Isn’t she lovely…..

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Please meet Dorothy……isn’t she beautiful.  I was given her by my great auntie Dora  and she is an absolute darling.  She doesn’t do anything fancy…just a straight stitch (she doesn’t even do a reverse stitch so we are talking very basic sewing) but I learnt to machine-sew on a machine very similar to this one which is owned by my mum and was also a hand me down from another great aunt…

For most everyday (and non patchwork) sewing I use a Bernina 1008 which is a fantastic sewing machine, but it doesn’t have a place in my heart like Dorothy.

Dorothy is a hand machine with a lovely creamy porcelain handle, she has a shuttle bobbin and still sews beautifully, but it’s now becoming harder and harder to find needles to fit her so as much as I love to sew on this machine, she’s now used a lot less frequently.


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I pinned the pieces of fabric together  using the drawn pencil lines as my guide line. (the same as if I was hand sewing them)  Because I didn’t cut the squares out with a rotary cutter but by hand (with those fancy Merchant and Mills scissors which are a joy to use) each one was a bit of a different size so I couldn’t just line all the squares up and know they were all the same like if they’d been cut with a rotary cutter. ( I hope that makes sense)


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Here she is in action….the squares are sewn together in strips which then get joined together.

Unlike most modern sewing machines, Dorothy doesn’t like sewing over pins so they need to be slid out, if not they seem to get wedged in the silver strip of metal (just behind the pin in the picture)


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These are some of the finished strips of patchwork.  You can see the importance of fussy cutting the squirrel and green mouse fabric, where as some of the larger floral prints work fine with just sections of the flower being shown.


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Once your strips are all sewn, you then need to join them to each other.  To make the joins as neat as possible you want to push the seams in one direction for the first row, and then in the opposite direction for the joining row.  I find pinning  the corners of each square first, and then putting a pin in the centre of each square helps to keep my joins a little bit neater.


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After joining the strips together I press the patchwork flat, then I’ve sewn in red thread where the seam allowance is, this way when I’m sewing the layers together I can see how much wiggle room I have.

I’ve used this patchwork to make a notebook cover, so once the patchwork was sewn I then had to cut out fabric for the lining and a piece of cotton wadding so that the cover would feel slightly puffy.  To sew all the parts of the notebook cover together I went back and used the Bernina as it was quite fat and Dorothy doesn’t cope too well with girth.


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I added a little extra fabric at the front to make a pocket for pens.


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And made a small pocket at the back for business cards or for books of stamps.


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The middle row of squares makes up the spine and I sewed a line of slightly larger stitches down this to give the book cover a little more structure.

I’m hoping to make some more of these up over the next few days to put into my folksy shop.

10 thoughts on “Isn’t she lovely…..

  1. Ericka…I sew on a 1896 Singer Treadle sewing machine and I use regular universal sewing needles that I would use on a regular electrical. They fit perfectly and the stitch is perfect! Dorothy is lovely… 🙂 m.

    1. Hi Mari, thank you for the suggestion, I have tried using universal needles before but they seemed to slip and make the stitches skip to side a little. I’m currently using some Beka needles from West Germany, they are skinny and are o shaped rather than D shaped.

      1. Does your machine require that you put the needle differently? I know with my treadle the opening has to be towards the right…which means I need to insert the thread from left to right and the flat side of the needle has to go to the right… this is how I was able to take care of the skipping 🙂 m.

      2. Hi Mari, the little slot where the needle fits is very narrow so the needles need to be that much slimmer to fit in. I did try some of the D shaped needles but they slipped when I tried sewing as there just isn’t room for the whole needle to fit in and be held securely. I’ll put up some more pictures of her so you can see what I mean.

    1. I tell you, picking her up is like a workout to the gym, she weighs a ton. I think the machine that mum has is even prettier. I do appreciate the Bernina (it’s a proper workhorse) but I feel much more sentimental about Dorothy xx

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