Saturday, October 11, 2008

Another Recycled Jeans Project


Trolling around the Internet last night, I happened upon a tutorial for a car litter bag. We normally keep a Wal-Mart bag on the floor of the back seat for that purpose, but that looks messy and is always in the way if we have more than one person in the back seat. The litter bag tutorial I found used brightly-patterned cotton fabric and had a pocket sewn on the front for tissues, or anything else you wanted to carry. I looked at my stash and saw an old pair of my wife's jeans, which I had already hacked up for another project, but they still had one leg, including the rear pocket intact. I figured using an already-made pocket would surely be easier than constructing a new pocket, so I decided to design my litter bag around that pocket. Here's what I did:


STEP 1: I pieced together enough jeans material to make a 12"x24" rectangle. Folded in half, that will make an 11"x11" bag. That may be smaller or larger than you want, but it seemed like a good size for us.
STEP 2: I salvaged about two feet of waistband from the front of the jeans, saving the button and the buttonhole. I just hacked them off, you may want to unsew the lower half, remove the excess fabric, and sew the waistband back together, this was a prototype, so I didn't take the time.
STEP 3: I folded the rectangle in half and sewed up the sides from the inside.
STEP 4: I hemmed around the opening.
STEP 5: I attached the two pieces of waistband to the backside of the bag to be used as hanging straps.
FINAL: The denim litter bag roughly matches the dark blue exterior of our car and keeps the trash off the floor. The pocket could be used to hold a small pack of tissues, a pen and note paper, MP3 player, Gameboy, or ???Because this was a prototype and I wanted to finish in a hurry, I didn't measure carefully or do any pressing. I'm sure you could produce a much better looking product.
To keep this on topic, I used my new Singer 603E for this entire project and it had no problems sewing through multiple layers of denim with a universal needle. I picked this beauty up in a local thrift shop last week. It came in a cabinet with drawers full of manual, attachments, cams, notions, and about a half-ton of buttons. The price - $30! Manufactured in 1963/1964, I consider the 600, 603 and 603E to be the last of the "good" Singers, after that, Singer began putting plastic gears in the innards and quality went quickly downhill.
Ed

20 comments:

marigold said...

I have a Singer 600 that was given to me and has a bunch of stuff that goes with it. I took it in to be professionally gone over but am so stuck right now on my 301 machines I have not had a chance to actually sit and sew with it. I need to make the time! I also ended up taking my "new" Necchi and the Singer 401 into the quilt shop where the sewing machine guy can go over them... He said the 401 was in excellent shape and usually there is something wrong with the dial on it but mine was ok. A good deal for $25. I am always thrilled to find these wonderful machines at the thrift shops and if you are patient, and go often to look, you will be rewarded eventually. I saw a Singer there the other day but do not know what kind it is exactly except it is some sort of Centennial model, all black and old fashioned looking but the price was too high for me and it said it needed work. I thought they should have priced it accordingly if that is true. It also did not have a case with it and no accessories, so I passed it by without feeling bad. Sometimes you can find great machines at the thrift shops and other times not. Right now there are two real clunkers that have been there for about two weeks, which is showing that no one is too interested. Usually machines are snatched up almost as fast as they are put out.

Ed Lamoureux said...

When you get a chance to sew on your 600, I think you will find it every bit as nice as the 401.

Some sellers feel that any black machine is a valuable antique and should be priced accordingly. In my local thrift shop, there is a rusty no-name treadle head with a price tag of $99.95 while the 603E in a nice cabinet with accessories and manual was priced at $30.

a little sewing on the side said...

Ed, I just found your blog- I am so happy to see it! Thank you for sharing your knowledge like this. I am adding a link to you you blog from mine- I hope that's OK.
Robin

Ed Lamoureux said...

Welcome aboard, Robin. My offer to visit my collection of vintage machines here in Southern Maryland is still open.

Ed

Anonymous said...

Cool recycled jeans project!
I've inherited my mother's singer rocketeer and am wondering how much I can do with it. Can I sew denim, upholstery or Leather with it?
Thanks so much for the great blog!
greenjeans

Anonymous said...

Hello Ed.
I too have a Singer 603E.
I am having trouble with the bobbin. I do not know how to place it in, and when I think I do it gets tangled up. When I got it, it didn't come with a manual.
Could you help me?

Anonymous said...

I would like some help too! I have my grandmas old 603E and I do not know how to use the bobbin winding feature either.... I downloaded a 603 manuel, but the one part that is different is the bobbin! arrrh!
I would love some help so I can wind some bobbins, which is supposed to be the best part about this model.....email me at kyrs101@yahoo

Beeba said...

Hi Ed,

I'm now highly interested in buying one of these machine (the Singer 603E.) I want something that is strong and durable and won't need a lot of maintenance.
Would you say, in your experience, that this is a good machine for someone with no experience with vintage machines and not that much with modern ones?
I love that this machine can sew through 3 layers of denim-- that will be really useful with three growing boys-- but how is it with lighter materials? I am thinking to sew some cotton outfits for my next baby, due in May.
I think what I'm asking is, is this a good multi-purpose machine for someone with zero experience with vintage machines?

