Category Archives: Crafts

Tutorial: How to Thread A Demorest Treadle Machine (Pictures!)

About two months ago, Tracy asked me to do a tutorial on threading a Demorest Treadle sewing machine.  My apologies for taking so long, Tracy.  Click on any of the pictures to see them larger.  Without further ado, the tutorial:

To thread the machine, you put the spool of thread on the machine.  Then you take the thread and place it under the tension plate.  You may have to loosen the tension screw to do this, or press on the thread releaser.

My finger is on the thread releaser.

The round thing is the tension screw.  It regulates the tension of the top thread.  Make sure it’s not too tight.  Press the thread releaser if you need to pull on the thread.

From here we pull the thread left, under the thread guide (not the thing I called the thread guide previously), and through the hole in the needle bar.

It should look like this now:

Thread guide and needle bar.

Okay, pull the thread down and around as shown in the next picture.  The stationary piece is the thread staple; the moving “hook” is the thread controller.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Next, we hook the thread through the thread guide and thread the needle.  My thread guide is not original, so yours may be different.  place the thread under the presser foot.

Almost done!

Now onto the bobbin.  This is by no means as difficult as it looks.  This assumes you have a threaded bobbin.  Drop the bobbin into the case with the thread sticking out.The bobbin is inside the shuttle.

The bobbin is inside the shuttle.

Pull the thread down and it will automatically slip into place. It helps to keep a finger over the open end of the shuttle while you pull.  You should feel it snap into place.

See where the thread is? It's coming out of the bottom hole.

Place it into the shuttle carrier like this and stick the thread down under the body of the machine.

My shuttle fits a little loosely, but seems to be okay.

Holding the upper thread, turn the hand wheel away from you.  A loop of the lower thread will be pulled up through the hole the needle goes through.  (You can tug on the top thread to aid this process.)  Pull the loop until the cut end of the thread comes out, then put both threads under the presser foot and trailing away from it.

The loop of the bottom thread.

Slide in the front slide plate and you have successfully threaded your sewing machine!

The threaded machine.

I hope this has helped you.  Please do not use any of my pictures without my permission.

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Completed Project: The Shawl

The shawl is finally done!  I finished yesterday but didn’t get any pictures taken until today.

The Shawl Sprawled

Does it seem funny to take pictures of a wool-blend shawl outside on a 90 degree day?

The Shawl Hanging on one of the Pin Oaks Outside

 I had fun posing the shawl outside.  It looks nicer draped with a green background than flat on the carpet.

My zinnias are blooming.  They grow quite tall, about 24″.  I really like them.

There's another orange flower to the right.

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8 Benefits of Hand Sewing

Lately I’ve been doing more hand sewing and really liking it.  There are a lot of benefits for stitching your stuff by hand.  Here are eight of them:

1.  No danger of sewing over a pin.  This messes up a sewing machine’s feed dogs.

2.  More portable.  No need for electricity or extension cords.

3.  Damages delicate fabrics less.  My Granny told me about a skirt suit she made for an officer’s wife out of silk that the officer had brought home from Thailand (I think).  One of the lapel points wasn’t coming out right and, having taken out the machine stitching a time or two, the silk was shredding.  There wasn’t enough material to cut a new lapel so Granny sewed that pesky point by hand.  It turned out perfectly and the lady never knew.  She adored the ensemble and wore it all the time.

Colorful Threads by Petr Kratochvil

4.  Less expensive.  Compare the price of a machine with the price of a packet of needles.  ‘Nuff said.

5.  More control.  I dislike overshooting the mark and sewing over something that’s not supposed to be sewn over.  And going reallyfast then r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w then reallyfast then r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w holds no appeal.  (But that can be fixed if your machine has speed control.)

6.  Quiet.  No buzzing.  It’s like…ninja sewing.  Until you stab yourself.

7.  Uses less space.  If you don’t have a machine you can fit more fabric on the shelf!  A bigger stash is a good thing, right?

8.  You can squish more fabric into a smaller area.  Generically speaking, a machine can gather about 3″ into 1″ whereas by hand you can get up to 10″ in 1″!  And it’s less bunchy.  See #5.

Do you do more hand sewing or machine sewing?  Which do you prefer?  Leave a comment and tell me about it!

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Skinflints & Penny-Pinchers: Miser’s Purses Revisited

A simple miser's purse.

