Habitat for Humanity Find – Vintage Nelco

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My visit to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore Resale Outlet played out just like a TV commercial:  I went in looking for a not-too-expensive faucet (to replace the piece of junk that is currently installed on my kitchen sink), and I came out with a vintage Nelco (and no faucet)!
Pink Nelco

This was actually my very first visit to the H4H outlet in Pittsburgh and I was completely blown away by the selection of goodies there.  TONS of salvaged stuff!  Sofas, chairs, table, bicycles, lighting, sinks, commodes, dishware, tools, tile, you name it!  Great stuff at great prices!

After spending some time wandering aimlessly through the aisles and fingering random merchandise, I noticed some familiar-looking tables tucked away with the bedroom furniture.  A closer inspection confirmed my suspicion.  They weren’t tables at all!  They were SEWING MACHINES!   (Can you hear the music playing?)  Four of them!  All vintage, of course.  Patiently waiting for me to open them up, plug them in and take them for a whirl!
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I should have taken better notes so I could tell you all about the ones that I didn’t take home that day, but my mind was just not there at the time.  Sorry. Unfortunately, I was only able to purchase one as the others we in too bad of a shape for me to adopt  : >(
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GE DIGITAL CAMERAHowever, this Japanese jewel is salmon pink and perfect!  A little cleaning and a little oil was all she needed to get her going again.  Bonus:  Somehow her registration card was still there so I was able to find her birth date!  September 29, 1964!  Forty-eight years old and still awesome!
Vintage Nelco

OK, since her original home was a table mount (ugh! just my fortune), instead of dragging her home for my son to dis-assemble I decided to do it myself inside the store and re-donate the cabinet to H4H. Clever, huh?  Not really.  I was still wearing my white scrubs and I didn’t have a screwdriver!   No problem, though, as the kindly staff member helping me didn’t mind loaning me one, and hey, dirty scrubs are no big deal in pursuit of such a treasure, right?

; >)

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Craigslist Find #5 – Vintage Morse “Twin”

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Is it as amazing to you as it is to me that I have yet to post ONE thing I’ve made with any of the lovely vintage machines I’ve bought already?  What is THAT??  (Sigh).  I will.  I promise.  But I am overcome with irresistible temptation every time I come across another beauty and I just can’t help myself!
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Which brings me to Craigslist Find #4.  Yes, I know, it is the EXACT SAME MORSE I already bought back in January of 2012, so now I have two!  Did I NEED another one?  No, but that is truly a minor detail to we sewing enthusiasts, right?  Bonus: This one is portable, which means no fighting with cabinetry!  Yea!  But is still weighs a ton and one day I’m gonna throw my back out lugging these things home…

The owner of this Morse bought it new way back when here in the states, but she relocated to Australia shortly thereafter where the electrical current is 240/250 volts so she never used it!  She returned to the states again years later, but lost the sewing “bug” so it has had very little use over the years, save a few pairs of curtains and some colorful costumes!

Sadly, this sweet lady took a recent tumble down the stairs outside her home and injured herself, so she and her equally talkative gray-haired Australian hubby (who entertained me, a Craigslist stranger, for nearly an hour in their pajamas) are now downsizing, which is why she was willing to part with it.

Fortunately the original manual is intact, but the extra feet, etc are missing, which is OK with me since this is a perfect “twin” in excellent shape!

; >)

Getting My Spark & Hustle Back!

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Hello!  How are you?  I hope you are well.  Have you missed me?  Wondering where I’ve been?  I have a perfectly unreasonable explanation for my absence: None. Pathetic, I know, but true.  I feel terrible.  I have been so preoccupied with other things that I have been neglecting my blog, my Etsy shop and YOU! 

One reason why I’ve been absent is that I had decided a long time ago that I wanted (needed) to make sewing my livelihood but could not figure out how to make it happen to SAVE MY LIFE!  The mortgage and car note by themselves are enough to keep me chained to my day job desk, let alone how to earn enough for me and my ‘web’ baby to survive!

So, I discovered that Chatham College (here in Pittsburgh) has a Women’s Entrepreneurship Program and decided to enroll. I am happy to announce that I am finished!  Yea!  That was some serious work!  The business plan itself almost killed me, but I’m so happy to have a “roadmap to crafty success” and to be back to having time to sew.  SO eager to get started on my new projects!  Wait till you see them!

