Antique Singers

Looking for metal index card filing cabinets on Craigslist (a story for another day), I found an antique Singer with the original cabinet for a great price.

Good Man and I went and picked up this beautiful machine today.

Singer 15

So this serial number shows that this came from the Wittenberge (Prussia) factory. Unfortunately, all of the records from that factory have been destroyed. I assume from the war.

From 1939, this factory produced war supplies. When this part of Germany came under Russian control at the end of the war, the Russians stripped the factory.


Worn Emblems

Centimeter Markings in the Cabinet

The coffin top locks were both crammed full of stuff. Crammed full, down to having seeds and beans in them!

Coffin Lock

Seeds and Beans

Back Plate

Face Plate

I’m not sure if this plate is the original plate, since it doesn’t match ones I saw online that are from the factory.

Singer Plate

I think this machine is supposed to have a thumbscrew to drop the feed dogs, but I don’t see it.

This machine has an oscillating shuttle. It didn’t come with a bobbin holder, but it takes my modern machine’s bobbin holder and metal bobbins. NOW I know why my bobbins are “class 15” bobbins! Because they were the Singer standard for Singer 15s!


Years ago, I bought this antique Singer at a thrift store for $35. I didn’t have a treadle for it, but look! It fit!

I was pleasantly surprised. Good Man assumed it would fit. It would be great if modern manufacturers would take a clue from this… (Apple and your chargers for i-Whatevers, I’m looking at you. Nikon and your proprietary batteries that aren’t interchangeable among models or chargers, you too.)

You can tell this one is cosmetically in really good shape, with all of those decals.

Singer 127

This indicates the machine in a Singer 127, built on August 5th, 1920 in the Elizabeth, New Jersey factory.

Born in New Jersey

127 Rear Plate

I’m missing a plate over the bobbin, but I can get a replacement online. The needle on this machine won’t move at all, but I assume (hope) a good cleaning and oiling will fix it right up.

Face Plate

The shuttle for this is very different than modern bobbin cases. There is thread stuck in there.


Singer 15 vs 127 in Size

The coffin top fits fine and is in excellent shape, only chipped in one corner.

Closed Up


One of the coolest things about this purchase, though, is that it came with the original sales paperwork and a (not entirely complete) translation!

So I know the machine was from at least 1937. Considering how far it had to travel, and that the records from the factory are destroyed, it could be a different year.

Bill of the Sale

Model 16 D 26

The cost was 395 pengo and a 12 pengo deposit was made.


Based on Google translate, this says thanks for paying the entire invoice, 20 April 1942. I guess the family paid a bit each month?


Official Dealer

The machine does work, although I might need to tighten the belt a bit, and the treadle is harder than it looks! The same site that helped me service my manual typewriter has information on antique sewing machines. My goal is to get this machine to work and to use it for simple quilting.

I am so excited to have this little machine!

Simplicity 3935 Pajamas, Simplicity 9958 Boxers, Quick Gathered Skirts

Good Man and I don’t celebrate Christmas, but my niece and nephew do. I sewed some clothing for them, and stuffed everything in a drawstring bag. We also sent two games that they can use to play bingo, memory match, etc.

Niece got some gathered skirts.

Gathered Skirts

Nephew got some boxers from Simplicity 9958. I closed up the fly and made pull-on shorts.

S9958 Shorts

I made some pajamas for both of them using Simplicity 3935. The pattern was super easy to put together, although I did change the neckline directions. The instructions tell you to use purchased bias tape, but I made bias tape from the fabric and just sewed the shoulders together.


Modified Neckline

According to my sister-in-law, the kid love the pajamas and were very excited to receive them. I’m happy to have found a “Christmas Eve pajamas” pattern.

Silk Pants and Panne Velvet Top

What’s that? Why is it blue?


It’s silk! Glorious silk!

I made a promise to myself that I’d sew silk before the end of the year, and I finally did, in the form of pants. I made the same pajama-style Burda pants because I knew the pattern.

I also made a Burda top from Burda Plus, pattern 02-2013-401. I made the top a size too large and ended up hacking up my pattern to size it down. I resewed it with new fabric.

Of course, I was sewing on a deadline (Mark and his Lover’s Christmas party) and I sewed both of these in a week. I was finishing up the hems hours before the party.

I used stash silk and stash panne velvet. I used the wrong side of the silk because the right side was too shiny and it cheapened the look to me.

I’m really pleased with how this outfit turned out!

Christmas Party Front


Hand Hemmed

Right Side vs Wrong Side Shine

Hand Hemmed

Burda Pants (8/2013 #136)

I made the wide-legged pants from the August 2013 issue of Burda magazine using some fabric that I got for free from a former coworker. I left off the drawstrings, and used my own preferred in-seam pocket. I also whacked about 14″ off in the length. I’m really happy with how the pants ended up!


