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Custom Plaid Hippo

plaid hippo, by StitchifiedOne of the scariest things about opening an Etsy store is being asked to do custom orders. It is challenging to interpret someone else’s creative vision. And then there’s the whole timing thing — my creations are time intensive, and I’m terrified of getting in over my head. If there is such a thing as high-risk softie-making, custom orders are it for me. Which brings me to the story of a certain plaid hippo.

This little guy has left his mark on me. The little girl’s mom selected a beautiful large scale flannel plaid for a custom hippo. Mammoth flannel is wonderfully thick and heavy, and once it arrived I knew this was going to make an amazing softie… BUT OMG THE PLAID. The plaid freaked me out, guys. It’s beautiful, but it’s busy. So busy! I balanced it out by using creamy white accents, but then there was the issue of pattern matching.

I considered (and even got the mom’s generous okay!) not to match the plaid. I mean, the pattern is large scale, and the repeats are far apart… and we’re talking about matching plaid from the nose to tail. Curved seams! Perfect mirror images! It seemed like an impossible challenge. But the longer I stared at it, the more hesitant I became. It sat on my WIP bench for a week and my indecision tormented me. I turned a lot ideas over in my head, and decided to give pattern matching a shot.

I didn’t think my plan was going to work, so I didn’t take photos to demonstrate my technique. Figures, right? But in the end, I was more or less able to match the plaid across all the seams — and I’m so in love with him. He was totally worth the extra effort, and I think the challenge pushed me to do some of my best work to date. I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking…

plaid hippo, by Stitchified

Those eyes! The little secondary design along his back!

Custom plaid hippo, by StitchifiedAnd if only you could hold him! The combination of mammoth flannel and wool stuffing is the very definition of comfort object. He is waiting to be presented on his little girl’s birthday, but I know that they are going to be the very best of friends!
plaid hippo, by StitchifiedMoral of today’s story: High risk, high reward!  … and an obligatory butt shot! 🙂

Happy sewing!

Linking up with CrazyMomQuilts and TGIFF over at http://www.arabesque-scissors.com/.

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On the work bench: Kenmore 47

Kenmore 47, restored by Stitchified

Yes, this is another post about vintage sewing machines. Sorry, not sorry 🙂 I know, I know, VSM restoration is threatening to take over the blog. I just can’t stop myself. I love bringing these old ladies back to their former glory. I’ve run out of room, but that didn’t stop me from snatching up this craigslist beauty. She made an awesome surprise for sister in law 🙂

Before + After Front - Final

Before + after back - finalThis is Annette, named after her former owner, “Antoinette,” who was a seamstress herself, and the wife of a sewing machine mechanic. Her husband was also a World War II vet. How do I know? Because among the notions were a bunch of needles stored in an old MRE pouch. I think it was hot cocoa at one point? Hard to say, haha.

Anyway, Annette is a Kenmore 47 (Kenmore 158.470) Kenmore 47, Center locked needlemade by the Maruzen Co. between 1958 and 1962. She is a midcentury modern beauty, featuring a great big retro dial, lots of chrome, and an awesome rose pink and peach paint job. She has a center locked needle for straight stitching (i.e. not left-homing machine) which is rare in a Japanese machine like this one. She will be a great multipurpose machine — equally competent at both 1/4″ and 5/8″ seams.She uses cams for decorative stitching, but does not require a cam for zigzag sewing (genius I tell you!). She is a high shank machine, but she is *not* a “Kenmore super high shank” machine, which is good because she only came with a zigzag foot. Oh, and she’s an absolute TANK of a machine. She weighs around 37 pounds!

Working on this machine has been a true pleasure — it is clear that she was loved and meticulously maintained during her working years. Unlike older Singers with their clear coats and delicate decals, the finish on this machine is tough as nails. She’s basically a car. No fancy cleaners (or hours of gentle polishing!) required. A little Simple Green, Barkeeper’s friend, and some car wax and she looks as good as new on the outside. The insides however, were a bit of a different story. Her straight stitch mechanisms were smooth, but the cam selector was frozen solid. Like, so frozen I was afraid that I was doing something wrong with the selector knobs — there was that little play in the zigzag mechanisms. I picked up a bottle of “Bluecreeper,”which is a super thin penetrating oil that that the VSM community raves about. I started with a few drops of Bluecreeper and let it sit overnight, but it didn’t do Kenmore 47, frozen camstackmuch. So, I did what any reasonable person would do. I doused everything that looked suspect and left it to sit for a day.

