Featured Item: 1879 Singer Sewing Machine

Isn’t she a beauty?!  She’s not in working condition, but she’s just beautiful to look at!

Singer Corporation was first established I.M. Singer & Co. in 1851 by Isaac Merritt Singer. (although the first patent to design a sewing machine was obtained by English inventor Thomas Saint in 1790, and the first sewing machine was developed in 1807 by an Australian tailor, Josef Madersperger) .  It was renamed Singer Manufacturing Company in 1865, then The Singer Company in 1963.  Singer has an interesting organized labor episode from 1911, which you can read about here.   Like the United States Shoe Corporation, Singer began diversifying in the 1960s, acquiring companies involved in electronics as well as ….nuclear power plant control center simulators.  Huh!

But let’s get back to business.  This Singer sewing machine was manufactured on August 21, 1879, in Clydebank, Scotland.   How do I know this, you may ask?  Well, it appears that Singer was/is very meticulous about keeping records, even back in the late 1800s, so they still have logs with all of this information as long as you can provide a serial number.  Singer sewing machines manufactured prior to 1900 were given serial numbers with numbers only; after 1900, serial numbers incorporated a single or two-letter prefix (which indicated the manufacturing location).

This specific sewing machine is an “Improved Family” machine.  It was considered a breakthrough “because of its oscillating shuttle” and a high arm, although it was overshadowed the following year by a model that included an Edison electric motor.

AND, you can still buy the manual!


Featured Item: Red Cross Shoes

I’ve come across pretty interesting items in our little shop, and decided I wanted to know a little more about some of these.  So I’m dedicating a section of this blog to “Featured Items.”  Featured Items will be those that I can find some information about online, information I deem to be awesome and interesting 🙂

My first pick is a pair of Red Cross Shoes.

They are quite beautiful, aren’t they?

Don’t let the name fool you though, Red Cross Shoes has no affiliation to THE Red Cross.  Red Cross Shoes were first produced by Krohn-Fechheimer Shoe Company in Cincinnati, circa 1896.  Red Cross Shoe became a hot selling brand, maybe due to Mad Men savvy advertising it as the “noiseless” shoe.  The company had to adjust after World War I, when high-topped shoes started going out of style.  A six month strike in the Cincinnati shoe industry in 1921 made these adjustments difficult to make. Due to these difficult times, eight different shoe companies, including Red Cross Shoes, merged together to form the United States Shoe Corporation in 1931.  One marketing technique to revive the failing shoe market was to produce a $6 pair of Red Cross Shoes, that previously sold for $10.  Demand soared, and by 1939 Red Cross was the most popular shoe brand in the United States.

Red Cross expanded to the international market throughout the 1940s, and for a brief period of time voluntarily stopped using “Red Cross” due to complaints from the American Red Cross.  It took back it’s name in 1948 with the blessing of the Federal Trade Commission.

Red Cross continued to grow throughout the years, reaching production levels of 100,000 pairs of shoes a week in 1955.

United States Shoe Corporation began to diversity in 1955, with it’s biggest success lying in Lens Crafters.  By the 1980s, shoe sales accounted for only one-third of the company’s sales.  The company continued with ups and downs, but according the source of this information, it seems that it’s still chugging along. If anyone has recent information about the brand, this specific shoe or the shoe company, I’d love to read up on it!

Anniversary Collection Postcard

Main source of information: I read it on the internet, it must be true! 

Nuestras Manos now at The Camp!

Sooooo, some pretty big news to share with everyone.

