Monday, August 29, 2011

The most wonderful time of the year.

Yes, back to school. It's right around the corner for us here in Manitoba. My youngest is going into kindergarten and he asked that I make him a new backpack. I was happy to oblige, the Oliver + S book "Little things to sew" has a sweet penguin backpack pattern. He loves it! It was not hard to make though I'm glad I had my faithful vintage singer to sew through those layers of heavy denim. Up to 14 layers at times. Like butta, every single time. Sorry plastic computerized Kenmore, you're just not cut out for this. Thanks for the occasional zigzag though.

The dark grey body of the backpack is an upcycled pair of Grandpa's jeans. I used the wrong side facing out so it's not so obviously black denim and also gives it a softer look. My son picked out the cows for the lining and the yellow for the beak and the feet. The tummy pocket is a scrap from the box. I satin stitched around the pocket, I like it this way. The buttons are vintage. He loves his new backpack. I'll take some more pictures of him modeling later but for now here it is.

The cows inside. The lining is hand stitched along the zipper. There is a pocket in here for pencils too, but it's on the inside front so you can't see it.

The straps are adjustable, it should fit over his winter coat fine. The black strap adjusters are from Mountain Equipment Co-op. Luckily they had the exact size I needed.

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Farmhouse doll bed

My husband built me this bed with plans available for free from These are really nice plans, it makes a good sized doll bed. Some people think it's too wide, but it's just right to me. I dislike doll beds that are only as wide as the doll. How many people have a bed that narrow, really? Plus, more width = more room for decorative pillows and a square quilt.

 We decided to paint it, after the holes were filled and sanded. My 5 year old picked this nice blue color. In this picture it's got a coat of primer and the first coat (of four) of blue paint. It's quite a rich color and I'm debating another coat and whether or not I should varathane it. My little guy is a keen helper so he got a birdhouse from the craft store to paint along with me.

For now, it has a 2" mattress cut from foam, and little sheet to cover it. I think I will box the corners and put elastic around to make it a proper fitted sheet. There is a seam across the middle of the sheet because it's the scraps left from the quilt. There is a plywood base under the mattress too. It's very sturdy.

I also made a quilt and two regular pillows. Most of the fabrics used was scraps from the last few months of sewing. The bed was also made of scraps from the garage. Scraps are cost effective but not time efficient. My husband had to rip 2x4 lumber into 1x3 and 1x2 etc. The only things purchased for this were the paint/primer and the foam for the mattress. Up next will be a flat sheet, two pillow cases and a decorative pillow or two.

Thanks for looking, enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Introducing Lady Laura Parker

My mom arrived last week for a visit. She brought with her my great grandmother's antique Singer treadle. It was in need of some restoration, but overall in nice condition. My mom, husband and I worked together to restore it as best we could. It had 108 years of dust and goo on it.

This picture is of the assisted lift assembly that folds the machine down into the lid and helps lift it out when the lid is open. Very very dirty.

Some of the pieces here, the top of the lid, the drawer "baskets" and a couple of the drawers. Notice how dark the drawer faces are. Almost black. Grandma was a smoker.

The rest of the parts. My husband took off everything for  a proper refinish. My mom restored all of the wood. She is amazing! On the chair are the other 2 drawers, a piece of the top and the wide drawer. Under the glass table is the large top piece and the small top piece. The box looking piece is the one that holds the sewing machine when it is folded down. 

Craig was so careful taking everything apart. Great job!

Most of the pieces are here, looking lovely and ready to be reassembled. My mom stripped off the old finish, then stained and varnished everything.

I repainted the gold details on the iron stand.

The top piece, it was water damaged at some point. The dark part gets covered by the machine surround pieces.

Lady Laura herself, a Singer 27-4 from 1903. Originally my great grandmother's (Laura Parker,) then my grandma and my mom, now mine. Even my boys have sewn a bit on this making 5 generations of use. Craig got her running right away and she's lovely. A new treadle belt is on the way, but the original works somewhat. 

All finished, isn't she beautiful! We cleaned all the brass handles, screws, hinges etc with brasso. It's amazing what came off those. I can see myself doing a lot of quilting by this window in the winter. It's North facing so we get light but not direct light. Perfect.

The drawers were so dark that none of these details were visible before.  I wish I had taken better before pictures. It's truly been an amazing restoration, and so nice that we all did it together.

Thank you so much for reading and looking at all of these pictures. I hope I've inspired some of you to find and restore/use your family's treadle. There are so many out there that need love and this is the perfect time of year for refinishing. Don't put it off any longer.