About 24 hours later, I nudged the zigzag arm and OMG.IT.MOVED, leaving behind a nice bit of golden fossilized oil. A few more drops of BlueCreeper and the zigzag mechanisms were moving freely. Lucky for you readers, I memorialized that moment with a photo! But seriously, it was so gratifying to get her moving again. I also used Bluecreeper in all the oil ports to flush the gunk, and followed that with BlueCreeper’s new SMO. Now everything turns smooth as glass, like even smoother than my vintage Brother. I’m officially a BlueCreeper convert, and plan to treat all my other VSMs to a day at the BlueCreeper spa.

Kenmore 47, top opened

Annette is missing some extras — her cams (Kenmore B type), and her attachments (save a buttonholer that was thrown in with the notions) were no where to be found. Bummer. It was also time for a new belt, a new pedal, a new power cord, a new light bulb, and a new bobbin tire so I ordered those from Sew Classic… only to realize that her bobbin case was broken, too. A few other items jumped in my cart on the second order, but that’s a blog post for another day. Luckily, I picked up this machine and cabinet for $35, so having to spend a bit on extras isn’t a huge deal. I think this little restore will come in around $100 (ok, maybe $150), which isn’t too bad given what a great machine she is. You cannot buy a machine of this quality today, and even if you could it would cost a fortune.

Kenmore 47, cam door open

LKenmore 47 cabinet, restoredastly, there was the cabinet. The sad, albeit original, Sears cabinet. You know how I love to save things, but this one nearly ended up in the trash. It is not solid wood, and the laminate was in *bad* shape. It was peeling, bubbling, permanently stained with grime, and even gooey in places. Ew. Plus, the legs were shot and in need of serious repair. I can’t bring myself to paste a picture of its hideousness here, but if you absolutely must, you can check it out at this picture (and that’s AFTER a serious cleaning, so gross!). This was a rare instance where a paint job was completely necessary. My dear husband adopted the cabinet and did an amazing job refinishing it and rebuilding so it could, um, stand. He power sanded the heck out of it and primed it with a tinted oil primer before painting. The high gloss black is seriously fantastic. New hardware was obviously a must as well. A gold star for my partner in crime for an awesome job and for helping us divide and conquer on this project. Thanks to him, we totally made a gifting deadline <3

Kenmore 47, restored by Stitchified

And so there you have it, folks. One newly restored Kenmore 47 in rose pink nestled in a sleek black and chrome cabinet. Totally drool-worthy. I absolutely adore her and saying farewell is going to be hard. I already got the stink eye from my husband when I mentioned how hard it would be to part with her, so there’s no turning back now, haha. I’ll get to visit her in her new home, and I’m happy to gift her to an aspiring VSM sewist 🙂 Here’s to another 50 years of sewing for Miss Annette! Linking up with Finish it Up Friday with CrazyMom Quilts!

(I can’t help but casually mention that Miss Annette has a twin sister, the Kenmore 158.48 in lavender/lilac. I’ll be fanatically hunting one, I mean, um, “keeping an eye out” for one to add to my personal collection. Shhh, don’t tell hubby!)

 

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Squee! I have so many projects that I’m excited to be working on, and it’s causing me to bounce back and forth between things (read: not making good headway anywhere!). It’s not the most efficient way to work, but I’m having too much fun to care.

A photo posted by Jen (@stitchified) on

After launching my Etsy Shop, I decided to get back to some neglected projects. Project #1? A long overdue baby quilt for my friend’s daughter. I’m so embarrassed that this “welcome to the world” gift is quickly turning into a “Happy Birthday” present. I designed this herrringbone pattern to use up  the scraps from my partial lonestar burst quilt, though it’s taken a lot longer than planned.  In hopes of making some headway, I brought this project to MamaPeaches’ house last weekend for a mama play date. Best.time.ever. Fabulous friends + simple piecing + featherweight + her gorgeous sewing cave is pretty much my new definition of heaven.

This baby quilt will (hopefully!) be my first quilt that is done entirely on vintage machines — so far all the piecing has been completed on my Featherweight or on my fabulous vintage Brother. I just adore the vintage machines and find myself choosing them over my big Janome more and more.   

