We came, we sewed, we conquered

Four of us finally met up to play, conquering free motion quilting together over tea and scones. Cogs were oiled, motors were lubricated, and to my delight my new-to-me 222 that had pretty much frozen up came to life. It was fun to exchange stories and tips.

Busy Needle Quilting‘s shop owner Ms E was present and took orders for pieces we might be missing, which was wonderfully useful. It often makes sense to group orders to Switzerland, for customs and postage, so she offers a great service for finding parts, such as from the Singer Featherweight Shop in the US.

Mr Bingeley’s motor had been running sloooow when he first arrived, and lubricating it hadn’t seemed to help. Everything was covered in gunk. But presumably leaving it alone for a few weeks to soak, then trying it again, must have helped because — lo! — it now works a treat. Even if he is my most noisy machine. I suspect I ought to clean it all more carefully, but for now I celebrated his rebirth by trying out his free-motion foot. I was impressed that, contrary to what I feared, the motor didn’t heat up so much. But then I only did a small piece.

The highly-qualified furry assistants were supervising throughout…

I wonder when we will meet up next, and where?

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Next meeting 14th October 2018

The next meeting of the club will be held on the 14th October 2018, in Confignon, Switzerland, at 2pm. Tea and cakes (especially if you bring some!). We will get out our machines, sew and try out some of those curious feet we seem to keep in the bottom of our boxes but rarely use…

Contact details on the ‘Events’ page.

Travelling Featherweights

Up a mountain with four little beauties. Perfect for throwing in the car and heading off to sew sew sew… Several of the ladies are also Featherweight or ‘vintage’ sewing machines, so we will be meeting up soon just to play with these.

Kindness in service

Sometimes help and kindness comes in the most unlikely places. It is lovely when it does.

This week, I was in Bologna, in Italy, for work. I had a few hours to go before my trip home by train, so I wandered around. I chanced upon a sewing machine shop, rather randomly wondering if they might have a belt for my old Pfaff. I had failed to find one the right size in real shops. Despite repeated emails to various online stores, enthusiastic assurances that each had what I needed, I was inevitably disappointed as yet another wrong one was delivered.

So when I walked in to the shop in Bologna, via Alberto Righi, I was prepared for another disappointment, and more baffled looks. But this time, instead, I found a kind couple in a tiny shop bursting with machines, from very old to very new. All lovingly tinkered with. Although my Italian doesn’t stretch to technical terms for vintage sewing machine parts, Signore Federici knew exactly what I was talking about. Even more impressive, when I spoke of my Pfaff 30, he knew precisely what needed screwing or unscrewing, and how the spinning wheel (?) should be removed if necessary to change the belt. He also had exactly the right-sized belt for me, and another sort to try out just in case, with extra explanations of what to put where if necessary. I bought both. I eventually found some photos of the machine on my iPad, but these were unnecessary. He knew exactly, in his mind, what I was talking about. A lifetime of experience. In a sweet twist, his mother had been a tailor (“una sarta”) in Geneva, Switzerland, sewing clothes for ladies.

When I got home, it took one minute to replace the belt. To my utter delight, the Old Lady is once again sewing beautifully. It is good to have this tireless machine back in shape. She is a true workhorse.

I only wish I had come to Bologna better prepared with a longer shopping list. This lovely man is a fountain of knowledge, and no doubt when he retires will be replaced by yet another fashionable eatery. Now I need anther reason to go back. Long live Signore Federici! It is people like him, and his kind partner, who make Italian cities such special places.

Grazie, Signore Federici, il suo aiuto e la sua cortesia mi da speranza.

Long live old sewing machines, and the kind people who help us love them!

The First Meeting of the Club

The Swiss Featherweight Club held its first meeting in July 2018. Ok, so it was only three of us and six machines, and one member was only 9, but still: it can count as the official launch party, can’t it? There was meant to be one more person, but she was afraid she might melt in the heatwave, so sensibly stayed home.

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Tinkering and sewing with old machines is my new superpower. It’s the only superpower that you can learn. You can too! — JJ

How many is too many?

My office / sewing room is starting to fill up with little black boxes…

I started with one 221 machine, which was then joined by two. A third one I could justify: I was going to sell it. But then I couldn’t face it, and found reasons not to let it go. A fourth one was unexpectedly a 222 (with a free-arm), so that was different enough to justify. When I found a fifth, on a second-hand site in Geneva, I decided to spread the love. It will go to a loving home very soon, after I’ve cleaned, oiled and polished it. And maybe changed the plug. And the thread pin. But perhaps not, because if I do all that, then I might get too attached to her… So maybe the solution now is to find or buy them to share, then organise a day of care with each new owner? Yes?

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Gathering the gang?

It hit me a few months ago: a chance encounter in Geneva’s flea market with a small shiny machine, at a time when my large modern machine was sulking at me. I had just had to pay more than 400.- Swiss francs to have a 6-year-old Pfaff repaired, and it still didn’t sew properly. I paid much less than that to take the little black box home from the market, feeling it needed a loving home. “Oui, elle marche”, said the man on the stall, “mais je ne sais pas m’en servir”. I thought I might give it a go.

A few clicks online later that evening and I had a printed booklet, information, and a mad desire to play and sew.

Sewing with something you can learn to repair makes you feel like Superwoman. Be Superwoman. Join us. — JJ

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