That Book Made Me Do It!

Hello everyone!

Remember my last post when I gushed about a book I’d just finished reading? I left you all with a bit of a cliff hanger didn’t I? I told you the book made me do something I should have done years ago but I didn’t spill the beans last time. Well, I’ve now got some nice photos to show you. The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie MADE ME buy a Singer 99K.


In fact, I hadn’t even finished the book before I’d made my purchase. It’s the same model as the one I learned to sew on with my lovely teacher Miss Fox. I was only ten years old at the time and I’ve wanted a hand cranked Singer ever since.


This one was made in 1944 so it isn’t a very old one. There were hundreds of thousands of this type manufactured and mine was one of a batch of 5000. The decals are quite good for their age except for one large chip which is about the size of a thumb print.


I believe this particular decals pattern is called Filigree. There’s loads of information about old Singers on this site if you’re interested and this site has lots of information about many makes of machines, including all the serial numbers and dates of manufacture of Singers.


The underneath and inside were very clean but the outside was grubby when it arrived. I love the little button you need to press to make the bobbin pop up. It’s just below the screw in the photo.


It was all set up for sewing two layers of leather when it arrived. The leather needle supplied with a short length of very strong thick thread meant I could test sew straight from the box. I’ll mainly be using this machine for patchwork so I was a bit worried about changing the tension so radically at first. Sometimes it’s better to leave a happy machine alone isn’t it? It didn’t take long to work out how to operate the tension dial. On later models the dial has numbers. Here, you just have to guess and check by sewing a test piece. As you can see, it’s now sewing two layers of patchwork cotton beautifully.


I’ve actually had all the tension mechanism apart because I like to see what’s inside and how things work. There’s not much to it. My screwdrivers have had a good little workout this last week 😉 Not because there was anything wrong. Just because I like to get into the gubbins and learn about what’s going on under the bonnet.

The face plate is really pretty I think.


The next one shows the brand plate. Just above that (the silver knob that’s sticking out) is the stitch length selector. It works in the same way as the tension. Turning it clockwise increases the stitch length, anti-clockwise shortens stitches. There’s no reverse on this model. Later models have reverse stitching and also numbers to indicate stitch length.


Here’s a bird’s eye view.


Here’s the back.


This is the bent wood box that does lock but I wouldn’t risk carrying the machine by the handle just in case.


As you can see, someone has taped over the box in the past which has stripped the varnish. How could they do that?!! Also, there’s some damage to the front right that I’m in the process of repairing. The lid wasn’t fastened to the machine when it arrived and it appears the machine had fallen forward in transit, forcing the hand wheel to push outwards, splitting the box. That made me mad. Wrapping the machine in bubbles before putting it in the wooden box would have prevented this. What’s done is done. I’ll give it some TLC. This is how it was when it arrived. So sad.


It’s not a rare or valuable machine but it’s mine and I’ll treasure it 🙂 Have you ever been compelled to do something after reading a book?

At the back of the book I mentioned earlier there’s a link to a fantastic film of original footage from the Singer factory. It’s about 70 minutes duration and I was absolutely glued to the screen from start to finish. After the first few minutes you’ll see the different stages of manufacture of the old Singer machines. It’s worth watching if you’re at all interested in these old gems.

You’ll need to search for “Birth of a Sewing Machine” once you get to the landing page here:

If you do find time to watch, I’d love to know what you thought of it.

On that note, I’m off. I’ve got sewing to do.


The Sewing Machine – A Book Recommendation

Hello everyone,

It was my birthday recently and my blogging friend Claire thought I’d love to read The Sewing Machine so she ordered a copy and had it sent direct to me.


I wouldn’t call myself an avid reader by any means and I’d usually much rather spend my spare time sewing than reading. However, Claire was keen for me to read this one so I did. Yes, I used some of my precious crafting time to read!! Can you believe that? I’m not going to write a review as such because I don’t really have the words. I prefer to read a book and simply enjoy it for what it is, rather than give it a post mortem which so often spoiled books for me at school (it actually put me off reading). However, this book got under my skin.

