 came home yesterday afternoon. That is not even 24 hours notice! I arranged my work schedule so that Parker would be in school while I am at work so I wouldn't need to arrange child care. I am not making enough to make it worth my while to work if I have to pay for child care. But yesterday I found out that on early release Wednesdays he will get out of school at the same time my class starts!!!! And my husband also has a class at noon on Wednesdays. I have made alternate arrangements with a friend for today but I am going to have to change my class schedule for the rest of the semester. I do not understand why the school district does not feel it is necessary to inform parents of these decisions when they are made. They could have easily let everyone know about this in early August at registration. But no ... they wait until the day before to send home a note that many parents may not even get. So I was stitching this morning thinking about how best to channel my anger towards positive change. Unfortunately, this is not the first time in the 2+ years Parker has been in the district that parents have received short notice of major events. Don't get me started! -----------------I'm trying to make new placemats for our dining room table. We have a round table and rectangular placemats don't fit a round table top very well. (I like to use a table cloth but my husband and son have both almost pulled everything off the table while sitting down to dinner with a table cloth on the table.) A few weeks ago I drafted a pattern and bought fabric. Yesterday I cut everything out and sewed everything together, except for the quilting. When I sat down to quilt this morning, the above photo shows what the back looked like. Yuck! I want these placemats to be reversible so I can't have loopies on the back. I changed the needle, rethreaded the machine and cleaned the machine. Then I tried again adjusting the tension and machine speed. It seems that my problem is mostly related to the speed of the machine, not the tension. As long as I sew slow to medium speed, both sides look good. If I go too fast, I get these loopies on the back. Despite having to quilt them at a snail's pace, I got all six of them finished this afternoon. I also bought fabric for napkins but I didn't have time to do those today, for obvious reasons. Maybe next week. I showed my husband the trouble I am having with my machine and warned him that I am starting to, maybe, think about (gulp) getting a new machine. The one I have is only 9 years old but about three years ago I had an incident with it. I wound a bobbin of wash-away thread the regular way with the machine and I shouldn't have. The manual does say this but I've had this machine for years, why read the manual!? Anyway, I couldn't get the bobbin off after I had wound it. I called the shop where I bought the machine which happens to be 3 1/2 hours away over a mountain pass. When they realized bringing it in wasn't an option, they took my name and number and the maintenance person called me back about 30 minutes later. She explained to me that I am not suppose to wind specialty thread the regular way. That I had ruined that bobbin already and that I needed to manually unwind the bobbin to get it off my machine, then throw it away. After that the machine would only sew a straight stitch with the widest stitch length, no matter what buttons I pushed or how much I pleaded with it. I was so mad (at myself) I just unplugged it and didn't turn it on for about a week. When I did turn it back on, it worked properly, for the most part. However, ever since then weird little issues keep coming up. Maybe they are completely unrelated to my mishap, but my baby has not been the same since. ================== Late yesterday afternoon I had about 45 minutes before dinner and I wanted to sew something. Looking around my messy sewing room, I spied my fabric for the mystery quilt my guild is doing. I had not yet made the blocks for last month and I don't even have the directions for this months block. (I missed the last guild meeting because I was in Nashville for Liesel's wedding) I looked at the directions for last months block and decided to start them. They are on the far left in the photo. I used all fabrics that I purchased in Nashville, mainly because they were on the top of my fabric stash for this quilt. The two bags of fabric in the picture are what I'm using. The pattern called for a focus fabric, background fabric and two dark fabrics. I prefer scrappy quilts so I am using brown as my background, blue and green as my two darks, and the focus fabric is in the center of the Ohio Star blocks. It doesn't really show very well in the picture above but I will have more posts on this and next time I'll try to take better pictures. Following the pattern, the quilt will finish at large lap quilt size. I asked our Projects chairperson if the pattern could be expanded with more blocks to make it King size. She says yes, so this will end up being our new bed quilt for our new king size bed. I've made three types of blocks thus far. There is a fourth block, handed out last month. I will get the directions next week and maybe I'll have time to put it together before this months meeting. We will be assembling our quilt tops after the guild meeting in November. I don't know if I will put my blocks together then or not since I am going to make it larger. ================= Earlier this week I basted a charity quilt with Sullivan's Basting Spray. Despite the chunks of glue that dropped out of the very old (I bought it at least 10 years ago) and almost empty can, the results were