Economy Blocks WIP, by Stitchified

I’ve also been working on a layout for my Economy Blocks. This project was started during a trying time, and I added a block to it (almost!) every day throughout the ordeal. Just looking at the blocks is a powerful reminder of both me and my family’s journey over the last two years. I just need to bring myself to add another 100 blocks so that it’s queen size!

And lastly, I started restoring this amazing White Vibrating Shuttle III treadle machine that my stepmother picked up for me last summer.

A photo posted by Jen (@stitchified) on

At just $5, this thing was a total steal, but it’s been my most difficult restoration yet. It was missing the vibrating shuttle and bobbin, and tracking down replacements has taken months of dedicated internet sleuthing. I was able to find a shuttle stamped “White” on Etsy that looked like the drawings of VSIII shuttles, and took a chance — thankfully it fits perfectly. Then, after spending hours (and hours!) looking at photos on eBay, I snagged a single White long bobbin. (Dorky restoration note: Unlike Singer long bobbins, White long bobbins have a hollow core, which makes them distinct enough to pick out of a lineup of say, a hundred ebay listings.)

Finding the missing parts gave me the push I needed to start cleaning the machine. I’m pretty sure she was sitting in a barn for a significant portion of the last 125 years — there was a lot of straw hidden in the cabinet and the whole thing is FILTHY. I’ve only just begun to remove the grime, but I’m making good progress. It’s so gratifying to shine her up.

I put together a little demo of the process, but first a quick before picture of the area I was working on:

A photo posted by Jen (@stitchified) on

And a super gratifying video showing the grime coming off (not shown the 10 minutes I scrubbed the area with Qtips!):

A video posted by Jen (@stitchified) on

And a shot of what I’ve done so far on the backside:

White VS((( restoration, by Stitchified

Yeaaah, I still have a long way to go. And I still need to tackle her moving parts… and then there’s the cabinet. Oh, the sad dried out cabinet. She’s been around for around 120 years (last patent date is 1890!), so I figure she can wait a few more months for a proper restoration job. 🙂

Oh, and for those interested, I do have a few new additions in the works for the Etsy shop.  I’ll announce the postings on IG if you want to follow me there.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced!  Eek, I didn’t realize that WIP Wednesday is on a two month break. Linking up with some new link parties and looking forward to visiting some new friends and their blogs!

 

and Handmade Tuesdays

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New Etsy Shop!

Hello blog land! I am so excited about today’s post! You see, I’ve been keeping a little secret from you… but I’m finally finished and ready to share for Finish It Up Friday. I can’t wait tell you all about what I’ve been up to!

It has taken way more work than I could have imagined (read: branding, one billion hours of CPSIA compliance research, and spreadsheets galore), but I am thrilled to announce that I have opened an Etsy shop. Much like the toys I have made for friends and family here, my shop specializes in vintage-inspired soft toys with a modern twist. As I’m sure many quilters and fellow fabric snobs can appreciate, I’ve chosen some amazing natural fibers and textiles to use in my toys. It’s such a pleasure to sew with them!

Etsy Announcement

A big part of my inspiration came from a doll I made using Jill Hamor’s book, Storybook Toys. These dolls are really something special. To me, they manage to combine a certain timeless beauty with the appeal of a Waldorf Doll. I also love the customizable nature of these dolls — every girl (and boy!) should be able to have a doll that looks like them.  Being able to offer such a thing is so important to me. I will say that these dolls take an absolutely astronomical amount of time to make, but I just love the end result. I hope you do, too!

The dolls also have an adorable unicorn friend, which is a  modified version of Jill Hamor’s horse.  Don’t the dolls and the unicorn make an awesome duo? I can’t stand the cuteness!

Doll and her unicorn, by Stitchified

I’ve made a few other creations for my shop, but I don’t want to spoil all the fun by posting them here. Please swing by https://www.etsy.com/shop/StitchifiedToys to check them out!

Happy Sewing!

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Friday finishes

Ironing Board WIP, by StitchifiedAfter years of dedicated service, my ironing board cover was pretty sad looking. Nothing like spray starch, interfacing gunk, and burn marks to make an iron cover feel loved, right? Truth be told, I meant to make a new cover ages ago and picked up some canvas at IKEA. But the project was pushed to the side, and the old cover got progressively (and impressively!) worse and worse.