The Sewing Machine is a debut novel by Natalie Fergie. I enjoyed it so much that I’ll be looking out for more by this author in future and that’s a first for me. The front cover gives an idea of what the story is about.

One sewing machine.

Two families.

Three secrets.

Four generations.

Millions of stitches.

If you love sewing machines and/or you love to sew I think you’ll really enjoy this book. There’s a lot more to the story than just a sewing machine. It brought back lots of memories from my childhood including my sewing lessons with a very special primary school teacher, the amazing Miss Fox. Yes, I know, I’ve written about her here before. If I told you what other memories this book brought back to me I’d give the story away so I won’t. All I’ll say is that this book made me do something I should have done years ago. I’ve been meaning to do it and I should’ve done it. I just didn’t. Well, now I have and I’ll tell you all about it in another post some time soon.

The Sewing Machine is available on Amazon at £1.99 for the Kindle version and, in my opinion, it’s worth every penny. There’s a paperback and audio version out too. I’m not getting paid to recommend this book. I just want everyone to have the chance to enjoy it as much as I did. I’m actually planning to read it again and that’s another first for me! Let me know if you’ve read it. I’d love to know what you think.

Anyway Natalie, if you ever read this, thank you so much for writing a great story, stirring up some wonderful memories (and quite sad ones) and making me do that thing I should have done decades ago. Also, thank you to Claire who seems to know what’s good for me :-). Nowt new there then!

I’m going to publish this post on my other blog as well. Don’t want anyone to miss out on a great read :-).

Loyal Union Sampler Block 16/121

Good afternoon everyone,

Not a lot of progress to share on the sampler this week. I made the nine square in a square blocks the other day and then just looked at the pieces on my mat and walked away several times. Sometimes I just know it isn’t going to be successful so I go off and do something else. Today, the bits went together like a dream. It was worth waiting until I could give it my best shot.

Anyway, this one is called Chambersburg from the Loyal Union Sampler book by Jennifer Chiaverini. It’s got forty five dinky pieces and finishes at six inches square. I’ll definitely make this block again in a larger format. There’s so much that could be done with colour placement to make secondary patterns.

Chambersburg Here’s where I’m at now.

LUS 16 Blocks

It’s back to Y-seams for the next two blocks. I promise not to whinge!


F2F Parcel 11

Good evening everyone,

You may remember that I’ve been taking part in the Foot Square Freestyle block Swap organised by Kate and Sue.

block swap logo When one of the ladies participating in the swap became very poorly, and subsequently unable to sew, my lovely friend Claire wrote to Kate and asked if it would be OK for her to step in and make three blocks for me. Here are the blocks she made.


The exploded disappearing nine patch with a touch of Kaffe Fassett gorgeousness.

IMG_20151120_102522629_HDR A traditional log cabin with lots of lovely thin strips.


The rail fence block.

Claire’s fabric choices are really lovely and I love the block designs that she made, especially the log cabin. She knows what I like 🙂 I’d asked for bright blue and purple blocks and they certainly meet my expectations. I have to say that the back of these blocks is as tidy as the front. She’s so clever! Not only is she very kind and thoughtful for doing this but she also proved she can keep a secret. I did think it rather strange when she asked how I packaged my blocks to send to others because she wasn’t taking part in the swap. Then, a few days later, a parcel dropped through my letterbox, parcelled up just as I’d described. Claire didn’t even hint that she was toiling in her sewing room on my behalf. I’m so thrilled that she made these for me. Thank you Caire 🙂

Finally, I have a secret of my own to share with you today. My F2F quilt is finished and it’s gorgeous BUT I can’t show it to you yet. It’s a monster! I stood on a dining chair holding it up for photos but I can’t hold it wide enough to show it all. My daughter will be around at the weekend so I should get proper photos then. All will be revealed as soon as I have photos, I promise.

Please pop back in a few days to see the 36 blocks in all their glory.