Thanks so much!

Ed Lamoureux said...

The Singer 603 would certainly be a possibility, as would a Singer 401, 403, 500, 503, or 600. All those models are similar mechanically and would perform the same. All these Singer models possess all-metal internal components so there are no plastic gears to crack and break under heavy loads. They also have motors that are directly connected to the sewing mechanism by gears so there are no belts to slip, stretch, or break. I have used all these models with light and heavy fabrics and rarely been disappointed. If one of these Singers won't sew the fabrics you are working with, it's time for an industrial machine. The downside is that being all metal, they require frequent oiling to keep them running at peak efficiency. Ed

Ed Lamoureux said...

The Singer 603 would certainly be a possibility, as would a Singer 401, 403, 500, 503, or 600. All those models are similar mechanically and would perform the same. All these Singer models possess all-metal internal components so there are no plastic gears to crack and break under heavy loads. They also have motors that are directly connected to the sewing mechanism by gears so there are no belts to slip, stretch, or break. I have used all these models with light and heavy fabrics and rarely been disappointed. If one of these Singers won't sew the fabrics you are working with, it's time for an industrial machine. The downside is that being all metal, they require frequent oiling to keep them running at peak efficiency. Ed

KID, MD said...

In was just gifted a 603E so I was excited to find your blog post through SG. I haven't yet had a chance to oil and service her (and she needs it!!) but I'm glad to hear that you like the model. I was wondering if you've had a need to get parts for yours, and if so if you have a good resource. The one I had is missing the bobbin slide cover and the universal throat plate (in just has the straight stitch plate).

Beeba said...

Hi Ed,

Thank you so much for your advice and reply to my previous question. I really appreciate it.

I was able to get a Singer 603e off eBay, and it arrived today. However, the thread spool (which I was surprised to find is plastic) is completely snapped off the machine.
Since you're a vintage machine expert, I thought to ask you: is the thread spool repairable, or does that kind of damage render the machine useless?
I am really sad that my Dream Machine came to me this way, and have contacted the seller but not heard back yet.

Thank you again,
-Safiyah

P. said...

Hey, that's my machine! Well, one of them anyway. My mom bought it new and passed it along to me. I've sewn just about everything on it. My only wish is that it had an automatic buttonholer (that worked). As for sewing denim, it does, but mine complains. I guess I can cut her some slack; she may be tired of working so hard all those years.

PS - I was excited to see one without the nicotine stains. Now I can imagine what it looked like before mom's ever present Raleighs took their toll.

Anonymous said...

I was looking at two machines the 403 and the 600e. The 600e looked to be in good condition and came with several cams and was 25.00 the 403 also good conditon, came with one zig zag cam although priced at 80.00. I purchased the 403 and kinda have felt that maybe the 600e was a better buy. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Wow! I learned how to sew on one of these (don't ask me which of my grandmothers had it since they both had Singers of similar vintage). Good memories...

Juanita's Web said...

Hello Ed:

I'm so glad i found your blog! I just bought a 603 and I am hoping yu can tell me or send a photo of the bobbin winder case? It came with one that doesn't seem to fit. i appreciate any info on this piece. Thanks, Juanita

Anonymous said...

Ed, I just got this old but nice Singer 603e, had a little trouble getting the bobbin casing set correctly. We had it cleaned and tested. I have the zigzag cam in place. I set the stitch width to 2, needle to center. But how do I get the darn thing to use the cam rather than straight stitch. I do not see any buttons or anything to make the switch.
Thanks in advance,
Pam

Ed Lamoureux said...

Marigold, There are no other settings. If you have the cam properly installed and stitch width anywhere but '0', you should be zig zagging. Move the needle position lever left and right and make sure the needle moves left and right. That will tell you the swing mechanism is not frozen. Since you just had the machine serviced and tested, my guess is that the cam is not fully inserted. Set stitch width to zero and press down on the cam until it snaps into place. Then widen the stitch width and you should be good. -Ed

Tameriska said...

Hi, Over in Australia, I have a 631g produced about 1965 that has all metal components.
I actually bought it from Facebook, as the machine is basically identical to my first slant needle machine, except that it does not have a needle threader, and the bobbin winding setup is a fraction different.

My 670g (1969) machine is still working like a dream, except that it has a plastic cam stack, although that is still in perfect condition, and it came with all the accessories (including spare needle threader wires)

It worked out well that I bought the 631g as a backup machine, even though I couldn't use the cord or foot controller as the plug that goes into the machine is too loose.The foot controller on my 670g started running intermittently, and I had to switch the foot controllers.
I do intend to get a replacement cord/ controller setup, but it has been hard to find the replacements over here

Susan Quisenberry said...

Found your site this morning and decided to make a pouch for my granddaughter. Since my denim did not have a pocket already attached, I used a pocket from another pair of jeans (my son's). I'm sure I will be making at least 4 more since I have 5 grandkids. Thanks for the idea. Good way to use up old denim that still have some life in it.