Wednesday, May 11, 2016

if you've got the notion...

Last Wednesday, just as #mmmay16 was getting underway, I sent my sewing machine in for a tune-up.  It's a vintage machine (Husqvarna 5610 - the Canadian model identical to Viking 5710.)  It was lovingly restored by an expert hobbyist who I have dubbed the "sewing machine whisperer".  I bought my machine from him about 2.5 years ago & it was still running quite well, but since I wanted to keep it that way, I thought it was time for some preventative maintenance.

I also have another Viking machine I bought when I was 19 that had been out of commission since spending a few years in storage at my parents' home while I was working in Asia. I grew up sewing on my mom's Viking 3310, so I wanted to get my own Viking when I left home.  That old 6460 saw a lot of use through my twenties and it always worked like a champ. But once I got home from Asia, it wasn't working properly.

It turns out that this machine - the Viking 6460 - is famous for its cams getting gummed up and you really have to keep sewing on it to keep it in good working order.  I didn't know that a few years ago & that's when I tracked down my 5610.  When I bought it, the sewing machine whisperer told me that he thought he could restore my 6460 if I ever want to get it working again... so I decided to see what he could do - even though I didn't really *need* another machine.

When I got it back out of storage a couple of weeks ago, I was happy to see it still made a decent straight stitch & reversed okay, but the cam was stuck so I couldn't adjust the stitch width for a zigzag or any of the decorative stitches or making button holes.

But then the plot thickened & that 6460 did the weirdest, scariest thing I have ever seen a sewing machine do in my life!

I had the light turned on but I was not sewing, just cleaning the body of the machine with a damp cloth, when it suddenly started sewing by itself!  I kid you not - the needle was going up and down at the fastest full power.  This was *freaky!*  But if that wasn't bad enough, then it started smoking from the back - this terribly stinky acrid smoke... turning the light off didn't stop the power, so as fast as I could recover from the shock of this unusual occurrence, I unplugged the machine and it stopped phantom sewing, but the smoke continued to billow out the back for a few more minutes. The machine was not hot to the touch, though.

Poltergeist?  Mercury Retrograde?! WTF?!

I figured that restoring this machine was now a lost cause, but it turns out to be a really common thing for the Viking 6000 series.  The weird smoke came from a capacitor burning out that could be easily removed.  Apparently its orginal function was to keep the use of the machine from interfering with TV reception but they are no longer particularly functional, so you can just take out the broken one and the problem is solved. 

Anyhow, the sewing machine whisperer was able to loosen up my camstack & my old 6460 friend is now working right as rain.  My sweet 5610 is also running a bit quieter and as nicely as ever. Yay!  I am so glad that I have connected with someone who has the skills and passion to care for these old machines.  If any one is interested in restoring a vintage machine or buying a vintage sewing machine in good working order - please let me know and I will put you in touch!  You will not be disappointed!

Besides documenting Me Made May, I kept myself busy while my machines were in the shop by organizing all my notions.  I collect vintage notions and have quite a stash, so it took a long time to sort through everything - but it's so worth it!

My sewing area and storage is not glamorous, but it is functional for me and the space I have. I feel a little shy to post these pictures because they show I'm not rich or stylish - but this is proof that you don't have to have a fancy sewing room to be organized and creative.

My thread it now all in one place, grouped by color, directly to the left of my sewing table for quick access, along with extra bobbins and my most-used tools.

My notions are all sorted - piping, lace seam binding, twill tape & fabric seam binding, single fold bias, double fold bias, extra wide bias/blanket binding, skirt zippers, dress zippers, elastic... all have their own little bins, tins, or boxes.

And my button collection is now collected into one large tub. (Yes, I have enough buttons to fill large tub with smaller containers! Eep!)

I also finished organizing my patterns, large scraps (if it wasn't big enough to make a set of pockets with, it went into deep storage to eventually become the insides of one of these tuffets.)  Here's interfacing, scraps, buttons, ribbons, and lace trim... all in their own tubs. 

Last weekend's big push of organization completed my stash evaluation and organization inspired by the Craft Sessions Stash Less project - the taking stock step.  I had already put the large cuts of fabric and the yarn in order... for my current making - I have one active projects box & a tub of summer fabric that is stashed, but easily accessible, under my bed.

I have several more "under the bed" shaped large tubs high up in the top shelf of my closet for winter fabric, special occasion fabric, yarn, knits and lining fabrics, and felt for appliques. It's amazing to know what I have and to see that I have a lot of cool fabrics and notions all waiting to come together into finished projects, so I can get inspired and make things without ever having to get online to order new stuff or dash out to Joann's.

This is making my shopping more deliberate and less frequent.  In concert with the Facebook Stashbusting Sewalong, Stash Less & the Making List from The Craft Sessions have been totally transformative in helping me think about what I have and love what I make more. 

Taking a little break from sewing to get organized while my machines were getting some TLC in the last week has also given a fresh perspective on where I want to go with sewing for the summer. Me Made May has been really interesting, so far, too.  So much more than just selfies - it's quite a thought-provoking and revealing process to go through.  I feel inspired and excited for the months to come. 


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