In the meantime, I also had the extreme pleasure of attending the Spark & Hustle Women’s Business Conference in Pittsburgh yesterday.  (Woohoo!)  It was SO encouraging to be around like-minded women who are swimming around in the same little entrepreneurial pond as I am.  There were a ton of different topics covered, including branding, social media marketing, sales, how to overcome your fears, and too much other stuff to mention.  If you have the opportunity to attend next year, I strongly recommend it. You won’t regret it.

So there you have it!  I’ll be spending the next few weeks making amends with all of you as well as with my neglected Etsy shop, and I look forward to keeping you up to date with The African Diaspora from now on! 

Talk to you soon!  Thanks for hanging in there with me!

~Tameka Matae

Craigslist Find #3: Vintage Homemark

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And now, “Craigslist Believe It Or Not”, Episode III:

For your viewing pleasure, a very ladylike vintage Homemark sewing machine in a soft pinky lavender and off-white. (Think Pepto with a splash of purple mixed in…)  So very 50’s and so very pretty!  Just look at the details!  Can’t you just imagine a stylish Mama sitting at this machine making clothes for her little ones?

Unfortunately, the day I picked it up I had just left work and was in such a rush to get my daughter from the bus stop that I didn’t have time to pick the owner’s brain about where he got it.  (Dang it!  I did it again!)  Anyhoo, I’m really glad this one had a case instead of a cabinet because it is HEAVY!  The case is so cool, too!  Just another reminder of why I LOVE all things vintage.  They just don’t make machines like this anymore.

No manual or accessories, though.  (Bummer!)  But that’s OK.  I won’t complain since it really is a yummy piece of machine candy.  Promise I’ll post an update when I take it for a good test run.  I can’t WAIT!!

Craigslist Find #2: Vintage Morse

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Ok, believe it or not within the span of just ONE week, I came across a grand total of THREE vintage sewing machines on Craigslist!  Unbelievable!  I have been trying to exercise patience and wait for a sunny day to take more pics, but I’m so excited that I guess these will have to do…

This wonderful piece of machinery was manufactured by Morse, and happy joy this one is a zig-zag!  No, I did not NEED this one any more than I needed the White, TYVM, but that’s a minor detail.  LOL.  I LOVE it!  This one was also mounted in a dreaded cabinet, and unfortunately the owner was ill, so his wife (who is in her late fifties/early sixties, btw) and I lugged this heavy thing down three sets of stairs by ourselves.  (Can you say “Lack Of Exercise”?) Whew!  I ended up DIRTY and BEAT!

 

In fact, I was so shocked at the number of stairs that I completely forgot to ask how they came to have this machine in their possession.  (I love stories…)  However, it is a beauty!  The chrome is still gleaming, the owner’s manual is intact, and there is a little hinged case with ALL of the feet inside!  Sewing cabinets are truly a nightmare, though.  My poor son has been enlisted to take the machines out of the cabinets for me, then load the empty cabinets back into the truck to go to Goodwill.

Now I need a couple of cases to tote my newbies around in.  I’ll start shopping for those on eBay later…(smile)

Donté – My First “Big Baby” and Second Boy

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I have been chomping at the bit to get my hands on a “Big Baby” kit and I finally snagged one!  It is from a “Kitten” mold by Donna RuBert and I am in LOVE!  It is a huge, 9 month size, about 26″ long, with plenty of dimples, rolls and baby fat. Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My original intent was to make this one a little girl, as I already bought some cute little dresses and trimmings, but both me and my daughter thought when finished he looked more like a boy, so I went shopping (again) for a new layette and named him Donté.  This is only my second boy and I am SO excited!  This is also only the second time I used curly mohair, and once I washed and conditioned it, it behaved very nicely.  I’m glad.  I was nervous…

Of course, like any new Mother I wanted to keep my happy little chub, but sadly he is soon to be delivered to his new Mommy in Charlotte Amalie, VI.  I miss him already!