New Ironing Board Cover, by Stitchified

But, no more! Check out my shiny new ironing board cover! The entire project took just a few hours thanks to Amanda Jean’s tutorial. Threading elastic through the very long casing is no picnic, but the finished product seriously makes me happy every time I use it! And, yes, I know that choosing white canvas for my cover was a brilliant move. It is sure to wear well, and that bright white will definitely hide the inevitable stains. Ingenious decision making, really 🙂

Vintage Inspired Penguin Plush, by StitchifiedBut my biggest victory this week came in penguin form. As some of you know, I have been struggling to finalize a penguin prototype for weeks now. I was inspired by a vintage pattern by Pamela Peake, and after a complete overhaul, I am finally happy with my version. I smoothed out some of his lines, and rounded out others — playing up the vintage charm while giving him a modern update. Now he is plucky and perfectly chubby in all the right places. Huzzah!

A trio of penguin prototypes, by StitchifiedMy better half has adopted the earlier prototypes (read: he won’t let me toss them!). So, I’m happy to report that they will live out the rest of their lives with us and the littles. We’re becoming a regular Island of Misfit Toys!

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday!

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Most nights I sit down at my sewing machine and accomplish something. It might be a quilt block, a stuffed animal’s face, a bit of embroidery — some small bit of satisfaction that carries me through to my next stitch-fix. But the past few days? Not so much. I have been wrestling with a new prototype, and I have nothing to show for it. Well, ok, *almost* nothing.

Penguin Prototype, by Stitchified

I have clipped, resewn, redrafted and seam-ripped my way to a more acceptable version of this little guy, but I’m not there yet. And while throwing in the towel is a very appealing option, my husband is encouraging me to push a little bit harder to do right by Mr. Penguin.

And so here I am, futzing around with freezer paper templates. Over and over again until I get it right. This time in bright orange and chocolate brown — Am I the only one who prototypes in increasingly gaudy colors?

WIPMaybe I’ll spend tomorrow distracting myself with a new project. I’ve totally jumped on the La Passacaglia band wagon and have been loving every second of slow stitching. I’m planning to do a small mini for my sewing room. I have to be *the* slowest EPPer ever though, so even the mini might take me years. It blows my mind how folks manage the full quilt!

A photo posted by Jen (@stitchified) on

A photo posted by Jen (@stitchified) on

Linking up with Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday!

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2015 Recap

2015 has been an amazing year for me — we settled in as a family of four, slowed our lifestyle down as my husband transitioned into becoming a SAHD, and spent more time being mindful of the things that matter. I feel so incredibly fortunate!

I was also pretty productive this year on the sewing front, especially towards the end of the year. There were quite a few quilts:

Quilt Collage 2015, by Stitchified

A hexie quilt for a friend’s son, my first legit mini quilt for my mom (hi Mom!) using Cotton +Steel basics and a doublegoosed pattern from jelliquilts, a scrappy HST and patchwork quilt for another friend’s daughter, and a scrappy flying goose quilt and delight quilt  for my youngest.

And there was a plethora of toy-making:

2015 Toys, by Stitchified

A unicorn plush for SewMamaSew’s soft toy drive, twin confetti yetis, a fluffy purple guinea pig, a parliament of owls, doll clothes, a velveteen rabbit, a group of mice, and even some baby toys. I also perfected my pattern for cloth dolls, based off a pattern by Jill Hamor. More on that in the New Year!

There was even a little bag making in 2015, thanks to some last minute teacher gifts.

Coarline Wristlets, by Stitchified

But the biggest sewing accomplishment in 2015 was absolutely my new sewing room. It has revolutionized my hobby in ways I couldn’t have imagined, and I credit it with my year end productivity. I also rounded out my sewing machine collection with a vintage zigzag machine, and while I cannot say my collection is complete… I can say that it is closer to complete 🙂

As I was looking back over my year of sewing, I realized two things: 1) I kept my sewing machines busy and 2) my blog was entirely too neglected. It’s always a compromise: spend what little free time I have writing and editing vs. jump right into sewing. But at the same time, I’m so glad to have this blog as a written record of my creations. So, that’s going to be my big goal for 2016 — more consistent blogging! Other goals for 2016 include:

  • Improved photography – a close family friend was kind enough to give me a lesson. I hope to put his tutelage to good use!
  • Get back to my Economy Block quilt
  • Finally quilt my sister’s wedding quilt. Does that mean I have to learn to use a long arm? I don’t know, but it’s time to decide!
  • More sewing with my oldest – She has a few small projects under her belt and is getting more independent with the machine. I’m looking forward to more mother-daughter sewing days.

