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Thread: go green

  1. #1
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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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
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    Congratulations!

    I live 1 hour north of Indianapolis.

  3. #3
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    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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    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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    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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    I like your style Miriam!

  7. #7
    Super Member chris_quilts's Avatar
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    Miriam;

    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
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    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.

    Joe

  9. #9
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    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
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    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.

  11. #11
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    Taking care of what you have is the best way of being green. I was raised by my grandmother who raised her kids during the depression. She got every use out of everything and nice things were treasured and treated with loving care. I remember having one new coat in my whole childhood. A red car coat with hood. I was so proud of that coat. I would have never been allowed to throw it over a chair or across my bed and never in my wildest dreams, the floor. It was hung up properly after each wearing. I raised my kids this way and expected them to take care and show respect for the things they had from shoes to crayons.
    Got fabric?

  12. #12
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    I learned "green" from my Mom .. it was a money issue more than a eco issue back then. We "recovered" everything from a garment that had outlived its usefulness in our family. Buttons were cut off, zippers removed, you name it if we could make use of it we did. Any morsel of fabric was saved for a potential use . The only thing my Mom purchased was thread and then thought it was an expensive purchase. We purchased "new" fabric for special occasion clothing , and never bought anything that was not in a budget dollar amount.
    Being the third girl , my "wardrobe" was primarliy handme downs, and re-constructed. My younger sister was more fortunate that I was much harder on clothing and shoes .. not much made it past me.. so she had more new clothing that my mom made.

  13. #13
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    Most of my clothing was from rummage sales - actually it was a lot nicer/better than what I have now. Of course, I was a lot trimmer way back then, too.

    My Mom also salvaged buttons and zippers from clothing.

  14. #14
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaryLane View Post

    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."
    And people like that vote to get more 'fair' stuff. It's an upside down society these days.
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  15. #15
    Super Member OKLAHOMA PEACH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BellaBoo View Post
    And people like that vote to get more 'fair' stuff. It's an upside down society these days.
    If she can afford fair, so be it, hopefully she took first ones clothes to a second hand store or donation. It keeps people in a job making her new clothes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OKLAHOMA PEACH View Post
    If she can afford fair, so be it, hopefully she took first ones clothes to a second hand store or donation. It keeps people in a job making her new clothes.
    You missed the part where I said she was on public aid. In other words, we paid for both her babies to be born, WIC and I have no idea what else. These girls have it figured out. They don't get married until AFTER the babies so that they can get the system to pay for the baby. Then they have a "princess" wedding. Sorry....soapbox again.

  17. #17
    Super Member nhweaver's Avatar
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    Great way to live life - I try to live by the 5 R's Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose, Regift, Refuse to buy "made in China if possible".
    If life gives you lemons, make a margarita.

  18. #18
    Super Member hperttula123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhweaver View Post
    Great way to live life - I try to live by the 5 R's Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose, Regift, Refuse to buy "made in China if possible".
    nhweaver...we try to do this to.

    I am not very good at making clothes, but I do try. I've made some lounge pants for my son. It was so much fun having him pick out fabrics for them. He's been wearing them for months now. I did buy a few more patterns for the kids. I bought a nice pants pattern for my son and a ruffled skirt pattern for the girls.
    My mom made some of our clothes when my sister and I were young. My mom said we would pick out fabric and tell her to "whip up a new shirt for school" in the mornings....lol. We still laugh about just whipping up new stuff all the time. It's good to reuse items to get more life out of them.
    enjoy your life...it's the only one you have!!!
    Heather

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhweaver View Post
    Great way to live life - I try to live by the 5 R's Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose, Regift, Refuse to buy "made in China if possible".
    excellent! I do this too
    Diana
    I live in Sweden, mother of 2 lovely girls born 93 and 96
    I am an RN, psych and medicine, teaching CNAs now

    I have my Singers, the 320k, the 421g, my 66, the Husqvarnas an older treadle, the husqvarna/viking 6570 (2000 series) and some modern stuff

  20. #20
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    I made a lot of clothes for my family when they were young and I was a stay at home mom. Once I had a full time job there wasn't as much time for sewing and I bought more of their clothes, especially jeans and t shirts. Made both of the prom dresses for DD - prettier, cheaper and fit better than anything from a store.

    Just went shopping with her this afternoon and she "made" me buy fabric to make her chemise for her RenFaire costume. We got enough cream color crinkle cotton fabric for 4 chemise for under $20. Which is less than the price of one already made. And she can dye them whatever color she wants.

  21. #21
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    I am sewing on the blue Elna I bought in March, 1970 with my almost last teaching check. She still purrs and sews right along. I have worn out two two-speed feet and am on the third, which is a generic one that I don't care for, but at least it goes. I hope she never dies on me. Everything on her is second nature, push this, dial that, adjust this. I am afraid I would never "get" the newer ones. I made my clothes because my gangly arms stuck out of the sleeves about two inches too soon and my boughten pants didn't cover my ankle bones. I was so glad when they discovered tall sizes. Use it up, wear it out. I still have problems throwing ANYTHING away but am slowly getting better.

  22. #22
    Super Member charsuewilson's Avatar
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    I don't think of sewing machines as something you get rid of. I've had my Singer for 40 years now. I have an occasional issue with it, and I want to learn how to tune it up.

    But the mention of the US Navy pea coat reminded me of my Dad's pea cost from WW II. It's 70 years old now, and still in great shape. I wore it in high school and college, and patched the lining once or twice. I think my SIL has replaced the lining 3 times now. My brother is still wearing it. Coats today don't last anywhere near as long as that one has.

  23. #23
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    I thought I would bump this up and hope someone enjoys reading it.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  24. #24
    Senior Member sews's Avatar
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    I'll bump it up again. The Dolly Parton video made me tear up. That Never Happens :-) ......
    Sabine

  25. #25
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhweaver View Post
    Great way to live life - I try to live by the 5 R's Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose, Regift, Refuse to buy "made in China if possible".
    I love those 5 R's!!! For Christmas this year my DGDs are getting gift cards and half off certificates to my favorite thrift store. My daughter says they will love it. OK... I had in mind maybe a craft store but we talked a bunch and it will give the girls control over what they buy, and they have to shop with grandma, not momma and not cost an arm and a leg besides they need clothes. I've taken jeans and old shirts then made them into skirts for the girls. We've cut down large skirts to small. They love that stuff. I kind of wish I could figure out how much money they come out ahead buying from the thrift store. How far can they stretch it? Last week I bought Miss L a pair of jeans that had blown out knees (50 cents) and sewed hearts up and down the leg and over the holes. She was very happy - custom clothes. Nothing fits them very long anyway. The oldest is very conservative in what she wears - she is 13 and goes for very classical looking clothing. She finds some pretty cool stuff at the thrift store. My daughter has always bought designer clothes at the thrift store. Once she was with the youth group kids at an amusement park. They wanted kids in shorts to do the water rides so she found a pair of scissors and whacked off her jeans. The other kids were horrified - good $50 jeans??? She didn't mention she only spent a buck or two... She just smiled and told them she would go buy another pair.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

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