The pants use a channeled elastic waistband. The channels bump it up above a plain pajama waistband and make the pants really comfortable to wear.


I also used the blind hem stitch on my machine. It worked for the most part, but I still need a bit of practice.

Blind Hem Stitch

Fabric Shelf Covers

I store my fabric in the living room. I know that light can be really detrimental to fabric, and it would be better stored away from light, but I like being able to see all of the fabric. (Had I seen Gertie’s sewing room, I would have completely stolen her idea. I could still get the boxes and use them on my shelves, but at this point, that’s not going to happen.)

I decided to fashion some curtains to cover three sides of my shelves. The backs are uncovered and light can still leak in through the corners and edges, but I am pretty happy with how things turned out!

I used up 5 yards of a heavy weight cotton fabric for this, as well as some cotton ribbon. The fabric buckles a bit in the middle. I need more ribbon to make more ties down the front, but I had already spent an obscene amount on the trim, and my measuring twice cutting once had failed somehow. So I’d yanked out the side seams of the center panels (that’s why the corners aren’t perfect). It took forever to do that, and I was frustrated. I decided perfect was the enemy of good and put the curtains up.

I like how much lighter the shelves feel with the covers on them!

Tall Shelf Curtains

Short Shelf Curtains

Stashbusting: Containters

I didn’t intend to sew various containers with the same fabrics, but I did, making a nice set and using up 3 yards of fabric. (Only 21 yards left to reach my goal!)

First, I made a messenger bag for Good Man. I used navy cotton duck leftover from Dad’s jeans quilt. I lined it with some bright neon green circuit fabric. I thought I’d make boxers from the fabric, but it didn’t soften up much when washed.


This is pattern S2358. It is an OK pattern but ended up sort of floppy. I changed the pattern a bit, adding rings instead of sewing the webbing on directly.



I also bad a trash bag using the same fabric as well as an old vinyl bag that once held sheets.

Trash Bag

Finally, I made a (very large) lunch bag for Good Man. It is huge but easily holds a Mr or Ms Bento and closes with an elastic loop and button. I like that the contents will be hidden!

Lunch Bag

Large Bag

Stashbusting Failure

So I claimed that I would sew six projects from stash. I made one dress and then found a fabric I couldn’t skip over because it reminded me of dating Good Man. (Side: I was happy to get every last bit of that fabric because another woman in my sewing class was interested in it. She was never prepared, was very annoying, and once claimed that “most prostitutes have a really great life. I am glad I bought all of the fabric before she could. Petty? Sure.)

So I started over. I would sew seven items from stash before buying more fabric!

Well, I made two more items (the dress and a pair of boxers). And then, with three Living Social deals burning a hole in my pocket, I went and bought more fabric.

It all started on the $2.97/yard table, which must have been recently restocked, because it wasn’t picked over. I then moved to the silk section, and finally ended up with some African print cotton.

Forty-six and five-eighths yards later…

So now my plan for the summer is two sew down half the yardage I bought. My goal is a nice, round 24 yards. We’ll see if I can do this!

Making a Pattern Mine: New Look 6001

More than six months ago, a coworker gave me several huge trash bags full of fabric. Not all of the fabric was my style pattern- or color-wise but it was all my style price-wise!

One of the fabrics was a sort of abstract floral pattern that was probably printed in the mid to late 90s. I had about three yards of it. I also had an old pattern in my stash that I wanted to use for the Pattern Review stash contest.

So I put the two together and magically got a dress! Ta-da!

New Look 6001 With Major Changes
(The front of the skirt is actually smooth, but there was a breeze.)

Actually, I traced out the dress pattern in March or April and then let it sit…and sit…and sit until I had a sewing date earlier this month with Competent One from my sewing class. While she worked on drafting a bodice for a wedding dress, I marked off seam allowances on my pattern. Then I used fitting techniques from Dressmaking for Real Women and Pattern Fitting with Confidence to change the pattern sizing and do a full bust adjustment.

I debated making a muslin since the fabric was cheap and not something I was completely in love with.

Always make a muslin, even if only to run away from the hospital-gown looking result.

Run Away From the Muslin

I had adjusted the dart, but it was too pointy. So I tried several different things (including a total mistake that ended up looking…well, to quote my sewing teacher, “very feminine”) and decided to gather the bodice.

I sent the photos to Competent One, who suggested I remove the gathering at the waist, too. She suggested I turn the skirt into more of an A-line.

I measured the gathered amount compared to the midriff band. It was 1 1/2″. I then drew two 3/4″ darts from the top to the waistline. I cut to the waistline, and cut from the hem to the waistline and closed the wedges at the top to open the wedges to the hem.