Before we left to Germany, Jeff and I talked about how cool it would be to re-model a little Shasta trailer, and make it into a business.  It never moved beyond dreaming, at that point.
Last week, Jeff sent me this:
Which looked and sounded awesome!  We figured nothing was lost with sending an email to get a little more information, the whole time thinking it wouldn’t get beyond that.
Not even ten minutes after I sent the email, I heard back from one of the owners of the business, we chatted with him during Jeff’s lunch break, and made an appointment to stop by the shop that same night and chat with them a little bit more.
The whole time, Jeff and I kept asking ourselves how bad we wanted this: the couple that was selling it had several people that previously said they were interested, only to bail at the last minute.  They wanted to make sure that we were serious about the business, and on the whole drive there, we were asking ourselves if we were serious, and if we were willing to say yes if it was offered to us.  We decided our answer was “yes.”  We figure we always over-think things, and for once we decided that being irrational and crazy was the way to go.
We met with Kyle and Ari that night, and absolutely fell in love with the place, and with them.  I’m honestly way bummed that they’re moving to Seattle, because they would be a great couple to hang out with!
Although we loved the place and they liked us, there was one person who had met with them before, and had taken priority in line.  We had to wait on pins and needles for a little over a day before we heard from Kyle that there was a slight chance that the person ahead of us was not going to get approved by the landlord.  It was enough to make us jump for joy!  That whole week was a whirlwind…between emailing back and forth, waiting, excited, but trying not to be excited, and then absolutely excited again.  On Friday night we got a call from Kyle saying that we were definitely in: the landlord reviewed our application and approved us!
This week has been another waiting game, waiting for the lease and waiting to see our little place again!  But tonight we met up with Kyle and Ari, signed our lease, paid, shared some great stories over delicious food, and then we went to visit our new little home away from home:
So here we are, and Sunday will be our first day as owners and operators of….NUESTRAS MANOS!  We will continue carrying the current inventory, and replenishing vintage awesomeness, as well as adding Jeff’s art and wood prints, not to mention some exciting stuff that Jeff’s dad has been working on, as well as my own craftiness.  The great thing is that I can also continue to do my legal work from there or in the mornings before opening shop, and Jeff can start dedicating more time to his photography and art, once we both get all settled in 🙂
We know it’s completely random and out of the blue, but we couldn’t be more excited!  We also can’t thank Kyle and Ari enough for trusting us with their little baby, and giving us such an exciting adventure (not to mention how easy they have made this whole process for us).
In a couple weeks, we hope to have the place ready for a “grand re-opening,” and hopefully all of you can join us in celebrating our new adventure!

Journey to Patchwork Festival: Building “Lucky”

The past couple days, Jeff has been hard at work designing and building our little stall for the Patchwork Festival.  Here’s how it started out:


It should be noted that Jeff designed this with easy set up and clean up in mind, so it all breaks down easily in about three steps.  Pretty amazing, isn’t he? 🙂

Next we went to Home Depot, then Lowe’s, then Home Depot, and possibly Lowe’s again.  But we got a good price and found all the materials we needed to get to work.

After Jeff sanded the pieces down and put them together, it was time to paint!  We used the same paint we used a few years ago for the accent wall in our old apartment.  It’s kind of become “our color,” if you will.

As soon as it was dry enough, we put it together to get a rough look at what we’re dealing with:

It may be a small space, but it’s super cute!  We still have to add some stuff for support and to hold up the fabric on top, and obviously fix the fabric so it looks way nicer, but I think we’re off to a good start.

With some inspiration from a good neighbor, we have christened it “Lucky.”

Welcome to the family, Lucky.

Adventure: Journey to Patchwork Festival!

As soon as our plane landed at LAX, Jeff got an email informing us that our application (and our check) had been accepted for this year’s holiday Patchwork Indie Arts & Crafts Festival in Santa Ana!

We are beyond excited, and nervous, about this prospect.  We believe it’s our first step in really taking our business and craft ideas to flight, and putting ourselves out there.  Our hope is that it goes well, that people like our product, and that we can begin to make a serious living off of our skills and passion.  This would bring us one step closer to being a little more financially stable, and maybe able to fly on our own!

With that said, we are aware of the challenges that lie ahead, and of the possible reality of falling flat on our faces and not even making enough money to cover the costs incurred to put this all together.  We also know that one event will not bring us financial stability for life, but we think this will be a good indication of whether this is a path we should follow at all, or not.

With that in mind, I thought I would dedicate part of this blog to allow you to follow us on our journey to the Patchwork Festival in November: our planning, ideas, projects, stocking up inventory, etc.

Our next update will be Jeff’s MacGyvering skills in designing and building a cover for our stall!


P.S.: you should plan on joining us in November.  RSVP here!