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Thread: go green

  1. #1
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Victorian Sweatshop
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    I bought an old blue Elna the other day. I had one just like it... I wore the old one out years ago. I couldn't afford to fix it... Anyway, I found one on CL Sunday. Happy Dance. I finally checked over the Elna today - everything runs smooth and nice. I cleaned out lint and old oil then oiled her. Then I got to looking at the bling she came with. She came with a two speed foot control - sweet. I found an original kit she came with. All but 2 bobbins, I got a dozen discs, there isn't a scratch on that machine. BUT somebody dropped a bunch of green paint all over her cord. Then I dug into the old sewing basket the lady gave me. When I got it I just sort of glanced around it a little. Many of the spools for thread are wooden. There was some quilting thread. There was a spool of silk thread. Old packs of 35 cent needles some quilt scraps and some wide bias tape. Dried up un-opened Fray Check still in the package. I got a real nice pair of pinking shears too. In the bottom of the basket buried deep in the thread tangles was a free motion foot. The rest of the feet were in the kit. I wonder if she was a quilter? I haven't named my Elna yet - we haven't gotten THAT familiar...

    I'm probably not naturally mechanically inclined. I've had to be - I've had repair shops botch up the machine. Now days you can get service manuals on line. There is a lot of advice right here on this site!!! And I've practiced on machines that were so far gone I had nothing to lose.

    Then I looked at the Bernina I got at GW a few weeks ago. I used heat and got the knobs and levers to turn - yeah. I had oiled it but to no avail. The power cord doesn't work and the knee control doesn't have much play. It'll take time but she'll be a fine machine again one day. The table is VERY nice. Again a lot of old wooden spools of thread old packs of needles and pins. Old, forgotten and neglected.

    I was given a dead Elna almost identical to the one I just bought - it's been a while back and I finally worked up the courage to see if I could fix her up... so I got out the dead Elna today. I read the service manual. AH I can do this. Worked up all that courage and the screws holding the plate wouldn't come out. I oiled a few times today. Maybe tomorrow if it doesn't unscrew I'll try heat - just now thought of it.

    I'd say the two machines are a decade or so apart in age. The Bernina is a bit older. It amazes me to look at the engineering in those old machines. They were so intricate and yet they have held up over such a long time. Then I looked at my old Singer 403 of the same time frame. It was all metal even the gears. I also have an old Necchi Nora - it has a broken plastic stitch length adjuster - The Bernina and the Elna have nylon gears. I guess the sewing machine companies were fooling around with plastics and nylon back then - The machine works are a wonder though. Each of them is different in how they work. It totally fascinates me. Then I look at an old Japanese straight stitch. No nonsense there. It is so amazing how these are put together!!! You sure don't see much when you look in the new plastic and stamped metal machines - is it any wonder they don't hold up and you can't get anybody to repair them??? Yeah I have a bunch of old machines. Yeah the DILs think I'm a hoarder... well, they are correct. (AND I hoard fabric too - OH, the shame of it all...) I guess I can't bear to see those old machines discarded by the same people that talk about everything being 'green'... Wanna go green? Get a vintage sewing machine and learn to use it - re-make some clothes instead of discarding them. Ok you might have to piece them together or make t shirt quilts or make some quilts out of old clothes or buy fabric at a yard sale - BUT go green!

    You know I got by for YEARS with just that Elna I bought used in 1975. Now days, nobody wants to sew. They want to hug trees though. Sewing is so VERY green. I think about the old sewing books my MIL passed on to me. They had all kinds of stuff about how to remodel a dress. Change the cuffs, the collar, re-do this re-do that. These days if we are tired of it we toss the clothes and the machines are pretty much long gone. No room for that gotta have a big screen tv or what ever is important. I love Dolly Pardon's song about the coat of many colors her momma made. My mom made me one when I was in the 8th grade. There was a box of old clothes turned up at our house. In the box was a hideously ugly old coat. It was green, red, blue, gold plaid wool. Humongous and did I mention UGLY??? We were living in northern Wisconsin at the time and I out grew my coat. My mom managed to work out a coat out of that horrid thing. When she got done it had bias sleeves, bias pockets and it was double breasted. She re-lined it with bits of her wedding dress (her wedding dress was made out of a WWII surplus parachute) AND that coat was WARM. To this day when ever I get a coat I wonder if it will be as good as that coat. Well, one day we were sitting around yacking about something and I mentioned that coat. My mom kind of snickered and apologized for not being able to come up with anything any better. I gawked at her and said, gee mom it was the best coat I ever had. I compare all the coats I buy to that coat. It was warm. So my sister said, "Was it that plaid coat with bias sleeves and pockets and double breasted?" I said, "Yeah" She said, "I remember that coat. I wore it too. I loved that coat - yeah I look for one that warm too." Then my other sister said she wore it too. We had a big group hug. Nobody knows where it is. BUT how green can you get - an old discarded coat out of old thick wool. Yeah mom had to work around the holes... Sewed it on her FW. BUT the coat kept 3 girls warm. I'd say we each wore it two years. How is that for going green??? Oh yeah the cost was a spool of thread and 6 or 8 shiny new brass buttons and some time and love. Kind of off season to be thinking about a coat... what ever - go green... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1zJzr-kWsI
    Coat of many colors - Dolly Pardon.

  2. #2
    Google Goddess craftybear's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Central Indiana (USA)
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    I live 1 hour north of Indianapolis.

  3. #3
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Burlington, NC
    What an amazing story. Very interesting. Glad you are mechanically inclined. I can do some things but I didn't think I was able to tackle my 99K so I sent her off to Billy to clean for me. She should be home soon. I have a feeling I would have parts left over if I cleaned it or tried to get it working. Hope you can get them working and wouldn't that be something if that old coat showed up one day!

