Snippets: The Vintage Issue

July 30, 2009


The new issue of Snippets hit the virtual newsstand this morning, and I can’t wait to devour every morsel. The theme this month is the Vintage Issue, and it’s packed with all kinds of interesting tidbits and retro eye candy, such as…

RETRO PERFUME: Learn what was “in” then. Plus, enter for your chance to win some Posset’s perfume. By Fabienne Christenson.

QUEENS OF VINTAGE: Lena from Queens of Vintage talks about her love for all things vintage and retro. By Cat Morely.

RETRO PLEASURES: Celebrate the decades with fun things to do. By Denise V.

IRREGULAR CHOICE: Meet the creator of Irregular Choice shoes, Danny Sullivan. By Cat Morely.

Plus so much more!

You can even find a story I wrote in this issue that is all about vintage sewing machines. In this article, I talk about my experiences with my vintage machine, and offer up tips to those who have just acquired (or are thinking about acquiring) a vintage sewing machine.

Click here to view the entire Vintage issue of Snippets.

Plenty o’ Panties

July 24, 2009

This week I stocked the Flapper Girl Boutique with a lot of new ruffle-bum knickers, including the “Pirate Booty” panties you see below. I had a lot of fun with the new designs. I used some different lace patterns, fresh colors of jersey (purple, teal, and space-dyed pink to name a few), and even some cute new adornments. By request, I even produced a lot in size 7. So check ’em out.

Pirate Booty Panties


July 15, 2009


Photo by Jeremy Hood

While I was in Vancouver BC a few weeks ago, I was able to hit up a wonderful fabric store there called Dressew. It was so radical that I couldn’t stop thinking about it after my first visit, and actually went back for more browsing the next day.

Dressew has two huge floors of goodies, and the best part is that the whole bottom floor is the clearance section. There are aisles and aisles of trim, rick-rack, elastic, zippers, buttons, thread, and various notions, notions, notions galore. Here are some of the goodies I picked up:

• The ever-elusive bubble gum pink felt. It’s been impossible to find in Portland since last summer.
• Jersey in purple and pink/cream (space dyed)
• Black garter sets! I’m going to attempt to use these on some future knickers.
• A bag of 10 black zippers
• Some really wonderful, fancy-looking buttons
• A big bag of tiny rosebud appliques
• Various lingerie elastic in fun colors
• 48 skeins of black embroidery floss
• Pink spiderweb stretch netting

If you love to sew and find yourself in Vancouver, be sure to stop by. You will not be disappointed. Be sure to bring cash, especially if you’re from the states. They accept debit cards, but it was only a certain type that I didn’t recognize called Interac.

Sewing Machine Meme (via Sew, Mama, Sew)

June 3, 2009

Today I was excited to find out that it’s Sewing Machine Month over at Sew, Mama, Sew! I think it’s really wonderful that a whole month is being dedicated to the machines that help so many people express themselves artistically.

I have a close bond with my sewing machine. It’s not just a tool I use in my creative processes; my sewing machine feels more like an extension of myself. It enables me to turn the ideas that float around in my head into physical manifestations. Only I know how to handle my machine. I know what it feels like when it’s working harmoniously, and I know how it feels differently if something—even a tiny something—is amiss.

So when Sew, Mama, Sew posted a sewing machine meme to kick off Sewing Machine Month, I couldn’t help but pay homage to my favorite machine in the house.


What brand and model do you have?
I have a bright pink vintage Morse Push Button Zig Zag sewing machine. Model number TZ7.

How long have you had it?
I acquired my machine in October 2008.

How much does that machine cost (approximately)?
They don’t make these anymore, so it varies. I paid $80 for mine at a little antique store in Long Beach, Washington.

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?
I sew all kinds of projects: clothing, accessories, eco-friendly coffee cozies, panties, totes, handbags, retro aprons. To see some of my sewing projects, feel free to peruse my Flickr or Etsy shop.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?
I sew pretty much every day. It varies from day to day how much sewing gets done on the machine, but it gets used a lot.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?
I absolutely love my machine! I have an affinity for all things vintage, so naturally this machine is a good fit for me. It’s made of all metal parts, weighs about a ton, and is a total workhorse. Plus, it’s pink! That’s swoon-worthy in itself.

What features does your machine have that work well for you?
My machine is dependable and quiet. I may not have any novelty stitch settings like the newer machines, but I have my basic straight stitch and zig-zag stich, and that’s all I need, really.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?
Nope! At first, it took awhile for me to get used to my machine when I first started using it. I had been using a Janome for a few years. The Morse felt a lot different than my Janome, since all machines vary slightly. So once I got over the learning curve of using a new machine, it’s been smooth sailing ever since.

Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!
Ever since I acquired this machine, I’ve been trying to find out more about it, but I’ve had little luck. What I did find out is that Morse sewing machines were made in Japan and distributed by Morse Distributing Corp. of New York. Morse sewing machines were actually made by the man who started the Toyota Car Company, which cleared up why the word “TOYOTA” is stamped into the bottom of my machine.

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?
Yes! In fact, I have recommended it a few times. Every once in awhile I get emails from people who have found this post on my blog, and ask me how my Morse is working out for me. Usually they’ve found a Morse for sale in their local classified ads, and want to know more about the machine before deciding if it’s worth purchasing. So many vintage machines are total power houses. This is totally the case with my Morse. It’s quiet, runs smoothly, and is built to last.