great. My LQS recommended removing and washing out the sprayer part on the old can to see if that corrected my problem with the chunks dropping out. I haven't tried that yet. I decided that I should invest in a new can since my old one is almost empty anyway and purchased one on Wednesday, but I haven't had a chance do any more basting yet. However, I have three more charity tops ready to be basted and I will use the spray for them all. Here is a photo of the finished quilt I basted with the spray. And here is a photo showing the back so you can see the quilting a bit better. I quilted in the ditch around the blocks and then did alternating serpentine quilting over the blocks. It's fast, simple and different than just stippling. Black binding would have been a better choice, but I like to use my binding scraps for charity quilts and I had enough yellow, so yellow it is. I think this spray is a great option for basting things quickly. I believe that the problems I had before with it were because I was a new quilter and had not yet learned to properly baste a quilt with pins or thread. You can't just spray the batting and slap down the backing, flip it over, spray the batting and slap down the top. You need to understand proper basting techniques and how to employ them with a new basting method. It is much faster than pin or thread basting, but can't be done properly in two minutes. I think it took me about 10 or 15 minutes for this small baby quilt to get everything laid out, sprayed and smoothed properly. I may get faster with practice. One last comment about the basting spray: It is very sticky. Be careful where you spray this stuff. The over-spray can make unintended things sticky. If you get some on your hands, soap and water will not get it all off. It will wear off after a day or so and can be picked off like dried glue, but Goo Gone or D-Solve-It worked great for me at getting it off my fingers. ================ On Friday the Moda Bake Shopposted a pattern for a Strippy Charm Pouch. I thought it was so cute and the pattern looked pretty easy. So I decided to make one (or two). I didn't want a pieced top portion like the pattern called for, so I just used a single fabric. Warning: If you decided to make one, there is an error in the cutting instructions. You need to cut your two bottom rectangles 2 1/2" by 9 1/4". The instructions say 2" by 9 1/4" in the cutting instructions, but later in the pattern it refers to these as 2 1/2" by 9 1/4" bottom rectangles. This is the correct measurement for them, but doesn't help much if you cut everything at the beginning like she instructed. I also did not like the method she uses for putting in the zipper. I did do it the way she instructs the first time, but the zipper didn't operate smoothly. Also the pouch looked funny at the zipper ends. So ... I took the entire bag apart again. It wasn't toobad. Then I got out my Cash and Carry patternand did the zipper like this pattern does. I put the whole bag back together and it is perfect. Note: I don't want to sound like I think the original pattern is bad. I don't. The pouch is very cute and a nice size. It's just that the zipper method she uses didn't work well for me. I am not very experienced at putting in zippers. The only way I have had success with zippers is using the method from the Cash and Carry pattern I referenced above. So when it didn't work for me the first time, I just went to the method I knew would work for me. I did everything else just like the original pattern. She had a picture for every step and the written instructions were very clear. My only other advice for this pattern is to sew slowly over the top portion of the bag, where the zipper is, when assembling the bag. I did break a needle in that area, twice! Both times I think I was sewing too fast over this bulky area. When I sewed slowly I had no problem. I made the first one for myself. My son has a friend who will be turning 9 soon. A friend who is a girl, not a girl friend. Anyway, I made one for him to give her for her birthday. I asked my son what fabric she would like. He said, "any fabric with dogs." So here it is. He was very excited when I showed it to him. "Oh Mom, she will love it!" He knows just what to say! I'm pretty sure he is right. ======================= I mentioned recently that a certain project languished in the UFO pile because I dreaded removing the paper. And that I did that project before I learned how to paper piece without sewing through the paper. Someone asked how to paper piece this way, so here is a little tutorial on the process. Step 1: Draw or trace your pattern onto the paper side of a piece of freezer paper. Note: you must use freezer paper for this method. Since you don't sew through the freezer paper, you can reuse your pattern several times. Step 2: Iron your first fabric piece to the shiny side of the freezer paper. Iron the wrong side to the freezer paper. Make sure your fabric covers all of piece one and the seam allowance too. (Do as I say, not as I do.) view from the paper sidewith the drawn pattern view from the shiny side Notice that in both of the above photos I have circled the little corner that didn't get covered with fabric. I could have easily corrected this at this stage had I noticed. Unfortunately I didn't notice in time. My "helper" was ironing a bunch of scraps that really didn't need ironing. He was having so much fun doing it and not begging to watch TV so I just let him. However, his presence in my space was quite distracting. He talks nonstop about whatever pops into his head. Kind of hard to concentrate with all background the noise. Step 