How about all of you? What were your favorite finishes in 2015, and what are you planning for 2016?

Linking up with Crazymomquilts and wishing you all a safe and happy New Year!

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A Handmade Christmas

Santa’s elves were especially busy this year. I entered what I lovingly dubbed the “Bonus Round” of Christmas making, and still managed to finish the very last present just before midnight on the 22nd. In previous years I’ve sewed past midnight on Christmas Eve, so I’m marking this year as a solid victory!

Here we have the Christmas toy line up in an early phase, before some of them had to go in the mail:

Handmade Christmas Toys, by Stitchified

The confetti yeti is the long lost twin of a yeti who now lives in California with my cousin. He is made from long shag faux fur and white fleece using the Confetti Yeti pattern. Working with faux fur should be a four letter word, but it’s done so we’ll use a ten letter word instead — Hallelujah!

The velveteen rabbit is for my niece, who is almost two. I’m sending along a copy of Margery Williams’s book as well (you can find my post with my feelings about this wonderful book here). Her bunny is made of cotton velour in fawn and baby pink; with organic cotton sherpa for his tummy and little cotton tail. I hope she loves him!

The little pink haired doll was commissioned by a close family friend for her granddaughter. I only just finalized the pattern for these dolls (based on a pattern by Jill Hamor of Bybido), and I was thrilled to put this together. More about dolls in the New Year!

The grumpy owl pincushion snuck into the Christmas line up, though he’s actually a belated birthday present. Oh, and he is missing his eyebrows in the photo lineup. He is made from Heather Bailey’s “Edgar Owl and Poe” pattern.  I love this pattern! There are a lot of little parts, but it all comes together in a really cool way. This is my third time making an owl, but my first time adding eyebrows. Here he is with his eyebrows, right before he jumped in the mail.

EdgarOwl, by Stitchified

I love him and was very tempted to keep him! He has since joined my good friend MamaPeaches in her craft cave. Happy Birthday, MamaPeaches!

I also made two outfits for my niece’s collection of Monster High Dolls. At my SIL’s request, I tried to make the clothing a little more, um, modest. Not an easy task because because the whole process made me feel like a crotchety old lady saying things like “when I was a kid…”. Haha! The first dress is a sheath dress in yellow. The second dress (below) is a little halter top number with a vintage-inspired full skirt, and a little taffeta under-skirt to help fill out said skirt.The halter dress even accommodates her wings, so yay! Both dresses are fully lined. If anyone is interested in the pattern, please let me know. I didn’t make a formal pattern, but if there’s interest I could put one together.

Halter Dress for Monster High Doll, by Stitchifed

And the last of the toys include three little mice, who are pincushions to a few of my in-laws who are aspiring sewists! The pattern for these came from Love Patchwork and Quilting. Once they have pins in them, they can double as hedgehogs. Here’s an extra picture of the three of them ready for wrapping 🙂

Pincushion Mice, by Stitchified

DoubleGoosed Mini, by Stitchified

I even made a few things that weren’t toys! There’s this lovely mini quilt, which is a wall hanging for my mom’s office. I love this pattern (double goosed by Jeliquilts!) almost as much as I love Cotton + Steel, so it seemed like a good combination. I had a lovely time piecing this one – just some mindless stitching while I watched The Great British Baking Show on my iPad.

OMGMagicDreamCloud, by Stitchified

I also made a very special blanket with Nani Iro and wool batting. I am officially calling this blanket a “OMGMagicDreamCloud Blanket” because it is truly all of those things. If the materials weren’t so very very pricey I would make one for myself (and maybe make it three times as large!). I ordered the fabric way in advance from Japan, and almost panicked when I wasn’t able to find the wool batting online with Amazon Prime. I managed to find a package and get it delivered in time, but it was awfully close! If you’re interested in making your own OMGMagicDreamCloud Blanket, you can find the tutorial here.

 

Coarline Wristlets, by Stitchified

And last, but not least I threw together three Coraline wristlets for my daughter’s Montessori teachers. Swoon patterns are fantastic, though for me, there is always a little bit of a learning curve — I am not a bag maker! These came out just fine, though I did struggle with a wonky zipper on the first one I made. Sometimes it’s good to stretch yourself — I always learn a lot when sewing one of Alicia’s patterns!