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?
Durability, dependability, and ease of use are the top three important factors for sure.

Do you have a dream machine?
More like a dream collection. There are so many wonderful vintage machines out there! I wish I could have all the ones I’ve found to be drool-worthy.

Here are a few more photos of my sewing machine, taken by my talented husband, Chas Bowie. Click each photo for a larger view:



eBay: My Vice of Choice Since 2002™

April 23, 2009

I have such a love-hate relationship with eBay. I’ve gotten some really great deals on there throughout the years, and I’ve also gotten my heart broken plenty too. It seems for every score out there on eBay, there’s an item that just gets too expensive, is forgotten to be bid on in time, or ends up not being exactly what I thought it was upon being received.

Plus, eBay can be addicting! I’ve gone through phases in my life where I have been completely entranced by that darn website, spending countless hours searching and browsing. At one particularly rough time in my life, it became a nightly ritual. Retail therapy much? Yes, I know. Thankfully those days are behind me.

Over the years, I’ve learned to let expensive items go without a second thought, not be too disappointed when I forget to bid on something in time (yes, even when there are no other bids), and to really read item descriptions carefully.

I’ve also discovered the greatness that is saving eBay keyword searches to my Google Reader, but let’s save that whole topic for another day.

My point is this: eBay can be really great for getting cool things for a great price if you don’t get sucked into the evil trap. Such is my example I bring to you today. Awaiting for me in my mailbox this afternoon was this:

Morse Attachments 1

Morse Attachments 2

Yes, that’s right—sewing machine attachments for my vintage Morse sewing machine (all in excellent condition). This whole lot of goodies was only $7.99. I’m most excited about the ruffler. I can’t wait to play with it. I’m not quite sure what some of these babies do yet, but I’m excited to learn about what each of these is capable of when I sit down with my sewing machine manual tonight.

I Just Bought a Vintage Sewing Machine! Now What?

April 12, 2009

Sewing PinupEver since I wrote about acquiring a vintage Morse zig zag sewing machine, I’ve been periodically getting emails from people who have bought vintage machines, and want some tips on how to get them running. I’m not an expert, but I enjoy talking shop with the people who have emailed me, and I do offer up my advice based on my experiences. So if you just bought a vintage sewing machine, or are thinking about it, here’s what I suggest you do upon bringing home your new best friend:

Right off the bat, I suggest finding a mom-and-pops type sewing machine repair shop in your city (many of them offer both sewing machine and vacuum cleaner servicing). Here in Portland, we have a really great one called Montavilla Sewing Center. If you’re not sure where to go, contact a few of the big shot crafty people in your city who sew things for a living, or a locally owned fabric store for suggestions. Then, before you even try out your machine, take it in to the sewing repair shop for a tune-up. The older machines, especially, tend to have their tension discs out of alignment when you get them, just because they’ve been sitting in storage somewhere for who knows how long. Some small part might be missing, too, like a rubber bobbin belt. The technician at the repair shop will give your machine a good look-over, replace any missing/broken parts, and set the tension to sew properly. Prices vary on this service. I paid $80 for my tune-up. One thing I would suggest upon picking up your machine from the repair shop (something I wish I would have done) is ask the technician to show you how to thread your machine! It will save a lot of time, and a small headache. Trust me on this.

Another question I get asked by people who email about vintage sewing machines is how satisfied I am working on an older machine. I absolutely love my machine! It is a total workhorse. At the risk of sounding like a well-meaning grandmother, they just don’t make things the way they used to. My machine runs so smoothly, and is so much quieter than the new Janome I was using prior to buying my Morse. I almost passed up my vintage Morse sewing machine, and I’m so glad that I did not. It would have been a regretful mistake.

Oh! And if you want to learn how to properly clean your machine, I suggest this great step-by-step tutorial on Craft Nectar.

My New (Old) Sewing Machine

October 21, 2008

On Sunday, Chas, Nattie, and I took a day trip to Astoria and Long Beach. It was nice to get out of town and bum around. The weather was clear, crisp, and perfect for a day trip. We window shopped, visited Jake the Alligator Man, and ate old people food (because that’s all they serve on the coast). It was a lot of fun!

Plus, I got to bring home an awesome treat!

In some little antique mall in Long Beach, Chas stumbled upon this really awesome, old sewing machine. It practically looks brand new, and all the parts inside it are pristine. Plus, all the buttons on it just look so cool.

And it’s pink!

It’s a Morse Push Button Zig Zag sewing machine. Model number TZ7. It’s all metal, and weighs about 1,236,785 pounds. I’ve been trying to find out more about this thing, but I’ve had little luck. What I did find out is that Morse sewing machines were made in Japan and distributed by Morse Distributing Corp. of New York. Morse sewing machines were actually made by the man who started the Toyota Car Company, which cleared up why the word “TOYOTA” is stamped into the bottom of my machine.

I’ve stumbled upon a few message board threads about Morse in my research. Everyone who uses a Morse machine loves it. These things are supposedly heavy-duty machines that last forever as long as you take care of them.

I haven’t tried it out yet, but I’m excited to get it all set up. I decided it was worth $10 to order a 29-page copy of the original manual so I know how to operate it correctly and know what it’s capable of.

Did I mention it’s pink!? :)

You can see a gallery of other Morse sewing machines here, and if anyone knows any more information about Morse sewing machines, please drop me a line.