Craigslist Find #1: Vintage White

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I need another sewing machine like I need a hole in my head.  I sold two on eBay just last month!  But, ever since my friend found me a vintage Morse, aka “My New Blue Baby”, I have been on the web looking for more information about it.  In the process, however, I have come across SEVERAL vintage machines, especially on Craigslist and eBay.  I have to admit that Craigslist does scare me a bit because of the prevalence of proven Nut Cases that post on there.  But, as I am now officially OBSESSED, I thought I’d take the bait anyway and take my son with me to be safe…

Which leads me to Craigslist Find #1: A beautiful White vintage machine in mint condition with an ultra sad story to go with it.  The gentleman who sold it to me told me that it belonged to his Mother, whom he very recently placed in a Nursing Facility.  So recently, in fact, that everything in the house had yellow Post-It notes on it for who-gets-what.  The Mother and Son lived in side-by-side townhouses and I can only imagine how hard it must be for him to sell one of his Mom’s most prized possessions.  (I’m guessing there are no other seamstresses in his family.  Pity.  They just don’t know….)

Mom took EXCELLENT care of this machine and it was even recently serviced, so I was elated.  And even more so when he gave me a shopping bag filled with all of her carefully labelled sewing goodies!  WHAT??!!  I could not believe it!  Needles, machine feet, bobbins, thread, Tastykake thimble, threaders, and so much more that I can’t even mention it all!  Even her red tin she kept it all in!  I already felt awful, but then I felt worse!  This machine and its accessories are SUCH a treasure, and I feel so fortunate to have it, but so sad at the same time that she will never again be able to enjoy its rythmic little hum.

I wish there a way to assure her that her machine was going to a good home and would be very well taken care of, but of course that is not possible.  I just hope someday my daughter (or future grandchildren) will take up sewing so my machines don’t end up on Craigslist…

: >(

Kwanzaa Culinarians

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I am always amazed at how many wonderfully talented people I discover on the web.  I am also equally amazed at how many people discover ME on the web!  Just when I start to wonder, or just when I start to doubt, I get a brilliant ray of sunshine in the form of an e-mail.  Here’s what it said:

“Hi I just wanted to let you know I featured your gorgeous item in this article”: kwanzaaculinarians.com/2011/12/05/shop-black-handmade-etsy/

Very short.  Very sweet.  Very wonderful!  A thousand Thank You’s to Yetunde Taiwo Rodriguez of AfroMartha.com for featuring Li’l Crumbsnatchers in her article, “Shop (Black) Handmade on Etsy” posted on KwanzaaCulinarians.com.  She featured not one, but two of my little outfits!  I am so thankful to be included in such a wonderful group of artisans, and I am confident that her words of encouragement will motivate others to buy handmade not just for the upcoming holidays, but all year long.

Thanks Yetunde!  Keep up the great work!

♥ Yea Love!

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A lo-va-lee lady from London contacted me recently to create some coordinating items for her upcoming nuptials.  She selected the African kente and mudprint cotton fabric, (one of my faves, but so hard to come by : >( I should have bought two bolts!), for a ladies corset belt, baby slippers and a girls corset top.  Well, I just finished them yesterday and I think they turned out wonderfully!  I can’t wait for her to get them!  (Now might be a good time to start begging for wedding pics! Lol)


Yea love!

My NEW Blue Baby!

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So one of my BFF’s called to tell me she found me a sewing machine at the thrift store. (The thrift comes in second on my fave list after the fabric store, of course!) As I already own a ridiculous SIX machines (two of which are for sale on eBay right now), I thought, “OK, I need another machine like I need a hole in the head!”  But lo, and behold:

It’s absolutely BEAUTIFUL!  I owe her a million thanks because this baby has my name all over it!  I am in LOVE!

Check it out!  Of course I still have a hard time believing that 1.) Someone gave this baby up! and 2.) It doesn’t look like it’s ever been used!  The foot pedal doesn’t even have any scuff marks on it!

I have never even heard of Morse machines before, so I Googled it to see what I could find out.  (No bobbins or book, so I am at a loss…)  Turns out that there are quite a few of these lovelies floating about in the world and they even came in hot pink!  WHAT!!!   Fortunately, I found an instruction manual on eBay and I hope that I can buy bobbins that fit at Jo-Ann.  Can’t wait to use it!

Here’s what I found out so far: Morse machines have been manufactured since 1948 by Philip S. Morse at the Toyota factory in Nagoya, Japan (wild!).  Back then machines were made to last cause this thing is pure metal and heavy!  (Did I mention that it came with a case which is also like new?)  Morse still does manufacture machines and they do have a website but it’s under construction, so there’s wasn’t much to look at.  Bummer!

Anyhoo, I am on a shiny blue metallic cloud and I will keep you posted on how it runs as soon as I get my hands on some bobbins and wipe the drool off!