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Old 03-03-2021, 06:43 AM
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Default March 2021 Colorado Sewing Machine Get Together Part 6


To change between arm and platform sewing is simple and quick. A hinged bracket comes up from underneath with the platform, the end of which has a screw head which simply slides into a slot. Two seconds, at most. It is the easiest method to make this transformation that I have seen, and it seems to have been the first or among the first.


Like the back, the bottom of the machine is open, with a grid of the casting to provide needed strength. Despite all this openness, the machine is not as lightweight as you might expect, being about 22 pounds.

The missing part on this machine was essential to make it sew, and this is where my husband was called upon to help. Like the New Home Midget, the faceplate of the machine uses a coiled spring with a pigtail to advance and then tighten the thread for each stitch with proper tension. This should be made of spring steel, but when we obtained some of the correct gauge, that was obviously not going to happen. Spring steel is simply too stiff to work with, lacking the knowledge and tools to do so. Dan instead made a replica of ordinary steel wire. It looked almost exactly like the spring in an old drawing of the machine, so we figured if nothing else, it would look correct. But would it sew?



Threading the machine, determining what needle it required, and getting the ‘boat’ shuttle threaded for reasonable tension are issues that needed attention. The shuttle and bobbin are about the size of the parts in the previously mentioned New Home machine – as in very small. A 29x3 needle was tried, knowing it was used in machines from the UK contemporary with this one – the 1870s. This needle pulled up the bobbin thread, but not consistently, and wouldn’t make stitches, despite being repeatedly moved up and down in the slot to find the sweet spot. A search for a similar needle was on, because the 29x3 was close to correct. The Boye #27, used for the Wheeler & Wilson #8, looked almost the same. The obvious difference was in distance from eye to point. (I didn’t measure them, so there could be other differences.)

With this needle in place, and adjusted to correct height, the Arm and Platform is happy to sew. The coiled spring needed to be turned slightly to give it a full range of motion between stops to make the longest stitches. Those stitches are still rather short, but acceptable for ordinary sewing. On several Arm and Platform machines seen for sale that have their spring, it is often obvious that they have been bent and mangled, likely because of stitching problems. In this case it was only necessary to loosen the screw and turned the entire piece slightly so it rests against the left stop when not in use, instead of hanging straight down as in the old drawing. The range of motion is quite limited, which probably is what limits stitch length. The spring twitches twice with each stitch. Fascinating!


In 1877 Ed Ward introduced an improved ‘self-threading’ shuttle, but my machine does not have that type. This narrows down its manufacture to between 1873 and 1877, according to online sources. There is information about Mr. Ward and his background online, especially the Sewalot website.


Janey has this to share.

I had been talking to my sister about "Grandmother's Flower Garden" quilts. Specifically about the one she has that our Grandmother made. She told me about a book written by a client/friend of hers called "Tattered & Torn." As I was making an order on Amazon for a couple of hand cranks (and other things), I added the book to my order. It is a book in series by Carol Dean Jones and didn't take long to finish reading it. Without going in to a great detail about the book, part of it was about a "Grandmother's Flower Garden" that was found in an antique shop and trying to find out more about it. It was determined that it was a bed quilt originally that was made into a Civil War Cot Quilt.

I'm still waiting on one of the hand cranks. When I looked at the one I received and was comparing it to the previous reproduction hand crank that I have on the Lotus 66, the rubber on the finger fell apart on the 66. I think I may try some clear plastic tubing on it. I'm wondering if anyone has tried shrink tubing on one.

In Closing

While we have these get togethers primarily for ourselves, we value our readership and would welcome any comments or contributions from others. So, if you have a thought, a comment or question, please feel free to add to our postings here without hesitation.

We will post here again next month. Spring must be just around the corner!

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