Restoration Realities


I generally work on several long term projects at a time and I don’t want to do a blog post on them until they are completed… But this is really interesting stuff and I want to post on it immediately… … …                                 Massive archival conundrum ensues…

Solution:  Create a page for in-progress projects.  Whew! I was losing sleep over that one.

My two big projects at the moment are: 1) Sewing Machine Mayhem and 2) Quilting Chaos

Sewing Machine Mayhem

In June of 2012, I assisted with an oral history of Leland Young.  Mr. Young is an amazing man who was significantly involved in Florida’s citrus industry.  He also has a barn filled with an amazing collection of antiques.  He took us on a tour of his barn and I fell in love with these two beauties.  Mr. Young and I discussed the history of sewing machines and he lamented over the condition of the Singer (below left).  The Singer is a 1910 with the “red eye” design; because it had been sitting in a garage (exposed to Florida humidity and weather conditions) it is in pretty horrible shape but the cabinet is in relatively good condition.  The Standard (below right/circa, 1912) is in significantly better condition.  It was stored in a barn with better control over exposure but the cabinet is all but destroyed by termites. Mr. Young appreciated my interest and after we discussed it with my director, Mr. Young gave me the sewing machines.


Machine Restoration:  If you are dealing with ages and ages of rust that will not release, you will need to bring out the big guns: PB Blaster (forgive their obnoxious website).  PB Blaster is the best product for dealing with rust. With the help of PB Blaster, the Standard is almost in working order.  She (because obviously the standard is female) does have a broken part in the bobbin case that prevents full rotation, but I am working ways to repair/replace that part (more to follow when I figure that problem out).

The Singer is a problem.  I soaked the singer in PB Blaster twice a day for two weeks.  Each time something released, I would remove a part and soak it more.  Truth is, the Singer is beyond my help.  I did get several parts moving – but (before I took possession of the machine) the wheel broke away from the other gears so I can’t gain access to the parts located in the shaft of the machine.  I have no idea what to do with this beast.  Suggestions? – I’m at a loss and I may abandon ship.  I have another Singer (same era) that is in perfect working order so – the deathly Singer may have to rest in peace.


Part Restoration:  Because I have the cabinets, I have everything that was in the cabinet drawers.  Sewing machine cabinet drawers contain feet.  Or, in my case, they contain rusted feet.  *sad face*  There are several options for problems like this.  1) Do nothing.  2) Remove rust.  3) Chrome it up!  Originally, these feet would have been covered in beautiful shiny chrome.  But alas, now they are rusty.  As a temporary fix, I started with option 2, remove the rust.  For this, I used a great product called: Loctite.  Brush the loose rust off with a metal brush and soak the tiny bits in Loctite and then rinse.  Within minutes, my feet started looking healthy again.  I can still send these tiny bits off to a chrome shop, but for now -this will suffice.

Cabinet Restoration:  *Sigh*  I believe termites should actually be named Wood Devils.  They are evil incarnate and I hate, loath, and despise them.  Aside from the termite damage that has rendered the top piece useless, the Standard’s cabinet is AMAZING!  When you open the lid, the sewing machine (automatically) pops up!  When you close the lid, the sewing machine is lowered into the case – AWESOME.  Unfortunately, the lid and table top are destroyed so I will have to replace them.  (Termites are EVIL)

On a (slightly) happy note, my cabinet drawers are salvageable AND one of the drawers has this cool looking organizer in it!  Look at the pretty Oak!  I sanded it down to reveal this beautiful natural blond color.  OK- yes, the purist probably would not sand the cabinet down – but I have to replace the top with a new piece of wood.  Sanding is the least of my worries in this project.


The Singer cabinet has some termite damage, but as a whole – the cabinet is in good shape.  The laminate top needs to be replaced but that should not be a problem.  The laminate top confused me at first: Why would you put a laminate top on this beautiful oak, isn’t laminate supposed to be the cheap way out?  NO!  Laminate tops can add to the durability of the cabinet and when you are sewing – durability is important.  You can buy laminate tops at Home Depot for very little cost so in the interest of proper restoration, I will put a new laminate top on the Singer’s cabinet.   I will post pictures when I start that step.   To be continued…

Quilting Chaos:

My husband’s grandmother recently passed away.  When we went to Iowa to help clean out her home we found a treasure trove of quilts.  And I happen to be a quilter…  OMG – I might be in heaven.  It turns out that my husband’s grandmother (Martha) was a seamstress and his great grandmother (Eva) was a quilter.  Eva was a prolific quilter.  There were enough quilts in the house for each daughter to pick a quilt and to give every grandchild a quilt.  (I have to admit to being a little bit heart broken when one of the daughters chose the grandmother’s garden.)  After all the quilts were allocated there were still several quilt tops left over.  I happily assumed all the quilt tops and am in the process of restoring and quilting the items in my collection.  My current dilemmas are:  Should I machine quilt or hand quilt the tops?  How should I deal with the occasional stain or hole.  Somebody ironed the vanishing quilter’s pen and now it will not vanish.  (Pictures and details will follow.)


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