F2F parcels 6, 7, 8 and 9

Hi everyone,

I have more quilt blocks eye candy to share with you today. Three parcels arrived together a couple of days ago. Can you imagine the scene? It was like Christmas in here! Then another parcel arrived this morning.

If you have read my previous F2F posts you’ll know that I’m taking part in a block swap organised by Kate and Sue. Please visit their blogs for more information or scroll down and read some more.

In no particular order, the first three are from Christina who doesn’t have a blog so I can’t link to her here. The purple fabric in the final block is totally scrumptious and I will definitely buy some if I can find out its name. Aren’t they wonderful?



 IMG_20151209_113512260_HDR Next up are my fabulous blocks from Emmely. The pink is more lilac in real life and it fits perfectly with the others. I’m still drooling over the third one in particular.IMG_20151209_113529681_HDR

IMG_20151209_113624259The following set is from Susan. The first two blocks are the same design which I didn’t spot when I first looked at them. The colour placement makes all the difference. This is a block I want to try myself as I think it will challenge my accuracy.


IMG_20151209_113414303_HDR The final three are from Nanette and they arrived this morning. The colours are rich and vibrant which I love. The first one is another one of my all time favourite designs so Nanette has really made me smile today 🙂



IMG_20151209_115729044_HDR So, that’s it so far. Thank you to everyone for sending parcels of beauty through my letter box. I’ve now got a really good idea of how I want my final project(s) to look 🙂 If you want to see more photos of previous swapper’s blocks, pop along to Kate’s or Sue’s blog (links above) and you will see the complete gallery. I’ll let you see the rest of the blocks as they arrive. Watch this space.

Avis x


F2F Parcels 3, 4 and 5

Hi everyone,

My letterbox has been very busy over the last few days. I’ve received another three parcels, each containing three lovely blocks.

I’m taking part in a block swap organised by Kate and Sue. Twelve patchworkers from all over the globe are making three blocks for each of the other eleven participants. I’m Miss November so my blocks are now rolling in 🙂

Parcel 3 came from Esther. Aren’t they fabulous? Esther loves foundation paper piecing and she’s designed some beautiful intricate blocks for me.




Next, I received Sue’s blocks. The purple in the first block and the blue in the last one are such gorgeous rich shades. I’m definitely going to try to make the first block myself. I love this pattern.




Last but not least, Claire’s blocks arrived this morning. The first one is a combination of two of my favourite blocks, the pinwheel and flying geese 🙂 Lovely blocks and colours too!




If you saw my previous post showing Parcels 1 and 2, you’ll be getting a good idea of how all the blocks are blending together. So far, so good. I’m tempted to start my own blocks even more now that a few parcels have arrived. I do have a vision of the final project(s) but I’m resisting the temptation. The next parcel may send me off into a completely different direction. Who knows? That’s the fun of this swap. Thank you very much ladies 🙂

I hope you are finding time to sew this weekend 🙂

Avis x


F2F Parcels 1 and 2

Hi everyone,

Miss November here. Yes, it’s my turn to receive blocks this month for the block swap organised by Kate and Sue.

block swap logo

I had tried to put to the back of my mind, the fact that 33 patchwork blocks would be dropping through my letterbox from all over the world this month. Then a couple of days ago I received these three beauties from Lynn who lives in France. Aren’t they gorgeous?



IMG_20151120_102712309I was just coming back to Earth again and then these treasures arrived from Kate who lives in Australia. I can tell you I’m feeling incredibly spoiled 🙂




I chose to be sent blocks in bright blues and purples (these blocks all look a bit more purple in real life), and I dropped many hints about the style of blocks and fabrics that I love, just in case the other participants were reading my blog. Lynn and Kate have done a wonderful job of fulfilling the brief. I’ve got all the blocks laid out on the table just so I can give them a little stroke now and again. They can be my fabric eye candy until the next set of three can join them. Whose blocks will be dropping in next I wonder, and where will they be from? I’ll share them here as soon as I get them.

