Category Archives: Historical

Movie Review: Go For Broke! (1951)

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Go For Broke! is a movie about the U.S. 442nd Regimental Combat Team, formed in 1943 by Presidential permission with Japanese-American volunteers. The film stars Van Johnson as Lt. Grayson, the commanding officer of a platoon of Nisei, second-generation Japanese Americans, who have volunteered to fight for the United States.  Grayson is displeased with his assignment because of his distrust and dislike for the men he’s commanding.  The movie follows the unit as they fight through Italy and France.

Van Johnson & Henry Nakamura

I’ve watched Go For Broke! twice now and love it.  The movie was made only eight years after the events it portrays, and a six of the main characters are actual veterans.  The variety of personalities and backgrounds is wonderful and avoids stereotypes very well.  Grayson’s attitude toward the Nisei is gradually transformed by his mens’ competence and integrity.

I give this movie a thumbs up (and say it’s Tiggerty-Boo*).  It is in the public domain and you can find it on Youtube or Archive.org

(If you want to watch another great Van Johnson war movie, try Thirty Seconds over Tokyo)

*Name that song!

Images from Dave’s World of War Movies

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Filed under Historical, Vintage

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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Filed under Crafts, Historical, Life, Sewing

Update on my Demorest Treadle Machine

Last year I wrote about my Demorest treadle sewing machine and today I finally sewed with it!  The thread guide is missing so my Dad rigged up a wire thread guide for me.

The thread guide my Dad made.

Isn’t it clever?

The poor machine bereft of its thread guide.

I hope you all had a great Independence Day!

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Filed under Historical, Life, Sewing, Uncategorized

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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Filed under Crafts, Historical, Humor, Life, Sewing

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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You Said It!

“Women are like teabags; you never know how strong they are until they’re put in hot water.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

1963 US postage stamp honoring Eleanor Roosevelt

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.
-Jane Austen  

Portrait of Jane Austen

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
-Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale (1805)

Credit is a system whereby a person who can not pay gets another person who can not pay to guarantee that he can pay.
-Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens in 1852

A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.
-Mark Twain

Photograph of Mark Twain by Matthew Brady (Feb. 7, 1871)

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Domenico Scarlatti – Sonata K13 in G major

My alarm clock is always set to a classical music station, and this morning my rather groggy brain absorbed a lovely sonata by Scarlatti.  On the radio it was played on piano, but it sounds equally well, if not better, on harpsichord.

Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti was born in Naples, 1685.  He played for royalty and composed 555 keyboard sonatas.  He also composed many operas, cantatas, symphonias, and church music.  You can read more about Scarlatti here.  There are sources for sheet music at the bottom of the Wikipedia article, and Mutopia has some Scarlatti sheet music as well.

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