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Monday, February 4, 2019

A Foot From the Past

Your great-grandmother's generation had fabulous sewing machines ... some were hand cranks, some were treadle powered,  and some were limited to a single thread chain stitch...

What was most amazing, though, were the presser feet made to expand the power of these simply geared machines ... Each time I open one of those old green cardboard boxes that hold Simanco (Singer Manufacturing Company) feet I am immediately set to wondering whether anyone ever used all of these feet.

The same type feet were as carefully crafted by the Geist company and sold with non-Singer machines such as the White, the Standard, the New Home machines ... all crafted with the same mechanical ingenuity. My goal this year is to use each one of those mechanical wonders while designing the Quilters' Quarters Block of the Month set of patterns.

Last month, the pattern used only the standard 'comes with' presser foot all machines have when purchased. The January Snowflake applique is made with all straight seams, and is still available at the shop. This can be machine or hand appliqued to a ten inch block, and the size can easily be changed for other size blocks.


This month, the February Valentine block continues to use all straight seams, but makes use of one of the simplest of the old presser feet: the shirring foot. It looks like an ordinary, single hole straight stitch foot, but it has a curious little rise in it just in back of the needle hole ... and that makes all the difference. This little foot will gather the material passing under the foot as it sews ... and if the bobbin thread is elastic, the entire row of gathered material will be stretchy! But we're
not using elastic thread in the February Valentine block, and to prevent the shirred material from twisting once it has been 'shirred', the shirring foot is removed and replaced with the standard 'comes with' foot for a single row of what Simplicity, Butterick, Vogue and other clothing patterns would call 'stay stitching.' And then the shirred fabric is ready to be top stitched in place with that same ordinary foot.


Come in to Quilters' Quarters for your free copy of the February Valentine block of the month. I'll be happy to let you use one of the machines with a shirring foot, and will have a few of those feet on hand to sell, first come first serve. They are also available on eBay and at other online sites.

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