 

Quilted Baby Lovey, by Stitchified

Even my oldest daughter got into the holiday making and sewed the baby a new lovey. She pieced the quilt top all by herself (seriously!) and backed it with some minky. I did handle the rotary cutter because she’s not allowed to use that until she’s 21! I also took care of the quilting and put the binding on, but still! Not bad for a freshly minted five year old!

Phew! As you can see, it was a very handmade Christmas over here. I loved making this year’s presents, though I am a little glad that crunch time is over.  Now it’s time to settle in with a nice scotch. Happy Holidays!

Linking up with Finish it Up Friday!

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Santa’s workshop has kicked into high gear over here, and it has left me with very little that I can safely share! On the bright side, once the gifts have been given and there’s no more risk of spoiling the surprise I’ll have plenty of makes to share. In the meantime, I do have a few finishes to share for Finish It Up Friday.

Hexi stocking, by Stitchified

The first is a stocking for our new baby which has been in my WIP pile for the better part of a year. It feels great to finally get it done! I made the rest of the family’s stockings almost three years ago, as one of my very first sewing projects. It was pretty entertaining to go back and revisit an old project. I remembered it being a little more involved, but this one really did get slapped together quickly and without issue. I designed the baby’s stocking to compliment her big sister’s, by choosing a similar color palette of lime, pink and aqua. To piece the stocking, I used a mini hex-n-more ruler and rocked a lot of baby wearing. I’m happy to say that my piecing lined up pretty well, which is good because tiny piecing + having to rip out a million stitches makes me cranky! So, there we have it, one last stocking to represent the baby who finished completed our little family of four.

Family Stockings, by Stitchified

I love seeing all four stockings hanging on the wall. Each one is as individual as its owner, but they all work well together — it’s like our family, but in stocking form.

My second project was a little last minute, but a lot of fun. We had the pleasure of meeting up with some friends and their new baby a few days after Thanksgiving, but I didn’t have time around a sewing machine over the Thanksgiving break. So I quickly cut out a few pentagons and hand stitched a set of stuffed toy balls (haha, there must be a nice way to phrase that? Hmm…) with EPP. The baby has a little Boston Terrier at home, so I was pretty excited to find the perfect fabric in my stash. I added a bit of crinkly paper and a makeshift raffle and BOOM! Insta-baby present.

EPP baby toy, by Stitchified

And now I’m diving back in to finish up some last minute Christmas gifts to put under the tree. Wishing all my readers the best of luck with their holiday sewing!

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The herd is growing again!

Brother select o matic, restored by Stitchified

I love vintage sewing machines. Their all metal construction, brilliant engineering, and retro lines make me swoon. I wish I could bring home every vintage machine I come across, but I’m pretty much at capacity over here. So I’ve tried to be selective and hold out for the perfect vintage zigzag machine. And that is why I pretty much imploded when I came across a craigslist ad for this beauty — my dream vintage zigzag machine, a Brother Super Select-o-matic or Brother HZ3B3 Model 100. It took a week to coordinate the sale, but it was so worth it. Restoring it took a couple of weeks, but I’m so in love with her now that she’s finished!

Before picture from craigslist ad

Before picture from the Craigslist ad. Such a dirty girl <3

The seller was an absolutely lovely woman. If we had had more time I could have spent hours talking to her! She explained that the machine had belonged to her late mother in law and hadn’t been used in years and years. Another fun fact? This beast is H-E-A-V-Y. In its solid 8 drawer cabinet, the machine easily weighs over 100 pounds. I’m sure my husband and I were quite the picture maneuvering this behemoth out of a second floor bedroom, but we succeeded.

Brother select o matic, restored by Stitchified

Action shot: cabinet restoration

I spent two weeks restoring the cabinet, which was definitely showing its age. It took over a dozen coats of Tung Oil and a lot of elbow grease, but it looks a million times better. It is still a little weathered looking, but I love it. It’s the perfect vintage piece to ground an otherwise bright space.

Brother select o matic, restored by Stitchified

The machine itself was really very clean inside, but the outside? Not so much. There was a lot of odd yellow staining. And.it.was.stubbon.  Given its age, I assume that it was nicotine staining? I used a lot of Qtips and barkeeper’s friend to remove the stains and polish the chrome. Unfortunately, I took off a little paint getting rid of the staining. I feel pretty badly about that, but I couldn’t leave it as it was either.