A popular fashion accessory from the late 1700s until the early 1900s, miser’s purses are an ingenious answer to the necessity of keeping coins in place.  In order to insert or remove coins from a miser’s purse, the metal rings must first be slipped out of the way like this.

As these bags were used by ladies, embellishments prevail.  Steel beads, color work, and elaborate tassels make these tiny coin purses works of art in their own right.

A faded red cotton miser's purse decorated with beads, tassels and two rings. Black Country Museum's photo via Getty Images.

Miser’s purses were most commonly made via crochet and knitting.  (There are currently some patterns on Ravelry.  Just search “miser’s purses” in the patterns.)

Some lovely beaded miser's purses from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

If you’d like to take the plunge and make a miser’s purse of your own, here are some patterns for you:

1859 Purse in Crochet Beadwork

1882 Two Crochet Miser Purse Patterns

1888 Beaded Miser’s Purse Crochet Pattern

More Pictures & Information:

Peggy McClard Antiques Original Miser’s Purse

Costume Gallery of the Pitti Palace in Florence Miser’s Purse Collection

German Miser Bags

Short History of the Miser Bag

Highly In-Depth Treatise The Ubiquitous Miser’s Purse (.pdf, 137 pages)

And if you’d rather not make a miser’s purse but still want one, Backward Glances has a lovely Reproduction Crochet and Bead Miser Bag.  (She also takes custom orders.)

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What’s Going On Here?

I haven’t posted much on the finished projects front, so here is a little conglomeration of things I’ve made this year.   Without further ado, my photos:

Felicity in her 1840s handsewn chemise.

On Felicity’s arm is a drawstring bag I made to control the hairpin chaos.  I sewed it entirely by hand and used thin crochet cotton for the drawstring.

The chemise took a while to make, especially since it’s the first real hand sewing I’ve done.  (In my opinion.)  The head opening is large because Felicity’s head is large.

Construction detail of underarm gusset and side gores.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out.  The seams are not finished and I used running stitch since Felicity probably won’t put a lot of wear and tear on her garments.

Total, the chemise probably used less than half a yard of white muslin.

Mr Bunny in his jacket. Please pardon the blaring orange background.

Next project, Mr Bunny’s jacket.  This is him in the muslin which turned out so well I decided to keep it for a summer jacket.  I think it looks like linen (although it’s really cotton).

I have some herringbone suiting in a pleasing brown that I intend to use for his next jacket.  Mr Bunny is only 6 3/4″ tall counting his ears, more like 4 1/2″ to the top of his head.  This makes his jackets very tiny so they must be sewn by hand.

I used bodice draping instructions (sort of) from The Dressmaker’s Guide by Elizabeth Stewart Clark.  I messed with it until it mostly fit although there’s still a slight surplus of fabric at the back.

Some construction pictures:

Pattern Pieces

Beginning of the mock-up.
The finished mock-up.

I think I made these back in February. My current project is a tucked petticoat that I’m hoping to finish it soon.  Speaking of which, I need to get working on the hem…

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Fit For A Scrooge: Miser’s Purses

As I was looking on Etsy for tatting shuttles, I stumbled upon some vintage coin purses.  They’re called miser’s purses because the opening is so small you must “pinch your pennies” to get them out of the bag.

Black Country Museums' photos via Getty Images

Made in knitting, netting, and crochet, they were often elaborately beaded, and can range in size from 4″ to 36″ long.

Here are some I found, Purse #1 and Purse #2 and Purse #3.  I like #2 and #3 best, how about you?

There certainly seems to be a lot of variety in these purses.  A search for “miser’s purse” yields quite a few pictures.

French miser's purses, early 19thC, beaded and netted. - The Book of Costume, Vol. II

I am trying to resist the urge to make a miser’s purse until I have finished some other projects.

In the news:  I received my copy of The Dressmaker’s Guide: 1840-1865 2nd Edition!  I love it!  I was looking out the window about every five minutes until it came on Saturday.

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Ode To Needlework

I ran across the most amazing book at the library yesterday, and even though I’ve only skimmed it, it’s already on my wishlist.  It’s the Complete Encyclopedia Of Needlework: Anniversary Edition.  First published in 1884 by Therese De Dillmont, the Complete Encyclopedia contains everything there is to know about sewing, mending, knitting, crocheting, tatting, macrame, lace making, and embroidery.  It is quite the exhaustive work!

And as if I needed new ideas or projects, I am now inspired to try needlework.  Good thing my sister has a bunch of embroidery floss I can use.

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