  4. #4
    Super Member marilynr's Avatar
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    Sep 2010
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    I remember my Mother remaking her brother's old U.S.Navy Pea Coat made of heavy navy blue wool, & making it into a very warm coat for me in the 40's. Kept me nice & warm.

  5. #5
    Super Member amyjo's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
    North Dakota
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    I know exactly whst you mean by throwing it out. I am the oldest of 11 and my mom made our clothes--those that she could anyway. I had a couple of sisters who were bigger busted and larger feet and longer legs than the rest and they got the new stuff. Oh well we all survived and are still going stron. My fols have now lost their home in the FLOOD 2011 in Minot North Dakota. I don't know what they are going to do. He is 85 and she is 80. She still sews a mean quilt and does repairs for people on clothing whatever and Dad still works in the Rainbow gardens out by Edgewood Vista. Keep on keeping on and you won't get old.

  6. #6
    Power Poster earthwalker's Avatar
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    Jun 2009
    Perth, Western Australia
    I like your style Miriam!

  7. #7
    Super Member chris_quilts's Avatar
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    Dec 2009
    leavenworth, ks
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    Your story about the coat made me tear up!! My grandmother sewed some mean clothes but didn't think quilting was a good way to spend time. (She'd probably say the same about the QB!!) She made me some lovely blouses the year that I lived with her - they were beautiful and looked niceer than the store blouses. She had an eye for color. Wish I'd taken her sewing machine when it was offered to me.

  8. #8
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    NE Indiana
    A long time ago, far far away, my Mother made me a jacket out of some plaid material. It was coarse and tough as nails. She lined it with something, I don't know what. She did this on her (now mine) old HOTHER straight stitch machine. I wore that jacket until the lining wore out and then kept on wearing it. I outgrew it actually. Not in height, but in diameter. I never threw it away, but now I can't find it. I'm looking for it, I want it desperately. I want to use it as a goal. To loose enough weight to wear it again. And now that I'm learning to sew, I'll want to re-line it with the old HOTHER machine.
    We never knew about this green nonsense but we didn't waste things. More often than not my pants were patched until the patches had patches. Or until they just could not be patched again. Sometimes my shirts were too.

    My wife uses old clothes for quilt parts and other craft items.

    As for the sewing machines, I'll admit I've acquired quite a few in recent months. A couple just to save them from the trash. They will be used and appreciated at least until my wife and I can't use them any more. After that I worry.


  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Since I just joined this year, Miriam, I had not seen your story.

    I have a "green" story for you. The truth is I didn't think about being green. I thought about making do and keeping my babies warm. It was the mid to late 80s. We didn't have much money. I was in college and we lived in an old house trailer. My husband's family farmed and as a result I drug my children everywhere with me in all kinds of weather.

    I always made them coats out of other clothes that someone gave me. One year I made my oldest son a corduroy coat that was lined with flannel. The corduroy came from a jacket someone gave me that had a ripped sleeve. The flannel was from a shirt no one could wear. I used left over batting from projects my MIL did for warmth. The zipper was one I had gotten in a auction box that someone else had taken out of another jacket at some time. My son loved that coat because I left the breast pockets from the shirt on it and they were inside his coat just like the men. He thought he was so grown up in that coat I made from hand-me-downs.

    His brother's snow suit was made out of scraps from a jumpsuit someone had made, an old flannel sheet and the same source of batting scraps. I did buy the two zippers for it. That snow suit I know went through at least 4 or 5 babies between me and my sister and I think I still have it here.

    Like I said, I didn't know I was green. I thought I was poor and making do.

    Small soapbox here. My niece has two sons 15 months apart. She bought all new for the second one because hand me downs "aren't fair." Since she was on public aid, I about went through the roof. It was fair enough for my boys and I never took a dime in assistance. They grew up just fine.

    Sorry for that thread drift but we need more making do in this country!

  10. #10
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    New York
    I was #2 of 6 children, all pretty close in age. 4 girls, 2 boys. Mom made almost all the clothes for the 1st 3 girls, sometimes 3 sizes of the same dress/same fabric if that's all she had. A bit embarrassing when folks made comments behind our backs about "homemade" clothes. We loved the 3 armhole wrap dresses and reversible wrap skirts. The clothes were handed down til they fell apart. I was so excited when I started Kindergarden- Mom made me a reversible jacket with a zipper And pockets! Robins egg blue on one side, a tiny puppy print on white for the other. She had saved a trunk of our clothes, but they were apparently tossed in the last year before she died. I still miss that jacket. No public assistance- a lot of bread, beans, peanut butter, and canning. Dad worked 2 - 3 jobs, Mom worked 1, and we almost never had anything new. Dad bought Mom a Montgomery Wards sewing machine when he worked there, and she used it all the time. My sister has it now. Her second machine was an early 1970's Sears Kenmore with a few cams- I have it, along with the one she gave me as a wedding present. They are still used from time to time. For group sewing I use a Brother CS6000i because it's lightweight and has a free arm and table. Mom sent leftover fabric scraps to my Great Aunt in the Adirondacks for quilt making by hand or treadle. As far as I know none of her work has survived. Both my parents wore their everyday clothes til they fell apart- virtually nothing remained for quilting when they passed away. I have a few of Dad's ties. I have always had a hard time spending a lot of money for clothes, even when I had to dress up for working in NYC. Quilting fabric is too pricey these days. I've been gathering thrift store men's shirts for quilting ala Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville.com. I wasn't brought up being "green"- just using common sense, making do, and avoiding waste.

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