Originally, it had been wired with a knee control, but the lever was very squeaky and the cords felt brittle. So, I picked up a new cord block and switched over to a shiny new foot peddle. Once the machine was thoroughly cleaned I oiled it well — it’s been purring like a kitten ever since.

This machine is seriously fun stuff. It looks like an old vintage car with its powder blue paint job and shiny chrome knobs. But what really puts it over the top is the red “Switch Over Knob” which spins as it does the embroidery stitches. Totally gratuitous and squeal worthy! I’m adding a video because it really is too cool not to share.

A video posted by Jen (@stitchified) on

But she isn’t all looks, no, no. This baby sports a 1.2 amp motor — that’s twice as strong as my Janome Horizon. When you put the pedal to the metal, there is a slight but noticeable breeze — it seriously feels like it might take off and I love it! It goes through leather, vinyl, and canvas like butter. She uses a standard class 15 bobbin, so finding replacement parts (if I ever need them!) will be easy. I also love the way her gib pops open with a “snap-out race hook,” no screwdriver needed. It makes removing stray threads a snap (literally!), instead of a nightmare (ahem, I’m looking at you little Featherweight). I can’t wait to make bags on her! Or you know, maybe sailboat sails. Just because I can.

Linking up with Finish it Up Friday!

Pop out race hook

Genius engineering at work: Snap out race hook on the Brother Super Select-o-matic

As a PSA, I’m going to include some more nitty gritty info about this machine. There is very little info about this model on the internet, and I couldn’t find a manual anywhere online. The manufacturer didn’t even have a manual for this model, though they did provide a manual for an earlier model. So, feel free to stop reading here, though you’re welcome to dork out with me below 🙂

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This machine is a “Brother Super Select-O-Matic” aka “Brother HZ3B3 Model 100,” and was manufactured by Brother in Japan, likely in the 1960s. An earlier version of this machine, “the Select-o-Matic” had a differently shaped Stitch Width Window which was located further to the left. A later version, the “Brother 210” is also similar, but replaced the Stitch Regulator with a reverse button, did away with the separate Stitch Selector Knob, and flipped the bobbin on to the horizontal axis. There is a great blog post about the 210 (and related machines) by Brooke at Custom Style here.

Like other Japanese made machines of the time, these machines were sold as badged machines in the US. That is, the seller’s brand was added on top of or in addition to “Brother” once the machines arrived stateside. As a result, this machine and other “Select-o-matic” models were sold under dozens of brands including Atlas, Wizard, and Coronado just to name a few. Crazy, huh?

As you might imagine, badged machines are notoriously difficult to track. They all have different model names, and even the manufacturer didn’t keep track of serial numbers or production years. I was very fortunate to find the original manual and warranty card in one of the cabinet drawers. I am uploading a copy of the manual (here: Brother Super Select-o-Matic Manual) and created a little diagram below to help explain how this machine works. I also found a Ruffler in the accessories box, complete with instructions. Here’s a copy of the instructions for that, too: Brother Ruffler Attachment – Manual.Diagram Brother Super Select-O-matic, by Stitchified

The machine has three modes: automatic zigzag, semi-automatic, and manual zigzag. The modes are accessed by manipulating the Switch Over Knob (Pull out for automatic and semi-automatic zigzagging, push in for manual zigzagging). The automatic mode is very familiar for modern sewists. In automatic mode you select your settings, and then the machine sews a given stitch (straight or zigzag). But the semi-automatic and manual modes? Whoa, baby. In those modes, the user *manually* swings the Needle Position Knob from left to right in timing with the Stitch Width Window to produce custom embroidery stitches. No, I’m not kidding you. It’s insane.  To quote the manual in all of its vintage glory:

“The variety of zig-zag designs that can be made on this machine by simple manual manipulation is unlimited. It depends entirely on the creative ability of the operator and the skill acquired in timing the movement of [the Switch Over Knob] with the stitch width.”

Well, thank you 1960s for the condescension. I’m not ashamed to admit that this operator has not acquired this skill. I’m seriously awful at it. Haha 🙂

Alright, that’s all the info I have. If you read this far thank you for indulging me and my dork-out session!

Happy sewing!

 

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