01 September 2012

Happy Birthday to me (a little late)

The end of Milestone Birthday Month heralded the arrival of this:

Say hello to Midge!
I've finally acquired a Kenmore 1040--one of the 1970s Kenmore versions of the (insanely popular) Singer Featherweights. After trolling the local Craigslists for months with no luck, I bought this from another member of the Yahoo! vintage Kenmore boards, who shipped it to me all the way from Phoenix! I did discover though that the best sewing machine finds seem to be in this order:  1) South Jersey 2) Philadelphia 3) Jersey Shore 4) North Jersey.  The Central Jersey Craigslist is the pits, but more on that some other time, mayhaps.

I've been wanting a more portable machine for a while now, but have been nonplussed at the newer machines.  Phyllis, my Kenmore 1217, has a handy carrying case but she weighs about as much as two second graders (to me, anyway) so lugging her around is not much fun, especially when you have epicondilitis in both arms and live up a very steep flight of stairs.  Also, Phyl has a nice little cabinet to live in that I salvaged and fixed up just for her, and I think she's happy there. 

Midge, like Phyllis, dates from about 1971 and is colored in avocado green and some shade Sears calls "lemon smoke".  She is all metal, too, but only a 3/4 size, so she is a good bit lighter, though still not super light.

In comparison, she is the size of two Middlemarches.  And yes, that's my summer reading.  Don't judge me.

She also comes with the cute little rose-embossed retro case, in back of her there.  Phyllis's case has an extra compartment for the foot pedal and manual, but Midge's case only fits her in there (and very tightly).  The foot pedal has to be sandwiched into her harp area. 

I didn't just buy her for size alone.  She also has some stitches Phyls doesn't, like a stretch stitch and a mending stitch.  (Phyllis only does straight stitch, zigzag, and blind hemming.)  Midge has a center-homing needle, which will hopefully really step up my presser foot diversification.  Phyllis has a left-homing needle, and although it seems that was a fairly common design in the early 70s, it is very difficult to find presser feet that work with her.  I think people who have them hoard them.  Last year, after over a year of looking,  I found a Griest buttonholer AND a set of three feet (a bias binder, edgestitcher, and ruffler) for low-shank left-needle machines in the same week and you couldn't tell me nathan.

But Midge should work with any regular low-shank foot.  It's much easier to control her speed, so I might be able to actually work on free-motion quilting.  Her small bed will also, I hope, make attaching neck and sleeve bands easier, though I really was hoping she could be used as a free arm. 

Speaking of the tiny bed, see that little section in the front?  She also does this:

You can see the bobbin case and feed-dog lever back there.

More space!

What's that?  She's not quite long enough either?  Well let's lift this up...


What is that little thing I just pulled out to the front, you say?  Why, it's her accessories box:

Most of the original stuff is there, except the zipper foot, and for some reason someone replaced the retractable spool pin the manual says she has with a place to screw in a pin, which I don't like quite as well.

Anyway, I tested her out a bit last night.  The stitches seem to work just fine, though the bobbin winder is not quite cooperating.  At first the feed dogs didn't want to drop--a common problem with these machines--but they eventually gave in.  I'm gonna have to investigate the bobbin-winding issue--kind of annoying to have to load a bunch of bobbins before I can go anywhere, or to have to buy and lug one of those little machines that do nothing else--, but other than that I am pretty pleased so far.  I don't intend for her to be the primary machine--Phyllis is still the #1 in these streets--but I hope she'll be a good fill-in. 


Maura said...

Midge is awesome. LEMON SMOKE!!! I love her. you are so beyond me now in sewing that I can only read adoringly and imagine what it is like to have those sort of mad skills and knowledges. :) Have fun! And you need to come visit next summer and teach me some stuff.

Jessica said...

This is great! Woohoo!! I love all of that extra room you have!

miss kate said...

re: "lemon smoke" I know, right? Sears just be doing THE MOST. I would have called it "beige" but now I can't see it any other way...

Unfortunately she's got some kinda electrical problem, so it'll be a few weeks before she can travel. Boo!


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