Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dresden Plate Block- Part 1

This block is one of the prettiest I have ever seen, and with my method of making the template for it, you will be able to make two different sizes. It's easy to make this template and will save you some money, too. You will be able to control the size of the petals, along with their lengths, to suit what you had in mind. So, grab a large piece of paper so we can get started.

Find something very large and round. A plate or a bowl will work. Lay this down on the paper and trace all the way around it, like so:
Carefully cut out the circle, then lining up the edges, fold it exactly in half.
Make a good crease on that fold. You will need the line, and the lines after it. Unfold the circle and using a pen or marker, mark the creases on both ends. You will be doing this after every fold.
To make the next fold, match up your marks and crease the paper well. Open the circle and mark the edges on each end of this crease. You will have four equal segments in your paper circle.
With the third fold, you will match your marks and you will see a 'V' on the paper. When all four notches match up, make your crease, unfold the paper and mark those ends with notches. Keep going with the folding and marking until you have a circle with 16 equally segmented petals.
You do not have to have 16 petals and you can stop anywhere, as long as each segment is equal. You might want your petals fatter, but I would not recommend going any smaller than what I show here. Considering your 1/4" seam, you could easily run into problems going that way. This is just my advice, and you do not need to follow it. These are just basic instructions for making the templates.

Okay so far?
Now that you have a nice paper circle, pick a petal, any petal, and outline it, like this-
This is the piece you will use to make a template. But first, you will need to make more marks.
Start with the narrow end of the petal. Bring your ruler up so that you have a one inch bottom. If you make it any smaller, you won't have much room come sewing time. Make your mark straight across.
Next is the top- the widest part of the petal. Mine was 2 inches across when the ruler was placed notch to notch. Mark that line, too.
This is the small petal and it calls for 16 petals to make a complete circle or flower.
Now, if you want a longer petal like I did, tape down a piece of paper to make the extension. Mark your bottom line, then measure up to your desired length. Mark that and do that again on the other side. My larger petal is 3 inches across at the top with a one inch bottom.
These next three pictures will show you how I did this.

I did not know this until I started putting the large Dresden Plate together, but it takes 18 petals to make a complete circle, where the smaller takes 16 petals. Please make note of that on your template.

Transfer these to a heavy piece of cardboard, as in an insert in a new shirt. Something that will last a while. Save your paper templates for when you need new templates. I like to mark any notations right on the template because I know I won't remember any specifics later on.

One more thing to do.
Trace different sized circles on your template cardboard. Make a few different sizes, as you might want a smaller or larger center for the flower. Use anything handy- a cup, bowl, whatever you have. You might not want a circular center and that is up to you, but from what I've seen, a circle is used for the center. Here are two of mine.

You are now done making templates for your Dresden Plate. Get your fabric ready. In Part 2, we will make a Dresden Plate block.

If you have any questions, please use the comment section below and I will get right back to you!

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Conversion to a Hand Crank

This is my new, improved Singer. And here, I will give you the basic instructions for turning your vintage sewing machine into a real, old fashioned piece of working equipment. After you are done converting, you will wonder why it took you so long to do this.

After your hand crank and bolt have arrived, it's time to make the change to a more simplified sewing machine. Here is my Singer with her nest of taped and frayed wires that powered her motor. I have to wonder how I made it all these years without getting shocked or causing a fire. It was a relief to remove the mess.

The motor, that was a disaster waiting to happen, is gone and has been put in a box. Taking advantage of this, it might be a great time to clean where you couldn't before. My poor baby really needed a good wash down. A little Dr. Bronner's and water helped to release some of the grime and not hurt the decals any more than they already were.
The plate that covers this hole in the back also housed the light. Until I can get the plate back on, I'll use a heavy, rigid piece of clear plastic, adhered to the rim with Aleene's Tack It Over and Over. This product won't leave any residue when you peel it off and I highly recommend it. It's also great for sticking holiday decorations to your windows and doors. When they come down after the holidays, just peel the Aleene's off. No mess!

Everything is off and time to clean up the hand wheel and oil where it's necessary.
Reassemble the hand wheel, spoked washer and clutch knob exactly how you took them off. Make sure you tighten down the small screw on the clutch knob.

I apologize for not having a picture of everything put back on, but I was so excited about getting the hand crank on, I forgot! This procedure takes more time when you clean first, but my baby really needed it.

The bolt hole that held the motor bracket is where you seat the crank bracket. Line it up nice and straight and screw the bolt down tightly. It will pretty much line itself up, but make sure you have the hand crank mechanism upright. There is a small arm that comes off the hand crank, and this is put between two spokes of your hand wheel. You might have to move that arm into place before you tighten down the bolt. Either way, this arm is what moves your hand wheel, while you are turning the knob. It rotates your hand wheel, which in turn, moves your needle bar and needle up and down.
Know what? It's done!

This is a full on view so you can see how the hand crank is positioned- to the right of the hand wheel.
Another view of the hand crank position:

That's all there is to it! Like I said- the cleaning where you couldn't reach before the motor was removed takes the time. If your machine was already clean, you will have this conversion done in under 30 minutes.

This Dresden Plate was the first thing I completed on my hand crank Singer, after a little tweeking of the tension and adjusting the stitch length. This was also an experiment to see if my template worked, and there will be a tutorial on how I made the template coming up.

This is how I made the conversion. Please do not use my photographs without letting me know first.
For all of my friends/sisters on the vintage site, I dedicate this post to you! You all will never cease to amaze me with your knowledge and advice!

Happy Sewing