This is so exciting!

Avis x


Spring into Autumn

Good evening everyone,

I have been quilting! YIPPEE!

I love this Hi-De-Ho charm pack from Moda so much. It’s bright and cheerful and this quilt is making me happy every time I look at it. I added Moda Bella Solids in Amelia Lavender for the border, binding and cornerstones plus two five inch squares of each of Amelia Lavender, Sunshine (yellow) and Michael Miller’s Zillion Hearts (pink) to make up six more HST pairs.


The quilting is simple stippling, my favourite to do and also to look at.


These colours are great for wherever you are in the world. In the Southern Hemisphere you are stepping into Spring. Perfect! Here in the Northern Hemisphere we are just into Autumn. Although we’ve had a couple of lovely days of sunshine here, it does get a wee bit gloomy for my liking in Autumn. Finishing this quilt has brightened my autumnal day 🙂

Avis x


Foot²Freestyle 2015 Blocks for September

Good evening everyone,

Here is my update on the F2F block swap organised by Kate.

September was the month when we all sent three blocks to Sue in the USA. She has acknowledged receipt of my blocks so it is OK to show you photos here now. Sue requested black and white with any hot colour. She gave me a sneak preview of the blocks she had made for herself so I tried to fit in with the style and colour combinations of those as best I could. Even though I wouldn’t have said blue is a hot colour, Sue had used it herself and I love blue so I thought it would be OK to use it in her blocks. I really enjoyed working with the black and white, something I have never done before.

First up is a pinwheel window. The pale blue fabric is actually white in real life. I couldn’t seem to get the camera to focus on this one.

Sue's block 3 Next is a sort of churn dash.

Sue's block 2This block is square in real life, I promise! Once again, the camera (or the photographer) is playing up.

Last but not least, the tangled star. This is a nightmare never, ever to be repeated. The angles are horrific. I like the result but the effort was far too great for the reward. So Sue, if you are reading this, you have my one and only tangled star ever. Enjoy it 🙂

Sue's block 1 Sue emailed to say she is happy with the blocks so that makes me happy too. We are all sending blocks to Lynn in France this month. I’ll be making her blocks this week but first I’m off to find out what she likes by reading her blog now.

Avis x


Making something special…

Hi everyone,

Some of you may remember that my daughter was travelling in India a while ago and she brought lots of lovely fabrics home for me to play with. If you can’t remember what they look like, or you missed that post, click here.

I have finally got around to making a start with some of them. I can’t describe how much fun we both had opening up the box where I’d stored them all safely. It brought back many happy shopping memories for my daughter. She was almost daring me to cut into a silk sari and I very nearly did. Will I ever be able to do that? Of course I will! For now, I’ve chosen all the fabrics that had a green or teal colour and teamed them up with some of my solids.

The photos don’t do the fabrics justice. I’ve tried to take the photos on different days with different levels of light but the richness of colour simply doesn’t come through.


I think most of the cotton fabrics have been screen printed by hand but some are really special and sparkly 🙂 They have raised hand painted accents which have probably been done using wooden block stampers with a thick paint paste.


The good thing is that the paint can withstand pressing with a hot iron. I really do wish I could show you the true colours of these fabrics. These two photos were taken in the same room at the same time but the fabrics look so different when they are exactly the same grrr!

Anyway, you are probably wondering why I chose to make New York Beauty blocks. The answer is that I really enjoyed making some for my friend Annett over at Knettycraft recently and I just had to make some more. This time, they are only one quarter the size of the last ones I made. These will finish at 6 inches when sewn together. I don’t know what’s going on with me at the moment but I’m just loving working with small blocks.

I have plans for more sewing with the Indian fabrics but not yet. There are a few more urgent tasks to complete first and then I’ll get back to work on these. This is going to be a long term project and I’m in no hury. I have a plan in my head which is constantly evolving.

What’s the longest project that you’ve had in your imagination before it came to fruition?

Back to sewing….

Avis x

%d bloggers like this: