Vintage Sewing Machine: Brother Festival 451

Look what came home with me yesterday!

010Quick, give me some air – I’m hyperventilating!

009Isn’t she pretty?  Squeeeee!!!!!

012This is a vintage Brother Festival 451 in watermelon pink. I haven’t been able to get the machine out of it’s cabinet to find the serial number yet, but I Googled it and here’s what I found on ehow:

The vintage Brother Festival 451 sewing machine was a colorful basic machine produced in the 1950s and 60s. It was meant for the modern sewer and boasted bright exterior finishes that ranged from a tan to a bright pink. Beneath the mod coloring, the machine’s metal shuttle hook and motor system was built to last. If you are lucky enough to find a workable one at a garage sale or flea market, buy it knowing the machine is still capable of proving itself a workshorse for everyday sewing tasks.

Here’s her backside (oh, she’s blushing…isn’t that cute!)

011She runs like a dream. All metal parts (of course). She smells like oil and ozone when running, so I’m guessing that maybe she’s from the earlier run off the production line rather than the later? (I’ll let you know as soon as I uncover her serial number). I paid $50 at the thrift store, and she came fully serviced. She also came with an instruction manual.

014It’s fun to see the notes people write in their manuals. This one was well used. The previous owner also was apparently interested in some of the embroidery features on the machine since I found this inside:

016And on the flip side of that page:

015Haven’t seen an ad like that in awhile, eh? Lordy!

018She also came with attachments. Hold your breath…

019Unfortunately the owners manual doesn’t cover the feet.

027Now, what the heck is this? Does anybody know? Is it a walking foot, maybe?

022It looks like a funky steam-punk attachment!

023And can someone tell me what this foot with the double rollers is for?

024You zigzag by setting these pins to the length of the zigzag you want. Cool!

037She has a dual plug…one for the light and one for the motor.

030And a good heavy metal foot pedal (I adore my new Janome, but I have to admit that the lightweight plastic foot pedal is a pain in the rear – give me an old fashioned heavy pedal like this one, please!)

031The bobbin case is a bit awkward to access. Okay. REAL awkward to access. It’s waaaay in there.

032She is already best friends with my Janome 2030QDC. In fact, they are almost twins! They both do exactly the same stitches.
Exactly. The. Same.
Except the Brother is mechanical and the Janome is electronic. And the Janome even has a pink face! 🙂

029The vintage Sister (I know, I know…it’s a Brother. But doesn’t “sister” sound nicer?) will need a cabinet. Either that or it will live in it’s travel case. It doesn’t free -stand. Here are some cabinets on the back of the owners manual:

017So that’s how I spent the last of my May allowance.  I’m totally broke but totally happy. Whoop whoop!

008oh…and dear previous owner, please know that I love your darling like mad and will take very good care of her, just like you did. ♥

Dear Maya Angelou

Dear Madame Angelou,
I was so sad to hear of your passing this morning. Perhaps your physical presence has moved on, but your influence will be with me forever. The words of your poem, Phenomenal Woman, influence who I am every time I read them. Thank you for teaching me how powerful I can be if I allow it. You showed me that my power resides in the arch of my back, the sun of my smile, the ride of my breasts, and the grace of my style. Thank you for mentoring my generation.

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Maya Angelou


Flirting the Issue!

I made a skirt today!

019This is the Flirting the Issue skirt by Anna Maria Horner. You can find the free pattern here!

032You can wear it with a belt or by itself. I’ve made a sash with the left overs.

031I’ve been wanting to sew some of my own clothing, and making a couple of skirts and dresses for the summer was on my Retirement To-Do list.

028It isn’t the most flattering on me, having the gathered elastic waist band and all.  And it certainly doesn’t hide the 20 pounds I’ve gained (arrgh!) But it doesn’t look that bad, either. All in all it’s acceptable and I could be seen in public wearing it.

022Samson agrees. He’s always happy to be seen out in public with me!

025The skirt is cotton voile. I didn’t even know what voile was before I went into the fabric store. Let me tell you, cotton voile is the most wonderful light and buttery-soft fabric you could ever ask for. Perfect for a hot summer day!

021It’s lined with a piece of blue shirting I found in my stash.

033Pretty good for not having sewn anything clothing-wise in over 20 years!

018That’s it for the fashion show! Phew!

In the Spirit of Play (or how I spent my April allowance)

Last January I posted my about word for the year: PLAY!

So, in the spirit of that resolution, I spent almost my entire April allowance on playful inspiration: books!

013I want to knit something bigger than a sock or a hat, but I know myself…I will make the front of something, or a sleeve, and then put the project away. Why? Because I just hate sewing the seams. I actually have an entire knitted sweater – front, back and two sleeves sitting in my basket. It’s been sitting in my basket since…um…gah! I am embarrassed to say it: about 1998. Needless to say, it no longer fits. But the yarn is good! It was expensive! So I’m in the process of unraveling the entire thing so that I can make something lovely with it. Knitted tops with no side seams! Yay!

012Prairie Children and their Quilts because I love anything to do with history and story-telling, and I’ve also become fascinated with miniature quilts. AND Mastering Quilt Marking because I want to expand my hand quilting beyond using purchased templates. I’d love to quilt some of the beautiful, intricate feathers & fans etc. I have the skill to do the hand quilting, but lack the technique of how to get the markings onto the quilt top. Maybe I can practice on a miniature quilt! Boo yah!

014Bread from Sourdough to Rye because I’ve been given the wonderful gift of heritage Yukon sourdough starter (read all about it here – it’s a cool story!) and I’ve been experimenting with baking bread. This book also has breads from all over the world, from challah to chapatti! And The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook by Jaden Hair because I follow her blog, which is all about yummy Asian-style cooking. (And Jaden is also a quilter, so duh….)

015And then BONUS! Look what my extraordinarily fabulous son of mine sent me for Mother’s Day!

All the indoor rainy-day bases are covered! Over the next couple of months I’ll be saving my allowance for outside play…new hiking boots and a day pack.

A spending allowance is built into our retirement budget.. I’ll post about it soon!

How did you spend your allowance last month?

Happy Mail!

Bee blocks came in yesterday’s mail from Shelly (We Bee Canadian block exchange). I had requested mini skinny churn dash blocks.

001Shelly, feeling generous, sent an entire goodie bag! The churn dashes, PLUS scraps of the fabrics she used…

008And this adorable little pouch!

006Squeee!  Thanks for the happy dance, Shelly!


Bloggers Quilt Festival: Hand Quilted Category

"Little Sister". Machine pieced & hand quilted by Nita Collins.Photo taken at the S.S. Klondike National Park Site in Whitehorse, Yukon. November 24, 2013.

“Little Sister”. Machine pieced & hand quilted by Nita Collins.Photo taken at the S.S. Klondike National Park Site in Whitehorse, Yukon. November 24, 2013.

My second entry into the Blogger’s Quilt Festival is the quilt I call “Little Sister”, in the Hand Quilted category.

"Little Sister". Machine pieced & hand quilted by Nita Collins.Photo taken at the S.S. Klondike National Park Site in Whitehorse, Yukon. November 24, 2013.

This category was originally eliminated from the festival because of lack of interest in past festivals. It seems that hand-quilters are a quiet bunch who don’t have a big presence on the internet. So quiet, in fact, that we barely exist in the on-line quilting world at all! Out of sight out of mind.

Hand quilting in progress, summer 2013

Having our category eliminated from the competition was a wake-up call to hand quilters all around the world. Hopefully there will be a good number of hand quilts entered this time! Stand up and be counted, hand quilters! This is your chance to show that hand quilting is alive and well!

Hand quilting in progress, summer 2013

To read the blog post of this quilt’s story, please click here!

Quilt Models Halia & Jade Pealow

I’m only entering for fun. A big shout-out and thank you to Amy at Amy’s Creative Side for organizing it! It’s a huge undertaking!

"Little Sister". Machine pieced & hand quilted by Nita Collins.Photo taken at the S.S. Klondike National Park Site in Whitehorse, Yukon. November 24, 2013.

If you’d like to vote for reader’s choice in the festival, please click here.


Blogger’s Quilt Festival: Large Quilt Category

079I am entering two quilts in the spring Bloggers Quilt Festival!

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailMy first entry is in the large quilt category.

068This quilt was designed by me (simply meaning that I didn’t follow a pattern). It is a simple block repeat with borders. It is hand quilted. It is 68″x84″.

073For the original blog post with the story behind this quilt, please click here!

103I’m only entering for fun. A big shout-out and thank you to Amy at Amy’s Creative Side for organizing it! It’s a huge undertaking!

summer 2011 008If you’d like to vote for reader’s choice in the festival, please click here.


Really Random Thursday

For sale just down the road from us….

dumptruck 2A camperized dump truck!

dump truck 1For those guests that just won’t don’t want to leave?

Linking up with Really Random Thursday over at Live a Colorful Life.

Charity Quilt

This is a Hands-2-Help charity quilt 🙂

002This one is going to the RCMP Victim Services Unit here in Salmon Arm.

003It is 69×53″ and hand tied. I love hand tied quilts. They are so cozy and loveable!

008Almost as cozy and loveable as my assistant!

009I always want to see the back, don’t you? I used doodle fabric from IKEA 🙂

011I received enoughdonated blocks to make this big lap-sized quilt plus a smaller cuddle quilt. I was going to take the cuddle quilt with me to Whitehorse this fall, but I’ve decided to donate it along with its “big sister” here in Salmon Arm instead. Because maybe there will be a sibling group that would like to have matching quilts.

Retirement update: learning how to slow down

“What are your plans for the day?”Asked Mr. C (for curious) this morning.
“Ummmmm, well…maybe I’ll sew something” I reply, vaguely. This question, asked nearly every day, causes me to feel mildly anxious. To tell you the honest truth, I have no idea what I am going to be doing most of the time. Except for every second Wednesday, when I attend the Shuswap Quilter’s Guild meeting, my days are completely unstructured.

Isn’t this what I longed for in my pre-retirement days? Endless stretches of delicious, unstructured time? I should be blissfull! I should be rolling around in it like a dog rolling in….well… get the idea.

I’m not there yet. Moving from a structured, well-defined day with borders, hard edges and timetables to one that is soft and flowing takes time. Takes patience.


I am still in the uncomfortable stage of change.

I am as itchy as a wool power suit that finds itself in a room full of flowing cotton gypsy-skirts. I am discombobulated. (Isn’t discombobulated a wonderful word? I love it as much as I love ” verklempt” and ” obfuscate”)

Living a slower lifestyle is a learning process. It takes time and practice. Sometimes it’s great. Sometimes I feel as twitchy as a cat.


I am in the process of learning not to measure success (or my worth) by my pre-retirement yardstick. My worth is not measured by how much I accomplish in a day. Why is this such a difficult concept to integrate?
“It is okay to spend the day reading a book and puttering around the house or yard, Nita – it is okay!” Says I to myself.


I don’t have to bake a cake so I will have a physical result to flourish….”Ta da! Look what I did today! Here is credible measurable physical proof of production!”


I am learning to slow down. It’s a slow process. s.l.o.w. I’ve read on the many retirement blogs that I follow that it takes at least one year (often as many as 3 years) to fully settle into one’s new lifestyle. I am 5 months into the process and feeling like I’m in the waiting room or standing in a really long, slow-moving queue.

No regrets. We made the right decision. I’m just…itchy today.

I think I’ll go sew something.


Pretty in Pink

This flowering tree is in my neighbour’s yard.

006I don’t know what it is, but it doesn’t grow in the Yukon.

003Being a Northern gal, I don’t recognize most of the trees & flowers here!

004It sure is pretty!