Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Home for Pfaff

So... you guys know I like sewing machines, right? And I already posted about one of the cases and antique machines that I restored here. But that was just ONE of... um... the COMPLETELY REASONABLE number of sewing machines that I have. I can tell it's a reasonable number because my husband still lets me buy them without rolling his eyes even a little. I return the favor when he decides he just HAS to order expensive industrial (like crop-dusting) strength herbicides that are only available on the internet. 

The really nice thing about collecting old sewing machines is just how devalued they tend to be on the presumed basis that practically no one sews anymore, and those who do buy fancy Janome or Huskavarna machines with a million stitches built in and an automatic threader. Which is not to say that modern machines aren't great, but they are mostly made of plastic and I've ruined an expensive newer machine with some of the crazy things I choose to sew. 

For a long time my sewing machine Holy Grail was to find a Pfaff sewing machine. I'd read blogs and heard people talk about what nice stitching they do, how they are powerhouses and aren't phased by the thickest seams or material. How they last forever and are basically the most awesome thing ever to come out of West Germany. But it's hard to find the old, mostly-metal mid-century models because they now belong to little old ladies who are NOT giving them up. Fortunately for me one day we were at a thrift store and my husband came over and asked, "What's that sewing machine brand you're always looking for? Something with a 'P'?" And then he showed it to me! The beautiful, perfect, Pfaff 284 that became mine for only $25!!

I stole this photo from the internet.
That is not my Pfaff, but it did look just like that after I cleaned it up and oiled it. Unfortunately, my machine didn't come in a pretty wooden case like that. It came in a broken press-board base that snagged every piece of fabric in its immediate vicinity. So for a long time I'd wanted to give it a proper home where I could use it without having to either leave it in the scratchy box or take it out and worry about the bottom of it destroying my desk. Good thing I hoard have other sewing machines!

I picked this table up at another thrift store for $15. It contained a pretty neat in its own right vintage White 468 that was made in Japan.

That's the box that the Pfaff came in.
The neat thing about this is that the motor and belts are internal, so it was late enough they'd figured that out, but not so late that someone thought to, I don't know, PUT A BASE ON THE THING. Why did they used to make sewing machines with so many spikes on the bottom, anyway?

The thing I liked about the table was how it had simple lines that seemed appropriate for the stark, German Pfaff styling. The thing I didn't like was that the finish was orange-y and all scratched up.

Lookin' a little rough there, pal. 

Don't worry! I will help you!!

So I took the thing all apart and promptly let it sit in the basement for five months. What? I'VE BEEN BUSY! A couple of weeks ago I finally had some free time to start working on it. Unlike other sewing machine cases I've refreshed, this one actually had decent wood that wasn't chipping or ruined with peeling veneer. Step one was to strip off the old finish which I did with chemical stripper. Then I sanded it with 150 grit sandpaper, followed by 220, and then 0000 steel wool. Once it was nice and smooth, I was ready to stain.

I wanted it somewhat dark, so I did two coats of Minwax Wood Stain in Dark Walnut. After that dried, I covered everything in three coats of polyurethane, sanding with 320 grit sandpaper between coats.
And voila!
I also changed out the handle with something more industrial/modern which I may or may not regret depending on how often I snag cloth in the return.

It could be styled as a cute side table when not in use.

But with this beauty inside, what are the odds it won't get used?

Fun fact: if someone at Lowe's asks if you need help, you will waste a lot of time if you ask him whether or not they used the metric system in post-Soviet West Germany. They did. Metric all the way. There was only one of the original set screws that hold the machine onto the brackets in the case, so I had to get another. Unfortunately they only had M6-1.00 pan head screws at Lowe's, which wouldn't fit due to the head. So the next day we had to go to Home Depot for proper set screws. Whereupon we returned home and I realized that we don't own a metric hex-wrench set. *SIGH* Luckily we had a star-head bit from one of our various bit-driver sets that was close enough to get the job done.

