Sewing Machines

I’m a bit of a sewing machine hoarder. If you don’t count the one that is Finn’s, I have four. That includes my sewing and embroidery machine combo, but not my two sergers. Also not including the knitting machine, because it knits.

While I’m certainly not an expert, I do have my preferences. I would take a well-built, old metal machine over a new machine any day. Mainly because when they break, I tend to do this:

That is my first sewing machine. It is a Montgomery Ward’s Signature sewing machine from the 60s, I think. I got it from my mom who got it from my grandma. I can’t remember what was wrong with it that time, but it sews nicely now.

The Signatures at that time were made by a Japanese company that specialized in industrial machines, I think for sewing feed sacks. That translates to a heavy duty, domestic sewing machine that will sew through anything. It also has a set of cams. Cams are interchangeable disks that allow it to sew pretty embroidery stitches.

My next sewing machine is another, slightly older Montgomery Ward’s Signature. This one was rescued from a lot of machines that were destined for the junk heap.

I love the blue color! It reminds me of cars from that era.

Like the other Signature, it uses cams. You can see them in the little accessory box. I actually like this one a little better than the other. It sews the prettiest straight stitch out of all my machines and has a cam that stitches a row of teeny tiny hearts!

I’ve never actually made anything on it, though. Unlike the other, this one is in a portable case, which is hilarious. I carry/wrestle a 31 lb. two year old every day and lifting that machine is a struggle. Since I don’t have a dedicated place for it, I don’t have the motivation to lug it out.

My workhorse is a 90s model Kenmore, made by Janome. The case is plastic, but all the internal workings are metal. I know, because I had to open it up when my walking foot vibrated the needle loose and messed up the timing. Photographic evidence on Instagram.

That is the best photo I could find of it. I love that machine because it isn’t as quirky as the Signatures. It also tells me how to thread it right on the machine, and when it comes to sewing machines, threading is half the battle.

My final machine is the Brother SE400 embroidery combo. I keep it set up as an embroidery machine because I have three other sewing machines. Also, it scares me, so I want to risk messing it up as little as possible. I haven’t had it opened up beyond the bobbin area, but I’m guessing there’s some plastic, and I know there is scary electronic components. With the other machines, I am freer to play because I know that if something happens, it’s not likely to be catastrophic. With this, something like a timing issue would definitely mean a big repair bill.

Playing with fonts on my new toy.

A post shared by Charity Maas Sloan (@subearthancottage) on

But, it makes pretty embroidery, has loads of decorative and utility stitches as a sewing machine, and has the most awesome needle threader I have ever seen. Seriously. Finn’s machine has a needle threader that I will never use, because it is complicated and I stabbed myself with it one time. Brother’s needle threader is like magic. It is especially handy when embroidering with multiple colors. Color changes take mere seconds.

Just to show I’m not as much of a hoarder as I could be, here is a photo of the White machine I couldn’t get working and sold on craigslist.

Then, while I was waiting for the buyers to show up, I decided to play with it a bit and figured out what was wrong. I hope they love it, or at least open it up to look at from time to time. Sigh.


What do you want to know?: Seriously? What? and various other ramblings

What do you want to know?

Sorry guys, I’m totally drawing a blank for today’s “What do you want to know?” topic. So, ask me anything you want today. I would also love it if you would help me brainstorm for future topics for the What do you want to know? Wednesdays.

Aloe Revisited

After Thursday’s aloe blog, I decided to try a few of the uses that I hadn’t tried yet to see how well it did.

First, I’ve used it a few times as a regular wash-out conditioner. Normally I don’t use conditioner because it makes my hair get oily much faster and my hair usually feels healthy enough with just my Beer Soap and an occasional ACV rinse. I’m spending much more time out in the sun lately, though, so I figured my hair could use a treat.

The results are amazing! My hair is incredibly soft without being too slippery. It looks very shiny, and it doesn’t look oily by the end of the day. In fact, it seems to help extend the time between shampoos. Usually I shampoo every other day. Occasionally I can wait until the third day. With the aloe, my hair still looks good on day 3.

I’ve also dried using it as a makeup remover. It did do a decent job of getting my eye makeup off, but overall, I don’t know if it did much better than soap and water. I do like the way it makes my face feel when I put a little on after washing. It’s like a moisturizer and toner in one step.

I did see an ad for a 100% aloe gel produced by Vaseline in a magazine. I haven’t had a chance to look for it in stores yet, but that might be another easy to find option for anyone wanting to try it out. If you do find it and try it, let me know what you think. I’d especially like to hear from people who have used the Fruit of the Earth aloe to see how the Vaseline aloe compares.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

What do you want to know? : Handmade Soap

First of all, I apologize for neglecting this blog lately. Summers are CRAZY in our house, plus it’s too hot to think here in Texas. I’m going to try to crank up the AC and devote some time to keeping you all updated, informed and entertained.

This Wednesday starts a series I like to call “What do you want to know?” Each week I’ll pick a topic and you all get to hammer me with questions on the subject. Some will be related to my crafts, some will be current events, and some will be off-the-wall random.

Feel free to ask ANYTHING even remotely related to the subject, and I’ll answer it as best as I can.

I’ll try to respond as soon as possible. Any questions I don’t get to on Wednesday will be covered on Thursday.

Today’s topic is handmade soap. Fire away!