Thursday, January 19, 2012

Easy Home Canning Labels

I love sewing, for sure but also enjoy home canning.  This brings me to the purpose of this day's entry: How can you make a good label that doesn't stick to the jar forever?  Here's a good solution.

It starts with making a fun label.  I make labels online, print them on resume paper, then cut them out. To get some help, go to Label Templates.  This is the Avery company's website.  They have a lot of cool things there but what we need today is the templates for address labels.  You can choose a template for the size you'd like for the jar size you have.  A good basic size is 1 1/2 x4" or similar.  To use the site you'll need to register, then choose to create a label online.  It's quite easy and you can even add artwork from their files or use your own.  Remember,  the label won't be a address label.   Add an image, change the font size, style and color any way you want.

When it comes time to print, use paper as opposed to a sticky label.  I use resume paper as it's a little heavier and holds up better than copier paper.  You can then cut out the labels after they are printed.   Cut out what you need and set them aside.

To adhere to the jars, use milk.  I place a small amount of milk in a cup and a basting brush.  Brush the milk lightly onto the back of the label and hold in place briefly.

Making labels this way works great, comes off by soaking in water for a minute and best of all lets you be creative in making fun labels for your canned food.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Pfaff 332 Sewing Machine

Pfaff 332 Made in Germany 1957.
This is a gem that deserves a little attention in the vintage sewing machine world, so I'll do my part to shed some light on this model.  This one came to me though a Craig's List "For Free" post.  It was from an estate, it was left behind from the garage stuff.  I can see why it was not chosen to go with anyone.  It was very dirty and not working.

Before Cleaning
It was the dirtiest of all the machines I have taken in, and believe me that's saying something.  It had a big chunk broken off the flywheel where something big fell on it, pry marks from someone trying to open the upper case and wood shavings inside (That was a first) and best of all the needle was in wrong.  That must have been what made the owner mad.  With a new bobbin, oil and a good cleaning it worked.  It was very loud and fast, gosh this was one powerful machine.  What a gem!  What it lacks in beauty it has in businesslike efficiency and power.    I have an older Pfaff 131 so am familiar with some of the features and found there are some improvements to that model.
Pfaff 332 Bobbin Case

 My favorite change to the Pfaff line is the bobbin case access.  To give some background, the only thing I do not like about my older Pfaff is that to get to the bobbin you have to turn up the entire machine and remove the bobbin case.  Big pain, particularly with such as heavy sewing machine.  Now, you can get at it so easy!  That brings me to the second thing, that is the handy extension table.
Pfaff 332 Fold Up Sewing Bed
There are many machines with free arm capabilities and many have a table/bed that can be attached to give the support when making a large project.  This one is different, it folds up from the machine itself.  That is great, as it won't get lost or be somewhere far away when you need it most such as the back of the closet.  Even better, you can add to make it larger buy attaching an extension.
Pfaff 332  Bed Extension
The Pfaff 332 has the capability to do zig zag, reverse and a bunch of the usual decorator stitches.  It originally came with a guide that you can turn around to get stitches by combining numbers as shown with those corresponding on the machine.
Pattern dials and spool pins

I do not have an example of this as to date, I have not even tried to use them.  The dial is on the left, the built in pattern cams are inside the top cover near this.  It's nice to know it can do these things but so far I just haven't needed them.

In this photo there is another improvement in the Pfaffs:  The ability to turn the spool pins down.  If you have ever broken a spool pin or bent one by accident, here is the solution to prevent this.  It makes for a very tidy way to ready for storage.

This sewing machine did not have any attachments when I got it but that has not proven to be a problem as it takes easy to find low shank zig zag accessories.  If you have this model, you may want to get a walking foot and a roller foot to help with heavier work.  It took a few tries to get a walking foot that would work well with this machine so I've included a photo so you can save some trouble.

About the stitching and workmanship.  That is where this sewing machine shines.  It can sew lightweight cotton all the way to outdoor Sunbrella fabric.  It does each one equally well.  Because it is harder to find a machine that does heavy fabrics well and that is a need I do have for making outdoor things like Cordura nylon packs, I save this special task for this particular machine.  With heavy thread, big needle and a small adjustment to the bobbin  it sews through with no problem.  I have machines with better strait stitches but considering the utility of this, that's not a big deal.  When I first got it I had trouble with speed, it seemed to be too fast to do intricate work.  With time and more oiling, that has somewhat subsided.  Maybe it took too much power to get it going, where now everything is more sensitive.  I don't know why but it is easier to use after a few years.  Maybe it just likes me better now!  In a perfect world this machine would have a slow gear for special work.
Sort of masculine, my gray 332
In summary it is a fine machine and a good choice for someone who wants a no fuss worker.  It is simple enough for a beginner but would be best for someone who wants a heavier duty machine.  That it can do zig- zag stitches and take low shank attachments makes it one of the more versatile vintage machines.  It's no featherweight but it's not overly heavy either.  I carry it in a specially made for it canvas bag with no problem.  There is a disadvantage is that parts are getting harder to find, such as timing belts.  That said, they rarely break or need repair.  If you see one, get it.  If you are offered one, take it.