Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Sewing machine studio

    I know some of you will dismiss what is posted here as excessive, impractical, ridiculous, or laughable. Regardless, this setup works for me and keeps wonderful vintage machines doing what they do better than any new machine- sew straight stitches. All of these combined cost less than the piece of expensive junk lemon quilters Pfaff that I bought new 9 years ago (long gone).
     I have a table my husband made for my most used machines and I have it set up like a woodshop. In a woodshop, different tools have different functions. No one would think of having one saw or one drill. There are circular saws, band saws, table saws, hand saws, radial arm saws, etc. In my studio, each machine fills a role and in some projects I may use all of them as in wall hangings I just finished for a show. This enables me to have a good workflow with minimal set up time and work on multiple projects.
     Each machine has a particular function is set up to do it.
      This LBOW (Light Beige Oyster White) Singer 301 Slant needle is my piecing machine. I have another I use for retreats or travel. The best straight stitch machine ever. The motor is direct drive, no belt, and is incredibly faster than any new one. The slant needle area give phenomenal visibility.
      This Singer 15-91 is also a direct drive machine. I use this for sewing on all my bindings and pockets on the premade tote bags I use for comfort quilt giveaways. Absoulutely rock solid and powerful.
      This is my newest 301. I have a black one, but this mocha 301 works better. It is used for FMQ smaller quilts than put on the long arm. It quilts flawlessly with perfect tension and great speed. The quilting foot is on and ready to rock and roll at a moment's notice. I never name machines, but after using it recently I called it Mocha Momma because it really cooked.
      This Singer 401, another slant needle, direct drive, but a drop in bobbin, is my zig zag machine. I used to use it for blind stitch, but the finer one on the next machine took over. It is a powerful, smooth, awesome machine.
     The Bernina 830 was purchased because I needed a free arm machine for some uses. A friend in Pittsburgh recommended it and I found a great one on ebay from a sewing machine store on the West Coast with all its accessories. This machine makes a tiny blind stitch with monofilament flawlessly for applique. Plus the freearm so I can sew inside things. An all metal machine but for the camstack, it is easy to clean, oil and maintain- a real dream of a machine.
    I also have a Singer 15 treadle that I use sometimes when I just need to get calm sewing, but it is not in the rotation you see here.
    I truly use all these machines and they are a pure joy to sew on. I do my own maintenance, which I love. I am always in awe of the craftsmanship in these machines.  
     There is a lot of help and parts available in using vintage machines- don't dismiss them in favor of fluff features like built in cutters, bobbin winders or knee lifts. For sewing smoothly (no jumping machines), perfectly, and economically, vintage has my full loyalty. My expensive longarm is the one machine that always gives me fits.

13 comments:

Debbie said...

Envy, green eyed, pure machine envy! The fleet of 301s is causing jealous feelings in the deep south let me tell you. That is the one machine I have been looking for around here, and it is usually scarce and very pricey when found.
You have a great set up and have figured out what works best. And I love that.
I don't have the room for a good set up like this, but I love my mid-arm, and Janome anyway. The Featherweight is the simple piecing machine that moves out to the sunroom at times here.

Linda B said...

Another Singer girl here. LOVE my Featherweight for piecing, the 401A is so quiet and fun to use, although I really haven't used it as much, since it's in our cold basement. Bought a newer Singer with a free arm and several different stitches, and have a treadle (the only non-Singer I own) which I play with at times. Will have to work on setting up a better work area after seeing yours, which looks ideal.

Vicki W said...

I think it's genius!

Quilting Babcia said...

Awesome setup! Not excessive, not one little bit! This comes from another vintage Singer addict. I had to downsize my herd when we moved back to WNY from Oregon, but I still have my Centennial 201, Casey Jones-the black 301A, a Featherweight for piecing at the dining room table for a change of pace, and a lovely hand crank 228 (I think) from 1932 that is just for display at this point. Also another 301 that I keep at the church for quilt ministry! All great machines, and all get used in turn. Learned to FMQ first on a 301, then a 15-91, but now use my Janome for machine quilting and bindings and the very occasional applique.

Exuberantcolor/Wanda S Hanson said...

Nothing beats a machine with a perfect straight stitch. That was lost after the zig zag was introduced. I used to have a Bernina 830 and it is a great machine.

A Left-Handed Quilter said...

I don't think it's excessive at all!! I have five machines - and each one is set up to do ONE thing - whatever it is that it does BEST. It sure saves me time switching out feet and changing the settings - all I have to do is move my chair - LOL - ;))

The Joyful Quilter said...

Not excessive! I have a similar, yet smaller, set-up in my studio. With a second machine, a quilting machine (for small jobs), and a longarm, I've got almost everything I need at the ready! My serger used to be set up, too. Unfortunately, when I rearranged to fit The Beast, it took a backseat. Your work zones surely make your quilting more streamlined!!

Vivian said...

I might have thought it excessive until about three years ago when my two electronic machines (one low end and one high end) went down for the count at the same time at the height of holiday sewing. I hand sewed and quilted for a while until I could recondition a "for display only" Centennial Featherweight I owned. Honey! It ran like butter for the next two years during which time the electronics (both now over ten years old) were fixed and then went out again!! Soon realized the one limitation of the FW was no zigzag and wound up purchasing a 401A -- she's a solid work horse of a lady and I love her array of cams and decorative stitches (and look forward to playing more with them in the future). Recently purchased an older model Brother straight stitch (also mechanical) to have a wider harp space for FMQ. Now I'm dreaming of the day I can have a set up like yours where they all have their own station to accomodate the task of the day. Throw in some additional display space for some more vintage "for display" machines because I saw so many cool looking ones while machine shopping and I'd be in heaven! May go back to an electronic one day but right now, I'm in no particular hurry!!

Quiltdivajulie said...

A most excellent post - and I do NOT think you are excessive in the least. Your point about tools in the workshop is a great one and you are completely correct!

Alycia Quiltygirl.com said...

How cool!! That is a great set up!!!! and amazing machines!

Mystic Quilter said...

An amazing collection of machines Linda!!I Seeing your Singer has me now about to try again to find a new lead and foot pedal for my little Featherweight, I don't know if I'l b e successful though. Singers are great machines, your set up with different machines each for a particular use is such a good idea, especially the purely straight stitch one.

Julie said...

Never apologize for genius! I think half of all quilters would dream of your set up. I do! You're making me rethink some of the machines I have stashed away in cases and cabinets. I think you could give me a real 101 on machines, and their capabilities. We need to live closer. Really.

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

I only have room to set up 2 machines in my sewing room. My modern machine (for quilting) is usually set up on the dining room table (we eat in the kitchen).