3: Fold back the paper pattern along the sewing line between pieces one and two. You'll need to peel the fabric off of the freezer paper, but only up to the sewing line. I use a piece of card stock to fold against to get a nice straight line The card stock is covering piece one, but the edge is right on the line between pieces one and two Fabric peeled back and freezer paper folded on the sew line between the first and second pieces Step 4: Trim the first fabric 1/4" from the sewing line (folded edge of freezer paper). The add-a-quarter ruler is very handy for this. If you don't have this ruler, your regular ruler will work just fine, but I highly recommend the add-a-quarter ruler if you plan to do a lot of paper piecing. preparing to trim all trimmed and ready for the next step Step 5: Place your second fabric underneath your first fabric, right sides together. fabrics right side together I didn't line them up perfectly yet so you could see the second fabric underneath Step 6: With the freezer paper folded on the sew line between pieces one and two, sew pieces one and two together with a 1/4" seam allowance. You are sewing right next to the folded paper but not through the paper. sewing right next to the paper pieces one and two sewn together view from back of piece two pieces one and two sewn together view from back of piece one Step 7: Press the seam toward piece 2. I like to press first from the front, but do not let your iron touch the waxy side of the freezer paper or you'll have a mess. Then press again from the back so that you adhere piece two to the freezer paper. preparing to press note that the freezer paper has been unfolded all pressed and ready to start over with piece three Now go back to Step 3 and repeat steps 3 - 7 with the next fabric. Continue in this manner until you have completed your unit. after the third piece was sewn and pressed the finished unit with the uncovered corner - grrrrrr! When you have it all together trim it to size (be sure to leave a 1/4" seam allowance all the way around), then just peel the freezer paper off the back and it's ready to be used again. I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions please ask in the comments. =================== Recently I showed you a couple free patterns I got from a friend. Well, one is a book of patterns and the other is just one pattern. My rule for keeping these was that I had to make them before the end of this year or give them away. I have read the Lazy Girl Designs pattern and this one looks like a good one. I just need to get some elastic. The book has really cute bags in it and my friend had some fabric and the tubular handles required to make one of the bags in the book. I snagged those too from her pile. Last week I decided to make the bag but quickly realized why my friend was probably getting rid of these items. The book does not give you any cutting measurements. You have to copy and enlarge the patterns out of the book. First this involves going to a copy store. The pattern I was going to make was already full page size and it needed to be enlarged 150%. Then you have to find a copy store that will allow you to make a copy of copyrighted material. This should not be a problem since it says right on the pattern to "make a copy and enlarge", but some places are so worried about being sued that they won't allow you to make copies of anything that is copyrighted, period. At this point I decided that as cute as this bag is, it isn't worth all this time and effort. There are other just as cute bag patterns that don't require so much hassle before you can start cutting. So I'm taking the book, the fabric and the tubular frames to guild with me next month for the in-house raffle table. The other pattern I pulled out is the Yellow Brick Road pattern. I had a little money left on my Mother's Day gift certificate to my local quilt shop, so I went and bought 6 fat quarters to use with this pattern. I kitted this up and put it in my retreat bag for the end of October. I think it will make a fun retreat project. ==================== I'm starting a new project soon using these fabrics. This is as far as I've gotten on it because I am preparing for my guild retreat this weekend. Last week I woke up early one morning and couldn't get back to sleep because I was worried about what projects I should pack for the retreat! LOL! Of all the things to worry about, sheesh! That morning I got out my project tub and loaded her up. The fabrics above make 8 projects I'm taking to work on. I'll don't think I'll run out of things to do! This morning I purchased a new, smaller sewing chair for me to take to the retreat. My regular chair is quite heavy and has arms which makes it very difficult for me to get in and out of my car. The new chair is not as nice, but is height adjustable, much lighter, and has no arms. I'm only planning to use it for retreats. The rest of the time it will just be an extra office chair. I'm on the crew for Friday night dinner. We planned our menu weeks ago and I have almost all of the ingredients already packed. I'm not sure if I will have any more posts before I leave for the retreat. Most of my sewing time is being spent cutting and making sure I have everything I need for each of my projects laid out or packed. Not very exciting. I do have something else to show today though. I made up more earbud pouches over the weekend. I decided that I like the one shown in the bottom of the photo above (with the earbuds inside) better than the first one I made. So I'm keeping it instead. I blogged about these last Friday and the link to the tutorial is in that post.