Couldn't be happier with the way it turned out, except that now I have to get it upstairs.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

If I Never Hear the Theme Song to Zelda Again It Will Be Too Soon

You'll be glad to know that I sat down and had a long talk with myself. I was in a car taking the very, very scenic route back home from an overnight getaway to Atlantic City, but technically that is still sitting. "Self," I said, "What you need to do is not less things. It's to just make more of the blog posts that you mean to make." Being very sensitive about the topic of things, as I generally feel that I have to do all of them - ESPECIALLY in the summer - I replied, "Yes. I know. But I have to DO THE THINGS." Master of compromise that I am...

...let me just point out that even while trying to type out this thought my husband asked if I was "feeling egg-y" which is his way of implying that I should probably get my butt into the kitchen and make some breakfast. So yeah, THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE BLOG POSTS. And the washer just dinged telling me to put stuff in the dryer. And start another load in the washer. And if we're going to eat eggs we'll need toast which means I should start a batch of bread going. And and and...

ANYWAY. "Self," I offered, "Why don't you make a post about something you've done before you start doing something new?" And I've done LOTS of things, so that doesn't sound entirely unreasonable. If I do say so myself.

So what's up lately? It's summer which means the kids are home all day and they. are. BORED. Despite the house full of toys, books, science experiment sets, a trampoline, playground in the yard, bikes, metal detectors, weekly library trips they are BORED. When they say that they are bored what they actually mean is, "We want to play video games but you won't let us so we will get even by telling you every twenty seconds just how BORING life is until you give in and let us play video games." It's only in their heads that I will ever give in, though. We have video game time built in to our daily schedule and I have a saved (I really should laminate that) sheet from one of the kids' 9 to 11 year old check-ups at the Pediatrician which says that kids in that age range should have NO MORE THAN one hour of screen time a day. If the DOCTOR says that, it means that I am RIGHT and boredom is not, in fact, fatal.

One of the things that two of them have decided to fill the time with is piano practice. The mom in me thinks this is a fine idea. The person in me who doesn't want to hear Fur Elise 327498573984579387593875938 times a day disagrees. But mom wins out even when this happens to the piano bench:

One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just isn't the same...
I'm not sure how they even managed to do that to the leg, but they did it. Of course, it wasn't in the best shape to begin with. For one thing, this is the bench that came with the piano that my mom bought used when I was a kid, so it's pretty old. Like getting way too close to 40 for my comfort old.

So that was also a problem.
 It was pretty much just held together by a piece of twill tape and some rusty screws. When we moved to this house I decided to paint the piano itself (Why yes, yes I am THAT crazy), but the bench had already been through two makeovers as you can see from the bottom of the lid. I'd covered it with fabric that matched the upholstery on my old, old couch and did like a shabby-chic finish. Then, in a different house, with a different couch, I painted it brown and added fabric that matched a throw pillow (which I still have in this house with yet another couch).. Under all of that there is still the original brown vinyl covering.

Uh, yeah, it's SUPPOSED to look like that...
The only hope was to pull off everything, strip off the paint, and start over.

I didn't take any photos of the fun bubbly paint, or of my lovely then-10-year-old assistant sanding it down, but it looked pretty nice when it was cleaned off. Not nice enough to stain, mind you, but nice. I spray painted it with Krylon Dual Paint + Primer spray paint in glossy black and then covered the top in easy to clean black vinyl. I still like the old fabric, but I just wanted it to sort of disappear into the piano itself.

Look! The legs work!
 I also had to bend the bolt in the leg back into place so that they could, you know, sit on it. I filled the screw holes with wood filler so that the hinges would go in tight, and I used slightly longer screws.

Better, right?
And here it is, now camouflaged in its native environment...

Someday I will figure out how all those other ladies who blog take the pretty pictures where their houses looks nice and you don't just see every bit of dirt and chipped paint.
So now it's all set for kids to sit there and play the theme song to every video game ever over and over and over so as to remind me that even when I don't let them play video games all day, they're still thinking about them. Figuring out the notes to the songs. Writing them down in video game character illustrated song books so that their brothers can build upon their knowledge and play EVEN MORE video game theme songs. But, most importantly, they are, for a few minutes anyway, not BORED.