The fabric was a strange width (41″) so the amount I was able to open the skirt was limited by the lack of fabric. I still needed to get rid of 3/4″ width at the top, so I cut a wedge out from the center waist to the center hemline.

I widened the skirt in the back the same way, which was slightly complicated by the fact that the back was cut in one piece. Still, I thought it through and figured out how to make it work. I did change the sides in order to make up for the fabric jog.

I also added in-seam pockets. I always buy dress patterns but never sew them because I want pockets. That was a quick fix.

I didn’t make a second muslin, since the fabric I was using wasn’t super expensive. I used the abstract floral print, but didn’t have enough to make the full dress. In fact, because the patter had a direction, I had to cut the cup pieces out single layer. I made the neckline, midriff and ties in black cotton.

I did discover that I had made a mistake fixing the jog in the back, and the sides didn’t match up. I ended up drawing a new seam with my French curve and I think this accident made the dress fit even better!


I had expected to hem the sleeves and skirt as directed, but instead I used bias quilt binding on the skirt and extra wide bias binding on the sleeves. I love how it turned out. I feel like it looks like stained glass!

I took my time with the binding and didn’t need to redo a single inch of the five yards of it!

Bias Binding

I wore the dress to Mark’s birthday party and to work and got a lot of compliments, but it felt really good when a perfect stranger said, “Cute dress!”

I also discovered that the neckline hugs my chest perfectly! I can actually bend over in this dress and the neckline stays in place. That right there makes this dress a winner!

I have a few other fabrics I’m thinking of doing this dress in, and I think it would make a great “first silk” project.

I adjusted the pattern Sunday, cut out the muslin Monday, made the muslin Tuesday, readjusted the pattern Wednesday, cut out the fashion fabric Thursday, and finished the whole thing by Saturday night. I solved problems that came up without gnashing my teeth, and I think taking time was a huge time saver!

Why Take the Class?

I recently finished taking a sewing class at G Street Fabrics. I loved the class (a pants drafting class) and really like the teacher, but the people in the class…my God.

The class was six weeks long and every single week, at least one person was unprepared. Usually, it was all but two who were unprepared (the class ranged in size from six to nine people each week).

So what, right? As long as I was prepared, who cares?

Well, it caused me to lose out on the class. During one of the earliest classes, a woman was so unprepared that the rest of us had to wait twenty minutes to get started.

Toward the middle, two of us spent an entire class period watching our instructor fit people. The previous week she had spent half of the class sitting around, waiting for people to finish their work. Had people been prepared, the second fitting class I could have gotten a fitting rather than sitting around. I did learn some things from the class, but it was still frustrating.

During the last class, one of the women ended up getting into a verbal confrontation with our instructor because she hadn’t listened and had messed up. She tried blaming the instructor, and even claimed she was prepared for every class. That was not at all true. She once showed up with none of her materials. None. Not even her measurements. The rest of us just stood there, uncomfortably looking at each other.

I did meet another woman in the class who seems awesome. (She was the other one who had to sit there doing nothing during one class.) We will be spending more time together and will help fit each other. I also left the class with a great fitting pants muslin, so it was worth it.

Still, I don’t get grown-ups. It’s one thing if my students don’t do their homework, but you’re an adult! Why take the class if you’re not actually going to do any of the work?

Well, That Didn’t Last Long

So, my promise to make six items from stash didn’t last long.

I did make one item from stash, a Vogue dress that looks great on everyone else, but not on me. I used up the last of a horrible knit fabric I bought from I wasn’t supposed to use up all of the fabric, but I had to cut pieces of the pattern repeatedly. It was awful.

I was keeping up my stash promise until a few weeks ago. As I was leaving my sewing class a few weeks ago, I stopped abruptly.

Could it Be?

I pulled the fabric out and found this on the selvedge. Well, 2002 would be about the year I bought a dress at Marshall’s for $5. This dress, which later became a skirt that is still sitting in my closet.

Shamash & Sons

$5 Mica Dress from Marshall’s, Bought Circa 2004

I snapped photos of it, and when I got home, I showed them to Good Man. “Do you remember this?”


I dug through my scrap stash, where I still had pieces of the top half of the dress, because I use them for my fabric scrap books. I brought it to him. “Now?”

“Oh. yeah, that dress you wore when we were first dating.”

“Look,” I said, lining up the iPod with the fabric swatch. “That’s the same fabric, isn’t it?”

“It is.” Good Man smiled. “You should buy it!”

“I’m supposed to sew six things, and it’s not on sale right now.”

“Amanda, go buy it.”

The next day, I bought what was left on the bolt. I also called the other two stores. Neither of them have the fabric. I don’t know if this is old stock or new stock or what, but I now have five and a quarter yards of it.

Five and a Quarter Yards